Dr. Shefali Is Coming To Vancouver | Conscious Parenting

I read my first parenting book when I was pregnant with baby #1. It was supposed to prepare me for the first year of my baby’s life. Instead it made me wonder if I could actually handle the responsibility of raising a child! My friend who gave it to me asked me what I thought of the book and I had to be honest; I told her that I felt like it was just telling me all the things that could go wrong. “Oh, you shouldn’t focus on that part,” she said. How could I not? YOU CAN SCREW THIS UP seemed to jump out at me from every page. (It was definitely not a book on conscious parenting!).  I guess those heart-stopping words were my own fear talking.

When I was a little girl, I wondered how my mom knew everything – from how to help me when I had a fever to what the different pieces of chicken were called.  When I’d ask her how she knew these things, she simply replied, “Because I’m a mom.” So, now here I was, about to become one myself, and I felt none the wiser. Just a whole lot more scared. Does this sound familiar to any of you?

Now I’m almost 11 years into motherhood with 3 kids: two in elementary school and one in preschool. So, I’m parenting a pre-teen, a classic ‘middle child’ syndrome kid and a preschooler who thinks the world revolves around her. And I guess it does. At least, in our home. I love them each to bits for who they are – and they truly are amazing human beings. But my journey as a mom started off really rocky to the point where sometimes I still feel shame when I see a new mom totally doting on her baby. Maybe I was all heart-eyes over my baby but I don’t remember. I just remember the difficult parts being really, really tough.

To this day, I question why I had such a challenging time raising babies and toddlers. Why couldn’t I just suck it up and enjoy being home with them when they were little? Why was I so eager to return to work? Why did I get angry and frustrated with them when they were just being…babies? Why did I cry on the kitchen floor all the time?

But you know what? These questions are good.

Dr. Shefali’s Conscious Parenting

I know the questions are good because when I take the time to answer them, I become more conscious of how I am parenting and why I am triggered. This is key for me. What was it about being a stay-at-home mom that made me feel angry? It wasn’t a baby needing to be breastfed around the clock. It was about me. Sure, it’s super tiring to meet the physical demands of a baby, but I know there was more to it than that. Also, when I am butting heads with a 3 year old, why does it sound like there are two 3 year olds in the room? Why can’t I step into my adult self instead of climbing back into the crib and reacting like a child? It’s taken me a long time to figure out the answers and I don’t have all of them yet but I’m starting to feel more supported by Dr. Shefali’s book, The Conscious Parent.

This isn’t to say that today I am a perfect parent who is in a totally elevated state of awareness and reacts to every situation in a way that positively impacts my children’s and my growth. Nope. It just means that I am becoming more aware of why I react to situations the way I do, what triggers me, what my own needs are as a person and how important it is to fulfill those. Most importantly, conscious parenting is an aspiration, something to work toward, and I am not expected to be perfect.

Last Night’s Facebook Live With Dr. Shefali

It was really cool to spend 15 minutes on Facebook Live with Dr. Shefali and listen to all the important topics she wants to cover when she comes here next month. I jotted down some notes as she spoke and I found these to be gems:

  • ultimately our children are a mirror showing us how conditioned we are by cultural fears
  • we can use the parent-child relationship to raise OURSELVES (it’s not about raising the kids)
  • the goal of this life is to become whole again as we were when we were kids

I also noted this realization: I see a lot of my child self in my kids and that is what triggers me.

If you missed the Facebook Live, here it is below! After you watch, I’d love it if you left a comment here to tell me something that resonated with you. (Also, this is just a geeky moment for me, but she actually said my name at the very end!) Then keep reading to find out how you can win a ticket to see her in person in Vancouver!

Join Me At Dr. Shefali’s Event In Vancouver

In Dr. Shefali’s New York Times best selling books ​she brings a fresh perspective to the parenting landscape, challenging the current paradigm it is steeped in and turning it on its head. Provocative, daring and evocative, her approach teaches parents how to raise themselves – first – into the most empowered and conscious before they hope to raise their children. Dr. Shefali believes that parents need to learn to heal their own emotional baggage and raise themselves into an elevated state of awareness before they raise their children. Dr. Shefali teaches parents the value of true connection over correction – eliminating archaic ideals of control and punishment.

To celebrate and share her remarkable work, my friend ​Kate Muker​ is hosting Dr. Shefali for a truly powerful evening where she will share a radically different approach to parenting that has transformed the lives of so many families. Whether you have a baby or a teen she will help you discover a new path to parent without fear or anxiety, learn to end conflict and motivate your children through connection.

If you are ready to shift the way you approach parenting, attend Dr. Shefali’s event in Vancouver on Sunday May 27th.

Join me at the event if you want to discover how to:

  • stop struggling as a parent and find more joy
  • deal with your controlling child
  • stop fighting over screens and designs
  • raise motivated, empowered, resilient and aware children

GRAB YOUR TICKETS HERE and let me know if I’ll see you!

If you’d like to take a chance at winning a ticket, head over to my Facebook contest (ends Sunday April 15 at 5 pm PST).

taslim jaffer writer





I’m proud to be a sponsor of Kate Muker’s quality, conscious events. All opinions are my own.

Road Trip: Nanaimo To Ucluelet And Tofino

Last Spring break, we took a trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island and had such a great time. This year, the Island called to us again! We ended up on a road trip from Nanaimo to Ucluelet and Tofino – a gorgeous 3 hour drive that we broke up to accommodate some must-see sites.

We had reservations on the 5:45 pm ferry from Tsawwassen to Duke Point on the last day of school. Being able to reserve with BC Ferries gave us peace of mind; we didn’t want to get to the island too late so really did not want to miss the ferry! Also, that sail time perfectly coincided with dinner which we grabbed at the White Spot onboard. As parents, we automatically plan for fatigue and food considerations when travelling with the kids! The sailing was smooth and fun; dinner took up most of the first hour, and then the kids enjoyed playing cards, browsing in the gift shop and, of course, we took the obligatory photo on the deck.

I spent a lot of time on BC Ferries in my early childhood when we lived in Victoria and our extended family lived on the mainland. It’s such a thrill to be able to take my kids on these nostalgic tours of the Salish Sea and we’ve already got some ideas of where we’ll head next. But first, let’s recap this trip!

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When we arrived in Nanaimo, we rested our heads at the Howard Johnson Harbourside Hotel. Located close to the terminal, it was the perfect spot to catch some zzz’s before heading out first thing in the morning.

Cameron Lake

Our total driving time of the day was 2.5 hours (to Ucluelet) but we were determined to take the trip as slow as possible. That’s one of the beauties of a road trip, after all. The freedom to stop at whim. After driving for about 50 minutes, we saw a sign for Cameron Lake and decided to pull over for a stretch. When we piled out of the minivan, we found the trail that led down to a pristine picnic spot complete with sandy beach, calm, reflective waters and serenity. It was picture-perfect. This would be an ideal spot to time a packed lunch.

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Cameron Lake rests on traditional Kwalikum First Nation territory and is a popular spot for swimmers – at least, the swimmers who can brave the cold waters…and the mysterious lake monster that some have claimed to have seen! The lake was so beautiful that I think, maybe in peak summer temperatures, I’d take my chances with the island’s ‘Ogopogo’.

Cathedral Grove (Macmillan Provincial Park)

Cathedral Grove is located on traditional Hupacasath First Nation territory and is an endangered old-growth Douglas Fir ecosystem. Now this is a place you cannot drive by! Home to ancient rainforest – and I mean, 800 years ancient – this stunning remnant of what once covered the entire island is definitely worth a slow walk-through. It doesn’t take long to complete the trails but why rush it? It’s important to stay on the trails so as not to damage the biosphere, but there is a lot to see from the path whether you look ahead, to the sides…or waaaaaay up.

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Don’t be deterred from stopping here if it happens to be raining – the trees offer an amazing canopy and you will be well protected from rain and wind. What I’m saying is, don’t miss this opportunity.

Ellis River

Another place we stopped at spontaneously but one that you should definitely think to include on a road trip to Ucluelet and Tofino. We noticed some beautiful rocky terrain and cars parked on the side of the road, so we decided to take a look. A short flight of stairs led to a huge ‘playground’ of boulders and puddles, and the sound of a gushing river. This is where we ended up having our packed lunch and then explored for awhile.

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Ellis River was our last stop until we reached Ucluelet mid-afternoon where we spent the night at Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. It would have only been another 40 minutes to Tofino if we had kept going but we couldn’t pass up the chance to do the Wild Pacific Trail and watch the waves crash onto the famous black rock of this area. So, Ucluelet is where we stopped for the night and it certainly deserves its own blog post.

Stay tuned for my next two posts detailing each destination. I hope this comes in handy for you if you’re planning this epic road trip. If you have any particular questions, please leave a comment!

Thinking of taking a road trip from Nanaimo to Ucluelet and Tofino? Here are some stops we made along the way that really added fun and adventure to our trip!

Thank you, BC Ferries, for providing me with a travel discount. It’s a pleasure to share my family’s adventures. All opinions are my own.

taslim jaffer writer


Every Day Should Be International Women’s Day

I love International Women’s Day. I get teary-eyed scrolling through my social feeds with all the heart-warming messages that women are valued and cherished. International Women’s Day (IWD) falls the day after the anniversary of my mom’s death so I think there is also that component; for most people, the first example of womanhood is Mom. It reminds me that my mom was a woman. Now that I have joined those ranks, I wish I could tell her I totally get what it’s like to be the centre of a household and feel pulled in so many directions. I wish I could tell her I wonder how to chase my dreams yet still support my children in finding theirs. Or sometimes I am just totally stumped about how to keep all my kids clean, fed, exercised, educated, and happy in the same day. But I can’t, so I rely on my tribe of women to lift me up and support me. And this past IWD, I spent the evening at Guildford Town Centre listening to a panel of women who believe in doing just that.

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On March 8, 2018, Guildford Town Centre hosted what I hope will be an annual event called UNITED – Celebrating International Women’s Day. Moderated by 94.5 Virgin Radio host Nira Arora, a panel of 3 inspiring, accomplished women shared their thoughts on following your dreams, finding inner strength, and women helping women to a standing-room only audience. Lifestyle Blogger Monika Hibbs, Blo Founder Devon Brooks and Dress For Success’ Victoria Newstead delved into how they found their inspiration, who their role models are and how they ‘balance it all’.

Some of my favourite takeaways were:

  • Change can be scary but it can also be exciting – new ideas, new careers…all can launch us into the lives we are striving for.
  • We can’t do it all ourselves – our businesses might need to expand to include others who support our vision, we may need help with our kids, we might have to let the dust bunnies grow as we work on our masterpiece.
  • It’s important not to look at other women and do the compare and despair thing – we need to be the loudest cheerleaders for each other. Adjusting each other’s crowns is part of being real queens.
  • There’s a season for everything – you don’t have to do it all RIGHT. NOW.
  • Be around women who lift you up, who inspire you to be the best version of yourself – and then be that woman for others. You are the sum of the people you keep closest to you so choose your circle wisely, and contribute your best to that circle.

In addition to the entertaining and informative panel discussion, there were many other cool features to the evening. Dress For Success was supported by donations of clothing and by purchasing sweet engraved necklaces. Services like  free makeup and hair touch-ups, and free headshots were offered for those who wanted to spruce up their LinkedIn profile. And the atmosphere was fun and festive with a live DJ spinning some tunes. She played some great jams!

guildford town centre, international women's day, iwd, taslim jaffer writer

I went to bed that night feeling super pumped and then woke up the next day thinking, I wish it was International Women’s Day again. That’s when I decided I would do my best to make each day one that celebrates other women, and myself. I tweeted this with the hashtag #IWDallyearlong. If you have something to say about that, I hope you tweet me with it!

Women do too much, give too much, survive too much and thrive too much to be limited to one day of celebration, honour and awareness. We need to work hard every day to ensure that women around the world are safe, respected, cared for and supported.

Thank you, Guildford Town Centre, for lighting the fire for so many women this year – I had a fabulous time!

taslim jaffer writer





Thank you to Guildford Town Centre for sponsoring this post – I love telling my readers about the people and events that inspire me. All opinions are my own.


Eat. Lift. Thrive. by Sohee Lee: Book Review

‘Strong is the new skinny’ is a common phrase these days, sprawled across tank tops on sweaty bodies at the gym, and on memes floating around Facebook. I’m glad the emphasis has gone from losing weight to gaining strength. I’ve had my own up-and-down relationship with my body size and shape, particularly in the past 5 years. I’ve accepted that my body will likely never be what it was pre-babies…but now I’ve started imagining that I can be stronger than I ever have been. When I was given the opportunity to read and review Sohee Lee’s Eat. Lift. Thrive, I accepted it gratefully. I’m determined to make my 40’s about thriving, not just surviving. I’ve done a lot of emotional work in my 30’s and am shifting my attention now to a healthy, physical body that will take me deeper into the life I envision.

If I were to dissect the reason for ‘where I am today’ in terms of my fitness, I’d say I didn’t invest the time. I didn’t take the time to understand my body’s needs or how to create a sustainable healthy lifestyle that was best suited to me. Since last fall, I’ve been more conscious to incorporate more movement in my life but I haven’t quite nailed down my routine or a ‘food for fuel’ mindset.

Are you looking for an individualized workout and nutrition regime that is sustainable? Eat. Lift. Thrive is like a personal trainer in your pocket!

Part One Of Eat. Lift. Thrive: Reset Your Thinking

Lee’s book begins with what, I believe, is the perfect foundation for any book on fitness and nutrition: your mindset. It’s probably the section of the book I would read over several times. In a humorous, conversational tone, Lee debunks common fitness myths surrounding willpower (because don’t most of us think it’s about having enough willpower?), that it has to feel hard to be working, and that a fitness regime is all-or-nothing. I was so relieved to read these pages, you have no idea. I’ve been known to go from 6 days/week workouts and watching portions to completely binging for days and falling off the cardio bandwagon. It’s a devastating fall from grace, that one. Not only do I then tell myself, “See? I couldn’t do it,” I also feel frustrated that clothes that fit me just a couple weeks before become completely inaccessible.

Reading this part of the book made me realize that I’m not alone in this. And it earned my trust in Lee to continue reading through the coming chapters. I’m glad I did because not only did she debunk the myths, she filled the void with useful information in an easy-to-read voice. Her examples of ‘small, bite-sized habits’ right at the beginning of Eat. Lift. Thrive. immediately gave me the confidence that I could actually manage to make movement a part of my week. Her emphasis on not just getting healthy but staying healthy sounds like the perfect approach for me!

Part Two Of Eat. Lift. Thrive: Eat

The first chapter of this section is like a review of nutrition without being overwhelming or daunting. In fact, Lee doesn’t look closely at numbers (in terms of grams of protein, fats and carbs) so there isn’t that obsessive quality that some regimes have. She’s more concerned that we know how to read labels and know approximately how much we are eating. This makes sense and is truly empowering. I feel like this would eliminate a sense of failure because you are not counting each macronutrient down to each crumb.

After the nutrition review, Lee makes suggestions for long-term success with eating well and talks about my favourite food subject: moderation. I balk at the idea of giving up pizza, bread of any kind, and a nice cheesy lasagna. No, thanks. Needless to say, I devoured Lee’s ideas about incorporating these foods into my meal plan with no guilt or shame. Training ourselves to be intuitive eaters (which she expands on in this book) is way more helpful than an outright ban on some of our favourites. I will never again read or listen to anything that tells me I can’t eat certain foods.

Her actionable items at the end of each chapter in this section are priceless. They are simple and sensible, and I can see that implementing just one or two at a time will make some smart changes for me.

Part Three Of Eat. Lift. Thrive: Lift

The introductory page to this part begins with “Resistance training is the fountain of youth.” If that doesn’t intrigue you to read this entire section word for word, I don’t know what to say. I’m aging and I’m OK with it, but I’d like my body to be as young as possible for as long as possible. This isn’t about shedding fat, per se, but building confidence. Lee suggests that the weight room is all you need for a trimmer, stronger body. Aside from the physique, Lee shares many other benefits she has observed as someone who works closely with weight trainers. Her case studies are inspiring to read and, like all the information presented here, this entire section reads like a personal conversation.

My favourite chapter in this section is Chapter 8 where there are photographs of people modelling the different exercises along with the descriptions of target muscle groups, variations, and tips.

Part Four Of Eat. Lift. Thrive: Thrive

And the best part is putting it all together, with your mindset, your nutrition and your weights program, to be able to create programs for YOU. To create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle that works for YOU. This section pulls it all together to help you put to practice everything you’ve been learning.

Like I said, I’m interested in thriving and not just surviving. I’m tired of the on-again, off-again relationship I have with my own health.

My Three Favourite Parts

  • This book is EASY to read. It’s engaging and informative without being overwhelming.
  • I loved the photographs of the different exercises. Visuals are wonderful. Plus each movement is explained so well in the descriptions that you can literally teach yourself how to do it.
  • I loved that Lee created sample programs to make it super easy for anyone to get started. With an emphasis on individuality, these are just guidelines but how nice to have something to start with, even if you decide to modify anything.

I recommend Eat. Lift. Thrive by Sohee Lee to anyone who is tired of starting over but wants to give it a good, sustainable shot. Also, to anyone who already has a fitness regime but would like to up their game.

You can find Sohee Lee on Instagram. Check out her IG stories – some great stuff there!

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

taslim jaffer writer


Onegin: Review Of The Hit Musical At Surrey Civic Theatres

Onegin, first of all, is not what you think. It’s not about gin, one or otherwise. And it took me almost half the show to realize that it is actually the name of one of the characters, pronounced On-YAY-gin. I should have watched this before the show:

But, to be honest, it was fun to have a good laugh at myself and to hear other patrons laughing about the same thing with their companions as we left the theatre. Among the jokes about the mispronunciations were some noteworthy comments about the story, the music, the set, the costumes and more. In two words, the entire production was supremely impressive. In more words, I would see this show several times if given the opportunity.

What Is Onegin?

Onegin is inspired by a poem and opera from the 1800’s. Evgeni Onegin, a handsome man not willing to be tied down by love, visits the Larin family estate to meet his friend’s fiancee. There, Onegin meets Tatyana, a shy bookish girl ready to be swept away into the new and delicious world of romance. Onegin’s visit stirs up more than just passion! Much drama pursues among unforgettable musical numbers and convincing performances that completely immersed me in long-ago Russia.

The press release for this show described this hit musical as a rock concert, back kitchen party and love poem. I couldn’t describe it any other way. Seven cast members and three musicians shared one stage, and created layers and layers of art, beginning with the opening number in which they declare: “We hope to please, we hope to charm, we hope to break you open.” And they most certainly did!

My Favourite Scene

Prior to seeing the show, I read The Georgia Straight’s review which proclaimed, “You’re lucky to be alive right now…because you get to see Onegin.” I thought this was a bit dramatic. Then I saw the show and I really do feel lucky to have seen it. The music alone was well worth it. My favourite song was Let Me Die when Tatyana spends her first night after meeting him pining for him, writing feverishly in her journal about her desires, fighting that voice inside her that begs her to get a grip on herself.

Here’s a taste of that song:

Now imagine sitting just rows away from Tatyana on stage with her voice reaching to the far ends of the theatre, able to see her every facial expression and movement as she wrestles with what she wants and what she isn’t sure she can have. It was breathtaking.
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Photo Credit: David Cooper
Kudos to creators Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille on their incredible success! In an interview with Hille she explained, “When we started writing Onegin, I was ready to dive into grand romance. This show has let me feel things I haven’t in ages. Sprawling, messy feelings that led to soaring melodies and hot dreams and some pretty fervent singing.”
Produced through the Arts Club’s Silver Commissions Project (developing new plays since 2006), Onegin collected ten wins at the 2016 Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, making history as the first production to win all but one of the awards in the large theatre category. Now that deserves a standing ovation!

Bravo! And a special shout-out to all the cast and musicians who made this vision come alive.

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Photo Credit: David Cooper

Cast: Lauren Jackson (Tatyana Larin), Jonathan Winsby (Evgeni Onegin), Erik Fraser Gow (Vladimir Lensky), Meaghan Chenosky (Olga Larin and others), Caitriona Murphy (Madame Larin and others), Andrew Wheeler (Prince Gremin and others), and Nadeem Phillip (many others).

Musicians: Barry Mirochnick (percussion and guitar), Jennifer Moersch (cello) and Marguerite Witvoet (piano and keyboards).

My husband and I turned this into a date night and we will definitely do it again. I’m glad that we can stay on this side of the bridge and be entertained by the vibrant arts scene in Surrey.
To check out what’s playing now and in the near future, visit the Surrey Arts Centre’s ticket information site.
I received complimentary tickets to this show in exchange for an honest review. I am proud to partner with Surrey Civic Theatres. Join them on Facebook so you don’t miss a show!

Did you catch my other reviews?

taslim jaffer writer





India Is Obsessed With Light Skin And It Has To Stop

India’s obsession with light skin has followed us to Canada and everywhere that desis have settled, and it has to stop!

I was standing in line at my local Indian grocery store with two of my children. It was a quick run for fresh eggplants and ginger for a curry I was making that evening. As we stood in line to pay for the produce, my eyes wandered over to the area near the cashier where my kids were playing. Lining several shelves within arms’ reach from them were packages of skin bleaching creams. On these boxes, a woman’s face was pictured several times in succession as she faded from her natural brown to a much more light skin colour.

I couldn’t believe it! What if my older daughter had been with me? Someone more aware of her surroundings and who would have noticed those packages. Someone more conscious of what she looks like and aware of the differences among shades of brown. What if my kids ever felt like they needed a product like this?

I pitched the story to the team at The South Asian Buzz, and not only did they love that I was going to cover this, they all shared with me some memories of their younger years. Some were truly heartbreaking.

I’ve since learned that this is not just an issue in the South Asian community but is a phenomenon that spans Asia and Africa. Nobody can pinpoint exactly where it comes from but from the comments I received on my personal Facebook page indicate that everyone wants this to end. Well, everyone except the brands that push this garbage on us.

That little girl inside me who heard comments about fair skin in such a positive light is thrilled that I used my voice to call this out. Some of my favourite pieces to write are the ones that make people question the social ideals that they’ve grown up with.

You can read my article on The South Asian Buzz. Do you have a comment to share about this? I’d love to hear it below or on SAB.

Read The Full Article On The South Asian Buzz

Women’s Heart Health: It’s Time We Were Part Of The Conversation

When I hear the words ‘heart attack’ I automatically think of a man. Not necessarily an older man, because young men (in their 30s and 40s) in my family have had heart attacks. And my father-in-law died suddenly from coronary artery disease just after his 65th birthday. But still…I don’t instantly think of my female second cousin who suffered a heart attack years ago. Or even the women in my family who are on cholesterol-lowering medication. It wasn’t until I read the Heart & Stroke 2018 Heart Report, released at the beginning of this month, that I asked myself, “Why not? Why don’t we think about women’s heart health?”

The conversation needs to begin with research; two thirds of heart disease clinical research focuses on men and is then applied to the entire population. But not all hearts are created equal, and there are significant differences between the sexes. This means, we don’t have enough information about our leading cause of death. As a result, women’s heart health is under-researched, under-diagnosed, under-treated and under-supported. Ladies, it’s not great news. According to Yves Savoie, CEO of Heart & Stroke, “Women’s hearts are still misunderstood. We are decades behind in our knowledge of the differences between men’s and women’s hearts.”

I am sharing this information with you because when I learned about it, it shocked me. I honestly had no idea of this discrepancy, or that women’s hearts are different from men’s. I just assumed that when I or my female relatives go see the doctor about our health concerns, our sex was taken into account and we were treated differently. It makes sense to me now, after reading the report, that women’s heart health is unique subject matter. But the diagnostic tests we take (like the treadmill test) are not nearly sensitive enough to detect issues in women. And when we do require treatment after a heart attack, less than 1/3 of us receive it within time guidelines.

I have heart disease on both sides of my family; as a South Asian Canadian this is not surprising. According to the recent report, South Asian, Chinese and Afro-Caribbean women have higher rates of heart disease and poorer outcomes compared to Caucasian Canadians. As well, Indigenous women in Canada are twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease.

This is all super grim, I realize, but as a woman I feel like I need to know this. It’s only by learning these statistics, hearing stories shared by women who have lived through these experiences and heeding their advice can I continue to advocate for my best health.

Some Facts About Canadian Women’s Heart Health

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death for Canadian women.
  • Every 20 minutes a woman in Canada dies of heart disease.
  • 5 times more women die from heart disease than breast cancer.
  • Early heart attack signs were missed in 78% of women.
  • Women who have a heart attack are more likely to suffer or die from a second heart attack than men.

The report covers a lot more and I encourage you to look at it. Knowledge is always power.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m approaching 40 but I’m thinking about my health in a different way than I have in the past. It’s a good thing, though. I know it’s not 100% in my hands but I can at least try for optimal health.

I’m going to be focusing on specific areas and sharing my journey in different ways with you.

4 Healthy Lifestyle Choices I Am Focusing On

  • Eating well
  • Moving
  • Reducing stress
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

What are some of your health goals? Ladies, how are you keeping your heart in top shape? Please share with me in the comments!

taslim jaffer writer

Bergmann Piano Duo: 4 Hands, 2 Pianos, 1 Incredible Performance

On February 15, I was invited to enjoy just over an hour of live piano music at Surrey Civic Theatres, skillfully delivered by Surrey-based pianists Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann. The 129-seat Studio Theatre is intimate and comfortable and exactly the place you want to experience a performance by the Bergmann Piano Duo. I love live music because – other than the exceptional sound quality – watching musicians in their element, doing what they love, has such an impact on my soul.

I love to see live performances at Surrey Civic Theatres. Here's my review of the Bergmann Piano Duo.

Observing Elizabeth and Marcel non-verbally communicate across the bells of the gorgeous grand pianos was fascinating in itself. Pianists play, not just with their hands, but with their faces and whole bodies; being able to witness the nods, facial expressions and synchronized breaths so close up was awesome!

Elizabeth and Marcel are international performers who have played throughout North America and Europe. They are also Artistic Directors of White Rock Concerts and are on faculty at the Langley Community Music School. Marcel arranges the music for their CD collection and live performances, and it’s obvious he and Elizabeth are a dynamic pair when they make those pieces come alive.

This clip gives you a taste of their chemistry as they talk about their musical life together. You don’t even have to be a fan of piano to appreciate how amazing it must be to share a life with someone equally passionate about an art.

At The Movies With The Bergmann Piano Duo

The show I attended was called ‘At The Movies’ and highlighted selections from West Side Story (L. Bernstein, arr. M. Bergmann), The Big Country (J. Moross, arr. M. Bergmann), Oblivion (A. Piazzolla, arr. M. Bergmann), The Mission (E. Morricone, arr. M. Bergmann) and An American in Paris (G. Gershwin). Though I was only familiar with West Side Story, the narration and synopses by David Mann provided enough context to help me understand the mood of the pieces that followed. I noted that The Mission and An American in Paris sound like great films; it would be fun to watch them now that I have a taste of the music that weaves throughout the stories.

The Bergmann Piano Duo is playing again at Surrey Civic Theatres on Thursday April 19, accompanied by vocalist and actress Onalea Gilbertson. In the cabaret-style show, From Berlin to Hollywood, the audience is treated to selections from the Threepenny Opera and other hits. Afterward, there is even a chance to mingle with the Bergmanns!

Bergmann Piano Duo, Surrey Civic Theatres, surrey bc, taslim jaffer, taslim jaffer writer, surrey arts scene

Excuse me if I sound a little dreamy, but the curved bells of the piano in an embrace under theatre lights set quite the stage for my brief middle-of-the-work-day escape. I had slipped into my seat in the Studio Theatre after teaching a writing workshop and next on my list was a phone call with a client; the interlude felt like an opening of my creative self. I sailed into my phone meeting feeling invigorated and inspired. And that is the true beauty of art – it reaches into all the other parts of your life, even the tired, empty spaces, and fills them with energy.

Do you like to watch live performances? What was the last show (musical, theatrical) you saw? Tell me in the comments!

Watch this space for more suggestions of what to see and be sure to check out my other reviews.

I received a ticket to the show in exchange for my honest review. I’m proud to partner with Surrey Civic Theatres. You can find them on Facebook here.

taslim jaffer writer 




Year of Yes By Shonda Rhimes: 5 Kick-Ass Takeaways

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes was showing up everywhere on my social feeds last year. Truth be told, I didn’t know who Shonda Rhimes was; I just knew she wrote a book that a lot of people were paying attention to. I hadn’t really been a T.V. person until Netflix entered my life in a big way last summer so that might explain why I was one of the few people on Earth who hadn’t watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. (Don’t worry: I’ve rectified this situation by binging episodes since last week. I am totally in love with Dr. McDreamy and well on my way to collecting dark circles under my eyes to satisfy this obsession). What inspired me to give Grey’s a try was reading Year of Yes.

What I Learned from Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes: How to Dance it out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Threaded throughout this memoir slash personal development book was Shonda’s creative process, and as a writer those bits thrilled me. What I took away from this book, besides a curiosity for her shows, has become a part of my own personal and creative life. If you haven’t read this book, I gave it 5 stars on my Goodreads app which means you need to get your hands on these pages and read them – stat!

Here are my 5 kick-ass takeaways from Year of Yes

1. Own your badassery and get your swagger on. When Shonda talked about how women react to being given a compliment, I was like, that is so me. If someone tells me they loved something I wrote, I will do any number of the following: look away, cast my eyes downward, shrug my shoulders, shake my head, mumble something, or say: “oh…huh…” and giggle. Since reading that powerful section on badassery and swagger in Year of Yes, I will now look the person in the eye and say, “thank you” (because if nothing else, that is just polite!) and ask them a follow-up question to engage them in conversation about the topic. Or I say something like, “I really appreciate you reading. It was important to me to put that out there.” I do value my readers – so much! – and writing is a lot of work. I don’t want to undermine either important fact.

2. The 5-mile run. I’m not a runner but I understand the ‘5-mile run’ writing process that Shonda describes. I  have since borrowed this metaphor for my writing classes. The 5-mile run in writing is that process of pushing on, keeping on, ignoring the distractions, knocking down those demons, shushing that voice that says ‘someone else has written this better than you’, and writing, writing, writing until you conquer those 5 miles of cobwebs and are now…in the zone. That is the sweet spot for a writer (and I guess for a runner!) and it’s where we want to be every day. But it’s a practice. The more often you run those 5 miles or write through the junk in your head, the better you get at it and the faster you get to the zone. Really, this applies to anything. You can’t get to where you want to be when you’re looking everywhere else.

3. Recognize and love your inner child. Shonda talked a lot about her little girl self in a way that encouraged my own little girl self to start showing up more. Either that or I just started seeing her more. I’ve always been attached to that awkwardly-dressed, big-eyed dreamer who I know still lives inside me – a permanent 7 year old who follows her more adventurous friend through the woods to play, who sings in an imaginary band, reads everything she can get her hands on, and collects notebooks. She’s nervous in new situations, is unsure about whether she’s doing things ‘right’ but absolutely knows what she loves. She’s a wonderful companion to me when I’m writing, and always.

4. The Year of Yes is also about ‘no’. I didn’t jump to get the book when I heard the title because I’m trying to be more conscious about saying ‘no’. I say ‘yes’ to a lot of things (it’s how I carve my entrepreneurial path). But I know that to live an authentic life, I have to identify what’s important to me – not just so I can create time for those things but so I can take back my energy from what’s not important. The deeper I got into this book, the more I realized that this is exactly what Shonda recognizes, too. Saying ‘no’ can be difficult. For me, it sometimes comes with guilt or the worry that I will look like  a bad person. But if I always keeps my own values in the forefront, the ‘no’ is just a ‘yes’ to what’s more important to me.

5. You can’t do it all at the same time. This. Is. So. True. The way Shonda explained it, if she’s winning at work, she’s losing at motherhood. Or winning at motherhood and losing at work. Put your hand up if you can relate to THAT?! I remember this one day, in particular, just after I read that section of the book, I had this amazing work day. I checked everything off my to-dos and even started on something for later that week. Like, I rocked that work day. I picked up my kids after school, and I was humming and smiling and practically skipping from the car to their classrooms. Straight from school, we drove to the swimming pool where all 3 kids had lessons at the same time. Yeah, because I’m a kick-ass mom who managed to get lessons for all 3 kids in 3 different levels at the same time. As the kids changed into their swimming gear, I realized…I forgot to pack them towels! Which meant that in 30 minutes I would have two soaking wet kids, shivering, with no towel. And 15 minutes later, their older sister who had a longer lesson would join them. Talk about a mom fail! And of course, the pool wasn’t close enough for me to go back home, grab towels and come back. I’d be cutting it tight and risk not being there when my 3 year old came out looking for me. Also, I don’t like to leave the building when my kids are in swimming. So, I was stuck. And then I laughed because…I WAS JUST LIKE SHONDA RHIMES so how bad could that be? I shared this in my IG stories; it was the perfect example of how you can’t win at everything all at once! (Thankfully, the pool let me borrow a towel so nobody was actually forced to put their street clothes on soaking wet).

These takeaways from Year of Yes quickly gave that book ‘game changer’ status for me. It’s one of those books I could read again and stand to benefit from often.

Have you read it? What did you love about it? On another note, are you a Grey’s fan? Don’t tell me anything about it! I’m only on season 2!

taslim jaffer writer

Live Your Authentic Life By Answering This One Question

Over the recent Family Day long weekend, my family and I spent a night in Whatcom County. It was sunny and clear but there was quite a nip coming off Lake Whatcom. Perfect weather for sitting in a window seat, watching the small ripples chase each other toward the shoreline. I pulled my journal onto my lap while the kids busied themselves with a card game. I figured I’d just dump some of the thoughts tumbling around in my head before making lunch. I didn’t know I would stumble upon an exercise I’d recommend to help you live your authentic life.

How do you live an authentic life? Answering this one question is a good start.



Sometimes when I journal, I have a particular thing I want to work out and I just need to see it all physically to make sense of it, to gain some clarity. But that day, it truly was just a moment when I felt like I wanted to take advantage of quiet children and a sunny spot by the window. I started writing random thoughts that piggy backed on each other and didn’t necessarily flow. I start every writing class I teach with this exercise; it’s called a free write. My students (and I) find it a great way to clear out the cobwebs before we move on to other writing tasks. It’s also a phenomenal way to tap into that authentic voice and let it be heard on the page.

After about a page of these random thoughts, I ended up writing this: One day I will look back and think, wow, this is not the important stuff.

The Question To Ask When Wanting To Live An Authentic Life

And no, it wasn’t. I hadn’t intended on writing out anything ‘important’ but clearly, there was a part of me that wanted to. So, I penned: What is important to me? And I wrote down the first thing that came to mind. And then I asked: What else is important to me? And I wrote down the words that described the image I saw in my mind. I continued asking myself, on paper, “What else is important to me?” and each time I saw something pop up, effortlessly, in my mind. I did this 13 times before I drew a blank and felt like I was searching. I decided to quit then because I didn’t want to force anything. Those 13 responses came so easily and felt so right; thinking too hard might have changed the whole experience.

Once I identified the important-to-me things, my values shone through loud and clear: connecting regularly with family and friends, connecting regularly with my faith and Nature, the arts, creating travel opportunities for myself and my family, inspiring others to think about their legacy and their authentic life, and self-care. When I look at these values, it’s easy to see where I need to place my energy and where I can probably take some back. That’s vital; we have a certain amount of energy that we can expend in a given day. Knowing what’s important makes it easier to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t.

authentic life, live your authentic life, living your authentic life, taslim jaffer writer, jamie dunlop khau

I wanted to share this with you so you could give it a try. If it’s not through writing then maybe it’s something else that gets you in the zone. Running? Hiking? Deep breathing with your eyes closed? What clears your mind enough to let that authentic voice be heard?

According to palliative nurse Bronnie Ware, one of the top 5 regrets of the dying is not living a life true to oneself. Answering this question – what is important to me? – might help circumvent that. Or at least, it’s a solid first step.

What is important to you?

I’d love to hear in the comments, if you’re willing to share, 1 or 2 things that are important to you.

taslim jaffer writer