Writing Through Grief

Yesterday marked 15 years since my grandma passed away. Letting her go after her sudden heart attack was a difficult process; she was a significant mother figure to me and an important teacher. Through her words and actions she taught me about resilience, faith and the power of a great story. Losing her was a shock that I worked hard to move through during my second year of marriage and grad school but the show did go on. Over the years I have remembered her fondly, kept her photo in my writing studio, and smiled to myself at memories that hover briefly like hummingbirds.

the writer and her grandma

Two days ago, however, Grief showed up and filled the entire doorway. Barged in without a knock. Pinned me to my desk with giant hands pressing my shoulders. I couldn’t move. I wasn’t permitted to do anything except feel my heart ripping again. From deep inside me, from the fleshy parts where memories reside, spilled tears I didn’t know I still had for her. I sobbed with my head bowed. I had no choice but to succumb, understanding that this would pass but, for that moment, Grief was calling the shots.

When I was done, when I could inhale and exhale without dissolving again, I reached for a blank sheet of paper and wrote:

Tomorrow is 15 years since I said bye to Maa. If it’s true, if there is such a thing, then when I see her next, I’ll be stepping off an elevator around the corner from her second floor apartment. Before I see her, I will know her door is wide open and she is waiting in the doorway. I will hear her hood fan, smell the spices. When I round that corner, I will see her ear-to-ear grin, her crinkly eyes, her outstretched arms. She will call my name and I will rush forward, feel her soft body, hear her chuckle in my ear. I will lean back so she can plant kisses on my cheeks. She will usher me in and then feed me omelette with cilantro, and decades of untold stories.

Essayist Anaïs Nin said, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.” I had a chance that day to taste those moments with Maa again. My eyes, my nose, my cheeks, my hands had recorded every greeting with her at that apartment, and on a day that I faced the gaping hole she left, I was able to stretch out a memory and play it against the darkness like a movie screen.

If this is it, then – if this is all there is – I am thankful for it. If I never round that corner after stepping off the elevator in some other dimension where loved ones live, then at least I can do it on the page while my mind’s eye travels over the loose skin on Maa’s hands and my body remembers her.

Taslim Jaffer writer

A Closet Full Of Joy: My Experience With A Personal Stylist

I am not much of a shopper; I’m one of those ‘in-and-out’ kind of girls. If I know I need a pair of shorts for an upcoming trip, I will stop in at a store, walk straight over to the shorts section and pick a pair that fits. I’ll buy it, leave, and move on to my next to-do. When I’ve needed more than just one item, I will put off the task, and instead wish I had a personal stylist. Well, as luck would have it, I became friends with one a few years ago.

Dee and I met at an event in 2016 that honoured Vancouver’s Top 30 Mom Bloggers (Dee was the cream of the crop that year!). Our encounter was brief but we followed each other online, ended up meeting up at a charity fashion show (I was there for the charity, she was there for both the charity and the fashion) and we hit it off really well.

I was actually surprised that I could be friends with a personal stylist. I guess I had my own judgements about what kind of person would gravitate to a career like that. I imagined a stylish woman in leopard-print and (faux) leather might look down on someone with a wardrobe overwhelmingly comprised of leggings and sweatpants. But our weekly phone conversations and the way she celebrates me as a mom, writer and friend, showed me that Dee sees right past the oversized sweatshirt and into the soul of the people she meets. Or else, she is really good at holding her tongue.

The Joy of Style

On her blog, The Joy of Style, she writes in a relatable, light-hearted but no-nonsense way that makes the world of fashion accessible even for someone like me. What she has taught me is that fashion is really just about showing up in the world. It’s about taking that extra minute to tell myself I am worth that extra minute, and that I can still be comfortable outside of sweatpants. I won’t lie to you. I am wearing sweatpants right this minute. I have done this many times since she came on board as my personal stylist. In my opinion, there is a time and a place for soft, elastic-waisted joggers. But I’ve also found that the right pair of jeans and a blouse can be just as easy to slip on, and make me feel a lot different about myself when I wear them out in public.

What Does A Personal Stylist Do?

Dee has a really unique approach to livening up a wardrobe. It’s kind of like a deep-dive into who’s hiding under a typical go-to outfit (for me that was sweatpants, T shirt and hoodie – although when I teach, I smarten up with a pair of jeans, T shirt and cardigan). My work and weekend wardrobe are basically the exact same. A special event might have me wearing a comfortable dress or black pants and a blouse. When she asked me how I would describe my current image, I summed it up in one word: unremarkable.

The thing is, I’m not really an ‘unremarkable’ person. So, describing myself that way kind of hit me in the feels. I think I am a multi-dimensional person with a unique view of the world. I am fun-loving. (Even if I talk about books at parties. Books are fun). There is definitely room for moto jackets and books in my life. But it wasn’t so much that I was hiding in my current closet but more that shopping is just not fun for me. Hunting for items in racks is not fun. Turns out a personal stylist does that for you!

But before Dee selected some new items for me, she wanted to see what I already had in my closet. I loved this about her! It’s not about buying a brand new wardrobe, but rekindling some magic with what you already have. (My husband also appreciated this by the way, as it kept the cost down!) If you are in the vicinity, she will pop in and take a look at what you’ve got but we did this by FaceTime. At the end of the hour, I was amazed at how many outfits I had hiding in there simply because I didn’t know how to put them together. She also made me bring out my 12 year old jean jacket, the one I just never thought to wear when I could wear an oversized hoodie instead. And now it’s actually one of my favourite accessories!

This 12 year old jean jacket and I were reacquainted during the closet remix session. Dee found this amazing graphic T for me!
 Photo credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside

The process of putting outfits together also taught me what elements to look for when I do need to replace an item or want to add to my wardrobe. For example, with my style, I could probably never have too many graphic T’s. I love them with jeans and with skirts (even my sparkly sequins skirt I own).

After creating a couple of Pinterest boards for Dee to review (of things I love and things I loathe), Dee went shopping for me (woohooo!) and put aside a good number of T shirts, blouses, jeans, and jackets. We then met up the next day, walked in to each store, tried on what was already put aside for me, and I could quickly say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each item. This was the main reason I wanted a personal stylist.

Here are some outfits I was able to put together with the new items I bought:

I had the jeans in my closet already, and I love pairing it with this super comfy, pink blouse. It makes me feel a little poetic with the big sleeves! Photo Credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside
personal stylist, dee clarke, the joy of style, taslim jaffer writer
I bought this sequin skirt last winter but didn’t know how to wear it with anything! Dee helped me pair it with this graphic T and moto jacket. Photo Credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside

 

Another item I owned for a year without wearing was this fur vest. I loved it but again, didn’t know what to wear it with. I chose to wear it with this plaid shirt and distressed jeans I bought with Dee.   Photo Credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside
Here are those jeans again! I paired them with this floral blouse and a comfortable jersey blazer which is perfect for when I teach or go to an editorial meeting. Photo Credit: Jamie Khau, Styling the Inside

Now What?

After my personal styling experience with Dee, did I turn into a shopper? Not really. I don’t feel the need to buy anything for the sake of buying it. But I don’t feel overwhelmed at the idea of having to do it when the time comes. I know which stores carry the kinds of styles I gravitate toward. I know my size a little better now, too!

Choosing clothes in the morning or for an occasion feels more fun, too. Especially when I pair something together I hadn’t done before.

If you’re curious about how a personal stylist can help you, I wouldn’t hesitate to contact Dee. You can check out her blog, The Joy of Style, and read some of her posts to get a better feel for her ideas and philosophy.

Got any questions? Leave them in the comments below!

taslim jaffer writer

 

One Girl Can: Give These Girls A Home On Giving Tuesday!

I’m really glad Giving Tuesday is here. To be honest, after Black Friday (which now seems to start the week before), Cyber Monday, and all the holiday catalogues screaming BUY BUY BUY at me, I’m grateful for a day that is all about giving. Every year, I ask my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram friends to share their favourite causes. Reading through their responses reminds me of what’s really important. It also fills me with hope; there are so many people invested in doing good for local and global communities. One organization that I am proud to support is One Girl Can.

One Girl Can provides scholarships for high school and university girls in Kenya and Uganda. They also build schools and mentor girls to create a vision and plan for their life. I was introduced to them by my friend Jamie who invited me to attend their annual fundraiser a couple years ago. I took some time to learn more about what they do and made sure it aligned with my values, and this spring my family and I sponsored a girl named Faith for one year of her high school education. My dream is to be able to see Faith through her education and fund more girls.

Here’s Faith holding a picture of my family we sent with the One Girl Can team on their most recent visit to Kenya:

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, lotte davis, scholarships for girls, kenya, uganda
Photo Credit: Adam Amengual

Double Your Impact On Giving Tuesday By Purchasing Holiday Cards

If you’d like to make a difference in a girl’s life, you don’t need to commit to sponsoring one today. I know that it takes more than reading one blog post to help you decide if that’s the route for you. But what you can do this Giving Tuesday that is impactful in many ways is purchase their beautiful holiday cards. 100% of the funds go directly to building a new dormitory for the girls at Magomano Boarding School so they can have a safe and healthy place to live while they study.

This is the current dormitory – you can see it needs to be replaced!

And today is a great day to make this generous purchase because AG Hair is going to MATCH your donations! So, you can buy a pack of 5 cards for $25, and $50 goes directly to rebuilding this dormitory. If you have more people on your list (teachers, employers, employees, Secret Santas, dinner party hosts) then you can save yourself money by buying larger quantities (12 for $50, and 15% off orders of 24 or more). My kids are excited to give one to each of their teachers! Not only do the cards showcase the happy, hopeful faces of girls who are directly impacted by your generosity, but the message inside is one that anyone would want to receive.

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, scholarships for girls in kenya

“Build A Home For The Holidays: I’ve donated to One Girl Can on your behalf to help build a much-needed dormitory at Magomao Girls Boarding School in Kenya, creating safe and healthy living conditions and expanding girls’ access to education.”

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, scholarships for girls, kenya

I would be so honoured if someone thought of me when they bought these cards. I also think they are worth sending because they can inspire others to give back, too. And giving is vital to our emotional and spiritual health, I am sure of it.

Click the photo below of these driven, ambitious girls to visit One Girl Can’s holiday cards campaign page.

taslim jaffer writer, taslim jaffer, one girl can, holiday cards, scholarships for girls, kenya

I hope this post has been a little breath of fresh air for you as it has been for me.

Do you have any questions about One Girl Can or their holiday cards campaign? Please leave it in a comment below!

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.

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

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.

 

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

 

Valentine’s Quotes You’ll Want To Take Note Of

I’ve always been inspired by quotes. My piano teacher had them all over her studio and I would take some time most lessons, before or after, to peer at them. I memorized the words and repeated them back, enjoying the way they’d roll off my tongue under my breath. I’ve turned to quotes to stir my heart, lift my soul, and motivate me to keep pushing on. During a particularly dark time in my life, I created inspirational, pay-it-forward cards that have travelled the world! People bought them directly from me or from other gift stores like Brick & Mortar Living, and then sent them on international adventures. Recently, I started making digital quotes that you can check out in my Instagram Story Highlights.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you may want to throw in a little quote for your friend or lover. To make it easier for you to find the something cute, funny or downright-gushy, I thought I’d share this blog post with you of 61 Valentine’s quotes from ProFlowers.

Here’s one I absolutely love – because after almost 15 years of marriage, I can tell you it is SO TRUE:

Valentine's Quotes, valentine's day, quotes about love, love quotes, taslim jaffer writer

This one is also true and perhaps just as important:

valentine's quotes, valentine's day, chocolates and quotes, love quotes, quotes on love, taslim jaffer writer

What’s YOUR favourite quote on love? I’d love to hear it in the comments! Maybe I’ll even create something for my Instagram stories and tag you in it!

taslim jaffer writer

Considering My Legacy At This Stage In My Life

At my last book club meeting, we discussed When Breath Becomes Air by Dr. Paul Kalanithi. It’s the memoir of a resident doctor in his mid-30’s who explores the dance between medicine and philosophy against the backdrop of mortality and meaning. It was a book he started after his terminal diagnosis of lung cancer and finished shortly before he died. I enjoyed this thought-provoking, reflective piece of literature,  which was at times written at arms-length from the emotional baggage of impending death. It can be refreshing to talk about death that way – as in what can we learn from this thing we don’t know a whole lot about? While sitting in an intimate circle, the fireplace casting warmth, the 7 of us book club members spent a significant part of the evening on legacy.

I think about death and legacy a lot. I think this is largely because my mom passed away just before her 56th birthday. In fact, 9 years to this week, she was admitted to the hospital (for the second to last time). During our visit with her, my mom sat up in bed and told my brother and I she was sorry she wasn’t ‘leaving much’ for us. I’m sure we mumbled some reassuring words about how that wasn’t true but I honestly don’t remember the conversation going past that. Talking about her inevitable death made us uncomfortable even as the curtain of denial slowly slipped off the truth we needed to face.

What I would say to her now is that what she left us continues to show itself day after day, year after year. Her legacy lives on in the way I love my children, in the way our family continues to gather in good times and bad, in the way we support the hungry, in the way I dance around the kitchen. I see her in all those moments and more. While my memories of her come in snapshots and I now have to think really hard to remember her movements and the sound of her voice, what has never dulled are the intangible things.

Legacy and Writing

Legacy is also heavy on my mind because as a writer, I consider my work to be my literary footprint. The thing that will outlast me. Some people write their memoirs solely for that reason, and I encourage it in the classes I teach. Our articulated thoughts and ideas, and the way we affect one another, are all part of what we leave behind.

Thinking about our mortality is not morbid – it’s motivating. Admittedly, it’s not easy for most of us, but it truly can guide us to living our most meaningful lives. Throughout his book, Dr. Kalanithi shared how the decisions he made at each stage of his illness were all weighed against what was most meaningful to him at that time. Of course, he knew his life would be much shorter than what a healthy man his age could expect so there were probably a lot of things he threw out the window. When we don’t know how long we have to live, but can assume it’s a fair chunk of time, our options look different.

But maybe it’s not just about how long we have to live. Maybe it’s about how WIDE we want to. I’ve written before about wanting to live a wide life, not just a long one. These kinds of thoughts have always steered me toward a deeper satisfaction than anything I have ever chased mindlessly.

As a woman, a mother, entering her 40’s in just a few months, the lenses with which I see this world are changing a little. I’m excited by this shift. It’s helping me consider my legacy, define my values and fine-tune my goals. I’m embracing all of it and looking forward to the gems I will find along the way. Stick around – I’ll share more about my road to 40 as I tap my happy feet toward this new decade!

considering my legacy, my legacy, taslim jaffer writer,

What is something you hope will be part of the legacy you leave behind? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

taslim jaffer writer

 

 

 

 

 

Behind My Rebrand – And Moving Forward

For 6 years I wrote under a beautiful butterfly and a bold demand: Let ME Out!! I started this blog as a mom of 2 – a preschooler and a toddler – when I desperately needed to dive into my creativity and find myself. I asked you to come along with me for the ride, and you did. And now here I am. I’m out! It’s time to stretch my wings under a rebrand.

I’m Taslim Jaffer. Welcome to my new site.

I’ve known a rebrand was coming for the last couple years. That fact hit home every time I’d be at a blogger event and someone would say, “Oh heyyyyy! You’re Let ME Out!!” while squinting at me as though trying to find my avatar in who stood before them. Mmmm…yes. At one time, I was. But there’s a lot more to who I am and to my work now, and I finally have a space to share all of that with you.

My friend Raj, from Pink Chai Media, was an enormous part of this transition. As exciting as a rebrand is, there are many technical and design elements, and big-picture thinking required that can be exhausting to figure out. She made the process smooth and fun with her savviness and passion for helping entrepreneurs put their best out there. And through it all, she helped me see myself in a different light. The photographer on her team, Aziz, was just as excited for my changes and supported me with his talent in visuals and photography. Thanks, team Pink Chai!

I’m ready to discover the world as the woman I am now: entering my 40s, focused on my professional and personal goals, a lover of the arts, wanderlust and a mom of school-aged kids.

taslim jaffer, taslim jaffer writer, rebrand, rebranding my site, pink chai media
Image credit: Jamie Khau www.stylingtheinside.com

And this is where I’d like to share all that with you. I’ll also keep you in the loop about my recent writings that are published outside this blog. And for editors and publishers, I’ve created a portfolio of work that I will keep updated. As I rediscovered my love of writing through blogging, I also became passionate about teaching others how to write their own stories. This is a fun part of my work week! My current community and rehabilitative writing classes will be posted on this site, too.

From Then To Now

Six years ago when I started blogging, I had my preschooler and my toddler underfoot. I was writing in little bits and spurts, and was just growing into the identity of ‘writer’ while working as a speech therapist. Now I have 3 kids who are busy at school all day. Writing is my full-time career and my love. It’s how I earn an income but also how I know who I am, how I discover the world, how I share that world, how I speak up about what matters. Though I am comfortable with my identity now as a writer, I also love that it stretches me. I hope to never reach a point where I say, “I’ve written it all.”

To my Let ME Out!! readers, thank you. I truly hope you benefited from the blog posts and the personal development workbooks. You’re my crew who will especially love my new section called Inspired Living. And to anyone who’s stopping here for the first time, I hope we can get to know each other better.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Are you a reader from the Let ME Out!! days? Or did you just stumble here today for the first time?

 

 

5 Things I’m Going To Do To Make 2018 Awesome!

The turn of the calendar is a fresh start, and while it’s not the only time of year we feel an urge to renew or redefine, it’s a great time to evaluate our current circumstances and aspirations. Just hours from now, we will ring in the new year! This one feels big to me; I’m turning 40, my youngest is off to elementary school, my husband and I will celebrate our 15 year anniversary, and professionally and personally, I got plans. In general, here are 5 things I’m going to do to make 2018 awesome.

Here’s How I Will Make 2018 Awesome

Date my husband. We’re coming up to 15 years of marriage and have grown in many ways since then. We’ve lived in 4 homes (in 2 provinces), had 3 children, a miscarriage, lost 2 parents, established ourselves professionally while switching careers, and too many other things to take inventory of here. We’ve grown as best friends but could you blame us if the romance took a little beating? We’ve been lucky to have family close by who could relieve us for a spell while we grabbed dinner or a movie, and even had one weekend away together in the 10 years of parenthood. But we’re ramping this up in 2018. I’m talking frequent date nights (made much easier by an amazing teenager on our street!) and…wait for it…New York City!

how to make 2018 awesome, taslim jaffer writer

Read more. I’m in a book club so I am guaranteed to read a book a month, but I’d like to double this. I’ll be recording my books on my Goodreads app (you can keep up to date by checking out my current read in the sidebar) and I’ll share my thoughts with you here and on Instagram. My to-be-read pile is huge but I’m always adding to the list, so please drop a recommendation in the comments. My favourite genre is memoir but I also love historical fiction and anything with an emotional pull.

Learn more. I want to learn all the things. You can’t be following me anywhere and not know that I’m learning Spanish (and I want to continue with this and set specific goals in this area), but I’m also talking about professional development. Good for the brain and good for the biz. Win-win, right? I also like to learn for the sake of learning. I find Netflix to be a really good resource for documentaries that stimulate my mind, get me thinking about things, and inspire me. I’ve talked about Netflix as a tool for language learning but there’s a lot more on there. My other interests include food, health, social change and human rights. As I come across something that I think will interest you, I’ll let you know here and on Twitter where I share a lot of my #streamteam thoughts.

Do less, focus more. My good friend, Jamie, taught me this one. It’s become really easy for me to say ‘no’ to things that don’t align with my values or goals, making room to focus on the things that are. This is true for my work and it’s true for my relationships and commitments. This will be an integral tool for helping me make 2018 awesome!

Move more. I started exercising regularly this past fall (ok, I kind of fell out of rhythm in December…but that’s why January is there, right?) and it felt great to move. I am having some difficulty with getting up early especially since it’s dark and cold in the mornings but it really is the best time for me to commit 30 minutes to myself. So, I guess I should just suck it up, right? Aside from my workout videos, I’d like to get back to going for walks and being more regular at Zumba. I’ll keep you posted on this as it’s a big part of my road to 40.

How are you planning to make 2018 awesome? I’d love to hear in the comments!