When You’re Not Where You Think You Should Be, It’s OK #MotivationMonday

There’s this concept that is totally made up – that we have made up – and it traps us and binds us and makes us crazy. It causes us to lose sight of what we have, where we are, how far we’ve come, and most importantly, who we are as these amazing beings.

It’s this idea of needing to be in a certain place in our lives at a certain time. Or rather, needing to be at the peak, at the top, at the imagined height of our potential or career or relationship or whatever. But that’s not really how life works and the sooner we stop fighting the truth, the easier time we’ll have actually moving forward and experiencing the things that we want in our lives.

I was the Queen of I-Should-Be-There (there being anywhere but where I was). I’m a habitual goal-setter and planner and when anything derailed those objectives I set for myself I took it as a personal offense. I would be led, kicking and screaming, onto what I thought was a new path that I hadn’t foreseen or even known existed. Now I know that the ‘new’ path was actually THE path I had always been on, the one with my name on it, the one that I am still on. It’s just the scenery that changes every so often.

And no matter how hard I kicked or how loud I screamed, I ended up here. Doing things I never actually planned to do – and loving it. Now I see I can be excited about what’s to come without being stressed about constantly trying to pull it out of thin air. It’s coming anyway. I can just keep strolling down the path and we’ll meet at just the right intersection.

Understanding this has basically opened my eyes to that woo-woo concept of abundance. You know: there’s enough for everybody and you have everything you need, always. It’s shocking when the woo-woo things become true things. Even to me, who always has one foot on the side of woo-woo.

Feeling like there’s enough of the pie to go around doesn’t make me feel rushed to get to the table. It’ll be there when I get there. And there’ll still be pie. Just the kind of pie that I like.

I think that’s what abundance is – knowing that there isn’t a rush, there isn’t a competition.

I’m getting there. You’re getting there. One foot after the other, one experience after another, one lovely connection after another, one idea after another. Come to think of it, I don’t actually want to get to the peak of my potential. There’s only place to go after the peak and I’m not interested in that.

Moving forward is fun now that I’m seeing every change in scenery as the Universe’s way of keeping things interesting. It’s been a beautiful path, including the moments I’ve had to rest on a log and weep or felt weary. I’m starting my week feeling thankful for that. For all of it.

If you need some motivation this Monday, I hope this can help. Be ambitious but stop pushing things. Do you really want this to be a sprint when you can enjoy the view instead? And just where do you think this all ends? I’m not in a rush to find out.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

The Key To Being Happy

There was a long period of time when I felt like happiness and I were at two different ends of the room. Trying to catch up to happiness was like weaving through a crowd where nobody was parting the way – meanwhile, happiness kept changing location.

It was frustrating.

Over time, it’s occurred to me that happiness is not at the other end of the room or in any location outside of me, but actually exists within my perspective. I know, I know. I’ve read the memes and been to personal development conferences. I was fed a steady diet of Wayne Dyer growing up. But it’s one thing to hear the words and another to really, truly understand them.

I’ve always found journaling to be a source of reflection which helps me see things in a different light. I could start out writing about how terrible I feel about myself – maybe I’m having a yell-y mom day or feel overwhelmed when comparing myself to others – but once I start writing all of those thoughts in a space that is free of judgment and allows me to be totally real, my tone starts changing. I start talking to myself like a friend. Encouraging myself, reminding myself of the wonderful parts of me, and really helping me focus on being authentic and making decisions from that place. That ability to express freely, to reflect without bias, and to write down the loving words that come from deep inside me has kept me connected to happiness.

Yes, happiness is found inside me.

I’m also conscious of placing the responsibility of keeping me happy on myself rather than anything or anyone else. I have a great network of friends who I enjoy being with but they don’t govern my happiness. My kids – I love them to death. But God knows, in day-to-day moments, if interactions with them were the sole things that made me happy…well, my emotions would be all over the spectrum. My husband is my partner in every way and I love him deeply. But again, if I relied on him to be happy, I’d be off the mark.

While my relationships and my thoughts can sway my emotions, who I am as a person, my gifts, my talents, my dreams, my faith in goodness, are like the rocks at the bottom of the fast-moving river that can’t be budged.

Time and again, I’ve dived deep and rested on those rocks through journaling. It really helps me understand what I want, what I don’t want, where I’m at, where I’m not at, and how to be content with it all. Most of all, it helps me bring to light the things I wouldn’t trade about myself for anything even if those things mean nothing to anyone else. Even if those things don’t make me look successful or flashy or important. Because being anchored to those rocks means that I know what I value. And I think that is part of what keeps me happy.

So, the key to being happy? For me: know myself, make decisions based on what sits well in my soul, and spend time doing the things that please me. Life can be chaotic and unpredictable. But those rocks…they’re amazing places to hang out.

What keeps you happy?

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


Trying To Replace My Frustration With Creativity Can Sometimes Be Exhausting

I’ve just spent over an hour trying to solve a dilemma that frustrates me on several different levels. I’m sharing it with you because it truly is a lesson in examining the kind of thought processes I can get stuck in, and maybe it will help you. Or maybe you will think I’m being needlessly annoyed (and annoying). But I’ll go with the former. For one thing, I just really need to get this off my chest.

So, first: great news! I’ve been given an incredible opportunity to teach creative writing to a group of adolescents. The complicated part: it’s a day-time gig. And it’s on a day that I don’t normally have childcare.

My youngest is in daycare/preschool twice a week. The other days I work around her at home, which isn’t easy but we’ve come to an arrangement that works (mostly to her advantage).

Ok, so no problem, I dust off my creative cap and set to work thinking about who could watch my daughter while I am away the entire morning. On consecutive Fridays. And after about 2.5 seconds I realize that the answer is nobody. My siblings are the first people I think of who can watch my kids but it’s Fridays during the day and it’s one of those opportunities that could go on for several weeks on end. And then, here’s that thought that just kills me. I think, “I wish I still had my mom.”

And yes, I’m allowed to think that. I’ve given myself permission to grieve for her for the rest of my life. Some people might say it’s best not to dwell or cry. I say, until I see her again I will miss her and wish she was here. But then I get stuck. And I start thinking of all the ways she would have been a huge help to me and how much my kids would have enjoyed her, and how it’s not fair that my kids’ friends have grandmothers who are involved. And I think about the ones I see at school picking up their grandkids, driving them to wherever, taking them for the weekend. They really are like another set of parents. And if I’m not careful, those thoughts sit like a heavy lead vest on my shoulders, just holding me down.

Ok, so no problem, I have a little cry and then sigh and think, there is always a solution to a problem. A little tired now, I clear my mind for a minute so I can hear the brilliant ideas that I know are just bubbling beneath my surface. And one comes to the top: ask the preschool if you can switch daycare days. Perfect! I’m a genius!

And guess what? Yes! They can switch days so now she will be cared for on Fridays and I can accept this gig. How easy is that?

Except that when I go to enter the day switches in my calendar I realize that I have actually already signed her up for a ballet class on Fridays. During the day. Because she normally does not have preschool. I can’t just cancel her ballet class because she has been waiting for it to start since the last dance class ended in December. And for heaven’s sake, I just bought her new ballet slippers that she will outgrow by the end of the term so I really want her to be in this ballet class!

Back to the negative thought train. It’s like the whole world is conspiring against me taking on this awesome gig. I take one step forward in my career and all my baggage drags me back down another two or three. (Really, these are the things that pop into my head.)

Ok, so no problem, I face palm, grumble and then think, there is ALWAYS a solution to a problem. Even more tired, and now glancing at the time on my computer screen that shows me my precious preschool day during which I am supposed to get a tonne of work done is slowly going down the drain, I clear my mind for some more inspiration. And it comes: see if there’s another ballet class during the week! So I do.

And guess what? Yes, there is! And it’s on a day that is now free with the preschool days being switched. Except it started today and we missed it. But that’s really not a big deal, especially since they prorate the class so I don’t even have to pay for the one I missed. And now I’m actually $5 ahead of the game!

So, I call and make the ballet class switch. And then I go to enter the classes into my calendar and BOOM: two really important online meetings already scheduled for Wednesday mornings next month (literally the same time as the class). By now I’m a bit exhausted by the whole deal – not so much the looking things up, emailing for schedule changes, calling to cancel classes etc, but just from the whole ‘fighting my demons’ part. That part where I am battling the idea that I am always sacrificing for everyone else.

Because I’m not. At least, I’m not anymore. My work is important to me. And contributing to the family pot is important to me. And if that means my daughter misses a couple ballet classes so I can attend these really important meetings, I’m SO OK with that! I’m not changing my meetings and I don’t feel a smidge of guilt. This is new for me. I’ll turn on a T.V. show so I can be guaranteed 45-60 minutes of quiet during my meetings and hope for the best.

It was really important to me to share that with you because I know many of us go through these types of things on the daily. We are constantly being called to be creative and are constantly being tested to prove to ourselves that we matter. That what we think is important matters. I think I passed the test today. I shed some tears, I thought some thoughts. I felt anger, sadness, disappointment…but ultimately, I feel like I did ok.

I hope that whatever you are facing – trivial or something with enormous consequences – you are able to battle your demons, lean on your creativity and know that the Universe always has your back.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


Love In Unexpected Places

“Do you guys need a cart?”

I looked over my shoulder at the woman parked next to us in the grocery store lot as my two older kids piled out of the minivan. I adjusted my toddler a little higher on my hip as I glanced at her cart.

It was tiny. I smiled. I wouldn’t even be able to fit my two year old in there, let alone a week’s worth of groceries for my family of five. The middle-aged woman pushed her brown hair out of her eyes as a gust of wind brought the aroma of Japanese food from the other end of the parking lot.

“I can totally return that for you, but I’ll be trading it in for the minivan version.”

She laughed and clasped her hands. “Thank you! Oh, I love you!” she said and, after blowing a kiss, turned and got into her two-door hatchback.

I love you. From a total stranger.

Just minutes before, the thoughts that mixed with the sounds of my kids bickering in the backseat as we cruised along on the highway, were also about love. But they were heavy, heavy thoughts. I had been thinking about how sometimes we end up disappointing loved ones when we really try not to. I had been thinking about how sometimes the ones we hope will love us, don’t. Or at least not without condition. I had been thinking that love should be easy to give and receive. If it’s the core of who we are, then why hold on to it with tight fists? Miracles happen – babies grow, immune systems strengthen, cultural gaps are bridged – because of love. Why waste the capacity to spread love?

As I turned away from the car and herded my family into the grocery store it felt like all my questions that were like stones in my heart began to disintegrate and float away. And the answer made itself known: Love DOES come freely. And it IS given freely. And we see that if we are mindful, conscious, awake.

Are you ready to find love in unexpected places? In the eyes of a stranger? In an encounter in the grocery store parking lot? In the chorus of baby birds, the nod of a neighbour walking his dog, the tears of someone deep in the thick of grief. Love is woven into every situation.

Where did you find love today? I’d love to hear in the comments!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


A Tribute To My Teachers Who Shaped My World

It’s that time of year where we pay tribute to the teachers who spent the last 10 months with our children. My kids had wonderful teachers, and that got me thinking about my own superstars – the ones who stood out from the rest and taught me things that have been incredibly useful in real life.

In the spirit of another year of schooling under our belts, I’m sharing lessons from 6 incredible teachers.

  1. Mrs. Humphreys (Gr. 1 and Gr. 2) taught me that I could love reading as much as I wanted to. I could read all the books in my grade and in the next grade, and that was just fine. I could read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to the class, and that was no problem, too. I was in charge of how many words I wanted to devour. I still am, and I am grateful for the freedom in that. Also, she hugged her students all the time, especially when we wore velour. It was the mid-80’s and there was a lot of leftover velour from the previous decade.
  2. Ms. Espenant (Gr. 6) showed me the power of kindness. She gave me a taste of what it felt like to give and receive compliments by engaging her students in a regular program where we did just that. I still have all my compliments in my scrapbook, written by my peers, telling me why I’m awesome. She was fair and always smiling, and she never missed an opportunity to laugh with us.
  3. Ms. Niek (now Dr. Popadiuk, Gr. 8) was the teacher I hung out with at the first football game of the season because I had no friends at my new school in a new part of town. When I looked at the pretty cheerleaders and sighed and said, “I wish I was more like those girls,” she was quick to tell me, “No, you don’t,” and I think she made it her personal mission to make me feel great about being who I am – for years to come. She encouraged me to write, helped me discover the magic in journaling, ate lunch with me when I had nobody to eat lunch with, consoled me when I had my heart broken and so much more. She was a true champion of my worth.
  4. Mr. Bowen (Gr. 8-10) was my band teacher. Oh my God, I loved his class. He made me feel like I was a rockstar with my sax, complimenting my vibrato (which was my nerves in disguise) and giving me and my friend, Jen, an amazing opportunity to play solos in one of our first concerts. He helped me discover how much I love making music with other people, and sharing that music on stage. I miss my band days. If there was something I could add to my life it would be an ensemble of music-lovers. But I don’t know where we’d find a better conductor.
  5. Mr. Dyck and Mr. Kamide (Gr. 9 and 10) were my teachers in the Incentive program I was a part of. This was basically a unique program for Math, Science, Socials Studies and English where we took the curriculum and learned it in incredible ways. I’m lumping them together because they were an amazing team and I know so many of their Incentive students hold them dear in their hearts. Mr. Dyck called us his little chickadees – and even at 15 years of age, those words made us feel warm and fuzzy. He also told me I was a sensitive writer which made no sense to me then, but does now. He brought in guest speakers who did incredible things all around the world, people who reformed their lives, people from all walks who had a lesson to share. It was in his classroom that I first heard Mark Twain’s quote: “Don’t let schooling get in the way of your education.” Mr. Kamide liked us to learn by doing, by role playing, by stepping into the shoes of other people. In his class I gave a presentation from the point of view of a First Nations person; I could barely get through it. My throat closed up. I was so emotional. And it was the perfect way to feel the plight of what others have gone through. Nobody can learn those things from a textbook. Mr. Kamide pushed us to feel things, not just memorize them.

There is one other teacher who I won’t name because I don’t feel it’s right. He was my teacher in Gr. 7, and those of you who have read some of my previous work or heard me speak on stage know that he was the teacher who shut me down when I tried to defend my religion against the backdrop of the Gulf War. Today I remember him in gratitude. If he hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have a powerful introduction to the messages I bring to the stage. I’m not saying what he did was right, or that any teacher should strive to bring their students down in order to build them up. But he was a part of shaping me and I don’t think his role was negative.

There are more teachers – the one whose name I cannot remember for the life of me, who led the International Issues Club when I was in high school. I loved meeting weekly with him and other like-minded students who gave a darn about what was happening in the world. I am thankful that he took his lunch hour to motivate and inspire us.

Gosh, I didn’t think writing this post would make me cry. I hope my children go through their schooling with the kind of compassion, encouragement, support and enthusiasm that I was shown. I so badly want this for my children because I know it’s the type of experience that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Mrs. Humphreys, Ms. Espenant, Dr. Popadiuk, Mr. Bowen, Mr. Dyck and Mr. Kamide – you, simply, rock.

To all you teachers who truly love and respect our children, and want to show them the magic in learning, thank you. You rock, too.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


Are You Living The Width Of Your Life?

I had already planned to write this post before my dad called just now with some news. A distant relative was involved in a car accident last night and did not make it. So, now I’m writing this with an even deeper intention to get the message out.

I think when we are born we are given a certain number of years. That number is written somewhere in some celestial book right beside our name. And when that number is up we’re called Home.

Whether you believe that with me or not is not the point, because no matter which way it happens, the end of our life is inevitable. Whether our years are pre-determined or not, there is a certain length to our life here on Earth.

There is a certain length – but how wide does it go? This existence of ours…how stretchy is it? How much room do we have to discover and learn and experience? How much can we push against boundaries and comfort zones and other limitations?

I think that’s up to us as individuals.

What does it mean to you to live a ‘wide’ life?

To me, it means following my curiosities, reading about the things I want to know about, using my voice to speak up about the things that matter, stepping out of what feels safe and really connecting with people.

I’m growing a veggie garden and that is something I have wanted to do for over a decade. It’s stretched my mind and my soul. I touch dirt every day and it helps me remember I’m alive.

Every time I teach a poetry workshop at the drug treatment centre, I buy a pizza lunch for whoever is living/sitting/sleeping on the sidewalk outside the pizza place. But first, I bend down, I look in their eyes and I ask, “Are you hungry? Do you like pizza? What do you like on your pizza?” Those are some of the most meaningful conversations I have with strangers because what I’m really saying is, “I am with you.”

I write and speak about busting stereotypes in a time of fear. My voice is small but I am using it. I could very easily just have conversations in my head. But then, at the end of my length, how narrow will I have lived?

This is not as wide as I want to live, though. I want to rip the seams around me that hold me in and keep me safe, and have me following the rules I’ve internalized that I think will make me more loveable, more accepted. I don’t want to care about those things. Those things don’t give me room to breathe, to live.

I want to live a long life so I can spend as much time with my loved ones, especially my children, as possible. I want to live a wide life so my children never believe that another kind of life is an option.

In the spirit of life, I encourage you to write down what it means to you to live wide. What do you have to do, how do you have to think, where do you have to go, what do you have to say, what must you create…in order to have that brilliant life?

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

The Next Time You Feel Envy…

My neighbour invited me over to grab some fresh lettuce from her garden this morning. Now, how am I going to say ‘no’ to fresh produce, right? Especially since now I’m opting for lettuce wraps instead of tortilla wraps for my lunches. We eat a lot of food in my home which was one of the reasons we started our own garden this year. When we did, our neighbours were a big help in getting us started.

I am loving my little farm. I hope I never cease to be amazed at all the daily changes, and the way Nature just knows what to do. It is a true relationship between Nature and myself; she’s the teacher and I’m the student, and we are getting along really well.

This morning, thanks to YouTube (my teaching assistant!), I figured out that I have 6 zucchini squashes growing behind these beautiful yellow flowers. (Flowers that are apparently edible. I’m also learning how much of the plant we ‘throw away’ or don’t use…the most nutritious parts, too!)

garden envy, zucchini, squash, garden, veggie garden, let me out creative, taslim jaffer

Anyway, I went over to Cayley’s house to grab some lettuce for my lunch and was taken aback when I stepped into her garden. Like I said, there are daily changes, and I hadn’t been in her yard for quite some time. It was like walking into a jungle (a well-tended and orderly jungle, I might add) of green: tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, peas, potatoes and herbs. Everywhere I looked, things were growing.

And so was something inside me: excitement.

One of the qualities I’ve always been thankful for is my ability to feel inspired and excited about my own possibilities when I see the successes of others. I really and truly am grateful for this (and I attribute it to my father – he taught me that envy is a waste of time and gifts – and to my spiritual teacher, Dr. Wayne Dyer). It would have been really easy to look at her garden and compare it with my smaller one and feel envious.

And envy is something that we talk about a lot, isn’t it? It’s almost like we plant the seeds for envy with the language we use.  Hair envy, blog envy, body envy, garden envy…these are real phrases that we see sprouting everywhere on the internet and in conversation.

[Tweet “Why are we talking about envy when we can be talking about excitement at our own possibilities?”]

My garden has immense potential, and so do I. So do you.

Maybe it’s because we live in a culture of instant gratification that we want what someone else has…NOW. Waiting 6 months from now or a year from now to reap what we sow isn’t enticing if that’s the kind of attitude we bring to life.

The next time you feel ‘envy’ do these 5 things and see if it helps you change the way you perceive what’s going on:

  1. Replace the word ‘envy’ with something more productive like ‘excitement’ or ‘inspiration.
  2. Ask yourself what it is that you really want. What is missing that is making you wish for someone else’s success? You might not actually want the exact same version of success as someone else. You might want something completely different. Use these ‘jealous’ feelings as a map. They’re telling you where you want to go.
  3. Create goals to help you attain what it is you truly want. And remember that part of the excitement of achieving something is making steps toward it.
  4. Appreciate how far you’ve come. In terms of my garden, it really started as me cutting out pictures in gardening magazines 13 YEARS AGO when I lived in an apartment and dreamed of my own land. I cut out pictures and taped them on to blank computer paper and stuck that paper in a binder. A binder that I still have and is still full of ideas that are now coming to fruition. That young woman inside me who is 25, newly married, and dreaming of her future is THRILLED that I have zucchini in my planter right now.
  5. Share your gifts of time, knowledge and mentorship with others. Someone else needs a little encouragement to realize their own potential. Being a part of that can be incredibly satisfying. It will keep you humble. You will never lose sight of that person you were years ago, when you were just starting out in whatever it is you were just starting out. And someone else’s garden can grow.

garden envy, gardens, veggie gardens, vegetables, grow your own food, let me out creative, taslim jaffer

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Why I’m Talking About Scleroderma

A few weeks after my mom lost her life to scleroderma in 2009, I was on my lunch break in Steveston, slurping a piping hot soup at Alegria Cafe. My return to work had been difficult; I welcomed the distraction and the normalcy of it, but was always on guard for the tears that came out of nowhere in the middle of a speech therapy session. That particular Friday, I was feeling a little more settled in my routine as I breathed in the aroma of the soups and paninis being enjoyed around me. I let my mind relax and my eyes wander.

I glanced over at the bulletin board on the wall opposite to where I sat and saw it there, in glaring letters, and my breath caught in my throat. ‘June is Scleroderma Awareness Month’, it announced. I finished my soup, slowly, avoiding the inevitable walk past the board on my way out when I’d feel compelled to stop and read. When I did, I read that there was some sort of event being held to raise funds and awareness for this auto-immune disease for which there is no known cause and no known cure.

It was the first time I’d been exposed to the word scleroderma since it claimed my mother’s life. And it was a punch in the gut.

It’s been 7 years since my mom died and although I’ve blogged about her condition since then (mostly on my old blog), I have never marked Scleroderma Awareness Month in any sort of way. Because I hate it. I hate this disease. It snuck in the back door of my family home when we weren’t looking and settled in my mom’s internal organs, leaving us to question for months what was wrong with her. Why couldn’t she breathe well? Why did she have these coughing fits? Why was she unable to keep down her food? It wasn’t until it presented itself on her skin in the form of discolouration and tightness that a doctor would request a skin biopsy and the diagnosis would be presented.

I remember every bit of this disease, even though I don’t want to.

I remember the loss of function, the alienation, the depression, the clinging to faith. I remember the grief that started years before she died. I remember the moment she told me what the doctor said. I remember her fingers, her eyes, her feet, her shuffle. I remember her pain. I remember her hope. I remember the blood tests and lung tests. I remember telling her she would be a grandmother in the midst of all this. I remember becoming depressed myself and my mother, ravaged by this disease, would be comforting ME. Reminding ME that God is always with us. Reminding ME that there are people so much more worse off than she.

I remember her walking and then shuffling and then in a wheelchair. I remember her daily prayers, never missed. I remember her hugs, large and encompassing, then thin and bony and frail.

I remember learning that my mom’s form was really aggressive.

I remember being filled with rage.

And when she died, I only wanted to remember her, the way she was before. I didn’t want to talk about scleroderma. I didn’t want to acknowledge it with a fundraiser or by opening up to people about this awful disease.

Because I remember scleroderma, but I sure don’t want to remind it about me or anyone else I love. I guess I always thought if I just forgot it happened it would stay out of my life.

But the other day I read an article that someone tweeted out about her mother-in-law passing away after living with scleroderma for 25 years (yes, you can live with it for a long time) and it triggered something inside me. It made me realize that I can choose to ignore it, but not everyone can.

There are still people living with tissue tightness, digestive issues, respiratory issues, mobility issues. And often they live in a world in which nobody gets it. Nobody understands what they’re going through. The same can be said about cancer patients – however, everyone has heard of cancer. When you tell someone, “My mom has scleroderma” they will likely look at you blankly. Then you try to tell them all the details but…it’s not cancer, so it can’t be that bad.

But it is. Even the palliative care doctor told me so. “There are things worse than cancer,” he said quietly when I asked him in his office how long my mom had to live.

I’m not telling you this to feel sorry for me or my mom or the other warriors who live daily with this chronic condition. I’m suggesting you learn about it, because even though we were told it affects 1 in 100,000 people you may still come across someone who lives with it.

So, after 7 years I am acknowledging that June is Scleroderma Awareness Month. I am thinking of the families affected and sending love and prayers for quality of life.

The one thing scleroderma did not, and could not, take away from my mom was her faith in a Higher Power. That unshakeable faith that she passed down to me has been one of my greatest gifts.

I love you, Mom. I remember. You are never forgotten.

scleroderma, june is scleroderma awareness month, june, scleroderma awareness month, mom

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


Redefining Failure

I just watched Jay Shetty redefine failure in this video:


If you have a few minutes to be inspired today, I hope you give yourself a chance to watch that. There are so many different points within it; the one I want to share here is this:

In the English dictionary, failure means a lack of success. As Shetty points out, if that is our definition then what we are saying is we don’t value learning and growth and experience and struggle.

What do you think?

Does that shift your perspective on your ‘failures’?

I’m going to keep this short and sweet because really, I want it to be about you. I want you to use the time to watch the video and reflect on what this means in your own life.

Hope your Friday is beautiful!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


Lordy, Lordy! My Friends Are Turning 40! #salmaturns40

“I can’t wait till our 40’s,” my friend, Jessica, said as she sat on my living room floor.

“What? Why? We just turned 30! Why do you want to get old??” I exclaimed something to this effect. I can’t remember the exact words because this was nearly a decade ago.

“Think about it. Our 30’s are about working our butts off. We have toddlers, we’re having more children, we’re building businesses. We’re working hard! Our 40’s will be about enjoying the benefits.”

She’s a smart lady, and completely right about our 30’s. Since then, Jess and I have each gone on to have 2 more kids for a total of 6 between us. I’ve remembered her words as I’ve been elbow deep in poopy diapers and spilled Cheerios, and wiped snot and caught puke all in the same day while submitting an article.

I’ve thought about my 40’s as a magical land of ‘three-kids-in-the-same-school’ since my third was born two years ago. Of course, nobody can predict the future but it’s quite possible that the next decade holds a less-crazy schedule for my entrepreneur husband, more time and space for me to expand my work (and when you love what you do, then being able to work is actually a luxury!), international travel for the 5 of us, fewer booster seats and other little kid accessories, a daughter old enough to babysit, and much more.

And now that my friends are starting to turn 40, I’m getting pretty excited for the next leg of this ride.

On Saturday night, we celebrated Salma‘s birthday in style! Her beautiful home was converted into a swanky resto/bar with catered dinner, music (the best playlist ever – hello ’90’s hip hop!), candles, a photobooth courtesy of Third Eye Weddings, and even a slideshow put together by her husband.

It was so fun to dress up and relax on a Saturday night with ladies I am lucky to have become friends with through blogging. Seriously, these ladies are the best!

salma dinani, third eye weddings, the write balance, raj thandhi, pink chai media, jamie dunlop khau, styling the inside, crystal allen, sew creative, hello creative family

{Photo Cred: Third Eye Weddings} {Left to Right: Moi, Salma, Raj, Crystal and Jamie}

Since the time Jessica and I sat cross-legged on my living room floor a lot has changed. For example, sitting on the floor doesn’t happen as often (haha!), and even planning to get together for a dinner sans family is quite a feat!

But the 30’s have brought many wonderful things: more babies (and a complete family!), so many experiences in the writing/publishing world, and incredible connections with other women who are doin’ the grind with me.

At Salma’s party, I couldn’t help but think how amazing it was that we connected online and then moved our friendship to where we meet up socially and not just to talk shop. Salma’s been the type of friend I can vent to when something’s misbehavin’ in my life (WordPress plugins, children, my wardrobe) and she’s the kind of friend I can be like, “Guess what?! They liked my pitch!! Now what do I do??” She’s one of a handful of women I have in my pocket who I can sound like one of those crazy creative-types with: “My work is my heart, it’s like I’ve bled my soul onto these pages. And…I don’t know. Maybe my work is just shit. I mean, who’s gonna pay me for this shit?!”

My life would be less colourful without the women friends I’ve been collecting from all sorts of places – my family, high school, grad school, my neighbourhood, and through this huge space called the Internet. Now that we’re headed for this next decade, I’m excited to see what Life has in store for all of us. I hope that in 10 years when I’m writing about entering my 50’s, all my friends are doing well and we’re planning reckless things.

And I hope you’re doing wonderful no matter what decade you are rockin’ right now. One thing I’ve learned is that we aren’t guaranteed anything, so yeah…work, work, work, work, work as you must but always aim to live authentically, creatively and with kindness.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative