Prostate Cancer Took A Special Man But It Can Be Detected Early

Once upon a time, there lived a quiet, gentle man. He was kind, loving, hardworking – and a huge Wayne Gretzky fan. He was my mom’s father and her best friend. And he loved his grandchildren with his whole, big heart. I have many fond memories of my grandfather. Lifting my baby cousin in the air and blowing on her belly, making her smile. Buying me my first lipstick. Glued to the TV during an Oilers game. This clicking sound he did with his tongue that meant, ‘no’. His gruff voice. Stubbly chin. His eyes that crinkled when he smiled. I wish I had had many more years with him, but I didn’t, because prostate cancer took his life when he was 77 years old.

prostate cancer, Raymond James Father's Day Walk for Prostate Cancer, cancer, grandfather

What I’ve Learned About Prostate Cancer

  • Prostate Cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in Canadian men (behind lung cancer).
  • Prostate Cancer afflicts men 45 years of age and older, with the incidence increasing with age. Men with a family history of Prostate Cancer are at increased risk so these examinations and tests should begin at age 40.
  • Prostate Cancer has no known causes or prevention.
  • Detection and treatment in its earliest stages (while it is still small and confined to the prostate) provides the best chance for a complete cure.

I was 12 when he died and, to be honest, I thought he was old. So, although it was really sad and a shock (the cancer was not detected until it was in the late stages), I assumed he had lived a long life. Now I know that 77 is young. I think of what I want to be doing at that age and there’s still a fair bit of life I’d like to live after that. Everyone else he left behind was young, too. Cancer doesn’t just take away the one life, but forever changes the ones left behind. What if my grandpa’s was detected sooner? What if my youngest cousin, who giggled as an infant at his antics, could have collected some actual memories of him? What if his children could have enjoyed their father for many more years? And my grandma could have had his companionship that much longer?

What if there was something men could do to keep on top of their prostate health? And something the rest of us can do to support them? There is! A check-up for the guys once a year starting from the age of 45 should be part of their normal healthcare regime, unless there is also a history of prostate cancer in the family. Then it’s recommended that check-ups start at age 40. From talking to some men in my life, I know that this is not a comfortable topic and there is some fear and discomfort around the actual procedure. But it’s quick and potentially life-saving! So, ladies, if your men are hesitating, remind them why you need them to get checked. This really does affect the whole family.

As another show of support, on Father’s Day, June 18th, the Raymond James Walk/Run for Prostate Cancer is taking place at Burnaby Lake with a start time of 10 am (9:30 for tots!). It promises to be a full, festive day with a free barbeque lunch, prizes, onstage entertainment and more. It really sounds like a great, family-friendly day to celebrate your dad or your husband or your brother. This event is also taking place across B.C. in Victoria, Chilliwack, Kelowna and Kamloops. You can register for the one closest to you!

Prostate cancer, let me out creative, raymond james father's day walk for prostate cancer, cancer, grandpa

Sometimes the ‘what ifs’ are hard to swallow, and sometimes we have to accept that things are meant to happen. But I’m spreading the word just in case this helps another family enjoy decades more love from a very special man in their lives.

For more information, please visit prostatecancerbc.ca.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Lonely Whale Foundation Believes Our Children Will Lead Us Out Of This Mess

Do you consider yourself to be an environmentalist? I did when I was in high school. As vice president of the school environment club, I took my duties seriously, of which collecting syrupy pop cans out of bins to recycle was probably the least glamourous. But I’m not part of an organization now that proactively cares for the earth and educates others about environmental issues. Or am I? After speaking with Dune Ives from Lonely Whale Foundation, I do feel like an empowered individual. I know that I can use my purchasing power to make better choices for my family and for the planet. I know that our children are counting on that. I can also use my voice to shed light on some of these issues. The research I did for this post has me believing that I have a much greater impact on my planet’s well-being than I once thought. And so do you.

Lonely Whale Foundation was co-founded by actor Adrian Grenier and producer Lucy Sumner in 2015 to inspire ocean advocacy and empathy for marine life. Basically, they want you and me to understand the importance of the oceans for life on land, and they want to provide us with the resources to create a positive impact on our environment. I loved this op-ed piece by Adrian that points out exactly what the issues are, why we need to pay attention to them, and how we can get involved. In addition to these individual actions, there are many ways to ‘join the pod’ – from financial donations to easily downloading and sharing social-media memes.

#CatchTheWave School Program

adrian grenier, lonely whale foundation, catch the wave

Something else to consider, though, when we’re looking at long-term solutions to a massive problem: the role of our children. My kids right now are 10, 7 and 3. They appreciate and enjoy nature – they love jumping in the lake and  trampling through the forest. They are also creative and compassionate. They sound like your kids, right? Lonely Whale Foundation knows that it’s my kids and yours who are going to pull us out of this environmental mess through their innate connection with nature, their empathy and their innovation. And right now, in some Canadian schools, a program is being piloted that taps into the greatest resource we have: our children.

The pilot project is called #CatchTheWave and engages elementary and secondary school students to tackle the plastic problem. The single-use plastics that have made their way into our daily lives is a travesty for the oceans; 8 million tonnes of plastic, every year, enter our waterways! This program is suitable for student bodies where there is already an interest in decreasing single-use plastics in communities, and it is essentially a program developed by youth in partnership with Lonely Whale. As Dune pointed out in our conversation, “There is a lot of power in kids developing their own programs and then coaching other kids to do the same.” The end result of this program is that students will educate the communities in which they live about the problems and solutions. The pilot will end with this school year and, after a period of review this summer, will be offered at some schools throughout Canada with a hope to expand to the United States.

Lonely Whale Foundation, Adrian Grenier, oceans, ocean health, world environment day

Before speaking with Dune, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as Global Goals for Sustainable Development. These are actual, tangible goals and strategies that were set in 2015 by 193 world leaders – if these goals are met, we could potentially end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. #CatchTheWave directly impacts Goal #14 Life Below Water. In 2030, my children will be 23, 20 and 16. And yes, absolutely, they will be the ones we’ll be passing down the leadership roles to. Let’s give them fewer problems to deal with and more tools.

So, what can we do?

One of the things we’ve started doing as a family is requesting, ‘No straws, please’ when we order drinks at a restaurant or cafe. These single-use plastics are unnecessary, yet they are the cause of death for so much marine life. And they don’t break down, just like all the other plastic that now outnumbers the plankton in a part of the Pacific known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Today happens to be World Environment Day and co-founder Adrian Grenier is recognized as the newest Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme. It’s also the perfect day to make a commitment to the planet. Something small that has lasting effects. Here’s an article with 5 simple steps that make a huge difference for the environment. Which one will your family start with today?

If any of this piques your interest, or you know your child is passionate about the ocean and would love to learn more or be involved, please head over to Lonely Whale’s site. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Red Wine Or White? Why You Need To Know About Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland’s Grape Juice Event! #MentoringMatters

If you know me well, you know that I don’t drink wine – but today I’ve got wine on the brain.

Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland is having an event that ALL the wine drinkers I know – and there are so, so many of you – are going to love! I’m supporting it because it funds mentoring relationships for young girls who may be facing bullying, isolation, poverty, abuse, social anxiety and low self-esteem or other challenges. A healthy, consistent support system like the one provided by a big sister to a matched little sister can change the world, one girl at a time.

I have a personal connection to Big Sisters through two of my cousins who were raised in the program as little sisters. One of them, Danisha, is now the Manager of Fund Development for the Edmonton and area chapter. She attributes the kind of person she is and the positive choices she made in unfavourable circumstances to her mom’s wise decision all those years ago to enroll her daughters in the program. Danisha speaks in public and private circles about the benefits of mentorship from both sides of the equation; her story is backed by research that has found that 96% of adults who had a mentor as a child say they are happy, and 92% of them also claim to feel confident.

Here’s what you need to know about the wine auction and GrapeJuice Event:

GrapeJuice will run from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm on Thursday, April 26, 2017 at Aston Martin Vancouver and Bentley Vancouver and will feature a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, silent auction wine items and wine tasting stations. There will be some rare wine finds to bid on while you network with 300 business professionals attending the event – and raise much-needed funds for the program.

grapejuice, charity event, wine, red wine, white wine, wine auction

152 girls are currently waiting to be matched with a Big Sister. If you think of the potential of each of those girls, you’ll see the enormity of that number. What if each one of them were given the opportunity to fulfill that potential? What if you could be a part of that?

Grab some friends and some tickets!

If you’d like to sponsor a match between a Big Sister and a Little Sister, you can do that as well. And you can also choose from a selection of wines online that you’d like to donate to the auction table.

There are so many ways to be involved, even if wine isn’t your thing.

I’d love to hear in the comments if you have a personal connection to a Big Sisters program or if you plan to support this event!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

 

 

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

Gourmet Food And Wine Pairings At Blues & Bites Gala Fundraiser For Autism Support Network

It seems like another lifetime that I worked with children with autism and their families. But after one conversation with Dione Costanzo, Director of Autism Support Network of BC, I was brought back to all of it: sitting with families at Sunnyhill as they received the diagnosis, arriving on the doorstep of a family’s home for my autism intervention session, setting up visuals for a child in their preschool or after-school care setting…the first time a child said my name. I was an advocate, an educator and a firm believer in the potential of each boy and girl I worked with. Switching career paths has not squeezed autism out of my heart, and I’m thankful that today I get to work for these families from this platform.

I’ve seen firsthand what a family goes through as they await a diagnosis – often pushing their general practitioner for a referral to a pediatrician to initiate the process. I know the look in a parent’s eyes when they hear the word ‘autism’ and then the aftermath of being told they were eligible for funding, but given no direction about how to use it in their child’s best interest. I’ve seen the vulnerability and I’ve seen it being taken advantage of by people toting all kinds of cures for something that the medical community believes has no known cause or cure. In many ways, I’m an outsider looking in but I have been close enough to know that the work of Autism Support Network of BC (ASN) is valued and important. As Dione said half-jokingly, their work is not sexy but it’s necessary. I completely agree. Being in the trenches is often that way.

ASN offers solid, evidence-based information from parents who have been there to parents who are new to autism. They are very much about connecting families, forming friendships and building much-needed support. This includes a lot of 1:1 time with moms and dads over coffee or the phone. It also means monthly group meetings – all facilitated by volunteers – where families from the same neighbourhood can come together.

ASN also provides online resources through their website and Facebook pages (public and closed). And they print brochures with information about autism and Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) for doctor’s offices, and resource and community centres. Webinars and online courses are now a part of their repertoire and a solution for families in more remote areas of B.C.

The school experience is where 100% of the families seek support and a large part of ASN’s work is to help in this area; they educate parents about their rights and their children’s rights in school as well as the role of ABA in their child’s education. An incredible amount of advocacy is required at this level and parents need to know what is possible not just academically, but how to elevate self-help skills, social skills and communication skills.

After talking to Dione this morning, I marvel at how approximately 20 people are doing all this groundwork to serve over 6000 families. It is a huge network and initiative – and of course, funding is required.

Their biggest fundraiser of the year is coming up on Saturday April 8 from 6:30 pm at Semiahmoo Secondary school in South Surrey. And if you appreciate gourmet food, wine pairing and award-winning blues music, this proves to be a gala you can enjoy while making a difference!

The Blues and Bites Gala Fundraiser will be emceed by Global BC News reporter Catherine Urquhart and will treat guests to Top Chef style tasting stations by local culinary master Chef Peter Bucher. Paired with some B.C. wines, you can expect a gastric treat! Entertainment will be provided by Canadian blues musician Harpdog Brown and his Travelin’ Blues Show. Harpdog recently won the title of Blues Artist of the Year at Fraser Valley Music Awards.

Read more details of the event including bios of the chefs, musician and the mouth-watering menu, and grab your tickets ($125 each or $800 for a table of 8).

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

 

Local Jewelry Line, Brooklyn Designs, Shares A Sparkle Of Kindness With Founder of Vancity Business Babes

When women support other women, it’s a phenomenal thing. Whether professionally or in personal matters, when a woman has your back, you know you have more than just a helping hand. You have someone who gets it. Who gets the truth about living life with the expectations placed on us (by society and by ourselves), who gets the physical and emotional backdrop in front of which our multi-tasking lives play out. North American culture generally has this undertone of individualism and competition. But times are changing, friends. I really see it. I see the ways we are moving toward communities of women who support each other in childcare and who build each other up in business.

One such powerhouse community I have been following on social media is Vancity Business Babes, one of Vancouver’s largest networking and resource groups that aims to educate, connect and inspire young, professional women. Founder Danielle Wiebe started the group two years ago based on her belief of cooperation over competition. Since then she has been a beacon for countless entrepreneurs while giving back to the community in creative and authentic ways, such as The Gift of Giving she launched two years ago.

And behind every successful woman is a tribe of women cheering her on. When Danielle’s friend, Jennifer Pereira, nominated her for a random act of kindness through #LMOKindness, I was touched by the words she used:

“Danielle is the remarkable young lady behind Vancity Business Babes. As the founder, she has made it her life’s work to create and enable a community for women in Vancouver to come together in entrepreneurship and collaboration. What sets Danielle apart is her heart. She does everything possible to support community initiatives – often at her own expense. Danielle devotes countless hours to bettering Vancouver and creating a positive experience for others. Anyone that meets her is immediately inspired by her huge smile and heart. Despite facing stress and challenges, she pushes forward.

Danielle is truly inspiring. I think receiving a random act of kindness would be one small way we could give back to Danielle as a token of appreciation for all that she does for 1000s of other people in our city.”

Since Jennifer contacted me I have gotten to know her better too, and I should say, we should all be so lucky to have a friend like her.

One of our favourite sponsors who has shown incredible generosity toward our charitable endeavours – Brooklyn Designs – donated a stunning necklace for this particular random act of kindness. All of Brooke’s creations are easy to pick out in a crowd because they are classy and simple with a boho vibe – perfect for everyday wear or layered up for a more formal look. You will also find Brooklyn Designs on celebrities on T.V. shows, movies and news stations! Their pieces are so well-priced you don’t even have to wait for them to go on sale to grab some – but they do have these huge clearance sales every so often that just blow my mind. Visit their site and sign up for their newsletter to stay abreast of all the special offers in 2017. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and you can never go wrong with a gift (for yourself or someone else!) from this local jewelry designer. Thank you again so much for your generosity, Brooke! You are also the epitome of creativity and kindness!

Follow Brooklyn Designs on Instagram for more looks and style inspiration.

Danielle received the Laurel Aqua Chalcedony pictured here:

brooklyn designs, laurel aqua chalcedony, taslim jaffer, let me out creative, random acts of kindness, LMOKindness

Once again, the #LMOKindness project is a TEAM effort! Thank you to Jennifer for nominating Danielle and thank you Brooke for this beautiful gift of kindness.

If you are interested in participating in the program, it’s easy! Just fill out this nomination form if you know anybody who could use a little token of appreciation.

We really couldn’t run this initiative without our sponsors, so if you are a local business with a desire to give back to the community in this unique and personal way, please be in touch with me for more details. I love shouting about entrepreneurs and individuals who make it a point to keep their business charitable. ** If you don’t have a product or service that can be donated but would still like to participate, I have plenty of ideas that we can talk about!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Rekindling My Spark

There’s a pull I cannot ignore. It’s strong and also familiar. And if I had to give it a voice it would match my mom’s firm one with a sense of urgency. Like when she would give me her advice when she thought I might be headed in the wrong direction. Wanting to get through to me so badly that there was almost a hint of panic. I don’t feel panicked or fearful when I sense this message; I’m whole-heartedly jumping into it because I know the enormous potential it holds for me to live, truly live, a life that leaves me smiling in the end.

I first heard it on a dance floor and since then I’ve been holding onto it like a precious gem.

On a dance floor with my love looking at me that way, with the music that I love pouring into my soul, I was called to live a life of intentional FUN.

I haven’t been denying myself fun, necessarily, and I can’t say there is a lack of it in the grand scheme of things. I have many moments of laughter, friendship, and connection, and I love the business I am creating as a writer. But there are certain things that I have a special personal relationship with that I don’t indulge in. Like, if I were to strip away all the roles I play: mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend…and just be Taslim…there are some things that are just my jam that don’t get much attention.

So, this year, I’m changing the focus a little, and I’d like to let you in on the ride. I used to have a blog called The Finer Things in Life (formerly called The Artist’s Review). It didn’t last long because I had a hard time keeping up with 3 blogs, but I’d like to revive it in some form right here on Let ME Out!! The Finer Things was essentially a place where I reviewed books, artist events, and dining experiences, and I really can’t see why those thoughts couldn’t be shared here – a space where I encourage you to live creatively and authentically. I may have to do a little housekeeping around here, rearrange some furniture so to speak, so that you can find what you’d like to read more easily. I’m really excited to rekindle my spark with my Self – my true Self – and though it may push me out of my comfort zone slightly, I hope that by sharing that part of me with you, I inspire you to look inward to who you truly are, and let her out to play a little more.

I’ll be posting here but also on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so if we’re not already hanging out on those channels, please say ‘hi’ there! I’ll be using #TaslimsYearofFun to tag the big and little things that I will be infusing fun into. I think that just by intentionally focusing on this 3-letter word, I’ll find it in more places than I dreamed of.

Do you have a word of the year? I’d love to hear it! Leave it in the comments – and I wish you all the best with your intentions for the year, and excellent health to carry them out.

Happy New Year!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Add Self-Discovery To Your 2017 Through Writing!

As we approach a new year, many of us are thinking about what we’d like to add to our lives to make them more fun, more relaxed, more simple…but how do we know exactly what it is we need? What is it really that would make our lives exactly what we want?

Only one person can know the answer: YOU. And writing can be one way to uncover it.

On Monday January 9, I’m starting a 4-session Writing for Self-Discovery class at South Surrey Arts Centre for anyone who has some experience journaling already and would like to go deeper into the practice. We’ll specifically be focusing on using journaling as a way to know yourself better and make decisions that will increase what you want, and perhaps kick to the curb the things you don’t want. The class runs from 6:30-8:30 pm.

It’s a Level Two class, but all this means is that you have some experience with journaling. If you are unsure of whether this applies to you, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

For more information and to register, please visit Semiahmoo Arts or ask them about Writing For Self-Discovery Level Two by calling 604-592-6970.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative