5 Benefits To Society When We Invest In Boys & Girls Clubs

Last week, I heard an amazing phrase from Carolyn Tuckwell, President & CEO of Boys and Girls Club at South Coast B.C. (BGC). In fact, I loved it so much I’m going to use it as an ambassador for social change; I aim to be positively disruptive about people’s views of charity.

Because… I don’t like the current thought-process surrounding giving. I think it is condescending, unproductive and can even be harmful. When we give because we are guilted into it, or think we are better off than others (yes, even when we think or say things like ‘less fortunate’ with the best of intentions) we are totally overlooking the power of giving on both sides of the exchange.

Instead of haves and have nots, we are really a collective of human beings with needs and gifts. Every single one of us. And at any given time, each of us needs something and each of us can contribute something. When our basic needs are met, we can begin contributing to society. And who benefits from this? All of us.

The conversation I had with Carolyn on Thursday morning will not leave me for a long time. This is a time in the world, locally and globally, that can feel heavy in our hearts. There are atrocities in our backyard and in places we’ve never been. If you are feeling helpless or like there isn’t any good in the world, have a conversation with somebody who is DOING something to help. Your mood will be lifted, you will be filled with hope, and you will be inspired. This is what Carolyn did for me.

You’re being asked often at this time of year to make donations to various charities. Today, Carolyn and I are asking you to consider making an investment in our society – an investment that can be made at any time of the year with incredible returns. We are all in this business of human outcomes; let’s take a closer look at 5 benefits to our communities when we invest in BGC.

1. Here’s something that blew my mind: Did you know that 20% of Canadian children DO NOT GRADUATE from high school? I had no idea the percentage was that high. So then what? Where do these kids find employment? What do they do for money? What about their self-esteem? What kinds of choices do they end up making? What kind of position are they in to contribute to their communities?

Makes you think, right? All these issues we hear about ‘young people causing trouble’ and the sad state of the world…what if we could do something about it instead of just grumble? When a child is involved in BGC, he or she has role models who did finish high school and went on to get more education. These role models make going to school ‘cool’. You may have heard that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. At BGC, that average is raised by the incredible staff and mentors. In addition to the role models, the kids can be part of homework clubs and receive tutoring. It’s not always the case that the child does not want to do their homework. They just might not have proper workspace. Or perhaps they have too many responsibilities at home, or maybe education isn’t valued in the home due to other priorities. At BGC they’re given the optimal conditions for success.

2. Who better to hear from about the benefits of your investment in BGC than the alumni themselves? Some of the testimonials received from alumni include:

BGC was the only place in their life where they were truly accepted for who they were. Imagine if every child lived that kind of experience. What kind of adults would they grow up to be?

BGC was where they learned about community and giving. Imagine if every child learned about community and giving? What kinds of contributions would these kids make as adults?

This 80-year-old organization is the place where thousands and thousands of children have learned about boundaries, healthy relationships, self-discipline, self-respect, self-confidence and gained life-long friendships. Imagine if more children had access to that. What kind of leadership and compassion would we have in the world today?

An investment in BGC is an investment in that kind of world.

3. No child is ever turned away from the BGC community. Not every child comes with a history of abuse or neglect; they are simply in some way or another not thriving. And the goal of BGC is to ensure that children not just survive, but thrive. Investing in BGC ensures that people are not defined by the hardships they have in childhood. How many adults do you know are still plagued with the trials they faced as children? And a lot of it is because they haven’t been able to define themselves as healthy people independent of the things that happened to them or around them. They haven’t been able to surpass those issues. BGC offers tools so that the children in their care can learn to become independent from the issues. The children can learn that they are so much more than their environment. BGC’s model is to focus on each individual child’s unique talents and potential. So much good comes from that.

4. Everyone wants to belong somewhere. BGC knows that. You know who else knows that? Gangs and other radical groups that prey on people who aren’t tethered to a community. The ones who don’t feel they belong. Gangs and other radical groups know that these children are vulnerable and just want to feel like a part of something. Investing in BGC ensures that more of these children are identified and welcomed into a safe, positive space. The benefit to society is priceless.

5. What I look for when I’m deciding where my hard-earned money is going to go is an organization that gives with dignity. This is a top priority for me because as I mentioned above, the old charity model irks me. These children are NOT powerless, their families are NOT any ‘less than’ my family, and they are NOT broken. And BGC is totally aligned with this way of thinking. It is really important to me that I support an organization that also believes in dignity.

At any given time, you and I need something, and we have something to give. Same goes for these kids and their families. BGC respects that in everything they do and in the way they interact with their community.

[Tweet “Give with dignity, knowing the recipient is capable of bettering your world, too. Support @bgcyvr”]

For more information about Boys and Girls Club South Coast B.C., please visit their website.

Was there an adult who believed in you when you were a child? Did it make a difference in your world? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


How A Random Act Of Kindness Brightened Tami’s Christmas #LMOKindness

When I first launched the #LMOKindness campaign, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know if people would actually fill out the form and nominate anybody. I didn’t know if businesses would come forth and make donations that would fulfill a need or lift someone’s spirits. But the nomination forms showed up in my inbox, and businesses and individuals I approached were happy to participate. The need is still great from a donation standpoint. If you are a business that would like to show its commitment to community giving, please contact me to learn more about this initiative!

This story that I’m going to share with you today is really what #LMOKindness is all about. A woman named Janice wrote in about her friend, Tami who, in a short time, had sustained an injury that left her unable to work for awhile, was going through the dissolution of a marriage, and was single-handedly raising her own children plus a foster child. The dissolution of her marriage forced her to move cities as well, so really, Tami was going through so many of life’s major stresses at once.

I was touched by the compassionate words Janice used to describe Tami and when she concluded: “Her strength of character, persistence and positive attitude, plus her Faith have given her much solace this past year and, I am sure, will continue to provide her Light in the future,” I knew I really wanted Tami to catch a break this Christmas.

Along came a wonderful couple, who wish to remain anonymous. They are friends of mine who asked me to keep them in mind when a nominee came to my attention who needed help with the day-to-day. With the Christmas season approaching, I was sure that Tami and her children were the perfect fit for this couple’s generosity.

A gift of $150 in grocery gift cards and $100 in a pre-paid credit card were mailed out to Tami a couple of weeks ago. When I received Tami’s email acknowledging receipt, I shared her words with my friend and we both had a good cry.

Not only were Tami and her boys ecstatic about receiving help with groceries and Christmas gifts, one of her sons even suggested they share the grocery gift card with another family he knows who are in a dire situation this year. That’s what moved me to tears and made me so thankful this connection was made. This is exactly how kindness works. It’s not something we can hold and contain; kindness is an energy that moves through us. It inspires us to reach out to others. It fuels us, even, to be able to do so.

With the pre-paid credit card, Tami will be able to buy her sons gifts to open on Christmas Day. On that day I’ll be thinking of them, and of the family they shared their grocery gift card with, and of the couple who helped make this all possible.

Life can be cracked and ugly and heartbreaking. It can also be made better by the kindness of others who help glue the pieces back so that we can be whole enough to help someone else.

Thank you to Janice for nominating Tami!

If you know someone who deserves a random act of kindness, please take a moment to fill out this form. And if you are a business or an individual who would like to make a donation, please be in touch. We like to shout about businesses who are doing their part.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Making Space For Fun

I like the serious things. I like deep conversations. I watch a good TED talk with relish and feel inspired by people who are tackling social issues. I think life is too important to waste on the superficial. All. The. Time.

But life is also too short to let it slip away without having a tonne of fun, too. I’ve seen firsthand what happens when you lose your health and can no longer do the things you love. The things you might have done on occasion because it was fun but couldn’t always fit into your busy schedule or ‘important’ work. I’ve seen that, and it scares me to think that one day I could lose the ability to dance or play the piano or get dressed up or eat a (ridiculously large) slice of decadent cheesecake.

I don’t want to forget to have fun.

There’s a part of me that’s been whispering this to me for a little while now, especially since I launched Her Story with my friend Karen. I’ll tell you more about Her Story in another post, but suffice it to say it is a platform that deals with some pretty heavy topics. And I’m thrilled about it! But ever since it launched, actually even before that when Karen and I exchanged ideas and this thing started to grow, a little voice inside me kept reminding me to keep things as light as I possibly could, where I could.

About a week before Her Story made its debut on social media, I remembered what it was like to let that fun-loving young woman come out and hit the dance floor. My husband and I were at our school’s Fall Social – a fundraiser for the kids but a party for the adults! The company was awesome – we’re lucky to be surrounded by some great couples where we live and around the school – the food was delicious (there was this cheesecake that cameo’d in the second paragraph above), and the MUSIC…oh my GOD, when was the last time I danced from the first song till the last? Danced and sang at the top of my lungs. And it wasn’t that I forgot about the parts of me that are serious and steady, it was that I remembered that I am so much more than that. I am multi-dimensional and I love that.

And I bet you are, too.

But we tend to lose track of the part of us that’s silly or fun because we’re busy managing schedules and coordinating life. Maybe we’ve become more like tag-team partners in a wrestling ring of chores and children than dance partners with our spouses. But that night I remembered what it was like when my husband and I went dancing before we had kids. And I remembered that thrill of catching him looking at me like I was this extraordinary being that amused and awed him. (It’s a great look).

There has GOT to be more dancing (outside of my kitchen) in 2017, I can tell you that much.

Around the same time, I was introduced to a line of safer skincare and makeup products. I’m not normally someone who wears makeup. Not because I don’t like it but because I’m conscious of what I put on my skin (I’ll eat the ridiculously large slice of decadent cheesecake but keep the chemicals in a blush off my face, thanks). Along came this line that not only bans 1500 known toxins that are otherwise found in traditional brands, but it actually looks good! I’m impressed with the quality of the products and the colour choices. I’ve started stocking up and wearing colour on my face again. And you know what? It’s fun! My lips are stained plum right now just to write this to you from my home, and it just feels nice. I love the products and the mission behind Beautycounter and I’m officially a consultant now! So, here I am: Writer, Social Change Ambassador & Advocate for Safer Beauty. (Or: Writer, Social Change Ambassador & Girl Wearing Makeup At Home).

Last year at this time I chose a guiding word for 2016: Shine. Today I’m choosing my word for 2017 and it is FUN.

What are you making space for in the new year? Or today? I’d love to hear in the comments!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

5 Reasons Why I’m Going To The Little Black Dress Gala In Support Of Help Change My City Alliance (P.S. Wanna Be My Date?)

The Little Black Dress Gala is an evening of glamour, fashion and philanthropy taking place on Friday November 25, 2016 at 7:30 pm at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. And I’m going! I’m looking for a date (or several dates – the more the merrier!) so if any of these reasons grab you, then let me know to expect you there! And if you’re thinking, ‘charity gala’ = a huge ticket price…not this one! Tickets are just $30. And that’s not even one of my reasons!

  1. This event combines pretty much everything I love and that is at the heart and soul of my work as a writer/social change ambassador/mom and basically, a human being. It’s where philanthropy, education, fashion, the arts and support of the underprivileged meet. Among the crowd, and entertaining us with live performances, there will be local designers, musicians, dancers and other classical artists. These are creative people who bring a community together simply by doing what they love; it’s always a thrill to be in a room with visionaries.
  2. The guests will be comprised of socially-minded individuals who work as community influencers, government officials, and educators, all with a focus on making a difference in the lives of marginalized youth. They are expecting around 1000 people (!) and one of my personal goals is to meet at least 5 really awesome folks throughout the course of the evening.
  3. Proceeds of the event are going to fund new programmes within Help Change My City to best empower marginalized youth in the Lower Mainland through mentoring, emotional support and assistance in developing their potential.
  4. Help Change My City has set aside tickets to this event for women in need in our community so that they can attend. And to add to their experience of the evening, we are given the opportunity to provide a donated dress and shoes for these women for $20. So, not only do I get to go and have a good time, I get to be a part of creating a fun experience for someone else. In recent times, as the struggles of women in my own backyard have been coming to light, something has come alive within me. I want to be part of that conversation that supports women, and I also want to be in action. This evening will give me an opportunity to learn more about what is needed, and what my part could be.
  5. While a Friday night going for prayers with my family or hanging out at home, relaxed in our pj’s, is never something I would complain about, once in awhile it’s fun to dress up and get outside of my comfort zone. I’ve pushed myself enough over the last few years to have learned that getting out there, meeting like-minded people, and being me the woman, is never something I regret. Being a mom and a wife is part of who I am, and these are parts I cherish immensely. But once in awhile, getting out without the kids feels like those university days when I’d drive from Richmond to the Burnaby SFU campus, attend classes, meet people, and dream about the incredible things I’d do with my life while waiting for the next lecture to begin. There’s that part of me that still exists, and I love her. I’m still that girl, scribbling in her journal about the things she wants to change in the world. Now I have the motivation through my kids to make those changes. But I also need the space to focus, to grow, to learn and to set things in motion. My family is my ‘why’, but that ever-evolving woman in me is someone I still need to spend good, quality time with.

If I’ve convinced you to be my date, please let me know. If you’re looking for tickets or if you want to sponsor a woman who could use something special to wear, the link to both is here.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


Relationship Coach, Tara Caffelle, Talks Business, Balance & Bringing Couples Closer Together

My husband and I are 13 years in. We’re also 3 kids in. And 2 businesses in. And often it feels like we’re being pulled in every direction except together. We made a conscious decision, one that requires constant check-ins, to make time for each other…but relationships need more than just the scheduled date night now and again. And while catching a movie together on the couch is perfect after a long week, Tara Caffelle has better ideas for revving up your relationship’s engine.

When I heard that one of her clients dubbed her the Relationship Fairy Godmother I had to find out exactly why she earned that title and what she was all about. I had the chance to interview her about some of the things that are on my mind, and I’m sure many of you can relate as well.

Without further ado, here’s Tara!

What inspired you to start a business as the fairy godmother of relationships?

I have always known that our relationships and our communication have a ripple effect to everyone in our lives, and supporting these is my own way of affecting the change I would like to see in the world. The “fairy godmother” name actually came from a client I was working with a few years ago and it stuck.

They say that the roles we choose for ourselves in business or careers often carry with them personality traits, values or interests we had as children. Would you say this is true for you? If so, what have you carried over form childhood into this role as a relationship coach?

I think I was always pretty coach-like, while also being a bit of a bossy-boots…! The abilities I have that most serve the couples I work with—that I can see the truth when it’s not obvious, tease out empowerment and then harmonize it all—have always been with me, and it was a huge relief to find this work and have it hum along so smoothly for me. All coaches have the wealth of their own life experiences to add to their work, and I was lucky to have the family, relationships, and career behind me that benefit all of my clients now.

I agree that all the stones that pave our way contribute to who we are in the present. I like that you being able to be yourself benefits your clients!

As a woman and an entrepreneur, how do you balance the rest of your life? Do you have any support systems in place? Or any self-care measures you rely on?

This is something I’ve played with over the years, with varying success! I used to just work. All the time, all hours of the day and I would burn myself out, over and over again. And then after a tragic personal loss last year, I started to focus in on the softer side of my business, so now I hire a Dream Team to help me with things that I don’t enjoy and have no business doing or need support with, and I prioritize creating and resting because it helps me to keep moving forward. It’s been helpful to be strict with my boundaries and hours, and have personal goals (for example, I trained for and hiked the West Coast Trail this past summer) that get me outside. Keeping my own care intentional is one of my not-so-secret weapons.

I love that ‘rest’ is a priority for you and that self-care is intentional. It’s so easy to burn-out if you’re a one-woman show.

You talked about hiring people to do the parts of your business that are less enjoyable for you. So, what does make you jump out of bed in the morning? What do you LOVE about your work?

I just love, and I mean LOVE, having conversations with my clients, so that’s an easy answer. I get to spend my day having insightful, deep conversations and celebrating when my clients learn about themselves in new ways—I feel like I should pinch myself. I’m also writing my first book, so when I don’t have clients, that gets me out of bed pretty easily, too.

I’m sure your book will be fun and insightful to read!

OK, so imagine there is a woman reading this who is on the brink of starting her own business. What advice do you have for her, entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur?

Rest. Consider that sometimes the one thing you need to do to bring your business forward is to take a break and play with your kids at the park. Trust your intuition. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Run your business from what feels great and has your heart, and you won’t go wrong. Learn from everything and everyone, and don’t be afraid to fail (it’s really the best place to learn.) And hire a coach to be a teammate with you.

That’s really great advice and even a little contradictory to what’s out there. As someone who is bombarded by sponsored ads and posts telling me I need to buy in to someone else’s techniques and ideas for earning 6 figures etc. it’s nice to hear that my intuition matters! Thanks for sharing that.

Now…couples stuff! What advice do you have for couples with small children who can’t seem to find the time or energy to be a couple, and not just partners running a household?

This can be tough and clients ask about this all the time. I think keeping it simple and intentional is key; spend just a few moments each day saying good-bye and greeting each other, take just 10 minutes to have a check-in on the day that goes a little deeper than “How was your day…good” and keep the connection mindful. I would recommend creating opportunities for connection while you make dinner or even land in the shower together at the end of the day. We can make this be an arduous thing and then we set ourselves up for failure, when “small things often” can do the job.

I’m sure you have more gems where that came from. You have a Super Couple Tune-Up retreat coming up on Sat Nov 19 in Burnaby. Can you tell us what couples can expect from this one day workshop?

I would love to tell you that there will be dancing bears and a fire walk, but the truth is, they’ll have some great conversations, learn some simple things that will keep them connected through all kids of challenges, and learn some practical tools. I will be guiding couples through a slowing-down and looking at where they are, WHO they are together, and where they would like to go. It’s a pause, it’s a time to take a day, sit next to one another, and say “Here’s what I want for you, you incredible person I get to spend my life with, and here’s how you can count on me.” So basically, they can expect a whole bunch of simple and accessible MAGIC.

So, no bears or fire, but a great day of connecting. And I see on the registration page that lunch and door prizes are also included!

Thank you, Tara, for hanging out with us here.

Thank you for having me!

Learn more about Tara’s Super Couple Tune-Up and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook

More about Tara:

Tara Caffelle is a life and relationship coach and writer. Through her work as a coach, Tara helps individuals and couples rediscover themselves and their wants and needs through open and honest communication.

As a relationship coach, Tara provides couples with a safe place to land – a term she calls “Downpouffy”. Tara can be your relationship cheerleader or your relationship referee – it all depends on where the relationship is and where it needs to be.  Whether it’s navigating your relationship after a baby, testing out an open marriage or simply wanting to heat things up, Tara helps couples get to the next stage in their relationship as a team.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative


Why I Never Want To ‘Make It’ In My Vocation

What does ‘making it’ mean in terms of my vocation? The Pulitzer Prize? The Nobel Peace Prize? Is there any kind of prize that will make me feel like I did it? Like I changed some part of the world and then wrote about it?

Imagine if there was. Imagine I could get to a point where I could say, ok, I have reached my full potential here in this area of social change and the arts. I’ve taught my quota of students, reached X number of hearts, made a difference in the lives of X number of people.

What then?

Oh my goodness, no. Please don’t let me make it there. Don’t let me make it to a point where I sit around and ask myself, now what? Please let there always be another opportunity to serve, another story to write, another idea to develop, another creative person to collaborate with on something I never dreamed up for myself. Please don’t let me make it to the top where I would sit idle, wasting precious time and precious life.

This is not something I can retire from. Every stage in my life will, God willing, give me more to say, more to reflect on, more to dream about. And I hope give me more to offer others.

I never want to ‘make it’ in my vocation. I just want to live it each day, live as authentically and creatively as I can. With as much courage and conviction as I can muster, and more.

I hope I have decades and decades and decades to do this work. And I know that at the end of that there will still be more to be done. Thankfully, there is enough Inspiration to go around and the work will continue. Stories will still be told. Bridges will still be built. And ideas will never stop presenting themselves to us.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative



Writing For Legacy Is For Everyone – Yes, You Too!

Legacy sounds like something reserved for someone who’s lived a long time or has had something incredibly remarkable happen to them. Or maybe someone who started a foundation to benefit a group of people. Someone who has something to leave behind.

Well, I happen to think we all have something to leave behind. If you think back to your life over the past 5 years, wouldn’t you say you’ve gained at least one valuable lesson that others could benefit from? I don’t think you necessarily have to be in the end stage of a typical lifespan to know that there’s something important inside of you that could very well be passed on to those you love, or the world in general.

I’ll also go further and say that I think it’s part of our purpose here to actually share those stories. I mean, why else are we going through them? Why the tough lessons if there isn’t the beauty of helping others? Sharing our stories helps others feel like what they are going through is relatable, and gives them hope that they will come out the other side. And not just survive the feat, but thrive afterward.

I first started sharing snippets of my life, and the lessons that came with it, after my mom passed away in 2009. Like, literally two weeks after she died I wrote my first blog post on my old blog. I’ve continued talking about the trials and blessings I’ve encountered in my life on this blog, in various inspirational anthologies, and other online and print publications. And every time I do, I have a sense of release, growth and satisfaction.

Is this enough to call my legacy? Yes, I think so. I think it’s definitely part of what I will leave behind. And it doesn’t have to be left till the late stages of my life to get down on paper.

My kids and family will always have a piece of me through my words, and in the public ways I share my writing I know I am passing something on to someone else. Even if one person comes away from something I write with the feeling that they are not alone, that they will be ok, that is a great gift to them and to me.

I believe in this so much that I’ve created a course called Writing for Legacy and am offering it through Semiahmoo Arts in South Surrey, B.C. It’s a short 4-session introductory course in a small group, where we can have 1:1 conversations and group discussions during sessions, plus lifetime access to a secret Facebook group for my writing students. It’s as fun as it sounds!

During the 4 weeks, I will help you uncover some gems you’d like to share and help you get started on writing them down in an engaging, inspirational way.

The class runs every Monday from November 7-28, 2016 from 6:30-8:30 pm.

If you’d like more information or want to see if this is the right fit for you, please contact me. You can register here or call 604-592-6970.

taslim jaffer, let me out creative

Answering Questions About Fear & Talking About Gabby Bernstein #TheUniverseHasYourBack

Does it feel like sometimes you’re just chasing life instead of actually living it? Like your fears are blocking you from what you long for most? It’s something all of us are familiar with and it doesn’t have to be that way.

In Gabby’s new book, The Universe Has Your Back, she guides readers through stories and lessons to release the blocks to what they long for most: happiness, security and clear direction. She teaches you how to transform your fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life.

To celebrate and share her remarkable new book, my friend Kate Muker (founder of Conscious Divas) is hosting Gabby Bernstein for a truly spectacular night of connection, clarity, and guidance. Gabby will be giving her new talk How to Transform Fear into Faith and Know the Universe Has Your Back.

If you want to unleash the presence of your power and learn how to cultivate happiness, security and clear direction you need to attend #TheUniverseHasYourBack event this October.

I’m proud to be an ambassador for this event, as I was when Gabby was in town last year, because it completely aligns with the journey I have been on over the past few years. I’m still travelling this road, and I invite you to read my responses to Kate’s questions so that you can understand my path a little better.

Describe a time in your life when you felt totally safe, serene and clear. What happened to get you to that place?

For me to feel totally safe, serene and clear I have to be in touch with my authentic Self. I have to be making decisions based on what is important for me and my family, and I have to shut out the ‘noise.’ I get to that place through journalling. When I write to myself from my Self, I am speaking my truth, and nothing makes me feel more ‘on purpose’ than when I am sitting with that wise part of me. I’m checking in, I’m listening, I’m writing down what’s going on in my head so I can make space to hear what’s happening in my heart.

How did it feel once you got there?

Those moments don’t last forever, those feelings of being totally ‘on purpose’ and clear. So it’s hard to say that I’m ‘there’…unless we can be ‘there’ then slip a little and then go back. I know that it’s easier now to find my footing when I do slip because I have my tools. But those moments of clarity are exciting! I feel alive and totally jazzed about what I’m doing. Whether it’s professionally or personally, when I’m clear on what I’m doing, I feel completely blessed.

How important is having clarity to you?

I’m the kind of person who thinks life should have a point. There’s gotta be a reason why we’re here, an individual purpose, a reason why we meet the people we do. There’s gotta be something we thought was so important we had to contribute to this world that we traded in a blissful existence for one that is totally up and down. Being clear on what that purpose is is important to me because I don’t want to waste this opportunity to do what my soul wants.

Has fear ever held you back from going after something you really wanted?

Absolutely. It still does. Sometimes it’s fear of failure, but often it’s fear of taking time for myself and my dreams. It’s the fear that doing that will create chaos in my family or weaken the bond I have with my kids and husband. Fear comes in many forms and whispers many things in my head, and I’m pretty sure they’re a bunch of non-truths. But fear can feel just as real as anything standing right in front of me.

Did you ever overcome this fear? How did you do it?

I haven’t completely overcome this fear. I don’t know if I ever will. But what I am getting better at doing is moving forward anyway. In the past year, especially, I have met or become better acquainted with other women who will not let me shrink in the face of fear. This community of women who are also pushing through their own fears to do what lights up their souls has energized me into committing to the things that are outside of my comfort zone, but so very important to my work. On a personal level, I have also ‘fallen in love’ with myself in a way. I really, really like who I am. What I stand for. How I live my life. And that has helped me shut out the noise of what others are doing or saying or even who they’re hanging out with. I guess ‘how I did it’ is simply by connecting more with who I really am, and connecting with like-minded women.

When in your life do you feel you’re in flowstate?

I feel like I’m in flowstate when I’m writing about something that really matters to me or when I’m speaking on stage about the same kinds of things. When I’m doing, when I’m creating…that’s when I’m in flowstate.

Describe the feeling of being in this flowstate?

The best way I can describe it is to say that I feel like I’m ‘on purpose.’ It’s the contentment of knowing that I did something worth doing, even if it took a little guts, even if it puts me out there. It’s a kind of bucket-listy feeling – when I look to the future and picture myself 90-something years old in my bed, I can say, yes, I spoke up about that. I did my best.

What does it take for you to get there?

I guess just that image of myself, old and ready to move on. That always motivates me to choose to go for it, to speak up, to start something, to be part of the revolution. To do something my kids can be proud of and perhaps even carry on.

Tell us what it means to you to surrender?

So, my name actually means ‘to surrender’ or ‘to submit’ to the will of God. I used to think that was kind of weak. I mean, don’t fallen armies surrender to their enemy? But then, as I’ve grown up and grown into who I am, I realized that it takes a lot of courage and faith to surrender. And that when I do, I feel some relief. Surrendering means I have no idea what my life is going to look like next year. I can set goals and plan things. But I have to take my blinders off and grab opportunities that I didn’t know would come to me. And I have to also let go of the things I thought I should be doing, and be ok with that, knowing there is a reason for it. I’ve had to learn a lot about surrendering in motherhood. Talk about losing control! But on the flipside, it’s also about giving up some of that burden of needing to have it all together and know everything.

Describe a time in your life where you felt like the Universe had your back.

Oh my gosh, so many times. I’m lucky to have grown up in a home where we always talked about ‘everything happens for a reason’ and ‘let God do what’s best.’ Because of that I have always been aware of synchronicity and things working out perfectly even through moments of crises and pain. Somehow, I have always been able to look back and think, I’m so glad that happened when it did. I have a tight relationship with the Universe through my journaling and I will ask for things. I think that makes me hyper-aware of noticing when my requests are accommodated.

Share your experience of Gabby and/or her work and how it’s personally touched you.

I saw Gabby last year in Vancouver and just loved her speaking style. So down-to-earth and real. She didn’t sugar-coat anything about what she’d been through, and she made us laugh through it all. What I most remember is her talking about forgiveness. I feel like forgiving people is like my side business 🙂 There was a particular time in my life when I had to forgive a whole slew of people and it was during a time that was already difficult. And still, situations crop up when the feelings ignite themselves again, but recalling what Gabby said about forgiveness I am able to keep moving forward with this. I was touched by how willing she was to talk about the things people may judge her for. She is a true inspiration and a wonderful speaker.

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A Date With My Dad

My dad will be coming over in a few hours, and when he does I’ll give him a hug and then each of my kids will follow suit to hug their Nana. If we get a chance to talk in the few minutes we’ll have before I leave to teach my writing class, it will be ‘instructions’ about the kids’ meal or what needs to happen for bedtime. Then I’ll be off, and when I get back my dad will likely have to jump in the car and make his 40 minute trek back home.

When we get together socially, it’s always a family gathering. Conversations take place in groups, and there’s a lot of focus on the kids.

And that’s how it is.

But it wasn’t always like that.

My dad was my very first best friend. Before I had my journal, before I met anybody else in the world with whom I would share the big and small things of my life, there was my dad. We were a carefree duo, the two of us, always finding time for a long conversation. Our shared interests gave us things to mull over. But then I grew up, life got ‘busier’, I got married, I became a mom, and we lost my mom after years of illness during which time there wasn’t the state of exhale that’s required for talking about abstract things.

When my mom died, we were flung into a new galaxy without gravity. She was the centre that anchored us, kept our feet on the ground, and when she was gone we each had our own grief to contend with in the ways we knew how. As more babies arrived and other major life changes happened, the duo we used to be seemed to be still sitting at a table in a long-ago kitchen surrounded by yellow walls and the sound of traffic from the open window above the sink.

As we both get older, I worry that those conversations with my dad may be just a thing of the past, unlikely to resurface, never to become a habit again. I think, how did we go from discussing world politics and social change at length to snippets about the kids and a few lines about work? When something great happens to me in my writing life, my dad is one of the first people I want to tell. But my work is more than just ‘this was just published’ or ‘I was recognized for this poem’…my work is a movement, and the roots of that movement lie in those conversations we had when I was a child, a teenager. And I want to tell him all of it. Why I write, what motivates me, why I entered that poem, why I chose the images I did. And I know there is more he would tell me, too.

I need more alone time with my dad.

So when I was invited to the local launch of the Harris 120 tea by Pink Chai Media and was told I could bring someone, I knew who I wanted to invite. Not only would my dad appreciate the food and the sitar/tabla concert, it would also be a chance to sit down with him over a cup of tea and chat.


During the evening, we got to try the goodies from the chai bar, including the tea of honour Harris 120, and were treated to live sitar and tabla music. And over a delicious, spicy meal we were able to take some time to talk. I got to tell him about why I write memoir, and a passion project I am working on. He shared some things that helped me understand a little more of our history in Africa.

It was a brief moment in time during which I was able to be ‘just me’ and he was able to be ‘just him’ and I do hope it’s followed up soon with another conversation over tea.

There is still so much to say.

It’s cliche and you’ve probably already heard it at least once this week, but life is short. Quiet the unnecessary noise, say ‘no’ to what doesn’t really matter, and make use of your precious time with the ones you truly want to be with.

I’m so grateful to my friends at Pink Chai Media for the invitation to try out the tea and bring a very special date. And thank you, Aziz Dhamani Photography, for the lovely photo of my dad and me that I could share here.

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Canuck Place Adventure Race 2016 ~ Giveaway! #CPCHAdventureRace

It’s that time of year again for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice to gear up for another adventure race fundraiser! And, like the year before and the year before, I’m partnering up with these amazing people to help spread the word about the BEST reasons to kayak, bike and run in Vancouver: the beautiful children and their families that are supported by Canuck Place.

About Canuck Place:

Canuck Place Children’s Hospice (CPCH) opened its doors in 1995 and is British Columbia’s recognized pediatric palliative care provider, delivering care to over 670 newborns, teens and families across the province and through two locations: Vancouver and Abbotsford. Care is provided in the areas of respite and family support, 24-hour province-wide phone consultation and in-house clinical care, pain and symptom management, grief and loss counselling, including music and play therapy, art, education, recreation therapy, and end-of-life care. Dedicated, professional staff and over 325 volunteers provide a vital lifeline for children and families in their greatest time of need.

About Canuck Place Adventure Race:

When: Sunday, September 18th

Where: Lorcarno Beach, Vancouver

Who: Children 6-13, Teens 14-18, Adults 18+

The Canuck Place Adventure Race is the ultimate celebration of outdoor athleticism, offering
participants the opportunity to kayak, bike and run at beautiful Locarno Beach, all in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Adventure Racers can participate as individuals or in teams. Adults and teens can opt to do the full course or tackle the challenge with a group in a three-part relay. New this year, kids 13 and under can choose from a short or long kids course, including a newly expanded obstacle course.
By fundraising, all participants will help provide much needed support for children and families at
Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.
Last year, over 130 Adventure Racers helped raise over $80,000 which directly impacted the complex
clinical care needed by over 670 children across BC living with life-threatening illnesses and the families
who love them.
“Life is an adventure, and that is what today was all about,” said Margaret McNeil, Canuck Place CEO,
following last year’s event. Facing the unknown and making adaptations as you go along is what children with life-threatening illnesses and their families face every day. For 20 years, the specialized clinical team at Canuck Place has provided the complex medical care and support these children need to live in the moment together with their families.
As they approach the 2016 event, Canuck Place is encouraging teamwork for all participants. All racers
who register as a group of three or more by August 22nd have the opportunity to receive a 50% refund on their registration fee.
I encourage you to check out the race as a great way to spend time with your family, and raise money for other families who benefit tremendously from Canuck Place.
Since you’re here, why not try your luck at winning 2 FREE Adventure Race entries PLUS a signed 8X10 photo of Henrik Sedin!
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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