Love is Louder List

I’m inspired. (Uh oh.) No, this is a really good sign.

The distance between my head and heart got too long. Longer than I’d like to admit. I’ve spent the last 12 months ‘up there’ instead of inside the soul of my being. I guess this is the nature of academia. Pulls you up into the clouds and away from the ground. This needs to stop. Or at the very least, I need more balance.

Now that there is more space in my life to be expressive again, I have an idea. This idea was inspired by the magical Craig Cardiff who I saw live last week in Wakefield, QC (one of the cutest towns). His song, Love is Louder, is based on a tattoo of the same title. Love is always louder than all this head noise. And I’m going to focus more on that.

Every week, I’m going to create and publish a Love is Louder List. This will serve two purposes: 1) it will get me writing creatively again and 2) it will allow me to capture what is speaking to my heart (and not my mind – I do enough of that as I prepare for my Qualifying Examination). This list could be made up of images, songs, quotes, themes…whatever speaks to me that week.

I’ll start now.

Week of October 6, 2014: Love is Louder List

1. Leaves: There are colours everywhere in Ottawa: purples, pinks, reds, oranges, yellows and greens. I am so lucky to live here.

Wakefield Coloured streets Oh Canada

2. My window view: I look out a large window when I work at my desk. My view is of a paediatric care centre where I see bundled up babies and happy children go in and out continuously. The old me might have thought this was somewhat cruel irony, but now, it shows up as abundance. I welcome in this incredible view of love every day.

3. Sweaters: Cozy sweaters are coming out of the closet as temperatures drop. I am reminded of how much I love changing seasons and wardrobes.

cozy sweaters

4. Jason Mraz: I get to see this uplifting singer later this week live in Toronto. I can’t wait!

5. The unexpected: I am in awe of how the universe provides when you show up and are open to receiving.

be open


A Better Man

This song spoke to me and my mood today. Thank you, soulful Paolo. I really like and admire the girl he describes. I can relate to the parts about her being fearless, free, a live wire and having no time for the in-between. Enjoy the song and sing along on this gorgeous fall Friday. Lyrics follow.

She makes me smile
She thinks the way I think
That girl makes me wanna be better

Took her down Bleecker Street
Saw she drank the way I drink
I kiss the sky to send her blue a letter

That girl, makes me wanna be a better man
Yeah should she see fit, gonna treat her like a real man can

She’s fearless, she’s free
Oh she is a real live wire
And that girl
She’s got me feeling so much better
Oh you trade all the money in the world
Just to see this girl’s smile
All the while, she’ll make you feel so much better

Oh that girl, makes me wanna be a better man
And should she see fit, gonna treat her like a real man can

Come on in my arms
You make me feel alright
You make me feel alright

You know I might get eager
I might lose my cool
Feel like I’m in detention
In the office at the school

And you’ll either love me
Or you’ll hate me
But I can see you’ve got no time
For the in-between
But the reflection in your eyes
Gonna look so much better

I said that girl, makes me wanna be a better man
Yeah yeah yeah
And should she see she fit, gonna treat her like a real man can

Gonna treat her like a real man can
Gonna treat her like a real man can
Gonna treat her like a real man can

Don’t Worry About Losing

“And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.” ~John Steinbeck

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love, commitment and timing. How is it possible that anyone ever gets married/finds their life partner in the first place? <Insert bewildered face here.>

(I will then turn to this letter by John Steinbeck.  It’s beautifully reassuring.)

How do two people who are meant to be together a) find each other (hard) b) meet at the ‘right’ time (very hard) and c) end up blending and amalgamating their lives so that both are happy and not compromising too much for each other? (extremely hard).

In order for any relationship to exist, I’m concluding that people must compromise to a certain extent. What are we willing to give up (or not)? To change? To abandon? To shift?

In my previous relationship experiences, I have been keen to do ‘whatever it takes’ to make them work, which results in me giving up some of my power and identity. This may or may not be a part of why the relationship ultimately falls apart, but is a pattern I’ve noticed as I’ve looked back.

These days I feel the need to hold on a bit more tightly. I want someone to figure the big life stuff out with me, not in competition with me.

I suppose this is the point where I return to the comment that I started this post off with – not worrying about losing someone or something based on who I am and how I want to live out my personal legend. I should be more worried about losing myself. 

Two idiots


Live With Heart

What do you possibly do to help and exist in a world that feels so incredibly heavy? I’m constantly and relentlessly surrounded by images of hate, ignorance, violence, grief and despair lately. I can feel the heaviness. The world is not operating from it’s Heart Center. We need a shift. Fast.

From my small, sunny, secure space in Canada, I turn to one thing and one thing only. I encourage all of you to do the same. It feels like the right and best thing to do.

Live with heart

In search of temporary world-chaos relief, I found and listened to this perfect, uplifting album today. Take a listen and a whirl. Send it on to someone you love.


“I keep a lamp over you, glowing in my heart,
To keep from tripping over troublesome thoughts in the dark,
We ain’t that different, we huddle underneath the same stars,
I see who you really are.”

(Lyrics taken from track #14 Shine.)


I just had to do it. Count the number of words I wrote between September 2013 and June 2014. The amount of time it took me to successfully complete 7 classes.

I wrote 86 060 words. This works out to approximately 350 pages. I wrote a whole dissertation already!

Despite this incredible accomplishment, these words on paper were written mostly for others. They were written to fulfill requirements. It therefore feels really good to be on the other side of this particular part of the PhD process. Now onto the qualifying exam this upcoming fall in which I get to determine the reading list (primarily) and devise the topic.

To restore, recoup and reassess, I have returned home. What does returning look like? A little like this.

Fullerton Loop Lookout

Johnston Canyon










And a lot like this.

Returning to nature.

Returning to family.

Returning to calm.

Returning to friends.

Returning to ‘home’.

Returning to inner voice.

Returning to inner peace.

Returning to inspiration.

Returning to motivation.

Returning to purpose.

Returning to love.

Throughout the last 10 months I’ve felt, at times, disconnected from the reasons that drove me to do my PhD in the first place. There were many demands and I found myself drifting away from my sense of purpose. It is important that I use the next two months to regain focus and control, replenish my spirit and self-initiate moments to reclaim my passion for what it is that I set out to do and why I began almost 12 months ago. And to cherish opportunities to celebrate what I’ve been able to achieve so far.


Spring is in the Air

Dear ones,

It has been two months since I last wrote here. I realize this is a fairly long hiatus for me, but you have not been far from my heart. Here are some of the reasons why blog writing was posing a bit of a challenge. (And as all of you know by now, I want my writing to be heartfelt and inspirational.)

1. I was writing an over-abundance of words for school.

2. I was pretty tapped out of words.

3. I was sick of winter.

4. I ‘checked out’ for awhile during my April break and had limited computer time.

5. I did a bit of traveling.

6. I was unfocused and unimaginative.

7. I was being fully present in my life.

8. I simply did not feel like it.

Every writer knows that writer’s block happens now and then. Writing this now is a good sign of things to come. I feel this post is not a stretch to compose nor is unattainable.

Inspiration has been coming in many forms and from many avenues. The weather has shifted here in Ottawa and birds are singing regularly. Spring offers moments of hope as flowers emerge from the ground, defiant against more cold weather.

I’m also much further along in my PhD program and feel rejuvenated by this progress. There are some exciting things ahead including conferences, publishing opportunities, more teaching and working towards clarity on my dissertation topic. My head has cleared.

I’m also motivated by the emotion of love (surprise) and this song that has been playing in my apartment over and over and over again the last few days. It speaks to healing a ‘bleeding’ heart by falling in love again. The lyrics suggest this is not a bad thing, despite how scary it might feel. It’s also about believing you’re worth loving, which has been very difficult for me to achieve. I’m getting there!

It’s fun for me (now it is, mind you) to look back over the last two years and see how far I’ve come since April 2012, when things fell apart. Or at least they appeared to.

More soon.

Sometimes good things fall apart…

Turning 35

turning 35

I turn 35 today. This doesn’t seem possible.

Upon reviewing My 34 list, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. A lot happened this year, much of it unexpected and done in amazement.

I have come at birthdays in the past with a deficit mindset, thinking mostly about what I have not done within the year that has gone (flown) by. I have felt intense pressure for not having met certain milestones – childbirth and marriage being the two big ones. These ‘goals’ are socially constructed and therefore a tension is present between what I ‘ought’ to be doing rather than what is happening. In fact, I have already outlived my own personal perceptions of abundance and success! I am proud to have lived whole-heartedly and courageously these last 35 years.

This year I’m celebrating by declaring the 35 things I’m most grateful for on my 35th birthday. I would like to give thanks for an amazing run so far.


1. My health. Achy knees are really all I have to deal with these days. So lucky.

2. Shelter. I adore my little space in the world. I’m warm, comfortable and content in my apartment. It’s the perfect spot for the birth of a brilliant dissertation.

3. My family. Everyone says this, but I really do have the best family. My siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins – they all form a strong community of support for me and I am thankful for their compassion.

4. My friends. I have many amazing friends too. They are incredibly thoughtful and inspirational.

5. My partner. His unconditional support, ambition and kindness makes me want to be a better person.

6. Past employment. It has provided me with amazing experiences and knowledge that has helped me get to where I am today.

7. Current employment.  I love what I do. It doesn’t feel like work.

8. My education. Opportunities to learn (as a woman especially) I never take for granted.

9. My economic situation. While not wealthy by any means, I have enough. More than most. And that’s all that matters.

10. My country. I love Canada because it is at peace and free. And I feel safe here.

11. My travels & passport. Traveling has opened my mind and heart and I feel blessed to have visited all of the places I have. 

12. Spirituality. My grounding and foundation.

13. Yoga. Yoga gives me the feeling of strength, accomplishment and calm. I am so grateful to have found this practice.

14. Sports. While hockey leads the way, I am grateful for both watching and playing all kinds of sports. Nothing captures the human spirit quite like the Olympic Games.

15. Music. There is nothing like a good song to lift me up.

16. My mentors. I have some great mentors who continue to motivate me to be the best I can be.

17. Nature. Lakes, mountains, rivers, trees, oceans, beaches. Amazing.

18. Books. Like a true student, I love reading and learning from books. I’m running out of room on my shelves.

19. Possibility. I am grateful for endless possibility and the feeling that my future is open and vast.

20. My community. This one is about both my amazing neighbourhood as well as my PhD community. Thank you.

21. Democracy. I can vote without threat or fear. Full stop.

22. The clothes on my back (and shoes on my feet). ‘Nuff said. With honourable mention going to sweatpants, fleece robes and cute teal booties.

23. Food/drink & cooking. I love to cook and create in the kitchen and I feel grateful to not go hungry at night. I especially am grateful for coffee, wine, popcorn, perogies and South Asian food.

24. The Arts. Whether it is the ballet, a play, musical theatre, or artwork…the Arts make wonderful contributions to my life.

25. For each and every day. 

26. Seasons. I adore the full four-season cycle I get to witness (almost) every year.

27. Meditation. Stillness and silence ‘speaks’ volumes to my personal growth and development.

28. Technology. If it wasn’t for technology, I could not do a lot of things, including communicate with those I love.

29. Dancing. Dancing makes me feel so very alive. I need to do it more often.

30. Hot tubs/pools. Yeah, I really like relaxing in hot tubs.

31. Massages. Who doesn’t love a good massage?

32. Inspirational role models.  There are numerous people I look up to who make a positive impact in the world, famous or not. They keep me aiming high.

33. My bicycle. I feel so free (and fit) on my little bike. I also feel grateful to live in a city where there are endless paths. Now I just need a basket.

34. Sleep. My fuel. I cherish my sleep. 

35. Love and more love. It fills me full.

gratitude turns

The Journey

Today, heart day, I am thankful for my own loving voice and the journey we have been on together.

The journey

The Journey 

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house began to tremble
and you felt the old tug at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’ each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little, as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice which you slowly
recognized as your own, that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~Mary Oliver

Do date a girl who travels


A blog post titled Don’t date a girl who travels has gone viral and was all over my Facebook news feed. I could relate to the remarkable and beautiful woman being described, however, the piece was somewhat bothersome. I read a response or two but they did not address my uneasiness. I’ve therefore slowly worked out my own rebuttal.

The post states, “And if you unintentionally fall in love with one [a girl who travels], don’t you dare keep her. Let her go.” I disagree.

This statement implies that a girl who travels is not only unattainable, but unlovable. Why is strength, open-mindedness and determination associated with singleness? As a woman who has spent the majority of her adult life in various cities, I believe these are my greatest assets. I continue to protest against the labels ‘traveller’, ‘wanderer’, ‘lost soul’ and ‘gypsy’ as much as I embrace them. There is more to the story.

A girl who travels would make a great life partner. Do not let her go. Here’s why.

A girl who travels may be unconventional, sure. She may not be as won over with the ‘ordinary’ but she appreciates a gesture no matter what size. She sees past an action to the intention and is grateful for the effort, regardless. She values each moment and adores thoughtfulness. She likes to feel special because as she moves through life on her own, she doesn’t always feel that way. Travel can be an invisible experience without any witnesses.

A girl who travels may be independent, sure. She knows how to fix and build stuff and survive alone in most situations, no matter how foreign. This doesn’t mean she will always refuse help, however. Being unwillingly rescued is different from equal and mutual partnership. A girl who travels knows the value of sharing a good meal, watching a gorgeous sunset in tandem, or sharing a laugh when things go awry. Companionship is not weakness. It’s often empowering.


A girl who travels may be opinionated, sure. She’s had to use her voice to argue for her place when she clearly did not belong. She’s had to stick up for herself many times. She’s seen injustices and experienced them herself. Having said this, she will push you with her vulnerability. She will be bold and blunt and this is refreshing. She won’t hide her thoughts and feelings because she can’t hide anything – even her wounds and fears. What you see is what you get.

A girl who travels may be uncertain, sure. She’s seen what the world has to offer and understands the endless possibilities.  She won’t settle for anything less that what her heart says is meant for her and this includes love. When she says she is committed to you she really is – she trusts her instincts and knows when something is right (or isn’t). Her vast experience informs her choices and therefore she doesn’t choose lightly. You will also benefit from her uncertainty as she will expose your rigidity and move you beyond simply living. She lavishes in the in-between.

A girl who travels is not always fancy, sure. She may get uncomfortable in situations where she has to dress up or conform to a standard that has been set by society as ‘acceptable’. She may not live in excess and likes simplicity. We are all cut from the same mould, however, and natural is what we wake up to in the morning. We must share our humanity with our partners, whether in sickness, health, birth, death, happiness, sadness. A girl who travels knows that what matters is connection and honesty. Trends, looks and wealth will fade.

A girl who travels has minimal regrets and won’t look back and say, “I wish I’d….” because she’s done it. You won’t catch her wondering about much, she is secure and confident.

A girl who travels is a nurturer. The world is her child.

A girl who travels will continually want to be challenged and this is healthy for any relationship – to grow as individuals and together. She won’t be capable of holding you back.

A girl who travels will show you parts of the world you’ve never seen through her stories, music, collections and mannerisms.

Most importantly, a girl who travels knows and loves herself. She hears with her heart. She has to. And before any girl can truly love another, she has to be happy with who she is first.

Don’t you dare let her escape. Keep this one close.