Sunday, October 03, 2010

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Saturday, January 23, 2010


...and now for a word or two about cynicism.

"To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: Please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism -- it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen." (Conan O'Brian, Final night on The Tonight Show.)

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Finding Your Career Footing

Ienjoy reading Philippe Desrocher's columns in a free local rag. Here is a copy of his column about finding your career footing. (As I couldn't find an electronic version for a link, I've added in my typed copy here. )

Three stages of finding your career footing by Philippe Desrochers

This is the lowest form of career evolution.

You blame other people and compare yourself constantly to others. You worry about what others think.

You obsess about what others are doing and criticize their actions.

You take no responsibility for your life because when your life does not work out you blame other people for your misfortune.

Life is not fair. You complain a lot and feel no sense of control in your life.

Please do not be hard on yourself if you are at this stage. There is nothing wrong with you. You just might not realize how much more rewarding life can be if you transition to stage 2.


This is a very selfish and healthy process.

You do not want to live the rest of your life in this stage but you absolutely need to pass through it in order to reach the next stage.

In stage 2 it is all about you and your needs. You are possibly ignoring the people in your life. You may move to a new country, leave a relationship, a job or travel.

You will never know what you want unless you try different things.

But you will feel like you are going backwards, because all those rules you were playing by were other people's rules, and when you get rid of them you will realize that you have no rules of your own. Set your own rules by focusing on yourself.


You will know when it is time to move on to step 3 when you get bored of yourself.

You now know your gifts because you explored and followed your own path in stage 2.

There is nothing more satisfying than sharing your gifts with the world.

True career actualization is being in service to others by sharing your passions.

- Allow the interviewer to set the tone
- Be prompt
- Don't give more details than you are asked for.
- Be concise. Describe your accomplishments and explain how they fit with the position.
- Be strategic. Your answers should meet the employer's needs for the position.
- Answer questions thoughtfully and in a warm, conversational manner.
- Leave room for spontaneity and creativity.
- Ask for clarification if you don't understand a question.
- Ask your own questions.
- Prepare your follow-up. Ask what the next steps are.
- Take the name and phone number of the interviewer before leaving so you can follow up.
- Shake hands and thank the interviewer for his/her time.


5. Bring several copies of your resume. Make sure it is up to date and outstanding. If you have multiple job goals, prepare different versions of your resume tailored to suit the needs of each company you are interested in.

4. Attach copies of your top three letters of recommendation to each resume you hand out.

3. Dress well, but maintain your individuality at the same time. Feeling comfortable with how you look makes a huge difference in your self-confidence.

2. Prepare a one minute "sales pitch". You only have one chance to make that first impression, so it pays to be ready. Think about your strong points, your career goals, the company you are approaching and what you would like to accomplish within the company.

1. Wear comfortable shoes!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

*4 Cats Studios - Art Education for Children

If you live in the Lower Mainland, Edmonton, Calgary or on Vancouver Island, you'll want to check out the 4cats studios. These studios are locations where children ages 2 to 15 can take a variety of art lessons. I was alerted to their programmes after my seven year old niece started a class. She loves art and creative endeavours and has thoroughly enjoyed her experience at 4Cats. I have been fortunate in my life to have had early exposure to serious art courses. I was, therefore, pleased to see that the 4Cats approach respects and supports the intelligent approach that children can take to their artistic training.

It turns out that the founder of the 4cats studio is a Montessori educator. You can see her background in the informed and thoughtful approach that is taken towards teaching art. Each lesson has art history content included and children come away from their experience with a deep understanding not only of the techniques artists use but the approach and passion found in the art of famous and local artists.

If you don't have a 4cats studio and think you'd like to open one yourself, be aware that there are franchise opportunities.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Cards - A Last Gasp?

Three years ago I wrote a post about sending Christmas Cards. My thoughts on the matter haven't changed. I still enjoy finding card envelopes in the mail, seeing who sent them, admiring the stamp and appreciating the beautiful cards that are made throughout the world. Once that process is over, if I'm lucky there is a message or even letter inside to fill me in on what has been happening in the lives of friends and family during the previous year. During the Christmas season, which lasts for about a month, each time I gaze upon a card I think of the sender.

This year I want to officially declare and make it clear that I offset my Christmas card tradition by donating to charity (independent action of course), not driving an SUV/2nd car and not flying in 2009.

I see a card as a small gesture to say that I am thinking of that household at this time of year. Nowadays, more than ever, the mere fact that you send cards indicates that you have made an effort. Twenty years ago our effort threshold would have been higher. I was amazed to hear from my father recently that he used to send out 300 cards when I was younger. We lived overseas at the time so this tradition would have also been a means to stay in touch with family and friends.

My parents announced that this year their Christmas card display wheel was full. That's saying something when you consider that their own card sending efforts have waxed and waned in the past five years. In my case the Christmas card tradition is in its "last gasps" phase. Clearly the younger generation are not keen on the tradition. I have to admit that every year I prune my list. Considering the cost of making cards and the cost of postage, I have been encouraged by my partner to give serious thought to the content of my card mailing list. Consequently friends who are no longer sending cards are dropped off my list. Pretty soon I'll only be writing to elderly relatives, many of whom don't write back.

It's sad because in a way because the Christmas cards tradition is one of the few simple Christmas traditions left that hasn't been overcome by commercial concerns.
After all, nothing is stopping us from making our cards. Heck even delivering many of them by hand if we want to. It's also one that you can keep up regardless of whether you are single or married/married with children. It's an all inclusive Christmas tradition.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Up and Out

Sarah Rowland is a journalist who writes frank and honest dating articles about the challenges of being single. Every time I read one of her pieces (or an article online) I think about my own experiences in the dating world. As I got married in my late 30s, I had plenty of opportunity to experience life as a single woman.

Recently my father reminded me that twenty years ago he walked a woman two years older than him down the aisle to meet her 50 year old fiance. This was the first marriage for both of them. She had moved to Canada from the Philippines and he was a farmer in rural Ontario. They met at a party of mutual friends. Her story reminds me that anything is possible when it comes to love and relationships.

Wouldn't it be nice to meet your soul mate? You know who I mean. The person with whom you have shared interests and passions. That person who makes your heart flutter at first sight.

In a recent broadcast of Being Erica, Erica is lambasted by a local journalist for editing a book that encourages people to "settle for someone" because "The One" isn't out there. "My wife is my soul mate", he tells her. In my opinion it's not that there is "the one" or that you have to settle. It's a bit more complicated than that.

Looking back there are a few observations that I have made about dating. (I've shared some of them in previous posts.)

1. Get out. Get out. Get out. Nobody is going to show up at your door (besides Jehovah Witness prospects). It's true that without the pain there will be no gain. When you give up on the "get out" principle, you are reducing your prospects significantly. Go to events where like minded people will show up. They don't need to share your interests exactly, but they do need to have the capacity to appreciate your type of person, and vice versa. Avoid events stacked with people of your gender. (For women that means most types of volunteering efforts, I'm sorry to say.) It's simple relationship mathematics, really.

Here's what a male relationship columnist had to say on this topic: "You don't like to get hit on in public, you don't want to date online and you don't want to be set up on blind dates. Tell us if sending messenger pigeons is an appropriate way of courting. Because if it is, we're all over it."

2. Decide if you're willing to dip into the married and unavailable pool. Many people I know met their partner when one of them (at least) was not available. If this option makes you uncomfortable, recognize that you're going to have to make a lot more of an effort to meet someone.

3. Move quickly. If you want to meet someone who is truly single you will have to move in quickly when someone becomes available. Sorry to report this point, but single people do not stay single for long if they are a standout catch.

4. Look for similar outlooks and socio-economic backgrounds rather than similar interests. It is a lot more difficult to connect with someone from a different background than it is to cope with different interests. You can always learn to like a sport or interest. If your partner does not have a similar background (eg educational or life experiences) the stumbling blocks can be huge.

5. Think slow burning fire rather than instant sparks. Sometimes the people you notice - the ones that make your head turn - are also the types that aren't really the best for you. Take time to get to know a person. If you think there is a possibility of potential, go out for at least three dates to see if any type of connection can be made. Sometimes it takes awhile for a shy or quiet person to reveal his or her true personality.

6. Work it. I rarely had help from friends to meet others. My friends like me and think I'm swell, but they weren't forthcoming with introductions to their friends and colleagues. In some cases they may not have known anyone. Sometimes they may have been afraid to make an effort in case the pairing goes south. I can appreciate that this would be an uncomfortable position for them. If you believe your friends have the potential to help, get the word out. Tell them that you really are serious about dating and that you're ready to commit to a relationship.

7. Love yourself. If you are happy with your life and with your own company, you will make better decisions when entering the dating field. You must have met the type of person who goes from one partner to the next. Spending months - even years - single can be a character building and rewarding time in your life. You will also have a lot more to offer when you are in a relationship.

8. Mix things up. Have you noticed how couples on TV ads are usually of the same racial background? Without realizing it you may be limiting your prospects by leaning more towards people who look like you do. You might be surprised to realize that people from other ethnic backgrounds could be more simpatico with your world view. For example, people who are second or third generation can still carry with them the values of their cultural background.

9. Don't spread yourself too thin. It's easy to do these days. You can sign up for internet dating and before you know it you can be going on all kinds of dates. You can justify this behaviour by saying that you aren't in a committed relationship, so why not? This decision could be a problem in the future when your future partner finds out that for the first six months that you were dating, you were cruising the scene with others. Ouch. As you can see from news coverage of Tiger Woods, people don't tend to like two timing behaviour.

10. Treat others as you would like to be treated. This builds on point nine. All you can do is be the best person you can be with your new dating interest. Ultimately if that person turns out to be a person of weak moral fiber, what can you do? You did your best. Don't take it personally. It's not about you. It's their story and problem.

11. Pack light. Building on point 10, it is easy to load up your baggage with issues that didn't work out in previous relationships. If an ex was a control freak you start to see potential controlling behaviour in everyone you meet. Even if it isn't there. You might even start to over react to behaviour that isn't controlling. Another issue is trust. Then there is reliability. Pick a concept. This is a devil that plagues most people and it can take awhile to beat this problem down. So be frank with yourself on this score and keep reminding yourself that you are a work in progress.

12. Establish a base line. You must have a base below which you will not fall. Expect to be treated to a certain standard. Gently educate your partner about this standard and do not waver.

13. Expand your horizons. After a few one on one dates, encourage mixing with mutual friends. You can expedite your understanding of a person's true nature when you see him or her interacting with old friends.

14. Try and try again. If things don't work out don't stay away for too long. If you do you'll give yourself too much time to mull over what went wrong. Pack your sorrows into a box and leave it for sorting during those quiet times when you have a moment. Eventually you may get so tired of the contents that you'll simply do a mental dump.

15. Project your ideal self. When you are meeting a person be the person you want to be. So your job situation stinks. So your health has been a bit in the dumps. Don't let these problems define who you are. Make your strengths shine and radiate strength and optimism. Some people may disagree with this tactic but really this is about convincing yourself into a new reality. Your personal To Do box can contain all the problems which will require steady sorting. For the dating scene, why load yourself down? At any moment in life some area of your life needs sorting out. That famous glass half full or empty will tell you that you can choose not only how you want to see the world but how you want others to see your world.

16. Have fun. When you are meeting new people there are opportunities to try new restaurants, go on walks, and try new activities. Even if the relationship doesn't work out, you will have great memories of all the fun times that you had.

What have you learned from your dating experiences? Do you have any observations to add?

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Friday, December 04, 2009

One smug story too many

If you haven't been at least somewhat aghast by the details of Tiger Woods' sordid extramarital affairs you must have been trekking through rural Africa lately. Most journalists have weighed in on the story and have provided their own tidbits and spins.

Is it true that Woods was, in fact, texting Rachel Uchitel when his wife intervened and the phone got trashed (along with the vestibule)? Is it true that Uchitel has been paid 1 million to stay quiet? Did he really have so many women on the side?


What I don't want to read is one more smug story about how men aren't wired to be committed to one woman. How powerful men tend to stray and how vulnerable they are to being preyed on my money grubbing vacuous types.

Life is all about choices and being self actualized. Nobody puts a gun to people like Woods to make them walk down the aisle. If he prefers the shagaholic approach why not stay a bachelor? Of course then he wouldn't be able to place himself in warm and fuzzy type photos like the one shown above.

If we are to believe these biological imperative stories then men only stay true to their partners because they are bound to do so. It strikes me that this is the wrong end of the stick. If you love your partner and you're committed to each other, you would abhor the idea of straying. Countless men believe in the latter.

Journalist Douglas Todd summed this concept up nicely:

True fidelity goes beyond merely staying out of an illicit sexual dalliance. It's not just about outward acts. It centres on what's in our minds and heart. Jesus and some other early religious leaders were critical of adultery, but emphasized that anyone who condemns it should first look at their own dubious hungers. Authentic relationship fidelity, according to the philosopher Gabriel Marcel, survives the inevitable ups and downs of changing affections. It is a creative act of commitment. In spiritual circles, fidelity is considered both a moral and sacred value.

As for the other guilty parties involved, for every affair there surely follows a statement that the adulterous one explained that he/she was not happy in the marriage. How easy it is to buy that line when you have a vested interest in being with the adulterer. The stakes are that much higher when you can potentially blackmail your lover with stored text messages.

When Uchitel spoke about her late fiance who died on 9/11, this is what she had to say:

"When I think of Andy I no longer cry. I smile and I laugh. I'm at that point now. I can go on everyday knowing that somebody like him chose me to love."

You'd think that a woman with this type of experience would know what love is all about. Wouldn't she understand that another woman wouldn't want to lose her husband?

More importantly, isn't it amazing that "powerful", wealthy and presumably smart men can be so astonishingly stupid? Did Woods think his three squeezes would be his mistresses forever? Did it not occur to him that at least one of them would go public? (Even if the news hadn't been sniffed out by tabloids who follow these details closely.) Frankly I'd like to read more articles about God complexes to explain this inexplicably stupid and self serving behaviour.

Looking at this photo, I feel sorry for his wife. When you are pregnant (as she was when he started one affair) and raising young children, it's true that you may not be the best shag around. You're just a tad bit exhausted and preoccupied. Does this fact justify Woods' "personal transgressions" as he calls his behaviour? Even more significantly, I really feel sorry for his children. Wood's dilly dallying has permanently ruined their emotional futures. No child deserves such a fate.

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

*Playing the card you have

In the latest installment of the CBC show Being Erica, Erica learns the value of setbacks. While taking tea with her mother, played by Kathleen Laskey, the latter gives the kind of speech that any parent would want to give.

How do you respond when live deals you a blow? Here's what Erica's TV mum has to say:

When you hit a bump you pick yourself up and you keep going. Things don't always turn out the way you imagine. Life deals you a hand and no matter what card you're holding, you have to play it. ...and it's hard and it never stops being hard. But you learn ...and you change ... and you grow. ...and even in my darkest moments I remind myself it's the reason we're all here.

So you got fired. So you're back down at the bottom again. It could be worse. Just get back up and keep fighting.

It's hard to hear this kind of advice when life isn't going the way that you'd like. This is when you need someone like a mum or friend in your life saying "that sucks. OK. SO - what's next?". I have a mum like that in my life and it makes all the difference.

Watch the whole show from December 1, 2009 (Those living outside of Canada should install Hot Shield.) The tea time session takes place at 32.28 minutes.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Feeling Crafty

While living in Manila as a student, I attended the Christmas Craft Bazaar that was held regularly at the Union Church. The event was a heart stopping presentation of beautiful, intricate Christmas crafts. This is not surprising if you know anything about the tradition of arts and crafts in the Philippines. Since that time I have gained a deep appreciation for local craft fairs. You just never know what you will find when you attend one.

In Vancouver, Circle Craft is a large, organized fair that takes place at a major downtown hotel. It takes place just before Christmas and offers shoppers a chance to stock up on Christmas presents including crafts and gourmet food products. Numerous local craft shows take place around town as well.

This past weekend I attended the Urban Artisans show at the Yaletown Roundhouse Community Center. I appreciated the fact that I could walk to the fair with my double stroller. There were many interesting booths - I enjoyed the following artisans' work in particular. (This artist creates interesting illustrations and uses them in a variety of ways. Check out her thoughtful website.)

dragonfly dreaming (The owner of Dragonfly Dreaming takes a sophisticated approach to wildcraft, organic skincare. Check out her line of high anti-oxidant content creams and serums called Sacha.) (Check out how they use their chrome foiled designer paper in notecards, journals, notebooks and soap wrappings.)

I also liked Fiona Lai Designs (semi-precious artisan jewelry). Her website ( isn't working, but watch out for her at local shows.

If a local craft fair is coming to your neighbourhood, make an effort to attend. Craft shows that have a jury to set a specific standard are particularly stunning. You never know what treasures you'll find.

Image: Hand crocheted hedgehog toy that I purchased at the Heritage Christmas Craft show at Deer Lake. The next fair takes place November 13th, 2009

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Away You Go

I finally had a chance to see Away We Go - Sam Mendes' latest film. While the main topic of the film appears to focus on the couple defining what they believe and how they will be as a family, I was interested in the idea of finding a home.

When I was in my late 20s I decided to uproot myself from the Pacific Northwest and move to Paris. The paperwork required to move to France turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. The clock was ticking and I wasn't confident that my visa would come through in time for me to start my job. Another position appeared in Japan and I took it. Thinking about it now, I'm surprised at how easily I pursued the idea of moving to Paris. I had few friends there and was in a comfortable lifestyle in Vancouver. My brother lived in town and my parents were aiming to move back in a few years. Wouldn't I miss my family and friends? Wouldn't I struggle in this new place? Would I stay there long term? Would I be happy? How could I have been so certain that I was making the right decision? I don't know that I thought through all those questions so deeply. I did have an idea of what I thought life would be like and probably had a bit of a fantasy woven in there as well. I wasn't imagining grand scenarios, but I definitely had a scenario in mind.

What does it take to make a move to a new community and what do you need to do to ground yourself in that new place?

As I grew up in a foreign service family, it might seem odd that I am asking this question. There certainly are challenges to the constant moving an "expat family" experiences, but there are also routines and systems in place that help these families launch themselves. If you aren't part of such a network, making a change can be even more challenging.


1. The first focus must be that you have to have a vision in mind. Even if your vision is a bit of a fantasy, at least it will propel you forward and encourage you to make a shift. Perhaps you're imagining life by the beach or coffees in the cafes of a cafe nirvana. Whatever it takes, think about your passions and find a place that appears to offer something to meet those needs.

2. Consider your happiness level. Before my move to Asia, I was happy where I was in the sense that I had family and friends around. Professionally, however, I was not happy. At that point in my life having a job I liked in a situation that was promising was very important. When you are in your twenties, you should not be accepting anything less than the best that you can arrange. Otherwise it's a slow downwards slide from that point onwards. Knowing that I was unhappy with the prospects in my community, I knew that I had to move on.

3. Insert a touch of realism. As much as I wanted to move to Paris, and despite my many preparations (including a year of French language night classes and wrangling with the insufferable immigration officer at the local consulate), in the end I had to concede that the job in Japan was a better prospect. As my mother pointed out, I'd be paid better and could take all the trips to Paris that I wanted. In the end I only went to Paris once while I spent five years in Japan, but I did do a lot of traveling thanks to the financial opportunities I found in Japan.

4. Recognize an opportunity. When a good opportunity comes your way, and if you have been stagnating in your life, it's not the time to say "oh I just don't want to make a change just yet".

5. Go for it. Don't think things through too much. If you don't have any deep ties (such as a husband and children rooted in a community), it's not as difficult to make the leap. Even if you have a family, you can still make that move. (...and many of my friends do so regularly with their families. They move across a State, country or around the world.)

6. Plan carefully. Do you need to keep all your goods? Maybe it's a good time to sell that IKEA furniture and give away the clothes and bric and brac you don't need to keep. Can you store some of your items? Do you have the money to travel to the new location and set yourself up comfortably for a few months while you get launched? If not, maybe you need to work an extra job for awhile to get your float money going. When I made my first big move to the West coast after finishing university I had a good sized nest egg to get myself established in an apartment while I started a job.


If you have found a job - preferably in a place you like - then the decision is made for you. What about those times, however, when you don't have a job lined up yet? If you want to work in another country this is not an ideal situation. It is possible to find work under the table (not ideal), but you can also visit a country so that you can line up a job. You may need to re-enter with a work visa later on.

If you're planning to work in your own country and haven't yet lined up a job, the options are wide open. You have the ability to move anywhere, but how do you decide where you want to go?

The last time I made a big shift back to Canada I did so because I was going to start graduate school. Why did I make the shift? As my eldest niece knows, I saw her photo taken at the hospital and my fate was sealed. I determined that I wouldn't watch her grow up over the Internet. I couldn't get back to Canada fast enough. It was the best reason for a move I have ever made. Two more grandchildren followed and now I've added my own two children to the mix.

Picture this.
After I made my decision I started to clip out images that I liked. Something about these images inspired me. They represented what I wanted for my life in the future. I can tell you that in subsequent years my life wasn't shaped according to the images, but they were a visualization of my hope for a new beginning. I collected the images in a book with plastic pockets. You could just as easily place them on a bulletin board. If your vision about where you want to go or what you want to do isn't clear at the beginning, this type of exercise can help.


My last two big shifts took me to locations where I had family. When I went to Japan my parents still had two years left in Tokyo before they moved on. I was living in the neighbouring city, a reasonable local train ride away. Naturally this set up made life and settling in SO much easier for me. Even after my parents left, however, I still had to maintain my efforts to establish roots and feel at home. How can you set up a home and feel rooted in a place that isn't originally your home?

1. Your workplace is a great place to start. If you're not working, perhaps you're in a school programme or live in a dormitory setting. Cynicism can't be the order of the day. Take a genuine interest in people and the activities that may be happening outside of the programme at hand. If you keep your ear to the ground you'll hear about pub outings or hikes. Or perhaps you will befriend some colleagues and establish deeper friendships.

2. If you go on line you will find electronic versions of community newspapers that list all kinds of events in the community. You can also go to sites such as to find out what is happening in your area. The latter is a great way to connect with people who have serious interests. It is important to keep coming back to the same groups so that you can start to establish a consistent presence with other people.

3. Seek out alumnae from your university or high school. Most major universities have local chapters in major centers. If there isn't one where you are, you can set up a chapter yourself. Most universities also have alumni websites and easy ways to connect with other people and promote your events.

4. Choose activities and options that involve like minded people and some kind of active component. Sitting in front of others over a meal can be challenging if you don't know the other people and don't have anything else in common. Going to a wine tasting or attending a rugby game, for example, provides a common ground for discussion.

5. Join an organization or association. While a church, for example, isn't an organization per se, it does represent an opportunity to meet the same people weekly while sharing a common interest. If you aren't spiritually inclined you could join a running group or choir and find the same kind of camaraderie.

6. It doesn't take a lot of worldly goods to make a house a home. Making an effort to add warmth to your living space makes a difference. Find some plants, set out some favourite magazines or books, photographs and add in some textiles. Before you know it your personal stamp will be on your place and you'll feel happy to be at home. Inviting others over helps to make your home feel like more than just a place to sleep.

7. Choose quality over size. Choose a living space that is well constructed, in a great neighbourhood and sunny. Go as small as you have to in order to be able to afford this space - but always choose quality over size.

8. Keep your connections. Don't forget about your friends and family elsewhere. With E-mail, social networking, and Video Skype, this task is easier than ever. I was an early adapter to E-mail, used to be an active letter writer, and still send out Christmas cards every year to faithful friends who share the same passion for connecting in this simple way.

9. Explore. Get a bike and start exploring various neighbourhoods. This is best way to develop an appreciation for the place where you live (city and natural settings alike).

10. Establish a routine. When you are living on your own, it's important to have a routine. Insert activities weekly where you are required to meet up with others and connect. Then include personal activities that sustain you. Perhaps it's a morning coffee at a favourite cafe, or browsing Tower Records after lunch with church friends.

11. Be spontaneous. When someone says "hey we're going cross country skiing next weekend. Do you want to come?", say "YES". (Unless you are busy, can't afford to go or hate cross country skiing.) Nowadays opportunities to connect don't come by as often as you might think. So when someone says "hey do you want to come over for dinner", appreciate this increasingly rare opportunity.

12. Reciprocate. Don't forget to hold your own dinner parties and organize outings as well. When the social scene starts to stagnate, that's when you might need to make your own contributions to add zip to the local scene.

13. Find a creative outlet. Do you like photography? It's easier than ever with digital cameras. How about trying a pottery class or learning a local art/craft tradition. Some of my best experiences have taken place this way.

14. Don't forget about local festivals. In places like Japan, festivals are very popular. Even if you're not trying, you'll come across a festival of some type. In other places (such as North America) you can still find regularly held local festivals. Maybe it's the Public Dreams Society setting up a lantern festival. Or the local girls school is having its yearly festival. On a simpler note, a local church might be holding a Christmas fair. If you're looking to tap into the heart of the community, these events are a good place to start.

15. Don't forget about sports. If you like to engage in sports you're well on your way to meeting lots of people. Even if you're more of a bystander, attending sporting events is a good way to connect with the local community and to enjoy yourself. My personal favourite is watching rugby from the sidelines. Everyone from grandparents to babies and dogs attend these games.

16. Buy a daytimer. Preferably a paper one with a fabulous cover. (I like red leather.) Scribble events and plans all over the pages and add in clippings. Fill up your time and keep busy. Unless you are an incredibly contemplative person, you won't want to experience day after day of quiet time staring at the TV and reading the Internet. However if you have a good number of quality events in your life, you will also enjoy those quiet times as well.

17. Recognize that there are many people in similar situations to your own. Look around and you will find them. Be open to engaging socially with people who aren't exactly like you. When I was in my twenties I had many friends twice my age and older. In fact I often found I enjoyed the company of people in their 70s. It's an interesting time in a person's life.

18. Focus on the families. Parents with children - especially young children - can be great friends. They tend to have routines that involve wonderfully simple concepts such as going for a picnic. Many can be keen to welcome single friends into their lives. You might have to accommodate their schedule or requirements, but the rewards can be great. The same can apply to couples. If you find some couples (parents or not) tend to want to get together with "other couples", ignore and avoid them. Turn the corner and you will find others that are more open minded about their social options.

19. Finally - write about it. Start a weblog and write about what's great in your new community. Or simply share your musings with friends and family in letters and E-mails. Writing - like photography - encourages you to open your eyes and really examine the community in which you are living.

If you stumble across this posting and have your own ideas about finding a community and grounding yourself while you are there, please feel free to add a posting below. During this era of increased personal isolation, this is a topic that is more important than ever.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

* Lessons Learned

Although I rarely watch Reality TV, there are a few observations I have made while watching various shows.

1. Jumping into a body of water from a boat isn't as easy as it looks on TV. (Inspired by my brother's belief that I wouldn't last 45 seconds on a Survivor show, I tried the "jump in and swim" routine in Greece. The water was so cold, I nearly went into shock.)

2. Dating/snogging/"fill in the blank" more than one partner at the same time comes across as just plain creepy.

3. Divulging the agony of your romance meltdown in a status report, Tweet, E-mail, weblog and/or TV broadcast will encourage uncharitable thoughts amongst your contemporaries.

4. A stint on reality TV will now ensure that your life is chronicled on Entertainment Tonight and every tabloid out there.

5. The general populace tends to measure other people's lives by behaviour seen on reality TV.

6. Speaking ill of your housemate/friend/work mate to everyone who will listen is never a good idea.

7. If you want to race through one country after another, don't carry a suitcase.

8. TV nannies will almost certainly find some dysfunction going on in your family.

9. Pulling a stunt for attention to support a reality show bid could land you in trouble with the media AND the police.

10. Make your home available for a makeover and you could end up with copious amounts of useless accessories made in China, paint colours only the designers like and enough votive candles to light up a church.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Santorini Calendar

I've always admired calendars showing images of Santorini. Whenever I saw one I would think "now there's a place to go if you like taking photographs". Now that I have visited Santorini, I took the opportunity to create my own calendar. It is with a sense of achievement that I present the results here. These images were taken while I visited Santorini for my honeymoon. It really is as attractive a place as the pictures suggest!

Link to calendar

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Santorini Calendar

I've always admired calendars showing images of Santorini. Whenever I saw one I would think "now there's a place to go if you like taking photographs". Now that I have visited Santorini, I took the opportunity to create my own calendar. It is with a sense of achievement that I present the results here. These images were taken while I visited Santorini for my honeymoon. It really is as attractive a place as the pictures suggest!

Link to calendar

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

H1N1 "Swine" Flu

It is interesting to compare the symptoms of a cold and the H1N1 flu.

Know the Difference between Cold and H1N1 Flu Symptoms

Fever is rare with a cold.
Fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100°F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the flu.

A hacking, productive (mucus- producing) cough is often present with a cold.
A non-productive (non-mucus producing) cough is usually present with the flu (sometimes referred to as dry cough).

Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.
Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.

Stuffy Nose
Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week.
Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.

Chills are uncommon with a cold.
60% of people who have the flu experience chills.

Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.
Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.


Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.
Sneezing is not common with the flu.

Sudden Symptoms
Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.
The flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.


A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold.
A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.

Sore Throat

Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.
Sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.

Chest Discomfort
Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.
Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.

The following You Tube Video - Symptoms of H1N1 Flu - includes the following information:

Serious symptoms for children
- fast breathing or trouble
- blue skin
- not drinking
- not waking/interacting
- irritable - not wanting to be held
- fever - rash or flu like symptoms that return with cough

Serious symptoms for adults
- difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
- sudden dizziness
- confusion or severe or persistent vomiting

Adults can be contagious when symptomatic and 7 days after
Children may be contagious for longer.

Anti viral drugs can make the illness milder and feel better can prevent serious
They are started within 2 days of symptoms.

Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth
Cover mouth when sneezing with tissue or elbow

CBC Video about Washing Your Hands

H1N1 Swine Flu Precautions

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Monday, October 19, 2009

*Peter Greenaway's "26 Bathrooms"

I found a copy of Peter Greenaway's "26 Bathrooms" online. Love it. My brother recorded this programme in the 80s and I've watched it many times since then. Enjoy!

Related Link

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Living the Don Draper Life

I hate writing these types of posts because this is the type of topic that irritates me. It's always such a chore to muster up the energy to put this type of content into writing.

Recently the character Don Draper from "Mad Men" was voted as the most influential man. Here is someone who is supposed to be a well dressed business man who basically drinks, cavorts and screws around on his wife. Is Don living every man's dream life? Apparently so.

On a similar note, in hectic urban centers like New York City, for example, female professionals are busy, on the go types. They don't have a lot of time to spare on personal, romantic affairs. When they want to invest time into their private lives, a male escort allows them the flexibility they need in their busy schedules. They don't have the time to put effort and money into a long term committed relationships. For those women who are married, a sexual relationship with an escort offers an encounter without pressure. Unlike the home front where they are greeted with demands and expectations to solve problems, with the escort they are freed from such responsibilities. In many cases a female executive - whether married or single - will ask the escort for his "Boyfriend" services. This means, loosely, that the escort will engage in a pseudo empathetic and emotionally involved manner, as befits a significant other. On internet chat sites many of these women write about their experiences with the escorts in glowing and prosaic terms. Escorts will tell you that the descriptions are often inflated versions of what really happened. It should be mentioned that in the light of day these escorts look a bit long in the ear, but under the soft light of the restaurant and hotel room, all appears to be idylic.

For more on this topic check out the following documentary on CNBC - Dirty Money

Oh, but I should point out that the description I just wrote was actually given for male professionals in cities like New York City. Somehow this scenario seems acceptable for a male, but doesn't read so well for a female. ...because somehow it's easier to justify these types of actions when men are involved. There's the attitude of the chancer - if you can get away with something, why not? (See: 10 Things he thinks before he cheats.) Whereas for women there are so many expectations of how a wife, mother or single woman should act. Women are expected to be sensitive to the needs of others and therefore should not be acting in destructive ways.

...because this type of behaviour is destructive, isn't it? When men in committed relationships are using escorts, they are engaging in adulterous, deceitful activity. Imagine if everyone in this world was out for him or herself. Imagine if we all went after any opportunity that suited our desires. Imagine if we professed to be devoted to one person when in fact we liked to spread our devotions around.

For a temperature reading on what this lived experience is like, flash back to Princess Diana throwing herself down the stairs when she was pregnant. Ah yes - that not so pretty "Charles and Camilla" scenario of decades past when they rushed from one country home estate party to the other and shagged in the wine cellars.

After watching this documentary and listening to escort women justify their work, I realized how inherently anti-women this "high end escort business" is. It creates unrealistic expectations of how women should look and categorizes the single, dating or married woman who isn't an escort in a most unhealthy and negative light. Naturally this set up benefits the escort woman who wants to promote herself as a desirable alternative. From the male point of view they can sit back - a la Don Draper - and say "now ladies" don't fight over me. There's enough of me to go round.

Excuse me while I woof the cookies I haven't eaten yet.

The Don Draper Guide to Picking up Women

City bankers regularly offer prostitutes to clients

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Are women still commodities?

Image source

Yesterday while walking along I passed a woman who reminded me of Elizabeth Smart. This thought brought another one to my mind.

"Women are commodities."

"Are women commodities?"

"Are women STILL commodities?"

Yes, I concluded they certainly are in many parts of the world.

...but what of the continuous stream of headlines coming out of Yahoo UK about violence against women and children perpetrated by both men and women. (Here's an example.) The varied reports of heinous acts and neglectful actions against children, for example, are shocking. It makes for juicy reading, but where is the analysis of why these situations are taking place?

Then we have a number of reports in the last two years out of Austria, Italy, the United States and Australia about fathers/strange men imprisoning girls as sexual slaves for years on end. In some cases fathering children.

We are told that over a 1,000 children go missing every year in Belgium alone. How is that possible?

Ironically these stories are small in number compared to the lived experiences of countless women and children in places like South-East Asia. The few documentaries about their stories include unbearably horrific details about their living conditions and the realities of their lives.

Where do these kidnappers, enslavers and women and child abusers "get off" thinking that their acts are justified?

No incest is NOT best. No you are not entitled to kill your child because you feel sorry for yourself. No it's not child pornography. This suggests that the children somehow complied with the arrangement. They are photos of sexually abused children.

I can't help feeling that the wretched individuals taking advantage of others are not just cases of people who grew up with horrible parents. It's not because their mothers didn't give them enough hugs or their fathers looked at them sideways. What puzzles me is that the members of the media do not ask the right questions about these stories. How did these people become the characters that they were when they committed these crimes, questionable acts or acts of neglect? How did these acts go unnoticed by neighbours? Why do we not question the dubious behaviour of our fellow community member? Are we living in clueless communities where we don't care to know what our neighbour is up to?

In a recent blog posting by poses some of these tough questions about the lens that we wear and the acts that we condone. We need to stop trotting out the same worn, unquestioned cliches because they're getting a bit old, and women and children are suffering while we sit in our comfortable place of self-imposed ignorance.

Darryl Hannah makes documentary about Sex Slaves

Related topic: Stripper Envy

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

President Obama's Back-to-school message 2009

President Obama's motivational speech to students... "Work hard. There's no excuse for not trying. Repeat efforts. Ask questions. Ask for help. Find a mentor. Don't quit. Think about your contributions. Do your part. Get serious and put in your best effort."

Classroom resources

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Coping Behaviour and Social Responses Survey

The following content is from the MOS-SSS survey regarding coping behaviour and social responses. It made for an interesting read while I filled out a post birth survey. It occurred to me that this would be a good check list to go through mentally at different points in your life. The responses are rated from none of the time to all of the time. Ideally one would be able to answer positively to most of these questions at any given time. If not, then it might be time for a reassessment about one's life.

People sometimes look to others for companionship, assistance, or other types of support. How often is each of the following kinds of support available to yo if you need it?

(None of the time/A little of the time/Sopmeof hte time/Most of the time/All of the time)

- someone to help you if you were confined to bed
- someone you can count on to listen to you when you need to talk
- someone to give you good advice about a crisis
- someone to take you to the doctor if you needed it
- someone who shows you love and affection
- someone to have a good time with
- someone to confide in or talk to about yourself or your problems
- someone who hugs you
- someone to get together with for relaxation
- someone to prepare your meals if you were unable to do it yourself
- someone whose advice your really want
- someone to do things with to help you get your mind off things
- someone to help with daily chores if you were sick
- someone to share your most private worries and fears with
- someone to turn to for suggestions about how to deal with a personal problem
- someone to do something enjoyable with
- someone who understands your problems
- someone to love and make you feel wanted

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Son's Tribute

Senator Edward Kennedy's son Edward Kennedy Jr. gave this moving tribute to his father while talking about the nature of fatherhood, leadership, education and ideals.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Taking a Break

I will be taking a break from posting on this weblog as I prepare to deliver twins and adjust to the new routine. I hope to be able to start adding content again in a month or so.
Have a great summer.

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How Safe is it to Use Facebook?

Despite a humble population of approximately 30 million people, Canadians have been the strongest supporters of Facebook. In recent months the balance may have tipped as other larger population bases came online. Additionally, Canada is a country that has a strong reputation for good governance. So it is significant when the Privacy Commissioner's office of Canada puts out a challenge to Facebook.

Initial report regarding complaint.

Facebook Controversy.

When you read these articles you will see that the complaints and requirements are reasonable and Facebook would do well to pay attention. As mentioned in one of the articles, the laws in Canada are very similar to Europe.

I expected to find many of my Canadian contacts on Facebook removing their pages this morning following wide coverage of this story. If you haven't given this issue much thought, this type of news report could be alarming.

See coverage from CBC's The National.

A few years back, while working in a research job for a major Canadian University, my personnel file was stolen. Soon thereafter someone lost one of the banking cheques I gave him. A month later Romanian mafia stole my wallet and credit card right under my nose. "Right. That's it", I thought. " The Eastern European mafia will have splattered my personal details, including my social insurance number, all over the Internet." I contacted my banks and placed extra security on my banking information. I also advised the credit bureaus. In fact, my own approach to privacy on the Internet has been relatively cautious, so in this regard I didn't make any changes.

For more information on cyber hackers and internet sleuths see a Doc Zone documentary on the topic.

You just might stay awake all night worrying, after watching this type of news show.

If I were to leave Facebook, or if Facebook decided to share my information with a Third Party, what exactly would they be sharing?

I haven't provided my phone number, place of residence, place of work, or main Email address. I always use "junk E-mail" accounts for such purposes. These are E-mail accounts that may attract junk mail. I don't care. They're not my primary address. All Facebook needs to know is that I'm 18 plus. Even then, I'm not sure that this is a requirement as many teenagers use Facebook. You will not see my date of birth on my information page.

As for content on my wall, if someone wants to try and "sink" me professionally or personally because I've shared some Martha Stewart recipes please, go ahead and make my day. I'd like to see how that initiative would go down.

If I were concerned that colleagues might use content on my FB page against me, I simply wouldn't connect to colleagues' pages.

On the other hand, I'm not going to put radical thoughts or socially provocative information on my site. I keep those conversations for face-to-face conversations.

If someone takes issue with the fact that I may have shared information supporting the anti human trafficking movement, for example, let that person try to use this information against me. I would appreciate the opportunity to promote the cause.

So in terms of sharing my information with third parties, or using information on my site against me, there isn't much juice as far as my profile is concerned.

As it currently stands, I know that if I want to fully erase my FB account, I would need to manually remove all entries before leaving FB. With the currently challenge coming from Canada, I expect the process will be tightened up. Any personal data such as birthdate would remain with FB it seems.

Until then, will I be unduly stressed about using FB? No. The benefits outweigh the concerns. We live in a time when people are so afraid to express themselves for fear of being targeted or "outed". I also grew up in a "hush hush" environment where I was cautioned from an early age to not have "loose lips". In my current daily life and humble existence, I disagree with that type of climate and will engage in any activity that challenges such a notion.

Ten Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know

... previous posting that isn't about security concerns, but looks at how you can handle your profile:


Facebook Security and Privacy Tips

In addition to FB security tips (see below), here are a few security / privacy tips I've encountered.

- You've used the Internet long enough to be able to sniff out a scam. If you receive a FB mail from a friend that looks pre-packaged, sketchy and has no personal touches, chances are it's a scam. Don't click on the link. Press delete.

- If you are sharing links with friends, put enough personal touches in the content so that they know it's legitimate.

- If you suspect your non FB Email address list has been trolled and is sending out spam related to FB content, take action and investigate.

- Some FB ads lead to shifty pages that can have viruses. Unless you have a rock solid virus scan on your system, avoid clicking on FB ads.

- Do not accept friend requests from people you don't know unless there is a logical reason to do so. Consider giving that person a limited view of your profile.

- Avoid providing FB with your actual birthdate, primary Email address, phone numbers, place of residence and work.

- Read through every option under Settings. Make sure you understand what each option means.

- To prevent your image from being used in FB ads, click on Settings -> Privacy -> News Feed and Wall -> Facebook Ads -> Appearance in Facebook Ads. Select No One.

- Whenever you save something on FB - eg a Note - look for the click down option to choose who can see it. EG friends only or friends of friends. If you are not fond of your ex boyfriend and he is a friend of a friend, you will want to select "Only Friends". That way if your friend comments on your note, it won't be referenced on your ex's home page.

- Consider using the customize option more often. You may only want a handful of friends to see a photo album, for example.

- Learn how to customize who sees what on your wall. Does your whole University network need to have access to a specific photo album? How about friends of friends? Do you want everyone on your list to see your bridal shower photos? Do you want everyone on FB to see your friend list when they search out your name? Do you want your profile appearing on Google search? Do you want all your friends to see your status updates?

See the Facebook security page for more details:


The following tips are from the Facebook security page:


When we talk about security, we're talking about scams, viruses, and hacks that could infect your computer or your Facebook account and result in a lot of annoyance for you and your friends. When your login information is stolen, this is often known as phishing.

Security isn't just an issue on Facebook, but all over the web, which is why it's important to be aware online, and to learn how to protect your accounts and your computer.

Here are some ways to be smart and aware on Facebook:

If a link or message seems weird, don't click on it. This is true of all spam—whether a chain letter, an ad, or a phishing scam. If it seems weird for an old friend to write on your Wall and post a link, that friend may have gotten phished. Let the person know, and don't click on links you don't trust.

Be aware of where you enter your password. Just because a page on the Internet looks like Facebook, it doesn't mean it is. Learn to tell the difference between a good link and a bad one.

Report any spam or abuse you see on discussion boards and Walls. Those report links are there for a reason. The sooner we find spam, the sooner we can remove it and eliminate spammers from the site.

Don't use the same password on Facebook that you use in other places on the web. If you do this, phishers or hackers who gain access to one of your accounts will easily be able to access your others too. You might find yourself locked out of your email and even your bank account.

Never share your password with anyone. Don't do it. Facebook will never ask for your password through any form of communication. If someone pretending to be a Facebook employee asks you for it, don't give it out, and report the person immediately.

Don't click on links or open attachments in suspicious emails. Fake emails can be very convincing, and hackers can spoof the "From:" address so the email looks like it's from Facebook. If the email looks weird, don't trust it, and delete it from your inbox.

Add a security question. If your account ever does get stolen, you might need this to prove your identity to Facebook. If you haven't already done so, you can add a security question from the "Account Settings" page.

Security Threats

Look out for fake emails that look like they came from Facebook. These emails may include false notifications for things like friend requests, messages, events, photos, and videos. Sometimes, they also include links to false Facebook pages that attempt to steal your login information or prompt you to download malware. Never click on links in suspicious emails, and if you do accidentally download malware, follow the instructions on the "Resources" tab to clean up your computer.

Photo/Video Spam
Be wary of Wall posts or messages claiming there's a photo or video of you on another site. These are usually phishing sites made to look like Facebook or sites that prompt you to download malware. These sites may also ask you to create a new account in the hope that you’ll use the same login and password that you use for Facebook. Once you've created an account, the spammer will use your login info to try to access your Facebook account, and will then spam all of your friends with the same message. This is another good reason to use unique logins and passwords for the sites you access on the Internet.

419 Scam
Watch out for messages from friends claiming to be stranded and asking for money. These messages are typically sent by scammers who have taken over the friend's account. If you have received or sent a message like this, please contact us so that we can make sure your and your friends’ accounts are secure.

The Koobface Worm
If your account has been used to send spam, and you think your computer is infected with the "Koobface" worm or another virus, please visit one of the online anti-virus scanners from the Helpful Links list, and reset your password.

False Chain Letter
Watch out for messages claiming that Facebook is becoming overpopulated and suggesting that accounts will be deleted. This message is false and did not come from Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook. It can be safely disregarded and deleted.


New Tools to Secure a Compromised AccountShare

by Jake Brill

In our continued battle against cyber criminals, one of the biggest challenges we face is helping people whose accounts have been compromised by spammers understand how it happened and how to fix the problem. The vast majority of people who use Facebook have never experienced a security problem. For the small number who do, knowing how to fight back is key.

It can be an embarrassing experience to log in to Facebook to find that unauthorized messages have been sent from your account and then face questions from friends who have received spam from you.

We've spent the last few months improving the way to guide people through the process of regaining access to their account after it's been compromised and used to send spam. Currently, we send emails explaining what happened and provide links to remedy the situation. Now we're moving towards a new model that also involves clear and simple steps taken within Facebook itself. In doing so, we can ensure that the person logging in is the true owner of the account, thereby preventing hackers from using it to send spam in the future.

Going forward, we'll continue to send a notification email to the tiny percentage of people whose Facebook accounts have been compromised. What's new is that when these people try to access the site, they'll first see a page explaining what happened, as shown below.

Next, they'll go through a quick verification process to ensure that they're the legitimate owner of the account in question. Finally, we'll help them pick a new, secure password and refer them to the Facebook Security Page, which includes helpful tips and information on how to be safe on Facebook and across the Internet.

This new change will help us not only fight spam, but also spread the word about security on Facebook. In the coming months, we'll be rolling out similar processes to address the different threats people may face. Our teams are working hard to make sure you never experience a security issue on Facebook, and in the rare case that you do, we're committed to making the process of regaining control of your account easy and informative.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Women and Motherhood: Navigating the Snap Assumptions

When was motherhood ever simple? While many women are juggling the challenges of full-time, demanding careers and motherhood these days, it strikes me that motherhood in years gone by was equally strenuous. Women raised large families on humble household incomes. There was no child-rearing help available from the husband, few household conveniences and the birth process often took place under uncontrolled circumstances in the home. When women were able to enter the workforce in the '60s and '70s, a lack of family friendly workplace policies made life that much more difficult. It's misleading to characterize motherhood in the past as simple in comparison to the seemingly complex motherhood options currently on offer in the industrialized world.

Flash forward fifty years and it looks like assumptions about women and motherhood are still off base. How often do women's careers today trump parenthood plans? How often do women today feel that having a child is a right to be fulfilled at any price? To women who have been able to procreate, it may seem that women living different lifestyles feel this way. Don't be too quick to assume that a childless woman is career driven and ultimately will feel entitled to parenthood.

What is the alternative for the childless working woman? In our urban centres daily overhead is high and most men and women are expected and want to have careers. ("Gold diggers" and unmotivated people aside.) Increasingly women are being more careful about entering into marriage and parenting situations. Note - being more careful is not akin to "being fussy". They no longer have to marry for the sake of economic stability. Many a miserable housewife in the 20th century would have envied the modern woman's options. Today's working women are also aware of the basic characteristics needed in a potential father of their future children. The current idea is that you develop your career concurrently with any hopes/plans you may have to marry. Gains in all areas do not necessarily line up according to a planned timeframe. Sometimes it takes time, for example, to meet a life partner. If you are getting married in your mid 30s you may not have a child until you are nearing age 40 or older. Most importantly, in the midst of all these considerations the woman involved does not see having a child as something to which she is entitled. Rather her desire is a natural one similar to those held by procreating women in their 20s.

In recent years motherhood aspirations of single women age 30 plus have come under increased scrutiny in the media. I find it interesting that women in their mid 30s are labelled as "going stale" if they haven't been successful in their procreation efforts, or haven't had the chance yet. If they remain childless for a further five years, apparently it's over for them. They've arrived at motherhood too late. Meanwhile no comments are made about the women who started having children in her 20s and finishes - sometimes after some effort - in her early 40s.

Many of the challenges related to fertility issues in years gone by were not discussed openly. You may have known a childless aunt who had multiple miscarriages. The doctors couldn't explain why. Or there may have been a woman who never discussed why she didn't have children. She hid her disappointment that it hadn't been possible. In more recent decades adoption has become a more complicated and drawn out process. After the trauma of years of infertility, many women choose to not engage in any further potentially disappointing processes. Childless women aren't quietly mourning, but they do have to move on with their lives because they have no choice. Many women have experienced fertility related disappointments. As a society, their dashed hopes becomes invisible amongst their more fecund contemporaries

While it is true that fertility treatments have developed in recent years, and ethical considerations about procedures and outcomes need to be refined, the use of IUI and IVF have been around for decades. Private clinics are making the treatments more readily available and, therefore, more commonly used. The availability of these services can help to reduce the disappointment of fertility challenges.

Recently the fertility stories in the news seem to have gotten more extreme. A single woman has 8 children - for a grand total of 14 - using a poorly controlled fertility treatment. How many women do you know who are having large numbers of children the same way? How many 50 or 60 years old women do you know who are using fertility treatments? I'm guessing that you don't know any.

It is much more likely that you know, or know of, a single woman who has the economic means to adopt a child. Before you shake your head and say "tsk tsk", consider that these women are often adotping older toddlers and preschool age children who would be otherwise overlooked. Or they are adopting babies to take them out of deficient homes and futures. I have seen these types of families and have seen the light go on in the eyes of the children adopted by committed single mothers.

Members of the media love to jump on bizarre family life situations and Lord knows media stars such as actors do not disappoint in this regard. How many people do you know who are naming their children after fruit? How many are getting expensive 4d ultrasounds purely for entertainment and curiosity purposes? How many are registering for baby gifts at trendy stores? Can you argue that having a midwife and home water birth, or saving umbilical cords for medical motivations, is so bad? Still, how many of your contemporaries are actually choosing these options?

I'm guessing the aforementioned doesn't describe most people you know.

Is parenthood out of control these days? I find it amusing when women in their late 40s and 50s make such pronouncements. When they were procreating back in the '80s and '90s, it was a time when the superficial details mattered in increasingly affluent households. Children were an extension of this yuppy ideal. Any extreme trends that you now see amongst parents today - such as micro managing a child's teacher or "heliccopter parenting"- began back then. These trends certainly didn't exist in previous decades and it can be argued that today's parents have learned from the mistakes of the parents of the 80s and 90s.

These ideas came to mind when I read the following article. I would suggest that before one jumps on trendy news snippets, journalists and readers alike should take the time to review the real life situations behind the news bites.

Hollywood Mums Are Leading the Modern High-Tech Baby Boom


Single black women choosing to adopt

The last great taboo: Why are we childless women treated like second-class citizens?

...and then there are the atypical stories:

Afterbirth: It's What's For Dinner

Hold your unborn baby

"Tweet kicks from the womb"

For some parents-to-be, even 3D ultrasounds aren’t enough to stay on top of their baby’s progress. To solve this problem, NYU grad student Corey Menscher rigged up a high-tech belt for his pregnant wife that notified him when their unborn baby kicked. Menscher called the device the Kickbee, which sent messages to the father’s phone via Twitter. Although a product like this won’t be easy to find on store shelves anytime soon, if it does hit the market, one can only request that GPS is an add-on for the plugged-in Dad-to-be.

Career woman image source

Helicopter Parents Image source: Newsweek, May 22nd, 2006

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