#amreading The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck


The title. Obviously.

My first thought: the title is a gimmick to sell self-help in an inundated market. My second thought: yeah, I’ll buy it.

I’m at the point in my life where I really don’t give a f*ck what people think most of the time…so, I’m hoping this book will enlighten the way to feel like this all of the time.

I’m also hoping this book will be as honest and practical as its title suggests.

Looking forward to some great nuggets to use on this journey of growth and search for equanimity I seem to have unwittingly embarked upon.

Seems like a short straight-forward read…can’t wait to share my thoughts on this one.

Have you read it? Would you recommend it?

blog sign off



Summer Comes to An Unofficial End

Technically, the fall equinox does not occur until September 22 this year and will mark the beginning of fall and the end of summer.

Puh-leez! We all know that summer unofficially ends this labour day weekend.

We can all feel it…with school starting next Tuesday, the back-to-school commercials that have been airing since July 31st (I was in shock when I saw it air before August!) and the ever-so-slight change in the weather.  The sun is choosing to slip into the horizon earlier every evening and the air is definitely fresher…less humid.

We are all eyeing those knee-high boots and chunky sweaters in store windows wondering when it will be cold enough to wear them without looking like idiots wearing boots and sweaters in thirty degree weather. (that’s Celsius).

The end of summer means good-bye to easy flip-flops, funky pedicures and that healthy summer glow.  It also means a return to schedules, routines, and the never-ending question: “what the hell am I making for dinner tonight?”  I can hear the clanking of iron bars as they lock into place around me when I envision my September life.  Fun time is over.

Or, is it?

My life will be much more scheduled.  I go back to work as a high school English teacher – where I cease to be Karen for 8 hours every day and become simply “Miss!”  – please add whine and you’ll get the intonation just right –

My life will be divided into 80-minute chunks of time and I will know (more-or-less) what every day will look like.  It is all under my control…that is until Jonathan decides to walk out of class because he can’t take anymore of this “English bullshit” or Tamara tells off Shawna in class because of something she said on FB – yes, both of these things have happened.

Regardless, I find I work better with a schedule.  I have many friends who are great at flying-by-the-seat-of-their-pants.  I envy them because I have to plan to be spontaneous.

The fall brings with it luscious colour.  I love, love, love the changing colours of the leaves.  It is so much more fun now that my son is 3 – we can make enormous piles of cranberry, bronze and copper leaves and jump in!  We can go for fall hikes and crunch the leaves to our hearts’ content.  Who says physical activity ends in the fall?

Fall hikes.  My favourite.  I have a tradition with a group of friends that is going into its ninth or even (gasp!) tenth year now….we always make a date for a long fall hike that ends perfectly at the coziest pub you have ever seen.   We walk, we eat, we drink.  It is (almost) worth the end of summer.

Even though I complain every day about the whole dinner making thing…I’m looking forward to the yummy types of squash to be roasted or pureed in soup. Delish hearty stews with chunky bread and a robust glass of Cabernet. Yum! As much as I delight in the first bbq of the season, fall family dinners are just as welcome. With thanksgiving in about 7 weeks, (in Canada we celebrate the holiday in October), a really great turkey dinner is soon to arrive.

And, really, it is so much easier to wrap up the left-overs and have them ready to be taken for lunch the next day, than have to think about making lunch every day like I’ve had to all summer. (there’s only so many tuna salads I can take).

Even though I am sad that time for me, my life, my family will be swallowed up by my career again next Tuesday, I am envisioning the wicked schedules I will create while wearing the newest boots in my collection and planning the next awesome fall hike as I drink a glass of Shiraz.

So, I guess, fall ain’t so bad.

Happy Labour Day weekend to all!  Do our last summer long weekend good!

Are you feeling any bitter-sweet feelings about the winding down of summer and beginning of fall?

Can We Have It All?

courtesy: todaysparent.com

Recently, The Atlantic published an article entitled Why Women Still Can’t Have It All by Anne-Marie Slaughter.

It was a very honest view of the constraints put upon women who want to excel in their careers and be  active mothers in the lives of their children.  The conclusion? It’s impossible.

The author writes of a fulfilling and highly demanding career in the White House and the continued feelings of failure she experienced because her adolescent son was experiencing trouble at school.  She notes that most women do what they can to spend as many of the toddler years as possible with their children and sacrifice the teenage years for their careers.

This reminded me of something a colleague of mine said to me not too long ago: children need their parents just as much, if not more, when they are in their teens.  It is a highly volatile time for a child and that is when parental love, guidance and support is most crucial.  It is also when we decide that they are independent and can fend for themselves.  Surely they don’t need mommy to feed them, clothe them or take them to the potty.  So mommy can go back to work in over-drive!  When the children are young, career is sacrificed and when the children grow, they are sacrificed.

Slaughter was criticized for her decision to sacrifice her career for her adolescent children; it rings so very anti-feminist.    Except, is it?  We do not live in a society that favours and supports raising children – I mean truly raising them.  Even for us Canadians who have the privilege of a one year maternity leave, we are left a little disoriented at the end of that year in the scramble to find adequate (and, affordable – though the two never seem to align) childcare when it is time to return to work.

Once at work, there is the negotiation of time, work-from-home options, the endless sick days we take for our children…and, that’s if we’re lucky to work in an environment that supports family.  Some careers demand our full attention and children and family are dropped from the priority list.

Slaughter calls for the beginning of a new dialogue.  One that involves looking at the needs of modern women who wish to engage in a thriving career and have a family.  This dialogue demands that women become outspoken and promote change at the legal level to ensure that the needs of children are being met without any sacrifice of career and that the needs of women are being met without the sacrifice of her children.  If it was possible for the feminist movement to exact great change in the lives of women 40-50 years ago, then it is possible for us to reopen the dialogue and exact change in the lives of women again.

I loved the honesty of her writing and the passion she has for promoting the interests of women and family.

Do you believe women can have it all now?  Or, do changes need to be made in economic, social and legal structures to allow us to have it all?

Things I Learned From My Brother

My “Little Brother” is not so little anymore.  He’s in his thirties, and today he celebrates his birthday, adding a candle to his cake and another year of experience to his life.  We have always been very close.  We have truly “had each other’s back”, as the old cliche goes.  Since I haven’t posted anything in weeks – life has gotten very busy – I thought it fitting that I’d start blogging again on his birthday and allowing him to be my inspiration.  So here goes…Jason, this is what you have taught me over the years (there’s more, but these are my top lessons):

  1. Listen more, speak less:  this is a tough one for members of any self-respecting Colombian family.  Colombians love to talk – loudly.  Preferably, that talk shoud include some kind of funny anecdote, a great punch-line or a wise life-lesson.  Jason was always a little less loud than those around him.  He’s always been quiet – preferring to allow others to take center-stage.  This is by no means a lack of confidence…on the contrary, he doesn’t need to boast or shout to the world his accomplishments.  I teach for a living…I am used to talk, talk, talk all day long.  So when I am in a social situation, I take a page out of my brother’s book – talk less, listen more.  It is amazing what you can learn and how much more enriching the experience becomes.
  2. When all else fails, smile…charmingly: my brother has a knack for ingratiating himself with others and making people feel at ease.  His smile is sincere as is the twinkle in his eye.  He got that from our dad.  Simple and it works.
  3. Take care of yourself:  this one might sound a little obvious, or perhaps a little selfish, but it isn’t – in either case.  Jason always puts himself and his needs first – and, never in a way that makes one feel he is self-absorbed.  He knows his boundaries, what is good for him, what he needs to be the best version of himself and he is true to that – always.  Now that I am a mother I see just how critical that is.  In taking care of yourself first, you will always have the energy to take care of others without feeling empty.  This is one of my favourite lessons that I take from my brother.
  4. Play: take the time to play your favourite sport – in his case, soccer; take the time to play with your friends and loved ones.  That “To-Do” list can be put off and the world will not end (really?) – Yes, really.
  5. Shrug it off, but be persistent:  yes, get angry when things don’t go as planned, but don’t stay angry.  Shrug it off, look at what happened and go at it again from a different angle. Or, sometimes, don’t get angry and just shrug it off…what are you going to do, change the past?  Nope.  Keep going – it can only get better from here.  When he wants to do something, he will do it.  Regardless of how long it takes, he will get it done.
  6. Inspiring this blog post: thanks for existing and having a birthday today!  I’ve been feeling guilty about neglecting my blog and you helped me write one today – so thanks!

Sometimes we don’t have to look very far for inspiration, for feeling so moved we have to write.  I am grateful for all the life lessons and look forward to many, many more.  Happy Birthday Little Brother!