The Love I Want

I’ve been tucked away in a gorgeous lakefront home in South Frontenac since Tuesday night, on a writing retreat with three dear friends and colleagues who inspire me each week with their talent and tenacity.

This space I’ve created for myself has given me room to tackle a couple of chapters on the YA novel I’ve been slowly piecing together. I’ve also filled a journal and started a brand new one. And of course, I’ve been posting here as promised.

Creator friends, I cannot tell you the value of a few days of uninterrupted space where the intention is only to ‘make’. Sure, I’ve also filled the time with hiking, running, yoga, meditation and paddling, but I cleared my work schedule to focus on my writing and here I am. It occurs to me that I need to do this seasonally. What a healing experience this has been. What a way to recognize myself again as a writer.

Maybe it’s because I’m moving slowly and breathing deeply that I seem to be excavating and articulating things I haven’t quite had the words for yet. This tells me something vital about the pace with which I’ve been living. This tells me something about slowing down and making more space.

And so, in this spirit of articulation, today I’m going to tackle love. Not self-love, not a mother’s love, but the kind of romantic partnership I envision for myself when the time is right on my journey.

I’ve learned that it is futile to try to shape or control other people. I’ve learned that it’s all too easy to project things on lovers that I wish to see, but are not in fact, actually there. I’ve learned that I can ignore the clear indicators that alert me that someone is all wrong because I’m dazzled by attraction. I’ve had friends suggest I make a list of exactly the kind of person I wish to attract, and the qualities I want in my next partner. This doesn’t feel right anymore. Instead, I’m going to list the qualities in myself that I would like to have supported and illuminated by my next romantic partnership.

Phew. I’m actually feeling nervous…

I want to move in softness with gentle conversation, soothing touch, sympathetic listening, curiosity, and empathy.

I want to always be connected and searching for what is true to me. What my real feelings are, where my essential needs lie, how moments, touches, revelations feel deep in my bones. I want to understand my impulses and reactions and if I don’t immediately make those connections, I want safety and stillness until I can discover what they are.

I want to feel safe. To know that I am treasured and valued enough to lean deeply into trust. I want to be secure in the knowledge that my partner will be clear and truthful about any matter that affects my safety and security, and the safety and security of the space we are creating together.

I want to be clear and honest. I want to illuminate the beauty I see in the simple ways my partner experiences life. I want to acknowledge the ways in which they make me feel honored and valued and beautiful. I want there to be no confusion about how I feel about them when I look at them, when they touch me, when they share their vulnerable places. I want them to feel that I am safe and steady.

I want to stay connected to love and vulnerability when I am faced with conflict and difficult conversation. I want to feel secure enough with a partner to know that I am not in danger of being abandoned, deceived, or manipulated when things are not in perfect harmony.

I want to be a mother. I want to share my children’s lives with the deep awareness that the person they are sharing time with is someone who values them as people first, and then as my children who are the most important people in my life. I want those bonds to be strong, and honored as entities that exist beyond my romantic relationship with my partner.

I want to be financially healthy. To respect the value and energy of currency. To protect my wealth and grow it with intention and trust so that I may travel, and learn about the world, and someday have a home on a lake.

I want to live fully in my writing. To have space for the pursuit of my craft no matter how I may be earning money to live. I want to trust that I am supported in this, and that my partner believes in my talent and possibility.

I want to be alive in my sexuality, and by extension, in my sensual approach to the world. I want to be a sexual being until my body and soul decide that I no longer need to be connected to the life force in that way. I want my sexuality to be entirely mine, and something that I choose to share, that does not require another person to define it or unleash it. I want to explore, celebrate, understand, challenge, and revere my sexuality with a partner who is unafraid to take a similar, spiritual approach to their sexual self, with their own commitment to a healthy awareness and understanding of their sexuality.

I want nature whenever and wherever I can find it. Walks in the woods, through fields of wild flowers, on the beach, by the canal, quiet moments under trees, camping adventures. I need to be connected to the world in this way.

I want excellent food. I want to cook in a kitchen full of music, with a glass of wine on a slow Saturday, and then savor my efforts by candlelight. I want to wander through the farmer’s market, into cheese shops, visit local bakeries, splurge on impeccable restaurants, and I want to enjoy food from all over the world.

I want to be healthy. I want to move my body, strive for increased strength and flexibility, choose what I feed myself with care, enjoy physical activity with my partner, who I will need to help keep me motivated.

I want family. I want to share my happiness and abundance with my parents, my brother, my aunts, and my cousins. These people will always be an important part of my life, and my relationships with them are something I would love to share.

I want friends. My friends know me from all angles, and still they love me. I want to enjoy their excellent company with someone who will see exactly why I love these people.

I want books, and music, and art, and film, and theatre, and dance. I want to be in touch with my local artistic community and involved in contributing to its overall vibrancy.

I want magic. I’m not religious, but I feel connected to something larger than this life I’m living. I look for magic every day. Some people might trade the word ‘beauty’ for ‘magic’. Whatever we call it, I believe in it, and I need to always make space for it to find me.

As I write this list, I’m clear on the fact that as a lone wolf (which my son has taken to calling me) I’m actively living this. The wonder will be in finding someone who can see these qualities in me, and celebrate them. Someone who will never attempt to alter or diminish them. Perhaps the right person will even help me add a few qualities I’ve never considered. The next time around I will guard these qualities and never compromise them.

Now, as far as a list of qualities I want in someone else, I’d say the following is a pretty good marker. Again, the real power has been in identifying how to live these truths on my own. This poem came to me on this retreat, first in a conversation on the drive up with my friend Lena who told me about it, and then in an amazing coincidence as Lena spotted the book tied to this poem sitting on her writing desk on the retreat. Check out the dedication page:

The Invitation
By Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesnt interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.


Sibling Bonds, Spidey Senses and Mortality


I have a younger brother who is a 6’7 local celebrity in Hamilton both for his larger-than-life personality, and for his leonine honour. Like me, he’s a leo, and like me he thinks he’s fabulous. I hope his fans agree.

We haven’t always gotten along. As children, we became bitter rivals when we were pitted against each other by our Nanna, my third parent who lived with us. Things got ugly, as they do with siblings, and I regret not being a more supportive and loving sister during those formative years. As I recall, I was a heinous bitch. There may even have been a near-stabbing, but I digress.

My brother and I are very good friends now. In this not-so-subtle open letter, I will tell him I want to see him more often, and I will tell him I’d like him to see my kids more often. He’s usually one of the first people I consult about new business, new ideas, and personal dilemmas.  I think I can say with confidence that he does the same with me.

Up until a week ago, my brother was ensconced in a five-year mostly on-again relationship with a woman who we were quite smitten with. I was waiting for a big announcement of one kind or another after they recently shacked up. At the time of this blog post, after my senses began to tingle (thanks to good ‘ole Facebook) and after my brother got curious, he is now a single man again.

We (the fam) were collectively surprised, saddened, and not surprised at all. Relationships, and people I guess, are funny that way. I promised Kyle I wouldn’t blog about this, but here I am. Gotta say my piece, and in a public forum no less. Please be advised, this piece is from my heart, with lots of love to ALL parties involved.

My brother isn’t perfect, and having lived with him myself, I know he’s not always easy. My own truly unique and often complicated domestic situation (see here for details, and yes that’s my boob) puts me in a position where I’m the last person on earth to judge anyone else’s romantic landscape. I felt real love for my brother’s now-ex, and I guess even now I can say that love is a battlefield, so if they ever wanted a clean slate, I’d try to clear my own slate dedicated to their relationship – if anyone gives a shit about what I think.

I just wish that people would leave the lying and hurting to the assholes that make news headlines. Evil bastards who completely fucking ruin my Monday morning, like these ones. The universe has enough cruelty in it, by its very fickle nature, and we don’t need to add to the dung heap by behaving badly.

I’ve done stupid shit to really hurt people who I truly love (Sarah, I’m looking at you here.) In cowardice and fear, when I couldn’t see a way to make all of the pieces fit together, I tried to tear apart my family with my pettiness and self-loathing. Thank fucking god for whichever forces aligned to prevent that from happening, because I went on to birth my son, and my eyes were opened.

Not everyone will get the chance to let an infant soul teach them about the true meaning of love, so we gotta pull up our socks sometimes and take the higher road, even if it’s scary. I should have walked away, admitting that I had no clue how to love my partners well, rather than act like a selfish cow. I should have headed straight to the therapists’ couch when shit got really complicated and faced whichever path presented itself with clarity and honesty.

We were lucky that we kept our family intact. We still carry the wounds of our selfishness, our fear, our lack of clarity, and our inability to speak our truths, but I think I can speak for all three of us when I say we are committed to working to heal those wounds each day, with each beautiful clean slate we get as we wake.

Love each other people, even if you can’t be in love anymore. Share your truth, your fear, your hurt. Make your mistakes meaningful. Learn from them, grow from them together or apart.

Our tiny light could be snuffed at any second. That is the only thing you can really count on. I’m thinking you’re gonna want to make sure your light is shining, and when it’s dim, it’s yours to re-kindle in whichever way you see fit.

More on the random cruelty of the universe, and a call to action for you my dear friends, in tomorrow’s post.

Time Away


November is over. I’m very happy about that because it’s my least favourite month, and this year November was particularly dark. In fact, autumn in general has been coloured with so much loss and sorrow this year that I’m beginning to wonder if there is something about the shifting seasons that compels death not only in nature, but also in us inhabitants of mother earth.

You’ll have noticed that it’s been ages since I’ve written. I apologize if the posts you may have looked forward to haven’t been there, but I needed to withdraw and turn myself inside out a little bit. Since late August I’ve witnessed a remarkable amount of sorrow, loss, and grief and rather than sit before a computer screen, I’ve been compelled to spend more time with my children and my partners. I’ve just started to really miss writing here, and so my heart seems to be telling me that it’s time to return to writing.

Our dear friends lost their baby at seven months pregnant. I suppose I was foolish to think that such a shocking, staggering loss could never touch my inner circle. We have no such control over these things, do we? My heart was utterly broken by this, and these brave parents have been nothing but inspiring in the way they are moving through this life-changing event.

Those of you with pets will know that saying goodbye to a companion animal can be just as difficult as losing a human who you love and care for. My dear friends lost their sweet and noble dog, who had been their small creature to care for and nurture for years and years – I feel like this wonderful dog has been in their family all the time I’ve known them. They gave her such a wonderful life, and they adored her so completely.

My dear aunt Carmen, my fairy godmother, the cool, hip aunt that I idolized in my youth reached the end of her journey through cancer. She is my third aunt to die from this stupid disease and my mother’s fourth sibling to die from cancer. She too was incredibly brave, and positive, and like the dear friends mentioned above she was somehow able to find some light in such a dark turn of fate. My daughters and my Sarah and I sang at her exquisite memorial, at her request, and my heart found so much solace in the beauty of harmonizing with my beloved girls, and witnessing how their cherubic voices touched so many strangers. To live my life in the hopes of being remembered so passionately and beautifully by my friends and colleagues is now my goal.

Fate grips us and tears things apart just as much as it fills us and gives us such abundance. If these difficult lessons in feeling real gratitude and savouring each blessed moment weren’t enough, the universe sent some cruel irony my way in the form of the news of a somewhat distant colleague from the performing world. She chose to end her own life quite suddenly only a week ago.

The idea of suicide was one that filled me with scorn and contempt not long ago. It was hard to find compassion after watching so many people suffer because lives were ended/ing too soon. My older, more humble self shudders to imagine a day-to-day reality so painful that one must snuff out their own light to escape the bleakness of their lives.

It’s so fragile. We are so fragile.

All I can think to do in this landscape of so much love and so much light and so much loss is to gingerly make my way through each day. My sage therapist urges me to create the memories I want to have when I look back on my life, and I’m trying so hard to do this every day.

Please dear friends, take a moment, right now and breathe. Feel what it is to have the chance to draw breath, to move through space, to think and feel and hunger and love. Think of the challenges and hardships you face, and think of how many blessings you have to balance that.

This year, consider what you are giving rather than getting. We’re changing things up this year and trying to help the children value time and experience more than toys. Our plan is to spend Christmas on a beach somewhere, healing our hearts and indulging in the company of our little darlings. I hope you too can find meaningful ways to spend the season….

Failing Forward


Darlings, I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

On Thursday while I was hiding away having a work day I discovered something exciting. My friend and a hugely inspirational woman in my life, Rebecca Northan has a Ted Talk! Rebecca is an immensely talented artist – her specialty is improvisational theatre. I had the pleasure of meeting her in 2007 when Les Coquettes were invited to be part of the magic of The Spiegel Show. Rebecca created a turn for that show called ‘Blind Date’ and that turn grew into her sensational theatrical production.

The premise of ‘Blind Date’ is that Rebecca’s character, Mimi (an adorable French Clown) has been stood up on a blind date. In order to save her evening from total ruin, she selects a completely unsuspecting gentleman from the audience to be her date. The entire performance is improvised, and if you ever have the chance to see this show, I highly recommend it. Something really magical and truly hilarious happens every single time. You can imagine how the story twists and turns depending on the guy she chooses. She’s an absolute master of improv, and a sensational performer.

Rebecca’s Ted Talk is all about how the skills she’s mastered as an improvisational performer are the natural characteristics can be applied to real life, and she has a really moving epiphany that she shares. I watched the talk first delighted by her slightly nervous banter, and impressed by the amazing outfit she put together, and then she blew my mind with her total openness and vulnerability.

SHE IS JUST LIKE ME WHEN SHE IS SCARED!  This amazed me, and so when she admitted each of her self-protective maneuvers I was riveted, and when she arrived at her epiphany, I was deeply touched, particularly about what she says about sharing with your partner.

Oh Rebecca, I hope you know how amazing and wonderful you are! And dear readers, I truly hope you enjoy this beautiful Ted Talk!

Goodbye City House

Baby Smiling

The Noodle will soon have a new sofa
to play on.


On Tuesday evening I drove away from our Toronto home for the last time. I peered over the tower of laundry that kept Noodle and I company in the back seat and felt such a strange mixture of wistfulness and excitement. The city will always be in my blood, but I’m excited to leave it and move on to new and exciting things.

Our house on Bedford Road was the first home the three of us shared together. (Click here if you require an explanation for ‘the three of us’.) We’ve had our share of fond memories in this house, but we’ve also had a great deal of sorrow. It isn’t easy to reinvent the wheel, and we’ve had to learn a lot of things the hard way. Hearts have been badly broken in that house, and the repair continues to this day.

Our little girls went on to their new country home on Sunday with their grandparents, but before we said goodbye, we lit a small candle in the centre of our living room and made a little circle. We all held hands and encouraged the girls to share some happy memories of their home, and had them say a final goodbye. It was very sweet – all of their memories are wonderful ones – and they got a little choked up. I think they were mostly interested in seeing which of the grown ups would cry first. Of course it was me.

I felt bittersweet. Happy that so many of their memories were precious, and sad that my own experience of our home was double-edged. Each configuration of our adult relationships has dissolved at one point under that roof, and not all of those relationships have been restored in the same way.

I can say with confidence that all of our grown up relationships are better than they have ever been. I can say that we have created much more emotional safety and security for all of us. It’s no secret that this path has been hard, and heart wrenching. I think the key reason for our struggle was lack of knowledge. Even with a few clever books, we didn’t really have a roadmap, and the best road map in the world is useless if you don’t know yourself.

Therapy and determination are the only reasons why my family is together today, and stronger than ever. Even in the midst of the darkest hours of chaos and pain, I could feel in my soul that our paths were meant to be together, and I think I must have shared that feeling because here we all are. Without the guidance of our wonderful therapist, I don’t think I ever would have found the courage to fight for what I wanted, which was our family, together.

I’m not so very religious anymore, but the way our relationship has persisted against all odds has taught me a kind of faith that is greater to me than the faith of religion. It’s a devotion that is tangible and real, something I can see and feel every day in the smiles of our children and the warmth of our home, wherever it may be.

251 Bedford Road is growing mushrooms in the basement. Our old house grew a baby in my belly. The bricks and mortar sheltered Hannu and Aylu as they grew several inches and many miles in maturity. Our city house at the corner of a busy street grew our three souls into three separate worlds that unite beautifully and peacefully shelter their own stratosphere. These worlds continue to revolve, and we pilgrims continue to discover the richness of our strange and wonderful shores.

Thank you city for starting me out on this amazing journey.