I’m almost done the first semester of classes in my Masters program. This week I got to do a presentation on my final project for one and in the car on the way home I almost cried because it felt so good. Because I am good at this. Because I know my stuff.

So I guess you were right. When you put it so simply that I should do this program you, once again, knew what you were talking about. And I’m starting to suspect you knew me better than I ever thought. We were a lot alike, I think. Though I supposed I’ve known that for a long time. At least I got a lot of the good.

The universe tried to tell me I was in the right place at the beginning of this semester, when I discovered that one of this year’s professors not only knew you, but has a very similar background – journalism, politics, academia – and a connection to Carleton basketball. Seriously.

There have been so many things over the course of this semester I would have talked to you about. But then I did this presentation and I knew that I can do it. I don’t always know, which frustrates Joe to no end. But sometimes I know.

And for now that feels pretty good.

I’ve been reading up on giftedness lately. Since the kid was a wee one we’ve been saying that we suspect she’ll test gifted. The more I read about it and talk to people, the more I realize that the assessment is a mere formality. This kid checks off every box.

And the more I’m reading, the more I’m checking off boxes for myself too.

I was never assessed as a kid. My sister was, and was moved into enriched classes. As a result I always felt kind of like the stupid one.

A little #ThrowbackThursday for you: My first day of school

A little #ThrowbackThursday for you: My first day of school

My grades in school – especially in high school – weren’t all that great. Except that’s just the way it feels looking back on it. I was, in fact, on the honour roll more often than not. But in my family that didn’t feel like enough for me. My family filled with really smart people with lots of education and interests. I felt like the black sheep.

Please note, that this was entirely made up in my own head. No one in my family ever chastised me for not working hard enough or getting better grades. Though reading back through some letters my father wrote to his sister he did have some doubts as to whether I would finish high school.

To be fair though, so did I.

When I was in Grade 11 I came very, very close to dropping out. I don’t remember exactly what I was feeling at the time. I’m certainly glad I never went through with it, because it would have been a long road back. At that time I certainly never imagined getting a university degree and going on to a Masters.

But it turns out, those feelings are not unusual for people who are assessed as gifted. Neither is depression and emotional intensity. Or feeling like you don’t fit in.

Luckily in high school I hooked up with a group of people who also didn’t fit in. They made it easier.

Now that I can see this about myself, it’s easier to explain a bit about who I am and where I’m going. It’s also easier to feel a bit of what my daughter is feeling and where her struggled might lie.

I have a vivid memory of sitting in the corner of my family kitchen sobbing. I was in the midst of one of my worst ever bouts of depression. I was lost. I had graduated college with high marks but couldn’t find a job. I didn’t have any friends in town so I had gone from being social every day to be alone most of the time. I sat there sobbing and hoping someone would find me and help me before I spun into the void even more.

I had been on anti-depressants before. My father knew I was in crisis, had considered suicide at 16, he threatened to tell my mother if I didn’t talk to her. So I did, through uncomfortable tears, and I went to the doctor and she gave me a prescription.


I got out of that place, but not fully away from that problem. I suffered from postpartum depression, I’ve had struggles since. But I survived being a teenager, and that was probably the hardest part.

So now I turn to those who are still trying to survive the hell that is high school with a mental illness.



Ottawa’s Youth Services Bureau is creating a tool to help teenagers going through what I went through. When I was approached to support the project I jumped at the chance. The Youth Services Bureau has launched a online chat tool (chat.ysb.ca) as part of their #RealLifeMatters campaign to help kids in crisis reach out and talk to someone where they are most comfortable.

The chat, which was designed after research found that a lot of teens would be more comfortable communicating the problems they are facing that way, is available Thursday to Sunday from 4 pm to 10 pm. The bureau also has a walk-in clinic and telephone crisis line.

The chat line is a safe space for teens to express themselves and talk openly about the tough things they’re going through.

They’re also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, so check it out and share with youth in your life who might need it or might know someone who does.

(Furthermore, right now the Youth Services Bureau is running a text to donate campaign for emergency shelters for youth in need in our community – Text YOUTH to 20222 and you will be prompted to select how much you want to donate).

There is something the kid wants desperately for Christmas. At first it was no way, then I thought maybe and now I want it for her almost as much as she wants it.

A trampoline for our backyard.

At first all I could think of was the cost, but the more I thought about it the more I thought how that cost would translate over years and years of use.

This is a child that does cartwheels wherever, whenever.


She’s taught herself acrobatics on the swing set in the backyard, that is now on its last legs.



She is quickly outgrowing the exercise trampoline that we got her for the basement to help her burn a little energy.

IMG_3402 (1)

And she loves the trampoline she gets to jump on at gymnastics.


She’s been in gymnastics since before she could walk – actually I’m pretty sure that class was one of the reasons she started walking so early. And she still loves it.

She’s an active, full of energy, bouncy girl who deserves her backyard trampoline.

I can only try to picture the excitement on Christmas morning when she realizes she has gotten her wish.

The only problem is that Christmas is in December, and her birthday is in January, and a backyard trampoline is not getting set up in either December or January. So once again this poor kid is going to have to wait and wait and wait for the snow to melt to be able to enjoy the one major gift she gets.

But that Christmas morning? That’s going to be unforgettable.

The apple and the tree

November 13th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Parenting - (Comments Off)

One of the reasons I was scared to become a mother was my lifetime of dealing with depression. It started out as school anxiety when I was in elementary school and turned into full blown clinical depression by the time I hit 16. I’ve been dealing with it ever since.

I’m doing well now. Mostly. I’m on medication that works for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the years and what feelings I need to be wary of. I still have that voice in my head sometimes, that tells me my family would be better off, but I recognize it for what it is.

Emotions hit me hard, I am empathetic, sometimes to my own detriment. And that is where my daughter resembles me completely.

I was terrified of this, what’s happening now. Anxiety building up. Stomach aches. Claiming she can’t control her emotions. High highs and low lows. She needs help, now.

We need help to figure out how to help her.

I’ve told people for years that we suspect she’s gifted. Given everything I’ve continued to read, stories from other parents – including my mother-in-law on dealing with Joe as a child – there is no longer suspicion. She is gifted. She is smart and intuitive and emotional and sometimes she gets carried away with herself. And sometimes she gets frustrated in having to deal with people who don’t or can’t see the world the way she does.

A friend said it to me best – these special kids, they don’t understand that not everyone else sees the world the way they do.

At first I was terrified, but now I’m seizing the opportunity. She’s done so much to make me better, and now we can help her be the best she can be.


20151106_152127Because she really is the best.



Tomorrow morning Justin Trudeau is being sworn in as Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister. It was not something I foresaw when I started working on the NDP campaign at the end of August. Actually, at the time I don’t know what I expected. I know I expected a minority right up until the moment Peter Mansbridge declared a majority.

Tonight I got an email from the Liberal Party of Canada (I am on their email list, I voluntarily signed up because I like being informed). It was signed by Justin Trudeau and in it he talks about his family and his excitement for tomorrow and he talks again about what his vision is for Canada under his government.

Reading this email I got tears in my eyes.

“On October 19, Canadians spoke loudly and clearly, that they want a government that will bring real change – in both the things that it does, and the way that it does them.

Our platform promised a new, ambitious plan for a strong and growing middle class. And you rightly expect us to fulfill that promise.

Which is why I am going to spend the next four years working harder than ever to deliver on what we promised.

Before the election, I also made a personal commitment to bring new leadership and a new tone to Ottawa. Sunny ways.

The new Canadian government will work together with our allies, with our provincial, municipal, and territorial partners so we can deliver the real, positive change that we promised you.”

I know a lot of people who have great hope and huge expectations. I beg you, Prime Minister Trudeau, do not disappoint them. Do the things you’ve promised for us. Make us better. Stop the cynicism instead of building more.

A lot of men in your position have promised great things and many of them have failed. Please, please Mr. Trudeau, don’t mess this one up. You weren’t my first choice, but I have to count on you, and so I will expect the best.

This is a great country and it’s yours now, keep it safe, make it great.

I went to get my hair cut yesterday. My hairstylist is awesome. I’ve never had such easy conversations with someone cutting my hair – I’m not very good with small talk. But with Ali the conversation just flows – she’s funny and interesting, and very good at what she does. She also does my mother’s hair and I’ve told my sister to go to her.

While we talked last night about all the goings on in our lives I mentioned that my father had died, which I guess she hadn’t realized. And at one point in the conversation – hairstylist as therapist – I mentioned that I was always so much like my Dad that I didn’t think I’d ever be a good mother. She knew what I meant and she told me that’s ridiculous. My Mom tells her a lot about the kid and what a good kid she is and I found myself doing something that I think needs a bit more thought on my part.

Instead of agreeing that yes, I am a pretty damn good mom, I deflected – she’s just a good kid. We’re lucky.

But Ali told me something that I already know, when I reflect on it: The kid is such a good kid, and growing up to be a pretty great person, because of the time we’ve spent together and the things I have helped teach her. We’ve done so many things, her and I. I’ve done things I never would have done pre-child. Pushed myself out of my comfort zone to make her happy, to decrease her chances of being as socially awkward as me.

And in the course of it, she’s taught me a hell of a lot. And I’ve become less socially awkward, more confident and more comfortable outside of my comfort zone.

We’re a team. We have been since the start. And we make each other better.



My kid loves science. She loves experiments. She loves learning in general. (Though she also seems to think she already knows everything sometimes). All of this means that I am very excited to take her to Maker Faire to see what she thinks.

On November 7 and 8 a whole bunch of uber creative and imaginative people are getting together to show off and I full expect my daughter to wander around yelling “COOL” the entire time we visit.

It’s science, technology, 3D printing, art – a room full of creators who are keen to share what they know and what they love. And maybe, just maybe, their interest will spur something in my kid.

I suspect she’ll come home with a few ideas for new projects she wants to try out.


About the Event:

Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker Movement.  It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning.

Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers.  They are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.

The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2015 celebrated its tenth annual show with some 1100 makers and 145,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire New York, the other flagship event, has grown in four years to 600+ makers and 80,000 attendees.  Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Orlando, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Silver Spring, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Hannover, Oslo, Trondheim, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Newcastle (UK), Shenzhen and now Ottawa are the home of larger-scale, “featured” Maker Faires and over 120 community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced around the United States and the world.

You can find more information on the event here


It’s all over, the next part starts now. We have a new Prime Minister. So far he’s held a press conference, talked to the public in a public space and walked in the front door of Parliament, so change does appear to be coming.

I have to be optimistic that he’ll stand by the promises he made, just because I have to. And I have to be optimistic that right here is where politics starts to change because it feels like we hit bottom.

I dream of a time when the parties allow candidates to voice their own opinions and disagree with party policies but overall believe that the party they chose to represent is the best choice, because that’s more real to Canadians than sticking to the script all the time. I dream of a time when politicians can change their opinions based on new information and not be accused of flip flopping.

Right now I see opportunity. We have four years to change politics.

I hope to be a small part of it.


October 18th, 2015 | Posted by Amy Boughner in #MommyScholar | Canadiana | Issues - (Comments Off)


Alrighty folks. It’s just about that time. In about 12 hours polls will be open across the country and people will be heading to vote. I have been working long hours and long weeks since late August and I’m exhausted – just think of the people who started right when the writ dropped!

You know what makes it all worthwhile? People getting out to vote. People engaging in democracy makes it so much better.

And I can honestly say I have no idea what will happen when the polls close. I can congratulate BC, you’re going to matter this time. I think, and I know others who also believe, that we won’t have a clear idea of what’s happening until BC polls close.

My class on Tuesday morning should be interesting.

Once again I have been privileged to be a part of history. This campaign was different, this government will be different. I am thrilled to have worked on the campaign and I am thrilled to be able to sit back and study the results of it.

So please, everyone who reads this, please go and vote. Remind other people to vote. Take your kids with you to vote and teach them that it’s an important thing they need to do for their future. Both of my parents worked in politics, other family members demonstrated to me how important the government is in our lives and even more family members are hard working public servants who believe in the good work they can do there.

People who don’t vote because they think the government doesn’t matter to them or doesn’t focus on their issues – I hate to tell you this, but the federal government has a hand in virtually every aspect of our lives. What the federal government doesn’t control the provinces do, and they get a lot of money from the feds to do it.

And if they don’t matter in your life right now they will when you need EI or a pension or a passport or any number of other things.

I don’t know the guaranteed argument to get people out to the polls: f you don’t vote you can’t complain; if you don’t vote then the other guy’s vote counts twice as much; if you don’t vote you’re telling politicians to ignore your issues; if you don’t vote you’re turning your back on all the people around the world and across the ages who have fought and died for the right.

However you vote and for whatever reason, just do it.

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