Putting on my face

by , on
May 29, 2016

I was having a conversation on Twitter the other day with a couple of friends when the subject fashion led to the subject of high school and then into the subject of makeup.

I noted that I used to sleep in my close to maximize the time I could sleep. Ten minutes to out the door and on the bus. One of these ladies said she would never be ready in time because she had to do her hair and makeup.

I didn’t wear makeup in high school. Nor did I do my hair.

I still don’t.

Some days I’m halfway to someplace trying to remember if I looked in a mirror at all before I left. She replied that she had never had the confidence to go without makeup. I replied that I never had the confidence to go with.

Despite reading hundreds of issues Seventeen, YM, Teen People, and whatever else the magazine racks offered me, I never learned how to properly put on makeup. I don’t know what goes first or how eyeliner works or where you contouring should go. I tried to buy and wear makeup a few times but I never understood what my undertones were and what shade of red was right – orange red or purple red?

I was convinced that the minute I stepped out of the house in makeup people would notice right away – in the worst possible way.

Too much?

Too much?

It would be all wrong. I’d look like DJ Tanner on that makeup less is more episode of Full House where Aunt Becky gets to teach the special lesson.

Now I’m an adult and I’m expected to wear makeup and sometimes look presentable. I ever had professional makeup done once that I really liked and she told me all the products she used which I then bought.

I have tried. I have tried to wear makeup to work and for special occasions. I have tried to look pulled together.

But the fact of the matter is I’m still that girl that spills something on her shirt ten minutes after getting dressed. I sweat on the bus and rub my itchy eye without remembering mascara and I just can’t walk in high heels.

I’ve tried.

Instead of getting better it gets worse.

So here I am, 35 years old. I don’t wear makeup, I don’t do anything with my hair, I only occasionally wear fancy clothes and when I do I’m probably not comfortable, and I’m in Converse 95 per cent of the time.
And while having a child has hindered my abilities, when responsible only for myself I can still get out the door in 10 minutes flat.

Do you know Slick Breadstick?

by , on
May 23, 2016


The kid has become a Shopkins fiend. We were introduced via YouTube – Gracie and Mommy talk about them a lot – and she started collecting. This weekend she collected all her duplicates together and invited a friend over to trade. It’s quite a process to watch.

They know all the names – all puns – what season they’re from (we’re now up to five) and whether each one is rare or ultra rare or coated in diamond dust or whatever.

It took me a while to wrap my head around until I realized that it’s just like when I collected stickers and traded with my friends at recess. Except more expensive. And with excess little plastic shopping baskets that really don’t need to accompany every single purchase.

And apparently collecting and trading Shopkins has taught my kid that everything with a moustache is Italian. At least that’s what she said today. Though there’s at least one moustachioed Shopkin that’s French because he’s a baguette.

On the one hand this is teaching my daughter some weird consumerism, on the other hand she loves to play with them for hours at a time.

Still gone

by , on
May 22, 2016


This weekend for some unknown reason I was drawn to my father’s grave. When we buried him I didn’t expect it to be a place that I would go back to, except to take my daughter there to see it. He’s in an urn – well, a small box – buried at the foot of a gravestone. We added his name to the gravestone with family. On one side is my father, his parents, my grandmother’s sister who died at 16, and my grandmother’s parents. On the other side are my great-grandmother’s family – two brothers who died young, one very young, just over a year, her father and two wives.

I felt drawn there to talk to him this weekend.

I drove out at dusk and sat there. I don’t know if it’s inappropriate to sit in a graveyard, but I sat there, next to him. Thinking. Not thinking. Talking out loud.

I had no idea how I would mourn my father. None. I had actually wondered for years how it would feel when it died. It turns out I found out much sooner than I expected to.

It’s been over a year. I’m about to get my Masters degree. For over a year things have come up that I would have talked to my dad about, assignments I would have asked him to read, issues I would have debated with him. My kid has done a multitude of things I would have wanted him to know about and see.

So I sat there and I cried a little bit, and I wondered what I was doing. Sitting, feeling like I needed to stay for a while. Wishing I had taken a notebook. I don’t know why I wanted a notebook – to be able to draw or write or do something with the feelings and thoughts that I had there.

Perhaps all of this is part of that feeling of mild desperation I’ve had to write of draw, paint, sketch do something creative. It’s on my to-do list but it’s not an item I’ve gotten to in the past month.

Take a breath, do some yoga, take a walk, remind myself that I am part of my father and he is part of me. That somewhere inside of me is everything I need to move forward. His confidence, his willpower, his intelligence. If I am as much like him as my mother says then it’s there. I just need to take a step back and grab hold of it and start, one step at a time.

Lessons in Crisis Comms

by , on
May 21, 2016

This week an incident took place on the floor of the House of Commons. I wrote some thoughts about the whole thing here, but I’m assuming everyone knows to what I am referring.

In the aftermath both opposition parties have commented multiple times, including a rare appearance in front of the media together by the respective House Leaders.

It was odd. The whole thing was odd. And then it went from strange event breakdowns and who saw what when to accusations. The NDP’s Niki Ashton told media then that what had happened was akin to violence against women and that female MPs would no longer feel safe in their workplace.

I do not know whether Ashton was speaking for herself or with guidance and talking points from the party’s central office but the judgment behind the comments was severely lacking. Rather than letting the story happen and letting the PM wear his bad judgment, the story became about the over the top reaction by the NDP. If the messaging did come from the NDP’s central office – the leader’s office – I’d have to ask myself whether they are trying to sink any chance Ashton has if she decides to run for leader.

The Liberal leader and the PMO were facing a very bad day in the media. The PM demonstrated poor judgment and a bad temper. The NDP then became the story. Rather than Trudeau facing questions about his judgment the fact that he walked across the house onto the opposition side and took hold of an opposition member which he had no right nor need to do – with the opposition member telling him, it’s been reported, ‘let go of me.’

The NDP has become the story where they had no need to react at all, beyond Ruth Ellen Brosseau confirming that yes, indeed, she’d been caught in the crossfire and hurt.

And now, because she is the only woman involved in the incident, Brosseau is facing nasty backlash online from people who believe she “took a dive,” because it can’t have hurt that much, because she shouldn’t have been there in the first place – either she should have been at her desk, or maybe, as a woman, she should never have been in the House of Commons at all.

Further reading:

Associating elbowgate with violence against women is an insult to victim

What was Justin Trudeau thinking? He wasn’t

Because she’s a woman

by , on
May 20, 2016

So a thing happened in Ottawa this week. It was handled badly.

The facts are this – Our Prime Minister strode across the floor of the House of Commons, grabbed the Opposition Whip by the arm while said Whip told him to let go, told the third party leader to “get the fuck out of the way” according to reports, and in doing so accidentally elbowed a female MP in the breast. Which, by the way, is something that can really hurt. I won’t compare it to getting a shot to the testicles because I have no frame of reference for that, just like cisgendered men have no frame of reference for getting shoved into a test and elbowed in the breast.

So this happened. The Prime Minister had not reason at all for his actions beyond the fact that his temper ran away with him. No reason. If the Opposition Whip was having an issue it would be the job of the Speaker or even the Opposition House Leader to deal with that. There was no delay to the vote – as both the current and a former Speaker have said – the Chief Government Whip had taken his seat and the vote could be called.

Instead the PM took it upon himself to lay hands on another member of the House.

He has since apologized twice. Once for the accidental elbowing of a fellow MP and once for not holding himself to a “higher standard.” These apologies have, I think, been accepted.

And yet.

The Prime Minister is being defending online, the Opposition Whip is being congratulated for how he handled the situation and the woman who was standing in what happened to be, completely by chance, the wrong place at the wrong time, is facing abuse.

Apparently it is her fault. She has been told she should resign, that she’s a disgrace, that she wasn’t in fact hurt at all. That she is “playing the victim.”

This is fascinating, because as far as I know Ruth Ellen didn’t say anything about the issue at all until she had to stand in the House to explain missing the vote. In fact, she still has only said that she was hit and it did hurt.

I’d like people to take a step back and ask themselves how a stupid decision by the PM became the fault of a woman who just happened to be there.

Dark Places, Bright Lights

by , on
May 20, 2016

I was listening to the Rupaul podcast on my drive in to downtown for a meeting today – yes there’s a Rupaul podcast, yes I listen to it, go forth and be fierce.

Rupaul and co-host Michelle Visage were talking about teenager-hood and the dark places it can take you and how you have to let your kids follow their path our of that darkness. Just because you know they’ll be okay doesn’t mean they know it – they won’t believe you because they feel different than every other person on earth. But we all go through our struggles and figure out who we’re supposed to be eventually. Teach your kids trust in that process.

As a teenager I had very dark places. I was so sure that the rest of my life was going to be absolute crap. Hell, I was sure that the rest of high school was going to be absolute crap. I got stress headaches, I battled depression and suicidal thoughts, and I thought about dropping out.

That was Grade 11, I was 16. I was so sure.

By my Grade 13 (OAC) year things had changed dramatically. I had a plan. I was working a co-op and found that I loved working. I was applying to universities, I knew who and what I was going to be. I was on anti-depressants and I had great friends. I was still pretty sure I’d never date anyone but I was okay because I was going to travel the world.

I graduated in June, I worked all summer, I left for Toronto to start at university and before classes ever started I was back home. Everything in my body and brain was panicking, telling me that I had made a mistake. This life plan I had pieced together after my great co-op and my love of hockey was not going to work. It wasn’t a fit. I thought I was one thing and it turned out I wasn’t and then I spiralled.

It took me a month to find a retail job, it took me four months to decide on a new path, but by my birthday I had a plan and a college acceptance, and that’s when I went into journalism school.

I love journalism school and I was good at it. I was at or near the top of every class, I had natural skills (for everything but photography). I had instinct and I wrote fast – they put me on breaking news and I loved the rush. I had found my place and I felt good. Until I graduated and it took me two months to get hired. Once I was out in the real world of constant work for shitty pay I loved journalism a lot less, and without feedback I wasn’t as good at it either.

No one told me there would be that many bumps in the road.

After my second job at a local paper with terrible hours and a terrible salary I decided to go back to school and get some sort of degree, finally.

And there all of the pieces fell together. The piece I had missed in college – I love politics more than most people – led me to my degree program. The journalism skills I had led me to the student paper where I found my people. One person in particular found me.


We moved in, got a dog, got married and had a kid – the most awesome kid. All things I never thought I wanted. Stupid Joe and his trickery.

My life is nothing like what I thought it would be at 16 or 18 or even 23, and it’s nothing like what I thought would make me happy either. But here we are. All because I went through my dark times and found my people.


Other great podcasts, just because: 

Another Round – two great, funny black women talking about race and feminism, necessarily uncomfortable for a white woman sometimes.

Sword and Scale, Casefile  – if you like true crime, and I do. Casefile has the added bonus that the host is Australian.

If you listened to Serial you should catch up on Undisclosed and find yourself saying “why didn’t they bring this up on Serial?!”

Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me – a funny quiz show about news. Seriously.

No Such Thing As A Fish, the QI podcast, full of useless facts and weird trivia.

And I always recommend This American Life, but now I assume most people have already heard of that one.

Time to get flexible

by , on
May 16, 2016

Today the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, MaryAnn Mihychuk, announced a new government consultation on flexible work. This consultation  allows “every federally regulated worker the right to formally request a flexible work arrangement” and it has been a long time coming as far as I’m concerned.

The work world has changed, the economy has changed, and people need and deserve more flexibility in their schedules. There is no need to have employees chained to desks from 9 to 5 any more. Particularly when many employees now work outside of those hours on smart phones and email. Taking Back Time

When I worked as a sports reporter I had to be in the office normal hours – I usually got there by 8 since we had to get the paper out every morning and I was part of the layout team, and was there until 4, except that I also worked nights and evenings because – surprise – that’s when sporting events take place. It was very frustrating and also unhealthy – I was never home, I was eating fast food, I was at a desk or in the car or sitting in a gym or an arena all day. I made no friends beyond my colleagues during the five months I stuck it out.

All of this meant that when I started struggling with work-life balance after my maternity leave I asked for a more flexibility. I was very, very lucky to have a boss who understood that though I started work at 7 am my daycare didn’t open until 8 am, and on the days when my husband was out of town this made things basically impossible. My deputy director allowed me to bring my daughter to work in the mornings and use my designated break to get her to daycare, after my early morning duties were done. Without that support I wouldn’t have been able to make it work. We would have been stuck.

Of course, four years later – almost exactly – I know that balance does not exist on a continuum. We all do our best week to week. But it would be easier to do our best if we all had workplaces that recognized what we can do away from the office.

Sometimes you need to take your laptop to a coffee shop to get work done, or to the library where it’s quiet, or from home while you wait for a delivery. Sometimes you need to not be faced with a hour-long commute or a 20 minute commute through a snow storm.

The government can only push through flexible work for federal employees, though the release from the Minister’s office says they will work with “interested” provinces and territories on this issue. I am hopeful that if the federal government starts adapting other employers will begin understand the benefits. If you want to contribute your thoughts to the consultative process read more here. The government has released a discussion paper and there is also a survey to complete and an email address where any Canadian can send their thoughts or experiences.

The world has changed, the workplace needs to catch up.



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