I am struggling. I’m am struggling to focus. I’m struggling to eat well. I’m struggling to deal with the knowledge that my struggles with confidence are probably related to my depression. I am struggling to give myself permission to do what I need.

The house is a bit of a mess, despite the fact that I’m home now and if I need a focus break from work I can and should do some tidying. I haven’t been exercising, despite the fact that I can go for walks around the neighbourhood with the dog when he needs to go out, up to the coffee shop with my laptop, or even on the treadmill where Joe set up a little desk for me. Hell, I could take my lunch hour at the gym, but I don’t.

I don’t remember the last time I did something fun and creative.

I’m biting my nails again. I’m not eating right.

Maybe it’s a reaction to finishing The West Wing and not having CJ’s support anymore. Maybe it’s an incredible fear of failing and being a disappointment.

I’m spending too much time scared. And waiting to start. I need to find my routine again. When I worked downtown in an office on the hill I had such a good routine. I have no recollection of developing that routine, I just knew what needed to get done first, and what would be good to do next, and then how the rest of my day should do.

I need to figure that out again. Except instead I’m floundering, unfocused, bouncing from one thing to the next.

But I have been doing one thing right: I have been taking my daughter to the park. I have been walking with her to the local splash pad. I have been surprising her with play. I have been inviting her friends along. That is one thing I have been doing well. We have been together. We danced in the rain.

There is that.

I had a panic attack last Saturday. I couldn’t stop the tears. I was filled with fear.

I had just returned from a work trip to Toronto, I was tired, things had been moving rapidly and I was full of doubt. I signed up for a 5k race that I was not prepared for, but I couldn’t just not go. I’ve done that before – panicked and not let myself try. But I’ve done this before. I had to at least try.

But then getting downtown in time to get my race kit – first getting dropped off at the wrong place and having to walk up to a totally different location, fast as my shin splints could carry me, to make sure I got there on time, rocked my confidence.

If it hurt to walk for 10 minutes as fast as I could, how could I possibly make it through a 5k. Why was I stupid enough to not only sign up, but advertise the fact that I was doing this?

I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to quit, but what if I hurt myself?

And then my little girl wrote me a note. She wrote a note that said, quite simply: You can do it, I believe in you.

I swear, I don’t know what I did to deserve her. To have her there, not only assuring me that I was capable, but cheering me on when I did, in fact, cross that finish line, that was something.

And I crossed that finish line. I turned up my music, I pumped myself up, and I walked – with a bit of jogging – and I finished that race in less time than the last one. Not only did it take less time, but it also felt a lot better. So the next one – now scheduled for July 1 – will be even better.



May 16th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Work - (Comments Off on Junkie)

All my life I have been a bit of a breaking news junkie. I didn’t really realize this until I went to journalism school and figured out that I was a quick, precise writer. Unfortunately at the time I did not figure out that political journalism was a better fit for me than sports journalism.

Now, I had known that thoughts transfer from my brain to my hands quickly since high school when I was always first done in exams. But to understand this was not just a quirk but a skill was a boon to my confidence.

Then once I finally figured out that I was not a sports journalist and tried being a political junkie things really came together. And then I got the job I was made to do. I was a media monitor and analyst. And I was good.

Watching the media, seeing where the story starts and what it is then boiled downed to, sharing what people should and need to know, that’s my jam.

It’s fascinating. Someone presents the media with a story – an idea, a report, an open letter – and the media then picks the top two or three things they want to say about it, and then other people respond and so the story lives or dies and how it might evolve.

And it was my job to watch the process from start to finish. Not only to watch, but to share with others how the story was involving and what was changing when.

Now I’m taking on that role on a grander scale, monitoring more and different things. I got the opportunity to jump back into my old, more specific role this week and it reminded me how good this feels and how good I am at it.

Slowing down, looking at the bigger picture, gathering information and analyzing it more deeply, that’s the next step.

Everybody can succeed, all you need is to believe

May 15th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Canadiana | Personal - (Comments Off on Everybody can succeed, all you need is to believe)

It used to be that I would get home from school, get myself a snack and switch on the TV. In elementary school, especially after my sister started high school and we no longer got home at the same time, the TV was mine and I could choose what I wanted. And what I usually wanted was Degrassi reruns.

Last weekend was Ottawa Comic Con, my annual Mothers’ Day present to myself, and the cast of Degrassi was there. Specifically Joey Jeremiah, Caitlyn, Snake and Tessa, who do all have real names but that doesn’t really matter, because I grew up with Joey, Caitlyn, Snake and Tessa, etc.

(Though Snake always seemed like a really nice guy, and Spike was awesome, Lucy was always my favourite).

Degrassi covered all the topics a show for young people should in those days – pregnancy, abortion, teen suicide, HIV/AIDS, drug use, sexual assault, even small things that every teenager thinks that they’re dealing with all alone.

One of the things that has always struck me, thinking back on Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High is that the actors looked like real kids, and the stories were stories no one else seemed to want to tell. The actors on the panel this weekend talked about the fact that grown ups would sometimes question the stories they were telling, but always let them tell those stories.

I cannot say how important that was to those of us growing up with the kids from Degrassi.

And yes, my generation’s Degrassi continues to be the best.

Growth Rate

May 7th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off on Growth Rate)

Something disturbing has been happening in this household recently and I can’t ignore it any more. You see, a few years ago I had a baby — it seems both forever ago, as she’s always been here, but also like it must have been last week — and I cannot now find that baby.

Here she is:

You see her? She’s sleeping soundly beside me on the couch, taking up less room than one full cushion on our love seat. I often place her there, until she figured out how to roll and it was no longer safe. Then she started walking and she had to reach up above her head to hold my hand.

She could barely see over the coffee table.

And even though we knew she was big for her age, she was always so little.

I guess it was happening gradually and I only sort of noticed. But then I walked downstairs and she was spread out on the couch and she was stretched from one end to the other. I look at her and I see a difference in her face. There are moments when it hits me right in the heart that she’s growing up and it’s happening faster than I was prepared for.

There are the good things – she can take herself to the bathroom, dress herself, make her own snacks. She’s got activities of her own, and friends she loves. We can have conversations and laugh together. She loves school and she’s a good learner.

She has her own personality. She is a person now.


We are rapidly getting to that place where I won’t be able to pick her up any more.

We are getting to a place where we have to have more serious conversations because she is able to do more things on her own.

We are getting to a place where I am reminded, when I notice the rapidity of her growing up, that soon she won’t want or need me around as much, and then at all. And my heart starts missing her already.

Even though I can still sneak into her room after she’s asleep and pull her covers over her and kiss her forehead, and she might wake up just a little bit and smile because she knows her mommy is there.



Things I Love This Week

April 28th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Things I Love This Week)
  1. Gelly Roll gel pens – Historically I have not been a huge fan of gel pens. In my pen snobbery I find them less than reliable. However, I purchased a few Gelly Roll pens based on seeing the creative work of others, and have since bought many more because I love them. I love doodling with them, I love the colours. I love the smooth way they roll onto the paper of my notebook. Every night I open a blank page and I start my bit of  creativity and lately these pens are all I’ve been using. 
  2. Joe Clark. I went to see a play about him this weekend with my mother and sister. He was Canada’s 16th Prime Minister (that number seems low, but that’s because we don’t have term limits and two guys took up a whole chunk of time during our history). I’ve seen Mr. Clark speak and I’ve gotten the chance to shake his hand. He’s a kind man, a man of integrity. A man with a fantastic wife
  3. Broadchurch. I started watching this show because I will watch anything David Tennant does, but after the first season and it’s hard topics, I came back for Olivia Colman. She’s a force. Also David Tennant’s natural accent. But really. Season three also has Julie Hesmondhalgh, who I knew I recognized but I had to look her up before I realized it was from Coronation Street.
  4. Allison Janney. Seriously. We’re watching her on West Wing, I’ve watched her on Mom, she was nominated for a Tony for her role in the musical 9 to 5 and during the break from filming Mom this summer she’s starring on Broadway in Six Degrees of Separation. She is just outstanding.

What’s Next?

April 28th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Personal - (Comments Off on What’s Next?)

I can only describe my current mental state as the calm before the storm. I feel very mellow. It’s almost like I can’t really believe that next week I’m going to be starting a job that’s just about perfect. There is an underlying fear.

There is an underlying fear to almost everything right now. A very ‘what comes next’ attitude. The waiting is the hardest part. Wondering whether I will actually get started making other changes now that I’m getting going on this one part.

I’ve been reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. I thought it was just a parody, but it’s an actually book of advice. The author, Mark Manson, talks about what struggle means, really, and that the things that really matter to you are the things you’re willing to struggle for. And now I’m thinking about the things that I have always wanted and the things I am willing to struggle for.

And I’m not going to let it bother me that those last two sentences both ended with for, which is bad English.

I have also been watching a lot of reality television, and seeing people who are in complete denial about their problems and also about what they have to do to fix them. They are afraid of failure, they are afraid of change and they are afraid of pain.

I can’t be afraid any more. I’m tired of it. There will be failure, there will be change, there will be pain. It’s unavoidable.

And so I shall do my best to dive in and swim.

What she tackles

April 23rd, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on What she tackles)

I got a job. It’s a good job. A job that I wanted very much when I applied for it. A job that allows me to work with some great bosses who will mentor me in great ways. A job that will give me more experience doing the work that I have become quite fond of, and all for a good purpose.

With this job comes more than just career and learning opportunities, the opportunity to effect change in a tangible way. This job comes with the opportunity to work from home, be here for my daughter, somewhat set my own schedule. It allows me to skip the commute and spend that time doing better things for myself. Like get ready for the 10k I’m supposed to be walking later this year. It gives me the opportunity to walk my dog, take my daughter to the park, read great books.

Sometimes I’ll take my laptop out to the balcony and work in the fresh air. Sometimes I’ll get on the treadmill in my office while I try to think something through. Sometimes I’ll take a quick break from work to run downstairs and get dinner going. Sometimes I’ll take my laptop down to the locally-owned coffee shop for a change of scenery.

And sometimes I’ll have to work late while I try to finish an important project, but I’ll be in the house where my daughter can sneak in to say a quick goodnight. I’ll be here when she needs a sick day, and I won’t have to take the day off. Or when the weather is crappy and the buses are cancelled.

I can be here when she needs me. If the school calls in the middle of the day, I’ll be minutes away.

And I’ll still be working, loving my job, being challenged, modelling all of that great stuff for her too.

I’m tentative, because I can hardly believe my luck right now. I also have to remind myself that it’s not luck. I earned this job. I was hard for my strengths. These people chose me, and I chose them back.


I’m watching you in the playground, surrounded by kids. Doing your own thing, enjoying the fresh air and the sunshine. And I’m wondering how we get from this you to that you. The seven-year-old who tells me sometimes she wants to be dead. Who is angry and scared about so many things she never voices. Who told me the other night that you were afraid of the bad guys who might get into the house. Who asks me regularly what your life means and why you are here.

You make friends so easily. You’re fearless and then suddenly you’re not. You’re so kind. Too kind. You’re kind to everyone but yourself and I wonder if I’ve modelled that for you.

Sometimes it feels as though I don’t know how to be more than one thing at once. I can be a mother or a wife, or a student or an employee, or a daughter or a sister. I can’t be all of those things at once. I’m constantly failing at something. I couldn’t even successfully be a daughter to two parents at once.

And amidst all the roles I play, I have lost the ability to take care of myself as well.

Sometimes I wonder if I am only capable of loving one person at a time and you take it all up, wrap it around you. I don’t begrudge the amount of love you take from me, I give it freely. You are everything good.

You are also exhausting. Always talking, asking questions. Always wanting to know more, do more, explore more, find out more.

Sometimes it feels as though I can never be enough for you any more. When you were a baby, I was enough. I could hold you and cuddle you and talk to you. I knew what you needed because your needs were so simple. Food, sleep, diaper changes and love.

Now you need compassion, help with your homework, a shoulder to cry on. You need activity. You need things to do and things to focus on. You need questions answered. And you still need food, sleep and love.

But you can also give now, in so many ways you couldn’t before. You give the most wonderful hugs. You tell me stories. You say that you love me and sometimes that I’m the best mommy in the world. The same kid that yells at me for saying no will come to me when all she needs to hear is that it’s going to be okay.

It is a gift that you can be your absolute self with me, for now, and I have to remind myself what a gift it is.


April 14th, 2017 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Tresses)

The kid told me the other day that she thinks I should grow my hair long. I’ve actually been thinking about my hair more than usual lately. Despite a few drastic haircuts in between, I usually have the same style that I have had since high school.

At some point after 1996, when the movie Scream came out, I went to the stylist with a picture of Neve Campbell and asked for hair like that, and my layered bob was born.

There was a point, not too long after the kid was born, that I went really short – though I know some women who would call my usually ear-length really short – and that was the period when I probably felt the least like myself ever.

Even as a chair my hair was usually short, the result of waking up in tangles every morning and screaming bloody murder as my mother tried to fix it. For a while I slept in hairnets in an attempt to solve the problem.

This was, I guess, a result of being a restless sleeper and having  a lot of fine hair. It just tangles. The kid has the same problem now. At least once during a brushing I have wondered whether the neighbours will call the police, and considered just shaving her head so that she’ll be old enough to just deal with it herself by the time it grows back. But I get the feeling that my kid is just a long-haired kind of girl, like her Auntie. My sister has always had long hair the same way I’ve always had short.

I have considered growing it out more than once in my adult years. The last time I really made an effort was before my wedding, when I thought having longer hair would give me more options for styling. A few weeks before the wedding I realized, with my mother’s help, that I didn’t look like myself. Why would I want to not look like myself on my wedding day?

The fact is that every time I think about growing my hair I get a distinct image in my head of the one time I had long-ish hair.

I don’t remember what grade I was in, but when I look at my school photo I just see myself drowning in hair. Because, of course, for picture day I wore my hair down. You see, one thing that has kept me from growing my hair (and also one of the reasons I feared having a daughter) was my complete inability to do anything with my hair. It rejects clips. I don’t know what to do with product. If it’s not up in a ponytail it’s down. though I have had occasion to do very simple pigtail braids. Every hairstylist I have ever had has had to come to the realization that I will not buy their products, will not use flat irons or round brushes, will not blow dry my hair.

I wash and go. Some mornings I even forget to comb it. It has never occurred to me to put much time or effort into my hair, except when I had bangs I had had no choice. When you wake up with hair sticking straight up out of your head, you have to come up with some sort of solution.

My go-to layered bob is wash and go too. Even messy it looks okay. Cut short enough (but still long enough to tuck behind my ears) it’s not too hot on my neck, and when it’s long enough to pull back into a ponytail I know that I’m probably ready for my next cut.

This haircut has stuck by me – from high school to my wedding day to the day I gave birth – always suiting me just fine.

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