Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Is Social Media Destroying my Joy?

On the metro in the morning I wear my disguise. I dress up as a middle-aged woman going to work. Which is what I am.

It's pretty nice because people give me their seat, which I like.

But every Sunday I go for a nice long run.

I've been doing long races since 2015, when I ran my first half-marathon. I love running!

Or at least I used to. But these days I feel clogged up with information, advice, opinions, reports, essays, books, photos ... it's all very heavy and it's making me feel bloated and uncomfortable.

There are countless articles, scholarly and otherwise, about the effects of social media on our "self-esteem". But that term itself is a modern take on an ancient concern: Who am I? Where am I? And what does it all mean? "Self-esteem" is a way of describing a certain contentment with the way things are, or rather, with the way I Am. "Self-esteem" inspects how I feel about myself. And what better way to increase my "self-esteem" than to present pleasant images to others that will reveal how truly wonderful I really am.


The problem is, everybody is posting those images, and some people are better at it than others, and some people even hire other people to post them, so we really don't know where to stand. That's just the tip of the iceberg. The bigger picture is that all of our activities - from the most banal (walking the dog? giving a three year old some cereal?) to the most intimate (giving birth) to the most impressive (running a 3 hour marathon at age 60) - all of these activities that we love to do, or the ones we do by rote, or the special unique events in our lives - they're all bunched together, shouted out to the world, commented on, "liked" or not, and then forgotten.

Don't tell me that you've never been doing something and, as you're doing it, you're thinking about what to post about it. Oh, I know there are purists like my husband who - honestly, people! - uses Facebook for what it is worth - funny animal videos. But most of us who are online are online way too much, and thinking about being online way too much, and we are turning ourselves into something I'm not sure is such a great idea.

Or are we? My state of mind when I made this pre-Olympics video with my son was one of good humor, happiness, and strength. I make some fun of myself, and I was clearly having a good time. So what has led me to the point I am at now? When I'm taking myself so seriously, checking my paces, weighing myself, jumping from one running program to the next, not satisfied with my progress.


We are using social media to mark our progress. Who's better - using any marker you and your friends choose to use - most radical, most downtrodden, most fertile, most religious, most athletic, best cook, cutest pets...

Oh, don't get me wrong! I'm still going to post my cafe events, funny things I find, my haunted houses. But I'm planning on going real easy when it comes to virtual running. My body needs to run, fine. My "self-esteem" can stay at home.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

WorkInProgress: a Self Care Seminar

In October, I am offering a seven week exploration into self care. We will be exploring the ways we can care for ourselves, as women, as holders of childbirth and wombs, as healers of others but sometimes not of ourselves.

Every Wednesday evening, we will be gathering to learn about ourselves. We'll talk about healing and what it means. We'll look at what a "holistic" approach to your own health might be. We will discuss nutrition, hormones, muscles, bones, our hearts, minds and souls, our health challenges, and Taking Care.

It's so important, now more than ever, for us to meet up in person to share our experiences and learn from each other. My vision is that we will create a circle of knowledge, from these evenings, that we can spread to others. We will meet, learn, share, eat together, and meet again seven days later, for a full seven weeks.

And who am I? 
I've been living in my body for almost 63 years now. I've experienced much of the life experiences of the human female: infancy, childhood, puberty, adolescence, and then a full reproductive life including pregnancies, miscarriage, abortion and live births. My hormones have ebbed and flowed, and I am grateful to still have a working body.

I have studied women's health extensively, and I know about herbs, birth, healing techniques, magic, exercise, and cooking, among other things. If you enjoy exploration, have a sense of humour, love women's groups and want to really learn about how to care for and nourish your own body, mind and soul, please contact me and let me know that you're in.

Here is the Facebook event. Here is the registration form. Email me here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Mothers, Babies, Chaos

Fifteen years ago, I created a ground breaking, unique, stellar doula course with my colleague Lesley Everest. We wrote and taught a ten-month long program that fully prepared doulas to do their important work, with confidence, respect and knowledge.

Part of that course required the students to do some volunteer work with mothers and babies. Two of our students spent a summer accompanying 14 marginalized women through their late pregnancies, labour and birth, and immediate postpartum period. I was away for the summer, as I always am, and I got back to their stories of difficulties and birth, and new families… and so a seed was planted.

That was the summer of 2004. Over the next couple of years, our students continued to volunteer to accompany marginalized families through the childbearing year, and we became recognized by nurses, social workers, dieticians, physicians, midwives, and families as an important resource for those who had, in some cases, literally nothing.

In 2006 Montreal Birth Companions was “officially” born: it was registered as a charity and we were able to apply for funding (even though we never actually received any!). For the next ten years, until 2016, I matched needy mothers with willing doulas. Over the course of its history, MBC served almost 1000 families. Some of them needed a doula to attend the birth of their child. Some needed resources that we couldn’t provide, so we referred them elsewhere. Some needed prenatal education, postpartum assistance, or caring for older children.

I know that now there is a movement amongst the doula community that says loud and clear that for the work to be “valued” it should not be given away for free (that is, for no money). My answer to that is twofold: the first echoes Chance the Rapper “I sing for freedom, not for free”. The second asks who exactly would accompany these mothers if we didn’t? These were people who did not have an extra dollar to their name. They had no money, little clothing, sparse food and crowded shelter.

We served refugees, refugee claimants, women with no status, domestic workers who had been illegally sent away from their employees homes, young women, women from every different country, religion, background, color … the only things they had in common were that they were pregnant and they were poor. We served mothers who had fled war and destruction; mothers who had fled rape and forced prostitution; mothers who were hiding from their violent partners. We served families who just needed help navigating the foreign medical system. We served women who didn’t know how to call emergency services (no, birth is not an emergency, but a haemorrhage is … and do you know how to dial emergency services in Benin?).

And now you may ask, why? Why did we bother? Surely these families were fortunate enough to be able to attend a modern hospital with dedicated professionals to assist them? Yes, absolutely. The women we served were very fortunate to be able to birth in a safe environment. But for women in an already precarious situation, it is so important for them to give birth with as few interventions as possible. For two reasons: first, the less interventions a mother has, the easier it is to recover after childbirth. If life is already challenging, why not give the new mother the best start possible? Secondly, many of the families we were serving, especially after about 2010, did not have access to our provincial health care coverage. This meant that they would have to pay per treatment. The very cheapest hospital birth cost a new family from five to seven thousand dollars. This would be a birth where they only spent 24 hours in the hospital, and the attending physician didn’t charge too much. The most any of our clients owed when she left the hospital was $39,000. We tried our very best to prevent a new family from having to pay for unnecessary treatments. Once we explained to the medical staff what the situation was, we were usually met with understanding and patience.

In 2016, I experienced the consequences of creating an organization with no structure. My joke was always that MBC (Montreal Birth Companions) stood for Mothers, Babies and Chaos. Basically, my mandate was to provide free doula services for mothers in need. That’s what we did, successfully, for many years. But Star Hawk, in one of her books, describes the frailty and danger of an organization that does not have a clear structure: what can happen is that the members of the organization can start to feel threatened, if not by the leader, then by the lack of structure itself.

Two of my doulas were attending the birth of a refugee woman. Only one doula was allowed in the room at one time (the hospital had a rule that only two support people were allowed, and the preacher from the woman’s church decided to attend the birth). The doulas had not previously met the woman; this was an urgent request from the midwives who were following her, and they had not told me that this person would be there.

Over the course of the labour, the preacher harassed the two doulas with sexually intimidating comments, and finally in the morning he physically assaulted one of them. When the doulas told me, I told the midwives and the clinic, and I was met with a strangely layered response: the man had also harassed a nurse at the clinic, and we should be tolerant because he is from another culture where it is common to act like that. 

This bizarre attitude threw me completely, and left me and “my” doulas with no resources except one person outside the organization who tried to facilitate. I felt guilty; the doulas felt angry and shamed, and none of us knew what to do. Why? Simply, because I had not built an organization that contained within it the structures to be able to deal with unforeseen events. Even if you’re an anarchist, even if you don’t believe in Boards, Presidents, and Secretaries, you have to create some kind of structure that can deal with attack.

So what did I do? I stepped down as director and a collective took over the work and the organization. I was so shaken by what had happened I had to leave the work to others. I withdrew, ran my café, and did a lot of running. In December 2016 I was sitting on the bus and I read a tweet by a Syrian journalist about what was happening in Aleppo. I learned that many families had made the dangerous crossing from Turkey to Greece, where they were being housed in camps.

By January 2017 I had packed my bags and headed to Greece to provide midwifery care to the young families in the camps and elsewhere in Greece. It was one of the coldest winters on record. People were housed in UN tents inside abandoned factories. Some of the more vulnerable were moved to apartments and hotels that were vacant and made available. I met with one family from Syria who were being housed in a small room with water literally dripping down the walls, intermittent electricity, and a shared bathroom. She was almost at term, and her baby was breech, and when I suggested some exercise she said it was too painful because of some bomb shrapnel she still had in her hip.

While the larger NGOs argued over bureaucratic details, such as which organization could visit which hotel, I quietly gathered needed resources (clothes, diapers, soap…) from the over-filled basement of the NGO I was working with, and drove to visit pregnant women all over the north of Greece who were in need. I worked with some amazing, brave people and I will never forget that experience.

But then I got back to Montreal and I was met with a deep weariness. I felt that the tiny drop in the huge ocean of need was never going to be enough. I stopped practising as a doula, knowing that there were younger, better, more enthusiastic doulas out there (many of them trained by myself or my colleague). My extensive knowledge of undisturbed, woman-centered childbirth made it difficult for me to witness many of the hospital births I was called to, and my discomfort spread to others around me. I no longer attended home births, as the definition of “practising midwifery without a license” was at the same time clarified and obfuscated by two different legal battles in Canada.

So, where am I? Well, of course, life goes on, so I have a large family to attend to, a successful café to run with middle son, all sorts of projects in the air … and yet … I was made to serve, and I’m looking for another project, so if anyone needs a CPM without papers (let them expire), doula teacher, or a Jill-of-all-trades to work for freedom, I’m in!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Takes a Village

 takes a village

to get a lady and her dog onto a flight

It was a very busy time in my life. I had just run a marathon. Lots of fun but tiring! I flew home and straight back to work. 

My BFF let me know her son had died.
My other BFF got a cancer diagnosis.
Then a lady drove her car straight into my café!

I am so grateful for all the good in my life, and I always try to do my best to send love and caring, and actually DO stuff for people… but honestly I felt like pieces of heavy things were falling all around me. 

Could I keep everyone safe from harm? Where are all my five chickadees? (um, well they’re all over the world: little chickadees tend to grow up and fly…) Is my true love gonna be ok up on the mountain without me? What the hell if this crusty thing on the dog’s nose? Am I actually losing my mind? How can I be a better friend? Are my sons doing ok with their partners? Also, how are my sisters? Can I keep the world turning just by thinking good thoughts?

By the time it was the weekend before I was due to travel to Italy – me and our dog on a Transat flight – I was spinning in tiny circles.

And do you know what happened? A giant net of loving hands appeared and moved me along, carefully and with a great sense of humour, to destinations planned and half planned. Two friends took care of the dog so I could visit son #2 in Ontario. Said son and lovely fiancée showed me a wonderful time in their beautiful space. 

Son #3 and his partner organized packing the car and food… and actually packed the car… and were ready with jokes when needed… 

Son #5 played the ukulele accompaniment to our road music while we were driving… he is the calmest person I know and his waves of coolness kept me afloat…

All and sundry cooked dinner before my flight, drove us to the airport, helped me stuff the dog in her crate, touched my back gently when I was about to yell at the Transat gal who was ordering me around …

All I know is, sometimes it takes a village to live a life. Just take a moment to be grateful for your friends, and your family. If you know anyone who doesn’t have either of those, go out and find them! We were all born alone, and we will die alone, but in between it’s worth it to reach out and make a friend. 

Thanks guys!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

26.2: Marathons are Fun!!

How was my second marathon? I had a really good time … I ran. I talked to a bunch of people from all over the world. I ran. I ran some more. I ran past beautiful scenery and got cheered on by many, many, many spectators (the Edinburgh marathon crowds are the best!).

Almost there! (mile 24)
The spectators? Families, lots of them. Small bands playing music – a family with mum and kids, mum playing the saxophone, kids handing out candies. Kids blowing bubbles, and us all running through them. Lots of high fives with tiny hands. Many families in their tiny front yards – music blaring, beers being drunk, candies being offered to us runners as we went by. The best? Around mile 24, a family had sliced thousands of orange slices – I’ve never tasted an orange so good!!

I hadn’t been feeling super well that morning. It’s tough flying into a new place and adjusting to the food and then running 42 k. It was raining very hard. The start of the race cured me of any doubts. There were over 7000 people racing and the energy was uplifting. We started, and ran through the old part of the city, then down to the water.

I stopped at mile 6. Nature called, and I was in and out quickly. By mile 13 I was feeling weirdly tired; I usually don’t get super tired until around mile 20. I slowed down, and started worrying about dying or not finishing the race…. then I thought about my special people. I started feeling the gratitude that I knew would carry me through. I am so grateful for the body I have: the legs that can carry me over roads and hills; the lungs that can breathe deeply enough to energize me for hours as I run; the metabolism that is fine with a little starvation or thirst.

At mile 14 I started a game. I pretended I was running a half-marathon. I imagined myself going out the door and getting on the metro, on my way to a half marathon race in Montreal. I picked up speed and my energy returned. I was psyched, and happy, I smiled throughout almost the whole distance.

We entered a forest and when we left it, at around mile 20, the wind started. Big time. Gusts up to 24 mph, and a headwind that made it hard to breathe. Last marathon I ran, I created a headwind out of my emotional state that held me back. This time, I was doing great, and the wind was physical and intense. I ran through it, and finally I reached the finish line. My husband was there but I didn’t even see him. He said I looked like I was gliding, and I was. I finished the distance, and I did it with gratitude in my heart and a smile on my face.

But my time? How fast did I go??? That’s the question on everybody’s mind, because after all, it is a race. Well, actually, I ran it 8 minutes slower than my first one, and my first one was 5:34…and I was super disappointed last time.

So am I disappointed now? No! Sure I’d love to run faster, and I have already identified some things I have to tweak. Logistics things, and training things (thanks Perse!) But I’m not disappointed because I realized that, for me, the pleasure is in the journey. I’m not talking about being super happy with a DNF. But I’m happy and proud that I ran the whole way, and that I succeeded in my goal.

In these times of self-aggrandizement, mutual back-patting, and public vilification, everybody wants to post about how well they did: I beat my PR! My birth was just what I wanted! I am the best volunteer person in history! I lost 375 pounds in a week! And on, and on, ad nauseum.

What’s behind this nonsense though? A simple human need, that has grown pathologically because we have so much time on out hands. The need is simple: everybody wants to be loved; to be special; to matter. And so we create a persona for ourselves that our tricky minds convince us will better reach that goal. How much do you leave out when you’re posting all your stuff on the social media? More importantly, because who really cares about a reality made up of electrical impulses (oh, I forgot, that’s the human physical reality…), more importantly, how are we damaging ourselves when we create incomplete or misleading stories about ourselves?

Alcoholics Anonymous has helped millions of people live with their addiction. Addiction never really goes away, but people learn to manage the fact that they are addicts and they can live happy, productive lives. The organization, of course, has its critics, but one of the main tenets is honesty. That is, the ability to describe yourself honestly to yourself and others.

I’m struggling with this idea. To try to be honest to yourself? Always! That’s part of the main tasks of life itself, I believe. To discover who you are and to refine and make that person better, and to live “yourself” as honestly as possible. To try to be honest with others? Mostly, and mostly superficially, it’s a good idea. Don’t lie, swindle, cheat.

But are some secrets better kept … secret? A difficult diagnosis, for a while. A difficult past. Some traumatic events that don’t need to be talked about. Sometimes, an inconvenient emotion. I’ve kept some secrets for many, many years. Mostly from people I don’t know: I’m not one of those people who tell their whole difficult life story on air and feel the public love because of it. But some secrets I’ve kept from people very close to me. Is that wrong? I’m not sure.

So, from the profound to the superficial: I’m an amateur runner, and I run at a pretty average speed for my age. I’m a “back-of-the-pack” racer, and happy and grateful that my body works so well. But I still felt a twinge of self-doubt when I looked at the results and saw that embarrassing number. 5:42:20. Sheesh. Couldn’t I have run faster? Hey, I ran a full marathon, and I did it with a smile on my face. What could be better than that?

Friday, May 24, 2019

Grace and Racing

Last year on Mother’s Day I ran my first marathon. I was a little disappointed: not really because I had expected to run it faster, but because it wasn’t really fun. That is, there were no moments that stood out for me. I know why: it was completely my fault for taking a load of emotional baggage along with me for the full 26 mile run. I had a spirit animal last year who ran with me and who personified me: Mrs.Tiggywinkle is a short, stout, prickly hedgehog who keeps a clean house and takes in laundry. I had taken in way too much laundry last year, and during the three weeks before the marathon instead of tapering and trying to gain strength and revitalize after months of training, I spent my time cleaning, cooking, and taking care of other peoples’ business.

This year, I’m running as a human. My spirit animal may be a donkey, as I am stubborn and strong. I’ve been training since December 2018, every month, every week, but not every day. I ran through the winter, and it was a doozy this year. We had snow, rain, ice, freezing rain, ice pellets, and everything in between. Temperatures hovered between -25 and +10 for most of the five months I trained. I put screws in my shoes and bought ice cleats. I ran a half marathon in deep snow and got my slowest time ever. 

“Fitness is classist AF,” wrote a young relative of mine. Certainly, what we understand to be Fitness is a privilege exercised by a small group of wealthy people. Pun intended. But we were born to run. Humans were made to use their bodies. We were made to sweat, and feel our muscles, and push our physical limits, and we were also made with an urge to play. 

I love going out to play. I am so grateful that my body is healthy enough that I can go outside and run around, for twenty minutes, for an hour, or for almost a whole day. I am always aware that I am privileged: I have a body that functions, and I can spare the time to run with no particular place to go.

This year, my dedication to training my body for this race has led me to understand some techniques for running, and also some techniques for living.
1. big things can be broken down into little things: one step at a time
2. a lot of stuff just isn’t that important
3. love is all we have
4. you never know what might happen
5. smile
6. drink water
7. be grateful
8. always bring a hanky
9. talk little, breathe deep, tie your shoes well
10. laugh at yourself

And finally, you need to learn to submit - to surrender - swim upstream by going around the obstacles instead of using all your energy to fight them. Grace is a wonderful characteristic to explore.

I’m hoping to finish this marathon in less time than my last. I’m hoping to finish. I’m keeping some people in my heart as I run the last five miles or so: Becky is my cousin, and her body is hard to use. She has cerebral palsy and eats twice as much as me just to do a simple day. She perseveres and doesn’t need help, and she’s one of the people I am in awe of.
My friend Perse is an athlete and survived a particularly rare and vicious type of cancer. She’s my oldest friend (over fifty years and counting!). She is enthusiastic, tough, and just doesn’t let anything push her around.
My friend Syd fought an addiction and won. She spends her life putting love into the world. 
Kimberley is my running  buddy. When we run, we talk. We weave and untangle, laugh and analyze. Agree and build. I hope she’ll be running next to me for many years to come!
I hope that these strong women will be beside me when I am pushing through those last kilometers. 
See y'all ‘round the bend! I will definitely let you know how the cookie crumbles!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Gratified Desire

From my living room, from the time I was 5 until I left home at 16, I could see the outline of the Rocky Mountains puncturing the sky behind the provincial city called Calgary.

In my Grade 10 classroom, the enterprising teacher had printed a few lines of a poem by Wordsworth and stuck it up all around the room, above our heads:

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours"

The rest of the poem describes the Romantic's dilemma: that we have removed ourselves from nature, and that removal has cost us dearly. Wordsworth was writing 200 years ago; how much more we are getting and spending now!

The young romantic in me escaped the banal ugliness of a soon-to-boom oil town and ran to the mountains. I spent days in the Rockies, observing the slowness of so-called "Mother" Nature as the seasons ground from one to the next. I met animals, marvelled at wildflowers, grieved for my young friend who died from hypothermia during an ill-timed May camping trip.

City life intervened, as it does, and I spent years in cities doing city-like things like work, study and city play. But in 1985 I moved to rural Italy and there I learned about living in and with nature.

Farming is hard work, especially when you don't know what you're doing. We had a big stone farmhouse, 7 acres of land, a wheat field, a vineyard, a huge vegetable garden, a muddy pond, many poultry, a dog, a cat, and four small boys. There was a spring down a muddy green path where I would go every day and collect my 18 litre jerry-can of water for the day. There was a big grass snake who lived under the wall. There were wild boar who trampled the vineyard until we put a radio down there and played opera at night. There were badgers, porcupines, foxes, weasels, nightjars, cuckoos, and peasants who surrounded us and wanted to teach us their trade.

Nature isn't unforgiving, or gentle, or kind, or threatened, or dominated, or forgiving, or logical, or chaotic, or female. Nature is beautiful. Nature couldn't give a rat's ass about you. Nature doesn't care. Nature does what it does. It is unknowable, and mighty, and extraordinary. Nature wastes: things die all the time, unnecessarily. Nature attacks: weird bacteria, viruses, and prions love to inhabit their hosts. Nature kills.

But, of course, we are part of nature, and nature has taught us over the years that it is a good idea to respect the immutable laws that nature dictates. If you're going to say 'aw this is airy-fairy leftie bullshit', might I remind you that even the most powerful human has a maximum 10 degree centigrade window in which to survive. And that most powerful human, even if he did survive birth, fever, hypothermia, infections, accidents and so on... will still be completely absorbed by nature in the end.

That teacher also introduced us to Shelley's Ozymandias: "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!" The will to power, domination, kingship, command... it's all horrible if you're one of the dominated, or thrilling if you're the king, I guess, but you'll die like the rest of us and be buried in the sand. As will your great achievements. So, then, what's a thinking teenager to do? Nihilism was an option, but I had a handicap there, and I shared that with William Blake.

In The Tyger, Blake suggests that something so beautiful, ferocious, complicated and confusing had to be created by a higher power. Well, even though I was brought up by a communist artist and a scientist, neither of whom shared my deep-founded belief in The Divine, I was pretty sure Blake was right. How else could you explain that I had miraculously survived all of the shenanigans that I took part in as a young teenager in the 1970's? How to explain why that big mama moose and her baby walked beside me for a few kilometres and didn't attack me? How did I stare down that pack of dogs in the middle of a snowy night on a field in Calgary? Why wasn't I one of the young people who went missing or died during those ridiculous years? Not because of nature, or luck. Not due to atoms, molecules, or any number of metaphors. But because my path wasn't that one. The tapestry that was made before any of us was born included me living at least for 62 years.

I was making our bed a few weeks ago and was brought to tears because I felt the enormity of the failure of our task. I thought to myself that I might as well just go shopping.

My life has been a life lived in the physical world. I farmed, I carried water, cement, and wood. I birthed babies and breastfed them, and held them, and fed them. When it was time for me to work, I worked as a farm labourer, picking peppers and tobacco, and as a domestic, cleaning peoples' houses and washing dishes in a cafe. Then I learned to attend births, and I rubbed feet and backs, held women as they birthed, cleaned messy pads and bedding and clothing, ... and then caught babies as they slipped from their mothers' bodies.

When that work stopped, I started to prepare and serve food. It's physical. Life is physical.... except. Except that so many people don't know so much about the physical world. There are fridges for sale for thousands of dollars, and people no longer cook and eat at home. People can't fix something, they buy a new one. Do you mend holes in your clothes? Can you light a fire? Can you distinguish dandelion flowers from coltsfoot? How does a duck look when it flies? What is the difference between Water Hemlock and Queen Anne's Lace? How do you mix cement? What berries can you eat? What do you do with a tree once it is felled?

Nevertheless. Nevertheless. The final poem that I only just figured out is this one:

What is it men in women do require? 
The lineaments of Gratified Desire. 
What is it women do in men require? 
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.

When I was in high school my teacher, my classmates, and every literary critic of the time thought this was all about sex. It's not. 
It is about being gratified. It's about living your life fully, as a life. As a life not dependent upon things, upon getting and spending. It's about loving someone who is happy, and having a hard time loving someone who is miserable and unfulfilled. 

We have been misled. Women especially. We've been led to believe that it indeed is a life-threatening and dangerous event (not to say an expensive one) to bring a child into the world. We've been led to believe that our children need to be socialized by someone other than ourselves. That our shitty job is somehow more fulfilling than caring for our offspring (I'm not talking about that fine mother who needs to work three jobs to support her family, nor the professional who loves her work as much as her children). That in the name of equality and because we are so damn exhausted it is fine to bully one's partner into folding baby clothes at 10 pm (who folds baby clothes anyhow? But I have seen it with my own eyes). That nature is something that needs protecting, and that weirdly we need to protect ourselves from it. That our bodies cannot be trusted. 

So I say to you: Take a hike. Say something controversial. Get off Facebook. Don't get the epidural. Stop folding laundry. Don't have a baby, if you don't want to. Think twice before buying a new thing. Be kind. Be sassy, or not. Be yourself. 

What am I gonna do? I'll keep on making food and serving it; I'll teach women about maternity care and childbirth; I'll think my thoughts and mostly keep them to myself.

I don't have a rootedness in a physical place. My mountain hideaway is mine for a while. My bungalow in the 'burbs as well. My rootedness is a long and straggly root that winds past minds, poetry, essays, manifestos, novels, long conversations, thoughts. The place of the thinking person. A place I've yearned for my whole life, and visited once in a while. But I always know its there, and it's home.

Yesterday I went for a 15 mile run. It was tough. My body was ploughing through some bad emotions. But when I got to Mont Royal, our lovely mountain at the centre of our city, I went to the trails, away from people, and ran. It eased my heart. Let us reconsider our relationship with nature, with each other and with ourselves.