Honesty about creativity, art, mental illness, grief, feminism, human rights and chronic pain with a healthy dose of sarcasm



The Baby Question

“Why haven’t you had kids yet?”

Something I didn’t understand until I got a little bit of age on me is how uncomfortable this type of question can be. Once a woman reaches a certain age (25ish), whether her biological clock ticks or not is moot as, everyone from acquaintances to relatives will make sure she knows she’s born to birth and she best get on with it.

Consider this for a moment; what are women in movies usually haunted by or hallucinating about? I’d say babies. Some chick will start hearing a baby crying or laughing and it’ll turn out her unborn child, or her abortion is haunting her. This is standard narrative for the role of women on film. In books, the second the young mistress doth barfith one knows she’s in a family way. Just food for thought.

In reality there are many barriers to baby-making that are incredibly sensitive and personal such as, careers, fertility problems, general health issues, lack of a partner, marriage problems, genetics and genuinely not wanting children, to name a few. It’s important to be respectful and understand what goes on in another woman’s womb is really none of your freakin’ business.

I once had an older gentleman I barely knew tell me he felt it’s best for women to have babies well before they’re aged 25 or 30 at the latest otherwise, “they’re far too old.” He then asked how old I was and when I said 34 he shook his head doubtfully and said I’d better get on with it because I’d left it way to long.

When I was younger I asked women about babies with nothing but good intent. I meant it as a compliment, as in, you’d be a great Mom. Time has taught me great Mother’s don’t always give birth and some women have given birth and aren’t great Moms.

To me, Mother’s are women who care deeply for others, who nurture talent and encourage without expecting anything in return. Mother’s are role models but not perfect by any means. Being able to laugh at missteps and foibles is an incredibly important trait for a Mother to have. Also, giving advice isn’t as important as listening, further, understanding advice won’t always be followed and mistakes will be made is key. Helping a young woman rise from the ashes is far more important than scolding her for what she did wrong.

My Mom fell into the Great Mother catagory. She died 4 years ago and this profound loss, while often a traumatizing pit of sadness, has taught me I have many Mothers in my life. So many women have stepped in and shown me what strength truly means, offered me guidance and unconditional love. They’re my bonus Mom’s and everyday angels and I’m incredibly lucky to have as many as I do.

My Mother-in-law was kind enough to arrive in a week before my Mom’s funeral. She helped me write endless lists and knock everything off all the while ensuring I took care and rested so as not to cause a pain flare up. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel I’ve thanked her enough for this.

I’m also fortunate enough to have a step-Mother-in-law who is a great feminist role model who compliments my intellect and encourages me to move forward even when I’m feeling lost and as though, because of my chronic illnesses, I’ve lost my chance to be anything useful at all. I cannot thank her enough for giving me these little boosts here and there, gently forcing me to remember my self worth.

My two Aunts have been so kind and caring, offering me a shoulder to cry on and wonderful insights and stories about my Mom throughout her life. We’ve grown a lot closer since my Mom died and, recognizing how fleeting life is, we make sure to say, I love you, often and appreciate the gifts each of us offer.

There are also several of my Mom’s close friends who’ve continually been there for me. With these women there’s that wonderful feeling that no time has passed even if it’s been ages since we’ve talked. We’re just able to pick up where we left off and carry on. This type of friendship is so special and I’m incredibly pleased to have those pseudo Mom’s in my life. Furthermore, the Mother’s of a few of my close friends are also incredibly warm and caring surrogate Moms to me.

It’s been a great pleasure to watch many of my friends and one of my sisters-in-law becoming mother’s and I get the bonus of doting on their kids and spoiling them whenever possible. I hope to someday earn pseudo Mom status to all of them whenever they need it.

I’ll be so thrilled should I end up having children in the future, but I like to think I am maturing into the type of person who is a stand-in Mom or second-Mom to a number of lovely young people I’ve come to know. I don’t wish to infringe on any decisions made by the actual parents but I’m there to offer support and love whenever needed.

I’ve overheard new parents say things such as, “I didn’t really understand love until I had a child of my own.” I like to think this isn’t true for me. I love the people in my life with all my heart and all my soul. I am fiercely protective should I feel one of these people is being attacked, short-changed, or bullied. It’s clear the “Mama-Bear” behaviour so often referred to is alive and well within me, no labour required (see what I did there?).

The next time you wonder why a woman hasn’t had children I urge you to compliment her on something you admire about her instead. You may be speaking to someone who’s never given birth but is a mother to many. Look at Oprah and Ellen for examples of prominent women with no children who absolutely are exemplary Mom’s to so many. I bet you can think of many women you know who have earned the status of Mom one way or another, be sure to treasure this gift.

In this modern age where, hopefully, we’re smashing the patriarchy for breakfast and moving towards a society of gender equality, I think we should examine what it means to be a “Mother” and modify the definition accordingly.

Please Note: Men are awesome too. I am incredibly lucky in that department as well but that’s another blog for another time. I promise.



Is This Enough for #Metoo?

When the #metoo movement began in order to raise awareness about how many women and men have experienced sexual harassment or assault I debated whether or not to include myself. How much sexual harassment is enough? How much sexual assault is enough? Does sexual humiliation count?

Perhaps these blurry grey areas are part of the problem. I suppose I have several stories but this one keeps coming to mind. You can decide if it’s enough, if I can say, “#Metoo”.

Long before the age of cell phones and texting, when I was about 19, I headed to a bar downtown with a couple of girlfriends. While they kicked up their high heels on the packed dance floor I was on the sidelines avoiding the crowd and allowing myself to be chatted up by an older guy in his late 20s.

I felt witty and pretty and bright as we laughed together and talked all night. When the lights came on I couldn’t find my friends anywhere. I had no idea what to do when half an hour after close they were still AWOL.

The guy who’d been chatting me up helped me look for them. When we couldn’t find them he said he lived close by and kindly offered to let me use his phone. He even said he’d pay for my cab since I didn’t have enough cash to pay for a taxi alone.

We walked along the downtown streets, flirting all the way. Head thrown back with laughter I felt alive and attractive. He seemed kind and sincere so I let him lead the way.

We arrived at his place and his kisses kept me from calling home right away. I lost myself in his eyes and arms.

“Relax. I’ll pay your cab fare later. You can hold off on calling a while longer can’t you?”

I nodded and kissed him back, nerves fluttering deep in my chest. I really liked this guy. He laid me down on his living room floor and began tugging at my clothes. I tried to slow things down and he kept trying to speed them up.

Soon I began squirm beneath him. His weight bore down on me and the butterflys in my chest turned ice cold and I began to panic.

He suddenly pushed back from me, impatience and disgust now glowered at me where I’d so recently seen lust and longing.

“You’re a fucking virgin aren’t you?”

I nodded slowly. I was so embarrassed I wanted to sink into the floor. What had I been thinking as I’d followed him home like a lost puppy?

“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”

Anger sparked in his eyes, now cold and black.

“What did you think we were coming here for?”

“I… I… I couldn’t find my friends. You said I could use your phone. You said you’d pay for my cab. I thought you liked me. I thought you wanted to get to know me.”

“Whatever. Get out.”

“But I need to get home.”

“That’s your problem not mine. Get out.”

Crying now, I stuttered, “Will you still get a taxi for me? I don’t have enough money to get home.”

“I’m not paying for anything you cock tease. Get out!”

Humiliation bubbled up and poured from my eyes, “can I at least use your phone?”

“Make it fast. Then get out.”

I called home. My parents and friends were there and relieved to hear from me. I stammered into the phone that I wanted to come home. They didn’t ask questions, just told me to take a cab and they’d pay.

As soon as the taxi was called I turned to the stranger I thought I was getting to know. He glared at me, all interest gone.

“Get out.”

“It’s 4am, I don’t feel safe waiting alone outside.”

“Too bad. Get out.”

I flowed out the door on a river of tears and waited alone, scared, tired, hurt and humiliated. I shivered and cried and wished I could just disappear.

Is this enough?

He didn’t rape me. I wasn’t brutalized.

Does this story count? Were my tears and humiliation enough?

I dodged a bullet didn’t I? Maybe I should shut up, count myself lucky? Shouldn’t I be grateful?

It’s not enough is it?

I’m not enough am I?

I can’t really say, “me too?” Can I?


Mental Health Super Hero Begins

Sally Semi-Colon helps her first soul and discovers her power to emit epic empathy. Johanna’s cried an ocean when Sally finds her and helps her begrin to heal.

This is the first test frame I’ve developed for my mental health super hero, Sally Semi-Colon. She follows the credo that one’s life sentence can continue with a semi-colon, even after or in spite of dark depression, attempted suicide, or any other mental heath struggle, rather than end with a period.hhb

More information about the Semi-Colon movement can be found in the documentary film regarding high school sexual assault and the devastating mental health impact available on Netflix, Audrey and Daisy. There is also a book called Project Semi-Colon featuring,”essays and photos from the Suicide Awareness Organization that has helped millions, as well as plenty more information on line.

After watching Wonder Woman recently I was struck, once again, by something that’s bothered me for a loooooong time. There is a severe shortage of comic books, films and graphic novels featuring female super heros but no shortage of real world super women.

I understand I am not working for Marvel or DC and the characters I’m working on may or may not be going anywhere but that’s ok. I just feel like it’s therapeutic for me to try to create a Group of female super heros who might begin to fill in the giant gaps in the female super hero world.

What do you consider your own super power to be?


Mental Health Super Hero

I’m pleased to present my latest creation, Sally Semi Colon!

“What are her super powers,” You ask. She’s gifted with acute senses of empathy, understanding, kindness, love, advanced active listening skills, a great sense of humour, and a light for the darkness.

She can offer reliable therapy on a moments notice and is familiar with all forms of treatment conventional and non. She can offer up tough love if needed or tell when it’s time to relax and recommend self care.

She even carries an endless supply of self care items like; face masks, good books, great music, a selection of herbal teas, word games, art supplies, journals with pretty pens, nail polish, and other sundry.

Sally is a mental health maven bent on battling mental illness, stereotypes, stigmas, and assholes who don’t understand!

More to come…

Dad’s Logic Bomb

Conversation with my Dad…

Me: I heard an argument that a woman shouldn’t breast feed her child in public because people won’t know where to look if they’re trying to hold a conversation with her. What do you think?

My Dad and I many years ago. I often say he’s the first feminist I ever met.

Dad: That’s a rediculous argument. I know exactly where I’d look.

Me: Oh yeah, where’s that?

Dad: I’d look her right in the EYE of course.



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