Posts tagged ‘women’

March 1, 2016

Speak up (a woman’s creed)

Thought of the moment, courtesy of Eleanor Roosevelt:

She wasn’t dressed up
She wasn’t stuck up
And she wasn’t afraid to speak up.

Your voice is strong and your words hold value.

Honour your voice; speak your words.

August 30, 2014

Credo for a life well lived

At the end of her memoir The Second Journey, author Joan Anderson shares a list of personal guidelines that she wrote to remind herself how to remain grounded, present and open to continual growth in today’s over-busy, over-achieving society. Consider the list a permission slip of sorts: YOU have the right to these things, too!

Embrace change — knowing that life is always being reconfigured.
Befriend the person you are striving to become.
Welcome new paths. Enjoy the detours.
Strive to go deeper rather than just forward.
Know that most unnecessary demands come from the unfinished parts of self.
Beware of speed. It is often one’s undoing.
Wholehearted is the way. Half-hearted will kill you.
Harness your evolvement.
Let go of what is outlived to make room for the unlived.

If I have learned nothing else, it is that the journey [of life, of self] will always be unfinished.

September 27, 2013

Book Recommendation — “Have Mother, Will Travel” by Claire and Mia Fontaine

It’s a book for women of all kinds, but it’s especially a book for mothers and daughters seeking insight into their own relationships. In Have Mother, Will Travel, mother-daughter (and author) duo Claire and Mia Fontaine embark on a four-month journey around the world together. The ultimate goal of their trip is to revive their flagging relationship, but along the way, 51-year-old Claire and 25-year-old Mia gain fresh insight into their own life journeys, as well as new appreciation for what they each have to offer — to themselves, to each other and to the world. Well-written, funny and very reflective, this book is definitely worth picking up!


“Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World” by Claire and Mia Fontaine

Here are a few of my favourite quotes from the book:

I’ve become very clear that finding my way forward in life isn’t going to come from figuring out what I want to do, but by staying grounded in the person doing the wanting. The very core of my being, my essential, authentic, whatever-you-call-it self, never has any trouble knowing what she wants, and certainly never worries about how she’s going to get it. (Claire Fontaine)

Sometimes I wonder if we make big moves because we underestimate the importance of smaller ones. Years are just an accumulation of thousands of hours, and what we choose to do with each of them matters. (Mia Fontaine)

Adulthood isn’t a destination, it’s a process, and, as women, we are always coming of age. (Mia Fontaine)

There are some advantages to stumbling around lost for a while. It allows for discovery. (Claire Fontaine)

Change happens in the small moments, when a sliver of light finds its way through the cracks. (Claire Fontaine)

All relationships happen in stages, with varying depths, multiple layers. You invariably reach a point where you hit the ceiling of a certain level of intimacy and then have the option of staying there — which risks the relationship becoming predictable or stale — or you can take it to the next level. (Mia Fontaine)

July 3, 2013

Be a gatherer (and keep climbing)

I came across these two anonymous quotes on the cover of a small notebook in my favourite local bookstore:

She climbed until she saw.

She is a gatherer: moonlight, found wishes, moments of gratitude.


April 22, 2013

Book Recommendation – “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

Nearly half way through her 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed watched the hiking boots she had just taken off sail over a ledge, cartwheel through the air, and disappear forever into a carpet of trees far below.  Bootless yet undaunted, Strayed continued her hike.

Gritty is one way to describe Strayed’s book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, in which she tells the tale of her solo three-month trek on a long-distance hiking route that spans 2,663 miles and crosses nine mountain ranges in the states of California, Oregon and Washington.

But the book is also very human. Besides the boot fiasco and other unexpected obstacles — like record snowfalls that buried portions of the trail, and having to hike 100 miles with only two cents in her pocket — Strayed trudged through a landslide of grief over the failure of her marriage, the death of her mother, and the disintegration of her family as she knew it.

Alternately laugh-out-loud funny, eyes-bug-out awe-inspiring, and crumble-inside heart-wrenching, Wild is the story of not just a physical hike, but a trek to pull the loose strands of a fraying life together into a new and cohesive whole. . . one step at a time.

Highly recommended.

Cover image of the book "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" by Cheryl Strayed

“Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed

November 19, 2012

The strength of a woman

A woman is like a tea bag.  You never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.

This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt reminds me of several women I know — many of whom had no idea of their own strength of character, mind, body or resolve until challenging circumstances were upon them.  Today, let’s celebrate the strong women in our lives.  They deserve our unfettered applause.

November 11, 2012

Become the person inside you

I am reading a life/travel memoir about a woman who, 48 years old and recently divorced, unbinds herself from her material possessions and takes off to travel the world — indefinitely.  Her book, Tales of a Female Nomad:  Living at Large in the World, tells the story of a woman reborn.  Disillusioned with her previous way of living and open, for the first time, to the dreams and desires within her, Rita Golden Gelman shuns the conventionality of a “home base” and instead spends months or years living in different locations around the globe, plugging herself into local communities and absorbing the cultures that surround her.

But Gelman’s new way of life is unconventional, and three years into her nomadic existence, her American friends continue to ask her when she’ll finally end her wandering ways and return to the “real world.”  Her response is confident and wonderful:

No matter how often I ask myself if I’m running away from something, I always get the same answer. No, I’m not running away.  On the contrary, I’ve discovered a new way to live.

My life is endlessly fascinating, filled with learning, adventure, interesting people, new and enlightening experiences.  I laugh, sing and dance more than I ever have.  I am becoming the person inside me.

Becoming the person inside you.  Isn’t that what life is all about, ultimately?  And does it really matter which path — direct or circuitous, conventional or unconventional — you take to get there?  As long as you are walking a path that makes your eyes shine and your heart beat with anticipation, keep going.  Follow that path — your path — the one that takes you to the person inside you.

You don’t have to travel the world as Gelman did to live a life that excites you.  We’re all different people with different dreams.  But one day you may have to make a decision or choose a direction that takes you outside the box of what others expect.  Do this with confidence and conviction, as Gelman did.  It’s your path, after all.  Your path deserves to be walked.

October 25, 2012

Trust your instinct – one woman’s story

In the book Women of the West Coast:  Then and Now, (a collection of stories about women who have shaped, and been shaped by, the west coast of Vancouver Island), there is a story that speaks strongly to me. It is the story of a woman named Maureen, and how she came to operate the popular Common Loaf Bake Shop in the village of Tofino, B.C.  It is a story of serendipity and unwavering belief in the self and the soul’s wisdom.  Allow me to paraphrase the story, as told by author Marnie Anderson, for you:

Maureen was a caseworker in inner-city Toronto when she decided to take a year off to travel and explore new directions in her life.  She bought a van and made plans to drive west across Canada, then down to South America. Shortly before leaving, Maureen happened upon an article describing Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  She decided to go there.

“It was love at first sight,” writes Anderson of Maureen’s reaction to Tofino, B.C.  The ocean inlet surrounded by mountains was “entirely soul satisfying.”  Maureen stayed in Tofino for several days — long enough to learn that the village lacked a bakery — before continuing her travels.  She spent a year in South America, but Tofino stayed with her.

“On a late summer day in a small village in Ecuador,” writes Anderson, “everything began to come together in Maureen’s mind.  After months of travel and exploration, not the least of which were her own boundaries, she suddenly knew what she wanted to do with her life.”

Open a bakery in Tofino.

Maureen had no previous baking experience and no guarantees of success.  Her family and friends thought her crazy.  But she didn’t let these things sway her.  She didn’t want to return to her job as a city caseworker.  She had come to believe that there was something else she was meant to do in her life, and she trusted her instincts enough to act on that feeling.

Over the next several years, Maureen doggedly carved out her own success.  She moved to Tofino, found a job cooking for a construction crew, and on her first day looked up the “recipe” for grilled cheese sandwiches.  Months later she rented a room in a local arts centre and built a tiny bakery, renovating the space herself on a learn-as-you-go basis.  Her first loaves of rye bread were, Anderson writes, “hard, brown little bricks, which she rather hesitantly offered for sale.”  One friend dutifully bought a loaf every few days, later reasoning that “if he kept buying her products she would eventually learn to bake.”

Eventually, she did.  Maureen patiently persevered, and by the early 1990s her bakery — relocated to a much larger space — offered an array of breads, cookies, loaves and muffins coveted by residents and tourists alike.  A staff of 13 manned the counter, and the daily runs of cheese buns and cinnamon buns were often sold out by noon in the tourist season.

Maureen’s bake shop also became a meeting place for the “doers, thinkers and creative people” of the area, as well as an unofficial home base for the Friends of Clayoquot Sound, an environmental group that successfully protested logging operations on Meares Island and other coastal areas.

Maureen’s story, as told by Anderson, speaks of a woman with the strength of mind to trust (and act on) her own instincts — even if they initially appeared to lead her in bizarre or unexpected directions.  Unlike many people in today’s fast-paced world, Maureen gave herself permission to take unstructured time off, during which she allowed her ideas and experiences to percolate at their own pace — a process that eventually led her to her life’s calling.  Serendipity guided Maureen to Vancouver Island in the first place, but it was her own steadfast belief in both herself and the validity of her goals and dreams that kept her there.

This inspiring woman was ultimately able to find success according to her own definitions (the only definitions that really matter in the long run).  Would that we could all be so fortunate in our own lives.

July 23, 2012

A shout out to female inventors

Today I learned that a woman invented each of the following:

  • windshield wipers
  • the space helmet
  • the hydrometer (a scientific instrument for measuring the relative density of liquids)
  • the signal flare
  • non-reflective glass
  • Liquid Paper
  • drip coffee
  • Scotchgard
  • Kevlar

Awesome!  To all the creative, inventive women of the world — you go, girls!

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July 13, 2012

“You are not a label, you are a sentence.”

These empowering words came from spoken word artist Jenna Tenn-Yuk at the Art by Afghan Women Silent Auction and Learning Event this evening in Ottawa, Ontario.  Says Jenna:

Jenna, you are not a label.  You are a sentence.

Aren’t we all…. It’s just that we so often forget it.

Another inspiring quote, this one from Afghan artist Sheenkai Alam Stanikzai, a member of the Center for Contemporary Arts Afghanistan:

What method of work I may possess in the future doesn’t matter to me much.  What matters is what I have to say, and how I can respond to my inner needs.

Here’s to speaking your voice, and to creating your own wonderful string of sentences.