August 2013


My nightmare about Toronto’s Mayor

I had a nightmare last night.

I dreamt that I was running for Mayor again and was at a debate, it was ending and I had to stand beside Rob Ford for the usual pictures. We were lined up on the stage and as we organized I was trying to carefully put someone between myself and him because I had noticed that his eyes were glazed over, he’d been repeating the same line “stop the gravy train” over and over again, and I knew he was wasted.


I worried that he might grope me again, and tried to put someone between us but at the last minute they moved and I had to stand beside him and smile. I had trouble smiling thinking how much I’d grown to dislike him. I kept telling myself he’s an addict have sympathy. The next thing I knew his hand was on my butt. The cameras were clicking and I froze again. I wanted to punch him – but I had to control my anger. If I hit him a photo of it would be on the front page of the all newspapers – and it would set a terrible example for my sons. I controlled my anger.


I stepped away and looked behind me to see if anyone had witnessed it. Nobody seemed to be looking our way. I turned back to him and he had the same salacious grin on his face I’d seen once before. All the worries I’d felt then came rushing back to me.  What if a video of it appeared online? Would it look like I “liked” it. I was after all smiling for the camera’s. How would the press spin it? Would they frame it as a secret tryst between us? I could never let my husband be humiliated with that sort of thing. Should I get out in front of the story? But if nobody had seen it then wouldn’t it be better to stay quiet especially after what happened to me the last time I accused him.


Then it was suddenly the next morning and my phone was ringing. A  reporter was asking me if I was having a fling with Rob Ford and my heart started beating fast. i repeated the question loudly and my husband jumped out of bed and was on his laptop in no time. I excused myself from the call and looked over my husbands shoulder the headline read “Dirty Secret between Rob Ford and Sarah Thomson” and there was a picture of a meaty hand on my butt.


I screamed “No” and sat bolt upright in bed, me heart still racing from the nightmare. The boathouse was quiet and I could hear a loon call in the distance.


Life’s Lessons from a Septuagenarian

It is often at the dusk of our life that we seem to value the life we had and live. I turned to the elderly to sail through seemingly tough times. Here is what I have learned so far…


1. Trust only a person’s actions, not their words. Much can be promised; little of it gets done.


2. Surround yourself with people who will either help you grow as an individual or who keep you happy. You are better off alone than with false friends.


3. Always have a plan. Time passes swiftly and one day you will not realize when you turned 60. Set New Year resolutions; you may not follow them but you will at least know where you want to be.


4. Be happy or learn to be happy. Create your pockets of happy moments, like adventurous travels, risqué affairs, insurmountable challenges, etc. These will be the memories you will return to when in distress.


5. Don’t fight to change people or things. Change your perspective and everything around you will change itself. If there are people bothering you, discard them from your life and stay out of theirs.


6. Gain control over anger and emotions. Maintain silence and refrain from making any decisions when too excited, depressed or upset.


7. Do not envy or compare yourself with anyone else. Know that everyone has their own set of miseries to deal with.


8. Be good to your spouse, friends and children. Your treatment of them will decide how your old age is going to be.


9. Learn your finances well. Money has more value than everyone else advocates. Use it wisely.


10. Remember to never lose faith and instill ample patience. Everything has a way of working out in the end.

Things get worse before they get better

I’ve heard that things always get worse before they get better, but really? Just when things were starting to get better we found out that Boyfriend and I both have close family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. You’d think that after all we’ve been through the universe would give us a break, but as it turns out that isn’t in the cards yet.

So we hold each other, we love each other and we try to support our families as they deal with what comes next. But despite all the pain this summer has brought with it Boyfriend still manages to make me smile, he still manages to make time for me and he still makes me laugh in that totally embarrassing out loud knee slapping kind of way.

I wouldn’t have made it through the summer of 2013 without him; I couldn’t have picked a better partner to stand by my side and I only hope that I give the same thing to him. If I can give him half the strength he gives me we’ll be in a good place because he needs me now and I want to be the one to support him.

I know that we’ll make it through all of this drama a better couple; we’ll make it through stronger and more together than we’ve ever been. But you get to a point where you start to wonder how much more you have to deal with before life gets easy again. At least I wondered that before I remembered that life isn’t easy and that the ‘easy’ relationships I’ve been have never been good; easy isn’t good it’s just easy.

Being with Boyfriend isn’t hard, but life is. When you’re really with someone, I mean committed we’re in this for the long haul with someone, you will inevitably deal with drama, heartache and loss, but you’ll deal with it beside someone you love and that is what makes the bad nights tolerable. I’d really like it if we had a couple of weeks where all we got was good news but life doesn’t often work like that.

Even if things do continue to get worse I’m going to focus on the positive. In the words of a great friend, I’m going to choose love, because I do love him and no matter how hard things are for either of us we make each other better, happier, more sunshine-y people.

I chose Boyfriend almost a year ago. I chose to let go of my fears and commit myself to someone who was worth committing to and I’m lucky that I did because without him this summer would have been nearly impossible to get through. So life, give me whatever you’ve got because I’m walking through life hand-in-hand with my favourite person, because I’m strong and he makes me stronger but mostly because when you choose love you can do anything.

Menocracies misrepresent women — Part 1

I recently had the opportunity to view screener copies of Miss Representation, a documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and Menocracy, directed by Gretchen Kelbaugh.Miss Representation explored the idea that “the media’s misrepresentation of women has led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence”, andMenocracy highlighted the need for, benefit of, and necessary steps to attain gender equality within the governments of western society.

Although both films reiterated many things I already knew about the realities of being a woman in the western world, they were still highly impactful reminders that as far as we’ve come, based on the way our culture views women and girls, there is still much work to be done to achieve any semblance of equality between the men and women in our society. Of course, that begs the question, just how is the female half of our society viewed?

Well, as Miss Representation brings to light, a woman’s value and worth in society is still most often and consistently determined by the way she looks. It’s a long standing cultural perception that keeps women – myself included – spending much of their time, energy, and financial resources on trying to conform to the completely unattainable beauty standard propagated by the media. The ramifications of which were made immediately clear by the following facts offered up in the film:

The media generates most of its revenue from advertising and generally, to drive more advertising sales, the same female body type is depicted time and again. This means women and young girls (FYI: the average teenager consumes 10 hours and 45 minutes of media per day) get the same message –  you’re not beautiful enough – 24/7.

The result?

·         53% of 13 year old  girls and 78% of 17 year old counterparts are unhappy with their bodies

·         65 % of women and girls have an eating disorder

·         17% of teenagers engage in cutting and self-injurious behaviour

·         Rate of depression in girls and woman doubled between 2000 and 2010

·         In the US alone, women spend $12,000 – $15,000 per year on beauty products and salon services, and between 1997 and 2007 the number of cosmetic surgeries on girls under 19 tripled

You can’t be what you can’t see – Marian Wright Edelman

What’s more, with the exception of images of young, thin, and sexually available females, women and girls are “symbolically annihilated” in the media, with an average of only 20% of all news stories covering women and girls. The fact is, because men still dominate the media, women and girls are chronically misrepresented, which holds all females back in insidious ways – particularly when it comes to attaining political power.

As Newsom makes abundantly clear in Miss Representation, the media’s treatment of power significantly influences how power is viewed by society, and the more power women gain, the stronger the media backlash against them. Females in leadership roles are generally: 1) trivialised by the media’s focus on how they look; 2) twice as likely to be painted emotionally as men are; and 3) cast as bitchy (i.e. Hilary Clinton) or pornified and ‘dizzified’ (i.e. Sarah Palin), while their credentials are constantly critiqued. By depicting women and girls as less competent and/or more sexualized than they truly are, the media dehumanizes, and more importantly disempowers women as they challenge the male dominated status quo.

Despite this, as director Gretchen Kelbaugh, demonstrates in her film Menocracy, it is of the utmost importance that women continue to challenge male power – especially in the political realm.

More on women, power, and the film Menocracy to come in part 2 of this post.


I got you babe

I’ve never been the biggest fan of being called ‘babe’ or ‘baby;’ maybe it’s because I’ve been ‘baby girl’ to my mother for as far back as I can remember; maybe it’s because I don’t like the idea of belonging to someone; or, maybe it’s just because I find it condescending. Who knows?  I’ve just never been very responsive to it.

But, when my City Boy calls me ‘babe,’ I get all squishy inside. I like that I’m his, I like it a lot. So, yesterday while we were chatting I let him know that I’m not seeing anyone else, which would typically make me nervous; but, this just felt right.

There was a moment on Monday when I realized he had me. Don’t worry, it wasn’t at hello but it was still pretty cheesy and I’m almost positive it’s a scene from just about every romcom you’ve ever seen; randomly, and without any music at all, he started dancing me around his kitchen. I was barely dressed and he was only wearing boxer briefs and a t-shirt, but he spun me around and that was it.

I’ve heard friends talk about the moment when they knew that their relationship was something big, but I had forgotten what it felt like to have my own “aha!” moment.

Before City Boy wandered into my life, I had forgotten so much about how good things can feel when you’re not constantly wondering if he’ll run away because you said or did the wrong thing. I feel like I’m waking up from a relationship coma; I wasn’t really happy with any of the boys I’ve dated since the big ex. I wanted to be happy. I desperately wanted to believe that I could find the same kind of love he found after me; so, I found love in men whose behavior I should never have tolerated.

When I woke up on Monday, I realized that things can be good without forcing them; and, I remembered what it can be like when you’re totally yourself with one person.

With Waiting Man I hid my impatience and put up with his need for a relationship without labels or any kind of commitment. With Country Boy I allowed myself to be an option rather than a priority and I made a million excuses for him. With City Boy I don’t hide myself; I don’t make excuses; and, I get to dance around in my underwear in his kitchen – because I actually get to see his kitchen. I never once went to Country Boy or Waiting Man’s home.

Life works in mysterious ways; maybe the bad relationships that followed the big ex helped me heal. I didn’t want to be alone, but I wasn’t ready for something real because I had to get over him first. So, now I’m awake and smiling and shiny and, some days, I even skip a little.


Bookish about love: 5 reads for a spring fling

This article was originally published in May.

Ah, with spring in full bloom, it’s not surprising that love is in the air! If you want to impress your spring fling, forget the flowers and chocolates; they’re so cliché! Read a good book together. Here are my top five books that are guaranteed to woo even the most cynical of hearts. Give them a try and don’t forget that to always read between the lines when it comes to love.

Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
This collection of 44 love sonnets written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning between 1845 and 1846 for her, then, future husband Robert Browning, should be a poetry staple on your book lover’s shelf. Nevermind that that this collection contains some of the most famous love poems of the Victorian Age. Over time, it has proven that the changing nature of relationships, in all of its beauty and ugliness, has never been so eloquent.
64 pgs, Dover Publications, 1992 edition.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
Who hasn’t read this gripping Gabriel García Márquez story about the enduring power of true love and not wept or vomited? For all the bleeding hearts out there, this devastatingly beautiful tale of unrequited love (Florentino for Fermina) really proves that lovesickness can literally be an illness.
368 pgs, Vintage, 2007 edition.

The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro
If you’ve ever wondered what people would do for love, this collection of eight stories by Canada’s beloved Alice Munro is an essential read. Passion, in all of its crimes and secrets, propels Munro’s fascinating characters and those around them, to take some pretty risky and unexpected routes of discovery.
416 pgs, Penguin, 1999 edition.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This book, the touching tale about a young boy and a tree, speaks volumes of the ultimate act of self-sacrifice and can be enjoyed over and over by all of the loves in your life. Life’s greatest lessons are always this beautiful and this simple.
64 pgs, Programs and Genres, 2012 edition

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
There’s nothing like a bit of scandal and “a madwoman in the attic” to rock the foundation of true love. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, the story of a young, plain governess who falls in love with her Bryonic employer, unaware that he has a mad wife incarcerated in the attic, continues to scandalise readers even today.
576 pgs, Michael O’Mara, 2011 edition.


The ultimate adventure getaway for two

Want to go on an adventure? One lucky Women’s Post reader will win the ultimate adventure getaway for two, courtesy of Long Point Eco-Adventures. Experience the thrill of a zip line canopy tour, then calm your nerves with a bottle of Harvest Party White as you relax in a wilderness suite. This is your chance to experience the great outdoors through a unique glamping experience. Enter today for your chance to win!

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Thursday, September 5th, at 2 p.m.


Women of the week: Susan Jamieson

Sometimes a personal crisis can give you the needed perspective to change your life.

In 1995, Susan Jamieson’s daughter was diagnosed with A-plastic Anemia. Doctors prescribed a treatment of blood transfusions, a treatment neither her daughter nor Jamieson supported.

“We are grateful to live in a country that respects religious freedoms and our family supported our daughter’s constitutional right to ask that hers be respected. Now 31, Tarin still remains the youngest child in Canada to have gone to court and ask for the right to have a say in her medical management,” says Jamieson.

Prior to her daughter’s illness, Jamieson had overseen marketing and sales programs for numerous high profile companies such as Sheraton Hotels, American Express, Budweiser and Pepsi. She took a leave of absence to focus on this medical battle but in 2001, with the disease in remission, Jamieson returned to the work world with a new, more refined focus.

She now serves as a managing partner in JoSuTa Group, a company whose directive is “A desire to help people be healthy.” With clients such as Greenzone, Food Diva and Score-Up, JoSuTa is helping people make informed decisions and working to make the world a better place.

A fine example of her impact: In 2007, she travelled to Dubai to be a guest on a radio show and discuss organic fertilizer. Her segment would prove to be incredibly popular, bringing in a floodgate of callers. The show quickly made the decision to cancel the other scheduled guests and Jamieson was the featured guest for the full hour.

In 2012, Jamieson learned about First Do No Harm. Produced by Asia Geographic Entertainment, this documentary, according to its website, details the “controversial and paternalistic” history of blood transfusions and “the knee-jerk rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms.”

Very excited by the concept of the film, Jamieson sought out the producer and asked for Canadian distribution rights.

“You might say I came to the table a little more motivated than most,” she says.

A key source for her pitch: “She Decides: How to Reach the Most Important Audience for Your Health Campaign,” a report published by Fenton Communications which details the critical role women play in making health decisions for their families.

Once she successfully secured the rights, Jamieson began reaching out to Canadian and U.S. companies, using both her personal story and statistics on targeting the women’s segment of the market. Her goal, she says, is to get these companies to support a potential paradigm shift on the subject of blood transfusion use.

“I am not interested in starting a discussion about individual choice – the question I am asking all women to think about and answer for themselves is have you made an informed choice about the use of blood in your medical management?”

“Yes, I recommend all women make the time to watch the film, educate themselves and then consider, with the assistance of your family doctor, what your stand on blood transfusion use is for your family,” concludes Susan.