Thursday 19 December 2013

Complete Sadness

Today I read the news and saw some video clips about Ashley Smith, the 19 year old who died in prison and I am overwhelmed with complete sadness and rage about how she was treated.

"An inquest concluded with a ruling Thursday that teenager Ashley Smith's shocking in-custody death was a homicide.

However, the National Post noted such recommendations are non-binding, which means the Correctional Service of Canada can decide whether or not to implement them.

The homicide verdict means the jurors found Smith's death was neither suicide nor accidental, but that other people contributed to her death, CTV News reported."

Ashley was treated inhumanly.

What happened was complete horror. It was misogynistic. It was abuse. She suffered. If justice is not done in Ashley's name, if people are not held accountable, if policies do not change, if a huge fundamental shift does not happen the message will continue that women are not safe in our society and this is not okay.

Disenfranchised women experience abuse and violence all the time on many levels. Disenfranchised women were girls who experienced at a very young age that the system not only fails them but will hurt them. It is inherent in our policies and practices, from corrections, to health care, including social workers and counsellors. It is misogynistic. If there are no binding recommendations we have failed Ashley one more time. If there are no criminal charges shame on us.

Shame on us.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Using the facilities in Vancouver, BC

Universal Washroom. Finally. Okay, well they could have gone without the stereotypical family depiction however I still give them two thumbs us for stating it's universal.
Hooray for a positive display of abilities - even if you just using the facilities!
Another awesome woman's washroom. (I would have taken a photo of the great guys one too but hanging out with a camera at a washroom isn't something you want to spend too long doing).

Friday 27 September 2013

Gender Benders Welcomed!

Where do I even start?! I could rant about the pink and blue toy store divide again or that I just received a "Canadian Girls Doll" magazine in the mail... when I emailed the company and told them they have very lovely dolls and awesome accessories and asked them if they have any boy dolls - especially without it all being about trucks, monsters and bad guy accessories, not surprisingly the answer was no. They are thinking about it but nothing is "imminent." Why even ask if we know what the outcome will be? If we don't ask nothing will change.

Boys will be boys because they are given no other options and girls will be girls as they are trained to be.  Before I started this blog I had another one called "STOP THE MADNESS." This was spurred from trying to buy a toddler toothbrush and only having the choice of blue and pink.  This shit starts young. Who knew teeth were gendered?

But to save us from despair I have a few great resources to share:

41 Transgender friendly books for young kids:

Girl clothes without the girly:

Redefine girly and reclaim boyhood clothing:

Coloring books every child should have. Gender Queer and Gender bending.

Monday 8 July 2013


Please and thank-you's are important for teaching our kids - and even more when modeled by us. And at the age of three, four, five, it's a lot about balancing "I want" with "please may I have" and learning about gratitude.

There are some great books that I totally recommend which focus on family love and attachment with others. Imagine if all the kids in your child's class got to read over and over a handful of books about unconditional love, standing up for others, and believing in yourself. What an impact that would have on peer relationships, on community involvement and committing to a joyful, adventurous life. Give your child this chance, read these books!

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You Nancy Tillman
The Invisible String Patrice Karst
One Kathryn Otoshi
Zero Kathryn Otoshi


Thursday 27 June 2013

Flooding in Calgary and Uttarakhand

It saddens me, our egocentric ways in North America and how this is encouraged through media coverage. As with most Canadians and especially because of living in a metropolitan rainforest I've watched in disbelief as Calgary slowly tries to recover from the massive flooding this past week.

But did you know, 1000 people died in a flood that wiped out homes, roads, bridges and communication in Uttarakhand India the same time flooding was happening in Calgary?! Why have you not heard about it?

While Calgary is making sense of the damage from the flood, Indians are preparing for a mass cremation for the flood victims. While local citizens are helping each other in Calgary creating a sense of community, a helicopter rescuing flood victims in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand crashed killing everyone. Are our tragedies in North America worth more than the lives of 1000 Indians?

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Recipes to keep you in the 1950's.

Finally! A course for new mama's that can be a real use of time. Why, when she is not cooking, cleaning, and changing diapers she can be sending recipes to all of her friends and family.

Really?! This course has such potential. Do you think the dads & cis males can share recipes too?

What about teaching how to use icloud and to coordinate all of your gazillion photos to save time so when the moment does come up you too can sit with your feet up sipping a gin and tonic with all the other new parents.

This course was offered 2013 spring session.

Monday 24 June 2013

Resources - Local and Websites

There are so many resources that complement some of the services that I provide that I could spend an entire website compiling them. To mention a few seems so limiting but here goes a small attempt: (you may need to copy/type them into your browser)

Useful Resources:
 * Anxiety BC - Useful on-line info for individuals, parents and children.
* Empowering Girls books and resources (great for all genders) (“The world's largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.”)
* Legal terms in plain language
* BC211 is a telephone “Red Book” to search for social, community and government services. Simply dial 211 and an operator will be happy to search for a service for you - free.
* Disaster Response Preparation: 

Pregnancy & Infertility
* South Community Birth Program:
* Pomegranate midwives:
* Prenatal Genetic Screening. It’s your choice. Provincial Health Authorities
* A blog on life without baby, infertility experiences:
* Supporting single mothers towards personal and economic independence - YWCA Vancouver
* A single mothers by choice yahoo chat group (SMC)
* My fertility choices - information straight up. Canadian. 

* A ebook for children on transforming bullying and family tension into harmonious relationships:
* Parents on the Drive - yahoo chat group for families living around Commercial Drive
* Rainbow Families - yahoo chat group and social organizer for LGBTQ parents
* Daycare safety ratings for Vancouver lower mainland
* BC Women's Hospital Women Abuse Program and Immigrant Legal Tool Kit 

Multiple Births (twins, triplets and more)
* Multiple Births Canada: Support for parents of multiples
* Vancouver Twins and More Society -
* Twins, Triplets and More Resource Guide
* Yahoo chat group: Vancouver Twins and More 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two Spirited, Transexual, Intersex,  Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Ally:
* Trans Youth Families Allies:
* Rainbow Families - yahoo chat group and social organizer for LGBTQ parents
* Canadian Teachers Federation - “Challenging Silence, Challenging Censorship” and “Supporting Transgender and Transexual Students in K-12 Schools” publications
* LGBTQ Multiples: Support group for queer parents with multiples or for LGBTQ multiples.
* HOMINUM is a informal discussion and support group to help gay, bisexual, and questioning men with the challenges of being married, separated or single. The group meets every Monday evening around Metro Vancouver. For info and meeting locations call Don at 604-329-9760 or Art at 604-462-9813
* Mental Health Support for transgender children, youth and their families (Gender identity and diversity):
* It's Conceivable: Planning families -
* LGBTQ parent resources (Toronto) -

Local Professionals:
* Olive Branch Consulting - Leanne Harder: Education, Mediation & Program Evaluation
Other Fun Stuff to keep life light:
* Cafe Press - "products that express the things you love"
* Sticker Monkey - Who doesn't like stickers?!
* Baby books for every family (same-sex parents, adoption, single parent, twins) (look under "special families" - what they lack in name they make up with a great product)
* Some creative and fun camping tips: (I loved the pilsbury dough wrapped around a marshmallow and can also recommend cinnamon buns in an iron plan over the fire).
* And some fun ideas for the kids:

Monday 10 June 2013

A good sign!

Remember when it use to say 

This is a good sign!

Vancouver, BC.
This one, however, at a popular box store throughout North America got the sign right " CUSTOMER WITH CHILD" however got the image wrong. Please, do we still consider families only consisting of a mom, dad and 1.5 children?

Vancouver, BC.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Step up and VOTE!

Take the time to vote. This is our opportunity to have input. To vote means participating in the creation of the community in which we live.

Step up and vote for social programs; for climate change; for equal rights; for housing; for a living wage; for single mums; for EI benefit changes; for seniors; for immigrants; for LGBTQ folks; for anti-violence initiatives; for daycare's & schools; and for pink bikes to be made a just a little smaller.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Books on Pregnancy, Fertility, Parenting, LGBTQ, Communication & Trauma

These are some of the books I like, use and recommend to my clients.

Pregnancy & Fertility:
The Pregnancy & Postpartum Anxiety Workbook. Pamela Wiegartz & Kevin Gyoerkoe, 2009.
What he can expect when she’s not expecting. How to support your wife, save your marriage and conquer infertility. Marc Sedaka with Dr. Gregory Rosen, 2011.
The couples guide to In Vitro Fertilization. Everything you need to know to maximize your chances of success. Liza Charlesworth, 2004.

Parenting from the inside out. How a deeper self-understanding can help you raise children who thrive. Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell, 2003.
Finding Our Way. Life with triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets. Edited by Suzanne Lyons, Canada, 2001.
Go The F**K To Sleep. Adam Mansbach & illustrated by Ricardo Cortes, 2011.
Tug of War. A judges verdict on separation, custody battles and the bitter realities of family court. (Canadian) Mr. Justice Harvey Brownstone, 2009.
Real Boys. Rescuing our sons from the myths of boyhood. William Pollack, 1998.
Packaging Boyhood. Saving our sons from superheroes, slackers, and other media stereotypes. Lyn Mikel Brown, Sharron Lamb and Mark Tappan.
Packaging Girlhood. Rescuing our daughters from marketers’ schemes. Sharo Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown.
Boys on Target. Raising boys into men of courage and compassion. Barry MacDonald, 2012.
Pink Brain. Blue Brain. How small differences grow into troublesome gaps - and what we can do about it. Lise Eliot, 2009.


The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy & Birth. Stephanie Brill, 2006.
Who’s Your Daddy? And Other Writings on Queer Parenting. Edited by Rachel Epstein, 2009.
No More Secrets. Violence in Lesbian Relationships. Janice Ristock, 2002.
Does this baby make me look straight? Confessions of a gay dad. Dan Bucatinsky, 2012.
The lesbian parenting book. A guide to creating families and raising children. Merilee Clunis and Dorsey Green, 2003.
She looks just like you. A memoir of (nonbiological lesbian) motherhood. Amie Klempnauer Miller, 2010.

Wellness & Communication:
Non-Violent Communication. A language of life. Marshall Rosenberg, 2005.
30 Scripts for Relaxation Imagery & Inner Healing, Volume 1. Edited by Julie Lusk, 1992.
How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything. A workbook on self-discovery. 1988.
At Our Core. Women writing about power. Sandra Haldeman Mark,1998.

Healing the Trauma of Abuse. A women’s workbook. Mary Copeland & Maxine Harris, 2000.
Growing Beyond Survival. A self-help tool kit for managing traumatic stress. Elizabeth Vermilyea, 2000.
Women, Anger & Depression. Strategies for self empowerment. Lois Frankel, 1992.
The PTSD Workbook. Simple, effective techniques for overcoming trauma stress symptoms. Mary Beth Williams & Soili Poijula, 2002.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Books for kids and kids at heart

There are so many great children's books, these are a few I use in my sessions and recommend to families (and adults too!)

Bullying and Teasing
Don’t Pick On Me. Help for kids to stand up to & deal with bullies. Susan Eikov Green, 2010.
Mookey the Monkey Gets Over Being Teased. Heather Lonczak & illustrated by Marcy Ramsey,     2007.
Finklehopper Frog. (teasing) Irene Livingston, illustrations by Brian Lies. 2003.
We Can Get Along. A child’s book of choices. Lauren Payne and illustrated by Claudia Rohling, 1997.

A Volcano In My Tummy. Helping children to handle anger. Elaine Whitehouse & Warwick Pudney, 1996.

Sexual Abuse and Prevention
Not In Room 204. (child sexual abuse). Shannon Riggs & illustrated by Jaime Zollars, 2007.
I Belong To Me. As told by Sam and Samantha... (safe guarding against inappropriate touch). Barbara Jeffery & Linda Kemp, illustrated by Lynne Atkinson, 1984.

When Kathy is Keith. Wallace Wong, 2001.
King and King. Linda de Haan & Stern Nijland, 2000.
One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad Blue Dads. Jonny Valentine, illustrated by Melody Sarecky 1994.
ABC. A family alphabet book. Bobbie Combs, illustrated by Brian & Desiree Rappa, 2000.
And Tango Makes Three. Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell, illustrated by Henry Cole, 2005.
In Our Mother's House. Patricia Polacco, 2009
Mommy, Mama and Me. Leslea Newman and illustrated by Carol Thompson, 2009.
Daddy, Papa and Me. Leslea Newman and illustrated by Carol Thompson,  2009.

Family, Values and Encouragement
The Family Book. Todd Parr, 2003. (and anything else Todd Parr!) (inc. LGBTQ)
The Other Side. Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, 2001.
The Trouble With Dragons. Debie Gliori, 2008.
You Choose. Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart, 2003.
Oh, The Places You'll Go. Dr. Seuss, 1990.
It’s Okay To Be Different. Todd Parr, 2001.
Big Words For Little People. Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell, 2008.
The Great Big Book Of Families. Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Ros Asquith, 2011. (inc. LGBTQ)

 Sexual Education
What Makes A Baby. Cory Silverberg illustrated by Fiona Smyth, 2012.
It’s Not The Stork. A book about girls, boys, babies, bodies, families and friends. (Ages 4 and up). Robie Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley, 2006.
It’s So Amazing. A book about eggs, sperm, birth, babies and families. (Ages 7 and up). Robie Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley, 2002.
It’s Perfectly Normal. Changing bodies, growing up, sex & sexual health. (Ages 10 and up). Robie Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley.

Monday 18 March 2013

Social Work = Social Justice

There are lots of good counsellors and therapists. And there are some psychologists and psychiatrists who get it too. But the reason I love the profession of social work is because the root of everything is based in social justice. Without looking at issues through a social or political lens you can miss an entire context. Using a biopsychosocial paradigm is only the beginning. I think as counsellors, therapists, - as social workers - we are responsible for advocating, empowering, and for rocking the boat on issues that affect the clients we work with. Social rights, opportunities, access to resources, economic equality, and shared power are conditions which impact individuals and families significantly, however they are often the conditions beyond the scope of immediate influence. The person is political and individual difficulties often require structural change. Counselling shouldn’t be for becoming compliant, comfortable or complacent with systemic problems, rather it should be about exploration, choice, and maybe even hope. Counselling can help to look at the bigger picture, how the little things do become the big things and what path you might want to take ahead.

Friday 8 March 2013

Happy Women's Day

Happy Women's Day to all those fantastic folks who identify as women, who support women, who are allies to women, who love the women in their lives and who build a better future for our girls.