Sunday, June 28, 2015

Happy Pride!!!

I'm off to march in the rainy Pride Parade this afternoon! I can't wait to spend the afternoon celebrating diversity and inclusion. Happy Pride :)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dancehall Performance!

A few weeks ago I had my first ever dance performance!! It was such a thrill, and an amazing experience. I met the absolute best people, and learned so much along the way (clich├ęd, but true!).

I hope there will be a video to share soon, but for now, here are a few pics of the awesome costumes!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Career Goals

I recently changed jobs and was able to begin working in Toronto (a long standing goal of mine). This change got me thinking about my other career related goals, and where I want to see my work head in the next few years.

I was given a great piece of advice by a mentor of mine to "make an elevator pitch for your career". She suggested that I try to be able to articulate what I want out of my career long-term in 90 seconds or less. I have been thinking about it for a few weeks now, and I definitely don't have one firm pitch ready to go - but I do want to share what I have come up with so far.

The extremely short version is this: I want to work in a setting where I can leverage my passions, skills and past experiences to help make positive change.

But since I have a whole 90 seconds in this hypothetical situation.. I will elaborate a little more.

I want to help people.  
I want to contribute to making the world a more equitable place for all. I want to work with women, children, and youth to empower them to be the writers of their own stories - no matter what has happened to them. I want to stand with marginalized people and work with them towards empowerment and success. I want to connect with communities, and build systemic change to ensure all people have a chance to achieve their dreams!

It might sound a bit lofty or intense - but that's it. That sums up my long term career goals in less than 90 seconds!

It is exciting to see that I am working in the right direction, and that I am in a far better position than I was just 2 months ago. In my current role I get to interact with different charities every day, and help them gain access to valuable resources. Let's see where this takes me!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Femininity ≠ Weakness

I identify pretty strongly with Zooey Deschanel's Character Jess on New Girls. She is a fire cracker, extremity girly, strong, speaks her mind, loves sparkles, and is pretty quirky - all at once. And I see nothing wrong with being all these things simultaneously.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how people often tell women to "be strong" but what they mean by that is "be strong like a man". Well, here's the thing - I'm never going to be strong like a man, but that doesn't mean I am not strong.

There is nothing weak about that fact that I cry... often. There is nothing weak about the fact that I am in touch with my emotions. I hate the idea that being strong looks like being emotionless... because to me, that's real weakness. If you are too scared to feel the full range of human emotions, there is nothing strong about that.

I want to wear more pink and leopard print than is reasonable, and still have society respect the fact that I am an intelligent human being with valuable things to say. I shouldn't need to disguise my femininity to be have my opinions be valid.

So I'm going to cry often, feel the full range of my emotions, wear sparkles, pink and leopard print, AND I'm going to continue to be my strong, intelligent self.

I'll leave you with this amazing quote from Zooey Deschanel which sums up perfectly how I feel about being sensitive.

Monday, June 15, 2015

How to be an Ally - Responding to Rachel Dolezal

I am amazed at how perfectly Tim Wise has explained the motive behind Rachel Dolezal's deception.

Please take a read below.

"It strikes me that there is an important, and largely overlooked likely explanation for Rachel Dolezal's deception. And it has real implications for white people seeking to work in solidarity/allyship/followership with people of color. Allyship involves, at its best, working with people of color, rather than speaking for them. And I suspect Rachel discovered, perhaps while at Howard, that "gee, ya know what, black folks don't automatically trust me, and this proving myself stuff is hard and takes time, and allyship is messy, and I'm impatient, so...let's cut out the middle man and just be black." That way she didn't have to work with or follow, she could speak for and lead. It is a horrible betrayal of what the proper role for white folks in the work is; a slap in the face to the history of solidarity, from John Brown's family to John Fee to the Grimke sisters to Bob and Dottie Zellner and beyond. She wasn't willing to pay her dues, to follow the lead of people of color. She didn't want to do the hard and messy work, struggling with other white folks and challenging them (which is what SNCC told us white folks to do in 1967, and what Malcolm said shortly before his death). She wanted to be done with white folks altogether; to immerse herself in blackness, but as a white person, she knew she could never do that fully. And so, this...There is a lesson for us, for we who are white and care deeply about racial equity, justice and liberation. The lesson is this: authentic antiracist white identity is what we must cultivate. We can not shed our skin, nor our privileges; we must work in conjunction with people of color to overturn the system that bestows those privileges. But the key word is WITH people of color, not AS people of color. We must be willing to do the difficult work of finding a different way to live in this skin. THIS skin." - Tim Wise (Read his full essay here)

If you want more great advice on being an ally, check out this video from the lovely Chescaleigh.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Awards

Wow! What a night!

On May 21st, I got to attend the most amazing event... the YWCA's Women of Distinction Awards. It was such a heart warming event filled with absolutely inspiring women. You can learn all about the 7 amazing winners here.

Each year the YWCA honors 7 different women from 7 different areas of work. The 7 categories are: Arts, Public Service, Education, Health, Law and Justice, Corporate Leadership and Young Women. It was such a privilege to get to hear from each of these 7 women and learn about the work that they are doing to better this city, and the world.

The event raised over $680,000! This money will go towards the 30 different programs YWCA Toronto offers across the city.

I was so moved by each and everyone one of the winners, and I can not wait to attend the event next year! Thanks so much to my amazing friend Julie Neff, who invited me.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I Want to Talk About New Things...

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to write about here (as I do often), and the more I think about it, the more I want to write about things that matter to me! I'm sure I've had this thought before, and I've likely even written about it before... But every time I think about changing what I write about - I get scared.

I get scared because I care deeply about controversial topics.. topics like racism, homophobia, women's rights, human rights, accessibility issues, mental health... you know, really casual topics.

But I don't know why I'm afraid. These are important issues, and writing about them can only serve to do good. Bringing about more information and education on challenging topics is critical for change.

So -  with this in mind, I hope to begin writing about the social movements and causes that are close to my heart.

I hope you will stick a long for the ride!