Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: #365FeministSelfie Week 16

Another week of theme-less slice-of-life selfies. What is unusual about them is that only one of them is taken at home, partly because we were visiting Oma & Opa in the Okanagan for the long weekend.


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jane Goodall's Unique Life & Experiences

Me, B & my cousin Mikey waiting for Jane!
Jane Goodall is more or less a household name all around the world, famous for her decades of work with chimpanzees in Tanzania, as well as her conservation work around the world. I was lucky enough to see her speak when she came to Vancouver as part of the Unique Lives & Experiences speaker series in March.

Despite turning 80 April 3 of this year, Jane Goodall travels about 300 days per year, visiting 22 countries last year alone. She makes friends wherever she goes, so it wasn't surprising when the Tsleil-Waututh people performed a special welcoming ceremony before her talk, draping a blanket over her shoulders and claiming her as one of their own.

Jane spoke eloquently but with a self-deprecating humour about her beginnings, attributing her path in life in no small part to her mother's unwavering support of her ambitions to work with animals. The audience laughed along with her as she told us of hiding in the chicken coop to see how exactly hens laid eggs. Her talk was peppered with personal anecdotes and I left feeling like I got to know her a little bit.

To read my full review, including the four major takeaways from her talk, please visit One Smiley Monkey.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: On Becoming A Mother

Having a baby is such a huge milestone in a woman's life, which is marked & remembered by many different customs around the world. On Becoming A Mother: Welcoming Your New Baby & Your New Life With Wisdom From Around The World is a lovely collection of traditions, folk songs, stories, crafts, lessons & advice from mothers around the world, from varied economic, spiritual & cultural backgrounds. From yoga-inspired routines for resting during pregnancy to favourite proverbs printed on the kangas used to carry African newborns, from the origins of the baby shower to the Japanese ritual where Sumo wrestlers are asked to make babies cry, each page is filled with inspiration, humour & insight about the beginnings of parenthood.

I really enjoyed reading it, particularly the pages all about idioms related to being pregnant--that was probably my favourite. I liked that it doesn't just read like an anthropology textbook--it was a mix of personal stories too.

The book will be published in time for Mother's Day this year, so it's the perfect gift for a new mother or mother-to-be. You could get some great ideas from the book for planning a unique baby shower too. Proceeds support the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood. You can buy it on the OneWorld Publications site for $11.89 USD.

The White Ribbon Alliance aims to inspire & convince advocates who campaign to uphold the right of all women to be safe & healthy before, during & after childbirth. Find out more online at or follow on Twitter @WRAglobal.

Award-winning journalist & filmmaker Brigid McConville is the global creative director of the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, which is based in Washington, DC, & London, UK. She travels the world to ensure the alliance's mission that pregnancy & childbirth are safe for all. She organizes international conferences, & frequently meets with world leaders, the UN, & women from diverse national, economic, & cultural backgrounds. Brigid lives in London.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mount Pleasant Farmers Market Returns!

Just in case you haven't heard yet...

I was very pleased to receive a letter in the mail (actual snail mail--imagine that) with the news that the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market will be returning this summer!

Due to overwhelmingly positive feedback (thank you if you wrote a letter or email in support!), the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market will be returning to 2300 Guelph (at Mount Pleasant Elementary) on Sundays June 15 - October 12, 10am-2pm. There will also be live music & the Food Scraps Drop Spot.

To kick off the market, there's going to be a Community Bunting Project on Opening Day, June 15. All vendors, shoppers, & neighbours are invited to design a triangle that will be attached to a string of bunting to decorate the farmers market. Stay tuned for more details & workshop announcements.

Until June 15, you can get your Farmers Market fix at the Winter Farmers Market - Saturdays, 10-2 until April 26 at Nat Bailey Stadium (30th & Ontario), or Yaletown Farmers Market starting May 1, or Trout Lake starting May 10. All the markets & dates are here on the website.

Hope you're having a lovely Easter weekend!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tips for Living Small with a Baby or Two

Stokke makes a great new chair/bouncer seat combo for small spaces
Though we live in a house, we only have the upper floor to ourselves--not quite 1100 square feet. It's more space than many of our friends but still less than half the North American average family home size. Oli & I both have some pack rat tendencies & adding two children to the mix... well, I feel like I've learned a few things over the last three-ish years about living small, so I wrote an article all about it for One Smiley Monkey.

Read the full post, Tips for Living Small with a Baby or Two here on One Smiley Monkey.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

What Does 'Feminine Cycling' Mean?

There's been an interesting conversation happening online about feminine cycling. Elly Blue, of Taking the Lane & Elly Blue Publishing is reputed to have started it with a tweet:

“What does "feminine" mean? I'm serious. It keeps coming up in the context of things women can do to feel that way on a bike, + I'm confused.”

This article on Atlantic Cities with a wide variety of interesting perspectives on what feminine cycling means to them here. This is an interesting topic for me as a female cyclist, a biking advocate, & a mother. I could go on forever about what 'feminine' means, but I think for today there's enough to talk about if I just stick with the more or less mainstream idea of feminine appearance: dresses, skirts, makeup, jewellery/accessories & impractical footwear.

"Dressed down" but still in clipless shoes & gloves!
When I started riding for transportation about 15 years ago (as opposed to for recreation, like I did as a kid) I don't remember thinking much about femininity in relation to riding my bike. I got really into the then relatively androgynous world of technical gear. Women's cycling clothing was very sporty, & very similar to men's, just a few darts here & there at the waist, basically. I wasn't particularly interested in feminine gear, because at that time 'feminine gear' was usually floral &/or pink. Not that into either one, myself. I just wanted it to fit.

This was back in the days before I reproduced, when I commuted to work by bike. I was a gear head & kitted myself out in top to toe spandex, goretex, clipless pedals, cycling gloves, dorky wraparound shades, panniers, even cycling specific socks. This made sense on the rainy days or the really hot ones, but most of the time I could have just worn my work clothes. Especially since work was downhill from where I lived--I didn't even break much of a sweat en route.

Travelling to Amsterdam was probably the beginning of the erosion of my gearhead road warrior image. There I saw men, women & children of all ages (seriously--from newborns to the white-haired) on Dutch Oma fietsen (heavy, upright step through frame city bikes) wearing normal clothes. I also noticed what seemed normal for them was a little more fashionable than what I usually saw at home, particularly for middle-aged & older women. Women would sometimes ride in what most people would call "feminine" clothes: skirts, dresses, bright scarves, purses, sometimes heels.

Could I look more like a tourist?!?
I'd brought my yellow reflective striped cycling jacket on this trip, partly because we were planning on cycling, but also because it was waterproof, small & easy to pack for a month of backpacking in four countries. When I wore it cycling over the canals & along the cycle tracks of Amsterdam, I stuck out like a sore thumb & felt a bit of a dork.

Nowadays when I ride, femininity isn't something I think about either, any more than you would when you drive somewhere. It's just the best option for getting from point A to point B. However, gone are the days of padded shorts + jerseys with pockets in the back. I just wear what I'd normally wear: jeans & tee shirt or occasionally a dress/skirt in the summer, plus flats. That's not to say I don't ever think about my appearance, but more a factor of not having time to think about it. I've got two little kids--I rarely have time to put much effort into my appearance no matter how I'm getting to where I'm going.

When I thought of my most feminine ride of the past year, this immediately came to mind:

Heading home from the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market with Linnaeus in the iBert & Bronte in my belly.

Riding a bike in a dress & sandals, (with a purse, even) at 39 weeks pregnant, with my other child on the bike too. No mistaking me for a man in that outfit... so it's feminine, I guess?

I do think about cycling & style a bit more when I'm off the bike, because of the recent trend that's seen bicycles creep into fashion shoots, because of Cycle Chic & the now fabulous selection of bike-friendly but not sporty gear like Po Campo bags. But femininity isn't generally how I frame it in my head. I don't care that much about what everyone wears on their bikes or if women are feminine or not--I just want to see more people riding.

To answer Elly's question (I know, took me long enough, right?), I think 'feminine cycling' is what you make of it. Dress, heels & floppy hat or fuchsia floral print spandex, what's really important is that you are biking.

What do you think? What does 'feminine cycling' mean to you?

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