Blog Archives

Where are you Spring?!?!?

Okay.  Yeah.  I’ve been a really bad blogger lately.  Well, maybe not by most standards.  After all, there are MANY bloggers who post once a week or even less frequently.  😉  But for me?  This is bad.

I don’t know if it’s the weather, or just the physical exhaustion after working so hard getting Breaking the Silence up and running then following it up with a very physically demanding photo shoot…  Whatever it is?  It’s kicking my ass.  I’m just done.  So I am VERY grateful that the Easter break is now upon us.  Not having to worry about our regular schedule, and getting the girl off to school, should help a great deal.  And even better?  The next couple of days we’re actually supposed to see plus temperatures!

I am so done with this cold and all this snow.  I am dying for it all to melt away.  I want to cultivate the ground.  This house has a nice big garden space (that was unused for who knows how long) and I’m just itching to get out there and plant something.  I have so many plans for the outdoor space here, and this extended Winter is making me a little itchy…  seriously.  I’m so irritable I’ve definitely got a case of cabin fever…  Spring just cannot get here fast enough.

Breaking the Silence – and 80’s Day

Well, we’re here!  The sixteenth annual Breaking the Silence conference at the University of Saskatchewan is tomorrow!  There is still time to register – though not much.  So if you haven’t done so, get’r done!  There really is no time left.  Get your registration done tonight!  All the details are here:  http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/index.php

And because you asked for it, I’ll be doing my session on understanding sex, gender, and orientation TWICE.  That means you’ve got an extra opportunity to get in on this discussion if you missed it last year.  And even if you did get in last year, because I conduct it as a discussion, it will never be the same as where we go is truly directed by YOU.

Okay…  now for a few fun pictures.  😉

It was 80’s day at Kid kid’s school today.  Normally I’m all for spirit days and getting dressed up.  But an 80’s day?  Two thirds of everything that the cool kids are wearing these days are totally 80’s inspired – which means every day is 80’s day.  Seriously, every item the girl wore was out of her usual wardrobe.

LOL

That said…  the 80’s were about excess…  so we loaded on the bangles, we loaded on the belts, we loaded on the hair spray…  and we added slouch socks – because that’s one style that didn’t make it back.  And because it’s Thursday, that meant that I had to get dressed up too, after all I couldn’t spend the afternoon at school and NOT take part in 80’s day.  LOL  So I found the perfect jacket (and stuffed socks under my bra straps to mimic shoulder pads), pulled on some black leggings, a gold lamé skirt, and again with the slouch socks.  Then we did our hair and make-up… everything in excess!  It was great.  😀

Breaking the Silence – 2013

This year marks the 16th annual Breaking the Silence conference at the University of Saskatchewan, and I am (again) proud to be a member of the board working very hard to bring it to you.  This year we are focusing on the idea of finding justice and equality on and off the playing field.

As we all know, the locker room has long been a place of dread for our youth, and that doesn’t always end with high school graduation.  Join us on March 22nd and 23rd and we attempt to throw open the doors, and let a little light, and some fresh air into those dark spaces.  Our topic this year?  Clearing it Out! Removing Homophobia from the Locker Room and Beyond.

You can learn a little more at our facebook event page or at our website!  Hope to see you there.

https://www.facebook.com/events/453413428064685/?

http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/

Breaking the Silence

Breaking the Silence

 

…and yes, for those of you who specifically wrote on your evaluations that you’d have liked to have heard a little more from me during last years conference, this year I’ll be offering two sessions.  I do have to admit, I loved the one comment that was written in that simply stated that next year they’d like to see “More Tobi”.  😉

Breaking the Silence is Fast Approaching

Though our sky was dark and dreary for much of the day today, my heart was happy as I look forward.  We are coming into crunch time for planning this years Breaking the Silence conference.  This conference is something that is very near and dear to my heart and I am so blessed to be on the board.  And while our key theme this year is a sporting one (focusing on issues in the locker room and beyond) it will deal with the same truths we all care so much about, bullying and living as our authentic selves.  I’m looking forward to another highly successful conference this March.

The website still contains information from 2012, but it should be updated shortly with information on our keynote and registration for 2013:  http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/

Grey skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face...

Things are looking up! 🙂 The view from my front walk.

And join me tomorrow as we take a look at my “daily routine” in another exciting photo a day challenge post:

photo a day challenge for january

Wow, one long day!

Looooooong day.

Being up late last night whelping puppies didn’t help, but it was a pleasant surprise.  Even having monitored Roo’s temperature for the 40 hours leading up to the birth didn’t give us the “heads up” it should have.  But then, Roo has never been one to do ANYTHING by the books.

Even after everyone settled in for the night, I didn’t actually do much sleeping.  Between the neon red glow of the heat lamp and the occasional pip from a puppy, it just wasn’t a restful night for me.  Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not complaining.  The babies are worth a little exhaustion.

This morning we had to be at the airport to drop off Deedee at 8:30.  Which meant an early wake-up.  The girl and I don’t usually rise until 9, and she wanted time to visit a park with Deedee for some photos before saying goodbye.  So it really was an early one.

Since we were out already we decided to grab some breakfast.  The girl had pancakes.  Damon had an english muffin breakfast sandwich (yes, thankfully he had Tuesday off this week).  And I had a croissant – boy it’s nice to be on solid foods again… but I do find my jaw gets tired quick and easily.

We did some running around.  Picked up some puppy supplies, got our house insurance information ready for the move, paid a bill…  Then it was home to weigh puppies and make sure everyone was getting a chance to nurse before taking the girl to school – WITH a photo of each puppy and a family portrait to show off to her class.

While the girl was at school we did some more running around so we’d be ready to go as soon as she was off.

We snagged her at 3:25, headed home briefly to let her change into her ballet clothes and to let the dogs out for a potty break.  We also had a 1/2 hour breather (while the dogs were out) during which I just about fell asleep – way too tired.  Damon and Lily-Ann dropped me off at my Breaking the Silence board meeting (which was super exciting, I sooo hope we’re able to get my first choice of speaker for the Friday night kick off, he’d be AMAZING), and the two of them went out for an early supper.  I had to bow out a little early as they picked me back up at 5:30 so we could head to ballet.

After class, we came home weighed puppies again and made sure Roo laid still for a nice long nursing session.  She’s generally a really great momma dog, but she has never been one to stay still for long.  Which was fine for her last litter of two…  but she needs to stretch right out and lay good and still to nurse five…  so she needs us to be rather hands on at this point.

Lily-Ann played on the iPad while we took care of Roo and the pups, then it was time to start the bedtime routine.  And I’ll admit, I dozed off a little while Damon was reading Medusa the Mean.  I really miss doing the night time reading, but until we get things cleared up for me health wise, it’s been passed on to Damon…  tonight though?  tonight I was actually rather thankful for that.

Now the girl is asleep, Damon is upstairs on the computer, and I’m laying in bed with the kid typing this blog post.  LONG day.

Here’s a puppy video I snagged last night during the birth:

Baby three was one of the only puppies born head first.  Most came out backwards.  I have videos of those as well… but I haven’t uploaded them yet.  It all went so fast, I didn’t have a chance to upload as things went along.  When I’m more awake, I promise to share more.  It’s pretty cool.

Dear Lady in the Women’s Bathroom – Ivan Coyote

Some of you may already be familiar with this piece.  It was something Ivan E Coyote wrote for her column in Xtra.  I remember reading it, and applauding it at the time.

For those of you who have never had to stop before going into a public washroom and consciously make a choice which door to walk into, be thankful.  It’s not an easy choice to make.  A person takes their safety into their own hands every time they walk into a public washroom, especially when the individuals on the other side of the door may not agree with their choice.  We don’t all fit neatly into one gender box or another – nor should we have to.  So here is Ivan, on being shrieked at, on life in the gender variant spectrum, on discrimination, and on compassion:

It’s well worth the watch folks, whether or not you’ve read the personal essay that ran in Xtra.

Where is Christopher Now? (a video of Ivan Coyote)

Ivan Coyote was invited to attend Breaking the Silence this year as our keynote speaker.  Her down to earth stories and sense of humor speak directly to each person in her audience, making you forget the distance between the stage and yourself.  As if sitting down for coffee with a friend who just needed to talk.

In the clip I’ve shared below, Ivan tells a story about Christopher, a much loved family member…  about how her cousin inspired her to go into schools.  About how we all shit, it’s the great leveler, and how a poop story can get students and others to identify and invest in Christopher.  How it can get people to care.

Take a few minutes and watch Ivan tell her story.  It won’t take long, but in those few minutes, you may change for the better…  thanks to a little boy named Christopher.

I’ll be sharing more of Ivan and the Breaking the Silence conference in the next couple of days.  I have more videos, more pictures, and more stories.  All of which are so very worth sharing.  So I hope you’ll keep coming back to see more.  🙂

Sex, Gender, and How the Heck I Fit into it All!

When discussing something, relaying a story, or describing an event the logical place to start is at the beginning.  So, with the fifteenth anniversary of Breaking the Silence that would seem to be with Ivan Coyote’s performance on Friday evening.  I’ve got a couple clips that I know you’ll love.

Ivan Coyote speaking at the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon Saskatchewan

…However, that’s not where I’m going to start.  I’m going to start at the end.  Or, well…  almost the end.  The last session of the day, before we all gathered for the conference’s conclusion:

“Sex, Gender, and How the Heck I Fit into it All.”

My session.

I had printed 25 of the handouts I’d created, expecting 15 – 20 youth.  We had 176 (it was 176 or 172, I can’t quite remember) registrants, and five options in each session slot.  And with a title like mine, I didn’t expect a huge turnout.  Not when competing against some of the amazing options that were presented this year.  I figured by printing 25, it would give me a little wiggle room, and also allow me to share a few copies with people who were in other sessions, but were still interested in the topics I addressed.

Walking up the stairs to find the room I was presenting in I passed two people who had veered off into the other upstairs lecture hall – I’d attended a session earlier in the day there (a great one by Jim Drake on personal narrative).  I kept walking…  And that was when I realized, the throng of folks walking up the stairs with me were headed into room 103…  into my session.

The room was already packed when I walked in, and more people kept coming.  I was shocked!  And I’ll admit it, I was suddenly nervous.  My throat swelled, my legs felt weak, my stomach did a little turn.  These are not feelings I was used to, however they weren’t entirely foreign either.  I remember them well from the days I first entered politics when I feared I wouldn’t be good enough, days long past now.

George Georget, a fellow member of the board gave my introduction.  He’d asked if there was anything in particular I wanted him to mention.  There wasn’t really, and I told him as much…  but I didn’t want to leave him lacking for something to say, so told him he could always just tell them I was a Mom and photographer.  I didn’t need to be worried.  He had plenty to say, all of it lovely.  I thank him for that.  🙂

I began by apologizing for my lack of handouts, and asked that they share in groups of two and three…  just so everyone could see what I was referring to.  I began handing them out.  Then realized it would be a lot more efficient to enlist a little help.  I handed some to Chance Briere, an absolutely wonderful young man I met this Summer and am proud to call friend, and some to a woman across the row from him and asked for their assistance.

Still feeling a little shaky, and surprised not only by the amount of attendees by also by their diversity (I was expecting youth only, but there was a brilliant array of ages, it was inspiring to see them all gathered for a session I thought would have such narrow appeal), I began to speak.

It took two or three minutes, but I found my voice…  the same as it always was.  Honest, open, and willing to talk about anything.

I didn’t expect the laughs, loud and openly shared.  I didn’t expect the cheers, unbridled and on point.  I didn’t expect the types of questions, asked with heart and intention.  I didn’t expect to inspire or to move people…  but that seems to be what I did.

Very honestly?  I was presenting a mainly informational session.  I knew I wanted it to be more of a discussion than a lecture – but I came prepared with an activity, just in case questions were slow to come.  I didn’t realize that I would touch lives, or give people hope they didn’t arrive with.

To everyone who came up to me afterwards, to shake my hand, to get a hug (or two or three), to share a story, to ask for help…  THANK YOU!  I appreciate each one of you.  You are truly amazing people.  You have touched my life.  You have inspired ME.  And to all of you who wanted to do the same, but for whatever reason felt you couldn’t.  Thank you for being there, for listening, for asking questions, for returning my smiles when I met your eyes during my talk.  I know I won’t change the world, but I believe that you can.

Now, for anyone who would like to see it, here is my handout.  Please feel free to share it wherever and with whomever you like.  I only ask that you refrain from editing it or claiming it as your own.  😛  If there is interest in a printable version (do let me know if that’s something you’d like to see) I’ll find the best way to make that available.

The Gingerbread Person - on Assigned Sex, Sexual Desire, Affection, Expression, Gender, and Orientation.

The Gingerbread Person on Assigned Sex, Sexual Desire, Affection, Expression, Gender, and Orientation.

BtS – hurry and register

Just a quick reminder before I’m off to work on my presentation for Breaking the Silence.  The conference is THIS WEEKEND!  Ivan Coyote will be performing on Friday night at 7:00 at the Broadway Theatre.  Tickets will be available at the door for $21, or you can get them for $15 by registering online.  There will also be $6 tickets at the door for Tomboy at 7:00 on Saturday night at the Roxy Theatre.  To attend the conference on the Saturday (which includes admittance to Ivan Coyote) you do need to register online at http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/online-registration.htm   Regular conference enrollment is only $52.50 with a special price of $21 for post-secondary students and the under-employed.  High school students can register for free (but do still need to register online).

More information is available at http://www.usask.ca/education/breaking-the-silence/index.htm

Tobi-Dawne Smith for Saskatoon-Meewasin

Tobi-Dawne Smith and her daughter, Lily-Ann, experiencing the joy of finding a baby snake out in the green of Saskatchewan.

Tobi-Dawne Smith and her Daughter Lily-Ann

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Tobi-Dawne Smith is proud to be running in her home riding, a riding that boasts incredible diversity. As a member of a multi-racial family, she believes in the strength found in an open sharing of cultural and religious traditions. An open and honest dialogue is the best way to bridge gaps and bring understanding. The candor found in a quiet moment of respect is something all people should seek.

The search for authenticity isn’t something that ends when Smith, a professional photographer, puts down her lens. It’s a part of everything she does. Whether she’s busy in her most important role as mother to an incredible four year old, helping families create a legacy through photography, or cultivating initiatives to create safe spaces for at-risk youth.

Ms. Smith spent the last eight months working with Camp fYrefly, which celebrated it’s third year in Saskatchewan with it’s retreat this August. Camp fYrefly is a life changing program designed to help foster leadership skills and resiliency in gender variant and sexual minority youth, youth who are at the greatest risk of bullying and suicide. Now that Camp has been wrapped up, she has accepted a role on the Board for Breaking the Silence – an annual conference in support of the LGBTT2QIA community at the University of Saskatchewan.

Tobi-Dawne’s role as a mother has strengthened her resolve to be socially responsible and to help build a better future for her daughter, and all the children of Saskatchewan. She recognizes that our children depend on her to fight against inequality, and to help create with them a more genuine safe future for our province. TD also realizes the only political party within which she can truly achieve these goals is the Green Party of Saskatchewan.

The Green Party’s six guiding principles: ecological wisdom, social justice, participatory democracy, nonviolence, sustainability and respect for diversity.  Guiding principles we should all strive to uphold.

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