The Purple Fig Mon, 29 Jan 2018 15:57:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Cultural Shift In Awareness Is Happening For Women And It Kicks Some Serious Ass Mon, 08 Jan 2018 12:41:09 +0000 In a time when technology has enabled conversations to shift an entire culture, women have finally benefited. Recently, I was lamenting to someone about a post I saw on Facebook written by an angry white woman hell bent on chastising white people for ‘stealing cultures’ during the Halloween season. She felt that people who dressed their little white girls in Moana costumes were misguided and ignorant. I thought Moana was a Disney character known for her power and drive to save everyone and her general kick ass nature; not just the colour of her skin. Hmmm, maybe I was wrong? And although the comments under her post were entertaining, they also seemed like a fascinating waste of valuable dialogue. But who am I to say any of the conversations being had online are a waste of time? So, without leaving a comment, I kept scrolling, wondering if my son’s teepee from Pottery Barn made me an ignorant, white idiot. I realized though, that this was exactly the point: it got me thinking, which leads to awareness, which leads to change. 

The past year has brought a major shift in the way women are talking about their experiences. I started The Purple Fig because I was getting bored of how very little women seemed to speak about how ‘things really are’ online. That was six years ago and now, well, speaking our truth has never been so widely accepted and celebrated. The Me Too movement has pushed a rickety, old clunker into gear, moving the balance closer to the centre for women. If awareness is achieved, an entire culture can change. 

Last night represented an immense amount of female power and awareness. In first place for the most tear-jerking, girl power speech of the evening goes to none other than the Queen of important dialogue: Oprah Winfrey. Check out other highlights of women last night. 


Oprah’s epic speech:

Natalie Portman says what everyone else was thinking:



Seth Meyers’ Monologue and his hilarious nods to women:


  • Oprah Winfrey Golden Globes 2018
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Ensuring Women’s Reproductive Rights: Medical Abortion Mon, 03 Apr 2017 17:33:35 +0000 What is a “medical” abortion and why should anyone really care? Unintended pregnancies continue to occur, despite best efforts at prevention. Even with the best efforts to make every pregnancy a planned and wanted one, there is still a need for abortion services as part of comprehensive reproductive care as noted in Prime Minister Trudeau’s recent funding announcement supporting reproductive rights. Currently, about 31% of Canadian women will choose to terminate a pregnancy at some point in their lives. The introduction of a new drug in Canada, Mifegymiso, means that hopefully more Canadian women will now have a choice between a surgical termination and a non-surgical one that can be done very early in the pregnancy and in the privacy of any doctor’s office and their very own home. My concern is that unless the health care system and local providers sit down to plan for this, it simply won’t be an option for many women who would choose this for themselves.

Mifegymiso is actually a combination of two drugs: misoprostol and mifepristone. It’s the second ingredient which is new, approved by Health Canada in July 2015 although it has been in use in France and China since 1988. More than 60 countries have approved this drug, also dubbed the “abortion pill”. When mifepristone is ingested in early pregnancy, it blocks the progesterone receptors that keep the pregnancy viable. It also helps to soften and dilate the cervix. The other ingredient, misoprostol, triggers uterine contractions necessary to expel the pregnancy. Used together, the onset is rapid and the event is completed in a number of hours. This treatment is not effective in ectopic pregnancies, which are those that occur outside of the uterus, often in a fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies can be life threatening and need to be identified early. Fortunately, there is a non-surgical option as well, using the injectable drug methotrexate, along with specialized follow-up.

Women who experience an unintended pregnancy need to be counselled and supported in making the decision that is best for them. This can be a time of great vulnerability and indecision. It is important to remember that intimate partner violence increases the risk of abortion, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. A non-judgemental, nondirective approach to counselling in a confidential setting is essential.

If the woman’s decision is to terminate the pregnancy, information about both medical and surgical options should be provided. How are these different? In studies where women were given a choice between medical and surgical abortions, 35% to 84% chose a medical termination. Reasons for this include the avoidance of surgery and anesthesia, the ability to accommodate other commitments such as home and work tasks, privacy, and perceived safety. It does entail more office visits, but can be done immediately rather than waiting for a surgical appointment, and can be delivered closer to home. Medical abortions must be done early in a pregnancy, usually within a few weeks of a missed period. If done before 49 days since the last menstruation, they are almost 99% effective. Most women who have had a medical abortion would opt for the same, if facing a similar choice. Published studies show high satisfaction rates ranging from 63% to 96%.

Surgical terminations also have high satisfaction rates. However, for the patient, it means waiting for a booking, securing a ride to and from the hospital, and the possibility of having to endure the presence of protestors on her approach. That said, there may be other reasons why a woman chooses a surgical option, including the reality that this may be the one and only option if a pregnancy is late in being diagnosed.

Up until the advent of mifegymiso, less than 5% of abortions being done in Canada have been nonsurgical. This may now change, but won’t unless there is proactive engagement of our medical community to plan for greater access, regardless of geography. March is the month when we celebrate International Women’s Day. This year, we can drive it home with a commitment to ensure that women in all Ontario communities have access to a more comprehensive range of confidential and effective reproductive choices.


Op Ed from Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health, Peterborough Public Health

  • Abortion
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How My Father’s Death Made Me A Better Person Mon, 03 Apr 2017 17:07:53 +0000 Anyone who has been with someone who is taking their last breath knows it changes you forever. However, I would never have guessed that through all the sadness, grief and devastation that death brings, I would be a better person because of it. 

When my dad fell ill, I was in the thick of it: I was in my early 30s, working three jobs, living in New York City and having a great time doing it. What I didn’t realize is that I was spinning my wheels at a pace inevitably doomed for a crash. Life was very much about me, even if I told myself and others how great of a person or friend I was. I was genuine, but things were surface and never really got that deep. And that is how I floated along for years.

In one particularly selfish moment I remember a valued client telling me that she had just battled cancer. She was trying to express this insane journey she had just embarked on, but I had two other clients I was working on in my busy hair salon. I remember having the normal reaction of sympathy and compassion, but quickly moved on to whatever it was I had to do to keep my day rolling. It wasn’t till years later that I realized how insensitive I had been in that moment. Had I been paying attention, I would have realized she needed more from me in that moment.  Not much more. But more than “OMG I am so sorry! Do you want a coffee or tea while you wait?”

That beloved client never came back to me. I failed as a human that day. My non-deliberate disinterest was truly hurtful. For that, I am sure. Sadly, I had very little understanding of cause and effect. Through social media I have followed her and she is healthy and thriving. This story is just an example of how not taking a moment to listen to someone because you are spinning around like a whirling dervish, can make another soul feel irrelevant. Unfortunately and embarrassingly, I am sure I having many of those moments. And it was shaping my character. 

When my father fell ill, everything stopped. The next three months were spent riding the emotional roller coaster of the terminally ill. In the end I was exhausted and changed. I didn’t even know how I was changed yet but I knew I was different. 

I went back to New York and tried to slip back into my old life but I couldn’t. It was at that point that I decided to take six months off. I quit my job, rented my apartment and moved to California. I needed to sleep, recover and revaluate. And that’s exactly what I did. I spent my days swimming in the ocean, taking naps, cooking healthy meals, taking scenic photos and just breathing. Six months quickly turned into a year and it was at that point I decided it was time to go back. 

I stumbled for a while as I again tried to find my footing in NYC. The city seemed fast, and I seemed slow. I wondered if I could slip back into this place I called home. Eventually I was able to regain my momentum as a person, as a friend, and as a professional. However, noticeably I was bringing different energy to the table this go around. Through all the sadness of losing a parent, best friend and mentor, I had become a better person. I had slowed down. A lot.

Being the girl who could multi-task like a mofo, in a city that celebrated that behavior, was no longer the goal. I would now work hard, but not too hard. I took time to nourish my relationships with my amazing family and friends. I would take the time to listen and respond when people really need it, even when it was going to run me late or mess with my day. I decided not to tolerate bad behavior by people. Not by fighting back, but by not engaging or giving it any life. That alone has probably added years to my life. I smile a lot. I make my body a priority by being kind to it and giving it what it needs, when it needs it. These are all things I didn’t do or didn’t do well before the passing of my dad. 

I think as I laid on my dad’s chest and listened to his last heart beat he somehow, in some way was able to give me one last gift:

Live a truer existence. Be grateful for time. Be gentle to your body mentally and physically. And to try and give the best of yourself to those deserving of it. All while managing your ‘not so good moments’, in case your head tries to creep up your ass again.

A friend asked me how I was doing a year after my dad’s death and I said I was doing great. She was surprised and seemed doubtful because, “I had been through so much.” I am one of the lucky ones to have seen through sadness. Maybe I wasn’t as funny or as charismatic as I once was, but I was happy. And I eventually got my funny back. And it was with a big side of compassion, gentleness, forgiveness, love and strength. I also was able to learn what the words accountability and generosity truly meant and apply it. This gift from my dad has made me a better professional, friend and girlfriend. I am able to bring more to the table as oppose to taking what I need. 

As I sit here drinking my yummy coffee, in my homey apt, with my dog at my feet, after working a long busy week: a feeling of gratitude has overwhelmed me. I realize had I not changed my awareness, I would not be in this place. Not even close. Growth is essential. But not necessary. You can stay or you can move. I am thankful for everything my father has taught me. However, unknowingly, his last breath may have given me one last gift: helping me find my best self.

It is truly the silver lining. 

  • fatherdeathhelpedme
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A Letter To The Burden That Is Me Mon, 03 Apr 2017 15:11:24 +0000 My dearest friend,

Today I made an almost fatal error. I stood on the precipice of life itself, and had convinced my soul that my despair outweighed my fear of the permanence of death.

I know you’ll look at me with confusion, heartache, maybe even anger for the selfishness of it all. You would be right in doing so. It is the ultimate cowardice , the most narcissistic of selfish behavior.  And yet, when the great darkness takes hold of my mind, I can’t help but to have all logical thought washed away. It all comes down to that one moment, so alien, though familiar as well. Beatrice Sparks says it best in Go Ask Alice, ” I’m afraid to live and afraid to die.” That feeling of being in limbo, the fear of above as so below. It can be a mind shattering experience my friend. I hope you know I love you despite not being able to face the world, even with you in it.

I’ve terrified and tortured my family and friends with the burden that is me for well over a decade. Let me tell you, time does not heal all wounds.. only the ones on the surface. I’ve struggled with different diseases of the mind for as long as I can remember, they all have different faces but they’re essentially the same entity.. suffering. I won’t bore you with the mundane details, only that loss and heartache accumulate on the brain and the heart like a cancer if gone untreated; aging like a fine wine until it becomes a bitter sweet tonic of regularity. The guilt weighs on my chest and shoulders like an anvil. I can’t breathe, I can barely move with the heaviness of it all. I can’t silence the screaming in my mind and the anger at the unfairness of it all welling in my chest. Why can’t I stop this madness?! I’ve had to be carried on others shoulders for too many years. I am surrounded by people that love me, yet I am alone.

I didn’t have a destination or much of a plan. I figured I’d just lie down somewhere like a kicked dog and die of hypothermia. Im a bit of a coward that way and besides, it was a frigid night and I heard that you feel warm and sleepy, then never wake up. As easy as that sounded and however little self confidence I retain at present, I had just enough dignity to not want to be found curled up and frozen in a snowbank. Needless to say my last shred of dignity won out and I headed for home for a more elegant and albeit warmer solution to my conundrum of being alive.

I sat on the couch, remembering how he sat there with me just a few weeks ago. The shadow of him follows me in everything that I do. He was my soul mate and he wasn’t here to stroke my hair or kiss my tears and tell me it was going to be alright. I texted him and said my last goodbye, the hardest I’ve ever had to say to him. As my soul frayed around the edges I started losing my already tentative grip on reality. I messaged my parents, bidding the people that brought me in to this world the saddest of farewells. Nobody wants to bury their child but it couldn’t be helped.

The questions and the desperate pleas started rolling off my phone in droves and I suddenly felt this incessant need to run. I left my phone and my sanity sitting on the couch and started to sprint through the dark, snow covered streets. I don’t know what I was running to or from anymore, I just wanted to go as far away from the streets I had walked my entire childhood, the memories that haunted me in the dark spaces that are just out of eyesight. I ran for what felt like hours but was really a matter of minutes before I finally came to a rest on the side of the road, and decided enough was enough. This was crazy, I was crazy.. there was a bottle of pills and a balcony calling my name clear as a bell at home. I didn’t get nearly as far into my fantasy as I envisioned.

As I stood on that ledge, heart hammering in my throat, the door was abruptly opened and in ran my parents and the police. I should’ve seen that coming, maybe I did in some small way .. the distant logic of my subconscious hoping, begging to be stopped, to be helped before it was too late.

Now that I have shared my shame with you, I must share the consequential fall out of my actions for it is the most important part of all. I was immediately talked down by the police, gently but firmly, constantly reminding me of what I had done to my poor parents, crying in each others arms. They weren’t allowed to take me to the hospital themselves, perhaps because they worried I’d talk them out of it on the way there. I was taken in to custody and put in the back seat, my parents not far behind. It was like a funeral procession in my honor, the death I failed to bring laughing in my face. 

I was given a room in the lock down area of the emergency room, as there were not any beds available in the psych ward. I had my blood taken as my word wasn’t for whether I had taken any drugs that night. The cops sat outside of my room, visibly uncomfortable with the entire scenario, but required to keep me in custody until the doctor spoke to me. And so the night continued in a haze of post trauma, awaiting the final word from the doctors I have almost gotten to know on a first name basis at this point. I kept blacking out off and on, not a lapse of vision or anything, simply lapses in time.

After what could have been hours but felt like minutes, the doctor arrived, finally freeing the two antsy police officers from my far reaching ability to waste peoples’ time. I was issued a form one, not surprising but always difficult to swallow a removal of rights anyways. I was asked to remove any articles of clothing or personal effects with strings or sharp ends and surrender them to the dreaded blue bag. They took my belongings and ushered them away leaving me with my trusty psych ward novel and my dolls for comfort. Throughout the evening, more patients began entering the emergency ward. 

I closed my eyes and listened to fully grown men and women weeping for their mummies and daddies , being told that their parents weren’t coming for them. It breaks my heart that as some people reach adulthood, their parents start coming to their bedsides less and less. At least I have mine. As they were read their removal of rights for the next 72 hours, their anxiety rose as mine had hours before. The severity of the situation started to sink in, their terror reaching a peak level. Some of the patients I shared my corner of the world with had minds far more broken than my own. And yet I could sense in the hysterical pleading, exactly what they needed at that moment.. love.

It’s sad beyond measure that what I hear is pain and suffering, yet many hear drug addicts, the dangerous and the hopeless. I watched as patient after patient was strapped to a gurney and given enough sedative to put out an elephant. What a neat, tidy solution to it all right? Somehow, everytime, they find themselves shocked hours later when these same patients not only wake up panicked and drugged to the eye balls… but severely pissed off. They’re confused to find that beneath the hysteria and immense sadness, are actual intelligent human beings who understand indignity. Even faced with this knowledge from firsthand experience or the media attention it is starting to build today , the stereotype still clings tightly to us all; even in the eyes of the ones we trust most. The condescension, the short fuses, the blatant ignorance to the crippling world of the mentally sick is a weight we bear heavier than any other.

I never met any of these people in my life yet I already know J, who asked to be able to walk around her room with her doll for comfort, a simple request that goes unheeded. There’s R who is going through withdrawal from a Valium addiction and wants his parents, they will not be called this night. There is A who wants nothing more than to sit on the floor next to her bed and requests to speak to her father. She is told her father is dead and her group home has better things to do. The list goes on and on. All these unheard, haunted voices, fading into the yellowing walls. But I hear you my brothers and sisters in arms, I am listening.  Despite the immense sadness that envelopes my soul , I think I may just have found some much needed purpose. I think it may be time to take the pain that is written on my heart, and the screams written on my mind, and give a voice to voiceless.

Goodnight. The meds are kicking in.

Love always ,


  • bioploar
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Leadership Gender Gap Still An Issue Wed, 29 Mar 2017 14:58:55 +0000 To celebrate Women’s History Month (only a few days left!), The female empowerment campaign ActuallySheCan, asked millennial women what they think and how they feel about leadership. 

Though women earn 58% of collegiate degrees, and they hold most of the professional level jobs, women are still significantly under-represented in top leadership positions.   Is the next generation of millennials ready to close leadership’s gender gap? 

According to a recent survey by the female empowerment campaign ActuallySheCan, the answer is decidedly mixed. While 80% of women believe that women and men are equally effective leaders—with 14% responding that women were, in fact, more effective leaders—they took a more critical eye when it came to describing themselves: only 12% identified as influential amongst a group, only 17% felt they were charismatic personalities and only 11% felt they were admired for their ideas. 
And how can we help millennial women become a better leader? Her top three responses were as follows: 27% said more opportunities or promotions would help, while 25% said guidance and mentorship, and 24% said more guidance and training. 


These findings pack a powerful message. It’s never been more important to empower women to be leaders—through professional opportunities, mentorship and dialogue that champions women’s ambitions and ability to lead. 

  • leadershipgendergap
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What Does Your “Outie” Say About You?! Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:29:32 +0000 When I was 16, my mom was preparing me for a life outside of my hometown. She would tell me stories about what it meant to be a grown up. In truth, I felt like I had grown up before my time. I am sure most teenagers feel this way. I was one of them but I still listened.

The most striking of those words and conversations involved the, “Make sure you get your “nari” fixed when you get there” — Mom.

Nari means “outie”. For most of my life, I had an outie and for a good part of my teenage years, I remember being very conscious of it. My mom often said with regret, “I wish I had taken good care of your nari when you were born”. She felt as though it was her fault. “I wish I had taped a coin to your nari every day” — she said. That’s apparently how you fix an outie in Africa. The constant pressure of a coin makes it go back in if it’s done for 30–60 consecutive days post birth.

I took this “defect” in my body very seriously. Lucky for me, there was not a lot of times and places where I would have to expose myself fully. I grew up in a Muslim home which mostly meant being covered head to toe. Even if that meant, going to the beach in tees and tights in 34-degree weather. No one ever had to see my outie, except for me and my mom.

Back to my mom’s comment about fixing my nari when I got there (Canada). See, I was leaving for Canada at 17. Her last few words stayed with me and as soon as I got to this new country, I religiously started googling clinics that would “fix my nari”. I quickly realized this thing had a name. It was called an “umbilicoplasty”. I found a few clinics and I had booked a consult. It was the top priority. It would set me back about $4K but I was determined. I did some math and I said, I would wait a little longer to make sure I was picking the right clinic etc. Six months later, I got cold feet. I had some money saved up but that was strictly for tuition. Was I ready to spend all this money? I shortly after got sucked into some web forms where people had bad surgeries. Some of them were left with scars, some ended up with worse looking belly buttons than what they had initially gone in with. This made me nervous. I searched the web for images of other women with outies for inspiration, I couldn’t find that many and instead I found more and more women with outies talking about how ashamed they were of it and how they thought it looked so ugly. A lot of them being teenagers. I felt worse about my outie. It also explained how I had rarely ever met another person with an outie. Was it because they didn’t exist or because they just hid it the way I did?

After a little bit of back and forth about the umbilicoplasty, I decided to not go through with it. At that time, it was for three reasons: 1. I couldn’t justify the cost. 2. I was worried that if something went wrong, I would be in a much worse situation. 3. I could just cover it up for the rest of my life. I was now 18.

I let some more time pass. I grew a little older. My relationship with my body changed. Luckily, I never realized I had a body image issue because I didn’t grow up in a community that paid a lot of emphasis on body image issues. You couldn’t comment on someone’s love handles if you didn’t see them, same went for outies and stretchmarks. I also sometimes wonder if talking about body image issues existing gives it more voice and power, but that’s a dialogue for another day. When you are naive to it all, you don’t have a lot of time to fixate on that very thing, that very inadequacy. It’s not non-existent but it’s also not as prevalent.

Throughout my 20’s, I still thought about my outie often. Sometimes I would poke it back in and look myself in the mirror and wondered what it would feel like to have an innie. I avoided bikinis as much as possible. I’m pretty sure very few of my friends have seen my belly button. I just didn’t talk about it or draw much attention to it. It lived in my mind as a defect and I tried to give it little meaning but it still nagged away at me.

Then…something changed.

I grew older. I dated people who expressed loving my outie. They gave it names, “Olivia, Moomoo”. Every name had an “O” in it, to signify it’s presence. I stopped giving disclaimers before I took my top off. I no longer said, “Hey, just an FYI — in case you haven’t seen one before, I have an outie”. Many times, I was misheard and a couple of them assumed, I was saying “Audi” because they responded with..”GREAT! That’s awesome”. It wasn’t long before they realized I didn’t own a fancy car.

I hit late 20’s. I got better at dealing with my outie. I wore bikinis. I didn’t hide in change rooms. I didn’t turn my back on other people when they walked in a room. I stopped googling clinics that would fix my “outie”.

Today, I write this because I love my outie. People who love me love my outie. It’s really pretty. I am not ashamed of it. It’s a part of me. It’s not a fuck up that was my mom’s doing because she forgot to tape a coin to my belly button when I was born.

At 32, I have also realized that understanding how you view your body and to fully appreciate your body takes time. It takes years. It doesn’t happen overnight. What you can however do is self-reflect. If you have an issue with how you look or a particular part of your body, try and look back and see what those triggers are. Who said something to you that hurt? Who expects your body to be a certain way? Is it a parent, a lover, a friend? Find that link. Forgive that person. Trust me, it’s really not their fault. They are filling the gaps and their own inadequacies.

And then find the people that will love you for your imperfections. They will kiss your imperfections and admire you and your body for what it is, for what it does. And when you can fully appreciate every nook and cranny of your body for the beauty that it is, life will start to fill a lot more fuller, more beautiful and yours. It will start to feel like yours. No one else’s.


Photo Credit

  • Outie Belly Buttons
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Trish Bentley Is The Unapologetic Parent on The Huffington Post Sun, 12 Mar 2017 19:16:53 +0000 Trish Bentley, editor of The Purple Fig, contributor for The Huffington Post, has a new column, Unapologetic Parent: Informative and relatable articles on parenting hot topics, “Unapologetic Parent” will examine the pressures and scrutiny parents often face when making personal choices on how to parent.



Stop Shaming Moms Who Bottle Feed

The Big Business of Baby Sleep Training

This Practice Will Help You Keep Your Cool With Your Kids

C-Section Stigma: Things People Have Actually Said To Cesarean Moms

Why My Husband And I Chose Not To Circumcise

No, I Am Not Ashamed I Didn’t Put My Kids In French Immersion

How To Help Kids With School Anxiety

How Friendships Are Affected By Different Parenting Styles

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Happy Women’s Day: We Need To Talk About Transactivism and Women’s Rights Wed, 08 Mar 2017 16:31:00 +0000 Happy International Women’s Day: raise a glass, hug your kids and celebrate woman-kind. Now put that Prosecco down because we need to talk about transactivism and women’s rights.

While women across the world remembered today those who went before them, who inspired, led, governed and taught us, we also found ourselves caught in the crossfire of a toxic debate likely to affect our daughters and sons for generations.

Earlier this week in the UK a radio stalwart weighed in with her views on transgendered people, specifically male to female. She argued that, while people have the legal right to call themselves whatever they feel suits them best, having surgery and taking hormones does not give them the right to call themselves a woman. Following the article
Twitter almost broke the internet as transactivists, feminists and your under-the-bridge-dwelling trolls dived in flinging opinions around like wet towels to, let’s face it, anyone who’d listen.

It wasn’t pretty, one trans journalist offered Ms Murray a makeover, managing to add sexism AND misogyny into what was already a highly toxic firefight. Not helpful India Willoughby but also, according to many, neatly illustrating some of Ms Murray’s points.

So how does this affect us so called CIS women? Why on earth should it matter if someone not born genetically female joins the sisterhood? Well, it kind of does because the ripples of this debate and debates before it are already being felt. By, for example, women in sport who find themselves competing at the highest levels with trans athletes, who by dint of their biology may have an advantage. To be fair the verdict on this is still out as female hormones taken by men may reduce bone density and muscle mass on a par with most CIS women athletes. See? It’s a minefield but apart from sport, concerns have also been raised about traditional ‘safe spaces’ for women: shelters from domestic violence, public and school restrooms and so on. And let’s not even get into re-naming breastfeeding as chestfeeding ()

How about the flip side? Crime stats show that transphobic hate crime in the UK has risen dramatically. Bullying is bullying after all, whether administered through the courts, churches or a pub toilet. Trans people are vulnerable and lack protection. Their status in society remains precarious.

What is clear is that our current, unique situation throws up more questions than answers, with the most pressing one being: can anyone call themselves a woman simply because they feel like one? We women, whoever we are, have some real challenges ahead on this but, hey, we won the vote, we’ve won Nobel Prizes, we’ve stood up to the Taliban and oppression; we’ve even disarmed a toddler tantrum one handed – we’ve got this, right?

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Why Travel Isn’t The Answer Mon, 06 Mar 2017 16:19:46 +0000 I know, in the Decade of Travel it seems a bit blasphemous to make a title that might advise against it, right? But I can’t help but give a slight eye roll every time I see yet another article or another Instagram post that swears that traveling the world will change-your-life (and probably give you great hair, too, it seems). Don’t get me wrong: I love to travel. In fact, as I am writing this I am sitting in an overpopulated city in Ecuador, having just celebrated receiving my permanent resident visa after almost a year of trial and tribulation. Believe me when I tell you that I definitely understand the merits of travel.

I think what is worth mentioning, though, is that traveling the world and moving to another country and living a life of freedom and mobility hasn’t been as bright and exciting as everyone on Instagram seems to push. Of course my life has benefitted tremendously from it but it has also been a real struggle. This struggle—the inner struggle of Good vs. Bad, Stay vs. Go, Open vs. Closed—has brought me to an unknown proverbial edge more times than I had anticipated, an edge that I never experienced while living my safe, 401k style life in the U.S.

Why is this? Because, as Jon Kabat-Zinn so perfectly states in one of his most famous books,

“Wherever you go, there you are.”

When I left the U.S. I was so hopeful for the transformation that was bound to happen. And a transformation has happened, indeed. My political views have shifted so drastically to the point that it brings me to tears to think that entire laws could be created to prevent a person from receiving the same benefits that I have received all my life simply because I was born in the right zip code. I have met people that have moved me so deeply that the shackles I once carried with me have fallen with a loud “thud” to the ground, never to be picked up again. I have eaten food that was so intensely delicious that it forced me to reconsider everything I knew about food and the passion and love that might go into it. It’s true what they say: travel changes you.

Travel didn’t, however, eliminate my flaws or scare away my demons. When I left the comforts of my boring (read: stable) life I thought I was essentially actively healing all of my wounds. Even so, my wounds stayed with me and only festered as I trailed farther and farther away from home. Being put into new environments and being stretched by new temptations serves as a fun distraction from those wounds and inner demons, but when you push and stretch for too long guess what has been left to grow rampantly in meantime? All those dirty wounds and vicious demons.

Without taking care to work on yourself and to address these issues head on you are putting yourself on the path to self-destruction, to be sure. Travel doesn’t cure you and it certainly doesn’t erase your past. I would argue, instead, that travel serves as a brief distraction from all the turmoil you already had before you ever left.

I remember someone had said to me before I decided to take the plunge and leave the U.S., “What makes you think this will make you happy? If you’re not happy right now, how will anything in the world ever make you truly happy?” I snickered at the jerk that said that to me and promised him that I would indeed be happy hiking through the Andes in South America.

You know what, though? He was right. I hiked the Andes, like I had planned, and I reached an intense level of happiness that only strained muscles and fresh air can truly provide. After the hike, though, and after a year of travel I found myself in an un-air-conditioned room in the hottest city of Ecuador with a deflated heart and a pathetic whimper. Immediately my conversation with my friend flooded my brain and all I could hear were his harsh words. He was right.

It was then that I decided to get myself together—my inner self—and finally address my worst demons and oldest wounds so that I could finally be happy no matter where I found myself. It’s not easy and it’s obviously a personal journey that I don’t think is unlike that of every other person on this planet, but it was this intentional decision that made all the travel and the resident visa worth it. It was not the travel, itself. 

So go ahead and travel. Pack a monstrous bag and cram yourself into a chicken bus for eight hours while sweating profusely and smiling stupidly at the excitement in your life. Jump into the Caribbean Sea and hike the tallest volcano. Eat street food and drink too much tequila. Share beds with strangers and talk deeply with new soul mates. Do it all. 

Travel wasn’t the answer to my life’s problems and probably won’t be yours, either. I can bet that if you make the effort to dismiss your demons right from where you currently stand then you will find the same excitement and happiness in your life that you may dream about with that one-way ticket to Whatever Country. So go and do it all. Or don’t. Travel isn’t the answer; I can promise you that from this side of the equator. I am a firm believer in travel but an even bigger advocate of self-care from no matter what corner of the world you are.

  • girltravel
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Struggling With Infertility? You’re Not Alone. Wed, 01 Feb 2017 16:41:15 +0000 This might be the most personal I’ve ever gotten online. I can remember shaking with nerves when this video interview was first posted to YouTube. See, I’m supposed to be the one inspiring others with health and wellness – sharing pictures of perfect kale smoothies and video tips on how to get strong flat abs. I never imagined I’d be posting Instagram selfies in pre-surgery hospital scrubs and a video interview with a psychologist about the very real struggles with infertility.

But here we are.

The fact is, no matter how much acupuncture you do, or how pristine your paleo/gluten/dairy-free organic diet is, or how many Naturopath recommended supplements you take – infertility still happens. Miscarriages still happen.

There should be NO shame in this. But it still exists. Women often don’t openly share their struggles precisely because of this outrageous notion that they’ve done something wrong to deserve it – that they are somehow inadequate. Shame around this topic breeds silence, and silence is so, so isolating for the 1 in 8 couples experiencing infertility.

The fact is, women’s bodies bear the double burden of invasive medical interventions and society’s judgement when it comes to infertility, regardless of the cause. I’m sharing my story to let others know they are not alone. There is no more room for shame in this conversation of infertility.

Please watch part 1 of this conversation about the struggle of infertility with Dr. Stacy Thomas .


  • nikkibergeninfertility
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