Blog # 53 My Dad

IMG_8474.PNG

My Dad loved nature, birds, stars, planets and rocks. I can still recall him best through natural elements. He was a very handsome man but wasn’t vain. He was not educated but was smart and read the newspaper from cover to cover every day. He worked hard and took seriously his role as provider to his wife and four children.  He didn’t talk to me much because he was a man of few words and little encouragement. For a large part of my life I don’t think he liked me much either. He had a bad temper and seemed to be trapped by his anger. But I remember sitting on his lap when I was a little girl in front of the  humble, tiny little house we called a summer cottage (which is now someones garage) where we would have campfires on warm summer nights. I felt so safe there gazing up at the vast night sky with the stars and the full moon seeming to look down at us with that familiar crooked smile. Dads hand pointing wildly to show me the big dipper.

My Dad liked beer and he was probably a little drunk that night but I won’t ever forget the feeling of being his daughter by that fire under that moon.

I know now that he loved me, didn’t always like me but he loved me. I realize that life was hard for him and he took it all on his shoulders. Joy didn’t seem to come easily to him but bitterness and resentment did. When he died I felt a combination of relief and regret, grief, loss and fear.

liana-de-laurent-de-laurent-1603947-unsplash.jpg

Relieved because of our awkward, sometimes strained relationship and the grip it had on me, regret because there was no way to ever repair it, grief because we was my Dad, loss and fear because our family would never be the same.

I had no way of knowing how our lives would change a few months later. I left my husband and found true love, soon after that my middle sister abruptly cut me out of her life completely. Our family is but a shadow of what it once was. I think that my Dad was actually holding it all together in his own way. His quiet strength was the glue. It all came undone after he died. So Father’s Day is a time to take stock of the importance of the Dads in our lives. What are they holding up? What would come crashing down if they were gone? Sometimes this is less obvious than we may realize…


Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads!

And sending love, support and encouragement to all of the sons and daughters who’s Dads are no longer here or things may not be what you would hope for…

Love,

Dragon + Bunny




Blog #52 Is fighting a sign of a healthy relationship?

LISTEN HERE

Is conflict a healthy expression of intimacy or a harmful barrier? Bunny has something to say.

adli-wahid-1262338-unsplash.jpg

Things we commonly hear about fighting:

It’s important and healthy to fight because it allows couples to learn how to communicate more effectively.

Or

fighting is necessary because it gets things out in the open


I am curious about this. I know I have heard it so often and surely even said it myself.

These words have comforted me and helped to justify the fighting in my relationships. Fighting that never felt healthy, important or necessary but I assured myself it was something that had to be worked through in order to be in a relationship.

Right?

Yes?

I mean everyone says so. Everyone fights they say. It’s normal. Our parents fought, their parents fought and couples represented in film and television regularly fight.. It’s what all couples do. Or at least it’s what we’re constantly told.

eric-tompkins-1609795-unsplash.jpg

Weird though that we don’t give the same permission to kids in a classroom setting. When a conflict arises we abruptly shut it down, demand apologies and regurgitate messages of  instant reconciliation.

Theories of community building suggest that conflict is not only normal and healthy but a vital part of establishing a meaningful and effective “true” version of community.


I would like to share my personal experience.

Our experience and impression of conflict can vary tremendously. Both in my family and in my romantic relationships, mine was largely unpleasant, left me feeling small and scared.

But I endured it because I believed that it was normal and healthy.

Dragon and I have been together for nearly eight years and will be celebrating 5 years of marriage in August.  We have never had a fight and I have never felt small or scared. The best part is that I have never been in a healthier, more communicative, loving and safe relationship in my life, without conflict. .

Screen Shot 2019-06-09 at 8.06.42 AM.png

Have we disagreed? Of course!

Did we listen to one another?

Yes of course! But without intimidating, shouting, hurting or diminishing one another.

So, if conflict is defined as a space where there are differences then yes, I agree this is an unavoidable and essential part of the journey but it doesn’t have to cause harm.

That’s the essential thing.

What is your experience of conflict? Has it been a healthy expression of intimacy or a harmful barrier towards it?


Blog #51 My Favourite childhood Book

LISTEN HERE

I was probably about 7 years old when my class went to the school library with the single purpose of looking at books. We could choose which books to read and select where we wanted to read them. I loved the autonomy of the library plus the quiet, carpeted room was soothing to me. Perhaps in contrast to the more institutional, structured classroom setting where we spent most of our time.

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 8.12.32 PM.png

I remember loving one book in particular… The Tiger who Came to Tea. I would sit on the carpeted floor in an unpopulated nook of the library and devour the illustrations, drinking in every detail.

Better still, the fun didn’t stop there… we had, what I perceived as the ultimate luxury, of taking books home! Yes that’s right, I got to bring my favourite piece of school home with me to show my mother. It was as though she could see a snapshot of my imagination on those pages. I was so excited to share. I read the book so many times that I had memorized the pages, each detail and word.

I loved this book in the quiet unassuming way that a child loves. Not because it was cool or because I was told I should or I was imitating someone else. I loved it because it spoke to me. It lit up my imagination, made me curious. I saw myself on the pages and wished I could be a part of the story.

This book impacted me, impacted the way I drew, the way I thought, the way I dreamed and what I believed. I believed that Tigers could come to tea and that parents would accommodate them.

Just last week the author of this precious work, Judith Kerr, died at the age of 95. She described herself as “incredibly lucky”. She published her first book (The Tiger who came to Tea) at the age of 45. Last week it struck me that she had no idea how much her book meant and I somehow wanted her to know. The same day I was lending a brilliant new novel that had touched me deeply to a friend who I believed would also be impacted by the book. Similarly, this author (Sophie Macintosh) would never know. I have only rarely reached out and written to an author to share my appreciation. So often, we acquire books through libraries or borrowed from friends and the author has no trace of these transactions.


Art is like that…

You create something

You set it free

And it may soar into the hearts of a few or if we are very lucky many… but mostly we never really know.

Art can save lives, transform us, art gives meaning, art lifts us up, art teaches us about ourselves and pushes boundaries, ignites our imagination, wakes us up! Art is personal and intimate and reaches us in ways sometimes that literally only art can. Often there are no words only sensations and feelings that can light up parts of our brain in new and important ways.

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 8.18.07 PM.png

But as creators we may never know the depth and breadth of this impact. Is it 1000 people we wish to reach or one person 1000 fold?

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 8.09.56 PM.png

This morning we read our book The Butterfly Trap to around 100 kids and the look in their eyes, the way they connected to the story with their gaze, their joyful laughter and enthusiasm was elating for us. We wrote this book because we wish to connect, to make meaning, to challenge ideas and to help kids make sense of the world.

We received more positive feedback this morning than perhaps we ever have and there are hardly any words to describe how it feels to learn that your art is having a positive impact. The question we received most often though was…

Do you have other books?”

We had better get busy!!!

Love,

Dragon + Bunny

(photo credit Lower Canada College)




Blog #49 Failure doesn't Always Suck

LISTEN HERE

Failure doesn’t always suck...

clem-onojeghuo-90394-unsplash.jpg

Last weekend  we took part in a craft fair. We broke our 5 year hiatus, woke up early filled with enthusiasm, boxes already neatly packed by the door and ready to tackle the day. We arrived and unpacked, equipped with a new tablecloth which we had selected with great care by the way, we had a pretty bowl of candies for our visitors, new business cards and a money box complete with change for all of the transactions we were sure we would make.

Within about 15 minutes of being installed at our booth, we sat among the other vendors who had the same distant look on their faces and Dragon looked at me and said… “now do you remember why we stopped doing craft fairs?” I started laughing because I was glad she said it first. Truthfully, I was feeling it too but I was trying to look on the bright side. It all came rushing back to me …

Craft fairs are not for everyone and I think it’s fair to say that they are officially not for us.

But failure doesn’t always suck. In fact, we wrote a fun song that day, we laughed and talked to some really nice people. We shared some advice with a fellow vendor who was just 14 years old with the hopes that she could benefit from some of the things we have learned over the years, among other highlights.

So it certainly wasn’t all lost, it never is.

Failure doesn’t suck because you learn what not to do next time.

Here’s another failure for you… We had to cancel our workshop that was scheduled to run on Victoria Day Monday. We were so excited to host a Spring themed kids workshop and to collaborate with our friend Fiona. We had already begun dreaming and planning. The registration process was underway but some people cancelled and we couldn’t fill the minimum number of spots to offer the event. One of the hopes I secretly had was that we would fill the remaining workshops spots at the craft fair. I was wrong. The most popular thing at our craft fair table that day were the free candies.

Screen Shot 2019-05-18 at 7.55.04 PM.png

So, it is with some disappointment and humility that we accept these circumstances. The situation sucks, because we were looking forward to the workshop but the failure doesn’t because failure is a great teacher.

  • Failure means you tried

  • Failure offers important insights

  • Failure is a friend that affords learning opportunities and growth.


Screen Shot 2019-05-18 at 8.19.55 PM.png

These set backs can’t keep us down …we are hatching new plans and dreams and are not giving up on future workshops and opportunities. In fact, in others news, Dragon took the plunge this week and approached KidLink on Monkland about carrying our book and sure enough, The Butterfly Trap can now be found on the shelves of one of Montreal’s finest children’s book and toy shops!

We still have so many hopes and dreams for The Butterfly Trap and are beyond grateful to have you guys along with us!

Onwards and Upwards!

Thanks for your support

Love,

Bunny and Dragon


Teacher Talk

Old Ms. Kuki had a Farm

Old Ms. Kuki had a Farm

Hello lovely people, Kuki / Dragon here. The other day Bunny and I were giving each other our daily recap of “how was work today?” and it dawned on us; maybe YOU, our loyal blog readers, would like a little glimpse into the precious moments of a kindergarten teacher! Honestly, I have sooooo many stories and I probably forget most of them even before I get home, lol, but I do have a few that have stuck with me over the years and I would like to share some of these precious gems with you. So here we go.

Kindergarten and Reading

There is this magical moment for some children in kindergarten when they finally start to crack the code of reading. It’s almost like a superpower that gets bestowed onto them. (Disclaimer: not all children begin reading in kindergarten and that’s OK ) When this does happen, they are filled with this incredible joy and their thirst for more explodes. For some it begins with letter-sound correspondence, that’s when they can recall the sounds that each letter-symbol make. For others, it’s when they can read CVC, consonant-vowel-consonant words. Everyone blooms at different times, but each time they connect, it’s special. It is one of the many privileges of being a teacher, to be a part of this process.

--

A few years ago I had a student who came into kindergarten able to read…

One day I had prepared a morning message on flip chart paper before my students arrived. As they sat down for circle time, he began to read the message aloud before we even started. When he finished reading another child shouted:

“WAIT! How did you do THAT!? How do you know it says that!? THAT’S MAGIC!”

I couldn’t hide the smile on my face.

 --

Another goodie, is when we start to decode CVC words and blend the individual letter sounds/phonemes together. They begin by sounding out each initial phoneme and then slowly blending them together until… BOOM! They say the written word and their eyes light up with joy! At this point I’m celebrating by “raising the roof” like Arsenio Hall and pumping them up because they succeeded. It’s really fun and things can get a little crazy!

 --

People have asked me, “What can I do to help my child learn to read?” What I usually say is that they need a good understanding of their letter-sounds, being read to daily and last but definitely not least, make reading fun and special. In class I like to shut the curtains and bring out flashlights for a special reading atmosphere, or to send home special stuffed animals to whom the students can read to. I’ve even made tents, caves and farm houses to make reading fun and special. Currently in kinder, my French teaching partner and I are co-reading a chapter book to our group in both languages. She will read a few chapters in French, then I will take over and read the next few in English! They LOVE IT!!!

Reading by the fire

Reading by the fire

Reading with flashlights

Reading with flashlights

Here’s a challenge for you! Try reading our book, The Butterfly Trap outdoors, or even with a flashlight tonight. I can assure you that if you make reading fun they will want to read more. We need to model a love of reading in our digital world.

Let us know what book you are reading and how you are making reading fun.

Have a good one, bookworms!

Love,

Kuki and Lee-Ann

Dragon & Bunny

IMG_7666.jpg

Letting go....

IMG_7683.jpg

Today would have been my sister Lynn’s birthday. She was my eldest sibling and when I was a young child she used to take me shopping downtown on exciting bus adventures with the incredibly generous offer of buying me anything I wanted in the entire department store as long as I called her Mom lol! I remember choosing a huge stuffed animal because that seemed like the most audacious thing to do with such an audacious offer!

She moved out when I was very young so I don’t have many memories of her living at home but I do remember sleeping at her cool, modern, high rise apartment and admiring her for her confidence, style, beauty and sense of humour.

IMG_7691.jpg

Our family has endured some major struggles these past years beginning with the passing of our Dad, followed by my divorce and estrangement from my middle sister shortly after, Mum’s stroke and most recently the loss of Lynn which took place almost three years ago.

So when I tell you that things are complicated, this may help to explain it. I know that all families fight and that conflict can be a productive way of resolving issues and even strengthening bonds, this isn’t what I’m talking about when I refer to our situation. I won’t get into the details but suffice it to say that there have been some grave, irreparable fractures which compounded the sadness of Lynn’s death even further.

When Lynn fell ill several years ago, prior to Mum’s stroke, with the earliest signs of disease, my brother, Mother, Kuki and I went to visit her in hospital right away. To say she wasn’t overjoyed to see us would be an understatement. As I mentioned, for years there was conflict which translated to long periods of silence. One of the first times I broke that silence was when I called her to tell her the news that our Father had died. But the thing is, I always felt that she had my back, that the weight of family conflict that arose was somehow not my burden to carry. Perhaps it was because I was the youngest and she was the oldest but we never really had a terribly complicated relationship. The hardest part was that we shared the same family that was such a source of pain for her. She would ask me “How is your mother or how is your brother?”

When she met Kuki for the first time after my divorce, she was so welcoming and understanding, didn’t even flinch when she learned that we were together. She came to our wedding and generously let us stay at her cottage as a wedding gift. We cherished her support.

She only revealed the magnitude of her cancer to me in confidence when I called to tell her that Mum had had a stroke. I was in a panic driving to the E.R to see Mum, not even knowing what was going on. My head was spinning when she told me on the phone but I swore I would keep her secret. And I did. She was a big support to me when Mum was recovering in hospital and rehab and would call  most nights for updates and to check in.

When she became progressively more sick I began to notice as our conversations changed. She wasn’t always logical and her speech could be a bit slurred. She sometimes got angry at things that didn’t happen. But when I would apologize and try to explain myself she would admit that she was sorry too and didn’t always make sense.

We brought her food and hung out with her and her husband from time to time. The disease progressed quickly at the end and soon she stopped eating and lay calmly in her bedroom in a hospital bed. Her husband caring for her from the comfort of their home.

IMG_4673.jpg
IMG_7690.JPG

It isn’t easy to die of cancer. I will refrain from sharing the details here as I want you to know Lynn the way you see her in this picture: Confident, outrageous, beautiful, spirited and unstoppable! It isn’t easy to watch your sister die of cancer especially when you are the only member of your immediate family who was a part of it. It felt so scary and lonely. I am so grateful for the immense support of my wife who was there with me through every layer, however. I’m quite sure I couldn’t have done it without her. There is so much vulnerability and intimacy in death. I don’t even think that there is language to capture it. If there is I don’t know it. Lynn’s devoted husband of 40 years and her two sons and their partners and children were present. We looked at pictures and shared memories and laughed just a few feet away from her door the night before she died. There was something about that time together that felt sacred and holy to me and that I can hardly describe. The immaterial world is hard to describe. Sometimes I wonder if it’s even meant to be. Letting go of my sister was so sad. Seeing my beautiful, fierce, charismatic sister succumb to death and knowing that the rest of the family didn’t say goodbye to her broke my heart even further.

This idea of letting go of things we love is not easy. To be honest, the first draft of The Butterfly Trap was dedicated to my first dog Shady with the words “This book is dedicated to the memory of Shady who taught me how to let go”

I’m not very good at letting go. I tend to hold on tight. I tend to cling. I can be scared of letting go as letting go is scary thing to do. But just as Luki learned in The Butterfly Trap, loving something doesn’t mean putting it in a cage, you can love something deeply and meaningfully even if it’s not on a leash, in your grasp, or under the blankets with you. I still love my sister. I still feel her presence and will always be affected by the ways that she made me laugh and shocked me with her audacity. She was my big sister and big sisters leave an indelible mark. She was the only sister I had since my other sister cut me off almost eight years ago. So I have had to let go and I know that this is a part of the process of loving. Isn’t there a ridiculous cliche about loving and letting go. It doesn’t make it any easier or less painful because losing those we love is both of these things but it’s a part of the journey.

In the final pages of The Butterfly Trap Luki and her mother decide to spend the rest of their day outside in the garden counting butterflies flying free. Perhaps that is what we can do, look up and count our blessings and take stock of all the love, the love we still have, the love we once had, the love we have had to set free, the love we know now and the love that is still unknown to us….

Hooray for Butterflies flying free just as they are meant to be

Rest in Peace, Lynn and Happy Birthday to you my dear sister.


What we’ve learned from our dogs (cat blog to follow lol)

drew-hays-28855-unsplash.jpg

People have told me that I don’t know love because I haven’t had a child. Well, Dragon and I haven’t had any children but we have loved beyond our wildest dreams!

When Dragon and I first met, she told me that she loved dogs and that she once had a dog  named Pippin. A glorious Siberian Husky who would howl with delight whenever Dragon came home. I was skeptical and unconvinced that she was a dog person, I thought that she kind of loved the dog the way that many people do as an afterthought. Until we started dog parenting together and I learned that all of the other dogs she would love, were part of Pippin’s legacy. There are few people who love as fiercely and deeply as Dragon.

david-klein-414676-unsplash.jpg

Our fur family has taught us so much about the bonds of love and the deep loyalty and connection of family.

My first dog was named Shady and was an SPCA rescue who came into my life when I was barely 21 and in my first apartment. She was a pup herself a tiny little furry black creature who was literally one of the great blessings of my life. I was scared of dogs and didn’t know what to do. She was given to me as a gift on my birthday. Upon arrival, she was placed in a closed room in my apartment with newspapers on the floor. I didn’t know what to make of her. I went to her on her first night and lay on the floor with her and talked to her. She seemed as timid and uncertain as me. That’s when I decided that we could do this.

She was such a beautiful, sweet, kind, easy, loving and perfect dog. As she grew, people would stop and ask me if she was a belgian shepherd. When I told them that she was a shelter dog they were in disbelief.

She was my first dog and she was a sheer delight! She bonded to me and it seemed she could read my mind. She was off leash most of the time and I was so confident with her. We had almost 10 years together and I am so grateful for every moment. When she died I was gutted. I think that a part of me knew that there would never be another dog like Shady. She taught me about the quiet ways of love that are beyond words and species. She also was the first to teach me that love also means letting go. I was so scared to start over as I couldn’t imagine enduring that pain again. Soon, I started researching dog breeds and learning about dog temperament. I became obsessed with dogs and carried a dog breed manual with me while visiting the local SPCA regularly. I had decided that the best way to honour her memory was to have more dogs and keep loving them and name them after her…

jeroen-bosch-774973-unsplash.jpg

Enter Shawn….  The fluffy, wild little black and white border collie who wanted little to do with me and everything to do with chasing a tennis ball. I loved Shawn to the moon and back and poured every ounce of myself into him. I was determined to give him things that Shady lacked. Sadly, Shawn lost a leg in a tragic hit and run while being walked off leash by my ex when he was barely four months old. There are no words to describe how distraught I was when he was in hospital being treated for life threatening injuries. Several weeks and surgeries later he emerged from hospital minus a leg and I began the journey of being a special needs dog mom. Oh! The places we would go! We enjoyed 13.5 years of adventures, walks, countless frisbees, tennis balls, hikes and swimming, dog camp, birthday parties and nature in all the  weather. He taught me how hard love can be and so much about dogs and how wrong things can go. (Because it all did go wrong with him I’m just leaving out the countless calamities of his life). He was my sweet sweet prince and my heart grew with every click of the leash to his collar.

dandrew-photography-1484516-unsplash.jpg

Shannon was dog number three. She is still in our lives. She is a very geriatric chihuahua who has always been a fussy old lady. Her golden years suit her perfectly! She is so thin and tiny and can hardly see or hear. She barks to be fed and refuses meals that aren’t to her liking. She enjoys sunbeams and naps on soft blankets. She has passed her 17th birthday already and is by far the oldest dog we have ever had. She was Shawn’s little sister and we enjoyed so many adventures together. Although she was known to refuse walks in inclement weather, she used to love getting out in the sunshine by the water with the hopes of catching the trail of the elusive muskrat… which she would chase with an uncharacteristically fierce passion!  

There was a fourth dog named Betsy. She came to us already named at 10 years old, having  been rehomed four times before becoming a member of our family. Yes, that’s right, we had three dogs for a while. Shawn, Shannon and Betsy! We laugh now as we remember those crazy dog days! But Betsy was a treasure! Our hearts were bursting with love for her! She was the sweetest little creature who craved nothing more than some comfort and cuddles. Knowing that she had endured so many changes and such rejection in her life, we were determined to make it up to her. We could hardly imagine how anyone could let her go. But we too had to let her go quite suddenly when she was diagnosed with cancer in her belly. She stopped eating and became very flat following a series of tests we learned the worst. This news came to us only months after we had lost Shawn and it was devastating!

So what have we learned from our dogs?

robert-lukeman-150146-unsplash.jpg

We have learned that love is painful and beautiful and can make you move mountains and weep waterfalls and fill your heart with a deep, growing indescribable joy.

We are so lucky to have loved and lost and we know that every time you love, the universe expands its capacity to love. So keep on loving boldly, deeply, fearlessly and furiously. That’s what we have learned from them.

Subscribe now to stay connected + for updates


Workshops for the Win! Blog #45

mike-fox-467487-unsplash.jpg

LISTEN HERE

Our first Workshop and collaboration! Whaaaaat!!!!


We missed you guys last week but we are back and we have news!


We love to workshop with kids! We love the self expression, creative energy, freedom and flow that this setting provides.  

I spent over 20 years in classrooms with children of all ages before I joined the nonprofit sector and during this time my love and appreciation for children’s creativity has blossomed.

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 12.09.00 PM.png

I am soooooo excited to be partnering with two other creatives who share my passion and enthusiasm!

In fact, Kuki and I dreamed of collaborating with Fiona (Fionsy Doll Party) early on in our book publishing journey. We had been watching her grow her doll making concept in schools, camps and party settings with admiration and respect! We heard how many kids were delighting in her programs. I mean, who can resist? Building your own creation from recycled materials…. It’s awesome on every level!

So, here we are! A Spring workshop is now on the horizon!

We met up with Fi a few months ago to start dreaming this up. We thought a workshop would be the perfect setting to combine all of our gifts and skills.

jyotirmoy-gupta-466176-unsplash.jpg

Here’s how it’s going to roll.

We are accepting 15 participants for a full afternoon of creativity and self expression!

What to expect?

  • Yoga (movement, games, meditation + mindfullness)

  • Doll making

  • Creative storytelling

  • Music

  • Self expression


New! Spring themed workshops for kids aged 6-11.png

Soooo…… that’s it! We honestly can’t wait to make this day come to life with your kids!

Get in touch because spaces are filling up!

REGISTER NOW





What does it mean to be gay blog #44


LISTEN HERE

This week we were asked to blog on this topic. We are so grateful because now we don’t have to think about it! Although we certainly don’t have any particular specialization in this areas we are happy to share our opinion and experiences…


Here we go…. I will go first and Dragon will follow


What does it mean to be gay according to Bunny.


For me, it means not being in a heterosexual relationship and not self identifying as hetero but let me be clear, that for others this might mean something totally different and I am not presuming what this means for them.


This blog is about me lol… now you know why I like blogging so much! Me me me….


Ok, back to the question. What does it mean to be gay?


Well, as I said, I can tell you what it means to me. I identify as a lesbian. This feels right for me.  Although this hasn’t always felt as clear. I have listened to the comments of others who have challenged this, asserting that I couldn’t be gay and that it is only Kuki that I fell in love with or that I must be bisexual because I had only ever been with men prior to her. When I first came out in the Fall of 2011, I was scared and uncertain and let people openly draw these conclusions. I was confused and trying to make sense of the situation myself.

I’m not sure when it clicked but suddenly it did. Just like that I realized that I had the agency to identify for myself and this wasn’t open to interpretation by others. I think the clarity came for me when I began to consider the letters in the acronym LGBTQ+ and became curious to learn about other members of the community, in particular those who identified as trans. I started to read books and watch documentaries and queer films and listen to the stories of the community. I found this very helpful.  I learned that some people know they are queer and / or are same sex attracted and / or feel misidentified by their biology from a very young age while others come to terms with this much later in life. Again, this is not open to interpretation. This is based solely on the experience of the individuals in question. Period.

I would often hear, “You can’t be gay, you were married to a man. You would have known”  and I would think yes. That’s true. I can’t be gay so what is going on then?

But the more I learned about people whose life doesn’t follow a linear path or make sense or subscribe to the social norms and boxes that we so dearly love, the more I realized that it was possible to be gay even though I was married to a man and even though I liked pink stuff and played with Barbies as a child. (My mother actually did say that to me at one point … but you always liked Barbies, aren’t you supposed to born gay? God bless her)

So, what does it mean to be gay? I don’t know what it means to you because it is your absolute right to be who you are, however that looks, and to allow yourself the freedom and opportunity to outgrow your gender or sexual identity and to expect your friends and family to allow you to flourish. I can only tell you what it means for me.


Our book The Butterfly Trap was not only important for us creatively, it also deepened our relationship and it felt like another step in our coming out journey. Queer people often describe coming out as something you do over and over. First we came out to our friends and fam, then at work, then we got married and stood in front of our whole community and the court of law, then we collaborated on and published our book. The assumption is always that you’re straight so our bio is unapologetically there on the pages of our book and we just decided to put it out there for all of our readers. We’re here and we’re queer lol


This is what it means to be gay. Being unapologetically and unwaveringly me. (and loving it) lol


Screen Shot 2019-03-30 at 12.04.05 PM.png


Ok, now it’s my turn, Kuki aka Dragon to answer the question: What does it mean to be gay?According to Dragon

 

Honestly, it means to be ME, corny and cliché as it sounds, it’s true. I knew I was different when I was little. I was the stereotypical “tomboy” although I disliked that term when I was little until I came across a soccer add featuring Julie Foudy:

Tomboy.
Alright, call me a tomboy.
Tomboys get medals. Tomboys win championships.
Tomboys can fly.
Oh, and tomboys aren’t boys.
— Julie Foudy

I never felt like a boy, I just liked the same stereotypical things. I liked Ninja Turtles not Barbies. I played sports and cops and robbers. This was my experience, these were my interests, but please be aware this did not “make me gay” I was born this way.

 

During my process of coming out there were comments made to me that questioned my interests and activities as a youth. Was it because you played sports? Was it because you went to an all girls school? No and No. I always knew, but didn’t know; I guess the same way a person who likes the opposite gender just knows.

 

I went through a phase where I tried to be girly and wear high heels and dresses, even pretended to have a crush on a boy but it never felt real. It felt like I was always in costume. I couldn’t recognize myself as that person. Slowly, I started accepting that wearing pants and dress shirts are beautiful as well, and that it’s ok if someone “thinks I’m gay” because I AM! I now proudly define my style as Ellen DeGeneres meets quirky preppie. Although I still have some students draw me wearing a dress, more and more are taking note that I wear pants and that I do look different. I think this is a great opportunity to show them that girls don’t have to have long hair and wear a dress.

 

Being gay is not easy, I do have a fear that someone will not like me simply because of who I married, I do worry that I will be stared at and judged for kissing my wife in public.

 

I was terrified when I first came out to my colleagues at work, but they embraced me/us with open arms and have been such a tremendous support ever since. The thing is, I was afraid we weren’t going to be acknowledged, but we were treated like any other couple who were about to get married. The staff collected money and bought us a lovely gift and a very thoughtful card. You see, the fear of not counting, of not being seen was huge and that is why I felt the push to be out with my students.

 

IMG_0180.jpg
IMG_0195.jpg

I want all my students and especially the ones who have same sex parents to hear about my wife and all of our adventures. I want them to be represented, to have stories that mirror their life. And that is why our character Luki, her family and “The Butterfly Trap” is so important. It depicts Luki’s mother in pants and a dress shirt woodworking in the attic. In this story we can’t tell if Luki has one mom, two moms or a mom and dad or another guardian. There are such great books already written about same-sex parents like “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell and “Heather has Two Mommies” by Leslea Newman. In Luki’s next adventure, we plan on introducing another parental figure, and not making it the main purpose of the story. Stay tuned, Luki’s adventures have just begun.

Thanks for being here!!

Love,

Dragon and Bunny

Blog #42 and #43 3 Fun Facts about Dragon according to Bunny (uncensored) and 3 Fun Facts about Bunny according to Dragon

LISTEN HERE

3 Fun Facts about Dragon according to Bunny (uncensored)

OMG where do I begin? I just think about her and my heart goes pitter patter. She is truly the most incredible person! She is beautiful, funny smart and sweet. I literally can’t get enough of her but let me try and come up with 3 fun facts that might intrigue you.

15697298_10206759280854607_5411267496892571995_n.jpg

NOTE: She hasn’t seen this so she will be as surprised as you!!!!!

  1. She is fierce and competitive. You may already know that she is an athlete and has been playing organized sports since she was a child. Yes, that’s right, Kuki was an avid soccer and ringuette player, even dabbled in basketball and rugby too. But I think it’s fair to say that she really found herself as a hockey goalie in her late teens. Many years later, she still plays ice hockey at least twice a week and is in the gym training most days she is not playing. She listens to goalie podcasts, has a goalie coach, reads goalie books and is a huge Habs fan (especially Carey). Goalies are unique. As they tend the net, their game is as much mental as it is physical. They endure a lot of pressure and responsibility. It is quite impressive actually. Hats off to goalies everywhere! Now, here comes the real talk. The flip side of being an athlete means having a lot of determination and passion which at times can translate to anger and rage! If you follow hockey, you are familiar with videos of goalies losing their Sh”*t! Well, I have heard and seen Kuki do the same thing. Swearing, smashing her stick and losing control on the ice. Her teammates have seen it too and have learned when to avoid her to let her cool off. I have to admit, that on the one hand I don’t like to see her upset and I empathize because I know she can be really hard on herself. On the other hand I am secretly amused by her. I love her passion and her drive. Most people are shocked to learn about this. So, here’s Fun fact number 1! Kuki is a beast on the ice!

15193702_1490364640992003_2119332523511140661_n.jpg

2. She loves dogs / cats. I mean, she really loves them. Like in much the same way that I do. When people say they love animals I always nod and smile because it might mean they think animals are cute, they used to have a goldfish, they like to watch silly pet videos on Youtube or whatever. When I met Kuki I had two dogs and a cat and  they were my life. I love them in the life altering way that you might love a family member. I prepared all of their food from scratch, I would make sure their daily exercise needs were met at the expense of other hobbies and interests, and I even took a solo vacation with my dog Shawn to a week long dog camp in Southern Vermont exclusively for dogs and their parents. So, when she told me that she loved animals I thought… yes, that’s nice. But it was only when we started to get to know each other more and when we were falling in love that I watched her take on the role of pet parent and be as devoted, loving and kind to the fur fam as me, if not more! She is an incredible caregiver, a dog and cat whisperer, and she blows me away with her overall care concern for them and their needs (Swoon).

3. She is a wicked talented artist. She has two art degrees on top of her Education degree. She has done so much personal reflection and introspection through the process of art making. She is gifted and loves to draw and sculpt. She has a talent for rendering portraits and still life with skill and accuracy. She has also worked in performance, installation and textiles. Kuki loves a challenge and for her art mediums are tools for learning, processing and discovery. I am fascinated when she tells me stories about her creative art projects and her vision to use math, statistics and quirky social experiments to draw conclusions. The way her mind works is unbelievable. She is a natural problem solver and this is obvious even in the way she conceives of and makes her art. I know that sometimes she is frustrated and misses her fine art days. But she finds some solace in her role as a Kindergarten teacher where her classroom and students are her project that she is so passionate about. Oh! And of course, our combined effort: DragonBunny Books!

kelly-sikkema-450720-unsplash.jpg

bunny and dragon.jpg

Fun Facts about Bunny

written by Dragon

Ok so Bunny just told me that we are going to write a Top 3 Fun Facts about each other. She won’t even let me see her intro. I have no idea which direction this is going, at least it will be fun. Joy and fun are such crucial aspects of life. It’s important to relish those moments. I just listened to a great hockey goalie podcast “Goalie by Garmen” where he gives some great insight both on being a goalie and on life in general. He encourages us to remember our successes because it’s all too easy to remember the last goal that went in and not the other 15 saves you made before that.

Celebrate your successes! Now, let’s celebrate Lee-Ann Matthews, the Bunny herself.

 

Here are my Top 3 Fun Facts about Bunny by me, Kuki, the Dragon.

1.     Fun Fact #1 Gym Rat

Bunny is a beast in the gym! You would be amazed at this little 5-foot-2 woman. She loves to challenge herself and lifts as much as she can. She’ll ask me: “How many reps do you do?” If I answer 6, she will do 12. Bunny is constantly challenging herself to improve. If you saw her “pipes” you would say that she’s Kelly Ripa’s twin! Don’t mess with her!!!

Even though she doesn’t typically play organized sports, she is really competitive at badminton, like REALLY competitive. I like to think I’m the sporty one in the relationship, but SHE is the badminton champ. I can’t even believe it. It actually bugs me because I really want to win. I might have to get some private coaching to help me out over here.

2.     Fun Fact #2 Teacher Extraordinaire

IMG_0483.JPG

Bunny taught for many years as a preschool teacher. I remember being so inspired by her drive to create activities and her ability to remember a million and one songs off the top of her head. It’s also one of the reasons why I love her so much. She is so passionate about teaching, animating and the well-being of little humans.

One of her dreams was to be a kindergarten teacher. She would have been the best kindergarten teacher this world has known. She has a natural gift to see the world through the eyes of young children and is able to create incredible learning opportunities with ease. I try every day to be a fraction of the teacher that Bunny is. She is such an inspiration to me.

3.     Fun Fact #3: Singing

Did you know that Bunny sings randomly at least 10 times a day? Sometimes it’s not even real words, just loud sounds in an opera voice! This is our normal, call it vocal warm-up or just plain silly, it happens all the time at home. Thank God our animals are old and can’t hear as well. Jeremiah the cat can still hear, but he is a scaredy cat; he runs away if you look at him. We could never have this much fun with our border collie Shawn around. He would start barking and yipping and literally make us stop. We called him the “No Fun Police”. Shawn passed away 5 years ago this summer and our singing has never been the same.

Not only does Lee love to sing, she has an amazing voice as well. She has an incredible ability to remember the lyrics to songs and can harmonize anything! I forgot to mention that her rhyming ability is phenomenal. She can pop out a song in minutes! All I have to do is find a chord pattern and BOOM! Song is written! Stay tuned for our next single!

That’s it for this week’s blog! We did it! We broke the writer’s block!

You can always like, comment and share to show your support and don’t forget to Subscribe!

Love,

Dragon and Bunny

Blog # 42 Why do we blog? What's the point and who even reads it?

Why do we do this?

LISTEN HERE

keila-hotzel-996448-unsplash.jpg
IMG_1362 copy.jpg

This week somebody asked us why we blog? They asked, why do you do it and what is the point? Then followed up with, who even reads it?

The question was a little jarring because the truth is, creating blog content takes time and energy which given all that we do is already in short supply. So, ya, why do we even bother?

This got us thinking.

My initial reaction was, why do painters make paintings? Why do poets write poetry? Why do creatives create? Because that is what we do, that is what we have always done as a means of processing information, of building communities, understanding one another and ourselves. Ideally, these processes are not only therapeutic and helpful for the creator. Ideally, self expression creates large ripples and opens us up to one another.

I mean, isn’t connection the whole reason and purpose for life?

desiree-fawn-68030-unsplash.jpg
IMG_0311.jpg

When I first fell in love with dragon, I was distraught because it meant forfeiting so many things that I thought were essential. I had a house, a business, and an established marriage that was holding it all together. I was speaking to a therapist at the time and was in distress about the ways in which I feared I had failed and she reminded me that connection is the whole purpose of life, that deep meaningful connection is why we are here. I can’t tell you how that helped me.


Connection trumps everything.


Dragon and I took took a huge risk by being together. It was scary and uncertain. But after 7+ years, we can safely say that cultivating this connection has enhanced how we connect to others. We have deeper and more meaningful relationships and stronger ties to our community since we have been together.

Our connection has created waves of connection that are life giving.

That is why we wrote The Butterfly Trap.  That is why we are working on our next book. That is why we believe in the process of art making and storytelling and that is why we write a blog.

Thanks for being here.

SUBSCRIBE



Dragon is Back and is she is Blogging!

D865C6C9-7409-4589-A892-7421AE1426AC.JPG

Reflections from my Cali Conference Adventure

LISTEN HERE


Last week I left for California with my kindergarten colleagues. I know Bunny was nervous about me leaving, but what you may not know is that I was as well. She is my best friend, my wife and someone who I just like to be around as much as I can. Gushy I know but it’s true. She has gone away for conferences before, but that was before Shannon (our 17-year-old Chihuahua) was so old and had so many persistent needs that are best met by both of us. I kissed our little dog on the head before I left, though I was worried and didn’t like saying good bye, I continued on.

I had to pack the night before as I still had a full day of teaching before me. Ok, Bunny packed for me as she often/always is my fashion consultant in the mornings, so I of course needed her to plan my outfits for the conference! I feel a sense of duty to represent the queer, gender non-conforming females out there and to make the statement that Yes, it’s ok to wear pants!

Last Thursday was a crazy day, I taught all morning, coached basketball at lunch, had a meeting right before literally running to the taxi that would take us to the airport. Once we were at the airport though, the reality sank in: we- are- going- to- CALI! I recalled selecting my workshops with great anticipation, as this is my first ever teachers’ conference and I couldn’t  wait to see what it was like. And the most amazing thing was that our whole team was given this exciting opportunity to attend together! I do apologize if I haven’t mentioned our kindergarten team’s amazingness until now, because they are some of the best people in the world. Our office is organized like one big table. Our desks all face each other and we often jokingly give out the “cleanest desk award” to who ever deserves it, usually not me. Other teachers marvel at how we actually get work done this way, but we do, you see, kindergarten is a village; we all care for all the students, and we all love our job. Teamwork is our middle name, we have a flat leadership approach that thrives on each others strengths.

On the plane ride we took time to finish up some collaborative work, watched a movie or two and probably annoyed our neighbours with our high fives, giddiness and my passing of

chocolate to those around me. We were EXCITED!

IMG_6945.JPG

When we finally arrived in Los Angeles, we jokingly wondered which actors we would see. Well, low and behold, I saw Eugene Levy and his eyebrows from across the luggage carousel! CHECK! We met our taxi driver and he drove us in style and quite quickly, I must add, to Pasadena. We rested and regrouped to be ready for our next couple of conference days.

All the workshops I went to had one underlying theme in common, Keep It Simple Sweetie. This was helpful for me as I am a perfectionist and although this motivates me to constantly improve and push my limits, I often want everything I produce to be PERFECT. The problem is that perfection doesn’t exist, and I seem to forget that sometimes. I was encouraged by the workshops because I learned that I am already doing many of the activities/ideas that were presented. I was inspired by each presenters’ passion and joy for what they do. Each teacher, retired or currently working, had one consistent message: they want to constantly improve themselves and that they love what they do. There is that old cliché that says, if you love what you do then it’s not work. Well that is definitely true here. These presenters love what they do. Which was validating for our K Team because we share this sentiment.


Here are a few broad stroke conference takeaways:

  • Tablecloths make easy, affordable decorations and can help transform a classroom in millions of creative ways

  • Don’t be afraid to be imaginative

  • Presenters with a Southern Drawl are very funny

  • Bucket Filling is a great tool for empathy and social skill building

  • “We all have feelings and we all like feeling good”

  • Phonemic awareness is crucial

  • When helping children learn to write ask what is the “spelling” and not  which “letter” do you hear

  • Seats closest to electrical plugs are VERY sought-after

  • Integrating STEM can be easy and modest: use simple materials

  • Fruit in California is divine, eat as much as you can

Not only did we learn a lot at the conference, we also became a closer team. The laughs and

adventures we experienced reinforced the bond we have with each other and strengthened our

C2661070-4C37-49CB-9DB1-2E7135E878AB.JPG

team in incredible ways. From playing Ping-Pong, to thrift store bargain hunting, to finding gluten-free restaurants, to going swimming at the outdoor pool in 13C weather, to renting a car and driving to the Hollywood Hills, to looking at all the big homes in Beverly Hills and trying to find a public bathroom for all of us women, to renting bikes in Venice and biking along the ocean and the canals, to saying hi to all the animals I encountered, to seeing the ocean and touching

IMG_6725.JPG

the water, to trying to find all the most perfect gifts for my wife along the way because I missed her terribly and knew she would have loved to be here with me and that she would have loved it as much as we did.  We had so much fun! What an incredible experience, and I am honored to bring this passion back to snowy, icy, cold Montreal.





Note: Teachers and Parents, If you want to know more about the actual presentations, just leave a note and I can write another little blog.

BBE66A3C-0548-4559-A8EA-28CD69AD40EE.JPG

Transforming Disappointments into Opportunities

LISTEN TO THE BLOG HERE

Transforming Disappointments into opportunities

Disclaimer: Not sure if this a blog post or a diary entry, but bear with me here. I think I’m onto something ...

This theme runs through the course of our history, we understand it through the lenses of philosophy, religion, art, film etc. It’s certainly not new to me as disappointment is something that I am all too familiar with but I received a new understanding, that I believe may lead to some meaningful changes for me, and I would like to share them with you.

I had a rough week largely due to the following trifecta:  anxiety, headaches and negative thoughts (ugh).

Kuki left for California on Thursday and this triggered me. I have to remind myself that anxiety is not always rational. In fact, anxiety often doesn’t make sense at all as I know full well that there is no objective reason for me to feel anxious about my wife going to a teacher’s conference in sunny California. This is a wonderful opportunity of growth and learning for her in a warm climate with colleagues who are also friends. There are even benefits for me, I enjoy my own company and anticipate the alone time, creative space and reflection that her brief departure will afford.


So, it’s all good right?


Despite all this, I felt unbouyed by her leaving. I felt unboyed by the idea of her leaving. To make matters worse our furnace was making noise, I had to contact a plumber and helping her to prepare for her trip, packing and organizing was filling me with anxiety. I was counting down the days to her departure with dread!

The day before she left I had a huge migraine headache and needed to take pain medication, and wait in my car until I could muster the strength and focus to drive home. As I waited, I plummeted into a dark, desperate place where I felt deeply vulnerable, unstable and unable to function. I felt the familiar and unwelcome combo of anxiety and depression.

As if migraine pain and light sensitivity weren’t enough, the headaches almost always fill me with a crippling sense of disappointment and failure. You see, I have invested so much money, time and energy in the prevention of migraines. As traditional medicine offers little hope, I have consulted with and been treated by osteopaths, hypnotists and am currently under the care of an amazing acupressurist who has prescribed a nutritional protocol including supplements such as herbs, teas, flowers and other natural remedies, all with the goal of curing my headaches. So when I still get headaches despite these efforts I have thoughts such as, “why do I even bother, nothing will help . You are a lost cause” … among other unhelpful, negative discouragements.

Yesterday I had an acupressure session where I shared all of this and here’s what happened. During the treatment, I was asked to allow myself to feel the deep and lingering pain of disappointment in my life. I should explain that the disappointment I am processing is not the disappointment of everyday life but instead the disappointments that are a result of unmet expectations and betrayals by those you trust and love. This is far more complicated than being denied your desires for example.

At first it wasn’t easy because I couldn’t access these feelings on demand. Instead, I started to think about memories that triggered disappointment. And they started to come more and more easily. Soon, the feelings started to flow. I didn’t make any excuses for situations and people from my past, I didn’t look on the bright side, I didn’t think about forgiveness and empathy. I just felt the disappointment itself which meant allowing sadness and anger to arise as well.

Untitled_Artwork 2.jpg

It was heavy and hard but gradually I started to feel the memories and feelings move through my body and they started to feel lighter and disperse energetically down my limbs to my extremities. And then an insight emerged.

I realized that though I have experienced some major disappointment in the form of trauma, gaslighting and abuse, among others, I haven’t disappointed myself. I have been steadfast to myself. I continue to show up and take steps to heal and recover and to care for myself. I have been given the gift of disappointment as a way of attaining resiliency. The special cherry on top is that I have a strong desire to show up for and not to disappoint others. I started to feel a warm and deep internal sense of safety and self love. I would even say that I felt proud of myself.


I left the session feeling invigorated. In the car on the way home I started to think about disappointment and my relationship to it and how it can be a catalyst for growth and transformation if I can allow myself not to feel paralyzed and overwhelmed by it.

Luki.png
Screen Shot 2018-11-11 at 2.40.18 PM.png

Then I thought of Luki from The Butterfly Trap. I thought of her disappointment when her mother says no to her. Her mother denies her wish to have a pet butterfly which makes her angry. But ultimately her disappointment is transformed into joy and freedom when she opts to leave the butterflies fly in the garden. It was her disappointment in fact, that allowed her to understand and experience her freedom.

Isn’t that cool?

I hope we can all be like Luki.

Is there any disappointment in your life that you can identify as being transformative?

Take a few minutes to process and let us know!

Get your own signed copy of the book

P.S Dragon / Kuki is coming home on Tuesday! I can’t wait!

Here are a few pics of the fun they are having at the Kindergarten conference. Doesn’t it look awesome???

IMG_6555.JPG





Blog #39 Connecting through music even when it seems there is no other way ….

Singing, rhyming and connecting through music even when it seems there is no other way ….


I will never forget the summer of 2011. Dragon and I were working at a Montessori preschool that offered a summer camp program. This is how we met. I thought she was pretty cool, arty and sporty. I admired her for all these reasons as well as for her ability to animate and lead camp activities. But the real magic happened for me the day she brought her guitar to camp and started to play and sing one sunny morning in the garden.

This was the beginning of our story. We started to sing together and as if this wasn’t great enough, we soon began entertaining our little campers with fun sing-a-longs. Seeing the delight on their little faces and watching them come to life made it even more precious.  

This is how we fell in love. Before I even knew it was love. We were hanging out in our free time singing, harmonizing and laughing all summer. We started sinking deeper into this new realm and expressed our unspoken connection through music.

IMG_8929.JPG

Music is a language that allowed us to experience nuanced and deep emotions. We were able to express ourselves and connect in ways that are unique to this medium without even having to talk. This was particularly helpful for us at a time when these feelings were so scary and unwelcome for a host of complicated reasons.

You could say that making music is how we found each other and now as we are on this book publishing journey, we are at it again!

We all know that the benefits of music are endless but we can tell you that from an educators perspective, it can be a life saver to provide focus, direction and calm a classroom like no other tool.

Our book The Butterfly Trap, is brought to life when we read it and sing the song to accompany it!  The truth is, we have received an outrageous amount of positive feedback from this. But the plot thickens, we are writing new songs and having the best time performing them. We have been on the radio to sing our Snow Day Celebration Anthem which we created on a whim when the snow day news busted out on the radio the night before. We love the spontaneity, joy and silliness that we can freely unleash when we sing. And this of course is inspired directly by childhood itself.

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 11.59.39 AM.PNG

We have so many big plans to sing and entertain following in the footsteps of our idols formerly Sharon Lois and Bram, now Sharon and Bram. Hey! By the way, they are doing a farewell tour in June! Who’s in???

We have big plans guys… Keep an eye out for a summer music in the park event, an album and a tour. You may already know that we have only scratched the surface of our creative potential and we are so blessed that you are on this journey with us.

Look out world,

because Dragon & Bunny are coming at you!   

Our first single is ready to download!!!!! Many of you have asked for the MP3 because your kids sing it all the time. Big HUGE thank you to Mr. G Studios for helping us realize this dream.

SUBSCRIBE FOR WEEKLY UPDATES

Let the Apple ripen on the branch beyond your need to take it down (Blog #38)

Screen Shot 2019-02-16 at 6.48.44 PM.png
IMG_6254.JPG

Listen to the BLOG HERE

Let the Apple ripen on the branch beyond your need to take it down.

(David Whyte)

One of our all time faves, Lisa Congdon illustrated and posted this quote from a David Whyte poem on Instagram today.

Years ago, Kuki flagged her as someone to look out for. She started following her and buying her books and we took her online Creative Bug classes. All this to say that Lisa is a huge inspiration to us. She is a mostly self taught artist who is not only brilliant, talented and prolific, but has grit and perseverance too.

Yes! her work is incredible but her tenacity and drive are equally impressive.

We learn so much from the artists, poets, influencers and change makers in our midst. We are grateful that we can make art to contribute to the world even in the most insignificant ways.  

As we continue to evolve on this book publishing journey we are deepening our understanding on waiting, ripening, patience and harvest.

Which is why this quote struck us today.

Let the Apple ripen on the branch beyond your need to take it down.

On this cold late Winter day, our fruit is still on the vine and we are savouring the sweet spot of now.

Where do you see the fruit ripening in your life? And do you have a need to take it down? What would happen if you waited?

SUBSCRIBE

WINTER APPLE By David Whyte

Let the apple ripen

on the branch

beyond your need

to take it down.

Let the coolness

of autumn

and the breathing,

blowing wind

test its adherence

to endurance,

let the others fall.

Wait longer

than you would,

go against yourself,

find the pale nobility

of quiet that ripening

demands…

watch with patience

as the silhouette emerges

and the leaves fall;

see it become

a solitary roundness

against a greying sky,

let winter come

and the first

frost threaten,

and then wake

one morning

to see the breath

of winter

has haloed

its redness

with light.

So that a full

two months

after you

should have

taken the apple

down

you hold it in

your closed hand

at last and bite

into the cool

sweetness

spread evenly

through every

single atom

of a pale

and yielding

structure.

So that you taste

on that cold,

grey day,

not only

the after reward

of a patience

remembered,

not only

the summer

sunlight

of a postponed

perfection,

but the sweet

inward stillness

of the wait itself.





Love is Love (or is it)

kelly-sikkema-530120-unsplash.jpg

Listen HERE

For Valentine’s Day, we thought we would share a few words about love. Our love in particular. The Dragon and Bunny variety. This week was so exciting for us because we had the most incredible opportunity to be interviewed by Natasha Hall on the Natasha Hall show on CJAD to talk about The Butterfly Trap.

listen to the interview

It was interesting, because in the interview, when she introduced us she identified our love story as something that evolved into a children’s book. Which is actually pretty accurate.

We met in the classroom, we bonded over our love of education and passion for the creative process. Years later, we decided to collaborate on The Butterfly Trap and our very own butterfly-loving Luki was born!

TheButterflyTrap_BB_18-10-04 (2) (dragged).jpg

Being in love with Kuki, being her wife and sharing a life together is literally the best thing that has ever happened to me. For most of my life, I didn’t actually believe the lyrics of love songs. You know the ones, where lovers declared their undying gratitude and are transformed, healed and uplifted by the magical powers of romance. I literally thought that these words were as impossible and unrealistic as horned flying unicorns. I have been disappointed by love and had literally lost hope that lasting romance and loving kindness were possible. Until I became a Bunny and Kuki became a Dragon and all those words to all those sappy love songs became my living reality (flying unicorns, loving kindness and all).

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, so I am giving myself licence to confess my love and devotion to the human that is so consistently loving, kind and dedicated to me.

But Being in a queer relationship has its challenges. For example, just today I was waiting for Kuki in a cafe in Ottawa when someone who worked at the restaurant asked if I needed anything else. I replied without thinking …”no thanks.  I’m just waiting for my …. friend umm…I mean partner” gesturing toward the washroom. My friend?

Really?

Why would I even think that?

Why would I feel afraid or ashamed or even hesitant to say who I was waiting for?

My wife. She is my wife. In the eyes of the law, we are as legally married as any other couple. We were in Ottawa for Winter Pride for goodness sake! How much more affirming could that be? Yet I still had the knee jerk reaction to hide who I am and call her a friend because that is what most people assume. Or sister actually. We often hear, “you look so much alike… sisters?” And we have also been asked if we were mother - daughter but that’s another blog.

thomas-ae-635132-unsplash.jpg

Anyway, the point is, it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s full out scary and vulnerable. At times, we still feel that we have to hide who we are in order to avoid controversy which is I guess what happened to me today, without even thinking.

I am grateful for the slogan Love is Love but in real life, it’s really not. Queer love isn’t equal to hetero love in the eyes of our stubborn, hard-wired heteronormative perceptions.  Thankfully, the movement is gaining more traction and queer families are getting more acceptance, and queer kids are feeling less weird and that is awesome!

Fun fact: Our book series will have LGBTQ representation with the hopes of further breaking down stigmas and stereotypes and normalizing the community.

Because Love IS Love and speaking for myself, this love is the best most complete and life affirming love I could have ever imagined.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers! Keep on loving and striving and showing up for what matters. We can do this!


jordan-mcdonald-766295-unsplash.jpg




Blog 36. You don't have to be Happy all the time...

As promised, after the Bell Let’s Talk mental health awareness campaign, here is my story about my own mental health crisis


A few years ago my mental health plummeted. I started to have episodes of extreme panic coupled with a chronic sense of anxiety sprinkled with bouts of crippling depression.

I guess we can’t ever know exactly what triggers these things. Hormones? Chemical imbalance? Obviously I wanted to understand what would have lead to such a crisis. I do know that my sister had recently died of cancer revealing some profound deficits in my family and leaving me grasping for meaning. I can also tell you that I started having migraines and headaches with greater frequency than ever before.

I recently asked Dragon what she considered to be the most challenging phase of our relationship so far.

We have been through some transitions. From our harrowing beginnings (me coming out, divorcing and losing my house, business and reputation) to the loss of her cherished Grandmother, Noni, my mum’s stroke, losing our dogs Shawn and Betsy to illness, and to more positive but stressful nonetheless experiences such as getting married, writing and publishing our  book etc.

And she said that the mental health lapse I am describing was the hardest. She was scared and didn’t know what to do, how to help and if I would get better.

It was a really scary time. I sometimes felt desperate and didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed, would cry all the time and I even had dark thoughts about suicide. I remember googling “what do you do if you feel like killing yourself” and keeping the suicide hotline page open and holding the phone open with the number ready to dial. As I said, it was a really scary and sad time and there were layers of distress to grapple with.

alisher-sharip-117976-unsplash.jpg


What did I do?

How did I climb out of the hole?

Or did I?

I reached out to friends who were health care professionals and asked for recommendations, I started seeing my therapist more often, I started drinking pots and pots of mint tea, removed sugar and caffeine from my diet and started taking vitamins, herbs and supplements from the health food store.

I think one of the most helpful modalities was regular osteopathy sessions offered by a very talented and sincere osteopath named Ken Allego.  I felt things shift literally after the first session with him. But it took months and many relapses to actually feel that I was out of the woods. In fact, I received treatments for a full year before I started to wean off. I have learned that I am someone who suffers from mental health conditions that can be triggered by stress, hormones and adversity. Actually, maybe I will never be out of the woods entirely but am now in the thicket with clear glimpses of meadow on most days.

sebastian-unrau-31874-unsplash.jpg

Taking care of my mental health now is fuelled by visits to the gym for weight training, acupressure sessions with gifted healer Marjorie Silcoff, , yoga, prayer and meditation, and a careful nutrition regimen.

On a final note, I would like to remind us all that we can still live a wonderful, healthy, meaningful and productive life if we have been afflicted by anxiety and / or depression. Getting sick doesn’t mean we will always be sick. Many people recover, find strategies to cope, and even channel their pain and suffering into an opportunity for helping others, being creative and for social impact. It is important that we continue to de stigmatize mental illness and to support one another in radical ways.

We need to give ourselves permission to feel all the feelings and relieve the unrealistic pressure of being happy all the time.   

Always Remember ….Empathy matters! Be Kind! Be generous!! Be grateful! Be You!

(you may download this image HERE)

We+are+having+a+baby+girl!+(1) copy.jpg









Blog 35. Our Top 5 Fave Kids Books of All Time!!

Bunny’s Top 5 Fave Kids Books of All Time!!

(Listen to the Blog and let us read to you HERE)

This morning I (Bunny) stood in front of our bookshelf, housing a vast collection of children’s books, board books, toddler books and yoga books and I have to say, it was hard to choose my top 5.

I was flooded with memories and emotions as I flipped through them all. I have had the privilege of teaching and offering programs to so many different kids and families. Some are in rough shape because they have been around a while and some were actually brand new as they were just placed in the library and haven’t even been read yet!

Some are precious to me because they make me nostalgic and remind me of how it felt to capture the hearts and imaginations of young children through the pages of a book for the first time.

I remember watching veteran teachers engage a group of children with finger plays and stories when I was a newbie educator and thinking I would never be able to do the same.

I soon became preoccupied by searching out and acquiring the most compelling children’s books and building my own personal library as this would give me an advantage during circle time. I looked for books that had beautiful illustrations, were filled with adventure and wonder!

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 8.02.02 AM.png

Such as this one…. “Come The Terrible Tiger

Some of the books I still have but the pages are falling out as they have been read and fondled and inspected by many many children over the past 25 years!

Anyway, the point is, I have read a lot of books to a lot of kids and this has been one of the most bonding and effective methods of reaching, teaching and connecting with my students.


I chose the following (in no particular order)

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 9.23.30 AM.png

1. The World Belongs to You by Riccardo Bozzi / Illustrated by Olimpia Zagnoli (2013)

This is the newest acquisition in the collection I chose. It was just published in 2013 and has an incredible message, simple illustrations is empowering and validating. I use it in yoga classes as it reminds us of our agency, our freedom and our choices.

You are free to believe in anything you want. You are also free to believe in nothing at all” It also reminds us of our place in the world and our sense of belonging. “The world belongs to you and you belong to the world”  and perhaps my favourite quote:

You are free to love anyone you want and you are free to let that love go

I found myself deeply moved by this picture book. The simple yet powerful message touched and opened my heart and I am hopeful that even the youngest readers are touched too.

IMG_6343 copy.jpg

2. Make A Face A Book with a Mirror by Henry and Amy Schwarz (1994)

This book has been a “GO-TO” in my collection for many years! It is awesome because it features large, simple illustrations of children in a variety of emotional states. The language is very simple. There is no plot, no protagonist, no storyline, just children experiencing their emotions. For example the second page features a forlorn looking child with the words  “I want my mommy SAD”. Every time I have read this book to children of all ages, they stop and they look and they connect with the sentiment and when I ask them if they have ever felt this way many heads are nodding empathetically. Another perk is that there is an actual mirror in the back of the book where the children can look at themselves and identify how they are feeling.

IMG_6344 copy.jpg

3. Hide and Seek by Jez Alborough (1994)

This book offers humour, delight, and of course, nothing is better when reading to young children than the element of surprise! There are a variety of animals who are playing together, there is counting and camouflage and sheer joy in the pages of this wonderful lift the flap book!

Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 9.32.39 AM.png




4. The Peace Book by Todd Parr (2004)

Todd Parr is one of our all time, hands down, biggest inspirations! We have all of his books and we read them as often as possible! The Peace Book is funny, sassy and smart and packs an important message. Plus, It champions diversity, inclusivity and care for our planet. What more could you ask for from a children’s book??




Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 9.40.33 AM.png

5. It’s Mine a fable by Leo Lionni (1985)

This book has been capturing the hearts and imaginations of my students for many years. I love how there are no humans in the book, instead there are frogs! I happen to love frogs so books about frogs always attract me. I also love nature and this book takes place in nature and allows readers to learn from and through nature and the elements. Most importantly the fable is about sharing. So, this delightful story has stood the test of time and deserves a place on your shelf if it isn’t there already!

A few final words about kids books.

If you love and connect with the book you are reading then you are more likely to read it in a way that will make your students / kids love it too.

Like any piece of writing or work of art, our responses are subjective so be mindful of this and patient with yourself and your kids if my selections don’t float your boat.

Let us know what your top five is - and did

The Butterfly Trap make the cut?

Love, Dragon and Bunny










5 Reasons Why we don’t have kids….

IMG_1857.jpeg

Listen Here (4 mins. 27 seconds)

Well, I can tell you now that I would have been voted most likely to have kids when I was in high school.

I mean, I LOVED kids!

I became an Aunt when I was 7 years old and I LOVED my little nephew beyond reason!

Screen Shot 2018-11-24 at 11.50.50 AM copy.PNG

I was babysitting at the age of 13 and became a live-in nanny at 19. I worked at camps and took babysitting courses and I always thought, without a doubt, that I would have a family of my own.

I even did my undergrad in Education, majoring in Child Studies, then worked with young children in pre-school and daycare settings for 20 years! I became a children’s yoga teacher, a children and youth ministry leader and then we go and launch DragonBunny Books and write a children’s book!

IMG_2543.jpeg

Clearly, there is something very compelling for me about children. Dragon and I always laugh because when children spot us, they can tell that we are their people. Just last night we were in a restaurant and a young family walked in. The youngest started moving her Incredible Hulk figurine in our direction to engage us. “We’ve been spotted - they are onto us” we laugh. We get kids. We know their language, their world … Dragon has been working and volunteering in schools, daycares, camps and pools for twenty years too,

so ….

You get the picture.

IMG_1705.jpeg

We met in the classroom, we bonded over lesson plans, fun songs, art projects and endearing teaching moments. But despite all this…. We don’t have children of own…


Why?


Reason 1.

For starters, despite being married and intimate and sharing the same bed, we aren’t biologically capable of conceiving which we have come to learn is accountable for a large number of pregnancies. You will never hear the words “Oops! We’re pregnant!” from our mouths.

In fact, for us to get pregnant would be a complicated process where only one of us would be the biological parent meaning we couldn’t share this experience fully and that’s not how we roll.

IMG_1403.jpeg

And as for adoption…. Well read on and you will learn more

Reason 2.

Because we know ALLLLLLL about kids (the good, the bad and the ugly) we are also highly equipped to weigh the options. Of course, we have dreamed of having our own child: of the post bath, clean toddler, smelling like baby powder, waddling around in a onesie with damp curls and cooing like a dove …. But then there’s the flip side…. The endless activities, their relentless emotional needs, the financial strain, and the very fact that we would have to radically alter our lives and schedules, both professional and personal.

Reason 3.

IMG_1552.jpeg

There are a lot of people on the planet. The world doesn’t need another one from us. It gives us some consolation that we have never put diapers in landfill, no plastic toys, no endless stream of gifts and clothes and food and disposable everything that human life demands.


Reason 4.

Honestly, we don’t think we would be very good at it. We think we would probably freak out, be too anxious. Speaking for myself only now because Dragon is a much better person than me, I’m too selfish and I don’t want to give up the freedom of being child free.

IMG_2948.jpeg

Don’t get me wrong. There is a flip side to everything. Not having children means we are not going to experience the depth of love of being parents. We have to mourn this decision as well as to celebrate it. I do look longingly at babies wrapped up in strollers being pushed by proud parents. They radiate love and comfort and all good things.


Reason 5.

We are able to express our maternal instincts and nurturance to our fur family - who we adore and lavish with the attention, care and devotion of parents.

IMG_4363.jpeg

Plus we love all of the children in our lives including our nieces and nephews, god children and students from all walks of life.


We are fulfilled

Our relationship is fulfilling, our life is rich and we are not really wanting for anything.

IMG_2532.jpg


I don’t have an unquenchable thirst or insatiable desire to be a parent - only a fleeting thought.

I sometimes feel a slight ache in my heart that I won’t ever know this kind of love, but I know the love that I have been blessed with and it feels me with inexplicable joy.


So there you have it, 5 reasons we don’t have kids. That is, why we don’t have kids right now.

Who knows? We might wake up tomorrow with a whole new longing.

We’re open to that! But until then, this is it…

IMG_1284.jpeg
Untitled design (2).png