Saturday, 2 January 2016

2016: Brought to you by the letter G

This afternoon I reflected on many of the blogs I've posted in the last few years:
     Be Vulnerable... (2013)
          Be Breathless... (2014)
               Be Passion-filled... (2015)

Maybe it was the nostalgia of a new year; maybe it was the quiet space of having a full day to myself for the first time in months; maybe it was the realization that, with the busy-ness of the holidays coming to an end, the reality of needing a new normal is setting in.

Whatever it was, the desire to reflect back and to put new words on screen spoke up today with this question: What will this year's mantra be?

To be painfully honest, the word that seems stuck in my head is: Grief. Because I know that no matter what life will bring for me this year; no matter what I do or see or learn; no matter the challenges and triumphs, the successes and failures, the highs and lows ~ Grief over the loss of my Mom will be a part of it.

Which could be sad and depressing and bleak.

So I tried to come up with something else. Some other mantra or word that could bring more hope and light to this first post of 2016. Til I decided rather than fight the Grief, I will make it work for me. Because it can also be beautiful. Because where things like Grief reside there is opportunity for Growth. And with Growth there is opportunity to move towards Great things.

BE HAPPY my Dad wrote in his Christmas letter to me. My Dad – in the midst of his own grief, among his words of reflection and encouragement – wrote BE HAPPY. As the tears stream down my face... because even happy is now mixed with Grief.

I do not want to make Be Happy my mantra this year. Though I know in many ways I will be; that in many ways I am – it doesn't quite fit somehow. So I will leave the mantra unfinished, for now at least. Instead the year 2016 will be brought to you by the letter G ~ for Grief, Growth, and Great things.

After all, as Sesame Street puppets taught me many moons ago, 
G comes before H anyway.

Monday, 27 July 2015


(hi-a'tes) A gap or interruption in space, time, or continuity; a break.

“All the variety, all the  charm, all the beauty of life
is made up of light and shadow”

~ Leo Tolstoy

A few friends have asked in recent weeks, about the lack of blog posts this year. I tell them inspiration hasn't really hit. At least not enough to actually sit down and write. Why, they asked?

Half-joking I responded, “Because I'm happy!”

Only half-joking, because isn't it sometimes true that inspiration for creative outlets hits more when we are struggling, lonely, heart-broken, and looking for a way to connect with others? I've experienced that before with writing music as well.

Only half-joking, because -and perhaps more to the point- if I sit down to write I'm afraid one of two things would happen: I would bore and/or annoy my readers with gushings of my relationship and boasts of how happy I am in it...

...Or -and again perhaps even more to the point- I would find all those places that are currently being overshadowed by the happiness. The places where there is still struggle, where this is potential for heart-breaking, where there is lingering need for connection.

The places that might have the capacity to overshadow the happiness.

And I'm enjoying the happiness! I don't want to risk overshadowing it with all the other stuff.

Funny thing about those shadowed corners though: they are attracted to and eventually find their way to the light...

There is a belief among some people that our emotional struggles manifest in physical dis-ease. For example, sore throats are believed to be a physical manifestation of a need to talk about or express emotional pain and struggle. Sore throats are something I have struggled with multiple times a year for many years, figuring as a singer it must just be a strain on that part of my body; a weakness in my immune system. During the years I was writing regularly, however, I noticed a decrease in the occurrence of my sore throats.

At this point in my hiatus – 6 months since the last published post – I find myself on anti-biotics for strep throat. The ultimate sore throat, yet never have mine progressed so far before.

Not willing to risk overshadowing my happiness, yet not wanting to feel knife blades every time I swallow either, I wonder...

Is it possible to allow the happiness and struggle/heart-break/loneliness to sit side-by-side, sharing the light and shadow? Is it possible to allow them to support each other: giving strength and gratitude to what brings happiness; giving strength and hope to face the struggle?

I believe it must. Because life is made up of happy and struggle, there really is no escaping that. Because moving back and forth completely between the two can be exhausting and, I think, damaging emotionally, mentally, physically in the long run. Because together they can both be so much more.

So once again I sit to write. And a smile crosses my face as tears well up in my eyes. But my snack of tea and trail mix go down smoothly, easily, and without knife-blade-pain!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

...say you love me.

“I think there's a difference between loving the idea of someone,
and actually loving who they really are.”
~ Jeff Eastin, screenwriter

When I left the house one morning last month, I noticed the snow had already been brushed off my car. A few days earlier I came home after work to dinner ready on the stove, the wine bottle corked ready to be poured. The week before, he had hung a shelf in the bathroom while I was out. He makes my bed and washes my dishes and most Mon evenings he insists on taking my garbage and recycling to the curb. He bought me a stapler just because I said I didn’t have one. He wraps his arms around me when certain parts of my current reality get to be too much and drys my tears with a whisper, “I'm here”. He says all those perfectly timed cheesy lines like “you always look good” which used to make me want to throw up in my mouth a little. I can talk and laugh with him for hours without realizing it’s been hours. And fall asleep safely in his arms.

He tells me not to tell my friends about all this, for fear a group of their angry boyfriends will pound down his door for showing them up. I’m telling people anyway. And truth be told, he secretly likes that I do!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I remember the very first time I said it, scared to my core. The second time it just popped out. Both times I said it first, but it took me almost a year. The third time was faster; maybe I was older and wiser. Maybe I just wanted it to be so, to say it back. This time… I am hesitating.

          “Please don’t say you love me, ‘cause I might not say it back
          Doesn’t mean my heart stops skipping when you look at me like that.
          There’s no need to worry when you see just where we’re at.
          Just please don’t say you love me, ‘cause I might not say it back.”

Hesitating, yet also feeling like I am missing so many opportunities to say it and hear it; to feel it when it’s said out loud.

          “And fools rush in, and I’ve been the fool before.
          This time I’m gonna slow it down, ‘cause I think it could be more,
          The thing I’m looking for…”

Hesitating, because what if I’m wrong like the first time when it took him a month to say it back; or the second time when he said it back then walked away and hurt me anyway; or the third time… when I walked away. How many times do we get to say it, to feel it, to hear it in one lifetime?

          “Summer comes, winter fades, here we are just the same
          Don’t need pressure, don’t need change, let’s not give the game away.”

Hesitating, because perhaps there is something I am yet waiting for, some word or action or sign, to know it’s ok. As much as one can truly and fully know it’s ok…

          “Heavy words are hard to take, under pressure precious things can break
          And how we feel is hard to fake, so let’s not give the game away…”

Hesitating because, maybe I hope that with this whisper on paper, I won’t have to be the one to say it first.


          “There used to be an empty space, 
          a photograph without a face
          But with your presence and your grace,

          everything falls into place…”
            ~ Gabrielle Aplin,  
               Please don't say you love me


(PS. He said it first!)

Sunday, 11 January 2015

All I got for Christmas was my two front teeth!





Improved health provides an opportunity to manifest a better life.
Craig M. Becker

It’s been years since I went to the dentist. And the optometrist. Like, I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember how many, years.

Ever since I was no longer eligible for my parents “dependents” benefits, and had no work-place benefits of my own, the expense of health-related appointments like the dentist and optometrist always fell somewhere below drinks with friends, travel, clothes, a car, phone, and computer on the priorities list. I had good intentions many times over. But something else always came up. And my mouth and eyes never seemed to complain with any real significant discomfort. Thankfully.

Recently though I’ve been re-thinking this priority list of mine. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older; because I’m getting wiser; because I’ve settled for the time being in one place long enough to consider getting a new dentist in a new city. But I’ve started to think about my health in a slightly different light.

The World Health Organization in 1948, defined health as: 

          “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being 
          and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

At the time this definition was considered forward-thinking in that it included mental and social well-being in addition to physical health. However more recently, in an article called How should we define health? (2011), it’s limitations were criticized along with a push to include the ability to cope with and adapt to life’s stresses and challenges. This again takes our understanding of health beyond the medical model’s focus on absence of disease, and highlights the inter-relatedness of the mental, emotional, social, and physical aspects of well-being.

I like to think I can consider myself a healthy person. At least relatively speaking, no matter which definition you choose to adhere to. But I also think there is always more we... I could do to improve my overall health and well-being.

One of the ways I want to be passion-filled about ME this year is to explore some of the health-related expenses I’ve been avoiding. Because really, what good are the drinks with friends, travel, clothes, a car, phone, and computer if I don’t have good physical health in order to truly enjoy it all?!

So I decided: the monetary Christmas gifts I received this past holiday season (along with a few Christmas-spirited tips from before leaving that job) are going to be invested in my health.

Starting with the dentist.

Perhaps within that focus I can find a small sum to reward my health efforts with something more... fun! Or perhaps enjoying all that I already have with a renewed sense of health – manifesting a better life – will be reward enough...

You'll have to excuse me now, it's time to get flossing!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Be Passion-filled

 Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping… waiting… and though unwanted… unbidden… it will stir… open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us… guides us… passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have?  

 Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love… the clarity of hatred… and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. 

If we could live without passion maybe we’d know some kind of peace… but we would be hollow… Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.
~ Joss Whedon, Screenwriter and Director

Another year complete, another year begins.

Last year’s New Year blog identified an excited energy I’d had around the year to come; needing it to be fantastic, with an expectation that certain things may finally start to fall into place. In truth there were many moments from 2014 that I am gladly leaving behind. But there are many other breathless experiences and memories that I am looking forward to remembering, continuing and growing as 2015 unfolds!

And in doing so, this year ~ I want to Be Passion-filled!

I want to give way to the passion that is stirring inside me, that I have sometimes let leak out in small or big doses, and to let it guide me ~
          guide me to opportunities to be vulnerable,

…to moments measured with breathlessness,

…to spaces that are filled with even more passion.

I want to be passion-filled about the things that are truly important; the things that truly matter.

I want to be passion-filled about my relationships.
I want to be passion-filled about my career.
I want to be passion-filled about ME.

So here I grow again... looking forward with fear and excitment to all I may see, do, and experience in the 12 months ahead.

~ Rosa Nochette Carey

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Burning the Security Blanket

Today was supposed to be my last shift at this job. Instead I am home with a splint on my right hand, protecting a strained thumb and wrist. Evidence that my body is saying enough, even when my spirit had already done so with a letter a few weeks ago. Truly it is just time to let go.
I remember not even a year ago saying that at some point I would have to let go of this security blanket - this [temporary] job that is paying my bills - in order to truly move forward with my career goals; with my life goals. I just figured it would be at least another 2 years before I could... before I would.
Because generally speaking I like my life of these past few years. I can afford a certain comfort on my own. Sure there are things I have and do sacrifice, like the dentist and a trip to Iceland, or Italy, or Hawaii... But I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, electronic devices to entertain and keep in touch, four-wheels to transport me places, and enough left over for the occasional night out with friends. I'm usually able to sleep in and have a leisurely morning when I know I will be less productive anyway; and stay up late connecting with others, Netflix, or even just myself.
There has been little fire under me to push harder for [financial] improvement or success. Even with the few glimpses of fulfillment and purpose during business building tasks and meetings, I still had not enough fire.
Until something changed a short time ago. I don't know how much of it was external, how much of it was internal. Though I do know both played a part. Things usually happen for a reason and at the right time. I'd had enough of so many things. And the fire was lit. I may have a comfortable life [financially], but it is not enough. I want more.
No, I want different.
And the only way I'll actually get it is to let go of the security blanket that is holding me back. I am ready now. So I quit. 
I have learned many valuable lessons in that job that will serve me well in life and career. I have made friendships and contacts that will stick with me, some if only in memory. For that I will always be grateful for the opportunity.
And I'm facing this new phase of fire-light with mixed feelings. There is always some fear in letting go of the familiar, the safe, the [somewhat] secure. There is some sadness is the change, perhaps even loss, of relationships built in that space. But there is also relief in cutting loose that which is in the way. There is excitment in opening up space for and moving towards possibility! 
In truth, I am feeding the fire and letting go in steps and stages. I left space to return to this job if necessary in a few months time. And in some ways I actually traded that security blanket for another one that looks a little different and more like what I truly want to be doing; for one that offers different space to motivate, inspire, and focus on new business goals. To focus on new life goals. In that way it is a step in the right direction for where I want to go.
[I just haven't decided where that will be first: the dentist, Iceland, Italy or Hawaii... ;)]

Monday, 22 December 2014

Why am I here?

I have had a few moments over the past year of guilt-ridden “Why am I here?” questioning. My roots in this city are not yet deep. I am living in my 3rd apartment in 2 years. My business is still young and fragile, needing much more attention than I have been able or motivated to give it. My (temporary) pay-the-bills jobs are, well, intended to be temporary. Truth is I do not have the job nor family responsibilities that my siblings have, tying me to one place. The contacts I have made, friendships I have developed, and relationship I have started are important, for sure.

But my family are facing challenges 250kms away.

I hear the voice in my head arguing that my life is less settled and therefore easier to pick-up and move; that I would have more time and energy than my siblings and extended family to pitch in since I don’t have my own child(ren) to take care of.

Yet I am also a strong advocate for giving equal value to life choices that do not include marriage and children.

No one from my family has given weight to my musings of a transient life with fewer responsibilities. In fact when I have voiced these thoughts aloud I am rebutted with support to remain where I am. There is no expectation that I would do more or different. It is my own internal struggle, to drown out the guilt and replace it with confidence and conviction. To name and, perhaps more importantly, accept the value of my own goals and dreams the way my family seem to have already done.   

And then, perhaps when I was open to the message, I read the words: 
You are exactly where you need to be.

I am here because this is where my apartment is, where my stuff is. I am here because this is where some of my important friendships are; because this is where my relationship is. I am here because this is where my job is, where my private office is. I am here because it gives me the space to use my time and energy to chase my own dreams. I am here because this is where I need to be, where I want to be, where I chose to be… where I choose to be.

I am here because this is where MY life is. And that is enough.

I am fortunate to have flexible hours at my job so I can enjoy MY life, even when that includes spending time with and helping out my family. I am fortunate to be able to travel so I can enjoy MY life, even when that includes going to see my family. I am fortunate to be able to keep in touch with and stay connected to the people important in My life, even when that includes supporting and being supported by my family from a distance. I am fortunate because I am here.

I write down all these things, knowing the list is likely incomplete, as a reminder to myself. Because I know I will forget again. There may be many Why questions to ask in these challenging situations, but “Why am I here?” does not need to be one of them.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Things I'm still learning about friendship

 I’ve fallen out with friends before. Probably the most significant were all the way back in elementary and high school. When girls are just learning how to be in relationship with each other amidst the competition placed in our way. Competition to be pretty and popular, to make the teams, to achieve good grades, to win the boys’ attention. How were we supposed to learn to be loving with each other when our very social survival depended on others failing?
That’s when I first learned to not fully trust my girlfriends.
I still remember the day in the gym at lunch. We were standing on the wall watching the boys play basketball or volleyball. The giggled whispers of my on/off friends beside me and their not-so-inconspicuous shifting away. Not knowing what I had done to deserve being left behind; broken trust which left scars far deeper then I realized or could name until 20 years later.
Since then I have found friendships that brought a specific lesson into my life; friendships that lasted through a certain experience – people who came in and out of my life with an ease that increased with each good bye. And friendships that are surviving time and distance, gaining depth and maturity as the years go by. But many of these have been fraught with an underlying suspicion, a lack of complete trust for genuineness and equal reciprocation. I have learned to quiet the doubts, or at least to soften their pain with resilience, independence, and by being my own best friend.
I give of myself to support others because it is in my being to do so. But I have learned that not everyone does the same. I have learned that people may come to me not because we have the kind of relationship filled with mutual support, but because they know I am the kind of person you can go to for support. I have learned that not everyone is capable of being there the way that I am often there. I have learned that expecting equal reciprocation often leaves me feeling frustrated and alone, with (false) evidence that yet again I am left to fend for myself.

I have learned that my expectations in friendship have often been misplaced and/or too high.

I have learned that this does not mean we cannot be friends!

I have learned that just because I chose not to lean on someone one time, does not mean they won’t be there for me in a time of need. I have learned that when I open myself up and allow someone, anyone to be there for me in a time of need, I may be surprised who steps up. I have learned that when I reciprocate to those who have already been there for me, I just might find the type of friendship I’ve been longing for.
I have learned that this does not mean we will be life-long friends.
You cannot change others, you can only change yourself. And I needed to change my perceptions and understanding of friendship. I needed to adjust my expectations to allow for differences in personality, in strengths, in character. I needed to accept the people around me for who they are and what they bring to my life. I needed to accept those that are not able to be there in the way I want them to be; as equally as I need to accept those that are trying to be there for me in the way I need them to be. The later has possibly been the harder of these two tasks.
I have learned that some of my friendships will survive this shift in perception and expectation; and some are just not worth the drama. I have learned that some will strengthen, and some will distance, and some will stay exactly the same. I have begun to learn how to trust my girlfriends, cautiously at first. Perhaps even fully, someday.
I have learned that I still have much to learn about being in relationship with others.
But that is to be expected.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

(II) Past… Future

“Happy is the person who knows what to remember of the past; 
what to enjoy of the present; 
and what to plan for the future”
~ Arnold H. Glasgow


Who you were, 
who you are, 
and who you will be 
are three different people”
~ Robert Tew

Earlier this fall I found myself face to face with part of my past. While standing next to my present. And I introduced them.

Walking into this situation I had little idea of what to expect or how the interaction would unfold. I found myself wondering how much to explain and prepare ahead of time. Was anything really necessary? What would add to the potential awkwardness? What would aid in increasing comfort? I found myself wondering how much to explain and debrief afterwards. Was anything really necessary? What would take away from the ease and comfort found after the initial awkwardness? What would enhance the lingering positive feelings of having moved on well?

In the weeks that followed pieces of the past began to surface. For both of us. Tidbits that naturally came up in conversations. Longer explanations given to specific curious questions. Lingering experiences, thoughts, fears that were reflections of the past yet tumbled out in conversations about the present. Not so much in a “let-me-tell-you-a-story-of-who-I-am” kind of way. Rather in a seemingly natural “I-want-to-know-who-you-are” kind of way.

I have wondered before about my reasons for telling certain stories of my past. About releasing the judgment I had placed on myself, living in the here and now, and creating space for new stories to begin.

I have wondered if it is truly necessary to tell all the stories of the past. Is the “ex-talk” a vital part of any new relationship? Do new friends need to know about old friends? Are previous struggles and pains –or even successes and gains- important pieces to share when learning to know one another here and now?

I don’t have concrete answers for those questions. Except that I find myself adding to the list. Questions linking past to future:
Can you truly know someone, without knowing where they came from?
Is it wise to begin to think about a future with someone, without knowing their past?
How much and what of someone's past is helpful to know in order to build a future with them?
And when is an appropriate time to share those pieces of the story?

I sometimes notice my mind wandering to questions that I do not ask aloud. Because I'm not yet ready to know the answer. Because I don't know if they are answers I am entitled to… yet. Or ever. Because I don't know if I am ready to respond to similar questions. And so I question the questions.

Exploring others’ thoughts on the topic, there seems to be no real consensus. Some believe the past is very important; others’ not so much. Others feel it depends – on the current relationship; on the parties involved, their expectations and ability to accept and/or forgive; on the relevance of the past stories and the impact they may have on the present and potential future. I think I tend to lean towards the later. I lean towards ~

~ because I suppose in some ways it shouldn’t matter so much whether it matters. If I can trust the seemingly natural “I-want-to-know-who-you-are” process that has proven itself thus far, then the relevant pieces from the past may continue to tumble out in conversations about the present; about the future that will eventually take care of itself anyway. Perhaps they are important questions to question every now and then. And perhaps in between the answers, it is more important to simply be present.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

When the world feels different

The first snowfall of winter can be a memorable event...
as well as a most painful one.
It brings back bittersweet memories year after year.
~ Doodle Max

It snowed the other night. One of the first real storms of the winter. I like those kinds of nights... though not usually so early in the season!

I like those kinds of nights, because the world feels different. Peaceful, clean, fresh, sparkly, beautiful... almost magical even!

It started snowing a year ago around this same time, give a day or two. I know because a year ago on Saturday I made the 3-hour long trip towards my home town. Towards a world that was beginning to feel different, but for an entirely different reason.

This weekend marks a year since Mom went into the hospital the first time. An anniversary, of sorts I suppose.

What do you do with an anniversary that you would really rather not acknowledge?
An anniversary that isn't really cause for celebration?

I made that trip again last week, in part to help put away the fall decorations and bring out the Christmas season. I decorated the family Christmas tree while Mom directed from the couch, frustrated with the weariness that chemo leaves on the body. In one moment of clenched teeth hiding “If you don't like how I'm doing it, then do it yourself”, I was mixed-emotion glad for one moment where the world felt the same.

It is difficult to know how exactly to look forward at an uncertain future. In a world that feels so different today then it did a year ago, it is difficult to look back. I have moments of impatience with this waiting game we started a year ago. A game that does not seem to be nearing an end. So no, I do not feel like celebrating nor even acknowledging this anniversary.

Instead I remember one of the first real snow-falls of last season, days after that first hospital visit. The simple, innocent brillance of freshly fallen snow had offered a patch of blue among the clouds that darkened our weekend. And once again I will allow myself – if only for a second – to get lost in the almost magical beauty of a night when the world feels different...

Sunday, 9 November 2014

It's SO not about Jian

It's SO not about Jian. It's about all of us working towards a society where it's *not this hard* to be believed; to give testimony in court; to move on; to feel safe; to see a level of justice that's commensurate with the violation you've experienced. And, it's about making it *not this normal* for women to live and work in environments where sexual harassment and violence is tolerated, enabled, and/or promoted.
~ Pemma Muzumdar

  * 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime 

* Of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported to the police

* I found different numbers published on different sites for statistics on sexual assault. 
The truth is, because these crimes are less likely to be reported, statistics are never fully representational...

When I started thinking about this post I wanted to include an apology or disclaimer about how, in exploring my contents and writing about how the Jian Ghomeshi scandel has infiltrated and challenged my own thoughts, I didn't want to take away from the direct key players and turn this situation into something that's all about me. Because I do realize that directly speaking, it's not about me

But then a friend posted a link on Facebook to a story about how difficult it can be for women too report sexual assault/violence. She commented on this link with the above quote, saying: It's SO not about Jian... and I realized, she's right!

It's SO not about Jian.

It's not even (just) about the women involved in this particular story.

It's about all of us.

Last week I read a blog entitled Do you know about Jian? – which talked about entire social communities that knew on some level about Jian. Saw the discomfort of women he approached; joked about the pick-up lines he used; heard whispers about how he treated women; passed along the question and knowing nods.

As I read I couldn't help but think: Why didn't anyone say something?

Part-way through the writer responded to that question, and I felt a little chastised. Because she is unfortunately right to counter-ask: 
Would you?

I realized I haven't.

Not that I have had an abundance of overt need or opportunity to. Perhaps I am fortunate in that regard. Or unaware of the people around me that are not saying something. Naive even, since the statistics suggest that harassment and abuse of any kind is much more prevalent than we like to think.

But I have worked in an industry that is somewhat known for the flirty banter, sexual innuendos, dirty jokes, and (border-line harassment) teasing. I've engaged in much of this at one point or another, either with my own words or by laughing at co-workers' comments. And while I would argue that it is important to consider the setting and audience, and that it is possible to be too sensitive about such interactions... I also have to pause and wonder if some of those interactions made someone uncomfortable? If a setting or audience was judged incorrectly? If boundaries were pushed and lines crossed? If someone felt unsafe to talk, and instead forced a laugh so as not to be laughed at?

Just because this industry is known for such interactions does not make it right or ok. And I know that there is a risk for line-crossing, because I have danced along that line both willingly and not so willingly.

Yet I have rarely said something.

The frustration and chastised feelings from reading that article shifted in me then, towards challenge and inspiration – to say something. To speak up for those who are not yet able to. To be an ally by sending a message of support; by helping to create safer spaces to say something. In a different work environment, I do.

Yet in some moments I still struggle. Because I enjoy the flirty banter, sexual innuendos, and dirty jokes. Some days those interactions among co-workers are what make that job tolerable and enjoyable. I don't want them to stop.

Nor do I want to contribute to feelings of discomfort or harassment.

I realize the flirty banter of consenting parties can be a far cry from sexual harassment or violence. And I know there is a line somewhere in the space between the two that has been crossed far too many times. But how do we truly know where to draw that line when it may well be in a different place for everyone?

Is the issue consent, as some have argued?
Is the issue victim blaming, as others have defended?
Is the issue ensuring we as allies, victims, potential victims, and everyone standing on the side-lines begin/continue to have these conversations – to raise awareness; to create safer spaces; to stand up and say This is Not ok! – so that in the midst of drawing and dancing along the line more people feel comfortable and safe to say something? Without the fear of victim blaming. With peace of mind that consent – or lack thereof – will be respected.

I want those feelings of challenge and inspiration to grow within me. I want to pay more attention to the setting and audience when I engage in flirty banter and innuendos. I want to be aware of and clear about my boundaries, particularly when dancing on the line; to speak up when I fear they may be crossed or, perhaps more importantly, when I sense someone else's discomfort.

I want to be part of these conversations because once I/you/we start to say something it will hopefully eventually become less risky to do so. We need to pay attention to the uncomfortable silences. We need to listen. We need to watch for the interactions and pick up on the cues that something just isn't right. And then we need to say something. And we need to do it together.

Because this is SO not about Jian. It's not even (just) about the women involved in this particular story. It's about all of us.