Wouldn't stop picking at it

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Self care

Loggia, Ascoli Piceno, Italy, May 2014

If you can effectively tune out the online commentary, magazine chatter and well-intentioned, but oftentimes stilted advice of people around you. If you can devote yourself to small acts of kindness every day, like drinking good iced coffee, buying new earrings and going on long walks in the cool evenings. If you can spend a lot of time with those people who know…

My, oh my, how I’ve grown!

La Donna Velata, Raffaello, Florence

The last time I visited Florence, I was 15 years old and travelling with my family. My recollections of that trip are few. Posing for a photo on the Ponte Vecchio, overheated and bored. Breathing in the cool air under the loggia at the Bargello. Wanting a brown leather bracelet sold by a street vendor. Marvelling at…

About Berlin

Wall, Mauerpark, Berkin, Germany

Some cities shut you out from the moment you exit the airport. Stone-grey facades and shuttered windows, dusty parks and endless rows of peeling posters keeping you at a safe distance. But not Berlin. This city wants you to love it and you crumble, with no regret. Berlin bowed to meet us as soon as…

Talking about writing

Lichen, Mont Tremblant, October 2013

I must seem like the most boring person in the world to everyone I meet lately. Four and five times a day I am asked, “How are you? What’s new?” Each time I answer, “Not much!” and then listen to my voice mumble about work, burnt espresso and a yoga class I want to take…

Having kids, having families

Old Montreal, December 2013

The older I get, the more babies there are around me. And the more babies there are around me, the more I realize that they are part of my extended family, regardless of whether or not there’s a blood relation. I may not have babies myself, but I have a community of relations, friends, children, collaborators…

My mother, death and the present moment

Cahoon Hollow, Cape Cod, August 2013

During a recent meeting of my meditation group, one woman told us that since focussing her practice on death and impermanence, she’s started to see death everywhere. All I could think was, “Then my mother is a Buddhist meditation master.” Maria Palanca can envision death scenarios so fantastic, she should be working for the CSI…

Writing life: Chunks vs. bites

Sandy Neck Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

In the last few years, I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit beating myself up about how much I write (or don’t write). Usually following a fierce internal tongue lashing in which I berate myself for being too busy and not making the time. I believed that I needed a chunk of time…

My yoga practice is nothing special

Gasket, Bialetti coffee maker, Montreal

Yes, you read that correctly. My yoga practice was something that used to cause me stress. I worried about my form from the first sun salutation right through to savasana. I wanted to please my teachers. I wanted to show my fellow yogis that I deserved to practice alongside them. If I had a “bad”…

The arrogance of an easy life

Mont Royal, Montreal, Summer 2013

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of dog sitting this sweet pup (–>) for a few days. On the Saturday, once the rain let up, she and I ducked under the trees on the north side of the Mont Royal. We hopped over fallen branches and roots, and mucked up muddy inclines, the…


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