Death is Not the End

butterfly chrysalis

Death is not the end, it’s another beginning.

Grief is for the living, not the dead. I know

love survives all things, every transition. And death is but a doorway

to rebirth. The soul recognises what the human mind forgets.

I’ll never forget

the light of laughter in your soulful eyes, or the way

you said my name with such love, or the time

you told me that you were so proud

I had begun to follow my dreams. It seems

impossible to imagine a world without you. We carry

white lilies to your graveside, and poems, grasped in trembling hands.

Prayers are performed, dirges are read, songs are sung, but

not one is as precious as you are. Not a single one.

I know, grief is for the living, not the dead.

Death is not the end, it’s another beginning.




A friend and I recently joked about how discouraging it would be if Facebook had an online timer located at the top right-hand corner of the screen to keep track of how many minutes we spend scrolling through our newsfeeds every day.

It’s a frightening thought.

I think it’s fair to say that more than a few of us would be quite surprised to discover how much time we truly spend in Faceworld.

Even when I try to limit myself, I still manage to log a few hours daily: eleven minutes here, another seven there until, before I know it, I’ve accumulated an hour and a half online. If I don’t restrict my use, I can easily log another couple of hours on top of that, at the very least.

It’s too much.

I almost forget what I used to do with my free time, in the olden days, before social media.

God knows, over the past decade, my life in the real world has only gotten bigger, louder, crazier, more chaotic, laborious, time-consuming, demanding, and taxing on absolutely every single level imaginable, so how I manage to find any time to do anything other than what’s right in front of me is a mystery. It’s next to impossible to manage two existences at once.

But I do it.

And I’m not alone.

Many of us straddle these two worlds, occupy two separate lives, to some degree or another.

On a daily basis, we navigate a virtual reality that operates in symbiosis with our own, and coexist in a strange sort of superposition—here, in the real world, and online, in Faceworld, at the exact same time. When we focus our attention on one reality, the other collapses, in a manner of speaking. For me, on a personal level, it boils down to this:

The more I interact with one world, the less I connect to the other.

I spent last summer, in its entirety, in the real world. Outside in the garden. Barefoot in the sunshine, knee-deep in earth with the plants and worms, listening to the song of birds overhead, I gulped down the peace and quiet like cool water from a freshwater spring, and experienced a few golden moments of divine grace, impossible to articulate, but striking in its ability to make everything impossibly clear.

I gave nary a thought to Faceworld, to be honest, for months on end, so consumed by the real world I was. But now, in the dead of winter, those days are oh-so-far-away, and I feel compelled to check repeatedly on the state of both worlds, because it’s such a mind-blowing mess. America’s future lies in the hands of a madman. Folks are scared, confused, and angry, no doubt, but mostly, overwhelmed, since it’s no easy feat to protect and keep loved ones safe, healthy, and whole, in times such as these.

I’m distracted, unable to concentrate, fidgety.

I want to help, but I’m no help to anyone when I’m like this, all wound up, jacked up, and on edge. I’m confused, angry, scared, and the only thing I know for sure is that, if I listen carefully, I can hear my body, mind, and spirit tell me it’s time to unplug, get grounded again, and recharge.

Unplug to recharge.

I need to get some writing done, spend some time in the real world doing some real-life things, and take a break from the drama of Faceworld. To be honest, I’ve only got the energy for one world these days, so I’ve got to limit my time on social media and focus my attention where it really counts.

If I’ve got any gifts to offer, they’re useless, unless I actually intend to use them.

And I most certainly do.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will be abstaining from Facebook all day-every day until the SUPER HAPPY FUNTIME HOUR, which will be nightly from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Maybe I’ll see you there!

Stay fierce.



(Facebook photo courtesy of


Spin Doctors

Question: What is the main difference between Happy Holly and Depressed Darla?

Answer: Happy Holly is a master in the art of self-deception.


Depressed people do not necessarily possess an overabundance of negative thoughts.

In fact, current research in social psychology suggests that depressed people tend to hold considerably more realistic perspectives than normal, non-depressed folks, particularly when it comes to the self. Did you know that?

Apparently, happy and healthy, so-called “normal” people are basically skilled spin doctors, who organically distort their own thinking processes, in order to uphold a positive self-image. I find this fact fascinating!

Happy Holly, and others like her, regularly employ little tricks to help maintain a reasonably high level of self-esteem. Depressed Darla, on the other hand, struggles with self-deception. It appears to be quite difficult for a sad, depressed person to manufacture the positive illusions required for happiness.

Makes sense when you think about it.

According to social psychologists, Shelley Taylor and Jonathon Brown (1988), there are three positive illusions that happy folks typically share: 1) they overestimate their better qualities and underestimate the less favourable ones; 2) they overestimate their ability to control events and influence outcomes; and 3) they are unrealistically optimistic about the future.

Essentially, Happy Holly is so damned happy, because she’s able to fully embrace the good and reject the bad in herself, she has a strong sense of agency accompanied by a firm belief in her ability to exert control over life experiences and, as strange as it may sound, she feels like she’s got a better shot than most at living the Good Life, as she defines it. Not because she’s narcissistic, or terribly arrogant, but because she thinks she’s a slight cut above the rest. She has to, frankly, because Happy Holly’s happiness depends almost entirely upon her ability to lie to, and deceive, herself about herself.

The key to happiness, it seems, lies within our ability to fool ourselves.

My advice then, should you find yourself down in the dumps, is to track down a pair of rose-coloured glasses and turn them inward. Don’t be afraid to see yourself as the magnificent creature you truly are. Downplay your flaws, highlight your best features, overlook—heck, outright deny, at least in the privacy of your own mind—any failures, but claim every last success. Live the poem, Invictus by William Ernest Henley, and affirm to your incredibly resilient self on a daily basis: I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. Believe the entire universe conspires to assist you in manifesting your desires. And, above all else, hold yourself in the highest of high esteem, even if you must deceive yourself to do so. Be your own spin doctor.

Put a positive spin on YOU.

It may feel a bit weird at first.

If so, remind yourself loudly and often, “This is what normal people do. This is what normal people do. This is what normal people do. This is what normal people do….”

Soon enough, you’ll be smiling, too.


On the Death of a Marriage


Ash Heart

The death of a marriage is a slow, bumpy ride down a dark, lonely road in the middle of hell, full of unexpected twists and turns, sudden detours, unforeseen potholes, rickety old bridges, extreme weather conditions, and all sorts of other things beyond our control. No guideposts or streetlamps light the way. Accidents happen. Roadkill happens. Innocent people get hurt. Sometimes, we take the high road, other times, we go low. Either way, every day, we try to move forward, forward, forward.

Don’t look back.

It is a minefield, full of hidden explosives, ready to blow at the slightest provocation.

A wasteland: barren, uninhabitable, grey.

(I’ve done my best to navigate)


The death of a marriage is a festering wound; raw, puss-filled and infected, nerves dangerously exposed.

It is a phantom limb, severed flesh remembered on a cellular level, a painful ghost of what used to be.

A charley horse: uncontrollable, intense, spastic.

A broken heart fighting to survive.

(I’ve done all I can to heal)


Nobody gets through completely unscathed; the death of a marriage changes us.

But while it is the end of a story, to be certain, it is not the end of the whole story.

It is, in fact, the germination stage of another.

(I’ve planted so many seeds).


It’s over.

We bury the dead, because ritual matters and, honestly, decaying matter just stinks. We gather with loved ones to reminisce and remember, and we mourn, we grieve. We may even scream at the heavenly stars over the injustice of it all until our vocal chords give out…

But then, one day, it hurts a little less. No tears fall, and we laugh—we actually laugh out loud—at something funny a friend says. Finally, some pressure gets released, a small pebble tumbles out of the pile we’ve been carrying on our backs and, miraculously, a massive weight is lifted.

Bit by bit, stone by stone, we can breathe again.

(I can breathe again).


It isn’t easy to let go.

We often hold on hardest to the things or people we most need to set free, forgetting that we can’t be open to receive what we truly need if our hands are clenched in fists of fear, desperately clinging to something we don’t. No, letting go is not easy, but it is often necessary. Even when it’s scary. Probably most especially then.

The death of a marriage has altered my vision of the future.

The life I move toward isn’t the one I’d imagined, but it’s the one I have been called to.

I must answer.





All Good Things


Christmas is just around the corner, folks.

And, blessedly, only days later, we’ll celebrate the start of a brand-spanking-new year. Sweet baby Jesus, it’s about time!

I don’t think I’ve ever met a year that hit quite as hard as this one.

I’ll be glad to see the back of it, that’s for sure, and I don’t think I’m alone there. Amiright?

But even so, as hard and painful as 2016 has been—on far too many levels to ever count—I still feel a deep need to take a minute and gratefully acknowledge that somehow, in the midst of all the craziness and turmoil, a little bit of sheer joy and pure awesomeness still managed to find its way to me over the past 12 months. I got my ass kicked, for sure, over and over, but I also saw my fair share of victories, too…


Last January, I started to sporadically record good things that happened to me on tiny slips of paper and save them in a small clay mug I purchased in Hawes, Yorkshire, a dozen years ago. It’s been an interesting exercise. I have to admit, a lot slid under the radar, honestly, as I do have a tendency to start strong on a project, then get all caught up in life and forget about whatever it was I’d originally planned to do. Still, it was fun to go back and take a look at what made me stop and take notice.

It’s easy to see all the brokenness in the world these days.

Harder to find the beauty.

And so, today, in no particular order and for no reason other than to remind myself that I did experience at least a few fairly great moments in the midst of all the madness and chaos, I present to you…

50+1 Things I’m Thankful for This Year (2016):

  1. My new iPhone
  2. Our Christmas tree came down nice and easy… in February
  3. Glennon Doyle Melton (Author, Love Warrior) invited me to be her guest at a huge Momastery event in New York City (unfortunately, my flight was cancelled due to snow, but still!!!)
  4. Aspen Matis (Author, Girl in the Woods) agreed to meet for coffee and great conversation in N.Y.C. (damn that stupid snowstorm, grrrrr)
  5. A gorgeous gibbous moon one winter evening
  6. I took a trip downtown and caught all lights, busses, and transfers—no waiting!
  7. Successful red-tape negotiation and fast-moving lines in government buildings
  8. Eldest son’s reconnection with his long-time best friend
  9. Sexy new boots and warm winter coat
  10. The day my passport and tickets to New York arrived (and my birth certificate with my mom’s handwriting on it…)!
  11. On a bad day, my cousin-sister sent a precious message offering help, if needed
  12. Cast removed from youngest son’s busted finger
  13. Youngest son took his first trip to Florida (and returned home safely)
  14. Elizabeth Gilbert (Author, Big Magic) liked my Tweet!
  15. Found a gentle and kind new dentist
  16. Really good conversation with my mom
  17. Decision to take the summer (and subsequent academic year) off
  18. I turned 40! So did a few of my closest friends
  19. The cardinal and his mate who sat on the wire by my balcony and sang to me
  20. A strong mark on a difficult assignment
  21. One of my besties, my angel, gave birth to her third child: a bouncin’ baby boy!
  22. Unexpected message full of light and love from a poetess friend living in Seoul
  23. After tragic losses, two beloved friends gave birth to healthy Rainbow Babies
  24. A Facebook post from my friend, Jessica: You’re my Favorite Badass. She wrote, “This week, my favorite badass warrior superhero is Arwen Faulkner, who got knocked down again last year but got up again not only still alive, but wiser, more beautiful, and more loving than before (and who knew that was even possible)?”
  25. Windfall! Small bank refund
  26. Cousin-sister ordered us tickets to see Lauryn Hill in Montreal (couldn’t make it in the end, due to logistics, but oh man, what a gift!)
  27. Quit cigarettes!!!
  28. A productive Saturday
  29. Wrote a powerful short story (The Black Forty-Seven)
  30. Apparently I had a REALLY good lasagna and Caesar salad one night… worth mentioning…?
  31. Good conversation with a great friend left me feeling recharged
  32. A delicious heat wave to warm the bones
  33. Chickadees fed from the palm of my hand!
  34. An elderly neighbour from down the street stopped me to say that I’m doing really great, he’s not the only one who can tell—and he’s happy for me. So sweet!
  35. Angela’s suggestion to start a faerie garden that led to a summer full of fun
  36. Found a lucky toonie ($2) on a walk
  37. My kindred’s remission from leukaemia (however brief)
  38. Visit from a Mourning Dove (my dad’s spirit)
  39. A birthday gift trip from my mom
  40. A family member of Bronwen Wallace’s (1945-1989), poet/writer/activist and subject of my first book, sent me a pair of her earrings to wear for inspiration
  41. Cheryl Strayed (Author, Wild) liked my comment about “gobsmacked” on Facebook
  42. Almost got accepted into the Summer Research Internship Program at Carleton (Dean sent an email to congratulate me on my topic and say how close it was)
  43. My freshly painted apartment
  44. Daughter’s toothless grin
  45. A kind gesture from a loved one to help take some of the pressure off
  46. Co-created the #FacesOfPTSD campaign with four other incredible survivors
  47. Singer-songwriter, Jewel, tweeted in support of the #FacesOfPTSD campaign
  48. Received an advance reading copy of LOVE WARRIOR by Glennon Doyle Melton
  49. An early snowfall that sent Trigger Season packing
  50. Nothing like a new housecoat…


  1. It’s almost over: I survived!


Here’s hoping 2017 is full of new beginnings and an abundance of joy.


I wish you all good things,





We Are One


I do not believe in separation.
Let’s be clear:

I am you. You are me.
We are one.

What I love in you, I love in me.
What I hate in you, I hate in me.

God is not outside of us.
Somewhere, up there, above, casting judgement.

God is me. God is you.
We are God.

Duality is an illusion.
Separation is a myth.

Survivor’s Guilt



I think about her every so often.

I’ll be sitting on the bus heading to an appointment across town, or at home, chopping veggies for dinner, and suddenly, there she is—or, at least, a reasonable facsimile. We’ve never met, so I have no clue what she really looks like, how old she is, where she lives, what kind of car she drives, if any, or what she does for a living, but I have no doubt she’s out there somewhere.

Sometimes, I wonder if she wonders about me, too.

If so, does she blame me, because I didn’t protect her?

Barely seventeen years old and struggling to survive my own trauma, I wasn’t strong enough to save anyone else, but even so, after more than two decades (twenty-three years to be precise), it still haunts me at times, the idea that she exists, the knowing-in-my-bones of it, and the guilt, the shame, because I let it happen, not only to me, but to her, and any others who followed and suffered through my silence…

I let my rapist walk away scot-free.

Free to do it again.

I refused to report the rape to the police. Didn’t tell my mom. Instead, I just tried to put it behind me, move on, forget about it. It was 1993, after all, and the term “date rape” was not in widespread use. Most people still tended to believe that a rape between people who knew one another was basically a misunderstanding, not “real” rape, which was assumed to be committed by a stranger, and since my rapist was known to me, intimately, the very notion of filing a report and potentially testifying against him, a former lover, in a courtroom stuffed with stern, judgy people made me want to die.

I couldn’t.

It took years before I was able to own what happened to me.


I couldn’t possibly have said it aloud in front of a judge and jury, God, my mother, and anybody else who happened to be present—the word and the whole ugly story and everything that came before—only to be disbelieved or, even worse, blamed. No way. I didn’t have that kind of courage or conviction.

Although contemporary statistics have proven beyond all doubt that the perpetrator is known to the victim in a vast majority of rape and sexual assault cases, we still inhabit a world where only a Perfect Victim is entitled to justice, and even then, doesn’t always get it. If I had told someone way back when, filed a report and testified, the boy who raped me might have gotten away with it anyhow. It’s probable.

We had a history and I was an imperfect victim.

Still, I feel guilty about her sometimes. I don’t know her name, but I know her pain, as sure as I know my own. Did she survive? Does she feel guilty as well, knowing, as I do, there must be others like us? I mean, if a boy rapes a girl and gets away with it, who does he grow to become, in all likelihood?

A man who rapes women.

According to Google, survivor’s guilt occurs when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not. Most often associated with accidents or natural disasters, I think it also applies in certain circumstances to victims of unreported rape who, in addition to the weight of their own pain, carry the added burden of responsibility toward potential future victims.

How ridiculous is that?!

A rapist walks free and we, the raped, hold ourselves accountable for future rapes by this rapist??? No.

No, no, no, no, no!

A rapist is the only one responsible for rape.

The boy who raped me is the only human being on this entire planet accountable for his actions.

But even so, every now and again, I think of her. I’ll be walking through the woods on a golden afternoon, or in the office, putting sentences together for an essay, and suddenly, there she is…

Love Warrior



“I don’t know how to fix my marriage. All I know is that I need to tear down my own walls and face what’s underneath. I cannot save my marriage but I can save myself. I can do that for me and for my children and for every relationship I have now and for every one that comes in the future.”

Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior


I was a little afraid of this book at first.

Okay, I was a lot afraid.

I probably ought to admit that fact upfront if I’m going to be even half as honest as Glennon Doyle Melton was in the writing of the fierce tour de force that is her powerful new memoir, Love Warrior.

Why was I so scared?

Because I was terrified of what it would mean for me.

My husband and I have been working through a complicated separation for the past couple of years, spending lots of time in liminal space, the in-between, and so, as excited as I was to read Love Warrior, a small part of me fretted that I would turn the last page feeling even more discouraged and heartbroken about my own love story. And what if this book affected me so much it altered my own outcome? What if it made me want to go back and try once more? Or never again? What if…?

Sometimes the unknown can be pretty damn scary.

Once Canada Post had delivered my precious advance reading copy, it still took a few days before I was brave enough to actually crack open the cover. I did, however, carry it around with me everywhere I went until then, of course, because that’s what you do when you get your hands on a priceless treasure, you hold onto it. Maybe it sounds silly, but I knew Love Warrior was going to be kind of a big deal for me, like Carry On, Warrior only different, and I just felt like I needed to take my time.

Go easy. Don’t rush. Breathe.

I could have gulped it all down in one sitting.

Glennon is a natural wordsmith and it was that good.

Instead, I sipped Love Warrior slowly over the course of a couple days, savouring every single sentence, setting it aside every so often to stare into space, stunned by the beauty and raw honesty within. I don’t know how she does it, but somehow, Glennon, a master truthteller, is not only able to see through smoke and mirrors to the soul of the matter, but she also has an incredible knack for articulating precisely what has been discovered and making it personal to the reader, who feels as though they have been embraced as a confidant, witness, friend.

My girl digs deep. Gets on her hands and knees and claws to the bottom of the bottom of the bottom until she has excavated the bare bones of truth hidden underneath, far below the surface, dusted them off, and brought them out into the bright light of day. Reverently, she extracts the rich marrow for closer examination, and then generously, gracefully, shares what she has learned. Shamelessly.

Love Warrior is the story of a marriage and one couple’s efforts to rebuild after infidelity, but even more than that, it is the story of one woman claiming her own space and learning to finally feed herself once and for all. Through a refusal to abandon herself any longer and a commitment to face her pain, no matter how awful, Glennon began the arduous process of becoming who she was always meant to be by letting go of everything she never really was.


Glennon does not claim to be any kind of guru or marriage expert, nor does she offer unreliable advice, or even worse, “7 Steps to a Happier, Healthier Marriage.” This book will not suggest that you stay in a relationship and it won’t tell you to leave. But it will probably carry you into a fuller understanding and acceptance of yourself, encourage you to embrace your own truths, whatever they may be, and offer a more sage perspective on being in love than any you have likely ever come across before.

Although it will be described as many things, Love Warrior is, above all else, a call to love, Warrior.

A deeply intimate experience, Love Warrior is one of those books that stays with you long after the last chapter has ended, and it will come to mean many different things to countless people in the way that all exceptional books do. My dog-eared, underlined and highlighted copy can attest to how much it has meant to me. But even so, I find myself struggling to find adequate words to convey  how incredibly necessary this memoir was for me, and is, for all of us. I wanted to write something elegant, but instead, all I’ve got are these ramblings as my thoughts continue to settle.

Mind fully blown.

If you treat yourself to one special purchase this month, do yourself a favour and let it be Glennon Doyle Melton’s new memoir, Love Warrior. Do not be afraid. If you are, do it anyways, then go on and buy one for a friend, too. Trust me, it’s a giver.

Love Warrior was written for me. And it was written for you.

In truth, it is a love letter from Glennon to every single one of us stumbling around in the dark, trying to find connection and meaning, a reunion of body/mind/soul, despite the constant bombardment of messages designed to keep us lost and separate, scared and alone.

love warrior

“We aren’t different. We are exactly the same. We are individual pieces of a scattered puzzle and we are just a little lost down here. We are all desperate for reunion and we are trying to find it in all the wrong places. We use bodies and drugs and food to try to end our loneliness, because we don’t understand that we’re lonely down here because we are supposed to be lonely. Because we’re in pieces. To be human is to be incomplete and constantly yearning for reunion. Some reunions just require a long, kind patience.”

Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior


You can find Glennon chatting with Oprah about her new memoir, Love Warrior, and other awesome stuff on Super Soul Sunday on Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. on OWN. Details (here).

Or visit for an event near you! Follow the link (here) for more info.

Trigger Season

fall leaves

Still awake at 2:43 a.m.

Third night in a row.

I could easily stay up all night until dawn, but I have to try and get a little rest, at least, so I can be the mom that I need to be for my children tomorrow. When I do finally fall asleep, it is restless and disturbed, full of half-lucid dreams and recurring nightmares. I get up several times to check the lock on the windows, the front and back door, as well as the porch light, and before I can go back to bed, I have to make sure that the curtains are drawn, the kids are okay, and the phone is within arms’ reach. It is a task.

A cool draught blows through the room.

I am reminded that summer is nearly over and start to cry in the dark.

I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. On the wrong side of myself. I feel ugly, exhausted, out of sorts, on the outside of everything. I bumble through my morning routine in a fog. Easily exasperated, far too impatient, I sigh and mumble under my breath as I rush the kids to get ready for daycare, my words stumbling over themselves in an effort to appear normal, whatever the hell that is. It is bad enough that I had to leave the sanctuary of my bedroom today at all, really, but is it truly necessary for me to be normal, too?

If so, I think, epic fail.

I smile harder, because I do not know what else to do, and keep going.

I take my meds. Remind myself that a bad day is just a bad day and not the end of the world. Keep going. Keep going, yes, but with a belly full of fanged butterflies determined to escape. Usually, the medication settles the rush of wings, but today—these days—it barely takes the edge off. On the balcony, catching the last rays of the summer sunshine, I try to figure out why.

Then it occurs to me. Fall is on the way.

It’s in the air, at night, I can smell it. Trigger season.

After a number of incidences in my childhood involving various forms of sexual abuse, I was raped at the age of seventeen, in autumn, by a boy I had previously dated. Every year since then, without fail, as soon as the first leaves begin to fall, the first chill touches my nose, the first hint of pumpkin spice arrives, I start to feel it, all of it, again, in my throat, my chest, my breasts, my guts… all over. Anxiety, panic, fear, depression, sorrow, angst, a sense of impending disaster, an urge to run, hide, avoid, disappear.

One by one, they arrive, like uninvited guests to the worst party ever.

And I’m the unwilling host, shackled to the floor and gagged, unable to get rid of them.

Oh, they will leave when they are ready, I know. By December, the dreaded gang will have gone, for the most part, leaving only a few stragglers behind—nothing I cannot manage with help from the Christmas Spirit—but for now, oh, for now, as my PTSD symptoms start to slowly worsen day by day, I find myself holding my breath, waiting.

Maybe it won’t be as bad this year, I tell myself noncommittally.

Guess we’ll see, I reply.

Since opening up about my experiences and sharing my own story, I have come to know countless other survivors, many of whom also experience a Trigger Season, a particular time of year, associated in the recesses of the mind with a past traumatic event (or events), which leaves them feeling unusually vulnerable and susceptible to flashbacks and triggers. For some, it is the high heat of summer. Others may find discomfort during the colder days of winter.

I feel paper thin from late-August through to late-November.

If you know someone who suffers from PTSD, please be aware that certain times of the year may be more challenging than others, and while we may not be able to express what we need, you can still ask. Understand, we may be utilising every ounce of available energy just to get through a day. We do not mean to be short, snippy, cranky, or rude, so if it happens, we probably feel worse about it than you do. Forgive easily. Since we are used to feeling less than and not enough, remind us to be gentle with ourselves, and be gentle with us. Show your love and support by checking in.

PTSD can be very isolating and lonely, and it helps to know that, even on the days when we do not want to face the world, we are not alone and we are loved.