Breaking the Mould

I was recently asked to speak at an event for Asian Heritage month on the topic of Breaking the Mould at a high school. Here is an excerpt of some of my thoughts that I shared:

I think that my thoughts are best encapsulated in this quote by Socrates, who said:

The Secret to Change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new!

I have to remind myself of that quote from time to time, to ensure that I am keeping my momentum and energy focused in a positive and nurturing way. 

In terms of breaking the mould, I am going to briefly discuss who I am and some of the ways I have had the opportunity to break the mould:

  1. Who am I? 

Just by virtue of my background, I broke the mould!

My brother and I, when we were younger, came up with the following identifier:

Indo Caribbean Canadian – let’s break that down.  My father was born in India, my mother in Trinidad and I was born here in Canada. 

Growing up – I honestly did not know anyone with that type of background and in each of those respective communities – the South Asian community, as it is known now, and the Trinidadian community, we stood out as being different. 

And when you are younger – instinctively, you want to fit in and not stand out. 

But from a young age, I learned that I could not blend in and this happenstance of birth was always going to make me different.  So you either fight it or embrace it and I chose to embrace it.

And that goes to the first theme I want you to take away from my talk –

embrace your differences.  In fact – celebrate and highlight them!

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.

Stephen Covey

That is part of what makes me unique.  I have learned to navigate the world with this lens and it helps me see the world in a different way.  What does that mean – it means I bring a different point of view to any table I sit at, because of this foundational background.  And I don’t shy away from it – I can’t.  Just looking at me, you can tell that I have different complexion.

I have been in an era, where authenticity, celebrating our unique view points and finding commonalities has been emphasized and I am proud to be a part of that – but there is still a lot of work to be done and I see a lot of change continuing with your generation moving through.    

I was proud to have had a lot of firsts – the first South Asian/Trinidadian partner at my previous firm, the first female South Asian/ Trinidadian partner at my current firm, the first female president of the South Asian Bar Association.  And I am happy to have been the first but I want the world to reach the point that when you are ready to join whatever profession or vocation you are interested in, you will be breaking the mould with your excellence and for no other reason. 

And yes – I am an idealist, but trust me I am a pragmatist and I see the world for what it is.  But I also see the world for what it could be – and that’s what I focus on! 

This leads me to my next point –

  • Know yourself and define yourself – don’t let other people define you.

You can only break the mould if you are confident in yourself and your abilities.  And that means – putting in the work to develop yourself, your skills so that you can be your best in whatever you pursue. 

When I started thinking about law and pursuing law, and putting this in context, I am speaking about the late 80’s to the 2000’s – I would occasionally hear comments such as lawyers are aggressive and powerful and dynamic – are you?  There were popular television law shows when I was growing up – LA Law, Street Legal that contributed to that view, and there was never a character who looked like me.  #Representation matters!

And the words that were placed to describe me – as a woman and woman of colour – specifically being of South Asian descent are typically – demure, subservient, mild mannered.  But those words did not describe me at all and I was determined to prove people wrong, because in my heart –I knew who I was.  I am a litigator.  An advocate.  I enjoy convincing people to see things from a different point of view and convincing them that my position was the legally sound one.  I knew that from a young age, and I developed my advocacy training in a number of different ways – some purposeful and some by happenstance.  And I think this is important because don’t choose your activities and extra curriculars solely based on what you think will best contribute to your success but also because you enjoy it and want to develop that skill. 

I loved debating and always was a part of any type of debate – that’s pretty obvious for law and litigation.  However, I also loved performing and pursued drama and music (much against my parents’ wishes), which has contributed to me being comfortable in front of an audience and working in a group setting – both important in law.  I have a confession, I have terrible stage fright.  I often, to this day, will shake with nervousness, before starting any type of presentation or oral argument, but then given my training, I am able to harness the nervousness and direct the energy into the work I have to do. 

But knowing myself and defining myself has not been without its bumps.  When I went to law school at Western Law, then known as the University of Western Ontario, I actually shortened my name to Sue so that it was easier for people to say.  And I absolutely hated it.  No disrespect to anyone named Sue, because especially in Law, it is the perfect name!!! But it was not my name.  And so one lesson I learned in Law School was to stay true to me.  Be my authentic self.

And the name issue has remained throughout my tenure in law.  When I got married, my husband has a very short South Asian last name and many at work and within our respective communities for tradition, encouraged me to just take on my husband’s last name.  And I did, but I also kept my maiden name and hyphenated it –TAKE THAT!  Now I had gone and made it harder.  And I was ok with that and was prepared for that push back for a period of time, until it just became accepted.  Because with time, you come to realize that eventually, anything can become the norm and accepted.  I’ll give you an example – I love listening to all of the amazing and diverse names of reporters on television and radio – and that was not my experience growing up. 

So change happens – remind yourself of that when you are in doubt. 

And as a funny anecdote, television law shows changed also.  When I started law school, this fun law show started with its title character being a slim outspoken woman who was constantly under estimated and I felt a kinship to her – the show was Ally McBeal and in fact – my friends started calling me a play on the title character’s name, as a result!

Another time – my knowledge of who I was tested was when I was applying to law firms.  “Advice” that I was given, was to remove my nose ring because firms were inherently conservative work places.  And I thought about it but by that point and having come to terms with my name, I decided that if a firm did not want me because of my nose ring, then it was not the proper environment for me. I knew me.   

And as I have continued my journey in the profession of law, I have found my stride.  I am comfortable being my full self.  I don’t hide the fact that I am a mother of 3, and have a life outside of the office.  Most of my friends, are people who I have known since I was 6 years old and none of them are lawyers.  I proudly celebrate my heritage and culture and take pride educating others on it. 

It has taken time but I have learned that in order for you to be truly happy, it is a cliché, but you have to be true to yourself because by being you, and fully accepting yourself, will you then know how to find success and what that means for you.  

My last point:

  • To Break the mould – be surrounded by a great support system

 When I started to pursue law, even from the law school level, there were very few people who looked like me and I knew all of the people who looked different as we found solidarity with each other.   We provided support and cheers, even from afar as we started practicing.

Part of me being able to break the mould was having a great support system.  When I first started law, there were not many South Asian or Trinidadian lawyers.  So, I found lawyers, who did not look like me and came from totally different backgrounds, but were great at what they did and I adopted them as my mentors.  We did not have mentorship when I started Law but my instincts steered me to find amazing people and learn from them, and as a result, they became invested in me, and want to help me succeed because they saw something in me.  They gave me the inside track and view and I figured out what worked for me and what did not.

Golfing – hard no.  Going for long nights of drinking on a continuous basis – not for me.  Writing articles about cases of interest – that worked for me.  Presenting (after I conquered the butterflies) – that worked for me.  Taking clients to exhibits, the spa, nice meals – all what worked for me. 

And as time rolled on, I found a community within the South Asian Bar Association which was established a couple of years after I got called to the Bar.  And I joined their Executive, and eventually became the President.  At the very first gala – we fit into a private dining room at a restaurant.  At the last pre-pandemic gala, the gala was at capacity at the Liberty Grand and the event was sold out.  And many times, when I stumble, need direction, consolation, or inspiration, I turn to my circle.  And they help me move forward.  I have been very careful about who is afforded my confidences and although I have many acquaintances and friends, the true friends and mentors I can count on my hands.  And they are the ones who are angry with me when I have experienced a wrong or injustice and they are the ones who lift me up and celebrate me and vice versa.  And in my opinion, having that circle of people (family, friends, mentors) around you, gives you the support and foundation and confidence to know that you are capable of breaking whatever mould, whatever stereotype, whatever perception is imposed on you. 

And so I go back to the words of Socrates:

The Secret to Change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new!

I look forward to your new and all the change that you will bring – I am excited for your futures!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

The First Monday in May

Yes – I am that person. If you have been reading this blog, you know that I love fashion and style, and the first Monday in May – the MET Gala embodies this love. It is a night where a fashion theme is chosen and the attendees pay homage to it. It is also usually the start of May, which selfishly, is one of my favourite months of the year. Not just because my birthday is in May, but because the Cherry Blossoms have started blooming, Spring is in the air and for me, it is reviving!

But let’s go back to that first Monday. I usually have to try and carve time to watch the Red Carpet for the MET Gala, between dinner and getting the kids to activities. I often miss a lot and after a while, just give up and catch up the next day online. And you have to understand, that I have watched documentaries about the MET Gala, and in the lead up, enjoy reading how the theme is going to be interpreted and anticipate who is going to deliver the look of the night.

But, it just so happened that our dinner plans fell through and we decided that since we had a fridge full of leftovers, that was going to be our dinner. And my husband dealt with clean up, dishes and back and forth to activities, so that I could sit on the couch and indulge in my love of fashion.

But this year was different from a more important reason – I had fellow attendees – my girls. And it was so fun watching with them, not just so that they could explain to me who some of the younger celebrities were, but to get a sense of their fashion aesthetic and what we agreed and differed upon. And honestly, they had some great comments. One daughter really enjoyed the Versace interpretations of the theme and said that she would have chosen that designer if she was attending!!!! It was so fun getting their comments and opinions. The other daughter really paid attention to the details – the accessories, the cut of the dress, the colour choices.

As I get older, I find that life is busy and I am not having as much “girl time” with my friends, because we all have other things going on. But last night, I have girls’ night at home, with 2 of my favourite girls of all time and it was perfection.

Those are those moments – unexpected, perfect and soul filling.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

#METGala #girltime

These boots are made for…

Yesterday, I had the privilege of instructing other lawyers about appellate advocacy. I had the privilege of instructing with other Court of Appeal, Superior Court, Court of Justice Judges and senior members of the Bar. I really enjoy days like this. I feel like I am truly part of a community – a profession coming together on a cold and rainy Saturday, with torrential winds, to exchange ideas and help each other.

Whenever I have moments like this, I make sure my mom is a part of the moment. Since she is no longer here, I feel like I have her support when I wear something that she gifted me or used to belong to her and was passed down to me, and yesterday was no different. I chose an outfit the night before, ensuring it was ironed and ready to go with accessories. That morning, with the rain, I decided I needed boots and I had not worn a pair of beautiful black boots my mom had given me in a while.

My mom gave me these boots in high school. We did not have a lot of money for frills growing up, but my mom always found a way through her sewing and good eye, to ensure that my brother and I were well dressed and presented well. She taught me not to dress with trends, but with what suited me and looked good on me. When I was in high school, all the girls had these gorgeous leather boots, and I knew we did not have the money for them, so I did not ask, but my mom knew. My mom, years ago and before I was born, had worked at Simpsons, the premier department store in Toronto. She purchased a lot of great items there, including a pair of black leather boots, with a gorgeous fur like lining. She really took care of those boots and kept them polished and in great condition.

So in high school, when she saw all the girls wearing great boots, she decided to pass the boots down to me and I loved those boots. They were honestly the nicest footwear I had ever worn. However, the calves were way too big for me, but thankfully, if I wore jeans or narrow pants, they looked just right and I carefully picked the occasions when I would wear them and show them off.

I remember wearing them to go out with my mom once, and a woman stopped me and offered me cash for the boots. I looked at my mom and she gave me a look that said, “I told you”. She knew how great the boots were, and of course, I thanked the woman for the compliment, but politely declined her offer, no matter how tempting.

Through the years, I have selected when to wear the boots but with the pandemic and changing my commute, I have not worn the boots in a while. The last time I had worn them, they were still a little bit big and needed me to wear thicker leggings or skinny jeans with them. But yesterday, I was wearing a dress and I thought, let me just see if they will work with my look.

I had them at the side of my closet, with boot fillers within them, so there are no creases in the height of the boot. I pulled them out, and put them on and…they fit like a glove.

And I felt like crying, because my legs were the same size as my mom when she first bought them and I felt a real connection with her. It was a special feeling and carried me through the day. My mom and her pieces always give me extra confidence and I needed that yesterday.

And when I came home in the afternoon, one daughter came to the door and I told her that I was wearing grandma’s boots and she was impressed. And I was so happy to complete the moment by saying that one day, she and her sister would get the boots to cherish and keep the connection going.

My heart was full.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

#connection #thesebootsaremadeforwalking #missyoumom

Metrics for the energy spent

So we are at that time of the year, where end of the year evaluations are being submitted to determine remuneration, salary and advancement. Typically, these evaluations are a summary of contributions for the past year and explanations of how one excelled at what they did, but also how one contributed to the betterment of their place of employment.

But let’s be honest – why do we go through this exercise?

I was at a conference recently, and one of the big repeats throughout the day, was the “myth of meritocracy”. Just hearing the term gave me permission to feel justification in past feelings, felt. We have all seen it time and again, more times than naught, work performance and abilities do not count as much in moving up the ladder. Cue – sponsors or allies.

When one has a sponsor, in upper management, who sees one’s potential and wants to champion and advance you, in my opinion, this has far more weight than one’s abilities. And the problem is that often Champions only sponsor people they feel an affinity for; they see themselves in that person. And so if management is comprised of the management team in “Mad Men”, the likelihood of finding a sponsor for many becomes far slimmer. The myth of meritocracy.

I say all of this because another issue which was raised at the conference was the idea of published metrics for companies. Forcing companies to start being accountable with metrics to show that the “Mad Men” hierarchy is not being perpetuated but changed with diversity and resulting in work places reflecting today’s society. It sounds ideal, but it is still a work in progress.

But speaking of metrics, wouldn’t it be great if during the course of evaluations, there was a magical metric to measure the unnecessary extra energy non “Mad Men”, spend during the year, trying to get the same traction as the “Mad Men”, and there was a way for this be accounted for in the evaluations? If there was a scientific way of measuring individual energy levels for the year and out of that, what was unnecessarily spent, explaining or justifying worth, even when that was evident with performance; how amazing would that be?

So many conversations constantly justifying contributions and worth; exhausting. Constantly feeling opposed. Feeling a lack of support. Tiring! However when those same positions are presented by someone “less polarizing”, then it is instant acknowledgement and applause. What if those moments of frustration and anger could be measured, acknowledged and factored? Game changer.

And yes, this is all very dramatic and untenable, but this energy waste in tangible and draining. And so, if those additional hoops were accounted for as a metric, then I think that there would be a valid reason to change the approach taken by many managers. Because if the metric of wasteful time needed to be compensated by other means – salary, promotion etc.. then this would definitely be scrutinized more and I guarantee you that a different approach would be taken. Mic drop.

And trust me, with the increased use of AI, perhaps there can be an implementation of more objective and concrete metrics, which properly apply a meritocracy approach and we can rid ourselves of the belief that it is a myth? Mind blasting!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

#mythofmeritocracy #metrics

Snowy days and community

So we had another snowy day. But this one was different than the last. We experienced a mix of freezing rain and snow that resulted in a very heavy snowfall to clear. To the credit of our Town, the roads for our tertiary street were cleared over night (very unusual) and we had a mound of snow piled up at the end of our driveway, to start our morning. But we also had a great start to our morning, because our next door neighbour, while clearing his driveway with his snow blower before work, cleared the sidewalk in front of our house, which was super nice.

We also had a snow day and schools were closed. So, the kids were home. We decided to make scones for breakfast, to make it special and then after we had checked our schedules for the morning, and after we had carved out some time, decided to tackle the snow removal.

Now, we have a snow blower but you will recall from my previous post on our last snowy day, we did not use it because we were clearing snow later in the evening that day. However, this time, it was mid morning and no one would be disturbed. This heavy snow needed a snow blower or the Rock to clear it. And so my husband went to power up the snow blower and ofcourse, it would not start; the engine just would not catch. And so, we decided to clear the snow on our own. And I will be honest, I was glad that I did not work out that morning, because the snow was heavy and icy and it was a definite workout. And the energy being put out, was not resulting in the same snow removal momentum as last time. But we kept at it.

While I was attacking the end of the driveway, I saw one of my neighbours down the street get stuck trying to back out his car. And so, my husband went over to help him and his brother push the car. While they were doing this, another neighbour joined to help and they were able to get the car clear and our neighbour went off to work.

When my husband returned, we resumed snow clearing and realized this was a bigger task than we had anticipated, especially, without the snow blower. So we decided to take a break, return back to working and then would go out later in the afternoon.

In the afternoon, while working, our door bell rang, and our retired neighbour from across the street, stopped by. He told us that he had seen us having issues with our snow blower and offered to do clear our driveway. My husband said he would try one last time to get our snow blower started and if not, we might take him up on his generous offer. And so, we trekked back outside and ofcourse, the snow blower would not start. And we started clearing it again with shovels and realized, we needed the help. And so after having his tea, my neighbour came over and plowed our driveway. When my husband offered him a box of tea as a thank you, my neighbour declined and said that being neighbours means helping one another; that’s what it meant to be a good neighbour. Wise words.

And while my husband was outside, he and another neighbour helped our other next door neighbour clear his driveway and they all caught up with one another. Clearing snow is a bonding experience.

And honestly, it reminded me again why we are so fortunate to live on the street that we do, surrounded by the amazing neighbours that we have. We all help one another. We all care about one another and we all look out for one another. That’s a pretty amazing community to be a part of. With all of the issues going on in the world, it is nice to know, that on our little corner of the street, we have neighbours from all different backgrounds, who have created a community that makes everyone feel included and engaged, especially on a snowy, freezing rain kind of day.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

#Snowy Day #Community

The perfect first snow

Yesterday was the first proper snow we have had for 2023. We did not have any snow during the Winter break and our kids were disappointed because they love playing in the snow.

But yesterday when the snow hit, it hit. My husband I cleared some snow before picking up the kids from school, as I worked from home, but the wind was high and it was challenging making any inroads clearing the snow. We decided to tackle the major snow removal after dinner. I was also excited to wear my new snow pants that my husband had purchased me, which provided great protection in the snow – love them (fashion is always a part of my experience)!

By the time we went out, it was around 9pm and we did not want to disturb the neighbours with the snow blower. We decided to shovel the snow ourselves. And that was quite a work out. The snow was perfect for snowballs – perfectly packed, but quite heavy. So the snow removal was quite a workout. We received about 15 cms of snow, and it was heavy and a lot. But it was actually fun clearing the snow. It was just my husband and I and I referred to it as our “date night”. We worked in tangent, tackling each area until it was done.

There is something very satisfying about clearing snow. You instantly see the results and if you catch the snow before it becomes icy, then the snow removal can be quite steady and continuous. By the time we were outside, the wind from earlier had stopped and it was actually not too cold. I actually took off my gloves. It was the perfect winter night. There is something magical about a night like that.

When we finished, I decided to take advantage of the perfect packing snow, and threw some snow balls at my husband. This resulted in a mini snowball fight, which still causes me to smile. It was pure joy.

When I went inside, one of my daughters, dressed in her penguin onesie (it is very cozy) decided she wanted in on the fun. She put on her boots, but rushed out without a coat because she did not want to miss out on the snow fun. I quickly transferred my coat, hat and gloves to her and off she went to throw snow at her Papa. And I rushed inside to get my phone and capture the moment. Their laughs filled the air as they threw snow at each other, pushing each other into the snow and making snow angels.

I have spoken about rejuvenation before, and this was one of those perfect moments that I will cherish forever, which filled me. Unplanned, joyous fun! It was perfect.

The joy everyone experienced, was the perfect end of our first snow day. We will never forget it. You would never know that Winter is my least favourite season!

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Anne of Green Gables – loyal!

I was in grade 5 when my teacher decided that she would start reading to us from this Canadian classic called Anne of Green Gables. Typically when the teacher would pick a book to read to us, it was not my cup of tea, and I would multi task during the book. But this book was different. I was captivated once she started reading it and really looked forward to the next part of the story everyday. I had already been a fan of books about young girls in Canada, including the Booky series by Bernice Thurman Hunter and this was another viewpoint about life in Canada’s past.

When I learned that this was the first in a series of books, I was so excited. I would get to learn of Anne’s next chapters? I immediately started getting the books from the library and devoured them. For Christmas, I requested my own copies of the books because I loved them so much and would read them over and over again.

And when I learned that there was going to be a TV movie starring Canadian Megan Follows, I was so excited. I watched that first night of part 1 with laser focus. And I have to say that it was perfectly cast. For those of you who have never read the books, Anne is an orphan, who is accidentally sent to live with an older brother (Matthew) and sister (Marilla) who had wanted a boy to help at their farm. But they decide to keep Anne and the love and bond that grow between these 3 is so beautiful. Matthew is played by Richard Farnsworth, who was perfectly cast as a quiet, introspective but kind man and the casting for Marilla had Colleen Dewhurst in the role and she was perfection. Prickly, but kind hearted and loyal. Whatever I had imagined reading the books was manifested in the casting. The cinematography in PEI is perfect and it captures the Town of Avonlea perfectly, with its supporting characters.

It left such an imprint on me. I watched all of the sequels starring Megan Follows and even if the last ones deviated a lot from the book, I still enjoyed them. Even though at surface level, I did not have a lot in common with Anne, I think that anyone reading the book who feels like a bit of an outcast growing up (being the only South Asian in my group of friends) and is trying to figure their place in the world, will resonate with this character.

And the books are magical for me. You see Anne developing her own confidence, and her own life with her children and husband and the magic that she weaves for them using her imagination. It was highly comforting for me. Aspirational.

And during the pandemic, I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce it to my kids. I honestly thought that they would have the same reaction that I did, and was deeply disappointed when they could not connect with the material. Instead, they teased me because they did not understand my connection with the story and the characters and I gave them fantasy up!

But it still remains near and dear to me. We had to move my books off site while we were doing some renovations, but I am looking forward to finding all of the books in the series and re-reading them again.

Something to look forward to. The restorative powers of re-reading old favourites (see my post on Rejuvenation!)

But that’s just one Diva’s view.


Relaxation and Rejuvenation – the search!

We had friends over for lunch the other day, and one of the guests asked what our family was going to do over the Holidays. I replied, as I am sure many would, by stating that I was looking forward to time with friends and family during the Holidays, some projects around the house and relaxing. I think it was a pretty standard answer that many shared. But then my friend replied with a great point – how are you going to rejuvenate during the holidays? Mic drop. We all had an Oprah “Aha” moment when she said that.

Relaxation and rejuvenation, although often said together, are two separate things and how was I going to rejuvenate during the holidays? And this leads to an even more fundamental question – what rejuvenates me?

And that caused us all to think about a number of different things during lunch. What relaxes you? Can you fully relax during the holidays? NO!!! Do we build time into our schedule for rejuvenation? What rejuvenates you

The traditional definition of Rejuvenation is:

  1. the action or process of giving new energy or vigor to something.”plans for the rejuvenation of the area”
    • the restoration of a youthful appearance to something.”experts in the art of facial rejuvenation”
    • the action of restoring a river or stream to a condition characteristic of a younger landscape.”they were instrumental in the rejuvenation of the river”

For me, when I think of rejuvenation, I think of something that fills my spiritual cup and gives me the ability to take on the next set of stresses and challenges. It revitalizes me.

Great – I know what it is, but what are my seeds of rejuvenation? And this really stumped me. What causes me to feel like I am replenished?

One of our friends instantly responded that wood working is what rejuvenates him. He likes to go into his work space and transform a piece of wood into something beautiful and useful. And I can understand how that would rejuvenate you. It is creative, it is transformative and it is primal, in the sense that it is just you and your skills.

It has been weighing on my mind since our lunch – what rejuvenates me? And so I spent a lot of time thinking about it. And I came to the following conclusions:

  1. I love having an amazing discussion and creating a great sense of dialogue. When these moments happen, I truly do feel fulfilled because I feel that as a result of the discussion, I have learned something, and in part, I have also educated and that sharing of ideas is very fulfilling to me. However, I am at the point in my life where life is busy and those moments of sitting down with friends and family and having intellectually fulfilling discussions are not as common as they used to be. And also, it is like catching fireflies in a jar. You cannot manufacture those moments. When they occur, you just have to enjoy them fully.
  2. I am fulfilled when I spend time with my family doing a shared event. When we go on walks, tobogganing or sit together and play games or cards. Watching a movie with snacks. Their presence and the joint feeling of contentment during these shared experiences really gives me joy and I am very protective of these times. But again, these moments do not happen as frequently as I would like, because of how busy life is, but knowing how fulfilling they are to me and my well being will make me push for them to happen more frequently.
  3. Music really does rejuvenate me. Finding a new song, or creating music either by playing or singing it, really does cause my soul to feel whole. When my dad would listen to music that he loved, you could see how it transported him and you could see that he was having an out of body experience enjoying the beauty of that moment. Just writing about it gives me chills. And I have to say that there are certain songs or pieces of music, that just cause such emotion, and are truly moving.

Runners up were working with someone on a shared goal either at work or in life – that partnership provides me with a lot of of contentment. Another runner up was dancing. It think that dancing is self explanatory in its rejuvenation qualities.

And rejuvenation for me is feeling moved. Feeling that immense contentment. That enjoyment. That feeling of being full. But it clearly is an ongoing pursuit, because I am sure that at each decade in my life, different things brought me fulfillment and at this stage in my life, this is what works for me now. But, now that is on my radar, I will be more aware when I am having a moment that fulfills me to note it down for the future, when I am seeking a moment of rejuvenation.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

#rejuvenation #fulfillment


When I was growing up, my mom had a unique tradition at Christmas. Aside from putting up the tree upside down (read previous blog post), my mom would keep all of the Christmas cards we had received over the years and would use them to fan out underneath the tree in lieu of a tree blanket. I had never seen anyone else do this. It became a big part of Christmas because I would often sit underneath the tree and pick out cards and read them. This would often open up a discussion about old family friends or people that my parents had in their lives that we did not know. I really enjoyed this tradition. It allowed me to learn about my parents and I was fascinated to learn about their stories and lives before us.

So when we moved into our family home, it was a tradition that I continued on. However, instead of placing the cards under the tree, we place the cards to hang from our window blinds.

We decorated the house yesterday for Christmas and we had a lot of fun. Christmas music, the Santa Hats, reindeer headbands – plenty of snacks – it was great.

And while everyone took a break from the decorating, I took some quiet time for myself to decorate with our Christmas cards of the past. It is truly is a special time. There were cards featuring photos of babies who are now grown kids, lovely messages from teachers, family members and friends. Cards between my husband and myself, reflecting on the past year. But especially special for me is finding cards from my mom, before she lost the ability to write, with sweet messages that only she could write.

Those mean a lot and it feels like my mom is still with us, celebrating, at least in spirit. My mom loved the holidays. She loved fruitcake and decorating the house. I miss my mom at Christmas a lot. She loved to sing Carols and make beautiful wreaths.

I hope that I can pass on the legacy of the cards to my kids and that when they are older, they will have this tradition of my mom to carry on.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.

Happy Holidays!

#traditions #Christmas


It has been an interesting few years with everything going on in the world. One of the things that I am personally loving is the ability for people to call out racism, sexism and intolerance more overtly. It has transformed people’s behaviour…. let’s be honest….to a degree.

However, the flip side to this is that I often hear comments within the corporate world, that those in a position of privilege, feel that they have had to curtail their communications with people, because they do not feel safe speaking openly… any longer.

I have to advise that this comment makes me laugh. It just does. It appears that there is a tool that many of those in a position of privilege have not had an opportunity to develop – the ability to edit! Candidly – those in a position of “not being privileged” have had to edit themselves on an ongoing basis for their entire lifetime and it has just been a skill required to succeed. So come on privileged individuals – you too can learn the ability to edit.

Now if you are new to the use of editing, let me explain what it is and how to use it.

Edit – a change or correction made as a result of editing.

to make changes to a text or filmdeciding what will be removed and what will be kept in, in order to prepare it for being printed or shown:

So basically, changing or correcting what you were about to say, before you say it! Does not sound that hard, but if you are used to saying whatever is on your mind, then this is a skill that will need to be developed and exercised.

Now I know that it must be challenging for those in privilege, because for a lifetime, the ability to say whatever you wanted without consequences, has been a right that has been used with impunity. However, the recipient of many of those consequences, have had to practice the tool of editing, in replying or not replying to these comments. For example, I was once on an elevator with a senior partner and he turned and asked me out of the blue, why there was such poverty for the South Asian community within the GTA (of which I am a member) and what was the basis for this? Now without my editing skills, I would have responded with a very abrasive response, likely leading to my immediate or eventual dismissal from the firm. However, understanding the repercussions of such a response, I responded using my tools of editing myself, by asking him where he was basing this information on and advising that this had not been my experience and then gracefully exiting on the next available floor cutting the conversation short – the power of being able to edit.

So here are some tools to assist in learning the power of editing:

  1. Not everything you think, needs to be shared vocally. Sometimes keeping your thoughts to yourself, so that you do not offend or antagonize, makes the world go round easier.
  2. The racist, sexist and offensive jokes of yore, do not need to be replayed today. Perhaps you felt fine making those comments in the past, in the environment you were in, but now, those jokes do not go over well. So if you are missing those days, the solution is to replay those moments in your mind and use your power of editing, not to reshare those moments – a win win for all.
  3. Lastly – the corporate world is not your home family room. Things that you might feel comfortable discussing or saying to family of friends, in the comfort of your home, do not need to be shared in the office environment, especially, if it is going to make those at work, uncomfortable, hurt or made to feel less than.

These are my tips for editing, to those not familiar with it. For many of us, the power to edit, has been engrained into us, since we were young i.e. not to respond whenever someone calls you a Paki, or not to turn hostile when you are told that South Asian women are just not as attractive as other races etc…

We have been taught how to diffuse a situation, not antagonize and use our ability to edit what we would actually like to say, into something that may educate, something that does not make the discussion confrontational or using the power of editing to keep quiet, and wait for another moment, to take bring a balance back to the situation.

But that’s just one Diva’s view.