The bare necessities of breast feeding. Or why I don’t want to see your breasts at the mall.

Given that this post is about breast feeding, I thought it was appropriate to make it a two part series.

I have always thought of myself as an advocate of breastfeeding. If you can physically do it, I think you should. It’s economical, healthy for the baby and a special bonding time between mother and child.


But one day at a public event, I was sitting beside a woman whose child was straddling her lap and facing her breast, which was completely exposed. His little head bobbled back and forth as he aimed to latch on while she was turned talking to her friend. I tried to tell myself I was ok with it, repeating the buzzwords I’d heard in grad school; Economical, healthy, bonding. Economical, healthy, bonding.

But it was then that I had to admit that while I was a lactivist, my lacitivism had limits.

But I don’t have kids so what do I know, right? I wrote to my friend Kristie B, a self-proclaimed lactivist. She’s smart, feisty, and a breastfeeding mama so I asked her for her thoughts.

“Babies need to eat. All the time,” Kristie said. “Being able to breastfeed means no lugging around bottles, special water, formula – then worrying where to heat it. All you need is you.” So far, I’m with her. The whole process is pretty impressive. “As you know, I’m a huge lactavist, I support women breastfeeding anywhere, anytime, any way that works for them.” She then went on to outline common things she’s heard.

Women should breastfeed in bathrooms
I remember being 13 and sitting across the table from my annoying, much younger brother. I’d yell at him for various things, and my parents would say, “if you can’t stand him then go eat your dinner in the bathroom.” That would always stop the complaining.

Kristie and I agree that nobody should have to eat in the bathroom.

Breasts are sexual. Children and men shouldn’t be looking at them
“Children and men should learn that breasts have a purpose other than sexual fun bags,” Kristie said. It’s true, breasts are multi-faceted. I think that when God made them, He was saying, “now here’s something you’ll all really like”. But where I don’t agree with Kristie, is that just because breasts have an alternative function, does not negate that they are also sexual. Take a man exposing himself in public. His member is both functional and sexual but goodness knows, I don’t want to see it, especially if I’m just at the mall getting some frozen yogurt.


It makes me uncomfortable to see a woman’s breasts
Kristie states, “the world shouldn’t have to adjust to what makes you comfortable. If you don’t like it, don’t look”. I agree with her to some extent but doesn’t the same hold true for the extreme lactivists? Do the people not wanting to see exposed breasts just need to adjust? As for the “if you don’t like it don’t look” philosophy, I agree that I shouldn’t continue  looking at an exposed breast, but there aren’t any flashing lights that say, “warning, don’t look, exposed breasts in 20 meters”. Once I look, I saw.

Women should pump and give in a bottle instead
Kristie raises a great point here, “Pumping is very time consuming, expensive and uncomfortable. Have you tried to heat a bottle with a hungry baby? Lifting your shirt and feeding your child takes seconds. No crying!” I don’t think women should have to do this if it doesn’t work for them.

But then here is where my friend and I differ.

Women should cover up
“Try something for me”, Kristie says, “pour yourself a glass of milk, lay down, cover your head with a blanket and try to drink. Is it comfortable?”

It’s true, we don’t eat like that but only because we can’t. Trust me, if I could, I probably wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Kristie goes on to say, “this comment is usually said by someone who has never tried feeding a squirmy baby under a cover. I’ll be honest, I tried multiple times to feed [my daughter] under a cover. Every time she would unlatch, pull the blanket away, cry…all while I was spraying milk everywhere soaking my shirt. It was a disaster.”

She’s right about that. I haven’t been in that situation with a screaming hungry baby who needs eye contact to eat. But is it necessary to have experienced something to have an opinion about it? If that was true how would we be able to discuss issues or concepts such as poverty or the future?

But then Kristie explained how she breastfeeds. Wearing a tank top under her shirt, she doesn’t lift her shirt until her daughter is in position. Onlookers can apparently only see the back of her daughter’s head. Kristie has tried to think of a compromise.


But the lady beside me at that event and others I’ve seen like her, I can’t help but think they’re using their baby to prove a point. I know that breastfeeding is an amazing thing. You feed another human being with your own BODY. I get it, it’s cool. But I still don’t need to see actual breasts in the process. When women act like it is necessary, I feel like they’re essentially giving us an F you. Or “the nipple”.

But what do you all think? Should Western society rethink how we look at breasts? Are we trumping individual freedoms by expecting women to cover up? Are lactating women disrespecting others when they don’t? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Subscribe to this blog (also check out my contest page) and stay tuned for part 2 where I explore how long women breastfeed.


Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Uncategorized


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A New Approach to the New Year’s Resolution

A track record of failure

When I was younger, I had the same two New Year’s resolutions every year: to read the bible from cover to cover and to keep my room clean. I’ve read Genesis about 7 times and if it wasn’t for the fact that I share a room with someone, my husband, I’d probably still be kicking a path through my crumpled clothes to get to my bed.

Simply put, I failed every year.

And the data says…

My only solace is that many other people do too. Take a look at this Google chart. Google showed trends in health-related search terms from 2004 until early 2013.  And what do we see here?

Google trend chart- health related search terms 2004-2013

Year after year, the search peaks appear in January and wane off as the year continues. Keep in mind that these are only search terms, intentions don’t necessarily translate into action. But the search terms are an indicator of where our minds are at. After the glutfest of the holidays, many of us resolve to leave our old selves behind, some literally. As in actual pounds from our actual behinds.

We perk up at the thought of health and lifestyle at the beginning of the year, and end the year in a turkey/shortbread/egg nog induced coma. It’s a circle of lifestyle if you will.

But I don’t need a chart to tell me that, I know anecdotally that New Year’s resolutions don’t work.

So what’s the alternative? How do we actually change?

Onwards and upwards

Personally, I think the flaw is thinking that we can only decide to change in January and that if we fail, we give up until next year. What if we gave ourselves some grace and just accepted that if we failed, we could try again next week or better yet, tomorrow? Maybe it would take some pressure off and let us forgive ourselves for some false starts.

Secondly, I always need an accountability partner. Someone who will nudge, remind and nag me. To put it another way, I have cancelled many a gym appointment but I rarely miss practice if I have a team waiting for me.

In the end, I guess it doesn’t matter HOW we drop old bad habits or pick up better ones but that we try, and try every day. This way we won’t focus on our goals only at the beginning of the year but rather day to day, knowing that we’re better today than we were yesterday.

Regardless of what month it reads on the calendar.

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Posted by on January 7, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Just Plane Picky

Will selecting our seatmates enhance our flying experience?

It was 1986 and I was riding on a bus to Regina with my mom. The girl across from us, Penny, was in her late teens. She gave me a penny to remember her name and let me listen to her walkman. The song blaring through the headphones was “Walking on Sunshine” and I still remember that bus ride whenever I hear that song.


It was that chance meeting with Penny that began my fascination with meeting strangers on planes, busses or trains. With serendipity at work, you never know who you’ll meet, what information you will gain from or pass along to them, what memory you’ll be left with decades later.

Making skies friendlier?

After reading Nicola Clark’s New York Times’ article, “Selecting a Seatmate to Make Skies Friendlier”, I started to think about how social media could potentially affect our plane rides. With KLM Airline’s “Meet & Seat”, you can find out who will be on your flight prior to boarding by viewing other passengers’ Facebook or LinkedIn profile details. You can then choose your seat accordingly. Planely, another similar platform, states that it’s launching a “social flying revolution” where you can plan a “social flying experience”. While airlines allow you to pick a seat, they do not allow you to pick a seatmate. Planely aims to solve this issue. After entering your flight details you can use Planely to see others with overlapping itineraries, look for neighbors with the same general interests and contact those who are staying at the same hotel as you, so you can arrange to share a cab (or maybe find a stalker).


More than checkboxes

Judging from the number of times I’ve sat across from friends trying to figure out why their relationships weren’t working even though “he’s so good on paper”, I can tell that human interactions are not just about what boxes we check off. While it all seems very convenient to construct our interactions this way, it does not always work. I have been on planes around the world and sat with people I should have had lots in common with but the conversation fizzled quickly. Conversely on recent flights, I’ve met a bank auditor, a professional poker player and a retired couple who were heading away for the winter. Given the choice, I probably wouldn’t have opted to sit with them but was glad that I did.

Unfortunately, not every seatmate has been a pleasant surprise. There are the seat kickers, the tiny bladders, the snorers, the drinkers. A woman in front of me reclined her chair back so far that her hair dangled over my food. However experiences like that can teach us patience, or even better, allow us to engage in some conflict resolution.

Experiences aside, will Planely and Meet and Seat affect our social skills? With everything so conveniently laid out for us, will we stop using our social cues to see if someone is interested in talking to us or would rather be left alone? After all, “they did check in saying they’d like to chat…”

The “I can’t read clues” blues

Platforms like this may undermine our ability to read non-verbal cues. Of course it requires generalizing but I can use lots of clues to see if we have anything common. The Lonely Planet Guide to wherever you’re highlighting, the baby socks you are knitting, the fact that you’re wearing a Packers Jersey and watching, “When Harry Met Sally” on a portable DVD player. All these things give me reasons to talk or not to talk to someone near me. His/her reception to me helps me know whether I should keep talking or stop.

I am not quite sure when life became about avoiding every inconvenience or awkward situation. For every time I’ve had my seat kicked repeatedly or sat beside someone who asked for “one more glass of wine”; I have also met someone with a list of books I should read, or had a baby peek between the seats and giggle.

Or had someone play me a song like “Walking on Sunshine” for the very first time.


Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Why some quitters win

Do you remember that quote, “winners never quit and quitters never win”?

Well I do. It was the mantra drilled in my brain during gym class and half time at soccer practice, our hands sticky from orange slices. I especially remembered this while sitting in a dark classroom in Grade 11 and watching the movie Rudy.


The movie Rudy tells the story of the chubby yet lovable Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. A working class kid with mediocre grades, he was repeatedly rejected from Notre Dame University. But he had an unshakable drive to play football for the “Fighting Irish” and was finally admitted to Notre Dame on his 4th try. But at 5’6’’ and 165 lbs, he lacked not only the talent but the physique to play football for a team like Notre Dame. Long story short, he played for a practice squad for two seasons and only in the final game of his senior year was he allowed on the field for three plays, when his team is winning 24-3. Rudy was carried off the field on the proud shoulders of his teammates.

The lights flicked back on, we were jarred back to reality but dragged the lessons from the movie with us. My health class had done its job, I was convinced I could do anything I dreamed of. At 15, this included becoming a neurosurgeon and being able to lift as much as any man. I was so inspired that I thought, “heck, I could play for Notre Dame if I just put my mind to it!”

Alright parents, send your kids out the room. I want to tell you something.

You CAN’T do everything you put your mind to. Some dreams should be abandoned. There are some activities you should quit.

Let’s revisit Rudy. He spent years trying to get into Notre Dame and hours and hours on the practice team, never getting to suit up until it didn’t even matter. Yes he got in on those final plays, yes he was an inspiration to many. But you know what he didn’t get? The football career he dreamt of. If he had spent all those hours committed to finding another passion, or practising something he was skilled at, who knows what he could have accomplished. The story of Rudy may not have been of a starry-eyed bench warmer but of a world class pianist.

Now before you call me a dream killer, a bubble burster, a Rudy-hater, I am trying to save your time and encourage you to redirect your efforts. People may say that life’s too short to not do what you love. But maybe life’s actually too long to keep banging your head against the wall, trying to accomplish the wrong goal.

Think of what would have happened if Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs kept slugging though those college degrees, or if Michael Jordan stuck out that baseball career. They didn’t because they quit. They weren’t lazy or dumb, they were smart enough to stop and say, “hey, this isn’t working, I’m better at other things.”

Maybe you’re better at other things but keep pushing though to accomplish something you’re not meant to, afraid of being called a quitter by your friends, your parents or those bullies from high school. But just remember it’s not always the case that the quitters never win.

Sometimes they do.

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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


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It’s called Christmas, not $#!tmas

It’s official. I’ve seen more Christmas cards that have “$#!t” on the cover than nativity scenes. Not actual $#!t, just the word. Along with some holly.

photo (5)

I had been to a handful of Canadian stores looking for a certain kind of Christmas card. Something with a nativity, maybe some wisemen following a star but found no such luck.

When I told my friend about this during a recent trip to the U.S. she said, “I’m sure you’ll find some here, after all this is America!” Or so she thought (that I’d find some, not that she resides in America).

Now, people have been telling me for some time that Christmas is no longer about celebrating the birth of Christ. Many have tried to convince me that it’s all about consumerism. Consumption of “more stuff” and of course, copious amounts of booze.  But I didn’t believe them. I still thought that under all those Santas and snowmen and candycanes, a little baby Jesus was still somewhere in there.

So I visited another 3 or 4 American stores and had employees digging around piles of cards, through the Santas and snowmen and candycanes. Again and again, they would say, “that’s weird, we don’t have anything with a nativity”.

My friend suggested that “maybe it was the stores we were shopping in, that maybe they weren’t catering to…” to what? People who celebrate Christmas?  I even went to Papyrus, a popular paper company in both Canada and the U.S., and found the same situation in both. This is not good Papyrus <wagging finger>, Christians like Christmas cards from specialty paper stores too.

I’m not sure why I came up with nothing on my Christmas card hunt. Is it really about supply and demand? Or have we decided to discard the reason for the season in favour of sparkles and snowflakes? Who knows, maybe 10 years from now, I’ll be buying the “$#!t” card during the “Holiday period”.

It might feel appropriate by then.

Merry Christmas and stay tuned as I continue my search.


Posted by on December 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


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