Tag Archives: Vulnerability

Confidence Manifesto for Girls

1. Think of a person who loves you unconditionally. Love yourself like that.
Think about a person who doesn’t care how you dress or what grade you got on your most recent Math test. This person thinks you are amazing exactly the way you are. They let you be sad or happy or quiet without judging you or asking you to change. Do you feel the way they love you? Good! Now practice feeling that way about yourself.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Need some help? Turn off the television. Log out of facebook. Unplug. Stop reading fashion magazines… they’re designed to make you feel inadequate so you’ll spend money on just about anything to make yourself look and feel better. Never (ever) utter the phrase, “Out of my league” about the boy or girl you like. Leagues are for sports not for dating.

3. Flex your super power.
What do you do better than anyone else? (If you’re not sure, ask a friend.) Take a moment to feel proud of yourself. Now, go out into the world and do good with your power. Become a superhero.

4. Be vulnerable.
Take risks. Open your heart. Make mistakes. Perfection is a bad goal.

5. Treat your body with respect.
Love your body. Whatever your body looks like, it is an extraordinary machine that allows you to do amazing things. When you go on vacation, it’s your body that takes you there. Eat well. Drink more water. Move. Get enough sleep. Insist that other people respect your body too.

6. Try new activities.
Have you ever wanted to audition for the school play or try paint ball… but you were too afraid? It’s okay. Be afraid… and go ahead anyway! Try out that new hobby, sport, or creative activity. How do you know what you’ll enjoy, or even excel at, if you never try?

7. Be careful with your words.
Stop gossiping. (It’s toxic… don’t be that girl!) When you love and support other girls, it’s way easier to stop comparing and competing. Be more cautious about what you share with other people. When you’re angry, count to ten before speaking; stop a bad situation from getting worse.

8. Stand for something.
Make a list of ten things you believe in. How will you support those ideas & causes? Take action now.

9. Dream big.
What are you passionate about doing? Pursue that thing even if you’re not good at it yet. Develop goals and work hard to achieve them. Find ways to feel proud of yourself even if others don’t understand your dream.

10. Hang out with people who like and inspire you.
Real friends get how amazing you are. They ask you how your day was and try to comfort you when you feel sad. They tell the truth even when the truth is hard to hear. They make you want to be a better person. If your friends don’t make you feel good about yourself, they’re not really your friends.

11. Practice joy.
Celebrate! Be happy for yourself and others. Play! If you’ve forgotten how, spend some time with little kids. Dance! It helps lighten any mood, is great exercise and helps you get out of your head.

12. Stand up for yourself.
Find your voice and use it. Stop apologizing for yourself and say what you really mean. When you are struggling or hurting, talk to someone you trust.


An Ode to Original Content


We live in a wild new age,
and this frontier
in which we are
cowgirls + boys
is the Internet.

Nobody knows what is possible.

In this amazing
and limitless space,
some are obsessed
with the idea of

Hundreds of thousands
of followers
starts to feels
like the norm

It’s not.

Other folks
stay inside the log cabins
of Facebook and Twitter.
With less and less
+ illuminating
they’ve become
play-it-safe dwellings
for posting cute pics
of kittens.

And websites
tell us
in bold headlines
how their recycled stories
will transform our lives.

{When my life is transformed,
I don’t normally need a heads up.}

I wish to be
brave and vulnerable
in this wild frontier.

I want to tell
some stories,
perhaps fictional
but all true.

I want to describe
what it looked like
and felt like
from here.

I hope you will too.

Launch: Geography of Now eCourse

Yokohama GON {Yamashita Park, Yokohama Japan}

Most of us find it pretty easy to admire the greenness of the grass elsewhere. We tell ourselves pretty little stories about how perfect our lives would be if only we lived in another house or neighbourhood or country… if we had different or better stuff. The truth is that we already have everything we need to have a good life.

Exactly where we are.

I’ve always been attracted to place. When I was in grad school, I travelled by bus to Toronto to visit a friend. My heart had been recently broken and my friend was a generous and comforting sort so I accepted his invitation to stay for a while.

So I’m on this Greyhound bus and it’s night-time and the streets of Toronto are much better lit than those of Kingston, where I was living at the time, and I can see a couple standing under a streetlight talking and smoking. Although I don’t smoke, I admire the grace with which the woman reaches over and lights the man’s cigarette with her lighter. With just one hand. The glowing red end of his cigarette moves like drunken fireflies. And I’m wearing headphones and listening to some seriously sad-ass, broken-hearted love songs and I feel so affected by the scenes I witness as we drive through Toronto that I pull out my journal and start writing a poem. I still have it.

And the thing is, I did not have a particularly strong attachment to Toronto. I’m from Ottawa and grew up hearing Toronto referred to as, “That EVIL city.” (Totally true story.)

But that night, on the bus, I let myself feel connected to the people of the city and to the city itself.

Since I began blogging in 2006, much of my writing has been an attempt to describe my connection with the places I have lived. Cali, Colombia. Monterrey, Mexico. Barcelona, Spain. Bangkok, Thailand. Yokohama, Japan.

Whether I am travelling or staying put, I like to make myself at home. I like to unpack, nest, and get well acquainted with my surroundings. In my daily life in Japan I don’t wander very far from home but the ten blocks that surround our apartment have become my my playground, my entire world. I am ridiculously in love with our little corner of Yokohama.

About six months after we moved to Japan, I started writing some of my blog posts in free verse which I came to call “skinny prose”. I like the way that the short lines and the musicality convey my feelings better than paragraphing it.

And I adopted Instagram as my way of photographically documenting the places I loved.

These little skinny prose pieces and the photos that accompany them help me work out my feelings about where I live. They help me understand this relationship to a country that is on the other side of the planet from where I grew up… and they help me feel securely attached to my new home.

The posts I write about place are contemplations. And little prayers of thanks.

I want that for other people.

And I know that it’s hard to imagine taking the time to slow down and notice what’s happening in your own neighbourhood. We are busy folks. We have long lists of things to do and people who depend on us.

I get that. {Me too.}

But take a walk with me. Look over there. Who has painted their mailbox purple… and why? One of your neighbours has a new pug that sits on the back of an emerald green velvet sofa and waves at you through the living room window. (At least it looks like it’s waving.) There’s a new restaurant opening in the space where you used to rent videos. You take a moment to admire the pink roses that grow for a few short weeks in the lot beside the grocery store and you wonder how they got there and who tends them.

This is your corner of the world. These are your people.

The Geography of Now is about this. It’s about waving back to that pug. It’s about eating at that new restaurant and telling your friends about how amazing their grilled cheese sandwich was. It’s about being curious while staying out of judgement.

The Geography of Now is about…

Observe the place where you live through a new kind of lens. See with a more relaxed and compassionate perspective.

Document what you see through photographs taken with a simple point and shoot camera or with your phone. Click.

Record some words. Express how a particular image made you feel… or the memory it awakens like some ancient sleeping giant in your mind.

Notice the details of your life (like really, really noticing… not just noticing that you are out of milk) and feel grateful for the places and people that surround you. Those that love you and help define you.

It may have been a long time since you wrote something creative and you might feel frightened. You’ll need to summon your courage.

I’m inviting you to take this leap with me.


Start date: Monday, 15 September

Duration: The course will run for six weeks, from Monday 15 September until Friday 24 October. Please note that messages will arrive on weekdays only.

Format: You will receive a message in your inbox every day. The daily message will include a reflection as well as a photography/noticing/writing/gratitude prompt.

How much time you will need a day: 20-30 minutes although you may choose to spend less time… or more. It’s completely up to you.

What you will need for the course:

  • Computer with internet (for accessing the course and downloading your photos)
  • Point and shoot camera or cell phone camera
  • Journal and pen (I like one small enough that I can carry it with me at all times)
  • Facebook account. Note: we will share some of our work with each other in a private Facebook group. This means that no one who is not enrolled in the course will be able to see your photos, your writing or your comments.


  • Knowing yourself
  • Photography
  • Noticing
  • Writing Skinny Prose
  • Gratitude
  • A final project of your choosing

Cost: 50 Canadian Dollars

Payment: You will be using Pay Pal to purchase this course. Please not that you do not have to have a PayPal account as you can pay with a credit card.

Refund policy: This is a non-refundable investment in yourself, your photography and your writing.

A note about receiving my messages:
The Geography of Now course and my newsletters are sent by me via Mad Mimi. If you have never received an email from me before, the message may end up in your Spam folder. You can resolve this by making me (monnamcd at gmail dot com) a contact in your email or checking your spam folder. Thanks!

Registration is now open here.

Art, vulnerability + purple flying cows


We’re having an art exhibit
at our school.

We display student art
all the time,
in classrooms
and in hallways,
but this show
is different.

The art in this exhibit
was made by adults.
Parents and staff.

DP printed three photos from Beijing.
Beautiful blurry-on-purpose photos
against the clay-red backdrop
of the Forbidden City.

I chose two shots
from a perfect Paris afternoon.
Seated outdoors at a Rue Cler cafe,
we saw the clouds roll in.
Waiters scurried to beat the rain.
Rolled down transparent plastic sheets
to protect the cafe-clan.
Pedestrians drifted by
in a rain-distorted
dream world.
Muted by droplets
and ripples of plastic.

Friday after school
our library
changed its bookish stripes.
The book worm spread
iridescent wings,
became an art gallery.
There was sparking juice
and crackers
and the vibe was buzzy.
“I didn’t know she was a painter.
Her work is gorgeous.”

Some of the artists were
about their art.
“It’s no big deal.”

I want to say that

The younger kids
at our school
think of themselves
as artists.
Opera singers.)

The younger they are
the more fearlessly

Years pass.
Some lose our way
to Neverland.
We relinquish our place
in those dreams of
imaginary gardens,
labyrinths and castles
floating on clouds.
We forget the names of fierce dragons
we fought as four-year-olds.
We grow too big for
of purple cows
flying through the air.

Years pass.
We become judgmental
about what makes good art.
We develop criteria
to discuss the ways
in which a piece
is flawed.

We grow fearful
that our own photos
and doodles
don’t meet those standards.

We quit.
Pack away our crayons
and paints
in faded shoe boxes
“Childish Things”.
Turn towards adult pursuits
that pay the rent.

On Friday afternoon
adults at our school
sent their inner critics
to detention
and let their artists out
to play.

we were,
with our purple flying cows
for all the school to see.

and also
like little kids.

Isn’t this how school
should be…
where the
take risks
and play
and grow?