All posts filed under: Nonfiction

Belonging: A Personal Reflection on the Physical and Emotional Barriers of Breastfeeding, by Rochelle Christensen

The first night was the easiest. At our request, our new family was discharged from the hospital early; we were supposed to have a home birth after all. Of course, we were exhausted from the 30-hour marathon we just endured, but we were still riding that natural “high” of endorphins. With some early success at latching, it was clear that our baby was receiving small amounts of colostrum, and we were assured that my milk supply would improve within a few days. In retrospect, they did send us home with a few bottles of formula; it’s almost as though they expected me to fail from the beginning.              It wasn’t until three days postpartum, when the opioids had worn off and a myriad of hormones started to plummet and surge throughout my body, that I found myself feeling inexplicably detached from my new role. One assumes, at least I did, that becoming a mother was going to be difficult; I’d heard how challenging the fourth trimester can be due to lack of sleep alone. What came as …

Small Pedestals by Carina Costom

A collection of interesting and beautiful images from the clear ice of Lake Baikal captured in a photo-essay by Alan Taylor (and many other photographers) for The Atlantic entitled “Bailkal Zen” inspired this heartfelt tribute to my Father. “Lake Baikal, in the Russian region of Siberia, is a massive body of water—the world’s deepest and most voluminous freshwater lake. Its location and the surrounding geography can lead to fascinating phenomena in the winter, as ferocious winds and cycles of melting and refreezing build and sculpt works of structural beauty—stones supported on wind-worn pedestals, undulating surface ice, encrusted beaches, crazy icicles, frozen methane bubbles, and more”. – Alan Taylor — — — Siberian-born, lost son of Lake Baikal, your worldly names were Michael, Mike and sometimes-Misha. I like to think that when you crossed the Atlantic Ocean with your family as a child in the 1930’s, something silent, eternal, crystal-like came along with you, for keeps. This thing covered you like delicate frost on a windowpane – enhancing without protecting you. I was a young 23 …

Clickety-Clack by Fiona Brown

I love old European sleeper trains, the clickety-clack of metal against metal, the whirr and screech of brakes in darkness, the deceleration and acceleration as old wooden stations approach and depart, the blur of lights and buildings, and the invisible rustle of people on a voyage. Night trains seem to simultaneously condense and expand time and space, stimulate layered and unrelated memories in a pseudo dream-world of jostling images adjacent to reality, and the wild introduction of the random events. The trip from Prague to Budapest is about eight hours on a second-class night-train. Praha Hlavni Nadrazi Main Station smells like old trains and grease. Engine oil and decades of dirt stick to once shiny surfaces in a building that was once an architectural highlight. Art Nouveau figures, a vast window arc, and a vaulted latticework ceiling float above multiple tracks, trains, and two opposing arcade corridors. The building’s grandeur has decayed under forty years of communism, and although change is coming with Vaclav Havel just elected president, the regal station is in severe disrepair. …

Breathing Underwater by Judi Anani

Rabaul, Papua New Guinea (PNG), August 2016   I am on board a 5-meter-long aluminum dinghy, Miss Ginny, as it unapologetically carves a path through otherwise serene blue waters. Squinting against the sun, three of us propel across the tropical expanse. We allow the shore to shrink behind us until the ever-intimidating volcanic mount Tavurvur becomes a mere wisp in the horizon (1).    Jonathan, our local guide, sits with a hand casually placed on the tiller steer and stares ahead thoughtfully. Our eyes meet and he smiles genuinely bearing red buai stained teeth (2).    Everyone I have met on this island nation smiles like they mean it. As if they do not mind at all an arduous trek up the mountain in the tropical heat to access freshwater. As if they do not care that the lime powder they mix with betel nut has eroded their teeth. As if they are not perturbed by foreign-owned mines growing rich from local commodities, while the local economy struggles.    Nathan, my employer, and scuba companion sits across from me …

Writing with the Universe: Marguerite Porete: By Chantal Lunardi

– I – Marguerite Porete (13th century – 1 June 1310) was a French-speaking mystic and the author of The Mirror of Simple Souls, a work of Christian mysticism dealing with the workings of agape (divine love). She was burnt at the stake for heresy in Paris in 1310 after a lengthy trial, refusing to remove her book from circulation or recant her views (Wikipedia $25). A rare flower, considered a weed at the time, Marguerite Porete came to me while I was digressing at the library of Simon Fraser University. Digression was my favourite state of mind. Is. I would wander amongst rows of books outside of my assigned multiple fields of study and, with the coming of the online age, gallivant from rare and restricted virtual academic publications to historical novels, folktales, plays, poetry and handwritten journal entries giving me infinite possibilities to roam deeper into remote obscure quadrants. I would cross entire universes of abstractions and sometimes come back on time for dinner, hundreds of pages further away from the end of …

1963 – A short Reflection on Life Guidelines by Ilkay Cakirogullari

In times, where “time” doesn’t seem to play a role, it almost seems as though everybody just keeps on running. “A new challenge”, “Something New”, “Recreate yourself”. Voices blend. Many talk, few do. Yeah! That’s how it is nowadays. Who’s done plenty in the past, may rest now. Who’s done little thus far, has to work even more. And who’s to say, if you’ve done much or little? Maybe traditional media, or even social media as they seem to be the ones dictating how and with what we are supposed to effectively fill our “leisure time”.  In the article “PositiveLivingInPositiveEnvironentsTodayfor70+” an exact time table is being suggested, which ought to give ‘my’ life – and even claims to give everyone’s life – a new and deeper meaning. In short: PLIPET70+. My daily routine should somehow look like this: 6:30: Get up 6.31: Drink a glass of water. ROOM TEMPERATURE (Neither cold nor warm) 6.33: Prepare your yoga mat for meditation 6.48: Bathroom 7.02: Breakfast (Every bite has to be chewed 20 times) 7.37: Brush your …

Huck Yeah! By Stephanie Henriksen

Moving to Nelson, British Columbia changed my relationship with skiing. It was never my passion. I was introduced to the sport by my Canadian father, but we spent most of our time in Indonesia, swimming in a warm ocean. The snow globe of Winter sports is unique because it requires one crucial element: snow. Where I grew up there is no snow, there are no seasons, constant Summer and tropical rain. In observing the cultures of my mother’s and father’s countries of origin I am left in awe at the creativity of humanity; our traditions deserve to live on and we are allowed to be proud of them. Honestly, ski culture seemed self – indulgent and elitist to me, always on the outside looking in. Yet it was I who decided to move to a secluded mountain town. Skiing on the mountains makes me feel alive, less depressed. How can I judge a way of life that has accepted me and helped me to heal? Well, I can’t. What I can do is use my …

Education in Hand by Cari-Ann Roberts Gotta

One day, I told a student I was going to be away the following week to take a course. His response was, “Ms. Roberts, don’t you think you’ve been in school long enough?” That was two degrees and a diploma ago. My family thinks there is no reason to go to school if you have a job. I disagree. I’ve spent most of my life in schools because there has always been something I wanted to learn or wanted to teach.  Many years ago, I went to school because I wanted to learn American Sign Language. I loved the language learning but loathed the social politics of my classmates and the field of sign language interpreting, so I left after completing the first level of training and moved to a small mountain town. One day, a friend told me about a job posting at the local elementary school for an educational assistant that knew sign language. Knowing that I had less training than was ideal, I was reluctant to apply. But it turned out that …

DIANA MORITA COLE INTERVIEW – The Practices, Affirmations and Courage of a Misfit

Introduction: I was extremely fortunate to have met with Diana Morita Cole, Author of Sideways: Memoir of a Misfit in the fall of 2019 to discuss everything from her book and writing practices to life experiences and philosophies. It goes without any shadow of a doubt that Diana’s words of self-care practices, of overcoming doubts and obstacles, and of meeting expectations allowed me to reflect on who I am as a young writer, and I firmly believe that her words will do the same for many more. Hence, it may come as a great surprise that after our interview was over, Diana told me “when I go home, I’ll think of something else that I should have told you”. Diana, thank you for your time, words, your great influence, and most of all, your courage. Love, Samantha Smith Managing Editor Black Bear Review   Interview: How would you define success? I’m very happy when my readers identify with my characters and their struggles. That transference allows me to take my readers on a journey that, …