Thursday, July 19, 2018

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise

I recently watched this documentary on Maya Angelou's life, and I'm sharing it with you as I'm so awed by her expressiveness, honesty, amazing courage, and indomitable spirit.  We need positive leaders of her calibre to speak up, and inspire us to make this world a better one, especially at a time when we are being bullied by an American President who keeps lying blatantly, and stirring hostility.

Click on this link to see the full documentary: 

This poem of hers, which is also the title of the documentary moves me very deeply as it expresses so intensely the inner strength of the human spirit. When we're put down by others, lied to, and treated inhumanely, and have the courage to not let the horrors of others' meanness drag us down, we can rise above all the negativity, flourish, and inspire others to do good. What an empowering message of hope.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Monday, July 16, 2018

John Lorinc is back at the Authors' Afternoon

By popular demand, John Lorinc is back with his new book The Ward Uncovered. 

Inviting you to drop by and chat with this award-winning Toronto journalist and editor
who has contributed to The Globe and Mail and Spacing Magazine, among many publications.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dependency in Relationships

In the short story I'm currently writing, I explore the theme of dependency in a relationship that appears to be loving, but is fraught with emotional manipulation and dishonesty. Is it love or attachment that keeps this couple together?

As usual, my writing propels me to share some thoughts and advice from my research, which I hope can help those who are in such situations.

Many of us have loved to a point that we don't even realize we're in a toxic relationship until something drastic happens to open our eyes.

Sometimes, couples become dependent on each other, making it difficult to move on. It's especially sad for those who keep forgiving their partners, believing it's love when often, it is an unhealthy attachment that stems from low self-esteem. This can lead to problems in physical health as this article explains: The hidden health hazards of toxic relationships

For those who want to make it work, it takes two and a lot more work needs to come from the person who hurt the other one most. Some advice on the importance of owning up to it all, and being honest about why it happened:
7 steps in rebuilding trust in a relationship

If this fails, here's advice on how to leave, grow from it, and love yourself again:
Letting go of a relationship that is not healthy

Monday, July 02, 2018

Interview with the Mauritian Magazine Prions

Interview with Françoise Yaw Kan Tong - Mootoosamy in the June issue of the Mauritian magazine Prions. We talked about my work, my diverse cultural backgrounds, and among many other things, what prayer means to me. I thought I might offend the magazine as I'm not a religious person even though I grew up Catholic, but Prions seems very open to different ideas. For example, I cannot comply to organized religion. And I've never been able to see god as a person. For me, it's an abstraction, a spiritual force that expresses itself as love. So, a prayer is a spiritual communication with the love within us. I truly believe religion is not necessary to lead a life guided by love, honesty, and kindness.

Conversation avec Françoise Yaw Kan Tong - Mootoosamy pour le magazine mauricien Prions. On a parlé de mon travail, de ma diversité culturelle, et parmi bien d'autres choses, ce que la prière signifie pour moi. Je pensais que j'allais peut-être offenser le magazine car je ne suis pas religieuse même si j'ai été élevée catholique. Mais il semble que Prions est très ouvert à des idées différentes. Par exemple, je ne peux pas me conformer à la religion organisée. Et je n'ai jamais pu imaginer dieu sous la forme d'une personne, car pour moi, c'est une abstraction, une force qui est amour. Ainsi, la prière est une communication spirituelle avec l'amour qui est en nous. Je pense sincèrement que la religion n'est pas nécessaire pour mener sa vie avec amour, franchise, et bienveillance.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Why don't facts change our minds?

This interesting article in the New Yorker explains why facts seem irrelevant to people whose minds are stuck in false beliefs. Research shows that even if people are exposed to undeniable facts, many still prefer to keep their skewed ideas. For example, Trump supporters, even if they often see television footage of Trump stating something in one and then stating the opposite in the next, will still believe he is honest because they are emotionally invested in him. Once people are tied to certain beliefs, even if they are shown facts that prove they are wrong, they will try any possible argument to prove they're right, because as the article explains:

... people experience genuine pleasure - a rush of dopamine - when processing information that supports their beliefs. "It feels good to 'stick to our guns' even if we are wrong," they observe.

Here's another article (with audio version) that explains why people believe in fake news, unproven conspiracy theories and why they don't want to change their views. It's a very interesting read on the psychology of human nature, which I've always find fascinating.

If people, including politicians and corporate marketers, litter our lives with lies to influence our emotions and gain our loyalty for their own benefits, what can we do so we don't allow ourselves to be manipulated?

It's of course important to read several sources of information that are backed up with data, reliable research, etc. But we can also take charge of our lives by being in touch with ourselves and understanding why we react in certain ways that seem to defy logic. Awareness is the first step towards overcoming bias, fears and insecurities that make us vulnerable to manipulators. When we are willing to work on ourselves, and open our mind, we build up the strength to make better choices for our personal growth.

Sunday, June 17, 2018


A photo I took on a beach in Mauritius inspired this motivational haiku.

I've been thinking of how difficult it is for some of us to move on. We've all been in situations in which we've felt victimized, and found it difficult to function. Certain situations are of course more traumatic than others. Some will get over them, and some won't. There are many reasons why some are stuck, but there's always hope.

Here are a couple of articles that will bring some light as to whether you are holding on to a victim mentality. They also offer advice about how to shift your attitude. It may take some work, but it's about having the courage to be truthful about who you are, having the resilience to make changes, and improve your relationship with yourself, and with others.

23 signs you're suffering from a victim mentality

Do you succumb to the victim mentality trap? Here's how to break free!  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with R. Daniel Lester

Another great Sunday meet up to look forward to with you, book lovers and writers. Our guest for the next Authors' Afternoon  is R. Daniel Lester, a neighbourhood author who writes mystery, crime and sci-fi novels and more ... Come by and chat with him about his award-nominated book, Dead Clown Blues, his other publications, and his journey as a writer.

Thursday, May 31, 2018


I was gazing at the lake through the glass of a bus shelter. The light was such that the building behind me was reflected on the glass, resulting in this optical illusion I captured … and the poem below…

it was an illusion
a mysterious fusion
filled with wonder, elation
misleading, yet real
until my view shifted
and the magic was gone

Monday, May 14, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with Ann Walmsley

Inviting you to a meet-up at Stella's Café with award-winning journalist, Ann Walmsley to discuss her book, The Prison Book Club. I hope you will join us to hear about her brave journey into the men's prisons despite a violent mugging she experienced in UK a few years earlier. 

I had the privilege of being in the same writing group as Ann for over 10 years. Her mastery of non-fiction writing, precise and evocative, has always impressed me. It was amazing to see the creative process of The Prison Book Club as it grew from a few chapters to an award-winning book. I'm so proud of her achievements, and thrilled that she is participating in our Authors' Afternoon.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Celebrating friendships and emotional maturity ...

Spring, with its fresh blossoms, is an enchanting time of new beginnings. As we shed our winter clothes and bounce lightly towards summer, I feel renewed, blessed to have caring friends who share similar values, and are open to honest and insightful discussions.

This desire to understand each other, and communicate clearly can only help relationships grow deeper. Every failure or setback offers opportunities to learn about others and ourselves. When we're willing to listen, empathize, and resolve conflicts in a constructive manner, without letting our egos get in the way, we are taking positive steps in bettering ourselves and others, and becoming emotionally mature.

It may not be easy to do so with those who won't talk things out, but react with anger and insults when faced with challenging situations. Here's an article that sheds some light on the importance of emotional intelligence in such cases.

And this one analyzes the reasons people tend to regress to childish behaviour, and offers advice on healing past unresolved wounds that made anger become a habit.

For those who have such issues, and are willing to work on them, it's a big stride towards healing and finding peace within. Caring friends and relatives encourage and support such growth.

Celebrating friendship with this haiku poem I wrote, and magnolia flowers I photographed at High Park. Wishing you a beautiful spring ...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors Exhibition at AGO

What a magical day at the Art Gallery of Ontario yesterday.
The special effects that artist Yayoi Kusama created with mirrors was breathtaking.
We were propelled into an enchanted world through the endless continuity of reflections.
 As if infinity was within our reach, yet constantly shifting at the least movement.
In this one, the two of us were watching through opposite windows, 
and our pictures became part of the profusion of mirrored images.
A must see exhibition. It ends next month, on May 27th.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Haiku poem on betrayal

Another haiku poem but a sad one about betrayal, one of the most painful emotions one can ever go through, especially from someone you loved and trusted. Many of us have gone through it in some form or other ... Here is an article with helpful guidance on how to recover, learn, and grow from it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with Teri Vlassopoulos

Inviting you to a meet-up where you can chat with talented author, Teri Vlassopoulos, about her books, Bats and Swallows and Escape Plans, and her journey as a writer.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Spring Haiku

I've been playing with Haiku poems, and love their simplicity.
5 syllables in the first and last lines, and 7 syllables in the middle line. 
Yet, these 3 lines can say so much.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Gaslighting: coercing people to believe lies and question their own sanity

As I continue my research into relationships, I'd like to share this article as it's opened my eyes to gaslighting, the psychological manipulation some people use to coerce loved ones to believe their lies, and question their own sanity. Unfortunately, when women, and sometimes men too are in love, they often fall for the lies, don't listen to their instincts, or common sense, and thus enable the gaslighter. This article is very helpful in understanding why people gaslight and why they need help as much as the victims. For those who recognize the situation, hope you can seek advice from close relatives, friends or a therapist.

I took this photo on a rainy day. The mist was ethereal and made everything seem unreal. This poem is about the inescapable downward spiral of lies. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Interview with Pot-Pourri CIUT 89.5 FM about my books The Coral Heart and Island Lovers

I will be interviewed about my books this coming Sunday on University of Toronto's radio station CIUT 89.5 FM, on their french show Pot-Pourri.  To all francophones and francophiles, please listen to this great cultural show from 11 am to 1 pm if you have a few minutes ... Michaëlle Jean, Secretary General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie, will also be among the guests.

Je serai interviewée  au sujet de mes livres ce dimanche sur la station de radio CIUT 89.5 FM de l'Université de Toronto, dans le cadre de leur émission Pot-Pourri. À tous les francophones et francophiles, s'il vous plaît, écoutez cette belle émission culturelle de 11h à 13 h  si vous avez quelques minutes ... Michaëlle Jean, Secrétaire générale de l'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, sera parmi les invités.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Emotional health in relationships

I've been researching articles on relationships. Some are full of wisdom and very helpful not only for my short stories, but my personal journey, not to mention my recent fascination with words on images. 
The one above was inspired by the these two articles:

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with Christene Browne

Inviting you to meet  Christene Browne, award-winning filmmaker and author of Two Women. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Toronto turns to gold

What a gorgeous weekend full of sunshine. So thrilled to be by the lake on Friday and see Toronto turn to gold. And what a joyful time yesterday at the family lunch food fest in celebration of the New Year of the Dog. And so heartwarming to share the evening by the water with a thoughtful friend who can make me laugh away ...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sharing love on Valentine's

Love in all its forms, whether it's for our family, our friends, our romantic partner, should be celebrated every day, not just on Valentine's, because it can save us from all the negativity and violence in this world. Sharing a short poem on this special day, and wishing you love always.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with John Lorinc

Inviting you to meet journalist John Lorinc
at Stella's Café on Sunday, February 25th to discuss his book, The Ward: 
The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Saturday, January 27, 2018

To heal a broken heart

The second in a series of short poems I wrote on photos I took

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Authors' Afternoon with Rhonda McEwen at Stella's Café

Authors' Afternoon took a break over the holidays but it's back on the last Sunday of every month.

Inviting you to meet Rhonda McEwan, 
co-author of Understanding Tablets from Early Childhood to Adulthood 

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Coral Heart and Island Lovers at Ryerson University Library and Archives

It's been a heart-warming start to New Year. So grateful to be surrounded by caring friends who bring sunshine and hope through the dark hours ...

My creative work has also been a therapeutic force in the healing process. Happy to share that my books are available at the Library and Archives of Ryerson University, my alma mater ... The french translation of The Coral Heart is in its final stages. Still working on those short stories ...

I've also been writing short poems over photos I've taken. A little exercise in rearranging words on pictures to find meaning from the clutter of thoughts and emotions. Sharing the first one ...