Emma. A portrait.

There are no words that sufficiently describe the enormous, deep-hearted love I feel for my beautiful niece, Emma Varley.  Yes, gush, gush, gush, but it’s SO TRUE.

Emma– an extraordinary woman and mother of 4.

Emma– a brilliant medical anthropologist and humanitarian.

I love witnessing her life unfold- sadly mainly from afar, but always, always, close and ever present in my heart.

Emma Varley is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Brandon University. (China Marker on newsprint)


Emma– a veil of resigned peace underneath which dances a curious, life-loving, laughing inner child.

"Four-year old me during a summer visit to my Grandparents' home in Tofino on Vancouver Island. (1977)" - Emma Varley
“Four-year old me during a summer visit to my Grandparents’ home in Tofino on Vancouver Island. (1977)” – Emma Varley

Please take time to check out a sample of her work on:

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For deeply divided settings such as Gilgit, can we afford to avoid acknowledgment of the ways that identity can be deployed to privilege one community at the health expense of another?

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Sunday #journalexercise. Boundaries and Owl Wisdom- come from a place of wholeness.

I’ve been thinking about boundaries and the wisdom in defining them.  The image of the owl came to mind as I journaled this AM.


Because owls and all creatures of the animal realm are pure energy, and they come from a place of wholeness. As such, they communicate in a unified voice. They speak in the language of the trees, the wind, the moon, the sky, etc.


I found a great article which helped me process the importance of boundaries in my own life.  The advice has the silent wisdom I saw in a tiny owl I watched in a tree at 1:30 AM a few months back.

I stood for 30 minutes just watching this little guy stare back at me.  I knew I was receiving a message.  I didn’t quite know yet what that message was.  I feel now that the message is to listen to MY OWN INNER QUIET WISDOM.  It’s there if I just stay quiet and listen.

I have been searching for the kind of owl it was and finally saw the kind in this video:

The article:

One of the biggest mistakes I have when it comes to setting boundaries is thinking (or hoping) that the person I am attempting to set limits with will understand me (and why I have the values I have).

They do not need to understand me, I need to understand myself…

What setting boundaries means:

  • Setting boundaries means you are taking responsibility and standing by your personal code of ethics and values.
  • Setting boundaries reflect your right to say NO to things that are not right for you.
  • Setting boundaries means you are learning the importance of self-care, self respect, and self love.
  • Setting boundaries emerge when we learn to go within, listen to our authentic selves, value our own decisions and trust ourselves.
  • Setting boundaries emerge from knowing what you believe, dislike, or like is important and relevant.
  • Setting boundaries emerge from  deep introspection and the realization of what you deserve and do not deserve.


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Spend some time looking at owls.

Draw them.

Read the article on boundaries.

Listen to your inner wisdom.


Conception, gestation- a movement begins. #women

A movement is only composed of people moving. To feel its warmth and motion around us is the end as well as the means. – Gloria Steinhem

An idea is building and I thank the women I met with last night for our initial brainstorm.  Stay tuned as we move from the concept to the concrete!  What unfolds will be a surprise to all involved.  A beautiful surprise!

To keep it clear in my mind, I'm finding it helpful to stick with a TRIAD organization.

Do not become alarmed when you experience yourself in totally new ways… You are changing, getting ready to be initiated into the third stage of your life. Are you ready for the ride of your life?
– Susun Weed

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. – Gloria Steinem