Tag Archives: fiction

Together Vaughan: Celebrating Community in Difficult Times

Angela, from Pierre Berton Resource Library, and her daughters Maya and Kara, created this beautiful wall chalk art outside their homes to express their gratitude and thoughts on COVID-19. #TogetherVaughan

I’ve been thinking a lot about what community means. How do we define community? What brings communities together during times of hardship?

I’ve seen a lot of people uniting for the greater good lately. From demonstrations of appreciation for frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19, to peaceful protests against systemic anti-black racism and police violence. Our communities refuse to back down. We are strong, resilient, and we won’t stop fighting for justice.

Community isn’t just a group of people inhabiting the same place. Community is about solidarity, empathy, and respect. It’s about acknowledging the often invisible ties that link us all. To be a member of a community is to be a member of a team — something greater than yourself. You can’t spell community without unity.

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Laughter is the Best Medicine

When’s the last time you laughed – a hearty, can’t catch your breath, rib-tickling – kind of laugh? Maybe it’s been a while. Maybe you just don’t think there’s anything to laugh about these days, during this challenging, tiring, and seemingly endless monotony we are living in. Maybe you feel guilty to laugh knowing that people in your community are struggling and suffering, knowing that life may not return to the way you remember. Maybe you are still reeling from the unforgivable atrocity against George Floyd, and rightly so (please see Karen’s enlightening blog post on allyship and anti-racism).

Yes, even with all these sorrows, our collective anger and outrage, we must make room for laughter. Humour can lighten our mental load, provide a much-needed respite from the unrelenting flow of bad news, and help us cope with this new world in which we find ourselves.

We have much to be grateful for. Many of us are surrounded by a loving circle of comrades who are enduring quarantine right alongside us. We have seen so many of our community members dedicate their time, resources, and energy to help those less fortunate. And we have prevailed, finding new and innovative ways to connect, exercise, relax, and nourish our souls (#TogetherVaughan). We are gonna get through this!

I’m here to tell you that laughter truly is the best medicine. It’s a scientific fact! Laughter decreases stress hormones, increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, and thereby actually improves your resistance to disease. Take a moment to let that sink in. Laughter, yes, plain old-fashioned heart pumping laughter, is actually a disease-fighting superhero!

Below are some of my tried and true favourites to ease the doldrums, put a smile on your face, and warm your heart. Most are available in digital form, however, if you prefer a physical copy, Vaughan Public Libraries has you covered with curbside pickup at select branches. Continue reading

“Let Other Pens Dwell on Guilt and Misery” or, an Ode to Romantic Comedies

Some might call December holiday season. And it is! But it’s also the season of another cheerful, warming tradition: the romantic comedy. Think about it. What goes better with cozy twinkle lights and a steaming mug of tea than two people falling in love? With Hallmark finding new life with the Christmas rom-com boom—and Netflix getting in on the action—it seems like we’re all yearning for a little something sweet come the holidays. Personally, my current watch list is stocked with Love Actually, The Holiday, Bridget Jones’s Diaryand the like, and it will be until the post-holiday blues wear off. 

The sudden resurgence of the rom-com genre in both film and book format seems ripe for analysis. Why are these stories so satisfying to us, when we can accurately map out each plot point and know literally from the beginning how they’re going to end? And why do they go through periodic booms? Well, like any genre, rom-com popularity is surely at the whim of trends, which come and go mostly without explanation. But I think there might be something more to it.

The most obvious place to look is, quite simply, the state of our world. With our relatively new access to the incessant, depressing, soul-crushing 24 hour news cycle—giving us access to previously obscure horrors from around the globe in addition to our own backyard—it’s easy to lose faith in just about everything. Whether or not the world is in a worse state than it’s ever been, the fact is we now know how terrible things are (whereas before, we may have only gotten the news in bits and pieces). So what better antidote to real-world horror than candy-coated, perfectly contrived narratives that by necessity end with a happily-ever-after? As Hugh Grant’s character says in the opening scene of Love Actually, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere.” Hugh’s version of Heathrow Airport holds the same kind of heartwarming, best-version-of-humanity qualities that we love in romantic comedies. It’s a world where the good outweighs the bad, where love always wins, where you know exactly how things are going to play out. It is, in a short word, comfort.  

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