But could we do it?

photo: Juliane Liebermann for Unsplash

More often than not, when one brings up the topic of equality and equity between women and men, the wage gap is cited. Then the talk is of the need for more women leaders.

People who grasp that numbers and statistics don’t always tell actual stories — rarely, in fact — numbers are not words, not even when spelled out — might be able to discuss the nature of this, and discuss myths and truths and all that’s in between.

So… what about more women leaders in all work and political sectors? Gone are the days when we think of…


I write all over the map

photo: Andrew Neel for Unsplash

I am not a niche writer. I publish with some regularity for The Writing Cooperative, and for Middle-Pause. Also for P.S. I Love You, The Faculty, and others. Many pieces are about caregiving and ALS, about family relationships, teaching... I’ll set up themes below, and collected titles — not all — but ones you may have missed. Browse and enjoy. I appreciate your readership. You might even want to check out my books.

People! Relationships! Connecting!

Caregiving, ALS, Aging

Writing


The good, the bad, and the ugly

photo: Arun Sapru for Unsplash

In sickness and in health

What does that mean? It wasn’t something I was thinking about, that hot August day in our backyard under the pear tree. I wore a green wedding dress that I’d discovered in an antique store, a week after telling my mother that green was the original color of wedding dresses before the advent of Queen Victoria. Fertility as opposed to purity.

The original wearer of the gown I bought was married in 1917, and my history-major-heart beat a little faster at that; I thought one had to be very brave to get married in the…


Let’s resurrect the idea of tithe, and keep art in our lives

photo: Jazz-to-GoGo playing in Vancouver park, courtesy of Viviane Hotz

This past summer, this was the one way I heard live music: in the park, and on the beach, with a jazz standards group. Bring a blanket and bottle, enjoy the setting sun, the warmth on my back. Listening to tunes that have sustained for decades.

The idea of tithing is even older: take 10% of whatever we earn, and give it to something or someone we believe in. It used to be about the church. But let’s focus on the What you believe in piece. Or What sustains you.

I know I cannot live without music and literature, dance…


Four weeks, and thirty years later…

photo: Joshua Earle for Unsplash

I started smoking at eighteen

First one, and I loved it. It helped me think. It helped me write. The moments of unwrapping the cellophane from the package… wow. Like a little gift every time. And I could make a miniature origami rabbit from the silver paper that I would leave on the tables of pubs, or hand to a child if I was outside. Their eyes would fill with wonder.

I was on to a pack a day in short order

I had bouts of bronchitis reminiscent of the pneumonia I’d had as a kid. I started to cough in my early twenties. I hated the smell of my hair, and when I returned from…


The cost of growth

photo: courtesy of the author

In the past five years, my writing has grown. I published (traditionally) nine books before this period of time. Then two in 2019, in completely different spheres: a picturebook, and an adult memoir of caregiving.

Writing

I’ve written “seriously” since age eighteen when I enrolled in a night-school creative writing class and tried — as much as possible — to write every evening after standing on my feet cutting hair for long hours each day.

Shift

But in 2015–16, my life shifted inexorably. Halfway through 2015, my spouse was diagnosed with ALS. The only silver lining to this disease is that the…


From my experiences of both spouse and parent living and dying with this disease

photo: the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 Major Tom Agency for Unsplash

Look up ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and the definition you’ll find is:

a rare progressive degenerative fatal disease affecting the motor neurons, usually beginning in middle age, and characterized especially by increasing and spreading muscular weakness and atrophy called also Lou Gehrig’s disease)

Note that in the Commonwealth, the disease is known as MND, or Motor Neuron Disease.

Rare

Not so much anymore, it seems. When my spouse was initially diagnosed, and I began to research, the information floating about said “one in 50,000” people… but fast forward a few years, to the point at which my father was also diagnosed…


For generations of women

photo: courtesy of author

We never had a cat in my family home when I was young. Instead, we had a succession of Samoyed dogs, a breed notorious for their dislike of felines — unless they have grown up together. Cats knew better than to cross our yard.

VW Camper Van

The summer I was nine, my family of six crossed a lot of Canada, from the Pacific to northern Ontario. In our VW camper van, we arrived at the shores of Remi Lake, in the town of Moonbeam, one July day, to stay in the home of my Great Aunt Alice.

My parents were given the…


How to overcome the productivity threat of “Next Idea”

photo: Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash

I’ve lost count of how many novels I have written. Some published, some in a virtual “box,” and others tossed after being deemed “warm up” or “practice.”

Something happens

Always though, at the point which feels as if it is “almost done” — maybe it’s three-quarters or even further along — something happens.

The something feels like stall. Like if I don’t get it going soon, it’ll be this old truck, stopped on some road that’ll be forgotten, and ending up in the bush, covered in moss… if I can’t find just the right idea, plot point…what?!

I try to focus, give…


Sacrifices and pleasure — is it worth it?

photo: Birgit Loit on Unsplash

Where I live

I am in my mid-fifties and live in Vancouver, Canada, a stupidly expensive city. My home cost close to one million when I bought it in 2017.

I lived in a suburb of the city for 18 years before that, in a four-bedroom, 2600 square foot home, to my now half-duplex, 1100 square feet, in the city’s downtown east side, with the poorest postal code in the country, and a half dozen blocks from the saddest street scene, at the corner of Main St. and Hastings. For me, it is a good place. Nearby jazz pub, a sense of community…

Alison Acheson

My latest book is a caregiving memoir, Dance Me to the End: Ten Months and Ten Days With ALS. I am now on Substack with The Unschool for Writers: a DIY MFA.

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