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Begin this poetic journey towards a life filled with greater joy and fulfillment by exploring some of life’s bigger questions: What does a meaningful life look like? How do we thrive after trials or tribulations? What practices lead to resilience and wellness?

Through this 30 day poetry collection, Julia Burke distills the essence of these questions as well as the responses gleaned from both experience and theory. Poetry conveys this message with beauty and simplicity as we continue to look for the radiant lights in the midnight sky of our lives.

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Reimagining the Disney Love Story


I’ve been imagining my “prince charming” since I was nine years old
I read fairy tale after fairy tale just waiting to see how things would unfold
And don’t even get me start on the Disney movies
I have seen plenty – Mulan was my favourite in case you were wondering

While my understanding of love has expanded beyond books and fantasies
I am still taken aback by how these childhood tales have stayed with me
So I’m going to pull up my socks and edit these love stories

First and foremost, love is not about rescuing anybody
Not me and not some make-believe prince charming
If someone needs rescuing, it is not the time for romance
It’s time to sit this dance out and do the work to create a far healthier route
Love is not about rescuing
It is about intentionally seeing whether you can build up the trust
So you can safely put your sword down
To be seen for who are
To be loved for who are
To be together as you are

Second, there will be doubt
You do not always “just know”
No matter how deep your love goes
Love needs care, honesty and courage
Love takes work
It’s not just magical glances and sunsets
That’s okay because it’s real
You are loving someone you can touch and feel
Someone who is both incredible and flawed
Just like you
This is part of how you know it’s true

Third, you need to do more than just look at each other
Really, how many stories revolved around loving glances?
You cannot truly love someone without knowing them, really knowing them
Knowing someone this closely is uncomfortable at times
Yet it is in being known and accepted that true comfort arises
Love is a journey
A journey often skewed to the days of love’s beginning as in your childhood stories
Stories that are finely crafted just to the point where love begins
And in that moment the scene ends
Love is a journey that does not fade as the sunsets
It rises with each new day
There is great discovery
You learn together; grow together
Like life, love can be messy
Yet, love is messy like the beauty of an abstract painting
Beyond perfectly dressed princes and princesses
Being loved for who are as you are is the greatest gift

Fourth, love is not enough
I know, I know, I would really like to believe the Beatles song too
But, it is just not true
Love needs space and care to grow
Two people can love each other so and be going in far different directions
That’s why you need to truly know each other
Know each other’s beliefs, values and dreams
You need to have tough, vulnerable conversations
You need to trust that you will be able to love again
If you’ve discovered a difference you cannot both see through
Love can be heartbreaking
Thankfully, our hearts are resilient beyond our imagining
Yes, love is risky
Yet, all it takes is one

Somehow I think this poem could keep going on
There are so many things I hope will change about how we speak of love
Love is not perfect or tidy
Love is both beautiful and messy
Love is not a cure
Love is healing and restoring
Love is a beginning
Each day, each hour, each moment
Choosing to care whole-heartedly for another human being
Just as they are
Receiving the whole-hearted care from another human being
Just as you are
That’s what love is to me
At least that’s what I remind myself when I get lost in a childhood story

Heart to Heart Advocacy

Our stories can inspire the changes we seek.

Yet, systems and companies do not have ears to hear nor eyes to see.

May we share our stories with people like you and me with hearts that beat and minds that imagine and think.

Done truthfully, courageously and collectively this can create the waves of change we seek.

So, what is one of your stories?

Whose ears will it greet?

Let’s have the courage to stand face to face when we advocate.

Not only out of principle, but from the belief in the decency of our fellow human beings.

Trust builds.

Fear breaks.

So start with those you trust

One story at a time

You may find a whole new story unfolding as perspectives intertwine

It’s messier than a letter.

Yet our words resonate far deeper.

Shaking the Broken Tapes on Replay


That’s not who I am
That’s not how I live
Look into my eyes
And do not ask again

To truly see into my eyes
You’ll need to listen close
To the stories I love most
And press stop on the tape
You keep repeating on replay

When other’s stories start creeping in
That’s when my self-awareness cannot be dimmed
We need to remember our stories cherished within
Even when we’re told the same stories again and again

Repetition does not make them true
Not for me and I sure hope not for you

It is in knowing who we are
That allows these hollow stories
To be removed from our playlist
For if they remain on replay
The skewed sight is heartbreak

For this is who I am
This is how I live
Look into my eyes
There will be no surprise
Nor a need to ask again

I tell the stories that shape me
Stories of resilience, kindness, compassion and creativity
Stories that connect and intertwine our lives

I also tell stories that were once so limiting
Stories that skewed who I thought I could become
Stories we all need to leave behind
To be the someone we know we can be

For me, I gathered up my courage and dove headfirst
Into the playlist of stories
Sorting the ones that built me up
The ones that rang true
From those I wanted nothing to do with

And when I found there were stories
That were not truly from friends, family or those I trust
Stories that were simply broken tapes
Left on replay

It was heartbreaking and liberating

Stories I had heard so many times
I once thought they were mine
Or at the very least had some relevance to my life

Not so
Not even close

When I tell stories
I intentionally set it with the backdrop of our common humanity
Is this not the story of so much of the stigma we face today?
A broken tape left on replay

I am not talking about robots or conspiracy theories
I am talking about stories that are skewed
Yet are repeated in our homes, in our classrooms and on the news
Stories we need to unglue
For they paint such a limited view of me and you

So whatever that story, that replayed tape is for you
Shake it off
Hold on to the ones that help you stay strong and true

Be aware of the stories you share
Own your stories as yours
Not simply a cultural cocktail

Stories are powerful things
Stories shape our lives as human beings
When society is so influenced by fear
Be aware of the stories you draw near

As we greet this new year
Recognize those stories that build you up
Stories that remind you who you truly are

As for the stories of fear played on repeat
While they don’t just disappear
You can decide that they have no place here

For we know who we are
We have come so far
We have our own stories to share
With eyes to see and hearts to care

It’s time to do away with tapes on replay
And speak
Put away the script and speak

Speak your story
Be your story
Hear our stories

Our stories inspire
Our stories breakthrough stigma and prejudice
Our stories show us how to love deeper and reach higher

Be your story today
Speak your story today
Hear our stories today
We will see change

2017: the Year of Resilience

year in review 2There were many happenings in the year of 2017

My first book took shape and form
Ten years after I wrote my first poem
It’s been shared with friends, family and strangers alike
It took courage and an open heart to write

At times, I wondered if some words could’ve been left out
Yet, the connections it makes
Strengthens my faith and weakens the doubt
Especially when I perform these words out loud to a crowd

Continue reading

Ode to Winter Beards

I never thought I’d say it, but it’s true

I like men’s facial hair

Moustaches, goatees, sideburns

Never really was my kinda style

Like that moustache my Dad sported in the 80s for awhile…I’m glad he said good-bye

But beards

Maybe its the idea that men have the ability to grow a face protector from the bitter winds, especially as we are hitting minus 30

Or the way they provide shape and contour to a man’s face

Maybe it’s simply because I cannot do it in my testosterone limited state

The feel of a beard when it is not too long or too short is just cozy and warm

Of course not all men can grow full beards and will have to wear scarves like the rest of us

Yet for those who can grew a full winter beard. You may want to give it a shot.

Beards aren’t just for hipsters and grandpas these days

They are a proud companion strutting the streets and leading executive meetings.

It took a few tries

Okay, a few months

Okay, waiting until winter months

For my guy to see the upside of growing a beard

Suddenly things became clear

There’s less shaving; it looks good and it’s warm

It is now a steadfast companion through the cool sunshine and frigid storms

While it may be a seasonal edition

I’m glad it’s here

My confession is now closed and so…

May the beard be with you (and/or beside you)

A Christmas Eve Reflection

As the roots travel deep

The stem soars high

The network grows wide

Yet prefers to hide

Fragile petals soon form brilliantly beautiful then fade

To make way for the fruit that’s now budding

Still the networks of roots are growing and growing

Moving through the darkness

Organically mining the soil for goodness

Extracting and returning in the beautifully designed cycle of life

So if you ever find yourself fumbling in the dark

Keep searching

You may indeed find your mark

Find what fuels you and makes you strong

Discover what you’ve been searching for all along

Not many look in the dirty mess of the soil of their lives

Yet we all grow upon the ground

Its worth taking time to recognize the roots we’re sending down

For the shoots are far easier to see

Perhaps take a moment of reflection on this Christmas Eve