This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Do women bully?

This week’s column is on a subject I’m almost scared to wade into, but I have to ...

Have you seen the meme on social media that says something along the lines of “Call me crazy, but I like to see other people succeed and do well.”

In theory, that’s a wonderful thought. I feel confident when I say I feel like this most of the time. 

But my rose-coloured world was tarnished the other day when I heard two other women, whom I don’t know, tearing apart their colleague. I

t was vicious and hard to listen to.

Is woman bullying a thing?

I mean, in all fairness, I don’t know the rest of the story behind what they were saying. But it didn’t make what they were saying any less mean. And I honestly don’t hear men being like this toward each other.

Face it. We’re not all going to get along, and that’s OK. Personality differences mean some of us will clash.

On one hand, I can relate to that feeling of envy. You know the scenario. There’s always one woman who on the surface, just seems to kick butt on life:  

  • Honour roll kids
  • adoring spouse
  • best job ever
  • a drool-worthy wardrobe,
  • annual tropical trips and so on.

It’s easy — even natural, to be jealous of someone like her — whether she’s your co-worker, neighbour, old friend or occasional acquaintance.

I totally get the need to vent to a friend about it – especially when we struggle. We all have those days when we just want it to be as easy for us as it seems to be for “her.” 

But the line gets crossed when we try to damage the other woman’s reputation with nasty gossip or worse. It’s like flexing our mean, bitchy muscle has become the “in” thing to do.

In an attempt to become assertive or feel better about ourselves, we’re actually being mean — to another woman.

A woman who has feelings, and bad skin/hair days. A person who will feel these words and actions deep in her gut. A person who, like you, is just trying to figure it out and make the best of it.

And here’s a thought: our kids are sponges and soak up everything they observe from us – including these attitudes.

I say we call a truce, ladies. We owe it to ourselves to live the feel-good memes we see and share.

For the record, I moved to a different table further away from the two women who were talking. I wish I had said something to them, but was too scared to.

What we put out is what we get back, maybe we should try putting out more love, acceptance, patience and grace. 

What’s the worst that could happen?

Thanks for reading.


Maui's magical moments

I’m starting my mid-life crisis. This, according to someone who is close to me. How long are these things supposed to last?

If a mid-life crisis for me is dictated by an overwhelming need for simplicity and sleeping in till 9 a.m. on weekends, then I’ll take it.

What brought all this on was a recent trip to Maui. I’d never been there before this trip and it was an eye-opener.

I was struck most vividly by how easy life on the island is. I kept telling my travelling partner that I felt like we’d stepped back in time.

In Canada, practically anywhere you go, you can access free Wi-Fi. In Maui, that’s not the case. They don’t even have free Wi-Fi at the airport (OK, that wasn’t necessarily a good thing and was the one thing I wanted to change about that place).

But outside of Wi-Fi and technology, I was amazed at how undeveloped it is there. There are hundreds of acres of old sugarcane fields that have just been left to the land. If those wide-open fields were here in the Okanagan, they would’ve been developed with high rises no one could afford and big-box commercial stores.

That’s where my mid-life crisis began apparently. Although I’m still not calling this a bad thing. It makes me feel a bit edgier, braver, even a bit careless … but I digress.

I was beyond sad to leave - not just for the obvious reasons of it being the end of a vacation, but more so because I knew the reality I was coming back to.

For the record, my reality is not horrific – just tedious and monotonous.

I work to pay homage to my mortgage. It takes me over two years to be able to save enough money to take a trip like this – and that’s not taking my kids with me. That’s just me taking me. And actually, the big costs for this trip were all covered, courtesy of my partner’s hotel and travel points … so maybe it’s more like three years between trips for me.

Something’s gotta change. I tend to live in a permanent “hurry up and get there” mode. Not by choice, but rather by design. I’m always seeking and striving and yearning for more – in every facet from my job to my clothes to my housing.

I’ve got it in my head that to show my kids what success is, they need to see me as leading a successful life. Which basically equates to they need to see me getting promotions, having tons of friends, keeping a clean house, eating healthy, having nice clothes, driving a new car, being eternally happy, and basically just living the dream.

Umm, except that all of that just listed, is not me living the dream. It’s just me stressing out trying to figure out my next move or step to stay on top of everything – from my mortgage to my friends’ lists.

And since when did we, as a society, get to a point when we need “lists” of our friends? See, not only am I starting my mid-life crisis, I’m also becoming a curmudgeon in the process. Am I too young for this? I prefer to think of it as me getting wise.

And despite what it may come across as, it’s not that I care less. It’s quite the opposite in that I care more.

I care more now about feeling spiritually healthy. That means it’s time to simplify what I’ve made complicated.

So I’m starting the purge process of my life – everything from clothing and shoes to dishes, and yes – even my house.

Sounds drastic, right? Well I guess it is to a degree. But I’m finally getting it. It’s about quality over quantity.

Part of that purging process is purging my mind as well … and maybe even how I write these columns. I want to try and bring some of my newfound edginess into my writing … oooh, this could get exciting.

Boy, that was quite the vacation! Leave here with visions of beaches and pineapples. Come back here in full mid-life crisis mode … although I’m still not convinced that’s it. I think it’s more of an awakening – and the desire to pay homage to the beach, sand and sun more often than I have been.

Thanks for reading.

A poem about rape

My daughter and three of her classmates recently decided to tackle a controversial topic among their age group.

It was their final English assignment for the semester and the teacher asked the kids to group up and write a poem about any topic they wanted.

The four girls chose to write about something that has long been an issue n the schools and a source of frustration for teachers for generations.

It has been a cause of arguments between many a teen girl and her parents … the issue?


And, as is often the case for teens, what they choose to wear is a contributing factor to pre-teen and teenage angst.

As mom to a 17-year old, I have had my share of eyebrow-raising “you’re wearing THAT” moments. On one hand, I shake my head at my daughter and think surely you can find something more, 'er, appropriate to wear.

But I too have ventured into many a store and seen what the girls — even the younger ages, have to choose from — and I understand where their questionable wardrobe choices stem from.

Clothing designers and manufacturers need to be held somewhat accountable for what our girls are wearing when the only choices they offer are the scantily clad ones.

I’ve heard people say things like we should all just stop buying the clothes, so the designers will have to change them. But the reality is, that will never happen. It would have to be a North American wide movement to just stop buying what’s in the stores.

Good idea in theory, but realistically …

My daughter and her friends feel strongly about this topic and based their poem upon this subject. They all contributed based upon their own knowledge and experience.

Yes, I realize that parts of this are hard to read. But as they say, out of the mouths of babes. This is the very age group that is affected by this more than any other.

And for the record – the teacher gave my daughter and her friends 100 per cent on this final English assignment.


Boys Will Be Boys

By: Jenna, Kate, Myah, Sanj

We don’t teach boys not to rape.
Instead we tell girls,
“Keys between your knuckles.”
“Come home before dark.”
“Never walk alone.”

But boys will be boys.
Even when names are given to the suicide driven.

“Drunken slut.”
“You were asking for it.”
Even the cops first question is a suggestion,
That you were “asking for it.”

They ask
“What were you wearing?”
You wonder,
“Was the dress too daring or baring too much skin?”
He didn’t care when he was tearing,
And playing you like a violin.

You wore red lipstick,
But you weren’t quite quick …
To outrun the lunatic you tried to kick,
While he silenced your screams,
Ripping you at the seams.
But boy will be boys.

Quit punishing the girls.
We don’t teach the boys to focus and practice respect,
Instead we shame the girls, telling them three fingers wide,
Shoulders aren’t distracting, what do young girls need to hide?

We’re sick of the body shaming,
The blame put on us.
Because of our, 
Bra straps,
Crop tops.

Our clothes are not the ones that chose
To rape a girl today,
To disobey.
But boys will be boys
And girls will be sluts.

This won’t be the last rape poem
And stories of injustice toward women will continue to be told,
Until my voice speaks louder than my clothes.

Thanks for reading.


It takes two to (un)tango

I recently went out for an evening with my best friend and two new friends we met through a course we all took.

Although we’re new friends and still in the getting-to-know-you stage, we share so many similarities that conversation flowed easily all night.

You know the saying, like attracts like, and that is certainly true for us.

All four of us are divorced, with kids who are in their mid-to-late teens and beyond. We’ve all started to forge our own paths in this world, as women who have fallen, hit their lowest point and are now rising again.

Part of our path-forging is being cliché and “staying true to our authentic selves.” As much as I dislike using clichés like that, it really is true.

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to me to stay true to my own values and morals that I hold dear.

I tend to seek out people, whether consciously or not, who have the same beliefs and drive to improve themselves. And once again, the like-attracts-like rule comes through for me.

As we laughed and reflected during the evening, I was struck by how we, as women, claim so many of the same fears. It was taking the whole like-attracts-like to a new level.

A question was posed about if we ever feel guilty for “failing” at our marriages, thus failing our kids. And, sadly, we all said a resounding yes.

As women, I think we tend to internalize relationship failures – be it with a spouse, child, other family member, or even with friends. Dare I say, we feel our failures in this department more so than our male counterparts.

We pondered this for quite a while and came up with the reasoning that it must have something to do with our natural, cave-woman instincts to nurture and build nests.

When we can’t nurture a relationship – especially one like a marriage, which is supposed to last forever and ever, and where we’re one of the main players — we automatically take the blame. Even if not fully warranted.

It’s long said that it takes two to tango. Well the same goes for “(un)tangoing.”

Despite each of us knowing our marriage endings weren’t totally our faults, we still did, and do, take on the immense guilt of “if only I’d said this, done that, tried this, went here, moved there, said no less often, said yes more often …” 

It’s a constant replay of what we did or didn’t do.

We also queried if it would have changed any of our actual outcomes.

In each case, we all agreed it was unlikely. That, if anything, it would’ve just prolonged what happened.

But that’s a tough call to make even now looking back. Simply for the reasons that the only actions we were able to control were our own and you can’t change other people.

As the night continued, the four of us loosened up. What started with a bit of initial shyness quickly gave way to the “real” side of each of us – complete with our guilty thoughts, guilty pleasures and how we each tend to curse when emotionally charged or giddy or drinking wine ... or talking.

The evening ended on a high note with promises to do it all again soon. As I walked out, I felt an immense sense of gratitude for my best friend and these two new women who will have some sort of hand in shaping who I’m becoming.

I hope I can return the favour.

Thanks for reading.

More This is Life, Based on a True Story articles

About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories