Twenties Survival Guide: Part 1

My curated Twenties Survival Guide is at the bottom of this blog. Enjoy! 

“I miss you,” she said.

The sound of her voice was small, almost desperate. It was rare I ever heard that kind of sadness, that kind of being at wit’s end in my gramma’s voice and I wonder if she heard it in mine. Because I missed her too.

I miss you. I could still hear it as I boarded my last connection. Back to Regina. I got the earliest flight from Quebec City I could find under $1000. I was coming back for four days, Mosley in tow.


Mosley and Flayla in Saskatchewan at Hallowe’en 2017. They went as Super-Girl and Bat-Dog.

One of the WestJet stewards on my first flight told me they could hear him barking in storage during take-off, but that he’d been quiet after that. I knew my dog was normally fearless, but I still hoped he would be okay flying across the country. I knew if anyone could make my gramma feel better, it was my four-month old ball of fluff.


Luckily, he’s a possessive little bugger and as soon as Martin packed up his cage in the back of the SUV, he was determined it wasn’t going anywhere without him. Mosley and I landed in Regina after 11pm; while I was a little tired, Mosley was full of energy.

It was too late to see my gramma, but Sam and I had devised a surprise brunch for the next day. That would also give Mosley time to meet his cousin, Flayla and make sure the two dogs got along.

When we got to Sam’s, she let Flayla out of the bedroom where she walked right by Mosley, completely ignoring him and jumped on the couch with a loud yawn. Mosley tried to follow her, but Flayla growled at him: “This is my couch and it’s not for pipsqueaks.”

Surprisingly, Mosley obeyed her, but that didn’t stop him from barking at her, begging Flayla to come play, a type of theatre that would play out the whole weekend.

At 5 a.m. the next morning, Mosley was the first one awake. He tiptoed out of the spare bedroom where he and I were sleeping, across the living room and ever so lightly nudged my sister’s bedroom door open. He looked toward my sister asleep on the bed and then back at the room where I was slowly getting up and then like a bat out of hell he ran across the room and flung himself towards Flayla’s dog bed, belly-flopping onto her head.

Flayla is not a morning person. We all heard the growl.

“Mosley,” my sister said patiently. “Flayla doesn’t want to play right now. It’s not time to get up yet.”

She gently ushered a confused Mosley out of the room, who looked up at her with bleating puppy dog eyes: “Please, Aunty Sammy. I’ve been waiting my whole life to see my cousin.”

At 22. In Togo, West Africa. There’s no road map for your twenties.

I’m sure there are scientific studies on how the breakdown, near extinction of the nuclear family have lead us to living more individualist lives and that this generational trend has left us with emotional holes we don’t know how to fill with contact from other human beings. We narcissistic, selfie-loving millennials are too self-absorbed for the kind of love that is a two-way street, so we’ve replaced human relationships with the unadulterated adoration of animal companions (here is one news article to that effect from the Washington Post.)

“Since I’ll never get grandchildren,” my mother lamented recently.

At 24, with Flayla as a puppy.

“I just get dogs,” she continued.

When both my sister and I looked at her incredulously, she back-tracked. “Well, I love my grand-dogs.”

She should. I mean my mom is one of these third-wave feminist, career-focussed, didn’t have kids until her 30’s women who helped usher in this new world order. Whether or not she’d say that was her choice or not is a different story. Just like my not having children doesn’t really seem like my choice either. After dating a million and one guys it didn’t work out with, I met a man who already had children, but for a number of reasons is not able to have more.

My mom gets it, I know. One of the reasons she put off selling the family home is that with my sister still living in an apartment-style condo, she wanted Flayla to have a yard to run around in. This year she mailed me a wrapped Christmas present for Mosley.


At 25, in South Africa.

This is my life. It’s as unconventional as all the other unconventional family arrangements out there. It’s lovely, mostly joyful and hard to navigate. That’s why when I listened to this Death, Sex and Money podcast awhile back about surviving a break-up (they also created an interactive online survival kit), I was inspired.

I thought about creating my own “Twenties Survival Guide” and put some long, hard thought into what it would include. Finally, I came to the conclusion that what would have really helped me in my earlier 20’s (I’m 28 now) was curated knowledge. Multiple-sourced, research-based reading (as opposed to advice from friends) I think is the best way to inform all those complicated decisions you have to make in your 20’s.

Guide to Surviving your 20’s

To start, more on millennials and their dogs:

At 24 in Lumsden, Saskatchewan.

USA Today: Millennials are influenced more by dogs than marriage, children when buying a home

Forbes: Why Are So Many Millennials Opting For Pets, Not Parenthood?

But for women with real human children, this is how parenthood can affect their salaries:

Global News: Challenging the Wage Gap: How access to childcare is related to the gender wage gap

Global News: Challenging the Wage Gap: Who can help improve gender equality in Canada?

More on women and work:

At 23, at my first photography exhibition.

Global News: Nice gals finish last: Agreeable women earn less money, says study

Rewire: Study: Female Entrepreneurs Feel Pressure to Act a Certain Way Online

Chatelaine: 6 reasons Iceland is the best place to be a woman right now

On women in politics:

The Globe and Mail opinion: Thank you, Hillary. Now women know retreat is not an option

Maclean’s opinion: Rona Ambrose’s advice for Canadian women considering politics

On sexism:

Quartz: A lot of women don’t enjoy hookup culture—so why do we force ourselves to participate?

On sexual assault:


Regina Leader-Post: Names and faces all that change in Saskatchewan’s hold on domestic violence

Radio-Canada: Quel est le cout d’une agression?

On mental health:

The New Yorker: Thanksgiving in Mongolia

At 20 in a pub in Toronto.

Maclean’s: My son asked me a question—and I felt the pain of the ’60s Scoop again

Global News: Quebecers say ‘racing thoughts’ stop them from getting enough sleep: Léger study

On anxiety caused by technology:

Maclean’s: Is it okay for a city to track what’s in your poop?

The Atlantic: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

On authenticity:

Lenny: Troian Bellisario Gets Real About Her Struggle with Mental Health

Huffington Post: Ma lettre à la trentenaire que je rêvais d’être et que je suis devenue

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