A white woman with long brown hair faces the camera smiling and holds a toddler with curly hair who faces away from the camera against the backdrop of the ocean.
A white woman with long brown hair faces the camera smiling and holds a toddler with curly hair who faces away from the camera against the backdrop of the ocean.
Picture of me at the beach with my oldest child.

I’m not ______, I’m Julia!

My parents like to tell this story from my preschooler years: if anyone called me “cute”, “beautiful” or “adorable” I would place my hands squarely on my hips, stick out my lower jaw in defiance and shoot back a glaring, “I’m not (cute/beautiful/adorable), I’m Julia!”. Whenever they repeat the story, I mentally high-five three year old me, because I intrinsically understood then that I am the curator of my own identity. It is a lesson I would spend most of my teenage and adult life relearning.

How do I think?

At 34 years old I began to invest in my own self understanding. I…


PREGNANCY

Toddler with brown hair admires the pregnant belly of his mother, who is lying reclined.
Toddler with brown hair admires the pregnant belly of his mother, who is lying reclined.
Photo taken by author’s husband

When I announced the birth of my youngest child on Facebook, I received a message from a friend I had last seen a couple of weeks prior. She was shocked. She hadn’t noticed. And she didn’t know.

I hadn’t exactly tried to hide it when I saw her, but I hadn’t mentioned it either. I wore a pair of shorts and a loose-fitting T-shirt. A group of us were watching TV, and I lay on my back (because it hurt). I honestly thought my bump would be visible at least in that position.

But I didn’t want to talk about…


MENTAL HEALTH

A brown-skinned woman with straight black hair covers her face with her hands. A yellow tape-measure is wrapped around her hands.
A brown-skinned woman with straight black hair covers her face with her hands. A yellow tape-measure is wrapped around her hands.
Image by OcusFocus on Canva

When I was training to be a registered dietitian, I counselled patients with anorexia nervosa. I had never been diagnosed with the condition myself, but I was no stranger to body dysmorphia and restrictive eating practices. Like most young women, I grew up immersed in diet culture.

And like many others, I aspired to contort my body into the unnatural shapes presented by airbrushed magazine covers. I experimented with vegetarianism, calorie-counting and compulsive exercise.

My calorie and exercise goals were frequently unhealthy. Throughout my teenage years and into adulthood, my weight ricocheted left and right. …


SOCIETY

A smiling brunette with a pink beanie, a denim jacket off her shoulders and a blue tank top looks down at her phone. A purple, pink and white background of binary (1s and 0s) radiates from her.
A smiling brunette with a pink beanie, a denim jacket off her shoulders and a blue tank top looks down at her phone. A purple, pink and white background of binary (1s and 0s) radiates from her.
Image created by author on Canva Pro.

The year was 1688. A Catholic king ruled in England once more and had named a Catholic heir. A group of seven powerful men, who would later come to be known as “the Immortal Seven”, penned a letter to William of Orange, the son-in-law and nephew of King James II. In it, they invited him to take up arms against the king, with their support, and usurp him in favour of William’s wife (King James II’s daughter) — a protestant.

This set off a chain of events that would ultimately lead to the desertion of James II’s army, and the…


Image by Tumisu on CanvaPro

A good short story resonates. In few words, it draws the reader into a new world and captures their attention. It is harder to build promise and payoff in a short story than it is in a novel. The same goes for character development. There just isn’t much time.

This is part of the reason why writing a good short story is so difficult. If writing a novel is a marathon, writing a short story is a sprint. Both require similar but unique techniques and skills. Sprinting requires impeccable form and dogged determination towards a quick but satisfying finish.

Short…


WRITING

Image of author and her daughter Chloë, sketched by author

I remember how it felt as my feet touched the floor lightly, and I glided across the textured vinyl to the ebb and flow of Ed Sheeran’s anthem Small Bump. It was the first time I had danced since it happened. I’d spent the previous months in a wheelchair. Dancing gave wings to all the emotions that had sat there with me — trapped in my ribcage and in that place in my throat that itches before I cry.

The tears flew down my face and onto my breasts. My arms circled me wildly as I let my body fall…


CULTURE

A red garment and a white garment hang against a wall.
A red garment and a white garment hang against a wall.
Image by S-Attila from Getty Images on Canva Pro

I first read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale as a young 20 something in the early 2000s. As a woman who grew up immersed in purity culture, the experiences of women in Gilead felt vaguely familiar. Of course, I had not been subjected to state-sanction rape, but I had been raped and blamed for it. Because of what I wore. Because of the feminine shape of my body. Because I was a woman who spent time alone with men I barely knew.

I wasn’t a mother then, and I hadn’t lost a child. That part of the book (the stealing…


POETRY

Image by Elitsa Deykova on CanvaPro

Today a cold rain falls gently
tapping against my windowsill
as I sit still, swallowed by the sofa
throw. And though the rain sweeps softly
the dust that yesterday swirled so
kindly through my hair as I climbed the streets
of ghosted Montréal — still — I ignore the call,
and I allow the rain to simply fall
without feeling its presence on
my skin. En fin, I know that I can still
smell the rain through my bay window
screen, by the dim incandescent
light of the chandelier as milk-drenched
coffee fills up and warms my
belly and I taste a bitter echo
of forgotten spring. And the rain
brings memories of better times,
a…

Julia Marsiglio

Loss parent. Canadian poet. Fiction and nonfiction writer. Intersectional feminist. Writing my way through life, grief and motherhood.

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