Tara McCallan

The Birth of Happy Soul Project

TBOP2017 ⋅ 4:46 ⋅ Filmed May 12, 2017

In the shock and grief she was experiencing after learning of her newborn daughter’s serious health conditions and Down Syndrome diagnosis, Kingston-based Tara McCallan found herself weeping on the floor. Searching for an outlet for her feelings of fear, anger, and guilt, she took to her computer and started blogging. In this emotional clip, international Down Syndrome advocate and founder of the sensational Happy Soul Project, Tara explains how those frenzied out-of-body hours at the computer blossomed into what would become her internationally-renowned blog. Her story teaches us that in grief, we can find insight, and when we use our passion and talents to push through our pain and vulnerability, revolutionary things can happen.


Happy Soul Project started in a really really dark and vulnerable place. It started a few weeks after my little girl was born and we took her home from the hospital and we weren't sure about her Down Syndrome diagnosis. We were told it was positive and I kind of put myself in this fog. And I kind of put myself in this bubble.

[00:22] A couple of weeks after she was born, I remember putting her down in her crib after putting her to sleep. I looked up and right above was the sign that I had made. The sign said, "Life is more beautiful because you are here". I remember placing her in the crib and just falling to my knees in such, such sadness. It was the first time I actually realized what it was to weep. My entire body, my entire being, was just so sad and so shattered.

[00:52] With Pip's diagnosis, there were so many levels of dealing with that grief. I mean, there was the sadness. There was the anger. The why me? And there was this whole area of guilt, if you will. I replayed the pregnancy. With my first son, I did everything totally buy the book. I didn't eat salami and I didn't take out the dryer lint and all that kind of stuff. With my second child I was more lenient, so as soon as they told me that diagnosis, I immediately thought back to all the things I did when I was pregnant. I ignorantly thought that I somehow caused Down Syndrome.

[01:32] There’s this other part of this guilt with my little girl. She was a couple of days old and she was in my arms, and she was so beautiful and looking at me. She just so needed to be loved. I was so sad and so scared that she could sense all these feelings of anger and guilt and sadness that I was feeling. It was a weird time in this weird fog of emotion for me. I remember putting her in that crib placing her down and just falling to my knees being so sad but as I got up, walked to the computer.

[02:14] In today's day in age with social media, everyone knew I was pregnant. Everyone knew I was having a baby. Everyone knew I was going into labour. I'm the mom who posted the picture I was about to her and before we even knew she was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, I was posting pictures of her so everyone knew we had a baby. And then all of the sudden I kind of just went dark. I didn't answer messages. I didn't answer emails. My husband had to call family. And had to call our friends and tell them that our little girl not only had Down Syndrome, but that she has major eye and heart issues and needed surgery immediately.

[02:53] In that moment, after I placed her in the crib, I went to the computer and instead of answering all the messages and answering all the emails I just decided I was going to create a blog and I already had a little mummy blog. My friends, girlfriends and my aunt read this blog so I thought I would just write it there and everyone could then find out about everything. It's the only time in my life that I actually sat down and I don't remember one moment of it. I remember crying but I don't know if I was there for 4 minutes or if I was there for 4 hours. I left everything that I was thinking and I just let the words flow. This really vulnerable and honest point of view from a Mom who threw it and it's not the first time that words have helped heal me. It's not the first time that words have been my safety.

[03:38] My parents tell me that my entire life, no matter what even as a little girl, I always would tell people I wanted to be a writer or a ballerina. Even to this day if you told me what do you want to do with your life, I would tell you that to see my name on a book in a bookstore would just fulfill everything in me possible. It's funny because our ‘Different is Beautiful’ calendar that you saw in the video and our apparel line, all of that is sold in bookstores and shops. I walk into Chapters and I see our calendar there and I couldn't be [more proud] but the thought of having my book there with my name as the author, it just does it for me.

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