EDITOR'S PICK

Guiding us Home

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The snow is melting and spring is almost here...cross your fingers! This time of the year also signals new beginnings. It makes sense that many people plan to buy or sell their properties at the first sign of the big thaw. 

In light of the Modern Woman Show this weekend (and the first sight of Spring), I thought it would be a great time to look at a guideline for young women looking to get into the real estate market. Did you know that women purchasing homes has surpassed our male counterparts in the last decade?  Now it the time to do a little research and put yourself into the driver seat of home ownership. Here is how you are going to do it:

1) Check your piggy bank. You are going to want to take an inventory of monthly living costs and debts. Make sure your monthly budget is accurate with room for incidentals. Connect with an experienced mortgage specialist. They can guide you along the process of seeing what size of mortgage you would qualify for. The nice thing about using an independent broker is that they can check rates with multiple lenders. 

2) Find an agent you can trust. At Realty Executives Saskatoon they want to be there for you through the entire process -from the moment you meet to well after you have moved in. Their experienced executives are armed with knowledge and honesty. This is more than just a transaction - it's most likely the biggest purchase of your life. 

3) Do your research and take your time. Within your price range look at a variety of homes in areas that you are comfortable with. This process can be time consuming but at the end of the day making sure the property meets your needs is worth it. 

Now that you have a plan in place its time to make that dream come true. 

For more information on Realty Executives and their agents visit their website www.rexsaskatoon.com 

Realty Executives is a proud sponsor of the Modern Woman Show & Expo this weekend at Prairieland Park (April 14th & 15th). 

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Sponsor Profile- PINK OWL PLANNING

As I begin write this post all I can think of is “Hi, my name is Brianna, mother of one and I am a serial procrastinator.” I know I have always been the first person to put something on the back burner saying “oh I’ll deal with this tomorrow” or “I’ll get to this later” whether it was homework, projects, or even putting the dishes in dishwasher, and I can tell you it hasn’t gotten better since having my son. I’m not saying my house is a disaster, and that I never finish everything, but I AM saying when my son is napping I’d much rather take a nap or catch up on my favorite TV show then do laundry, or knit the blanket I have had sitting half finished in the corner for MONTHS!

Meagan Fraser however seems to be the complete opposite! She is a mother, an entrepreneur, a designer, and one might even say a little crazy, but only in the best way possible! Meagan is the owner and operator of not ONE, but TWO businesses based out of Saskatchewan! My Pink Threaded Owl is a clothing shop specializing in mother and baby clothing, and Pink Owl Planning is her graphic design company.  She is so driven and creative!

 
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Meagan started The Pink Threaded Owl back in 2014 when she was pregnant with her first baby. “I've always had the entrepreneurship gene in me, but I had no idea what to do with it. When pregnant with my first baby, I pulled out my little blue sewing machine that I got in high school to make some receiving blankets. I put the machine away for many years after that to focus on my new baby and continue on to get a post-secondary education as an administrative assistant. I took little blue out for another spin when pregnant with my second little one – and I fell in LOVE. It's taken off from there and I've grown tremendously from baby blankets to where I'm at now with children and women's clothing.”

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Meagan loves creating new clothing, but if you ask her what her favorite thing to create is she cant name just one “That is a tough question! My favourite thing to make changes often – one day it will be a baby romper because they are so cute and teeny and another day it will be a women's hoodie because I feel so empowered to be able to make myself and other women clothing that are well made and fit great. An easy to put on and take off romper has always been an admired addition to any little one's closet but hoodies will always be a staple piece in most of my customer's wardrobes.”  

As a mother I know that I have spent many hours looking for comfortable, quality clothing, for both me AND my son and Meagan’s products definitely delivers both. You can tell that she puts a lot of time and love into each and every piece.

 
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Now, any normal person would stop there! However Meagan is not your average person, I’m starting to believe she may be super human! As I said she owns and runs another business Pink Owl Planning.

Pink Owl Planning “is Saskatoon's newest in fresh and modern graphic design and has been up and running for only a couple busy months.” She's even done designs Kings Court Events, you may recognize work for the “Spring into Summer” event coming up April 28th & 29th.

I had to ask this super woman what made her decide to start her second business, and it turns out that she was following her dreams. “Embracing my true passion for graphic design and entrepreneurship was a longer road than I thought. Deep down, I always knew I wanted to be a Graphic Designer, but I spent many years doubting myself living within my comfort zone. Working on the logo, branding visions and website for my clothing business gave me the confidence and that final boost that I can do this” Meagan has a passion and love for creating “all things branding. I genuinely love bringing other creative entrepreneur's branding visions and designs to life by creating unique, strategic and cohesive designs” What more could you ask for when searching for someone to create art for your business? 

Meagan will be at the Modern Woman Show this weekend, don’t hesitate to stop by her booth to see her amazing locally sewn and designed items, and if you need any graphic design work done- she's the lady to ask!

 
 Be sure to stop by the  Modern Woman Show  this weekend for a chance to win this prize package generously donated by Meagan!

Be sure to stop by the Modern Woman Show this weekend for a chance to win this prize package generously donated by Meagan!

 

Happy Shopping!

Local Shopping Made Easy

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When looking to support locally produced or sourced products it can be a bit of a daunting task.  I can almost guarantee that if asked each one of you would LOVE to support more local businesses but cost and convenience would be factors that may lead you astray. This is something I know all too well as I made a commitment at the beginning of this year to support as much locally produced food products as I could. 

With a constant eye for business opportunities and growth I decided to turn one of my rental properties into a Saskatchewan experience on the short term rental site - Airbnb. The rental market was taking a massive hit and I thought I would use this as an opportunity to change things up and test these new waters. I love marketing so I created a vision board - on that vision board I asked myself what would set me apart and tell a story.  My Airbnb story would be exposing my guests to as much local goodness as I could. From the art on the walls to the soaps in the shower. Recommendations to locally owned restaurants and directions to our local farmer's market - complete with my fav things to do. Now a plan was in place but how to source all of this? Common grocery stores have few selections of Saskatchewan products and the convenience of trying to get to the farmers market just wasn't happening with a busy schedule. I knew where I had to go.....Sask Made Marketplace.

  Road Coffee Co . and  Rock Paper Coffee Roasting Company  are always ready for brewing.

Road Coffee Co. and Rock Paper Coffee Roasting Company are always ready for brewing.

Everything was all there in one spot. It was perfect - I was able to decorate the walls with framed post cards from local photographers and artists. The coffee beans and teas that I provide complimentary to my guests are all local entrepreneurs. Even a collection of local cooking oils, jams, and an assortment of other treats are left for the guests to try. 

  Three Farmer's,   Over the Hill , and  M&M Garlic  are ready for guests to experience. #local

Three Farmer's, Over the Hill, and M&M Garlic are ready for guests to experience. #local

Not only does Sask Made Marketplace have all the items that complete my local experience they are very knowledgeable about each of the companies they support. With freezers filled with local meats, perogies, and pizzas it truly is a one stop shop. The stores hours make it convenient to shop at and there is always something new being sampled. I'm a few months into this new venture and the guests adore these little local touches and I adore the convenience of going to one place. Match made in local heaven ;)

We sat down with Amanda from Sask Made and wanted to learn more about the business, their goals for 2018, and what we can expect to see at their booth in a few weeks at the Modern Woman Show. I see big things for this company! These women are certainly making a #supportlocal difference in our city.

Tell us about your business?

The SaskMade Marketplace is a Saskatchewan company partnered with local farmers, processors, and artisans to provide a wide range of unique, locally produced gourmet ingredients, grocery items, giftware, souvenirs, and gift baskets.

How did you get started?

The business was started as a medium to educate people about farm to fork and what it really means to support local. We wanted to become the local authority on food, which I think we have.

What inspires you?

Challenge and Change. I always want to be challenging myself and learning. Life is an opportunity to continuously grow and experience new things - I love that! 

What is your idea of a Modern Woman?

A Modern Woman isn't afraid to be who she is or do what she loves, nor does she pass judgment on other women. We need to support each other and understand that we are all going to make different decisions and take different paths in life; none of them are wrong. If you want to be a career woman, be a career woman. If you want to be a stay at home mom, good for you. No judgement. "Whatever makes you happy" is my motto.

What tips can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Women are stronger when they support each other so get to know other women entrepreneurs in your area. Join local industry and women-in-business groups.  In these organizations you will always find good advice and guidance when you need it. There are many people who have gone before you, so learn from them!

Also, never be afraid to ask questions or make mistakes. Two little pieces of advice we often give our friends and family but can sometimes forget to do for ourselves.

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself looking back?

It would be to trust yourself and do not hold back. If you want do something, do it now!

What is in the future for your business?

This year we are hoping to bring in some unique kitchenware, cookware and entertaining items to compliment our vast selection of gourmet groceries.  But we are always on the lookout for new grocery products and gift ideas to change things up!

As for a 2-5 year goal, we'd like to have a second location or expand our current store and add a complimentary space, like a cafe or bistro.

Who is someone that you find is a role model for women in business?

A particular person doesn't come to mind, but I respect any women who are out there changing the world and breaking down barriers. For example women in science and technology or agriculture, which are largely male dominated industries. It's hard work and not everyone can do it.

Tell us about you – what makes you tick, what are your hobbies, where would we find you on a Wednesday night? A Friday night?

Well I have 2.5 year old twin girls, so Wednesday evenings would find me at home hanging out with my family or maybe squeezing in a quick workout once the kids have gone to bed.

Friday's are a bit more exciting; I'm usually cooking dinner with my husband with a glass of wine or having friends over for appetizers and drinks. I love cooking, eating and drinking so anything that involves those makes me a happy lady.

If you could have any super power what would it be?

I would have the same super power as Magneto from X-Men. The ability to control metal would be amazing!

What will you be showcasing at the Modern Woman Show?

We will be showcasing all the wonderful food items that our local farmers grow and produce for us. I want to focus on some of the great gourmet cooking ingredients like oils , vinegars, mustards and sauces that anyone can easily use to create an amazing meal at home.

We will also have two of our vendors sampling with us, one each day. So make sure you stop by for a few samples!

Sask Made Marketplace can be found online www.saskmade.ca and shopping made easy at 1621 8th Street East. Come visit their booth and start your local journey with Sask Made at the Modern Woman Show & Expo on April 14th & 15th at Prairieland Park. 

To check out the little local airbnb and all the lovely companies we support visit our Instagram Page @stay_at_cas_hill 

Chantal

I Should Feel One Way But I'm Guilty For Feeling the Opposite

As I sit here typing this, I’m 17 weeks pregnant. I can feel this little bean moving around now and my husband has felt her/him kick twice. My breasts are bigger and tender. I’m still nauseous and eating is a struggle to keep the food down. I’m emotional and weep at most movies, regardless of the genre. I have a small bump but really, it’s mostly a layer of fat from winter hibernation. The reality that I am pregnant after four recurrent losses should excite me. I’m FINALLY pregnant! I should be ectatic! But I have a confession: I’m not excited. I’m scared senseless.

 Pregnancy #6: 14 weeks here and the night before my husband and I both felt baby kick! 

Pregnancy #6: 14 weeks here and the night before my husband and I both felt baby kick! 

For a long time, I thought I needed a second child to complete my family. The primitive and physiological desire for a baby overrode my logical mind. I had to have two kids and they had to be no more than three years apart and boy, did I try to make that happen! The need consumed me for almost five years and like I’ve mentioned previously in other posts, 2017 was full of loss and grief but also of acceptance and peace. A second child no longer holds the same weight it once did. A second child doesn’t feel necessary anymore. And I feel incredibly guilty for saying that.

 

Just because I wanted this doesn’t mean it won’t be hard

We have a good life as a family of three. We all sleep through the night, our daughter is toilet trained and she can independently play without me worrying what she’s getting into. She goes to daycare two days a week so I can work and write and clean without distraction. We can travel without hassle and she can communicate her needs and frustrations. We have our routine and our life and it’s perfectly imperfect for us. This new baby will change everything!

I’m scared of losing my autonomy as a person, as a woman. I’m afraid this baby will be a nightmare baby; one of the ones that are colicky and don’t sleep and grow into wild, difficult toddlers (re: the opposite of our daughter!). I’m afraid of the toll sleepless nights will take on my marriage. I can confidently say I’m a horrible person when I’m tired. Exhaustion seems to be the one common thing other moms are telling me about the transition to two kids.

 The early days when I believed even having one child would ruin my life because I'd be the worst mother ever. I think we're doing okay though. 

The early days when I believed even having one child would ruin my life because I'd be the worst mother ever. I think we're doing okay though. 

I’m scared I won’t have time for my business, Potions, or my non-profit, The Family Fertility Fund of Saskatchewan. More, I’m worried I’ll no longer make time to fulfill my dream of becoming an author and that the book I’ve been working on for months now will fall to the back burner among the other things that will become neglected: exercise, self-care, showering and probably laughter.

I’m scared I won’t be able to manage my priorities and I’ll become that person who loves the “I’m too busy” or “I’m too tired” excuse. I worry that the things that are important to me as a woman now will become obsolete as I try to keep a newborn alive while simultaneously taking care of my daughter, husband, two businesses and home. And my dreams? What dreams? I've always wanted to be a writer but put those dreams on hold because of my fears and beliefs that I was inadequate. Now that I'm facing those fears and writing anyways, I'm scared to lose the momentum and that those old beliefs of not being good enough will resurface.

I’ve met countless women who, when asked who they are, automatically start with “I’m a mother of two, (name) is (age) and (name) is (age).” I’m afraid I’ll become her: the one who identifies solely as a mother and who has forgotten who the woman underneath is. The mother who believes she isn’t worthy of a quiet bubble bath. The mother who gives so much of herself, selflessly, that she doesn’t feel like there’s time or money or even the energy to invest in herself. I’m scared I’ll lose the person I’ve grown into. I’m scared it’ll take me years to find her again once the second baby is in school. I can’t imagine 3-5 years of just “momming.” Being a mother is an amazing gift and one I am blessed to have received but I don't want to lose myself in the vomit, poopy diapers and haze of exhaustion. I'm horrible for it, I know. 

I wanted another baby with such a desperation and hope that I looked crazy to those not involved in the infertility community. I wanted this! But I’m so scared. And I’m not sure if that’s normal because I’ve been too ashamed of these feelings to ask fellow mothers (of 2+ kids) their opinions.

Amidst all of this swirling anguish and worry, deep down I know I’m speaking from a place of fear. I know once this little rainbow baby is in my arms, I will fall madly in love and all previous doubts will vanish. I will probably willingly accept the sleepless nights and constant sleep interruptions. I know the primitive side of me will awaken and I will just know what to do and how to do it and I’ll mostly do it with love as my motivation. I know my husband and I will argue and fight and probably sleep separately for a long time and I’m sure there will be some nights when it’s welcomed.

 Our family of three on vacation to Vancouver Island in June 2017. Vacations will be on pause for awhile but I hope we can take both kids back out west to enjoy!

Our family of three on vacation to Vancouver Island in June 2017. Vacations will be on pause for awhile but I hope we can take both kids back out west to enjoy!

I know this baby will complete our family; probably in a way I can’t even comprehend right now. She or he will be a delight some days, a nightmare on others. And somehow, I know we will all survive these next few years. I hope my tribe will remind me that underneath the messy hair, vomit and soaked breast pads, there’s still a woman in there. She’s just busy right now trying to raise her family but she’s there. She’ll emerge eventually. My time will come to focus on me. My dreams will just be on hold, not crushed as I’m imagining now, as I try to raise the best children I can for my community and planet.

I’ll probably worry and continue to feel scared for these huge life changes coming our way. In the meantime, I’ll be shopping for better breast pads and sleep training books. Wish me luck!

Vendor Profile- SIMPLY GROUNDED COFFEE GALLERY

 
                                   All photos courtesy of  Lovestruck Portraits

                                  All photos courtesy of Lovestruck Portraits

 

In May of 2017 I became a mom for the first time. My beautiful son was everything I could have wished for and more! I had spent most of my pregnancy like I assume all first time moms did, planning all the outings I’d take baby on, listing all the friends we’d visit and the things we would do. Little did I know I would sleep less then I had anticipated, wake up 10 times a night,  and sleep train a little boy who some nights just wouldn't stop crying. And then, on top of all that, I diagnosed with postpartum depression. I soon realized all the outings I had been planning were slowly starting to crumble into the background... until they became completely non existent. I stopped leaving my house altogether, most days I wouldn’t even put on real people clothes. I could be found sitting in my house, usually on my couch, with a BIG HOT cup of coffee in hand and still rocking my PJ’s. Most days that one or two cups of coffee were my saving grace, keeping me awake and keeping me sane when my son wouldn’t stop screaming...

Slowly after finally seeking help for my postpartum depression I finally started to want to go out, and started taking little steps to those big outings I had been planning the entire pregnancy. Usually these outings were just something simple, something that sounded easy like coffee with a friend at a near by coffee shop! However even that seemed to stressful and to much to handle at times. I was so worried and stressed about being judged for bringing my baby with me, scared that I’d be judged for him crying, or him being loud, and making to much noise, even scared I’d get judged for changing my sons diaper .... and at some coffee shops believe it or not I was judged!

Eventually we found the perfect coffee shop and it became the norm for me to pack up my little man, and take a little road trip to where I felt like me and my son were welcomed and comfortable. The half hour trip was more than worth it to get to Simply Grounded Coffee Gallery in Delisle!

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I felt so welcomed walking into their shop! Their décor is family friendly, and the staff is so personable. It's easy to relax with one of their signature ground roast coffees such as their Blizzard roast. This is just the tip of everything this small town coffee shop has to offer! My little man is welcomed with smiles and happy greetings every single time, taking all fear off my shoulders, and my husband even loves to join us for a 'coffee trip' when he isn't working. 

The shop moto is “be sweet, be bold, be inspired” and this is a perfect description of not only the shop, but also the owner. Carol is super sweet, bold and quirky (just check out her shoes!) and as inspiring as one could be with all love and time she puts into her coffee shop and efforts to support all things local! All thebaked goods are made in store; like their SWEET home made Oreo’s, their BOLD roasted coffee is roasted exclusively for Simply Grounded in Outlook Sask., and the INSPIRED décor and word art displayed throughout the building is shop swag or created by amazing local businesses.  Looking around the coffee shop it is so easy to feel that inspiration!

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One of the sayings I saw really spoke to me and has become my daily mantra! “Be a pineapple”. That may sound ridiculous but bare with me... “Be a pineapple, stand tall, wear a crown and be sweet on the inside”. As a new mom, most days I feel like that old sock that you lost under your bed as a child, but by doing something as simple as driving a half hour and having coffee I am able to feel human and proud. Seeing this quote truly has inspired me to look at myself and feel my self worth, not only as a mother, but as a human! Who knew that getting coffee could be so instrumental to my mental health!?

Simply stated- Simply Grounded Coffee Gallery is a perfect addition to the town of Delisle. If you are a coffee lover who loves feeling like not only a valued customer but like a friend to the staff, love to eat good food- especially baked goods, enjoy delicious caramel macchiatos and Saskatchewan roasted coffee, then the half hour drive from Saskatoon is absolutely worth it!

 
 

MWSE Guest Blogger

A Modern Wedding: Lovestruck Favourites

 Photo Credit- Lovestruck Portraits

Photo Credit- Lovestruck Portraits

We are very excited to present one of our sponsors this year, Lovestruck Portraits. Even though the company has only been around about two years, it's founder Chelsea Cameron has had her roots in the Saskatoon wedding market for over a decade. You may have heard of this company as Chelsea recently won an international wedding photography award. Her image became part of Wedaward’s collection 28, an award where thousands of photographers submitted their work from around the world. Lovestruck was also named runner up in the 2017 Planet S “Best of Saskatoon” under professional photographer. Chelsea isn’t just an amazing photographer, she is a mom, coffee lover, painter, ballet dancer and enjoys horseback riding in her free time.

 

Chelsea has had the photography bug since she was a little girl. When she was about 6 years old she received her first camera, it was small, orange and came from a McDonalds happy meal. Cut to a few years later and an upgraded camera she second shot weddings for a local photographer at age 16. Since then she’s done some traveling, shooting weddings in Jamaica, Oklahoma, Canmore, and various other Canadian cities. Now with over 200 weddings under her belt as a photographer and occasional event coordinator there isn’t much she hasn’t seen. You can check out her work at: www.lovestruckportraits.com and view some of our favourites throughout this blog!

 
 

With all Chelsea has done in the wedding industry she most certainly has a few favored vendors that she’s had the pleasure to work with. One of those vendors is also a sponsor of The Modern Woman Show- Hub City Rentals. They help create stunning displays and weddings for companies and brides all over Saskatoon. They have been in business for over 70 years, providing rentals, graphic design and so much more. If there is something you need there’s a good chance they will have it. They have a wide selection of furniture, wall drapes, audio and visual setups, and can accommodate for various cultural events. They are incredibly accommodating with all aspects of their business and work to make sure that everything is done right.

 
 Hub City Display and Event Rentals

Hub City Display and Event Rentals

 
 
 

We asked Chelsea for a few other top picks of the wedding industry and here's what she had to say...

Black Fox Distillery. They have some of the most beautiful flowers and make bouquets year round, going so far as to arranging a corn husk bouquet for a winter wedding. One of the coolest things they do is open their doors a few times a year and have various festivals. Their pumpkin festival is a personal favorite filled with various pumpkin related activities and some of the most delicious pumpkin soup.

Cakes by Jen, hands down has to be one of the best bakers in the city. She is affordable and makes genuine works of art with every cake. If you have an idea for a cake you’d like made Jen will work with you to make it more than just an idea.

W Bridal is one of those places that truly cares about their customers, regardless of who they are, by far one of the best things about them is their variety of styles that come in all shapes and sizes.

Whiskey and Wildflowers is another newcomer to the wedding industry, but that doesn’t mean Kyle Burgess doesn’t have an eye for the craft and a talent in filmography. Kyle and Chelsea have worked many weddings together and cannot say a bad thing about the experience.

 
 

Final words of wisdom… Chelsea has a few things to mention to help make your wedding day just a little bit easier:

“Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s a cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Enjoy the day for what is going right, don’t hate it for what went wrong”

“Be sure to have someone act as a “gofer”, not the animal but have someone whose job it is to go and run for anything you might need, the less running around you have to do the better”

“Keep food in the limo, those snacks will come in handy when you are driving to locations and you need that little something to keep you going”

“Always have a comfortable pair of shoes on you, especially for that first dance. Your feet will thank you”

 

Come visit Chelsea and Lovestruck Portraits at The Modern Woman Show where they will be acting as the official photographers of the show. Stop by her booth to enter her draw and book a session for yourself.

 
 

post with purpose

post with purpose

Being a small business owner means wearing all of the hats. You are the accountant, the human resources, the boss, and the marketing director. It can be difficult to figure out where to put your advertising dollars or your marketing concentration in this ever changing tech world. Jocelyn and Chantal are taking a look at a few platforms that can be cost effective for your business and will help you bring your company into the online future. 

Its Ok To Not Be Ok #bellletstalk

Our readers who have been following for awhile may remember my post last year paying respect to Bell's "Let's Talk" media campaign raising awareness for mental illness. I have the utmost respect for this campaign. I feel like while there are lots of gimmicky things out there, this truly does open eyes in the right way.

Last year I came out to the vast and judgmental internet world on this very blog and disclosed that I have Bipolar 1 disorder. Like, the real deal. I know a thing or two about mental illness. I know what its like to be treated, educated, and extremely functional; and I know what its like to be untreated, uninformed, and have no idea what kind of animal I was dealing with.

Flash back to my late teens and early 20s... I would suffer either crippling bouts of panic, anxiety, paranoia and depression, or I would go on a manic trip when I was a really good time, and loved to recklessly party, spend a lot of money and make generally poor life choices without ever considering the consequences. #hotmess

In fairness, I'm still a good time and I still like to spend a lot of money. Wine and shopping anyone? To that extent, no matter how in control I am, I still have to evaluate how I'm doing on the regular and do some self-reflection. I've recently been under an extreme amount of stress and realized as a result, I was a starting to lean the wrong way on the batshit spectrum. I had to have a laugh at myself, remind myself I'm smarter than that, and to and to get myself in check. I often get myself in check and clear my head through exercise and I think I've put over 40km on my treadmill this week alone. I wouldn't have done that before. I would have just boarded the crazy train and found out where it was headed later. Happy travels! Not.

Since I've become quite open about having BP with the #1 reason being helping others, the most common thing I hear is "Really?? You would never know!" No, you wouldn't. I know my body and I know when I'm headed for a low or a high, if a panic attack is coming, and more importantly, how to deal with it. I know to trust the feeling of anxiety and use it as a compass  as to what is going on and what could be coming. For instance, if I wake up in the night with a song running through my head, that's a clear indication that a panic attack is coming. I've learned this many times the hard way. I know that trying to breathe it out, or trying to go back to sleep won't work. I get my ass up and take a little orange pill designed to cut that sh*t off at the pass. Back to sleep, crisis averted. Modern medicine is fabulous, don't ever discount that.

It's 100% true. Unless I told you, which I just did, you would never know. I'm living proof that you can live life as a normal, totally functional, successful person. I make poor decisions and do dumb stuff just like anyone else, but they are almost always a result of too much wine and have nothing to do with my illness. Let's be real, I keep Kim Crawford in business... and girls? We be cray. Its in our DNA. #whoruntheworld?

The thing is, in my job I talk to people all day. I mean it. All day. I'm even known to answer my emails while on the treadmill, which is both difficult and nauseating. Whether it be via phone, text, email, instagram, facebook, snapchat... its always ongoing. The physical act of holding my client's hands or trusting their bodies to me head to toe during appointments, capturing the moments between them and their loved ones, or putting faith in me to make them feel their most beautiful on their most important of days... I get to know people more than anyone realizes. It makes me understanding, wise, sympathetic, intuitive, empathetic, and I've become all but a master of figuring out what makes people tick. I firmly believe trying to understand others makes you a better person, so ask questions and really listen to the answers.

That said, getting to know people in that capacity has taught me something very valuable. Mental illness, as we've come to know it in the media, isn't always a diagnosed condition. A specific ailment. Trust me, I'm the last person to downplay a diagnosed disease (yo, I have one), but people without these lifetime genetic, chemical ailments suffer too.

Perhaps you've suffered a crisis in your life and you've been shaken to the point of unbearable stress, or something epic has taken away your ability to trust others. When these things rock your world, then your actual mental health also suffers.

If you've endured day after day of stress at home with your kids, job, or partner that leaves you really tightly wound, your mental health will suffer.

If you find yourself lost because you can only identify with one role in your life, be it your career, as a mother, or a spouse, you may start to feel unfulfilled and it will eat away at you without even realizing it.

Don't even get me started on money, post-partum, sexual assault, domestic abuse, childhood trauma, critical illness, or PTSD. The list is f*cking endless.

Regardless of the reason, if you are struggling with anxiety or depression, don't discount it just because mental illness has become all but a catch phrase in the news. Talk to someone who has been through it and has come out on the other side. They will understand, trust me on that one. That's where you will get the seriously honest and effective advice. An expert on coping with mental illness is undoubtedly someone who has one and manages it; empathy is a powerful thing.

One thing I know for sure is that when your mental health suffers, your physical health will follow suit and vice-versa. Just like everything in the world, it's all connected. If you are going to get down to brass tacks, you have to take care of yourself. There are 4 non-negotiable pillars that connect mental and physical health. I can attest to this because I've put them to the test time and again. (Except hygiene that is, hot showers are the best and I love dental floss.) The keys to the kingdom are this:

1.            Sleep

2.            Nutrition

3.            Exercise

4.            Hygiene

It's easier said than done to keep all four of those in check all the time. You may think you do but are you getting 45-60 minutes of exercise that elevates your heart rate every day? Do you have a balanced diet within your calorie range? Do you catch enough zzz's? Do you drink enough beer? Oops, did I say that last part? See? Harder than it sounds.

All that said, I've learned over the years that the effort it takes is well worth the outcome, so keep those things in your back pocket and remember them.

Its ok to not be ok. What isn't ok is accepting that you have to live like that.  You don't. Its ok to have a layover in Crazytown (its a popular place, kind of like Vegas...) but don't unpack your bags and live there. You are ultimately the only one who can take control of how you choose to live. Life can change in a heartbeat and you have no idea what kind of plot twists are on the horizon. Don't be afraid to take risks, do some dumb things, laugh at yourself if you're acting batshit, and roll with the punches. And never, ever be afraid to ask for help. 

No matter the circumstance, you are worthy of happiness. The world is at your fingertips, so grab that sh*t and make some magic happen. You deserve it.

Until next time, remember that you are never alone and the only way out is through. 

Katie xoxo

#bellletstalk

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Take Control of Your Fertility

 It seems so easy for some and so difficult for others. What can we do to help our bodies conceive? Photo cred: infertility blogger wakeupsurvivesleep.com

It seems so easy for some and so difficult for others. What can we do to help our bodies conceive? Photo cred: infertility blogger wakeupsurvivesleep.com

As an infertility blogger and advocate and director of an infertility based non-profit, I receive a lot of messages/e-mails in a day. The number one question I get asked is, “what can I do?” They want to get pregnant, have a beautiful full term baby and enjoy the newness of motherhood either again or for the first time. However, it’s not happening as they expected and they’re frustrated with a medical system that continually fails them. Unexplained infertility is on the rise. PCOS diagnoses is on the rise. It seems there are environmental factors at play preventing these women from conceiving that we can’t confidently identify yet. Knowledge is power so here are a few of the tips I suggest*:

*Note: I am not a doctor. I just know what has potential to help and I am sharing my own knowledge and advice based on my own experiences. Consult with your doctor or fertility physician before starting any of these.

 

SUPPLEMENTS and VITAMINS

  • Chasteberry (Vitex)

The go-to herb for women’s issues for centuries, chasteberry is believed to help with fertility hormones via the pituitary gland. It helps increase progesterone production and helps increase the luteinizing hormone hormone (the hormone that triggers ovulation to occur). It’s used to treat mild endometriosis. chasteberry has also proven effective in regulating menstruation. If you lack a proper cycle, take chasteberry. If you’re irregular, take chasteberry. If you need to stabilize your period after coming off of birth control, take chasteberry! It also helps reduce cysts growing in the uterus. DO not use if taking hormone supplements. It could interfere.

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  •  Evening Primrose Oil

Another great fertility aid, evening primrose oil (EPO) offers an array of help for fertility in women. For one, it helps improve overall uterine health and reduces inflammation and PMS symptoms. It also increases cervical mucous production- a vital key in helping sperm make their way home. Sperm need mucous to swim to the ovum. EPO is one of few plants that contain GLA: an omega 6 fatty acid, Gamma Linolenic Acid: a necessary acid required to make prostaglandin E. Prostaglandins are like messengers that tell the cells what to do and when. They are all over the body and therefore secretion is more immediate whereby it helps control the regulation of hormones. These same omega 6 fatty acids are believed to have a direct effect on the uterine cells. It helps the uterine muscle contract and relax, essentially toning and preparing itself for pregnancy. DO not use after ovulation. Natural Fertility Info suggests 1500-3000mg 1-2x a day for cycle days 1-14 if you are actively trying to conceive.

  • Red Raspberry Leaf

Raspberries are delicious but their leaves have immense benefit for the body as well. The leaves are rich in carotendoids, citric acid, vitamins A, B complex, C and E and fragrine; this contributes to its delightful capabilities as a uterine tonic, as an astringent to stop heaving menstrual bleeding, and an aid boost egg quality and nutritional deficiencies. A nutrient rich uterus is far more liable to conceive and carry a healthy baby. It’s also good for uterine trauma: if you’re recovering from a surgery red raspberry leafs healing and toning properties will help in the recovery.

Recommendations show drinking 1 cup, 1-3x a day HOWEVER because of its effect on the uterine muscles, if you have a history of miscarriages or a weak uterus and are wanting to conceive, start drinking this 3-6 months PRIOR to prepare your body and uterus for pregnancy. Similarly, do not drink after cycle day 14 if actively trying to conceive.

There are many other vitamins and supplements you can take such as nettle leaf, fish oil, dandelion and folate but I would be here all day with you explaining them. I chose these three because I believe they are the most effective and beneficial for immediate fertility health. Consult your physician to discuss which course of action is best for you and your diagnosis.

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NUTRITION

The food we put in our body is a big factor to our health, obviously! If you’re eating a lot of greasy, deep fried foods with little to no water and no nutrient dense meals each day, your body won’t give you a baby. We need a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins combined with lots of water to give our body the optimal nutrition needed. If PCOS is your diagnosis, I strongly suggest seeing a nutritionist to discuss a change in your eating plan. No doubt that person will tell you to eliminate inflammatory foods such as diary, sugar and wheat. Inflammation wreaks havoc on the body. Eliminate the foods that cause you bloating, discomfort, swelling, sore joints etc. for optimal health. Also, eat for the seasons. This was impressed upon me by my homeopath and Carly Rae, a pelvis care specialist and they were both right. It is hard on our bodies to break down cold foods and it’s even harder in winter months. Our bodies work in overdrive to digest these cold foods. It’s suggested you focus on warming the body. In winter months, eat a lot of soups, stews and warming spices like cinnamon and turmeric. Drink golden milks and avoid raw foods (which are also hard on the body to digest). In summer months, eat foods that are in season and cooler. Follow the foods of the seasons and see if that impacts your nutritional health.

Food is thy medicine
— Hippocrates

SEX

This is tough because we all know that conception sex when you’ve been struggling to conceive is ugly and lifeless. We wait til the ovulation test says GO and we mechanically get the job done. But Aimee Raupp, an infertility specialist in NY, suggests having sex three times a week, EVERY week. A lot, I know but hear me (or her!) out. Our bodies see sperm as invaders. It’s actually quite crazy how a baby is even conceived when the body does whatever it can to prevent the sperm from meeting the egg. There’s follicles along the fallopian tubes to trap them. There’s a current they must swim against. There’s two routes to choose with only one having the egg. The egg isn’t easily penetrable. Needless to say, it’s a treacherous journey. With constant sex though, we prime our bodies to be more hospitable to those sperms.

 

ORGASMS

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Again, this is tricky. You could be in the midst of your journey where you stiff star-fish and hubby gets the job done because you’re sick of trying or maybe you’re one of many women who can’t orgasm. But the studies are there and they’re screaming loudly that female orgasm helps conception. The contraction of the uterus during an orgasm helps move the sperm up faster, getting more of them to the egg for optimal penetration (during ovulation of course). Another study showed that when women had their orgasm 45 minutes after male ejaculation (45 minutes though? Does that actually happen?!-just sayin’) there was still significant sperm retention. The retention was even greater when the woman climaxed one minute before her partner (that sounds more like it!). Basically, get your freak on and get it on often and with lots of orgasms. Fellas, take note.

THINGS TO AVOID

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Take a look in your bath tub or medicine cabinet. Look in your make up drawer and under the kitchen skin. Check the ingredients in your products. The products we use affect our health. If your shampoo is loaded with parabens and phthalates, change them. If your cleaning product ingredient label are words you can’t pronounce, ditch them. The internet is riddled with homemade, effective cleaning solutions. More and more companies are exploding into the market that are all natural and safe. It only takes six seconds for a product applied on our skin to get into our blood stream. Many mainstream products are essentially poison. Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (and variations of it) are in many products, usually as the number one ingredient after water, (ingredient labels are labelled in order of highest to lowest concentration), and is what gives us “lather.” It’s a known skin irritant and there’s strong link to hormonal imbalances (not good for the woman with fertility/reproductive issues!) among other issues such as poor eye development in children. If you are unsure about the product you’re using, download the app Think Dirty or check with the EWG.org website. Ditch the chemicals and spend the extra time and money on finding products that enhance your health, not endanger it.

OPTIONAL PROCEDURES

 Fertility massage or ATMAT  can help break down adhesions and promote better circulation

Fertility massage or ATMAT  can help break down adhesions and promote better circulation

To maximize fertility, there are a few other options to consider. Fertility acupuncture is available. Chiropractic techniques can help in aiding fertility. Massage for promoting circulation and fertility are viable and relaxing options too. If your period colour is a deep burgundy red, your circulation is poor. You should have periods that are an oxygenated bright red colour. If it’s not, see your doctor or a homeopath or naturopath. Homeopaths and Naturopaths offer a completely different approach as well. My homeopath helped me strength my uterine lining, oxygenate my blood and ensure my nutrition was on the right track. Yoga for fertility is also an option. There are a lot of videos and practitioners willing to do sequences to maximize uterine health. Arvigo Techniques Maya Abdomnal Therapy (ATMAT) is another modality to consider. It’s a massage technique designed to align the internal organs and the uterus in their proper place. It improves the flow of fluids and energy and releases physical and emotional congestion. Look for a provider near you. If you’re in the Saskatoon area, I highly recommend Carly Rae for this. Perhaps if your infertility is unexplained; I would suggest a reiki session. It's an energy modality that helps release emotional and physical blocks and channel positive, universal energy that can work wonders on the physical body.

I hope this blog post leaves you feeling educated, empowered and inspired to take different actions. There’s much we can do for our bodies if we only have the knowledge and wherewithal to do it. Some are financially feasible while others may require some saving on your part, especially if you don’t have benefits. Some changes are difficult (what do you mean give up ice cream and cheesy buns?) and some may seem simple (ok, I can have a cup a tea today). Whatever you decide to do with this information, make sure you consult with your doctor. If you have a diagnosis already, much of this information may be futile to you. If it’s unexplained, this could be very beneficial. However, knowledge is power. Take this power and take control of your fertility.

 

 

Hazy Shade of Winter

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I know you have done it.

You have all been googling exotic holidays, scouring Expedia for a cheap flight, grab a quick break to somewhere where the temperature isn’t frost bite and extreme cold weather warnings. I yearn for the heat of the sun on my skin. That cold snap was the death of me at the end of December. Every year I make a commitment that after almost 34 years on this planet I’m going to learn how to enjoy our not so warm climate. I’m going to embrace winter activities and make the best of the 4-6 months of less than desirable weather.

First step to that is preparing for the cold. Invest in the gear. Sometimes I wear my fall or spring jackets and essentially dress like a complete jackass all in the name of fashion. Poor clothing decisions from head to toe. It’s silly and I know I’m going to freeze to death.  Dressing for the climate is one thing that can make those cold days more bearable. Dress like we live in the arctic – because we do. The Canadian Goose jackets are an example of the proper equipment (costly but a life time warranty) because you will not feel the pain of winter. I have a knock off version to save bucks but the down fill, length to cover my ass at the rink and the massive hood works just the same. Then find the proper boots, a toque, and mitts. The key is preparation. I was gifted a car starter and if you don’t have the luxury of parking indoors – this is like winning the lottery. Another way to make your winter less bitter is to make sure you know where your car plug in is and having a proper length extension cord and snow brush/scraper on hand – it will make those dark mornings a little brighter.

Over the holidays I had elaborate plans to head up north to our family cabin at Delaronde Lake to really engage in the prairie winter pastimes of ice fishing, snowmobiling, outdoor fires, and frosty walks with the dog. Well at -47 degrees Celsius it didn’t quite work out the way I had imagined. The pipes for the water froze up, the quads and snowmobiles started momentarily but then died. The ice shack was pulled out of storage but the epic windshield and lack of snowmobile to pull it left it sitting on the cabin driveway. Maybe this was a blessing in disguise because what we did do was spend 4 days together making memories and catching up. Board games, cozy fireplace hangs, amazing meals, and laughter was on the to-do list and it didn’t disappoint. We were even able to bring my darling mother in law whom got her first snowmobile ride (driven by 10 year old Beckett). The lake has been a summer pastime and due to our hectic hockey and work schedules we never make it out during the snow months so this was very special for us all. I highly suggest going up to Elk Ridge or finding a lakeside spot to enjoy a weekend during the winter.  The air is crisp and creating a new adventure will have a lasting effect on the family.

If staying in the city is more your cup of tea then you are in a city with great things to entertain you and your families. My suggestion would be to grab a Flow or Planet S magazine (check them out online) for what’s happening in Saskatoon. This city has concerts, art galleries, theatre, comedy….the list is endless. There are winter carnivals and activities throughout the colder months that definitely break up this sometimes horrendous season. If you’re a foodie then the talented chefs in this city can have you on a weekend food crawl for all 16 weeks we might consider winter. My favourites are starting off at 9mile brewery for some sampling of local made brewskies, I would then suggest one of the many delicious locally ran restaurants in the Riversdale area including The Hollows, Leydas, Picaro, Drift’s Vista Lounge, or Odd Couple. If Broadway is more your flavor then Una Pizza, Calories, Nosh Eatery, And Sushiro are all on my top ten. We are so lucky to live in a city with so many great places to wet your whistle and fill your belly.

Now sometimes you just have to get away. The cold has got you making an escape plan…..as does mine right now. No amount of wine and cozy movie nights are fulfilling the urge for me to fly the coop to a warm sunny place. Now where would I go…well to be honest the best vacations I have ever had have been to a beautiful boutique resort in Panama called Sansara. If you’re a lover of food, enjoy yoga and want to surf (beginner or elite) then it has everything you could possible want. I call it a 5 star resort in the jungle. A best kept secret that I want to share with everyone. Sansara, owned and operated by born and raised Saskatchewanians Janel & Mike Phillips was a labour of love. Moving their lives to Panama when they found the perfect spot on the beach to make their dream come true of making a quaint retreat resort. It’s breathtaking. A little jaunt to get there but once settled in one of their bungalows you won’t want to leave. I learned what going on a vacation really was. Coming home I was more in shape and rested then I had ever been. Sometimes a Panamanian vacation isn’t in the books so jumping on a quick flight to a sunny destination down south or an all-inclusive resort for the ease of no planning and just taking in the hot Caribbean sun is exactly what the doctor ordered. I definitely encourage travel as its good for the soul. You can take all the vitamin d drops in the world but it certainly doesn’t come close to the actual thing.

I hope that each of you take what you need from our change of seasons. May winter not be the grumbling swear under your breath and perhaps it’s the undiscovered love for snow shoeing, the quiet time at the lake with family and a board game, or perhaps it’s the excuse to book that flight to Panama. Happy Wintering everyone may it be the best one yet.

Chantal 

Botox and Big Lips....de-bunking the myths.

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The Midwest Laser Centre has been on the forefront of non-invasive cosmetic procedures for over 30 years. We thought it would be great to de-bunk some of the greatest myths in the cosmetic industry and common misconceptions that we get asked on a regular basis.

The most popular misconception we hear at Midwest is “Botox is going to make my lips big”. The name Botox is very popular, it has been spotlighted as a go-to treatment of the Hollywood elite. Botox is simply a neuromodulator. What does that mean? Muscle relaxant. It is injected into a muscle to diminish the movement for an average period of 3-4 months. Areas that are most commonly treated are the forehead lines (horizontal and the little vertical frown lines), crow’s feet, bunny lines (scrunch your nose up), and can be put in the upper lip and chin to help correct those movement lines. Botox is often confused with dermal filler which is placed in the lip area to create fuller lips. Botox is not the only neuromodulator on the market. There are several brands that are Health Canada and FDA approved, at Midwest we also use Dysport.

Other key things to know about Botox & Dysport:

1)      You will not make your wrinkles worse by trying it once. Your body metabolizes in over the 4 months period and your muscle movement to the area will return.

2)      It starts to work around day 2-3 but can take up to 2 weeks to see the full effect in the area treated. First, you will notice it is harder to make the muscle move and then over time the lines will start to fade.

3)      You are not injecting botulism or food poisoning into your body. Yes, it is a purified protein from the botulism toxin but it is very well studied and its effects are temporary and controlled to the injection area.

4)      Cost of Botox or Dysport varies between clinics but is still considered to be an affordable cosmetic procedure. We suggest making sure your injections are done by a certified physician or RN. An average forehead treatment for a female at Midwest Laser runs at approximately $250-450 (we charge $10/unit plus GST).

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Dermal fillers are used in the very popular lip augmentation and have also seen their fair share of bad publicity. Usually this is due to too much product in an area. I like to call that the “cat” look. Filler is a gel like substance that is injected into an area that has a crease or loss of volume. Think of putty under the skin. Most commonly injected in the lip lines and around the mouth (marionette lines, and nasolabial lines), and used to restore the cheek volume to create an overall lift. Filler is made with absorbable materials and hyaluronic acid being one of the most popular. This is already found in our body which makes it rare to react to and it bonds and smooths into our skin better than some of the other material options.

Some tips and facts on dermal fillers:

1)      Not all fillers are born alike. Within each family or brand of fillers you will have different consistencies. Your certified and experienced injector will know what filler is best for what areas and will be able to tell you the average length it will last.

2)      Fillers are not super painful. There is an initial needle poke but most fillers come with built in lidocaine (freezing). The lip area has been known to be more sensitive due to the amount of nerves.

3)      Swelling is common. Depending where the injections are placed it is quite common to get some swelling to the area and there is always a chance of some bruising. We suggest not doing this treatment right before a big event – give yourself a few weeks to let everything settle if you want to keep it a secret. If you do get some bruising you can use concealer and foundation to cover it up as it heals.

4)      Filler can last between 3 months and 18 months or more. There are some great fillers on the market that move with your facial expressions making the look very natural. The newer fillers are so natural looking that most people will only look at you wondering what is different but won’t be able to pinpoint it. Filler is charged by the syringe at Midwest Laser Centre and can range from $500-650.

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The best thing to do if you have questions about these services is to come in for a consultation. Fillers and neuromodulators are great tools without being a permanent change. This is great when you’re unsure or new to this industry. Most clinics will also offer non-invasive skin tightening procedures that use heat to contract collagen and give a natural lift. Not everyone is comfortable with needles so it is good to know that there are other options out there and quite often a combination of both injectables and skin tightening procedures will give the most natural result.

People will ask me, if you had to pick one thing at your clinic to do what would it be…. I find this hard because over the last 10 years I have had different things to treat. When I started I was in my early 20s I treated the acne I had been struggling with as well as laser hair removal. A good skin care regime was started which is very important. Cleanse, exfoliate, hydrate, and protect with SPF.

As the years went by I started getting Botox/Dysport for my horizontal lines that were starting to appear – at first maybe once or twice a year and now into my mid-thirties I treat the lines every 4 months. I see the benefit in skin tightening treatments like Thermage or Fotona 3D to keep a youthful firmness to the skin. Fillers are great for those who have started the anti-aging treatments a bit later and want more of an instant improvement. Lip augmentation is very popular and I have been known to come home with the perfect pout. For those that have sun damage and redness to the skin my suggestion is a series of IPL treatments. If you have texture/scarring issues then laser peels are the best bang for your buck (don’t worry they aren’t as bad as they sound) and will work wonders to even skin tone and smooth the skin. There are many more options which is why it is always best to have an assessment. Get a feel for the clinic and don’t ever be afraid to ask lots of questions.

Midwest Laser is a Gold Sponsor of the Modern Woman Show & Exhibition. Come join us in April at Prairieland Park to learn more about our services and products. We have a fabulous new facility in Stonebridge and look forward to meeting you.

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You look just fine.

 Chan and her dog Wrigley recovering from another trip to the hospital

Chan and her dog Wrigley recovering from another trip to the hospital

You look just fine…the truth about ‘ghost’ diseases.

If we have met you would know that I generally take on too much by filling all the hours of the days with outings, activities, dinner dates, and work.  I have always made sure to put other people’s needs in front of my own but this year it is different. I’m getting selfish with my time, my company, and my health. The month of November is Crohn’s and Colitis awareness month (last month was Lupus awareness) and it seems fitting to discuss these autoimmune diseases that so many silently suffer with, including myself.

Making the decision to take a step back from organizing and producing the Modern Woman Show & Expo had been in my thoughts for the last 12-15 months – my partner and family scoffed at the idea. I remember at a family gathering my brother even saying, “Ya, you say that but we all know you too well”. As the year continued and the workload intensified, and trust me… I feel like I truly thrive in the most chaotic of schedules- I was in my element. Busy, exhausted, but happy.

Happy until my body decided that it wasn’t going to tag along for the ride.

It is in my nature to push through hardship and take on more than the average human. I have an I can do anything attitude which has benefitted my career, connected me with amazing people in my business, and given me the ability to volunteer in various not for profit organizations – all while sipping on martinis with a clean and organized house (insert eye roll). The unfortunate reality is that I live with a ghost like autoimmune disease called Lupus with a side of Crohn’s disease. Lupus seems to be a name recognized by most people but when asked exactly what it is even I have a hard time describing the often debilitating disease because it has so many faces. The one I’m looking at effects my digestive organs – the Crohn’s, it has triggered the early onset of arthritis in my hands and feet, handed me the infertility card, and when in full flare up my vessels turn purple and my joints swell. It’s bizarre – one minute I could be fine and the next I seem to be fighting for my ability to digest my own food, use a pen, or walk on my own two feet.

My Lupus and Crohn’s story started almost 15 years ago. As a teenager I suffered from irritable bowel like symptoms and like most young people I didn’t want to mention it to a soul…..you just can’t talk about poop when you’re 16! I wish I wouldn’t have been so concerned about the stigma surrounding digestive issues because maybe being diagnosed earlier could have saved some of my colon. Once the proper specialists were on my case I went through drug after drug including heavy doses of steroids to try and bring the inflammation down in my intestines. With no improvements, a super round face, and a thick layer of peach fuzz across my entire body (a side effect of the drug Prednisone) a group of surgeons decided that the partial blockage in my small and large intestine would have to be operated on. At 21 years old I underwent a bowel resection with a chance that I would wake up with an ostomy bag….Oi Vey!!! Luckily my surgeon was able to reattach the ends of my somewhat healthy intestines and I was able to avoid the ‘poop ‘bag. 

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I went ten whole years with minimal symptoms. I took no medication. I would have arthritic flare ups, times where maybe I didn’t feel just right, odd skin rashes, and an increasing intolerance to lactose but overall I enjoyed a decade of life without feeling “sick”. This brings me to the summer of 2015 – after a stressful time in my life I started to have a general feeling of being unwell. Like I was going to get a cold or flu at any moment. Constant body aches and dull headaches but, I powered through it. I ran everyday with my dog, biked, and attended yoga classes. In June of 2015 I noticed a pain when sitting in a chair and that pain began to worsen. A large lump became present and within weeks grew large enough that I could not sit and could barely walk. I was hospitalized for days without any answers – eventually an operation to remove the abscess was performed and then my nightmare of the past three years began. I was in full flare up. Abdominal pain all the time, I'm going to shit my pants at any moment ( I now know the location of every public toilet in Saskatoon - home depot has a beautiful facility). To make things worse nothing healed….I literally had a hole in my butt cheek from the abscess surgery that never closed up….and three years later it is still open. This hole went on to track new routes through my body (called fistulas) into my intestines, my bladder, and my pelvic wall. WOW, how could I be so lucky? New abscesses have formed, been operated on, and go on to create more fistulas. I don’t have words to describe how truly awful this is. My team of specialists and surgeon keep a good eye on me with constant appointments, routine blood work, and planned testing and operations. I had monthly visits to an infusion center for intravenous biologic drugs that we hoped would reduce the function of my immune system. I have a case worker that finds and has successfully provided funding for my drugs that cost between $3000 and $5000 a month. With no improvement in sight I have been placed on a newer biologic that I inject into my stomach or leg every 4 weeks...with a $3000 per a syringe price tag. I do thank my lucky stars for being born in a country with a health care system that provides compassionate funding.

The drugs I put in my body work to decrease the function of my immune system. Autoimmune diseases are bizarre in that they create a hyper immune system which in essence decides to attack itself. This puts me in a constant state of vulnerability. Once September hits I seem to have the never ending signs of a cold, the flu, and the fear that I will be hit with the latest spreading germ any minute. I CRINGE at the people that scoff at immunizations and put people like myself in constant danger of diseases that I can not fight, illnesses that shouldn't exist anymore – but that is an entirely separate blog post. During the summer months a simple mosquito bite on my arm can turn into a spreading infection requiring a pic line and daily visits to the ER for IV antibiotics. But wait it gets better! My body has now decided to reject antibiotics. The only thing that may save my life.

 a new reaction to antibiotics - swelling and burning :(

a new reaction to antibiotics - swelling and burning :(

Now this isn't all doom and gloom, if you saw me – I go to work every day, attend hockey games, socialize with friends, take part in fundraising events, and attempt to be present for my family. I have been given a set of cards that are not optimal but doable. We all have things. I have yet to meet a person that has a perfect storybook life. Coping and learning to live with your deck of cards is what I chose to do. It might not be easy but it’s my reality. Most people don't know this side of my life because I didn't want it to define me. I don't ask for special treatment from friends and family and I do my absolute best to lead a very normal life. In saying that because I am not getting better and this flare up doesn't seem to be backing off I'm starting to accept more help and adapt to the changes these diseases have done to my body. This has included giving up some important things to me (like the Modern Woman Show), being in bed most nights before you have finished your dinner, and being committed to getting my health back - which could include that word that scared me 10 years ago - the ostomy bag :(

So in light of awareness month here are a few misconceptions of Crohn’s and Lupus:

Misconception #1: Lupus is contagious

Lupus is not caused by a carrier and cannot be transmitted by one person to another. It is not a virus or bacteria. It could, however, be passed from mother to child through genetics.

Misconception #2: A butterfly rash is a telltale sign of lupus

It is thought that the butterfly rash across the face is a classic sign of lupus, it’s not the end-all be-all. Some people with lupus never experience the rash and some people have a facial rash for other reasons. I personally have never experienced this butterfly rash but weird rashes appear on my abdomen, chest, back, and neck.

Misconception # 3: Crohn’s can be cured with a proper diet and reduced stress

The fact is that diet alone does not cause Crohn’s disease. It also cannot cure it. Experts believe that IBD develops due to the combination of certain genes with certain environmental factors. This means that a person may have genes that make the immune system prone to an abnormal reaction. Contact with certain environmental factors may cause the immune system to overreact, leading to IBD.

To date, no one knows what environmental factors have a role in Crohn's. Diet may seem like an obvious environmental factor. Crohn’s disease is more common in people who live a Westernized lifestyle. It is a disorder of the digestive tract. Diet affects the type of bacteria that you have in your gut. Nevertheless, research into the role of diet in Crohn’s disease is inconclusive. No one has proven that any particular food or nutrient causes Crohn’s disease. For each study that has connected a dietary factor with Crohn's, there are other studies showing no connection. I will say that in a flare up I will avoid certain foods (ie. milk products, raw gas producing vegetables) because they will cause more abdominal pain or diarrhea symptoms.

AS for stress, in my experience I feel better when it doesn't exist. I believe everyone feels better when it doesn't exist. Your entire well-being is better off when you lose the anxiety and learn to deal with life's ups and downs. I go to hot yoga because I feel better overall - mentally and physically. 

Misconception # 4: Lupus and Crohn's is uncommon

It is estimated that 1:1000 Canadians are living with lupus according to lupuscanada.org. As for Crohn's....1:150 Canadians suffer from some sort of IBD with over 180k people alone suffering from Crohn's. 

Misconception #5: It’s rare to see anyone young struggling with Lupus

A lupus diagnosis commonly occurs in childbearing years, from ages 15 to 44. I was diagnosed at 21 but looking back showed signs of this disease from a very young age.

Misconception #6 & #7: A lupus diagnosis is almost always deadly and Crohn’s has a higher rate of cancer

While both diseases is incurable, both disease’s symptoms can usually be controlled with medication and surgeries. Crohn’s patients have a 20x higher chance of getting colorectal cancer and the use of the biologic drugs to reduce the function of our immune systems drastically increase the occurrence of lymphatic malignancies – with some drugs increasing the risk by 70-80%. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2700422/)

Some tips from one ghost disease sufferer to another (some i wish i took seriously earlier):

Get enough sleep.

Remove stress (if you can) from your life.

There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow for those that work themselves into a grave. Don't miss out on day to day life. 

Choose your company wisely.

If you need to go to yoga. Just go to yoga.

and lastly but most important -

Learn to put your health first. Now is the time.

 

 

Angel Babies and Silver Linings

I never wanted to have kids. Ever. I was eight the first time I remember saying I didn’t want to ever be a mom. I had big goals and motherhood wasn’t one of them. Then I entered a relationship in my early 20’s that had me living in a new world immersed in love, affection, deep conversations, mutual support and more.  I finally understood why people want to have children. We want to create an expression of the intimacy we share with someone; a joining of two to blend our love and lives forever. The idea of becoming a mother to his child took root. It felt right and wanted. We knew we would be together forever. We stopped using contraceptives and banked on our affection bearing a new love between us, of us.

 My handsome hubby, Clayton and I 

My handsome hubby, Clayton and I 

 

But years of endometriosis, surgeries, debilitating periods, tears and frustration led us to believe that maybe we were destined to be the cool Aunt and Uncle, not the cool Mom and Dad. We made peace with my infertility. We envisioned travelling the world, sending exotic gifts to our nieces and nephews. We began to focus more heavily on a future that involved successful careers, long hours and hard work.

Fast forward to age 28. I’m in the middle of my degree and working full time. I’m standing outside Subway on Cumberland Avenue in the frigid winter sunshine, tears spilling out of my face as I call my fiancé (and now husband) to tell him I am pregnant. To say we were shocked is an understatement. We had JUST accepted our childless future six weeks prior and we had finally found peace. A baby no longer fit into our plans. But what’s that saying? Tell God your plans and you’ll hear Him laugh? So here we were, January 2013 expecting a child, unprepared for our future as parents and scared to death.

After having an easy pregnancy, we met our healthy baby girl and the future we had envisioned no longer held the appeal it once did. I didn’t know how empty my life was until she entered it. She was an exceptionally happy baby who slept through the night by 13 weeks and who showed me what unconditional love looked like. She was ecstatic to see us every day. She woke up every morning with a smile and a look of “I’m alive? I get to do this again today? Wow!” She was and still is, amazing.

As we got to know her, we wanted more kids. We wanted to grow our family and continue reveling in this newfound joy and different way of being present in the world, as individuals and as parents.

At the time of writing, the Universe seems to have made different plans for us. Or rather, an undoing of plans.

It's been four years since welcoming our daughter and I have had as many miscarriages. The first was during our daughter’s first birthday party, when I started miscarrying at 10 weeks. The second took place the day before a trip to Banff, when I was seven weeks pregnant. For the third, I made it one week more before my miscarriage started at eight weeks. My most recent was the shortest pregnancy, at five weeks it came to an end while we were camping this summer.

Sometimes I wish I had the infertility card back, not the recurrent miscarriage card. With my infertility I never learned what this kind of hope felt like. My hopes as an infertile woman were full of longing and prayers and anticipation that this treatment would work.  Pregnancy after miscarriages brings a flicker of hope that never fully catches ablaze. My days of pregnancy excitement are behind me. Now, a positive test means despair, anxiety, fear and horrible thoughts. All while desperately trying to convince my body and heart that THIS pregnancy will be the one that sticks.

 One of the many positive tests I've gotten that left me with negative feelings

One of the many positive tests I've gotten that left me with negative feelings

 

I spend those early days moving slowly so as not to induce bleeding. I take progesterone and vitamins and homeopathic remedies. I talk to the Universe/Spirit/God/ [insert whatever you connect with here]. I pray fervently and meditate daily. I go for acupuncture and practice yoga. I repeat mantras and affirmations incessantly. And still, I miscarry. Those spiritual exercises cause me to doubt the entire Universe. I doubt my intuition. I question every food I ate, every move I made, everything I could’ve or should’ve done but didn’t.

I don’t share this to make you feel sorry for me but to illustrate how tragic this journey has been. Not only for me either, but my husband and daughter, our family and friends. Watching someone you love suffer renders most people helpless. There’s not much anyone can do except hold space and witness as we’re grieving a loss.

I do share this because I have found so many silver linings in my dark clouded days. I started my blog, What We Don’t Do, when I was pregnant with my third angel baby. Having an outlet to share my grief and anger allowed me to release it as opposed to bottling it up and letting it fester. Blogging saved me. I used stream of consciousness while I wrote so I inevitably released a lot of thoughts, feelings and emotions I hadn’t recognized before. It was cathartic, liberating and more importantly, healing.

Another silver lining was, while I couldn’t necessarily always help myself, I was able to reach and help hundreds of women in similar circumstances. The messages and emails I’ve received since starting WWDD has made every tear shed worth it. My words have helped others cope and there’s no better feeling than knowing you are helping someone, somewhere. I am serving a community of largely voiceless women by becoming an obnoxiously loud voice for our fertility community!

Also, I had the bewildering experience to be invited on to CBC Saskatoon’s morning radio show to discuss my miscarriages and the response the miscarriage blog post received. That post was read in over 25 countries and over 7,000 times. Writing those numbers still brings tears of gratitude and awe! Through that interview, I reconnected with an old co-worker who approached me with an idea she had: she wanted to start a non-profit organization that raised money for families to help pay for fertility treatments. She asked for my help in making it a reality. From there, Dr. Adrian Gamelin, the Director of the Aurora Fertility Clinic in Saskatoon, who was co-interviewed with me on CBC, introduced us to Wendy Winiewski, a Global news anchor and fellow infertility Phoenix mama (a woman who has heroically risen from the ashes of infertility/pregnancy loss/perinatal loss). Her daughter Aeralyn was conceived through IVF and Wendy has shared her journey and reached hundreds of women through her Instagram account a.voice.of.infertility. The three of us are an unlikely combo but yet, we shine together. We’ve raised almost $10,000 in three months and will continue to raise more as we increase awareness surrounding infertility and fight for affordable treatments.

 Dani, the brains; me, the soul; Wendy, the heart behind the Family Fertility Fund of Sask

Dani, the brains; me, the soul; Wendy, the heart behind the Family Fertility Fund of Sask

 

The final and most significant silver lining is how much I’ve changed. Prior to my struggle, I never knew heartbreaking loss before. I had never lost someone close to me. I had never faced death or severe illness nor knew anyone in my inner circle of friends and family who did either. I always had a roof over my head, food in my tummy, clothes on my back. I never had to struggle for basic survival like millions of people do on this planet. I didn’t know tragedy or true despair. Until four years ago, I had it pretty good. I still have it pretty good but my pieces have crumbled to nothing only to be put back together again, albeit differently. I believe that through pain comes incredible new beginnings. Sometimes we can’t appreciate the good without knowing, really knowing, the bad.

 a captured laugh at our FFFS photo shoot

a captured laugh at our FFFS photo shoot

I am stronger now. I have a resiliency and emotional intelligence that was never there before. I am wiser yet softer, more forgiving and understanding. I appreciate the mundane in each day and take time to stop and take in moments more often. I find the joy in a summer thunderstorm and feel the comfort of a campfire like a warm blanket. I love harder and hug longer. I listen better and hold unwavering faith. I am not ready to back down yet. I still want another baby and I will try to have another baby. I have fight left in me.

But regardless of how my story ends, I know it has been exactly how it’s meant to go.  If I never give my daughter a sibling all of these struggles were to teach me a bigger lesson than having a baby can bring.  Life is unfolding and undoing exactly as it should. I’ve made peace with my recurrent miscarriages. I have four guardian angels watching out for me now and guiding me towards the Light. That’s a silver lining that can’t be denied. We need more women who are strong, resilient and rising again to become the change the world needs. I’m happily stepping forward as a Phoenix Mama and can only pray my growth doesn’t end here. The lessons are in the journey, both in the good and the bad. But whatever may come, I will rise again.

 

Blogging with purpose...We are MWSE.

 Photo by deMo Photography

Photo by deMo Photography

Where did September go? It whipped past us like a quick breeze, and just like that the fall air has become ever so present. The leaves changing are sure signs that the summer is in the rear view mirror, and for many of us this equals more daily structure.  My favorite time of the year - I feel so at home with routine. This is particularly true when it comes to school, family activities, and work. We as a women fill our calendars with to-do lists and start to close up our yards and summer wardrobe for the imminent snow (i feel it wont be long...) It is also a new season for the Modern Woman Show and - the MWSE Blog. 

With great excitement and anticipation the show also welcomes a new leader. Kaila King from King's Court Events has taken the wheel and will steer the show into its fifth year and beyond.  Kaila is a dedicated wife and a full time mompreneur.  She is no stranger to hard work and has established and produces six other events yearly under the King's Court name.  She thrives on planning, schedules, and is a lover of lists. Some would call her a one woman show because she does it all - bookkeeper, office manager, and also helps run her husband's company. In her free time she can be found playing with her children - Kali & Owen, volunteering for her son's preschool board, and is currently training to be a doula. Kaila is proud to support numerous charities but has especially focused on donating funds from the Modern Woman Show to the Family Fertility Fund of Sask. We are so excited for her to add her knowledge and experience to the Modern Woman family and know that her interest in supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs of all ages is the perfect addition to the Modern Woman Show.

 Photo Courtesy of  Lovestruck Portraits

Photo Courtesy of Lovestruck Portraits

It's full steam ahead with the 2018 event planning and this means some new topics to discuss on the blog. We have some new voices that are sure to connect with our ever growing readership. Without any further adieu I would like to introduce you to our team of fabulous collaborators. These women are all unique with a story to tell. It has always been my advice to our blog team to write with passion and to always blog with purpose.  The team and myself are looking forward to doing just that.

 
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Kelsey Connell

Kelsey is a former journalist turned stay at home mompreneur. She makes all natural skin care products but in February 2017 recommitted herself to her true passion: writing. Her blog, What We Don't Do, went viral in March 2017 after writing about her miscarriages. She focuses on the raw, vulnerable side of infertility, motherhood and trying to find her place in the world as her passionate, authentic self.

 
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Julie Vickaryous

Julie is a new addition to the Modern Woman team this year. Julie specializes in advancing the medical cannabis field right here in Saskatchewan as a senior cannabinoid therapist with National Access Cannabis. When she's not teaching cannabis cooking classes or information seminars, she's writing, ranting and raving about feminism and women's rights. At only 24 years old she is one of Canada's youngest breast cancer survivors, and is constantly doing her part to spread awareness about the disease.

 
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Mandy Gourlay

Proud mama and blogger for Before the Blonde, Mandy has an eye for all things fashion & beauty. She's also been walking the catwalk for the Runway Show since 2015. This year she's joining the MWSE blog to bring you fashion-focused features and a sneak peek of the vendors you'll see at the show!

 
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Katie Martin

Katie is the Fashion Show Co-ordinator for the Modern Woman Show & Expo and has a passion for the job as it allows her to work closely with hardworking local vendors, sponsors, models, and volunteers, providing positive team leadership and a sense of friendship among the woman involved in the event. She is a full-time Esthetician & Makeup Artist, part-time Photographer, dog lover, wine drinker extraordinaire, and self-proclaimed Comedian. Follow along with her often humorous "tell it like it is" style of blog posts this season as she partakes in new and exciting activities focusing primarily on the importance of self care.

 
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Jocelyn deMoissac

meet jocelyn. A professional wedding and documentary lifestyle photographer and mentor. Specializing in the real and raw moments of life. She’s a passionate dreamer and get shit done’er. No stranger to the red wine and always surprised everyday at 4:30pm that dinner has to be made. A proud wife to Steven, blessed momma to Sloan, Harlow and Enver. You can catch this crew having daily dance kitchen dance parties and soaking up all the outside time possible at the lake, on the trails or in the backyard. When the camera batteries are charging you can find Joc making the most of the long days and short years. She is truly honored to document some of life's most incredible and huge moments and is always looking forward to meeting new smiling faces.

 
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Megan Hammond

Megan is the creative force (and hands) behind Elizabeth.lyn jewelry. A self taught jewelry designer with entrepreneurial blood, she has both owned and managed several retail businesses before turning eL from a part time hobby into a full time career. She is currently learning how to balance working from home and momming full time to one year old son Asher... #staytuned. 

 
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and myself, Chantal Schulte

Chantal works as the marketing director and cosmetic laser technician at Midwest Laser Centre. She also spends her extra-curricular time pulling shoes away from her dog Wrigley, hosting dinner parties for her family and friends, and sampling the latest fare at Saskatoon’s up-and-coming restaurants; as the founder of the Modern Woman Show she is INSPIRED daily of every vendor’s road to success and greatly appreciates being apart, in any capacity, of their journey.

A thank you to Realty Executives

The Modern Woman Show & Expo proudly presented by Realty Executives Saskatoon is a hub for the discerning palate - those with a hunger for food, travel, fashion & beauty. Together with our sponsors we have created a space for entrepreneurs to share their passions, and to be the breeding ground for ideas & excitement - - for an inspired lifestyle. On Saturday April 22nd & Sunday April 23rd join us at Prairieland Park for most anticipated women’s event of the year. 

This event is proud to be behind a mission that empowers women to make their voices stronger, their influence bolder, and their support of one another unsurpassable. Without the support of Realty Executives Saskatoon this event would not be possible. We thank all the agents, support staff, and broker - Wayne Zuk, for their support and encouragement over the last three years. Here is a look at a few of the many agents who work not only for your real estate needs but for our community. 

Myra Kirk

Realtor, Realty Executives Saskatoon

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF? I am a real estate professional for Saskatoon and surrounding area and I am licensed in residential, acreages, and farmland.  I have purchased many homes and became interested in the industry to be able to help others make an informed decision. As an agent, I enjoy helping people, seeing them happy and being a part of their journey.  

WHAT IS A MODERN WOMAN TO YOU? A modern woman is someone that is confident in themselves and respectful of the abilities and contributions of others.

ADVICE FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS? Trust your instincts and do research. Seek out the advice of others that have been down the same road. Get a feel for the venture you want to embark on before jumping in with both feet.

DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE A MENTOR? A mentor is absolutely valuable. At Realty Executives, there are some very helpful peers. It is always great to get advice and hear about other situations that have transpired. The learning never ends.  


Alisa Skalicky

Realty Executives Saskatoon

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? My business has been derived from word of mouth and referrals. I have worked hard to network and put the needs of all my clients first and foremost. I also am keenly interested in the development of our real estate community and how women are perceived in our industry.  There is a vast opportunity for a strong leadership with women entrepreneurs in the industry.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS AN ENTREPRENEUR? A life event that put me in the position of being a young widow with young children forced me to reinvent myself and I saw an opportunity with real estate to be self employed and work from home. One thing is constant and that is change. We either embrace it or succumb to it and it can be a positive and reawakening decisive decision. For me it was the best thing I could have done for myself and my children and I have no regrets.

WHO IS A MODERN WOMAN IN YOUR EYES? My idea of a Modern Woman is an adaptable, courageous, accepting, driven female who is proactive in changing the landscape of global perception.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR FUTURE WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS? My tips are don't second guess your intuition and don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Strive forward with conviction!

DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR? The most important role model in my life is my Grandma, she exemplified a life of humbleness, love and forgiveness and was one of the most well respected hard working women in our province.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WOMEN IN BUSINESS IN OUR COMMUNITY? I feel that the business community and female entrepreneurs in Saskatoon is a strong partnership that has blossomed immensely. I personally cannot wait to see what the beautiful and brilliant women of Saskatoon will deliver!


Nora Jacobs

Realtor, Realty Executives Saskatoon

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF? I am a Realtor with Realty Executives Saskatoon.  Seven years ago I decided to leave my senior management position with Saskatchewan Housing Authority as an Area Manager and to begin a new career path in Real Estate.  In the late 1980’s I began working as a Property Manager in private industry and quickly rose through the ranks and became the General Manager/Broker of my firm.  I worked in this industry for 10 years, then due to corporate changes I accepted a position with Saskatchewan District Health managing a large staff for 3 years and then moved over to Saskatchewan Housing Corporation for 12 years.  During that time, I always had the desire to work for myself and Real Estate was a natural choice.  The hard decision was to leave a paid position with benefits and pension to pursue my dreams.  6 years ago, I took the plunge and have never looked back. Working on my own with a powerful brokerage behind me is exactly where I had hoped to be, and the move has been very positive and fulfilling.  Now, when I work long hours – I work for myself.  The goals & achievements are mine to make.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? Getting started was the most difficult journey I have ever taken.  Educated, all dressed up and nowhere to go.  It was humbling the first year, however it made me stronger & more determined to succeed.

HOW ARE YOU INSPIRED? My inspiration comes from achieving my goals and doing what makes me happy.  I found through the years that this is a very busy, often stressful and yet exciting industry, that if you let it, can consume you.  I soon found myself putting my work before everything else, not allowing myself to take part in the things I love.  My social interaction other than through work was becoming less and less.  Three years ago, I accepted an appointment as a Marriage Commissioner which was something I always wanted to do.  It is a position that forces you to dress up, take care of yourself and perform publicly.  It is a position that surrounds me with people, happy days & beauty.  This is just the mix I needed with my Real Estate Career.  The two go so well together and shape me into who I have become today.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A MODERN WOMAN? To me, a Modern Woman is one who puts herself first.  Takes care of herself, works hard to achieve her goals and is driven & motivated.  If you can shape yourself into a person you respect & love, you will have so much more to give people.  Working hard is great as nothing comes without persistence & determination.  However never forgetting what is important – family, relationships, friends, home, & self.  You have to develop a full package or everything else fails.

WHAT ADVICE OR TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS? My advice to women considering working for themselves is to know what you’re good at, and develop those skills further.  Set a written business plan with goals and action plans.  Monitor your plan daily, weekly and monthly.  Don’t look at setbacks as failures.  Learn from each mistake and move forward.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  Always have various avenues to grow your business.  Don’t do the same thing all the time.  Do many things all of the time.  And lastly, give yourself time.  You can’t build success in a day.  It takes months, years and sometimes a lifetime.

WHAT IS IN YOUR FUTURE? Realty Executives Saskatoon is growing every year.   We have strong leadership, excellent training for new Executives and ongoing training and support for everyone in the brokerage.  It is the only Brokerage I would consider working in.  There is no doubt that we will continue to grow and achieve numbers we have not yet imagined.  I see Realty Executives as the #1 choice of the people of Saskatoon and Saskatchewan for years to come.

WHO INSPIRES YOU? I can’t name one particular woman.  I admire women who are successful while juggling family, small children, homes, jobs, and still seem to find time to be involved in community and events.  It takes incredible energy and determination to make it all work as a woman so I have nothing but admiration for successful women who are doing it all.


 

April Townsend

Realtor, Realty Executives Saskatoon

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? I got started in this industry 17 years ago. I had been a business owner in Winnipeg for a number of years and decided that I needed a change both with work and my city. I relocated to Saskatoon in 1998 and decided that I would give it a shot here. I had researched all of my necessary requirements before heading to Saskatoon to take my exams for licensing. I became licensed in 1999 and never looked back.

WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF A MODERN WOMAN? My idea of a Modern Woman is someone who is not afraid to take charge, doesn’t feel the need to back down to stand strong to make their voice heard, knows that with knowledge it does not matter what sex you are, you can do the job!

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS? My advice would be: be bold and assertive when needed, and taking chances leads to great things. Follow what is in your heart and things will all fall together.

WHO IS A ROLE MODEL FOR YOU? My role model for women in business is Venus Williams. This women stands strong each and every day. She has bounced back from major health issues, is still a force on the tennis circuit today and continues to own her own clothing business to which she designs all of the items as well.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN HAVING A MENTOR? Having a mentor in this industry is positive at any stage of the game. It is a necessary way to succeed in the beginning but it is also a positive reinforcement as time goes on. There are always ways that we can become better each and every day . Our broker Wayne is a huge part of many of our Realtors success stories.  

DO YOU THINK SASKATOON HAS A STRONG SENSE OF COMMUNITY WITHIN WOMEN IN BUSINESS? I definitely feel a strong sense of community with women and female entrepreneurs in Saskatoon and our province. It is nice to see the support that women have for one another and the amount of women that are there to showcase their trials and tribulations to show other women that , “yes it can be done, so don’t give up”.


Make sure to stop by the Realty Executives booth for a quick chat and a complimentary coffee all weekend long! 

Modern Woman Show & Expo

Saturday April 22nd 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Sunday April 23rd 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Prairieland Park 

 

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: don't you put it in your mouth

Hey homies! For this post I teamed up with my pal Kalli Youngstrom of KY Fitness & Nutrition to chat about bullsh*t marketing when it comes to "healthy" foods. This is something that really cheezes me off, and I'm thrilled to be able to colloborate with Kalli to bring some awareness to some of the crap that is lurking on your grocery store shelves. Kalli is a Certified Personal Trainer, Weight Management Specialist, Nutritionist, and IFBB Pro. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no business telling you about what to eat and what not to eat, but I'm going to anyway. So listen up. 

How many times have you been wandering through the aisles, reading labels (like you've been told to) and chosen things because you can immediately recall the ad telling you the product is a healthy choice, or because that product has a bunch of things on the package that say "Trans Fat Free!", "High In Fiber!", "A Good Source Of Vitamin C!", or my personal fav... "GLUTEN FREE!" Contrary to what these claims would have you believe, you shouldn't necessarily shove these products in your piehole.

Everyone is trying to make good choices for themselves and their families, but its super hard when companies create ad campaigns for products that primarily serve to increase the buckaroos in their bank account, rather the health of their customers. 

OK...we all know sugar is the devil incarnate. This is not news. Too much sugar can cause all kinds of greebly sh*t to shake down in your body, and things will likely be bad news bears in the long run. 

What people don't realize is how MUCH sugar is in all these processed foods, along with the equivalent of Santa's naughty list of other crap lurking within. Kalli and I set out to comb the aisles for some of the worst offenders for brainwashing consumers. 

Activia Yogurt 

Kalli's Info: The marketing behind this product is to “Take the Activia challenge.” which is Activia twice a day for 2 weeks. I would recommend a non-sweetened alternative, which will provide you with the same (if not more) benefits in relation to gut health and help you steer clear of the 2 teaspoons of added sugar that is in each single serving yogurt. 2 yogurts a day = 4 teaspoons of sugar, not far from the recommended 6 maximum teaspoons by the American Heart Association. Opt for 2% plain Greek yogurt for more protein to keep you fuller longer. If you’re worried about added fiber top with flax or chia for fiber + healthy fat.

My 2 Cents: Activia challenge? Let me get this straight... they are challenging me to purchase enough product to eat their yogurt twice a day for two weeks? Clever. As much as I love being challenged to an eating dual, I'm gonna pass on this one. 

 #thanksbutnothanks ... however, I do challenge you to try the "prune" flavour and not gag. 

#thanksbutnothanks ... however, I do challenge you to try the "prune" flavour and not gag. 

Light/Fat-Free Cool Whip

Kalli's Info: Marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional Cool Whip and whipped cream, the lack of dairy in this “whipped topping” is concerning. Not to mention the lack of almost any natural ingredients that are recognizable to the general consumer. Stick with whole foods that you and your body recognize. Indulge in some homemade whipping cream from time to time by whipping 33% cream with stevia and vanilla,  you’ll save on the added sugars and your body will thank you for avoiding the preservatives that keep this product “fresh for two weeks in the refrigerator.”

My 2 Cents: WTF is this stuff? I guarantee your great-granny wouldn't even be able to pronounce the things in this, let alone would have ever used them in her delicious cooking. This product is an awesome option for anyone looking to incorporate a variety of jacked up ingredients in their diet. 

Beef Jerky

Kalli's Info: A “healthy” grab and go as a quick and easy protein source, but with more sugar than protein in the majority of store bought jerky, the consumer may not be getting what they’re paying for. Double check the serving size as often the serving size in comparison to the package can be misleading. If you’re reaching for an easy protein filled snack for the road opt for a jerky with no sugar added, make your own at home, or opt for an alternative like hardboiled eggs or sugar free protein bars. 

My 2 Cents: Dagnabbit, I am guilty of believing this was a good grab and go. Fake news. Might as well dump some syrup on your steak. Find a friend who shops at Cabela's. They likely think making jerky is fun and you can get it from them. 

Vitamin Water

Kalli's Info: With the second ingredient listed being sugar, it’s no surprise that one bottle of this “vitamin enhanced” beverage comes in at 32 g of sugar. For comparison, a can of Coke comes in at 39. With no fat, fiber, or protein in this drink, one bottle of this will likely cause a quick spike in blood sugar leaving the customer hungry and tired soon after. Get your vitamins through whole foods that will keep you satisfied longer, naturally include the fiber you need for beneficial digestion, and if you need to supplement use a multi-vitamin without added sugar in it. 

My 2 Cents: Some assh*ole came up with a way to sell sugar water to people and make them think they are doing a big healthy. Genius... and horrible. Don't touch this. 

 Yessss... I've always wanted a way to justify chugging Kool-aid as an adult!!

Yessss... I've always wanted a way to justify chugging Kool-aid as an adult!!

Coconut Oil Cooking Spray

Kalli's Info: Most would be surprised to see the bottle with the label “100% coconut oil” also includes isobutane and propane on the label. Although these are “normal” additives in cooking sprays, avoid the propane and use 100% cooking oil out of the jar, or search for a label that has only 1 ingredient, coconut oil. 

My 2 Cents: Save the propane for your BBQ and buy a non-stick pan. Good news! You can also just put some regular coconut oil in the pan if you want to. 

Fruit + Veggies Juice

Kalli's Info: Although there is no added sugar in the fruit and veggie juice on the grocery store shelf, a small serving of this juice contains 25 grams of sugar and only 2 grams of fiber. It’s recommended that you opt for whole fruits and veggies instead. The natural fiber that is in fruits and vegetables add many health benefits, along with keeping your hunger at bay. A fruit and veggie juice with no fiber is likely to have the opposite effect, quickly spiking your blood sugar and leaving you hungry soon after. 

My 2 Cents: An evil genius devised a way to market "healthy" sugar water to, what I would bet, primarily moms trying to feed their kids their more fruits and veggies. The worst kind of assh*le marketing. Boourns. 

 Apparently "plus veggies" means inserting a picture of a carrot on every bottle... *eyeroll emoji*

Apparently "plus veggies" means inserting a picture of a carrot on every bottle... *eyeroll emoji*

Protein Bars

Kalli's Info: With more carbohydrates than protein in almost all of the bars on the normal grocery store shelf, many of these bars include as much added sugar as a chocolate bar and are better to be swapped for a sugar-free version. There are many options on the market, such as Quest bars, that include sugar free options... some even being naturally sweetened if you prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners. Read the label and ensure that you’re getting more protein than carbohydrate and steer clear of added sugars. 

My 2 Cents: Might as well buy a Snickers. 

Special K Nourish

Kalli's Info:  Marketed as “Simply good, no artificial flavors or colors.” and “A high source of fiber.” High is a relative term, with most people needing around 25-30 grams of fiber today, 4 grams of fiber per serving is a long way from a daily recommended intake. With 43 grams of carbs and about 7 different types of sugar listed in the ingredient list I would recommend starting your day with a more natural carbohydrate source that will keep you fuller longer and keep your blood sugar down. Remember when reading cereal boxes that the listed serving size is likely not what goes in your bowl. Try weighing out a serving v.s. eye balling it and see if you’re eating more than you really know.

My 2 Cents: This sh*t is the worst. "Nourish" yourself with a big ol' bowl of all the sugar in town. Except don't.

 Because... quinoa. 

Because... quinoa. 

Green Goddess Juice

Kalli's Info: With a title and visual emphasis on green, its surprising to note that the first 4 types of juices included in this green juice are actually fruit juices, some of the fruits most naturally rich in sugar out there, such as pineapples, banana, and mango. Although there are beneficial vitamins and nutrients in the juice and more “green” ingredients listed towards the very end of the label, 250 calories and 50 g of sugar would be much more satiating and appetite suppressing in the form of whole foods. Get your greens in a salad or make your own green juice with greens being the main ingredient. 

My 2 Cents: 50g of liquid sugar does not a Goddess make. Big no nos. 

Olive Oil Mayonnaise

Kalli's Info: Although there is olive oil in the mayo, its not the only oil included. Avoid the added inflammatory oils and make your own mayo using whole eggs, olive or avocado oil, and lemon. Did you know that most mayos have sugar added as well? The second ingredient in this mayo is sugar. 

My 2 Cents: There are lots of surprises in this mystery goop. Olive oil is a good time, but this is not. 

Fiber One Bars

Kalli's Info: With sugar as the first ingredient and sugar listed in a variety of forms at least 8 times on these fiber focused bars I recommend getting your fiber from a better source. The beauty of whole natural foods is that they naturally include the fiber your body needs! We shouldn’t have to add fiber to our foods. 100 calories from your favorite fruits and veggies can add the 5 g of fiber that these bars do while avoiding the laundry list of sugars and unrecognizable ingredients. 

My 2 Cents: Might as well eat some oreos wash them down with a tiny bit of your grandpa's metuamucil. Sorry folks. 

 Now BIGGER chocolate chips!!! #healthy

Now BIGGER chocolate chips!!! #healthy

So there you have it. The sad thing is, we could have gone on all day with this!! There is so much garbage out there geared toward getting you to spend your money on things that are supposed to benefit your health. IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!! We rely on companies to provide accurate information to us, but unfortunately its rarely the case. Business is business, and business doesn't always have the consumer's best interest at heart. We've all been duped by marketing time and again. (I had a Slap Chop, how 'bout you??)

When I shop, with a few exceptions, I try to stick to the perimeter of the store. I'm sure you've heard that a million times, but its still the best advice out there. With boxes and boxes of things that can live on the shelf well beyond the zombie apocalypse, it's best to stick to stuff you can pronounce, and that your old-timey granny would likely approve of. 

When in doubt, talk to a professional... and by professional, I don't mean consulting the Google Machine to read a plethora of god-knows-what articles written by various interweb "doctors". Find a real life doctor, nutritionist, naturopath, or health coach and make sure they have some edumacation. 

We are thrilled to have Kalli holding a sold-out workshop at The Modern Woman Show & Exhibition this year. There are gifts in the door-crasher AND fashion show swag bags from her so make sure to get there early and check it out. Also, did I mention you can see her strutting her stuff during The Runway fashion show as a model? Pick up your VIP tickets to the fashion show at www.modernwomansaskatoon.com! See all the spring styles at Prairieland Park on April 22 at 6:30pm. Hosted by Chantel Saunders and DJ Kush, its sure to be a great time! 

Until next time, my fellow Modern Women, don't let the marketing campaigns dupe you, and don't you put those icky products in your mouth!
Katie xoxo


 

She Means Business: A look at some local women hustlers

Red Dress Transformations - Vanessa Schellenberg

What is Red Dress Transformations?

I am a transformational Life Strategist, I coach women to become empowered in every area of their lives leading these women to become their most authentic, confident and fearless self. I do this by one on one coaching, a local women's empowerment group, workshops, collaborations, mentoring and soon to be retreats,  online courses, and local group programs. 

Where would we find you on a Wednesday night? A Friday night?

First and foremost I am a family gal. I LOVE spending time with my husband and our kids. We have four beautiful, inspiring children and they are my greatest blessing in life. I am helping my 11 year old daughter start her own business using essential oils to make bath and body products. I love getting together with fellow empowered women and I can be found on a Wednesday night at a book club that I started with a few friends or at a local event where women gather on a weekly basis.

I am also a shareholder of Balance Within Wellness and I am often found there weekly, spending a few hours in the space helping run the business with 10 fellow inspiring women and running the Empower Hour. A Friday night is typically spent at home with my husband and our kids unwinding after a busy week, we might even plan a date night and go out to dinner and a movie. I can also be found networking and meeting new female entrepreneurs and thinking up creative ways that we can collaborate or how they may be able to grow their business. I am a personal development addict so I can also be found either reading or listening to audio books on this topic. Creating vision boards of my hopes and dreams to manifest is also a fave time spender. 

Learn more about Red Dress Transformations HERE. 


R3 Salon & Spa - Brienne Kobussen

 

Tell us about R3 Salon & Spa and how you got involved?

R3 specializes in the art of body sugaring, an all-natural, virtually pain free method of hair removal. R3 opened in 2013, and I started sugaring here shortly after it opened. In September 2016, my mother and I bought the business, and we are working on making sugaring the preferred choice for hair removal for women and men. 


The method of sugaring is more gentle on the skin, the sugar paste itself is made of sugar, water and lemon juice, that's it! It's even edible!! Because it is water based, it does not stick to live skin, reducing irritation and redness. During sugar hair removal, the hair is extracted in the direction of hair growth, virtually eliminating breakage and ingrown hairs. It is safe to sugar diabetics and we even have clients as young as 12 years old. It is hygienic and sanitary, bacteria cannot breed because of the high concentration of sugar, and the application prevents cross contamination because we never "double dip". 

I am passionate about sugaring and the benefits it provides - because it's not about the color of your skin, it's about the condition of it. I have been sugaring for 4 years, and recently became a Certified Sugaring Educator, and teach sugaring classes to industry professionals as well as demonstrations at trade shows and events. 

Who inspires you?

If I had to pick one person, it would be my Mom, and other women like her who are strong enough to follow their passions, willing to put in a tireless effort into making their dreams reality. I am discovering who I am, and surrounding myself with positive influences (like Mom) and others who inspire me to work hard, drive me to succeed and remind me every day that I am capable of achieving my goals. I am inspired also by Saskatoon's local business community. This city has an abundance of entrepreneurial spirits who are so supportive of each other. To be a part of this is a big deal to me. 

To learn more about R3 visit their website HERE


Conquer Personal Training - Robynn Chestolowski

Let's hear about your business

I am the owner and operator of Conquer Personal Training in Saskatoon. I have been working as a self-employed trainer for the last 5 years although I have been working in the fitness industry for over 15 years. My business is largely focused on women. A major portion of my clientele consists of women aged 25 years and up. This means that I am working to support and help challenge other working women, many who have to balance work and home life priorities with their health and fitness goals. I work with my clients to identify their personal goals. These goals range from setting a specific weight loss target, an athletic challenge or simply to incorporate regular physical activity into their schedules. Many clients see physical transformations, but the emotional and mental transformations are priceless. I have witnessed women taking back ownership of their health and gaining confidence that translates to all facets of their lives. As a self-employed mother I take great pride in seeing women with various backgrounds and at different life stages CONQUER their goals! Together we are able to achieve things we had maybe given up hope on.

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

I choose intuition as my super power! Through super strength intuition I will determine your strengths and obstacles and help you realize your own personal strength and grit. I will use my super intuition with your goals to produce a collaborative explosion of results and success!

Learn more about Conquer Personal Training HERE


ByondTheLookingGlass Gems - Leanne Gruending

byondlookingglassgems.jpg

Who is ByondTheLooking Glass and how did it come to be?

ByondTheLookingGlass Gems started as a passion project in May of 2016. I've always loved upcycling and creating my own jewels, but never really took it seriously until my beautiful sister became sick with stage 4 cancer. We both deeply believe in the importance of holistic health, crystal healings, and Reiki treatments became a big part of how she was working to bring her spirit back into alignment.

I also needed to turn to mindfulness and setting my intent because as a busy principal in my regular life, I needed to force myself to slow down and focus on the positive. Crafting these pieces has not only become a work of intent and beauty, but also an exercise in mindfulness to settle my BossBrain and surround myself in the good vibes that can sometimes be lacking in the daily hustle. I want to cultivate kindness in my work life, and in my creative life. I want that kindness to spread like confetti. I believe in my jewels, and their energy, can do that. My work is inspired by love, life and literature. Every gem and every design has a name, every name a story. My goal, is to make love and light trendy. Eventually, I intend to partner with local charities and organizations that support literacy and mindfulness/wellness programs for kids. I see the need every day in my regular job, it's also what my brand stands for. 

What makes you tick?

l am a principal, a creative, a wanderer, a dog lover and a bibliophile. l have been a principal since I was 25, one of the youngest in the province I believe. I am currently 30 and after 9 years in the field I am still in love with my Job. I am driven, goal oriented and passionate. Almost no new challenge scares me and I almost never know when to admit defeat. I was nominated for the top 40 under 40 last year for my various contributions to community. I am a creative addict. I want almost everything in my life to be an expression of who I am, from the art work in my house to the jewels I choose to wear. Travel is one of the most important things in mu life. My current country count includes 23 countries ranging from volunteering in Africa giving professional development to teachers to my most recent trip to Israel. Travel inspires me and has helped me to not only appreciate where I am in life, but also the lives of those that make up this big gigantic world we live in. When I am unable to travel. I travel with words. I have lived a thousand lives thanks to books. Part of the mission of my jewelry line is to connect amazing people, beautiful stones, and evocative literary quotes. So much of one's self can be found in another's art. 

See Leanne's jewels at the Modern Woman Show on April 22nd in the Marketplace area or visit her page HERE

I AM A MODERN WOMAN: Ammy Murray with Glittersaurus Rex Jewels

 Photos by deMo Photography

Photos by deMo Photography

Tell us about your business?

I primarily make handmade wire wrapped jewelry with semiprecious stones, but recently have expanded my offerings to include a line of crystal elixir oils.  These are oils you can use for massage, as bath oils, as diffuser oils, or just as perfume scented with essential oils.  Each bottle contains a number of crystals as well as a handmade resin pendant.

My Etsy shop intro says I am make jewelry for your inner forest gypsy, making her way hidden through the modern world.  It's made with the understanding that maybe you can't bring your crystal wand to the office, but you can sure adorn yourself with it!

How did you get started?

It all started with a love of crystals.

For as long as I can remember, I've been attracted to crystals. My mom talks about making me empty my pockets before I could come inside the house as a child, as my pockets would be filled with various rocks I had collected during the day. I liked the way they sparkled, or an unusual colour, or a unique shape, or just the way a particular rock felt.

As I grew up, my love of crystals morphed into a small obsession with healing crystals and jewelry. After a particularly rough couple of years where I went through a lot of personal changes, I started learning more and more about the healing and vibrational qualities of different crystals. I started a new rock collection, and found myself with bowls of crystals everywhere - on my desk, in my bathroom, in my kitchen, under my bed. At the same time, I became more and more interested in jewelry featuring crystals. I wanted to have some way of carrying my crystals with me all the time without destroying my pockets - turns out my mom was right to make me empty my pockets every day! Rocks can be rough on fabrics. Plus, I wanted to see my little sparkly beauties shine. I began dreaming about all of the different ways I wanted to wear my crystals. I always knew what I wanted, but finding it was another matter!

Finally, after years of seeing pieces that were almost, but not quite, what I wanted. I decided to start making the jewelry I wanted on my own.  I started reading blogs, and watching youtube, and practicing with craft wire. Then I started asking friends for feedback on what I was doing, and started giving away some of my excess as gifts. I kept experimenting, and as fast as I could make something, ideas for the next piece would start percolating. Very quickly, my house started to become overrun with supplies and finished pieces. That's when I decided to take the next step and open my Etsy shop!

But still, I was increasingly frustrated that I could carry or always access the particular crystal combinations I wanted in a practical and everyday way.  Although making my own jewelry was the solution for a while, I wanted more.

I have always believed in the power of dreams.  Every person is a dream interpreter for themselves – they just need to learn their own language.  If you can understand your own personal set of symbols your subconscious uses, then you can go a long way to solving your own problems.  You are your own best counsellor, if only you can learn to listen.  When someone close to me is going through change or is unhappy, I’ll usually ask them what they are dreaming about lately – because the answer and comfort they need is already there.

In September of 2016, I started dreaming about beautifully scented crystals, singing in harmony with nature, rising out of bathing pools where people would go to heal.  People would come to the pools and were told to enter into one, hurting and disfigured.  After some time in the warm healing waters, inhaling the scents from the crystals and relaxing, they would stand up, completely healed.  The crystals of the pool would then transform into a beautiful woman, who would hand the bather a small piece of herself to keep.

I knew this had to mean something.  I knew I had to make it.  I knew I had to offer it.  But how?  I started meditating on it.

Eventually it came to me.  I knew about making crystal elixirs using water – but what about oil?  I started doing research, and discovered that with some harder crystals, it was possible to infuse them into carrier oils, and the oil itself would begin to carry the vibration and power of the crystal.  But some crystals, especially copper based or bluish crystals, are not appropriate for elixirs as the chemicals in the stone can leach into the surrounding liquid and then be absorbed by the user.  And then I remembered orgone generators.  Essentially, these are crystals and metal shavings embedded into resin.  The embedding itself, or perhaps the organic matrix of the resin, seems to amplify the chi or energy flow of the crystals within.  I had already been experimenting with embedding crystals into resin in my jewelry making – why couldn’t I use the same process to make “wands” that would protect the user from chemical leaching, but at the same time amplify the power of the crystals embedded within?  And why couldn’t this wand eventually become a piece of jewelry for its user?

But that didn’t solve the problem of a scented crystal.  I started researching essential oils and aromatherapy, and found that many different oils have compatible uses with the crystal combinations I love using.  And indeed, one of the best ways to access aromatherapy is to use combinations of essential oils in a carrier oil.  Aha!

Once I struck on the how, the next step became what: What were the best ways to best combine these two powerful modalities?  I sent myself back into dreaming and meditation.  And sure enough, as I meditated, combinations of oils and crystals and purposes began to come to me.  And, the moment a combination was “right”, the name of an associated Goddess would arise alongside to claim this elixir as hers.

And that’s how the Glittersaurus Rex Crystal Oils were born.

My love of making jewelry still stands.  In fact, rather than leave the buyer with a “wand”, each bottle of 4 oz or larger oil contains some small crystals, some larger crystal points, and a series of resin-encased crystals that I’ve made into a pendant for your use long after the oil is gone.  The beauty of it is, the crystals are in a symbiotic relationship with the essential oils and the quartz points, meaning that as the pendant is in the oil, it “steeps”, like a tea, making the power of the crystal stronger and stronger over time.  So, by the time it is ready for you to wear, it has spent all that time growing and recharging its energy, preparing for you, getting to know you.

Each blend contains as a base a piece of obsidian and a quartz crystal point.  The quartz helps to purify intention and amplify power and continues to cleanse the other stones in the oil, and the obsidian provides a grounded base for action to occur.  Each stone used is carefully cleansed with sage, and programmed with the blend’s intention before it is placed in the bottle.  The oils are diluted in either 100% apricot kernel or sweet almond oil.  All essential oils used are 100% pure and organic essential oils.

What inspires you?

The stones.  For me, it all starts with the stones.  I listen to when the "rocks talk", and move from there.

I sort of waver between being very, very minimalist in my designs, and being very intricate.  I'm also very attracted to asymmetry.  I think everything about you should be interesting and unique, and so I'm also very attracted to asymmetry.  I very rarely, for example, make a pair of earrings where both are exactly the same.  They will match, but they will be slightly different in shape or arrangement or in the stones used.

I think these are all a function of being so inspired by nature.  I like to say that perfection is boring.  What I mean by that is, every thing in nature is both absolutely unique and slightly imperfect - which is what makes it unique! I want that echoed in the things I give to the world.

What is your idea of a Modern Woman?

A woman who knows what she wants, and is not afraid to do what she needs to chase it!

What tips can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Learn as much as you can.  Listen to podcasts, read books, talk to other entrepreneurs.  Apply the same creativity to you give to your business to marketing your business.  And remember - failures are always opportunities to learn.  The only difference between an expert and a beginner is practice.

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself looking back?

Trust yourself.  Listen to yourself.  Meditate more, listen to your body, and don't feel like you have to be perfect all at once.

What is in the future for Glittersaurus Rex Jewels?

I would really love to find some dedicated studio space where I could branch out even more!  I'd love to be in a few stores over the next year or two.  I'm also looking to launch a website as well as a few video series explaining a bit more about each of the oils I create, and the reasons/uses for each crystal.

What would we find you doing in your free time?

Those rare occasions are dedicated to my children.  We like to cook, go for walks, talk and joke.  It doesn't matter where we are or what we are doing - just time together is enough.

Who is someone that you find is a role model for women in business?

Is it trite to say Oprah?  I love that she has built an empire, but an empire with a heart for the Universe.  I love that she encourages and empowers other women to be present and be connected.

Do you think having a mentor is valuable both while you're starting out and even after you are more experienced?

Mentorship is always valuable, at any stage, in every part of your life.  No matter what you are going through, someone else has gone through it first.  I find that my biggest challenge is my own fear of reaching out and seeking mentorship.  However, I've been blessed with some really great role models so far.  And I've always found that when you ask for help or advice, people are always happy to do it.

Check out Ammy's designs HERE and make sure to come visit her booth at The Modern Woman Show on Saturday April 22nd.  She will be located in the Marketplace area and we are so excited to have her and all those healing crystals! 

Train the Mane: How to de-grease those lovely locks

Today I have started my challenge. It's the no washing my hair challenge....

I will fully admit it. I'm a shower junky. I love Love LOVE a warm soak and this includes sudsing up the hair every single day. When friends comment that they only wash their hair every 3-7 days I just don't understand how this could be possible?? My hair is blonde, fine, and thin. When the alarm clock goes off it's straight into the shower to tame what has become a greasy rats nest perched on the top of my head. I have never lasted more than 24 hours (unless trapped at the lake or in a tent) with a greasy mop. I asked the ladies at Visions Salon and Spa for some direction in hopes of training the mane.

Skye: When transitioning to washing less often, the first thing you will feel is that your hair looks oily/wet, and feels a bit grimey/dirty. You will miss the freshly washed feeling!! I always at this point grab my dry shampoo first.

This is exactly my problem...I look like I just got out of a hot yoga class every morning. Someone could sneeze and the moisture will flatten my do. I decided to try this on a weekend....no one needs to see day one and if I follow Skye's tips I will be bouncing into the next week with my grease free flow. 

Skye: Now, I know many of my brunette ladies may struggle with the powdery consistency and colour of many dry shampoos. This is why I always recommend a talc-free product such as the Surface Trinity Dry Shampoo ($27.30 at Visions Salon & Spa). It cleanses the hair with the disinfecting properties of lemon, and absorbs oil with an ingredient called Zeolite that actually comes from volcanic ash!!! It will not dry out your hair of its natural oils as talc-based dry shampoos will that actually cause you to produce even MORE oil!! It respects your body's natural production of oil, allowing you to ween yourself off of the daily wash, while also being COMPLETELY invisible in colour!!

I have purchased dry shampoo in the past with little knowledge about the ingredients or the how to's. Skye's advice makes total sense. If you keep drying your hair out your body will want to produce more oil which is why i'm on this hamster wheel in the first place. 

Skye's How to Dry Shampoo: It is best used by picking up small pieces around your part and front hairline, as well as the crown of your head, and using short spritzes of product holding the nozzle about 6-8 inches away from your scalp. This will allow the product to disperse evenly throughout your exposed oily areas, and you will get the best absorption of oil!! Then let it sit for a few minutes, maybe apply your makeup or something, incorporating it into your morning routine. Once it has sat for 3-5 minutes, it will have had the opportunity to absorb the oil. Use a hairbrush to brush the product through.

You will feel clean, freshened up, AND you'll have a beautiful boost of a NON-lingering, naturally derived fresh citrus scent, with no powdery residue.  

Skye's Style Tip: Another thing I love to do when my hair is feeling oily and dirty, is after I've freshened up with my dry shampoo, playing around with braids or different fun styles. At first, it can feel challenging and difficult, but with practice, you will be a master at braiding! Braids or twists are particularly wonderful for dirty hair because they are beautiful and look intricate, distracting the eye from your dirty hair. I like to add a few clip-in extensions to enhance my braids and make them look much thicker. Adding dry shampoo or the Surface Push Powder ($31.45) to your hair is an awesome way to gain a bit of texture to help you create that thick, messy look without it slipping apart throughout the day! If braiding is not your thing, pull your hair into a low messy bun with a few pieces framing the face, or do a classic top-knot!! Look through Pinterest or YouTube to find some fun styles to distract you from running your fingers through your hair throughout the day. Our hands produce a lot of oil and will cause your hair to feel more oily the more you touch it. It's always fun to add some hair accessories. Hats, clips, headbands and scarves.

On day two I reference some great braid tutorials from Lauren Conrad's blog. WOW!! this is the hair how-to gold mine. Step by step instructions on buns, messy top knots, easy braids, and everything in between to keep me looking like I have just been to the stylist. 

Skye knows: Play around and find something that makes YOU feel beautiful. Before you know it, you will have gorgeous healthy locks that can go 2-3 days or even LONGER without washing. Good luck everyone! Remember that investing in good products with good ingredients is the key to having healthy, happy hair!! Always feel free to pop into Visions Salon & Spa here in Saskatoon. All of our staff are highly trained in Surface hair care, an organic line filled with ingredients that respect both your health and the earth. They will always be able to answer any questions you have and give you a prescription of products tailored to your unique head of hair!!  

-Skye Ukrainetz, Hairstylist and Nail Technician at Visions Salon & Spa.

THANK YOU SKYE!!! I'm on day three and can't wait to brag to my friends how I haven't washed my hair in days and can show off all my new hair styles. Visions Salon and Spa will be showing off their work as a hair sponsor for the upcoming Runway Fashion Show on Saturday April 22nd at the Modern Woman Show & Expo. For more information on VIP tickets click HERE......we happen to know that there is a complimentary blow-out gift certificate from Visions is in those swag bags ;)