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.

EPO.jpg
  •  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.

food.jpg

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

orgasm.jpg

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

bad toxic cleaning.jpg

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.

 

 

Meet the Runway: Luxquisite Clothing

Walking into Luxquisite Clothing's pop-up shop space you see a sweet little coffee station and sitting area to your left, a large Chanel No. 5 photo hanging to the right, and you instantly feel the coziness of home. And then there are the racks and racks of gorgeous clothing that lie beyond and allow you to imagine you're just relaxing in the walk-in closet of your dreams. That's exactly the atmosphere that owners Andrea and Chandra are hoping to infuse, as they've created an online boutique based around the premise of shopping fashionable pieces right from the comfort of your couch - tea mug in hand, messy bun - check! - while also hosting fun pop-up shop parties that allow their customers to meet and mingle in a gorgeous space.

IMG_2871.jpg

This double-threat of an established online presence AND physical presence has served these ladies well! The idea to create an online store that brought fashionable, trendy, affordable pieces right to your fingertips was brought to fruition when Andrea and Chandra (also BFFs; just adorable to the max) were both on mat leave with new babies. The goal was to find a way to merge their passion for fashion with another, bigger passion: staying at home with the kiddos. Fast-forward 4+ years (because life with kids really is on fast-forward) and they are a well-known name in Saskatoon's fashion industry, a strong online presence with their e-boutique, and a familiar face at the Modern Woman Show!

They'll be featured once again on the Modern Woman Fashion Show runway this year and we are so excited to see the incredible styles they'll be showcasing. Last year I was fortunate to walk in their Fashion Show set and rock the most beautiful floral-print dress with a hi-lo hem. It. Was. Stunning. As was everything else they sent down the runway, so stay tuned for when those VIP tickets will be on sale and make a fashion date with your girlfriends because you don't want to miss the show on April 14th! 

And, for those of us fashionistas who JUST CAN'T WAIT to get our hands on the goods, Andrea and Chandra are answering our prayers and treating #YXE to a pop-up shop this Saturday, January 20, from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. at 243 2nd Avenue South (2nd Floor)!! 

IMG_2854.JPG

Here's a sneak-peek of what you can find at the pop-up this weekend - big thanks to Andrea and Chandra for allowing me to come in, peruse their beautiful pieces and put a few fun flat lays together!

4 Outfits to Take You Through the Weekend

IMG_2856.JPG

WORK: Who says Fridays have to be casual when it's so much more fun to be chic! I love the idea of layering a simple black turtleneck under a sleeveless suede shift to make it office-appropriate. The luxurious textures play well together, even when you throw another lux fabric in the mix and add a cozy maxi-cardi over it all. This particular cardigan scores extra points with side slits that give it beautiful movement, plus the length is perfection. Add some understated bling and fabulous tall boots and you are SET! The best part? Switch out the cardi, turtleneck, and bling for a statement necklace, heels and a cute clutch and you've got your Friday night outfit cased, girl! 


IMG_2855.JPG

ERRANDS: First of all -- I need this top!! If that doesn't accurately sum up my life, I don't know what does - LOL! #CoffeeAddictsUnite But don't we all need this shirt in our lives for when we're running errands on Saturday with a Starbucks in each hand like the basic babes we are? I love this soft and slouchy tee paired with structured basics, like a dark denim jacket and olive green khaki joggers, and then elevated with a fun bootie. It's the perfect brunch-to-errands look for a Saturday morning. Put your hair up, hoop earrings in, stack some bracelets on your wrist and you're out the door! 


IMG_2857.JPG

DATE NIGHT: Insert fire emoji here because OMG this dress is hot, hot, HOT!! For those who are looking to shake up the Little Black Dress routine, but still keep it sleek and sexy, NAVY is the way to go. The rich hue of this dress is simply stunning and the deep V in both the front and back is just the right amount of sass. The PJ's-worn-as-fashion trend is huge right now and this outfit falls perfectly in line with sweet details like the lace edging on the dress and the pastel print of flowers and birds on the kimono. Soooo Carrie Bradshaw. Finish the look with a mixed-metal cuff, a soft chignon, these sexy-yet-comfy strappy heels and a dab of your favorite perfume. Off you go, you vixen you.


IMG_2859.JPG

SUNDAY FUNDAY: When it's finally time to relax and unwind, go for max comfort and coziness. This suuuuuper soft, perfectly millennial pink tee does the trick, with another accurate slogan and raw hems on every edge that allow it to slouch just right. Worn with your favorite black leggings and wooly accents, you'll be ready to take on important tasks such as binge-watching your current favorite Netflix series while FaceTiming your BFF and showing her everything you bought at Luxquisite's pop-up shop this weekend!


In case you can't make it to the pop-up shop this weekend, Luxquisite Clothing offers 24/7 access to their incredible fashion via their website and can be found on Facebook and Instagram! Luxquisite believes that "beauty lies in the simplicity of truth and originality" and prides itself in carrying a beautifully-curated collection of fashionable, affordable pieces that cover size ranges from XS - 3X. Come see Luxquisite Clothing on the runway at this year's Modern Woman Fashion Show, April 14th, at Prairieland Park.

xoxo

Mandy

What Is Essentrics Anyway?

Last year I did an entire season's worth of blog posts dedicated to exploring what is out there for fitness options aside from the standard gym visit. I tried everything from yoga to pole dancing and along the way one of my visits was to local business and Modern Woman vendor, Lead Integrated Health Therapies. 

I actually did a private class with Lead's founder, Jana Danielson, during which I learned the basic principles behind Pilates and what the studio was all about. Up to that point, I only knew Pilates as whatever the hell my dad was doing in the living room at 5am every day while I still lived at home. Its funny, because now I understand why he did it and while he actually still does. 

Jana gave me a list of classes to try at the studio that she thought would benefit my body specifically and while I tried many of them (I do recommend taking a full class session of Mat to get the basics down), I kept going back to Essentrics. It was strange because I really didn't understand what it was, but she recommended it so I tried it out despite my previous hatred of all things new. (I no longer fear new things, but that's a story for another day.) 

So what is Essentrics anyway? I could go into a long, garbly Wikipedia-like description that nobody would care to read, but long story short, its a workout that lengthens and strengthens muscles in their extended position, as opposed to contracted. We live our lives using primarily concentric (contracted) movements all day, every day. It limits our mobility and range of motion without us ever realizing it. 

So what does a class look like? Well, there are lots of different ones and teaching styles out there based on these principles that can be geared towards pain reduction, turning back the clock on physical aging, barre, focus on arms, legs, booty, and core. However, I take Jana's class at Lead (sometimes I take the other girl's too, they are all awesome...) and I can only describe it as 50 minutes of constant dynamic movement where all the tiniest muscles in your body shake and burn. In a good way. Just when you think you cant move in a certain way for one more second, you switch it up and the next movement creates an entirely new sensation that helps you actively recover while working another part of your body. 

If you looked in on a class you would probably think, "What the hell are those people doing??" It really doesn't look like a typical cardio class or bootcamp. It kind of looks like a wacky mix of Pilates, Tai Chi, dance, and Booty Barre all at once. Trust me, its harder than it looks.

Imagine stretching any given body part out to the fullest extent and then working it out in that position. It's not easy. Our bodies aren't adapted to move that way because we are conditioned to move the way modern desk jobs, driving, smart phones, and even conventional workouts teach our muscles to work. 

Right down to how we move our eyes, the way we use our feet, and the internal and external rotation of our hips, knees, wrists, and ankles are addressed in a way that jolts your whole body into realizing how limited we've allowed it to be. These are things that traditional workouts just don't address. Should you eliminate those other workouts? Of course not! All kinds of fitness is great (haha, ya, fitness whole pizza in my mouth...), but as I've said time and again, Pilates will give you the tools to do them better. Way better. Just ask weight lifters who have improved their personal bests by huge amounts just by strengthening their pelvic floor. Or ask golfers how it has improved their swing... although, full disclosure, nothing improves my swing. I really only excel at drinking and hurling my irons down the fairway in rage. #worst

Sound weird yet? I hope so. It is kind of weird. It's nothing like I had ever done before. However, truth be told, the feeling I get after a class is also like no other feeling I get after any other fitness class either. I would put my money where my mouth is and say that if someone committed to doing nothing but Essentrics in place of their regular routine for a month, hell, even two weeks, you would feel as though you had a totally different body. 

If I had to choose one workout for all eternity to keep me in the best overall physical condition long-term, Essentrics would be it. Hands down. Its incredibly effective, takes my love of control and fluidity, and then adds in cardio, strength, and stretching without using anything but my own body. It's awesome, and everyone should try it. 

Your first class at Lead's beautiful, top of the line facility is always free. Check them out at 214 Joseph Okemasis Dr. in Saskatoon, or online a www.leadpilates.com. You can also visit them at the Modern Woman Show & Exhibition at Prairieland Park April 14 & 15. 2018.

So, while you might look a bit eccentric, get in there and do some Essentrics. Your body will thank you. 

Until next time!

Katie xoxo

Hazy Shade of Winter

wintercoverpage.jpg

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 

Make Your 2018 Amazing with These Great Reads

Are you one of those people who sets New Year Resolutions? Or are you someone who knows yourself well enough to avoid making such a preposterous 365 day promise? Maybe you prefer bite-size goals so you set 30 day goals or three month goals. I have been both but, this year, I’m saying to hell with it. No New Year Resolutions for me. Bye, Felicia! This year is going to be about daily intentions and habits that will lead to a better year and, of course, a better life.

resolutions.jpg

If there’s one thing I learned in 2017 it was to basically stop everything I had been doing: stop seeking, stop dieting, stop punishing myself, stop the negative self-talk and stop planning for things beyond my control. This was not an easy task for a stubborn control freak like me. When I thought I had stopped those things, I stopped myself again and stopped some more.

Because of those 2017 lessons, this new year is about being present. Mindful. Grateful. Peaceful. And while I have a few small goals in mind, like paying down more of my student loan, I am not committing to anything that will stress me out. All of my intentions revolve around cultivating peace and presence. My 2018 is about daily mindfulness and habits that will ultimately lead to a better life. For instance, a daily gratitude practice and eating healthy are important to me. But I'm keeping it relaxed so it doesn't become a chore or a bombardment to my days.

Similarly, the undesirable self-care acts are on my radar as well. Saving money and budgeting with intention and mindfulness aren’t fun but will result in a better future for our family. 

My friends reading this are probably floored. I am usually the girl with 14 resolutions that have failed by April. I’m starting one workout while thinking about the next. I’m weighing what diet will be most effective for losing 20lbs. I'm also the one with the stack of bedside books on the self-help/personal development; the one constantly trying to change, grow and be better than I was the day before. I always feel crappy so I am the friend who’s trying on a new diet as often as I buy shampoo. I’ve tried paleo and keto and Whole30 and gluten-free AND dairy-free. I still feel crappy, despite all the restrictions, so I’m done! No more dieting!

This year is about tuning in and listening to my body. After my recurrent miscarriages (four in three years) I disconnected from my body. I subconsciously shut off that link because of the grief, guilt, shame, resentment and anger. Now, I am rebuilding that relationship by getting quiet with myself, listening inwardly and fulfilling my needs. If I crave chocolate, I’ll have a piece and enjoy - nay! - savour every single nibble. Lately, my body wants peanuts. A few months ago it was steamed broccoli. If we stop dieting and just listen, I truly believe our bodies will tell us what it needs and very rarely will it say a Big Mac with supersized fries and a fountain Coke. But, if it does occasionally, go for it with zero regrets! Move your body because it’s a beautiful vessel capable of running, jumping and floating. I am called to swimming and yoga lately and it feels so much better to exercise because I like to than to do a cardio workout because it’s a part of my scheduled fitness program.

I’m done body shaming and judging my body in the mirror. In fact, I’ve come to appreciate and love my body. I no longer feel shame for what it cannot do or what it looks like. I am grateful for my perfect working limbs and my curves, muscle, cellulite! All of it! Most of all, I am loving the woman who stares back at me. I’ve worked hard through reading, self-reflection, journalling, counselling, learning and so much more to become the person I am falling in love with today. I see a woman who is kind, thoughtful, funny and resilient. She’s also stubborn, short-tempered and a little self-righteous at times. She loves yoga and running and dislikes broken promises and flaky people. She is finally confident in her skin now. 

I need not seek externally for everything I was seeking was waiting deep within. It’s within you too.

I’ve read so many incredible books that have helped lead me to this point. Fall and winter 2017 were spent reading books that actually intrigued me and interested me rather than reading to change something about myself. Oddly enough (or, perhaps, not oddly if you are a Universe energy-loving type like myself), the few books I picked have actually been life changing.

bookstack.jpg

I feel so liberated and amazing, gliding into 2018 with small pieces of inner peace, an abundance of gratitude and a mantra to be present and mindful. I feel lighter now that I’m not weighed down by unobtainable goals, self-loathing and a diet. I feel freer not being attached to a fitness regime. I feel happy not having any New Year Resolutions.

I see now that the present moment is all that matters. How I want to be tomorrow is determined by what I do today, not what I did when I was 16 or what my mom said when I was 7.

I never thought I’d get to this point and I hope some of you want to know how you can get to this point, too. Maybe you hate your body or you have an ego the size of the moon. Maybe you have anxiety over the future that paralyses you from good decision-making skills. Perhaps you have a relationship with food that needs examining. Who knows?! But, if you’re still here reading this, I want to give you a few books that have literally CHANGED MY LIFE. If you like to read, read these. If you need a change of mindset, read these. If you want awesomely amazing things to happen each day, read these. If you want to love your body and release the death grip on food, well, you get it, read these:

ambrosini.jpg

1.       Mastering Your Mean Girl: The No-BS Guide to Silencing Your Inner Critic and Becoming Wildly Weathly, Fabulously Healthy and Bursting With Love by Melissa Ambrosini

We all have that inner voice, that inner bitch. You know the one; the one who tells you are fat, ugly and stupid. The one that tells you you’re not good enough for the promotion or the one who tells you to stay home because nobody likes you. We all have it. Some of us are just better at silencing it than others. In Mastering Your Mean Girl, Ambrosini gives you tangible tools to overcome your Ego/Mean Girl and change the way you think. It’s light, funny, loving and gives you simple tools to help you squash the negative self-talk for good!  For instance, she asks you to make a gratitude list. That’s an instant connection to happiness. How can you be upset or angry when you’re thinking of your kitten, your warm bed, your partner’s kisses or your kid’s giggles? She asks you to write a letter to yourself dated one year from now. They’re simple tasks with big results and stunning clarity.

 

wells.JPG

2.       The Goddess Revolution: Make Peace with Food, Love Your Body and Reclaim Your Life by Melissa Wells

Every woman who has ever thought she was fat, been on diets, counted calories, or loathed what she saw in the mirror NEEDS to read this book. Mel Wells teaches you to tune into your body, to really listen and to appreciate it for what it is at this exact moment. She shares her own personal story and struggles with an eating disorder and how she’s overcome it. Using testimonies and “fitspiration”, you’ll fall in love with your body a million times over and kick diets to the curb once and for all! Using logic and love, she teaches you how to change your thoughts and stop judging yourself. She helps you heal your body image. If you love your body you will ultimately want to treat it right, right? So instead of restricting calories and denying yourself delicious meals, focus on what makes your body feel good and then do more of that!

grout.jpg

3.       Thank and Grow Rich by Pam Grout

Just thinking about this book gives me goosebumps. Since reading this book in early November my life has actually changed. Or rather, my perception has changed so, therefore, my life has changed. Grout shows you how incredible it is to be a living, thinking, miraculous human and how each day is a perfect day to be overwhelmingly grateful to be alive. She gives you tools (which she calls Party Games) to find the gratitude in EVERYTHING. She gives thanks for everything and everyone. Since I started doing the same, I’ve seen an increase in my skin care company, requests to do workshops, more visitors to my blog, an appreciation for everything, and a bubble of happiness that sits in the centre of my chest, waiting to bubble over and out, omitting love and laughter everywhere. Sounds cheesy, I know, but wow, her words are incredibly powerful and waking up to the divine existence in ourselves is even more powerful. She encourages you to wake up every morning and, before even getting out of bed, proclaim something awesomely amazing is going to happen that day. It’s a beautiful habit to adopt. It's actually one that my best friend and I are doing. We text each other every morning and share three things we're grateful for. It sets a good tone and vibration to start our days. An attitude of gratitude, for the good and the bad, is truly magical!

moorjani.jpg

4.       Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani

This is a book that will blow your mind. Moorjani, a woman riddled with cancer, falls into a coma and has an incredible near-death experience that actually heals the cancer that is killing her. Not only is her story a medical miracle and completely unbelievable, yet awe-inspring, but the wisdom and love she finds on the other side of the veil is poetic, romantic and beautiful. One thought she shares that sticks with me is: what if Heaven is Earth? We all strive for a Heaven above but, up there, you can’t taste chocolate or feel a hug. Maybe Heaven is here and we’re meant to be expressions of heavenly love. Isn’t that wonderful? Her words also give me great comfort in dying. I can honestly say (being a healthy woman so hey, this could easily change in the face of death) that I’m not afraid to die. She actually brought me peace with this inevitable fact. Death may not be as bad as I thought it was. It’s not religious but it’s deeply spiritual and life-affirming. Love, she says, is the answer. Always.

I hope you enjoy these incredible books and they make impactful impressions upon you like they did for me! Please let me know if you've read any of the above OR if you have any further recommendations to add! Which magical books are on your nightstand this January?

 

 

presence over presents

 photo credit: Jesslaine Elise

photo credit: Jesslaine Elise

With the holidays over and onto the new year, a question I'm hearing a lot is "what did Santa bring you?" --  "what did you "Get" for Christmas?". Setting kids up that Christmas is about getting gifts. My husband and I have always been about presence over presents (of course, we wrap up some LEGO, board games and one personalized gift per kid) but, the older the kids are getting and the busier our lives are becoming, it's more important now then ever. 

My sisters have also joined this train of thought and just finished their second annual Christmas scavenger hunt with the kids at the farm. It is SO much fun and there is nothing better than creating memories together.

 photo:  deMo Photography  (husband)

photo: deMo Photography (husband)

 photo credit:  deMo Photography

photo credit: deMo Photography

My family also pulls back the reins on gifts throughout the year and contributes to the kid's education funds. They opt for a little something - book or small LEGO set - for something to open but they don't even know how great the gift of education will be until later in life. It's so wonderful.

One of our greatest annual getaways is to the lake. We stroke two weeks off the calendar 2 years in advance (mainly because of my work and summer weddings) and, come the morning the online booking opens up, we are on there bright and early to snag from our selected groupings of beautiful sites at various lakes. Never really particular as to where we go, as long as the facilities are clean and well-maintained, there's electricity (as we are glampers, not campers) and that there is a beach for our copious amounts of "river races" . You'll have to join us at the beach to know what that's all about! Lately, one of our fave spots has been Emma Lake.

Many opt for the winter holiday of a one week or 10 day all-inclusive and, don't get me wrong, that is totally my jam and we fortunately used to do this... but now, as a family of 5, it's an easy $10k. and... nope.

 photo credit:  deMo Photography

photo credit: deMo Photography

 photo credit:  deMo Photography

photo credit: deMo Photography

 photo credit: Jesslaine Elise

photo credit: Jesslaine Elise

So, put some thought into the next gift you give to your child, or someone else's! Instead of a toy, opt for some movie tickets, an art class, or an afternoon grazing the library together and sharing some ice cream. As long as you're showing your love and undivided attention.... you're winning.

xo happy new year friends

Joc

If you can be one thing, be KIND.

Happy New Year, friends!! Are you so ready to tackle 2018 and show it who’s boss?! I hope the holidays treated you well and afforded you opportunities to rest, relax and spend time with those you love most. 

I love the Christmas holidays immensely. The decorations, the carols, the city lit up in lights…it always ignites a warm and cozy feeling inside me, like there’s a certain magic in the air we’re all experiencing that makes us a little kinder, a little softer, a little more understanding of one another. We hold doors for strangers, wait patiently in long checkout lines, surprise our friends with sweet gifts and genuinely want to spread cheer wherever we go.

xmas_charlie_brown-580x408.jpg

And then Christmas comes and goes, we pop champagne and cheers to the arrival of a new year and a fresh canvas to fill with our hopes, dreams and goals, and swiftly head back into the hustle-and-bustle of our regularly scheduled programs — often with the dread of Visa bills and a long January replacing that warm Christmas cheer in our souls. We forget to hold doors, we get impatient in long lines, we get too busy to slow down and take care of ourselves, let alone notice when others around us need taking care of, and, by the third week of January, our resolutions are out the window and we’re back to the same old, same old. Sound familiar?


Now, I get this is one of those “novel ideas” that’s easier said than done…a quaint notion…but hear me out: what if we could actually apply that level of Christmas kindness all year round? I know — I KNOW. I just quoted a thousand Christmas carols and it sounds too sunny and rose-tinted to be reality, but again…WHAT IF? 


On the evening of Dec. 21st I was out doing the late-night, last-minute shopping thing, hitting all the major shopping areas in search of kinetic sand for my son and loading up on last-minute goodies to put under the tree. My back seat was full of bags, as was my passenger seat. (Side note: did you know if you pile heavy bags on your passenger seat, the seat belt sensor thinks a person is sitting there and the seat belt alarm will ding until you go crazy and pull over to re-arrange your bags?? Lesson learned!!) I decided to go through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Coke (a rare treat - don’t judge) and, in my wallet, I had my plastic cards plus a $20 bill, neither of which I wanted to use for such a small purchase, so I scrounged through my change cup, my purse and my floor mats to come up with the $1.65 I needed to cover my drink and not break that $20 bill. Then, as I was pulling out of the drive-thru, window almost up, I heard a small voice to my left asking if I had any spare change. I glanced and saw a man I’d seen a few days earlier when I was having lunch downtown with my son. It was a -33 night and he was freezing cold, standing in a somewhat sheltered-from-the-wind corner, wearing a large backpack and an inadequate winter jacket. I couldn’t stop, as there was already a car pulling up behind me, but I remembered my $20 bill and quickly pulled over to park. I grabbed the money from my wallet, put my toque and gloves back on, and ran over to talk to this man. I apologized for not hearing him in time to stop and offered the $20, which he gratefully took, and then told me he had something for me as well. I wasn’t at all nervous, but instead thought it was sweet that he would think things needed to be a “fair trade”, so to speak. He pulled a notebook out of his heavy pack and I saw some handwriting on the first page, with the same thing copied on a few more pages. He ripped one page out and gave it to me, saying he hoped there would be something in his words that would help me as much as I had just helped him. We shook hands, we exchanged names, wished each other a Merry Christmas, and I ran back to my car. My fingertips were frozen as I pulled the piece of paper up to read it and I couldn’t fathom how this man was surviving in such icy temps. His words said:

IMG_2435.JPG

By the end of the page, I was in tears. My heart felt torn out. I wished I could do more to help him — help everyone in his position — and yet, I was more touched by this man’s kindness and the transfer of positive energy that happened between us than I was sad. I felt something change inside me, as I looked around at the bags and bags of STUFF in my car. Next year, Christmas will be about making memories and helping others and may not include a tree at all, let alone shiny presents underneath it. And every day leading up to next Christmas will be treated no differently than the holidays themselves. I don’t predict it will be an easy shift to consciously and repeatedly choose kindness as I foresee all kinds of moments arising that will test my commitment to this and make me want to choose anger or impatience or frustration instead, but I’m committed nonetheless. 

kindness-quotes-77.jpg

Now I know I was brought onboard to blog about fashion but, like red lipstick, little black dresses, and Gucci bags, KINDNESS never goes out of style. Will you make it your go-to accessory in 2018, too?

xoxo

Mandy

Auld Lang Syne... And All That Jazz

Oh, the holidays. They’re here again. The time of vast consumerism (ahem, #shoplocal), copious amount of holiday “cheer”, Mariah Carey, and spending time with the jolliest bunch of as*holes this side of the nuthouse.

Old times past, days gone by... however you want to take the meaning of Auld Lang Syne (you know, that song you slur along to at midnight on New Year’s Eve?), this time of year is typically a time of reflection and moving forward from days past.

I’ve found that during this time people often spend this time reflecting on the negativity of the past year and looking ahead to the next, vowing to make it the best ever. I’ve always thought that was so weird and wondered what the hell could have made their lives so terrible that it merited such an array of Instagram and Facebook posts shunning the past year?

I saw a meme the other day that asked “Who will you be kissing on new year’s?”, to which the reply was, I’m kissing 2017 goodbye”. Huh. I thought to myself, Yep, I finally get it. (Although I’ll actually be on a girl's trip kissing my friends in a bar, but whatevs, it's pretty much the same thing.) 

 Hey buddy, pucker up. #byefelicia

Hey buddy, pucker up. #byefelicia

We’ve had a terrible year. I say we because, not just me, but many of my family and friends have endured so much hardship and loss this year that it’s almost laughable. In fact, it is laughable. Everything is, you just have to spin it the right way. I always say “No matter how bad something is, if you can’t find a way to laugh then there’s no hope”.

Lucky for everyone I know, I’m ridiculous and they can always laugh at me.

The thing is, we can look forward to kissing 2017 goodbye but, rather than dwelling on the negative, I am encouraging all our readers to look at every negative thing that happened this year and find the good that came out of it. That’s really f*cking hard. I know it.

Maybe you lost someone you loved.
Maybe you suffered a huge financial setback.
Maybe someone you love is battling illness.
Maybe you are battling illness.
Maybe a relationship ended.

No matter what the circumstance, think of it this way: that thing, that sh*tty thing (or things) that you went though? It has made you stronger, smarter, and wiser whether you realize it now or not. That is powerful and important. You’ve grown. Take those lemons and make some Beyoncé-worthy lemonade.

Every time I feel as though I’ve grown (emotionally that is, not as in the size of my ass), I realize I’m more capable and suck a little less at life. Evolving as an adult allows me to cope more positively with stressful situations, decide what deserves my time and energy, and it makes me a better person. 

I'm a pretty anxious person when it comes to stupid stuff. It's really odd actually, because I'm a really chill when it comes down to the big things. I would excel as a crisis manager and, if my cardio was stronger, I would be probably be the lone survivor in the zombie apocalypse.  However, any of my close friends or family would say that I overthink all the dinky stuff... and it's so true. I will think a ridiculous situation through to the point where it's evolved into something larger than life. (You should see me pick out bedding...). During one of my recent ponders over drinks one night my sister said to me, "I always ask myself, what's the worst that can happen?" Cliché right? Except it stuck with me. It stuck with me because I realized I've grown too much in my life to sweat the small stuff. So that's my advice that I'm passing down second hand, because it's allowing me to go into 2018 firmly believing that there's nothing to come of worrying about stupid stuff except the worry itself... and possibly some embarrassment. But, please refer back to mastering the ability to laugh at any situation. So, be wild and choose the bedding that's on sale, do the boudoir shoot, send that drunk text, go out with new friends, take a last minute holiday, wear an outfit that's totally out of your comfort zone, be loud and proud about your love for Taylor Swift. #yolo

Be confident that you can broaden your horizons because you never know where life will take you. At the end of the day, its all small stuff. 

With the holidays upon us, take the time to really connect with people. Ask questions about them and learn from their experiences as well as yours. Be kind to others; it costs absolutely nothing. Reflect on what you are grateful for and invest in those things going forward. Be accepting of other people and show respect despite your differences. Cut out the crazy and don’t let the jerks bring you down.

And if you need a laugh, just find me. I’m a f*cking delight.

Happy holidays, my fellow modern women... I sincerely wish everyone all the best in business, beauty, and being 100% badass throughout 2018!

Katie xoxo
 

Excuse Me While I Disconnect

I am addicted to my phone. I’m the first to admit it and the first to get defensive when someone calls me out on it. My husband is the same. And a phone addiction does not bode well for marriage or family life. He would get mad at me for using mine and I’d get mad at him for his. We were at a stalemate. We both knew we had no right to complain about the other because we were both equally terrible; him for his games (I curse you Clash of Clans!) and Flipboard, me for social media and working outside of work hours. It was out of control. Plus, we were becoming increasingly concerned over how our bad habits were affecting our daughter. She’d repeat herself over and over because we weren’t listening and had recently started saying, “look up from your phone!” RED FLAG, right?

cell phone sign.png

Science is showing there’s huge issues with cell phone use and, specifically, social media. It’s time we start listening and doing something about it, especially if you have little kids who are always watching. The notifications we receive trigger the release of dopamine, the pleasure juice, in our brains. That little sound or symbol announcing someone has reacted to us in some way keeps us hooked to it, the same way people become addicted to drugs or sex: the pleasure dopamine releases keeps us coming back for more. Dopamine is created in many areas of the brain and is linked to many brain functions such as thinking, sleeping, mood, attention and reward. We’re a society addicted to instant gratification and our phones are the perfect tool to obtain it. We’ve become addicted to social media and its likes and shares. We’ve become addicted to gaming. We’re addicted to the “know”: if you need to know something -- anytime, anywhere -- Google it. I’m addicted to social media and the “know”, plus the habit of constantly looking at my phone mindlessly. It was becoming a serious problem for me but there aren’t steps or help available yet for internet/phone/social media addiction. I had to do something though so, after some careful research, my husband and I agreed to both implement some changes.

I have to believe there are many more people in this same boat: addicted to social media and the “pings” of likes and messages or hooked on games or obsessed with watching stocks or watching YouTube videos. So here’s what we did to start:

 

1.       Make folders on your phone. Organize your apps. Put them into the folders. Push them to the second ‘page’ of your phone. Dopamine loves colour and we now associate certain colours with certain apps (blue, anyone?) so keep your main page void of triggering and brain excitable colours.

 The main page of my phone. Limited colour, no "fun" apps. 

The main page of my phone. Limited colour, no "fun" apps. 

 The second page has all my folders and apps

The second page has all my folders and apps

2.       Delete the apps you really don’t need. Do you really need four recipe apps? For me this was Facebook, games and my Kindle.

3.       Turn off notifications. Don’t let those “pings” get to you!

4.       If you do a lot of work from your phone, download Hootsuite or another similar app to schedule posts. Take an hour to get them ready and scheduled and walk away! The app will do the rest.

5.       Start with a simple rule to get into the flow of change. For us, it was no electronics in our bedroom. This meant no more computers, phones or TV allowed. It also meant investing in an alarm clock.

These few rules were easy to get into. Logging into Facebook from my web browser felt more like a pain than it was worth so my social media time cut back significantly and immediately. I had thought turning on the Night Shift display on my phone wouldn’t trigger my brain as much so I was constantly using my Kindle before bed. But I quickly learned that the disease I thought I had from my constant, unexplainable exhaustion was in fact from using my device before bed. What a relief to know I wasn’t dying!

Those five rules still apply but we’ve now gone deeper since. We’ve now decided no phones AT ALL after 7 pm. They get left in the kitchen and we walk away. Of course, if the phone rings we will answer it but it rarely happens for us these days! Once we are ready for bed, phones go on silent. I thought it would be a hard transition but the benefits are outweighing the discomfort. Here’s how:

1.       I never realized how addicted I was to my phone until I didn’t have it beside me. Now, when I’m in bed and I pause while reading or journaling, I will AUTOMATICALLY reach for my phone without thinking! How crazy is that!? Think of how many times I was picking up my phone unconsciously with it always so close! However, knowing this makes me fight harder to get over this and be more conscious when I do have my phone nearby.

2.       My quality of sleep has improved 1000%. Like I mentioned before, I was beginning to think there was something seriously wrong with me because I was so exhausted all the time. I was lethargic and foggy, moody and irritable a lot of the time but especially in the mornings. I changed my diet, bed time, number of hours I was sleeping, pillows, you name it only to discover it was using my phone right up until bedtime that was keeping me from a restful sleep. I sleep like a peaceful baby now and sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night blown away I have so many more hours to sleep because I will feel so rested already by 2am or so.

3.       My circadian rhythm is re-balanced. Similar to above, my body is more in tune with its natural rhythms and cycles now. Before we would stay up later than necessary only to find that second wind that would keep us up even later and in turn, we’d sleep in later than we wanted. We now go to sleep when our bodies demand it, usually around 9:30 and are up at 6am with no troubles. We wake up refreshed, energized and ready for the day! Also, a 6am wake up sets a really good tone for our day. We are usually up before our daughter so that means we can get some quiet, uninterrupted things done. For me, that’s typically a yoga session and a hot cup of coffee. For my husband, it’s stretching and a long, hot shower. We make a healthy breakfast now instead of mad dashing to the kitchen to throw smoothies together before running out the door as we did previous to our phone disconnection.

4.       My marriage is improved. Can you say pillow talk?! Lots and lots of pillow talk! My husband and I communicate so much more now that sometimes I look at him and think, “I’m still learning so much about you and its been over a decade together.” I feel like I’m falling in love with pieces of him all over again and learning new pieces that have since fallen into place in him. We actually talk now in the bedroom versus us getting into bed and picking up our phones. There’s no showing each other videos or articles, music with headphones or social media. It’s just chats and whatever else is supposed to happen in a marital bed! Our bedroom is more intimate and cozy now; something that wasn’t at its full potential with phones and TV in the way.

5.       Our family time is more meaningful and plentiful. We spend more time together as a family. We bake goodies, play board games, snuggle under the blankets with the occasional movie or TV show and we talk more. We’re currently teaching our daughter about gratitude and spending time each night to share what we are feeling grateful for that day. I don’t know if our more mindful presence is the contributing factor but our daughter is also a better listener and helper. I don’t have to ask twice for her to clean her room anymore!

 Just one of our new family evening hobbies: baking! She's always so excited to lick the beaters!

Just one of our new family evening hobbies: baking! She's always so excited to lick the beaters!

6.       I’m more conscious of the time I do spend on my phone. I run my business, a non-profit and my blog from my phone so it’s easy to be a slave to it. I was so scared of losing business or readers or opportunities if I wasn’t available 24/7 that I kept my phone near me at all times. Now I know that I can operate on normal business hours and the messages and emails can wait until “open” the next morning. When I do want to surf because, let’s face it, social media and the internet can be really fun and informative, I set an alarm on my phone and will give myself an allotted block of time for it. Otherwise it’s easy to start scrolling only to look up and see that an hour or two has passed. It sucks you in! An alarm keeps me in check and knowing I have only 20 minutes makes me more apt to read articles that interest me (like mindbodygreen.com) than to scroll Facebook.  

7.       I’m already detaching from my phone. When I’m in public or with friends, I keep my phone put away now. This has allowed me to have nice conversations with strangers, witness beautiful things happening around me and be a more active listener for my friends and family. I’m actually annoyed now when I’m with people who are constantly texting/on their phone in my presence. Be respectful of your friendship/relationship and be present. In that moment, that connection is all that matters and it’s more meaningful than anything you’re seeking through text/social media/internet. BE PRESENT.

All of these changes began about a month ago so the transformation is quick and incredible. I can only imagine how life will be in a few more weeks or even months as we become even more present and mindful. If any of our addictive habits with our phones/electronics resonates with you, I urge you to adopt a couple of our rules and try it yourself. It really is a huge benefit to yourself and everyone around you.

 

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

lips.jpg

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).

botoxbeforeandafter.jpg

 

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.

nasolabialfold.jpg

 

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.

MidwestLogo.jpg

A Fashionista's Guide to Saturday in Saskatoon

7:30 A.M.

Rise and shine, sister! Grab your cutest gym gear, put your bulletproof coffee in your favourite travel mug and head to Lead Pilates on Joseph Okemasis Drive for Desiree’s Boot Camp class to kickstart your morning! Don’t be late - class starts at 8:15 a.m.! Reserve your spot online beforehand -- no prerequisites or previous experience required! Nothing like a 30 minute sweat sesh to start your day right.

8:45 A.M.

Yesss, girl! Way to slay that workout! Now treat yourself with some sassy new gym attire from Lead’s storefront boutique; they have an incredible array of leggings, tops, tanks, and sweaters that transition effortlessly into streetwear style. If you don’t own a pair of Alo Yoga’s Moto leggings, you need to put them on your list to Santa immediately! In addition to the Moto, I have my eye on a pair of black glittery leggings that I want to wear with little black booties and a leather jacket all holiday season long! 


 The cutest postcards delivered with your bill at SHIFT!  Photo courtesy of former MWS blogger, Mandi Newman

The cutest postcards delivered with your bill at SHIFT!

Photo courtesy of former MWS blogger, Mandi Newman

10:00 A.M. 

After a quick refresh at home, meet your girls at the hottest new eatery in town - Shift Restaurant, located inside the Remai Modern. The natural sunlight streaming in the floor-to-ceiling windows and the beautiful stark white simplicity of the decor are going to give you and the girls some fantastic selfie opportunities for IG, I’m just sayin’. And the food - YUM! You’re probably going to want to IG that, too. While you’re waiting for your plates of deliciousness to arrive, take a peek at the latest arrivals Bella Chic has to offer in their online boutique and coordinate your holiday party looks with your crew. Extra bonus for the current sales happening in the dress department! Snap these beauties up quick and be covered for every holiday occasion!

Left to right: Holiday Christmas Party, Christmas Morning, Christmas Dinner, New Year's Eve


11:30 A.M.

Finish up those cappuccinos, hit Post on those IG pics, and decide what the next plan of action is going to be. Still have a few gifts to get? Take a browse through the Remai gift shop for unique items or purchase a year-long membership for the art-lover in your life! I’m getting one for my mother-in-law, an artist of many mediums, so she can stop in and check out the new exhibits whenever she pleases. 

NOON

Time to wander down 2nd Avenue to the best one-stop-shop in downtown YXE — none other than Era Style Loft, located beside Birks on 21st Street East. While Era is already at the top of its game in offering a variety of luxury goodies, from clothing and loungewear to handbags, shoes and all the jewels and accessories, they’ve recently expanded their store to include the most adorable collection of kid’s clothing and accessories under the mini.moss by era brand. It’s whimsical, adorable, and just the perfect thing to put under the tree for the little people in your life. And, this weekend ONLY, enjoy the golden VIP treatment of customer service as Era puts on their first annual Era x Mini Moss Gift Giving event. The lovely and brilliant ladies of Era are making your shopping so incredibly fun and easy by creating “curated by you, made by us” gift baskets that are perfectly tailored to your budget and your loved one's style. Trust me, these bundles of joy are so awesome, it’s going to be hard not to make one for yourself, too!! A cashmere sweater or silk PJ set, complete with a diffuser from Antica Farmacista and a bottle of rose - DONE!

Examples of curated gift baskets for adults and children - photo credit: Era Style Loft Blog


2:00 P.M.

Let your soles lead you wherever they want to go! When you’re in downtown Saskatoon the options for retail perusal are endless in all directions. Check off your Christmas list while supporting small businesses and discover some new favourite shops while you’re at it. I’ve challenged myself to solely support local when Christmas shopping these past four years and I’m always blown away by the amazing things I can find right here in this city! 


4:00 P.M. 

Time to unwind and get off those feet, girl! Book yourself in for a service at the newly-rebranded Sage - The Beauty Bar (an amalgamation of Salon Twist and LeLash Boutique) and soothe your soul in this stunning space located at 500 Melville Street, above the Alloy Collision Centre. Honestly, I cannot stop raving about how absolutely gorgeous this place is to everyone I see!! Even my regular gas boy at Co-op has heard about it and may have already booked himself in for a haircut. The front-end reception is worth a trip alone with its vast assortment of treasures to gift yourself and others from luxe brands like Oribe, Living Proof, Eminence Organics, Kevyn Aucoin, Ellis Faas and jewelry from our very own Megan of elizabeth.lyn jewelry. Then, as you step into the various spa or salon spaces, you feel as if you’re in your own little slice of heaven. Melissa really covered every detail when creating this fantastic space. I don’t want to spoil too much, as it’s absolutely worth taking in with fresh eyes, so I’ll just leave this link here, which makes creating a customer account & booking yourself in easy-peasy, and a few glimpses of the ambience in the pics below.


From here, the evening is yours! Maybe you want to keep the cozy feeling rolling and curl up under a toasty blanket with hot chocolate and Netflix, or maybe you’re up for hitting the town and showing off some of the new items you likely picked up along today’s adventures! If you're me, you're taking a drive through the Enchanted Forest with the Christmas carols on the radio because it really is the most wonderful time of the year. Whatever you finish your day with, I hope it ends as fabulously as it began, beautiful girl! Maybe I'll see you next Saturday at Shift ;)

xoxo

Mandy

 

Cold coffee + late nights - The reality of working from home.

I am a jewelry designer, an entrepreneur and a business owner - and I work from home. I am so fortunate - and I know that, but there is a common misconception that working from home is the best ever.... I often hear something along the lines of :  "That's soooo great! How nice you can stay at home with Asher (my one year old son, aka the cutest little mofo in the world) and work when you want to! ". Yes - I am lucky, and it is great...  but I most certainly do not get to work when I want to. I am an entrepreneur and business owner - and I am also a stay at home mama. That means I work when I can, which is not always when I want to. I manufacture and fill orders when Asher naps, I return emails and draft Instagram posts at 5:30 a.m. when he wakes me up for the day, and I update inventory and order supplies late at night while the rest of my house is asleep. Of course, like anything, there are pros and cons to working from home. Pros? I don't have to scrape car windows in the freezing cold everyday and I likely don't even have to leave the house at all in minus 40 weather if I don't want to (huge pro!). I don't have to pack a lunch, punch a timecard, or answer to a boss. If I am caught up, ahead of schedule and don't have any pressing to-do's I can take a random mid-week day off. Cons? Sometimes there are days that go by when the only interaction I have with other adults, besides my partner, is when my parents call to FaceTime with Asher. I drink way too much cold coffee and I'm running out of podcast episodes of True Crime Garage. I'm on my phone much more than I want to be and the struggle is that I run my business through it. 

I won't bore you with my daily routine because it changes every single day. I go from "jewelry designer boss babe" to changing dirty diapers and cleaning up a floor full of toys in seconds. I tag jewels and make phone calls while Asher eats lunch in his highchair. I lug him to the post office weekly to ship orders, he comes with me on drop-offs, retailer visits and generally every errand I need to run. He bangs on the window and waves when he sees the mailman and the DHL and Canada Post delivery drivers know his nap schedule #dontringthedoorbell. I do not have set work hours, which can be super amazing, and also very challenging. It means I have to be consistent and super organized, which is not my forte, so I make many lists in order to maintain order in both my business and my day-to-day momming. It took me a few weeks and some sleep training to get somewhat consistent in my morning routine and, because I get the bulk of my hands-on work (aka manufacturing, tagging and packing orders) done while Asher naps in the morning, I need to be very intentional with my time. No one is more surprised than me at how much I can get done in 1.5 to 2 hours - except for today when he refused to nap at all and I got nothing done.

Over the past few months of working from home I have learned a few things that make a huge difference in my productivity and, as anyone who works from home knows, it is very tempting to stay in your cozy pj's,  but the days I actually do are very few and far between.

Here are few of my personal top tips for working from home: 

LEAVE those pj's in the bedroom! Shower and get dressed like you would if you were leaving the house. Leggings and a sweater totally count, makeup is optional. 

SEPARATE your workspace from your main living space -- this is KEY to eliminating distractions! Maybe it's an office in the spare room, a studio space in the backyard or a desk in the corner area of your basement (that's me!) - wherever works for you and your home. 

MAKE your work space somewhere you want to spend your time. I used to settle in on the couch, throw on Netflix and #makemakemake. Now that doesn't work and my workspace is a desk (and surrounding area downstairs in our less-than-cozy basement) so I added some cute décor + prints to the shelves of jewelry supplies and spools of chain, I burn a soy candle or diffuse essential oils while I work, and I listen to podcasts on speaker because I can.

POUR your coffee in an insulated mug to eliminate having to leave and reheat it when it inevitably gets cold. Better yet, move your coffeemaker to your workspace. #brilliant

KEEP snacks close. Wandering to the kitchen leads down a rabbithole of distractions.

DON'T multitask. A very wise person once told me - multitasking makes you stupid. She's right. Don't start loads of laundry because you will have to stop working and switch them. Don't put anything in the oven because you will go back to work, forget and burn it. 

INVEST in a good old fashioned day planner, one that has room for notes, lists and your week at a glance. Yes, I know our iPhones can do that, but I personally find it more functional to use a day planner. I like old fashioned pen-to-paper and the feeling of victory that comes from physically crossing something off a list.

FIND a system that works for you, whatever your line of work. Now, step back and look for ways to improve it further. Time is money, honey, and the more efficient your system the more you will get done. There are always ways to streamline and save time and energy.

SCHEDULE to get out of the house. Meetings, errands, a coffee break. This is VERY important - it's easy to stay inside for days on end and it isn't healthy. 

POUR yourself a glass of wine Friday afternoon - because you can drink at work when you work from home ;) 

 

xo, 

Megan

 

 

 

 

 

What's In My Makeup Bag?

As a professional makeup artist I often get asked, “What’s the best this?” or “Who makes the best that?”. Honestly, there is no right answer to those questions. Whatever you like, that’s the best thing for your mug.

I have the most sensitive-sally skin on the face of this planet so my personal picks are unique to me, just like yours will be to you. Things like mascara and skin care products have been a serious experiment in trial and error for me over the years. I also wear very little makeup unless it’s a special occasion, I’m being photographed, or I have (the world’s cruelest joke) a massive breakout of adult acne.

So while I have my professional kit curated with products that perform best for my clients in the genres that I frequently work in (which is 90% bridal), my personal collection of frequently used products is fairly basic. Just like me. *Tosses hair in messy bun and takes sip of Starbucks.* 

That said, here are my personal favourite things for the inquiring minds out there. For everyone else, too bad, here they are anyway.

Celazome Code 4 Spray Lotion
Liquid gold. This spray lotion is one of my favourite products on the market. If I was going to choose only one skin care product to have for the rest of my life this would probably be it. I don’t use a makeup primer, although there’s nothing wrong with using one, but I make sure my face is properly moisturized before applying anything else. This leaves my skin quenched without feeling heavy or greasy. Midwest Laser Centre; $130

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation
This foundation is my go-to for myself and my clients. Of course, there are always other things I have because no face is the same, but this my #1 pick. A favourite among makeup pros, celebs, and consumers alike, this silicone-based formula actually looks like skin, is buildable, self-priming, self-setting, and 100% cruelty free. Another bonus? It's a Canadian company, based out of Calgary, Alberta. 
www.faceatelier.com; $52

face atelier.jpg



MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Powder
I don’t always use a pressed powder but if I feel like I need a touch of extra coverage or need a quick touch up, this is my go-to. The shades are an easy match and it looks super natural on my skin. www.maccosmetics.ca; $38

Arbonne Glow On Bronzer
I have a million bronzers but there’s just something about this one. I rarely use blush; instead, I just use this. It has a very small touch of shimmer and a really natural sun-kissed colour. www.arbonne.com; $47

Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight Highlighter
I HATE rocket man shimmery highlighters. They look insane. People have taken the idea of highlighting to a new planet that I never want to visit. Blechh. The purpose of a highlighter is exactly that - to highlight the points of your face that you want to bring forward. This product does just that. Minimal shimmer and a beautiful colour that looks good on almost everyone. I dust this so lightly on the tops of my cheekbones and above the Cupid’s bow of my lip to give my face some extra dimension and a bit of glow. I use the powder version but it also comes in a gorgeous liquid that gives such a dewy glow with a damp Beauty Blender. Sage Beauty Bar Saskatoon; $53

Lorac Pro Palette
This is another one that is in my makeup bag, but is also the Holy Grail in my kit. This palette has every eye shadow I would ever need for myself and then some (especially seeing as I usually only use one boring shade of brown in my crease), it’s long wearing, and it blends like a dream. This was a tricky one to get to Canada for awhile but now it's a breeze ordering from the States (prices are converted and shipping/duties are paid at checkout so there are no surprises)! www.ulta.com; $55.80

lorac_propalette002.jpg



Arbonne "It's A Long Story" Mascara
I have super sensitive eyes and this is legitimately this only mascara I’ve found that doesn’t burn my eyeballs off. It also gives a nice deep colour, while adding thickness and length. I personally choose to make a huge mess and take it upon myself to curve the brush when I get a new tube just because I like the way it applies that way. www.arbonne.com; $49

Kevyn Aucoin Flesh Toned Pencil
These lip pencils are the best. I use the colour “Minimal” and I put that sh*t under everything. Lipstick, lipgloss, on its own... it's the Frank's Red Hot of cosmetics for me. I probably have 14 of the exact same pencil and one is in every purse I own, in every room of my house, and likely another 3 kicking around in my kit. Sage Beauty Bar Saskatoon; $30

SST Brow Fix
This local makeup company developed by Sharon Sharp-Titus, professional makeup artist and founder of ESP Salon Sales, has so many little gems of products that people don’t know about. I love this brow gel because it’s clear, lightweight, and holds my brows in place all day. Once you apply your brow pencil or powder, brushing this product through blends and holds everything in place. I shape and tint my brows every month so I rarely need any pencil or powder; instead, I just smooth them in place with this gel and voila! www.sstsignatureseries.com; $23.95

Lipstick. ALL the lipsticks.
Oh lipstick, how do I love thee? My one true makeup love is lipstick. I am drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I love it all. My favs are the MAC lustre finishes -- I especially love Spice It Up (pictured below) and Plumful, ($22). I love both the Clinique Long Last and Clinique Different Lipstick formulas. In fact, my mom can't remember that I've hated seafood for the entire 36 years I've been on Earth but she knows without question that All Heart is my favourite Clinique shade. ($22). I also love the Kevyn Aucoin Matte Lipcolour, especially in bold colours like Endless and Everlasting (Sage Beauty Bar Saskatoon, $42), and the Arbonne Smoothed Over Lipstick in both Terra and Aster (www.arbonne.ca; $36). When I reach for gloss I'm super-picky about consistency and my two favs are actually both from local brands! I love the Lia Reese Lip Gloss in Katherine (Just For You Day Spa, $25) and the SST High Shine Lip Polish in Chic (www.sstsignatureseries.com; $23.95). I mention all these shades simply because this post is about what's in MY makeup bag, but your fav shades will be all about you! 

lip.jpg

If and when I do a full face of makeup on myself, which is about as likely as finding Ogopgo, I will use all or some of these products. I have more makeup than you can shake a stick at (though I don’t know why you would shake a stick at makeup, but whatever) so there are clearly other things I throw into my routine once in awhile, but these are my ride-or-die products. 

Are there other amazing products out there? OF COURSE! Cosmetics is a bazillion dollar a year industry, so lots of companies are doing something right. There are also loads of product types that I didn’t even mention... eyeliners for one, blush for another. Don’t even get me started on “contour kits”. #shityoudontneed

If you ask any other makeup artist what’s in their makeup bags, their lists will be totally different. That’s the beauty of beauty. It’s unique and it’s whatever works for you. So keep on being babes, bare faced or full faced.

Just please avoid the “Instagram Brows”. I beg of you. You’ll thank me in ten years when you look back at pictures.

Until next time, keep calm and makeup on!

Katie xoxo

P.S. Want to book your wedding party with me? Of course you do! You can find me on Facebook at Katie Martin Makeup Artistry & Esthetics, on Instagram @heyitskatie_yxe, and email me at katie.martin@live.ca ... I look forward to working with you! 
 

The Curse of Woman

I recently attended my first women’s retreat just outside Saskatoon, SK. It was a wonderful getaway filled with crafting, laughing and connecting. I have never spent that kind of time with a large group of women before and I was blown away by the similarities between all of us despite all our many differences: when asked “who are you?” 17 out of the 19 women started with “I’m a mother of (number of children), (name) is (age) and (name) is almost (age).” The second similarity I found was this: every single one of them could name 4+ flaws about themselves but yet, they struggled to name one positive thing that made them special. The third similarity I discovered was that they all loved so deeply but were almost cursed by it because they felt either taken advantage of, felt guilty for taking personal time or felt it wasn’t reciprocated the way they wanted. The fourth, and maybe saddest, similarity was each women’s confusion when asked what made her happy.

MIND BLOWN.

I started calling these similarities "the curse of woman". Over 98% of us identified ourselves as mothers first. We all felt lost trying to find a special quality and we were quick to berate ourselves. Most of us saw our loving nature as both special and flawed. Few of us could remember what made us happy.

If that many women felt that way in that small room, there must be more of us.

Think of how many people you know whose entire existence revolves around motherhood. I’d bet she feels guilty for doing things for herself. I’d also bet that she gives and gives and gives and has a cup that seems to always be dry. I bet she’s exhausted but happy to dote on her children. I bet she doesn’t spend much time away from them. She probably feels guilty for leaving them with Dad or Grandma or a babysitter. I bet she doesn’t know what makes her happy anymore because she’s been trying to help her kids find theirs. I bet she feels happy that they are happy but utterly lost when she takes a small, fleeting moment to contemplate her own. This is the curse of woman.

motherhood.jpg

As mothers we have the most important role in life. It’s our job to keep them alive, fed, clothed, hydrated, healthy and clean. We ensure they use their manners, do their homework and try at least one sport a year. We kiss them, cuddle them, tickle them and sometimes want to throttle them. We are trying to teach them how to be functional members of society while also fostering their innocent wildness so they become the unique individuals they are destined to be. We are the teacher, the moderator, the voice of reason, the judge, the boss, the discipliner, the nurturer, the driver, the coach, the rememberer, the confidant. It is exhausting. But want to know what’s more exhausting? Trying to do all that on the fumes of the person you used to be. This mom guilt over self-care needs to end now. We are no good to anybody if we haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in months or haven’t had a shower in a week. You need energy and vitality and, even more than those, you need a life you don't want to escape from. 

I don’t berate mothers for putting their role as mothers first. It’s important and special and wonderful. For some women, it becomes more than a role. Motherhood is their life. Motherhood is their identity and reason for living. That’s a beautiful sentiment and belief. BUT, is she also making time for herself, as a women, as an individual or even as a wife? Is she setting a good example for her kids if she’s frazzled and unkempt and not doing anything outside of motherhood to benefit herself?

 You can't fill another's cup if your own isn't overflowing with energy, love and self-respect. Honour your body. Love yourself. Mothers need it most. 

You can't fill another's cup if your own isn't overflowing with energy, love and self-respect. Honour your body. Love yourself. Mothers need it most. 

Also, the flaws! Goodness, the flaws these women see in themselves is bonkers! When asked what made them special, many floundered and couldn’t come up with anything to say confidently or with surety. But when asked what their Darkness was, they had lists.

WHY?

Is it human nature to do this? Is it societal influence that’s molded us into belittling ourselves? Has some collective unconscious shift happened that makes us focus on our Darkness instead of our Light?

It seems we all do it. And those that don’t get judged as conceited or arrogant or self-absorbed. It’s a lose-lose, really.

When prompted to acknowledge their special attributes, many said their ability to love. Is the influence from motherhood or the Divine Feminine running through our blood that makes so many of us love so fiercely? We love our partner and our children and our families and friends and pets so hard that sometimes we look at the actions we’ve taken in the name of love and wonder, was it worth it? Was giving my all in that unreciprocated friendship worth all that time? Or did it benefit me to lose half of myself in that man? Did dedicating myself so fully to motherhood for so long leave me bereft of pieces of the person I use to be?

Which leads to the last similarity: few women could confidently list what makes them happy. It’s understandable when you’re so busy raising children; Who has time to focus on what makes them happy? Even when we know, we feel guilty for indulging in it. It’s a common story for moms who spend so many of their hours dedicated to their family. We spend a lot of time putting others first. Actually, it may be fair to say we spend all of our time putting others first. What is happiness on a personal level when you’re wanting your kids to be happy and maybe also your husband, pet, co-workers, boss, friends and/or neighbours?!

These curses all tie together.

Woman + baby + societal influence (or some other factor) = a Mother with no time to herself, guilt over the time spent on herself if she takes it but she’s not actually sure what makes her happy because she’s so busy and involved with others and because of that, she’s lost her personal happiness and a small bit of the person she was Pre-Mom life

 

 Does that resonate with you? It sure does for me!

I used to feel guilty for wanting alone time. I used to feel guilty for spending money on myself. I feel like motherhood has given me so many blessings but has taken a lot from me. My freedom is gone, my carefree lifestyle is gone. My independence is gone. I obviously wouldn’t trade it for the world but there’s this dark side to motherhood we rarely discuss openly, let alone on a public forum like this! I’ve spent so much time focusing on my husband and his business, my daughter and her upbringing, our new house and maintenance, my business and its success that sometimes when I stop and reflect, I’ll think, “Kelsey, are you still in there? What can I do today to love you?” Lately, I've been committing to small steps that lead towards my best life. I'm cooking for pleasure more. I read more books and do yoga in the living room where my daughter can see me. Sometimes I just like to scroll social media and watch Instagram stories. The guilt will attempt to weasel its way in but I can quickly squash it because I know that it’s important that I make time for myself now. Self-care is more than escaping the chaos. Self-care is doing little actions that have big benefits, specifically long term. My dream life requires a lot of work so self-care is a priority. So my mornings consist of exercise, yoga, journalling, working on my business, planning blog posts, cleaning my house and/or snuggles with my daughter. My family knows when I’ve been putting my self-care on the back burner; it shows. So I also make conscious efforts to spend time with myself. From bubble baths to daytime naps to having a hot cup of coffee before the rest of the house wakes, I am loving myself by filling my cup as best as I can. My advice, despite my lack of expertise: take more bubble baths. Find a monthly women’s circle. Massage your own feet. Read ten pages of a book each night before bed. Walk in the forest.  Show your kids how amazing life is. Make time for yourself. It’s allowed. Hell, it’s welcomed! There should be zero guilt when you are teaching your kids the importance of loving yourself. Lead by example and the kids will thrive in their own journeys towards self-fulfillment, self-love, success and self-care.

 Little eyes are always watching, absorbing and processing. They mimic. Let them mimic love. Photo cred: Ellen Elizabeth Photography

Little eyes are always watching, absorbing and processing. They mimic. Let them mimic love. Photo cred: Ellen Elizabeth Photography

So it’s time to break the curse of woman. It’s time to love yourself like you are your most sacred, most beautiful best friend in the entire world. You need to love her like she deserves to be loved. You need to be able to confidently and loudly say, “THIS is why I’m special. And this is too. And that too. I am all kinds of unique and awesomeness.” The time has also come to accept our Darkness. You can’t have Light without Dark, nor Dark without Light. We are imperfect beings. We always will be. Trying to shine Light and illuminate every single little flaw will only drive you crazy with self-loathing and be a waste of your time. So own your flaws. The people who love you know them and accept you for them regardless. More often than not, your good qualities will far outweigh the bad. If they don’t, well, that’s another post! It’s also time to welcome acts of self-care into your world. Motherhood is hard; motherhood is harder when you’re running on empty. Ignore the guilt that tries to encroach upon you and see the benefits to everyone around you when you fill your cup. Your filled cup is what paves the way for an incredibly full and vibrant life for many around you, especially your children. Self-care shows them the importance of doing the crappy little jobs that lead to big rewards later (like saving 10% of each pay cheque or getting up at 6 am everyday)! It teaches them the value of honouring your body. It's teaching by example how incredible life can be when you work towards the things you want and desire. It's so much more than bubble baths and chocolate -- although, both are wonderful!

The time for the Woman to rise has come. It’s time we rise up to meet our full potential and embrace the dirty, messy, glorious, wonderfulness that is Her. Mothers are the most special creatures on Earth; they deserve the bubble baths and girl's nights out and make-out sessions and sleep-ins and yoga memberships. So rise, Woman. Be the divine, loving, happy woman who shines so brightly, others want to know her and are inspired by her. Be your best self. Do it for your family, your community and more importantly, do it for yourself.

 

 

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. 

myinsides.jpg

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.

 

 

FaceTime + wine - Friendships in your 30's

Ah friendships in our twenties.... We were young and fancy free, just sorting out careers and relationships. Going out for late nights of dancing and drinks (and swinging through the McDonald's drive through on the way home), planning girls weekends and trips, and spending oodles of time together doing oodles of fun things. Friends came first a lot of the time, because not many of us had families of our own yet, and missing out was straight up just not an option. Pressure to be everywhere, and do everything, and see everyone could be heavy, and drama often ensued if you missed too many girls nights, parties or trips. Fast forward a decade, and a lot of things have changed...In your 20's there is a need to be together all the time, go out and partaaaay. Now? Give me a bottle of wine, snacks that involve cheese and comfy clothes, and I'm pitting in on your couch full of throw pillows to watch the Bachelor and talk.  I'm not paying cover to yell over the music at you, I don't have the time or the patience for that. I want to hear what you have to say girl, and have a conversation about it. 

In your 30's you are more intentional with your time and who you give it to, because we simply don't have enough of it. No longer do you feel (so much) the pressure to do things or go places because everyone else is, and instead you choose to spend your time with the people who mean the most. When we give our time to people, we make sure it's the ones who leave us smiling and with our cups and hearts full. As a result, friendships change. Some evolve along with you, and some fade away. You learn who your real friends are.  I know who my true, ride or die friends are. I know that in these women I get the best therapy, the most support and unconditional love. These bonds have been tried and tested and will not break for anything. Nothing is off limits in conversation, and you get to the real conversation much faster than you used to, because no one has time for the bullshit. No drama mama, we are mature and have stopped taking everything so personally. People, conversations and situations are more real and less superficial. Friendships become simpler, in the best way.

One of the biggest challenges? It becomes increasingly difficult to get everyone in the same place at the same time. We are all balancing schedules of work, kids, family commitments, activities, committees, classes, and #allofthethings. Trying to make plans requires group chats, Doodle Polls (if you don't know what this is, google it. #yourewelcome), and major planning months in advance. Girls weekends might happen once a year, and girls weekends when every one can make it might happen once every few years. Big nights out come few and far between . You soak up the laughs, the stories, the wine. And the hangovers now? Last. For. DAYS. I book dinner + drinks dates months in advance. Literally. Those nights keep me going through the tired, the stress, the #busybusybusy. Seeing each other is fewer and farther between, but when we do connect it's better than before, more meaningful and real. 

Another major factor now? Kids. Whether you have kids or not, kids now determine most plans. Your kids, your siblings kids, your friends kids... kids run the show. They have routines and schedules, and once they hit a certain age they have #alloftheactivities. They get sick at the most inconvenient times, and plans get cancelled on a moments notice. They cause you to want to go to bed at 8pm instead of doing anything else, and they completely change your priorities. I did not have my son until I was 33, and let me tell you - I was almost always up for fun plans. Made in advance plans, spur of the moment plans, #alloftheplans. I was the one you called for after work drinks, and I would turn around in my driveway if I was already home. I would get out of my pj's, get ready again and meet you downtown at 10pm. I lived and breathed my social life and my work. Now? Don't ask me to go anywhere past 8pm because girl - I have been in my jammies since 7 and I am not changing. Asher will be up at 5:30 am and he does not care if mama was out enjoying several glasses of wine last night. 

Time spent with your nearest and dearest used to be drinks, dancing, and late night girl talk. It was all day hang outs, shopping trips and big birthday celebrations. Now? It's missing out, going home at 9pm and celebrating birthdays a month late. It's Sunday brunch instead of Saturday drinks and dancing. It's FaceTime and wine instead of flying out for a weekend visit.  It's buying coupon books and raffle tickets to support kids hockey and work fundraisers, and being super jazzed when you win a set of real wooden Adirondack chairs (actual true story, and I love those chairs). It's quality over quantity, and really being present when you are together. It's showing up with messy hair and sweatpants with a bottle of wine because the intent is to spend time talking and connecting. It's simplicity and unwavering support. It's connecting daily via group chats and sometimes only seeing each other in person every few years. It's tough conversations and holding each other accountable to your goals. It's changed, and it's a raw, real and beautiful thing. 

xo, 

Megan

 

 

 

 

Everyone knows a Weinstein...

Let me just preface this by saying that I am (unfortunately) only one person, and my views are mine and mine alone. That being said, we are a blog centered on women’s lifestyle etc. and this is something we’ve been seeing all over the news, social media and pretty well every other screen we own.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal that recently shook up Hollywood is causing a metaphorical waterfall of sexual harassment accusations all across North America, chiefly pointed towards the entertainment industry but slowly moving towards other industries.

Honestly?

Good.

Girls, if I asked you how many times in the past week alone you’ve altered how you live your life because of this fear we have instilled in us, what would you say?

Did you walk to your car in the grocery store parking lot with your keys in between your fingers?

Do you walk with only one headphone in to hear if you’re not alone?

Changed your route home to a busier street?

When you start to think about how often we do something with the motivation of fighting back it’s absolutely mind boggling. 

We see people like Weinstein all over damn near every industry in the world, people who build their careers upon this confidence that they’re untouchable. Sexual harassment in the workplace has been ignored, even at times expected, for far too long. This is a man whose net worth is roughly 250 million. 250 million dollars. So, to put it in perspective, someone who has built a skyscraper of a career out of alienating female employees makes enough money that he could pay off my student loans 12,500 times. That’s a lot of culinary degrees.

And yes, I did the math.

What has come from this little news blip is that we’re seeing all of these women come out to say that they’ve been sexually harassed, abused, or worse, because we’ve been working with this thought that sexual abuse survivors are attention-seekers and overdramatic. What’s happening is people who have felt they have never had a voice, or maybe had their voice taken from them, are now getting the microphone. 

This is important to me, and I hope to many other people, because with the power of a few women standing up and saying “this is not okay anymore”, we’re hearing a cheer from the bleachers. Other victims can see someone brave enough change the expected result to a result they deserve, and it feels powerful. 

I know I preach an idyllic society and some may call me a wishful hippie. They’re right, but for entirely different reasons. I want to see this trend of feminism, of women fighting back, and of abusers being called on their vile behaviour grow. You should never be afraid to walk home from the pub because it’s dark. You shouldn’t be nervous to take too long putting your groceries in the car. 

Did you know the grocery store is, statistically, the most likely place to be assaulted as a woman? 

Of course you did, you’ve known that since you were little. Since you were young enough to look up self-defense moves in books (an age before computers — throwback, I know) and maybe look at signing up for a class at the YWCA.

This is just my experience and I’m generalizing, but I don’t know any female-identifying person that hasn’t felt like this once in their life. Once this month. Once this week.                         

JULIE1.jpg

As demonstrated by the media outpour we’re going through right now, which I like to call “Hell Yeah, Call Them On Their Bullshit”, people aren’t feeling this fear just when they’re out at night or shopping. This happens in workplaces, in homes and everywhere around you. No one should be afraid to say something because of this thought that you won’t be believed. Because it could damage your career, or your life in some way, if you came forward.

We make light of victims coming out to tell their stories, saying that now it’s a “trend”, or maybe they’re just looking for the press. This isn’t a light matter, this is someone having the bravery to step forward. It’s something that commands respect, if nothing else. 

This is funny to me, I was coming at this blog-writing idea thinking that I was going to try to be some comic relief in a very serious world. Be the girl who works in legal weed and has some crazy, funny baggage. 

Not so much, hey?

I can wax philosophical about opening your mind to new experiences and the effects of illness on a young psyche etc. etc. but this is the important stuff to me. This matters. 

What drove me to write this blog post (at 2am, lit up by the light of my laptop, fuming to myself and my cat) was because I recently had plastic surgery on my chest due to previous cancer treatment. It’s a whole thing. However, I find myself laying here feeling sorry for myself because, as a single white female (knife emoji) I’m wondering how I’m ever going to be attractive to someone, or god forbid get married (the ultimate end goal for young women, amirite?), when I look like Frankenstein’s monster. Then it occurred to me…

Why do I care? 

I’ve been raised in a society that has measured my worth by my waistline and my intelligence by how I dress. We’re no one’s property but our own and that’s something I’m coming to learn as I look toward my late 20s; I learn this by watching these women in the news calling out their abusers, holding them accountable to what they did and how they changed the way that woman looked in the mirror and woke up in the morning.

I’m hoping that this becomes the new normal. Hoping more than anything, because I don’t want to have a daughter some day that experiences some of the things I know happen in this world. In this city, for that matter. I walked six blocks at 1:00 a.m. a few Saturdays ago, after going for a drink with some friends. In that six blocks I was called fat twice, a slut once and told to get in some guy’s truck. They laugh with their friends and think nothing of it but, holy hell, the toll that takes on someone’s self-esteem. Now I know there’s going to be that one person saying “Well, how short was your dress?” “You shouldn’t have been alone that late at night.” or, my favourite, “They’re boys, they’re just having fun.”. 

Here’s an idea: 

How about instead of teaching people to dress more conservatively, take the long route home or to stop being so sensitive, how about we teach people not to be assholes to each other.

Real simple stuff.

To finish this much-heavier-than-I-expected rant, allow me to say:

Things like this happen to every person, of every gender, and life circumstance. They shouldn’t, but they do. So, when they’re ready, let them tell their story. 

And maybe it’ll change one day. 

featured_art_chimamanda.jpg

Julie XOXO

 

Sometimes the only way out (of a style rut) is through…

Earlier this year I found myself fully entrenched in unfamiliar territory - a deep style rut. I wasn’t feeling particularly jazzed about anything in my closet, although it was bursting (literally) with options, and I found myself recycling the same dull pieces over and over again with very little enthusiasm or variety. As someone who inundates herself with fashion via profession, hobby and extracurricular activities, the thought of exuding less-than-inspirational personal style was both terrifying and foreign to me and yet, here I was, in a giant pile of Nothing To Wear.

Walking into any closet filled with clothing you love should bring joy and excitement, because you have carefully curated and feel thrilled about each piece, but I suddenly found myself opening the door with dread and shutting it quickly while running away in a cold sweat. It became clear I needed to adapt some hard and fast rules to overcome this style slump I had fallen into and find my way back to me again. For anyone else with a paddle in this same boat, I hope I can provide some starting tips to help a fellow sister stay afloat - and authentic - in a sea of fast-paced fashion.

Start with the visual

  Pinterest

Pinterest

Whether you go the old-school route of ripping inspirational photos from fashion magazines or fire up a new Pinterest board, start collecting some kind of visual collage and make specific notes detailing why each look is appealing to you. Maybe it’s the way a shirt is tucked into a pair of jeans or how a skirt is styled, or a particular color combination that you find cool. Slowly but surely you’ll see some common themes start to emerge in the images you are drawn to. 

Take inventory

  InStyle Magazine

InStyle Magazine

How often - and easily - do you forget exactly what you have in your fashion arsenal? Do you ever stumble across things with tags still on them, or buy something new only to find 3 similar items already hanging in your closet? This is where taking detailed inventory is going to be your saviour - but first, it’s gonna kill ya. Go through everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, down to the random friendless socks in your laundry room. Make an itemized list - or a spreadsheet if your closet's a real disaster. Toss out anything that looks completely whack or worn-out and then survey what the rest of the swamp looks like. Do you need 12 black tees that are essentially the same? Do you even like the color fuchsia? How many pairs of heels do you own versus how many you actually wear and feel comfortable in? This is when you’re going to employ some ruthlessness and take stock of everything that is no longer serving you, regardless of how on trend it is or how much you purchased it for. If it ain’t you, it ain’t you, babe.

The only way to truly find out what you’re gravitating toward, along with the aforementioned Pinterest vision board of your chicest self, is to keep a style tracker. A journal, if you want to be basic. Record everything you wear over a 2 week period. Put a star beside outfits you felt especially sassy in and specific pieces that provoked compliments from others. Put an “X” beside anything you felt less-than-stellar in after you left the house. See what patterns emerge and jive them with your Pinterest themes. 

The purge

Clothing-Donation-Photo.jpg

Now that you’ve accumulated a large haul from your closet of things that no longer work for you, allow them to find a new life**. Pull out any mint-condition business attire, including shoes and accessories, and box them up for Dress for Success. Host a clothing swap with your girlfriends for your trendy designer pieces that are in excellent condition, or try your hand at selling them on cool platforms like @ourclosetcleanout on Instagram. For anything remaining, check with the Salvation Army and local women’s shelters to see what kind of clothing donations they are currently accepting. 

**Exception: things with sentimental value, things that you truly love and could never part with, limited edition pieces, expensive things that you’re saving because they are dry clean only and that doesn’t work with #momlife -- ARCHIVE. Hang them in black zippered garment bags with a tag on the outside detailing what each item is and store them with love. Don’t be THAT ruthless, girl!

Make it intentional

 Skeptical about this quote's source but the words ring true enough!

Skeptical about this quote's source but the words ring true enough!

Now that you’ve cleared out the clutter and know what you want to be rocking every day (for me, it’s high-waisted mom jeans and either a vintage sweatshirt or a cozy cashmere sweater), own that sh*t like Beyoncé. My friend Katie (also a fellow MWS blogger, you’re likely familiar with her hilarity) once dropped some solid advice during one of our many fashion convos: “Make it intentional”. Whatever your style is - and, I’ll admit, I’m saying this especially loud for those who say “But I just wear yoga pants!” - make it intentional!! Sticking with the yoga pants theme, this totally CAN be a style. Hell, get 7 different pairs and make it your weekly rotation! Just take the time when you’re getting dressed to make whatever you’re wearing a cohesive head-to-toe outfit. Lead Pilates, located on Joseph Okemasis Drive, builds their entire merchandising aesthetic on the idea of gym-to-street athletic wear so, if this is your jam, go see the girls there for some style tips and definitely check out their annual fashion show, which is essentially a crash course in gym-to-street styling done incredibly right. Think yoga pants with cool moto stitching paired with a cute knit sweater, a fur vest, ankle booties and a beautiful leather bag, plus a few cool-girl details that are easy to add like a choker and a chunky watch, and suddenly are you *just* wearing yoga pants? I think not, my friend. As for my mom jeans and sweaters, I always do a front-tuck with my shirt and roll or push my sleeves up, plus I add my standard stack of rose gold jewelry (earrings, necklace, rings, watch & a few bracelets), I play with color in the wash of my denim vs. the color of my top, and then I’ll choose things like jacket and shoes depending on the overall look - a bomber and Adidas classics for a sporty look when I’m running around in mom mode, a leather jacket, sparkly socks and heeled booties for when I’m heading out to the meet the girls. The idea is to build a go-to style around things you already know you love to wear and simply add in the details that make it uniquely you to pull it all together.

 5 different looks, all featuring leggings, that look fab. You could swap any of the heels for flats or tall boots or sneakers and STILL look fab.

5 different looks, all featuring leggings, that look fab. You could swap any of the heels for flats or tall boots or sneakers and STILL look fab.

If you do need to shop…

While you shouldn’t have to shop outside of your own wardrobe to get reacquainted with your authentic style, inevitably you will need to replace some things or want to splurge on an item you covet. For this, I offer two rules that I swear by:

  1. Do your research to find out where you can find your favourite brands locally and then source them out and befriend the salespeople or manager like long-lost kin. Shopping local is better than online for a ton of reasons and, in this particular instance, it’s going to allow you to try on anything you may have been eyeing up online to see if it actually works on your frame and if the material and craftsmanship is good quality and worth the spend. Plus, when your local salespeople become your BFFs, they start to know your style so well that they’ll set aside brand-new items just for you or go the extra mile of contacting their brand reps to custom order for you. If you’re a really good customer, they may even keep you in mind when purchasing new stock for the store. (Shout-out to my girl, Mackenzie, who runs Two Fifty Two Boutique and does all this and more for me! Seriously, go see her, she’s THE BEST.)
  2. When you do find something you like, whether it’s a splurge item or not, use the Rule of Three. My lovely friend and ultra-amazing stylist to many, Kate Matthews, taught me this trick that works every time when deciding “Should I??”…can it be styled 3 different ways? If you can think of at least 3 different ways to style something (bonus points for more!), then by all means, treat yourself!! But if you can only think of one occasion to wear that sparkly sequinned mini dress or cobalt blue faux fur jacket, remind yourself that you can appreciate an aesthetic without adopting it as your own personal style.
 3 ways to style a camel cardigan / Blogger: Brighton Keller, brightontheday.com

3 ways to style a camel cardigan / Blogger: Brighton Keller, brightontheday.com

So, to my fellow ladies who may be feeling the heavy pulls of a style rut, breathe deeply a sigh of relief because the remedy lies within your own closet and it involves feel-good exercises like donating clothing, taking note of what makes YOU feel most beautiful, freeing yourself of any pressure to keep up with the trends, and knowing every day that you’re putting your most authentic self forward, whether you’re off to the grocery store or the Met Gala. And, when the time comes to treat your fabulous self, go to Two Fifty Two Boutique and say that Mandy sent you.

xoxo

M.