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Bringing Sexy Back

I talk to women all day. That’s my job in every capacity. My job encompasses many different tasks depending on the day and for what I’ve been hired, but ultimately, my job is to talk to women.

A resonating issue I hear all the time is that we, as women, don’t feel sexy anymore. Some never did to begin with, some can’t embrace their post-baby bodies, some struggle with aging or weight gain, some have suffered abuse, some feel defeated from past relationships, and most have simply lost any kind of spark with their partners.

The sad statistics of today's world are deafening, and I am not at all surprised to hear the negative self-talk that I do from women every day. 1 in 4 women in North America have been sexually assaulted or have been victims of sexual abuse. That's a jaw-dropping, puke in my mouth number. Another percentage for you? 38-41%. That's the Stats Can projection for the amount of marriages since 2004 that will end in divorce before 2035. WTF?? Take those numbers and the hardships that come with them, then factor in the standards projected in the  images we see on tv, movies, runways, magazines, and social media. Nevermind that as women, no matter how hard we hustle and how many shiny credentials we accumulate, we are still earning approximately 20% less than our male counterparts. Keep in mind too, that its become common practice for women to put each other down and be Judgy McJudgersons, rather than support one another, despite what all the cleverly timed #basic inspirational Instagram posts would lead you to believe.

And then we wonder why so many women feel tired, sad, defeated, and generally un-sexy?

Why does it seem that women pick up on the slightest slur of negativity, but never hear the good stuff? Criticisms are stored forever, but compliments evaporate instantly. Well, I've just given you the tip of the iceberg as to why.

I read somewhere that if you say out loud to someone else what you hate about your body, you can begin to let go of that negativity. Um, well, I can shout from the roof tops that I hate my boobs and ALMOST got a boob job until the consult with the male plastic surgeon was an unholy nightmare, complete with a creepy breast exam that resembled Stevie Wonder at the piano... #thanksbutnothanks. I can send out a mass email explaining the resent I have for the squishy vortex that resides where my once flat, defined abs used to be. I could tie two cans and a string together old school and tell someone in the next room that I don’t care that “everyone” has cellulite, I would like mine to hit the road. Really, god knows how many people I’m reaching with this post “saying it out loud”, but I still feel negative about my newfound jowls.

Like so many other women, I'm searching for my misplaced femininity and quality level of self esteem as of late. I'm in a rut. Where did my sexy go? Where’s my mojo, yo?

In a quest to try to embrace some of that inner fierceness that’s been lost along the way, I headed out to partake in some fun, sexy activities around our fair city in order to try to get my groove back. 

First things first, let me remind you that October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and just because now we are into the pornstache laden travesty that is "Movember", doesn't mean that breast cancer awareness ends at midnight on Halloween. So if you haven't yet, go get your funbags checked. This disease doesn’t discriminate.

That said, Crystal and her glam squad at Joi Photography do a boudoir marathon every year called Boudoir For Boobies that raises money for the C95 Radio Marathon for Breast Cancer Research. Seeing as how this is a charity close to my heart, I signed up for a last minute spot that was available. Do I enjoy being in underwear with people around? No. Do I want to be photographed in underwear?? Uhhh, also no. Am I a girl that needs to try to embrace my inner Beyoncè again? Unfortunately, yes.

I thought about this. How do I feel right now? Would standard pretty lingerie represent me or translate well on camera in my current mindset? No. Would it ever? I'm not sure, but probably not. I would feel sexier in a tank top and ripped up jean shorts on any regular day. But that isn’t where I’m at either right now. I thought... what look would best represent me right now? The answer was abundantly clear. A hot f*cking mess. The goal of the emphasis being more hot than mess. 

I grabbed my scissors and started hacking away at an old tank. I felt like I was totally on the right track with my trainwreck tee. Throw in some lace and an amazing luxury piece from local business, Strapped Lingerie, and I felt like I was a fair representation of what the sexiest version of myself could be at that moment. I didn't do this for anyone else. I was simply trying to get to a place where I could feel that I looked true to myself and my style, and could be secure enough letting someone else photograph that. During the shoot I felt empowered, awkward, vulnerable, and emotional all at once. Its amazing how letting another person take photos of you can be make you feel both super shy and super confident at the same time. Plus, at the end of the day, there are photos of who I am right now, and money was raised for an excellent cause.

As my fav babe Miranda Lambert says:

“It takes strength to show vulnerability.”

So I mustered up that strength during this hard time for me, went out of my comfort zone, and documented myself at my most vulnerable. Crystal is so amazing at her job and really knows how to the connect with the women she works with once she has you in that room. It's something I really feel like all women should experience at least once. I actually said when I saw the photos that "it was a total catfish, because I don't look like that in real life." Yet, everyone I talked to said that that is what I look like, I just don't see what others do when I look at myself. Its important to not only hear those things when people tell you, but to really learn to believe them . I ended up with 6 photos that captured all the different emotions that I rotate through daily right now. From fierce to sad and everything in between. And you know what? Even at my most vulnerable, I still look pretty hot. #sorrynotsorry

Photo: Joi Photography  Makeup: Lisa Hallam  Hair: Rachel Stange

Photo: Joi Photography  Makeup: Lisa Hallam  Hair: Rachel Stange

I remember being in high school and still living at home with my parents and my dad finding a black bra that I left in the bathroom. He asked me "What is this, are you some kind of dancing girl or something??" It was strapless to boot, which speaks even more to its sheer functionality for that matter, because who in their right mind wears a strapless bra unless they have to. I still think about that and laugh every time I wear a black bra, and much to his dismay, the next thing I did was head out to do was a pole dancing class at Club Mynx. 

I finally ended up on the pole... just as my dad feared all along. 

I finally ended up on the pole... just as my dad feared all along. 

Ok... in shape, I am not. If I do 5k on the treadmill, I might as well have just run the Boston Marathon, cause that's how accomplished I feel. Burpees? Unless you mean what happens if I chug a beer too fast, then count me out. Also, as mentioned, sexy is also not at the top of the list of adjectives I would use for myself. However, hey, if there’s an activity that combines getting some exercise while getting your groove back... cool, sign me up.

My sister and fellow Modern Woman blogger, Julie, along with our friends Darcie and Lauren, took a semi-private class with instructor, Samantha, and learned the basics of embracing our inner stripper. Ok not really, your clothes stay put, but your focus is the serious coordination and freedom to let yourself find that sexy side of you that allows you to move that like. This truly is a skill, because allowing yourself to get to a confident enough place mentally to embrace the sexuality of those moves is a feat in and of itself. Plus, it takes serious strength to maneuver around that pole. Hats off to all those girls working their way through college, cause that pole is no joke. 

It was was a good time and Samantha made us all feel super comfortable. We had a lot of laughs and didn’t take ourselves too seriously. I’m considering signing up for a session of classes because this was really challenging for me to step out of my comfort zone and try to be a little less square. Sigh. #spongebob

To end the night off, we patted ourselves on the back for being so super sexy and rewarded ourselves with wine in my hot tub. Wine makes everything extra good. 

Lots of fun at Club Mynx, but we won't quit our day jobs. www.clubmynx.com

Lots of fun at Club Mynx, but we won't quit our day jobs. www.clubmynx.com

Until next time, find strength in vulnerability and keep trying to find your inner vixen whether it be in front of a camera, dancing on a pole, or simply looking in the mirror.

Do it for you, and nobody else.

You are beautiful, worthy, and powerful. When you believe that, you will find your sexy. 

Katie

Xoxo

It's Okay to Be Okay...or not.

The other day a new friend, a fellow Phoenix mama, expressed sympathy for my four recurrent miscarriages. She apologized for the losses and said, “oh, your poor heart.” While I certainly appreciated the love and her sweet, kind heart, I didn't feel the sting of pain. In fact, I felt nothing.  There was no sadness or anger or angst like there had been for years before. Instead, there was just gratitude for her acknowledging my journey and my angel babies. But I spent the next 24 hours examining myself. Was my depression creeping back in? Had I lost all capacity to feel somewhere between the second and third loss? Was I numb? Truth be told, I panicked a bit.

A few days later, I asked another friend for some blog ideas and she suggested this exact topic. She too was a Phoenix mama: she lost her son at 23 weeks. We discussed at length these feelings, or lack thereof, and that it wa scaring me. She reassured me with her own similar feelings and how, with time and grieving and support, we heal and that's okay. But yet, we still feel guilty for it.

It’s as though we think that if we move on and find happiness after the loss (and this can be any loss-not just infant or pregnancy) we are betraying them. We think we aren’t allowed to experience joy again when our world had previously crumbled. We think our happiness isn’t deserved and somehow, the loss needs to stay with us in some negative, cloud-hanging-above-us way that prevents us from forgetting what happened. Because, of course, if we’re happy and moved on, we think we will forget them.

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Similarly, when we find this strength and resiliency after a loss, we feel guilty for that too. I know I especially do. When I miscarried the third time, I had quite a bit of time alone to cry most of my tears and grieve. Plus I had a few tools under my belt for bereavement so I was able to process more quickly that time. A few days later, I had two friends bring meals for us (at separate times) and they both cried while standing in my living room while I awkwardly consoled them. I understood their pain in knowing their friend was going through a terrible loss but it was weird to be okay when it was happening to me and they weren’t okay. I felt like I was supposed to be hysterical and upset to show others how awful the loss was to us. I felt that if I wasn’t crying and grieving outwardly, the loss didn’t matter to me. I also felt like my strength portrayed me as unfeeling and bitchy. It can be strange to see someone be fine so soon after a loss but we all grieve in different ways and at different stages. It's never linear and it's never the same with each loss. When my friend’s dad died, she was more relieved he wasn’t suffering anymore and her grief didn’t show itself as hysterical tears when she told me his death story. Grief isn’t a one size fits all. And that’s okay.

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I’ve since learned that it’s okay to be okay. I can’t imagine any lost loved ones are looking upon us and wishing us ill will for moving on and finding happiness again. I’d like to believe my angel babies want me to be happy after suffering so many times before. Once in awhile, in a seemingly random and unexpected moment, I'm hit with that wave of sadness again but then I think about where I am in that exact moment and am thankful for the hardships because I am the best version of myself for that time because of what's happened. Moving on doesn’t mean we will forget them, not if we don’t allow it. That’s why many people want their loved ones recognized. When we say their names or send kind messages on anniversaries, we keep their memory alive. When we hang pictures and tell stories and shoot a shot in their honour, we keep them alive in our hearts.

And in our hearts is where it matters most.

I’ve also learned that it’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes grief is so heavy it smothers us. We feel like we can’t breathe and getting through the day seems damn near impossible. I rarely have these days myself now but I know many people that do. Your job as the okay person is to love them through it. Check in daily whether through email or text or a phone call. Bring a meal or a book or a bubble bath kit even if they say they don’t need anything. We always need something in times of grieving but can rarely decipher what it is so opt to saying, “It’s okay, I don’t need anything.” Grieving people don’t want to feel like a burden on others so more often than not, they don’t reach out. Thankfully there are so many online and in-person support groups now that grieving can be felt in a safe, healthy space with people who are also grieving. Many people are not okay, and that’s okay. There is always someone to listen, to cry with, to hug you, to bring you anything. We grieve to process and then heal. We only hope we come out of the other side of it strong and healthy, ready to move on with love and acceptance.

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To be okay is okay. To not be okay is also okay. We are all perfect souls in imperfect bodies trying our best to make the most out of this life. Whether you have healed and are okay or haven’t healed yet, there are many people in your corner rooting for you, including the ones you’ve lost. They’re in your heart, you memories, your energy awaiting your triumphant rise a new kind of happiness once again.

 

 

Don't Fear the Reefer

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Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. Why would one of the Modern Woman girls be blogging about weed?! The tragedy, the scandal, whatever is this world coming to?

 

Still with me? Fabulous.

 

We all know cannabis by many names, weed, reefer, dope, pot, marijuana, maryjane, ganja etc. As much as these were all the norm for the past several decades, we’re coming into a time here where cannabis is making it’s grand reappearance on the global stage. Not to get too history-ey but it is worth noting that cannabis has been used for hundreds, thousands, millions of years for dozens of different things.

 My favourite fun fact is that Queen Victoria did in fact use cannabis tincture to quell the pain of her period cramps, good ol’ Vicky and I have that in common. 150 odd years later, and here I am using that same cannabis tincture recipe to make gummy bears that replace the advil in my medicine cupboard. I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve dealt with chronic migraines most of my adult life and I’d rather eat a gummy bear once or twice a day than roll the dice with what pharmaceutical painkillers are going to do to my liver down the road. That’s not to say pharmaceuticals are bad! That mostly says that I’m extremely paranoid and live in fear.

 

And that doobie you smoked in college while you were experimenting? Definitely not the same plant we’re seeing these days. Cannabis prohibition caused so many growers to breed out so much of the good stuff and bump up the levels of the psychoactive stuff (which is still good, but that’s another rant for another day).

 

As it stands in Canada here, cannabis is currently only legal for medical purposes, so that means we’re seeing more and more information and research surfacing on how cannabis can help and hinder us. And the way I see it, that’s great! Give me the lab tests, show me your lack of pesticides! Immuno-compromised? Try an irradiated product! There’s so many options out there for people nowadays that there’s almost no reason not to at least open your mind to it a bit.

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 That THC molecule that makes you so giggly and paranoid? In a therapeutic amount it will alleviate your pain and calm depression.

 

 The munchies? Imagine how that feels to someone suffering from an eating disorder.

 

THC’s best friend and partner in medicinal crime, CBD, has no to little psychoactive effect but is quickly becoming one of the most popular oils and buds that producers sell because it lowers anxiety levels, helps with inflammation and some studies are solidifying their findings of CBD slowing the development of certain cancers.

 

This is all great news to a lot of people who suffer with a host of illness’. I know, as someone who works in the medical cannabis field, I’ve seen amazing things happen. I wouldn’t go so far as to say miracles because, well, that’s a bit much. However, if I can see a simple plant improve someone’s quality of life, then it’s all worth it.

 

 I started out working in this field long after I became a patient myself, battling breast cancer when you already don’t have the hardest working immune system presents a challenge. All of the pills I was dependent on to live were starting to wear me down, in more ways than one. As a long time nay-sayer to weed I was reluctant to use it, medicinal or otherwise.

That all changed when I started chemotherapy. I hadn’t eaten or slept in days, I just laid there and cried about the pain in between reruns of Say Yes To The Dress. On day 8 of not keeping food down, I broke. I smoked a bowl and low and behold, ate the toast. I also stopped crying, my anxiety and fear that had been operating at 110% for weeks finally started to dissipate. It was like clouds parting, I was sentient, I was alive.

 

 Years later, here I am, writing this article and spraying peppermint flavoured THC spray under my tongue to deal with the wild lower back pain my estrogen suppressants give me. I’m in remission, but that doesn’t mean I ever stopped using cannabis, I suffer from PTSD as well and as anyone who’s ever dealt with that knows, flashbacks and triggers are exactly ZERO fun. THC allows you to step outside of that VCR-esque rewind and replay you get stuck in, which I wouldn’t trade for any pill in the world.

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All of this being said, I’m a huge advocate for recreational cannabis use as well.

 

Contrary to the typical ‘stoner stereotype’ that exists, I own exactly 0 bob marley merchandise, I have never had dreadlocks, and I do not live in my mother’s basement playing video games all day. I simply am a part of a generation that is pushing forward a change in how we see alcohol, cannabis and other vice-like past times.

 

 I’m no stranger to a glass (bottle) of wine every once in awhile, but I’ve also seen alcohol do some pretty terrible things to families and individual’s lives. So, in the name of hereditary alcoholism and my sad, sad liver I choose to partake in cannabis instead. Most days. I’m weak, don’t judge me.

Smoking a joint has the desired effect of taking away the stress of the day, while alleviating my aches and pains. Hip-hip hooray for no hangovers and a full night's sleep!

 

Smoking a joint? That’s so unhealthy! Correct, but we all have our crosses to bear and mine is the love of looking like a badass James Dean smoking in a leather jacket. Quote this article when I develop the black lung. Alas, smoking isn’t even the most popular way to ingest cannabis now! My absolute favourite part about using cannabis is that the world is your metaphorical oyster. Sublingual oils, concentrates, and edibles, oh my! Currently under health canada’s laws, approved companies can only sell dried bud and sublingual oils, but you can also tweak these two things to make your cannabis work for you. Use a hair straightener to make rosin, use your slow cooker to infuse coconut oil, whatever you like. Girl’s just want to have fun, after all.

 

Julie Vickaryous XOXO

Motherhood. It's #allofthethings

Last week my sweet baby turned one. He is a legit walking, talking (okay mostly babbling) little human being. A little human being who has amazed me, challenged me, and taught me more about life and love in the last year than I could have imagined possible.

Motherhood is way more than I thought it would be. It's all encompassing and it's full of surprises. It's exhausting, its thankless at times and it's FULL of rewards.  In the last year I have experienced every emotion the human soul can, I've done things I didn't think I was capable of doing, I've felt like a superhero and I've been sure I was a failure. There are no parameters to motherhood, no hard and fast rules, and no way to be prepared for most of it. Motherhood is SO many things.

It's seeing the adoration in his bright little eyes when he looks at you like you are the only thing in his world.

It's eating bites of food off his highchair tray in between sips of re-heated coffee for breakfast. And sometimes lunch. And sometimes dinner. 

It's a top knot and sweatpants. And probably food / milk / puke on your shirt.

It's turning absolutely anything you say into a song to calm the crying. Or whining. Or both.

It's waking up at 12am. And 3am. And 5am. Its learning to power through on broken, interrupted sleep. 

It's seeing him take his first steps and cheering and clapping, and then bursting into tears. 

It's struggling to accept that your body is forever changed. It's leaning into and celebrating the change. 

It's being out for a much needed drink with your friends and praying the text that just came through says "He's fast asleep!" instead of "When can he have advil...?" #teethingmonster

It's wanting a break SO BAD and then missing him when you get it. 

It's watching him sleep and listening to him breathe instead of looking at your to do list. 

It's forgetting if you've done something/ bought something / called someone back.... seriously I can't remember shit... #imsotired

It's being exhausted and emotional and still being expected to be all of the things to all of the people. 

It's learning to sleep sitting up with him on you, or beside you, or between you, because getting him to sleep trumps where he sleeps that night. 

It's the feeling you get when he only wants his mama. 

It's playing peekaboo through the shower curtain so you can wash your damn hair (but probably not blow dry it).

It's missing out on plans, and parties and spur of the moment things. And being totally okay with it (like 95% of the time). 

It's asking for help. Because it really does take a village. And sometimes the village is family and friends.... and sometimes it is the Superstore click and collect and a Starbucks drive through #allofthecoffee.

It's your heart bursting and breaking at the same time. With love, and awe, and wistfulness at the time going by way too quickly. 

It's a 24 hour a day gig. And it's the best gig I've ever had. 

xo. 

Megan

photo: Nicole Romanoff Photography

photo: Nicole Romanoff Photography

Back To Good

I've recently spent a good chunk of time living in a zombie like state of chaos. I've been checked out mentally and physically and didn't even realize it. I felt like I was accomplishing my day-to-day activities, but then I blinked and maybe a month had passed, maybe two? Maybe 6? I don't know, but I DO know that we all get stuck in ruts from time to time. Sometimes our lives can unravel right in front of our noses. I'd like to say it happens to the best of us, but frankly, I have no idea what kind of life problems you people out there in Internet Land have. Let's just say that you can relate to this. If not, click the back button, cause this post isn't for you. If you've ever found yourself coasting day to day like that Groundhog Day movie, except not one bit funny... read on, friends. 

I was lost and I had no idea. The smiling, funny, ambitious, compassionate, adventurous girl I knew when I looked in the mirror had left the building, and a deadpan version had taken her place. I had become really good at faking it sometimes, sometimes not. That was not ok. Not for me, and not for those closest to me. Let's be real, the he ones you love end up taking the brunt of something like this, because we often take them for granted, or we don't notice how our actions even differ from one day to the next.

I ended up unexpectedly hitting a wall, and I was forced to realize that some changes needed to happen for me asap to break out of my Garbage Pail Kid state and find myself again. After all, how can you be the best person for for those you love when you aren't respecting yourself? They say you have to do it for YOU, but sometimes you want to do it for others too, and it pushes you that much harder. 

An authetic paparazzi capture of me currently trying to bumble through life. 

An authetic paparazzi capture of me currently trying to bumble through life. 

I started with small things and will keep working on cultivating my little personal growth seed. Things take time. When dealing with self-care, I tell myself each day is a new opportunity to be humble and do the best I can. (Chicken Soup For The Soul Anyone?? God, what has become of me?) Realistically, some days I get up and feel like there is no reason to do anything other than go back to bed. But its one day at a time with these things. We, as women, (and for those male readers who can relate to this), think. We are thinkers. We are often over thinkers. Sometimes that thinking can propel us forward with strength and grace, and sometimes it leaves us feeling defeated, internalizing the blame for everything you felt you've ever done wrong.  For now, if you're struggling too, here are my Top 10 little things for starting to get myself back to good. 

1. Making my bed. Seriously. Such a small thing, but something I started doing before anything else in the morning. Start the day with a small accomplishment that will be waiting for you when the day is done. 

2. Making sure my dogs get a run. It is a priority and a privilege to treat other living things with respect, rather than viewing them as a hassle. As humans, we are all they have. 

3. Feed and water myself. This should be a no-brainer, but not necessarily the case when you are a resident of Zombieland. I try to always have a huge cup of tea in the morning and strive for at least 80oz of water a day. This is aside from wine, mmmkay? Then eat something, anything, try to pick something healthy I guess. Or live off Triscuits if you must, its better that nothing. 

4. Make a plan. What do I need to get done today?  I make an effort to clean up and respect my space so I can have some clarity.  I may not get every daunting thing done at once, and some things may get done later than sooner, but I make a list and take it one task at a time. Yard work, fixing shit, decluttering, washing walls, it all sucks. However, it's satisfying when something gets done, because I can check it off the list. I love lists. 

5. Take the time to make someone else feel good about themselves. The smallest thing can make someone's day. I believe in putting little bits of good energy out there, because it will come back around. A little check in with someone can go a long way in today's checked out world. 

6. Cry it out. Sometimes you just have to. Sometimes it will come out of nowhere, sometimes in unfortunate places and situations. Often it happens at home, when you are alone. Sometimes it might feel like a private purge of emotion, but most times you will likely wish someone else was there to see you at your worst and comfort you. It's when nobody is there that you really are forced to dig down deep and find your strength. 

7. Make time for physical activity. Easier said than done, cause frankly, it sucks ass. But our bodies and minds are connected and if they are outta whack, we won't feel good. It gives us clarity. I try to pick something that I don't dread that day, maybe something new, take a workout friend, switch it up. Even just go for a walk. (Maybe I should get some of those weird walking sticks I see people with... google them, they are bizarre.) Just get out and move. 

8. Indulge. Watch a shitty reality tv show, read a crappy thriller, meet friends for a beer, take a soak in the hot tub, drink the expensive glass of wine. Do those little things that make you feel sneaky and awesome. Maybe it's sitting by yourself watching re-runs of Master Chef while eating cold ravioli out of a can... Is that beyond the scope of acceptable? #askingforafriend

9. Choose kindness. Choose optimism. Choose forgiveness.  Choose love. Believe in happy endings. It can be difficult in hard times, I know, but break out those rose coloured glasses whenever you possibly can. 

10. Sleep. I don't care how you do it. I do it my own way with good old fashioned sleeping pills because that's how I roll. it's about as badass as I get. But you can meditate, use breathing exercises, smoke dope, take melatonin, get someone to knock you out with a frying pan for f*cks sake, or by all means, join the pharmaceutical Valley Of The Dolls like me. Have a good bed, good pillows, and remember that your body can't function without proper rest. 

Are all of this things easy? Hell no. If they were I wouldn't be writing about this floofy crap. But but when things are sh*tty,, we have to start somewhere. Will my little things work for you? Maybe, but maybe not. We all need to find ways to plant our little seeds and try to feel calm, accomplished, and worthy of living another day. So even if there is one person out there who feels like you're living in chaos and cruising along in a big ol' rut - take a deep breath, ask for help, you aren't alone. 

Take it one day at a time. 

Start by making your bed. 

Katie xoxo

The Power of a Modern Woman: Jess Tetu with Lia Reese Canada

Photo courtesy of deMo Photography

Photo courtesy of deMo Photography

What do you do when you come across a strong inspiring female who encompasses the qualities you see in a community leader? 

You have coffee with her then fast forward 3 years and consider her a friend, mentor, and very lucky to have her as a major sponsor of The Modern Woman Show & Expo.  

Meet our friend Jess Tetu, founder of Lia Reese Canada, the owner and operator of 3 award winning spas - Just For You Day Spa located in Regina, Saskatoon, and Lloydminster.  Jess is a entrepreneur educator, volunteer, a philanthropist, and chair for the annual SABEX Awards. She has been nominated and the recipient for countless awards including being nominated for the upcoming YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Entrepreneurship.  

Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of being a client at Just For You Day Spa in Saskatoon. The Saskatoon location is found conveniently just off 8th street and boasts a relaxing atmosphere, great technicians and staff, and a product area that competes with your high end department store. Jess worked with the industries best to create Lia Reese Cosmetics, Lia Reese Botanicals, Lia Reese Body, and Asher Ty for men. 

Lia Reese represents finding your inner & outer beauty, strengthening self-confidence, self-worth & encourages authenticity. At Lia Reese, we strongly disagree with animal testing and give our heartfelt 100% guarantee that absolutely no animal testing is performed in the development or creation of our products.
— Jess Tetu, Founder of Lia Reese Canada

If you're in the market to relax and treat yourself to a spa service I would highly recommend booking in at Just For You Day Spa. Just over a month ago I booked my best friend Leslie and myself for pedicures and the experience was nothing short of perfection. The pedicure room showcases a comfortable setting, soothing massage beds, and is great for accommodating large groups! The technicians were professional, knowledgeable, and made our time at the spa relaxing (Gisele was so great!). We were given countless options for polish, including the option to have a signature JFY pedicure with a take home REBEL polish. We both left there in a blissful state and even joked that we were not going to leave ;)

On your way out it is hard not to resist the urge to check out all the great displays of makeup, skincare, and body products. Just take a looks at a few of the items you can find within the Lia Reese Canada brand.

Photo courtesy of deMo Photography

Photo courtesy of deMo Photography

Lia Reese Cosmetic Lipstick & Extreme Lipstick

  • Extreme pigment
  • Full coverage
  • Long lasting
  • Packed with the antioxidant vitamin E
  • Contains natural vanillin extract 
Photo courtesy of deMo Photography

Photo courtesy of deMo Photography

Lia Reese Body

The body collection includes 9 botanically scented washes, butters, and souffles. With the power of shea butter, vitamin E, and sunflower oil you will be sure to find a favorite among one of these scents:

  • Cocomo
  • Sweet Lavender
  • Island Breeze
  • Orange Dreamsicle
  • Berry Lovely
  • Pineapple Mojito
  • Apple Pie
  • Canadian Maple
  • Citrus Meadows
Photo courtesy of deMo Photography

Photo courtesy of deMo Photography

Elly Mayday Collection by Lia Reese Canada

Limited Edition Elly Mayday Lipstick Collection for Lia Reese Canada

Collection includes 4 lip colours: Aylesberry / Canadian Girl / Hayloft / Sweet Pea

  • Extreme pigment
  • Full coverage
  • Long lasting
  • Packed with the antioxidant vitamin E
  • Contains natural vanillin extract 
  • Made in Canada

To learn more & shop Lia Reese Canada visit their booth at The Modern Woman Show & Expo this weekend - April 22nd and 23rd at Prairieland Park. Special guest and international model, Elly Mayday will be visiting fans, signing autographs, and speaking on the Lia Reese Stage at 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Saturday April 22nd and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday April 23rd. You will be able to shop the Elly Mayday Collection and all of the Lia Reese Canada products at the event! 

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: pie & lattes

Mmmmm... pie and lattes. Just kidding, today I'm talking about Pilates!

Pilates was something I hadn't done before other than the "Day 4" workout in 21 Day Fix, and a random class at my gym 100 years ago... neither of which gave me a clear understanding of what it was or how to do it correctly. 

So here's the lowdown in a nutshell:
Developed by Joseph Pilates, Pilates is a balance of strength and flexibility training that improves posture, improves core strength and creates long, lean muscles created by movements that focus on quality over quantity. Pilates can be performed on a mat or of a series of specialized equipment. 

I was fortunate to spend a morning with owner, Jana Danielson, at Lead Pilates to learn more about this super popular activity and what makes it so universally respected. 

First of all, HOLY SH*T! That place is huge... 9000 square feet in fact. I think I was expecting to go to a little dance type studio and do stuff on mat and then write about it. Ummm, no. This place is like something out of the future. 

The Fitness Studio alone has adjustable infrared heating to create intentionally warmer temperatures for certain classes, enough Bodhi trainers (think TRX, but newer and cooler) for an entire fitness class mounted into the ceilings, a ballet bar, a huge wall to wall mirror (#fml), and mats, blocks, balls, and props galore that are all provided for your classes. They even have a little light saber wand thing that kills the germs of the mat once you've sprayed and wiped it down. 

Bodhi trainers in the Fitness Studio

Bodhi trainers in the Fitness Studio

And that was just one room, then there is the equipment room full of different contraptions and apparatuses that look like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey ... minus the torture and poorly written novels. More specifically, this equipment includes pieces called Reformer, Trapeze Table and Spine Corrector - all the fine makings of an adult jungle gym. 

Group Equipment Studio

Group Equipment Studio

The Spin studio includes a screen that shows you a virtual peek at the class and where to expect your intervals in order to best pace your workout, and bikes that have the cool option to weeble wobble to give your core an extra good workout for those who are gluttons for punishment.

Last, but not least, I was shown a room with equipment used specifically to show the inner workings of your pelvic floor using infrared imaging. Say what??? This is something SO many women struggle with in some capacity, and here was a room dedicated to just that. Mind = blown.

I was also taken over to the other side of the facility, Lead Intergrated Wellness. This side of Lead houses RMTs, Chiropractors, Reiki, Reflexology, and a Naturopathic Doctor. (I've actualy been seeing their Naturopath, but that a whole other post for another day!) The best part? DIRECT BILLING!!! Seriously though, hoarding all of your massage and chiro receipts in a shoebox til there is enough to justify sending in, like some sort of loser-y savings account?  Not here, just show your insurance info and boom - done. 

When I hung out with Jana for the morning, it was super cool. I tried out some moves on the equipment, learned some ways to release my muscles, and was surprised by all the insight she had into the issues I was having with my own body's mobility and tension just by watching me breathe and use small, slow movements. This lady is a wealth of knowledge.

She emailed me a list of classes she thought would best benefit me particularly and was such a sweetheart to gift me a teaser pack to try them out. Ohhhh, but what a clever girl... cause now I'm hooked. #witchcraft

The types of classes are endless... in addition to traditional mat classes, there are classes in Essentrics, Booty Barre, Block Therapy, Spin, and so much more. You can visit www.leadpilates.com you can get the 411 on all the classes. There are over 100 classes a week, so there's something for everyone. 

My personal favourite is Jump... ok, how do I describe this? You work on a contraption called a Reformer, and use a big bouncy board to work your entire body. Its SO. MUCH. FUN. I especially like Desiree's classes; she is amazing at keeping a good pace while still giving easy to follow direction on the equipment. I loathe high paced fitness classes but at the end of this 30 minute class I was like a kid being told I had to get off the trampoline. #sadtrombone

I also really enjoyed Essentrics... it was harder for me to follow because I'm generally uncoordinated on my best days, but the instructor (Kelly) was awesome at guiding me through what was what. This was sort of bunch of fluid patterns that combines tai chi, yoga, and pilates that works your muscles while they are extended. I broke a good sweat and felt like I was genuinely doing something effective with every movement. 

Annnnnnd... I signed up for the summer series Beginner Mat. Twice a week from May to August. (My buddy Mel is teaching my Thursday class, so I'm pretty pumped for that!) Plus, I clearly need to keep going to Jump.  And while I'm at it, I might as well commit to getting to an Essentrics class once a week. Seriously, stop the insanity!! These classes are like my new crack!! Ok, I never did crack... but if I did...

My husband almost had a stroke when I told him what all this will cost... ok ok, it's a bit more pricey than your standard gym membership, but its a whole different ballgame. (To be fair, my husband hoards socks with holes in them and thinks driving all the way to Edmonton for a bottle of rum is "cost effective".) I feel like the classes offered here are not just your run of the mill fitness classes; they retrain your body to operate like it is intended to, in a state of the art facility, with instructors who are the best of the best. And quite frankly, in the end, paying to stay healthy is less expensive than paying to be sick later in life. So, while you may have to sell a kidney to pay for your Pilates addiction, you only need one anyway. Ha. That said, there are monthly memberships that are well worth it if you are taking 3-4 classes a week, and your first class is free - so get your butts in there! 

You should seriously go check this place out, and while you're at it, check out all the adorable studio-to-street spring fashions available in their boutique... ahem, the Alo faux-leather leggings are to die for! I finally got them and I can't wait to snag a pair of the moto leggings when they are back in stock. Also, I am a sports bra junkie and I can say without any doubt that the MPG sports bras I scored there are the BEST EVER. There are super cute tops, jackets, and even socks. Plus, there are lots of fitness accessories that you use at home to enhance your routine.

Catch Lead at the Modern Woman Show & Exibition both at their booth and at The Runway spring fashion show Saturday, April 22 at 6:30pm. (There just may be a gift from Lead in the VIP swag bags!) Tickets available at www.modernwomansaskatoon.com. This is an absolutely awesome ladies night out... tickets are $45 and include admission to the trade show all weekend, a private VIP lounge with appies before the show, preferred seating, and a super fabulous swag bag! Plus there is time to shop all the looks on the runway after the show, so you can leave with a fresh look for spring! 

Until then, keep enjoying your pie and lattes my fellow fabulously unfit modern women... but probably do some Pilates too. #balance

Katie xoxo


 

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: let's talk.

Let's talk about something extremely personal. 

 

Something almost everyone who knows me is surprised to learn I have Bi-Polar disorder. And not just a little bit. I have full blown Bi-Polar 1 disorder and have my whole life - and although I was diagnosed at 18, I was never fully and properly treated or made to understand what I was dealing with until my late 20s. I have a family doctor, a psychiatrist, an ObGyn, and a maternal psychiatric specialist that are all fortunate enough to have me as a patient. Ha. I take 3-4 different medications daily, some twice a day, and I will have to for the rest of my life. 

 

Some people will suggest that you can control an illness like mine with breathing exercises, physical activity, diet, or yoga and green tea. Those people are wrong. They are ignorant and need to get informed. In short, until they decide to hit up a library, they can go f**k themselves.

 

People also assume that being bipolar means simply that you have mood swings. Nope. Wrong. In the simplest way I can explain it, it's like you are either in the deepest depression or high as a kite. And I don't mean sad or happy, although those are emotions that can come into play. I'm talking about crippling depression that will keep you in bed for days, so anxious you can't breathe, angry, sad, and desperate. I'm talking about highs so extreme that people will think they are invincible, not sleep for a week, spend money on ridiculous things, choose terrible partners, and take on far too many tasks. Being in a manic (high) cycle can make you feel magic - but like my psychiatrist says, magic comes at a price. Long story short - what goes up, must come down. And when it does, it's a not a gentle landing. 

 

Let me tell you a story... 

 

Last winter I experienced one of the worst lows of my life. It went and on and on and got worse and worse. I would get up every day, get dressed and put my makeup on, and go to work with a big smile for each of my clients like everything was fine. Everything wasn't fine, I felt like I was drowning. I was functioning but only as an empty shell - like a puppet. I would come home and take out my frustration on my husband, I didn't want to engage in any social activities, I was confused and angry all the time. 

 

After my household was asleep I would get up about 3:30am every night and have such an intense anxiety attack that I would often throw up and sit crying on my bathroom floor. My best friend Ted was always by my side... for anyone who doesn't know Ted, he's a big, adorable rescue mutt that I got just in time to save his life from being shot, after living the saddest life a dog could live. And yet, time and again, I wonder who has really saved who? 

 

Finally, one night or early morning, my husband woke up to find Ted and I on the bathroom floor. He knew this had been happening but hadn't seen it for himself to fully understand where I was at. 

 

The next day he told me he wanted to put me in the hospital. My mind raced... what would people say?... this would be on my medical records... my career would never be the same... people will lose all kinds of respect for me... I simply said "If you do that, I will never, ever forgive you."

 

To which he replied, "Well I will never, ever forgive myself if I come home to a dead wife."

 

Never had I considered suicide. Let me be clear about that. I am WAY too stubborn for that. Ha. But the fact that my husband saw that as an end game for what was happening was like a cold shower. The jig was up, I couldn't live like that anymore. My meds had stopped working, I hated my psychiatrist, and I was sick. Plain and simple. 

 

Luckily (very, very luckily), I had access to someone who manages a psychiatrist's office who had always spoken so highly of the doctor she works for. She is a beautiful person and so very compassionate. I swallowed my pride and explained what was going on and asked for help. I saw him within a week. He tweaked my diagnosis, changed my meds, added some new ones, and focused on the holistic things I could do to help myself. He actually listened to me. He asked my husband to attend my appointment to understand the illness. Nobody had ever done that before. Most importantly, he didn't talk down to me. 

 

Let's get something straight. Somebody can have all the degrees in the world but nobody is an expert on a mental illness like the person who has it. Trust me on that. 

 

Flash forward to 2017 and a year of new treatment and a good doctor. I feel really good. I can't say great because I don't think I ever feel totally great. It's something I still deal with everyday and always will. But I'm happy, I'm social, I'm lucky to have a job (correction, jobS) that I love. I try to put effort, research, humour, and kindness into everything I do. I appreciate the life I've been given and I try my best to take care of myself. 

 

I love my husband and I am nice to him... Most of the time. Ha. JK, he's seriously the best. 

 

... And Ted is still my best friend. 

Photo by Leslie Kent.

Photo by Leslie Kent.

Photo by Leslie Kent.

Photo by Leslie Kent.

 

This blog series is about health and wellness. Mental health still has a huge stigma around it, and until we can accept these illnesses just like any other that needs to be diagnosed and treated, people will continue to suffer. Not everyone is as stubborn as me, not everyone is so stubborn that they refuse to let an illness beat them. Not everyone has an amazing husband, friends, family, and dogs that are by your side the second they sense something is wrong. 

 

People without support systems will continue to live in poverty, battle addictions, resort to crime, and alienate their loved ones. People will continue to fill our hospitals, jails, and shelters. People will also appear to live completely normal lives, but come home and suffer in silence. 

 

Open your minds, open your ears, and get informed. You might just be the person to help someone who is struggling. 

 

If you or anyone you know feel that you need help, ask for help. As Canadians, we have access to health care. Use it. It's there for you. 

 

Take care of yourselves and love each other. 

 

Katie

Xoxo

#bellletstalk

January 25, 2017 is the Bell Let's Talk day of mental health awareness that raises money for mental health initiatives. Talk, text, or use social media and let the world know your story. 

January 25, 2017 is the Bell Let's Talk day of mental health awareness that raises money for mental health initiatives. Talk, text, or use social media and let the world know your story. 

 



 

What they didn't tell me about being a new Mom

I have a three month old (ridiculously amazing and adorable) baby boy, and let me tell you, this mom gig? It is no joke.

When I was pregnant, all of the moms of all of the babies of all of the ages that I know or encountered told me with sparkling mom eyes that I would feel an overwhelming love for this little babe when I met him (they were one thousand percent right, of course). They also collectively told me a few other things....like to sleep while I could ( which is impossible in the 3rd trimester) because sleep becomes a thing of the past - um yep! They told me I would lose hours staring at him (#allofthehours), and to try to sleep when the baby sleeps (ok seriously?! NO. Impossible. Please do not tell new moms this because it is a lie, ok?! ). They told me to watch my partners face when the baby made his arrival (I will never, ever forget his expression. Sheer awe, pride and instant love...it was beautiful), and not to worry - I would just know what to do when he arrived.

What they didn't tell me were all of the emotional, raw, amazing, really hard and sometimes dark things. Maybe because it is different for every new mom. Maybe because they didn't want to overwhelm me. Maybe because it's just more fun to talk about the sweet and adorable baby that I was soon to meet (because it is).

I had some idea of how I would feel physically after giving birth. I was pretty fortunate in my labour and delivery, (which I feel made up for how miserable and uncomfortable I was during my pregnancy.....almost) but I was shockingly unprepared for the changes that came along with doing what used to be everyday things. They didn't tell me.....

That mom guilt thing my friends talked about?  INSTANT. Once the Doctor puts that baby on your chest? BAM. Mom guilt. Everything you do, don't do, could do, should do, think about doing becomes a constant loop that stresses you. Torments you, makes you question your instincts and feel not good enough. It's that evil little creature that lives on your shoulder, dressed impeccably and sipping a Starbucks whilst judging your every move. She's a bitch.

That I would be overwhelmed by being needed. All. The. Time.  Babies are really needy, that I was (somewhat) prepared for. What I wasn't expecting was the pressure I would feel (that I put on myself...see " mom guilt") to be who my baby needs, while also being who my partner needs, and who my friends and family need. And losing myself along the way in trying to be me for everyone, except me.

I knew I would be sleep deprived. What I didn't know was that I would sob through the 3am feeding from delirium and exhaustion and frustration and ALL OF THE FEELINGS. I didn't know that I would resent my partner so much simply for sleeping. Especially while I was sobbing through the 3am feeding. Pregnancy hormones do not go away because you had the baby, they simply morph into post pregnancy hormones. Doesn't seem fair, I know.

That I would stare at this perfect little human and sob because I love him SO much, and HOW did we possibly make such a perfect little human?! (see "post pregnancy hormones"). I would also lose hours of sleep both staring at him, and laying awake listening to him breathe. And sigh. And make all of the cute baby noises. And I would sob.

That a week of consistent behaviour means nothing. Babies are finicky little creatures. He slept 6 hours a night for 5 days in a row!  Amazing, we found a routine!...What? Hilarious! No. Babies regress. It's bullshit.

That post baby workouts are extremely hard and humbling. Your doctor may have cleared you, but this body of yours has other ideas. You may find your favorite yoga poses impossible with your new body. You may throw up in your mouth half way through your first spin class back. You feel like you are starting from scratch.... because you kind of are.

That the minutes would melt into hours, which would melt into days and soon I would realize I hadn't left the house in a week. That I would subsequently feel awkward and stupid in the real world. The world I once thrived in. That I would forget how to act in public. That an hour in a social setting would feel like five, and running a simple errand would leave me drained and confused as to how and why I couldn't pick up where I left off.

That I would have to learn how to ask for help. How to communicate in a new way. How to lean into all of the change, and navigate all of the emotions and challenges that come along with it. That I would be at my most vulnerable and my most strong. My most fragile and most resilient all at once. That the first smile from my little boy would make every hard moment fleeting. That my heart would burst on a daily basis watching him grow and change. That I would feel like the luckiest person in the world, because I get to be his mama.

Some things? You just have to experience to know.

xo

Megan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm not your mom. I'm Chan

As we approach the fourth year of the Modern Woman Show; the blog team and I have decided to reflect on the last year’s growth and changes. For myself I have always found that your world can be turned upside down at a moment’s notice and we have to learn to roll with the punches.

Hand me a work issue, rental property mishap, or multiple chronic diseases, and I GOT IT (with a little wine and some grumbling).  Now, add a whole new dynamic with a little eight year old, call me dad’s girlfriend and see me squirm.  I’m a fish out of water. KIDS. Shit. This sounds scary. It’s a tough gig this ‘stepmom’ role especially when you don't have children of your own. You never really know how you will be accepted by the family, the existing friends, and most importantly by the kids. In what ways will this effect your future? Will you sacrifice your goals and plans? And don't forget the ex wife who might pop out of the bush at any moment - that is a whole other level of stress. What do you say? What do you not say? Don't screw this up! Everything is so delicate. 

It happened and now you're attached to the kid(s). You love them with all your heart and can't imagine life without them. But a nice dose of reality sets in. You are not their mother

Today i'm offering a little advice to those second in command. I'm not a counselor but I have had personal experience as a kid of a blended family and now in the reverse role. So i have compiled a little list of dos and dont's. 

* Support your partner’s parenting decisions. You are a united front. Offer feedback and conversation out of earshot of the children but remember that you are the co-pilot in this particular journey. Kids like stability, so provide that. You may not have your shit together but the kids need to think you do.

* Be a good listener and don't force the process of building a relationship – when you are yourself it tends to happen naturally. Kids feel the pressure of being loyal to their biological parents. Don't make it more stressful for them. This process does not happen overnight. 

* Understand and accept that your friendship is a valuable piece in this little humans upbringing and being a positive role model everyday will always have a huge impact on who they grow up to be. We all have gifts that can be shared with the world. Find those common interests. Mine happens to be love of hockey and Nutella by the spoonful. 

* This is not for the weak. It can often feel like life in the trenches. Unless you have been there you truly can't understand. Somewhat like an outsider. Especially so when you don't have children of your own. Keep open communication with your partner and it can be of great comfort to talk to someone who shares this same role.

* You can't fix what you didn't break and just KNOW that some battles can't be won or more importantly -shouldn't be won. Be supportive. Be kind. Be patient. Be honest. And sometimes going to the safeway starbucks to take a breather is needed. It can be your secret spot. Just make sure to save me a seat.

I really want to say kudos to all the stepmoms and stepdads, the girlfriends and boyfriends who accept the challenges of a blended family. It’s a tough job but you are nailing it. 

And remember...

LOVE MAKES A FAMILY

Chantal

LEADING the way in Saskatoon: Our introduction into Pilates

 

What is Pilates?

The art of controlled movement to improve flexibility, build strength, and develop endurance in the entire body. It places emphasis on alignment, breathing, and developing a strong core, improving coordination and balance.

Now what is Lead Pilates?

Take all the fundamentals of Pilates and then place them in a facility with amazing instructors, advanced technology and equipment. Now add a wide range of services that include innovative classes to the ability of having Integrated Health Therapies such as Massage, Chiropractic, and Sports Medicine Services- ALL UNDER ONE ROOF. Oh, and don't forget the amazing exclusive clothing line Alo Clothing.

 

Our Experience

When I had the chance to check out the new Lead Pilates studio, I knew it was something I couldn’t say no to. Having never tried Pilates I was confident that Jocelyn and myself would have the best experience with owner, Jana Danielson guiding us.  Jana had suggested we start our afternoon off in a BURN class… being a lover of hot yoga I felt this was going to be right up my alley.

 

The class was taught by the amazing Desiree, an experienced instructor that teaches a range of classes at the facility.  The room was a perfect summer hot day– not hot like make you drip sweat and wonder how the heck you will get through the next 50 minutes.  They achieve this perfect temperature with infrared heating from the ceiling.

 

Jocelyn and I were supplied with beautiful mats, and when I say beautiful, it was literally the best mat I have ever used.  Desiree was a great instructor, she had a perfect location on the side of the room so we could see her movements and the room was filled with mirrors so we could always make sure our posture was correct in each exercise.

 

The work-out was dynamic and had a great focus on pelvic floor strengthening. From our toes to the top of our heads, the exercises were challenging and fun. When we finished they provided us with wet cloths in the cool down to wipe our brows.

 

After class it was time for a tour of the entire studio. What a wonder! I was in awe at the vision and execution Jana has made. Lead Pilates is not just the large Pilates machines (called Reformers), it has grown into several areas and as Jana says, “With each class we offer there is one foot firmly grounded in the world of Pilates, and one foot in another aspect of fitness.”  This is so true, Lead now offers classes like the one we took - BURN, as well as, Essentrics, and Bodhi Suspension Training – which gives the ability to be suspended from all fours to improve flexibility, balance, and strength.

 

They have great mat classes for all levels and yes, you can learn the Reformer and other Pilates equipment too. The list goes on to include Booty Barre classes, Prenatal, and Mommy & Baby classes.  One class that definitely stood out in my mind was their addition of cycling. This isn’t your regular spin class – everything about your ride is projected onto the screen in front of you, feeling the impact of different terrains, and creating a feeling of being outdoors with their advanced bikes.

 

Leaving the building I felt like I was leaving a new home. Everything about the facility and staff make you want to return sooner than later. I highly recommend trying out a class or two (your first class is always free!). In the words of Lead Pilates - Love the Life you Lead.

Thank you Jana, Des, and all the fabulous Lead Staff for making my experience so great! Can't wait to come back :)

Chantal

 

 

When I was asked to join Chan in a Pilates class I was super excited as I’ve been wanting to try it for quite some time now. I have a few friends that do it religiously and are always chatting it up.  So thanks to a lovely friend for some child care I was able to attend their Friday afternoon BURN class.

 

At first the thought of “hot” roomed anything made me a bit queasy, still having some baby hormones raging. It was amazing! The infrared heat was so cozy and nice.  I was so impressed with the class and the trainer Des was incredible. So knowledgeable and spunky.  This facility exceeded my expectations big time. In my head, I had only pictured mat classes and the reformer boards… It’s SO MUCH MORE!! The cycle classes, the massage and chiro, and a clothing line in the front lobby. This place has it all.  A huge thank you to Jana for having us. What a great experience!

Joc XX

 

Lead Pilates can be found at their new location just off of College Drive & McKercher Drive on the corner of Packham Avenue & 105th St. in Sutherland. Make sure to visit their website for detailed descriptions of all the classes and amenities they offer. Don't miss the complimentary mat class at The Modern Woman Show & Expo at 9:30 a.m. on both Saturday April 16th & Sunday April 17th at Prairieland Park (just bring your own mat!). Lead will be on location all weekend to show you all the services they provide, as well as, they can be seen on the runway at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday April 16th with their amazing multi functional athletic wear.

 

All photos courtesy of deMo Photography

LIA REESE CANADA presents Gretchen Christine Rossi

Designer & Creative Director Gretchen Christine Rossi

Gretchen-Rossi-pic-1-683x1024.jpg

 

"Gretchen Christine was born to design."

Gretchen Christine Rossi is the Creative Director for The Gretchen Christine Collection. Ever since debuting her first handbag line, Gretchen Christine has steadily grown the company to be a well-respected and highly sought after fashion and beauty brand. With fans and customers in more than 144 countries, the companies’ extreme attention to detail, the quality craftsmanship, forward thinking colorways, yet simple and classic designs make Gretchen Christine handbags extremely desirable. Gretchen was born into a designer family legacy, Gretchen’s father Scott Forward, is a hugely successful designer and engineer who instilled in Gretchen a passion for colors, textures and designs at a very early age.

After obtaining her BA from Baylor University in Texas, her love of design, lead her to a very lucrative career in Real Estate and Interior Design. Her accomplishments by 2008 landed in her a very exclusive group of agents. Gretchen was recognized by Coldwell Banker International for being in the top 7% of the world for sales volume and interior design installations. In 2009 Gretchen decided to follow her dreams and make a transition into accessories and fashion. Gretchen Christine debuted her first handbag designs, The Gretchen Christine Collection during New York Fashion week in 2009 working very closely with David Manning and his Style360 Company to huge success.

In June of 2008 Gretchen’s desires to create and perform where noticed by Hollywood producers who approached her about joining the wildly popular NBC/Bravo Television series, "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Gretchen embraced the offer as a business opportunity, she saw the show as a way to showcase her designs to the masses. Gretchen’s presence and popularity had been a consistent factor with-in the TV series over 6 seasons. Now entering its 11th season, the show is a huge international success recently celebrating more than 120th episodes being aired in just over 160 countries.

Being owned and syndicated by NBC Universal, it has become a billion-dollar franchise for the network. Gretchen immediately became one of the shows break out stars. With adoring fans all over the world, the show has been seen by over 400 million people, from the UK to Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa, Dubai, Asia and Mexico. Gretchen now has more than 675,000 twitter followers, she has 660,000 fans on Facebook and another 466,000 on Instagram.

In 2010 Gretchen launched "Gretchen Christine Cosmetics", Gretchen’s name sake cosmetics line has almost 300 sku’s and is a staple among top salons and make-up artists. In 2011 Gretchen launched Gretchen Christine Swim wear into retail. An exclusive deal with Swim Spot retail stores, Gretchen Christine Swim was completely sold out around the country in less than 7 days.

Gretchen’s desire to design and create show no signs of slowing down as she is prepping to launch several other categories with in the Gretchen Christine collection by the summer of 2016. In addition, Gretchen Christine Rossi was named in the top 30 on Twitters 2015 top 100 Entrepreneurs to watch.

Learn more about Gretchen and her journey as an entrepreneur on Sunday April 17th at 2:00 p.m. at the Modern Woman Show & Expo held at Prairieland Park, Saskatoon. Your general admission of $10 gets you in to watch her and take in the tradeshow for the day! Don't MISS out on $20 VIP Tickets available March 1st at www.modernwomansaskatoon.com - Get a reserved seat and the opportunity to meet her with access to the tradeshow!

The 'Modern Woman' Food Bank Challenge

Could you live off $32 dollars a week for food?

As a prudent planner and control freak I thought I could do this without issue. I spent the weeks leading up to this challenge thinking and re-thinking how I could demonstrate that a proper meal plan and budget could make this more than possible, but I ended up being part of an experience I wasn't at all prepared for.

But first, some things you should know...

Recent statistics (and a CTV news segment that inspired this blog post) reported that over 18,000 people utilize the Saskatoon Food Bank every month, with over half of those people being children. I wanted to find out why that figure was so high. In a casual conversation, someone suggested that in a city of roughly 255,000, as a statistic, 14% of the population living below the poverty line wasn't as bad as some places. However, I looked at it not as a statistic, but as 18,000 individual people... and that seemed like a whole lot of people. People that couldn't be pigeonholed into a certain demographic. Students, seniors, working families, those collecting social assistance or disability, and a variety of people who have just simply fallen on hard times due to any number of circumstances.

I did some digging into the data reported by HungerCount, a comprehensive study of food bank use in Canada, and found that Canadians visited food banks 14,000,000 times in 2014 with an average of 310,461 recipients each month being children. Yikes. Numbers are numbers, but I wanted more information - not just statistics, but a perspective from someone who could address the problem on behalf of the people utilizing the food bank right here in Saskatoon.

I was very lucky to correspond with Deborah Hamp, Director of Operations and Engagement for the Saskatoon Food Bank who was about to provide me with more insight.

I learned that there are four sizes of hampers available depending on how many people the hamper is designed to feed, and that the monetary value can change daily depending on what is available. A food basket is designed to last 2-3 days and can be accessed every 14 days. These baskets can contain soups, bread, lentils, oatmeal, canned protein frozen meat, pasta or rice, fresh produce (when available), and milk for children until 17 or nursing women. Deborah explained that the obvious key issues with the high usage of our food bank are inadequate social assistance rates, supplements for low-income seniors, and other income assitance such as disability. However, a bigger issue still is that wages for many low-income earners cannot keep up with the cost of living.

As I recently heard Bernie Sanders say, "Jobs should lift people of poverty, not keep them in it."

True dat, Bernie. The idea of "working for a living" has never been more untrue for a lot of people in low paying jobs. So what is happening to cause this problem among working people?

Well, think about it. People are working unskilled jobs that can't pay them enough to compete with increasing expenses, so there is consistenly a shortfall. Shortfalls that inevitably lead to crippling personal debt, increased government health care spending, increased social isolation, and increased incidence of mental illness such as depression and anxiety. Listen up people, you would be depressed too if had been eating the same thing for a week, if you didn't know where your next meal was coming from, or how you were going to feed your child a nutrious diet. People are quick to judge though, we've all done it.

So then, how do we elevate the quality of life for Canadians living below the poverty line? Well, HungerCount's findings suggest that affordable housing initatives, investments into education, and to improve support systems for low income families with children. But sadly, this is altogether easier said than done because, just as the people who utilize the food bank are multi-faceted, so are the solutions to each individual sitution. Plus, in a global economy that is sketchy at best - where does the money come from? In my discussion with Deborah Hamp, I then asked how people can help at a personal level, and she said the most powerful way to help begins with education.

So I decided to do just that. I wanted to do something to better educate myself and others about what it's like to experience food insecurity.

I designed a project based on similar challenges taking place all over North America, but adjusted the numbers to reflect the numbers here in Saskatchewan as best I could. I based this calculation on what the Saskatchewan monthly allotment for a single person on assistance would receive monthly, took away half for other necessities (soap, cleaning supplies, medication, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, etc.) and then divided by 4 to get an estimate of a weekly food budget. I realize that number may vary depending on the other expenses that could occur in a month, and the food budget could end up being slightly or not-so-slightly less depending on an individual's personal expenses. It is also noted that with an entire month's installment of money more savings could be accrued with bulk purchases as opposed to a single week's allotment, but for our purposes, a week's estimate was what we were going to work with. After speaking to a few people that either receive this benefit or work in this industry, I felt this number was fairly accurate and similar to what the other challenges presented in terms of a budget.

I needed some minions for this project so I asked some "modern women" to help me out. I'm so proud of these people for accepting this challenge whole-heartedly, and taking it so seriously with nothing to gain except a greater knowledge about themselves and others. We were very lucky to have each other as a support system via a Facebook group chat, where we could talk about our experience throughout the week. Many people in this situation wouldn't have that kind of support. There were laughs, frustrations, anger, and sadness as we all got a very small glimspe into a life of food insecurity. Our experience was only 7 days, but this is a long-term reality for too many people.

The rules were simple:

  1. Spend no more than $32 on your food for the week.
  2. No use of your previously purchased items that can be very pricey and likely to not be in your fridge or pantry. We were to treat it as a worst case scenario that left you starting from scratch; condiments, cooking sprays, oils, coffee, tea, or spices. It all had to be in the budget. We allowed random condiment packages collected from fast food places, because no matter your income - I'm pretty sure everyone has those atrocities laying around, and truly, if you wanted to go so far as to go grab them from somewhere, you could.
  3. No use of expensive convenience appliances - no Actifrys, Vitamixes or Keurigs,etc.
  4. Friends could not take you out for lunch, cocktails, or bring you Starbucks. Those living well below the poverty line often experience social isolation due to lack of funds and the challenge attempted to reflect that.
  5. You could not participate in unlikely workplace situations such as events with expensive dinners or office luncheons.
  6. Most people have family, so if you were invited for a gathering and offered a meal, you could have it - but you had to be invited and couldn't ask them to do so.

It wasn't easy. Not even a little bit. I actually really recommend everyone try this for a week. It should change your perspective, and if not... well, you're an asshole. Ok, just kidding, but I can't imagine it wouldn't.Meet the Challengers, have a peek at our grocery baskets for the week and what everyone had to say about their experience...

 

JENNA ROUFOSSE - REALTOR®

 

I am accustomed to a fairly comfortable lifestyle, which entails my trusty Keurig machine, my Culligan machine, a fridge, pantry and freezer full of food, and dining out on a frequent basis. Due to my job, I spend a significant amount of time wining and dining my sphere, past clients, and new connections.

I went into this challenge thinking – how hard can this be? I was very wrong. My strategy was to purchase as many “filling” items as I could, which included the items below. Needless to say, the change in diet, and for the most part, drastic increase in carbs, and lack of protein and fresh produce, hit my body hard. By the end of the week, I felt very ill, sick to my stomach, and I was both mentally and physically exhausted. I was emotional, very moody, and quick to anger. My motivation and drive to do anything was at an all time low. This is even evident in the diary I kept for this challenge – by the end of the week, my accounts are brief and to the point. I found it difficult to pay attention, focus at work, and I felt cognitively slower to react to everything. I could even feel my confidence diminish slowly as the week progressed. We were asked to weigh ourselves both before and following the challenge, and although my weight did not fluctuate at all, I felt like I had gained at least 10 pounds, and it was affecting me mentally. I just felt unhealthy, and by the 7th day, I could hardly find the motivation to even leave my house. Obviously, I could see how this was affecting my job, which demands a very high level of energy. I also found this challenge difficult as I do much of my prospecting through active meetings with past clients, new connections, and my sphere, which generally occur at coffee, lunches, and/or dinners.

 

I took a lot away from this challenge. It was incredibly eye opening, and allowed me to see things in an entirely different light. I think that the most important thing that this has taught me is that even though there is “financial help” for those in need, and I use that term lightly after this past week, it is not nearly enough to provide someone with the nutrients and diet that is needed in order to function and live a normal life on a daily basis. I think that the results of this challenge are HUGE – we can see a correlation between diet and motivation, mental, cognitive and physical functions, and the ability to function on a daily basis in its most general sense. If our aim is to help those in need, the current system, standards, and expectations need to be re-evaluated.

 

 

 

MACKENZIE FIRBY - Owner of Two Fifty Two Boutique

When grocery shopping, I usually purchase what I feel like eating with little emphasis on cost. I usually do a small bit of comparison on price but if I really want something I will purchase it regardless of the cost. I belong to many social groups and attend many events where I eat out- I often find that I ate at a restaurant or at an event almost every day of the week. I had not thought about what a luxury these two points were until doing this challenge!

I completed the challenge without cheating. There were many times that I was tempted but knowing that I could “go back to normal” after the challenge kept me going. It is a harsh reality knowing that there are numerous people in our community that this is their diet and nutrition every day.

 

The first few days of the challenge were ok- I felt quite normal physically and emotionally. It was almost like a diet plan- I didn’t want to cheat. By about Tuesday, Day 3, I started to feel sluggish. I had little to no energy and no drive or focus. By day 4 I had developed a dull headache that would not subside. I was tired of eating the same few items and I was hungry before going to bed. Day 5 and Day 6 came and I was in rough shape. Headache, energy zapped and I was hungry by afternoon and before bed. By the end of the challenge I only had some rice and oatmeal left- no fruits or veggies or protein. In total, I lost 5 pounds on the challenge.

 Before doing this challenge, I never thought about the impact of a proper diet and nutrition. It really opened my eyes and has made me more aware of what people face on a daily basis. The tired, sluggish feeling, lack of focus and the jitters were all effects I felt and I am sure that anyone eating like this on a regular basis would feel the same. Going forward I know that I will be much more aware of what I am spending on food and what I am eating. I really feel for those that do not get proper nutrition and I will make every effort to assist those in need whether it be donating to the food bank or by giving a monetary gift to any organization that assists those not able to afford nutritious foods.

CHANTEL HUBER - Co-anchor CTV News Saskatoon

 

When I was asked to be part of the Food Bank Challenge and live off $32 in food for the week, I thought, ‘sure no problem'. I would just be buying for me and no one can budget better than this gal who’s an expert shopper and can see a sale miles away! So, when I set off to do some shopping for the challenge, I did my research first, as I always do when hunting for a bargain. It wasn’t until I got to the store that I actually had to pull out my phone and use my calculator to make sure I wasn’t adding in my head wrong! I actually had to make multiple trips and to different stores to make my dollars stretch. When I had finally found everything I thought I needed, I went home proud I had stuck to my budget. Then, the week began and reality started to hit.

 

At first, the hardest thing for me, as trivial as it sounds, was not being able to grab a coffee mid morning or midday at Starbucks or Tim’s. It’s a habit I’ve been accustomed to and it was hard to remember I couldn’t just indulge if I was out or wanted to meet friends or coworkers for a coffee. As the week went on, I felt more hungry and had fewer choices for food. With a busy schedule, it was hard to preplan meals with very few ingredients. By the end of the week, I felt really low energy, tired and irritable and didn’t feel like eating anything I had left. I kept my workout schedule in tact because I wanted to experience what that felt like but also because it helped boost energy levels despite a lack of nutrition. By the end of the week, I started to feel nauseous and was counting the hours until the end of the food challenge. I was really noticing the lack of protein and fresh vegetables, even though everything I bought was relatively healthy. I didn’t buy any junk because it was cheaper.

The biggest thing I took away from doing this, was the realization of just how much food or a lack of it and the proper balance of foods impact your physical and mental state. I always knew of this, but to experience it was a different story. I realized how fortunate I am for what I have. I hope by doing this challenge, it raises awareness for others that hunger is a real issue in our community and if we all find ways to do what we can, whether it’s donating to the food bank, helping serve a hot lunch at a local school or helping someone we know who is struggling, hopefully we can each make a difference.

 KAREN MARTIN - Store Manager of Home Outfitters, Saskatoon

 

The initial shopping experience was a huge shock for me. I had to make decisions between certain foods-a loaf of bread or a box of crackers- I went with the crackers and glad that I did because there were many days when that’s what got me through. There was not enough money for both tea and yogurt, so I went without tea (my little bit of daily caffeine-that I was used to) for the week.

I shopped at Dollarama and Walmart, but realistically if I only had $31 for food, I probably didn’t have bus fare and unless I lived within walking distance to these two places, I would have to buy my groceries at one or the other. Neither place offered the best quality in product-but it was all I could afford.

I started out the week feeling like I could stretch this food out for the week, but as I was having less and less food left, my thinking certainly changed. I didn’t throw out the leaves from the celery-thinking I could fry them and throw them in my soup for anything extra. I started slicing the cheese super thin and rationing it, but then I was starting to feel quite hungry.

 

I work at a job that requires quite a bit of physical movement, so it definitely was not enough to keep me working to my full capacity. I had headaches, felt bloated and quite frankly a bit depressed about the lack of variety that a strict monetary diet like this gave me. I started to no longer look forward to eating because it was really just something to stop the stomach from feeling so horrible.

Even though it was only for a week, it was definitely an eye opener and brought awareness to what a lot of people in our city must deal with everyday. I strongly believe that in order to help people with life’s basics, we need decent affordable housing. When this market is so out of balance with everything else, there remains nothing for the simple basics of food and water.

 

KATIE MARTIN - Makeup Artist/Esthetician; Modern Woman Staff & Blogger

 

I organized this challenge to raise awareness for the Saskatoon Food Bank and to educate our readers about food insecurity. I truly thought with proper planning it wouldn't be that hard. I tried to shop smart with the budget I had to work with, planning for at least 1-2 servings of protein a day, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, and 2 cups of coffee (albeit instant... barf) per day. The rest I had to go for satiety over my usual choices of complex carbs and ended up with a lot of bread and pasta. I've heard several people argue that "you can buy rice and beans in bulk and eat healthy on a budget". Ok, I wish those people would actually try that. Not only will eating nothing but rice and beans get old fast, but lack of variety in your diet is not only unhealthy due to zero variance in micronutrients, but its super depressing. So, I have to respectfully disagree with those people.

The first few days weren't that bad because I had most of my food to pick and choose from. However, right from the get-go the instant coffee upset my stomach and the margarine I could afford made me gag from the taste... "I Can't Believe Its Not Butter?" Believe it. It isn't. I was desperate for real coffee but I was still in good spirits.

 

Mid-week I was really starting to get that gross feeling when you eat too much sugar, even though I hadn't had any sweets at all. I wasn't sleeping well, I was more than a little irritable, my emotions were starting to run rampant and I was having a hard time focusing at work. I had started skipping meals due to lack of appealing food despite being physically hungry. Full disclosure alert: I have bi-polar disorder. I rely on routine and consistency, and it never occured to me that this project would affect me so drastically. By Thursday, I was all over the place. I was sleeping about 4 hours a night and when I wasn't mad about nothing, I was near tears over nothing. Friday (Day 6) was one of the worst days I can recall in a long time for not being able to manage my thoughts and moods. But, though my husband begged me to throw in the towel, I told him that there were so many people out there who suffer from mental illness that don't have the option to just throw in the towel. How many people can't succeed mentally because they don't have to means to care for themselves physically? How many children are being told they have a variety of behavioral or attention disorders when perhaps some of these behaviors could (at least partially) be due to a poor quality diet? I truly have no idea, but it definitely raised some questions for me. Nope, I was not throwing in the towel... I was determined to finish the challenge.

Saturday I went to work all day and while I felt physically drained I was in a bit better spirits because I knew it was the last day. By the end I felt defeated, physically and mentally unwell, and had lost 7 pounds despite feeling like I gained 1000. For the sake of giving readers the best account of my experience that I could, I tracked my diet via My Fitness Pal. I found I was eating between 1100-1500 calories a day, 60-70% coming from (not-so-complex) carbs and was below the recommended amount for protein, fat, fiber, many essential vitamins, and drastically below in iron and calcium. I realize that part of my struggle was the shock of going from a nutritious diet to something quite the opposite despite my planning, but nobody should have to treat their body less than optimal because of food insecurity - short or long term. Everyone in our community deserves to have access to a healthy, well-balanced diet. We definitely need more affordable housing to offset the high cost of living, community supports including educating the public about food insecurity, to provide accessible and quality education to people living below the poverty line about proper nutrition and how to prepare healthy meals, and we need to inform the public about how to get involved by donating and volunteering. We are all one community, and hopefully this inspires everyone to do a little bit more.

So there you have it. Please take the time to reflect and be grateful for all the good things in your life and never take them for granted.

Change can begin with helping just one person.

You can find the Saskatoon Food Bank at 202 Ave C S and visit their website at www.saskatoonfoodbank.org for information on their most wanted items for donation or how to volunteer.

Peace out Saskatoon... go be nice to each other.

Katie

 

Taking Care of You

Throughout the year I aim to take one or a few trips for myself. Most of them are work based. I feel it’s very important as an entrepreneur to surround myself with like minded people as often as I can. I generally like to go travel away from home to do this. So over the past few years I’ve hit the coast or abroad to attend workshops and retreats.

A few years ago I attended Pender Island on the west coast of Canada with a group of other photographers, none of whom I knew from a hole in the ground. I really just knew them as Facebook followers.

I was in between kiddos/nursing so I just hopped on the plane and went for it! It was a three day weekend, with the sun shining, ocean breeze,  long night time visits about marketing and different techniques. Daily photo shoots were organized by three fabulous woman that put on the weekend retreat.

It was heaven on earth. Not often do I get to talk shop all weekend and these people actually want to talk back about it. It was beyond amazing for my soul. SO much so that I went back the next year...only this time I was carrying along a 4 month baby bump with child numero 3:)

year one

year two

I also keep up with local blogs and blogs afar. The beauty of the internet is you can get your hands on anything from the comfort of your own studio.  I find great inspiration in what others have to say. It’s nice to stay current and on top of things especially in this”now” world we live in. I also love instagram. I find it a more positive platform than Facebook. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook, but alas it’s great for work. I am finding more clients are booking through Instagram than Facebook. more interaction. If you’re not already, follow my shenanigans at @demophoto

 

I am excited to announce that I will be headed to Los Angeles at the end of January for a super intense 2 day workshop with Promise Tangeman and her GOLIVE hq team.

What is this you ask?

They are an unreal team of graphic design artists and the workshop is to launch a brand new website in 2 days flat. This of course is done with a month and a half of homework on my part beforehand. I have been wanting to attend this workshop for over 4 years now. But growing our family kind of put a hold on things for awhile. This workshop books up super fast so I jumped on it. I can not WAIT to show you all what we come up with. I am stoked to have a more cohesive and responsive website/blog that speaks more of who I AM. over the moon over here people!

In closing, I can’t state enough that my best self care is time spent with these beautiful littles and this handsome man of mine. We are counting down the days to our next camping trip. It can not come soon enough.

These sweet faces brighten my days and warm my heart.

(below images by: Jesslaine Elise Photography)

Joc XX

 

deMo Photography