empowering women

Its Ok To Not Be Ok #bellletstalk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.            Sleep

2.            Nutrition

3.            Exercise

4.            Hygiene

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

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

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

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

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

Katie xoxo

#bellletstalk

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Take Control of Your Fertility

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

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

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

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

 

SUPPLEMENTS and VITAMINS

  • Chasteberry (Vitex)

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

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  •  Evening Primrose Oil

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

  • Red Raspberry Leaf

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

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

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

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NUTRITION

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

Food is thy medicine
— Hippocrates

SEX

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

 

ORGASMS

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

THINGS TO AVOID

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

OPTIONAL PROCEDURES

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Blogging with purpose...We are MWSE.

Photo by deMo Photography

Photo by deMo Photography

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

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

Photo Courtesy of  Lovestruck Portraits

Photo Courtesy of Lovestruck Portraits

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

 
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Kelsey Connell

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

 
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Julie Vickaryous

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

 
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Mandy Gourlay

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

 
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Katie Martin

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

 
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Jocelyn deMoissac

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

 
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Megan Hammond

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

 
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and myself, Chantal Schulte

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

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide To Health & Wellness: step up

Fitness trackers. They are everywhere. Fitbit, Garmin, Apple ... you name it, they make it. So why are they so popular?

Well. Let me tell you why I love mine. I have a Fitbit One. It's a little bitty thingy that I clip on my bra that tells me what's what. Am I a sloth? Am I less of a sloth? If indeed I am a sloth that day, it is a techy reminder to get up and run around the block or whatever fit people do. 

These things also monitor heart rate, calories burned, stairs climbed, and even sleep patterns. It's pretty cool really. Many designers such as Michael Kors and Tory Burch have even jumped on board creating more fashionable ways to wear your tracker because, let's face it, they're ugly. (Hence why I chose the hidden clip model.)

There are two things I personally like about Fitbit. One is their customer service, it's awesome and you talk to real people when you have a problem. They understand the panic when you have an issue tracking your steps ... after all, if your Fitbit didn't track those steps, did they even really happen? Answer: No. 

The other thing I love is the challenges. I am a super competitive person so the fact that I can add a network of friends to my Fitbit world and have weekly races to get the most steps is motivation at its finest. Just ask my family and friends about the times I've been walking circles around the house or running on the spot to get ahead of so-and-so. True story. "Circle walking" has become a coined term when referring to my Fitbit antics. I have a group of people that routinely do challenges together, and although I know them all in one way or another - many don't know each other. All they know is that they are step competition and they must be destroyed. If you think I'm exaggerating, you've never been part of The Workweek Hustle or The Weekend Warrior.

My peeps... they vary week to week, but most of us are regulars!

My peeps... they vary week to week, but most of us are regulars!

They say you're supposed to get 10,000 steps a day. Ok, reality check. You might think that's easy, but for those of us who work at a desk all day it's not happening without some effort. 

On an average day if I did nothing but work, I would get only about 2000 steps. Status: Sloth.(In fact, yesterday I binge watched Scandal and got a corspe-like 884 steps. #sorrynotsorry) 

On a day when I did errands and worked I would get about 4000-5000. 

If I worked, ran a couple errands, and spent an hour on the treadmill I would get around 8000-9000. 

If I worked, ran errands, took my dogs to the dog park, and spent an hour on the treadmill - bingo. 10,000-11,000. But that's what it takes for me to reach non-sloth status in my real life... and for the record, I don't have time for all this shit. 

We just returned from a trip to Florida.  When I went to hop the plane I realized I forgot my Fitbit... Oh heeeelllll no, going without it just wasn't an option. Holidays are when I do my best Fitbitting! Believe it or not - I could buy one right in the airport, out of a Best Buy vending machine. I didn't, because they didn't have a model I was interested in - but my first stop after checking into my hotel was Walmart, where I purchased a Flex 2. Although it was a wristband (which I poo poo because they cramp my style...), it was water resistant and that worked well with my plans to drink several gallons of wine in the pool. The cool thing was comparing the two when I got home, and while the clip is most discreet - it was also more accurate step for step. Fun fact. 

I wore my band every day that were out hitting the theme parks, malls, stadiums, and night spots. Those days I was getting roughly 20,000 - 25,000 steps a day without even thinking about it. 

Moral of the story: Spend thousands of dollars on a vacation and you will meet and exceed your step goals. Ha. #fitspo

Seriously though, these little things are great ways to stay accountable to get up and get moving! If you have a Fitbit feel free to add me to your network! Just beware of my "circle walking". 

Keep calm and step on my fellow modern women!

Katie 

Xoxo

What do you mean I can't have a baby?

It just doesn't seem fair does it? You spend a portion of your life learning the importance of properly protecting yourself from unplanned pregnancies, use all the contraceptives, or perhaps you even abstain. Like how many times have you had a pregnancy scare and felt like your world might come crumbling to a halt!?! Fast forward a few years, perhaps even a decade and you literally couldn't get pregnant if you tried....like really tried. Everyday tried. Millions of doctors appointments, getting poked by needles, scheduled intercourse, more appointments, monitoring everything, waiting, disappointment, and more waiting. If you could only make money off all the times you were told, "Don't worry it will happen when it's supposed to". F*^$& that noise. 

Que sadness, despair, resentment, and self-pity. 

Infertility is a real thing. It's a really sad thing and I know way too many people in my life that have experienced it. No one tells you that your dreams of being a mother might not come true. What do you mean my ovaries are blocked and I have never been able to conceive? That would have been great to know 10 years ago! Could have saved lots of worry and some bucks. Yes, adoption is an option but it's not the idea you had in your head. And to start it all off you will wait months before the doctors will even look at you, then spend zillions of hours with specialists, now testing, waiting, hormones- great!, and more waiting. How far will you go to get that family you envisioned? Is IVF in your cards? And more importantly, how much can you endure to get there?

In 1984, the estimated percentage of couples with fertility problems was 5.4% [MediResource Inc. ]. In 1992, this number increased to 8.5%. And today, the estimated prevalence (total number of couples with infertility) is up to 15.7%. So whats up with that? Sources say that multiple factors could play a role into why we have literally tripled our numbers within my lifetime. Most noted would be the fact that women are simply waiting to have kids and as we age we become less fertile. Obesity, chronic diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase which can also play a vital role in these growing statistics. 

Now, I personally don't know what infertility feels like - i'm speaking on behalf of the many women in my life that have recently gone through it. I do know what miscarriage looks like. It's equally as ugly. It is heart-breaking and in my opinion brings up a lot of the same feelings that goes along with it's nasty neighbor - infertility. My reproductive reality happens to be recurrent miscarriages. unexplained. I could simply get sneezed on and I will be pregnant. Keeping it just isn't in the cards. It has been one year to almost the day since the last one. I found myself in the same situation as the rest - trying to hold back the flood of emotion, keeping it together as essentially few people even knew I was pregnant, and just told myself to move one foot in front of the next. It's okay...you are a seasoned vet by now. It's gotta get easier, right?

Now the doctors will tell you that it is SOOO COMMON. Among women who know they are pregnant, 1 in 6 pregnancies (some studies say even 1 in 4) ends in miscarriage [NHS Choices. Miscarriage. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/miscarriage/Pages/Introduction.aspx]. Really? What is just no one talking about it then? After my first miscarriage I spent hours researching this bizarre phenomenon - but how does a fetus's heart just stop? I became obsessed....I had to know everything I could because I certainly didn't want to go through that again and I think I had to reassure myself that it was not something that I did. 

Here is what I know about miscarriage and/or infertility, like the #truthbombs:

1) If you have experienced either, you literally will resent people that announce they are having a baby. It's okay! If 1 in 6 of us are going through this just imagine all the fake smiles and forced (but also well intended) congratulations that are happening. You are not alone. Grin and bare it girl!

2) Having scheduled sex is hard on your relationship. And so is peeing on a stick every month to only see one line. Also those sticks are over priced and there isn't one that is better than the rest. Ohhh digital...must be more advanced...sure charge double. If it gives me two lines then sure! Let me try it.

3) You become slightly crazy after a miscarriage and/or fertility drugs. I'm not sure if its the combination of grief/anger and the hormone changes but like bat shit crazy nuts. It goes away, you will eventually feel normal again. Soon you won't cry at a drop of a hat or lose your mind because the laundry didn't get folded. 

4) It's 100% not easy and you are not alone (see stats above). There are forums, chat rooms, and support groups. It feels better to know that someone is feeling the same way as you. It takes a little bit of that pain away. Source one out or talk to someone that understands.

5) For those of you that haven't experienced infertility or miscarriages - thank your lucky stars and be mindful of others. It seems common to ask, "Why don't you have kids?" Just don't ever ask that. Like ever! To answer your question, they either don't want kids or are trying.

6) Life is precious. The experience makes you realize how bizarre this whole livin thing really is! Our bodies are so complicated and it really is a miracle to be able to conceive and give birth to a healthy human. Slow your roll and enjoy life. We get wrapped up in our own ideologies and "our plans" that we forget that today is as important as tomorrow. So live it. 

There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes - David Platt

Supporting those you know that have suffered a miscarriage or battling with infertility can be difficult but it's important for the healing process. Even if you don't know what to say making yourself present goes a long way. To all those that are fighting the fight - stay strong - we are standing with you. 

Chan XOXO

 

and the Modern Hustle recipient is.....

Freedom Bound Books

We are thrilled to announce the winner of Our Modern Hustle presented by The Creative Hustle - the four week mentorship program by deMo Photography, Modern Woman Show & Expo, and Our Collective Muse is Leah Robinson of Freedom Bound Books

Photo by Freedom Bound Books via Facebook

Photo by Freedom Bound Books via Facebook

Leah designs, prints, cuts, and binds year planners and journals. This journey started with an idea and need for a daily planner to fit the needs of her busy schedule. Leah is a super mom of three with a wickedly supportive husband to help give her guidance along the way. She is ready to help out those busy households with her intricate book designs. There is nothing on the market like her creations and she is ready to expand her passion. We are so excited to be a part of her entrepreneur journey. 

Leah will be featured on an upcoming post for Our Collective Muse, she will be participating in a four week mentorship program with deMo Photography - The Creative Hustle. You will also be able to visit her booth at the 2017 Modern Woman Show & Expo at Prairieland Park on April 22nd & 23rd.  We can NOT WAIT to see how Freedom Bound Books and Leah grow through this experience. 

Let's give her some love by visiting her page and showing her a LIKE  - Freedom Bound Books. 

 

You CAN sit with us.

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Uh. That sinking feeling. A bit of anxiety. Knots in your stomach. The feeling of a little (sometimes a lot of) DEFLATION. And the innate desire to "squash them". 

What is it that I'm referring to? A new store has opened. A new product has launched. A direct competition. Your competition. Dang it. What does this mean for you? What will you need to change or improve to win the consumer's business. How do you keep your edge???? 

Being an entrepreneur is hard. Holy H E double hockey sticks. Competition is frightening but it is truly necessary and I want to share with you why -

"Competition is a good thing, It forces us to do our best.

-Nancy Pearcey

Change the way you think about your competition. The reason why you're in business is because you are offering a product or service that people want.  I call these people your tribe. Your tribe isn't just looking at the necklace you're selling but probably has similar values to your company. Maybe your tribe is environmentally conscious and the necklaces you make out of recycled materials hits them in the sweet spot. It is no longer just about a necklace. Boom you have built a relationship. Your relationship with your tribe is more important than anything else. Your competition most likely has their own values and it's not that often that they lineup exactly

I have a few examples of this in my world of business. I wear a lot of hats - from the world of managing cosmetic laser clinics to tradeshow producer to hotel owner. They are very different but one thing remains the same - I know my tribes and I value my relationships with clientele in each of them. I provide the best service I can in each industry and never trade my reputation for money

So what happens when your competition starts "biting your shit"? Imitation is flattery. It also pushes you to continue to be innovative. This is why you're an entrepreneur!! You are most likely a go-getter. A stagnant business is a closed business. Find your niche. Grow it like only you can. Recently I received a colorful review from a competitor. It was broadcast for all to see that they felt I had "copied" their business model. The truth was that I might sell a similar service but my values, integrity, ability to be innovative is what sets me apart. Also....to anyone who thinks writing poor reviews on your competitions social media site is valuable you should just stop reading this and basically take a hike. 

Understand that some competition isn't actually competition at all. You may be able to form some pretty sweet partnerships. A key example of this is my relationship with Michelle Strawford from Regina's What Women Want Tradeshow. She produces a successful tradeshow for women, she is well respected (this chick has INTEGRITY), and is always innovative. When asked by businesses what other shows I think they should be apart of I will always suggest hers because I value our relationship more than money. We have created a partnership through this and we are actually vendors in each others show's. Look for those opportunities. 

One upping is a waste of your time. March to the beat of your own drum. It is good to know what your competition is doing but you don't have to obsess over it. We get phone calls at our clinics inquiring all the time about our pricing, asking questions that only very very knowledgeable (within our field) people would ask and with the power of call display shows that they are coming from the phones of our competitors. Again FLATTERY.... but stop yourself from feeling like you have to play a game. Price wars are also a race to the bottom not the top. You may lose a few customers but in the long run you gain the business by educating your tribe. Creating the trust. Building the relationship.

Now, when you see another coffee shop open down the street - don't devise ways to burn it down. Grab a few slices of your grandma's famous lemon cake (don't give them the recipe but maybe see if you can become their supplier) and welcome them to the block. 

Chantal 

For those of you that want to join our Modern Woman "Tribe" we would love to have you! Our tradeshow takes place April 22nd & 23rd at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon, SK. We focus on promoting women in business throughout the year, we offer mentor-ship opportunities with experienced #GIRLBOSSES, complimentary social media reputation seminars, and a plethora of add-ons to capture the essence of your business and make you stand out to your target audience. Click Here to learn more about being a vendor and HERE to apply for Our Modern Hustle Mentorship Opportunity. See you all very soon ;)

 

OUR MODERN HUSTLE...calling all #GIRLBOSSES!!!

OUR MODERN HUSTLE – this amazing opportunity is brought to you by Our Collective Muse, Modern Woman Show & Expo, and The Creative Hustle by deMo Photography.

What is Our Modern Hustle?

Who has started a business and is needing a little help? Do you or someone you know have a great idea, awesome product or service that just needs to be seen? We have created an opportunity to expand your reach, learn from some seasoned #girlbosses, and get some free sh$*! to expand your business in 2017 and beyond!

What do you get?

1. Get featured on Our Collective Muse – the popular blog featuring 12 women with 12 different views on everything from fashion, food, crafts, how-to guides, and everything in between. Receive an exclusive blog post featuring your business.

2. A complimentary standard booth package at The Modern Woman Show & Expo on April 22nd & 23rd at Prairieland Park. This event sees over 3500 attendees- in your demographic. Whether you sell a product or service, your business NEEDS to be at the show. You will also receive an invitation to the Social Media Reputation seminar by Vendasta Technologies- we talk all things internet & social media marketing.

3. And to top it off – receive a spot in The Creative Hustle by deMo Photography. A 4 week mentor-ship program with a primary focus is YOU and your goals. This hands on teaching touches on everything from branding, marketing and social media. The intimate classes (of only 4 women entrepreneurs) encourages you to dig down deep within yourself to best represent your business.

Who can apply?

                  -you are a female entrepreneur

                  -your business is based in Saskatchewan

                  -you have never had a booth or have been involved in The Modern Woman Show & Expo or The Creative Hustle

                  -you have the drive to want to succeed as a women entrepreneur!

That sounds amazing! Where do I apply?

                  Click here to nominate yourself or someone you think deserves this great opportunity!

Nominations are open until February 15th 2017 . Recipient to be announced March 1st 2017

LIA REESE CANADA presents Gretchen Christine Rossi

Designer & Creative Director Gretchen Christine Rossi

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"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!