SleepyTime Latte WITH RASHMI SANJAY
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K AT LE RO U X F OUND E R & E D I TOR - I N- C H I E F
SA RA M AGI N N PAC E L L A MAN AGI N G E D I TOR & WRI TE R
LI Z A H U L L AS S O CI AT E E D I TO R
WR I T ER S Emily Rzeznicki Kelly Zemnickis Lauren Mackay Naima Karp
Usually when we think about the Winter Season, we focus on the darkness, cold weather, slush and gloom, but I’d like to challenge you to see things differently this season. Yoko Ono aptly said, “Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” When I think about my health history, both physical and mental, I can say that I’m not where I’d like to be, but I am also working to be so much easier on myself. This is what this issue of Future Female Magazine is all about - being kind and gentle to yourself. The issue also reflects on fighting for what you believe in and being an advocate for yourself like Rashmi on page 16, who brings faith and hope to a challenging situation. We have so many articles to help guide you towards better self-care, ways to de-stress, decompress, and recognize your anxiety hot spots. Our feature interview, with Courtney Gilmour brings us into the world of comedy and activism, as the first female to win Just For Laughs Homegrown Competition in 2017 - read it on page 28. I hope this issue brings insights and tips to turn your mood from down and unmotivated towards a renewal of energy and inspiration, especially when it comes to your health! Our contributors and writers have worked hard to bring you not only something that’s good to read, but hopefully things you can take along with you into this new season. This winter let’s work to reflect, relax, recharge, and reconnect with the people and things we love! Whether you’re taking small steps, or big steps - take them all. This life is not only here for us to learn hard lessons, test our hearts and see how passionate we are about our goals, it’s also here for us to enjoy and celebrate those little things and small steps that are ultimately taking us in the right direction.
WR I T ER I NT ER N S Cait Stewart Lindsay Mitchell Naqia Ahmed
C O NT R I BU TO R S Elizabeth Hawksworth Kristina Bruce Lisa Azzopardi Pattie Lovett Reid Shawna Patruno Tabitha Wills
DESI GN I NT ER NS Emily Richardson Virnell Walker
MEDI A I NT ER N Micah Domingo
SP EC I AL T HANKS Bee23 Beauty Bright Shadows Jewelry Chanile Vines Courtney Gilmour Hive + Hawk Hair Studio Karen Salamandick Makeup Legacy Studio Rashmi Sanjay Shanda Harper Photography Tim Leyes
C OV ER P HOTO Tim Leyes
INTERESTED IN BEING A CONTRIBUTOR? contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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10 TRY O UT TA BI TH A’ S SLE E PY TI ME L ATTE
Tabitha Wills created this easy delicious sleepy time latte for those winter nights where cozying up with a cup of latte is just what is needed! F ORE S T BATH I N G WI TH SH I NRI N-YOK U
Take an inside look on how it is to be with nature in the beautiful forests of Calgary, Alberta with Karen Salamandick, of Leaning Mind Coaching.
H OPE & FA I TH W I TH RA SH MI SA NJAY
We meet Rashmi Sanjay, an inspiring woman who has conquered a spinal cord tumour and with her tenacity and zest for life, she continues to inspire everyone around her through her journey. H OW TO RE CO G NI ZE A NXI E T Y H OT SPOTS
Through all the stressful situations and overwhelming challenges we face in our lives, we discover and learn how to recognize anxiety hotspots and it’s red flags.
C A LMI N G S TRATE G I E S YOU C A N USE TO D E S TRE SS I N FI VE MI NUTE S O R LE SS
Take back your calm by trying these 10 ideas to help yourself relax. The best part is, they only take five minutes. FE ATURE : COURTNE Y G I LMOUR
Meet Courtney Gilmour, a Canadian comedian who is helping to break down barriers on comedy, accessibility and more. D O YO U NE E D A D I G I TA L D E TOX?
Hear how you can do your own digital detox with these six tips! TH E Y E A R OF TH E SURVI VO R & W H AT I T’ S TAUG H T US
2018 was the year of the survivor but it’s obvious the amount of work that still needs to be done for women of our century.
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winter essentials 3
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Green And Brass Zipper Necklace, $22 Though the holidays are over, it’s never too late to spruce up your wardrobe with this gorgeous statement zipper necklace. brightshadowsjewelry.etsy.com
Long Gun Metal Chain & Glass Necklace, $40
Wear this piece during a date night or a night out with friends!
Zipper Bib Necklace, $25
This white cream zipper statement necklace is perfect with a peacoat, bright gloves and heels that’ll have you ready for Sunday brunch! brightshadowsjewelry.etsy.com
Crystal Corsage Bracelet, $65
Corsage bracelets makes an easy and versatile staple to add to any wardrobe, and this one is a beautiful one. brightshadowsjewelry.etsy.com
Long Pearl & Crystal Dangle Earrings, $25
These dangling sparkly pieces pair fantastically with the Crystal Corsage Bracelet
brightshadowsjewelry.etsy.com Momo Shampoo, $30
This moisturizing shampoo is nourishing and refreshing for dry, dehydrated, or thirsty hair.
email@example.com The Wake-Up Circle, $11
This clay mask is perfect for stressed hair restoring extra tone, volume while giving a high conditioning effect and hydration. firstname.lastname@example.org
With yellow melon extract, this moisturizing conditioner will tame your dehydrated tresses.
It is a great balanced wine, medium body with aromas of tobacco, cherry and a velvety texture.
email@example.com Fantini Sangiovese, $8.85
Recommended by Vinesplay.com Nugan Estate Shiraz, $13.95
Hotty Paws Pet Balm, $17.95
Momo Conditioner, $34.50
This Shiraz is an intense wine that will go well with any winter meal!
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This pet balm is a gourmet blend of the best ingredients with no toxins, additives and it’s formula is an excellent barrier for pads of paws during the Canadian weather where the sting from salt is everywhere! bee23.ca
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recipe by tabitha wills This classic golden milk recipe gets a makeover with a new kind of milk - pumpkin seed milk! Pumpkin seeds are great little powerhouses. They contain an amino acid called tryptophan that is involved in the the production of melatonin, which is the sleep hormone. So, by making this the base of our anti-inflammatory latte, we’ve got a warm cup full of cozy, snooze-inducing loveliness.
FO R T HE P U MP K I N SEED MILK
ingredients 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds Water for soaking 4 cups filtered water 1 tsp. vanilla extract ¼ tsp. sea salt 1 tbsp. maple syrup
Soak pumpkin seeds overnight. Drain and rinse the seeds. Place into a blender, along with salt, and cover with filtered water. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes. Place a nut-milk bag into a bowl and pour the contents of the blender into the bag. Slowly squeeze the bag and drain as much as you can. Pour liquid into a jar. Add in maple syrup and vanilla. Shake to mix the ingredients thoroughly.
FO R T HE L AT T E
1 ½ cups pumpkin seed milk ¼ tsp. vanilla extract ½ tsp. coconut oil 1 tsp. turmeric ½ tsp. ground ginger ½ tsp. ground cinnamon ¼ tsp. black pepper
Add all ingredients to a saucepan and place on the stove over high heat. Continue to whisk until just before a boil (about 3-5 minutes). Reduce to a simmer for 1 minute while whisking thoroughly. Transfer to a cup and enjoy!
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meditation & yoga I N S TAGRAM ACCOUN TS
@boysofyoga FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 7
Staycations: Finding Magic in the Familiar written by lauren mackay
e have a certain amount of vacation time a year and understandably want to maximize it. Some years it’s time for a whirlwind trip, but others you may want to consider a staycation.
HERE’S WHY: If you are as intentional about your staycation as you would be about your travel-based vacation, you will be able to achieve the same goals in a familiar environment as you would while away. But it always pays to have a plan. What is your goal with this time? Do you want to socialize? Attend certain events? Explore places you haven’t been before? Spend time outside? Rest? A little bit of each? Some thought and time dedicated to planning ensures you aren’t disappointed or distracted from what you need and want.
etting intentions for your coveted leisure time will allow you to come
back to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
RELAXATION & RETREAT Have you ever come home from a vacation exhausted? Needing a vacation after your vacation? It’s not uncommon. We want to fit a lot in if we take the trouble to go away. We want to explore the destination, soak it up. This doesn’t even consider the energy it requires to plan, prepare, pack, and travel. Sometimes what we really need is simply to rest. Sleeping is definitely part of resting, and a good many of us could stand to work on getting more sleep, but resting in a bigger sense, is doing whatever it is that helps you feel relaxed. And it’s possible there is no better place to do that than from home. If staying home doesn’t feel particularly relaxing, this may be something you want to work on. Why don’t you feel relaxed at home? Do you want to tackle a home repair or maintenance project you have been putting off? Maybe you are seeking to reorganize or declutter. Or perhaps it is a creative pursuit you need to express in your day to day space? There are several projects we seem to put off and over time, they accumulate, adding to our stress levels. Taking the time to reevaluate our running list of things to do around home can be helpful. Do we still want to paint the kitchen “Moonlight White?” No? But we do want to update the hardware in the upstairs bathroom? Perfect. Doing “work” during a staycation is the biggest criticism of the pursuit, but if you dedicate a certain portion of time and energy towards a project that helps you feel well on a regular basis, it is as valuable as any other type of self-care, maybe more so, because you reap the rewards every day.
EXPLORE INWARD A staycation allows you to revisit what helps you feel relaxed and renewed. Instead of exploring outwardly as on a traditional vacation, it can be helpful to ex-
plore inward. Maybe you have a hobby or two that have gone by the wayside as you have gotten busy with life, and the time at home will allow you to begin incorporating it into your life again. Perhaps you find you don’t really enjoy the same stuff you used to and some time at home allows you to explore what you do enjoy and update what you are practicing day to day. Either way, you have the chance to improve your work-life balance. Are there any friends you have missed lately because your schedules just won’t line up? Now is your chance to change that.
FRUGAL FINANCES One of the biggest arguments for a staycation is that it can save you money. Without having to pay for travel expenses, accommodation, and meals out while you are away, even if you splurge a few times during your time off, you simply aren’t spending the same amount you would be while travelling. Whatever you don’t spend on going away can be used elsewhere at your discretion. And an added bonus, whatever money you do spend will remain in your local economy. Does the part of you that seeks adventure need some attention? Do you feel that staying home in the familiar isn’t going to scratch that itch? Well, you’re right, it won’t! If it is adventure you seek, you need to challenge yourself to explore beyond what you have come to know as home. The good news is, if you live somewhere, you probably like it. Every city dweller has a vague sense of other parts of the city they don’t know and would like to know better. Now is your chance to change things up. If you don’t normally walk, walk. Or wander as you would in a new place and take transit home. Cities are layered entities you couldn’t come to know entirely even if you spend your whole life there. Challenge yourself to find a new favourite coffee shop or restaurant. Take yourself to that particularly interesting building you’ve never gone into. Go visit that community garden you’ve always admired. Take a sketchbook, write or photograph your journey. Reach out to your network and ask if someone will meet up and give you a tour of their end of town. There is beauty everywhere if you want to see it. As you venture, you are inscribing the space you live
Forest Bathing WITH
written by lauren mackay photography by shanda harper instagram @shanda_harper_photography thanks to karen salamandick
It’s a cool Sunday afternoon in south Calgary’s Fish Creek Park. The light slants through the trees, gently, weeksaway-from-winter sun in the Northern hemisphere. There is a slight breeze and a skiff of snow on the ground, revealing patches of the forest floor. The smell is divine: the sharpness of pine and spruce, the wet decomposing leaves, the layer under which is teeming with life. A small group of people have followed a map sent to us and assembled here to be led on a walk, but it isn’t a typical stroll through the woods. We are meeting life coach Karen Salamandick of Leaning 10 | FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM
Mind Coaching and for the next hour or so, we will be forest bathing. Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, as it’s called in Japan, is as much a mindfulness practice as it is a form of nature therapy. Practitioners are called to the forest, to slow down and attune to the surroundings through the use of their senses. Today, Salamandick suggests we fan out through the trees slowly and individually and invites us to notice what is moving around us, to close our eyes and listen, to sense how far we can hear. It is calming, peaceful, and expansive. In between our exploration, we gather and pass a pinecone around, sharing our observations and feelings. It is quiet and invigorating in the best possible way. There’s no doubt about it, we feel connected and supported, to the earth and to each other. There really aren’t words. Though in recent years it has become popularized all around the world, shinrin-yoku emerged in Japan in
earnest during the 1980s. “Both Shintoism and Buddhism have always ensured nature observance and nature wisdom and have held a prominent place in Japanese society. But the support for shinrin-yoku as it exists now really came as a reaction to mitigate the stress of overworking (for example, 20% of Japanese workers put in 80 hours or more of overtime a month) and the societal effects of rapid technological advances” says Salamandick. “As people began to be more plugged in, there was also a corresponding need to unplug and Japanese society began investing in ways to offer their citizens the ability to commune with the forest. There are now dedicated shinrin-yoku forests in Japan and South Korea. These forests have guides at the ready, benches to sit on, multiple trails with invitations to experience the forest from yoga platforms, and some even have staff who will record your blood pressure before and after your time in the forest. There is a growing body of science that quantifies the benefits of forest bathing, in addition to the positive effects on the parasympathetic nervous systems. Science is now starting to recognize the human benefits of simply being exposed to the chemicals trees release and the microbes in the soil. It’s amazing.” Salamandick came to this work a few years ago when she realized she had been naturally been practicing something similar since childhood. “My whole life, whenever I’ve been struggling, I’ve turned to the forest. I’m not a big hiker, so it was never about that, but quiet, contemplative time spent walking or sitting in the forest. I can’t help but believe it was what we were made to do. I came to my first formal forest bathing experience through an advertisement in my community magazine. It was total bliss. The practice of shinrin-yoku connects all of our senses to the present. Feelings of depression, from too much focus on the past, or anxiety, from too much emphasis on the future, are focused on the here and now. Nature connection and mindfulness, and especially the two combined, has been really healing for me and others I know who have experienced mental illness. Since it has been so helpful for me, I want to share it as a healing modality.” “In Canada, we happen to have an abundance of forests, so accessing the space to practice forest bathing is pretty easy. You can go to a park, to a nature preserve or for some of us, our backyard. Some people wonder if they need a guide or not, and that is completely up to you. Shinrin-yoku is like yoga - you can practice with a teacher or on your own. What I like about being FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 11
My whole life, whenever I’ve been struggling, I’ve turned to the forest guided, is the slower pace and support,” says Salamandick. “A lot of people get anxious about mundane things, they are watching the time, wondering if they are going to get lost, if they have gone far enough. Being guided alleviates a lot of distractions. But if you have a practice you love and it works for you, keep it up! If you want to be supported in developing this practice, sharing with others can only open the experience up for you. Whatever works, is most meaningful and healing, whatever feels the most right is right. This goes for any self-care - shinrin-yoku should only be pursued if it interests and helps you. If it is something you want to do, if it is something that works for you, it will not feel like just another thing on your to do list, it will become an I can’t wait to do.” Forest bathing may not be for everyone, but if you are beginning to feel like what naturalist John Muir called the “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken and over-civilized” people, it just may be a path to reclaiming your wellness. FOLLOW KAREN’S JOURNEY
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What I Learned After Going Through
Breast Cancer written by naqia ahmed
ike most of us who are younger (me youngish), with no family history, cancer was never on my radar. I thought it wouldn’t happen to me – but five years ago it did. I am now in remission, but my life plan didn’t include depleting my savings, being tired half the time, gaining 20 lbs, and always living with the fear of having a recurrence. In spite of all that, at my core I’m now a happier person – cancer definitely gave me some unexpected wisdom. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff … We all get annoyed, angry, and upset by things. My list of those things was long but after my diagnosis, one of the first things that became apparent was that ALL those things seemed insignificant. It suddenly felt as though I had wasted so much energy getting annoyed by ‘stuff’ that didn’t matter. It all seemed like ‘small stuff’. Another way to look at it is to ask yourself ‘Six months from now, will this matter?’ and most of the time the answer is a big fat NO. There may be a situation that warrants getting upset, but the key there is to honour your feelings while not letting them consume you. Once I spent a lot less time getting annoyed, suddenly there was much more time to stop and ‘smell the colourful roses’. Who knew it was that easy.
When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also develop inner happiness and peace - Dalai Lama XIV
It really is true that one kind word can change someone’s entire day. To say that going through cancer is difficult, is an understatement. There are so many aspects that are challenging and it undoubtedly takes a huge physical and emotional toll. What I realized during that time was that every kind word or gesture was uplifting, regardless of how inconsequential it may have seemed to the other person. When someone showed me love and kindness during the time I needed it most, it really made a difference in my day and in my soul. Be kind, be loving not only to others but also to yourself. Happiness can exist only in Acceptance – George Orwell After my diagnosis, I was angry, sad, and confused. How and why did this happen to ME?! One of the worst things for someone like me, with a Type A personality, is having no control over what is happening in your life. I had cancer and there was nothing I could do to change that. It’s frustrating, overwhelming, and you can spend a life time trying to make sense of it all. Somehow, in the midst of everything while just trying to get through each day, I stopped resisting and accepted the reality of the situation. There was a serenity that came with accepting the thing I couldn’t change. That acceptance gave way to finding happiness in those dark days and a gratitude and appreciation for my life. Five years later, I am much better at accepting what is, and going with the flow.
Life is good!
Invisible Illnesses and Advocacy in the Workplace written by emily rzeznicki
ost people have heard of the concept of mental health days. People talk about it and even encourage it on social media - Take a mental health day, you deserve it! Or I’m so stressed, I think I need a mental health day. As a common phrase we dole out casually, a phrase which in its intention is good and genuine, is then curiously skirted and dismissed when needed for serious application for those who need it the most. Don’t get me wrong, everyone is entitled to a mental health day. They are important and again, the message behind it, taking time off for oneself to work through stress is something we all need to take heed of. This concept however should be acknowledged and accepted more so in the workforce, a aplace where arguably the application of this idea is most vital and beneficial. There is a staggering amount of bias associated with mental health issues despite the efforts of those who attempt to give credence to, and education on mental health. Books have been written, lectures lectured, and reforms made to provide better support for those suffering from these invisible illnesses. However, that support has not completely penetrated our workplaces and many people suffer without proper support from their employers. There is an overwhelming lack of acceptance of the fact that people have legitimate diagnoses of depression or
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anxiety; only two shades of colour which I will be focusing on here from under the mental health rainbow. The most consistent bias that arises against mental health issues is that there are no clinical ailments, and feelings like anxiety are not considered ‘real’ conditions since mental illness is not perceived as legitimate as a physical illness is, which we can see. A broken leg comes with a cast, a flu comes with a fever and coughing, but anxiety is inherently self-contained. Depression and anxiety are often invisible illnesses as it is much more difficult to pin point that a person is struggling with depression or anxiety until that person reveals it. While the symptoms of depression and anxiety are not tangibly obvious, that doesn’t undercut the validity of these illnesses. Another offshoot of this bias is that conditions such as depression and anxiety are largely viewed as problems that people create for themselves versus something that is out of that person’s control and a problem that is happening to them, rather than because of them. In the workforce, this viewpoint morphs into employers thinking that employees stating that they have depression or anxiety are using these issues as an excuse or crutch to neglect their work, or to attempt to get undeserved time off. Instead of receiving sympathy, staff are met with skepticism and blame. Thankfully, work places are now
moving towards educating staff on better mental health support through human resources. Gwen Elling, a Manager in the HR department at Michael Garron Hospital, formerly Toronto East General says, “I am very proud of the work our Hospital has done to be awarded a Canada Order of Excellence - from Excellence Canada - for our national leadership in Workplace Mental Health. Through both my work experience and personal experience, I’ve encountered and worked alongside people living with mental illness for more than 15 years.” Gwen adds,” Mental illness in the workplace is becoming more prevalent, I believe as a result of the de-stigmatization that is taking place. I think intrinsically, we all want to help others. I would encourage people leaders to become familiar with what resources and supports are offered through their workplaces for employees living with mental health challenges - whether it be the services of an Employee & Family Assistance Program, an Occupational Health & Safety Department, or Wellness Programming. Knowledge is a powerful tool and if you know what type of programming your workplace offers, that will go a long way in supporting your teams.” Institutional bias and attitude make it difficult for those who want to speak up and ask for help from their employers. There is a common mentality among those who do not understand the nature of depression and anxiety which, at its
with it. In the workplace, this means creating respectful, tolerant and supportive environments where staff feel safe to disclose and have access to resources, supports and workplace accommodation. Outside of the workplace, this means ensuring people living with mental illness and their families have timely access to resources, support and treatment.” While there is hope that employers will begin to lead the charge towards advocating for their employees, it is still important for individuals to advocate for themselves in their personal lives and in their jobs. Gwen says, “I would encourage employees to be open and honest in having a candid dialogue with their Managers about the challenges they’re facing. Starting by identifying the issue, how it’s impacting the employee’s work and identifying what supports are required and available is a good step in the right direction.” Speaking up can be a daunting and overwhelming task, but there are strategies that will help make sure that, when you do feel ready to speak up, you do it on your own terms and with confidence. Before you approach your boss or HR department, it can help to practice what you are going to say to them with someone else first in your own safe space. If you have a trusted confidant, talk to them and talk through what you need to say so that when the time comes for the real conversation, you feel confident in your words and know exactly what you need to request from them for support. If there is no one you wish to talk to or no one available for you to talk to about the situation, then it can also help to just talk to yourself or write out what you are feeling. It is very easy to get lost in our own heads with all our thoughts and emotions. Especially when dealing with depression or anxiety. Sometimes simply saying those thoughts out loud or writing them down can clarify things. It alleviates the stress of feeling overwhelmed and cluttered with so many conflicting thoughts. This way you can put things in order and choose which thoughts need attention and which ones do not. It is important to explore all your options for support, especially if you are unsure of what resources your employer will be able to provide to you. One way to do this is to talk to your family doctor and ask them to outline the different avenues
that are open to you. They will be able to help you figure out what supports, therapeutic or otherwise, are covered by OHIP if you do not have benefits or insurance. They can also help you find therapists who work under a sliding scale if you need to pay out of pocket. Approaching your doctor is a discreet and safe way to begin to plan for yourself. Finally, it is important to set boundaries for ourselves with our peers and family. There is nothing wrong with needing space from our usual social engagements when we are experiencing anxiety or depression. If you need space from friends or family, take it. You do not owe explanations or apologies when you are trying to take care of yourself. Explain your position, ask for understanding and then focus on yourself until you are ready to reach out to others again. So much of what people need to do in order to help themselves is dependent on how accepting and understanding others are in their lives. Self advocacy is one thing and individuals can outline what they need for support, but if those we’re approaching aren’t willing to do anything then how is someone supposed to really move forward? It is critical that employers and companies begin to update not only their policies but their attitudes towards the mental health community. Workplaces should be safe spaces, especially since we spend many of our waking hours at them. Employees with depression and anxiety should never be made to feel like a liability. Advocacy in the workplace needs to start from the top so that we can begin to see effective change at the bottom and help make these invisible illnesses visible and accepted.
Mental illness in the workplace is becoming more prevalent
crux, is “if you are anxious or depressed, you need to just stop letting yourself be anxious or sad”. This dangerously simplistic thinking is part of what is damaging to an individual suffering from depression or anxiety because it places the blame on them, as if It is their fault that they are depressed. It undermines the illness and the person who is trying to deal with it. It can make them feel small and guilty. Instead of the individual asking, “what can be done for me to help deal with this problem?” they start asking themselves why can’t they stop being sad? What are they doing wrong? Gwen Elling says, “Being a strong advocate for mental health and mental wellness means being vocal and working hard to reduce the stigmatization associated with living with a mental health illness. It means looking at ways to champion stronger resources and supports for those in need now, and for those who will be in need. In my day-to-day, I demonstrate compassion when working with individuals who are living with mental illness and create environments that are respectful, tolerant and safe. I keep up-to-date on different resources that are available, participate in mental health awareness campaigns and continue my education in this area. I have also been mindful about working for employers who take extra measures to support mental wellness in the workplace.” Along with destructive attitudes it is an unfortunate fact that many workplaces do not attempt to implement supports or government funded resources for employees who have a mental illness. If an individual’s workplace has no program or resource for support and the employer is unsympathetic and disregards the illness, what option is left for the individual for seeking help? Gwen says it’s important for people in leadership roles to personally, “take steps to understand common signs of mental illness that may present in the workplace, practice having difficult conversations so you become more comfortable in discussing mental illness with your staff, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help - to your Human Resources partners, other leaders, etc. Taking no action or ignoring any signs your staff is demonstrating, is not helpful. We need to continue to normalize mental illness by talking openly about it to reduce and eliminate the stigma
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hope &faith 16 | FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM
written by kelly zemnickis makeup by makeup legacy studio instagram @makeuplegacystudio photography by kat leroux
For Rashmi, New Year’s Eve 2016 seemed standard; she was away and celebrating with her best friend and family. “I got a call from my family doctor as the party was happening” Rashmi says, “I was told that they had found a lesion, but not knowing what that was I didn’t know I was supposed to worry! My doctor asked me ‘Are you okay?’ And I said oh yeah, I’m fine! I had never heard that word before!” We shared a laugh, as Rashmi admitted she had been to the doctor recently and was expecting a call- but didn’t know what was going on. “I was with my bestie and we spoke about life, kids, getting healthy... things I wanted to do. Travel the world!” Then with the arrival of 2017, she found herself diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor known as Schwannoma and told terrifying news - that she may become paralyzed from the neck down. To add to the adventure that is life, 2017 was also the year she was turning 40. Schwannoma isn’t rare, it’s a rather common benign tumor that usually grows outside of the spinal cord. But for Rashmi, what made her case scary and rare was that it was discovered inside her spinal cord. I admitted to her the afternoon we met over Skype that I was trying very hard not to refer to it as Shawarma, and Rashmi got the joke instantly. “Honestly, that’s what I called it! I have Shawarma?!” But sadly, what she had was a nerve-based tumor that had only been discovered inside the spine about 70 times over the last 85 years. “I remember telling my doctor, I know I’m special but I don’t need to be THAT special!” Laughing along with her, I quickly realized this lady had an attitude that would be a formidable opponent to her newly diagnosed tumor. “My doctor [at St. Mike’s Hospital in Toronto] didn’t expect to find it there. And he couldn’t tell at first where the tumor was located until they went inside.”
Rashmi (who has a twin brother) grew up in India, with a loving family at her side. “I had a lot of friends growing upI still do- and they loved to come home with me and chat up my parents just as much as with me. Which drove me up the wall at times! But my mom [truly) is my best friend, so there was nothing to hide with her and that trust she gave me helped shape me as a woman. I was never scared to take a risk”, Rashmi confides. “I never worried, ‘what if I fail?’ I just went with the flow.” In March of 2003, she arrived in Canada alongside her husband and on Rashmi’s second day in her new country- snow fell into her life for the first time. ”I remember running outside in my flip flops and shorts trying to catch snowflakes! “ They would soon make a family of their own, and life was going along pretty smoothly for Rashmi until she started to notice that her body was acting a bit differently. About a year before she was diagnosed, she had noticed tingling in her hands and at first, attributed it to carpal tunnel and didn’t give it another thought. Then she started to get migraines, something she had never suffered with before but thought that it might have to do with recently having her second child. “I thought okay, maybe something got triggered. But I ignored that too, and I only went to my family doctor when my toes started to get numb”, Rashmi explained. “It happened randomly, when I went walking and I wondered why that would happen when my blood circulation was at its peak!?” FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 17
I never worried, ‘what if I fail?’ I just went with the flow
An avid practitioner of yoga and a children’s dance instructor, Rashmi finally went to speak with her family doctor. It was suggested the matter be looked into, with the thinking that this was a possible pinched nerve. She considered herself someone with a healthy lifestyle, so nothing was of grave concern at first. “I grew up in India in a family that cooked at home all the time, with Indian spices and [they] are known for healing properties and when I moved to Canada I continued to eat healthy and be healthy- hiking and biking with my husband.” When surgery was suggested as an option, albeit incredibly risky, Rashmi took her fitness up a level strengthening her legs and adding to an already strong base provided by her over 12 years of practicing 18 | FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM
yoga. “I knew that I was going to be bed-ridden or on a ventilator [after the surgery], so I did that and was taking B12 injections and vitamins to help with nerve regeneration! I did whatever I could do before surgery.” The benefits in allowing yourself to acknowledge fear and respect it, that can do wonders. “The fear started to set in when I found out I had a choice. I could face it or run from it and I decided to face it. And I think by doing that, I told myself that fear is just another four-letter word!” she said. Forty, fear, another F word comes to mind that we can’t print in this article. Rashmi created a daily mantra that her mind was stronger than her body and focused on daily breathing exercises, and that helped to ground her. “I knew I needed to practice my breathing to calm my body, so it was the biggest tool that I used.” Such simple advice, yet we forget about our breath and its power so easily. “I quickly realized that the only certain thing was the uncertainty of it all. And once I accepted that everything fell into place”, Rashmi confides. “My husband had more sleepless nights than me. I cried a lot but for me it was all about planning so they didn’t have to go through the stress of planning things over the next five to 10 years.” She was advised to get her will in place; and once she decided to have the surgery Rashmi and family made the trip to India, a trip of a life-time, because she was told she had a 25% chance of walking and talking again post-operation.
“I knew that I could never see them again. I went to live my best life that I could! Going to India was a blessing, my family there saw me having a good time which put them at ease. And seeing them at ease gave me peace.” Rashmi’s mom returned to Canada with her daughter, not knowing the full scope of what was at stake until the morning of the surgery. “My mother is a strong woman, one of the strongest people I know! But I had to stay strong for my husband and my kids and my family. If they saw me going down, I knew they’d go down too.” Thankfully, surgery was a success but not without its challenges. Post-surgery Rashmi needed to learn to walk again (at Toronto’s West Park Health), a heartbreaking irony for someone who once loved dancing so much. “My mom took me around in my wheelchair, she helped me brush my hair and go to the bathroom because I couldn’t use my hands post-surgery”, Rashmi explains. “She always had held her head high and has gone through life with grace. My mom has taught me a lot that way.” That easily explains how Rashmi was able to process the news she was likely going to be a quadriplegic for the rest of her life, with such calmness. The news her brain would still be fine made her see the glass as half full. “I still had my strongest tool. I didn’t care about the rest! I shocked my husband; he asked me if I was joking. My neurosurgeon looked at me blankly too.” But she went on to explain to them that her gut told her she was going to be okay. “The more I talked about my fears, the more strength I gained”, Rashmi admits. Again, we share a laugh as I tell her it helped her form a superhero cape of sorts.
She always had held her head high and has gone through life with grace. My mom has taught me a lot that way.
Today Rashmi is in overall good health. She definitely beat the odds that were against her, but she lives with many physical challenges. “I look completely normal from the outside, but people aren’t in my shoes and don’t know what I’m dealing with. I tire easily now and can be in bed for days after a social event because I can’t sit up for more than 3 hours at a time.” A sensation of pins and needles in her head, extensive nerve damage from surgery, pain 24/7, constant spasm shocks are all part of her daily routine now as well. “I can’t dance yet, because any motion gives me nausea.” What catches my ear there, is the word “yet”. Proving again this incredible woman is not taking anything off the table when it comes to what will be possible down the road. We talk about the power of sharing your own story and gratitude as our conversation winds down. “My strength comes from knowing I’m making a difference in someone’s life by sharing my story. Soon others started sharing their stories with me and it became therapeutic. Growing up in India, my parents taught me gratitude and to overcome anything. I begin and end my day with gratitude. I am grateful every morning that I can get out of bed and walk. Though I’m not grateful for the tumor, this journey has taught me to not take my life for granted.” FOLLOW RASHMI’S JOURNEY
www.rashmisanjay.ca FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 19
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The Birth of a Mother: Coping with a new Identity, Experiencing Grief & Loss, and Practicing Self-Care written by lisa azzopardi, cyc, msw, rsw clinical social worker & psychotherapist Lisa is a Clinical Social Worker & Psychotherapist with12 years of experience in Children’s Mental Health. She’s the leader of Catalyst Therapy, a community practice specializing in Children, Adolescents and Family Mental Health. Lisa facilitates Maternal Mental Health & Wellness Groups for new parents across Toronto. Lisa offers training in the community for professionals working with adolescents, and co-facilitates workshops for caregivers of Adolescents impacted by Mental Health challenges. She also provides Individual and Family Psychotherapy at her Toronto offices.
djusting to life as a mother presents a wide spectrum of emotional experiences. It can leave many women questioning their identities in their roles as new mothers, while grieving the loss of the familiar, including their professional accomplishments, their romantic partnerships, and their connections with friends and family. Acknowledging this loss can be destabilizing, particularly in a society that romanticizes the idea of “having it all.” Grasping onto the familiar, as a survival strategy and coping response, is real. This is when we notice our collisions with anxiety and depression. With the unknown at its peak, and any form of predictability at a distance, new mothers often find themselves emotionally and psychologically overwhelmed. One of the most significant life changes has just occurred. It is no wonder that up to 20% of women worldwide suffer from postpartum depression (PPD). This statistic will likely be higher in 2019. Early detection and early treatment can improve feelings of isolation and stigma that women with PPD experience. These are a few reasons why the development and implementation of a Maternal Mental Health Group in Toronto has been so meaningful to many new mothers. This community outreach program, conceived over a year ago in Liberty Village, is changing the landscape of women’s health in Toronto. A validating environment presents women with the opportunity to share their post-postpartum experiences,
and gain comfort in their vulnerability. The social networks that women create in the group begin to de-stigmatize their mental health experiences and normalize their challenges. Additionally, when the mental health needs of parents are attended to, their infants, children, and families benefit.
Generally, we are quite familiar with selfcare strategies including: getting quality sleep, eating nutritious foods, exercising, and so forth. These are all self-care activities that contribute to and support mental health and wellness in the post-postpartum period. Beyond these strategies, self-care on a cognitive and emotional level requires work. This involves taking the time to sit and notice our internal experiences, including the voices saying, “I’m not doing enough,” or “I’m such a horrible mother.” Gaining awareness of thought patterns and emotions is essential in achieving longer lasting changes. This is a component of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), a treatment approach that many new mothers appreciate. Using replacement thoughts, a tool in CBT, can support a decrease in the symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. If you experience distressing thoughts, or urges to harm yourself or your baby, I encourage you to seek medical attention.
yourself, how is my body feeling right now? Hot? Cold? How does my heart feel? Open? Light? Heavy? Tight? What thoughts are taking up the most space in my mind right now? Worried thoughts? Judgmental thoughts? Obsessive thoughts? Go for a walk. Exercise continues to be one of the most under-utilized tools for decreasing depressive symptoms. Watch a funny movie, or a short clip of something humorous online. Engaging in an activity that elicits pleasurable emotions has a snowball effect.
Call a friend, even if it’s just for five minutes.
List three things that are positive right now and notice your feelings of gratitude. Practice being present and in the moment with these feelings. Navigating through the distressing thoughts and emotional overwhelm is doable and working through a massive identity change is also possible. One of the gifts of connecting with such resilient women is you witnessing the transformation of them and observing the sheer success in their new skin. Leaning in and accepting change is a developmental task essential to growth, and to the Birth of a Mother. You’ve arrived, so take your time as you get to know your new world. And remember, be easy on yourself.
Wondering what you can do right now? Sit with your feet planted on the ground. Begin to turn your attention inwards. Ask
FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 21
e carry anxiety and stress all over our bodies. It’s not just a deep tissue massage that can make us feel better and help reduce that tension. Before we come to some much-needed solutions, we need to learn to recognize what is triggering that anxiety and identify our own red flags. First off, as you’re reading this, loosen your jaw and do a couple of neck rolls. We carry the most daily tension in our necks and shoulders, and even grind our teeth without knowing it. Sometimes, anxiety manifests physically, in a panic attack, which can be terrifying. It causes a heavy chest discomfort which can sometimes feel like you’re having a heart attack. Remind yourself that you’re not, even though it seems like an intense moment. Your stomach might feel twisted up - you don’t feel full, but have a bloated feeling paired with a lightheaded feeling and maybe even nausea. You may also feel changes in your general mood or disposition. Those suffering from anxiety may feel the sensation of being restless, or on edge. This irritability can be paired with a feeling of unease, though nothing is physically wrong. It may even cause insomnia, keeping you up at night, tossing and turning. Maybe your organization has gotten out of control. You’ve started to over plan and almost neurotically make lists when they’re not necessary. It feels like something serious is happening to your body, but that’s just psychosomatic symptoms taking over. Here are some ways to gain control of your mind and body in tough moments*: First off, give up the morning java and happy hours. These things might be what people without anxiety use to cope with daily stresses, but for us, it just encourages more jittery or restless feelings, and acidic
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How to Recognize Anxiety Hotspots and Red Flags written by naima karp
ingredients may exacerbate anxiety that manifests in the stomach.
Try to avoid highly acidic foods, if possible, but if eating chocolate and tomatoes puts you in your happy place, remember to act in moderation. Switch from coffee to herbal tea, especially chamomile, which is renowned for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties. Practice breathing exercises and meditation. The 4 7 8 breathing technique can be quite effective. In it, you give a big exhale through the mouth, with a “whoosh”
manage anxiety and release chemicals in the brain that combat low mood and anxious tendencies. Taking a scenic bike ride or going to an inspiring yoga class forces you to take a break from this frenzied energy. Lastly, consider alternative courses of treatment, such as naturopathy and CBD products. Naturopathy involves organic, natural and plant-based ingredients that are more commonly found on the Eastern side of the world than the West. CBD, or cannabidiol, is the part of the cannabis plant that has medical benefits without any psychoactive or lethargic “stoned’ sensations. It is frequently used to treat anxiety, chronic pain, depression, seizures, and many other conditions. Many people want to try other alternatives prior to starting anti-anxiety medications. Natural options may be worth looking into if you’re not looking to make the jump to prescription. Talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment. Sometimes, we just need a hug from the right person or some proper selfcare to fight that pesky anxiety. And sometimes we need more. Mental health upkeep is just as important as physical upkeep and reaching out for help is never something to be ashamed of, whether from a friend, a therapist, or a doctor. *This article is not meant as a professional diagnosis or treatment.
sound. Then, close your mouth and inhale gently through the nose to a mental count of 4. Hold your breath for 7 counts. Then, give another big “whoosh” exhale through the mouth for 8 counts. Another calming breath is a long, slow inhale through the nose, first with the lower lungs and then the upper ones. Hold your breath for three counts and do a slow exhale through pursed lips while relaxing facial, shoulder, jaw, and stomach muscles. Visualize things you were anxious about a year ago and try to put the current year in perspective as just another turbulent period that you will be able to get through. Then, in your favourite room, visualize all the things and people that give you comfort. A burst of cardio or exercise in some form can help FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 23
Winter Skincare Tips written by shawna patruno
’Tis the season to nurture your skin and scalp. It’s time to swap out your bikini for a winter parka, switch up your summer skin care routine and add in some extra protection and hydration for the colder weather. Your skin can be affected by a few variables such as your genetic make-up, inflammation in the body and your unique lifestyle. All this can contribute to added sensitivity in the blistering cold. Great news though! You can prevent dryness, sensitivity, and dull skin this winter. However, even if these pesky symptoms crop up on you, these simple steps will help you greatly!
Tip 1 Moisturize to add Back Hydration This will create a barrier from the elements. A proper skin hydrator will allow your skin to perform essential functions, helping it to remain youthful and resilient. Ensure you use a non- comedogenic face cream, so you won’t suffocate your skin. It is also important to avoid creams that contain mineral oil, as mineral oil can’t be absorbed into the skin and can cause breakouts.
Tip 2 Add a Serum and a Facial oil to Your Skin Care Routine
These are going to be your best friends in winter. Look for a serum that has hyaluronic acid as it will retain a thousand times its weight in water within your skin cells to give you plump, hydrated, and youthful skin. Include a facial oil that has sea buckthorn in it, an ingredient I find heals the skin with its omega 3-6-9 contents. This is one of my all-time favourite oils! A little tip is to add a single drop into your foundation before applying to make your skin dewy for the day. 24 | FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM
Tip 3 Add an Omega 3 Fatty Acid Supplement Select your supplements carefully, and check with your doctor to make sure they don’t interfere with any other medications or conditions you may have. I use one that is vegan and made of cold pressed flax seed oil and algae to provide omega-3 fatty acids. This is known to help reduce eczema flair ups and/or any dryness issues in the body. You’ll see the benefits in a couple of weeks to a month’s time.
Tip 4 Indulge in a Coconut Hair Mask Apply a coconut oil hair mask to prevent dry hair and scalp. Once a week take 1 tbsp. of coconut oil and heat it up between your palms. Start applying from the ends of your hair and work your way up to your scalp. Brush it through your hair. Go to bed and, upon waking up, wash your hair and condition it. So, there you have it, the basics of beautiful glowing hydrated skin and hair this crisp winter. Till then stay cool. FOLLOW SHAWNA’S JOURNEY
@reawakenedbeauty FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 25
Calming Strategies You Can Use to Destress
IN FIVE MINUTES OR LESS written by caitlyn stewart
Stress is a killer. It robs us of our mental and physical health sometimes without us even realizing it. Take back your calm by trying these 10 ideas to help yourself relax. The best part is, they only take five minutes.
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1. Practice Deep Breathing
Telling you to breathe to reduce stress seems simplistic, since we obviously all breathe, all the time, but when you practice deep breathing it helps your body relax. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Doing this will help your muscles relax. Your brain will also get more oxygen, allowing your whole system to mellow out.
Meditating takes practicing deep breathing to another level. It helps your body and mind slow down and relax. You can practice meditation on your own, or with the numerous apps that are out there like Headspace, Calm or Insight Timer.
Movement can help shift your brain to a new track of thought, which is why walking to help you calm down is a great thing to do. Take a five-minute walk and practice some deep breathing, and you’ll find yourself well on your way to relaxation.
small to organize helps your brain change tracks, and think of something different while you’re still being productive.
8. Write it Out
Write down all the reasons why you’re stressed. Then note which things you have control over and which things you don’t. Make a plan for the things you can control and remind yourself not to worry about the things you can’t.
9. Practice Gratitude
It’s easy to forget how good we have it because we’re so wound up with life. Sit down and write out the things you’re grateful for.
10. Plan a Vacation
If you could go anywhere on vacation where would you go? What would you do? Start planning a vacation when you’re stressed out and you’ll find yourself relaxing in no time.
4. Search out the Sun
Sunshine is a vitally important element that we need in our diet, so find the sun where you can and just sit in it for a few minutes. The heat of it (especially in winter) can warm you up and relax your muscles. It’s also good for your body because you’re getting some needed vitamin D.
We don’t laugh enough, and laughter is one of the easiest ways we can de-stress. Create a list of gifs or videos that you can go to quickly and that make you smile or laugh. Watching those for a few minutes can lower your stress level quickly.
6. Chew Some Gum
According to a study done at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia chewing gum reduces the amount of cortisol (which is the stress hormone) in your saliva.
7. Get Organized
Getting organized seems like a task that would take longer than five minutes, but picking something FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 27
Meet The Hilarious
Courtney Gilmour 28 | FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM
written by kelly zemnickis cover & article photography by tim leyes instagram @timleyes
Canada has an abundance of funny folk to keep us laughing, even when the state of the world and news of the day keeps our eyes rolling. One of these fiercely funny, and incredibly kind, people is Courtney Gilmour. Growing up in Waterloo, Ontario (now based in Toronto) she has made a name for herself at Just For Laughs (JFL) in Montreal (winning the 2017 Homegrown Competition- a first for a female in JFL’s 19 year history). Courtney is helping to break down barriers. We sat down recently to talk comedy, accessibility, and more. Did your family help shape your funny bone?
Absolutely! I like to think they’re funnier than me. They’re really good at Roast Comedy, actually. I grew up in a house where we were making fun of each other all the time, so I sometimes go a bit dark in my humour and I won’t realize it until someone points it out, and it always surprises me, because my dad said something like that to me last week!
Do you remember what the first joke you ever told was?
I was seven years old, hanging out with my cousins and we were teasing each other. One of them was making fun of my brother saying, ‘you smell really bad’, and I was like ‘yeah, you smell like eau de toilette’! I thought that was the funniest joke ever, and it haunts me in a way that it’s so stupid but I felt really funny. My cousin said, ‘You’re so funny, how did you think of that?’ I told him that I guessed I was a genius! As far as the first joke I told on stage, because I have the physicality that I have to address I think it was something like a, ‘I know what you’re thinking’ kind of joke. I think that was my first structured joke.
You have a way to get us (the audience) to forget that we have physical differences. Did that come easily to you? Addressing your physicality right away in your set? I’m glad you bring it up, because I’ve been thinking a lot of the dynamic between me and the audience. I’ve heard all my life, whether it be from strangers or boyfriends, they consistently say, ‘I forget, I always forget’ and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what that means. To me, I don’t forget it’s just the way it is. I understand what people mean when they say they forget that I don’t have hands, but what I think it means is that I’m conducting myself in a way that appears normal to them. But it’s a way that has always been normal to me. Comedy is a great way for me to do that. I don’t know if it’s anything I’ve learned, it just comes with
being comfortable. But there have been times where I’ve been hyper-aware and I’m caring too much about people’s perceptions of me. It’s interesting because I’ve never had to talk about this as much since I’ve been doing comedy. I started later in comedy, so to speak, and I spent my entire life not talking about it that much! [But] It’s awesome to be able to break tension though I find that younger people, like in College or University, are more sensitive to it, especially younger girls! I would love to say that I’m the cool girl with the younger girls but I have to work for it! Maybe they feel that they shouldn’t be laughing, or sometimes it’s a vibe of ‘Oh, are you even allowed to do this?’ It’s so weird!
Being born without part of your arms and part of your leg, was that simply how you were born or was there a medical issue after birth?
It was just how I was born. They sort of, loosely, attributed it to Environmental Pollution. I was born in Sarnia, and there’s so much undisclosed environmental pollution there. The year I was born, I know two other people my age – we were all born in the same hospital, all missing limbs, same year, which is unusual. I was fitted with prosthetic hands through WarAmps but never took to them, being a double arm amputee is a lot to deal with. As a kid, you’re growing and growing so you need [limbs] all year round. I ditched them in junior high, decided I was just going to go with the fake leg and the braces and that’ll be my thing! I didn’t want the extra stuff! Also, it’s very expensive to have prosthetics. WarAmps does a lot, it’s just that they’re not the government. It’s a charity, but they’ve been so beneficial that I think we’ve been leaning on them. Funding does exist, but there are cases where you can get one leg funded for 10 years. Where is the rationale behind that?! If you’re six, you’re going to need more legs!
Do you find Toronto to be an accessible city?
No. I wish it was. It’s getting better- we have disability organizations like StopGap but not in comedy clubs and even restaurants? The amount of places people can’t physically get into is really sad. My awareness has definitely been heightened doing comedy. There’s a lot of people who can’t come see me perform because they have no way to get into the bar I’m performing at, or, it’s, ‘well you can come in but the bathroom’s in the dungeon in the basement’. That’s not accessible! You can come in and have drinks and have a nice time, but you can’t go to the bathroom? That’s not accessible, it’s still not inclusive. But it has to start somewhere, with people talking and planning strategies and stuff. I hope to see more inclusive spaces for sure. I had four shows at JFL42 in Toronto this year, and I only felt comfortable in one of them. I felt comfortable reaching out to the disability community because it was at the Rivoli and the Rivoli is accessible! But I had an ASL (sign language) interpreter at all my shows and she was SUCH a performer, she was so cool. FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 29
A lot of ASL interpreters don’t do comedy because it’s too fast paced, but people would say after interpreting some of my jokes she had a look on her face like, ’Oh, I killed that!’ And that way you can have people who are deaf or hard of hearing enjoy a show they’ve never been able to experience before.
Is accessibility for shows an across the board problem? Do most cities you go to have issues? It is an across the board problem. We have a lot of people in the community who not only want to attend live events that are accessible to them, but also eat at restaurants! The louder the need gets, the more cities hear it. I’ve performed a lot in Portland and I really, really love Portland. I think they have a lot of innovative ideas on how to include people- they make it a priority, with disability, with gender, and race. It’s a weird little Utopia. It’s not perfect but I like their mindset towards including people. I think it’s something Toronto could adopt.
We have to talk DreamLeg!! But first… how many legs do you think you’ve been through?
A LOT! At least five legs in the last five years. I’m 34 and this sounds dumb, but I feel like I have high standards for how a body part should fit on me! I need a body part that suits me and makes my life easier!! The cheapest, no bells or whistles kind of leg costs between $15- 20,000 on the low end. I got to a point where they were breaking on me a lot and I had been doing research on Dream Leg- but it was a far off, someday goal. It’s very intuitive. But when my leg broke on the way to a show last year, I knew I had to do this now because I couldn’t keep living my life not being able to trust my own body. I felt guilty for wanting this Dream Leg. I didn’t think I deserved to have it, but my friends and family were quick to correct and support me! I felt guilty because it’s such an exorbitant cost. In my head, sometimes I’d lead myself to believe it was a luxury item instead of a necessity. It’s $100,000! Friends and family said if I started a GoFundMe, they’d share it and 30 | FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM
It’s become a social justice issue
where I feel very passionately about starting a dialogue about where we can go to make
put on fundraiser shows – and we’re at $40,000 right now. [But] this is a campaign where it’s not just about me. I can’t just take this leg and live my life. It’s become a social justice issue where I feel very passionately about starting a dialogue about where we can go to make prosthetics more accessible to everybody.
Do you like the idea of being seen as an advocate?
It’s not that I don’t want to, but sometimes when you have a disability you can feel like people think you exist to educate them, and you don’t like feeling like that. You just want to feel like a human, but I am in a good place to shed light on issues that are important to me, and if using humor is helpful and beneficial for that, then I want to be part of that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
The idea that you can’t please everyone. We all know that to be true, but you’re literally not going to appeal to everyone. It’s very freeing to know ‘Oh, I’m never going to have an entire room of people love me at all times’! When you’re performing comedy and you want people to like you, you’re in your head and you’re not being authentic. When you get in your zone, you attract people who are on your same wavelength. So now I can just have fun and do things that I want to do. There’s always going to be one person who doesn’t get me, and the desire to be gotten is gone now and it’s changed my whole life. FOLLOW COURTNEY’S JOURNEY
HELP FUND COURTNEY’S DREAMLEG https://www.courtneygilmour.com/dream-leg-foud
FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 31
t is a new year and a new you – financially speaking - and the time to act on paying off debt is now.
There is such a strong correlation between health and wealth. Financial fitness begins with basic financial literacy. You can’t change something if you don’t see it as a problem. Start with a plan with concrete goals and a timeline. Go into your financial institution and ask for help to develop a plan. Don’t self-eliminate and say you don’t have enough money.
PATTIE LOVETT REID Chief Financial Commentator for CTV News www.BNNBloomberg.ca
“Debt is dumb, cash is king.” -Pattie Lovett Reid
In the post-recession decade, we have been enjoying an ultra-low rate environment, all to kick start the Canadian economy. The good news, in an ironic sort of way, is you have been part of the solution. Our reluctance to turn a blind eye to cheap money has helped prop up the economy. The bad news is, YOU now have a problem: As the economy heals, many Canadians face overwhelming levels of personal debt and are painfully under-saving for retirement and for emergencies.
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom. In their most recent poll the Canadian Payroll Association survey found 66 percent said they were in a better financial position this year than they were a year ago. Meanwhile, 39 percent of respondents said they’re optimistic the economy is getting stronger. Could this mean I’m starting to preach to the converted? Maybe!
At the same time, 40 percent of respondents indicated they feel overwhelmed with their debt levels. What we must remember is, being in a better position year-overyear doesn’t mean financial strength but it does mean financial improvement. When rates resume their upward trajectory, it will be a day of reckoning for some. But for others who have begun to curb their spending and are looking to take
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Will 2019 Be
of Financial Freedom? charge of their financial situation, there is reason for optimism. If becoming debt-free is a New Year’s goal, here are a few of my favourite financial lessons:
holiday spending, be realistic about your spending habits but stick to the budget.
6. Only you can control your purchases; make lists if necessary, to keep yourself on track.
19 1. Debt is dumb and cash is king. Use cash wherever
7. Confront your financial facts and surround yourself
2. You can’t increase your credit card debt if you
8. Set financial goals that excite you. Change is hard and
3. Achieving financial freedom isn’t about
9. Pay down debt. The holiday bills are rolling in and the
possible, especially when buying gifts for loved ones. don’t have one.
doing one big thing right – it is about doing a lot of little things right, including: • Stop mindless spending – you don’t need that designer coffee • Eat in, not out • Reduce waste • Cancel subscriptions • Consider staycations • Be content with what you have In short, be mindful about where your dollars are going.
4. Try not to borrow from your financial future. If
you have been savvy enough to pay yourself first, into registered plans such as RRSPs and TFSAs, try not to dip into that money to satisfy an urge.
with people who will support you.
this is where the real discipline kicks in.
debt is piling up. Pay off the most expensive debt first, the one with the highest interest rate. Arrange automated savings plans that take money directly off your paycheque. If you don’t see it you won’t spend it.
10. Negotiate all contracts – better rates might be yours for the taking but it won’t happen if you don’t ask. Getting out of debt is hard work, but every person deserves to have a financial plan regardless of their wealth situation. It may require a bold move, but having a plan puts you in control and helps to turn your intentions into reality. Remember, you didn’t get into debt overnight so set your expectations accordingly.
5. Budgets work; set aside a specific amount for
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Things My Fluctuating Weight Has Taught Me About Body Positivity
written by elizabeth hawksworth
wasn’t always a fat girl, but I have always had insecurity about my body. In fact, I used to be skinny. The type of skinny where you could count my ribs and see my bones through my skin. I was this kind of skinny all through my childhood, up until the age of 14. Then everything changed. There’s a marked difference in my ninthgrade picture vs. my tenth grade one. In my ninth-grade picture, I was all bones and hair, my almost waist-length hair spilling over my sharp little shoulders. The next year, my picture showed a girl with chubby cheeks, fleshy shoulders, and shorter hair. This drastic change, in only a year, sparked off a lifetime of body insecurity. My boobs grew bigger; my hips grew stretch marks. My stomach went from being flat to rounded. But one of the biggest changes happened in my level of health. I went from being a healthy girl who had slight period cramps to being doubled over in agony, passing out and coming close to vomiting from the pain. I wish I could tell you that the pain I was in and the illness I experienced was a oneoff, but in fact I am one of the many people who suffer with endometriosis, a disease that attacks the reproductive organs like the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. Endometriosis doesn’t have a clear cause and it certainly doesn’t have a cure. And like many people with the disease, it pretty much rules my life. Going from being a skinny child, ad-
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mired for my body shape, to a fat woman, now looked upon with disgust, was more than jarring. I hated the body I was in, and it’s taken me a long time to recognize that the problem isn’t with my fat body, it’s with society and the beauty standards that rule it. But it’s been a long journey. I developed disordered eating in my teens that has continued to this day. This, along with my genetics, led to me having my gall bladder out at age 23 because my diet was so poor and my eating so sporadic. While this caused me to lose more weight and gave me a wake-up call as to what poor nutrition and starvation can do to your body, I didn’t seem to be able to stop hurting myself in this way. While my eating disorder certainly caused my weight to fluctuate, it was actually my chronic illness that proved to cause the biggest drops and gains in my weight. Fighting symptoms and being on medication that changed everything from my appetite to the texture of my hair was a very odd experience, especially for someone already insecure with her body. And it didn’t matter what I weighed – I still felt like everyone was judging me, anyway. The truth is, it shouldn’t matter what you weigh in order to gain basic respect and decency. Everyone has traits and characteristics that are beautiful. And everyone deserves to feel like they have a place in society, free from the ridicule of those who think that fat is ugly. The world is changing. I’ve seen it starting to happen. Attitudes towards body
positivity are improving, and with them, respect for those who don’t fit the norm. And having been both fat and thin, here’s what I’ve learned from watching my weight fluctuate with my chronic illness. 1.DOCTORS CARE DEPENDS ON WHAT THE SCALE SAYS Having chronic illness, for me, has revealed an entirely new view of how the world sees fat people. As someone who sees a lot of doctors to fight my chronic pain and endometriosis symptoms, I learned very quickly that many doctors don’t bother to take your pain seriously when you’re fat. In fact, they often attribute symptoms to fat people, and fat women in particular, as being their own fault. Studies have shown that doctors tend to disregard severity of symptoms when it comes to fat people. They’ve also shown that doctors will put off testing and treatments, preferring instead to tell fat people to ‘just lose weight’ to fix whatever ailment they may have. This is dangerous, and has led to severe illness, and even death, for those who happen to weigh more than average. I’m lucky that I have a family doctor who cares about my symptoms and barely ever brings weight into my care plan, but this isn’t the case for many people. However, the medical community is changing. New research has shown that shaming people for being fat doesn’t change behaviours
tion-based education does help to make those changes, and thankfully, more and more doctors are turning to a collaborative medical model, not a shaming one. 2.YOU’LL BE PRAISED FOR LOSING WEIGHT EVEN IF YOU CAN’T EAT Endometriosis comes with some fun side effects, like severe nausea and lack of appetite. Two years ago, I was so sick all the time that I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything. Noticing the reaction of my family and friends to my almost 40-lb weight drop proved to be not only surprising, but also hurtful. I didn’t feel healthier or more beautiful as a skinnier person. I just felt sick, weak, and scared, scrutinized for how much I weighed – the same as I was when I was fatter.
ent body types. Some of the clothes I buy are from second-hand shops or are given to me, but many are from stores that cater to both straight sizes and plus sizes. While they’re not perfect – no mass-produced clothing ever is – I’m finding that they do consider women with bigger hips and bottoms, or women who are small across the shoulders but big in the bust. I have even found petite sizes that are made for plus size women, which is great for all of us shorties out there!
been accused of ‘glorifying bad health’, the truth is, you can’t tell someone’s health status from their weight alone. And only celebrating bodies that don’t look like yours can lead to self-esteem issues and feelings of inadequacy.
I love going on Instagram and following people who are comfortable in their own skin. It gives me a lot of hope that one day, maybe I can be, too. I don’t have to care about stretch marks and spare tires – I can celebrate what my body can do and 4.YOU LEARN TO CELEBRATE the miracles it performs every single day. YOUR VICTORIES - AND THEY’RE I still get frustrated – I still hate what I see NOT TIED TO WEIGHT in the mirror some days – but I’ve also One of the things that turned my inlearned to love the sparkle in my eye, my securities about my body around was gap-toothed, dimpled smile, and the set learning that bodies aren’t for decoration. of my shoulders. I’ve learned to love the They serve a purpose, and that purpose strength I see in my face, and the fact that What I found helped me climb back on is to keep you alive. While this may seem I never will be skinny, blonde, and bluethe health bandwagon was encouragesimplistic, allow me to elaborate: I’ve seen eyed, and that’s okay. I can still admire ment to feel better, instead of praise for my body for years as an enemy, something those people while admiring myself and losing weight. When I complained about I must fight. I’ve starved it, harmed it, what I can do. feeling too sick to eat, friends reached made it sick, and ignored its calls for help. out with remedies and medications that I’ve pushed through pain, disregarded its Body positivity has played a huge part helped them when they felt the same way. signals, and sabotaged the way it works. in helping me realize that it’s so importWhen I marveled at how my clothes didn’t No wonder I sometimes feel so horrible ant that I show other people, especially fit anymore, they donated items to me or about myself ! women and girls in my life, that beauty went on shopping trips to find clothing comes in all shapes and sizes. Diversity is that made me feel cute and beautiful. And I learned to see my body as a machine, so important! And while I won’t be getting people who want you to feel your best something that needs regular maintenance rid of my endometriosis anytime soon, I don’t care about weight loss. They care in order to stay healthy. For me, that ‘looks can work with my chronically ill body to about how you feel inside. like’ as much exercise as I can do without reach new heights in my journey. compromising my already precarious health and immune system, eating as I can learn to love my body, and in turn, 3.THE CLOTHING INDUSTRY IS healthily as I can depending on how I it helps me to be more comfortable with FINALLY PAYING ATTENTION TO feel, and taking time for self-care. I tend myself. DIVERSE BODIES I usually straddle the line between plusto overwork myself, so it could also look size and straight-size clothing, depending like spending time reading or watching on how many dress sizes I’ve gained or lost a movie or going for coffee with friends. in any given time. Because endometriosis Sometimes, a good laugh or cry is all I is cyclical, the disease can be worse some need to feel better! months, and non-existent other months. I take my medication and look after my This type of weight loss proves to be mental, as well as physical, health. I see a frustrating, because either clothes are too therapist as well as my family doctor. I get big or too small, or fit in strange places. If massages as well as see my gynecologist you’re short and big-hipped, like me, the and pain specialists. Paying that much fit of most clothing you can buy in any more attention to my body has helped women’s apparel store gets even worse. me to be more sympathetic to it. I still get I joke about my “butt gap”, or the gap frustrated, but I know that it’s doing its between my waistband and my back when best to keep me going. I wear almost any pants without an elastic waistband, for example; but beyond tailor- 5.SOCIETY MAY CARE WHAT YOU ing all my clothes, which would exceed my WEIGH, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO budget, I don’t really have other options. What I find amazing about the body positivity community is the way it celebrates I get around some of this by shopping at everything that’s interesting, beautiful, stores that seem to truly understand differ- and even weird about bodies. While it’s FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 35
The Elephant in the Room â€“ Talking to Our Kids About Mental Health written by sara maginn pacella
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hat do our kids learn in school about mental health? Will they know how to help out a friend who is suffering from depression? Will they be able to recognize symptoms in themselves or in a parent? What tools are they able to access if they encounter a panic attack? How will they be able to advocate for their mental health needs both as children and as they get older? There has been a lot of talk, debate and frustration in Ontario lately about the sexual health education curriculum, particularly what our children are (and aren’t) being taught in the classroom. While this has been at the front of minds, newspapers and online newsfeeds for months now, there are other equally important health-related issues that we also need to be talking about. Mental health is an important topic to learn more about, whether you’re five or 55, but it’s also something a lot of us put off because it isn’t easy to talk about. Earlier this year, a long-time family friend ended her life and we were faced with a parenting choice surrounding whether we’d tell our children, and how much we’d talk to them about what had happened. We opted for full honesty and waited for the questions to come in from our thoughtful six-year-olds. We had some tough conversations, and we all learned a lot. As a parent, it can be tempting to shelter our children from anything that can go wrong, but this doesn’t help them in the long run. We should be arming them with information, a support network and tools that they can use when coping with whatever life throws their way, being able to rely on themselves and their own judgement as they mature. We should be showing them ways to express empathy and kindness towards
Talking about Mental Illness in the Family
Dr. Christine Wittman’s perspective shared in a Psychology Today article saying, “Balance an understanding of your child’s temperament with his or her developmental stage. A child who’s more reserved will need a different approach than a child who’s more impulsive. A younger child has ideas about what being ‘sick’ means based on their own experiences of illness, so being concrete is even more important. An older adolescent can use information to make decisions about his or her own life.” It can be hard to know how and when to start talking about mental health with your family, but by breaking it down into smaller conversations, it will be easier for your child to talk about difficult things when they really need to.
Starter Tips for any Conversation
Take cues from your children on how and when you have a conversation. Some kids may find they’re more comfortable talking about things while they play or, if they’re older, over dinner or a game of cards, and others will want to sit down for a face-to-face discussion. Help them identify their stress triggers along with coping mechanisms (for little kids, I love Raffi’s “Take a Breath,” a self-regulation song that did wonders for my son).
For older kids, Dr. Wittman recommends a journal where a child can write questions and have the parent later provide answers for things that they may not feel comfortable asking in a direct conversation. If your child sees a mental health episode involving a family member, friend or stranger, talk about it together and answer any questions you can. If you don’t have answers, find them out together.
Teach your children language around expressing their feelings so they are better able to communicate feelings of anxiety, sadness and frustration with you, as well as sharing the good stuff. Don’t chastise them for crying or getting upset, make your company a safe place where they can be themselves, even if that means having a good cry. Read stories and watch movies where characters have both struggles and strength, and discuss them together so you can show them it is normal for absolutely everyone. There are no stupid or silly questions. Remember, sometimes your child won’t go to you, but help them create a village of people you trust and 38 | FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM
respect so they can talk to them when they’re facing something they don’t want to, or can’t bring themselves to talk about it with their parents
Things You Can Do as an Adult
Remove problematic language from your vocabulary – for example, crazy, insane, nutter –especially if you work in communications. As Kate Nightingale, Head of Communications at Time to Change, told The Guardian, “The media is extremely powerful and is consumed by millions of people every day. Therefore, we would encourage journalists to recognize the influence they have when reporting on mental health so as not to reinforce damaging stereotypes or create sensationalist articles which can cause huge distress and offence to the one in four people who will experience mental health problems.” Respectfully call others out for using derogatory language. Don’t shelter your children from family and friends’ mental health struggles – talk about it. Educate yourself on mental health through research with credible resources, like those offered through CAMH (http://www.camh.ca/).
What’s Being Taught at School
Within the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) strategies and education on mental health are being taught at multiple levels throughout the school as a whole and individually, in the curriculum (http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/ elementary/healthcurr18.pdf) and within the classroom, where the current focus is well-being. Here are some further resources for parents who want to explore the topic further: TDSB’s website about systems level resources and information: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/Elementary-School/Supporting-You/Mental-HealthWell-being School Mental Health ASSIST (https://smh-assist.ca), which is provincial-level organization that provides resources to support promotion of mental health in schools. At an individual school level, schools develop their School Improvements Plans (SIPs). One component of each plan is goals related to well-being. These goals are individualized based on the needs of the school and results from surveys done in recent years. The idea is that the goals are derived from the voices of students/parents at the school. TDSB Mental Health leads are two individuals (currently social workers) who support the implementation of mental health initiatives and supports. Examples of the things they are involved in can be found on their Twitter account (@TDSB_MHWB). Examples of different classroom approaches include: Zones of Regulation, which is an approach that supports students in developing self-regulation and emotional control (http://www.zonesofregulation.com/index.html). Mindfulness-based approaches, such as MindUp (mindup.org) or teacher training through Mindfulness everyday (http://www.mindfulnesseveryday.org). Focusing on monthly character traits (http://www.tdsb.on.ca/Elementary-School/ The-Classroom/Character-Development). Teachers pull social emotional learning into lessons and daily events where it fits organically. They may use collaborative problem solving (https://www.livesinthebalance.org/about-cps) or tribes agreements (http://tribes.com/ about/) to help students navigate conflict. They may also introduce discussions about the emotional impact of social media during media curriculum.
Do You Need a Digital Detox? written by sara maginn pacella
grade nine science experiment made me rethink my cell phone habits. Students from Denmark examined the impact cellphone radiation had on plants by placing some plant seeds near an internet modem and others far away from the modem. The results showed the seeds near the router had not grown and many of them were completely dead, while the seeds planted elsewhere thrived (https://www.mnn.com/health/healthy-spaces/blogs/studentscience-experiment-finds-plants-wont-grow-near-wi-fi-router). Like most of us modern humans, I spend a lot of time on my phone. As a freelance writer and public relations specialist, I also spend a lot of time on my laptop, often at odd hours, working in the evening when my kids are watching TV. When the kids are finally in bed, it’s not uncommon for my hubby and I to watch a movie or binge-watch something on Netflix. While this is unwinding, relaxing and dedicated me time, it’s also a lot of time spent in front of screens, blue lights and everything else that isn’t the best for sleep patterns or for truly connecting with the people who matter most to us.al questions going into this experiment: Would I sleep better? Would I exercise more? Would I connect with my loved ones more? Would my freelance work schedule suffer? Would I be sitting alone on Saturday night playing solitaire while my family watched hockey? Only time would tell …
I usually like to unwind with some Netflix after a long day, but a nice compromise was reading some books that were the inspiration behind
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Six Tips for Completing Your Own Digital Detox some of my favourite series, and it was just as enjoyable. It felt like a fun indulgence and the books had characters I was already familiar with. Not to mention, my kids noticed my new-found hobby. My daughter even made me a bookmark.
Have a Game Plan
Simply eliminating screen time with no real idea of how you’re going to fill your time seems like an easy way to get bored and frustrated. I booked a games night with friends for my Saturday night, started a cribbage tournament with my husband and had some crossword puzzles and adult colouring books handy to fill my time. Go on a coffee date to catch up with an old friend, see a live band and make your time about active connection instead of just the absence of screen time.
I was going to cram my week with chores while I was avoiding screens, until I realized it would feel like double deprivation, and this process wasn’t supposed to feel like a punishment. Have a lavish bath with wine and candles, get that facemask to refresh your pores, have an ice cream sundae with all the sprinkles, bake a cake from scratch, get a pedicure or a massage. The point is to do something that feels like a treat. You’re doing something important for your health and balance, so reward yourself for your efforts.
Best Books for
Fierce Female Binge-Related Reading
We all have excuses about why we aren’t as active as we should be. I log a lot of hours walking my dog since I got him this summer, but that has meant my time running has been next to nothing. Committing to some great tunes on the radio and a 20-minute run for a few evenings helped me get some running into my weekly routine, because what else was I doing anyway?
Go to Bed Early
Take this time to tuck yourself into bed a little earlier. Before this experiment my Fitbit told my I was logging on average of just over seven hours of sleep each night, during my screen-free week, I was logging an extra half hour ever night. The numbers don’t lie, and I must admit I felt more refreshed each day.
Don’t Expect Others to Forgo Their Screens Because You Are
Screens are a part of our everyday routine. I found myself getting a little high and mighty when my husband wanted to watch sports instead of playing a board game one night, and when a friend was glued to her phone while we got together, but I got over it. Enjoy small moments when you aren’t on your phone. Watch the snow fall or something beautiful in real life, not just on your Instagram feed.
There were times when this experiment was hard. It’s a bad habit many of us have. When I got stuck in traffic close to my screen cut-off time, or when I had work deadlines looming but a hard 7pm offline rule, it stressed me out more than it should have. Everything was still there the next day. This experiment reminded me of how much digital clutter there is both in my inbox and in my everyday life. While as a freelancer I don’t foresee myself logging off completely every night going forward, I will make an effort to shut down earlier. I’ve also decided that at least one night a week will be technology-free, because there are board games to play with my kids, tasty wines to sip with my husband and great books to voraciously read in bed.
The Year of the SurViVor and What itâ€™s Taught us written by naima karp
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For centuries, women have been fighting against the patriarchal demand and living in fear. The fight has been tireless, until the women’s movement happened, but in a post-Obama world it feels like we’ve been treading backwards into our misogynistic and outdated history. The age of Donald Trump is a terrifying one making many feel like they’re living in a warped, dystopian novel, repurposed for reality TV. The response to the current government has brought out the fire within all of us and is empowering us to make change count and our voices heard.
ment. The evolved definition of a woman is synonymous with lioness.
We are women. We’ve birthed children through wars. We’ve had our bodies treated as though they weren’t our own. We’ve been forced down the professional ladder, no matter how qualified we are over our male The recent midterm elections invited a record-breaking counterparts. We’ve confronted countless micro aggresnumber of women, native communities, and LGBTQ sions daily. members into senate. Twenty-four women were appointed to congress, and for the first time ever, there will be more than 100 women in the house. Alexandria Ocasio-Corte is a Latina, democratic Socialist under the age of 30, and she just ousted a 10-term congressman in NYC.
And worst of all, we’ve been conditioned to fight against ourselves, hating our bodies and so-called imperfections.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean our work is over. This is an incremental step forward in a battle of activism that has just begun. If recent times prove anything, it’s that we can regress, even in supposedly evolved times. But in this small step, a lot of blessings have arrived, While this has become an everyday reality for women, it hasn’t dulled the pain. It’s just transformed our tears and the midterms are the least of it. into a war cry. Some men might have a long way to Survivors are believed and are getting more of the re- go until they fully understand us, and our plight, but spect that they deserve. Women are less afraid to push most importantly, women of all different backgrounds back and air their ‘dirty laundry’. We aren’t victims, are starting to understand one another. We’re finally we’re survivors, and that’s energizing this revolution. starting to hold hands across all seven continents and The clout and relevance of #metoo and #timesup is support each other. proof of that. This is the start of a future filled with female leaders, We refuse to cower in fear, and we are proud of our politicians, and STEM heroes. There’s power in numfury. All women, whether they’ve faced plight, assault, bers, and we’ve got one hell of a babe army. The more or adversity, are survivors of some sort. We’ve survived united we are, the more unstoppable a force we are, a world that’s actively fighting against our empower- and the better we can lift each other up. FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 43
WAYS TO SELF-CARE AND DE-STRESS
DURING YOUR COMMUTE written by caitlyn stewart
No one enjoys commuting.
f you’re on public transit there are too many people, not enough space, and not enough seats. The temperature is too hot or too cold, and you just can’t getcomfortable. If you’re driving there are too many cars, and too many people who don’t know how to drive.
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Unfortunately, though no one enjoys commuting, it’s a necessary factor of working life, which is why it’s important to practice self-care, and ways to de-stress in order to make your overall day more enjoyable and productive. Listening to music is one of the easiest ways you can de-stress on your commute. According to Time Magazine, studies have shown that listening to music can help ward off depression, improve blood flow and just put you in an overall better mood. Make your playlists and enjoy your ride/drive in. Leaving a little earlier can make your commute less stressful. Leaving earlier means there’s less traffic on the roads, and fewer people jammed on public transit. You can enjoy your travel more because you’re not worried about bumperto-bumper traffic or having someone invade your personal space. One of the easiest ways to make sure you leave a little earlier is to do as many things as possible the night before, such as making your lunch, or selecting your outfit. Remove the roadblocks that hinder you getting out of your home in the morning. Stretching your neck and shoulders is another thing that you can do to help you practice self-care on your commute. While this is only something you should be doing if you’re
riding rather than driving, it can help improve how you feel almost immediately. Since most of us sit all day at desks, we end up carrying a lot of stress and tension in our necks and shoulders. Stretch those out to increase blood flow and feel yourself start to relax. Calling someone you care about is a great way to take your mind off your commute, which will help you de-stress, and practice self-care. Commuting is the perfect time to play catch up with a loved one or a friend who you’ve been meaning to call. It’ll leave you feeling relaxed and in a good frame of mind, as well as productive - all of which are positive feelings that’ll leave you feeling better. Commuting is usually the worst part of the workday, but it doesn’t have to be. These are just a few things that you can do to make yourself feel better while commuting, and overall. Go into your commute feeling positive that it’ll be time well spent because you’re taking care of yourself and lowering your stress levels. Having a positive attitude, while not everything, is certainly a great way to start and end the work day.
Seasons F OR TH E
written by tabitha wills
older temperatures are here. Perhaps you’re someone who dreads the colder, darker weather. Short of moving elsewhere, there’s not much we can do except embrace the changing seasons and use them to examine areas of our life that maybe need a shake up. Like movement. Or exercise. Or your workout routine. Whatever you choose to call it (whether it exists as a routine or not), the move into colder temperatures and shorter days is always a great time to assess whether the way you move your body is working for you. Our workout routines can become just that - routines. Week in, week out, the same classes, movements, places, and people. We don’t give it much thought because it’s woven into our day, like our morning cup of coffee.
“WHAT IF WE TOOK A MOMENT TO STEP BACK AND UNDERSTAND HOW OUR MOVEMENT ROUTINES ARE SERVING US?”
Not only that - how our routines are serving us in conjunction with the seasons? Traditionally winter has always meant ‘hibernation’. Cold temperatures force people to turn inward (both mentally and physically) and slow down. While we’re inclined to adapt this from a social aspect (those patio beers 46 | FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM
just don’t fly in the winter!) we often don’t apply this same philosophy to our movement routine. In fact, as a society, we often do the complete opposite, attaching lofty goals to our new year resolutions, that focus around fitness and “summer-bod” goals instead of focusing on what serves us now. Instead of getting swept up in the mayhem of lofty goal setting for 2019, tune into the characteristics of the season - quietness and serenity. Maybe that’s why your high-intensity workout that you started in the summer isn’t making you feel like your best self anymore. Perhaps your routine needs to welcome in slower movements, quieter activities, and you need to give yourself the permission to turn inward. By working with the quiet season (winter), and tuning into the natural desire to slow down, we give ourselves the ability to notice other things that aren’t serving us. No one is a big fan of change and it takes time to establish a movement routine as it is. Changing it feels disruptive, but it doesn’t need to be. Whether you move your body in the morning or at night, give these practices a shot to allow your body, and mind, a chance to slow down and turn inward with winter.
‘ YO U - D O -YO U ’ YO GA Whether you already practice yoga or not, something that I call ‘you-do-you’ yoga can bring such a sense of calm to your day. At least one day a week, set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than usual. It’s only one day, start small so you have the ability to weave it into the fabric of your week (unlike the ways we attack new year resolutions). With that extra 10 minutes in the morning give yourself permission to move and stretch the way you’d like. Perhaps this is a consistent yoga flow or maybe it’s a series of stretches and breathing that don’t necessarily have names attached to them. It will bring an element of calm to your day, that will allow you to self-regulate and make decisions based on that element of calmness. As it permits, add more than just one day a week, if that serves you. E M B RAC E T H E W E AT HE R Do you like to hike? Maybe cross-country ski, or even snowshoe? Embrace the cold weather and move slowly through it. Head out on a walk, even if it’s just parking the car further away while grocery shopping, or getting off at an earlier transit stop to walk a bit more. Walking is such a great way to calm your nervous system and give yourself a bit of ‘me’ time before you arrive at your destination. Layer, dress warmly, and notice how this adds a bit of calmness to your day. M E D I TAT I O N Busted!! This isn’t technically movement, but when looking at health and wellness, your mind is where it all begins. Meditation is a way to take your wellness from status quo to the next level. The benefits of meditation are vast; it’s a wonder this isn’t something we’re all taught from a young age. Meditation can improve your immune system, decrease inflammation & depression, and improve your mood. By introducing a short meditation practice into your routine you can reflect on your workout routine and understand if it’s fulfilling for you, improving your happinss and generally helping you feel like your best self overall. To welcome this practice into your life, you don’t need it to look a certain way. There doesn’t need to be a meditation corner in your home, you don’t have to sit a specific way, and you don’t have to chant. To make it approachable, try a guided meditation using an app on your smartphone or a video online. Technology can keep us in check and allow us to have direction as we welcome a new practice into our life. Turn off your messaging and social media apps while meditating (both before and after) to ensure your mind is at rest and welcoming to the fruits of your meditation practice. J O U RN A LI N G Ok, this isn’t movement either, but it’s closely related and will really bring your ability to turn inward into a whole new light. Set aside five minutes in your day and reflect on what you’re truly grateful for. This doesn’t need to be a daily practice, but if you can carve out a day or two each week, your ability to show gratitude will open up. With these practices, it’s important to take one at a time, one day a week, and slowly create space in your current routine to make room for them. That might look like giving a day or two up at the gym, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go back to it. Instead of viewing your new habits as stealing gym time view them as tools to create space in all areas of your life. Nature does the same thing - slowing, cooling down and hibernating until it’s ready to thaw and come back to life. At which point, you’ll have created space to do so yourself.
acceptance The Surprising Spiritual Path
written by kristina bruce
remember the first day I attended a Kundalini Yoga class. I had just moved to Toronto, relatively fresh out of university, and was finding my way (more accurately, myself) in the world. Kundalini Yoga was different than the yoga I knew. There were some postures I recognized, but the rest of the class consisted of a series of movements done to channel energy through the body for a particular purpose – like cleansing the liver or opening the heart. In addition to this, we meditated and chanted. The accompanying music was beautiful, and it had been a long time since I sang (I’m not a spontaneous shower singer). The music and singing had this healing quality to it, and the mantras were interesting, mystical, and powerful. It was the first time in my life I felt like I was connected to something spiritual. Growing up, going to church never really did it for me (I left feeling more guilty than I ever did empowered), but yoga offered me a path where I felt I could connect to my spiritual self on my own terms… for the most part. Much (thankfully not all), of the yoga and wellness world is concerned with appearances, and maintaining a particular ‘yoga body’. We’d be hard-pressed to find a yoga studio or wellness center that didn’t also encourage certain ways of eating. Over the years I found myself subscribing to these dietary changes, first through attending weeklong retreats where I was introduced to vegetarianism. Looking back, I thought I had found the antidote to this feeling of insecurity within myself – especially when it came to the way I looked. I felt nourished by these spiritual practices and good about limiting harm to animals, but I was also becoming more vigilant and righteous about my eating. Eventually I moved away from Kundalini Yoga into more popular forms of yoga like Hatha and Vinyasa. A teacher once told me Kundalini yoga would never produce a ‘yoga body’, and despite feeling better, I still wanted that body. I mean, almost every teacher I had, had a ‘yoga body’, and those who were ‘successful’ in the yoga world (on the cover of magazines), had this type of body. So, armed with my new vegetarian diet, I walked further along the yoga and wellness
path. I became trained as a yoga teacher and started teaching. I soon became known as the ‘wellness person’ at my workplace, giving talks about the latest diets and the evils of sugar (or whatever it was I was on about at the time). People looked up to me. This was supposed to be it. I was meditating every day, I was doing yoga, and I had the ‘yoga body’ – I had arrived! But underneath it all – I was still insecure and, at times, unhappy – but why? I was literally doing everything right. I was following a spiritual path – this was supposed to be the answer! But it wasn’t. The reality was, this spiritual path that talked about ‘listening to your body’ and ‘honouring yourself ’, was also a path littered with messages like ‘look like this’, and ‘it’s best if you don’t eat that’. It was a path with a prescribed way of living. A path littered with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘right and “wrong’ messaging, a path in which I often had to deny listening to myself, in order to follow it. Now I’m grateful to the yoga and wellness world because it did help me to connect more with my heart and my spiritual self – which I credit to being able to identify that something was off. By listening to myself I was able to notice the constant anxiety I felt around food and exercise, and my constant desire to control my weight (that yoga body didn’t happen on its own). It just took me a long time to notice this because I thought everything I was doing was supposed to be helping. Eventually, I got pretty strict with my diet. Aside from the typical veggie and whole grain eating, I wouldn’t eat sugar or anything that ‘acted like sugar’ in the body. I would hardly miss a day without some form of exercise. Underneath all of this was a fear of feeling shame if I ‘slipped’. Fear of falling off the path, or eating ‘impure’, or gaining weight and losing my coveted yoga body. I slowly began to realize that what I thought was helping me, was actually hurting me. I came across the books Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating and they put me on a different path, one where I was en-
couraged to ‘listen to my body’ and ‘honour myself ’, but this time it was different. There wasn’t any feeling of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ways to eat or move my body. I was truly being asked to check in with myself – and really listen. For the first time in a long time, I honoured my desires. I didn’t deny myself pleasure. When I was truly honouring my body I would rest more and sleep more, rather than push myself through a workout. When I was honouring my desires I would eat ice cream and cookies that I previously told myself were off limits. But doing this put me face-to-face with a very common fear gaining weight. Through this practice of truly honouring my body, I started to question the cultural conditioning that said that I was only valuable or worthy if my body was a certain size, and made body acceptance my new spiritual practice. By accepting my body no matter what shape or size, I’m one step closer to fully accepting myself. And if that isn’t the definition of spiritual practice, I don’t know what is.
Kristina Bruce is a Body Acceptance Coach who works one-on-one with individuals to help them more fully accept their bodies, so they can live empowering and fulfilled lives no matter what their size. Kristina can be found at www.kristinabruce.com
Self-Care on a Budget written by lindsay mitchell
elf-care is extremely important and something that everyone should take the time to schedule and plan in their daily lives to ensure a healthy, positive and well-balanced life. Many people avoid or stray from self-care as they assume itâ€™s expensive, and liken it to lavish things like vacations, the spa, or a massive shopping spree. I have gathered 10 simple ways we can bring self-care into our lives for $20 or less (some are even FREE) you can do every day, week or month to ensure that you are of right mind and of right body.
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MEDITATE This can be anywhere from 1 minute to an hour a day. There are many great apps out there available to help you get in the mindset of letting go, relaxing your breathing, and your body. I recommend: Insight Timer - https:// insighttimer.com (Free!), and Headspace ($7.99 to $12.99 per month after trial) – (https://www.headspace.com/womens-health)
WRITE IN A JOURNAL This is one of my favourite FREE forms of
self-care! It basically is free therapy, but therapy from yourself. Whenever my mind is cluttered, I feel stressed or like I am lost, writing is one of my true escapes that helps me check in with myself. Sometimes after rereading a passage that I have just written, it amazes me to see some of the thoughts and feelings that I wasn’t aware of jump off the page at me. Buy a self-improvement book: My favourite is Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. I have had this book for over 11 years and keep going back to it. It continues to be incredibly relevant to every step of my life, and is a great check in and reminder when I am feeling anxious, depressed or need some reflection on how I am dealing with difficult things or feeling particularly overwhelmed. I also recommend – How to win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This has been an
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the ways in which I deal with building my own business and interacting with others in my everyday life. It has helped me to deal with tough situations in the business world as well give me the confidence to know how to react in situations that normally could bring much stress and anxiety.
GRATITUDE JOURNAL This is a great strategy to bring into your nightly routine and reflect on all the incredible things that you are grateful for. Sometimes we go to bed angry with all of these thoughts in our mind, which is a terrible way to bring on insomnia, restless sleep, and depression. When we reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives, our problems seem to become smaller and we can release all our pent-up negativity and transform it into gratitude.
FACEMASK Having a spa-like experience doesnâ€™t have to be expensive. You
can go to your local drug store and buy one to three packs of premade facemasks for less than $10. On days when I feel like taking care of my skin and feeling refreshed, I buy a face mask, run the bath and sit reading a few chapters of a book while my mask does its thing. Some great ones I use are from Shoppers Drug Mart, my favourites are: Calming Face Mask Aloe Vera & Mint, Detoxifying Face Mask Lotus Flower & Ginseng and Purifying Mud Face Mask Volcanic Ash & BlueGreen Algae. https://beauty.shoppersdrugmart.ca/Beauty/Categories/Skin-Care/ Masks/c/M-B103
BATH WITH EPSOM SALTS After those long hard days sitting at your
desk, running yourself a bath with Epsom salts is incredibly healing for your body. You can purchase Epsom salts for as low as $10 at your local drug store, and some come in really exhilarating scents like Lavender and Mint.
LISTEN TO MUSIC In a world filled with distractions and new Netflix
series popping up every month, I have forgotten about the pure joy and comfort I get from throwing on one of my favourite bands or singers and getting lost in an album. There are many different music platforms out there at the moment that you can subscribe to for $9.99 or less a month for unlimited play. Spotify (get 3 months of premium for 0.99 then $9.99 per month after trial), Apple music (3 months free then $9.99 a month) and Tidal (30 days free trial then $9.99 a month).
GET A NICE COFFEE I really enjoy treating myself to great coffee and a
delicious treat to go along with it. My life is so filled with business all the time that sometimes I need to remind myself to take it slow. Grab a coffee, sit, people watch, and enjoy the silence of enjoying my favourite beverage without the hustle and bustle of a cluttered schedule.
RENT A BIKE For less than $10 an hour, many cities have bike shares or
bike rentals that you can pick up by the hour or for the day. When I was younger, I absolutely loved to escape on bike rides. Now that I am an adult and living in a city that thrives on getting around on bikes, I am reminded of the freedom and the sheer joy I get from riding my bike and exploring all of the beautiful scenery of the city and avoiding crowded transit and sidewalks.
JOIN A DANCE CLASS, OR OTHER CLASS THAT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD I grew up being a dancer, and after nearly eight years without dance, I returned to class and never felt so free. The moves came back naturally and the jolt of adrenaline that came from doing what I love made me feel like I was comforting a part of myself that I had forgotten about.
Every few months, I try and change up the ways in which I take care of myself. I am really enjoying taking the time to see which things work for me at which points of the year, then switching it up to ensure I am not bored and finding new ways that I can take care of myself, reflect on my well being and ensure that’s the most important relationship in my life. Self-care becomes less of a ‘like to’ and more of a ‘have to’ and a constant reminder to each other that it is extremely important and necessary to take care of ourselves every single day. FUTUREFEMALEMAG.COM | 51
Navigating an inaccessible world written by amy miller
What do you see when you picture a truly accessible space? Is it a building with a ramp? A parking spot close to the entrance? The definition of accessibility is, “to be easy to access or reach”, but finding a space that is truly accessible, is no easy task. As a mom, entrepreneur, member of society, and a disabled woman I have places to go and people to see. In order to do that I have to navigate a world that was not made for people like me. I was born with Marfan Syndrome. It’s a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue. I have weak muscles, heart issues, scoliosis, and a long list of other issues that come with it. I’ve used a wheelchair since I was a child. I’m not bound to it, but I use it often. When I don’t use it, I still have issues with mobility, fatigue, pain, and weakness. My son has the same disorder. Since I was born sick, I’ve had a lot of practice navigating inaccessible spaces. When I can’t get into a building that has only a set of stairs, or no button on the door (or a button that doesn’t work), I can’t enter that space. It doesn’t matter how badly I want to, or how badly I need to. When I use the washroom that may have a larger stall, bars on the wall, and the universal ‘handicapped’ sign on the door, but it doesn’t have a sink low enough to wash my hands, see myself in the mirror, or for me to dry my hands, it isn’t truly accessible. When restaurants have a ramp outside but no braille on the menu, it is not accessible.
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What do you do in order to continue living life? You adapt the best that you can. There are apps available that will tell you what nearby establishments are accessible for you. It can mean having a support person who can open doors or be an interpreter. I have found that many places will offer free admission to support people who are there to help you navigate the space. In the city the trains do not charge support people. If you want to support someone that you see trying to access a space and it seems like they are struggling, don’t assume that they are. It is important to remember never to grab, touch, or get physical with them, their assistive devices or service animals without asking. You might think that we need your help, but for some this is our normal. In my case it generally takes me a little longer to do tasks, and sometimes it looks different, but that is my way. If you want to help – ask. If you have been given permission, ask how you can help. Always check in and make sure the person is comfortable. My province promises to be fully accessible, by law, by 2025. I’ve been waiting for 25 years. I long to see a day where everyone can coexist safely, effectively, and effortlessly. There have been great strides made - beaches setting out wheelchair friendly paths, parks adding wheelchair friendly swings, clothing being made specifically for people with poor fine motor skills. We do have a lot to be proud of, but we also have a lot of work ahead of us.
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