IMTAC Issue No. 06

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ISSUE 06

INSIDE

MALE ALLIES MATTER YOUTH DESIGNED STUDY SPACES A PREGNANCY DIARY STOP SLUT SHAMING!

MERMAID’S TALE

THE

MYSTICAL, MAGICAL, HANNAH


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Our Purpose To be the voice for and from girls and young women, to: •

Create a safe space for girls and young women.

Hear from other girls and women on their journeys.

Understand how to deal with the pressures placed on them by peers, adults, the fashion and personal care industries

Learn how to navigate a male-dominated society

Talk about subjects they feel too embarrassed or ashamed to raise.

Photo by Lidya Nada from Unsplash 2


I’M MORE THAN A COVER MAGA ZINE

Oh What a Start! We’re at the end of January already and it's Lunar New Year time! Kung hei fat choi! Gong xi fa cai! It seems we’ve dived into 2022 with our best issue yet! Everywhere we look, women are making a difference. Amongst others, read about the magicial Hannah Mermaid’s radical mission to save the oceans; Carolien Ter Linden, an entrepreneur who wears myriad hats and empowers other women; and Angelica Chebotar, childhood synchronized swimming star turned supermodel turned ace physical trainer. Be inspired by Kimberly Monte's venture to create beautiful study spaces for students in Youth Design Philly. We’ve also started the first in a series on a new perspective! Male Ally, Sam Edwards talks about how men can empower and boost the women around them. Luana shares her pregnancy journey — in a way that girls never get to hear about it in their teens, and Skye tells us how her plushie helps her cope. Have a fabulous and empowered year filled with possibilities! And stay safe!

Copyright © 2021. Regeneration Media Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Q Gonzales

PARTNER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Kimberley Kleczka

PARTNER, EDITOR, STYLIST & JOURNALIST

Loulou Von Spiel

features

FOUNDER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

IN THIS

ISSUE 5

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IMTAC TEAM

Deborah Mannas

ISSUE 05

ANGELICA CHEBOTAR

EDITOR, WRITER & ILLUSTRATOR

From synchronized swimmer to model to trainer

CONTRIBUTORS:

Luana Thomas Cecilia Ao Denise Patel Danielle Veilleux Corinne Clifford KELY Support Group

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On Our Cover

SAM EDWARDS

Male Allies Matter

CAROLIEN TER LINDEN

Follow Your Dream

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Cover photo by Francis Uy It’s almost every girl’s fantasy to be a mermaid and swim free in the ocean! Hannah Mermaid lives those dreams as she fights for her oceanic friends.

YOU!

KIMBERLY MONTES

Inspiring Student Spaces

We want to hear from

We’ll collect all of them and have them published in the coming issues of IMTAC!

HANNAH MERMAID

Meet Magic, Fantasy, & Inspiration

articles

If you have any questions, ideas, stories you want to share, people you want us to feature, or photos of your joy send them all to info@morethanacover.com

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So keep sending in your questions, stories, and photos!

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05 from synchronized swimmer to model to trainer

24 meet magic, fantasy, & inspiration

08 male allies matter

32 diary of an apprentice mermaid

13 shut down slut shaming!

42 The skye aesthetic

20 follow your dream

45 a labour of love

by deborah mannas

by kimberley Kleczka by Danielle Veilleux

by kimberley kleczka

by loulou von spiel

by corinne clifford, intro by loulou von spiel by loulou von spiel by luana thomas

sections

PUBLISHED AND PRODUCED BY

A-C 25/F Seabright Plaza 9-23 Shell St. North Point, Hong Kong

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03 43 20

editorial by deborah mannas

Oh what a start!

what's your style by kimberley kleczka

inspring student spaces

Health, nutrition and you by denise patel

50 56 58 60

creativity corner ask ceci find your joy in the next issue

restart 2022

DISCLAIMER | The views expressed in "IMTAC | I’m More Than A Cover Magazine" are not necessarily those of the editor or contributors. The publisher and editor cannot be held responsible for differences of opinion or statements published in good faith. The publisher, contributors, their employees and partners are not responsible for the results of any actions, errors, or omissions taken on the basis of information contained in this publication and expressly disclaim all and any liability for any such action of any person. The mention of specific companies or products in articles or advertisements does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by this magazine or its publisher in preference to others of a similar nature which are not mentioned or advertised. No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without expressed permission from the IMTAC team.


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FROM

SYNCHRONISED TO SWIMMER TO MODEL TRAINER by Deborah Mannas

M

eet Angelic Angelica Chebotar

who has run the gamut of

growing up in very disciplined

environment as an elite Synchronised

Swimmer from a young age, to braving teen years of modelling and “thin” expectations to being a strong and purposeful woman who builds up other women, literally and figuratively! Tell me about your synchronised swimming days… What was expected from you? First of all, I should say that synchronized swimming is one of the most underrated but most difficult sports. Many people think it’s just dancing in the water, but it requires so much work. Perfect swimming skills, teamwork and discipline. I remember I used to train 6 times a week for about 4-5 hours a day. Normally, we would spend 2 hours on land with cross training exercises such as aerobics, gymnastics and stretching and the rest time is in the water.

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Photo shoot with one of the best photographers in HK. Credit to Humblejim_studio (IG)

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Nothing feels better than having a great pump after workout. I could train my delts all day long.

How did growing up with sports contribute to your selfacceptance and body image?

as my snack.

Growing up as a professional synchronized

That's all I could afford at the time :-)

swimmer definitely helped me to build up

What made you decide to become a trainer and what did you have to do to achieve success at it, and build your clients?

my character, become more confident, tough and competitive in life. I really think that professional and competitive sport made me a better version of myself. When did you go into modelling, and what were the expectations then? When I turned 15 I decided to start my modeling career and my very first experience was participation in a local beauty pageant. After that I signed a modeling contract and moved overseas. I remember there were very strict requirements to become an international model such as height, weight and measurements. My agent would normally check my weight and measurements every week to make sure it remained the same, otherwise I could have been easily sent back home. So therefore, modelling affected my lifestyle and my eating habits. I remember how I would constantly do a lot of crazy cardio and eat just 900 calories a day to stay thin and "beautiful". You would always be able to find an apple or boiled egg in my 6

handbag

At some point, I decided to quit my modeling career to become a personal trainer and it was one of my best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I realized being a model was not healthy, as I constantly used to be on a calorie deficit and my body didn’t feel right. Once I became a trainer I completely changed my lifestyle. I have freed myself from having too little calories, skinny teas, ridiculous fasts and juice cleanses. Currently, I focus on lifting weights to get stronger, instead of doing endless cardio to burn myself out. I eat a very balanced diet with a lot of protein, clean carbs and healthy fats. Tell us how you stay fit, as a mom, a model, a physical trainer, always on the go? It’s easy to stay fit when your goal is clear. Motivation might come and go, but consistency will always win no matter what you do.


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What’s your favourite exercise? I wouldn’t say I have just one favorite exercise that I normally do as its important to build a balanced physique. My top 5 favorite exercises would be: Squat, Romanian Deadlift, Shoulder Press, Pull Ups and Push Ups. They are big compound movements that help me to build lean muscle and train my entire body. What are some of your best personal ways of “self care”? My best personal tips for “self-care” are: exercise at least 3 times a week, eat well a balanced diet, drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin and of course get enough sleep for recovery. Also, I like making a lot of different facial creams, scrubs at home using natural and healthy ingredients for glowing skin instead of buying famous skin care brands. What do you want teenage girls to know to build their self esteem? It always important to feel your best to look your Fitness is my passion, modeling is my hobby.

best. I would recommend for all teenage girls out there to build good lifestyle habits; regular exercises will definitely help with that. To build your confidence, you must have that desire to change and be the best version of yourself. And I believe you have everything to start it TODAY. | @anhelika23

(Above) It is all about mindset, getting better and stronger everyday; (Right) Anyone can build a strong body Copyright © 2021. Regeneration Media Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Nis et que doles que sinveriat porrupt atibus eum fuga.

by Deborah Mannas

M

eet Sam Edwards, Managing Director / Head of APAC Collateral at State Street Global Markets, Male Ally at The Women’s Foundation, and competitive hockey player and coach. Sam is a vocal advocate for gender equality and equity and is the first Male Ally to share his journey with IMTAC.

It’s inspiring to listen to your journey to being

Thanks Debbie. For me being a Male Ally

part of the solution, Sam, and I’m grateful

of The Women’s Foundation (TWF MA)

you’re sharing with our readers as we start

and part of the Professional Women’s

our first “Male Ally” column. It’s so great

Network (PWN) at State Street has been a

for our girls and young women to see that

real eye opener and I hope has made me

we’re not in this alone and for other Male

a better manager, husband and father.

Allies to see this as a space to also share.

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What went through your mind when your daughter and son were born? My daughter Tilly is the older of the two, and as much as the pre-natal classes and conversations try to help, nothing can really prepare you for becoming a parent. I remember arriving home after Tilly was born and putting her down in front of us in her car seat, all I could say to my wife was, “Now we just need to keep her alive!” You have this overwhelming feeling of duty to this tiny new being who’s entirely dependent on you. By the time my son was born, just over 2 years later, I already knew he was going to have a lot to do to live up to his sister. I think it’s natural to compare them, but I hadn’t really grasped then, that they could be treated differently. Many years on, what are your hopes, dreams and fears for them... and specifically your ambitions for your daughter? Are they different from what you envision for your son?

Sam Edwards Photo by State Street

have to be an exception as a woman in senior management? That got me to think that if there

All that matters is that they both find something

were challenges in my industry it was likely the

they love doing and can excel at. Work-

same for many others. Small changes can be

wise, I hope they enjoy it. I wish the same for

made at the bottom, but in the end it’s more

both: a career that fulfils them and a family

important that senior leaders make it a priority .

life that brings love and support. My fear for

That’s also why the research done into the much

my daughter is burnout. We are aware of

higher performance of organisations with more

the research showing how female wellbeing

balanced leadership teams is so powerful.

can be a challenge, and while we can help build resilience and provide support, the

At State Street, one of our core beliefs is that

pressures of daily life can take their toll.

our diversity makes us a stronger and higher performing company. I’m glad to say that we

What started you on this journey to become a Male Ally?

are working on both top down and bottom up

It was 5 years ago and I’ve been working for

support from employees and managers to

nearly 20, so it was probably about the time that I started to wonder what my daughter might like to do in terms of a career. I looked around me and realised the similarity of people in my line of work. My daughter actually has very different ambitions, but what if she wants to do something in Finance, why should she

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approaches to change. The PWN are gaining raise awareness. With awareness comes change, and while it may be gradual, it is effective - making small advances in terms of both visibility and culture. We also have practices in place to ensure that our employeebase represents the demographics of the communities where we operate, that we are

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Sam with his kids … “Taking time to develop a family passion can be hugely rewarding”

accessing the full talent pool, and that we are

back. For me, there are a number of elements

attracting and retaining the best talent for the job.

where HR departments are in a great position to

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in your support for women? I think the biggest challenge is that some men feel immediately threatened from a career perspective. There is still a significant problem across all industries where we see a lack of career development opportunities as well as progression for women, and it’s interesting to note that it’s not always the men holding women

effect change – hiring practices, compensation, promotion processes, to name a few. I am a big advocate of having gender neutral resumes when assessing candidate pools. In addition it’s the responsibility of everyone to ensure that meetings, panels, forums, committees and boards are not an all-male affair (“manels”), and to challenge them when they are. What role can girls play in helping their male friends, brothers and peers become allies? The most important thing we can do is to continue to talk openly and to relate gender equality to the women who matter to us. All men have important women in their lives, and most of us hate to see them treated differently, so we need to be reminding people to stand up for their wives, daughters, sisters and friends. A simple first step to doing that is to use a pledge. Our State Street TWF MAs have produced a pledge that employees

On coaching his hockey team: helping future leaders develop resilience

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will be able to show at their desks:


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Photo by Barry Hill

Not only do kids set an example in their fairness to others at a young age but they see no barriers to diversity within teams

The broadening of understanding around flexible • • • • •

I call out offensive behaviour and take onboard feedback about my own I am an ambassador for equity I promote awareness as to how bias impacts recruitment, promotion & rewards I create an inclusive work culture where all employees feel valued I listen to others equally

Encouraging others to take the Male Ally pledge and display it may seem like a small step, but by making it a visual part of the workplace, not living up to it becomes a conscious decision. At school, girls must not be made to feel that their academic excellence threatens their male classmates, so we must create awareness of the wide spectrum of skills that organisations value and that there is a place and fit for all. To your mind, how can male advocacy from families help advance a young woman’s career?

working as being as important for men to be able to support their wives and families, has led to friends and colleagues not being left behind during the young family stage. This will become even more important in new hybrid working environments. This is a crucial stage when careers are developing and mothers can lose out on promotion and development opportunities that take years to make up, if fathers don’t contribute to caregiving at home. We see good numbers of women enter the workforce at a young age and if we can keep them working and progressing through this phase then we have a much greater chance of them fulfilling their potential. My biggest fear is for the mental health of our young generation of female leaders. There are consistent pressures on girls of all age to ‘do it all’ and to be “all things to all people”. Stereotypically men are better at switching off and still play a much smaller role in family life, so managing the wellbeing of women at work becomes even more vital.

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What do you do to maintain balance and stay resilient? For me exercise is a great release and those natural endorphins always enable me to focus on to the positive. As much as we would love to change things overnight, the truth is we need to keep taking small steps – one person taking a giant leap is nothing in comparison to us all taking a tiny step.

Thank you Sam, for sharing your views as a father and male ally, to build an equitable and empowered future for females. I, personally, was so excited to kick off our Male Ally stories for IMTAC with your interview! | linkedin.com/in/sam-edwards-b266751a/ https://www.statestreet.com/home.html

It takes all sorts of characters to build a great team - no matter what age Photo by Barry Hill

New perspectives with TWF’s Reverse Mentoring Programme… Sam with his Mentor, Blake

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by Danielle Veilleux

I

n year 11 at Discovery College, students choose their Arts discipline, producing and performing a full-length published play text to a live audience.

Typically students prefer comedy, and have a TV or cinematic approach to making theatre, so

Discovery College’s high school students produce a play on double standards in which females are slut shamed for their sexuality but males get a pass. The Head of Drama and the students describe their experience.

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choosing a play is not an easy task. Personally, I am often drawn to the slightly experimental; the provocative, or the more challenging pieces, but the play needs to be pitched just right. I selected 3 pieces for them to choose from – a light-hearted comedy set in a boys’ locker room, an explorative

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From L to R: Joshua, Aiko, Roman, Nick, Ellie, Ethan, Rea, Hailey, Serene

piece on parental absenteeism, and a

Here are some excerpts:

school-based piece on feminism — When They Go Low. After some cold readings,

Zi Ying Lee (she/her)

there was unanimous consent towards the last.

I think that the slut walk inspired me the most. The way guys were rating the girls

A stipulation made by Natalie Mitchell, author

sort of connected it to real life. Everyday

and playwright of When They Go Low, was

you can hear people judging each other;

that, while language could be adapted to suit

people call each other things such as sluts

gender, location and audience, any reference

and much more; but usually, girls have it

to ‘slut’ or ‘slut walk’ must not be changed.

much worse. We do get offended, and only

My students were keen to show the stresses

those who have the guts will step up.

their characters were under and explore the

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reasons for why events unfolded the way

Silence is cruel to you and me and everyone else.

they did in the play, but they all identified

If someone says something rude or offensive

easily with the way the rumours about ‘Sarah’

and you don't speak up, the person receiving it

explode online, and the role Louise takes in

may end up having low self-esteem. The person

standing up for her, despite school politics.

saying it may never know how much it hurts.

I asked the students to talk about the impact of

Hailey (she/her)

the play on them, what they learned, and how

We live our day to day lives without really thinking

they would apply the learning. They showed

about the things we say or the way we act. No

fantastic insight and awareness – clearly seeing

matter how wrong or disgusting the words

the behaviours around them that have been

"whore" or "slut" sound, I can confidently say

normalised, and how important it is to speak up

every student has used these words to describe

for what is right, even when others remain silent.

someone. But for some reason, when girls are


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close to the opposite sex it's deemed improper, but when guys are close to the opposite sex it's supposedly "manly" or an ego boost. Brian and Aleesha

Being a bystander is a lot easier than speaking up,

of this play, and we got

lot about gender differences

because status plays a big

to cover such a topic.

and the gender stereotypes

role in society; but together

that people have. It inspired

our voice is louder than the

Stella (she/her)

me to try to see males and

highest person on the social

It’s sad to say but I feel

females in a more equal way.

ladder, so I urge everyone to

like it really does represent

stand up for what is right, and

what goes on in schools

Ryan (he/him)

slowly everyone will follow.

sometimes. There can be a lot

One thing that inspired me

of harshness seen between

was how Louise stood up

Ethan (he/him)

the students especially when

for feminism and for Scott.

I think that no matter where

it comes to the relationships

you go there are double

between boys and girls. I really

Joshua (he/him)

standards. I think that this

enjoyed seeing the character

The thing that inspired me

topic was important to talk

development, for example, in

was when Louise stood

about in school because we

Louise. In the beginning she

her ground and still ran for

need to know the problems

thought she was doing such

school president. This play

that women go through.

a good thing for standing

reflects life at school because

up for all girls. but then

there are double standards

Roman (he/him)

realised that she was hurting

which mostly cause the

The play inspired me because

individual people instead of

issues reflected in the play.

it focuses a lot on equality

helping the entire group.

and feminism, which are

Rea (she/her)

not focused on enough. I

Ellie (she/her)

The play inspired me to stand

am happy that I was part

Being in the play taught me a

up for what I think is right,

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and understand the values of

sexism and double standards

feminism and general equality. I

in schools, as well as the

feel that it reflects well the unfair

language used without thinking

and prejudiced experiences

by many teenagers today.

that some people go through during high school, and the

Brian (he/him)

double standards between men

Feminism inspired me in this

and women, even at a young

play because I believe in its

age. Being complicit is part of

message. This play caused

the ongoing double standards

me to gaze into my soul and

that continues to affect people

cast a mirror upon society.

even in this day and age.

It caused to me realise the inconveniences that women

Aleesha (she/her)

still experience that men don’t.

The play inspired me to think more critically about the

Jayson (he/him)

language used in daily life and

I was inspired by how a

in school. It reflects the slut-

small group of girls in a

shaming that many girls and

school society rose up and

women face and the fallout

started a feminist group

they experience because of

against discrimination. It

it. The silence of the other

reflects on the reality.

students makes the victim

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even more alienated and

Nicholas (he/him)

alone. I was excited to play a

I was amazed by how

role in shedding light on the

easy it was to hide behind


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From L to R: Brian, Roman, Ryan, Aleesha, Giulia, Stella

Zi Ying

others, but I soon realized that it’s so much more helpful to actually stand up and fight for what you know is right. This show really inspired me to not only stand up for what is right, but to encourage people who doubt themselves to have a voice. At IMTAC we believe that social change starts young, and that both girls and boys have a role to play in eliminating gender inequalities; so it was very encouraging to see how engaged the DC Year 11 students were! Thank you Danielle Veilleux and all of the students for your inspiring performance and your role in inspiring social change! |

Danielle Veilleux is Head of Drama at Discovery College (DC), Hong Kong. Her Year 11 students recently produced the Play “When They Go Low” by Natalie Mitchel, about the role young men and women each play in perpetuating gender biases in schools, the demeaning language they use most casually, the objectification of women, and the accountability we all have in being a voice for others. www.discovery.edu.hk

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RESTART2022 HEALTH, NUTRITION, AND YOU

by Denise, Clinical Nutrition

H

can measure this for you; just follow the instructions. This will help you to draw up an exercise routine and recognise which foods are not helping you stay within a healthy weight range.

APPY NEW YEAR everyone! With all the festivities, sharing of foods and drinking of beverages good or bad for us, here we are, feeling the pressure from all our New Year resolutions with some friends looking fabulous despite not working out at the gym and eating everything they can get their hands on. Rather than sit and fret about weight gain or tiredness, why not sit down, think about it and write a list of how best to prioritise your time for optimal health and wellbeing this new year.

If you cannot get to the gym, try walking with hand weights around the block; move to a YouTube walk-at-home or yoga session; take the stairs everywhere instead of using the elevator; join a dance class; or get a walking group together, that way you will clock in more steps than doing it alone and most of all it’s a fun catch up with friends.

Here are a few tips I can offer you to get back on track in 2022: 1.

If you’re tired, see your GP and get your blood, stool and urine tests done - that way you’ll get an idea which nutrients are lacking, how your digestion is working to absorb nutrients as well as how your kidneys are functioning. Vitamin D and iron are known to deplete in young women, posing health risks such as auto immune conditions and anaemia. Your GP, nutritionist or naturopath can advise you further on this matter.

2. Weigh yourself and work out your body mass index; several health apps out there

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3. Keep sweet treats for weekends - the cup cakes and cookies can be placed in a corner far away from you; and avoid eating at your desk. If you’re in the mood for a snack, chop up fruit and have a spoonful of Greek yoghurt. Unsalted nuts and seeds, seaweed based crackers with a homemade chick pea dip are also yummy alternatives. 4.

Intermittent fasting or time restricted eating, may also be useful short term solution for post festive indulgence to reset your metabolism, aid digestion and reduce those sweet cravings in the long run. There are several audio books available on


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intermittent fasting for beginners. If you have a medical condition, please check with your GP if this lifestyle is suitable to you. 5. Drink sufficient water; excess physical activity, alcohol, hot humid conditions, or even cold dry ones, can leave you dehydrated and tired. I recommend at least 2 litres a day of water. A glass of water first thing in the morning with a squeeze of lemon or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar is a gentle liver cleanse. Limit alcohol intake. Bingeing on weekends may sound like fun, but can severely impact the health of your liver. 6. Re-stock your fridge with seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, kimchi or sauerkraut, pickled radish or ginger (probiotics aid digestion), nut milks, eggs and a few pieces of freshly purchased and well sourced lean protein. That way you can prepare a quick healthy meal and the protein will keep you fuller for a longer. 7.

Check that your prescribed medications and supplements have not gone past their expiry date, also check if you still require them. If buying supplements,

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check for quality and well sourced brands. Keep an eye out for adverse reactions such as upset stomach, nausea, headaches and get professional advice before sampling a new supplement. 8. Sleep is most important tool for healthy living. At least 8 hours of undisturbed sleep is required to make your bodyclock work in optimal condition. Sleep hygiene includes, keeping a window open for fresh air, ensure your bed clothes are light and breathable, avoid blue screen time at least an hour before bed, drink a warm cup of milk or herbal sleep tea, and write a list of all the things you need to do in the morning (that way you are not pondering over problems, tossing and turning and waking up tired). |

Till next time, sleep, eat and move well, do physical activity that you enjoy and keep calm. Trust your instincts when it comes to food choices. Photo by Tron Le on Unsplash

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Open your heart, Open your life, Embrace your journey ahead.

by Kimberley Kleczka

CAROLIEN TER LINDEN

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T

ake a peek into Carolien’s empowering journey from supermodel to super entrepreneur, to business owner and currently, to producer.

“Follow your dreams, create your own journey, be whatever you want to be!” says Carolien Ter Linden and clearly lives by her aspirations. Carolien grew up in Apeldoorn, a city in Gelderland in the Netherlands. Her childhood was full of happy memories, a warm environment with hardworking parents who instilled their exemplary values in Carolien and her two sisters. Today, Carolien wears many hats, she is a co-producer and presenter of the Dutch RTL4 TV program “Op Weg Naar Cannes,” has a weekly lifestyle TV show, reports for international media channels, is an entrepreneur, a brand ambassador for multiple clients, a loving wife and a proud mother of two wonderful children. Carolien began her journey by winning the title of “Miss Bride of the Netherlands.” As Miss Bride, she was inspired by the owner of the bridal company to develop a strong interest in business, organizing fashion events and working with models. As her career in modelling progressed from local jobs in the Netherlands to international modeling, Carolien steadily built her portfolio of industry contacts by networking with her clients. Building trust and the right client list is very critical to the fashion world. Later, Carolien received the Amsterdam Fashion Award in recognition of her experience and contribution to the fashion industry. “I built a solid reputation for reliability and professionalism, which allowed me to launch my own company, Passerella Moda.” said Carolien, whose company has developed into an international, multi-faceted agency, providing models, producing events as well as acting as a public relations company for national and international television coverage. “I guess one of the big differences between my agency and other modelling agencies is that I get to accompany my models and designers to various events as a host, a reporter and sometimes as a model.” exclaimed Carolien.

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Life is a whirlwind of excitement and zing

What is your contribution to the world? Helping young designers, models and hosts fulfil their dreams, and celebrating the achievements of other women. I love highlighting positive role models in the creative platform that can in turn inspire and help other actresses, artists and models internationally. I am also working with a charity called “Free a Girl.” This organization is committed to freeing young women from forced prostitution and convicting the perpetrators. What does success mean to you? Success for me is about being connected and helping others with my connections, so that I can create more possibilities for each individual. Success is about being independent, taking action, developing and learning from our mistakes. Success is being happy and having the freedom to enjoy your life. I have been blessed and want to help give others the same opportunities.

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What is it like being a TV host? I have lots of fun travelling, meeting new people and exploring the world. I enjoy seeing how people live their lives. At the moment, I host two lifestyle TV shows. We get to work with tourism agencies, restaurants, lawyers, artists, business executives as well as the fashion and beauty industry. Tell us about your show? It is called “Op weg naar Cannes,” which means “On the Road to Cannes” in English. It started in September 2020 on RTL4 and has been a big success, earning a 4 star ranking on Videoland in the Netherlands. Ten Dutch models are selected by judges to complete a specific challenge in each show. From acting, swimming, cycling, designing, fashion shows, interviews… the list of possible challenges goes on. We have completed Season 2, and will be filming Season 3 in 2022. What is your life purpose? Having a positive attitude and strong values of respect and dignity. It’s always important to be kind, giving, and to be there for others when they need you. Although I travel a lot, I am always there for my family and friends. It’s very important for me to stay connected, wherever in the world I may be. Who helps you with your TV wardrobe? Addy Van Den Krommenacker. He’s a celebrity and royalty fashion designer that I’ve been fortunate to work with over the past few years. He has an amazing collection of haute couture

The world smiles in colour and flowers.

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Carolien is the ambassador for Dutch Flower Cake and the boutique Twenty Seven Hotel.

Happiness helps our well being.


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and pret-a-porter fashions. Addy styles my wardrobe perfectly for each show. Addy and I also travel around the world together, hosting shows at embassies and special events like Fashion Week in Dubai, Marrakesh, Milan, Paris, London and New York. He’s so much fun to work and I’ve learnt so much from him. As a Brand Ambassador, with whom do you work? I am the brand ambassador for the world’s best chic design hotel, Twentyseven Boutique Hotel, it is in the heart of Amsterdam, on Dam Square. It is modern and beautifully styled. We do our model shoots and TV show at the hotel. I also work with the Dutch Flower Cake, which you cannot eat, as it’s made from beautiful roses that come from Holland and Ecuador. Where do you see yourself in the next five years? My goal is to progress from co-producing shows, to being a producer with my own production company. I have spent many years working hard to build a strong energetic production team and I am excited to make this a reality.

What words of wisdom would you like to share? It is important to be honest to yourself. Never give up and believe in who you are. Do what makes you happy and always follow your heart. Be kind and helpful to others, that is the key to success. Do not be afraid to try new things. If you need help, ask for some advice. There are so many opportunities out there to follow your dreams, but be wary of others. Don't do anything that does not feel right. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion, you always have people around that can help you out. Move forward in your life and stay positive as life is an amazing journey. |

CEO, TV Presenter, Brand Ambassador, Model @carolienterlinden_media @passarellamoda_agency Collab: Carolien@passarellamoda.com www.videoland.com/series/500477/op-weg-naar-cannes

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“...when I swim in the ocean, I feel like I am weightless, flying through an ethereal landscape of beauty! Dreams do come true” Photo by Alicia Franco

meet magic, fantasy& inspiration by Loulou Von Spiel

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“The symbol of the mermaid is an icon for human meeting nature halfway to create a more symbiotic relationship with the planet.” Photo by Alicia Franco

I

t seems the earliest Mermaid appeared in Syria around 1000 BC when the goddess Atargatis dove into a lake to transform into a fish. The gods forbade her to renounce her great beauty, and so only her lower half became fish, while her upper body remained that of a beautiful woman. Mermaids are magical, feminine and rooted in mystery, free to roam the vastness of the sea, and their appeal is everlasting.

Hannah was always fascinated by them, and when at the age of 9, she saw the movie Splash, she felt compelled to take her obsession further and designed her very first own mermaid tail. Today, she is known as Hannah Mermaid, model, photographer, designer, artist and environmental activist. Being a mermaid is no longer a dream but her full time occupation. Born Hannah Fraser to a famous British rock musician dad and an Australian artist mother in Surrey (England), her family eventually left for L.A where she lived for 7 years until her mum took her and her sister to Australia after her parents' separation. Following high school, Hannah did a graphic

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design university course in Melbourne, but remained unfulfilled in her artistic expression. So she sold everything she owned, bought a camper eco-van and moved to the coastal town of Byron Bay, in NSW Australia, known for its impressive beaches and diving opportunities. There, she joined a community of free spirited, adventurous people like herself and found much inspiration from her surroundings. She was still creating mermaid art such as greeting cards, posters, clothing prints and paintings and selling well to shops around Australia at that point. Then she started modelling, performing and costume designing as well as working as a photographer to create portfolios for young aspiring models.

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What I want to do is inspire radical creativity — that’s what’s needed here. Fantasy and imagination can be the source of solutions

Photo by Nahara Hai

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Yet, despite living a creative, self sustaining lifestyle, something was still missing. In 2002, Hannah got hired for an underwater photoshoot and then everything changed: all her artistic dreams converged in this unique experience. By 2003, she was performing as a mermaid, probably the first of her kind as a freelance professional. Hannah had found her calling and while that path hasn’t been easy, she says it has been "endlessly rewarding".

Photos by David Benz (above) Bob Armstrong (below)

She moved to California in 2010, the ideal location for her unusual career, and from there is able to work on many projects: a yearly Mermaid retreat in Bali, a newly completed photo calendar, and of course, more fabulous mermaid tails! Years of experimentation have brought to life her vision and her tails today are blending buoyancy, flexibility and aquatic elegance to enable swift swimming, underwater acrobatics and graceful agility. They are true works of art and take several months each to complete. To this day, Hannah has made 14 unique tails over the last 2 decades, which she uses for her photoshoots. However, she also designs Mermaid fabrics for monofins and beachwear, and yoga apparel... those can be found here.

Actress Daryl Hannah (from the movie Splash, 1984) with Hannah Mermaid

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THE

Mermaid APPEAL

Hannah says she sees a form of feminism in the mermaid phenomenon, "…a really beautiful sign of feminine empowerment”. Even though she’s very sensual, there’s also this kind of innocence about her. In Hannah, we return to that joyful sensuality, where we’re not repressed by the patriarchy - “we’re free to be sensual, amazing, gorgeous beings" Hannah aims to find "the balance of sensual empowerment without feeling the need to be overtly sexual”. It’s a fine line, and of course open to interpretation for each person’s perspective. “To some, I am tame, to others I am unashamedly ‘on show’. For myself, I am comfortable and proud of every image I have shared with the world. " Today, mermaids are being resurrected in pop culture, with more women eager to join this unique subculture. As a pioneer, Hannah has some advice for would-be mermaids, in particular about the underwater experience, ethos and safety aspects: 1.

Learn free diving techniques

2. Get scuba certified 3. Spend a lot of time in the ocean swimming around without a tail before you try it with one 4.

Learn about the ocean animals so you can interact safely and with respect for their habitat

5. Dedicate yourself to the preservation and conservation of the ocean 6. Practice dance, yoga and meditation. 7.

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Create your own mermaid ‘pod’ so you can swim and train together, or attend a mermaid school or one of the retreats, workshops or private lessons or shoots that Hannah offers.


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Artivism

Once you get to explore the magic of the deep sea world, you get exposed to the many ordeals which threatens its existence...and ours. It became evident to Hannah that she had to be involved in bringing attention to the ocean destruction and as a "Servant of the Sea", had to fight fins and tail for its survival. Hannah describes herself as a passionate environmentalist, and with opportunities to swim all over the world, she sees it as her duty to bring attention to the plea of the oceans and its inhabitants. She hopes her images will highlight that symbiotic relationship we have with the aquatic world. As a mermaid, she is in a great position to emphasise the connection between humans and sea life and often speaks at events (including a TED talk) to relate her experiences swimming with great white sharks, humpback whales, seals, dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and other marine animals. She has been working with many environmental organisations such as Sea Shepherd, and got involved with standing up against the Dolphin massacre in Taiji (Japan) in the field, as seen in The Cove, the film which broke this horrific story to the world.

She often collaborates with Shawn Heinrichs to support Blue Sphere Foundation, which is an organization to showcase inspiration over devastation, using art to illustrate the ways in which we can live in harmony with nature. Hannah also supports Oceania project, Save Japan Dolphins, Mermaids for Sanctuaries, Mission of Mermaids, and Surfers for Cetaceans. “There’s a rise of the feminine at this point in time, where women are claiming their own power and saying, ‘We are amazing, sensual, wonderful beings worthy of respect!.’ Photo by Aradia Sunseri

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There is no greater teacher of trust than the ocean. You have to learn to trust the unknown, trust the depths, beyond what you can see, what you can imagine and what you know. Photos by Justin Lutsky Alicia Franco (right circle photo) Kristian Schmid (lower right, whale shark photo)

“If you are lucky enough to have a voice that people listen to, you’re obligated to do whatever you can to use that voice for positive change. I don’t really see it as a choice, more as a blessing and a gift to be able to stand up and have my voice heard. I feel incredibly lucky that I have a talent that allows me a voice to be able to speak for causes and issues that I feel strongly about. This is the part of my job that gives me the most satisfaction, where I feel like I can be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. The ocean creatures are unique, magnificent, intelligent and imperative in our world’s ecosystem to keep everything balanced. Seeing these animals diminishing in number around the planet, getting sick from pollution, being slaughtered by humans and fished into extinction breaks my heart.

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What I want to do is inspire radical creativity — that’s what’s needed here. Fantasy and imagination can be the source of solutions”, says Hannah Mermaid. And indeed, she has triggered a movement that is fantastic, radical and inspirational!” | @hannahmermaid @hannahmermaid hannahmermaid.com


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SUPPORT OCEAN CONSERVATION! Go to: sealegacy.org seashepherd.org savejapandolphins.org bluespherefoundation.org

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I’m going to be a mermaid!” I was both surprised and delighted when my friend Corinne, a fitness instructor and former dancer made that proud announcement 6 months ago. She was the one who told me about Hannah and had been following her for a few years on social media, drawn to her visually mesmerising underwater adventures and close encounter with sea creatures in particular. Corinne is a fervent animal defender and has been dreaming, as many of us have, of swimming with dolphins. She also hopes to attend one of Hannah’s Mermaid gathering in Bali when travelling resumes. She found out Mermaid training was available at her doorstep, in Hong Kong. She promptly joined a class and I suggested she wrote a diary of her experience. So here we are, offering you a...

18/07: Began my first mermaid training class today. Was taught how to release a little breath under water after a few underwater mermaid wiggles. “Relax your shoulders more, dig your head deeper” and managed to swim the entire length of the pool under water. Love it!

🧜

💦

💕

06/08: So Sunday’s class I totally enjoyed as usual. My escape under water to my safe and peaceful place. That just doesn’t exist on land.

💦

I struggled a little with holding my breath this week, but the weather here in HK is soooo humid and stormy and since the pool is outside, could have been a factor

🤔

by Corinne Clifford

intro by Loulou Von Spiel

💦

My technique under water is beginning to improve slowly with the mono fin. Still wish I could stay under longer in my happy place. Looking forward to tomorrow’s class 🏻‍♀️

🧜

15/08: Had an absolutely fintastic! Class today! Was able to control my breathing much better and was able to swim 3 or 4 lengths under water right at the bottom of the pool. Very happy

💦

😃

26/08: This week’s class in my safe place was challenging learning different moves under water and trying to coordinate different breathing patterns to the moves

💦

😥

I want to get better at free diving so I can stay underwater longer. As I swim under the water attempting to reach the end of the pool, I can feel other eyes glancing across to me, from those Totally regret smoking when I was practising their open water course for diving too. younger!!!!! boo me. Just their mouths are covered with their oxygen supply equipment and they have a wetsuit on. I But have a total new respect for swimmers, much prefer my bare face and Mermaid 🏻‍♀️tail ️ free divers, synchronised swimmers ‍♀️.

🙈👎

🧜 ☺

14/08: Last Sunday’s class was good, but seemed to pass by so quickly!

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🚬

🙃

🏊

Also actually learned how to front crawl with the breath correctly which it’s something I always wanted to learn since I was a young child. Remember one of my first swimming experiences


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But as soon as my tail was on and I slipped under the cool water to pure silence and tranquility a calming surge ran through my body and made everything positive again.

💦

was with my wonderful Dad

🙏

After a few lessons in the shallow end of the pool with arm bands, dad just gently pushed me in at the deep end and said “swim!!!” Strange, but that’s where my happy memories are and always will be and my love of being under water.

😁

💧

29/08: So just fininished my class today. It was tough, as I had my period so felt like a whale rather than a mermaid 🏻‍♀️ ️ practiced different breathing techniques again and breath holding.

🐳 🧜☺

12/09: Had my class today. Starting to feel a lot more relaxed with my moves now which is making the different breathing techniques a little easier 🏻‍♀️

🧜

Gliding through the water is such a calming feeling

💦 💙

Was learning different breath and arm placement techniques today! One armed swim was pretty cool! And I did a breath hold of 53 seconds. Not good, but not too bad either

💦💙

28/09: So this week’s class wasn’t so good and I found myself crying and completely disconnected from my body and couldn’t do anything correctly, which totally frustrated me! Felt very overwhelmed by everything. The first half of the class is always done without the tail. 🏻‍♀️

🧜

Practice technique, breath and warm up. Funny how as soon as my tail was donned and I was under water, all the anxiety just left my body. I swam the length of the pool and felt like I was gliding through the water! My instructor said “that was great” “you did everything right” and the second half of the class I was back to my safe place

💦

12/10: Had my last class of my package last week and have signed up for another 12 classes! 🏻‍♀️ |

🧜💙

23/09: My Sunday morning didn’t start off well at all and I was very stressed out

😰

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Style Spotlight

Kimberley Chats with

youth design philly

Kimberly

I

n 2020, at the height of the pandemic, even COVID could not stop Kimberly Montes’ passion and goal of helping low income communities in Philadelphia. She pulled together her dream team of design and mindfulness educators to help create Peace at Home through a non-profit NGO, called Youth Design Philly (YDP). “Students needed a positive and productive environment for homeschooling more than ever before during the pandemic, and I knew I had to help.” replied Kimberly.

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marie Four talented women: Kimberly, founder and principal designer; Marie, design research, secretary and designer; Brianna, treasurer and assistant designer; and Summer, student representative; reached out to help youth between the ages of 13 to 19. Each teen is picked based on their family income and backgrounds. “I was once a student who had a tiny space and shared a room with my parents. It was difficult and I struggled trying to get work done for school, so I understand what it's like being in that situation.” said Kimberly.


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INSPIRING STUDENT SPACES

by Kimberley Kleczka

brianna Copyright © 2021. Regeneration Media Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Kimberly adds the magical touches to create a lively memorable space.

Once a student is selected for a room make over, they are interviewed and designed for, like a client, taking in account everything, from their personality, expressive music style, their fashions sense, their instagram page and any creative inspirational pieces they might have created. YDP, believes that a visually appealing, multifunctional dedicated work space and bedroom needs to belong to each teen, to showcase their personality and creativity. This in turn provides a focal point for students and improves their performance overall. Kimberly and I chatted at her office in Germantown, Philadelphia and then we visited one of her students, Adriana, who is studying hard to become a nurse in her beautiful new room. We continued our conversation in Brianna’s newly remodeled

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bedroom, edited with hygge and an uncluttered artistic approach of calm, love, and togetherness. Kimberly, how did you come up with this amazing idea? While in graduate school I did my thesis on the impact of gentrification and focused on how to develop low income communities without displacing the community members but rather incorporating them into the design. After graduating I entered a competition where I was tasked to develop a startup company and came in second place. I was so passionate about this project that I decided to develop it into a real organization.


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Who put this NGO together? I spent about three years researching and developing ideas for my non-profit business. I was mentored by the founder of the ECO Foundation, Kyle Morris, which really helped me develop the foundation for YDP. Do you have a special story to share? I partnered with another organization to help a homeless family get a home. YDP worked on developing both the mother’s and childrens’ rooms. One of the most

and really wanted a desk. They were super excited when the desk arrived as they could finally have their own space. How long does it take to complete each project? When designing a student room, YDP takes about 2 to 3 months from start to finish of the project, which includes interviews, design selections, ordering furniture and installation. Where do you find the sponsors for YDP? We received a lot of our funding from donations; we

What specialties do each one of you bring to your company? Brianna brings her financial skills. She helps with a lot of the behind the scenes. She also is a great assistant designer. Marie is a phenomenal designer, with so many talents! She makes decisions for furniture and finishes that I would’ve never thought of. She helps bring the fine detail to our design projects. Summer is very skilled at developing lesson plans for our education portion. As a

Left: Kimberly helped Adriana create her dream bedroom; Right: Adriana’s bedroom is her special sanctuary and her treasure chest of memories and stories.

heartfelt things I’ve heard from this family was, “wow, I have a bed.” These are the types of things that really keep me motivated to help those in need of a better environment. Another impactful moment was at the height of COVID, when one of my students felt they were not able to focus on school work,

also partner with different schools to gain funds for an educational program, which allows us to use that funding to help renovate student rooms. We are still seeking grants and are hoping to grow our funding to eventually become a fully functioning nonprofit.

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college student herself, she shares her perspective with our high school students. What was your first project? Interior design is about people, their lives and a sense of being home.

My first project was for a student who already had many pieces of furniture that we could work with. Since we were on a tight budget of $500, we had to re-use a lot of the existing furniture. We faced many challenges such as understanding time frames, working with limited resources, and of course being safe with covid. What are you all working on at the moment? At the moment we are working on developing our education course for the spring. We are continuing our collaboration with The ECO Foundation, an after-school program which has activities for students 7 days a week. We also have our in-school partnership with Big Picture Philly, a nontraditional school that has internship opportunities for students. We also have a furniture giveaway for students who do not necessarily need a full room makeover, just need specific items. And of course, we are working on our next student room renovation.

Can anyone come to you or do they need to be a student? With us being a nonprofit that primarily supports low income students, there is a strict criteria to qualify for a room makeover. We would love to expand and give all of our students makeovers but our primary mission is to provide our neediest students a complete room makeover. However, students from all backgrounds and statuses are welcome to join our education program. What have been some of your biggest inspirations?

The students themselves.. seeing their excitement when they get picked for a room renovation! Our inspiration As a team we all decide on always comes from the the final design decisions but students and their passion I primarily lead the design initiative, as a principal designer. to want to learn and grow. Who drives the design decisions?

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Is there a specific time schedule you work with on each student? We work with our students primarily during school hours within the educational program, but some programs are on the weekends. Times can vary when we are working on the room designs. We progress through stages of the design process, and schedules vary based on the stage we are in. Who is Kimberly?

YDP dream team and students are ready to tackle the next project with style and a smile.

I love creating and dreaming which is why I am also a visual artist. I paint inspirational images of women and body positivity. I also paint images of food façades and flowers. The way I manifest my dreams are with vision boards. I think of all the things I want to do, write them down, pin them up, and get them done.

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Splash of creativity, touch of love, sprinkle of kindness, working together, creates a world of possibilities.

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One of my goals and dreams is to have YDP as a fully funded non-profit organization. I would also like to be able to pay my team, as they currently volunteer their time and expertise now. My ultimate goal is to help as many students as possible by providing a free, well designed space, as well as educating and exposing them, at a young age, to a potential career in interior design. | Instagram @youthdesignphilly @kmontes_art Facebook facebook.com/YouthDesignPhilly Web https://youthdesignphilly.org/ https://kimberlymontes.com/

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I

came across Skye's page while browsing Instagram (theskye_aesthetic) and was instantly smitten by her vibrant and bizarre visual world. I knew nothing about her, at that point, she even hid her face from the camera but I loved everything about her kitschy composite photographs. And as a long time plushie fan, I was compelled to find out more. In this article, she sheds light on her mysterious online persona and how a soft toy from IKEA made one creative girl's world turn around.

There has been a strong bond between Skye and Blåhaj since they first met.

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Who are you and why did you start your current Instagram page? “I am Skye and my shark is Blåhaj. I'm 26 years old and Blåhaj is almost 2. I have a Master's degree in Fine Arts Graphic Art, but in the recent years I've been expressing myself through photography and it is gonna stay one of my favourite means of expressing myself for a long long time. I struggle with depression and anxiety. Some days it's darker and some days it gets lighter. There are some days when it's surprisingly sunny. But, when I started my Instagram page, it had got darker than usual and I needed to express my storm of emotions in some bigger way than crying or talking. I quite spontaneously created my Instagram page, took some pictures and posted one at a time. Fast forward a few weeks and my tumultuous inner world was coming to life through photography. My art can sometimes feel very cathartic. Creating it helps me a lot. Not

much later I found out that I wasn't the only human who had an emotional support plushie. There was an entire community of plushies and blåhajs out there. Now my Blåhaj even sends and recieves plushie mail from friends all over the world, which is so cool! I would've never imagined my plushie shark and I would be part of such an amazing community. It always brightens my day when I see a postcard in the mail. I know Blåhaj is a plushie shark, but he really helps me feel better when I feel down. There's something magical about those Ikea sharks. It all started as a means of expressing my feelings and coping with the negative ones, but it turned out to be more than that. I feel like I'm part of a community now and I feel like my art has an impact on

“Blåhaj appeared in my life when I was really depressed and didn’t have anyone to comfort me, so I just hugged him and cried...the pain would ease for a bit.” Copyright © 2021. Regeneration Media Ltd. All rights reserved.

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“There is an entire community of plushies and blåhajs out there... I would’ve never imagined we would be part of such an amazing community.”

others as well. Sometimes it inspires, sometimes it entertains, or sometimes it sparks discussions about emotions, about life. Maybe the first thing that comes to one's mind when they hear about art that is born from a dark place, is an array of gloomy colors, sad themes and downturned smiles. But, I'd say my art is quite the opposite. I get my inspiration from pop art (Andy Warhol), kitsch art (Jeff Koons), I get inspired by little decor objects, by glitter, or by fashion, by the sea, I get inspired by music (my music tastes vary quite a lot - from

death metal to rock n roll to bubblegum pop), basically anything can inspire me. Oh, and my muse is, of course, Blåhaj. My art is colorful, but quite minimalistic, it looks rather happy, but sterile (clean) at the same time. And I pay a lot of attention to detail. Each series tells a story. Some are serious, some are playful. I try to create aesthetically pleasing pictures. I sometimes photograph miniatures (furniture from my doll house, food, decorative objects, mini cars etc.) and edit myself and the sharks to interact with them. I really love editing that type of pictures!” How does Blåhaj help you with your depression? “I've never had many friends and there have been long stretches of time when I didn't have friends at all. So, ever since I was a little kid I went to my plushies for emotional support and attachment. They would always listen, never criticize and only offer warm hugs. I have always been attached to my plushies. Blåhaj appeared in my life when I was really depressed and didn't have anyone to comfort me, so I just hugged him all the time and cried. I can remember that whenever I hugged him (still true to this day), the pain

Each of Skye’s series tells a story. Serious, or playful, they capture her mood and thoughts.

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would ease for a bit. And on a day to day basis I didn't feel so alone. It's almost like having a really quiet pet. Also, there was a strong bond between me and Blåhaj since I first saw him. He looked sad and somehow panicked. I said to myself "this plushie understands me". He also makes me laugh a lot. You just throw him on the sofa and he lands in an "exhausted" or "diva" pose. It's a funny and very expressive shark. So, I find much help in having someone to always listen to you, always be there for you and never shame or criticize, only offering hugs and making you laugh, especially when you don't have anyone else available to offer you all those things.” I find Skye and Blåhaj 's rainbow candied world as emotionally rich as it is satisfying. I want to join them in the fun of their pictorial adventures, yet, I feel that it would be intrusive to do so. | So I will keep on following their mischievous antics from afar, and if you wish to do the same, or become their friends, follow them on Instagram! @theskye_aesthetic


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Is giving birth very painful? by Luana D'Elias Thomas

T

his was the ultimate question I always wondered about since I was a little girl. Yet I must have asked my mum about it only twice, and her answer was always the same. It focused on an optimistic aspect.

The truth is, despite being aware that my maternal instincts had always been there, I spent my entire life avoiding the subject. I didn’t really want to know in case the answer scared me too much, to the point where I wouldn’t want to have kids, especially if the truth was what I thought it was. Painful. We avoid the question in the hope that ignorance is bliss. What happens then is that we are already setting a trap for ourselves because when it comes to childbirth, ignorance is misery. It’s when birth ends up medicated and traumatic. And honestly, having to deal with trauma while looking after a newborn is not where you want to be.

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Before I even answer the question, I want to explain how birth should work, how it’s divided into three stages and how the truth is not at all what we assume it to be. You know how your body coughs, pukes, breathes, digests, sneezes, pees, poos? Those are physiological processes that we do everyday. We’re born with those abilities and we don’t even question them, right? Well, birth is just another physiological function. The only difference is that it’s not one we’re using daily. But that doesn’t mean your body doesn’t know how to expel a baby. It does. It’s designed for that, it is already within you. Yet, that’s unknown. Hence why we have lost our trust in it. Paired with the frantic, fearful depiction of birth on screen, it adds to our unconscious mind that it must hurt and looks like this: legs up in stirrups, screaming in excruciating pain, a doctor telling you to push to save you from agony.

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Unknown is scary. It means our bodies will be in a state of alertness, flee or fight effect, in survival mode. This is your body in the sympathetic nervous system. It’s extremely important when in real danger as it releases the hormone adrenaline and boosts oxygens to your arms and legs so you can run as fast as possible. But when it comes to childbirth, it’s the worst state you can be in, because you don’t need more oxygen being pumped to your arms and legs but instead to your uterus, baby, digestive system and internal organs for your body to function efficiently. Essentially our bodies have two nervous systems: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic part is when we feel relaxed, safe, calm, serene and oxygen flows to our whole body replenishing all organs. The two systems can never work at the same time. You’re either in one or the other.

Therefore your state of mind will have an impact on how your body works at that moment. Being in a fearful state during birth means your body will not work as efficiently as it should. It may send a signal to the baby that it’s not a safe time to be born. It may halt or stop the process of birth if it had started. It will take longer, your body will have to work so much harder because there’s not enough oxygen being supplied where it really needs it. You’ll get tense and stressed and the baby may get distraught. It’ll make everything much more difficult because hormones are essential for how birth unfolds. If you have more adrenaline pumped in your body, it will inhibit the first important hormone that you need for birth. Oxytocin. This is what stimulates the muscles of the uterus to contract. That’s how your body starts to open the cervix to let the baby out.


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This is the first stage of labour. It’s the hardest and longest part as the cervix needs to soften and open wide from 0cm to 10cm. This is how a baby can come out from what seems like a place so small. In reality your pelvis has a really big opening but it seals shut during the entire pregnancy. It is very strong as it has to carry the weight of amniotic fluid and the weight of a growing baby. The muscles of your uterus need to work hard in opening that up. It does that gradually, with breaks in between. The first stage of labour is divided into three parts: The LATENT phase Takes the longest from 0- 4cm. The ACTIVE phase (established labour) 5-6 cm contractions are building up and lasting a bit longer. The TRANSITION phase 7-10 cm. At this point contractions are more clustered together with less breaks. One of the symptoms of this phase is to say things like “I can’t do it anymore”, “you did this to me”, “give me all the drugs”. This part can move much faster and means you’re so close to having the baby descend the birth canal.

That’s the second stage of birth: The PUSHING phase. If your birth has started spontaneously and you’ve been left undisturbed, uninterrupted, in low light conditions, freely moving, you should feel the “foetal ejection reflex” and your body will start to push on its own, your body and baby working together. This is the part about birth I assumed to be painful, but ended up loving. I was smiling, humming my baby a lullaby, knowing how close we were to meeting face to face. I was feeling pride at how the baby knew what to do. If all your hormones are not interfered with, at this stage, your body’s own natural painkillers endorphins, will peak. Endorphins are stronger than any man made painkillers, more effective than morphine.

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“Beta-endorphin reduces the effects of stress and induces feelings of pleasure, euphoria, and dependency. Beta-endorphin levels, as measured in the mother’s bloodstream, increase throughout labour, peaking at the time of birth… In labour, such high levels help the labouring woman to transcend pain, as she enters the altered state of consciousness that characterises an undisturbed birth. In the hours after birth, elevated beta-endorphin levels reward and reinforce mother-baby interactions, including physical contact and breastfeeding, as well as contributing to intensely pleasurable, even ecstatic, feelings for both” [Source: Buckley, S. Undisturbed Birth, AIMS Journal, 2011, Vol 23 No 4]

Let’s not forget that the vagina should gently stretch as the baby descents down the birth canal. What I found was that birth was the same sensation as doing poo. A giant poo. Feeling that, I wasn’t scared as much because it felt familiar. Once the baby is out, you will feel like the strongest person that’s ever lived. Once your baby is placed on top of you, you don’t feel any pain, as endorphins continue to flood your body. That’s the answer my own mum had given me. “When they place that baby on top of you, you’ll forget everything”.

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The third stage: This is the expelling of the placenta. The organ your body grew to nourish your baby throughout pregnancy is no longer needed. It’s much easier than birth but may take up to an hour. So my answer is: I can’t bring myself to say that my birth was painful. I saw it as powerful. It can be intense at the first stage, but that’s just a type of power. The second stage is actually the most enjoyable part! The third stage is the easiest part.


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When they place that baby on top of you, you’ll forget everything.

If you are scared, ready to accept anything that will interfere with the natural process, and uninformed of what’s happening to your body, then it will be painful. I truly believe we need to change the narrative surrounding birth. It focuses too much on the pain. The trouble is, we associate pain with suffering. When we begin to realise and understand that childbirth “pain” is not the same as suffering, we are able to be more accepting that it is simply a part of it. Birth is not about not feeling anything, it’s more about finding tools and techniques to cope with it all.

In fact Mother Nature has worked childbirth immaculately because essentially birth is throwing you at the deep end, if you can get through that, it means you’ll feel strong to look after your newborn. Which is far from easy. It’ll be the hardest, most demanding thing you’ll ever have to do. It’s a tremendous amount of responsibility (so please don’t do it too soon, it is overwhelming and you lose a sense of self). And it’s labour and birth that show and test you on it. Ultimately the main focus and narrative we need for birth is that “There is a secret in our culture and is not that childbirth is painful. It’s that women are strong” - Laura Stavoe Harm.

Copyright © 2021. Regeneration Media Ltd. All rights reserved.

Luana D'Elias Thomas is the founder of a platform www.getoffmyback.co.uk to help mums-to-be reduce anxieties and fears about birth. To work towards the positive birth experience that all women deserve. She loves all things pregnancy, labour, birth and motherhood.

For more conversations follow: @getoffmyback.co.uk

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A Tale of the Elements

by Keanan Anthony

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Uplifting hearts on an ocean still, chilling bones on mountain peaks. Come rain, or shine, he’s life in motion, resting doesn’t suit his need. Through your hair he plays and dances. Trees rustle, sway and clatter to his whistling, haunting howl. Unseen, ungraspable and yet clearly there, he’s in us all, everywhere. Hold your breathe and understand his might. Swiftly spiriting away the leaves at the end of their time. The palms rattle and clash as she pours from the heavens. Delicately gliding through crooks and crevices, the stone below helplessly charmed by the grace of a ruthless lover. A giver of life and mistress of destruction. Nothing is safe in her path, and yet everything is cradled in her embrace. Mountains eroded, oceans teeming with life. Despite her gentle nature, she is a force to be reckoned with. With a roar he tears through the forest, engulfing all he comes in contact with. The living flee in terror, the dead are all but ashes and soot. None dare get in his way, yet all relish his light and warmth. Comforting in the cold of winter, a pleasure on a summers eve. Without him life would perish, with him none are safe. He is fierce and grows ever fiercer, the more he consumes. Humbly she lies beneath our feet, tolerant of every step. Nothing too heavy or overbearing, in the eyes of a loving mother. Despite all pain we may ‘ave caused, her judgment is fair and true. Some call her cruel and yet she’s righteous, through and through. Explosive is her temper, in anger trembling, she culls the weak and holds the strong accountable. Nourishing life, mineral treasures, a place to call our home. She’s always there and provides enough, for all to get along.


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hades by Joshua Koshy 15, Hong Kong

emotions by Joshua Koshy 15, Hong Kong

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Connection Garden by Kimberly Montes, 9x12 Gouache

Dragtastic, Born this way by Kay

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by Amanda C Amanda is a poet and writer from Hong Kong. She loves writing poetry and songs in her free time. She grew up in India and often plays her green ukulele and writes in her spare time. Type & Write is her third poetry collection.

today I asked siri what the weather was like siri told me “it’s fifteen degrees tonight!” I gasped and I shrugged a coat on ran outside to taste the plastic snow the wind picked me into the sky and I flew over the city it looked so pretty unlike me who in my struggles tried my best to appear whole when really I was running on empty trying to look preppy take another pepsi crack another knuckle and watch the sunset once more as my fears grow so does the courage to withstand what may pass to backhand the lies that may take over a divine plan

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we want to pursue and set

Dear Ceci I feel depressed because I find it very hard to refuse anyone, even if what he or she asks for is beyond reason and I am being taken advantaged of. I hate myself for this but I do not have the courage to reject. What should I do? Born to Say Yes

some personal boundaries. As we all have our own goals and purposes to attain in life, we ought to free ourselves from the guilt of saying “no” to others when they violate our limits and rules. Nonetheless, to explain our situation clearly and tenderly, it would be precious to adopt the concept of nonviolent communication which

Dear Born to Say Yes I understand how convenient it seems

reminds us to consider the observations, feelings, needs

give us stress, especially when we are emotionally attached to them. Most of the time, we surrender to avoid conflicts in our relationships because we care so much about them and just the thought of hurting their feelings scares us. Nevertheless, if this becomes a habit, we may

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listening to news stories about the pandemic. Moreover, to stay healthy physically and mentally, we may try to exercise regularly, eat well-

Ceci

our lives before and during

activities we enjoy. Obviously, the pandemic have changed drastically, yet the best way to

Dear Ceci

overcome this challenging time

I am getting so tired of the

our routine lifestyle and the new

pandemic, it has been around

normal. Regardless of how the

for two years already and I

pandemic goes, keeping in

am so sick of all the health

touch with our loved ones and

precautions which ruin my life

our communities, getting plenty

and freedom. I feel chained

of sleep and doing what we

inside out. What should I do?

enjoy are essential to keep our

Chained Soul

is to find a balance between

minds at ease. Furthermore, let’s remember we will never be alone as long as we reach

within our hearts and suffer we compromise our feelings

from watching, reading or

balanced meals and do

feel the escalating tension in various aspects because

we may try to take a break

and requests of each other.

to just follow the words of people who

end. To reduce the stress,

out for support. We Dear Chained Soul

and needs while trying to

It is very natural to feel stress

satisfy other people. To make

and grief during the pandemic,

a change and keep our

particularly when it has lasted

relationships healthy, we ought

for so long and we are not

to discover who we are, what

aware of when it is going to

are all in this together. Ceci


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Dear Ceci How do you understand the

Do you have questions that you’re too embarrassed to ask?

word “growth”? I am going to be seventeen soon, and I hope to be

teachers

a mature person whom my parents will be proud of. Would you advise me on what it takes to grow and be mature? Almost Seventeen

and friends. Of course, this is not equivalent to ignoring everyone’s feelings altogether, it simply means keeping a good balance between caring for ourselves and others.

Dear Almost Seventeen Congratulations, you are coming to the most exciting part of your life when you will decide for your future and become an active member in the society. In my opinion, to grow is to be mature physically, mentally and emotionally. It is easy to spot changes in our physical bodies but it is more difficult to determine whether we are mentally and emotionally mature. Nonetheless, observing whether we are capable of keeping personal boundaries is a good way to check our level of maturity. This means we ought to be able to develop

Take for instance, instead of just giving in, mentally and emotionally mature people who encounter bitter remarks control

Is there a topic or story that you want to share but find it awkward to talk to others about? Ceci is here to discuss and try to answer all your questions about life, friendship, family, relationships, and growing up. She is the big sister that you can always ask questions to!

their emotions and use nondefensive responses (e.g. “I am sorry you are disappointed”, “I am sorry you do not agree with me in this matter”) to prevent conflicts, defend their freedom and control their life decisions. In the long run, it would be helpful to constantly reflect upon the meaning of growth so we may elaborate the art of weighing our options and making good choices in this new stage of life. Ceci

our own beliefs, feelings and actions independent of those around us, like our parents,

Copyright © 2021. Regeneration Media Ltd. All rights reserved.

Cecilia Ao is a lifelong learner who enjoys exploring life through the lens of Psychology, History and Philosophy. She welcomes the silence of a starry night to write in her journal. She is always ready to listen, share stories, and offer her wise counsel to all comers! |

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first time and the Seeing a child do something for the e at what they can hav they sense of achievement and awe I love team sports m’, ‘tea is achieve. The other thing for me working world. If the into and there’s a great read across and Helen Kate end mm you’ve not read it, I would reco an Olympic win to took it t Richardson-Walsh’s book on wha ! - Sam ired insp be to out gold as a team. Take a little time

JOY! We asked our friends how they find their joy, and here are their answers

I am very passio nate about fitness, lo ve helping women to build their be st bodies and lift th eir confidence. In m y spare time I enjo y doing modeling, Belly dancing an d learning - Ang elica

e joy rings m What b sea brings The is my f joy, it o t lo nd me a ome. A d h l a u it an spir Blåhaj , e s r u ring of co harks b e s r e th my o - Sk y ! me joy

🤔

🥰

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ating and me joy is cre s g rin b t a h “W ws me to yself! Art allo expressing m tures. The feeling in pic say what I’m ns and nt my emotio colors represe nt my personality. rese the styles rep I am e joy because m s g Art brin out ss myself with able to expre y rl .” - Kimbe saying a word

Being hea lthy, my fa mily and the d ear friends around me , me happin bring ess. Love working o n amazing new projects a nd making something beautiful o ut of them. Carolien


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• Olympic Champions Kate and Helen Richardson Walsh

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