When donâ€™t tell means TELL EVERYONE LIFESTYLE | CULTURE | PEOPLE | TRENDS
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SO BEAUTIFUL IT MUST BE REAL
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DR. ANDREA DINARDO
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When don’t tell means TELL EVERYONE LIFESTYLE | CULTURE | PEOPLE | TRENDS
Now available at Hi! Neighbor
2019-04-09 4:08 PM
On the cover: Charlene Renaud wants all children to know "Don't tell, means "Tell everyone". Explore her journey as she tells all.
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SPRING II 2019
22 PEOPLE DRIVE Charlene Renaud's determination to help keep your stuffing intact
PEOPLE DRIVE Steven Page tells us what he needs to keep it together in the face of a lifelong struggle with mental illness.
WELCOME 6 Editor's letter TREND DRIVE 10 Hygge 14 Two simple self-care practices SOCIAL DRIVE 18 Your inner dialogue damages your self-image. Break the negative perception of outer beauty HEALTH DRIVE 44 S hattering the myths of living with schizophrenia 48 A wildly successful Windsor podcast offers an alternative—one that is actually garnering results 54 W ax candles and essential oil diffusers— and the health implications of both PSYCH DRIVE 58 S teps on cultivating a healthy mind ART DRIVE 64 An Art Lab for everybody to enjoy
HEALTH DRIVE ANOREXIA How biology and environment work together to create a genetically loaded gun
I find that we can sometimes walk a tightrope between healthy and unhealthy thoughts. I can certainly relate to days that don’t exactly go my way, and I shift off balance. I’ve learned over time that not feeling myself is perfectly okay, and if I can trust in the process, things will come to resolution. This allows me mental space to just be, let go, and restore some sense of balance.
Training our brain to change habits and shift thought patterns is not for the faint of heart, and can be repetitive and exhausting work. In this issue, Charlene Renaud shares her journey of how she learned to get past her troubled childhood and difficult relationships to remain positive, creating a powerful message that she wants everyone to hear. Her Precious Piñata story is a perfect example of the power of intention. Regardless of the journey we walk, we each owe it to ourselves to sometimes stop, reflect, and be, asking how we can create an improved version of ourselves. It takes clarity to be present, courage to look within, to call ourselves out, to be honest, and to develop the discipline to push past our ‘automatic pilot’ mode. Steven Page, formerly of The Barenaked Ladies, advocates for emotional transparency in the forms of therapy and open conversations with friends and loved ones. He also passes along the widely held belief that diet and exercise can be routes out of depression. No matter what the solution is, if you’re experiencing some mental health unease, we trust you'll find what works for you. Emotional resilience takes practice and there’s no better time to start than right now. We hope you enjoy this issue dedicated to mental health. Please continue sending your feedback to email@example.com
Sabine Main, Editorial + Creative Director
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HYGGE TREND DRIVE
WHAT IT IS AND WHY YOU NEED IT By Laura Diane Duarte | Photography: Toa Heftiba
Do you have a favorite cotton T-shirt, softened by years of wash and use, faded and worn yet fitted to your frame like a perfect lover? You wear it out or in, and it never ceases to lift your spirit, filling you with confidence and ease. This simple artifact, neither new nor fancy, but treasured nonetheless, is the physical representation of the Danish concept of hygge, pronounced in English as “hoo-gah.”
comes to tidiness. Sometimes the dishes can matter the circumstances. Think fresh-baked wait because the kids want to play Scrabble. banana bread on a cold morning or cheap Perhaps the easiest way to conjure hygge wine at home with friends when it’s all you in your home is to light a candle—the most can afford.
substantial item in Danish culture that embodies this idea. Burning more candles than any country in the world, Denmark corners the market on candlewax consumption and they claim these portable flames This foreign idea, working its magic on North are essential to creating the atmosphere in Americans’ collective consciousness since 2016, which hygge flourishes. translates somewhat clumsily into English. You Clearly, the Danes are on to something, see, hygge was birthed of necessity, created by the and it’s a good thing Americans and Danes as a remedy for the angst, depression, and Canadians have caught on, as Denmark boredom that often accompany dark, freezing ranks high on happiness surveys, despite its winter months. This hard-to-define state of mind less-than-ideal weather trends. At its core, was designed to help them find intimacy, content- hygge promotes emotional well-being no ment, and security in everyday experiences, letting them enjoy an otherwise uncomfortable season. Used as both an adjective and noun in Denmark, it’s embraced as a way of life more than an idea. It requires nothing explicit, no purchase or oath of loyalty, and you can’t clean-eat your way there. To reap the benefits of hygge, you must slow down, pay attention, and respect the value in everything. Like taking extra time to French press your coffee for no other reason than it tastes better, or staying in pajamas to read a book on a rainy afternoon, hygge demands you acknowledge and appreciate minutiae.
To take a cue from overseas and live this way, don’t overthink it. Just look at the small rituals that make up your day and add to them. Take extra minutes in the shower to let hot water run down your back or call a friend you haven’t seen in weeks to meet for coffee (with real sugar). Try a long walk without bringing your phone. Eat an extra cookie. But before anything, get that old T-shirt from the back of your closet, the one you almost lost at a party in 10th grade. Now, put it on with your favorite hyggebukser and take a deep breath...because life is good. D.
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Hygge is new in North America but so entrenched in Danish culture that new terms have arisen from the original. Hyggebukser, which translates to sweatpants, refers to that ratty pair you would never wear out of the house, but that keep you comfy on dates with Ben & Jerry. Things that add coziness or inspire gratitude are called hyggelig, or hygge-like. In the world of home décor, hygge plays into minimalism and simplicity to feel at peace with what you have. It means keeping sentimental items or anything that sparks happiness and throwing everything else out (familiar to North Americans as the Konmari method, inspired by Marie Kondo). It also asks you to relax and forgive yourself when it THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
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easy self-care practices By Mona Elkadri | Photography: Vicki Bartel
There is a reason why Amazon’s One-Day Delivery or Loblaws PC Express services are rapidly becoming popular. Our schedules fill up faster and our lives are more and more hectic. Most of us are spending less and less time focusing on ourselves. This year, I have really tried to make an effort to practise self-care and focus more on my overall wellbeing. Practising self-care is different for everyone. For some it might be to pamper themselves with a manicure. For others, it could be as simple as setting aside time in the morning to enjoy a cup of coffee while it’s still hot. For myself, it’s to get more sleep and to ingest ingredients that make me feel good on the inside and out.
TREND DRIVE To enhance my bedtime routine I’ve been misting a lavender linen spray on my pillows before I sleep. I love the ritual of using the spray and the scent of lavender that creates such a calm environment, making it so easy to unwind. Making your own linen spray is simple! Below you can find instructions and the supplies you will need. I’ve also included some printable labels to spruce up your bottle. Why not give it a luxe feel? DIY LAVENDER LINEN SPRAY • 4 oz glass spray bottle • Printable sticker sheets • Pinch of dried lavender (optional) • 1 oz witch hazel • 2 5 drops lavender essential oil (or any essential oil of your choice) • 3 oz distilled water Directions: •U sing a funnel, add witch hazel and essential oil to the glass bottle and shake to combine. •O nce combined, add a pinch of dried lavender, then the water. Shake once more to combine. •F inish by wiping any residue off the bottle and adding the adhesive label. •S pritz two to three sprays on your pillow at night and enjoy!
KALE MANGO SMOOTHIE*
A smoothie I have recently added to my arsenal is this Kale Mango smoothie. I have been addicted to it for a number of reasons. Besides being absolutely delicious, it is packed with a ton of vitamins and nutrients that are good for your body, hair, skin, and digestive system. Kale alone is very high in vitamin C (even more than orange juice) and is loaded with antioxidants. Like kale, mango is also high in vitamins and antioxidants as well as being great for digestive health. I like to add collagen peptides (which I order through Amazon) to my smoothies as a little added boost for my skin and bone health.
• 1 ½ cups chopped kale
•D issolve collagen peptides in the milk and mango nectar.
• 1 cup diced fresh mango (if frozen add an extra ¼ cup) • 1 cup milk (can be substituted with milk alternatives)
•A dd liquids and remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. D. *Serves 2
• 1 cup mango nectar •C ollagen peptides (follow package directions) • 1 tbsp honey (optional)
Mona Elkadri is a lifestyle blogger with a fondness for everyday living and entertaining, from sweet recipes to home décor and DIY, and everything in between. ohsomona.com THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
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Learning to LOVE Yourself
Suzie Sawicki, the current titleholder of Miss Tecumseh, has always been drawn to the pageant world—mainly for the volunteer and scholarship opportunities presented to contestants. After placing first runner-up in 2017, she entered the Western Ontario competition of the Miss Universe Canada circuit, and noticed that it was a very different world from the local pageant scene. “There is a ‘Best Body’ category, which affects your overall score, and I don’t think that award should really exist. Because every body is beautiful in a different way and it’s not something that I found helpful.” Suzie talked about the mental state of competitors and how even 20 seconds of swimsuit time on stage can be incredibly overwhelming and intimidating. Even though she didn’t find herself in this situation at first, there was one moment where her thoughts circled back to the competition photos, making her wonder, had she failed to place because she wasn’t the skinniest girl in the crowd? “It wasn’t healthy, and my mom eventually snapped me out of it. I had to realize that I did everything I could to prepare for this moment, I knew my limits, and I didn’t cross the danger line. Women need to know what works for them in order to look and feel their best—we’re all different,” she adds. How much of how we feel each day is based on our outer appearance? We want to make a good “first impression.” We boast that we’re having a “no-makeup day.” We’re groomed by a society that shows us filtered versions of reality on social media, logging us into a lifetime of self-doubt as we constantly admire others while comparing ourselves to them. Even before the introduction of social media, there has been constant scrutiny of women and their self-image. Most of us have been putting on makeup since the age of 13 and shaving our hair in places we don’t think is attractive. All the while, we continue to apologize for our public appearance.
Suzie Sawicki, Miss Tecumseh
HOW YOUR INNER DIALOGUE DAMAGES YOUR SELFIMAGE, AND HOW WE CAN BREAK THE NEGATIVE PERCEPTION OF OUTER BEAUTY By Alley L. Biniarz | Photography: Etam Images 18
How can we survive and thrive in a society that is dominated by self-loathing? In Suzie’s case, she’s a very positive person—about both her body image and self-confidence. Much of this has come from the Miss Tecumseh pageant, which has a very different vibe than the Miss Universe circuit. She has surrounded herself with the other contestants who lift her up, she has grown in her communication skills, and has
become an active member in her community But we have the power to change our inner through volunteerism. narrative, just as these two women do. Not only is a negative body/self-image When the world tells us to be one thing, something that is socially ingrained in us we need to lift each other up and say that we from a young age, but it holds the attention are whatever we want to be. of teenagers and young adults, becoming a It’s not about feeling happy with our lifelong epidemic. image all the time, but what does matter is My mother, Ewa Biniarz, the owner of the respect we show our bodies through words BVogue Boutique, caters to many women and actions. CMHA B.C. Division quotes, over the age of 40 and says that more often “Body image and self-esteem directly influthan not, when women enter the store in ence each other—and your feelings, thoughts, sweatpants or casualwear, they feel the need and behaviours. If you don’t like your body to apologize. (or a part of your body), it’s hard to feel good “We have different places we need to be about your whole self. The reverse is also true: throughout the day, and we deserve the right if you don’t value yourself, it’s hard to notice to wear sweats,” she tells them, but that apolo- the good things and give your body the respect getic tendency is still there. “For a lot of us, not it deserves.” all of us, it could be because of our age group. Maybe we feel better when we’re put together, or maybe it goes back to the times when people told us that we had to look good for someone to notice us, or to take us seriously.”
• Be aware of how you talk about yourself and your body around family and friends. Do you often seek reassurance or validation from others to feel good about yourself? Do you often focus only on physical appearances?
• Notice when you judge yourself or others based on weight, shape, or size. Ask yourself if there are any other qualities you could look for when those thoughts come up.
• Surround yourself with positive friends and family who back you up and support you.
• Remember that everyone has challenges with their body image at times. Your friend may want the very feature you think is undesirable.
Ewa’s goal is to make women feel comfortable and confident in their own skin, so they don’t feel that they have to cover up this imperfection or that flaw. Clothing shouldn’t cover up; it should accentuate the beautiful and unique qualities women have.
If anything, this negative mindset entrenches itself more as we age. We see articles like, “Seven Anti-aging Tricks that Every Woman Over 60 Should Know” and then we wonder why our sense of self-worth is directly linked to how we look.
• Eat well-balanced meals and exercise because it makes you feel good and strong, not as a way to control your body.
• Dress in a way that makes you feel good about yourself, in clothes that fit you now.
if you don’t value yourself, it’s hard to notice the good things and give your body the respect it deserves.
“There are so many women who put themselves down about every little imperfection that we all have. There is no such thing as ‘the perfect size’; we’re all beautiful and we have the power to be confident. We all have that within us.”
Below are a few tips from CMHA B.C. to encourage a healthier outlook on yourself and others:
• Write a list of the positive benefits of the body part or feature you don’t like or struggle to accept.
Suzie Sawicki, Miss Tecumseh
Be kind to yourself, and never say something about yourself that you wouldn’t say about a friend. Breaking this cycle starts with finding the little things about yourself that you love, shifting your language, and no longer comparing yourself to others. You are enough, and you are beautiful.
The next time you notice yourself having negative thoughts about body and appearance, take a minute to see what may be going on in your life: Are you stressed out? Anxious? Low? Facing challenges in other parts of your life? Try to give yourself the same advice that you would give a friend. D. 19
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I want to make sure kids understand that ‘don’t tell’ means to tell everyone.
ONE WOMAN’S DETERMINATION TO HELP KEEP YOUR STUFFING INTACT By Veronique Mandel | Photography: Syx Langemann
It’s the first thing you notice when you walk into Charlene Renaud’s open-concept house: a giant seven-foot-tall piñata doll standing on the left wall of the kitchen. A small replica of the doll lies on a nearby kitchen table. Smiling, Renaud unzips the front of the smaller doll and pulls out a brown ball. She laughs, her eyes sparkling because of the humour inherent in the symbolism. “This is the poop ball. This is the toxic stuffing we all have to deal with if we’re going to have physical and mental health,” she says, her tone becoming more serious. “Even though there is a lot of good stuff inside us, all the bad stuff we put inside will only get worse if we don’t take it out, look at it for what it is, and get rid of it.” As I sit across from Renaud in her home in Chatham, Ontario, it is hard to believe that this optimistic, passionate, happy, charming woman led a life so destructive it helped create the Piñata Theory. Renaud grew up on a farm in rural Comber, Ontario, with her parents and five siblings. While farm life was hard and she had chores like most farm children, she revelled in being able to be outside in nature and doing things children love— like wearing rubber boots and jumping in muddy ditches. She THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
loved to sing and would often stand on a farm wagon with her cousin Rochelle, each holding a cob of corn and pretending to entertain the masses. Years later, a friend would arrange for her to sing the Canadian and American national anthems at Comerica Park in Detroit. That picture, however, contrasted sharply with the pain of living with an alcoholic father. She calls alcoholism a family affair because of the grim and often lifelong effects it has on everyone. For Renaud, it created the illusion that consuming alcohol in destructive quantities was normal, what everyone did. That belief and its resultant behaviour shaped the next several decades of her life. Her father constantly had friends in the house who would drink to get blind drunk. He thought it funny to ridicule his youngest daughter in front of his drunken guests, chipping further away at her self-worth. While her father worked hard to provide for his large family, Renaud laments never knowing what it was like to have a parent who tucked her into bed or read her a bedtime story. Life wasn’t easy for Renaud’s mother, but she stayed in the marriage and tried to make it better. “They did the best with what they knew and tried their best,” she said. Being the youngest of six and growing up in an alcoholic home, she experienced fear, dysfunction, drama, insecurity, and uncertainty. Her older siblings would hurt her mentally and physically and their mean games set a foundation of insecurity at a very early age. During her teen years she became anorexic, believing a skinny body would make people love her. She began drinking and using drugs. Deciding she wanted to become a police officer, she enrolled in the Police Foundations program at St. Clair College, where she excelled. Over the next several years Renaud worked in security and tried many times to join the Chatham police force, without success. In 1994 she went to work with the Ontario Provincial Police as a dispatcher. Today, she works as a special constable dealing with prisoners in the court system and says it gives her important insights into human behaviour. “I don’t think I really understood the extent of human suffering until I began working with prisoners,” she said. “Although I wanted to be in policing, I knew it wasn’t the best fit for me, for my personality and talents. I wanted to sing and I am more creative. I like 24
Charlene Renaud with her life-size Precious Pinãta
PEOPLE DRIVE to organize events and do public speaking.”
other two girls were 11 and 13 when Renaud called a psychogenic stress reaction that led to When Renaud was in her twenties, a first met him. Trying to help them, she writes a complete mental breakdown. To compound the situation, Jack, a lawyer, filed a domestic therapist suggested she join Al-Anon, but she in her book, was like taming feral cats. never saw herself as an addict and refused the “They were manipulative, dishonest, and complaint against her. Police led her away help. It’s a decision she regrets, later realizing mean, but you can imagine how they were from their home in handcuffs. it might have helped her avoid some of the living in an abusive, dysfunctional home disastrous relationships that ultimately caused with a dysfunctional parent who is a liar and her pain and humiliation. abuser,” said Renaud. “I thought I could save Despite the troubles of her young life, them all and that would really make Jack Renaud says she was always a giver and the appreciate me.” kind of person who looked for people to fix. Unfortunately, Renaud was to find that some broken people are unfixable, and by attempting to help them, she would only bring great misery into her own life.
During her twenties she married and divorced twice and had two children. Her third attempt at being happily married turned into a nightmare.
I don’t think I really understood the extent of human suffering until I began working with prisoners.
“I was well known in the community, I was involved with many charities and this was a complete humiliation,” said Renaud. “The arrest was a terrible shock to everyone who knows me. I have a reputation for helping Once her own children—Lisa and Jordan— others, not ever hurting anyone.” left home, she felt alone and trapped with Her family doctor sent her to a psychiJack and his children, all of whom now scared atrist and a psychologist—both of whom her. Renaud broke up with Jack several times found her to be a high-functioning and intelbefore ultimately marrying him, and it was lectual woman and wrote letters of support always due to the lack of parenting he gave to the court on her behalf. But, all of their his children, allowing them to grow more efforts could not halt the devastation the out of control as time went by. Their abusive abuse had caused. behaviour towards her increased as they “I was completely broken. I had invested tormented and terrorized her on a daily basis. $200,000 in our new home, which was half “It was like a horror movie,” she said. the purchase price, and I was kicked out, so The abuse continued and in early 2012, she says her life ground to a halt—the fixer needed fixing. She began unravelling mentally and physically. Stress had brought on fibromyalgia and she lived in constant pain, walking like a frail, old woman. Still, she hung in. Mainly, she admits, because she did not want the embarrassment of another failed marriage.
I went to live with my mom and dad,” said Renaud. “I lost 30 pounds and was in a complete meltdown. The therapy that made a difference was from my psychologist. He said, ‘You’re addicted to fixing people and you let people use you like a doormat.’ It took about eight to ten months but eventually I could see my unhealthy stuffing and I wanted to Renaud said she finally admitted that change it.” this time she had nothing left. She went into She began to heal. Just when she thought survival mode and began lashing out. She said she had her life together, in walked the person in her mind, she knew if she did not escape, she thought was an angel sent by God to she could die. She suffered what the doctor reward her for all the pain she had endured.
She calls him Jack. They began dating, and when she visited his house for the first time she was alternately saddened and revolted by the filthy and cluttered state of the place. It reminded her of the TV show Hoarders, especially when she had to use a shovel to get rid of dirt off the floors, including dog feces. Walls were smashed and there was junk everywhere. Most women would have run for the exit, but Renaud embraced this difficult situation as an emotional challenge. Only later did she discover that Jack’s previous wife had killed herself by drinking Drano. Then there were the attitudes of his three children. Renaud says they were “tough nuts to crack” but she felt sorry for them because they had lost their mother. His nine-year-old daughter had spray-painted the words slut, kill, and whore on her bedroom door, and there were what looked like big claw marks scratched down the length of the door. The THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
PEOPLE DRIVE This sweet-talking, caring, apparently selfless man ticked all the boxes and Renaud thought this was her nirvana. He had overcome a life of drugs and alcohol and crime to become a “beacon of hope” on the First Nations reserve where he lived and was a drug counsellor. Her family and friends agreed that she had found her perfect guy. She was soon to learn, however, that Stacey (she prefers not to use his real name) was seeing other women. In fact, he had been seeing several during the more than two years they were together. As the lies and deceit unravelled, the shocked Renaud confronted him, asking for an explanation. He coldly told her he did not want to be committed. He had changed his addiction from substance abuse to uncontrollable sexual urges. Renaud believes the trauma he suffered as a child shaped a man who needed help but who would likely never change.
Dr. Rizwan Rafiq agrees. He was so impressed with the way she presented the messages in her book he invited her to present at grand rounds with other doctors at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.
“What is most impressive is that she uses what she has been through to show that no matter how tragic or toxic your life is, you can come out the other end much stronger,” said Rafiq. “After 25 years in practice I have observed that with mental illness, if you dig down, you will often find sexual abuse. Evidence-based research shows us that 50% Rafiq says the work Renaud is doing of bipolar victims have been sexually abused.” with children and the messages in Precious As much as The Piñata Theory was written Piñata are critical because there is not enough for adults, Renaud’s mission in life is to help emphasis on prevention. children. She is close to her own children— Lisa, 30, is married and working as a chiropractor overseas. Jordan, 29, is a singer-songwriter who became addicted to Percocet after a sports injury, but has been in recovery for three years.
“No one has equipping young people with the tools they need to deal with abuse, whether it is bullying or sexual abuse,” said Rafiq. “They put a lid on talking and by the time they get help they are disengaged and suffering. Charlene’s book puts more tools in Renaud has also been deeply affected by the kit to help them learn prevention skills. I the plight of indigenous children in Canada would recommend it and hope it would be in and is working with indigenous educators libraries and accessible for all families.” Parents who have the book are also impressed with its message and interactivity. Kristen Banfield works in Children’s Services and has two daughters—Mackenzie, 13, and Lyndsay, 9.
During the years she struggled to get her life together and better understand herself, Renaud grew more spiritual. Her book, The Piñata Theory: What’s in Your Stuffing?, happened completely by happenstance. During a conversation with her friend Tracy Lamourie, a marketing director, she told Tracy she had learned valuable insight into her life because of the hell she had been through. She described it as bursting open her subconscious, like bursting open a piñata. The Piñata Theory was born. Renaud believes that changing the bad stuffing inside can change a person’s life and lead to better mental health. To illustrate her stuffing theory, she created a unique piñata doll that has metaphoric small, colourful balls of “stuff” wedged inside its zippered belly, just bursting to be released and dealt with. Human-made stuffing, she says, develops from cultural beliefs, community influences, oppression, racism, abuse, addiction, trauma, religion, family dynamics, and education. In her book she relates many unusual experiences one could call supernatural. “I was never afraid of these experiences because I believed in God and that our actions are best rewarded when we serve God, humanity, and our spirit,” Renaud said. “The rough patches I had were my wake-up call. It is so important to ask for help because deep as the hole you are in may seem, there is always hope. There is still too much of a stigma around mental illness and sexual abuse.” THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
with her to places like Windsor’s Devonshire Mall and Indigo bookstores when she’s speaking on the Piñata Theory. Renaud uses the small doll when talking to children. Preventing childhood adversity and the abuse of children, particularly what she describes as the epidemic of sexual abuse, is becoming her avowed global mission. Her passion in life is to help humans of all ages take a close look at the good and bad stuffing inside them, and then find ways to grow the good and kick out the bad.
No one has equipping young people with the tools they need to deal with abuse, whether it is bullying or sexual abuse. They put a lid on talking and by the time they get help they are disengaged and suffering.
to use the messages in her children’s book, Precious Piñata, to “empower, protect, and educate” young children in order to help keep them safe. Renaud takes the seven-foot piñata mascot
“This is a fantastic resource for parents and children. Lyndsay is in the age range it is written for, but I find my 13-year-old also finds it has useful information,” said Banfield. “I admire Charlene for making an engagement tool with the book and the doll with the stuffing balls because so many children and adults have different learning styles. This answers all of them. This book is user-friendly even for children who don’t have a parent who can read it with them. It’s a beautiful book and Charlene has a genuine calling. She has created something people can truly benefit from.” So passionate is Renaud about her mission to change the narrative on mental health, she is taking an early retirement in order to focus solely on getting the prevention and coping message out on a global scale. “This is where God wants me to be. Knowing that 95% of child abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows, and one in three are girls and one in six are boys, I have to help fix that,” said Renaud. “And I want to make sure kids understand that ‘don’t tell’ means to tell everyone.” D. 27
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Twigg’s Bar and Grill
Sponsored by Twigg's Bar & Grill
If you live in Emeryville, then you know that Twigg’s Bar and Grill is a staple for all of our favourite dishes. If you haven’t stopped in yet, you can expect authentic recipes and specials each day of the week. Walk in for Mexican Mondays, or on Thursdays to buy one appetizer and get the next at half price. The staff at Twigg’s is committed to showing you a great time, whether you’re coming in for a laugh with your family or to unwind with coworkers and friends. As soon as you walk through their doors, you’ll feel right at home but with better food. They’ve been serving up fresh food for 10 years and are the go-to spot to cozy up with a pint and burger, to watch the game, or to listen to live acoustic music. With the upcoming event and wedding season, you’ll be able to hire and experience the Twigg’s taste on-the-go with their new mobile catering trailer, The Twigg Rigg. “It’s something we’ve talked about and we just had to pull the trigger and do it. It’s going to bring us to a new expectation and standard from our clients,” says Melissa Skene, owner of Twigg’s. The Rigg will be run by Melissa and Twigg’s head chef, Benjamin Atkinson. The goal is to bring a southern flare mixed with some Italian cooking to events and weddings around Windsor-Essex. It’s a completely different menu from the one at the restaurant, but with the same homey quality that customers all love about Twigg’s. Running a catering business has always been part of the plan for Melissa. It just so happened that she and her mom partnered up and opened “Twigg’s Bar and Grill” first.
Twigg’s Bar & Grill 1207 County Road 22 Emeryville, ON 519-727-8704 twiggsbarandgrill.com
When asked how she brainstormed the name, Melissa explains, “I wanted something catchy as the name, one word so that it would stick in people’s minds. My mom’s nickname in high school was ‘Twigg’ because she was really skinny.” Melissa’s determination to bring the best flavours to the community speaks to her ongoing passion for the culinary industry. She’s had a hand in each part of the business, and truly puts her whole heart into bringing us nothing but the best. As a mom of two boys, Melissa says she wouldn’t be able to do this without her trustworthy staff to support her. “They’ve been with me for years, and I know that I have a good staff behind me that I can depend on,” she says. Her husband and father also play an active role in helping her grow and maintain her business. “That’s the key to success—knowing when to step back as an owner, ask for help, and to actually let them help you advance your business.” Now it’s time to bring this catering culinary dream to fruition, and with all of the upcoming summer festivities, there’s no better place to do it than in Windsor-Essex.
In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction problem.
By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 1 in 2 have—or have had—a mental illness.
About 4,000 Canadians per year die by suicide—an average of almost 11 suicides a day.
Steven Page’s Bare Necessities ONE OF THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE VOICES IN CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN MUSIC TELLS US WHAT HE NEEDS TO KEEP IT TOGETHER IN THE FACE OF A LIFELONG STRUGGLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS By Jesse Ziter | Photography: David Bergman
This is not a story about cocaine, but I suppose we should start there. In 2008, Steven Page, the voice of a generation for a certain cohort of Canadians, was arrested and charged with felony possession of a controlled substance outside Syracuse, New York. The charges were eventually dropped, but the colourful story—in which the widely popular showman admitted snorting the drug through a Canadian bill—had already completed a full lap around the news cycle, and the optics weren’t great. Page, of course, was and still is best known for his 20-year association with The Barenaked Ladies, the affable, wildly successful Canadian folk-pop band he co-fronted with childhood schoolmate Ed Robertson. At the time, they were touring behind an album of children’s tunes called Snacktime! As you may already know, Page left the band seven months later, an already present rift among the bandmates having widened. You’d be forgiven for assuming Page’s story is a typical tragic tale of wanton rock ’n’ roll excess. In truth, the regrettable episode, now in the rear-view mirror, was symptomatic of a larger problem: a secret decadeslong conflict with his own mental health. Today, Page needs neither your forgiveness nor your pity, but he would love your attention. Over the last 10 years, the famed frontman has become increasingly transparent about his interior journey, and he now travels the country to tell his story, exploring how music can be used as a means of communication and therapy for those struggling with depression and other mental illnesses. Typically, Page’s public-speaking show combines straightforward spokenword storytelling with stripped-down musical performances of BNL and solo repertoire songs that touch on resonant themes. Success came very early for Page, who was 22 when Gordon, the Barenaked Ladies’ breakout major label debut, hit number-one on the Canadian charts in 1992. He had written “Brian Wilson,” perhaps his signature song, at 19. By the mid-1990s, on the surface, Page was a squeakyclean, spit-shined icon of bootstrappy young celebrity. THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
PEOPLE DRIVE But behind the scenes, the tune was different: Page’s family doctor diagnosed him with manic depression, which we now understand as bipolar disorder, just as the Ladies were approaching the apex of their fame. He had been dealing with mental health issues since childhood. In other interviews, he’s recalled imagined suicides in specific detail.
Mental Health week, the annual event aims to spark engaging, thought-provoking dialogue in support of the CHMA-WECB’s “Sole Focus” fundraising project. It asks Windsor-Essex residents to “take a stand” and help build a substantial legacy fund to ensure the sustainability of specialized mental wellness education, awareness, and training programs in Now 48, the Scarborough native lives in the absence of government funding. Fellow upstate New York with his second wife. (Page’s CanRock royal and Tea Party drummer Jeff 16-year first marriage ended in 2007 en route Burrows is an ambassador for the project. to rock bottom.) Since leaving his band, the “In our desire to reduce stigma and raise artist-activist has released five solo projects, awareness that mental health is an everyday written music for the Stratford Shakespeare challenge that touches us all, it is incredFestival, and toured widely as a solo act and ibly important that well-known figures like with the Art of Time Ensemble and super- Steven step forward and ‘show their sole,’” group Trans-Canada Highwaymen, which says CMHA-WECB Chief Executive Officer includes Moe Berg (The Pursuit of Happiness), Claudia den Boer. “It helps us collectively send Chris Murphy (Sloan), and Craig Northey the message that you are not alone—regardless of who you are or what life path you have taken, mental health is a critical component of individual wellbeing.”
Page agreed to speak with The Drive ahead of the important engagement. He sounds well, if a bit tired from a long day of press calls.
He’s one of those guys who has a motor that never stops. He’s all about his family. He’s a huge fan of his family and they definitely take up the number one spot in his consideration for doing things.
If you grew up with guitar music, you probably have a pretty clear mental picture of the archetypal tortured genius rock star and its associated trappings. Wary of the longstanding cultural vogue for too closely associating mental illness and creativity, I asked Page how he feels about the public using his experience to reinforce this understanding.
On May 7, Page will deliver the keynote address at the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex County Branch’s “Breakfast of Champions.” A showpiece of CMHA
tion. “I’ve been very lucky to be busy,” he admits. “Keeping busy is helpful, but I think sometimes people use it as an excuse or a cover too. It’s easier to not focus on the darkness
“I think I was the one that reinforced that for a long time,” he concedes. “When I was initially diagnosed in my twenties, I started to tell myself the same lies I think a lot of us do: Somehow, my mental health struggles are what make me an artist. Do I want to mute that?
“It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I started to take things a lot more seriously,” admits Page, who spent years on and off various prescription medications, which he took irregularly with what he calls “less-than-satisfying” effects. “It’s taken me years to realize that my mental health struggles (The Odds). He even hosted a travel TV show are not what make me an artist, and the fact for a while. While he’ll likely never again that I was an artist wasn’t why I had mental ascend to his late-’90s commercial heights, health struggles.” his 2018 album, Discipline: Heal Thyself, Pt. II, Today, Page’s life as a working musician has been widely lauded as Page’s most accom- plays a prominent role in his current mental plished post-BNL output. health regimen—as does regular medica-
PEOPLE DRIVE when you’re expected to be somewhere else at a certain time.” Fortunately, advice exists even for the temporarily unoccupied. “Take time to read a book, watch a movie, or go for a walk,” advises Page, who advocates for an equilibrium between professional discipline and personal joy. “It’s pretty easy to get into the vortex of staring at Instagram and looking at other people’s successes and their wonderful lives. That can be a very toxic thing.” Indeed, it’s difficult to talk about mental health without foregrounding social media; in the world we live in, desperately awful in so many ways, sometimes the healthiest option is logging off for the night. Still, Page is obviously engaged. Rarely shy about publicizing his political leanings, he performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at Jack Layton’s state funeral in 2011. So how does one thread the needle between exercising self-care and being an informed and active citizen? “I struggle with that all the time,” he admits. “As an artist and somebody in the public eye, I used to really engage with my feelings about politics and the world, but I would often open myself up to attacks. In my position, and because of my history as well, I became a magnet for trolls. I realized I’m too thin-skinned for that. It’s not worth it.” He now uses Twitter solely as a promotional vehicle and his art as an emotional and intellectual outlet. “For me, art and music are the most positive things to help cope and get you through to the other side of it,” he relates. “That’s where I can express what I’m thinking about the world, or about myself, in a way I feel totally confident about. It doesn’t matter if somebody doesn’t like it, or wants to say something negative about it, or whatever. I like to be able to sit on ideas longer than social media allows for.” One imagines he’s glad not to have found stardom as a contemporary of, say, Justin Bieber’s. “That would be difficult,” he agrees, “but I think it’s difficult to be a young person on social media regardless: expressing all those unequivocal decisions that become quickly equivocal. I want young people to be able to change their minds about everything, all the time!”
Steven Page THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
As it happens, Page spends a lot of time speaking on college and university campuses, which leads me to wonder if he sees signs of progress in today’s undergraduate environs. 33
Steven Page www.stevenpage.com
PEOPLE DRIVE He perks up at the suggestion that things are broadly getting better. “Absolutely!” he enthuses. “I remember going to York University in the late ’80s; I hadn’t been diagnosed with anything at that point, and I never thought about the fact that there were mental health services available if I wanted to use them. I was afraid that I would be shown as some kind of fraud if I wasn’t sick enough for them; I didn’t want to waste anybody else’s time.” Today, it’s hard for Page to imagine that being the case. “I’ve said this to students a lot over the last several years: there’s nothing wrong with being told that you’re fine,” he stresses. “That’s good news! Take advantage of the services available to you, especially as a postsecondary student, because that can get you into a regimen of mental health care that you have for life.” Interestingly, tips like this come free of any commercial attachments or conspicuous corporate partners; in the past handful of years, you’ve probably noticed that mental health awareness has become co-opted by any number of big brand agents, and often these initiatives can happen in the absence of substantive policy changes. I wonder: is this signal-boosting ultimately a force for good, or is the truth more cynical than that? “I try to be as optimistic as possible,” says Page. “What I think is the biggest issue is access to better care. There’s a huge amount of work to do to bring the standard of mental health care up to the standard of other areas of healthcare in this province. Bringing down the stigma is one thing, but I think the glibness of hashtag culture is something that could potentially backfire. Without naming corporate names—and we all know what I’m talking about—I do kind of resent being their tax write-off. So, I choose not to engage. If other people want to, that’s fine. At the end of the day, who gets the tax write-off? Not the customers and public figures and ordinary people who are sharing their stories.” Ultimately, the story Page shares has straightforward lessons. He advocates for emotional transparency in the forms of therapy and open conversations with friends and loved ones. He also passes along the widely held belief that diet and exercise can be routes out of depression.
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“I’ve heard about exercise,” Page deadpans. “I’ve never tried it myself.” Of course, Page is a living example of the enduring possibility of further self-improvement. Perhaps this story has another chapter? He laughs. “Right. I’m not dead yet.” https://www.camh.ca/en/driving-change/the-crisisis-real/mental-health-statistics D. THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
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Encore Mechanical & Building Services Inc.
Sponsored by Encore Mechanical & Building Services Inc.
Encore Mechanical & Building Services Inc. has been Windsor’s choice for all plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical projects for 36 years. Starting in 1982 with owner John Cecile, the company has now entered a new generation of owners in John’s three children. The siblings—Joel Cecile, Jeff Cecile, and Kailey Garant—all take on different roles throughout the business, which is how they’ve been able to grow the business and maintain the long-standing client relationships. “We take a lot of pride in what we do and we stand behind our work, to make sure everything runs smoothly,” says Joel. Joel and Jeff are licenced plumbers, and prior to ownership were working on the trade side of the business. Kailey has stepped into the role of office manager. They each saw an opportunity with the business and stepped back from previous duties to focus on the growth of the company. They’ve been managing the company for six years now. The three understand the importance of adaptation in the business world, which is the root of their success. Encore was able to adapt to today’s market because they’re versatile in all of their trades, and they’re committed to following wherever the market leads them. Encore never used to work on residential properties, but in the last 10 years they’ve tailored the business to Windsor’s needs. They have developed strong relationships with many of the premiere builders in the area. On the commercial side of things, Encore works with general contractors, completing bid spec and design build projects. Encore also specializes in building maintenance, maintaining over 120 properties in the Windsor and surrounding area for property management companies from all over Canada. “Because of the Windsor economy growing the way it has, we’ve been able to grow with it,” Jeff says about running out of space and needing to relocate. The company is celebrating an expanded location that they moved into this past February. “We’ve grown so much and now it’s about sustaining. We want to maintain the relationships with current clients and focus on their needs,” Joel adds.
Encore Mechanical & Building Services Inc. 13225 Jamsyl Drive Tecumseh, ON 519-979-3572 encoremechanical.ca
Many of their current clients have been with the company through multiple projects and renovations. When builders or contractors bring the Encore team on for the first time, they make sure the relationship starts off on the right foot. With this established trust, clients are always sure to return. “Our team works well together. Due to our professional and qualified staff we have been able to maintain our success and good working relationships with our customers,” Kailey adds. Encore’s new generation doesn’t put all of their eggs into one basket. They know that if the residential business slows down it’s not going to hurt the company because they’ll work on something new. No matter where the market goes, Encore will follow suit.
Threads on the Tapestry: What Makes an Eating Disorder? HOW BIOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT WORK TOGETHER TO CREATE A GENETICALLY LOADED GUN By Alley L. Biniarz | Photography: Etam Images
Juliana Winik was four years old the first time she experienced an “eating disorder thought.” She was on a walk with her babysitter and her babysitter’s daughter, and when the girls got tired, both girls asked if they could crawl into the stroller. The babysitter responded that her daughter could, but Juliana couldn’t because she was “too big.” Another child may have brushed this off and continued on walking. But Juliana was a quiet and hyper-observant kid, and with this sensitivity came an internalization of feelings. “I remember sitting outside after that and I didn’t want to go in because I was so sad,” says Juliana. When Juliana talks about this moment in her life, she calls it one thread on the tapestry. If you look at the big picture, it didn’t seem like a big deal. This comment wasn’t the cause of her eating disorder (ED) but it was a contributor. “I had this idea that ‘big’ was bad, even though I didn’t articulate it as a kid. Looking back now, I can see how my brain was thinking in a disordered way,” she says, remembering times where she would compare her own size to her friends’. Juliana found herself thinking, “I’m safe. I may not be the smartest in the class but it’s okay because I’m smaller than the smartest person.” There is a stigma around young children with EDs, and how they can trigger from a family that is obsessed with food or body image, but that wasn’t the case with Juliana. “There was no major trauma in my childhood,” she explains. “For me, it was just a combination of my biology. Sixty percent of eating disorders are genetic and it runs on both sides of my family, just in different ways.” The doctors in Juliana’s treatment explained the biological component through a metaphor: the genetic makeup loads the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger.
HEALTH DRIVE Research has identified two possible chromosomes that are specifically linked to anorexia and bulimia and follow-up studies have found several genes that spark a vulnerability to EDs. These loaded genetics have a greater possibility of reacting to environmental factors, such as diet talk, “clean eating” fads, and media portrayal of body image. “It’s hard to say this, but genetically my gun was loaded, so to speak,” says Juliana. As a busy athletic family, food was never regulated in Juliana’s house. From the moment she was able to get snacks on her own, Juliana did. “It’s kind of funny. This is where my personality comes in. As a kid who was anxious and who craved structure, I was jealous of other kids who would come home to a set schedule. It plays into my genetic makeup of needing that control and order,” she says. Juliana’s craving for structure made ballet an appealing sport for her to pursue. In ballet, every toe point and finger needs to be perfect. At this point, Juliana was in the eighth grade and there were no visible signs of an ED yet, but she did begin to cut foods out of her diet in the name of “being healthier.” Many EDs begin as “innocently” as Juliana’s. She would tell her parents that she wanted to be the best dancer she could be and that’s why she was cutting out sweets, high carbs, and calories. That’s how she sold it to them. “People are quick to say, ‘Oh you’re a dancer, that’s why you got sick.’ And I have a problem with that. It’s too simple of an answer. Did it contribute? Sure. Was it the cause? No. It’s another ‘thread’ on the tapestry.” Ballet was Juliana’s safe zone while the ED grew louder. Juliana explains that these thoughts aren’t “voices” because they’re not separate from her own. She uses the word “thoughts” but it doesn’t begin to explain the intense feeling that’s going on in her head. She says that we would have to imagine the static on the radio turned on. Now crank the radio to full blast. That’s how powerful the thoughts are and how hard they are to ignore. She began actively restricting that summer and exercising more. She would go for runs, do sit-ups before bed, and even move her legs in her bed like she was running. She had these compulsions that she had to fulfill. At school, 40
HEALTH DRIVE she would claim to forget something and pace, just to keep moving. She didn’t know what she was doing or why. She didn’t know what anorexia was. Juliana’s parents had suspected a potential ED throughout this time, but it wasn’t until August of that summer during a family trip that it clicked for Juliana’s mom. Having noticed Juliana’s colour turning, her mom panicked and kept repeating, “You’re blue, Juliana. You’re blue.” Even though Juliana reassured her that she was fine, her mom knew she had to call the doctor. Juliana’s mom got in contact with the only doctor at the time who worked with EDs at the Teen Health Centre. Due to the high demand, Dr. Andrea Steen was completely booked up, and it would take until the middle of October to get Juliana in. At the appointment, Dr. Steen checked Juliana’s vitals and weight and had her sent straight to Met Hospital. But Juliana’s eating disorder protested and told her she wasn’t sick enough. “A hallmark of having anorexia is denial and secrecy. Which is how it can go undiagnosed and hidden for years,” says Juliana. There was only one time where Juliana actually considered that she had an ED, when her ballet teacher pulled her aside and acknowledged it. For a young Juliana, anything her ballet teacher said was law. Even after coming to terms with the slight possibility, Juliana’s ED denied. It didn’t want to be discovered. Juliana cups her one hand with the other, showing how the one covering takes the lead. Even if there’s a thought beneath, the ED thought is in control. Juliana explains that it’s still her thoughts in the background, but the ED will do everything in its power to take over—no matter who it has to destroy along the way. Juliana has been in and out of treatments for 10 years and is very educated about EDs. The knowledge adds to Juliana’s frustration because, as her therapist said, “Juliana can write the book on EDs but is unable to read it.” This further points to her anorexia being an illness and not a choice.
imagine someone else who doesn’t, fighting for help. Any body weight, it doesn’t matter. It’s an illness of the brain. The weight loss, if there is any, is a symptom of the actual disease happening in the brain. That’s what we need to treat.” Anorexia doesn’t always require weight loss, as the body is very good at disguising itself to protect its vitals. But someone with an ED can be one binge, purge, or missed meal away from being critical. The most important component to treatment is acknowledgement. The earlier the ED can be confronted by parents, teachers, or friends, the more likely it is that the person will see a successful “recovery.” Dr. Andrea Steen, who had worked in the ED field for 25 years, speaks to the necessity of noticing the signs of an ED as early as possible. Many people with EDs start very young, even as young as grade six. When a parent or teacher does see a young person (i.e. someone in their pre-teen or teen years) looking like they’re losing weight, they need to see this as a red flag. A young person shouldn’t be losing weight, they should be growing. If they do things that seem unusual or odd, like making negative comments about body image, not touching sweets, or saying, “this is bad for me,” something isn’t right. If treatment for young people begins early, before the behaviour is entrenched, that's the best chance of a cure. This can be anything from directly acknowledging it, to contacting your family doctor, to connecting with an ED program. It needs to be the responsibility of a parent/adult who cares about the person, as someone with an ED will have difficulty acknowledging it and seeking the help themselves. The longer it goes on, the more changes happen in the brain, and the thinking becomes more entrenched, making the real recovery is difficult. Dr. Steen applauds small but mighty organizations like BANA (Bulimia Anorexia Nervosa Association) for the continued work they’re doing for our community and for EDs. D.
Juliana uses her knowledge in hopes of educating medical professionals, since they are the ones on the front line of diagnosing and healing EDs. And after enduring treatments for the past 10 years, Juliana has recognized that they can be quite traumatic. Windsor patients are displaced to London and Toronto, receive ongoing support, and then are dropped back into a life of triggers with little support. Those with anorexia are also treated with punishment-based care, even though it is a self-punishing disease already. And many patients can be turned away from help, as Juliana was, if they have a symptom. Programs often require patients to be at a certain level of health to qualify.
If you notice any ED behaviour, it's never too late (or too early) to find them help.
“It’s a catch-22. Our systems aren’t where they need to be yet, but people with ED need to access them. Right now, I’m pushing for more programs. The wait lists are so long that people are literally dying on these lists or losing hope.”
Teen Health Centre: (519) 253-8481 or your family doctor https://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/eating-disorders/ http://nied.ca/
EDs have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and 1 in 10 of them will die from physical complications or from suicide. “It’s so dangerous because I do go underweight. I can only THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
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Humanizing Schizophrenia SHATTERING THE MYTHS OF LIVING WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA By Alley L. Biniarz | Photography: Fernando Paz
Customers buzz through Tim Hortons with her sobriety. He didn’t want her to wind up as their Roll Up the Rim defeats and victories. another statistic. “By chance, we fell in love. Peter Karolev comes in with his torn Now here we are,” Peter adds. “winner” rim for a coffee, and his wife Sherry opts for a carrot muffin. I sit with them at the quiet back table and watch their back-and-forth dynamic. The two have been married since 2015, and both live with schizophrenia.
The pair is light and full of life; I can feel Sherry’s radiating humour the minute I sit with her. She shares her funny stories at Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) events to get others to smile and “Sobriety saved my life—and him, this guy laugh with her so they can see that there is right there,” Sherry Karolev tells me as she more to life than the dark moments. points across the table to Peter. “If not for him, “You’re not stuck in the way you feel right I would probably be dead. He cared enough to now. It does get better,” Sherry says, now 16 take me out of the cracks, and he never takes years sober. enough credit for it.” “But he’s been drunk this whole time, so “Hey, my credit is pretty good. I got a new he doesn’t remember,” she nods over to Peter. car yesterday,” Peter laughs. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” “Not that kind of credit!” she retaliates, Peter slurs, pretending to be drunk. laughing. They say if you can’t laugh at yourself, you When John, Sherry’s first husband, died, can’t laugh at anything. Peter was there to make sure she maintained
Sherry’s sense of humour used to get her sign, and no parking lot or fence with locked into trouble, especially when she was 15 and doors. It was just a regular home,” Sherry tells staying at a support facility for eight months. me. She says this worked for her because she had already gone through the institutionalizaShe was always getting into trouble with tion; someone who needs structure would need the other girls, fighting them and finding fun hospitalization before a home like this one. in playing pranks on them. Aside from staying sober, finding the “One time, I was taking a shower —I made proper balance of medication is key to sure I went first—I had it all planned out,” she balancing the thoughts, Peter explains. says. “I got into my housecoat and slippers and “When you first get to the hospital, you then, while the other girls were getting into think everybody else is wrong. By the time you the shower, I pulled the fire alarm. Oh they get settled down and your brain starts to work were mad, and they knew it was me. It didn’t again you realize, wait a minute, something may bother me any.” be wrong with me after all.” Peter says his parents The staff put Sherry into solitary confine- tried helping him for years, but time is the best ment for three weeks, saying she was a danger healer. With time comes advanced research, to herself and to others. knowledge, new medications, and finding “The program didn’t do anything for me what works for the individual. because I wasn’t ready to follow it. I was too “A lot of people think schizophrenia is angry inside to follow anything,” Sherry says. multiple personality disorder but it’s not. It wasn’t until Sherry was sent away to the You lose touch with reality. You’re either London Psychiatric Hospital (LPH) that they living in the past or thinking too far ahead finally diagnosed her with schizophrenia. and have a hard time managing the present,” “I was relieved, actually. I knew something Peter explains. was up, I just couldn’t figure it out,” she says. Peter still takes medication but doesn’t see She spent 14 months at LPH before moving to a psychiatrist. Sherry works with both, because she is on a lot more medication than Peter is. the teen girls home for two years. Getting used to outside living was a It’s all dependent on the individual’s needs.
challenge. “It was awkward because I had been living in hospital for so long, they had to deinstitutionalize me,” Sherry explains. “At least I loved the teen girls home right from the beginning. We pulled up to a house with no
Rebecca Chamaa, a writer and advocate for the mentally ill, says that she is an avid proponent of medication. “There are a lot of anti-hospital people, but hospitals have saved my life over and over again.” Rebecca lives with schizophrenia and speaks to the enhancement of her own life due to medication. She now has the high-functioning stability to be able to use multiple journals daily to direct her thoughts through mindfulness training. “Journalling has helped me to recognize this catastrophic thinking. I’ve found that with any mental illness, getting out of your head is one of the best things you can do,” she says. When Rebecca was first diagnosed, she carried the degrading stereotypes that her culture had given her about schizophrenia. “They’re so shameful and dehumanizing. It is shattering to your self-esteem and you have to build from there.” She feels people with schizophrenia have been left behind in the current progressive movements. She asks that we all be mindful of the myths we’ve been told, and to watch our uses of the words “crazy,” “lunatic,” and “psycho.”
Now, with a new balance of medications, Sherry is more animated than ever, Peter “The reality is, I have to fight to be seen as says. She enjoys her time spent with her sons, human. I have to fight to be just like you. But Matthew and Jason, and she volunteers at I’m more like you than I am different from CMHA. She even received the 2008 Volunteer you,” she says.
A lot of people think schizophrenia is multiple personality disorder but it’s not. You lose touch with reality. You’re either living in the past or thinking too far ahead and have a hard time managing the present.
of the Year award. Sherry’s creative humour is currently being immortalized into her memoir, Sherry: Life, Love, and Recovery. And she says she’ll charge me the bargain price of $100 when it comes out.
Rebecca authored a workbook for those living with mental illness, so that they might build their self-confidence through writing prompts and tasks. It can be found on Amazon. She also blogs at www.ajourneywithyou.com In terms of local help for people living with schizophrenia, Dr. Pat Montaleone, a physician and specialist in psychiatry at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital (HDGH), offers insight on Windsor’s facilities.
He is involved in Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and the Wellness Program for Extended Psychosis (WPEP). He also does home visits and videoconferencing to rest homes in the city and county that have a large proportion of people with schizophrenia. “There is still a lot of room to improve in the care. As is commonplace in healthcare in today’s political climate, funding and resources are scarce. Wait lists for these programs are much longer than ideal,” he says.
He adds that more supports are also needed for their psychological and social well-being, such as programs for employment, education, housing, socialization, peer support, and crisis and family intervention. However, our growth is burgeoning in terms of mental health education, thanks to the undergraduate medical education in Windsor, and most recently with the addition of a psychiatry residency program through Schulich. Windsor is becoming a highly desired destination for those who are pursuing medical education in psychiatry. Dr. Montaleone says, “We can all help those with schizophrenia by being positive mental health advocates. It involves building communities that fully support those with mental illness, regardless of someone’s individual needs.” There are many treatment options for people with schizophrenia, he explains. While each case needs to be addressed for its individuality, most first-episode cases of psychosis should be referred to the First Episode Psychosis program at CMHA, which is a threeyear case management program. For additional case management, options include CMHA, the WPEP at HDGH, or ACT, which is available to those with schizophrenia with complex needs or who are at risk of homelessness. Mental disorders are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors, known as the biopsychosocial model of mental health. Schizophrenia is an illness with varying presentations and severities, which affects about 1% of the population globally. There is no single cause, but there are factors that increase risk, including a family history of schizophrenia and substance use. “If you or someone you know is exhibiting uncharacteristic social withdrawal, or odd thoughts, emotions, or behaviours, please seek psychiatric assessment, as early intervention is key to prognosis,” he says. Most people with schizophrenia die 10-25 years before the average population. These statistics are influenced by misdiagnoses, substance abuse, and other ways people try to medicate themselves before receiving proper treatment. One of the biggest myths around the illness is that it isn’t treatable, and though there is no cure for schizophrenia, education, early treatment, and diagnosis can and does increase the chances of recovery—whatever that person’s unique version of recovery looks like. D. THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
The reality is, I have to fight to be seen as human. I have to fight to be just like you. But I’m more like you than I am different from you.
Rebecca workbook for those living with mental illness can be found on Amazon.
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PRACTICAL PODCASTING AS PATIENTS FEEL MORE AND MORE LET DOWN BY A MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT THAT MEDICATES INSTEAD OF CURES, A WILDLY SUCCESSFUL WINDSOR PODCAST OFFERS AN ALTERNATIVE— ONE THAT IS ACTUALLY GARNERING RESULTS By Myles Shane | Photography: Syx Langemann
Growing up, I had an ongoing list of both physical and mental health issues. Out-of-control psoriasis covered huge stretches of my body. I’m allergic to pollen and grass and used so much Dristan the company’s shareholders should put me on their Christmas card list. By six I was diagnosed with dyslexia and labelled a “slow learner” by the school psychologist. In my thirties I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, for which my psychiatrist prescribed multiple types of medications that I’m still taking. Approaching my fifties, I’ve developed sleep apnea and high blood pressure. And then I discovered The Ultimate Health Podcast, and after only a few weeks of listening to it, I started to wonder if the hosts—husbandand-wife team Marni Wasserman and Dr. Jesse Chappus—were producing the podcasts just for me. The Ultimate Health Podcast is one of the hottest shows online. It’s been downloaded over 10 million times and is at the top of the charts in both Canada and the United States. Produced in Windsor, the show features interviews with world-class experts from the health and wellness fields during each one-hour episode. On each program they explore different topics, such as lifestyle, mental health, nutrition, fitness, self-help,
sleep, meditation, and spirituality. Perhaps the reason TUHP has been such a success from the beginning is, compared to the hundreds of health podcasts on the web today, TUHP doesn’t offer the typical Western medicine mantra: go see your doctor and he/she will prescribe you medication for your ailments. Instead TUHP is all about a holistic approach to the body, where naturopaths or functional medicine teams take the spotlight instead of doctors and emergency rooms. One of the most intriguing topics Jesse and Marni explore is mental health. Kelly Brogan M.D., a holistic women’s health psychiatrist and author of the New York Times–bestseller A Mind of Your Own, stresses the importance of strengthening the gut to help brain health. Many experts in the field believe that inflammation is at the root of many mental health disorders, namely depression. Professionals agree the most common ways to naturally manage mental health issues include meditation, journalling, gratitude practice, and spending time in nature, as well as eating a diet that is low in inflammatory foods and maximizing colourful vegetables. Through the course of almost 300 episodes, the couple has interviewed colleagues within the health industry, as well THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
as some celebrities, like Deepak Chopra, a respected author of books on holistic health; Carrie-Anne Moss, a Canadian actress best known for her roles in The Matrix and Memento; and Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of the Huffington Post. But the podcast hasn’t just changed the lives of its listeners—it helped one of the hosts, too.
me these tests. This further fuelled my lack of confidence in the medical system.” For the last year, Jesse and Marni have been working with a functional medicine team to figure out the root of her health issues. Marni explained that her team is obtaining a full picture of her body’s current state and is assessing her through gut analysis, urine tests, and bloodwork. “I have also been doing a lot of my own research, reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts to create a healing protocol that has been really helpful in evolving my diet and lifestyle. I changed my diet from being vegetarian to more of a paleo diet—I eat meat now, no grains, and tons of veggies and healthy fat. I also changed my lifestyle to include more rest and relaxation, lower-intensity workouts, more sleep, and lots of sauna therapy.”
In May 2017 Marni began feeling off. She was experiencing low energy, weight fluctuations, hair loss, cold and hot body temperatures, puffiness, malabsorption of certain nutrients, and a high level of antibodies. When a few guests began recounting similar symptoms and said they’d been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a condition in which the immune system attacks your thyroid, Marni wondered if she could be suffering from the same condition. One of the critical bits of information the guests Before The Ultimate Health Podcast, Jesse was mentioned was the importance of receiving the a chiropractor in Tecumseh while Marni, who right types of tests to confirm the illness. lived in Toronto, taught plant-based cooking “I had to go around my doctor to request classes. The couple met when Jesse contacted the right testing to analyze my antibodies for Marni to ask her to write a piece for a health my thyroid panel,” Marni remembers. Her blog that he produced. personal GP refused to provide her a requisiMarni recalls how their romance blossomed. tion for the specific tests. Subsequently, Marni’s naturopath provided her the appropriate tests, “I asked him to support a Kickstarter campaign which revealed she did in fact have Hashimo- I was working on to open my food studio. Then to’s. “I have no idea why my doctor would deny in May 2013, I reached out to Jesse, asking if he 49
HEALTH DRIVE wanted to hang out and go for a run. We met up every two weeks over the course of two to three months with mini-adventures in different spots between Windsor and Toronto like Guelph and Burlington, and had health- and food-related dates. In July we became a couple.” They debuted their podcast in 2014 while long-distance dating. They knew they were onto something the moment they conceived the idea. “Jesse has always been passionate about podcasting and sharing a health message.” Some of the earliest episodes were recorded in a bedroom of Marni’s apartment. Jesse would pack all the electronics and materials for that week’s podcast in a cardboard box and drive up to Toronto on the weekends. “We stood at the dresser sharing a mic,” Marni said. “Jesse has always been a stickler for good quality sound and it was very hard to get a quiet enough space in my apartment.” They did another segment in the bathroom at Marni’s food studio. Jesse would return to Windsor and edit the latest episode during the week, often between patients. As the podcast became more popular, Jesse retired from his chiropractic practice in Tecumseh and joined Marni in Toronto. The show was starting to generate income—their first sponsor was Sunwarrior, a plant-based protein company. Since then they’ve signed on many sponsors and the podcast has become their full-time careers. Now both Jesse and Marni are in Windsor full-time. The Ultimate Heath Podcast has helped many listeners’ physical and mental health issues—including mine. TUHP has shown me there’s more than one way of approaching your health. I’d always relied on traditional Western doctors, which might explain why my medicine cabinet is overflowing with prescription medication and my ailments never seemed to improve as much as worsen. TUHP spends a lot of time discussing how the body should be evaluated as a whole and not simply part-by-part. Over the last six months I’ve taken the program’s advice and have begun treatment with a naturopath. My blood pressure has gone down, my psoriasis has cleared up, and I’m slowly coming off my medications. Oh, and I’ve also lost almost 100 pounds. With TUHP’s motivation and inspirational teachings, I’ve never been healthier.
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A SENSE FOR SCENTS Health implications of wax candles versus essential oil diffusers By Anushree Dave
HEALTH DRIVE is great for creating a relaxing experience at home and not too expensive depending on which one you get.” The essential oil diffusers at Saje range between $60 to a couple hundred dollars, and the price is often determined by how long the diffuser burns. David purchased his for around $60 for a three-hour burn. With the essential oil diffuser market projected to reach $2.2 billion USD by 2025 (up from $1.22 billion in 2016 according to Grand View Research Inc.), essential oil diffusers are increasingly becoming a household item. Many advocates of the diffusers claim that the scents—such as chamomile, cedarwood, peppermint, rose, eucalyptus, and lavender—help to reduce stress and anxiety by stimulating blood flow. Additionally, the Saje website states that depending on the oil you use, diffusers have the potential to improve air quality, and give you a better night’s rest. For some people, the potential health benefits and range of smells that an oil-infused diffuser offers is enough to replace the ambience of a candle. “I used to buy a lot of candles. The smell of apple cinnamon always reminded me of home so I would buy that scent when I was in college,” says Comeau. But since purchasing his essential oil diffuser four years ago, he has stopped burning threewick candles in his home. And perhaps it’s for the best.
When David, a 30-year-old actor from Toronto, walked by a Saje Natural Wellness, he couldn’t help but go in to explore the store. It was the calm scent that enticed him. Saje is a Canadian retailer of essential oils and skincare products, and if you’ve ever walked by any one of their 52 retail locations across Canada (including one at Devonshire Mall in Windsor) you’re probably familiar with the kind of inviting aroma that is bound to draw anyone into the shop.
According to a post by Pure Air Systems—a U.S.-based air-purifying company that has been in the business for 34 years—most candles use a standard cotton/wax wick. As it burns, the candle soot easily becomes airborne and you’ll notice a black buildup of it when you change out the furnace filter in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. Most people don’t realize that burning a candle could have such an impact on home air quality. “The flame is so small,” says Adam Kerr, a 34-yearold photographer whose girlfriend burns a candle regularly in their home office, “I’d never even have thought about it damaging the furnace filter.” Over time, however, burning candles can become a health issue, especially if you have respiratory issues or severe allergies.
There are several ways to enjoy burning candles without them damaging your home. One way to make sure less soot is formed is to trim the wick to an eighth of an inch. Also, using soy wax candles will release less soot in your home. And since soy wax is a natural and David ended up purchasing an essential oil renewable resource, it’s better for the environdiffuser—a device that emits soft vapours into a ment than paraffin wax, which is derived from room—for his apartment. “I find that a diffuser petroleum. If you’re a fan of burning candles, THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
the healthiest option may be to use unscented soy candles, which are void of any essential oils or added scents. WebMD Health News reports that essential oils like eucalyptus and peppermint contain a compound called phenol, which can irritate the respiratory tract in both adults and babies. If a person already has respiratory health challenges, essential oil diffusers could worsen them. The health consequences aren’t limited to humans. Kia Benson, a veterinarian at Pet Poison Helpline, states that essential oil diffusers may cause respiratory irritation to pets, especially to cats. If a cat develops watery eyes or has difficulty breathing and begins panting, coughing, or wheezing, Benson recommends that the owner take their cat outdoors for fresh air immediately. Similar to candles, the diffusers may not be the best for air quality after all. There is also limited evidence and peer-reviewed research that shows the health benefits of using diffusers. If you visit the dõTERRA company website—a major player in the essential oil market—the language about the benefits inhaling essential oils is vague. This may be in part due to steps the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took in 2014, when it sent warning letters to a handful of essential oil companies for making unsubstantiated claims that essential oils could treat some clinical diseases. A rep from dõTERRA confirmed that the company now complies with regulatory requirements set out by both the U.S. FDA and Health Canada. While it’s good to be aware of the health repercussions of chronically using diffusers and candles, both can provide a relaxing experience in the home when used in moderation. Whether you burn a candle or use an oil-infused diffuser, it’s wise to check your air filter every few months to see if it needs replacing. If, however, air quality is your priority over good ambience and a calming experience, then it may be best to skip both and just crack open a window instead. For online information, visit: https://www.bryantheating.ca/indoor-airquality/improve-your-indoor-air-quality-withair-cleaners-and-purifiers https://guaranteedcomfort.ca/air-purification-systems/ https://fahrhall.com/schedule-service-appointment/ D. 55
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Quinn Roofing Solutions has always had businesses in Windsor covered with their high-quality roofs. With their recent expansion, they are able to meet even more of the roofing needs in this growing city. After several months of extensive renovations, Quinn Roofing moved into their new location in February 2019. By nearly doubling their space and increasing their staff, the business has been able to take on a larger number of commercial and industrial projects and now offers another division to service the residential roofing market. Impressed with the quality and workmanship of their commercial jobs, Quinn’s past customers were looking for a trustworthy source for their shingle roof installations. “The phone calls just kept coming in and finally we said, this is a service that we need to offer to complete our roofing portfolio for our customer base,” says Sue Quinn, co-owner. Quinn Roofing has everything in place to guarantee their residential clients receive the same level of organization and professionalism as their commercial clients have come to expect and receive. “Because we’ve come from an industrial background, we have an in-staff, full-time health and safety coordinator, quality control manager, and full support staff in place that can ensure that all facets of the roofing project are 100% from set-up to final quality inspection,” Sue adds. A first-class roofing product would not be possible without a dedicated staff of professionals, both in the field and in the office. “Communication is key in our business and this starts with the phone call to our office.” From that point, the Quinn team walks each product through all steps required to guarantee that no item is overlooked. The Quinn Roofing team has completed roofing services for many high-profile Windsor-Essex buildings, such as the new City Hall facility, the Welcome Centre at the university, and the new home of Habitat for Humanity. These roofs are all energy efficient products that help to reduce heating and cooling costs, while softening the environmental footprint of our community.
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Sue and her husband, Ken Quinn, each have their own roles as co-owners in the company. Ken’s background in public relations and marketing has helped build and maintain relationships with clients around the city. “Ken has a lot of integrity. He’s all about his word, and people see that,” Sue says, explaining how Quinn Roofing had built a trustworthy reputation for quality and service. Along with their emergency response services, the Quinn Roofing staff makes sure they always show up for their clients. “Problems arise, but what matters is how a business handles the solution to the customer issues. In the long run, it’s the satisfaction of the customer that sets you apart,” Sue says. This new phase for Quinn Roofing is exciting, and Ken Quinn says, “Business levels are projected quite high right now. We’re extremely busy and are always looking for new staff and employees to hire.” Quinn Roofing has grown a lot in the last year, but they’re always making room for more.
CULTIVATING MENTAL HEALTH DAILY
By Dr. Andrea Dinardo | Photography Karim Manjra
Instead of thinking of mental health as a burden you must shoulder, imagine it as an opportunity to experience peace and joy. In the same way that we make time for our physical needs, such as eating and sleeping, we must devote attention to our psychological needs.
“AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION.” Where do we begin?
• Put a 20-minute daily time limit on blaming and complaining.
PERMA THEORY OF HAPPINESS AND WELL-BEING
• Go to bed visualizing three new things you’re grateful for that day.
PERMA is a framework for happiness and well-being developed by Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The model contains five key indicators of human flourishing: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement.
POSITIVE EMOTION Feeling good is an essential part of well-being. That said, it’s easy to get lost in a spiral of negativity—what’s wrong? who’s to blame? why did this happen to me?—leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and fun. It’s essential to schedule good-vibe moments into each day. Here are some ideas: • Begin the day with inspiring quotes on your bathroom mirror. •Create a spa atmosphere for morning coffee with music and candles. • Listen to upbeat music and podcasts on your way to work. • Start conversations with your dreams, not your stressors. 58
JOY NEEDS ROOM TO BREATHE. AND SO DO YOU.
• Music • Dance • Sport How will you engage fully in your life today?
Social support is an important buffer for life’s challenges. That said, not all associations are created equal. Some relationships, unfortuRemember when you were a kid playing nately, lead to a deterioration in mental health. with friends, and before you knew it the Choice is a powerful tool when it comes to street lights came on? If it wasn’t for your well-being and happiness. mom yelling your name, you would be outside Consider the following when you spend playing all night long. In that moment, you time with people: were in a state of flow. You were completely engaged in what you were doing, independent • Do you feel uplifted or drained? of everything around you. Your mom could • Do you feel listened to or ignored? have called your name for hours, and you • Do you feel encouraged or criticized? wouldn’t have heard a word. One hundred Stay close to people who make you feel percent of your attentional capacity was taken better about yourself and avoid or limit time up by the activity right in front of you. with those who leave you feeling like less of Most likely you still experience a state of yourself. flow and engagement, but not as often as you like. Engagement is important for mental health—when you’re completely absorbed by a task, your mind has no capacity left over for Meaning comes from serving something distressing thoughts and emotions. bigger than ourselves. Whether it be family, Activities that create a flow state include: charity, occupation, or community, meaning • Art unites us in a common vision and gives us the • Writing will to get through adversity.
“ALL FOR ONE. AND ONE FOR ALL.” That said, meaning can appear elusive to some, so why not consider one purpose each day. Begin with a typical workday. Choose one purpose, and do something to give meaning to that purpose. I’ve listed a few options, as well as an example for each: •P ick one person—thank a custodian for their hard work. •P ick one place—post uplifting notes and quotes on a section of the wall. •P ick one time—declare 3 pm gratitude hour. You might not have your dream job, but you can find the dream in your job.
ACHIEVEMENT Achievement is the final component of the PERMA model, and, in many ways, its foundation. Goals give us a sense of achievement and satisfaction, helping us to know if we are headed in the right direction. The key is to balance our drive and determination with the right level of difficulty. If we set a goal that’s too easy, we get bored. If it’s too hard, we experience learned helplessness. The solution? Set daily goals that are achievable and tied into our highest dreams. Daily Goals
Write 50 words a day
Write a New York Times–bestselling book
Smile at strangers
Make a difference in as many people’s lives as I can
Teach psychology with all my heart
Be a president at a college or university
How will you seize your goals—big and small—today?
FLOURISHING WITH PERMA Cultivating mental health daily prepares us for the big things in our life. Every little bit counts, everything adds up. So start here, right now. Small things on repeat can change the world. D.
Dr. Andrea Dinardo is a psychology professor, author, and speaker who is passionate about helping people live their best lives. Visit DrAndreaDinardo.com to learn more about her TEDx talk and psychology workshops. Lucas Artcite Director Disclaimer. This article is for informational purposes only andCabral is not a-substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. THEDRIVEMAGAZINE.COM
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Manor Windsor Realty Limited
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Celebrating her 10-year anniversary as a realtor, WindsorEssex County’s Alison Martel views her role in assisting both buyers and sellers as more than a career; it’s a responsibility and opportunity to make a positive impact on other’s lives. Home buyers and sellers have their money on the line and Alison doesn’t take that lightly. “I take time to get to know each of my clients personally. It’s not only one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives but an extremely emotional one as well,” she explains. “Understanding the wants and needs of my clients is an important first step to helping guide them through the real estate process successfully.” “I can easily relate to my buyers because of my own personal life experiences. I understand the excitement of buying your first home, the need to buy a larger home as your family grows, the uncertainty after divorce of selling a marital home, and the sorrow of losing a loved one and needing to settle an estate,” she says. “Being invited into people’s lives during these critical moments is the greatest responsibility. I strive hard to earn the trust and respect they have given to me.” Priding herself on having a hands-on approach, Alison is committed to providing her clients with outstanding custom service from start to finish. She makes sure that they have all the pertinent facts, and that they understand the legalese in their contracts. Alison is known for her easy-going, friendly attitude, but when her client’s interests are at stake, her intense loyalty, tenacity, negotiating skills, and out-of the-box problem solving abilities come to the forefront. Prior to becoming a realtor, Alison worked in the interior design industry. Today she uses her home décor expertise to help prepare her clients’ homes for resale, providing each of her sellers with a complimentary home staging consultation. “Living in a home and selling a home are two different things. Buyers need a blank canvas to be able to envision their lives unfolding there. You need them to connect to the property the moment they walk through the door.” During her downtime, Alison enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, and giving back to the community in which she lives, volunteering time and donating to local charities. “It’s a great joy to help others. I am thankful that my success has allowed me the ability to assist those in need.”
Alison Martel Manor Windsor Realty Limited 3276 Walker Rd , Windsor N8W 3R8 519-551-4139 email@example.com
When asked what she appreciates most about being a realtor, Alison says it’s the fact that each day brings something—or someone—new. The variety keeps her fresh and on her toes, and the friendships she enjoys with present and past clients brings a special richness to her life. When looking for a knowledgeable realtor who will spare no effort to help fulfill your real estate goals, look no further than Alison Martel at Manor Windsor Realty Ltd.
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At The Art Lab, beauty is in the eye of the creator By Anushree Dave | Photography: Syx Langemann
husband Matthew Bolton, launched The Art Lab in Walkerville. The place offers a wide variety of workshops and art classes. These activities include slime making, tie-dye art, creating bath bombs, fashion design, drawing lessons, graffiti art, oven-baked clay, collagemaking, pre-school art play, and more. There are age guidelines for many of the workshops. For example, the “edible play” activity is available to kids as young as 18 months, whereas the “Bob Ross Paint Night” is designed for adults 19 and over. Along with what is currently available, Walker is making sure she constantly updates future offerings. “Being able to come up with new activities is the most fun to me. And seeing the reaction the kids are having as well as seeing the reaction to the things they make means a lot.”
example, the mandala (a Sanskrit word that literally translates to ‘circle’) is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism. In a 2002 study published in the Journal of HIV/ AIDS & Social Services, researchers found that creating ‘mandala art’ helped HIV-positive children express aspects of their lives which were difficult to communicate verbally.
Art is a language expressed from both our conscious and unconscious minds, and there is an element of self-exploration that comes with focusing on the process of creating something versus focusing on the outcome. The notion that creating art can be a powerful tool for The Art Lab was born. healing has been a part of many cultures In July 2018, Walker, along with her around the world for thousands of years. For
According to the Ontario Art Therapy Association, art therapy is a health service that “can be used to explore issues of relationships, family, loss, life transitions, abuse, and development.” Art therapy is unique as it does not rely only on verbal skills, but offers an accessible form of expression for persons with certain disabilities, and it encourages
Art is for everybody. Those are the words you first see in bold white font when you visit The Art Lab website, and it’s a statement that the owner, Samantha Walker, believes wholeheartedly. “Art is a global thing, just like dancing. It’s something within all of us. But somewhere along the way, as we get older, we kind of lose sight of the artist in us,” says Walker. The Art Lab wants to help everybody—regardless of gender, age, background, ability, and lifestyle—fall in love with the process of creating something new. Walker has had a deep interest in art since childhood. “I’ve been an artist my whole life. My mom had a huge influence on me because she went to fashion school,” reflects Walker. “I studied early childhood education at Ryerson and then worked for the YMCA childcare program.” At the YMCA, she started creating art with the children and found joy in that aspect of her job. Through this experience, Walker decided to bridge her passions for art and working with children—
There’s also been academic research dedicated to understanding how art works as a form of therapy for adults. In a 2010 literature review published in the American Journal of Public Health entitled “The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health”, the authors’ review of literature suggests that creative engagement in activities (such as painting) can decrease feelings of anxiety, stress, and mood disturbance in older adults.
risk-taking and creative thinking in a safe space. Many also acknowledge that the process of making art is inherently therapeutic—even without the presence of a mental health counsellor or health provider. To Walker, art therapy means focusing on the task at hand, and turning off your brain from distractions to really hone in on a project that doesn’t necessarily have a right or wrong answer. “It’s something you take from within,” says Walker. The Art Lab is a process-based art studio, meaning that the focus is more on the process of creating art than on the end result. It’s about falling in love with the journey and not getting too caught up in where it leads. Walker was inspired by her time at the YMCA to incorporate aspects of the ‘play to learn’ strategy. It encourages children to actively explore ways to problem solve through play and creativity. It also helps children develop social and cognitive skills and gain self-confidence required to engage in new experiences. What makes The Art Lab particularly unique is that it offers art lessons for individuals with special needs. These can be one-time lessons or ongoing sessions. And for group sessions, they can even come to your home. There’s also a focus on not isolating individuals with special needs from other children, as social engagement and inclusivity are a big part of The Art Lab culture. “Every person, regardless of ability, who has come to The Art Lab has found joy in some way, especially in the splatter paint room. It’s completely open-ended. It’s chaos. For people with special needs we’ve come up with so many different ways to do art,” says Walker. For example, the art splatter paint room offers easy-grip materials such as plungers. “For people who have different mobile issues or social disorders—we’ve been able to accommodate them too, depending on their need. And it’s brought
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something new to Windsor that wasn’t available before.” The Art Lab has been very busy since its launch, leaving all the tasks of setting up, teaching, cleaning, and designing new events to just a handful of staff members. “I do feel tired sometimes because we’re so busy—but that’s awesome. I’m so happy that we’re busy. I remember that I’m doing what I love and because it’s such a positive space and such a joyful space, it’s really hard to feel like it’s daunting at all. There are always new kids coming and there are smiles and laughter every day.” Though The Art Lab has been around for only 10 months, Walker and Bolton already have a few plans for the company’s future. The eventual goal is to get into more schools and bring more art into education. Walker feels that art is a crucial part of development and it’s too important to be left out of after-school programs and school curriculums. “With every budget cut, art keeps getting weaned out. We’d love to spread this across Canada eventually,” says Walker. But in the near future, they’re hoping to work on a project called “Art Splash.” Art Splash is a partnership between Ford City Neighbourhood Renewal and The Art Lab that hopes to revitalize the Drouillard alleyways using murals made with the help of children from different age groups in the area. “We have jointly applied for a grant from the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Fund (ACHF) and hope to hear back soon. Depending on the funding amount we hope to produce 6 to 10 different murals in the neighbourhood as well as a painted crosswalk.” What The Art Lab brings to the Windsor community is a space where you can be your whole self without fear of being judged or excluded or criticized. Perhaps that’s what ‘art is for everybody’ really means. D.
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