INSPIRATION. PASSION. PURPOSE

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THE GOOD FIGHT

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Featuring words by guest blogger: Carla Saunders

As a woman in the legal field, I’ve seen it all. I have fought to be taken seriously; I have taken my lipstick off before an interview, changed my heels and tried to look more demure, more serious (what is this, Legally Blonde?). I have stepped outside of who I am to impress recruiters, male and female. I have had to grin and bare it in the company of arrogant, narcissistic men; I’ve laughed at the blonde joke because it’s part of the job.

When I entered this profession, I expected the “old boys’ club” mentality. I expected to deal with chauvinistic men. I did not expect, nor was I prepared for, the prevalence of the toxic, destructive woman.

I have had the distinct displeasure of dealing with many female lawyers who will do anything to keep other women out of the game; they love to see you benched while they’re on the field scoring. They want to teach you a lesson or two on how difficult it is to get this far, and let me tell you, it can be difficult. This particular brand of female lawyer and the male lawyers who encourage their behaviour are equally repulsive and difficult to manage. 

What has led these women to this point? Are we so conditioned that we need to be the man to be successful that we have resorted to pushing each other down? Is it the mentality of “I had it hard, so you must as well” ruling their behaviour? Do we think that positions and quality work are scarce? Eat or be eaten? Or, are we, as female lawyers, actually perpetuating the “old boys’ club” stereotype by living into it and treating other women in this way rather than standing up for each other and rising against?

Despite this dynamic still being a daily struggle, I’ve found the hope within the system. The women I respect in this field are what I would call “powerful women;” the female colleagues and partners who exude strength and empathy. These women have the ability to command respect (and a room), but also the ability to relate and empower. They make balancing strength and softness look easy. They must be unicorns.

Being the man isn’t always negative either. Some of my biggest supporters are my male mentors. Like the powerful women I look up to, they exceed the golden standard threshold test for lawyers. These are the men who encourage and challenge, while also allowing me to speak my mind and give my opinion. The main ingredient? Respect; a reciprocal currency.

It’s not all bad, but everyone looks the same when it’s 1am and you’re in the depths of research hell, you have an 8am client call, 10am court appearance, three more deadlines to meet tomorrow and a half-dozen personalities to manage. This career is difficult enough without the added stress of worrying that one of your colleagues is about to use your neck as a stepping-stone to get the next level.

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Evidently, being a woman in a male-dominated field is wrought with contradictions. We face women who are looking to hold us back and men who are mentors who want to see us succeed, and the inverse. It’s not always about men trying to push us down, but more so a fight to the top, a rite of passage type world. Yes, in some cases it is still an “old boys’ club”, but I’ve gotten more flak from women than from men. There is no girl code. You seek out your people and you hold on for dear life. You are always fighting the good fight: the fight for equality, the fight to be seen and heard, and the fight for respect. We are navigating new waters wherein we’re applauded when we stand up and speak up, but not always. Sometimes we’re labeled as bossy or bitchy. A lot of times we’re still expected to adhere to the archaic “be seen and not heard” or to “speak when spoken to”. That is how things work in court, after all.

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Featuring words & photo from guest blogger Carla Saunders

Carla is a lawyer, writer and model in Toronto. She curates her own blog and website at: www.thelawoflipstick.com. You can find more of her thoughts and portfolio on Instagram: @thelawoflipstick.

 
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TO POST OR NOT TO POST: Modern Love in the Digital Age

Featuring words by guest blogger Hailey Levy

The power of social media is something of a phenomenon. It has the power to probably almost nearly start a nuclear war between America and North Korea; to spark meaningful conversations like #MeToo; to catapult two hugging toddlers to stardom, landing them on Ellen; and the power to somehow impact something as sacred as our relationships. 

I believe it was Shakespeare who said, “She took your pictures off her 'Gram, y'all must have broke up. First she love you, then she blocked you, boy that's f**ked up.” No wait - that was Yo Gotti. But still, poignant as ever.

From Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and beyond, it has never been easier to share every single intimate detail about our lives and control the public perception, whether consciously or subconsciously. Nowadays, it is so easy for us to carefully curate what we want our lives, and more specifically our relationships, to look like for the public, regardless of whatever the reality is. We’ve all seen a public declaration of love on someone’s status or in someone’s caption. We’ve all seen a relationship status on Facebook change from Single to Dating to It’s Complicated and back again. 

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In today’s society, where every feed is a breeding ground for comparison, it’s hard NOT to put our relationships under the microscope.

In my past relationships, I held onto a lot of resentment and insecurity because I wasn’t a #WCW on Instagram. I often felt jealous, inadequate and hurt when I saw them like other girls' pictures and not mine. I was always comparing our relationship to everyone else's’. Once we broke up, it then became a tug-of-war of who would be the first to delete pictures and who would be the first to unfollow.

The fact is, social media has become intertwined with our relationships to some degree, whether it’s positive or negative, and whether we like it or not.

A Pew Research study found that, of the 66% of adults who are in committed relationships and have social media, 20% said the impact of it on their relationships was mostly negative. The same study found that 25% of romantically-involved users feel like their partner is always distracted with their device, while others have shown that posting selfies and liking other people’s photos has led to jealousy-related conflict. Even the couples that look head-over-heels obsessed may be acting on feelings of insecurity and uncertainty within their relationship, causing them to overcompensate online. 

So, what does this all mean? Should we all just be single forever and call it a day? Or, is there a silver-lining somewhere

The good news: around 74% of users find social media to have actually had a positive impact on their communication and overall relationship. Some have even found that texting and online interactions has brought them closer to their partner when they’re separate, while others have been able to resolve fights online that they actually couldn’t resolve in person. Take that, Dr. Phil.

It’s important to look at our relationships objectively when we’re thinking about the impact social media has on them. Ask yourself; why are you upset if your significant other doesn’t post a picture of you? Where does that pang of jealousy come from when you see a loved-up couple in coordinating outfits, professing their love for each other online? Are you feeling insecure when your S/O likes a post that isn't yours? Are you searching for validation in likes because you aren’t getting it IRL? Do you really trust each other?


If you can relate to any of those questions, chances are it’s not necessarily about social media, but more about how you feel about your relationship and how social media exacerbates that feeling. That’s something worth taking a deeper look into. 

Look, I’m no relationship expert. I’m just a girl who made the first move and slid into her now-boyfriend’s DMs. I was looking for a good time, not a long time, and yet, that was three years ago. But, my relationship is nowhere near as dependent on social media as my past ones were. Now, I get validation in real-life when I need it, I post selfies without shame or guilt, and I know that if my boyfriend likes a picture of someone else, that’s not a reflection of how he’s feeling about me. 

If you define how each of you uses social media, or if you even want to use social media in the first place, and what it means for your relationship, it can open the door for communication, excitement and romance. Your relationship is just that - yours. Do what you want and reclaim the power that social media has over it. So go on! Stay off social, or share your love for bae with the world. Tag each other in memes, take a selfie without worrying about feelings, or even, dare I say it, slide into some cutie’s DMs and maybe you’ll date for three years. After all, it worked for me ;)

 

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Words by Hailey Levy

Hailey Levy is a freelance writer, content creator, and professional Netflix-binger from Toronto. When she’s not busy hitting the best vegan spots in the city or petting all the dogs, you can find her on Instagram @haillevy. You can also find her blog here, where she’s all about sharing the things she loves and talking about the sh*t that truly matters. And, if you’re into all things real estate and design, check out Hailey’s work for Toronto Storeys.

 
 
 

W*F is Dermatillomania?¿?¿

Featuring words and artwork by Shana Hezavehi

Dermatillomania. What is that long complicated looking scary word? In simple terms it’s a skin picking disorder brought on by anxiety and mental health struggles. The severity of it varies from person to person, but the journey is tough and frustrating regardless. In more medical terms it’s known as SPD, a serious problem in which an individual picks at their skin to the extent that it causes wounds. Many people don't have an awareness of this condition but 2% to 3% of the population actually struggles with it.

For me it began at the age of 14. High school sucked for me and I dealt with a lot of depression and immature high school kids. It came to a point where my mind picked up skin picking as a coping mechanism. I didn’t know it was dermatillomania, at the time doctors just brushed it off as hormones and that I would just need to not touch my acne. The issue was sometimes it wouldn’t even be acne. The slightest texture would set me off for hours sometimes. My arms, legs, stomach, basically anything I could reach had scarring and cuts from picking. Still it was no concern to doctors.

At around age 19 I was diagnosed with PCOS which then led me to find dermatillomania. Having PCOS meant cystic acne, hair loss, The cleanest diet you can think of, fluctuations with my weight, and of course lots of medications. My doctor mentioned that I struggle with dermatillomania after me ending up in the hospital from skin infections after picking at my cystic acne.

The solution is much more complicated than just not picking or touching my face or body. The urge is much deeper rooted. At times of high anxiety I would deliberately avoid mirrors because if I saw something I wouldn’t be able to stop. When I would find something to pick at I would not stop for hours. My mind would be so fixated on the relief that I would lose track of time. What felt like 10 minutes to me was actually an hour in front of the mirror. When summer time would roll around it would get worse because of the anxiety around having to show more skin. I would go through body makeup and would look for clothing that would cover the really “problematic” areas. Safe to say I WAS EXHAUSTED.

There came a point where I knew I had to start working on different coping mechanisms. It took me years to find what helped me but for me keeping my hands busy and making meditation and yoga a ritual helped a lot. I also took up therapy to deal with some of the deeper underlying issues of trauma and childhood experiences that were contributing to my anxiety and skin picking. The most helpful part of the healing journey has really been me accepting my body with and without the scars. I feed myself positive words and refrain from hateful language. Like anything your mind and body need love and encouragement! Especially when you’re not feeling it. Once your body understands that you care for it and your mind understands that you are choosing to be kind to yourself rather than destructive it returns the kindness in beautiful, healing, and glowing outer appearance.

The reason I wanted to write about dermatillomania wasn’t just to talk about my journey and how hard it’s been and still is. It’s to let some of you guys out there who struggle with it or with negative coping mechanisms know that you’re absolutely not alone. It can be very discouraging and lonely because it’s something that’s not spoken about. There’s a lot of shame surrounding it, but know that with A LOT of hard work and commitment to oneself it’s really possible to turn it around and most importantly love all the sides of yourself that you never thought you could love.

Keep at it and always make sure to reach out to someone if you’re having a hard time with your mental health. You deserve to be happy so do everything it takes to find your happy.

 

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Words and artwork by Shana Hezavehi

Shana is a creative entrepreneur and humanitarian from Toronto. She is the founder of MILKSHAY and has studied art and design as well as Bachelor of Commerce. She does not limit herself when it comes to art, she specializes in painting, graphic arts, photography, and other mediums of art. She believes that art can bring healing to communities and she strives to give back to hers, through workshops and other special events. Her goal is to educate others about the importance of art in our communities as well as provide the world with her version of artistry

Find Shana on IG @shayynaa.h

 
 
 
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Skincare = Self Care

Featuring words by Taylor Yu

I know, the "self-care" thing has become almost everything. Taking off work early - in the name of "self-care".
Completely fucking off - in the name of "self-care".
Ignoring all responsibilities - in the name of "self-care".
We're all not caring while self-caring.

Trust me, I know, it's a little over done.
But hear me out on this because I swear I'm on to something here. Something new.
Something exciting.

Skincare = Selfcare

Whoa. Revolutionary. I know.

Growing up with an esthetician for a mother, I knew ABC's, 123's and the 10 step skincare regimen.
I didn't realize it then, whilst my mother complaining that I didn't exfoliate before applying my moisturizer (it was a lot to remember as a teen).
But the importance of a proper at-home skincare routine is... life changing.
And, as I grew (ever-growing) into my adult years, the skincare routine has become... therapeutic

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Similar to how we sage our space, palo santo our areas, cleanse our crystals... the concept ties into our skincare as well
There's no better feeling than cleansing your face after a long day of being outside battling pollutants, toxins, sitting in front of the computer screen
(blue light for skin = HORRIBLE)
Removing your makeup and settling back into your natural state almost allows you to fully relax and creates, even for a brief moment, mindfulness and presence
It allows you to disarm and unwind, releasing any and all of the bad energy from the day, and creating an opportunity to welcome more calmness and peace
(It's also healthy AF for your skin... btw)

I've been obsessed with skincare for what feels like my entire life
And, I have also fallen quite far down the hole of spirituality, leading to many changes within my life in the name of caring for my physical, mental, emotional health and well-being
What I've realized is that there is a direct relationship between skincare and self-care
It truly is one of the main aspects of taking-care-of-self
Loving yourself means all of you - the inner and the outer
Therefore, a practice in place for healing shouldn't be limited to only inner and can extend to outer (and can also intersect)

The 10 step skincare regimen, for me has been my sanctuary
It really has allowed me to focus on me - fully
Focus on what I am doing - entirely
And in a very interesting way, allowed me to connect with myself - lovingly
I have learned how to love for and care for a part of me in a way that has been healing and freeing
I have been able to rebuild confidence in myself and my appearance through a healthy (sometimes expensive, but healthy) practice
And I have been able to fall in love with parts of me that I never knew were so special until I was able to remove the exterior noise and be one with myself for a moment
It has also taught me understanding, patience, consistency, discipline....

Following 10 steps, morning and night, daily - if we used this format for everything we do, we'd all be occupying even more incredible spaces than we already are
Once I clued in to the similarities between a skincare practice and meditation practice (I am not saying they are interchangeable, only similar)
I was able to tap into an even more mindful practice

And so I share...

1. Make up remover

I focus not only on removing make up and cleaning my skin but also cleansing away any toxins and pollutants in all formats which they present
themselves; removing it from my face & space

2. Cleanser

Here I make sure to lather my face and really spend a moment just enjoying the feeling of everything washing away

3. Exolianting

Any dead skin and any of the deep rooted emotions I feel, either of today or this week even, I picture myself scrubbing it all off

4. Tone

I am now restoring balance in my skin (ph levels) and in my space

5. Serum

In this moment, I am focusing on long term healing, aware that by being consistent, I will be able to see positive results

6. Treatments

Any areas that have more difficulty (face & space), I use the treatments in order to help improve these concerns (add in an amethyst crystal
facial roller for added healing!)

7. Masks

Masks are always extremely relaxing and gives me a chance to be completely still during my routine, often I add music to get into a deeper relaxation

8. Eye Cream

Both eyes and third eye, I focus in on always treating this area gently

9. Moisturizer

As a final step, I massage this into my face in an upwards motion, sealing in all of the good energy created through this practice

10. Sun Protection

In the morning, I make sure to protect my skin and my spirit for any harsh or harmful exterior forces

Sounds lengthy? I know many of you are probably thinking "Who has time for all of this?"
But let me tell you, we have time for what we make time for
Treating your skin similar to how you treat your spirit, in my opinion and experience, can truly transform your connection with yourself and promote healing not only within your body but also your mind
You are focused solely on you, in those moments and are dedicated to a practice that fosters well-being
It is one of the most important parts of my practice which is why it has become a non-negotiable in my daily routine
This simple (based on your perspective) practice can set the tone for your days and your nights

Sincerely,

Your beauty guru ;)

 


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Words by Taylor Yu

 
 
 

7 Habits to Pick up Today to Kill It in the Office

Featuring words by Carlena Jade

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For some, landing that dream job can seem like a fantasy. For most, it takes years of jumping across roles, companies and departments to land the one, dream job. Wherever you are along that journey, treat every position like an opportunity to take you closer to where you want to be. Here are seven habits that I’ve picked up over the years that have made me a killer employee!

Learn About Your industry From the Outside

What really sets an innovative employee apart is not one that can put into practice what they have learned in the office (though this is still important!), it’s those who contribute fresh and inventive ideas to pave the role for the future. To get the juices flowing in the morning, I always spend my commute listening to podcasts centered around either the department I’m in, the department I want to get into, or the industry I work for.

Plant Seeds

It’s never too early to start planting seeds for your career progression. Any effective manager will want to know where you want to advance so they can help you get there. This is a habit that took me a while to grasp, I always felt the need to feel secure in my role and be performing at my best before I could even bring up where I want to go next.

Time Blocking

Time blocking is the #1 way I stay productive. It’s a different way of looking at the day ahead. Instead of seeing it as 8 hours to ‘work,’ which sounds daunting and honestly not very fun, see it as 30 minutes to reply to emails, 3 hours to take meetings, 2 hours to work on your project, 1 hour to go out for lunch, 30 minutes on a coffee date, etc.

Coffee Dates

I regularly go out for coffee dates with my coworkers to lean on them, get out of my habits, and build relationships. Whenever I’m having an off month, I find what always helps me is talking to a coworker who thinks a little differently to build a new strategy.

Don’t Get Complacent

If you’re doing well, congratulations! Celebrate, and then try to do even better. See how far you can take it.

Focus Equally (if Not More) on Life Outside of Work

So you’re putting these habits into action and you’re killing it in the office, but don’t put 100% of your time and energy into your career. At the end of the day, there are so many aspects of your life that are just as important. I try my best never to take my work home with me, sometimes I’ll stay late at the office but my home is for me, my family and my interests. Take time to recharge- whatever that means to you. Focus on your relationships and your hobbies. It’ll just give you more to bring to the table.

Leave a Job That’s Not Serving You

My biggest professional regrets were staying at jobs that I was unhappy at for too long. Think about the position you’re in now: are you generally happy and fulfilled? Do you dread Mondays? Are you learning constantly? Will it lead to opportunities for career progression? Are you gaining skills and experience to help you get that dream job?

 


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Words by Carlena Jade

Find her on IG @carleenahh

 
 
 
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