INSPIRATION. PASSION. PURPOSE
Survive the 9-5, as a Young Creative
Featuring words by guest blogger: Taja Jarvis
So, it’s been a year or two since you’ve graduated University and you’re working in the real world. One day it hits you: office life is your new normal, from now until you retire at 65. For some of us, that’s 40+ years in a business setting, trading in valuable hours of our lives for something entirely removed from our creative selves. If that idea makes you recoil from your screen, we’re together on this. Being a young woman entering the workforce can feel daunting, almost like the end of an era of your life. There’s light at the end of the 9-5 tunnel!
Although jobs have adapted to the speed of modern day life, the core elements of working in a business setting remain the same. Enter an office at 9AM (however aesthetically decorated it may be) and complete tasks until 5PM, or later, depending on how much you’ve procrastinated throughout the day. This Monday to Friday routine can be draining and can take time away from development in other areas of your life.
For those with creative inclinations, work-life balance can feel like a constant struggle. Recently, I was asked: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” A simple question that made me re-evaluate how I determine success and how much I actually value my happiness.
Realistically, I may have to work for the next five, twenty, or forty years — but there’s way more to it. I’ve always envisioned future (and current!) Taja being happy. That’s what success really means to me.
The key to success (which to me is the elusive happiness) is looking at your job as a tool to accomplish what you truly want to do with your life. There is no such thing as a “dream job”. No job is flawless, there will always be elements to improve or change. Even if you decide to work for yourself, frustration and failures will occur naturally. Understand that the structure of all office jobs are very similar. The ultimate dream job is never having to work again. However, I can choose to be (and am! extremely!) grateful.
Try this: Set aside time on a consistent basis (weekly, monthly or quarterly) and make of list of your goals for the year. How can your 9-5 job help you achieve that? What are you grateful for that your job directly provides?
Start a Gratitude List
Learning opportunities – Giving access to continued learning and hard skills I can use to update my resume
Travel opportunities – I’ve always wanted to explore more of the world. My job provides access to airplane tickets, international accommodation, travel insurance and spending money.
Work / Life Balance – Most days, I can leave work at work and focus my energy on other pursuits after 5PM and on weekends. Vacation and Work From Home days are invaluable to keeping this balance
Work environment – Is your office space positive and forward-thinking? Do you work well with your coworkers? That is invaluable!
Necessities: shelter, food and access to transportation that my income provides bi-weekly
You’ll be able to see what success means to you based on what you include in your list. As the list grows, or shrinks, you can determine if your place of employment is right for you at this time in your life.
If you find that your job isn’t meeting your needs for personal development or moving you towards your definition of success, pause. You may simply need to reconnect with yourself by getting inspired again. If it’s deeper than that, consider going back On The Prowl.
Consider this perspective: your 9-5 is just a tool to reach your version of success; it is not the final destination. Use your time at work wisely and to your benefit. Work in a way that ultimately works for you.
A Guide to Fitness for Beginners: How to Get Exercising and Feeling Good
Featuring words by guest blogger: Sonia Jain
There is no question that exercise and physical activity can improve psychological and physiological well-being. If you have ever felt stressed, anxious or upset, a single bout of moderate to vigorous exercise can improve your mood and leave you feeling good (about the day and yourself!). Also, maintaining an exercise routine can be a great way to regiment your busy work and life schedule by helping you clear your mind, keeping you more focused and it can help you make better health and nutrition choices. Exercise can be a great self-care tool and a non-pharmacological treatment if you are suffering from various mental illnesses or mental health problems.
It is recommended by Canadian Physical activity guidelines that adults get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week and participate in strength training exercises at least two times a week. Unfortunately, the majority of adults are not meeting these guidelines.
For some, the gym environment can be a daunting place due to its highly evaluative and egotistic nature. For first-time gym-goers or beginners, being motivated to even GET to the gym often feels like the hardest part of exercising. However, simple tips, new habits and coping strategies can help you overcome these barriers so you can enjoy working out and getting to the gym too!
Here are some tips to help you reach those fitness goals, get you moving and feeling gooood:
1. Ask yourself WHY you want to exercise and be physically active and create SMART goals:
These goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time-Conscious. BASICALLY – create goals that are individual to YOU. Pursue interests that you think you can ACTUALLY attain. Be realistic! If you want to get to the gym every morning before work but work at 7 am and have trouble getting up then modify your goals so that you can reach them (aka lunch or after-work workouts). That way, you’ll increase your chance at meeting and succeeding your expectations.
2. See what’s out there.
Find out what gyms are in your area or what you would be interested in pursuing. Also, see what is feasible and doable for your budget: class pass for multiple options vs. gym memberships. If money is tight or you’re not ready to get to a gym just yet, identify if exercising in your home is doable. There’s nothing wrong with a good home workout and there’s many ways to get creative (using bags or cans of chickpeas as “dumbbells”)!
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Reach out to people in the fitness field or even just your friends if you’re feeling stuck. It’s good to have a good social support system that can back your endeavours in becoming active and working out.
4. That being said, get a workout buddy!
If you’re trying to get out of the house more, then going to the gym is so much easier if you have someone to go with (OR just someone to express your discomfort to if you’re confused). You don’t already have to have a friend in mind! You can make a friend in a workout class and commit to coming again with that person or reach out to people you know who go to the gym already for some tips. There are now many apps and social media pages that connect individuals looking to exercise together – those can help you keep accountable!
5. Ditch those “fitspo” pages and social media pages that hinder your personal growth.
Remember that YOUR BODY is different than anybody else’s and what might work for someone else may not work for you and THAT’S OK! Follow people who are inspirational and give healthy advice on exercising and exercise programs not those who objectify body parts or make you feel unworthy of exercising. Every body can move in some way. It will look different for every body.
6. Create healthy habits that support your goals.
Have trouble being motivated to go to the gym or feel like you just don’t have the time? Schedule your week on Sundays and see when you have some spare time to get a quick walk in. Take the stairs instead of escalators. Leave your gym bag by the door so that when you get home after work you’re instantly reminded to go to the gym and you don’t waste time putting your stuff together last minute. BETTER YET – take your gym bag TO WORK so that you don’t talk yourself out of going. Put up post-it notes and reminders in your room, office and on your phone.
7. Utilize positive self-talk.
I agree. Getting moving can be tough if you’re not motivated or you don’t feel comfortable in your body. Shifting negative self-talk to being more positive is one of the most fundamental steps to exercising and staying motivated. Shift “I can’t” to “I will try”. Shift “I look dumb doing this exercise” to “I want to look and feel strong doing this exercise”.
8. Thank yourself.
Self-love, self-care, self-appreciation. Whatever you want to call it. It’s for you by you. Rewarding yourself doesn’t have to be with food or a huge shopping spree. In fact, the best reward is simply just thanking yourself. Thank yourself for making the commitment, to doing something you were afraid to do, to going outside of your comfort zone. It’s amazing what our bodies can do and often we don’t give them/ourselves the credit they/we deserve.
Exercise shouldn’t be a chore. You shouldn’t HAVE TO exercise because you feel guilty about what you ate, yourself or even for not going. By changing the way you view exercise – from a chore to something that will improve your life and well-being, you will surely live a healthier and happier life.
These tips are just a few to get you into exercising and help you achieve your fitness goals.
Remember, these goals are different for everyone and progress looks different for everyone.
Be patient, trust the process and have some fun! It might be hard to get started, but after you’ve exercised, I guarantee you will always feel better.
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Words by Sonia Jain
Sonia is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, (NSCA-CSCS), BSc., MPK. Contact Sonia at email@example.com
My Journey Through Exercise & Fitness
Featuring words by guest blogger: Sonia Jain
Since I was about 8 years old I have struggled with my body image. It hasn’t been pertinent in all aspects of my life but being an almost 6-foot-tall female, I have inherently always felt “bigger” than girls my own age. Playing sports has always been a means of mitigating feelings of self-consciousness as it focuses on performance rather than appearance. As a child, my parents quickly caught on that I preferred playing sports outside rather than playing with dolls, so naturally, they put me in almost every sport possible. As I continued to get older, physical activity and sports became integral in my everyday life. When I got to university, however, I was challenged by the academic workload and balance to upkeep good grades and a social life. I had to stop playing sports and quickly noticed how my body shape started to change. Consequently, the way that I viewed exercise started changing too.
My fitness goals changed because I viewed myself differently. I recognized that the foods I used to eat and enjoy were now making me gain weight. I became curious about how many calories were in each food I was eating. I became obsessive about burning off those calories by only doing cardio in the gym. Exercising quickly shifted from being something that was ingrained into my lifestyle to being a punishment for eating something deemed “bad”. I slowly manifested a hurtful relationship with exercise. I didn’t use it solely to de-stress or clear my mind, rather, I used it in hopes that it would make me feel better about my body and appearance. I would stay at the gym for hours and stopped going with friends to avoid feeling judged and to avoid comments about my weight. Gym time was my alone time, but I was constantly fighting an inner battle with myself.
As a research analyst in the behavior and exercise lab at the University of Toronto, I learnt that this avoidance behavior can often result from Social Physique Anxiety: being fearful of the way others may evaluate you based on your body composition of shape. I learnt that I’m not alone in the way that I behaved and used exercise - that the vast majority of girls and women are dissatisfied with their bodies. I continue to be disheartened by this notion as well as the increasing statistic of females who develop Eating Disorders because social media portrays unrealistic ideals of what bodies should look like.
What I have learnt in the field of exercise sciences and through my own experiences, is that we CAN love our bodies through exercise and fitness if we shift our focus from appearance-related to performance-related goals. Instead of saying, “I want to get a six pack by June”, we can say, “I want to hold the plank for 1 minute and try going to a pilates class twice a week”. These performance-based goals are the foundations of achieving the appearance-based goals we usually strive to achieve. When we don’t achieve appearance-based goals, we can feel guilty about it or push ourselves too hard to try to achieve it in a short time. A huge consequence of focusing solely on appearance-based goals is that it can lead us to adopt unhealthy and even dangerous behaviors like excessively restricting our diet or purging.
I mean, it is a sad way to live when we are constantly trying to change ourselves without appreciating all that we have now. It is important that we explore why we want to look a certain way, then question if that would truly make us happy and feel good about ourselves. Because “looking good” is entirely different than “feeling good” and only you can control how you feel about yourself.
We are so lucky to have bodies to live in but rarely do we ever thank our bodies for doing the amazing things that they do for us.
How many times do we focus on the outcome (losing X pounds, fitting X jeans) without appreciating the progress. How can we continue to focus on accepting and loving ourselves if we continue to compare our unique features to the people around us? I used to get so caught up in trying to lose weight and getting lean that I stopped enjoying exercise entirely. I would get so caught up in hating that my thighs and legs were getting bigger, that I couldn’t recognize that I was just getting stronger. I never gave my body credit for being able to take me places or do everyday tasks. It took a series of events for me to understand that my body will not look like other people’s even if I eat and do the same exercises as them. More so, I shouldn’t even want to change my body to be like anyone else’s because I have features and qualities that make me unique. My body shape and size has changed as I’ve gotten older. I have learnt to appreciate that my body will continue to change and that it is OK because my mindset, goals and vision for myself are changing too.
Now, as a strength trainer, I have made it my goal to prevent these issues from occurring for other girls and women. Exercise isn’t just a tool to change your body, it’s an amazing mechanism to keep your mind healthy and positive too. It’s time to shift our mindset from seeing exercise as just a time slot in our day to something that can actually shape our day. I have made an oath to myself to get back into loving and playing sports and exercise for fun and enjoyment; not because I feel that I have to.
To this day, I am still challenged my own thoughts, however, I have learnt to prioritize my own health by getting back into sports, working out at women-only facilities and joining groups that are inclusive and welcoming. I urge you to also embark on this journey. Appreciate your body and give yourself credit for even making the decision to exercise. Every day, write three things that you love about your body or that you are grateful for. Instead of counting how many pounds you can lose, focus on counting how many pounds you can now squat, hold or carry. Instead of counting how many calories you’ve burned from exercising, count how many more kilometres you can run, walk or bike. If you didn’t perform as well as you did the other day, know that you still showed up for yourself and that’s what matters. It’s important and so necessary to simply congratulate yourself on whatever progresses you’ve made. If your body needs a break, then take it! If you get anxious about skipping a workout, try to explore why you feel that way and have someone to confide in when you do feel guilty or bad about your body.
Despite the numerous times we may have looked at ourselves in the mirror and have avoided the gym or social settings because we’ve been embarrassed or dissatisfied with our bodies, it is possible to love the way we look through fitness and exercise. It takes a small but mighty shift in our mindset from seeing exercise as a chore and punishment to recognizing that it is a fundamentally good and necessary habit to preserve our mental health, prevent illness and keep us strong and capable long-term. There is so much our bodies can do and to be able to move and be present is a blessing.
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Words by Sonia Jain
Sonia is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, (NSCA-CSCS), BSc., MPK. Contact Sonia at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Guide To Having Better Friends, Family & Partners
Featuring words by guest blogger: Jasmin Pannu
When I was younger I had this idyllic vision of what I thought adulthood looked like. And at the crux of that imaginative world was a big group of great friends and family.
Turns out, relationships are harder than I thought.
Cornell University found out that the average adult has just 2.03 confidants in their life. To make that number hit even harder, a study by Harvard states that the greatest factor to our long-term happiness and health is in fact, our relationships.
So, what can we do to improve our relationships? Here are a few things I’ve used in my own life to start building that big group of family and friends I once imagined.
Better Platonic Relationships
With some relationships, like the ones that span entirely at the water cooler, there’s really no need to transcend small talk- but bettering our relationships with our friends and peers literally has the power to change our quality of life.
On Friends and Peers
The first thing I had to teach myself to better my relationship with friends and peers was how to really listen. The 5 levels of listening are: for the gist, to rebut, for logic, for emotion and for point of view. Relationship progress only ever comes from the listening-for-point-of-view level, which is an intention I now actively set for all of my conversations.
The next breakthrough I made with friendships came after discovering Dr. Brene Brown’s work on the anatomy of trust.
Prior to discovering her work, I found that friendships were unpredictable. Sometimes they would work, other times they wouldn’t. I chalked it up to chance.
Dr. Brene Brown coined the acronym B.R.A.V.I.N.G (Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgement, Generosity) to explain the various pieces that go into building friendships.
I highly recommend reading her explanation and breakdown of each component. Since I’ve become acquainted with the acronym I’ve become better at ending friendships that haven’t worked for me and building new ones that do.
Family is one those words that has a drastically different connotation depending on your experience. For some, family is anchored to feelings of comfort, safety and love. For others, it’s anchored with a lack of those things.
With that said, I’ve always loved the phrase, ‘even if the wound is not your fault, the healing is.’ I think it’s empowering. It’s a form of self-love.
I found it incredibly helpful to take the time to self-reflect on my familial relationships. From that reflection, I realized how my attachment style, learned in childhood, perpetuated itself through my adult relationships.
I also gained clarity about the beliefs I held about myself and the world around me, ones that weren’t mine, but were given to me by my family.
To do this work, I used books like, ‘Healing the Wounds of Childhood,’ as a guide. And afterwards, I used ‘Unconditional Forgiveness’ to transition from a place of self-growth to a place focused on bettering my relationships.
As a final note on family relationships, I will say this: not all relationships are meant to last and sometimes your own evolution will end those relationships. When it’s a family relationship you’re ending, it’s especially hard. If you find that it needs to be done out of self-love, not everyone will support you, but I want you to know that I understand.
Better Romantic Relationships
I found (the hard way) that a side-effect of romantic love is that it brings to the surface some of your greatest areas of opportunity- and you have to grow through them.
I had to reconsider my upbringing, things I thought I knew to be true, my purpose, goals, conflict management and everything in between.
Books like Getting the Love you Want and The Argument-Free Marriage introduced me to new, healthy models of relationships and saved me from operating on the auto-pilot of only the relationships I had seen or experienced in my life experience. From there, I was able to consciously create an original relationship.
In any strong partnership, two individuals commit to evolving and meet each other there. And the bottom line is that comes from a process of self-awareness, an intention to focus inwards, and then to grow to meet your partner.
One day, I hope that through my own self-work I’ll have the tools to actually have the incredible relationships I once imagined as a child, with everyone in my life.
In the meantime, I’m holding on to my sporadic but beautiful moments of deep connection. I’ll be grateful for them, and nurture them until one day I grow old with the joys of intimate, strong relationships all around me. I think that will be the greatest marker of a successful life. I wish the same for you, too.
The Art of Having Uncomfortable Conversations
Featuring words by guest blogger: Sara McCabe
The more capable you are of having uncomfortable conversations, the more you can progress as a leader. More often than not, I end up coaching people through the conversations they know they need to have.
Look, no one said it’s easy. But in my opinion your number one goal as a leader is to see that awkward moment and just swan dive right into it. I say swan like it’s going to be elegant but in reality it’s going to be straight up uncomfortable. The good news is that the more you have these uncomfortable--yet usually very necessary--conversations, the better you will be at it, and in the future you might just be able to describe the conversations as fluid, seamless, and perhaps even elegant? No idea what an elegant conversation looks like, but maybe you do!
So how does one not be the absolute worst at addressing issues when they’re so new to leadership? Here are some steps to help you out:
Expect that you’re most definitely going to make mistakes and have to apologize and learn. So often new leaders are so focused on being liked, not so focused on the actual leading part. Not everyone will love you, and you need to tackle the big issues to move forward.
Start by having uncomfortable conversations with people in your personal life. I was having a conversation with a new manager, and I laughed when she said “Wow, so I have to communicate more with my employee than I do with my own partner, friends, or family?” My response to that is: we should communicate more within our professional and personal lives, period. We make the mistake of thinking someone knows exactly what we’re thinking, or spend hours imagining what they’re thinking. Stop wasting time and speak the unspoken.
Prepare. Be mindful of time and location. If this is a serious conversation, don’t have it in a public setting. That makes everything even more difficult and potentially uncomfortable for everyone else. If you’re having a conversation that’s tough, and you’re not sure how it will go over, have it later on in the day so that person doesn’t have to work the rest of the day in a miserable and awkward situation (hi, that sucks). These types of small gestures can be incredibly helpful in creating an environment that encourages open communication from both parties.
Speaking the unspoken also means being okay with acknowledging that perhaps you are nervous too. That this conversation isn’t fun for everyone, but changes need to be made together. Notice how I said together, anyone you oversee is a direct reflection of you. Everything is a team effort.
Last but certainly not least. If I have learned anything over the last 10 years of managing people is that no one likes to have serious conversation sprung on them. Give everyone the courtesy of a heads up, so they can come to the conversation prepared, and with possible solutions. Fun fact, when someone comes up with a solution they’re far more invested in seeing it through than when you lecture and tell them how it’s going to go. Nobody likes that. Not even you.
I wrote this not to give you a step by step on how to have a conversation (even though that’s what I did). I wrote this because we need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Leaders now more than ever need to learn to acknowledge their own discomfort, and willingness to work through that with members in their team. The goal is to show up as a human. That’s the leadership we need.
Be In Their Corner
Featuring words by guest blogger: Sara McCabe
If you scroll through Instagram there is no doubt that women, and I mean womxn in every sense of the word, whether they are trans or non-binary folks; we are all being hit with an onslaught of messaging about finding power within ourselves. There are books, there are memes, there are quotes. Yes, I am here for any female identifying humans to advocate for themselves, dig deep and speak up. Quite frankly, I love it when ALL womxn are rowdy. For the most part it’s all solid advice, but what I can’t ignore and neither should you, is the power of having another person advocate for you in the workplace. Specifically a woman advocating for you.
Despite working my entire career in “female” dominated industries, almost 100% of the time men were the only ones in executive or c-suite roles (c-suite is business jargon for c-level roles like CEO or CFO, etc). I always thought “What gives?” Women had fought for this, why aren’t we further along?
Personally I’ve had many experiences with other women in the workplace where it felt like there was an unspoken rivalry. You know that tension I’m talking about right? A silent competition to prove you’re more worthy, more deserving, and willing to work harder. Clawing to work your way to the top every damn day. So often I was told “it’s part of the game,” and I just needed to play it.
Now I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, in fact there was a study done in The Leadership Quarterly that speaks about this behaviour pattern in the workplace. Sadly, women distancing themselves from other women, especially junior women, is often done to be more accepted by their male peers. This is a response to the inequity at the top, not the cause of it. Turns out men are 46% more likely to have a higher ranking advocate in the office.
Having an advocate makes a massive impact in your ability to progress throughout any organization, and progress much faster. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
White men make up 36% of entry level positions vs white women making up 31%. After their first promotion White men make up 47% vs white women who make up 26%. If you don’t have a calculator handy that’s a 16% drop. For women of colour the drop is an even scarier 35% decrease.
The numbers speak for themselves. There’s a lot of work to do. First, I would like to acknowledge, that it at times, does certainly feel like you’re staring down Everest wondering “How the hell am I going to climb that?” Then I remembered the advice I give my clients: you can’t climb Everest in one day, so maybe buy some shoes first, and get a backpack next week. Inequality and inequity in the workplace is an uphill battle that will take time to fix, but that doesn’t mean we don’t push for change.
With all of that being said, and Everest still yet to be conquered, I thought it would be best to come up with a few tangible actions that you can implement within your workplace and in your everyday life.
Whether you’re in an entry level position or a high level manager begin building relationships between fellow womxn in your company. So often we are silent about all the bullshit we’ve been through, and have to go through. Creating a safe space to share stories and advice can make a world of difference. Regular lunch dates, after work hangs, whatever works for you.
If you’re in a leadership position invest in more training and development. Remember the stats? Womxn are less likely to get face time with their superiors and people who are in high-up positions within a company. Change the narrative and hold space for in-person meetings and conversations.
Unfortunately, we must all kick up a fuss. We must fight for gender equality in our place of work. That means pushing for balanced leadership teams in both race and gender.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the scarcity mentality that so often accompanies women in their personal and professional lives. People with a scarcity mindset have a very difficult time sharing recognition, credit, power, or even profit. Oftentimes they find it hard to celebrate others success. So if this feels like behaviour you model, deal with your own shit. This is a highly non technical term but you get the point. Remind yourself that we shouldn’t be fighting over scraps. Collectively we should fight for more space. So when you feel that weird competitive feeling rise up (which it will). Take a step back, breath, and remember you will progress in your own way, in your own time.
My hope is that we continue to make connections and strengthen those with the womxn around us. The power of knowing you have other womxn in your corner can change the course of your career. So be the womxn in their corner.
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Words by Sara McCabe
@saracmccabe on IG
Contact Sara at email@example.com
WCRADIO IS BACK
Here to inspire the movers and shakers of our generation; through healing, mindfulness and real dialogue!
Chantel Chapman joins WCRADIO with Bianca Harris for season 4- filled with more content, more inspiration & more connection
From Corporate to Artpreneur: A Journey
By Jasmin Pannu
When you walk into my house, there’s a sign that says ‘today is the first day of the rest of your life.’ When I first came across that quote, I found it intimidating. I was working in corporate, the job was good, but the lifestyle was unfathomable. I could not imagine working in corporate for the rest of my life.
I liked the people and parts of my role as a marketer, but I found it difficult to become accustomed to the 9-5.
This anxiousness grew stronger after I bought my first house. I watched in the mornings as these houses, that we had all worked pretty hard to buy, were left vacant. But like clockwork, each and every week, the entire street emptied.
I would drive to work wondering if I was being dramatic, or if it was just a matter of getting used to. So, I carried on, trying my best to be grateful every time somebody commented on my career.
In another part of my life though, I was working hard behind the scenes.
From childhood, I had an inclination towards the arts, but like many, I had been taught that the thing to aspire for was the office, and not the art studio.
I was told countless times by teachers and family just how little art paid. (I now realise that those adults were projecting their own scarcity mindset and limitations on to me.)
But, at the time, I took their word for it.
I got into art school, but at the last minute, changed my degree to something more ‘reasonable’. I won a grant in university for art and entrepreneurship, but took the job in marketing instead. I made sales in my art since I was a teenager, but called it a ‘hobby’ anyway.
It wasn’t until I started to unlearn those negative mindsets in my early 20s and pushed myself deeper into the realm of self-development and self-learning that I was able to imagine a life different than the one I was taught to want.
Admittedly, when I started reading books on entrepreneurs, I read with skepticism and disbelief. Who were these people that could literally design their workdays and work for themselves? How could they accumulate more wealth in one month than my entire salary? What were they selling that was so incredible that people wanted to buy from them and not the tons of other established business in their industry?As I read and learned, I learned to make my questions more productive and apply it to my art.
I built my own website, I learned to use social media better, I tracked my profit and loss per artwork, and I applied everything I was learning in my day job as a marketer to my art.
I knew when I became comfortable calling, what I had once called a ‘hobby,’ a ‘side business, that I was starting to get somewhere.
In a non-linear series of events, I was a henna artist, I traveled for destination weddings, I taught art, I hand painted shoes and sold them internationally, I painted on canvases, and then on walls for businesses.
I saw the money I was making from my art increase. Sometimes, I would turn down business because of my job.
It wasn’t until 5 years after I started my first office job that I was able to build the mental fortitude and convince myself both emotionally and logically that I could actually become an Artist- the very title that had sounded so unattainable to me, my whole life.
Today, when I walk into my house and see ‘today is the first day of the rest of your life,’ it’s a message that gets me excited and hopeful. And I now know that when I came across it, all of those years ago and felt intimidated, that it was a hint about the misalignment in my life.
Since leaving corporate over a year and a half ago, I’ve created two art collections that have toured galleries like the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Science Centre. I’ve been invited to live paint at the Taste of Danforth and the Museum of Contemporary Art. My art has been featured by the likes of CBC Arts, Breakfast Television and The Guardian. I’ve sold well over 200 prints in both collections and have painted ~70 murals in the greater Toronto area at both residential, businesses and in the form of public art.
Now, I no longer have to conjure up gratitude, I feel it in my bones. I enjoy my home studio during the workdays, and my mornings are not hurried, they are serene.
Even when I’m working harder than I ever have before, it feels like an absolute privilege.
This is my journey, and I speak about it because I feel lucky to have been able to reconsider my life’s trajectory and change course for the better. I wish the same for you.
Here’s Why I’m Obsessed With Gua Sha: How This Traditional Chinese Medicine Massage Technique Has Taken Over My Skincare Routine
By Tanya Riz Tan
As a self-proclaimed skincare freak, I’ve tried every beauty tool I could get my hands on: from cleansing brushes to micro needling rollers and LED light masks (as one skincare fanatic does). But it wasn’t until last year, when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, that prompted me to shift my skincare routine to all clean beauty products and seek out a wellness-focused skincare routine involving Gua Sha, a massage technique rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Do I actually see a difference in my skin? Short answer: So. Much. Yes.
My gateway tool was the jade roller: you’ve probably seen it popping up all over IG. It’s a roller tool made of jade stone that’s designed to be used in light upward strokes on the face (after applying serums and oils). Drawing from East Asian massage techniques, it’s supposed to de-puff, increase collagen production and tighten skin with regular use.
But although using the roller was very relaxing to use (not to mention aesthetically pleasing to photograph for the ‘gram), I felt myself wanting more out of the tool. Since I wasn’t seeing visible results, I actually put the tool aside and completely forgot about it for a bit...until I was prescribed a medication for my autoimmune disease that caused “moon face” (aka facial bloating and swelling). I was desperate for anything to take down the puffiness (as contouring with makeup can only go so far). I turned to my literal skincare “tool box” but couldn’t find a tool that was gave a more intensive facial sculpting experience: my dainty lil’ jade roller just wasn’t cutting it.
I decided to delve deep into researching other facial tools rooted in Eastern techniques. That’s when I discovered Gua Sha, an East Asian massage technique that uses a tool to do long, “scraping” strokes to relieve pain and tension, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. I know what you’re thinking—it sounds like a painful and unpleasant experience—but it’s actually surprisingly super relaxing when used correctly on the face.
Rooted in ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine, Gua Sha is supposed to awaken your stagnant energy (or Qi) and promote circulation and drainage of excess fluids in the face and body. After incorporating it into my nightly skincare ritual over the past year, I can say that I’ve actually seen results: my skin looks brighter (and more glow-y), I have visibly reduced acne breakouts, my cheeks and jawline are more sculpted (almost like natural contouring without the makeup), and best of all—it works wonders for relieving TMJ, headaches, and muscle tension in the face. I even tested it out when I was feeling under the weather and noticed that my skin completely perked up (aka I looked alive again) as a result.
I find that doing it nightly (as part of my skincare ritual) to be an almost meditative-like experience: after cleansing my face, I burn a candle, put on my favourite Spotify playlist and proceed to Gua Sha every inch of my face (because #selfcare). I noticed that not only does my skin benefit but also my mental wellbeing as I notice my stress levels and anxiety melting away as soon as the stone glides across my face. Am I now fully dependent and obsessed with Gua Sha? Definitely. So much so that I recently took a course in New York taught by acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners to master the correct method of doing it. If you’re curious to delve into Gua Sha, here are some tips to get you started:
1. Cleanse and tone your skin first and apply a facial oil
Cleansing and toning your face prior to Gua Sha-ing is key to remove any excess oils and to allow serums and oils to penetrate more effectively with the stone tool (especially if you’re like me and prone to acne breakouts). Using a light facial oil is also essential when using the stone to ensure that the tool glides effortlessly across the face (instead of pulling of the skin which could cause premature aging).
2. Start with the neck first
In order to drain excess fluids from the face, the key is to start on the neck area in gentle upward and downward strokes to promote movement of the fluid away from the face. You can even move further past the collarbone and do the back of your neck and shoulders (where all those keyboard-induced tension knots are).
3. Use a decent amount of pressure to relieve tension
Although the pressure used in facial Gua Sha does not nearly compare to the pressure used for the body (side note: do *not* Google body Gua Sha if you don’t want to be scared off), it does still require a fair bit of gentle pressure. You’ll know you’re on the right track if you can feel the tension in your facial muscles relaxing (especially along the jaw line). The key is to make sure the stone lies somewhat flat against the skin in order to avoid being too abrasive.
4. Use upward strokes for the face
After completing the neck area, do 10 or so slow, upward strokes along jawline using the grooved edge of the tool, ending right in front of the ear. With the same amount of pressure, you can do the same upward strokes right underneath the cheekbone to lift, sculpt, and contour the face.
5. Hit the acupressure points on the face
To get the most out of your Gua Sha ritual, hitting the main acupressure points can work wonders for optimal lymphatic drainage. Derived from traditional acupuncture techniques, gently pressing along these points using your stone tool can help drain the excess fluids containing toxins in the skin in various areas. For example, the points along the brow bone and underneath the eye area are great for de-puffing. Working the point in the middle of the forehead (where your “third eye” is) as well as your temples is also great for reducing tension and headaches.
The beauty about your own Gua Sha ritual is that you can really just feel it out and see what feels good on your skin and go from there. But when in doubt, refer to this v helpful tutorial and you’ll be well on your way.
Words by: Tanya Riz Tan
I Tried a “Higher Self” Reading for the First Time:
Here’s What It Was Like and How It Helped Me Trust My Intuition
Featuring words by guest blogger: Tanya Riz Tan
For the past year, I’ve dipped way into spirituality. It started after a relationship ended, which triggered a (necessary) process of healing through past traumas, and a hyper-focused yearning for personal growth and self-actualization. While I’ve never considered myself to be a “spiritual” person, the concept of spirituality crept up in my life slowly: it started with yoga and meditation (s/o WIPP meditation series for guiding me through it!), then seeking out spiritual books (like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now) and later on manifesting, tarot readings, palo santo, sage burning, and sound bath healing sessions and Qi Gong (cue realization that I’ve gone all out on spirituality). But I think that’s the beauty of having a spiritual practice—you can have your own ritual of self-spirituality and make it about whatever speaks to you, whether it’s drawing from Eastern or Western spiritual practices or just using an app to meditate.
After making meditation a constant habit in my life (part of a morning ritual including gratitude journaling before coffee) I felt connected to myself in a way that I’d never been before: way more in touch with the core of who I was, my values, and more disconnected from the ego (aka the root of all evil in spirituality terms). In short, I felt like I was my higher self, realized. I noticed that the energy in my life shifted as a result of this: the quality of friendships in my life improved, my overall energy increased, I was more grateful, and I felt overall purposeful and passionate.
So after recently attending an event that featured a spiritual coach (who specialized in “higher self readings” and reiki), I decided to try it out. I was beyond curious to see what my message my “higher self” had for me (because what could my “higher self” tell me that I didn’t already know?).
Similar to a tarot reading, she asked me to sit, close my eyes and take deep breaths as she attuned into my energy. I went into the reading with an open mind, not seeking a particular answer to a question or specific guidance. But I was surprised that she was able to read my energy pretty accurately in the first few minutes: picking up that I was a bit anxious and exhausted (a byproduct of staying up late nights working on launching my own startup company), and prone to overthinking (what she described as “almost like you’re in your head a lot and not aware of your surroundings”).
“I also feel like you’re almost tuning emotional things out and afraid to feel again,” she said. She was 100% right. After a relationship ended where I constantly didn’t feel like I was enough, I was afraid to be vulnerable again. “I want you to feel more supported so I’m going to do a bit of reiki if that’s ok?” she said. She placed her hands on my back and told me to take deep breaths again.
“What I want you to do is to tune into your intuition,” she said. “I feel like you’ve been ignoring it recently.” As soon as she said it, I realized that I had been so preoccupied with other things that I even forgot what my “intuition” was supposed to feel like. So I asked her what she meant by this—how was I supposed to know if it was my intuition nudging me in the right direction? She told me to close my eyes again and tune out all the noise that was going on around us from the event.
“Take a deep breath and say the word ‘yes,’” she said. “Now observe how this feels—not in your thoughts but in your body.” I did so and instantly realized that I felt lighter, more open, and at peace when I said the word “yes.” The tightness in my shoulders melted a bit, and the stiffness in my jaw relaxed. She told me to repeat the word “yes” again and fully experience the feeling of it in my body rather than my mind. I took a few deep breaths in this space and opened my eyes.
“Now what I want you to do is say the word ‘no’ out loud and pay attention to what this feels like.” I followed her instructions and was surprised at how different it felt—like a complete 180-degree shift in my body. My neck and shoulders tensed back up again and my body felt more rigid this time. I caught myself wanting to cross my arms and almost involuntarily shake my head—almost as my body’s default response to the word “no.”
“Feel the difference?” she asked. I nodded. I definitely did. She told me that was what my higher self was trying to tell me—to get in touch with what felt right in my body. Even though the reading was meant for me at that moment, I feel like having a disconnection between mind and body is something we can all relate to. Between our responsibilities and filtering out the constant noise—from our social feeds, emails, and conversations—we tend to ignore our intuition and what naturally feels right in our bodies. For me, it brought up the concept of boundaries and self-care: being able to say no when something doesn’t feel right and it being okay to do so. To do what ever is necessary to preserve your mental health, your energy and self-peace.
Since the reading, I’ve been way more mindful of how my body feels in various situations. Making a conscious effort to tune out the noise and unhealthy thought patterns that come up. Asking myself if the space I’m in, the conversations I’m having, and the energy around me feels like a “yes.”
Intuition is a lot less complicated than we think—it’s a simple yes or no feeling. If something feels right at that exact moment and is bettering you as a person, then that is enough reason to do something. In short, visualize yourself as your highest self and show up as her by asking if it’s a “yes.” And if it is, surrender to your instinct and follow it completely.
Words by Tanya Riz Tan
Featuring words by guest blogger: Chris Lowe
Summer is coming, and I’m here to prepare you mentally because you’re about to be bombarded with advertising containing “helpful” tips on how to achieve the perfect “summer body”.
What’s the perfect summer body, you may ask? I have literally no idea.
What I do know however, is that the general consensus is: we believe it doesn’t look like the one we’re in.
Why is that?
Why is it that we never seem to consider our own bodies as the ideal “summer body”?
Well… why would we?
We’ve been taught to seek what we don’t have rather than accepting what we do.
This applies to everything, especially our bodies.
What’s also true is that this belief no longer serves us.
So let’s change it.
How to change it?
We’re going to do that through acceptance.
Now, hear me out, because this is deeper than a blog post telling you to “just love yourself, girl!”.
This is about you challenging your conditioned thoughts, not wasting your time with self loathing actions, making choices that serve you from a place that serves you,
and empowering yourself to change your perception.
Let’s challenge the way we think about our bodies leading into this summer season.
Here are a few reflective questions to help you do that…
Do I actually not like this about my body, or was I taught not to like this about my body?
In what ways would my life change if I decided to accept my body as it is now?
Do I want to change my body from a place of shame and hate or from a place of acceptance and love?
What is one physical action I can do today to help me accept my body?
Are there any parts I CAN accept right now?
I want us to sit with these questions and when we start convincing ourselves that our bodies aren’t summer ready, ask them, because it’s important to challenge our negative thoughts.
Bottom line here is that we don’t necessarily have to connect with the term “summer body” or the idea of working out and living healthier in order to look and feel better.
Rather, if you work towards your body from a place of acceptance, knowing that your current body qualifies, just as much as your future body will, the process of getting there will be all that more enjoyable.
Shot by Chrris Lowe
Toronto is finally warming up and we've fully embraced the spring clean. Now is the time to purge anything that's giving you negative energy in preparation for summer '19.
In true Marie Kondo style, start with what's easy and material
-your home. Does your space inspire you to work towards your personal goals?
-your closet. Does your closet make you feel like your best self, or just overwhelmed?
Make some tough decisions & put yourself first
-the people in your life. What do they add & how do they inspire you?
-your thoughts. We love Kundalini meditation & sound healing.
Most importantly take inventory of how you spend your daily routine. Do your actions bring you joy & fulfillment?
You got this!
The final few weeks of 2018 are here and if you've been awake at all this year then you probably feel like us, somewhere between hella drained & infinitely inspired.
With 3 Mercury Retrogrades in one year and a few other planets taking us for a loop, 2018 has been 12 months of challenging moments - a lot of which have been spiritually testing & all of which have been fostering growth.
As we embark on the final month of the year, it is only fitting to take a moment for yourself to reflect on what has transpired in 2018, for you.
We've shared few questions that the WIPP team have asked ourselves as well as each other which can be used as a guide to your own self-reflection on this past year and hopefully can lead to some inspiring focuses for the new one!
How is your heart?
How do you feel?
Are you currently happy?
Are you mentally and emotionally free? Unbound by past narratives and the ego mind?
Are you comfortable with who you see in the mirror?
PHOTO VIA: @SUBLIMING.JPG
In the face of your most challenging moments, what lessons did you learn of yourself?
What lesson did you learn of others?
In the face of your most fearful moments, what space did you access for a source of strength?
Do you feel more aligned with your path? If so, what changes did you make to get there?
If not, what do you think you need to change?
What are some of the most valuable lessons you've learned in 2018?
How do you feel about the current state of your relationships? Check your circle - are the people around you on the same wavelength?
We'd love to hear if you’re down to share. Hit us up via email firstname.lastname@example.org or send us an IG dm.
It would be beautiful to see the different spaces we all find ourselves in while working towards the best version of ourselves!
Last Week in Review: Canadian Artist on Mental Health
The Art of Chaos
Last week, WIPP Toronto's Social Media star Shana debuted her artwork for The Art Of Chaos - a mini docu-series project which consists of three 3-5min short films, each a standalone piece showcasing a unique Canadian artist with mental illness.
Its passion? Focusing on sparking a conversation on mental healthy while inspiring a community to bravely share their experiences and stories.
We had a chance to catch up with Shana to discuss her artwork and how it felt to be involved in such an important conversation.
On her artwork:
I created this piece for the documentary series called The Art Of Chaos. Its painted with acrylic paint and oil pastel detailing. The vision for this painting is to represent love and support. The two figures are back to back to show that they are solid and are there for each other - it represents a community of support. The head pieces are a reflection of mental health. I wanted to create the piece with cheerful colours to allow the audience to feel happy and hopeful.
On being part of the project:
Being a part of this unique body of work meant a lot to me. The topic at hand is very important to me so of course without hesitation I said yes!
Mental health has been something that I continue to discuss. I was asked to share an experience that effected my personal mental health and how art has helped me cope with the the trauma of sexual assault.
Words of encouragement to support anyone in similar spaces:
I believe that healing always starts with you. You have the power to reach out for help and you have the power to change your life. I also believe that speaking out on your experiences and sharing is a key factor in your journey to healing. This documentary was a way for me to give back to my community and making sure that people felt heard; that they were not alone. There’s always someone out there that can benefit hearing your story.
Take a look at Shana’s work and docu-series on @artofchaosofficial
ART & POETRY
Growth through Pain
The hurt I felt weighed heavy
Like bricks of burdens on my back
The drive to preserver
Is something I thought I lacked
But deep within my soul
A magic was shining through
My being had all the answers
I never thought I knew
See we’re all born with greatness
But many lessons are to know
Never would I think
Pain would be my teacher of growth
Growth: A Choice
I move with the intention of welcoming growth
I know it is in my nature to evolve
And so every day I choose to be mindful
Of the process of which I am involved
I move with the intention of welcoming growth
Even on days where there are growing pains
I meet each obstacle with open arms
Aware of the possibilities of what’s to gain
I move with the intention of welcoming growth
I flow freely in this space
Allowing the universe to guide me
Surrendering to it’s pace
I move with the intention of welcoming growth…