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April 2013

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Woman of the Week: Kim Smiley

Beneath its glittering surface, the jewelry world can be a pretty ugly place. From blood diamonds to ivory poachers, the history of jewelry is filled with examples of the darkness to which a person can descend in the pursuit of precious stones.

That’s why it is such a relief to see people like Kim Smiley, the creator of Sapphô by Kim Smiley, using jewelry to create a positive impact on the world and giving these baubles a reason to shine.

“The essence of my vision,” Kim says, “is to use fashion as a platform for empowering women with meaningful work.” By providing marginalized women the opportunity to work for Sapphô and earn a living wage, Kim is changing lives.

“I have always loved fine art and fashion, but my heart has always drawn me to the charitable sector. Sapphô marries my passion for social justice with my love of aesthetics and style.”

Sapphô, Kim’s jewelry collection, is named after the ancient Greek poet. Known for her lyrical odes to the beauty of women, she is a fitting namesake for a jewelry company that is aiming to use its pieces to introduce people to great poetry.

Each one-of-a-kind and handmade piece of jewelry in the collection is inspired by a poet, and comes with a poem from said poet’s collection.

“We juxtapose Nobel Laureates like Pablo Neruda with brilliant emerging poets like American Jessica McFarland, whom I met while a graduate student [at Harvard] in Boston,” Kim says.

This unique marketing scheme is one of the many ways Kim sets her company apart from the pack. However, this was not a decision made just to creatively market her collection. Kim really believes in the power of poetry.

“We’re using fashion as a portal to open people’s eyes to the beauty and wonder of poetry,” Kim explains. “Many people are turned off by poetry because they think it’s inaccessible or elitist. We want to turn them on. Who ever thought jewelry could get people to read Pablo Neruda? We’re feeling pretty optimistic.”

Drawing attention to beautiful poetry by linking it to stunning jewelry, the impact of Sapphô would be enough reason to laud Kim as a supreme businesswoman (as well as a fashionista). But she doesn’t stop there. Kim also has solid work experience in the non-profit sector.

Currently, she serves as the vice president of community capacity building at the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. This role allows her to once again use her social consciousness to make a difference, but focuses it more on the Jewish community in the GTA.

Prior to her work with the UJA Federation, she served as vice president of marketing and development for Habitat for Humanity and assistant director for the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre & Museum.

Clearly, Kim has spent much of her life striving to make the world a prettier place, both literally and metaphorically. What’s the next step for her?

“I’m joking with friends that maybe I should start a modest poetry library where people can check out books and try on jewelry,” she says.

All joking aside, such an endeavour would be a natural fit for a woman who has so adeptly combined the worlds of charity, literacy and jewelry.

74 Girls Poisoned in Afghan School

On Thursday morning as many as 74 students at Bibi Hawa Girls High  fell ill after smelling a noxious gas. The attack in Taluquan, Takhar, Afghanistan is now suspected to be a poisoning orchestrated by the Taliban.

This is a continuation of violence against girls and women being educated or expressing their freedoms from the hardline conservatives of the Taliban who wish for the country to return to its ways prior to American intervention in 2001.

Some of the girls remain in critical condition at hospital. The girls were rushed to medical care after falling unconscious.

Three days prior to this attack another school in Taluquan wasx attacked with gas, hospitalising a dozen girls.

Check out our brand new online makeover!

There’s nothing like a makeover to reinvigorate you. A new dash of colour, a little spice in your life. I am so excited to show you the new look of Women’s Post online and invite you to take part in the new online experience.

Let’s go over some of our new features. We’ve adopted a Disqus commenting feature for articles that will allow you to quickly login with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google account to comment on a story you’ve just read.

We’ve added a very handy new sidebar to give you easy access to the latest stories from all over the website from the main page and also article pages.

Of course, these are only two changes picked out of a complete overhaul. We’ve taken our time making WomensPost.ca the most user-friendly and intuitive website it can be to make sure there is no learning curve for our regular readers making the switch.

Excited as I am yet? The new website gives us a million better ways to connect with you as readers and lets readers connect with each other for meaningful discussion while we’re providing you with thoughtful content. That’s pretty exciting stuff.

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be working towards getting our whole back catalogue of articles ported over to the new website for you to browse so be sure to check back for any old favourites.

Try out the new commenting system and let us know what you think about the makeover

The aftereffects of the Boston Marathon

Following the tragedy witnessed in Boston on Monday, many have expressed concern as to the safety of similar sporting events. Some have even questioned if marathons of this scale will ever take place again. One must remember that marathons are not simply a competition, but a community fueled by family-like support. After April 15th in Boston these values were threatened. Sirens wailed, debris flew, people suffered. Fear overthrew exhilaration, confusion replaced clarity and terror succeeded joy.

As spring finally dawns on us, runners take to the streets, pounding pavement and logging miles.  These runners share an unspoken common bond. They understand the thrill felt as an audience floods the streets, empowering them to keep going despite aching limbs. They are trained individuals who have come to terms with everything from anti-chafe balm to lost toenails. As athletes, they persevere through all conditions whether it be scorching heat or bitter rain. They fight through the pain, tape up their blisters, tie their laces and carry on.

Having two marathon runners as parents, I have attended many marathons and have watched them pass the finish line. I’m not a seasoned athlete. In fact, I am very new to the sport. After many sedentary years of watching my parents register in countless runs across North America, I finally pushed myself to get involved too. Even as a spectator, the atmosphere and sense of camaraderie among runners is magnetic. Monday’s tragedy really hit too close to home for me.

The running community is large and strong with athletes of all ages, ethnicity and skill levels joining together in early morning running groups, training sessions and full marathons. These men and women epitomize dedication, stamina and perseverance, displaying resilience despite unfavourable conditions and surroundings. A marathon like Boston would take years of training to even qualify.

Marathon runners and their supporters, together with race volunteers and emergency personnel, made the decision to persevere through this tragedy. They refused to allow the fear, confusion and terror to define them. Locals and visitors alike rushed to donate blood at local hospitals, helped the injured to safety and supported each other during this time of need. Despite the dread and shock felt internationally, the values that motivate runners each day rippled throughout the city of Boston.

Today is a day of reflection. A day to think of the heroes dedicated to saving lives, the capacity of countless individuals to act quickly despite the horrors surrounding them and the altruism of those who opened their doors to those unable to return to their locked-down hotels.

The spirit of runners cannot be broken. They gathered in Boston on Monday to show just that, instilling in us the strength to persevere despite tragedy. In future marathons, runners will stand in solidarity remembering the April day when their values were threatened. These are the same values that keep them running through sleet, that put them through months of painful physiotherapy, that keep them running for hours and allow them to still have a smile on their face as they cross the finish line. No amount of terror or violence can threaten the powerful kinship of runners.

Running Boston will never be the same again

What was supposed to be a celebration of running and health yesterday for Boston marathon participants and their families/friends turned out to be a war zone. Two loud blasts went off at 2:50 pm near the finish line – Boylston Street, just off Copley Square. A second bomb followed a few seconds later just 100 feet away. There was a huge cloud of smoke. Participants and their loved ones were sent running for cover.

It was over four hours and nine minutes into the race when the two explosions went off. There was absolute panic and chaos and phone lines were down, which prevented participants and family from contacting each other.

In the New York Times yesterday, Roupen Bastajian, 35, a Rhode Island state trooper and former Marine, recounted: “These runners just finished and they don’t have legs now. So many of them. There are so many people without legs. It’s all blood. There’s blood everywhere. You got bones, fragments. It’s disgusting.”

Three people are confirmed dead, including an 8-year-old boy now identified as Martin Richard. He was there watching his father run. There are over 100 people injured.

In a recent interview via email, Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967, shared her story:

“It was awful. I had just finished a five hour broadcast and left the finish line and was back at my hotel when it happened, so I was safe and so was Roger (her husband) in the hotel press room. The hotel went into lockdown so we watched on TV and from our window. I am grateful not to be hurt but so sad for the tragedy and destruction of others.”

“We will mourn the dead and injured. I also mourn the Boston Marathon and how it’s now been brutally disfigured.”

Switzer adds, “The Boston Marathon matters in a way other sporting events simply do not. It started in 1897, inspired by the first modern marathon, which took place at the inaugural 1896 Olympics. It attracts 500,000 spectators and over 20,000 participants from 96 countries. Every year, on the big day, the Red Sox play a game that starts at the wacky hour of 11:05 a.m. so people leaving the game can empty onto Kenmore Square and cheer on the finishers. It’s not about celebrating stars but the ability to test your body against the 26.2 mile course, which covers eight separate Massachusetts towns and the infamous ‘Heartbreak Hill’ in Newton. It’s as much New England in spring as the changing of the leaves in fall. It’s open and communitarian and utterly unique.”

There were about 23,000 runners—2000 of whom were Canadian— who crossed the finish line before the first bomb went off.

The Boston Marathon will never be the same.

Win a TKMT prize package!

WIN A TKMT PRIZE PACKAGE

Want to learn Muay Thai? Women’s Post is offering one reader the chance to win a one-month membership to the new Danforth Toronto Kickboxing & Muay Thai Academy (TKMT), boxing gloves and handwraps. This is your chance to try out this great new fitness regime. Enter today for your chance to win!

 

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Thursday, May 9th, at 5 p.m.

 

CONTEST CLOSED

$100 ESSENCE COACHING TRIAL OFFER

Need to re-invent yourself, go for more, or gain clarity to move your life in the right direction? Essence Coaching’s $100 trial offer can help you get started. Opt-in to apply this $100 trial offer towards any of essence coaching’s services, including a 45-minute coaching session over the phone or its upcoming Circle of LITE™ online coaching program led by the founder, Helen Roditis, also the author of LITE Up Your Work and Life. Feel empowered and championed to lead your work and life in a way that reflects who you are, a being of potential. Offer is valid until May 31st, 2013.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Monday, May 6th, at 3 p.m.

Contest Closed

 

Protect your smile with Sensodyne

One in three Canadians lives with tooth hypersensitivity. Are you one of them?

First noted in a medical journal in 1870, dentine hypersensitivity is a “short sharp pain in response to stimuli.” Anything, from biting into certain foods to using a toothbrush, can cause those who have sensitive teeth to feel the pain.

This isn’t a problem that just comes as a natural part of aging. Most people who experience the twinge are between 20 and 50 years old. The main causes today? Brushing too hard, teeth grinding, gum disease, receding gums and bleaching. As well, the early 20s are when your gums can start to recede, and the newly exposed part of the tooth, which isn’t used to the environment in the mouth, can react negatively to the new stimuli.

At a recent roundtable, Dr. Leonard Litkowski, co-inventor of the NovaMin® Technology in Sensodyne’s groundbreaking new Repair & Protect toothpaste, spoke of the damaging effects of dentine hypersensitivity. “On a global scale, it’s a highly important topic,” Litkowski states. “Pain holds many patients back from doing what they like.”

Luckily, there are options for those living with tooth pain. The NovaMin® in Sensodyne Repair & Protect toothpaste is the first material known to help form a reparative layer over and within exposed dentine. And according to Litkowski, “the reparative layer is harder than the natural, underlying dentine it replaced.” Sensodyne Repair & Protect has a very unique way of generating this layer, which has similar chemical characteristics to the minerals from which the tooth is made. With twice daily brushing, the toothpaste generates the reparative layer where dentine is exposed, helping to prevent pain.

For people who feel the pain of dentine hypersensitivity, this is a fantastic breakthrough. Still offering all the benefits of a regular toothpaste, Repair & Protect will both help repair sensitive teeth and provide protection against future damage, where dentine is exposed and with twice daily brushing. After two weeks of treatment with twice daily use, tooth sensitivity is significantly reduced.

With such innovative new technology, Sensodyne Repair & Protect toothpaste is making Canadians’ smiles look even healthier by helping to repair their sensitive teeth.

For more information, visit the Sensodyne website

Who is he? Rumours continue of a gay NFL player coming out

Who is he? That is the question that many in the National Football League (NFL) community are asking themselves.

This past week rumours surfaced of a current NFL player coming out as homosexual. As a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and lifelong fan of North American football I welcome this news. However, something must be made clear: this man will not be a “gay Jackie Robinson.” His choice will make him a different figure all together.

Make no mistake: no one should be coerced to come out before they are ready. Perhaps this individual is not ready. Perhaps they have wanted to come out since they put on their first helmet back in high school. It is difficult to say. What I do know is reports of his impending decision are already having a positive impact. A day ago Kwame Harris (pictured), a former offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders, chose to publicly reveal his homosexuality. He stated in an interview with an American media outlet, “I want people, whether gay athletes, athletes still in the closet, or youths who are not sure what sexuality is to know those are common feelings. Don’t feel alone in having them.”

Harris retired in 2008. He joins the likes of John Amaechi, the former National Basketball Association forward, and Billy Bean, the former Major League Baseball outfielder, as athletes who understandably could not muster the courage to publicly come out during their playing days.

I want to make a fact clear: I do not believe LGBT athletes have some kind of inherent responsibility to come out for the good of the community. However, I do believe they are providing a service for the greater good of their community. They are providing a service and should be commended for their selflessness.

That said, my opinion is not the only in existence. Chris Clemons, the Seattle Seahawks defensive end, has offered a sign of things to come should the athlete in question choose to come forward. Clemons took to Twitter to air his concerns. With statements such as, “Who on Gods [sic] earth is this person saying he’s coming out of the closet in the NFL?” and “If you didn’t do it when you were in high school or college then why wait til your [sic] in the NFL? Whoever he is he didn’t just start”, it is not difficult to understand why this man has most likely spent a lifetime concealing his true identity.

I have little doubt this man is fully aware of what awaits him as the first openly gay athlete to play in a major professional league. But he will not go it alone. A number of current NFL players have become leaders in fighting for equal rights. Brendon Ayanbadejo, former linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, and Chris Kluwe, punter for the Minnesota Vikings, have proven to be leaders in the area. Whoever this man is, he will have allies.

I truly do hope he feels he can come forward. His coming out will be a landmark victory for those that believe in equality and for those athletes still in high school who are afraid to enter their team locker room for fear of some ill thought action revealing who they really are.

More than that, however, it will be a message to the United States of America. At a time when Americans are anxiously awaiting a decision by their Supreme Court on marriage equality, the coming out of a major athlete could swing public support in the direction of those Americans supporting marriage equality. Coming out will always be a personal decision, but for a high profile individual there is an onus to take a role of leadership. He, whoever he is, will have to stand before the world and let fellow LGBT athletes know that, while he is the first, he will not be the last.

Hopefully this serves as merely the first in a long-line of political and societal victories.

So, who is he?

I don’t know. But I welcome his appearance.

THOMSON: Standing up to the bully in the schoolyard and in the city

“Courage isn’t the absence of fear but the belief that something else is more important than fear.”

In public school I was bullied. I was the prime target for one freakish girl who intimidated all the other kids. Her tactic was to have her victims ostracized by making up lies and turning others against them.

Everyone knew what the bully was doing but scarce few wanted to challenge her. It was easier to go along with her tyranny than to try to stop her. Her abuse got physical when she punched me in the stomach, pushed me down and kicked me until I was swollen and bleeding.

My father decided that enough was enough and spent a weekend teaching me how to stand up to a bully. He taught me that a bully is just a thug hiding behind bravado. Bullies never gain true courage — the only way to stop them is to stand up to them.

My father taught me how to duck and throw a punch; to make a fist and to close my eyes just before I swung so that I wouldn’t pull back; to use my foe’s weight and balance against them. He told me that speaking out was like a lion roaring, that I could use my voice and words to stand up to her as well… but if that didn’t work I should aim at her nose, punch her hard, and then run like hell.

The following week I walked the halls a changed person. My bully taunted me like before, but I threw her words right back at her. Furious at my audacity, she told me she would punish me after school. By the time the final bell rang there was adrenaline coursing through my veins. I felt the fear but focused instead on my anger.

Outside the school kids had gathered around the bully and were chanting “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” The circle closed around me as she began hurling insults. I stared silently at her, my eyes focused on her every move with my fists clenched and ready to fight.

She threw her first and only punch and I stepped aside. As she fell forward I aimed, closed my eyes, and hit her square in the face. I could hear something crunch.

When I opened my eyes again I saw her on the ground with her nose bleeding all over the white snow. Everyone was quiet. I stepped towards her and she scrambled away. I yelled for her to get up and fight but she was frozen with fear. I turned to the crowd and asked if anyone else wanted to have a go at me. They all backed away.

In that moment I felt powerful. I wanted to hurt someone. Right then I could have kicked her on the ground the same way she’d done to me. Then a wave of disgust passed over me. I felt dirty, like a thug.

The seconds ticked by in silence until I roared that if she ever picked on anyone again she’d have to answer to me. I walked away and held my tears back until I was a block away, but I felt two inches taller that day. I’d found the courage to stand my ground.

Today there is much more education and awareness around the issue of bullying. Kids are informed at school about the problems bullying causes and are taught better ways to deal with a bully.

Recent events have, however, reminded me that school yard bullies often grow up to be adult bullies. Some people never fully mature and they continue on, stunted, pushing people around with their words and actions, and for some reason a lot of these grown up bullies end up in politics.

The most recent experience I have had was with an impulsive bully. Despite the consequences he had a hard time restraining his behavior. His arrogance and lack of respect for women is concealed behind an act of awkward shyness but it comes to the surface when he gets intoxicated.

I won’t forget the look Rob Ford gave me as I stood in the middle of a party, pawed over and speechless. It wasn’t the leer of a horny drunk after a quick grope, but the malicious smile of a bully who wanted to demonstrate that he could have power over me. His courage was fake, brought on by whatever drug he’d consumed.

I missed my chance to punch him in the nose… and if I had it would have set a terrible example to my sons. But I was not going to let him get away with it. There are different ways now for women to roar. Social media provides us a microphone that wasn’t available even 10 years ago. But it is a double edged sword. It can help the truth come out, but it can also spread the worst sort of lies. After I posted Rob Ford’s grope on Facebook, he and his brother used their influence over the media to brand me as a “crazy” opportunistic woman who simply wanted attention. They used my own words – that I thought Rob was on cocaine – against me, because (at the time) it was crazy to even suggest that the mayor would use narcotics. The court of public opinion was not fair, although eventually as the truth came out about the Rob Ford’s drug habits people realized I was telling the truth.

Silence is the veil that enables a bully to flourish. But out voices, if we have the courage to use them, will stop a bully in their tracks.