March 2014


Revitalize your workspace with these quick and simple changes

I used to think that I worked best in a high-stress environment. After all, with the path I’ve chosen to take in business, it’s kind of a prerequisite to success. I realized, though, that while I’m often confronted with stressful situations, my productivity is highest when my pressure to work comes from a place of passion and drive, as opposed to stress and fear.

One of the biggest changes I made that helped me to work consistently from that place of positivity was to revamp my workspace, so that I could work productively for hours without feeling like I was going out of my mind. It all came down to following a single rule: if it feels right to me, than it’s right.

I spend a considerable amount of time in my office, so for me, a sterile vision of metal and beige just won’t work. Given the amount of time that most of us will spend living in our workspaces over the course of our lifetimes, it makes sense to make our them look attractive to us.  For me, that means vibrant colors, lots of natural light, a wooden desk, and a vase of fresh flowers. When I walk into my workspace, I feel great about it.  It really is one of my favourite spaces. The emotional response you pull from your workspace should mimic the way you feel about your work. I don’t want an office environment that makes me feel bored or overwhelmed. Peaceful, focused, alive — these are feelings I get from my workspace.

If my workspace is a mess, chances are, so am I. It automatically makes me feel stressed, overwhelmed, and disorganized. That being said, an empty desk and bare shelves makes me feel uninspired and a little lost. It reminds me of an Albert Einstein quote: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk?” I like having artwork on my walls and meaningful knick knacks on my desk, and real reference books that I can pull off of shelves.

I’ve been known to burn scented candles in my workspace, but by far, the best thing about my office is the smell.  Real wood and fresh flowers and books and a breeze from an open window. I’m sure if I bothered to run the numbers, I’d find that it’s improved my productivity by a factor of 10. Scents do have a measurable effect on productivity. I think I read somewhere once that lemon and lavender produced the most significant positive results, but for me, it’s the wood and the books that do it.

There may of course be the down side of working for an employer who rejects the idea of these changes to a work environment. My reaction to that was to get a new employer — namely, myself! I live by the idea that my work should support my lifestyle, not suppress it. That, of course, might not be a feasible option. But why not do what you can? Clean up, add a photo, buy a plant, and relax! Work is a necessary part of life, so it might as well be enjoyable!

4 closet essentials for the busy mom

by Erin Nadler

Women are busier than ever. We are mothers, executives, lawyers, and entrepreneurs so it isn’t a surprise that we often face conflicts in juggling our many roles. We constantly strive to find the perfect balance between home-life and career-life. As a result, our fashion-sense and knowledge of the latest trends take a backseat behind children, hockey practice, and a million other household chores. For many of us, picking out what to wear in the morning is a dreaded task as we race the clock to get dressed and out the door within a five-minute timeframe.

Luckily, our mornings can be much less stress filled and our style much more fashion forward with a few simple tips. Here are a few key items that can be mixed and matched and will take you from the boardroom, to the playground, to an evening out for dinner.

A classic and perfect fitting jean 

It seems that every season a new style of jean emerges. Out goes the skinny jean, and enter in wide-legged trousers only to be switched back next season. However, classic boot-cut or straight leg denim remains a timeless item from season to season. Owning a dark-wash, comfortable, and mid to high rise pair of jeans is essential. A jean with ample stretch will provide the comfort and flexibility you need when picking up toddlers or running to make a lunch meeting on time. A dark denim jean can be dressed up or down by pairing them with heels or runners, a casual tee, or a blazer.

Basic black or boyfriend jacket 

A fitted and tailored black suit jacket will be the best item you will ever purchase. Not only are jackets great for whittling away at your waist but a well constructed jacket can take your boring t-shirt to the next level. By rolling up the sleeves you get a more relaxed and chic approach to the basic black jacket. Also perfect for every season this jacket can serve as a spring and fall jacket by layering underneath it, adding a shawl, or a scarf.

Layering tees and tanks 

Owning a couple long-sleeved and short-sleeved tees and tanks in various colours and lengths are a must. You can layer a tank under a long-sleeved tee and look effortlessly put together. Add a fabulous scarf, interesting belt, or a black jacket and this outfit instantly becomes a perfect look for the office.

A wide belt 

Belts are a must-have accessory in every woman’s wardrobe. A wide black belt can become an important item in your accessory collection if you know how to wear it correctly. Tip: look for a belt that is leather and has an elastic back that allows you to easily move the belt up and down onto your waist or hips. Taking a simple t-shirt with jeans and adding a belt can complete your look instantly. Adding the same belt to a straight sheath dress, or to your black jacket and white blouse adds a touch of class and is an easy way to make your ‘look’ more current.

Follow Erin on Twitter at @betterstyled.

Follow Women’s Post at @WomensPost.

The Top 4 Ways That Pilates Can Improve Your Overall Health

When we think of the benefits of Pilates we often think strong abs and a toned backside. But there’s much more to Pilates than a whittled waistline. Check out what else Pilates can do for you to improve your overall health and make you feel better.


Stretch your spine and spread the workload

One of the most common causes of back pain is lack of spinal mobility. When one segment of the spine is stiff and immobile, it forces all the movement into the more mobile segment, creating overwork, strain and often breakdown at those joints. Pilates enhances spinal mobility, creating more movement through the stiffer areas of the spine and spreading the workload. The result is better freedom of movement and a healthier, stronger spine, capable of supporting all your activities.


Stop peeing every time you laugh

Do you sometimes laugh so hard the tears run down your leg? Pelvic floor dysfunction is no joke. Overactive bladder syndrome affects countless women. Pilates creates strength and balance in the muscles of the pelvic floor which is part of the inner unit of “core muscles” that engage in every Pilates exercise. A healthy pelvic floor is necessary to normal sexual function and urinary continence. For those considering surgery for pelvic floor prolapse, PFilates TM a specifically designed pelvic floor rehabilitation program based on Pilates exercises has been clinically proven to help improve surgical outcomes and in some cases avoid surgery altogether.


Build better bones

Osteoporosis and low bone density is not an old lady disease.  It affects active women in their 40s and 50s too. Osteoporosis and low bone density are like the crumbling foundation of a house. It doesn’t matter how strong your muscles are, if the foundation of skeletal bones is porous and unstable, the foundation is going to crumble. Literally, your bones will break. Pilates resistance training, particularly on the Reformer or other spring –based Pilates resistance machines, helps build and maintain bone density keeping our bones healthy and strong.


Breath in. Breath out. Repeat.

If you are going to keep going at this crazy pace and not lose your mind, you have to find a way to deal with stress. We are pulled in a million directions – work, kids, family, community. The stresses are never ending, cumulative and hazardous to your health. Pilates teaches you to focus on the task at hand while letting go of the extraneous tension in your body and your mind. This mind-body connection, practiced over and over in your Pilates workout, transfers into your everyday life creating calm and control.



Barbara Grant is the President and Founder of Retrofit Pilates, a full-service studio located in Toronto’s Bloor West Village.




Busy relationships in Toronto can feel like long distance in the same city

Toronto is a city of neighborhoods, and as wonderful as this is when you live in a fantastic community like King West it can sometimes make seeing people who live in different parts of the city nearly impossible. I haven’t seen Boyfriend in almost two weeks and a part of me feels like we’re in a long distance relationship even though we live within 45 minutes of each other by transit.

The past couple of weeks have been busy for me at work and Boyfriend has been working on his new short film which means that as much as we’ve wanted to see each other it just hasn’t been possible. When I finish work I rush home to walk the pup and then I’ve always got something to do; whether it’s my unbreakable date with my boys on Monday nights, my Wednesday night workouts, work events or social media events – it’s been BUSY.

We’ve got a date scheduled for Friday night but after that he has to run off to a monthly meeting of the minds for those trying to make it in the film and television industry; this meeting has proved lucrative for him in the past so I can’t ask him to skip it any more than he can ask me to skip out on something for my work.

I realize that I’m basically complaining about being too young, too successful and too in love with my partner, I really do; and it’s not that I’m ungrateful Toronto has given me opportunities that I could have never imagined before I left Kingston for bigger and better things. I see friends on Facebook who have quiet lives in the small town I left behind and while they seem happy it just isn’t something I’d ever want for myself. I wanted my career to be the number one thing in my life and I’m not ashamed of that, not even a little, but sometimes it’s hard to fit everything in.

This is how people fall into the Toronto trap; this is how couples move in together too soon and it’s just easier to see your partner when you know they will be waiting for you at home. I see myself starting to think this way already thinking that it would just be easier if we got a place together and then it wouldn’t feel so much like I was in a not-so-long-distance-relationship. If we’d just move our relationship faster everything would be easier but that’s not the answer. I’ve always said that I wanted to wait until we’d been together for two years, I don’t want to move fast just because I get lonely at night sometimes, I don’t want to push us before we’re ready. Yes, I want to live with Boyfriend in 2014 but it’s going to have to wait a little longer before we’re emotionally and financially ready.

Thinking about all of this moving in stuff sure ages a girl suddenly I feel like an actual real-life grown up.

Makeup tutorial for abused women goes viral

For most people the realities of domestic violence are hard to put into every day terms. The violence faced at home and the fear and anxiety that comes with violent partnerships seems so far removed — that is, until they see a video like this.

Refuge for Women and Children Against Domestic Violence puts a victim of abuse in a setting familiar to many women: a makeup tutorial. The only difference is that she isn’t trying to achieve the Beyonce or Gaga look, she’s trying to cover her bruises before her abusive partner comes home.

Did this clip help you gain some perspective?

Continuing education: Should you go back to school?

I come from a family of school lovers. I’ve been raised with a deep respect for education and the role it plays in career success. My parents have about four or five Master’s degrees between them, and my little sisters have followed suit, taking every opportunity to gain as much knowledge as possible through different avenues.

I’m pretty sure this thirst for knowledge has played a big role in any success I’ve had in business – not only my post-secondary education, but more specifically the importance I’ve placed on continuing education in my fields.  It’s not always possible or efficient to take a full degree program, and really, it’s not always necessary either. I’ve found that especially in a city like Toronto, the options we have for furthering our skills and knowledge set are numerous. I’ve taken single university classes according to my preferences and enrolled in continuing education courses, online seminars, or weekend workshops to learn more as I’ve taken on different roles within my company or different projects as they come.

What it comes down to is having a good grasp on your strengths and your weaknesses. My strength has always been marketing and communications, but in starting a business from the ground up, I’ve had to learn other skill sets as well. I’ve taken additional courses in accounting and management to build a foundation for skills that I knew were imperative to the functioning of a business.

I’ve also found that not all education takes place in a classroom environment, so I make sure to keep myself open to furthering my development through networking with other professionals to exchange knowledge and advance learning as well. I’ve attended trade shows, conferences, and other industry-specific events that have done wonders in helping me to be more confident in knowledge of any facet of my business. The Internet is also an amazing resource, as are books that provide a convenient way to advance knowledge.

If you’re a business owner who wants to keep learning, through the busy schedules and the demanding itineraries, it is absolutely possible to find a way.  Whether it’s through getting an actual degree or taking short-term courses to bolster my knowledge, in my personal experience, continuing education helps in achieving my ultimate vision of success.

Even the toughest folks will be terrified by this short film — you’ve been warned

I like to think I don’t scare very easily, especially in the office in the middle of the afternoon. Boy was I wrong.

I will certainly be sleeping with the lights on tonight.

If you’re a fan of frights this 3 minute video should be right up your alley. The short won David F Sandburg the honour of best director at the Bloody Cuts Horror Challenge, so you know it will leave you up at night.

If you’re less adventurous you might want to sit this one out.

You’ve been warned.