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April 2018

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Getting race ready

No matter how well my training is going, there is still a seed of doubt about whether I’ll be able to do a personal best on that day. This is normal behavior I am told from my running friends, and it is basically for me to learn how to cope with the pre-run jitters.

The key is to think about all the hard training I have done, and how good I will feel crossing the line. A positive mindset and being prepared before race day will never let me down to perform well.

Here are my top 5 racing tips before I lace up my shoes:

1. Clothing/shoes

What helps settle my pre-race jitters is the night before I figure out what to wear. I dress for the weather conditions and wear moist wicking fabrics to keep me dry and comfortable. I also choose the shoes that are best for the distance I am doing. In addition, I bring an extra change of clothes, socks and comfortable shoes to change into afterwards.

Before lining up to the start I double knot my shoe laces to trip in the race which has almost happened once.

Two other items I bring are Vaseline and Bandaids.

To keep me warm before the start I wear a top that I don’t want and can discard  it when the gun goes off. 

2. Nutrition/Hydrate – The night before, I eat light- for example plain tomato sauce with pasta- I avoid anything too spicy and creamy sauces that will upset my stomach. Lunch is my last big meal before any race day. The morning of, I usually have oatmeal with brown sugar and fruit with milk. That is all I need before the run.

If it is a half marathon or a longer distance I will bring an energy bar and have it halfway through the race. Avoid eating too close to race start as this could lead to problems during the race.  Also, I also keep hydrated leading up to the race. Most big races have water and/or energy drink on the course.

3. Rest – I make sure to have a good  sleep the night before. The previous day to the race, I stay off my feet and relax to music.

4. Stretching- I stretch after my warm-up before the run and after the race. I also do a cool down afterwards. I stretch all of my muscle groups, including calves, quads, hamstrings, groins, I-T bands, arms, upper and lower back.

5. Start slow, finish strong works for me. I start slow and then I make up the time later.  While running I keep my shoulders low and relaxed and pump my arms, especially on the hill sections. Suggestion: have a realistic goal.  Write on a wrist band the times you are hoping to achieve at 5 kms, 10 kms, 15 kms and 20 kms. 

 I try to run my own race and don’t compare myself to others. This will keep me focused, relaxed – the end result I will be running smoothly.

 

Women taking over business travel

I am not a techie, but over the years I have learned how to incorporate basic technology into my day-to-day activities because it is imperative for communication and the work that I do.

 Statistics indicate that business travel and face-to-face meetings are still the preferred choice for many companies despite the technologies that exist to cut down on the travel.  Statistics from reports indicate that there were 514 million business trips taken last year by Americans alone which infused $424 billion into the US economy.

As the tide changes and women are taking on more prominent roles in various male-dominated businesses it’s easy to understand why many who prefer face-to-face meetings are women. Women are more focused on building strong bonds with business partners and bringing personable aspects to networking. Women thrive on connections. Men are typically more focused on getting the job done and keeping business, business.

Women and millennials now dominate business travel. Research conducted by the Upside Business Travel, in Washington, has determined that half of all North American business travelers are women and are much younger than men doing the same-  half of business travelers are less than 45.

Additionally, young millennials and women are learning to find more enjoyment while on their travels and are far more likely to mix business and pleasure by combining a work trip with leisure activities. They are taking more control regarding the business agenda and budget during their travels. Mixing business with leisure results in better productivity.

Jay Walker, CEO of Upside Business Travel, explains the growing trend in business travel:

“In the past, companies had very rigid guidelines for employee travel, but now we can see employees pushing back and asking for a budget, they’re saying ‘maybe I’ll book an Airbnb instead of a hotel, they’re saying ‘just tell me how much I need to spend, and I’ll decide how to spend it.'”

As the older male CEO’s and executives move towards retirement, it’s fantastic to see women stepping into those vacant roles and inspiring new, more balanced, methods for getting the job done.

When ghosting leads to gratitude

I met Jake at his restaurant. He owned my favorite brunch place that I’d go to all the time (they made a duck confit hash that was to die for). Whenever I came in for breakfast, he’d step out from behind the counter to take my order personally. I liked him right away — and not just because he supplied me with two of my favorite things: bacon and coffee.

Tall with a neatly trimmed beard and intense dark eyes, Jake was cute in a sexy lumberjack kind of way. He seemed to like me too. When he opened another restaurant right next to my house and I found myself looking for any excuse to go in to see him, I knew I had to ask him out. He said yes.

Along with sizzling chemistry, Jake and I shared a passion for good food and collecting vinyl. The conversation was great and the sex was even better. We dated for four months, until one day when he stopped returning my texts and disappeared off the face of the earth.

(Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Jake still owned a restaurant next to my house. If there’s a prize given out for the most awkward ghosting, he would surely win.)

Jake re-emerged 79 days later to apologize (his excuse: he was in a “weird place”). He asked me out for dinner. When I agreed to meet up with him to talk, he ghosted again. Go figure.

While I’d like to say I never saw this coming, the signs were there from the beginning. Jake was unable to make plans more than twelve hours in advance (“the restaurant business is so unpredictable,” he’d tell me) and often I’d wait up to 24 hours for a reply to a text. It made me feel off-balance, like I never knew where I stood with him. Last but not least, he was petrified of commitment. Even a passing mention of marriage gave him a look of utter terror.

When Jake ghosted, I was confused and hurt. It was months before I felt ready to date again. Eventually though, those feelings gave way to something else: gratitude. Although I lost my favorite brunch place, Jake did me a favor. Thanks to him, I know the warning signs to look out for in the future. By breaking up with me in an immature manner, Jake cleared the path for better, more suitable people to walk into my life.

 

 

Revised SmartTrack plan a GO

Plans don’t always pan out as expected, and although less sometimes means more, disputes can arise. This is the case with Mayor John Tory’s  initial SmartTrack proposal and the plan which has passed by city council on Wednesday.

 A recent announcement was made by the council confirming an agreement to spend up to $1.46 billion on SmartTrack. The plan put forth is an improved version of the one  Mayor Tory proposed during his 2014 election campaign.

 Federal and municipal governments are collaborating to fund this project. The city will raise $878 million of the total and the remaining $585 million will come from the federal transit fund. There was opposition to funding as some councilors believe that the province should pay instead of the city,  forgetting that the funds all come from the same source-tax dollars residents from across the region pay.

Despite worries of high costs and financing the plan, the decision was made to go forward with SmartTrack in a 37 to 6 vote.

Mayor Tory’s initial plan proposed 22 new stations and a link to Pearson Airport. The new plan will see 6 new stations to be operated by Metrolinx – the provincial transit body that operated regional transit service. The plan fuses SmartTrack’s use of existing GO stations and Metrolinx’s Regional Express Rail, and proposes integrated fares.

Mayor John Tory spoke about the much needed transit:

“This is the stage at which we are moving forward to start to build transit stations within the city of Toronto…Other municipalities are not proposing to build stations that the province would not otherwise have built to suit their local needs.”

Mayor Tory has consistently defended the plan noting the  33 million trips estimated on SmartTrack by 2041. The “cheapest transit we’re ever going to get inside the city,” he said.

There is a need for these stations to be built and Toronto municipal leaders are right to move forward with the revised plan put forth by Mayor Tory. Action means results, and as TTC Chair and councillor Josh Colle points out “Toronto has taken too many years off dwelling on the best way to improve the transit system.”

Introvert by nature, ambivert by experience

As a child I was painfully shy. All through elementary school it was clear as day that I was an introvert. My teachers would call on me to respond and I would squeak out an answer at times. But once in a while, I would be so caught off guard by being put on the spot that I would just sit in silence, growing redder and redder in hopes she or he would move along to another student and all eyes would be shifted to a new focus.

As I’ve matured, the introverted nature is still a part of me, but I have learned to be more charismatic and prepared to be put on the spot. I’m now working in a field that involves a mix of working quietly on my keyboard at a distance from the world around me, and one of schmoozing at events, interviewing notable figures and overseeing the work of other writers.

We live in a world of the extrovert, always impacted most by those who are happy to shine in the spotlight. It seems that to succeed in the world of business and entrepreneurship, the introvert has to adapt.

 What I’ve learned is that personalities can complement each other.  People can flourish in any situation when they embrace who they are innately and determine their passions. Spending time alongside others often causes those with opposing personality types to naturally adapt and bring their own strengths to the table. What is now clear to me is that all have value and a bit of extro/intovert in them because of connections they make and through experience.  Just as I have been coaxed to be more extroverted, I’m sure extroverts are inspired to observe and step out of the spotlight because of their own personal and professional experiences.

My lovely co-worker and I were both chatting about our innate introverted natures and she shared that there is now a new term for those of us who are forced daily to put on the extroverted appearance.  Behold, today I am an ambivert.

 

 

 

Get on trend this spring

The  weather leading up to this week was terrible, and I have not had the usual inspiration to update my wardrobe because those winter blahs are still sneaking their way in. Alas, the sunshine and warmer temperatures seem to be on the horizon, which makes me want to wear brighter colours and put a bit of pizzazz in my attire. The top trends for Spring and Summer 2018 will help to do just that:

The runways were filled with sparkle and sequins at all major fashion event for this season. Glitz is not only reserved for evening wear anymore. Sequins in a light sweater, can be the perfect transitional piece from day to evening. Marc Jacobs, Dior, Gucci and Bottega Veneta all showed fantastic pieces to bring the shimmer to your spring.

I usually have reserved the checks for fall and winter clothing, but this year designers went all out with flirty spring versions and variations of this pattern. Runways were filled with this trend in light and radiant hues. Again, the checked pattern can work as a casual sweatshirt for day time and is seen in more formal jackets meant to complement evening wear. Belenciaga, Victoria Beckham, and Burberry all gave a sneak peek of this hot trend for the months ahead.

Fringing is a trend that keeps being reinvented. It returns for the season but is popping up in a more elegant and sophisticated way . Fringe is also showing up on boots again. Celine, Bottega Venetta and Loewe, demonstrated how this trend is to be worn.

#LOEWESS18 as seen in Paris Fashion Week #PFW
photography by @cris.fragkou

A post shared by LOEWE (@loewe) on

I often opt for brighter colours in the spring and summer. Although bold hues are also still on trend, pastels are huge for the seasons, too. Just like in home décor trends for spring, mixing and matching these gelato-inspired colours, is all the rage. Celine, VB and Preen mastered this trend.

Enjoy spicing up that closet this season. I know my inspiration to do that has now kicked in and I plan on heading to the shops on Queen immediately.

Open letter by a former seafood-hater

It’s embarrassing to admit, but the first time I had sushi I hid it in my purse when no one was looking.

Late in high school, I finally decided to give this raw cuisine a try after hearing my gaggle of best friends rave about California rolls and fresh maki. At that point, I’d never eaten sushi or shellfish of any kind. I sat in the restaurant waiting for my meal to arrive. One bite and I’d be in their sushi-loving club… or so I thought. When my fishy meal came, I could barely tolerate the sight of it. The slabs of slippery, raw salmon on my plate before made me gag. Their texture made my stomach churn. Who was I kidding? I wasn’t a cultured eater at all. I didn’t even know how to use chopsticks. While there way no way I’d be feasting on this seafood dish, I was faced with an even bigger dilemma: all-you-can-eat sushi spots charge extra for that which you do not devour. So, I did something that only a picky eater could understand: I scooped up fistfuls of cold, gooey fish, stuffed them into my purse and left. I must have reeked of fish on the bus ride home.

A few years on, I was living in Toronto still successfully avoiding seafood (and especially the raw kind) when I started dating a man with a Portuguese background and an affinity for shrimp, lobster and, you guessed it, sushi. This person introduced me to the world of seafood, in gradual steps – first serving me the cooked kind. In time, I grew to love a plate of shrimp with a beer or a Friday night out eating lobster. Eventually, I tried a less offensive sushi meal and learned it wasn’t so bad at all.

Learning to love a type of food that I had previously dismissed came in handy when I traveled to new spots, like Brazil, for instance. This nation with its Portuguese roots was obsessed with all the foods which that past boyfriend of mine loved. I’ll never forget the day when, sunbathing alone by the ocean, I managed to order a small bowl of freshly-caught shrimp from a fisherman walking along the beach. My delight of being able to order this snack despite the language barrier quickly waned when I realized the shrimp came with the heads still attached. The freshly-peppered morsels caught just that day were a treat too good to pass up as I sunned myself on the beach though. So, without a second-thought, I removed the heads, doused the rest in lime and enjoyed the perfect Brazilian lunch.

Seafood and sushi are now favourite foods of mine. I’m glad I learned to become open-minded rather than dismissive of these dishes. That goes especially when travelling to places where these sorts of foods are the region’s pride and joy. I’ve found that being open to them while away from home has enriched vacation experiences. I gobbled mini octopus in Cuba on a white sandy beach with my brother. I munched on barbecued conch at a Bahamian cocktail party. I swallowed back ice-cold, butter-flavoured oysters in Boston after a long day spent reporting on the Boston Marathon. I fueled a Cape Cod relay race with a lobster roll and when I visited Nova Scotia, armed with a bib, ample napkins and tools for the occasion, I learned to crack my first lobster. More recently, in Vancouver, I sat by a sunny street and ordered a plate of sushi because you just can’t go to the west coast city without doing so. After I finished, I ordered an extra serving of two pieces of salmon sushi. My favourite.

The girl who once hid raw fish in her purse to avoid eating it has grown to be much more adventurous with fresh ocean foods. The menu items that once caused me to grimace have become a routine part of my diet – and a luxury when travelling. And so, I write this as a sort of open letter to the picky eaters out there because these are the ones I hope to convince to say yes to new flavours. Though it cost me a purse, my introduction to seafood has allowed me to better experience tastes from abroad.

Woman of the Week: Katrina Turnbull

There are some women I’m quickly drawn to and I easily become friends with. Usually this has to do with their willingness to be real and open about who they are and about their own failures and successes. I immediately connected with Katrina Turnbull.

Katrina was named one of Ottawa’s “Top 25 Influencers” by Ottawa Life Magazine for good reason. Thousands of readers view her mommy blog Oui C’est Chic , for honest, clever advice from this mother-of-two. Katrina also joins the morning crew at CTV Ottawa often for live segments, where she unveils the latest trends for kids and busy women on the go. She also hosts Bell Fibe’s Capital Style Files, which showcases the fashion sense of influential figures in the nation’s capital and contributes to the Huffington Post.

Katrina gives off the sense that she has it all together – in part because of her fashionable clothing and perfectly applied makeup. Yet, Katrina is the first to admit that her busy schedule- parenting, blogging, and preparing T.V. segments- can get overwhelming. She explains how she tries through her work to assist women with their own daily struggles by offering advice.

“Working women and mothers are always taking care of other people’s needs before their own. It’s an unsustainable model, which is why so many women feel burnout and are unable to devote time to their own self-care. I want women to know that not only is it okay for them to put themselves first once in a while, but it is necessary in order to fuel their minds and soul, so that they can be more productive and nurture others.”

It’s obvious that Katrina is someone who wants to support and empower women. While grabbing a coffee, she was attentive, respectful,  and offered helpful advice to me about starting and maintaining a successful website. She demonstrated how she is doing her best to build other women up. Katrina said this is a critical goal set in her work and in her personal life, adding that she was “fortunate enough to have met strong, confident women” who wanted to help her succeed, while imparting lessons from their own lives. She is set on “paying it forward.”

 Katrina  admires a number of high profile business women who have inspired her. Designer,  Diane Von Furstenberg is at the top of her list of women she most wants to meet, because “she is a champion of women and believing that women are allowed to shape themselves into the type of person they want to be.” Katrina admires her because the designer came from humble beginnings and “hustled her way into a dream career by” carving out her own spot in an industry that was  male-dominated.

Despite her success, Katrina admits that roadblocks and challenges are a part of her journey. She is all too aware about how some women can be more focused on competing than supporting and empowering one another.  She also shared how the MeToo movement couldn’t come at a better time. Despite not feeling there is a clear answer to fixing the issue of harassment in the workplace, Katrina spoke about feeling undervalued simply based on the fact that she is a woman and not a man.

Katrina was the victim of harassment  as a young server in Ottawa and she shared her #MeToo story with me:

“We were forced to wear skimpy uniforms, flirt with customers to get bigger tabs and tips, etc. Complaining about a customer grabbing or propositioning you led to the bar managers taking away our best tables and punishing us by giving  bad shifts for the next few weeks.”

The overall mentality passed down from the head honcho at the nightspot was that women working at the establishment, were mainly there to look good- Katrina added that when such sexist rules come from the top, it’s very difficult to stand up for yourself and change the setting. She eventually had enough and quit.

Her belief now is that Canadians will continue to make a societal change because of the nation’s progressive nature.

Katrina has her sights set on continuing to be a positive influence on women by way of her entrepreneurial projects. For more about Katrina, visit her site.

Photography provided by Valerie Keeler

G7 meetings make women’s rights a focus

Sunday is definitely the day of the week that I love to head to my favourite brunch spot with friends and family.  It seems that world foreign affairs ministers are of the same mindset. G7 representatives gathered for a meeting at Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on Sunday, after she invited the counterparts to her home for brunch.

The meeting was apparently relaxed and informal  ahead of their upcoming agenda that will be quite the opposite. Over the next few days, they will carry on with closed-door meetings at the University of Toronto. On the list of issues to discuss is the ongoing war in the Ukraine and conflicts  in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Palestine.

The meetings this week will lay the groundwork for the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, slated for June. U.S. Secretary Rex Tilerson, Is not taking part in this week’s meetings after recently engaging in direct talks with the North Koreans. North Koreans surprised the world when their radical leader Kim Jong-un announced he is suspending ballistic missile testing.

Talks this week will also focus on cyber threats and combating violent extremists. Another major subject on the agenda is determining ways to curb human trafficking, mainly involving women.

Most victims of human trafficking are women and girls,” said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Friday. “The government of Canada is committed to fighting this abhorrent attack on basic human rights and dignity.”

The topic of human trafficking falls under the Liberal government’s agenda for international feminism and the push for gender equality. Liberal’s have taken a stand in support of women and the agenda represents the shift that is taking place internationally, when it comes to the rights of women.

The focus on fair treatment towards women in the workplace and various societal circumstances is proof that the #MeToo movement is bringing changes on all levels- as slow moving as they may seem to be. Top levels of government making feminism and rights of women a top priority, demonstrates that voices are being heard.

 

The taurus prince, oh baby!

I have to admit I was on edge like much of the world and other royal enthusiasts, while awaiting the arrival of Prince William and Duchess Kate’s third child. The day has arrived. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge just welcomed a healthy baby boy – weighing 8 lbs 7 ounces-at St. Mary’s Hospital in London this morning.

Brits have already begun celebration for St. George’s Day and now the newest little royal has encouraged more. The baby’s name is not known at this time. The town crier announced the birth this morning and the London Eye is set to be lit up this evening with colours of the Union Jack to mark the royal’s birth.

The royal couple’s third is a Taurus, which means he’s definitely going to have a personality that makes an impression and will easily make any home his castle, as evidence from today’s horoscope.

Kate and William’s third child is now 5th in line for the British throne, which means that Prince Harry is bumped down to 6th.  Princess Charlotte remains 4th in line for the throne after British rules were changed two years ago, allowing female children to be regarded equally. In previous years, Charlotte would be 6th in line for the throne behind her uncle, Prince Harry. Prince William’s younger brother has always doted on his niece and nephew and will likely be overjoyed for his brother and sister-in-law. Harry is also getting ready for an exciting day in May.

He and Suits star Meghan Markle will wed in mid-May at Windsor Castle. Kate and William’s two older children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, will reportedly be a part of the wedding party. The new royal baby will likely be in attendance with the Duke and Duchess at the event.