Tag

life

Browsing

Reflection: I love you Mom

Four years ago, I wrote the blog post below celebrating my mother, when she was almost taken from me:

It’s unfortunate that we never truly know how much a loved one means to us until we’re faced with the risk of losing them. I of course love my mother beyond words, but it wasn’t until a few days ago while driving home from work and I received a text from my  dad that read “Call me A.S.A.P on my cell or at home” that the reasons I love her flashed through my mind. My blood ran cold. First of all, my father is a hard working man who would not be at home at 4:30 p.m. on a Monday afternoon. He works until 8 on Mondays. Secondly, he rarely texts and never asks to be contacted on his cell. He only ever uses it for outgoing calls. I knew something was wrong.

I parked in my condo’s parking garage, raced to the elevator forgetting half of my belongings in my car trying to get to an area that had full phone service.  I took a deep breath while attempting to push the negative from my mind, then dialed.

“Jess”, he said as soon as he picked up, “You’ve got to book that flight. That one Mom talked to you about last night. The deal ends today and she wanted me to remind you.”

“OK” I replied, feeling a bit relieved that this was all he was calling about, but something in the back of my mind told me there was more. See my mom is an angel who does everything to help others before even giving a thought to herself. If she wanted me to book that flight and was able to call she would have called me herself.

“You have to do it, Jess,” he said again. “Mom’s in intensive care. She’s very sick.” My heart felt like it had been ripped out. I couldn’t understand. I had just talked to her the night before. She was fine aside from what sounded like a chest cold. “The Doctors say they are hopeful they can reverse it. She’s gonna be fine but she needs our prayers.”

Naturally I crumbled.  My dad said, “Don’t do this. She’s going to get through this. You go book that flight.”

“Tell her I love her,” I said through heaving sobs while moments spent hearing her over Skype the night before when she told me how proud she was of me, replayed in my mind. All I wanted was to be next to her. Her, the woman who does for others before she ever gives a second thought about herself. All those reasons that I love her beyond words began flooding my mind and I became completely undone at the thought of a world and a life without her in it.

 Dad said to book the flight for my trip home  to Ottawa at Christmas and say prayers. I did. But the feelings bouncing around my core, like electricity attempting to escape with no outlet, drove me nutty all night. I felt completely helpless, not knowing the true scenario and what sort of chances she had of recovering. I got the feeling that my dad was in a bit of shock and perhaps was doing his best not to divulge full details to avoid me becoming frantic. I later found out both were true.

Had my doting father, also a wonderful and loving husband, not had his late start day that morning, my mother would have died. An extreme and vicious case of pneumonia that went septic, poisoning her blood and threatening her vital organs, almost took her from us. But she’s a fighter. She pulled through.

My mom, is such an incredible woman  in so many ways and is an amazing support to me and my brothers. She steadies me,  knocks sense into me with her wise advice,  encourages me in all that I do, and motivates me to be the best woman I can be while reminding me that there truly are no limits.  My mother is a wonderful and talented person with a beautiful soul and the most giving nature. I only hope that one day I’ll be half the woman she is.

I always reflect on Mother’s Day. I give thanks to my mother for all of the ways she brightens my life. This year, more than any other, when I say “I love you Mom” it will be more than an acknowledgement of her success in fulfilling the role of mother to perfection, it will be a reminder to me that without her in my life, there would be a gaping void in my heart and soul.

She’s getting a bit stronger every day, and I have complete faith that she will be back to her cheerful self in no time. She’s receiving wonderful care while in hospital and the doctors and nurses have been unbelievable to both her and my father throughout this hardship.

****

She pulled through, but this experience and horrendous ordeal reminds me about how lucky I am to have my parents. It’s easy to forget the impact family and loved ones have and to take for granted the place they hold in your heart, when so consumed with the busy day-to-day. I vow to remember and appreciate every day, not just on Mother’s and Father’s Day.

Why transformative travel will change your life’s journey

In a society ruled by expected instantaneous results and smart devices, it’s often healthy to tap into your inner peace. This can be done through self-reflection or connecting with the elements around us.

While indulging on you inner journey, try escaping on an outer journey too. “Transformative travel” is a term coined by travel industry experts to describe a vacation that helps the traveller connect with their deeper self and inspire consciousness in the world. The Transformational Travel Collaborative is an organization founded on the basis of encouraging travellers to indulge in personal and inner journeys while on vacation.

The purpose of travelling is usually to immerse yourself in the local culture. This is often done by interacting with locals, going on excursions, and enjoying unique delicacies But have you ever felt worn out after a vacation like that one? It’s almost like you need another vacation after your vacation!

 

Instead of traditional travel, try travel with purpose. Travelling by itself helps you to discover, grow, and evolve, but it can also play a big component to healthy living and elevated growth.

Veronica Persaud, a travel consultant and franchise owner of Veronica Persaud- Dream Vacations, views travel as a connecting component of our life’s journey. “When someone travels they not only discover new things about the world around them, but most importantly, how they fit into this world! It’s like being a part of one grand puzzle, each piece as important as the other,” she told Women’s Post.

This new approach to viewing travel is heavily linked to wellness. Transformative travel promotes luxury retreats that have a more natural and artisanal design rather than modern or urban. Every part of your getaway should be peaceful in some aspect — this can include yoga, fitness, or wellness-related activities. Many travel agencies have jumped on this wellness trend, promoting fitness and health rather than local nightlife. In St Lucia, for example, the official tourism board has declared November as the inaugural Adventure and Wellness Month.

Even celebrities have started to promote the idea of going off the grid and focusing on your mental well being. In 2016, Chrissy Teigen, model and co-host of Lip Sync Battle, went on a wellness retreat to Bali, Indonesia. Her collection of majestic and soothing images on her Instagram helped spur this kind of movement forward. The family stayed at the COMO Shambhala Estate, which is a wellness resort offering activities such as hiking, swing yoga and rafting. It also housed a resident nutritionist for designed health plans. On her Instagram, Teigen captioned,

“My body and mind have never felt so clear. Thank You for getting me to move again… and giving me some much needed body and nutrition schooling.”

To Amy: the most patient human in the world

A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

 

Transformative experiences that take place while travelling have a long lasting effect on psychology and emotion. For a more transformative travel experience follow these tips by Women’s Post:

  • Consider your intention for travel
  • Write down the goals for your trip — for instance: make a marriage stronger, connect with family, mental health or learning a creative trade.
  • Be vulnerable and humble — don’t just view a country for its glamorous tourist bits, but speak to a local about their lives and the conditions of that country.
  • Do less — take time to relax and experience the feelings around you
  • Have gratitude for your new perspective
  • Recall your insights gained by the trip and give yourself a short break upon returning home and restarting work

Your personal purpose and connection also transcends to a consciousness of the world, resulting in your desire to make meaningful changes once you return home. If you are thinking of where to start a journey like this, consider Dream Vacations. 

What are your thoughts on transformative travel? Leave a comment below!

 

Get ready to stay up all night for Nuit Blanche 2017

Nuit Blanche is back for the 12th annual city wide art show. On Sept. 30 from sunset to sunrise, Toronto’s downtown core is transformed into an artistic wonderland, with installations, exhibits, and live performances being carried out throughout the city. This year, the festival will Celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday under the theme entitled: “Many Possible Futures.”

This is the first time there is a specific theme at Nuit Blanche. The festival will host 35 art immersive projects, with four set to run from dusk till dawn. Over all there will be 300-plus independent artists and 90 different art projects to experience in the city.

Here are five exhibitions to look out for at this year’s festival:


Monument to the Century of Revolutions- Nathan Phillips Square ( all night)
Curated by Nato Thompson

This exhibition features 21 different showcases within one project. The installation is a reflection of Russian history and the Bolshevik Revolution, which led to the rise of the Soviet Union. The display will feature an array of different shipping containers that essentially form a village. In this village, different shipping containers will display moments throughout history from the Mexican Revolution to the French Revolution. One section will address issues of indigenous peoples, sex workers, queer activism and African diaspora. In all, this village is a social space that represents history and the narrative of global justice.


Calculating Upon The Unforeseen- AGO (6:58PM- 2:00AM) Indoors
The Forest- Curated by Clara Halpern

This performance at the AGO will feature Canadian artist Will Kwan, and addresses how inequality is created through economics and cultural discussions.The performance will address the “force and fragility” of the human voice through words. These spoken words will reflect on human history and poetic stories, and will only be conveyed through human and voice connection.


Taking To The Streets- Wellesley Street West & Queen’s Park Crescent West
Automobile- Curated by Barbara Fischer

Artist Joseph Namy will feature a translation of sound using the bass system of various cars. Clusters of cars will be parked under a bridge near Wellesley St., featuring an amplified sound that can be heard even before the display is seen. The goal of this installation is to see how people listen to music versus how they feel when they hear music. The loud bass is powerful and is meant to transmit this power to a large audience.


Netflix’s Red Forest- Spadina Courthouse Rotunda

For the first time, Netflix will be creating the “Upside Down” world that is featured in the popular Netflix series, Stranger Things. Expected to be one of the most popular attractions, explorers have a chance to explore the ‘Red Forest’ that reflects the upside down world. Guests even wear a hazmat when entering the forest to reflect the nature of the show. This is a big promotional effort for the show Stranger Things, but understandably is very appealing.

Fly By Night- The Gladstone Hotel
Curated by Lukus Toane

This celebration at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street Wes, is an all-night event that will showcase this hotel as one of Toronto’s oldest cultural hubs. The Gladstone is already known for their unique and artistic rooms, but the celebration will take place on the second floor public space and will feature live performances and a visual transformation of the environment. There will also be karaoke at the Melody Bar on the first floor.

As per usual the TTC will be operating all night to ensure the easy transport of persons around the city. For more information visit nbto.com


Hope you have an enjoyable Nuit Blanche 2017!

Tabatha Southey’s quirky and deliciously funny Collected Tarts

Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies is an anthology of witty, thought provoking, and endearing columns by Tabatha Southey, a modest and humble human being with a spirited imagination that lends itself to powerfully funny writing. Each column, from the very first one published in 1999 to the last one in May 2017, will make the reader laugh, reflect, and maybe ponder the meaning of the word underwear.

Southey’s smart wit is what makes her writing so appealing. An avid reader herself, she does not underestimate her readers. No topic is too complicated, and if it is, she throws in a story about a monkey to lighten the load. She tackles each piece all with grace and humour — and perhaps an animal or two.

Southey has written columns for Elle CanadaThe WalrusMaclean’s Magazine, and of course, the Globe and Mail, where she held a long-standing position as a weekly columnist until earlier this month. On Aug. 31, both Southey and another female writer were let go after the newspaper underwent an overhaul.

“It was an honour to have a tiny little voice in a national conversation,” she said of the Globe’s decision. “I will miss my readers and I hope they follow me elsewhere.”

What makes Southey so successful as a columnist isn’t her animal-centric plotlines or her slightly sexual sense of humour (although they do help). It’s her loyal fan base — readers she admires as much as they admire her. “I love hearing from all parts of Canada,” she said. “I hear from guys in the military and people in small towns, and if its one thing that kept me at the column, it was hearing from readers.”

Her new book — to be launched on Sept. 30 — is a nod to those readers. It showcases a number of fan-favourites as well as Southey’s most thought-provoking and fun pieces. The book, Southey said, actually went long. “I thought, let’s put a variety in there. It would be a shame if someone got the book and something they really liked wasn’t in there.”

Every once in a while, Southey will include a few tidbits of information prior to the column, either to provide context or to recite a funny anecdote about how the piece came to be. She is candid about her experience as a writer, but still manages not to make herself the focus of the narrative. Through her columns, she tackles finances, business, politics, and even tells a harrowing story about what it’s like to shop for a bra. There is, as she says, something for everyone to enjoy.

You can purchase a copy of Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies here.

 

After reading her book, Women’s Post spoke with Southey in detail about the future of satire writing, a columnist’s grind, and advice for young female writers:

Q: What was it like to review your work from 1998 to now?

A: It’s good because it forces you to go back and see what you did, and the pieces certainly got longer. I honestly enjoyed doing it. Does that sound vain? That I enjoyed reading my own work?

You’ve mentioned the grind of writing a column every single week. Has there been a time you were stuck?

Every week! Every week I’m like “That’s it. I’m done. I can’t!” Almost every week! I filed with the Globe on Thursday morning, sometimes the afternoon if it’s a story that was still developing. You never stop reading the news and thinking and you are always kind of hoping you will get an idea or a lead. If you don’t have an idea or a clue when you go to bed Tuesday night you don’t really sleep. My mother says “I know not to phone you from Tuesday to Thursday afternoon.” Every week I’m in a panic. There is no dinner cooked on Wednesdays.

Are readers still drawn to satire within news publications? Will we see more or less of it in the future?

I think it’s a golden age. A lot of people are doing great political comedy. I think political humour is cathartic and it motivates. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. In fact, I love seeing the Beaverton, which is doing great work here in Canada. I think they are knocking it out of the park and I’m very glad to see that. It’s so great they have that venue and a clear voice. The Internet makes it all possible.

What advice would you give to young women who want to become column writers?

I would say read a lot. And I think there is a trap that women columnists are easily led in to, which is to constantly write about being a woman…. especially if you are a woman and you have a tragedy to tell. There will always be a market for that. I think that’s a dead end.

My advice is to learn about one thing and learn everything there is about that one thing. It doesn’t really matter what that one thing is. It can be politics, it can be vintage cars, [or] it can be wine. Go and learn it and be the person that people call when there is a controversy. Be that person that people want their opinion. It doesn’t mean you can’t write about other things. That is my advice. Do not Sex in the City it up.

Do you think there is still a gap in terms of gender in the newsroom? Are there enough female writers?

No. There aren’t enough women in almost every profession. I do feel that women are brought in sometimes to bring in a woman’s perspective and not to tread in to other categories. I’m a woman writer and the number of times I’ve heard people say “she needs to go back to writing in the style section” – now there is nothing at all wrong with writing for the style section. Great, do it! But that’s not where I come from and that is the assumption that will be made. So I think there is still ground to be broken.

I think in general what gives you the right to have an opinion is a question that is asked more of women than it is asked of men. I feel that a woman’s opinion, especially if it’s quite surgically spoken, by which I mean well argued, is sometimes met with hostility.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I will read the nerdiest books ever. I read a book about a giant hedge. I like those [books that] take one topic and use it as a thread to go through history to learn something.

What’s next for you?

I am looking into other things. I have to say that people have been great about getting in touch with me and I’m going to make a decision fairly shortly.

I am exploring alternative revenue streams – how’s that?

 

How to stay thankful when the world hits back

With all the stress, disaster, and hurt happening in the world, it may be hard to realize that each day is an opportunity to start fresh. As many people in the Caribbean are dealing with the catastrophic effects of natural disasters, there are many things that people around the owrld should be thankful and grateful for in this life. It’s a difficult feeling to know that you can only do so much for those in need. It also doesn’t need to be Thanksgiving for you to remember what it means to be thankful. Little steps and tips daily can help you to become a more grateful person despite the chaos around you.

Keep it classic

Remember when people would actually speak to each other face to face and over the phone and not just over instant message or email? Sometimes the smallest things can make the world of difference to someone’s day. Maybe it’s a quick phone call to a distant friend or a written and mailed thank you note or letter. These little gems have become so unexpected that they are now moments to cherish. When you take the time to do these things, you are expressing more gratitude than just a “thx” in an email.

Remember to speak

Sometimes people get frustrated and that is understandable; however, it is unacceptable to take it out on complete strangers. Just yesterday, I was in line at Subway and there was one man serving approximately four customers. The man in front of me was visibly upset for having to wait an extra four minutes to get his sandwich. When his order was finally complete, he threw the money at the server and left the restaurant without a ‘thank you.’ The man behind the counter was visibly upset and he told me that sometimes people get the treatment they deserve in life. As a new immigrant to Toronto, from the UK, the employee told me that despite being a multicultural city, Toronto still feels cold to him in part to people like that. Nobody deserves to have money thrown at them, no matter the day you’re having. The best thing you can do is always remember to say ‘Thank you.’

Keep it on record

Many people get into the habit of expressing their emotions thorough journals and this is a good way to show emotional control and to keep track of your thoughts. Even if you are not into the routine of journaling, there are small exercises you can do daily to keep gratitude in perspective. Every morning or every evening, list five things that you are grateful for. Try not to stick to the broad and basic stuff like ‘my family’ and ‘my home,’ but instead think about your day to day experiences and the people you cross paths with in life. Be thankful for the stranger that held the door open for you this morning or be thankful for the feeling of sunshine in a balmy September.

Be Positive

Telling someone to be positive when everything is going wrong around them can sometimes feel like a slap to the face. Instead, make it your duty to reflect the best version of yourself to those around you. You have to be the one to make the decisions that will impact your life. Practice more self awareness and don’t bury your face in a phone while communicating with someone. Or even practice breathing and mediation in order to calm yourself and improve your mood.

Only one version of you

The most powerful thing you have over someone else is that you are unique. There is nobody else like you in this world. Some may have similar characteristics and traits, but you are in control of your life and the best thing you can do is be thankful to your body. Eat, sleep, exercise, and have fun. The moments may pass us by quickly and you don’t want to leave your life with regrets. The best thing you can do is make yourself happy because sometime happiness can be the most difficult thing to achieve

Saying goodbye to Cassini

Farewell Cassini. After 13 years orbiting Saturn, the little spacecraft has sent its final broadcast. At 7:55 a.m. ET on Sept. 15, Cassini descended into Saturn’s atmosphere, breaking up and dissolving into space.

Cassini left Earth’s orbit in 1997 on a four-year mission that was extended twice until it ended early this morning. The mission was to explore all aspects of Saturn, including its rings and its moons. Of particular interest was the discovery that Enceladus, one of Saturn’s revolving moons, was not a barren icy wasteland — it actually spewed organic material from what scientists believe could be a subsurface ocean.

The spacecraft also allowed scientists to get a close and detailed look at the ring system of the planet.

But what was truly special about this spacecraft and its mission was how it got everyone interested in exploration and discovery. Kids, teens, and even adults watched the mission with growing interest, thirsty for just one more picture of the mysterious moons and rings or Saturn.

Unfortunately, in order to avoid contaminating those same moons, especially Enceladus, which now is believed to contained Earth-like microbes, NASA scientists made the decision to terminate the mission and let Cassini dive into the atmosphere.

Here are some of the images broadcast from Cassini’s twitter over the last month during the final goodbye trip:

 

What was your favourite discovery? Let us know in the comments below!

How rejection has humbled me

So get this. During your lifetime, you will come across people that won’t exactly love you. Heck, they won’t even like you. The very thought of you doing well in life will cause anguish in theirs. And while some people have come to terms with this very early on, realizing it’s just a part of life, I, myself, am just learning this. And dear Lord, it’s quite the humbling experience.

I try to be a good person. Plus, I’m cute. So my first wave of rejection came as a shock. What’s there not to love about me? I carry myself with poise, demonstrate kindness and sincerity, and have just the right amount of confidence. I bring this confidence to all my relationships. I made sure he saw it. I wanted him to. I had feelings for him after all. But after a couple of months, we decided a romantic relationship wasn’t going to work out due to a number of uncontrollable reasons, including distance. Despite the circumstances, we continued speaking anyways. I was hooked. He was my drug. I told myself he was hooked on me too. He had to be.

Then, fate took over. I came across his profile on a dating app my friend had recently signed up for. I read his bio. I read his willingness to move abroad. I read he was looking for a confident, ambitious, smart, funny, and crazy woman. Confident. Ambitious. Smart. Funny. Crazy. I read it over and over again, never feeling smaller then I did at that moment. The confidence I brought to that relationship wasn’t enough. Neither was the ambition. Nothing was. He didn’t find anything he was looking for in me.

It was humbling.

The problem is, I’m a people pleaser. I will bend over backwards to get people to like me, sometimes putting my own priorities at jeopardy. I’ll let my own deadlines slide, or sacrifice that one thing I was saving up for to do something for someone else. It’s the norm I’ve grown up knowing. So after putting in 110% to a relationship that was never really a relationship to begin with, I realized how much I cared for him. What I didn’t realize, was that I was expecting something in return. What I didn’t realize, was that, instead, I was being used as a scapegoat to fill the emotional needs of this person while he was searching for something better.

It was humbling.

I wasn’t as selfless as I thought I was. As I heard in a movie once (because romantic comedies are always credible), unrequited love is actually an immensely powerful feeling. Because unlike other relationships, it doesn’t need to be shared by two people. You have sole proprietorship over it. I gained a little strength from this, but I quickly concluded it was complete bull sh*t. Love feels better to share. Love feels better when its reciprocated. There’s something about it that makes you glow. Inside and out.

Unfortunately, its human nature to want what you can’t have. Even if you were blessed with anything you’ve ever wanted and more, you’ll still want that one thing you weren’t meant to obtain. Your heart will tell you he’s the only one for you, and you’ll genuinely start to internalize this. But then you’ll come to realize….maybe you’re not the one for them.

And its humbling.

Teaching the cycle of life — with gardening

Gardening can be used as a powerful tool to teach children the interconnectedness of all things — including our dependence on and understanding of how the cycle of life works. It may appear to be a bit deep of a conversation to have while your family plants their tulips and herbs, nevertheless I think it’s an important connection to emphasis.

Plants are born, and once they die, they can return the next year in a new form, or grow into something else that helps the earth. This process of gardening helps children understand the concept of life and death cycles in a larger context. We are all born, we all die, and what happens to us is merely within the nature of life itself. Using gardening as a teaching tool for kids to understand the philosophical inquiries of the meaning of life may seem a bit far-fetched, but what better way to concretely show how the life works in its most natural state.

When my daughter was young, we had a garden of beautiful hybrid tea roses in our backyard and the two of us would tend them in the summer. She would help me dig up the dirt with her little bucket and we would watch these beautiful flowers bloom. On the other hand, we would also watch these flowers die at the end of the season. Every year, it would make my daughter sad. She couldn’t quite comprehend why we would tend so carefully to a set of flowers that would wither away at the end of season. Through a child’s eyes, it made me realize how truly sad it is to watch a brilliant flower slowly shrivel up and fall apart unto their inevitable death.

I explained to my little girl that the roses would return next year and that the flowers have to die in order to be born again. Explaining the cycle of life and death to a child through gardening ultimately helps when a loved one dies as well. It is a way to explain to a child that everything from a flower to a person has to die, but that it gives way for something else to be born in its place. The following year when my daughter saw our beautiful roses bloom again, it also helped to prove that the cycle of life is constantly moving and changing.

Understanding that all living things from plants to people are intrinsically a part of the same world is a connective and vital experience as well. It may also be interesting to explain that the cycle of life means that we return to the ground once we die, and become something else again.

It is hard work to tend to plants and help them grow, and ultimately is an example of how life works in itself. Next time you are in the garden with the kids, talk about the cycle of life — it is sure to be a beautiful, philosophical experience for everyone involved.

Your 3 step guide to the perfect Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is as joyous as the winter holiday season for some, and as agonizing as Monday mornings for others. Celebrating love and affection between companions is a beautiful experience; however, there is a lot of pressure to live up to the standards society has set for couples. Expressing our love by presenting flowers, a box of chocolates, or cheesy greeting cards with dancing monkeys on them just doesn’t cut it anymore. In today’s day and age, a lot of other factors need to be considered to have the ‘perfect Valentine’s Day.’

I casually watched the build up last week as all my girlfriends in relationships questioned whether or not they should be expecting anything from their significant others on Valentine’s Day. As they prepped themselves with waxing sessions and had their lingerie on standby, one thing became clear very quickly. Even if they’ve been seeing each other for over a year, even if they were married, even if it’s only been a few months – the bottom line is women are always expecting something. That too, without the intent of initiating anything themselves.

Passive aggressive texts are sent and not so subtle hints are dropped to ensure that come Valentine’s Day evening, they will have some sort of plans with bae. So, to avoid any sort of disappointment and heart break, here’s a step by step guide to make sure your Valentine’s Day is barf worthily corny and envied by others.

Initiate it yourself 

Ladies, it’s 2017. If you can’t ask your man or woman out on a date, you’re not doing feminism right. Take a stand against patriarchy and don’t wait around for the flowers and chocolate. Return the favour and make the gesture by getting him/her something nice too. Investing in a red, lacy number is thoughtful, but let’s be real: it’ll only be on you for a maximum of 3 minutes before it’s on the ground. Besides, it’s really more for you than them. Oftentimes, media lure men into getting something special for their partner by advertising jewelry or the perfect type of chocolates to give during the dinner that they too pay for. That sh*t gets pricey. So, if he can spend a good chunk of his pay-cheque to impress you — you can too. Even if you make less money than him. (But let’s sip tea about that another day.)

Lay off social media

Okay, Rachel – we get it. You’re feeling your new Pandora bracelet and the roses you got are redder than your cheeks during the great Canadian winter. But it’s important to say thank you to Carl and let him know you’re grateful for him rather than telling 756 of your ‘friends.’ In midst of all the likes and comments are hidden scoffs and eye rolls from people you barely know, in addition to people you might want to reconsider having any sort of friendship with. Besides, seeing what Richard got Anika may make you question and reevaluate your own relationship. Is your gift big enough? Is your selfie cute enough? Don’t bring that sort of negative energy into your life. Sure, sharing a selfie to commemorate your love is cute, especially on Valentine’s Day. You should be proud of your significant other’s face, and you have every right brag about with your favourite filter. However, one too many posts, and you will end up on the ’16 annoying couple posts’ Buzzfeed piece. And that’s not something to brag about.

Do something! 

Yes, every day should be Valentine’s Day. However, it’s important to make things a little more special sometimes. And if society sets out a special day for you to encourage you to do so, then by all means – take advantage of the opportunity. I’m not saying to go on top of the Empire State building and declare your love with a bouquet of $150 peonies (Thanks, Chuck!). However, if you have dinner with your significant other every night, have dinner with candles tonight. Skip the routine missionary and spooning, put on something sexy, and surprise your significant other with some spine chilling foreplay. If you want Valentine’s Day to be special, go out and make it happen.

Sometimes expectations for Valentine’s Day can be so high that you just can’t reach them. And while putting together the perfect night can take more planning than a military operation, what’s important to remember is that being with the one you care for is what should make it special. Trying not to conform under societal pressures to go big or go home is difficult, but keeping your partner in mind is the key to success. Don’t do it for the Instagram post — do it for bae.

And if you happen to be without a partner this Valentine’s Day, embrace it. No one will ever love you more than you love yourself. And if that’s not the case at the moment, start tonight!

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below! 

Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating women

Valentine’s Day is often about separating into couples or honouring your own self-love and independence, but this year I challenge every woman to try something a little different. Instead of giving power to the things that separate women from one another, whether it be by being with our partners or on our own, let’s use the holiday of love to begin building a community of women helping women. Let’s build a community of love, if you will.

January has been a painful month with a megalomaniac fool running the show down south (do I even need to mention his name?) and a relatively silent leader up north, who isn’t saying much to the big bully downstairs. It is a tough time to be a woman, a minority, a member of the media, or anything else other than an old white man. To add salt to the wound, the sun is rarely out and everyone is sick with the cold or the flu. Honestly, what is a girl to do?

In times of great trial, it is necessary to resist spiralling into a great depression by being positive. In an effort to be optimistic, women should use Valentine’s Day as an act of solidarity! Whether it be hanging out with a few friends, or getting your grandmother, mother, and sister to all go out for dinner with you, celebrate the collective community of femininity.

This is not the year for Valentine’s Day to be a comparison between those who have a boyfriend and those who don’t. Doesn’t that seem like such a blasé past-tense way to celebrate a holiday created precisely to celebrate love? By separating women into those two camps, it limits our potential to collectively unite and feel empowered and loved with each other. Let’s continue the momentum from the Women’s Marches around the world and foster a true sense of community and love. There are simply too many women who are not finding valuable connections with other women and are instead desperately lonely and wanting of men on holidays such as Valentine’s Day, which traditionally focus on monogamy.  Instead, use Valentine’s Day as yet another reason to enjoy the beautiful women in your life. Our women communities matter too and deserve as much time and space when it comes to celebrating love.

I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year by looking at my beautiful daughter and revering in her exquisite and effeminate existence. I will be celebrating my mother’s strength and sage wisdom, and thanking her for teaching me how a woman with integrity acts. I will be surrounded by various women influences who have stood by over years of tears and doubts, celebrations and all the mess in between.

Celebrate women on Valentine’s Day. I mean after all, who will be beside you laughing and reminiscing when you are old and bony in the nursing home?