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Remote working may not be for you

Social media is full of remote workers exploring and discovering the world, while still managing to rake in sizable incomes but, is being a digital nomad really all it’s cracked up to be?

Will you really be able to relax in a pool while creating websites in Bali one week, and hop over to Germany’s Oktoberfest for a well-deserved beer the next?

Is remote employment the never-ending – work hard and play harder existence that many public highlight reels would suggest?

Those questions really boil down to a simple one – is remote working actually fun?

Before I get into the details, note that remote working doesn’t mean you have to be Instagram’s poster child for some travel network. You can work remotely from your hometown, population ten, if that’s what you want.

Most remote employment opportunities just require you to have a decent computer and an internet connection. Some will ask that you come in at times, but this isn’t a general rule. The idea of freedom and working from home – or anywhere really, has opened doors for people worldwide.

For women, it provides great opportunities as now the housewife or stay-at-home mum can have a job on the side, or the ‘9-5er’ can earn extra income, without having to do much but log on and get to work.

A few truths: It can be a hassle navigating freelance sites, trying to figure out the best way forward for your remote business, which jobs to take, and how much to charge. Basically, all the small print that social media doesn’t share, as it excites to the point that many want to be as free as the people in the pictures. Witnessing the glamour can make it hard to think about the work that comes with it.

My need for work freedom came well before Instagram made it visually enticing, and it truly wasn’t always pretty. As a contract/freelance worker for over five years, after being a journalist for many years prior to that, I can tell you that as with any job, remote work has its ups and downs.

Unless you’re already established in the field you choose and can immediately get new work, or are graced by a lovely bit of luck, it’ll take a little time to build a loyal client list. Even then, depending on your field you may get mainly one-off jobs.

In these cases it’s best to try to find contract work, which means you’ll be in the money while the contract lasts. In my opinion, as a freelancer or contract worker you need to always keep looking for that next job opportunity, even if you’ve already built up a lucrative base.

Why?

Things happen: companies change, contacts move on, and clients can decide to go in another direction. Being prepared can stave off financially lean months. Bonus though? The more you get out there and provide quality work, the better your chances of being discovered and sought after for your services.

Here’s the verdict: Yes, remote working can open a new world that can be pretty fun, just expect the actual work that goes with it.

 

Nikki Scott turns to her passion for running to beat major health issues

Nikki Scott’s survival in 2005 was not guaranteed. A car accident resulted in a broken back and ribs, and a dislocated collar bone and sternum. A disc in her neck was herniated and both of her lungs collapsed. A serial marathon runner, doctors told her she would never be able to run again.

But against all odds, in 2008, she completed her first half marathon.

For most people, coming back from a debilitating accident like that in just four years would have been impossible. But Scott had to undergo a second incident in August of this year. The Surrey, B.C. native’s world would change again when she took a serious fall, resulting in a deep cut, a bacterial infection, and a subsequent battle to keep her limbs.

“A few friends and I were out for a run in Golden Ears (Provincial Park),” she said. “We had our route planned – but soon after we got started we came up on a bear so we quickly turned around and headed back to the cars. I turned to say something to my friend and I caught my toe on a rock and wiped out. I landed on my knees and when I flipped over to sit down, both of my friends kind of gasped. Sure enough, I had a huge, bloody gash and a great big skin flap flipped open on my knee.”

“I kind of panicked when I realized that I could actually see my kneecap in the bottom of the wound,” Scott said, adding, “We all took a deep breath and started going through the first aid supplies in our packs. Luckily we had water, gauze and antiseptic wipes so we cleaned it up as best we could, covered it in gauze and wrapped my knee.”

They headed to Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock where she got the wound cleaned up and stitched back together. She was sent home. Everything appeared to be fine.

However, the next morning, her entire leg was burning with pain. She was given some painkillers and antibiotics and sent home yet again. An hour later, she was heading to Langley Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Scott’s leg was infected and the doctors started her with multiple IV antibiotics.

“Over the next four days, the infection raged and spread from my toes to my ribs. My leg and torso were swollen to twice their size. The pain was unbearable and they had to keep switching the antibiotics, but the infection wasn’t responding. By the end of the week my kidneys had also failed, so they sent me off to Surrey Memorial, labelled ‘loss of life or limb’ and I was admitted into critical care,” Scott said.

She was diagnosed with Cellulitis and spent the next 20 days in hospital before her wound responded to antibiotics. The wound, luckily, healed in about three months. Scott says the infection was “stubborn and resistant”, but she is starting to return to her regular life. A month after coming home she was able to ditch the crutches and start doing physical activity again. 

“I started doing very short, 30 second intervals of ‘running’ on the treadmill. Because of the atrophy in my muscles, I have been taking things very slowly so I don’t cause new injuries, but have been working my way up to longer intervals of running and walking.”

Scott found that being fit helped her on her road to recovery. “Having that background of setting goals and devising a strategy and a plan to get there has definitely helped me figure out what I need to do to beat this injury,” she says.

Surviving a major car accident and the slow recovery process taught Scott to listen to her body and following the leg infection she also had to take it slow and let the pain and fatigue levels guide her.

Scott, a mother of two young boys, has completed 20 half marathons, five full marathons, and four ultra-marathons. She is refusing to let physical setbacks keep her from continuing her running.

“I was determined not to let my car accident beat me or define me and it has been kind of similar following this infection,” she said. “My end goal is to get my strength back and be able to run distance again, so I’ve just been setting small, manageable goals.”

Recovery strategies are not one-size-fits-all, so consult your doctor about when you should resume training. Once you do, make sure refuelling, repairing and rehydrating are part of your workout regime to help you reach your goals.

A touch of pink: women-only co-working spaces expanding in Toronto

If you are looking for a chic and modern co-working space, you are in luck. Toronto has added another women’s-only co-working space in the heart of the city. This multi-use space offers female entrepreneurs a place to connect, network, communicate, and help each other build up their brand. This concept is used in other cities like New York, where the offices almost become a retreat for women with the addition of several amenities. The space is supposed to represent the total opposite of a ‘frat-boy’ dominated office space with a fridge full of beer and beer pong.

The hope is that a feminine environment will help women feel comfortable, motivated, and productive. This idea has developed over the last two years, starting with little pop-up spaces at conferences and conventions that were inviting women. Shelley Zells is the founder of The Girls Lounge, a global pop-up space that offers a professional working environment with a chic ambience. The lounges have several pop-up locations in different countries each month.

The Wing in New York City is another popular co-working space that is exclusive to women. A recent study from Indiana University shows that women feel less pressured in a women’s-only environment. The study also concluded that women suffer from higher levels of cortisol in male dominated workspaces and are more likely to socially isolate themselves. The Wing does require membership, which starts at $215/ month. The membership for these places vary and can cost between $100-$700 monthly, although some places offer hourly or day passes.

The Wing New York

These spaces have become a warm and welcoming space for like-minded women to interact and work on their skills while networking. Places like The Wing are popular because of its design layout, which is very chic and clean, with just the perfect touch of millennial pink. There is a special lactation room for mothers and a beauty bar that offers makeup or fresh blowouts.

“The Parlor” The Wing NYC

Some co-working spaces are described as “boutique spaces” and offer various amenities ranging from beauty to wellness. Toronto joins the list of other big US cities/states that have female friendly co-working boutique spaces, including New York, St Louis, Phoenix, Southern California, and Washington D.C.

The most recent Toronto space opened on Sept 18 and is called Make Lemonade on Adelaide St. West. Make Lemonade is all about offering a beautiful office space to help women feel more productive than they would if they were just living out of a coffee shop. The belief behind Make Lemonade is that you can make any situation sweet no matter how sour. The concept of women-only also comes from the saying “empowered women empower women.” by artist and educator, Jenna Kutcher. The aim is to encourage women to get the job done, but to also be empowered along the way with cute and artsy motivational messages that are playful and simply pretty.

Make Lemonade- Toronto

The aesthetic of Make Lemonade is pleasing with tones of pink and yellow, and they offer $25 drop-in passes or full membership rates where you can even get your own office for $500/month, which includes 24/7 access with your own personal key. Women-only co-working spaces are slowly growing in Toronto and Make Lemonade joins other places like Shecosystem on Bloor Street West that offers wellness packages in addition to co-working.

 

What are your thoughts on women-only co-working spaces?

 

Winter weight gain: how to beat it

There’s nothing like the holidays to spend some quality time with your friends and family, get (almost) everything you’ve wanted from your wish list, and put on an extra 5-10 pounds in Christmas cookies. And although you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to lose the excess weight, it is now February and there’s still one more box of Ferro Rocher’s that has to be finished before you really get into your exercise and diet regime.

Let’s face it ladies, you’re in a slump. Even if you do make it on the treadmill at least once a week, that 20 minutes of sweat you produce won’t do anything if you indulge in a ‘’well-deserved’’ snack a few hours later. However, don’t lose hope. With lots of experimentation and a few breathless situations later, I’ve come up with the perfect plan to help you – and me – come out of the winter fatness slump.

Warning: the following tips may lead you to feel a sudden surge of happiness, cause your pants to fit a little better, and encourage you to put down that extra slice of pizza.

 

Skip the cardio

Cardio can get dull. It doesn’t matter if it’s Pitbull or Beyoncé, sometimes no chart-busting single can seem to get us pumped enough to run for more than 10 minutes on a treadmill. Skip the traditional cardio when you’re feeling less than motivated and spice it up. Fitness classes such as pole dancing, Zumba, or even yoga can give the same benefits (if not more) of cardio without provoking violent thoughts – like attacking that cake in your fridge. Put on an extra pair of tights and head out for a winter hike. Embrace your Canadian identity and take part in the plethora of winter sports that our country has to offer. Whether it’s skating, skiing, tobogganing, or even shovelling snow, changing up your routine allows your body to truly challenge itself. Within a few weeks, the feeling of waking up sore the day after a good workout will be so satisfying, you’ll crave it constantly.

Be Sneaky  

Waiting for your food to heat up? That’s 30 seconds of squats. Work on the 3rd floor? Take the stairs. If you sneak in physical activity within your daily life, you won’t feel as pained – except in your increasing health. Small steps such as parking your car in the furthest spot in the lot or getting off the public transit a couple of stops earlier just to take in those few freezing breaths of fresh air along with some much needed steps can help get you in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle this winter. Although it may be hard, seeing as we haven’t felt the sun on our skin in what feels like a decade, your fitness regime shouldn’t freeze just because the lakes have.

F*ck Stress, Bench Press

Despite what you may have heard, lifting does not make you bulky. In fact, women’s hormones make it impossible to bulk up. That is, without incredible effort, high intensity workout plans and nutritional diets consisting of a lot of protein shakes. Lifting weights two to three times a week will help you lose that muffin top faster than an hour on the elliptical every day. On the plus side, all that lifting, pushing, and pressing that occurs during weight training can take out a lot of stress and anger that builds up from day to day experiences. It will also give your body a sculpted appearance, bring a certain glow to your skin, and give you an excuse to wear tanks tops and dresses all year long – because why not.

 

Let it go 

The end of the holiday season can bring on a lot of unnecessary stress. Getting our finances under control after spoiling our loved ones, and possibly ourselves, with gifts, heading back to the daily office routine, and not to mention the everlasting morning and evening winter — let’s just say it can all take a toll on our mental health. Whether you’re suffering from seasonal affective disorder or are just finding yourself in a slump, one quick fix is to get moving. Break into a sweat, get lost within the confines of your muscle movement, and get in tune with your physical and mental self. Oftentimes, it’s your mind that stops you from accomplishing the things that you want. Find a way to deal with your inner demons and learn to let it go. Whether it’s through talking to a family or friend, leaving town for a quick get away, or writing it down in a diary, learning to deal with stress and seasonal affective disorder can help you out of your slump faster then ever.

Find Your Motivation

Know thyself. If you have a strong reason for exercising, then you will be far more likely to follow through on your commitments. Whether it’s to lose weight, feel more energetic, increase cognitive function, build confidence, sleep better, run faster… know it. The secret to looking and feeling better about yourself isn’t in magazines. It isn’t in Nicki Minaj’s music video, nor is it on Instagram. It’s in your mind. Whether you think you need it or not, exercise is a must for everyone and anyone. Soon enough, spring will be here. Before you know it, you’ll will be forced out of your oversized knit sweaters and into something more fitting. And that’s something you’ll want to be prepared, right? Your summer body starts now.

Good luck!

Have any other suggestions on how to beat the winter slump? Let us know in the comments below!