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Two tickets to La Lupi

Dying to see a performance that makes you say olé? Women’s Post is offering one reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to see La Lupi, courtesy of the Toronto International Flamenco Festival. This is your chance to enjoy the show from the best seats in the house. Intrigued? Enter today for your chance to win.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Monday, October 14th, at 12 p.m.

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Let’s get real

Reality is something I’m normally good at: I’m brash, bold and am often told that I could use a mouth filter, which I’m almost positive is code for duct tape. But when it comes to boyfriends, reality and honesty is a little bit harder for me.

Earlier this week Mr. Unexpected and I were hanging out and he did something that put me off; when he asked why I was acting weird I shrugged and told him to leave it alone. Leaving things alone is not his forte. He’s a fan of honesty and if he wanted someone for emotionless sex he’d get a booty call, so ignoring issues and not talking about the hard stuff doesn’t count as an option any more.

Everyone has things in their past that they don’t like talking about, things that we put away in a box that we never look at. But boxes are imperfect structures and sometimes the bad things leak out at inopportune moments and we have to deal. For me the dealing part has never been that difficult, but sharing all the parts of me, even the less-than-pretty parts, is really difficult.

When we first talked about making our relationship official Mr. Unexpected wasn’t sure that I was ready for a relationship, and to be honest neither was I. Now that I’m in it I’d hate to lose him, but how do I share all the parts of me without being a self-conscious mess?

I don’t think there’s an easy answer. It’s one step at a time. I started with my slightly crazy alarm clock neurosis (I can only set my alarm clock to an interval of 3), then I talked about the exes and finally I got to my family and that is where things got tough and my desire to hide under the covers and only share the shiny parts of myself kicked in.

One of my favourite things about Mr. Unexpected is that I’m not allowed to hide, I’m not allowed to only share the superficial bits and he has no problem telling me that.

Maybe what I’ve been looking for all these years isn’t just a manfriend or the perfect bed buddy; maybe what I’ve been looking for is someone who isn’t afraid of me, someone who doesn’t take my shit, someone who doesn’t let me hide or evade questions. Maybe what I needed is someone as opinionated and strong as I am.

It’s really nice to have someone who tells me to cut it out and be real; it’s kind of amazing that he won’t put up with the number of evasion tactics I’ve come up with over the years.

It’s about damn time I had a man that won’t let me walk all over him and won’t try and walk all over me. It’s about time I had someone who refuses to let me hide behind my emotional make-up.

If I didn’t think it would give him an even bigger ego I’d thank him for always making me talk things out.

 

The leaves were red and yellow and green and brown

It’s that time of year when the landscape becomes a gorgeous palette of colours. Enjoy it, because before long we return to a world of white and dingy grey-brown (a.k.a. where cars have dirtied the snow).

Want to know the best place to see the changing leaves? Ontario Parks has a very handy fall colours report, which lays out how far along the various parks are in their seasonal transformation. The good news is most parks are still under 10%, so you have lots of time to absorb the beauty of the red, yellow and orange leaves.

Bask in the glow of nature as the temperature drops to perfect walking weather. It’s the ideal way to spend your fall weekends.

Three little words

I’ve wanted to say those three little words for months. I’ve felt them for as long as we’ve been together and last week after a lot of waiting I said them: I told Boyfriend that I love him. Actually what I said was, “Because I love you, you big jerk.” A little romcom cliché but it’s what I said.

After an evening of TIFFing I called Boyfriend to talk and as we talked I got more and more upset. Not saying how I was feeling was driving me insane. I was afraid and I didn’t know how to do it. The last time I told someone I loved them it was the Big Ex and he didn’t say it back. If Boyfriend didn’t say it back it would break me and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay with someone whom I loved if they didn’t love me back, that’s not something I’m willing to do again.

So I said it without knowing what he’d say back, hopeful and terrified all at once. And you know what? He said it back. He said, “I love you too, Shannon Hunter.” It was as if someone lifted a weight off my shoulders and breathed air into my lungs all at once. No more guessing games. I don’t know if I waited too long or if I just waited as long as I needed but saying it felt more right than anything I’ve ever said before—except when I told my mum that I would rather stay home on Saturdays and watch Ninja Turtles than go to ballet… that was probably equally right.

When I was little we used to play he loves me, he loves me not with flowers and as I waited for him to either say it back or break my heart I could see the petals falling in my mind. The last one would determine everything that came next.

So for the first time in five years I know I’m with someone who loves me, I know I’m with someone who will always be there for me and I know that I have a chance at the future I want. I’m happy when I’m single, I’ve never been the type who needs a boyfriend to feel whole, but when I’m with someone that I really care about I do turn into a bit of a girl. I imagine living together, I imagine walking a puppy that we picked out together, I imagine falling asleep and waking up to the same person every day. Life with someone you love doesn’t have to be boring, I want puppies not babies, I want adventures not a wedding, but more than anything I want someone who I know loves me the same way that I love them.

Maybe it took a little longer than I thought it would but a week before our anniversary I know that I am loved. No more guessing games, he loves me he really loves me.

WATCH: This TIFF short about Facebook will make you hate your computer

This unique Canadian short film, Noah, explores something we don’t see in too many other movies: just how much our online lives have supplanted our real interactions.

“In a story that plays out entirely on a teenager’s computer screen, Noah follows its eponymous protagonist as his relationship takes a rapid turn for the worse in this fascinating study of behaviour (and romance) in the digital age.”

The film by Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg explores the concept of isolation in a world where we are so connected to everyone around us all the time and has the added benefit of making you want to disconnect from Facebook and throw your laptop out the window.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Is the strange girl on Chat Roulette right to think that Facebook is destroying our lives? Have you ever done the not-so-unthinkable and hacked your significant other’s Facebook account to get dirt on them?

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Christopher Peloso, husband of George Smitherman, is missing

Christopher Peloso, 39, has been missing since Monday afternoon. The husband of George Smitherman, former mayoral candidate, was last seen in the Davenport Road/Bathurst Street area.

Peloso was last seen wearing a dark-blue hooded jacket, tan cargo shorts and blue flip flops. He is 5 foot 8 and 150 pounds, white with brown hair and brown eyes.

Through his website, Smitherman released a statement about his husband’s disappearance.

“I regret to confirm that Christopher Peloso has been missing from our home for almost 24 hours. Michael, Kayla and myself, with the support of family and friends, are hopeful that our husband and father will be home safely soon,” he wrote.

Smitherman and Peloso were married in 2007 and have two adopted children.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1300, Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477,  online at 222 Tips, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or leave a tip on the Toronto Police Service  Facebook page.

 

UPDATE: Peloso has been located. Police tracked his cellphone signal to Dupont and Lansdowne and found him alive and conscious.

An ode to librarians

This article was originally published in the summer of 2012.

From the beginning of recorded time, librarians have stored and protected knowledge to stave off the plague of ignorance that, like other plagues, doesn’t distinguish between poverty and opulence. I’ve just finished reading Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. The lead character struggles to understand the world in a time when books and ideas are thwarted by religious belief and superstition. It is a terrific novel about life during the black plague and has me thinking about the amount of knowledge our librarians have collected over the generations and how important this knowledge is to understanding the world.

My family and I are currently visiting Costa Rica where the division between the wealthy and the poor is extreme.  The house we have rented is high up on a mountainside (Del Congo de Uvita) and it looks out over the coastal town of Uvita. The town has a small one-room open-air school; its windows lack glass and the shelves are empty of books. There isn’t a library in the town, but further north Librarians without Borders built an elementary school library in El Hum. Things move much slower here; roads are rough, most of them are unpaved, and in some places knowledge and the advancement it brings haven’t taken hold – there are internet towers and cell phones almost everywhere, but even this technology hasn’t had a huge impact on daily lives in most of the coastal towns.

While there are libraries here in Costa Rica, they are nothing like the public library system we have in Toronto, which has had much more investment, both financially and socially.  The Toronto Public Library system grew out of a campaign by city alderman John Hallam back in the late 1800s. It has become the largest public library system in Canada and has higher circulation per capita than any other public library system in the world.

But as Toronto’s city government reviews all areas to cut spending, this precious and priceless gem of a system could get whittled away by budget cuts so that its true value – not only the books, data, and information, but also the hundreds of librarians that protect and pass on the knowledge we’ve accumulated  – disappears. Too many people now mistake data for knowledge and wrongly assume that the internet can provide all the necessary information society needs. But it is the desire to further ourselves through literacy, and understanding, that our librarians, our custodians over knowledge, work to nurture and feed.

When I ran for mayor of Toronto, I learned quickly that the opposition hires fake writers to post bogus “articles” made to discredit their competition. The internet allows almost anyone to pose as a “journalist,” or to create fake “news” sites that distort the truth. One site went so far as to falesely report that I had suggested privatizing libraries – which goes against my core belief that having a strong public library system is essential to protecting knowledge from being distorted by private enterprise. And it is precisely because the internet enables both truth and misinformation to co-exist that the need to maintain a strong library system is so vitally important to our city.

Libraries must continue to collect and protect knowledge, and, as a society entering the internet age, it is essential that we continue to fund them.  Toronto’s public library system is one of the most important long-term investments our city can make. And it is our librarians who serve as custodians to protect our history and inform our aspirations.

 

 

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @ThomsonTO.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

 

Women of the week: Susan Wright

Susan Wright has helped hundreds of people stay the course over the last 15 years.

As a life coach and founder of Wright Momentum, she has worked with entrepreneurs, organizations and a handful of creative professionals enthused about making significant changes in their lives.

“It’s really cool when you get to light somebody’s fire,” says Wright. “They get that spark. They get the focus to stay steady.”

Before Wright started coaching and consulting she worked as a recreation therapist in a clinical environment, helping people to effectively cope with an illness or disease. She enjoyed working with people, but realized she wanted to focus her energy on performance, professional and personal development. She also wanted to integrate it with her health and wellness background.

“I tend to know when I’m ready for change and I knew that my career would take me only so far,” she says. “So there was a ceiling with what I was doing. I had already challenged myself in that area [and] felt fully confident and proficient at what I was doing. I knew that to take myself to the next level, to the next step, I would need to expand my horizons.”

Wright started seeking information about coaching when it was an emerging profession and information about it wasn’t easily accessible. She discovered a number of coaches and was coached herself. She then went on to be certified through the Adler School in Toronto, one of the first few students to go through the coaching program.

“For me it’s a personal philosophy,” she says. “Everybody has the potential, it’s just figuring out how do we tap into that.”

Wright’s approach is very holistic. She takes into consideration the various facets of a person’s life, discovering how they interact in their relationships and what’s important to them.

“Taking care of ourselves in all aspects of health and wellbeing is essential so we can actually bring the best of ourselves in no matter what we do,” she said. “It’s finding what that is for you as an individual.”

Pilates is another large part of Wright’s life. She is a certified Second Wind® Pilates Plus® and Integrated Movement Therapies (IMT) ® instructor. Practicing pilates improves coordination and brings awareness to the body. It can also reduce headaches, mental stress and increases energy.

To Wright, everyone has the potential to drive forward and develop. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it and then finding the perfect coach. Wright tends to work with high-energy creative individuals who are dedicated to improving their lives.

“If somebody has far too many excuses and no level of commitment, it’s not going to work,” she says. “You’re not ready for coaching. You really need to want something and want something to change. Whether it’s a team leader, a professional, it doesn’t matter. The commitment needs to be there.”

Wright’s book, Seven Steps To Change The Status Quo, looks at what prevents people from making change in their lives and how to go beyond the fears that prevent change from happening. Reaching goals comes with no shortage of roadblocks.

“There will be barriers when we’re making any change in life,” she says. “We’ll hit a cross barrier. Sometimes they’ll be even more mountains to climb. It’s staying the course, staying steady and strong on that course.”

Serenity now

This past week has been one of the hardest Boyfriend and I have ever had. On Sunday we were having dinner and joking around, ready to watch the third episode of Breaking Bad, everything was good and then the phone rang. Boyfriend’s grandfather had taken a turn for the worse and he had to leave for the hospital right away.

We’ve spent the past week communicating through Facebook, text and the occasional phone call. Unsure of what to say or do I tried to be the bright spot in all the badness. I cracked jokes, sent pictures of puppies and GIFs of playful corgis because that’s what he needed. Inside, however, I was dying. He was in so much pain and all I could do was send memes to make him feel better? I felt weak and powerless.

I know everyone grieves in their own way but it hurt me that I couldn’t be there for him, physically. He didn’t want me at the hospital and yesterday after his grandfather finally peacefully slipped away he told me he didn’t want me at the funeral. I want so badly to be there for him and planning to bring him ice cream and pizza after a funeral feels like something a roommate would do, not a girlfriend. He says that he doesn’t want the rest of his family to meet me at a funeral, he wants me to meet them when they are smiling and acting goofy, but I can’t stop this helpless feeling. Shouldn’t I be there to hold his hand? Isn’t that what having a partner is all about? A partner is supposed to be someone who is there to hold you in the cold, in the dark and when you feel like the world is falling apart.

I know it’s selfish to question his grieving process, I know it’s irrational and he needs me to be there for him in the way that works for him, but I hate feeling useless. I’m a fixer, it’s what I do and I want to fix this situation however impossible that sounds.

I know that we’ll get through this, I know that the bad is almost over and even if it isn’t, bad is part of life and I didn’t sign up for a fair weather relationship; I’m here for the long haul.

I just don’t understand why he doesn’t want me there. If I lost a family member or a friend I don’t know that I could do it without him, I would need him by my side. The fact that he doesn’t need me now breaks my heart.

I’m trying to put my hurt feelings aside and just be there for him in the way that he wants and needs but it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds. So I’m choosing to focus on the future. I’m choosing to plan our anniversary, trips out of the city and a visit to my family, which hopefully will help me shake this nagging feeling that we might be coming to an end.