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Hillary Clinton stops in Toronto with praise and a look to the future

“Resist, insist, persist, and enlist.”

That was the message former Democratic presidential candidate and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left with the crowd of over 5,000 people squished into the Encare Centre near Exhibition Place in Toronto.

“I’m here tonight to talk about a book, but more then that to talk about the issues that confront us,” she said. “I don’t want anybody to give up because it’s hard. It’s not going to happen just because we want it to. We have to work for it.”

During the hour-long talk on Sept. 28, Clinton discussed the results of the 2016 election and looked to the future of politics, not just in the United States, but around the world.  With a nod to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his gender-equal cabinet, Clinton reminisced about what happened a year ago. She spoke candidly about the mistakes she made during the campaign, how the FBI director’s investigation directly interfered with the votes, and the continuing influence of Russia in U.S. affairs.

Finally, she spoke with grace and honesty about her experiences as a woman in politics. “I admit that I’ve always felt that I had to be careful in public, to keep my guard up. Well, that’s all gone.”

Her new memoire, What Happened, has been criticized by many current politicians in both parties for staying in the limelight following her loss to now President Donald Trump. But Clinton, as she says, is not letting go of her opinion. Her newest organization, Onward Together, was founded in May to help encourage young people to get involved in the democratic process and to support grassroots organizations that are helping engage youth in the conversation.

“I am not going anywhere except in the middle of the debate about our future!”

Here are four of the most powerful themes Clinton touched during her speech:

Women in politics

“The only way I know of to get sexism out of politics is to get more women in to politics.

For men, professional success and likability go hand in hand. Not for women. In other words, the more successful a man becomes, the more people like him. With women it’s the exact opposite. The more professionally successful we are, the less people like us. Probably a few of you in this room have an inkling as to what I’m talking about. And not only that, women are seen favourably if we advocate for others, but unfavourably if we advocate for ourselves. That struck a cord.

It is eye-rolling to see a picture of a group of white, someone elderly men, sitting around a table deciding what health care women need. So I’d like more women in politics so our politics is more representative and then the voices of families and communities and entire nations are heard. “

On accuracy and truth

“There is no such thing as an alternative fact. Despite the best efforts by some, to wage a war on reason and evidence, we can’t let that happen

We are living through an all-out assault on truth and reason. When leaders deny things we can see with our own eyes, like the size of a crowd at an inauguration, or refuse to accept sound science when it comes to urgent challenges like climate change, it isn’t just frustrating to those of us living in the fact-based universe. It is insidious and deeply subversive to democracy.

Democracy is under assault. We must insist on truth and accuracy and we must hold elected leaders and the press accountable when they do not perform on behalf of truth and accuracy.”

On Trump looming over her during the debate

“I wrote about this because I wanted to take you into my mind about what it’s like to be on a stage in front of probably 60 to 70 million people watching and to have you opponent stalking you, and making faces, and generally drawing attention towards himself in contrast to what we were supposed to be talking about – simple things like how to create jobs and give people better futures by making college affordable – so, I had prepared for the debate and I suspected he might try to do something like that. We actually practiced it. I worked on keeping my composure because I thought you’d kind of want a president who is composed. It’s one thing to practice it, and another to be there in the moment.

Yes, my mind was going, calm, composed, versus ‘whip around and say you like to intimidate women, you are not going to intimidate me, back up you creep.” It might have been more satisfying, but I’m not sure it would have been the best strategy. “

On seeing a woman as president in our lifetime

“Well I certainly hope so. I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen. Our system though is really tough. How come other countries have had at least one woman as a head of government? In our system, literally anyone can run for president. As we have seen. In our system, it comes down to the level of your devotion to the job you want to get and why you think you would make a good president and why you think you will make a difference. And it comes down to your pain threshold and I think we may well have in 2020 maybe 20 to 25 who will run.

Eventually, we will have a woman president and I hope she is someone I can agree with so I can support her!”

 

Featured photo by Gage Skidmore.

Embracing my vulnerability in “Rising Strong” by Brené Brown

I would like to begin by saying that I am not a fan of self-help or motivational books. I have nightmares of being the woman in that aisle of the bookstore crying, while searching through the stacks for a solution to my problems. I feel the same way about motivational speakers and the false sense of happiness that is often advertised. After saying all of that, there is one book that has snuck its way into my life and has undoubtedly changed me for the better.

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Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution by Brené Brown was purchased by my cousin and given to me for Christmas. I admittedly let the book become a coffee table decoration for about six months and, after an especially hard day, decided to take a glance. I began to read the book and found that Brown’s concept resonated very strongly with me. It didn’t advocate for the easy route out or a simple tell-all solution as many self-help books do, but instead demanded hard work and acceptance.

Rising Strong begins by explaining the importance of vulnerability. People are often taught to reject feelings that aren’t necessarily comfortable. They are told to tuck these emotions away by laughing it off or drinking it down. Brown recommends looking these feelings in the eye, and by doing so embrace our inherent human vulnerability. She also lightens the mood by saying “people who wade into the discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses”.

Once this idea of vulnerability is introduced, the idea of embracing it becomes overwhelming. How do I embrace such a scary emotion? How do I even begin to look at myself and my darker truths? How do I become this badass? Brown gives a set of steps to follow that are simple and direct. This is what appeals to me about Rising Strong: the path to self-realization isn’t ambiguous or complex. Instead, the presentation of the steps is straight-forward and unpretentious.

It begins with “The Reckoning”, which is the realization that if you are vulnerable, you will get knocked down. You will fail and life will hurt. This is the trade-off to living a fully authentic life. Brown’s next step is “The Rumble”, which is when you decide to embrace the uncomfortable feelings of being knocked down. “The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity,” she writes.

The book helps you to learn how to question the common self-damaging narratives we create and how to understand that parts of those stories are merely assumptions created out of insecurity and fear. “The Revolution” is when you rise up and are truly stronger for having faced some of your issues.

An essential component to Rising Strong includes learning how to question whether we judge others too often by asking yourself the simple question:

“Do you think people do the best they can?”

Brown explains that setting high expectations of ourselves in turn causes us to hold these same standards for people around us and it is bound to cause disappointment. Instead, understanding and empathizing with others helps to create appropriate boundaries and expectations in our relationships.

Brown has a Phd in Social Work from the University of Houston and has published a series of motivational books. The companion read to Rising Strong is Daring Greatly, and the series has sparked Brown to create workshops (including a free workshop on trust!) and a community to continue discussing her method. Brown was arguably popularized by her TEDx talks on vulnerability and shame. She has also been on Oprah.

Rising Strong is filled with examples and details of how to obtain a sense of self-assurance and an understanding of living an authentic life. I would definitely recommend reading this novel if you have often felt lost and afraid of your own vulnerability. There is nothing stronger than embracing your own emotions, and Brown will show you a way to do this that will make you a stronger and more badass woman.

Power Plant art gallery takes on climate change

I decided to take my daughter down to the waterfront and visit the Power Plant to see their current exhibitions exploring themes of climate change and identity across a changing urban landscape.

The Power Plant Art Gallery (231 Queens Quay West) is located on the Harbourfront and showcases several exhibitions around a variety of themes. Currently, there are four exhibitions in the art gallery ranging from black moths decorating the walls to looping video footage of Hollywood.

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Upon walking into the gallery, Mexico City artist Carlos Amorles’ Black Cloud covers the walls and ceiling. About 30,000 black moths spread across the white landscape created an eerie and fragile image. The moths are symbolic of the transformation of the animal in the post-industrialist world. Prior to industrialism in England, moths were light in colour. When coal factories began creating high levels of pollution, black moths began appearing in the landscape.

The moths are indicative of the transformation of nature and space in a post-industrialist world. From a viewer’s perspective, the moths also look like black mold or an invasive species in the exhibit from afar. This is a subtle, but powerful comment on the effect of industrialization on the world.

The exhibition directly relates to the history of the Power Plant gallery as well. The art space was once an actual power plant for refrigeration and heating equipment for the Toronto Terminal Warehouse and was turned into an art gallery in 1987. It originally housed coal, which makes it a fitting venue for Black Cloud.

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The second exhibit, The Political Nightfall by Aude Moreau, points strongly towards climate change and the development of the urban landscape. This art show focuses on a film reel on a loop, showcasing footage from Los Angeles to the Hollywood studios at night. It was shot from a helicopter and seems to move backwards between large and ominous downtown buildings. The buildings are very dark and it cuts out the light of the rest of the L.A landscape as you get further into the downtown sphere.

The footage reaches the twin buildings of the City National Plaza and spells out in the windows, “THE END.” A score of dark theatrical music plays in the background. The film represented the ever-looming presence of the large buildings that seem to block you from viewing the truth or even life itself. The screen becomes quite dark and instead of showing a scene teeming with life as one expects from a city landscape, it does quite the opposite. The city and its multinational corporations becomes the death of civilization.

Art has the ability to show the truth in subtle and profound ways, as both Amorles and Moreau achieve in their own creative mediums. In both cases, their exploration on climate change is fearful and dark, but it also demonstrates an honest portrayal of the future of humankind if we continue to live in the landscape that ignores the environment.