Monthly Archives: March 2011

Free Online Black Hair Course Still Taking Members

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Thank you all for helping me with my Ph.D. research and answering my survey on SurveyMonkey. I received many responses and I greatly appreciate your participation.

I’m looking for as many participants as possible, from all different walks of life and cultural backgrounds, etc., to participate in a politics of Black hair course you can register for here:

I look forward to your participation.

All participants will be extraordinary in a free online course linked to the politics of black hair that would last over indefinitely starting on Sunday, September 5th. After registering for the course, please send me an email to both: and to avoid computer problems. This way I can email you the course outline.

I would like to fill it to maximum, so please – participate, help, learn and grow. Times of the classes will be flexible and will be modeled after a University of Toronto course I have taken at U of T. U of T is also the school where I am currently a Ph.D. student. The course will take place online.

Thanks again!


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We Are the World…

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A Tribute to All Those Making a Brighter Day

Here’s a timely idea: Celebrate the newly-released version of Michael Jackson’s song with a story about those who actually do make a brighter day! You could feature individuals and companies and the little things they do to make a difference in the lives of others. Continue reading

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Julianna LaRocque Writes About Addiction – Photo Courtesy of

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By Julianna LaRocque

Follow me into my world,
Things are not quite as they seem,
Spiraling and whirling into beauty or insanity,
You can decipher for yourself.

Belonging is the easy route,
we think.
Everyone following suit,
What a horrible thing to believe.
Acceptance is a mischievous thing.
It becomes suffocating,
when they know your name,
they think they know all about you.
The looks, whispers, stares,
Even the smiles make you feel,
Like you can’t breathe.

When does a love, lust, craving,
A hate, desire, want
Cross the line into obsession,
That creates unnecessary aggression,
And makes it seem like it’s your profession,
So that everything you do, only becomes about what thing,
One priority.

You let your mind wander, away
To places, far far places,
Untouchable by others,
Sometimes to a point of no return,
And then fun rolls in,
That’s what they say anyway,
Drinking, smoking,
Shooting, laughing,
Spinning, waiting,
Missing, leaving,
Snorting, smiling,
to get away.

Death isn’t an option,
So you construct a strangeness,
an adoption
You can’t, nor want explained.
You try to maintain,
Your old self,
Try to sustain it,
But then it becomes contained,
Then finally dissolved.
You attempt to smile a genuine smile,
But find everything has become vile.
It becomes old.

The hearsay of
Yesterday doesn’t interest,
Your boredom and craving.
Everyone has problems,
So you try and solve em.
But the days drown on,
Everything is either too fast or too slow,
And you’re either too high or too low.

Fast cars, slow highs, long dreams. Crazy life.

Trouble is fun.
Trouble is interesting.
Trouble feeds you.
Illegal becomes your middle name,
You have no shame.
Because they envy, so you continue,
Faster and faster and faster,
You’re running and running,
never looking back,
Those who can’t keep up,
Fall back.
No time tp slack.
You’re running in a sea of nothingness,
There is no destination.
You’re always giving some kind of explanation,
For the why’s, the where’s and how’s ?
And one day…


You crash, you drown.
You’re going down, down down.
People turn away,
You can’t be helped anymore,
You’re far too gone,
Like an old song.
The goods become bad.
Bad looks, bad grades, bad person.
You try to hide behind your shades,
they can’t see the unhappiness, the emptiness,
the weakness in your eyes.
The addiction has grown far to a size.

But at least you still have your imagination and creativity.
You don’t want to stop, simply.
you do not care.
You’re already low,
Can’t go nowhere now,
Your life was a party,
But everyone’s left,
But you refuse to let the fire die,
Take a big sigh,

And start all over again.

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Observation and Reflection Assignment: Catching Moments in My Neighbourhood

Scene at Christie St. and Dupont St. in Toronto – Photo Courtesy of Google Images

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The corner of Christie St. and Dupont Ave. is as busy as an airport. There is an empty building where a TD Bank used to be with a For Lease sign above the door where the ATM used to be in the southeast corner. At the northeast corner, there is a Loblaws supermarket. Kitty corner from that at the southwest corner is a Bank of Montréal that is rumoured to be robbed on a regular basis. Then, at the northwest corner where I was heading and walking south, there is a Blockbuster complex at 672 Dupont St. with a Faema Caffé there as well.

Being the major intersection close to where I live, I had not noticed before how many people use it as a throughway to get through the city. I had not noticed before how many people work in the area. As well, I had not really noticed how many people depend on the public transportation there.

As I approached the area, I passed by a few people on the street. No one I knew or recognized, however, I did feel a bit of trepidation about entering the area as an observer, rather than as a usual bystander. A young man who would be labeled as a “grup” according to the New York Times (Sternbergh, 2006), was casually pacing around the bus stop for the 126 Christie bus. A grup is a 30-something urban-type who would typically wear dark blue jeans, have slightly uncombed hair and exudes the appearance of being “laid back.” I knew the bus schedule well enough to know the bus heading to Christie Station should be coming in four minutes. By the time I reached the intersection of Christie and Dupont at approximately 12:20 p.m. I moved slowly around the bus stop, taking in the area from that vantage point. There is a Blockbuster Video complex with a Faema Caffé that blocks the western view at that intersection, however, at the same time cuts out the wind. I looked up at the stoplight and decided to cross south. I crossed on the number six.

From the southwest corner of Christie and Dupont in front of the Bank of Montréal, my vantage point to view the corner was improved. I decided I would wait for the 26 Dupont bus and while waiting, I noticed three large green and yellow Toronto Hydro trucks outside of Loblaws at the northeast corner. Although it was lunchtime, the Toronto Hydro employees were still working and you could hear the loud noise of their trucks, as well as many cars passing by. Some of the cars heading east at the intersection and turning south on Christie would turn dangerously close to the intersection, some of them looking as though they would move onto the sidewalk.

While I was scribbling away taking notes as fast as I could, I noticed someone else waiting for the northbound 126 Christie bus. The next major closest stop for this bus is Davenport Rd. I looked north and walking out of Faema Caffé, I saw a woman named Chris who works as a waitress at the caffé. As she was crossing the street, I waved to her. She asked me how I was doing, however, she did not hear my response from all of the noise in the area and walked behind me into the Bank of Montréal.

The 126 Christie bus finally arrived for the “grup.” I checked my watch and it was at least five minutes late. When I first arrived at the 26 Dupont bus stop I had checked the time and the bus was supposed to be coming at 12:32 p.m. As the Christie bus came, a white man with glasses and wearing a blue jacket walked slowly behind me and waited closer to the shelter for the bus. He did look at me quizzically.

I looked westbound down the street and could see the 26 Dupont bus coming. I boarded the bus and put in my token and noticed the white bus driver was wearing sunglasses. The man who had been waiting with me left a lot of room for me to board the bus and for him to come on.

The bus was not packed. There were about 20 people on the bus in some ways it was a refuge from the noise of the streets of Christie and Dupont. There was a group of Hispanic youth in the back talking low and I got the impression they were speaking about school. One young man, in particular, took the lead in the discussion, with the others seeming to agree. I could not hear the details of what they were talking about. It created a comfortable environment on the bus. It felt relatively calm and relaxing.

Most of the people on the bus got off at Dupont Station. Only the man with the glasses and me was on the bus, with the exception of the bus driver. The bus driver honked at a driver at Davenport Rd. He followed behind a big yellow truck on Bedford Rd. and I arrived to OISE at St. George Station safely at 12:45 p.m.

The “grup” at the Christie bus stop did not even seem to be annoyed when the bus was late. This may be observed as contributing to the more laid-back nature of the upper downtown core in Toronto, compared the rat race of the Bay Street area in Toronto. I felt quite a bit of trepidation observing in my own neighbourhod. I was worried that someone I know would see me and question what I was doing. In the end, I was lucky that Chris from Faema was the only one I recognized in a neighbourhood I have been living in on and off since 1981. It is not so much that I was doing anything bad, I just did not want to have to explain myself. As well, I wanted to be a “fly on the wall” as much as possible, which is a term that is used in documentary field production. I did not want to draw attention to myself since the exercise was about observing and not about me being a participant in that action. I worked hard at the delicate balance of being present, however not interfering with the results of the observation.

In conclusion, I do not think it is possible for anyone to truly simply observe an environment. Once you are in the setting, the dynamics change, such as with how the man with glasses reacted to me while boarding the 26 Dupont bus. As well, even when there are surveillance cameras, the presence of the cameras themselves change the nature of the dynamics between people. We are all like pebbles on a still lake, once thrown into a setting, it causes ripples…we cause ripples.

Kakonge, Donna. (2009). Ugandan Travelogue. Self-Published:
Sternbergh, Adam. (March 26, 2006). “Up With Grups,” the New York Times.

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By Kathy Tapley-Milton

Before you go live with your website you have to make sure that the major search engines are going to pick up your site. Christopher Heng, at, explains about making search engines compatible with your computer and your website: “Firefox, the Mozilla Suite, Seamonkey, and Netscape. It’s possible for different versions of Firefox, Seamonkey, Netscape and the old Mozilla browser to all co-exist on the same machine.

If you did not already know, Mozilla Firefox, Seamonkey, Netscape 6 to 9 and the (old) Mozilla Suite browser use the same Gecko rendering engine. As such, if you have Netscape 6.X, you are in effect using the rendering engine of a beta version of Mozilla (one of the 0.9.X series); if you use Netscape 7, you are using the Mozilla 1.0.X engine; and if you use Netscape 7.1 you’re using the same engine as Mozilla 1.4. The point is that you don’t have to install, say, Mozilla 1.0.X if you’re using Netscape 7, and so on.

It is easy to make these versions of Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox co-exist with each other. Install them into separate directories and create a different profile for each browser you install. (For non-Netscape/Mozilla users, this browser allows you to create different profiles so that you can store different settings for different situations.)” For more information on search engines go to the following website:

To promote your website you should make links to other popular sites. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, E-Commerce Consultant writing in Web Marketing Today, June 14, 2006, advises: “Links to your site from other sites bring additional traffic. But since Google and other major search engines consider the number of incoming links to your website (“link popularity”) as an important factor in ranking, more links will help you rank higher in the search engines, too. Google has introduced a 10-point scale called Page Rank (10 is the highest rank) to indicate the quantity and quality of incoming links. All links, however, are not created equal. Links from popular information hubs will help your site rank higher than those from low traffic sites. You’ll find links to articles on linking strategies in our Research Room” For more information SEO and getting picked up by search engines you can go to the following other links by Christopher Heng:

· Keyword Density in Search Engine Ranking
· Improve Your Search Engine Ranking with Google
· More Tips on Google Search Engine Results Placement
· How to Create a Search Engine Friendly Website

It is advisable that you do your homework before going live with your new website. You should have a catchy title, content that is keyword rich, a place where visitors can leave feedback, and it is advisable to learn HTML unless you have a computer consultant that does it for you.

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New survey reveals more than half of Ontarians feel music enhances everything they do

Photo Courtesy of CNW

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A surprise TTC musical makes for melodic morning commute as TVO launches Music Week

December 02, 2010 @ 10:00AM

Toronto, ON – A surprise live musical in Toronto subway stations during morning rush hour yesterday kept TTC riders humming just as new insights from TVO reveal that Ontarians are willing to make sacrifices to keep music as a vital component of daily life. Almost half (47 percent) would give up beer or wine, and four in 10 (36 percent) would forsake their cell phones for a month in order to keep the music playing. TVO joined in an Angus Reid Strategies poll to gauge the importance of music in the lives of Ontarians in an effort to raise awareness for Music Week, which begins on December 5th.

The impromptu performances by an undercover professional chorus aimed to inspire, delight and entertain unsuspecting audiences and help to demonstrate the positive influence music has on the daily life of Ontarians.

“These new insights from Ontarians and the response we saw from commuters during our surprise live performances tell us that music is not just an important part of daily life, but it inspires conversation,” says Steve Rayment, Director of Marketing, TVO. “Interestingly, Ontarians told us that music, more than any other art form, has had the most influence on their learning and this is the driving force behind TVO’s Music Week, and TVO’s goal to inform, inspire and encourage all Ontarians to fully engage with the world around them.”

In an effort to engage people in a new and compelling way, TVO enlisted a 30-person professional chorus, who were disguised as commuters to hand deliver a memorable musical message by infiltrating subways and surrounding TTC riders with a song. Vocalists and street percussionists spontaneously performed renditions of Stevie Wonder’s classic, Superstition, as a human experiment to explore music and what it means to so many people.

The power of music
The power of music to enlighten, empower and heal is evident in TVO’s Music Week line-up, which includes the world premiere of Listen to This, on December 8. In this inspiring documentary, filmmaker Juan Baquero documents a unique song-writing class at Firgrove Public School in Toronto’s Jane-Finch area that uses music to build self-esteem in inner-city kids. The program was created by jazz pianist Thompson Egbo-Egbo who, along with three other musicians, works with students one-on-one to help them open up about what’s going on in their lives and work towards achieving a positive goal.

As the subjects of Listen to This may attest, TVO’s survey revealed that younger generation Ontarians, aged 18 to 34, are more inclined to believe in the extent to which music is a powerful social and cultural influence. More than half (54 percent) believe music has the power to inspire trends in pop culture, while 50 percent think it informs us about other cultures and more than four in 10 (42 percent) believe it’s a catalyst for change.

Similarly, the notion that music is intrinsically tied to the spirit of youth is captured beautifully in the TVO documentary Young @ Heart, which profiles an unorthodox chorus of senior citizens who channel a youthful passion in their interpretation of edgy and influential rock from the modern era. Featuring songs from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Clash and Radiohead, Young @ Heart, has inspired audiences young and old around the world.

“Music is a powerful cultural and social influence, and this notion is explored through a variety of engaging programs to air during TVO’s Music Week,” says Rayment. “We hope that these programs will not just delight and entertain, but will also inspire and fuel conversation around the integral role that music plays in all our lives.”

Encore performance: music and memory
It’s no surprise that music is on the minds of Ontarians. 91 percent say they always or sometimes get music stuck in their heads. But, music is also a powerful tool for Ontarians to unlock memories and past experiences. Seven in 10 believe music is important in their ability to recall past experiences or relationships, even more so with women (75 percent).

These results may inspire yet another conversation among Ontarians: if music helps to unlock memories, then what are Ontarians destined to forget without the aid of music to remind them?

About TVO Music Week: December 5 to 11
Music Week starts the month off on an upbeat with a number of documentaries, current affairs programs and films that will have audiences tapping their toes and looking at the art and science of music in new ways.

Featured programming includes:

* Young @ Heart, Canadian premiere on December 5, encores December 6 and 31
* Music of the Brain, North American premiere December 7, encore December 9
* Listen to This, world premiere December 8, encores December 12 and 31

For more Music Week listings and program previews, visit

TVO Music Week: survey results at a glance

What would Ontarians sacrifice for a month to keep the music playing?

* Almost half of Ontarians (47 percent) would give up wine or beer for music.
* Women are even more likely, with 56 percent saying they’d give up wine or beer for music.
* 45 percent of Ontarians would give up their daily newspaper, this number is significantly higher (58 percent) among 18 to 34-year-olds.
* Almost four in 10 Ontarians (36 percent) would give up their cell phone for music.
* 16 percent of Ontarians would sacrifice sex for music.

Music enhances life:

* More than half of the Ontarians (52 percent) said that music enhances everything they do, be it exercising, home or school work, spending an evening out on the town or watching tv/movies.
* This is even truer amongst younger generation Ontarians. Fifty-five percent of Ontarians aged 18 to 34 believe music enhances everything they do, and seven in 10 think it enhances exercise.

Music and the mind:

* Seven in 10 Ontarians said music is important in their ability to recall past experiences or relationships. Even more so with women (75 percent).
* 91 percent of Ontarians always/sometimes get a song stuck in their head. For most, it’s typically a song frequently played on the radio (62 percent).
* Of all art forms, music has the most influence on learning amongst Ontarians. 48 percent ranked music the number one influence.

Music and community:

* 70 percent of Ontarians believe music unites people through shared tastes or experiences.
* Half of Ontario women said music is an important cultural influence because it can be created by anyone, regardless of ability.
* 61 percent of GTA respondents believe that music’s cultural/social importance lies in its ability to demonstrate creativity.
* More than half of young Ontarians, aged 18 to 34 (54 percent), believe music has the power to inspire trends in pop culture, while 50 percent think it informs us about other cultures and more than four in 10 (42 percent) believe it’s a catalyst for change.

About the survey
Methodology: From November 15 to November16, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey of 808 randomly selected Ontarian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Ontario. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
About TVO

TVO is Ontario’s public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires and stimulates curiosity and thought. Celebrating 40 years in 2010, TVO’s vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and supported by thousands of donors. For more information, visit
Where to find TVO

Cable channel 2 (channel may vary in some areas), Rogers HD channel 580, Bell TV channel 265, Shaw Direct channel 353.

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Story Behind MyRoxanne – Donna Kakonge’s First Book

You can buy My Roxanne on my e-store

You can buy My Roxanne on my e-store

My Roxanne

One of the books I will publish for 2008 was written when I was 17 years old. I spent a lot of my youth reading Danielle Steele, Sweet Valley High books, and Stephen King. I also spent a lot of time while I was in English class writing and reading classic literature. MRoxanne is a culmination of many years of work and expresses some of the dis-eases I felt at that time.

While I was writing the original story which will be adapted for publication, it was written by hand on lined three-hole punched paper. I later spent the time typing up my notes and getting it bound with three rings while I was living in Montreal.

Publishing MyRoxanne online through a blog concludes the urge I always had to have the story be read. I know have had developments occur that will help me to finally find a satisfactory conclusion for publication.

I did get that chance through an informal writer’s circle I was a part of at the turn of the new millennium. I thank everyone who was part of that group for helping me receive feedback about the story. I would like to thank Lisa Young in particular for her encouragement and support about this story. I would also like to thank my sister Lisa who was the first reader of the original story. I would like to thank my niece Oshun for being so wonderful and growing bigger every day.

As someone who does identify as a writer because as a black woman identity is an important issue in a world that constantly challenges it, I have many other stories to share through this medium. They will be of a journalism nature since that was my first form of post-secondary education at Carleton University in Ottawa. If you would like to read some of my e-books and paperback books please visit As well please look out for more books to come.

I also teach writing and if you are interested in my help with the special touch of story generation, plot development and journalistic character research to your writing through numerology (the oldest science on the planet) you can find that e-mail online at Feel free to e-mail at

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Linking With Former Students

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I just heard some terrific news last night. One of my former students from Seneca College will be doing his Ph.D. in political science at Carleton University. He is also receiving full funding to do this degree over four years.

This is some of the most satisfying news I can hear from a former student. I have another former student of mine from the University of Guelph-Humber that told me earlier this year that he had bought a house and was still be considered for continued work at CTV. I have former students working at CTV, MTV Canada, CBC, who have worked with the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun and are also writing columns for the Metro in Toronto to name a few places. This kind of news brings me a lot of joy and makes the teaching that I do all worthwhile.

If you are a former student of mine and you have good news to share about how you are doing, please drop me a line at Plus, you can also comment on this magazine.

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Becoming an Educator: Teaching the next generation of journalists and media Professionals (Published on

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It took me five years to teach in Toronto. My first teaching experience was at Carleton University in Ottawa as a Television Teaching Assistant. I later went on to teach in Kampala, Uganda at Makerere University (the oldest African university) and while I was a graduate student at Concordia University.

I had grown up in Toronto, however, once I reached the age of 18, due to work and school, I spent time outside of the city. I returned to Toronto for my longest stay in any one city since the age of 18 in 2001. I returned to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as well as worked with, Young People’s Press, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, freelance talent work, Media Research Institute, Share Newspaper, Pride Newsmagazine and New Dreamhomes and Condominiums Magazine to name a few. I really wanted to make the transition to teaching, and 40-year veteran of journalism Robert Payne helped me to make that transition.

I went to him for career coaching and he let me know in 2005 that there was a job opening in teaching at Centennial College. I applied for the full-time job and although I did not get it, it opened the door for me to teach my first course in Toronto at Centennial in Magazine Journalism that started January 2006.

This experience springboarded into working at Seneca College, University of Guelph-Humber, Humber College, Trebas Institute, George Brown College and Ryerson University. If I did not have my master’s degree from Concordia University in Montréal, I would not be able to do this work.

The landscape for what a lot of post-secondary institutions are asking of journalism educators is changing. Mike Karapita at Humber College calls it “credentializing.” There is a movement for educators to become more educated, and this is a big reason why I am currently doing my Ph.D. in Education at OISE/University of Toronto. I started May 2010.

The next generation of journalism educators has many challenges ahead of them. It is still a competitive market that grows even more competitive because those that are untrained in the field continue to make strides. Journalism education needs more of an emphasis on how young journalists can be entrepreneurs and successfully run their own freelancing business. This is effective from a tax perspective, as well as a job security perspective. Job security is an elusive thing these days; however young journalists can stay on top of this by working for a variety of employers.

If you would like more information on this topic, you can email Donna Kakonge at dkakonge@gmail.ccom.

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Not Just the Baby Blues (Originally Published in Today’s Canadian Black Woman)

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When Halima Ali, an immigrant from Somalia living in Toronto’s west end, was 20 she decided that she wanted to get married and have a baby.

She did just that. However, her decision came with some unanticipated problems.

Three years later while pregnant, Ali had morning sickness like many other normal women. She kept getting sick and so weak that she had to stop working and was hospitalized.

“Immediately I got jaundiced, but I felt better after coming out of the hospital,” says Ali. “Once home, I was still throwing up and losing a lot of vitamins. The doctors said I had a salt deficiency. I went home again and one morning woke up confused.”

Ali had a burning sensation in her brain. She did not know her name had difficulty remembering things. Again, she was taken to the hospital, at seven months pregnant, and stayed there for two weeks.

She was in the hospital several times during her pregnancy. Ali thought that when she gave birth, everything would go back to normal.

“I had my son and returned home to become mentally confused again. I went back to the hospital where they put me on medications. Not only did my life change because of my son, my health changed too.”

Ali has not been completely diagnosed, but the doctors think it is postpartum depression.

Christine Long, executive director of Postpartum Adjustment Services Canada (PASS-CAN), a non-profit organization helping postpartum mothers, says that Ali is an atypical situation.

“She still has not recovered, and there may be other disorders like thyroid problems or anemia,” says Long. “We need to acknowledge in our society that having a baby is a major life event. Symptoms can appear during pregnancy and after.” Long does not like the word “postpartum depression” to describe all situations. This condition is often called “the baby blues,” and is much like the flue. Eighty percent of pregnant women experience this.

With a prenatal mood disorder, the major disorder is anxiety before the child is born. Long says that the literature on the subject and diagnoses from psychiatrists rates the problem at about 10 percent for a postpartum mood disorder. Through meeting women at conferences and the increased knowledge on the subject, according to Long that number has jumped to between 20 to 25 percent. She also notes that postpartum mood disorder does not discriminate against any group of women.

“The major symptoms we see are anxiety, panic attacks, unable to swallow. Women feel they have electrodes to their scalp, pain in the chest, heart racing, and numbness of limbs. Many women think they’re having a heart attack,” says Long.

PASS-CAN tries to train people in the health field about these symptoms because some women go through cardiology when in hospital.

“I couldn’t take care of my son so he is being taken care of by my aunt, who is really like another mother,” says Ali. “My son is 6-years-old now and he knows I’m sick, but he doesn’t fully understand what it is. I lost my job when I first got sick. I also lost my husband. He didn’t understand what I was going through so he left.”

Long says what Ali went through is the severe end of the disorder. “Many women also have obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Overly concerned about the baby’s health, scary thoughts about the health of the baby. Thoughts become repetitive and intrusive. The most common one is seeing the babies’ head crashing open and falling down. Eighty percent of pregnant women will experience some kind of scary thought,” says Long.

Long says the path to help is to talk to a doctor. If a woman is not feeling like herself during or after pregnancy, they should let someone know.

After the baby is born, there is a visit to the doctor. PASS-CAN is advocating for these questions to be asked:

· Are you able to sleep when the baby sleeps?
· Are you eating, and if so what are you eating?
· Are you able to get out, other than to the doctor?
· Are you having any scary thoughts about yourself and the baby?

“If there’s a problem with the woman, by question number two, there are tears. With the questions, what you’re doing is humanizing the experience of being a new mom.”

Women get better knowledge about it, being educated, trying to prevent it from knowing their medical history, being able to talk and having good healthcare professionals, says Long. The other part that really helps is western traditional and alternative medications.

“If it goes untreated there can be family breakdowns, suicide, and in some cases infanticide when it comes to postpartum psychosis,” says Long. “We have a tremendous amount to gain by treating this. These are some of the most in-tune, powerful, sensitive women I have ever met. What’s happened is that their experience has made them stronger.” With a combination of traditional medications and prayer, Ali has been better. She is now 29 and sees her son often. Caseworkers at the Canadian Mental Health Association helped her to find affordable housing and get back to work. Although Ali’s first love left her, she is dating again with a new boyfriend.

“I dream to be able to raise my son and further my career, I just want to be regarded as normal as anyone else.”

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Great Fathers

Dr. Pamela Payne Foster


Image result for Dr. Pamela Foster Alabama Rural Health Institute

Pamela Payne Foster is deputy director and assistant professor at The University of Alabama Rural Health Institute. She is also an author and is currently working on her second book.

“As a daughter and recent observations about the lack of fathers in homes, I was at a recent meeting (Bible study session) where the majority of sentiment in the room was very negative about fathers. Mainly due to divorce. I and a few others were in the minority about positive experiences of their fathers.”

Foster says very multifacetedly as most of us are. “While he could be very stern and a disciplinarian, he could also be very funny and comical. He didn’t show emotions very easily, but he showed great love by being a consistent force and presence in my life….he came home after work every day like clockwork at the same time. We ate dinner as a family and talked. He was a good provider and very giving…..we kids would love to go shopping with him….he never looked at prices…..he would say, “Get what you want.” He also was very giving in the extended family and neighbourhood and would be the first person to reach into his pocket. He also instilled a sense of independence and love of education and reading to his children.

Foster says the most important lesson she learned from her father was: “I would say independence as well as a giving spirit. We both went to the same college, and I could not beat him in alumni drives. I think his model for giving back to institutions which helped him is instilled deeply in me.

Foster thinks it takes a provider and protector of the family is foremost to make a good Dad. And love for family/people is the ingredient that drives that.

Foster’s Dad recently passed away, however, she has this to say: “My dad recently passed and some of his sayings still stick with me today. One of his favorites was, ‘You can do bad by yourself’ indicating that as a female, I didn’t have to have a man to survive, but doing for self first is a good thing in order to make a relationship work.

For more information about Pamela Payne Foster, her website is

Kevin Jackson

Jube Dankworth is a publicist of Netmedia Consultants. His client is Kevin Jackson of The Black Sphere.

Jackson says: “my grandfather raised me, so he was my father, as my biological father was a deadbeat. My stepfather was also a significant influence in my life. I eulogized both men, as I say in my best-selling book, The BIG Black Lie.”

Jackson says his father was unassuming. He allowed him to be a kid, and to take risks. He taught him so much, though mostly unknowingly.

The most important lesson Jackson learned from his father was to stand up for himself when wronged and to do it in that moment.

Jackson is now a father himself. “I spend time with my kids, and “study” fatherhood. I balance challenge with love and try to always be a good listener. I usually wait 10 seconds for a reaction, when they upset me.”

Jackson thinks patience is the most important quality to being a good Dad. “You must also know that kids are unique, and will not necessarily do what you’d like them to do.”

Jackson was a poor child who was exposed to immense wealth because his father worked for a wealthy family.

Kevin Jackson’s contact information is His email address is:

Osiris Munir is a PR Campaign manager for Ankh Entertainment One.

Munir’s father is still living and was married to her mother for 57 years. Her mother passed away in June of 2009.

Munir would describe her father this way: “Very quiet, super intellectual and a great dad. When my mom met my father she had four children from a previous marriage. My dad had no problem stepping right in, and picking up the slack.”

The most important lesson Munir learned from her Dad was:

“I learned intelligence, we were always taught to read everything. I learned how to use my masculine side to promote myself, sustain my life, and develop my reasoning mind. How to use my brain.”

Munir thinks that commitment to being a Dad is the most important thing to being a good Dad.

“My dad is the coolest 87 year old on the planet, not
overweight, still has some feistiness in him. Good looking as

Munir’s website is: His email is:

Shirley Cress Dudley is the founder, author, coach, speaker of The Blended and Step Family Resource Center.

Dudley says about her Dad: “My 87-year-old father is still healthy and active in our lives. He held a long career, as the owner of a business, and now helps my sister, over 40 hours a week, with her 4-month-old baby.”

Her children describe her father as a “cool granddaddy.” Dudley finds him quite funny.

The most important lessons Dudley has learned from her father are honesty, integrity and hard work are essential to success.

Although Dudley is not a father herself, she has this to say about motherhood: “I strive to be the best mother I can be by spending time with my kids.”

Dudley believes the qualities of a good dad: spend time with his kids, values them and listens to them, focuses on his marriage, works hard, has integrity and good morals and values.

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Spain (originally published with Rozaneh Magazine)

Beauty of Spain

Image result for Spain

This is the Spain where it is easy to play Red Rover on the beach, but hard not to shop. This is the country of siesta, cheap shoes and sangria that flows like a river. You must order your water like this: “aqua sin gaz,” which means still water. But this country is not still. Everything moves, and it moves to the rhythm of a Spanish guitar as you dance the night away meeting Spaniards and Brits who have had too much beer.

Almost anyone could recognize Spain because Spain is that kind of country where all your expectations are fulfilled. Even Barcelona is the city where Olympic dreams come true.

The south of Spain is where I spent most of my time close to the water. I saw places like Costa del Sol, with my souvenir pen for proof. It doesn’t work anymore. I saw Torremolinos and the famous Rock of Gilbrator. I had to resist the urge to climb the rock in newly bought heels.

In the south of Spain, it is also easy to see the tip of Africa, Morocco. A dingy of a boat can take a small group over for a nominal fee. The day I was supposed to see Morocco the water was choppy and the captain of the ship decided that we shouldn’t go, but this did not ruin my traveling experience.

Spain is a place where you can relax and enjoy the ever-present sunshine. It did not rain one day when I was there. Getting up early in the morning to shop and see the castles of old, the whole country shuts in the early afternoon for siesta. Usually, this takes place after the noon meal. Being a tourist, I preferred to do my sleeping on a beach towel on top of the sand, rather than in my 5-star suite.


Shopping is fantastic in Spain. This is the land that created the fashion outlet Zara and the clothes are feminine and form-fitting for the ladies, stylish and sleek for the men. In Barcelona, a good part of the Eixample is where you can find numerous select fashion shops and jewelry stores. On the Passeig de Gracia and in other parts of the Eixample, shopping arcades abound.

More shopping after siesta, then it’s off to the hotel to get ready for the nightlife. Spain has a vibrant life at night and one of the clubs I went to was called the Coliseum and had the colonial-style white columns to match.

You never have to be alone in Spain, not if you don’t want to. There are museums, art centres and monuments, exhibition centres, art galleries and antique shops, cultural activities and events, parks and gardens and plenty of food and drink.


In Madrid, there is a street known as the “Avenue of Art.” Those with an eye for luxury can enjoy the Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza and Centro de Arte Reina Sofia Museums. With these three places of art, you will be exposed to the best in the world.

The Prado Museum has the finest collection of Spanish paintings. There are masterpieces by El Greco, Valazquez and Goya. You may already be one of the select few who has some these magnificent pieces gracing your walls at home or in your office.

What you will not find in The Prado, you will find in The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Unlike the Prado, with its single masterpiece of the period, Fra Angelico’s Annunciation, the Thyssen-Bornemisza showcases Italian Primitives. There are also superb examples of German Renaissance and Dutch 17th century paintings (of which the Prado only has a few). There are also 19th-century American works of art, virtually non-existent anywhere else in Spain. From the first stirrings of modern art, as Impressionism, up through the harsher years of German Expressionism and Russian Constructivism, to experiments with Geometric Abstraction and the tongue-in-cheek irreverence of Pop Art…all are represented in this wide-ranging retrospective that is the Thyssen Collection.

Leaving the other two galleries behind, your last call will bring you to one of the most famous and in its time controversial masterpieces of this century, Picasso’s Guernica, now hanging in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. The permanent collection here is primarily made up of Spanish painting and sculpture: Picasso, Gris, Miro, Dali, Chillida, and Tapies, along with newer contemporaries.

On the “Avenue of Art,” you will be dazzled by all the beauty great minds like yours have had to offer.

After the shopping, the gallery-hopping, the times at the beach and the nightlife, you will need to replenish and refresh the body with Spanish Catalan cuisine.

Food & Drink

Catalan cuisine defies summarizing with a few typical dishes. Dishes with deep-rooted country origins from the humble escudella to the rich and varied seafood cuisine, from grilled fish to excellent suquet de peix can be sampled in Barcelona. There are also many different ways to prepare codfish, an ample repertoire of fowl and game, including rabbit with snails, Catalan-style partridge or boar, and numerous specialties from Ampurdan region, such as duck with pears, chick with shrimp or lobster, etc. Finally, I must not forget dishes using duck and goose as their main ingredient, as well as snails and mushrooms.

Desserts are also varied and are not limited to the most typical ones, such as crema catalana (custard with a caramel topping and mel I matao (cottage cheese and honey).

Catalunya is a land of good wines, particularly the wines from Penedes, Costers del Sergre, Alella and Peralada. Penedes is the region par excellence of the sparkling wine called cava. This all makes for decadent and delightful meals.

There is so much to do that you will find that seven days is not enough and 10 days is just about right. If you would like to fit in Portugal in your trip, which is a short jump away, plan to stay longer.

I left Spain with the feeling that if there was anywhere in the world I would like to live other than where I’m living now, I would choose Spain. You probably will fall in love with it, too.


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Black Professor Turns Negatives into Positives (Originally Published in Centretown News)

In Greek, Bernice means “one who bears good news of victory.” Bernice Moreau’s life is a testament to achievement in the face of struggle.

When Moreau first came to Centretown in September 1991, she was called a “nigger” y three white youths at the corner of Bank Street and Laurier Avenue.

She walked away from the experience feeling great.

“Because I can walk as a black woman, and they have the problem. I don’t, it’s their problem, it’s not mine. It’s given me more power. They didn’t know who I am,” she says with a voice filled with the sound of the West Indies.

Black rights activist Rosa parks pose on Moreau’s walls, along with other black and white photographs of black women.

At work, Moreau wears no makeup or any visible jewelry.

She’s a natural looking woman who appears to hide nothing about her.

Moreau is the only black female lecturer at Carleton University on the tenure path. After certain specified conditions on length of service and performance, tenure will secure Moreau a permanent status in her job.

She teaches courses such as theorems of gender, race, and class and the history and philosophy of social work.

Moreau was born in Trinidad. She came to Canada to do a BA in sociology at Dalhousie University.

“When I got my first degree, I sent a picture home to Mom. She walked all through the community and showed it. It was a celebration. What I did, I did for my community,” she says pushing her glasses higher on her nose.

“Social mobility, political or any kind of mobility was more by the way of education than any other route. As a black woman, I could be the prime minister of Trinidad if I wanted to do it.

“Being a black woman wouldn’t have hindered me. Maybe in days gone by being women would have hindered me, but not being black.”

Moreau does not let being black hinder her in Canadian society. She is currently working on a Ph.D. in sociology through the University of Toronto.

“For many white students, I’m the first black female professor that they’ve had.”

She asks her class on the first day how they feel about having a black female professor.

“I deal with it head-on. I know the society in which we live; I know that colour and race are major issues. Colour of skin equals intelligence. Worse again to society, I’m a black woman.

“I say here I am, if you have problems with me that’s alright, you can talk about your problems and your difficulties. That is my way.”

One of the first things Moreau does when she gets into a community is find a “PRO-tes-TANT” church, as she pronounces it.

“Spirituality helps me with the daily pressure, particularly in this society being far away from home. It gives me community.

“I drifted across this country quite a lot. From 1976 I’ve lived in Nova Scotia, Toronto, New Brunswick and here. Finding a church gives me an immediate community. I can share what I have, and they can share what they have with me.”

She attends the Ottawa Church of God on Wellington Street, which is a mainly black church.

She teaches Sunday school, ages eight to 11. She plans to start teaching the history of black people to her class.

“When you know your history, you can stand proud.”

Moreau is proud of who and what she is.

“I’m a model for black female students. I know for sure that in this department of social work the black women are encouraged.”

Her victory as a black woman expresses good news of the victory others can also have.

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How to make your mall experience a free one (originally published with The

Image result for Shopping Mall

How to Make Your Mall Experience a Free One

 Being in a shopping mall can be an overwhelming experience – especially when you don’t have the cash to spend. But, there are ways to have a good time without spending a cent.

Before you go shopping, you want to make sure you look good. Visit a makeup counter and get a free makeover and look gorgeous while you walk through the mall. It’s also a great form of exercise.

First and foremost – know about samples. Rather than buying anything you need, you can always ask for samples of things and stock them for supplies. This goes for just about anything. For example, I had heard that there was this great hair product called Phyto and went to the mall to get samples every time I needed some. You can do this for face creams, body lotions, and many other toiletries.

Trying on new clothes for the fun of it could give you some great ideas to find cheaper versions of what you love at discount places or to get hand-me-downs from friends.

Once you’re done with looking your best, catch some entertainment by going into an electronics store and watching some of the stuff they have on their screens. Some really nice stores have chairs set up and might even have a new DVD on. You could always ask them to put on something interesting so you can see the quality of the latest flat screen monitor, without having the money to buy it.

What is this world without music? Even the smallest of malls will have one music store and the bigger ones will have more for you to choose from. The best way to find out what’s hot and what’s not is to look at the racks and see how the different CDs are ranked. You can even mellow out by checking out the listening stations in places like HMV and enjoy the tunes.

Speaking of how things are ranked – check out the bookstores for the bestsellers. Books from Dr. Phil or the upcoming biography on Bob Denver you can read for free at Indigo or Chapters. Take your time; some bookstores have places to sit so you can be there for awhile. Or squat on the floor.

If you have a child, spend that special time in the children’s department of a bookstore reading to your little one. Toy stores are great ways to keep the kids occupied. Perhaps if they can play with that doll or toy truck in the store, they’ll tire of it and won’t hound you to buy it.

Get decorating ideas that you can do on the cheap from places like the Pottery Barn.

After all this excitement, go to the furniture department and take a nap on one of the luxurious couches of any of the big stores like Sears.

Now after you’ve experienced a fulfilling free time, look for loose change in pay phones and on the ground (it can pay to walk with your head down) go to the mall’s bank and make a small donation to Hurricane Katrina relief (every penny counts as you know).

If you do have a little cash to spend – The Dollar Store is always a great place. For example, I bought a pair of sunglasses for a dollar with black frames from there and took them to a one-hour optical place and paid way more for the prescription lenses than the frames. People are telling me all the time they look like $300 glasses – but I didn’t spend anything near to that.

When you get hungry, try checking out places like Baskin Robbins and many others for samples to get a quick fix. If you go to enough fast food joints for samples, you might even end up feeling full.

All this will make your shopping experience pain-free for your wallet and enjoyable. Have a good time and remember to throw a penny in the waterfall if your major mall has one!

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Finding Success Through the Love of Cats

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Kari Kay is a success coach, author, and owner of the Floppy Cat Company living in the United States.

She has written a book called Floppy Cat. The book is based on one of her many pets who she lives with on a farm with her two sons too. When asked does money make you happy? she had this to say:

“I am a success coach and love helping people realize their dreams,” Kay wrote to me. “I teach people that they can get everything they have ever wanted by first discovering what it is that they love to do. By enjoying your life you will attract all things good into your life. I have personally experienced this in my new found career as a children’s author. Everything seems effortless, exciting, and new. I get to learn new things every day which helps me to grow and become all that I was put on this earth to be and do.”

I wanted to know if Kay agreed with me that money will come in abundance if you are doing what you love to do. This is something I have always known. Actually, money is so powerful if used for the right reasons that even people who may hate what they do can still attract it. They can attract it especially if they have children to feed, mortgage payments, rent to pay, maybe living paycheque to paycheque – or basically just getting by. Someone such as Kay has an abundance of it.

Kay has discovered what she wants to do and earning a wonderful living, however, she got help along the way.

“I am a success coach, trained personally by Bob Proctor. I teach people exactly what you described above – that money will come to you in abundance if you are living life on purpose, having fun and providing a service that makes a difference in other’s lives. I am the author of the new children’s book called Floppy Cat. Check out the fun website: . I am a mother, entrepreneur, exercise physiologist and an animal scientist. Everything I have done has helped me get to this great place where I am today!”

Kay lives her daily life in harmony with her soul.

“As you may have guessed in my previous descriptions, I make sure fun is part of my life every day. I get up excited to take on each day’s new challenges. I send my two wonderful boys off to school and get after promoting my new book, teaching, coaching, writing, speaking and being creative. I play with my giant Bernese Mountain dog and take him for a run. Do some sit ups and push ups, and sometimes even a little yoga. Laundry, of course, sweeps the kitchen floor, cook, usually watch one of my boys play basketball, relax, and read.”

On Kay’s website, you can see a video of the real floppy cat.

“He was the one who inspired me to change my thinking. We all should live like
Floppy with a Floppy Cat attitude!”

To find out more of floppy cat’s attitude and to find out more about Kari Kay’s amazing work is If you have a similar story to share, please feel free to contact Donna Magazine at today.

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Money Matters

Image result for James Goi Jr.

James Goi Jr. is an author, speaker, and coach living in San Diego, California (U.S.). He has not had to work a job in years:

“I don’t know what you consider rich, as it’s a relative term, but I have not had to work a job in years, so, to me, I’m rich,” writes Goi Jr. in an email. “I am the author of How to Attract Money Using Mind Power. My book is a serious work on the subject in which I quote 160 other books. The book will soon be translated into the Hindi language and will be available on the Indian Subcontinent. Since 1978, I’ve read hundreds of books in an effort to understand the laws of life. I’ve lectured on metaphysics and spirituality, always with an emphasis on the money/prosperity angle. I also publish the free monthly “Mind Power & Money Ezine.”

“I wake up about 4:30 a.m. nearly every day. I start out in bed with visualization, affirmation, gratitude, and prayer. Then I sit up on the edge of my bed and study/breath in my vision board for a few minutes. I get up, do some exercises. Sit down, meditate for a few minutes. Then I get on the Internet and check emails and work my various social-network sites such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, and I do other book-promoting-type tasks…

“I live in San Diego, so I keep a tan year round and layout in the yard for an hour any day the sun is out, which is most days regardless of the time of year. I’m on and off of the computer for the rest of the day. Exercise a few minutes every hour. Take a walk in the afternoon (mornings when it’s not so cold in the morning like it is this time of year). Read in the evening. A little T.V. sometimes. That’s a basic idea. I totally make my own schedule and only do what I want to do when I want to do it. I’m totally free in that all of my time is mine. And I can buy what I need and want when I need and want it. What can I say? Life is good. I owe it all to metaphysical laws and to an inherently friendly universe. Oh, yeah, I eat on and off during the day (unless I’m fasting). No set eating schedule. Mostly whole foods from nature; mostly raw/live fruits and vegetables. Oh #2: I go to bed about 8:30 p.m. And, of course, I do some mental work in bed.

“I have listed my website ( below. The
best way to get a quick idea of what I’m about, though, would be to go to my

page: In the right-hand column of the page is a list of links to various other websites I’m on. Speaking of which, I’m on Youtube: I’ve got 33 videos uploaded and from them you can get a good idea of what I teach–especially helpful might be my 20-part “How to Attract Money Using Mind Power” series in which I discuss
the 20 chapters of my book.”

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For the younger generation

Image result for The No Nonsense Approach to a Successful Life - Jean Daniel Francois

By Jean Daniel François, M.D.

You are destined to greatness!

I was born and raised in the West Indies. I was the oldest of nine children. My mother was a single parent full of hope for her children. I am not ashamed to tell you that I know a lot about poverty. Pressed by all circumstances, my siblings and I struggled to make it against all odds. I remember vividly the many instances when we would go to school on an empty stomach, and return in the afternoon, still hungry with only some water to drink or some beans to eat. Some nights, when it was evident there was nothing to eat, no corn meals ready, I would dump some sugar into lukewarm water, add some lemon – when available- and make lemonade, to drink of it, just to get something into our systems before I went outside on the street light to study, and leave some of that lemonade for the following morning just in case! But, just before we went to bed, my mother would remind all of us: “a piece of gold remains very valuable even in the midst of mud.”

I grew up in a big family where my grandfather played a key role in my life. My biological father traveled to the United States before I was born. I didn’t hear from him or meet him until I was about to finish junior high school. He and I started direct correspondence only after I managed to obtain his address, under secrecy, from one of his aunts. During the first eight years of my life, I considered, besides my mother, my grandfather as my hero. He was always there when I needed him. After a week working miles away from home, he would come home. He was never too tired to me. He sat in his armchair, he would put me on his lap, look me straight into the eyes and tell me what a great guy I was, and I was going to make it big in life. He would remind me how he had learned to read late in life, at age 11, yet still managed to become a community judge. He told me I was very special and how I was going to be such a success. I learned to love my grandpa. He showered me with love beyond belief.

Unfortunately, grandpa’s health was not so great. As a kid, I was unsure of what was happening, but he became ill and his health went downhill fairly quickly. Hospital facilities were great distances away, physicians were scarce, adding to those conflicting viewpoints regarding how to care for him, not to mention his superstitious cultural beliefs that some jealous friends were trying to “eat him”…my grandpa did not make it. I believe my hero died of some cancer that went to his brain and caused some seizures. I still believe that grandpa died because of lack of adequate medical care. Deep inside I felt an urge to do something, if not bring him back to life, at least to help prevent such a nightmare that can overwhelm other young people. I felt compelled to help in appeasing or eliminating human suffering, and to provide a better quality of life and better medical care. I knew right then and there that I had to become a physician.

However, the road was not easy. After Grandpa’s death, I dedicated the following 15 years of my life to the struggle of helping my mother raise the other eight of my brothers and sisters. In the early part of the 1970’s, I emigrated to the United States “with a small suitcase and a head full of dreams”. However, upon arriving here, my first hurdle was to learn how to deal with my father and my stepmother. There I was, self-confident, in the land of opportunity, where I believed there were milk and honey. I could not wait to share my dreams with my biological father, who I only met once for a few hours as an adolescent. My father’s words to me were blunt: “forget about it! You could never become a physician. Do something quick to take care of yourself”.

I could not believe my ears. I did not say a word. But deep inside I was determined to prove him wrong. I could not help but look back to my early years and the precious time that I had spent with Grandpa, who was so encouraging. Somehow there were two conflicting messages resonating in my head: My grandpa had said “I could do anything”; my real dad told me “I could not”. I felt so lonely at a crossroad. I was in a foreign country with a foreign language and a different culture. I quickly discovered two things:

a) It costs a lot to live here.
b) Without my help, my mother was not going to be able to provide for my other siblings.

I had to rediscover my priorities. Over the next twelve years, a few things happened. Those things made reaching my dream of becoming a physician very difficult.

1- I opted to help my mother not only to survive there but also to find ways to bring all of my family to the States legally. To reach such a goal, I started as a messenger for a “Fortune 500” company but kept “my head full of dreams”. I moved up to the clerk, junior financial analyst…all while going to school full time at night.

2-I got married to my high school sweetheart: the most beautiful woman in the world.
I was a bit distracted and wanted to be content with what I had. I took all the pre-requisites for medical school. Nevertheless, I thought I would stay in the accounting/management field. After all, I had a family to support: a wife and kids, and my mother with breast cancer. I wanted to continue the usual rat race. But in my mind, I could not deny the fact I knew I was destined to do a little more. There was a constant void that I kept ignoring, like recurring indigestion. I talked myself into accepting the new standard dictated by the various circumstances.

I never forget that afternoon, at a New Year’s Eve party; a man came out of nowhere, tapped me on my shoulder and told me: “you are a doctor, aren’t you?” I said NOOOOOO! Emphatically. Then my heart was coming out of my mouth, I was sweating, hot, panicking. I felt as if my grandpa was looking straight into my eyes and telling me “you are going to do great things…nothing can stop you… nobody can stop you…” I left the gathering and went back home. I felt like I had let my grandpa down. I felt like I had let myself down and I wanted to prove to my father that he was wrong. After a sleepless, agonizing night, I decided to go back to my initial goal.

I applied timidly to less than a dozen of medical schools. I only got two interviews. Somehow God helped me to get accepted at one of the two schools. I left my job against all advice; I started medical school at 35, after five years of marriage and no kids. The first two years were tough: two premature kids 3 & 4 pounds in 21 months, a wife with preeclampsia and prolonged hospitalization. I chickened out; I had a tough time keeping the grades. I wanted to quit but my wife convinced me to take a leave of absence instead. Away from medical school for almost 2 years with no job; I tried but could not even drive my uncle’s taxi cab for some real money. I was miserable, like a fish without water. So, I returned and finished medical school. After graduation, I went into internship and residency in my early forties with a lot of debt, including student loans.

Today, obviously I am not rich financially, but I am proud to report to you all, my dream has come true. I am a practicing Physician!! I believe I must have taken care of thousands of patients with all kinds of neurological illnesses, including brain metastasis, and seizures. I am also the spiritual leader of a community-based church. I do regular radio session to instruct people about their health and other subjects that can help them face the various challenged of life. I have written a few books. All, because I love the fact I can make a difference in people’s lives.

I am happy to tell you: YOU CAN DO IT TOO! You can do anything you set your mind to do if you keep at it and believe in yourself.

Jean Daniel Francois, B.S., B.Th., M.A., M.D.

Author of The No Nonsense Approach to a Successful Life ( Les Clés de la Réussite Authentique)

Tips for a Successful Career in Medicine

You may visit the author’s website,, or e-mail him at

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Jeff Gitterman’s Success Story – The Four Pillars of Success

Image result for Jeffrey Gitterman - Beyond Success

Jeffrey Gitterman is an award-winning financial advisor and the founder and CEO of Gitterman & Associates, LLC In these challenging economic times, Jeff recently started Beyond Success, a consulting firm, coaching and seminar training company that brings more contemporary spiritual, holistic and ethical values to the business world.

He has been a top requested and keynote speaker at numerous national conferences for the financial, insurance and spiritual capitalism markets, directly engaging with 10 to 15,000 business professionals annually. His first book, Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity, was published in May by AMACOM, the publishing house of the American Management Association.

Over the past several years, Jeff has been featured and interviewed on several national and local print, TV, and radio programs, including Money, CNN, Fortune Small Business, New Jersey Business Journal, Financial Advisor, News 12 New Jersey, and The Dr. Pat Show. He also serves as chairman of the advisory board of the Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School, an organization that raises significant monies each year for autism research and support services.

Gitterman recently read an article about Max Planck, who won a Nobel Prize for his work with atoms. After years of study and research, Planck eventually said that he could only know one thing–that some invisible force holds together the energy to create this minute solar system, and he must assume, based on his research, that some higher intelligence is behind this force.

Gitterman was born with some understanding that the world was made of energy. He didn’t buy the story that kept showing up in front of him, whether it was his parent’s story, his schoolteacher’s stories, or the stories in the news. He just didn’t buy it. He saw the world as energy. And Gitterman actually saw that the only thing that was really important was the joint flow between human beings and how that energy was working and processing.

And what he saw in the eyes of everybody he looked at as a kid, until he got older and met some people with wisdom, were people who were looking to take energy from others. The reason for that, he thought, was that most people felt a big void within themselves. Gitterman loves the fact that the word “a-void” means to turn away from something. We all spend our lives avoiding the void. And in truth, the void is us. It’s us at our purest essence. It’s us in the silence; it’s us in the quiet. That was something he kind of lived in; he lived in the void. But then he would come out and see these people who were miserable, wanting and lacking. They weren’t producing anything in their lives; they couldn’t get enough money, they couldn’t get enough of anything no matter how much they stole, borrowed or tried. They couldn’t get enough into their lives.

He also recently learned that the root word for money in the Hebrew language is flow. That really blew him away, because it was something that he had thought about for much of his life.

“There is nothing you can do to create money because money is just a flow, and it’s the flow of energy that is the root of capitalism. Capitalism and money in and of themselves are just neutral. There is no inherent action to either of them.

There is nothing we can do to create energy either, as the only thing we can really do with the flow of energy is allowed or block it from coming into our lives. When I talk about energy, I often use the metaphor of a laser. While sunlight in its natural form is a source of warmth, it doesn’t have much power because it’s spread out in so many directions. But when it’s focused and concentrated through a magnifying glass, it suddenly becomes far more powerful. And when the power of light is condensed to a much greater degree, it becomes a laser that can cut through steel.”

So if everything is ultimately made of energy and this energy is just kind of flittering around, what focuses that energy? Attention focuses energy. But most of us don’t have control of our attention. Most of us know what we want, but few of us know what we want to give. And our attention has to be grounded in serving based on our unique creative expression in order for it to have power. That doesn’t mean you can’t have money, but Gitterman can show you plenty of people that are miserable and have more money than they know what to do with. So for us as a society, the measure of money as success is really our own fault.

“I’m going to bring this back,” Gitterman writes. “Some people have intentions that serve the world, and others don’t. Then there is everyone else. And what happens to our energy if we have no vision for ourselves? We get swallowed up by people around us whose intention is stronger than ours.

Marianne Williamson, although it is often credited to Nelson Mandela, has a quote in her book, A Return to Love, that talks about the fact that we all play too small. On an energetic level, when we play too small, we give our energy to others around us who want it. And believe me, people want it because they’re trying to accomplish things. It’s just happening at an energetic level where we’re not seeing it. So we follow along while someone else has a vision of the world that doesn’t suit ours, whether it’s people on Wall Street, in the government, or whatever. And if we’re just witnesses, we fall in blindly and give up our intention to the people that have a vision for the future that they want.”

Gitterman continues; at the surface level, we can’t see this going on, but on an energetic level it’s happening. And that’s why so many of us feel drained and filled with void. Because we literally have had the energy sucked away from us so someone else can realize their vision and goal.

“My financial services company is based around a model I’ve been teaching for several years called the Four Pillars of Success. These pillars are relatively simple, but if practiced with sincerity can have dramatic results:

“PILLAR ONE is that we have to have some practice rooted in silence. I don’t care what it is. I stand for all religions and spiritual practices: whatever it is that allows you to get in touch with your Source. Because in my mind and on an energetic level, it’s almost like we’re an electrical appliance, or a hybrid car; one of the old ones that you had to plug in. At some point in the day, we’ve got to plug in. I recommend at least 5 to 15 minutes every day. I don’t care if it’s sitting in the shower if that’s the only place you can find any quiet because that’s actually where I get mine. Fifteen minutes every morning in the shower with the water running, in the quiet, because I have an autistic child that starts talking at 6 a.m. when he wakes up and doesn’t stop until 10 p.m. when he goes to sleep, and that’s about the only 15 minutes of silence I can find. So we have to have a practice rooted in silence, and from a scientific measure, we’re just recharging our energy. Otherwise, we go out in the world and have nothing to share.

“PILLAR TWO is that we have to have an idea of what our unique creative expression is in the world: i.e. what each of us feels we have been placed on this earth to do. And it doesn’t have to be right. Because as Norman Schwarzkopf once said in a seminar I saw him give, was that the worst thing he saw in the army was that no one was making any decisions. The only way to know that anything is right is to make a decision, and if it’s wrong, correct it. I would say the same thing for individuals because most of us spend our entire life waiting for someone to tell us what our unique expression is, or kind of knowing what it is but waiting for someone to come and reinforce it. So pick something, literally, that you sense is your unique expression, and seek to build a life around it that offers something to the world.

“PILLAR THREE is that you have to have a forward vision, three to five years out, of what your unique creative expression looks like in the world. The way I teach people to do this is to have a two to a three-minute movie that you can play in your head all day long, especially as you go to bed at night. A two-minute movie of you and what a day in the life of you looks like: the house you live in, the car you drive, where and what you do at work. Are you singing to an audience? Are you the best plumber in the world? Are you the best insurance salesman, doctor, accountant or basketball player? What does that vision look like three to five years out in a perfect day in the life of you? And then give it up to the universe because in all likelihood that vision, while it may come true, will find reasons to change and grow as you make it bigger and better. We need to give our energy a direction to move in. It’s critical that we do that. Otherwise, we flounder. It’s like getting in our car without a navigation system and driving around with no idea where we’re going.

“PILLAR FOUR is that what we do has to be grounded in service. There is nothing to get. If I can leave you with any message, it’s that. There is nothing to get. There’s no money to get; no love to get; no sex to get; no happiness to get. There’s nothing to get that isn’t already in us. The world shows up and reflects what we are. If we have lacked in our life, it’s because we’re holding on to lack within ourselves. If we’re seeing things we don’t like, it’s because we’re seeing things within ourselves that we don’t like. There is nothing outside in the world that we could possibly get that could fulfill us except to fulfill our own dreams of who we are.

So what is a success?

“If I had to give a definition, I would say success is to be aligned with our unique creative expression in service to the world as much as possible. I’m going to say that one more time. To be successful is to be aligned with our unique creative expression as much as possible in service to the world.

“I used to have a radio show called Beyond Success: Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity, where I talked to many people who in my mind were successful, and those were mostly people who got to do what they loved to do all the time. That could be a ski bum who skis 300 days a year and manages to do that on a $20,000 a year job in a ski shop in the offseason. Or it could be someone like William McDonough and Michael Braungart, who wrote Cradle to Cradle, a phenomenal book about how to create products that have no waste. In the book, they talk about a guy who created a wrapper that disintegrates and leaves plant seeds in the soil when you throw it on the ground. It’s being marketed in India right now. They also talk about another guy who created the seats in the new double-decker Airbus airplane that are 100 percent edible. There’s no carcinogenic runoff at all and they could literally be digested without doing any harm. Not that you would want to eat the seats, but they were created because of the runoff that is currently in most of the plastics in cars and airplanes.

“There are two other things that I really like to think about. One is the computer and the other is the Internet. I have no real knowledge of how either of these work, but I think everything that’s showing up is a forerunner for what’s going to happen to human consciousness in the future.”

There is a book out at the moment called Consciousness by mathematician Norbert Wiener that talks about this very phenomenon. At one point you had a hard drive sitting on your desk and that was it. There was no communication with the outside world. That’s how individuals mostly still operate today, ego-based minds where at some level, there might be a universe out there that we’re all connected to, but there’s no real communication between individuals and that universe. Wiener goes on to say that the Internet is a forerunner for what consciousness is going to look like some time in the future, where we will all literally be connected through a neuro-net, and the Internet is showing us the way for how that is going to happen.

We’re obviously not there yet and I’m not saying we shouldn’t get out there and vote, or speak out against things that aren’t appropriate, but if we’re not aligned with our unique creative expression and bringing that to the world in service, then we’re not transforming the world. The world again is literally a reflection of us, and if we don’t know what we’re doing, and feel filled with void and lack, is it any wonder that the world shows up like that as a reflection?

“It is my hope that these ideas will leave you thinking about you, what you’re doing here and how you’re aligned with your energy. It’s my sincere belief that this is what will truly change the world.”

For quite a long time, Gitterman was very unsuccessful – he had debt, depression – the whole nine yards. But then one day, he came to the realization that he needed to change his attitude from “what can I get from others” to “what can I give to others” in every personal and business interaction he had. Very soon after he did this, he became very successful in a relatively short period of time.

Around the same time that he had the above realization, he also realized that money and wealth cannot remain static – and by this I mean it cannot be hoarded and kept for oneself – but instead, needs to be shared with others in a constant state of flow. In turn, the more he was able to help others acquire wealth without being concerned with what was in it for him, the wealthier he became.

Jeff’s book, Beyond Success; Redefining the Meaning of Prosperity, promotes four central or CORE concepts:

Connecting to Source

Everything in this world is a movement of energy. The more aligned we are with what we call the Source energy of the universe (others might call it God, Higher Intelligence, etc. , the more we can accomplish. In order to do this, we need to have some daily practice of silence/meditation. It doesn’t matter what technique you use – but take some time each day to quiet your mind and senses so that you can develop more control over your thoughts and interactions throughout the day. You will be able to think more clearly and function more effectively.

Owning your Unique Expression

There is something specific that each of us is here to do. Enacting our unique purpose in the world is a greater source of fulfillment than the possession of an object. Are you working in a job/industry that truly represents what you feel you are here to do in this world? If not, perhaps its time to start thinking about how you could move towards combining your true passions in life with your career.

Redirecting your Attention

Investing our attention towards the future gives us the energy to become who we hope to be. Have a clear sense of vision as to where you want to be in 3-5 years. Create a 2-3 minute “movie” in your head as to where you would like your life and your career to go. Much of the book is based on the idea that our thoughts are the foundation for the results in our lives, therefore we must learn to focus our thoughts in the direction we would like to see our lives and careers go. The only way to see if this is really true is to put it into practice with sincerity and for an extended period of time and see if it is actually so.

Expanding your Awareness

The key to true success is to find a way to give. Giving is not an afterthought to success but rather the foundation. Find a way to give to others rather than look for what you can get in all of your dealings and interactions. It may seem like a cliche and somewhat of a paradox, but it does seem to be true that the more you give the more you will receive. Again, the only way to see if this is really true for yourself is to put it into practice and see if it is actually so. Our sense is that you will be amazed as to how your life will change and your career will grow if you do.

Since success often comes with a great deal of responsibility, Gitterman leads a very full and busy life. In addition to being the founder and CEO of Gitterman & Associates and Beyond Success Consulting, Gitterman is married to his lovely wife Leslie and has four children: Justin, Joelle, Jake, and Gianna. On a day-to-day basis, he is running both companies and enjoying life with his family. Jeff’s son Jake is autistic, and he also serves as the chairman of the advisory board of the Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School, an organization that raises significant monies each year for autism and research support services.

The back of our business cards read, ” To be successful is to be aligned with our unique creative expression in service to the world.” To this Gitterman would add that silence and stillness are far too underrated in our society. Take some time every day to be silent and still in whatever way works for you. Identify what you believe your purpose in this world is, and find a way to offer that purpose to others in service. In turn, you will be so busy doing what you feel you are meant to do, that happiness and abundance will find their way to you on their own.

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Paperback Books on as low as $5.70

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You can find paperback books as low as $5.70 and hardcover books for under $15.00 at Shop early and save. Get an additional 20 percent off with the code GIANT on checkout.

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Evan Money – His Real Name

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Evan Money is the self-titled #1 online life coach, global entrepreneur, and author. He lives around the corner from the new Trump Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes in Southern California. He looks out from his gazebo and sees the whales migrating. His bride of 13 years is a full-time Mom with a full-time nanny/chef at her disposal. He does not own an alarm clock, rather he wakes up when he is done sleeping, plays with his kids and then goes into his home office and creates wealth, writes books or just thinks. Life is tremendous!

“First off my real last name is Money and in my case, my bride literally married money,” he writes. “However when we were first married I didn’t have any LOL! Many a time we were the ones putting groceries back at the supermarket because we simply didn’t have enough money. So how did we go from that to being able to spoil my bride with a private chef/nanny and allow her to be a stay-home Mom? How did we go from a one-bedroom rental house to overlooking the water around the corner from Trump National Golf Course? How did I grow my business from nothing to a multimillion-dollar extreme sports empire?

“The funny thing is the five simple steps I took are very simple and easy. The only challenge is these steps are easy not to do as well. The first thing I did was forgive my Dad. I decided to stop blaming him and I took responsibility for my life. In fact the year I forgave my Dad I tripled my income. That is the power of forgiveness. Weak people can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.

“The second step I used was the power of the spoken word. You get what you say. I hear people all the time say, “I feel so tired” or “ I never get the good breaks” and guess what, that’s exactly what they get. I started speaking what I wanted. I have never taken a day off work because of sickness in almost 20 years and I get all kinds of good breaks because that’s what I speak.

“The third step I used was the power of visualization which is also known as the law of attraction. This law was used by Jacob in the Old Testament days so there is nothing “New Age” or mystical about it. Jacob had a deal that he could keep any streaked or spotted offspring from the solid coloured cows he had. So he put striped pieces of wood in front of his cattle’s water and feeding troughs so they would visualize stripes whenever they are or drank. Guess what? The cattle’s off-spring where striped! If this law even works for cattle why aren’t you using it?

“Every picture my wife and I have put on our refrigerator has come to pass. From private jet travel to massages on the beach in Hawaii to a new dream home we have an offer on that will be accepted this week.

“The fourth step is we believed. This means different things to different people with a relationship to their religion or non-religion. Jesus summed it up the best when he said: “ Become what you believe.” For those that have no time or desire for religion then you must start by simply believing in yourself. Do you think Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Michael Dell and other billionaires do not believe in themselves?

“The fifth and final step is where most people drop the ball. You have to TAKE ACTION. Take Action and the world is yours! Jack Canfield was asked about the Law of Attraction after The Secret became such a hit movie. He laughed and told about people saying they have watched the movie 50 times and they visualize things every day. Jack recommended those people get off the couch and go outside and get to work on their dreams. I’m so passionate about taking action I wrote a hit book about it titled: Take Action Now; How to Live Your Dreams in Less Than 3 Weeks available on Amazon and Kindle. The only thing that is keeping you from your dreams is taking action!

Evan Money, the #1 online life coach can be contacted at 1-877-WOW-EVAN. His website is

Take ACTION and the world is yours!

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Books on Amazon for as Low as $3.99

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All of my books are available on Amazon for as low as $3.99!!! Discounted paperbacks and hardcover copies also available on Amazon and Do some comparison shopping and find out the lowest price for you.

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It’s almost 1 in the morning as I listen to Jacksoul’s “Sleepless.” As much as I love writing, the typing seems like a distraction from the groovy bopping of my head.

Now I’m snapping my fingers as I think of the next sentence. This is quite fun I must say – grooving and seat dancing at the same time.

Okay, now here’s the song that encouraged me to leave my bed and write about this fantastic CD that has been a fav of mine when I’ve needed relaxation. Lying in bed, I was listening to this song “Can’t Stop” with lyrics like “Have you ever loved something so bad. I can’t stop loving you, babe. La, la, la. I start scaring myself, I start questioning my own mental health. Can anyone feel me at all?” Beautiful isn’t it? I was looking out the window at the picture perfect sky and tree dancing in the calm breeze and thinking I can’t stop loving this world.

Thank you Jacksoul for putting that thought in my mind. I won’t be jumping in front of any TTC trains anytime soon.

You can buy Jacksoul’s CD at any record store or check out websites.

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Adrian Harewood Profile – (Published on

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Adrian Harewood and I first met at the NFB in Ottawa in 1993. He was a student at McGill then where he graduated and also later became Station Manager at CKUT (McGill’s community radio station). He has done various freelance work for the CBC and stations in the United States. Seventeen years later, he is married and anchor of the 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. news in Ottawa.

He met his wife Lana at a gospel music event that he hosted marking Martin Luther King Day.

“I don’t really see myself as having to juggle my professional life with my marriage,” writes Harewood responding to email questions. “My relationship with my wife Lana is a fundamental part of my life. We both have professional responsibilities and so we make sure that we set aside quality time for each other.”

Harewood says that he does not have a typical day.

“With this new TV gig, my work day now starts at 3:00 p.m. So normally during the day I try to go for a run or do some form of exercise, read various newspapers/websites, maybe watch a film, read a book, listen to radio programs on CBC, BBC, NPR, Democracy Now, Radio Pacifica, Radio Canada, Christopher Lydon’s Open Source, This American Life on Public Radio International, while I am doing housework, watch CBC TV, Radio-Canada, BBC, CNN. Right now because we have a crabapple tree in our front yard I have been picking apples early in the morning and cutting them up getting ready to make crabapple jelly.”

Knowing how to make good use of his time, Harewood has advice for young journalists who would like to be where he is today.

“The advice I would give to anyone is to follow your passion,” Harewood says. “Be curious. Read widely. Be a sponge. Travel as much you are able. Get out of your comfort zone, whatever that zone is. Learn some languages. Expose yourself to as many stories as you can be they radio documentaries or films or TV shows or ballads or magazine articles. Read poetry. Practice reading out loud. Check out some art. Ground yourself as much as you can in history and politics and philosophy and science. Don’t get complacent. Never be satisfied with what you think you know. Get to know your community. Get involved in community media (I am particularly biased towards community radio). Write something every day. Try to become as versatile as you can as a media practitioner.”

All this advice has helped Harewood to be who he is today. Five years from now he sees himself writing a lot more for newspapers and magazines and pursuing some book projects. He would also like to teach at some post-secondary institution. He would like to produce documentaries for radio and TV…and yes ladies (perhaps, gents)…he will still be married.

To catch Adrian Harewood’s work on CBC, please check out CBC Ottawa online.

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Inside the life of a Ballerina

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By Kayla Kreutzberg

Every girl at one time or another in her life has had that magical dream. Where the air is thick and smoky, as she stands perfectly poised under the bright, almost blinding spotlight. All eyes in the auditorium are fixated on her and nothing else exists. Only she does, as she stands centre stage wearing a crisp, winter white tutu, with bold makeup painted upon her smiling face.

What is this dream you ask? It’s the dream of becoming a ballerina.

“Pretty much your whole day is dedicated to dance or something that relates to dance,” Jessica Brumfit, 29, a retired ballerina, who attended the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School said. “Most professional dancers pretty much live and breathe ballet.”

For Sonia Lepore, 21, who attends York University for the Ballet and Modern Dance program said, “you typically get six hours of ballet, six hours of modern [dance] and a couple hours of supplementary physical classes each week.”

With extensive hours of training physical labour follows. Terri Robitaille, 44, who attended York University for the same program as Lepore, now owns her own dance studio in Picking, Ontario, expressed how hard ballet is on the body.

“[Ballet] can lead to hip problems even if done properly,” she said. “If done properly it has a devastating effect on the ankles, feet, and knees.” “[Ballet] is very focused on aesthetics, and long thin lines, that can lead to body image issues.” “Many professional dancers at the age of 30 or 40 still have food issues or body image issues.

“I definitely battled with anorexia and to be honest even now at a normal healthy weight I still have issues, but those ideas are so ingrained into me that I fear they will never truly leave me,” Brumfit said.

The ideals that are ingrained in Brumfit’s mind are associated with when she would have to stand in front of a mirror for six to eight hours a day in a bodysuit and tights. To her being quite tall for a dancer, reaching the height of 5 feet10 inches. These things alone, formed ideas in her head that she needed to be even thinner because she stood out.

“When I was young I do remember teachers calling us all ‘fat cows’ or ‘beached whales,’ and telling us no one could ever love us because of the way we looked,” Brumfit expressed.

However, not all ballet dancers go through eating disorders. “I did not go through any eating disorders, thankfully,” Lepore said. “Although ballet is stressful and there is a lot of pressure within the field.”

Lepore does not consider herself a ballerina, “but since the art form is so precise, it is stressful to constantly be striving for perfection,” she said. “It’s something that is impossible, yet ballet dancers work towards it constantly.”

Kathleen Keating, 20, who attended Canada’s National Ballet School for four years explained how Natalie Portman’s character from the movie, Black Swan, really hit home with her.

“Natalie Portman’s pursuit of perfection, […] truly is what every dancer works to achieve, perfection and a perfect performance,” she said. “One of the beautiful things about ballet is that both of these are impossible to attain so there is always something to continue working towards.”

Brumfit understands the constant need to be perfect. “I certainly had breakdowns,” she said. “In school regular psychiatrist appointments were built into our curriculum.” “The pressure can be overwhelming at a time and the quest for perfection is never-ending.”

The pressure may be overwhelming, but that does not mean that nothing positive comes from all the hard work ballerinas put forth.

For Keatings, most of her work ethic that she directs towards her academic studies has come from her experience with ballet. “You […] learn perseverance, and the benefits of a positive attitude, which has the potential to turn a bad performance into a great one,” she said.

“The beautiful and pure thing about dance is that you will never become rich, so dancers are motivated by the pure love of the art form and freedom of expression that you can get nowhere else but on stage,” Brumfit said.

Love is the most important aspect of wanting to be on that stage, to fulfill that dream of being a ballerina. Without love, there would be no point to move forward.

“The desire to move builds inside your chest, and spreads through your limbs until you can no longer ignore it,” Keatings gushed. “It’s like electricity moving through you.” “In this way, I believe a love for ballet, or any form of dance, stems from a love of music.”

“To become a ballerina, ballet has to be your entire life,” Robitaille said. “Everything you do, think, and eat has to be about ballet.” “It is not a healthy lifestyle, to say the least, but it’s done for love.”

What everyone seems to forget is that dreams eventually come to a halt. It may be because that young girl grew up and found a new love. Just like how Keatings formed a new love for science. She still does ballet, but no longer wishes it to be her career. Take both Lepore and Robitaille, who teach ballet and still have a continuous growing passion towards dance. However, some dreams do shatter, such as Brumfit’s did when she injured her Achilles tendon. Who still to this day cannot completely put that behind her.

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Female Gamers Fight Back

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By Maryam Shah

Sometimes the first thing we do in the morning is play. We’ll wake up after a night of gaming online with random people. Before Jen Chung sets the kettle on the stove for our morning coffee, I’ll have the controllers ready for a quick split-screen match.

When people ask me what I do in my free time, I answer with “killing zombies, you?”

I started playing video games when I was young. My father had bought a Nintendo and my older brother wanted to play Super Mario all day, every day. There were two controllers, and even though he hated sharing his things with me, he felt it was necessary to have a partner when it came to killing the “boss.”

Gaming. It becomes a lifestyle at some point, yes, even for a girl. You’re either a gamer or you’re not. You either love to kill digitally animated art for points or you give up after the first three tries and say, “Who the fuck plays this shit?”

Chung is my housemate from Vancouver. We didn’t know that we both liked playing video games until my boyfriend brought home a PlayStation 3 to amuse himself with Call of Duty: Black Ops. It’s the new edition of the game. We looked at each other and if I didn’t know any better, I could’ve sworn there were tears in her eyes.

“COD BLOPS!” she screamed, calling the game by its popular nickname.

“We’re playing first,” I said, grabbing a controller from my stunned boyfriend. He thought he was bringing us Netflix and a media server (the PlayStation can do many things, including download movies and TV shows).

Instead, he effectively resurrected two female gamers away from home and pining for some onscreen action (and not the romantic comedy type).

Most female gamers start young. Almost all of them have older brothers or brothers close in age to them, just like Jen and I.

We both started with Sega and Nintendo, moving onto PlayStation 1 after it was released in 1994. Even though we come from opposite ends of the globe, from

Vancouver to Pakistan, our gaming experiences were surprisingly similar.

We didn’t know any other female gamers growing up. I occasionally had my friends play with me when they visited on play dates but otherwise, it was the boys who hankered after a spare controller more than anyone else. I made more twelve-year-old male friends as a sixteen-year-old girl than anyone else. I played games that involved unlocking entire worlds within worlds, the most memorable one being Spyro the Magic Dragon. At the peak of what I reluctantly call my addiction to gaming, I even had dreams of being in the game and playing not as an avatar but as myself.

When I told my brother, he laughed and said I was probably playing too much. Then he switched on the console for a quick Need for Speed race. He didn’t have many friends, although the ones he did have were all gamers. Playing with his little sister made him feel like he was doing a good job “brothering” me.

Jen was luckier when it came to finding fellow gamers. She has one hardcore gamer friend, Brianna Braun. She played World of Warcraft. That’s when you know you have a problem.

“I’d say I started when I was 4 or 5,” Braun said.

Her father introduced her to video games. She currently has five gaming platforms at home, as well as two portable ones. When I asked her to list the games she owns and plays, she went on for a good page and a half.

A self-described heavy gamer, Braun doesn’t know many female gamers herself.

“[It’s] really disappointing,” she said. “But when I play a game online and I’m getting beaten by another girl, I feel way better than when a guy beats me. Shows that girls kick ass too.”

I began gaming again after a long time. Somewhere between grade seven and eight, I gave up on PlayStation 2, the bestselling console of all time, and concentrated instead on my grades. I was a nerd as a gamer, so much so that I left it for school.

My parents bought me a PlayStation Portable for my sixteenth birthday. For a brief period of time, I joined the boys in my high school under the neem tree with their

Gameboys and DSs and PSPs. I felt smug, enjoying the male attention, the shock and awe you inevitably receive as a female gamer.

Then I came to Toronto. I didn’t have a television here for two years, much less a gaming console. I still had my PSP and whipped it out on a date with the boyfriend.

He looked at me as if I had just whipped out male genitalia.

It’s a typical male reaction to 19-year-old girls playing video games.

“Some guys who aren’t my friends think it’s awesome, while others don’t think it’s me playing at all,” Braun explained. “I’ve beaten guys many a time and they won’t believe a girl played, but that I’m just talking into my brother’s or friend’s mic.”

I felt the same reaction from my boyfriend when I beat him at a game on my PSP. It was maybe our tenth date and we still didn’t know each other that well. He loved the fact that he lost to me though. I would call it a defining moment in our courtship.

“Ignorant bastards can’t lose to a girl,” Braun added.

All of us have heard our mothers yell at our brothers for playing video games too long. I never had that problem. I’m a girl. I would play for hours in the living room upstairs and nobody would suspect a thing, thinking I was making tea for my dolls.

Christine Kozovski is another female gamer, one with a slightly younger brother instead. Her boyfriend introduced her to gaming.

“When I was in school, I would play a lot,” she said. “At least a few hours a day – give or take. Now it has decreased drastically to about 30min -1hr about twice a week.”

She works now. There’s hardly any time to game anymore.

“The first game that had me hooked was the game my brother used to play when he was younger,” she said. “When he talks strategy, I definitely listen and try it out.”

When Jen and I play online, we quickly get frustrated with players who don’t know strategy. This means that everyone died quickly and you don’t get past the first difficult round. Playing well means pacing yourself, defending in certain areas, getting the right gun, making good use of your bonuses. Most people we play with online don’t know these things due to their young age. The voices that we hear over
the shooting (gaming consoles allow you to set up a Bluetooth microphone and talk to other players) usually sound prepubescent.

It’s another thing that shocked me as a female gamer. I have played with seven-year-old children online who know strategy better than their fractions. Since I don’t have a microphone to communicate, I end up listening to them while we play. They almost always talk about killing as if it’s grocery shopping.

“My friend was saying that she was watching her younger brother play a World War II game,” Kozovski explained. “One of his teammates ran in front of his crosshair as he was pulling the trigger and his response was ‘what a fucking idiot.’”

Video games have been a controversial topic on and off, depending on which murderer is on the news that week and what games he played as a child.

Kozovski feels that there is a lot of violence in video games and they desensitize you to a certain extent.

“That said, I don’t approve of the stigmatization that games get either,” she added.

Brianna thinks that video game violence is great for a certain age group.

“I wouldn’t let little kids play where they can shoot people and their guts go everywhere,” she explained. “I don’t think that violence in video games directly has an effect on kids being violent. I think that parents just need to be better in judging what games are appropriate.”

Last night my boyfriend and I were playing in order to let off some steam. I was unwell and had spent the whole day running around school, so naturally, all I really wanted to do was kill some zombies.

I was having an off day and almost quit the game in a rage. He was shocked and reminded me that a game is a game and I shouldn’t take it so seriously.

“It’s just a game,” he said, hurt that I had sworn at him for not killing enough zombies. I put the controller down and started my homework instead. That was enough killing for the day.

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