If you think that sexism no longer exists, this…

A Toronto web design firm, Vestra Inet, is seeking a content and SEO specialist, but because the position requires reception duties, men need not apply.

Sexism in the Workplace

Shocked? I’m not. They simply stated what many companies refuse to admit.

Sadly sexism is an ongoing battle that we face every day. Women are paid less than men. Traditionally female roles are regarded as less important, less impactful, less valuable than traditionally male roles.

Let’s just take a hot second to recognize that receptionists hold companies together. But, the fact of the matter is that they are usually paid less than any other staff member. So, here’s what that job posting is saying:

We want a “specialist” in their field, but we don’t want to pay them as such, let’s hire a woman!

If you want a “specialist” don’t ask them to fill in for other roles. Would you ask an engineer to fill in for an architect? A doctor to fill in for an astronaut? They’re different jobs, have some respect.

Not to mention it’s a human rights issue. You can’t hire someone based on their gender. It’s the law.

I have much more to say on this topic, but let’s see where the conversation goes. Leave me a comment! Or better yet, leave them a comment!

Some Cool Sh*t :: Street Art, #PMJT, and a Bunch of Good Reads

Vancouver Street Art

Vancouver street art in Gastown.

* I just love this Forty Over 40 initiative. More award giving publications + organizations should do this. Youth, especially in women, is held in such high regard that the wisdom, accomplishment, and beauty of older generations is lost (*ignored). We can make great achievements at any age.

* We recently elected a new Prime Minister in Canada and this is his party trick. Also voter turnout was the highest it’s been since 1993.

* Design*Sponge has been featuring some beautiful art.

* Cat gifs aren’t just a waste of time. Here’s what you can learn from those cute, furry balls of meow.

* Love art? Become a Young Patron at Vancouver’s CAG.

* A past life regression meditation, if you’re into that sort of thang.

* Ladies! Does this ever happen to you?

* Wanna read 100 books? Here’s a list of 100 of the best Canadian novels.

* 100 books too much? Try these 29 short stories.

* I need a new filing cabinet and this one is pretty cool.

* So this… just the best thing to do on an autumn weekend.

* Are party suits the new ugly sweaters? I think so, yes.

* An interesting read on success.

* Aaaaaaand, an all time feel good, booty shaking favourite.

A Few Words on Learning, Leaving, and Living

Youth, especially in women, is touted as essential to success. We have this ridiculous idea of “past our prime” after we reach a certain age, as if our accomplishments have a “best before” date. But, I came across this interesting article on success after your 20s and it made me think…

When I was younger, probably about 23 to 27 (I’m 28 hah!), I felt an overwhelming dread that time was withering away. After graduating university, I had a hard time getting a job in my field, a heartbreaking case of writers’ block, and an inclination to Netflix binges. This led to anxiety for my future. I’d always been the type who impressed teachers with my wit and intelligence, but I couldn’t manage to extend that charm to the workforce, not to mention other areas of my life, like the romantic battlefield. I had all this time for creative endeavours, but my fear crippled me. Rejection crippled me. I wanted to be independent, successful, and famous.

At 24, I moved back in with my parents.

I now realize the importance of this growth period. In my early twenties, I had so much to learn, and still do. The quote below sums up my recent realization.

I am grateful I wasn’t given this opportunity at 25 as I believe my good intentions and passion could very well have done a lot of damage.
Christine Garde, Founder and CEO of CouldYou?

Happiness comes from within

Here’s what I mean, for example.

I’ve been writing one short story for the past six years. I’ve submitted it to at least five literary journals thinking it was G.E.N.I.U.S. It was rejected every time. This story is my pet project as of late and I am ecstatic at how much it’s morphed into a whole new monster. Back to Christine’s quote above, if this story had been published back when I was a wee 22, it could have never reached its potential. AND could have been damaging (obviously not to the same extent as her work, but still). I now understand the importance of giving the attention my story deserves without impatience for publication. Knowing how much this story has matured makes me careful to ensure I spend the needed time to craft every detail with intention.

Ahhh, it makes me so excited!

Anywho, my point is that I (*we) have our whole lives to accomplish our goals. If we rush through life, checking off our bucket list we may not be living up to our full potential and may forget to enjoy the journey. Goals are great, I have many, but I’m also busy with my life–creative writing, spin classes, dance, dating, dinners, laughs and laughs and laughs. It’s these experiences that I feel will lead to my a-hah moment, my I-can’t-believe-this-is-it project. Are you stoked? I am!

What do you think? Could your THANG be that much better later in life? Is there really that much urgency to your “success?” Leave a comment and let me know.

Vancouver Shows Taking Dance to a Whole New Level

Have you heard of MovEnt? It’s a dance organization in Vancouver that brings beautiful, experimental productions to the community and they have a series of shows this week.

Dances for Small Stage

Dances for Small Stage

Photo by Derek Stevens.

Dances for Small Stage “showcases new and established dance professionals from Vancouver and across Canada on a ridiculously small stage, in an unconventional venue with a friendly cabaret atmosphere.” At the Anza Club this week, twelve dancers will perform original works for delighted audiences.

I sit on the Board of Directors for this awesome company and I have to say that the Artistic Producer and all dancers involved are a passionate group of people committed to their art. It’s truly inspirational to see them work.

Come join us at the Anza Club October 20 to 23. Get you tickets here.

Dinner starts at 6:30
Show at 8pm

Show only: $20
Dinner, dessert + show: $45
Dessert + show: $30

Dancers include:

* Andrew Bartee * Agnes Tong * Burgundy Brixx * Caroline Liffmann * Dayna Szyndrowski * Heather Myers
* Judith Garay * Karissa Barry * Kirsten Wicklund * Loscil * Scheherazaad Cooper * Vanessa Goodman

Learn more here.

No Regrets? I Call Bullshit.

Regret. It’s one of those words that immediately alludes negativity. But this negative insinuation assumes that we are incapable of learning from our mistakes. Brené Brown says it well in the video below on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday.

No Regrets? I Call Bullshit.

Skip ahead to 23:57 for Brené on regret or watch the full episode!

I’ve been seeing a bio energy healer here in Vancouver and it has given me some great perspective on my emotional body. The practice is both energy healing, kind of like reiki, and spiritual/emotional healing, kind of like counselling. My healer has a wealth of wisdom that she shares with me. We watched a portion of the video above in my last session and it definitely resonated with me.

PS :: If you want to try bio energy healing, shoot me an email + I’ll put you in touch with mine. (She’s in Vancouver)!

No regrets is a very optimistic ambition, but I think it misses the point that we are not perfect and that mistakes are inevitable. If you have “no regrets,” I worry that you are either not taking risks or not learning from your mistakes.

Brené’s example was of her teenage years where she slut shamed other women or bullied other women. I can relate, and yes, it’s something I regret, but, it’s not something I dwell on, it’s something I learned from, made adjustments because of.

I suppose one could argue that learning from mistakes releases them from regret. To an extent I agree, like forgive and forget, but it doesn’t change the fact that a mistake was made and had an impact. Forgive, yes, (please for the love of Life forgive), but don’t forget. Remember so that it doesn’t happen again.

You only live once, so, it’s up to you if you want to ignore your mistakes or learn from them and grow. Don’t minimize your actions, they have an impact whether you want them to or not.

An Editor Fixes More than Just Bad Grammar

I’ve heard it so many times. “I hate writing. I’m no good at it. I never know what to say.”

Writing, it’s one of those things everyone can do, but few can do well. Still, most people don’t know that an editor can help them with that.

Editors are writers too. Editors know how to spot errors and fix them. They know which paragraphs to cut and which ones to tweak. They are conscious of voice, style, diction, and form. They are committed to perfection and love the thrill of a clean and concise sentence. Editors fix more than just bad grammar.

An Editor Fixes More than Just Bad Grammar

hire an editor

Clarity

Ever feel like you’re not quite expressing your thoughts the same on paper as in your mind? Or, possibly, you’re misusing words and altering your message. It’s okay, everyone does, it’s common. But there’s a way around that. Editors just know. They’re bookworms, grammar nazis, perfectionists. Editors have a way of rearranging and replacing to create clarity for your work.

Consistence

If you’re not an editor, you would never think to check for consistent verb tense, word usage, or tone. You probably wouldn’t think to make sure certain words, like a company name, are capitalized (or not) and placed in the correct order. Many companies have a strict style guide for these types of things. Editors love this kind of stuff. It creates rhythm, balance, and credibility.

Style

Editors will ensure that you have a consistent tone and voice throughout your piece. They will make sure you sound authoritative, which establishes you as an expert. You don’t want to be playful and silly in one paragraph then turn serious and intense in the next. Editors will help you have a conversation with your readers.

Technique

Finally, editors will fix all those technical errors. This is the final step in editing. Many people struggle with writing because they don’t have a grasp on spelling and grammar. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, it just means you need an editor.

What’s the difference?

Finally, I just want to leave you with definitions of the different types of editing. You can hire an editor for all three, or just the one you need.

Stylistic / Substantive Editing :: Making changes to structure and clarifying meaning.

Copyediting :: Checking grammar, spelling, punctuation and other mechanics of style.

Proofreading :: Verifying the proof matches the draft and is free of errors.

What’s your biggest struggle with writing? Leave me a comment + I could write a blog post for ya!

How To Think Outside the Box

If you want to know how to think outside the box, you must first know how to think inside it, literally. I wish the steps for how to think outside the box were simply ::

  1. Obtain a box.
  2. Get inside the box.
  3. Think.
  4. Get outside the box.
  5. Think.

Sadly, the term is not a literal term, as you know. But I have a few techniques that have worked for me when I was, well, inside the box, so to speak.

When You’re a Big Cat in a Small Box… Think Outside It

I grew up in a small town and often felt like a big cat in a small box, weighted by a lingering feeling that there must be something more beyond these cardboard walls. I was right. In my “grown up” life, this feeling still creeps up, sometimes in the form of writer’s block, or lack of confidence, or boredom. Here are a few ways I’ve gotten out of the jam so that I could think outside the box again.

Think Outside the Box 01 :: Listen to New Music

If you’re in a jam, you might want to try switching them up… jamz, I mean. Listening to new music can get you into a new groove (pun intended!). I like to turn up something that makes me feel fierce, which lately has been “Bossy” by Kelis. But your mix up could simply be trying out a band you’ve never heard or a genre you rarely explore. I mean, who knows, maybe Mozart has what it takes to get your brain juices dancing. They do say classical music helps you learn.

Think Outside the Box 02 :: Look at Cat Gifs

Seriously, I got the idea for this “think outside the box” blog post from the cat gif you see above! Not only will taking a break from your routine jog you out of a rut, but you may be inspired by what you see. Don’t limit yourself to cat gifs either. Google is your oyster.

Think Outside the Box 03 :: Dance

I’m a performing dancer in another life of mine and sometimes I apply my learnings to my work life. This means when I take a break, I often look in the mirror and shake my stuff, let loose. It makes everything better. You don’t have to be a professional, or even good, to dance, you just have to do it. Start by putting on a fierce tune (see Think Outside the Box 01), then bob your head, tap your toes, get your body into it. Jam out.

Think Outside the Box 04 :: Stop “I Can’t-ing” Yourself

I know what some of you are saying. But, Stephanie, I can’t dance, I don’t know any good music, what’s a gif?. Stop! Yes, you may have questions, you may have fears, you may fail, but there is one thing for sure, you can… at least try. Give it a shot, quiet your inner critic and start small. If Napoleon Dynamite can do it, so can you.

Think Outside the Box 05 :: Read Your Journal

When I feel starved for blog topics, I often read through old journal entries to see if anything sparks an idea. As a writer, I have a lifetime’s worth of material I can reference, but if you don’t keep a journal, old photographs could do the trick, or even old calendars that chronicle your schedule. You could even call your mom or an old friend and reminisce.

Think Outside the Box 06 :: Take a Class

Learning a new skill could be just the ticket you need to think outside the box. I always loved school—nerd alert—I was good at it. But you don’t have to be good a school to take a class. Nowadays you can’t learn in many different forms, even without leaving your home. What’s something you’ve always wanted to try but were too afraid? Get someone to teach you how!

Think Outside the Box 07 :: Get Outside Your Box, Figuratively

Don’t limit your world to four corners and a lid. Get outside your box by trying new things. Travel, go to events, take stay-cations, eat new food. Anything outside of your routine will help you to think outside the box. When you gift yourself a new experience, you add to your repertoire of reference. It’s worth it.

What do you do to think outside the box? Leave a comment and let me know!

10 VIFF Films that Look Just Amazing

The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) is soon upon us. Tomorrow, in fact. I love this time of year.

In celebration, here are 10 films I’m totally excited to see.

10 VIFF Films that Look Just Amazing

10 VIFF Films that Look Just Amazing

Photo from VIFF.

All descriptions are taken from the VIFF website.

Room

Based on the best-selling Man Booker Prize-nominated novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue (she also wrote the screenplay), this is the story of five-year-old Jack, who lives in an 11-by-11-foot room with his mother. Since it’s all he’s ever known, Jack believes that only “Room” and the things it contains (including himself and Ma) are real. Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has never stepped foot outside of this tiny shed he shares with Ma (Brie Larson) because it’s a prison built for them by Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), their kidnapper. Although based on the shocking case of an Austrian father who enslaved his own daughter and had children by her, all entirely captive, the novel and this film dispense with brutality in favour of imagination, and immense sympathy and sensitivity. Despite such a life, Ma refuses to let her son suffer from the truth, concocting an elaborate fantasy that would have him believe that theirs is the only world that exists and that nothing lies beyond the shed’s walls. When Jack’s finally ready to take part in a dramatic escape, Ma must explain, and they both must act, soon finding themselves in an overwhelming outside world that, ironically, is perhaps more terrifying than the prison they’ve abandoned.

Get tickets.

Haida Gwai: On the Edge of the World

VIFF favourites Charles Wilkinson and Tina Schliessler (Peace Out, Oil Sands Karaoke) complete their eco-trilogy with a paean to breathtaking Haida Gwaii and the spirited people who populate it. The natural beauty of this culturally rich archipelago has served as a backdrop for tragedies such as outbreaks of smallpox and the exploitation of natural resources. And yet, the Haida Nation remains undaunted, drawing on 14,000 years of tradition in preparing for a showdown over the Northern Gateway pipeline and planning for a more sustainable future.

Get tickets.

Accused

Paula van der Oest’s feature is based on a shocking true story of injustice. When a baby dies on her watch, investigators turn their sights on nurse Lucia de Berk (Ariane Schluter). Discovering more suspicious infant deaths—and some strong but circumstantial evidence against the nurse—they arrest her and she’s put on trial before the nation. Labelled “The Angel of Death” by the media, de Berk is put through a crucible of fear and humiliation. Then doubts emerge about her guilt…

Get tickets.

Hilda

A slow-burn thriller with a sly sense of humour, Andrés Clariond Rangel’s film features a first-rate performance from Verónica Langer. She plays Susana, a bored housewife who becomes a desperate one, slowly turning from discontent to evil as we watch in alarm. Her husband’s a big-shot businessman who pays her no attention, her friends are rich snobs and her days are full of luxury—and empty of anything meaningful. Then one day she hires Hilda (Adriana Paz), a younger woman of humble origins, as a maid. Slowly her life changes: she starts to remember the leftist activism of her college days, and she starts to cling to her new maid more and more. Hilda goes from employee to obsession and, finally, to prisoner.

Get tickets.

I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced

In 2009, the story of Yemeni teenager Nojoom Ali’s bid to legally extricate herself from an abusive, arranged marriage to a much older man (which took place when she was just 10 years old) made headlines. Khadija Al-Salami has beautifully adapted the subsequent bestseller into an emphatic drama that features a wonderful performance from Reham Mohammed as the young Ali, and a striking backdrop of Yemen’s astonishing mountain villages and ancient “skyscrapers.”

Get tickets.

Paradise

Shot clandestinely in Iran, at times with actors unaware that they were being photographed, Sina Ataeian Dena’s remarkable debut feature—the first in a proposed trilogy on violence in Tehran—sparks with a fresh, exacting compositional formalism not normally seen in underground Iranian productions. With an almost exclusive female cast, Paradise concentrates on the role of women in contemporary Iranian society.

Get tickets.

Songs My Brother Taught Me

Completed over four years on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Chloé Zhao’s feature debut is remarkably assured and attentively detailed. Made with the cooperation of the Lakota people, who make a hard living in these marginalized Badlands, Songs My Brothers Taught Me rings with authenticity. The story concerns Jashaun (Jashaun St. John), a young girl torn between the strength of her roots and the allure of the outside world. Her older brother, Johnny (John Reddy), plans to abandon the reservation and move to Los Angeles with his girlfriend. When their estranged father passes away, Jashaun is tempted to investigate his mysterious cowboy lifestyle, leading her down an unlikely existential path of exploration to discover where she truly belongs.

Get tickets.

Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories

Vietnamese cinema has become much more mature and sophisticated in recent years, and Phan Dang Di has been at the forefront of the advances. Ever since he wrote the script for Bui Thac Chuyen’s Adrift he’s pioneered a grown-up approach to the way that social and economic themes intersect with sexual and psychological themes, and his explorations of same-sex attractions have opened the door to a small flood of Vietnamese commercial gay features. But Phan himself remains some way ahead of the pack.

Get tickets.

Ice and the Sky

Luc Jacquet (the Oscar-winning March of the Penguins) returns to the Antarctic to trace the fascinating life and groundbreaking work of French explorer and glaciologist Claude Lorius, now 83. Lorious began journeying to the Arctic and then on to the Antarctic as a 23-year-old in 1955—journeys that Jacquet vividly re-creates here—where he and his teams would spend long periods in isolation, trying to uncover the secrets that lay frozen in polar ice. Eventually, Lorius discovered that, by drilling into ice and extracting cores from enormous depths, then examining and carbon dating the air bubbles trapped within, one could effectively test far back into time. The link between man-made greenhouse gases and climate change became irrefutable.

Get tickets.

No Land’s Song

Before the Islamic Revolution banned solo performances by women, Iran boasted popular female vocalists like Delkash and Googoosh. No longer willing to see women’s voices silenced, musician Sara Najafi aspires to stage a concert in Tehran. Her brother Ayat helms this revealing documentary that details the bureaucratic obstacles and theological arguments that stand between her and such a seemingly simple goal. And while the women’s glorious songs lend the film uplift, it’s Sara’s courageous determination in battling institutional discrimination that truly inspires.

Get tickets.

What Up With All the Cigarette Litter?

Have you ever sat under a beautiful tree in your favorite park only to see cigarette butts scattered around you? It’s such a drag, right? And gross.

Litter really grinds my gears and cigarette butts are up there on my most hated litter list. Is it really necessary to just drop your cigarette butt on the ground? Can’t you be a responsible adult and dispose of it safely?

What Up With All the Cigarette Litter?

What's up with cigarette litter?

Yesterday, I spent the day picking up trash for the Shoreline Cleanup and after two hours I picked up over 2,000 cigarette butts just myself. There were 60 other people there who each picked up close to the same amount, or more. We picked up other stuff too, but those butts really stood out as the most prominent litter.

Cigarette litter isn’t just limited to the False Creek area. According to Shoreline Cleanup 2014 stats, cigarettes and paraphernalia are at the top of their “dirty dozen” litter list. The difference between the number of cigarettes gathered and the number two item, food wrappers, is 253,794. IN fact, there were more cigarettes cleaned up than all the rest of the “dirty dozen” list combined.

What the eff is up with that?

Animals mistake cigarette butts for food. Cigarettes are toxic. When animals eat these butts it makes them sick and they can die.

In British Columbia this year, there were almost 2,000 forest fires. On average, 39 per cent of forest fires are human caused. Irresponsible disposal of cigarette butts contributes to this.

Look, I’m not asking that smokers quit smoking, though I highly advocate it, but that they have consideration for the people, animals, and environment around them.

28 of the Best Things I Ever Did :: Workouts, Writing, and More

I recently read a Danielle LaPorte post about the 28 best things she ever did for herself. It got me thinking. Having just turned 28, maybe I should write one too. Here goes!

28 of the Best Things I Ever Did :: Workouts, Writing, and More

28 of the best things I ever did

1. Ditched coffee for tea. Black tea. Very, black tea.

2. Started drinking green smoothies in the morning.

3. Adopted cats. (People say I “saved” them, but I think it’s the other way around.)

4. Moved back home with my parents for a while after University. (It felt like a giant step backwards, but I’m so thankful for that time I spent with them. It brought us closer.)

5. Took a web design class.

6. Took burlesque dance classes. Performed. Performed again.

7. Started blogging. (I’ve met so many neat people through this thang!)

8. Kept writing.

9. Stopped being a vegetarian. Started eating only organic meats, for the most part!

10. Got a Dyson vacuum. (It was a gift. Does that count? Hah!)

11. Redesigned—simplified—my web design.

12. Tried spin class. Loved it. Kept going.

13. Started walking, a lot.

14. Started reading oracle/goddess/divinity cards. (They give me the direction I need, insight into my thought processes. Plus now I can predict the future… just kidding.)

15. Went where I wanted, even if it meant going alone.

16. Organized a nude calendar in my early university days. (It was my first big art project and made me proud.)

17. Called myself an artist. (The label can be so elitist, as if you need a panel to nod approval before you may proceed.)

18. Faked it till I made it. (Not sure I’ve “made” it yet, the concept applies to many facets of my life.)

19. Kept up with my oral hygiene.

20. Wrote the poems even if he doesn’t show me any care or respect whatsoever. They’re good either way.

21. Let go of having to be the “bigger person” every time. Eff that.

22. Gave myself more time to sleep in, less time to hit snooze.

23. Tried fish tacos. Yum!

24. Backed out of a few situations that weren’t serving me well. (See number 21 above.)

25. Started wearing high waisted jeans.

26. Jumped into entrepreneurship.

27. Got a good mattress for my bed. (Also a gift, but I asked for it, yeah?!)

28. Started dating. (Too many cute fellas to stay hung up on old flames.)

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