Creativity -- that special glitter dust that creates both beautiful works and imaginative solutions to problems. We'd all like to have some, but not everyone can be a famous artist or rock goddess. Some of us are just the simple, straightforward thinking type. Still, it would be nice to have a just a little creative flair, right?
And you can, says Heather Kent, production manager of Humber College's Theatre Production Department. "We often forget about creativity with a little c," says Kent. "You don't have to be Mozart or Einstein. Creativity can just be about the day-to-day stuff that makes life better."
Think back to when you were a kid, to a time when an indoor fern became the perfect Barbie jungle and when the linen closet could provide endless hours of "let's pretend" fun. You can get that effortless childlike creativity back, says Kent. To help you get there, we asked her for some tips on unleashing your inner creativity.
2. Find your own strength "Everybody has creativity in a different way," Kent says. "The trick is to figure out what your strength is. There are so many different ways of expressing ourselves." Are you a visual person, a writer or someone who needs to hear things to understand them? Find a comfortable way of expressing yourself by clocking your reactions to different situations.
3. Create a positive environment While creativity can be learned in any environment, Kent says, it pays to create a space that helps get your juices flowing. Put up a whiteboard for scribbling down ideas or leave the windows drape-free to glean inspiration from the outside. "Creativity is a reaction with your environment," she says. Put some thought into an environment that helps rev your imagination.
4. Have fun "It has to be fun," Kent says. "Whimsy and wonder are important. Keeping things light makes it easier for people to look at them." No matter how big the problem you're trying to solve, don't forget to be silly. Unless you are actually performing brain surgery (not the time to get creative), it isn't as serious as you think. Lighten up.
5. Make it a team effort You know what they say: two heads -- or more -- are better than one. Pool the talents of friends, coworkers and family. "Collaborate with other people," says Kent. "Bouncing ideas off each other helps the creative process."
6. Mix it up Step out of your comfort zone. "Do something different once a week," suggests Kent. "Think about it and learn from it." It doesn't have to be life-changing. It can be as simple as taking the bus to work instead of driving. What different things do you see? What does it make you think about?
7. Appreciate the process "It takes a long time to develop creativity," says Kent. "You're not going to walk out of a session with the beginnings of a great novel. It's important to think about -- and learn from -- the process, not just the finished product."
8. Take a risk If you have a tried-and-true way of doing things, try doing the opposite. "Colour outside the lines," says Kent. "See things differently. Speak up for a great idea, yours or someone else's." Not doing the safe thing could shock you into a different, more creative approach.
9. Don't fear rejection Not every idea is going to be a great one, so the ability to laugh at ourselves is important. "Weave humour into everything you do," Kent says. "When you throw an idea out there, you risk rejection. If you take yourself less seriously, the fear of rejection lessens."
10. Reuse ideas "All the ideas are already out there," Kent says. "It's not about coming up with something completely new. It's reinterpreting those ideas, and collaging them together." Something as simple as using a plastic trash can to hold the plastic grocery bags that are crammed under your kitchen sink -- that's creative.
You might not create a masterpiece for the ages, but by taking a risk here and there, while including time for fun, we foster creativity in our everyday lives.
"As we grow up, we become more structured, more a part of 'the system,'" Kent says. "We ask, 'What do you want me to do?' and 'What's the right answer?'" Finding ways back to the uninhibited creativity of our childhood is important to us as adults. "We can live happier, healthier lives through creativity."
What to see, do and eat in St. Andrews and the surrounding area.
1. Off Kilter Bike Tour. Take in breathtaking ocean views, learn the town's history and get some exercise as you bike to local attractions–all while wearing a custom cycling kilt. Owner Kurt Gumushel's father, a tailor, moved to St. Andrews from Turkey in the 1960s and became known for the beautiful kilts he made. He started a new trend when he made kilts for local mountain bikers a few years ago–something tourists can experience during one of Kurt's bike tours.
2. Sunbury Shores Art and Nature Centre. Art and nature are two important themes in St. Andrews and they come together in this renovated workshop/exhibition space, featuring galleries, studios for painting, printmaking, jewellery making and gorgeous view of the Bay of Fundy. Sign up for a workshop or simply tour The Water Street Gallery, which features rotating exhibitions from local artists.
3. Symbiosis Fine Art. Artist and entrepreneur Matt Watkins opened his gallery/shop four years ago and features pottery, painting, jewellery and photography created by himself and other local artists. Watkins specializes in custom jewellery (most of the jewellery in the shop is made in-house), painting, silversmithing and sculpture. (He also teaches workshops in these areas at Sunbury Shores.) Symbiosis is just one of the many beautiful boutiques along the main strip that features one-of-a-kind artwork, jewellery, gifts and more.
4. Oven Head Salmon Smokers. Debra and Joseph Thorne have owned and operated their smoked salmon business for 29 years. Specializing in smoked salmon, smoked salmon pate and smoked salmon jerky, they supply their cold-smoked salmon products to Sobeys, catering companies and local restaurants, including The Algonquin Resort. And they ship anywhere in Canada and the U.S., so if you can't make it to their shop (or if you love what you tried there), you can get it delivered straight to your front door.
5. Ossie’s Lunch. Established in 1957, this retro roadside stop offers an extensive menu featuring all the local delicacies, including fried oyster sandwiches, clams and chips and lobster rolls. Can’t choose just one? Go for the seafood platter and taste a little bit of everything.
6. New River Beach. Dip your toes in the Bay of Fundy with a stop at the scenic New River Beach Provincial Park. Boasting sandy beaches, cliffside hiking trails and tidal pools, this is a must if you're traveling during the spring or summer.
Where to stay, what to eat and do:
Grand getaway: The Algonquin Resort
This 128-year-old hotel offers a luxurious base for your seaside getaway. You'll be in good company; past guests include Prince Charles and Princess Diana, as well as former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Thanks to a recent $50-million reno, the building has been outfitted with a new fitness centre and pool, not to mention totally updated decor, yet the iconic hotel still has much of its historic charm—and, apparently, its ghosts!
Room with a view: The Rossmount Inn Hotel Restaurant & Bar
Owners Chris and Graziella Aerni have converted an old estate manor into a quaint inn, offering guests comfortable accommodations, a fullservice breakfast and scenic views of Passamaquoddy Bay and the St. Croix River. Dinner at the inn's restaurant will be a highlight—but reserve early, as it books up quickly.
Casual lunch: Niger Reef Tea House
Grab a seat on the patio and enjoy fresh homemade food, along with views of the ocean and St. Andrews Blockhouse National Historic Site of Canada, a coastal fort that dates back to the War of 1812. Fresh seafood reigns (picks include smoked salmon, quinoa-crusted crab cakes and the grilled lobster sammy), but the lamb ragout and the curried chicken sandwich are equally good.
Winter: Gallery tour
Duck into the galleries and boutiques along the main strip to see art, sculptures, jewellery and crafts from local artisans.
Spring: Kingsbrae Garden
The Flemer family transformed this 11-hectare estate into a series of beautiful public gardens. Don't miss the sculpture garden, which highlights two important themes in St. Andrews: nature and art.
Fall: Ministers Island
Accessible by driving across the ocean floor at low tide, the island was once the summer home of Sir William Van Horne, the former president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Tour what was once his cottage and barn, then hike or bike the island's trails.
Heart disease and stroke are one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women—and risk factors, symptoms and even treatment might vary by age. Here's what you need to know.
It was Dec. 13, 2014. I was getting ready to go out for dinner when suddenly everything went wrong. I lost coordination, almost like I was drunk. I went numb, as if the local anesthetic that dentists use had been applied to half of my body. My arm went limp, I could barely walk and, out of the blue, I got a raging migraine. At 31 years old, I was in the midst of a transient ischemic attack, often called a ministroke, but I had no idea.
It wasn't until the next day, when I was feeling only slightly better, that I realized something was really wrong. I didn't want to wait for an appointment with my family doctor, so I called Telehealth Ontario, the provincial service that connects callers to a registered nurse via telephone. In the very back of my mind, I wondered if I'd had a stroke—but I was too young, or so I thought. But when I described my symptoms, it became clear that I wasn't too young. In fact, the nurse who took my call was worried enough to send paramedics to my house. Soon, I was in the back of an ambulance, rushing through Toronto's busy streets on the way to the hospital.
The statistics Luckily, my stroke was mild, and, in July 2015, I underwent surgery to have a patent foramen ovale closure device inserted to close the hole in my heart. But, to this day, I'm still shocked at how little I knew about the risks associated with stroke and heart disease, or just how common they are. As I soon learned, about 1.6 million Canadians—557,000 of them women over the age of 24—report having cardiovascular disease. And, according to a study looking at factors and behaviours affecting cardiovascular health published in 2013 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, fewer than one in 10 adult Canadians were in ideal cardiovascular health from 2003 to 2011, which means 90 percent of us are making choices that are increasing our risk for a cardiovascular event. In fact, heart disease and stroke is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women, and most of us have at least one risk factor.
It's a club that I didn't particularly want to be a part of, but having joined, I began wondering what other women's experiences had been like.
Unlike me, when Victoria resident Carolyn Thomas started having a range of symptoms— crushing chest pain, nausea, weakness, sweating and a persistent ache down her left arm—on her 58th birthday, she immediately thought it could be a heart attack and went straight to the ER. But when she got there and told the doctor on duty about her symptoms, he said it was just acid reflux. "I remember exactly what he said," she recalls. " 'You're in the right demographic for acid reflux. Go home and call your family doctor for a prescription for antacids.' " Embarrassed and apologetic, she did just that. But her symptoms persisted for two more weeks. She eventually went back to the hospital, and this time, she was told she was suffering from what was actually one of the most serious types of heart attacks—a complete blockage of her left anterior descending artery, which is often referred to as the widow-maker.
Since then, she has recovered, but it's far from full—she had to retire early and continues to see a specialist at her regional pain clinic.
Irmine MacKenzie also went to the hospital immediately. It's been 35 years since the New Waterford, N.S., resident lost the use of her left arm and leg after suffering a stroke caused by carotid artery stenosis, narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. She was 61 years old and, having just finished eating breakfast with her husband, John, she headed to the kitchen to tackle the dishes. Suddenly, plates started dropping from her hands, shattering as they hit the floor.
After a six-week hospital stay and a three-month stint in a rehabilitation program in Halifax, she eventually learned to walk again. Her ability to manage quite well over the past three decades is clearly a testament to her grit— and maybe some kind words from a stranger. "I won't ever forget the ambulance driver who took me to the rehabilitation centre," she says. "He told me, 'We're taking you by stretcher now, but you'll be walking out of there with a cane.' " Sure enough, that's exactly what she did.
A better understanding It has now been two years since I suffered my transient ischemic attack, and I feel like I'm still learning about heart health. I now understand the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, for one thing. When I had my stroke, I didn't know this kind of program existed—my cardiologist didn't refer me to one, but having access to dedicated professionals in a safe, encouraging environment could have helped me navigate the health-care system and guided me toward healthier choices.
One thing I found myself, Carolyn and Irmine echoing is how, as women, we must advocate for ourselves in the health-care system, ensuring that our voices are heard and our health is looked after. We need to put ourselves first, without shame or guilt. As Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says, "It comes back to education and partnership with your health provider. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be informed."
Heart health by the decade Nearly two-thirds of all heart attacks and strokes occur in Canadians 65 or older, but younger Canadians are increasingly at risk. Here's what you need to know at every age.
In your 20s and 30s: Young people with heart-health issues are part of a growing minority. A study published in 2012 out of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that, over a period of 12 years, strokes among people aged 20 to 54 made up an increasingly greater proportion of strokes across all age groups, growing from about 13 percent in 1993–94 to 19 percent in 2005.
Closer to home, the Heart and Stroke Foundation says several studies predict that the rate of strokes among younger adults will double in the next 15 years. The main reason? According to Dr. Tara Sedlak, a cardiologist at Vancouver General Hospital and clinical assistant professor at The University of British Columbia, it comes down to lifestyle—high stress levels, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and smoking. Research bears this out: The University of Cincinnati study suggested that a rise in lifestyle-related risk factors (such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol) may contribute to a higher incidence of stroke.
But there is a way to turn the tide: As with other age groups, simple changes such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating healthily could see the rates of cardiovascular disease—and, more specifically, stroke—decrease, says Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
In your 40s and 50s: Cardiovascular disease is less common among younger women, in part because of their higher estrogen levels; the hormone offers some protection to the arteries. But as women approach menopause and their estrogen levels drop, the incidence of stroke and heart attack increases.
Unfortunately, broad knowledge of their increased risk may not protect perimenopausal women from misdiagnosis. According to research by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which provides advice, legal assistance and risk-management education to 95,000 Canadian physicians, doctors are missing the signs of stroke in patients nearly 10 percent of the time, largely because symptoms are often nonspecific—patients often complained of headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
And women, who have historically been less inclined to advocate for themselves, are particularly at risk. Research out of the University of Leeds in England showed that, between April 2004 and March 2013, 198,534 heart attack patients at National Health Service hospitals in England and Wales were initially misdiagnosed—and most of them were women. During that time, women suffering a heart attack were 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed compared to men.
It might be difficult to challenge doctors who tell you nothing's wrong, but Dr. Sedlak encourages women to listen to their bodies and to be firm with health-care providers about what they're experiencing. "If you feel there is a real problem, be persistent," she says.
In your 60s and beyond: Women over 65 have the most strokes of all age groups, but they still have fewer strokes than men the same age. However, a Danish study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2015 found that, after 60, women tend to have more serious strokes than men—and they're more likely to survive, which can have serious repercussions on quality of life.
John Sawdon, the public education and special projects director of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, explains that cardiac rehabilitation programs, which are free with a referral from your doctor, are the perfect next step for recovering cardiac patients of all ages, but they're particularly important for older Canadians, who tend to live more sedentary lives. These programs are supervised by a cardiologist and, after an assessment, are tailored by your cardiac rehab team, which usually includes nurses, physical therapists, kinesiologists and social workers. They can provide exercise training, education on heart-healthy living and stress counselling—all of which can contribute to the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. And they're effective, too: "Research has shown that those completing cardiac rehab live seven years longer than control groups," says Sawdon. It also "reduces incidence of another heart attack by 50 percent."
What's your risk? Ninety percent of adult Canadians have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But while factors such as obesity, hypertension, alcohol abuse, family history and ethnicity increase everyone's risk, regardless of gender, the following three are particularly relevant to women.
Smoking: While we all know that smoking is seriously unhealthy, it can be especially damaging to women's cardiovascular health. Smoking when taking the oral contraceptive pill can drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. But quitting can cut your risk within a year.
Diabetes: According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are at a very high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, "they may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than individuals without diabetes."
Mental illness and stress: "Women have a higher frequency of stress-induced heart disease, and women's hearts are affected by stress and depression more than men's," says Dr. David Fitchett, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Heart health dictionary
Atherosclerosis: When arteries narrow and harden due to plaque buildup.
Cardiomyopathhy: Diseases of the heart muscle, which cause it to become enlarged, thick or rigid.
Cardiovascular disease: A broad term for problems with the heart and blood vessels, often due to atherosclerosis. These conditions can lead to heart attack, angina or stroke.
Heart attack: Also known as a myocardial infarction, these attacks happen when the flow of blood to a section of the heart is blocked, preventing the muscle from getting oxygen.
High blood pressure: Also called hypertension, this is when the long-term force of blood against artery walls is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder, which may eventually lead to heart disease.
Microvascular angina: A disease of the small coronary artery blood vessels. Many angiograms do not view the small blood vessels, so this can be difficult to diagnose.
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: A tear in the coronary artery wall. Physical or emotional stress appears to play a role. Most cases (around 70 percent) occur in women under 50—and a third of those are pregnant or postpartum women.
Stroke: When the blood supply to a portion of the brain is interrupted. This can happen when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or is blocked.
Whip up a dozen moist muffins on a leisurely Sunday morning. Or better yet, set out the muffin recipe ingredients the night before and let the first person up bake a batch for everyone. Most of these muffin recipes can be made in advance and frozen.
With the growing trend of love blending with technology, there are a variety of online dating sites with mobile apps that are helping connect more people. Whether you're looking for a casual encounter or something more serious, there’s a dating app to suit almost every need. Here are seven top dating apps for you to consider.
1. OkCupid (free for both iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site also has a location-based mobile app that allows you to take your experience on the go. Users can sign in via Facebook or directly through the app to find local singles. The app allows you to watch the activity stream for potential matches, "favourite" a profile and rate your potential matches through the Quick Match feature. With over five million registered users since 2010, you never know whom you might find.
2. Match (available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices) Match.com, a pioneer dating website that launched in 1995, has users based in 24 countries around the world. People can sign up through Match.com and then download the app on their mobile devices. The app allows members to view profiles, upload up to 24 images, add users to their "Favourites" and rate their "Daily Matches." Subscriptions range anywhere from a month to a year. Pick one that suits you best.
3. eHarmony (available for iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site launched in 2000. Its claim to fame? Over one million people who used eHarmony went on to find lifelong partnerships. Users can sign up via the app, complete a relationship questionnaire, upload photos from their mobile phones or from Facebook, and receive daily matches—all free of charge. Paid subscribers get access to email and can also see who has viewed their profiles. It's the perfect app for those of all ages who are looking for long-term commitments. 4. Badoo (free for both iPhone and Android devices) With a community of more than 208 million users, Badoo is perfect for those looking to socialize and meet new people. The free basic service allows users to chat with and message other members, and upload photos and videos. Members can sign in with a Badoo or Facebook account via the mobile app or website to connect with locals who share common interests. The app also features a fun game called Encounters, which allows users to view potential matches and then tap "yes" or "no" to indicate whether or not they would like to meet. If you're not looking to date, Badoo is also a great app for social networking and friendship.
5. Plenty of Fish (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Plenty of Fish (POF) allows users to find potential dates and perhaps even their soul mates for free! It does have paid services as well, but users don't really need to upgrade; most of the best features such as Meet Me, which allows members to flirt with locals in their areas, are free of charge. This app allows users to search for singles using filters such as education, height, religious affiliations and body type. Another cool feature is Date Night, which tells other singles in your area that you're available for a date.
6. Zoosk (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Zoosk is one of the top mobile dating apps for iPhone users and is one of the Top 10 grossing social networking apps in the iTunes store. This app is available for free and also has a paid subscription option that allows you to access more features. If you’d rather not pay, you can still browse millions of singles, create a profile, upload photos, see who has viewed your profile, and scan and show interest in another member by using the Carousel feature.
7. Tinder (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Tinder has quickly become the go-to dating app for young adults. And the best part? The app is completely free and works on the premise of anonymity. Users, who need a Facebook account to create a profile, can upload up to six profile photos and scroll through recommended matches from your area. If you don't like what you see, you can anonymously "like" or "pass" on the person. But it isn't just for the younger demographic: Tinder reports that 31 percent of its users are aged between 25 and 34, making it a great app for anyone looking to casually date or form potentially long-term relationships.