Making minor, yet meaningful changes to your lifestyle can help you become a significantly healthier and happier person. Our health expert shares five tips on sleep, nutrition and fitness to help you achieve these goals.
"Why does she look and feel so good? I think I want what she's having!" If you find yourself thinking like this it might be time to adopt some new habits.
At the end of the Women's March on Washington, protesters left their signs in front of the White House. Source: https://twitter.com/womensmarch?lang=en
For many women, the election of American President Donald Trump was the motivation they needed to get involved in politics. Take these five Canadians, who traveled to the US to march at the Women's March on Washington.
Hundreds of thousands of people marched peacefully through the streets of Washington on Saturday morning, hoping to send a message to American President Donald Trump that, as many a protest sign proclaimed, women’s rights are human rights. Though it’s impossible to give an exact number of attendees, organizers estimate the turnout exceeded half a million people—which is why it's being billed as one of the biggest political demonstrations in American history.
And the huge crowds weren’t just made up of Americans. Protestors hailed from all over the world, including Canada. In fact, a delegation of more than 600 Canadian women left multiple cities to head towards Washington, hoping to show their solidarity and support equality, diversity and inclusiveness. (Sister marches took place in 50 states throughout America, and in 61 countries total, including Canada.) For many of these women, the Women’s March on Washington was their first political demonstration. Their stories are as diverse as their ages and cultures, but they all hold the same conviction about the importance of speaking up.
Ayana Potts, 18
Getting on the bus from Montreal to head to Washington was nerve-wracking for Ayana Potts, a dual Canadian-American citizen, but she was also excited for what was to come.
“I’m ready to get started and meet people, and have a day full of love,” Potts said. “Because we need it.”
Attending a political demonstration for the first time alongside her mother Miranda, a longtime activist, Potts is excited to be part of this movement.
“To be here for something that will for sure make history after a day that itself made history,” Potts said. “It’s the best way to get into the activist lifestyle.”
She heard about the Women’s March on Washington through her mother and social media and decided it was something important for her to attend. Though this was her first protest, Potts has been interested in activism since she was a child. For her, it’s of vital importance that women have a political voice.
“I think it’s super important we have a say because now there is someone who is having a say for us,” she says. “We need more women in politics… if this is a way to start doing that and let people know that we need a say, then this is the way it’s going to be done—in a peaceful manner.”
But it’s also about supporting other women, and getting support herself.
“I think this is a really great way… to just let these emotions that have been built up over the last year out,” Potts said. “I think it’s a great support group and it’s necessary for future generations.”
Ujyara Farooq, 22
Silence is a choice according to Ujyara Farooq, a fourth year sociology major at the University of Toronto. So when a friend asked her to participate in the Women's March on Washington, she couldn’t pass up the chance to show her support.
"I believe this is a great opportunity to show that as visible Muslims, as people who wear the headscarf, we can participate in something that is kind of a commitment to other women," Farooq said.
It was important for Farooq to show solidarity with American women, not only as a Muslim woman, but as a Canadian.
"I think that's really important coming from Canada," Farooq said. "We're here to stand with you, if somebody is hurting you, they're hurting us and we're going to stand with you."
The Women's March on Washington is about understanding the specific issues that different genders, nationalities, and ethnicities face on a day-to-day basis, and why it's important for these people to have a voice when it comes to making policies, Farooq said. She points to policies and laws that are made by governments, but don’t represent the real issues that women face.
"The clearest example being the fact that tampons and pads are considered luxury items," Farooq said. "That sends a clear message that there was no female in the room when that decision was being made. That's why we need everybody at the table to talk about what hurts them.”
And she thinks it’s especially important to make sure that table is as inclusive as possible.
"Not only women, but women of colour, Muslim women, we really, really, really need their voices right now, in rooms where policies are being made."
Sadaf Jamal, 38
Whoever you are, stand proud, says Sadaf Jamal.
Representing Muslim women at the Women's March on Washington, Jamal felt it was important to show her support for diversity among women.
"We stand together, we stick together, and there's nothing wrong with being different," Jamal said.
Jamal was invited to join the march by one of its main organizers and was excited about the opportunity to support a cause she felt strongly about.
"We're coming from Canada all the way to Washington to show you our support," Jamal said. "Stand strong, you belong, you are here to stay."
Coming from a minority group Jamal felt there was a lot of meaning in this peaceful demonstration and wants other Muslims to feel proud of who they are.
"Educate others about yourself," Jamal said. "Do not go into hiding and do not feel marginalized, we have your back."
Alexandra Lapko, 62
The distance and cost could not keep Alexandra Lapko from marching in Washington.
She and her good friend Bev Edwards-Sawatsky (whose story is below) knew they had to be part of the women-led movement, and flew from Edmonton to Toronto to join the Canadian delegation headed for Washington.
"We decided it was worthwhile for us to be here," Lapko said. "To join in with all the other women who are mobilized to march."
For Lapko, what most stood out in the days following the presidential election last November was the feeling that good could come out of something seemingly negative.
Whether it’s distrust or fear, Lapko says it’s important to, "let go of those pieces and work with the energy that is in this room and around the world so we can make a difference."
Travelling for more than 10 hours by bus from Toronto, Lapko was excited by the diversity of ages present.
"There's women older than us travelling on their own," she said. "And there's a lot of young women as well, and I feel so honoured that they're connected with this situation of our world, that they would take the time to do this."
That’s because, for Lapko, speaking up is about more than herself.
"We're speaking for this generation and our daughters and our future generations, so it's important we have a voice so we can project our rights and our ability to have equal pay and equal work and be treated with respect."
Bev Edwards-Sawatsky, 70
Oyama, British Colombia
For her 70th birthday, Bev Edwards-Sawatsky decided she wanted to march in Washington. So she left her home in Oyama, B.C., meeting up with her friend Alexandra Lapko (whose story is above) in Edmonton, then flying to Toronto, where the pair boarded one of the buses heading south to Washington.
Armed with her walker and her belief that there is so much more that can be done to improve equity, specifically for diverse groups, she was ready to join the hundreds of other Canadian women who were traveling to Washington to show their solidarity.
“To do this kind of march is a first time for me,” she says. But “it just felt critical. I could be in the last quarter of my life, who knows. But [I want] to ensure that progress has been made and [we’re] moving forward.”
Despite the negative rhetoric that came out during the election, Edward-Sawatsky wanted to keep a positive outlook.
"This is how I wanted to mark my 70th birthday—being part of a group of people willing to stand up and stand out to be there together. I wanted to be part of the many that said, ‘There is another perspective that we need to speak about,'" she says.
She has always feeling like her political voice was important because of the strong female influence in her family, which is why knew she did not have to remain silent now and could make a change.
"I've had three generations of women speaking up and speaking out. I was lucky that I grew up believing I could do what I wanted to do, what I set my mind to, and I would like all people to feel that way,” she says
Illustration by Roberto Cigna
Empty shopping bags, broken chairs, stacks and stacks of magazines—when writer Christina Gonzales realized her mom might be a hoarder, she went to the experts to find out how she could help, and repaired their relationship in the process.
At my mother's apartment, there are a lot of unspoken rules. "Don't open the kitchen cabinets" is one of them. I've only ever used one cupboard, which is right above the sink and houses the sieve, a few large ceramic bowls and the few packs of ramen noodles that haven't yet gone bad. I try not to ask my mom what's in the rest of those cupboards, or why our pots and pans are piled beside the stove and our dishes never leave the drying rack. I brought up the subject once in aggravation when I moved back home two years ago to save money. "You're too much, Christina," she responded angrily. It instantly brought me back to my childhood.
When it all began
As a kid, I was close with my mother, despite her inability to let anything go. From the outside, our family looked normal, but when you opened the front door of our two-bedroom apartment, it was obvious something was different. There were rooms filled to the ceiling with souvenirs of our past: my first mattress from a twin-size bed I had outgrown years before, reusable shopping bags, pillows, suitcases, books, a lime-green swivel chair. My mom's dresser overflowed with so many accessories, half-used bottles of body lotion, old blush compacts and loose coins that you couldn't even see the wooden surface. A layer of dust covered everything, which meant she didn't use—or even touch—the stuff. I was humiliated that our home was so disorderly.
The clutter really began to accumulate when I was about 11 years old. My mom stopped inviting people to our home, and I stopped, too. My best friends in high school asked me why we'd never hang out at my place, and I did my best to dodge their questions. My frustration stemmed from jealousy (why couldn't my mom entertain the way other moms did?) and a fundamental difference in what we thought "home" should mean (I longed to live in a house filled with family and friends; she thought home should be a private retreat). I would cry, yell and plead with her to throw things away, until my teen years, when I started to distance myself emotionally from her. I knew that no matter what I said or did, I couldn't control my mother's hoarding, and it was easier to avoid her—and the subject of home—altogether.
When I moved back home at 28—I'd quit my day job to pursue a full-time freelance writing career, and my mom offered up my childhood bedroom as a way to save money—it didn't take long before we had our confrontation about the kitchen cupboards. But this time, I realized I didn't want the cycle to continue; the bitterness I'd carried with me for years had to cease in order for us to have a healthy relationship.
Understanding the problem
What I'd always found most challenging was that she couldn't see where I was coming from—she truly doesn't realize her belongings are piling up around her. Yet, she's unlike the people I've seen on the TLC show Hoarding: Buried Alive; she's physically healthy, she's about to retire from a successful career and she has an active social life. She's also been a giving, supportive and loving mother. So what's the deal? I approached several specialists to help give me insight into my mother's hoarding issue.
Dr. Peggy Richter, a psychiatrist and the director of the Frederick W. Thompson Anxiety Disorders Centre's Clinic for OCD and Related Disorders at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, says that, while their houses might not look like the ones on TV, an estimated two to five percent of Canadians suffer from compulsive hoarding disorder. Dr. Richter explains that hoarding is more than the inability to throw things out. "Rather, to be considered a clinical condition, it results in a significant accumulation that impacts the ability to use the space the way you would like or the way most people would," she says. "And people may try to minimize the impact. For example, maybe their kitchen is quite cluttered; they can still make breakfast, but they have piles in front of the oven, so they never use it anymore, though they claim they never did. Similarly, someone whose bed is too cluttered may claim that she prefers, and is more comfortable, sleeping on the couch."
Elaine Birchall, a social worker and hoarding behaviour and intervention specialist with clients in Ottawa and Toronto, says hoarders tend to save things for one of three main reasons: sentimental (this item represents my life and is part of me), intrinsic (this item is amazing and offers so many possibilities) or instrumental (I might need this someday). I think my mom is a sentimental hoarder. She once mentioned that her own mother discarded her childhood trophies and awards and that she wished she still had those things to help her reminisce. There's a certain glee she gets from pulling out an item that someone else would've thrown away long ago, like the cheerleading catalogue my now-40-year-old cousin was featured in when she was in high school in the '90s. "It's so nice. Maria was so pretty," she'd say.
Dr. Sheila Woody, a professor of psychology and psychology researcher at the University of British Columbia's Centre for Collaborative Research on Hoarding in Vancouver, shed some light on how to approach my mom's hoarding disorder respectfully and without judgment. "Making your mom's apartment a place you want to live is not an appropriate goal," says Dr. Woody, noting that people with hoarding disorders don't realize the impact of their mountains of possessions. I first needed to accept that this apartment would never become what I'd always perceived as the ideal home. There was one thing that I could change, though, and that was the usability of the space. "If you're trying to make it so that [your mom isn't] at risk of falling over when she's trying to reach something, or not at risk of setting the house on fire when she turns the stove on, that's a very reasonable goal," says Dr. Woody, who adds that it's also important for there to be adequate room to get out of the apartment in case of an emergency.
Finding common ground
To ensure that my mom's apartment was no longer a hazardous zone, I began to help her discard what Birchall calls the "easy wins": For some, these are nostalgia-free items (such as old toothbrushes and grimy shoes) and those that are unsanitary (like expired food); for others, they're items the person feels no extreme need to save. Birchall recommended I calmly ask my mom if we could relocate old things to make room for new items we'd actually use. I did it for the first time a few months ago, when I called her from the grocery store to ask if we had soy sauce. When my mom went and retrieved it, she told me that it was expired. "OK, I'll buy a new bottle, and you can ditch the old one," I responded. When I arrived home, it was sitting on the kitchen counter ready for disposal.
In my childhood, I would've taken the bottle down to the garbage chute that instant, a nonverbal signal that there was absolutely no reason to keep expired condiments. Now, I understand that getting rid of things causes her real distress. Instead of feeling exasperated and ashamed, all I felt this time was guilt. I realized that I'd been acting like a punishing drill sergeant, pushing my agenda onto my mother by barking at her to see things my way. And, according to Birchall, that's exactly the wrong approach. "Even when my patients want to hold on to genuine garbage, unless it's contaminated, I have to do my level best to make them see the reality of this," she says. "And even then, I don't just try to get someone to agree to let go of something; I try to understand what the importance of that item is to them."
So I didn't ask my mom when she planned on discarding the soy sauce; I knew it wasn't a sentimental item and that she was practical enough to understand it wasn't safe to consume. There was no fight, no power struggle, no "I'm right, and you're wrong." Rather, I gave her the space to decide when it was the right time—if there was a right time—to throw out the bottle. I tried my best to be patient, to have a stress-free conversation and to respect the value of my mom's belongings while holding firm to my boundaries within our shared space. It's a slow process, but it's effective. Showing compassion for my mom's feelings about her stuff makes it easier for her to let things go. When I push too much, we backtrack on any progress we've made. The day after our conversation, I walked into the kitchen and that old bottle of soy sauce was gone. It was a small step, but for me—and my mom—it was a breakthrough.
Social worker and hoarding specialist Elaine Birchall gives her best advice for helping a hoarder.
1. Complete a safety audit. Find the heat sources, such as electrical panels, fireplaces, hot water tanks, furnaces and stoves, and make sure there is a clearance of at least four feet around them, if space allows. The paths to those heat sources must also be free and clear in case of fire and should be at least 33 inches wide.
2. Create boundaries and limits, especially if you live in the same home as the hoarder. Build a positive co-tenant dynamic by defining who "owns" each room and what is allowed in each space. Common areas must be clear so that all tenants can use the space and have a social life.
3. Decide on permanent spaces. A permanent place is a storage area that makes sense for an item. For example, you'd never store canned goods under the bed—you'd put them in a kitchen cupboard or pantry. When choosing a permanent place, hold the item and close your eyes. Ask yourself, "Where is the first place I'd look for this?" That is where it should be.
4. Do your research. Rather than insisting that you know why the hoarder should part with an item, find an appropriate expert source. For example, if a hoarder wants to keep expired foods, go to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; the organization's website will explain why it's unsafe to keep around.
5. Show respect. Don't apply pressure. Work at the hoarder's pace and don't diminish his or her feelings. Try to put yourself in that person's shoes by doing a mental tally of 20 possessions you love and imagining how you might feel if a family member made you throw them away.
Photography by Bruno Petrozza, Design by Emilie Ceretti
You don't need to gut the entire space—or your bank account—to give your kitchen a fresh new look. The smallest of changes (think hardware, paint and backsplash) can make a huge impact. These stunning spaces show you how.
1. Paint them pretty
Photography by Yves Lefebvre
Easy upgrade: Painting your cabinets is one o the easiest ways to update your kitchen. We love the crisp white and the rich navy of this traditional kitchen—a fresh twist on ever-popular black and white—but if you want a lighter look, pair grey lower cabinets with white uppers. It can cost a lot to have your cabinets professionally sprayed, but luckily this is a great DIY project. Just be sure to choose a durable paint that's designed for cabinetry, use a foam roller and a good-quality brush and follow the manufacturer's instructions for drying times. The ultimate secret to successfully painted cabinets? Thoroughly clean and sand all surfaces and apply a coat of primer before painting.
Why we love it: The colour options are endless: Go bold, go neutral or paint your upper and lower cabinets in coordinating hues.
2. Light it up
Photography by Bruno Petrozza. Design by Emilie Cerreti
Easy upgrade: Swap out old fixtures in favour of dramatic pendants, like these statement-making globes in a warm metallic finish. Great lighting is both practical and pretty, adding a jewellery-like finishing touch to an often utilitarian space. Standout options exist for just about every style, whether your kitchen is traditional, modern, glam or rustic—but don't be afraid to choose lighting that contrasts with your existing look. These sculptural pendants provide a glam counterpoint to the room's clean lines and neutral palette, making the overall look more special. A couple of rules to keep in mind: Hang pendants 30 to 36 inches above the countertop so they don't obstruct your view, and don't be afraid to play with scale. On its own, a fixture might be too small for a space, but in a pair or grouping, it has more visual impact. Also consider installing dimmer switches, which will allow you to adjust the light to suit a mood or an occasion.
Why we love it: Grouping two or three pendants over your island is a budget-friendly way to freshen up the look of your kitchen without having to completely overhaul the space. (And who doesn't need extra task lighting for meal prep?)
3. On display
Photography by Janis Nicolay. Design by Riesco & Lapres Interior Design Inc.
Easy upgrade: Add open shelving. Ditching traditional uppers gives your kitchen a sense of space, but you can get a similar effect on a smaller scale—without having to stash your cereal boxes and everyday dishes in plain sight. Instead, create a designated space for display, as in this condo kitchen by the design team from Vancouver's Riesco & Lapres Interior Design Inc. In a little nook above the sink, art adds personality, while brightly coloured ceramics lend a cheery touch. If an open shelf feels too exposed, replace some cabinet doors with frosted-glass fronts. It's an inexpensive move that still allows you to achieve an airy quality.
Why we love it: Open shelving breaks up a wall of cabinetry and makes a clever alternative to a window, which most condo kitchens lack. Instead of a view of the outdoors, styled shelves provide the visual interest.
4. Pattern play
Photography by Ashley Capp. Design by Trish Johnston
Easy upgrade: Give your kitchen instant personality with bold wallpaper. This swirling green motif adds colour and interest without overpowering the room's clean lines and bright white colour scheme. When selecting a style for your kitchen, there are no rules: Go ahead and experiment with scale and colour. If you're worried about food splashes wreaking havoc on your walls, cover the wallpapered area with Plexiglas, available at specialty stores, like Toronto's Plastic World, where you can even have it cut to size. (But if you're covering an area of the wall that's exposed to heat, opt for glass instead.) The Plexiglas can be secured with an adhesive purchased from your local home-improvement store.
Why we love it: It gives your space a customized look—especially if you splurge on really great wallpaper—and, as long as you do your own installation, it's easy on the wallet.
5. Work it
Photography by Brandon Barre. Design by Jane Lockhart
Easy upgrade: Adding a simple workstation is a great way to increase you kitchen's functionality. "It's a place to manage the household and to keep things organized," says designer Jane Lockhart. "It doesn't have to be large—this one is only three feet wide." Base cabinets installed at table height, a durable work surface and a stylish desk chair are all you need to create your own kitchen command centre. If a built-in option is out of reach, repurpose a desk from another room in the house by painting it to match the cabinets and pairing it with one of your existing kitchen chairs.
Why we love it: You don't have to renovate to fit a desk into your existing floor plan.
6. Bring on the bling
Photography by Stacey Brandford. Design by Stacy Begg
Easy upgrade: Designer and former Style at Home design editor Stacy Begg recently refreshed her kitchen to make it larger, brighter and more family-friendly. To add sophistication to the space without spending a lot of money, she dressed up Ikea cabinets with chic golden pulls. "When it comes to kitchen hardware, always think of the overall look you're going for," says Begg. "I was working with warm metals—brass and gold gilt—but I didn't want it to look too traditional. I chose slim gold-tone pulls to keep things modern."
Why we love it: The pulls can easily be swapped out for new ones when you are ready for a different look.
7. Floors to adore
Photography by Wing Ta/Domino. Design by Kate Arends
Easy upgrade: Install statement-making patterned floor tiles. That's what homeowners Kate Arends and Joe Peters did in their Minnesota kitchen. Originally, the couple's floor was hardwood, but these graphic tiles, priced at $9 each, gave new life to the space and didn't cost a fortune. In an open-plan home, they also help delineate zones and, thanks to the hard-wearing nature of tile, spills and stains are a nonissue.
Why we love it: Beautifully patterned tiles are totally on-trend!
8. Fantasy island
Photography by Donna Griffith. Design by Greta Podleski
Easy upgrade: Bestselling cookbook author and former TV host Greta Podleski designed her kitchen island to look like a vintage sideboard. "I love the stylish view into the kitchen from the dining room," says Podleski. "And it provides a ton of functional storage." If a custom island isn't in the budget, create one from a vintage dining table or dresser. Just add a durable top, like marble or butcher block, and install castors to raise the top to counter height.
Why we love it: A sideboard-style option pairs the functionality of a storage-heavy kitchen island with the chic look of furniture.
9. Make a splash
Photography by Stacey Brandford. Design by Janine Love
Easy upgrade: This kitchen, designed for Jillian Harris, features a gorgeous mosaic backsplash made of honeycomb- shaped marble tiles. Spanning the entire height of one wall, it adds a subtle pattern to the space. Combined with a neutral colour palette and industrial accents, like the range hood, the space has a cool, modern bistro vibe. A word of warning: Choose the shape, the finish and the colour of tiles carefully. You'll want to live with your backsplash for years to come, so don't select a style that's too bold or trendy.
Why we love it: Replacing a backsplash is a budget-friendly update you can tackle on your own.