November 2013


No big deal

“Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” It was the statement from a Toronto Police Service officer last year that rocked the entire city – a glaringly apparent display of inherent misogyny and institutionalised sexism. It was a message that rang loud and clear: victim blaming is alive and well in our fair city.

The reality is that comments like those of that officer to an entire audience at Osgoode Hall are not isolated incidents. Victim blaming has taken on new forms, and has subtly but quite intricately woven its way into the fabric of public opinion. It operates as a mechanism to keep victims silent and keep society comfortable. It keeps victims of sexual assaults questioning themselves and their own actions – maybe I shouldn’t have worn that skirt, maybe I shouldn’t have accepted his drink offer – and it allows the rest of society to shake their heads at the poor choices these loose women made that brought the entire situation onto themselves. Quite frankly, they were asking for it. Maybe next time, they’ll know better.

Because knowing better is of course the key. A radical shift has been made towards making victims take responsibility for the role they played in being assaulted. It’s an almost indiscernible shift, often masked as concern or education, but it is significant.

When did it become acceptable to respond to a rape investigation with questions about why the victim was wearing the type of underwear that she was wearing?

Why are judges handing out minor conditional sentences because of “inviting circumstances” like Manitoba Queen’s Bench Justice Robert Dewar or “an opportunistic event” like the judge in the case of Fernando Manuel Alves who pleaded guilty to sexual assault and was given nine months of probation?

We’ve failed to reach a societal understanding of the patriarchal and misogynistic core of sexual violence. It is about power and control, not about miniskirts and stilettos. These misconceptions are crippling victims, and allowing them to be re-victimized by a society who holds judgment and a justice system that places the onus on them.

Do women need to know how to protect themselves in crisis situations? Of course. But the conversation needs to shift back to equality and, in this case, the equal right to be free from violence and to feel safe in our homes, our workplaces, and our communities.

A message to victims of sexual assault: It’s not right.

It’s not your fault.

And it is a big deal.

Keep talking.


Let’s get away

After two extra weeks of planning Mr. Unexpected and I are finally getting away from the city, which at this point we both desperately need. Desperately.

Tomorrow night after work we’re heading up to Viamede Resort for a little bit of a vacation from life— or in my case, from my phone. We need this; the past month has been a bit much for both of us.

I’ve never had a real relationship, but I didn’t know that until now; I used to brag that the Big Ex and I never fought, not ever. Until we did fight, big time, and that was the night that he broke my heart. But no fighting, no real discussions, all sunshine and rainbows all the damn time isn’t worth bragging about because it just means that you aren’t connected enough to talk about the real things. It took me a while to realize that and even longer to come to terms with the fact that I’d wasted over a year of my life with a man who never even bothered to introduce me to his family.

Mr. Unexpected and I talk about everything, from his desire to adopt a pug and name it Francis to my terrible relationship with my biological father to my desire to sit on a beach and write all day. But the past couple of weeks have been tough on him, and while we still talk I know he’s hurting and he’d rather not talk about it until he has a solution in hand. He’s incredibly talented and he’s worked his way up from the bottom so the idea that something he’s working on might not succeed breaks his heart and it breaks mine to watch it happen.

So we need a trip, we need the massages, the hiking and the in-room whirlpool tub; we need to be happy without thinking about all the work that waits for us when we get back home on Sunday night.

While I don’t have a solution to boyfriend’s problems, other than let’s run away for the weekend, I’m glad that I know about them, I’m glad that he’s including me on the not-so-shiny elements of his life and I’m glad that he trusts me enough to share with me.

I never knew what I was missing out on, I always thought that the Big Ex and I had a perfect relationship worthy of jealousy; I didn’t know that the reason things were so wonderful was because he never trusted me enough to share the bad parts of his life with me.

So for better or for worse I’ll be there for Mr. Unexpected, because for the first time in 25 years I have someone for whom I want to be there who is also willing to let me be there. Things might not always be perfect but perfect is boring anyway. Give me the mess, the fights, the smiles and the tears. I’ll take it all.


Maintainging a work/life balance

The dichotomy of work and play has been a long-standing dilemma in daily life. After two hours of commuting plus the eight-hour workday, it becomes difficult to get all “essentials” done, let alone squeeze in “me time.” Employees are working longer hours and daily errands or responsibilities are demanding an ever increasing amount of time. As tasks pile up, people quickly become overwhelmed. However, there are ways to juggle work responsibilities and still have time to yourself. Here are some tips for finding that balance in your life:

1. Take advantage of Sundays

• Take this day to prepare for the week. Make meal plans and go shopping to avoid mid-week, time-consuming runs to the grocery store. Divide snack foods into single serving containers so preparing meals or throwing together lunches is a simple task.

2. Schedule “me-time”

• When life gets hectic, taking time for yourself often gets put on the back burner. Plan blocks of time to do whatever makes you happy. Whether it’s 20 minutes to read your favourite novel or a full afternoon of browsing an art museum, make sure you have time to clear your head.

• Exercise, as important as it is, is often neglected. Join a gym or fitness class close to your workplace so you can go before or after work or even on your lunch break. Not only will this improve your health but your overall well-being will get a boost too.

3. Make meals easy

• Spend a weekend afternoon making food to last throughout the week. Soups, stews and chili can all be frozen in small portions, ensuring days of lunches and quick dinners.

• Prepare produce as soon as it’s purchased. Slicing up your vegetables not only saves time during the week, but also saves room in your fridge. As an added bonus, having pre-cut produce readily available leads to healthier snacking options.

• When cooking, clean up your mess as you make it. Wipe down cutting boards once you’re done chopping and wash pans as soon as you’re finished with them so that when you’re done eating, all that’s left to be cleaned are plates and cutlery.

4. Nurture relationships

• After an eight-hour day, it is tempting to go home, do what needs to be done and go straight to bed. To maintain happiness and balance in your life, however, it’s important to ensure that you sustain bonds with family and friends. Schedule enjoyable events and activities such as family hockey games, dinners with friends or trips to museums.

5. Set boundaries

• Don’t take work home with you. Avoid checking emails after work hours or staying up to work on reports or presentations. At the beginning of the week, prioritize your tasks and prepare a timeline so there are no late nights at the office.

Although it is difficult to brush our responsibilities aside, shortcuts can help keep them manageable. Upholding the importance of family, friends and personal time ensures that life is balanced and stable.


RELATIONSHIPS: Baggage claim

Everyone has had their heart broken – whether by family, friends, or boyfriends, we’ve all felt that crushing pain at some point. We’ve all cried and most of us have succumbed to at least one bad habit to make the pain go away. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think I’m better at relationships for having lived through the bad ones. However, problems arise when we drag issues from our past relationships into our current ones.

Starting a new relationship is hard enough without bringing in issues from your past. Making him pay for your insecurities is simply unfair.

My ex had issues with calling me his girlfriend. He didn’t like labels and he didn’t want me to meet his family because (or so he said) our relationship was about us and not about what his family or friends thought. I let that relationship go on for over a year and it didn’t end well. So as I walk into a new relationship should I be afraid that we haven’t put a label on it only a month in? Probably not.

We don’t make a new friend pay for the mistakes of an old one so why don’t we afford the same kindness to the men in our lives?  Why is it that we feel like it is somehow fair to judge new men on the behaviour of past ones? We live in a state of perpetual fear that we confuse for educated guesses.

The problem with treating relationships like a continuous learning process is that people are individual and unique. People aren’t formulaic; memorizing the habits of one man does not mean you understand all men.

That emotional baggage we insist on lugging around puts us at a disadvantage, turning us into needy, tearful, women. Even the best man can’t handle the burden of his own sins in addition to those of the men who came before him. Just imagine if you had to suffer for all the mistakes his past girlfriends made. Not a pretty picture is it?


Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Marathon motivation

The marathon is considered to be, for many runners, the mother of all road races. For many it’s a big accomplishment, a commitment to train for the distance and often is a bucket list goal that, like an itch, is not going away until the proverbial scratch.

The inspiration of the marathon dates back to 490 B.C. where professional messengers, or runners, carried a lot more importance and prestige than they do today. Pheidippides was the legendary Greek messenger who was sent 26.2 miles to Athens to announce the Persians had been defeated in the Battle of Marathon. Having recently run back-to-back 140-mile mountainous treks to and from Sparta to seek military reinforcements, the run to Athens would be his last as soon after he died from exhaustion – and the world would never be the same.

These days running inspiration comes from within or from a local instructor, while others will try to emulate modern Olympic heroes. Here are a couple of recent quotes from running legends, each revealing their favorite marathons, to motivate you.

The world’s oldest marathoner, Fauja Singh, now 101, has run three different marathons– London, Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront and New York. Harmander Singh is his coach and translated via email, “He loved every moment of every run equally and he could not rank them as everyone was so nice to him wherever he went.” He continues, “About the three he said: ‘The London was my first and last marathon – it was also my home race. I set the fastest time and later became the first 100 year old in Toronto.’”

Running pioneer Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon in 1967. “My favourite marathon is Boston, I’ve run it eight times and I plan to run it again in 2017, on the 50th anniversary of the famous 1967 race, my first marathon, where I encountered the Jock Semple incident (he tried to physically remove her from the course) and changed history. The reason I still love Boston the best is because of the tradition, the crowds who pack the route and understand the marathon, have grown up with it and view it as an annual rite of passage. Also, I love the undulating course. Lastly, I love how you have to qualify for (Boston).”

I hope the above quotes will motivate you the way they have for me. You may want to create a little room on the fridge door for this before you head out for your next run.

An update on Switzer: Kathrine Switzer will be appearing in the three-hour PBS/AOL landmark documentary, MAKERS–Women Who Make America, a compelling story of amazing women trailblazers.


What I learned from my first 10k

On Sunday, April 21st I completed my first 10k run. With bib secure, laces tied and ipod charged, I made my way to the starting point of the Toronto Yonge Street 10k. Despite the enthusiasm of the crowd, I was still quite nervous. Prior to this, I had not run any further than 6k and couldn’t help but wonder if I was truly ready.

Now, hours after crossing the finish line, I am still buzzing with adrenaline. Having predicted an excruciating experience, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the run was not only bearable but enjoyable. The euphoric “Runner’s High” I had heard of but never understood became a reality for me.

Having learned a lot from the experience, I am excited to sign up for my next run.

Spring months in Canada are unpredictable. Dress in layers and be prepared for all weather conditions. Gloves and a running jacket to protect from cold wind were especially vital at this run.

For me, smiling had a great effect on my performance. I chose to be happy and grateful for the opportunity to run. I didn’t think about my time, the blister on my foot or the hundreds of runners who finished before me. Instead I focused on the present and enjoyed the great view of the city.

Be thankful for the support around you. Volunteers and spectators came out to cheer you on, operate water stations and direct traffic. Thank them for their hard work.

I was honoured to run my first 10k with my mom by my side. As an accomplished runner, she has participated in many half marathons and 30k runs over the years. We motivated each other to keep running (and smiling) throughout the race and made sure we were keeping a sustainable pace.

Add a few new songs to your ipod and delete the overused ones that no longer get you pumped up. I found that adding just three new songs gave me a boost.

Don’t hesitate to enroll in a 10k. I doubted myself thinking that I wasn’t ready to run such a distance and ended up surprising myself in the end. If running the whole distance becomes a challenge, walk the last few kilometres.

Chances are you will do much better than you thought.

TRAVEL: Cruises can be so Epic

By Murtaza Adamjee

For over 40 years, Norwegian Cruise Line has been the leader in innovative cruise travel providing guests with some of the most contemporary ships at sea. Particularly, the introduction of freestyle cruising has provided guests with a greater degree of freedom and flexibility when on board one of Norwegian’s 11 cruise ships.

Norwegian’s latest, the Norwegian Epic, launched mid-July with record breaking sales amidst its inaugural festivities in Europe, New York, and Miami. Upon closer examination of the cruise ship, it is apparent the Epic offers a truly innovative and unique experience.

Built for 4100 passengers and weighing in at 155, 873 gross tons, the Epic has been deemed the world’s largest floating entertainment venue. Here is a closer look at some of its key features:


Accommodations include a variety of suites – from the largest villa suite complex at sea, to studios designed for the solo traveler, to spa suites that offer a complete spa vacation. The ship also includes two private decks at the top of the ship that offer private restaurants, bars, and pools, and family-friendly accommodations.


The Epic offers a number of family-friendly activities: An aqua park with three multi-story waterslides, six bowling alleys, Nickelodeon at Sea which offers Nickelodeon-themed entertainment and programming, a sports complex, a rock-climbing wall, and supervised activities when adults need a little getaway.


The Epic includes 20 different dining options inspired by the world’s leading culinary destinations. The cruise ship offers an upscale steakhouse, authentic Teppanyaki, Italian and Chinese fare, sushi, a salad bar, and its signature French restaurant.


The Epic offers world-class entertainment for its guests on board. Norwegian Cruise Line is the official cruise line of Blue Man Group, best known for their theatrical shows that combine music, comedy, and theatrics. For the first time, Blue Man Group performs their act at sea aboard the Epic. The ship also features Cirque Dreams & Dinner, an interactive theatrical dining experience with music and mayhem, and is the official cruise line of Legends in Concert, The Second City Comedy Troupe, and Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos.

The ships nightlife includes SVEDKA, one of only 14 ice bars in the world and the first ice bar at sea, along with Spice H20, an Ibiza-inspired beach club. Throw in a full-action casino with a high-roller ambience, and the Epic is sure to offer something for everyone.

The Norwegian Epic is currently sailing her first Eastern Caribbean cruise which departed from Miami on July 10, 2010 with visits in St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Nassau, Bahamas. To book a cruise, or to find out more information on Norwegian Epic, visit


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Wedding bells? Not any time soon

Why is there so much pressure to tie the knot?

Maybe it’s the time of year or maybe it’s because over-sharing is a thing these days but it seems like everyone is getting engaged. Every day there’s a new person on Facebook sharing a picture of a big shiny bauble that now sits on their left hand inspiring jealousy and inviting congratulations.

Yesterday Boyfriend and I were being ridiculous on Facebook — we’re not immune to over-sharing or bouts of nausea inducing adorableness; almost immediately after seeing the adorableness a mutual friend of ours sent me a Facebook message that said two words: “Marry him.”

Woah, hold the phone right there friend. I’m not ready to get hitched I’m not even sure I want to get married, ever.

It’s funny that as soon as you’re in a stable relationship for a period of time your friends start assuming that there are wedding bells and churches in your future; I expect these kinds of questions from my mum and my stepdad but when my friends put the pressure on it’s a little ridiculous. I’d like to think that insisting Boyfriend and I tie the knot is just their way of saying that they like him, that they think we work well together or maybe they just really need a big party with free booze and plenty of dancing.

I wish my friends would chill for half a second and remember that Boyfriend and I aren’t exactly traditional people, we’re not dying to walk down the aisle and when people ask if I want babies I say, “Yes! I want all the fur babies.” Because I want many puppies and no kids, kids have sticky jam hands, and 9 months without a glass of red wine sounds like some kind of draconian punishment. I love my friends kids, I’ve even planned a cookie baking day with my friend’s twins because baking with small people is fun, but I really only want to hang out with the tiny humans if I can return them to their people at the end of the day.

When I look into my future Boyfriend is there but I don’t see him at the end of the aisle I see a house in the city with two dogs and a cat, I see vacations to far off places and dinner parties where my friends drink just a little too much; my perfect future is within my grasp but there’s no white dress there and that should be OK.

While it’s unlikely that you’ll ever see a big diamond on my left hand I’m no less committed to Boyfriend, I’m no less in love and we’re still very much planning our totally dorky ridiculous future together.  So my darling friends, the next time you ask me something to do with marriage I’m just going to make up something insane; I’ll tell you that we’ve decided to move to a commune where we will give up all of our material possessions and become vegans. Never mind, no one would ever believe that we’d give up steak and new episodes of Doctor Who.


Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

4 ways to beat Jack Frost and stay active this winter

At this time of year, the chilly embrace of Jack Frost can feel as unwelcome as a wet blanket, eating snow cones on a frozen pond or a long hug from your great aunt that you haven’t seen since you were five. It goes against human nature to deliberately turn off the fireplace, get out of your comfy clothes and into layers of moisture wicking, water proof gear so you can venture outside to the bone-chilling tundra, of which only polar bears and ice sculptors are acclimatized.

Perhaps I exaggerate just a smidgen but no one should minimize how biting Canadian winters can be.  The trick is to take what Mother Nature offers and make the best of it by staying fit.

How do you break this cycle of not feeling motivated when winter has settled in across our Great White North with sub zero temperatures, and less sunlight? For some lucky mammals, they just hibernate.  For the rest of us, we need compelling reasons to push ourselves out the door to go for that run or walk, hike or skate.

Living in Canada winter can be, however, an enjoyable experience with the number of activities we participate in like tobogganing, building a snow man, igloo or ice cave. Take advantage of a winter sport or activity like hockey and this will help you stay in shape during the cold months.  Curling is another Canadian winter pastime which can lead you all the way to the Olympics if you’re good enough.

Winters are much more enjoyable when you’re dressed properly, which may be obvious to most but the ones who get sick or frost bite are still there to remind us. If you happen to be a fair weather runner like so many who love the summer sun, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover just how invigorating it feels to run on a crisp, cold winter day while getting your healthy dose of vitamin D in the process.

To help inspire you to get off your comfy couch and into the spirit of exercising outdoors, here are the top four ways to stay active during winter:

After each activity reward yourself by having a cup of hot chocolate or eggnog and then cozy up by the fireplace – the feeling being much more gratifying after a workout.

1. Build a snowman

Two women with a snowman

Building a snowman can be fun for the whole family. All you need is your imagination. The bigger the snowman the bigger the workout you get. According to sources, every hour you will burn 285 calories. This is based on a 150 pound person.

2. Shovel the snow

Mother and Daughter with Snow Shovels

Shoveling snow is a good workout activity and sometimes can be a chore. You can make it fun by having the family take part in the activity and having music play in the background. You will burn 273 calories per hour based on a woman who is 120 pounds.

3. Go snowshoeing

Woman Snowshoeing Past Forest

Snowshoeing – like cross country skiing – is a good cross trainer for running and an enjoyable outing for the whole family.  Hit the trails or slopes and enjoy Mother Nature at her best. You can burn 380-plus calories based on a woman who weighs 120 pounds. Cross country skiing can help you burn over 400 calories. Ice skating can be fun for the whole family and is great for your core and upper body. Many community centers have ice rinks while some families enjoy the convenience of having their own backyard rink, depending of course on regional climate.

4. Play some hockey!

Family playing hockey

Ice hockey is Canada’s sport and what better way than to participate in it and burn calories while having fun?


No matter which activity you choose, you can be sure to feel more alive afterwards. Whether it be from having a snowball fight to finding a good hill for spending the afternoon sledding, your fun will keep you fit. If you’re a runner, mix up your routine by doing some snowshoeing or winter hiking.


Follow Christine on Twitter at @ChristineRuns and YouTube at RunWithItCB1.

Check her out on the web at


WATCH: This video will change the way you think about marriage

The video, entitled simple “It’s Time.” was created by Australian marriage equity group Get Up! to help show those who may not know a lot about gay relationships, marriage, and love what a love story looks like through the eyes of a gay man and forces the viewer to confront their prejudices about the gender of the camera when the couple does a lot of very normal things like laughing, kissing, and even fighting.

Take a look and let us know what you think, is it time for everyone to have the right to marry the people they love?


Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.