Listen To Your Body: In The Water

One of the greatest concerns of any athlete – the damper, disappointment and heartbreak that’s always a scary possibility during any physical activity – is an injury.

Whether a rolled ankle, blown knee or weak shoulder, there is nothing more discouraging than being in the wonderful throes of an exercise routine before realizing that if you want to heal properly – you might just need to rest.  I, myself, have had this happen on a few too many occasions, much to my dismay; with an old soccer knee that loves to ache after lots of impact or a still-healing torn hip flexor that has the tendency to feel tight during oodles of continuous movement.

If you enjoy exercise, the endorphins and the time alone, realizing that you might need to take a break almost feels like a non-option. If you’re half-witted about it, like we’ve all been, you’ll try to push through the pain or find a (not so) happy medium that will most likely still aggravate the problem. Sometimes, it takes an overly painful realization or dose of tough love before understanding that you have the options of two weeks to a month of continuing your routine before losing a joint or muscle for life – or two weeks to a month of moderate activity that will soothe your injury, and your mind when it comes to knowing that all hope isn’t lost.

When a few long runs of mine proved to end with a very tender left knee about a month ago, I stupidly pushed through the pain – thinking it would pass. When walking during the day, lifting my leg while sitting in the upright position or pointing my toes became increasingly difficult – it took that dose of tough love from a friend to tell me that I needed to cool my jets and find an alternate means of exercise until I recovered.

Have you thought of swimming?” I heard from about a dozen people. Insert rolled eyes and immediate disregard. Despite the fact that I swam competitively when I was younger and clearly understand the health benefits of the sport – something about this advice really rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t figure out why – but a number of other injured pals seemed to have the same ignorance when it came partaking in the watery activity. Did we not want to get wet? Would it be boring? Was it too much of a hassle finding a pool? Did we want to be sweating and pounding the pavement to feel like we’d exercised? Maybe so. But when I stepped back and realized that it might be my only option during this unwelcome hiatus, I have a pool in my building, and it couldn’t be that hard – I decided to dive in, literally.

I was wildly wrong when it came to all of my previous conceptions about swimming. First of all, it took about an hour of my time – the same as a good run or circuit/weights workout – and it went by quickly. Secondly, it required grabbing a pair of goggles, a swim cap and pressing the elevator button to get to this exercise. And lastly, it is hard. In fact, it’s a workout and a half. And I was incredibly cocky in thinking otherwise.

Water is 1,000 times denser than air. Powering back and forth in a pool while synching your breathing, kicking rapidly and rotating your upper half to pierce the water and pull your body forward with the most graceful of ease – all while somersaulting your weight to pound back off the walls and do it again, and again? Not a jog in the park.  It is, without a doubt, a full-body cardiovascular exercise that burns calories, tones muscles and challenges you aerobically.

How do I feel now, you ask? Infinitely better. Not only do my limbs still feel like jelly getting out of the pool (always a good sign), but after a three-week break from my normal routine – I no longer feel weakness in my knee when flipping my feet, walking or pointing my toes. And, two nights ago, I went for a light 5km run and didn’t feel a hint of pain. So, there you have it – swimming is actually a wonderful way to heal. Healing, while working hard.

The next time you feel like you need to take a knee, sit on the bench or simply give up – remember that it’s not the end of the world or your athletic career. Remember to listen to your body, no matter how quietly it’s speaking. We’ve only got one. And sometimes, dipping into something unknown isn’t such a bad idea.

Five beginner swimming tips that I’ve remembered since diving back in:

1. Keep your head down: When swimming freestyle (or front crawl, whichever you please), keep your head facing the bottom of the pool when your face is in the water. Any upward neck slant can cause you to drag through the water, as well as induce strain on the neck and back.

2. Kicking is everything: Don’t stop kicking when you come up for air or when you’re over-focused on arm movement. Swimming is a matter of full body momentum; each piece of your smooth-running machinery helps create a more effective and effortless motion. Keep your feet flexible like flippers and the rest of your legs powerful when scissoring under the water. Michael Phelps has said that, “If you’re a good kicker, you’re a good swimmer.”

3. Breathe quick and deep: Similar to most sports – especially Yoga or Pilates – breathing is, obviously, critical. We don’t want the lifeguards jumping in – that’s just embarrassing. Try not to focus on filling your lungs with these messy gasps for air while water spills off your face; when you  alternate turning your neck from side to side in freestyle (in line with the axis of your body), or pull up from a breaststroke, focus on quick and deep pulls for air that fill about 90 per cent of your lungs. This, again, will help with endurance and momentum.

4. Switch up your strokes: Like any exercise, doing it monotonously in the same fashion – especially without music – can get tired. So, switch from freestyle to breast stroke to backstroke or butterfly, and not only watch the minutes fly by, but feel as the different muscle groups are challenged. Although a tough core workout, the backstroke is a great recovery stroke after sprint laps. The breaststroke, commonly misconceived to be the most leisurely, is a great way to simultaneously build upper and lower body strength – while working each body half in unison to push forward. The butterfly is serious stuff. Ultimately, you’ll know you’re doing any stroke right when your lengths are clean and gliding; if water is flying all over the place, you’re flailing or you feel like you’re chugging along, something is off.

5. Don’t quit your other strength training: Like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, you’ll immensely benefit from other strength or muscle-building routines. A short and rigorous core or upper body workout coupled with your swimming or running cardio can highly boost endurance and provide greater ease when slicing through the waves or running longer distances. When your various muscle groups are strengthened, your stamina and overall performance are as well.

 I also really don’t mind the smell of pool chlorine on my skin. Is that weird? Tell us about your injury healing routines below!

 

 

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Fall back into Resolutions

Well folks, it is officially September. While summer is still technically with us for two more weeks, I always find that once the September long weekend passes and school starts back up, the carefree summer attitude often fades quickly away. Instead of mourning the season, I for one, always look to September and Fall as a chance to make a fresh start. Besides, it seems silly to wait another four months just to make a resolution, doesn’t it?

Re-organize your Finances

Remember back at the start of the year when you were geared up to get your finances in check, stop throwing your cash away and start saving? Ya, me too. Wasn’t that a fun thought? Seriously though, if you’ve fallen off the wagon when it comes to moula, now is the time to get back on track. While it’s hard enough to accept that summer is fleeting, keep in mind that the holiday season is approaching. While it can be tempting to go “back-to-school shopping” even if you’ve graduated or indulge in a Spiced-Pumpkin Latte at Starbucks every day, don’t sink yourself now! Besides, how nice would it be to enter 2013 with a little nest egg?

Leave piggy in tact!

Re-organize your Closet

As we leave summer behind, we also leave behind the need for barely-there shirts, skirts and shorts. Take the time to go through your closet and bring forward those staple sweaters and jeans that have been taking a back burner during the blazing heat. Check to see what still fits, what’s still in fashion and take whatever is no longer up your alley to your local Value Village or Salvation Army. Then, once you’ve cleaned shop, take these tips from Kaylee to help you transition between the seasons with ease!

Get back to the Gym!

Summer can present us with a ton of opportunities to exercise outdoors. Summer can also present us with a ton of opportunities to laze around instead of working out. Since dieting and getting fit are the most common New Year’s Resolutions, why not get started now? If you’ve taken a bit of a gym-hiatus this summer, September offers the opportunity to get back into a regular routine. It’s never too early to start developing healthy habits. And just think, by the time January 1st rolls around you’ll be that much closer to your fitness goals!

Tackle a Bucket List

While summer presents countless opportunities to try new things, fall does that too! If you haven’t touched the bucket list you made in January, dust that bad boy off and start checking things off! Don’t count out the adventures that can still be had, just because the weather is a tad cooler. Throw on a jacket and some boots and find your latest adventure. Consult Catherine’s Fall-Bucket List here for some great ideas!

10 rules of social media etiquette

From an early age, the various forms of social etiquette are drilled into our heads: Say please and thank you. Don’t chew with your mouth open. The list goes on and on.

But when it comes to etiquette of the social media sphere that now inhabits our daily lives, we are relative newborns and some of us just haven’t quite figured it out yet. Not to fear, after perusing multiple blogs, online forums and magazines, I have compiled 10 of the most outrageous social media faux pas and how to best avoid these breaches of social media etiquette.

1. It’s social media, NOT solo media: The first and probably most important courtesy while firing up twitter, facebook, instagram and anything else under our gigantic social media umbrella is to remember the essence of what you are doing. Social is the first word in this new age catch phrase “social media”. Avoid the solo conversations with yourself over your various platforms. Avoid being a glory seeker. The purpose of this new tool we have been granted is to  facilitate connections and dialogue with other people, businesses and brands. No one wants to read/see/retweet a monologue of your life’s inconsequential details.

2.Communication: Ultimately, Social Media is a tool for connecting and communicating on our vast and glorious information highway. Thousands upon thousands of people are able to access the content you share on social media platforms; therefore, the things you share should be said/posted/tweeted eloquently. There is nothing worse than reading someone’s facebook status that is littered with short forms (“lol” “nvm” “brb”). If you’re communicating a sentiment, a whereabout, a passion,  please do it clearly. Cut out the MSN lingo, unless your 140 characters is running out quickly. That is the ONLY time an “lol” is acceptable. Maybe.

3. Instagram foodies: As the self-proclaimed foodie of inanutshell, this  particular social media no-no tugs at my heart, but simply cannot be ignored.

Simply put: STOP POSTING PHOTOS OF YOUR BORING FOOD.

I love food. I live, breathe, read, talk about and photograph food. Does everybody want to see a series of photos of your scrambled eggs and toast? Probably not. Not even if it has a valencia hue to it. No body cares. Stop doing it.

4. The Pity Seeker: Fall is around the corner, which also means that flu season is riding its tail coats. Nothing upsets and disgusts me more than reading facebook statuses about how bedridden, snot-drenched and congested you are. Stay in bed. Watch a flick. Drink some chicken noodle soup. But for the love of god, sickies, stay off facebook.

5. Vain hashtags: You may think you’re great. Your mom may think you’re great. But announcing this to the world through the use of #vainhashtags is embarrassing. If you think you are beautiful enough to use any of the following hashtags you should probably close your twitter account and delete all of your facebook friends to save them from rolling their eyes at your own vanity: #fitgirlproblems #hotgirlproblems #malemodelclub #handsomeandiknowit #toohotformyowngood

6. Awkward selfies: Unfortunately, this social media faux pas extends over every single social media platform. To my dismay, it seems that wherever I turn, someone has posted a sexy smoulder on instagram, a look at me in my bikini twitpic or a duckface facebook profile picture. It is awkward to see these self portraits and then imagine how much time you might have wasted staring at the camera, in your  very own hand, to get the perfect, awakrd selfy. It makes the entire social media world squirmish. Enough said.

7. Personal Problems: Much like my distaste for knowing the read on your body temperature, I also don’t want to know about your lastest bad break-up, fight with your bestie or over all negative nancy attitude. This will immediately garner you an unfriend on any/all social media sites. Positivity is key and reading about how much of an asshole Kevin is for cheating on you with your best friend does not uplift my mood nor make me want to continue following your saga of a life.

8. The unwelcome hashtag: I LOVE a good hashtag. I think they can be the best online vessel for communicating a sense of wit or humour. With that said, hashtags should be used in moderation. An entire tweet composed of hashtags makes me anxious. Much worse is to see hashtags used all over pinterest and instagram, but the facebook offenders are the worst by far. Basically equating twitter with facebook, these offenders will litter the interweb with usually boring, uncreative hash tags, what some would call: #hashtaghappy. Moderation my friends.

9. Careless users: By all means, use social media to share and engage with friends and followers, but under no circumstance should you  ever share or retweet something that you haven’t either read or researched yourself. Social media carelessness can result in an array of problems from recieveing negative feedback to losing followers and a diminished network. Make sure to do a background check, even if it’s brief, before you retweet or share something that mayh not accurately reflect your personal views.

10. Share the Love: The last thing and possibly the most important rule of social media etiquette is sharing the love. If someone retweets or shares your social media content you should feel inclined to return the favour. And even if you don’t feel that way, you should still do it. It is a basic courtesy, the way that social media is meant to operate and, in the long run, will garner you a wider networking circle.

In a nutshell, these simple rules will keep you out of social media trouble and keep your followers and friends happy!

Midday Musings

Not too long ago, Kaylee introduced us to the idea of midday musings, a quick pick me up for your day filled with interesting things floating around the web that have caught our eyes. Behold, another installation of midday musings, in a nutshell…

Samsung’s 5 Cent Hoax 

CEO’s of Samsung & Apple. Laughing on the outside, plotting on the inside.

Yesterday, a hilarious story hit the internet involving Apple and Samsung, two high-tech giants who are currently dominating the technological world. The story is as followed: Apple won its current copywright case against Samsung and was awarded 1.05 BILLION dollars. The story alleged that Samsung delivered its debt by sending truckloads upon truckloads of nickels to Apple’s headquarters, as the payment was able to be made any way in which Samsung sees fit. As much as it pains me to say this, the story isn’t true. I loved this petty-payment hoax, because let’s face it – Apple can stand to be taken down a notch or two. And millions of nickels would certainly do it.

Invasion of Chalkboard Paint

A long time ago, I had a friend paint an entire wall in her bedroom with chalkboard paint, that we were obsessed with drawing on. At the time, it was the coolest. thing. ever. Fast forward 7 years and chalkboard paint has taken over the world. DIY crafts involving this unique paint are everywhere and I have to say that I’m enjoying the trend. I don’t know if I’d take it as far as the kitchen pictured below did, but small touches are really cute. What is your favourite use of this unique paint?

Princess on a Budget

A while back, Christian Louboutin revealed his re-imagining of the Cinderella Slipper; a haute-couture shoe lover and Disney fan’s dream. While the design was released, no price tag was, leading news outlets around the world to speculate at the high cost of the designer’s fantasy shoe.

In keeping with the Cinderella/Disney princess trend, this week, Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) launched their own line of Cinderella-inspired shoes. With their designs ranging in price from approximately $60-$90 USD, they are making it a bit more affordable to walk in a princess’ shoes. Cinderella came from humble means before meeting Prince Charming, after all.

Royal Salute, Indeed

Speaking of Royalty, real-life Prince Harry got himself into some hot water in the media after playing strip pool with some friends while spending a relaxing party weekend in Vegas. Harry was photographed in the buff, cupping his royal jewels in the company of an unknown (also naked) female companion. Media speculated that this incident could have a negative impact on his service in the Air Force as an Apache Helicopter Pilot. Enter thousands of Harry supporters (including military members) who embraced Harry’s nakedness and joined the Facebook group, “Support Prince Harry with a Naked Salute.” Many have uploaded photos of themselves, sans clothing, saluting the Prince in a sign of solidarity. Awesome.

**images courtesy of Google & Pinterest.

Happy Birthday Meg!

Well, the wonderful week of birthdays on in a nutshell continues. Today, our dear Mother Hen Meghan Brown, turns 24 years-old – and we couldn’t be prouder!

After a year of incredible accomplishments (finishing her Master’s, traveling, moving up in her full-time job, to name a few), Meghan deserves nothing more than praise and celebration. We can all recall her nose to the grind (rightfully so) during a trying handful of years that balanced both school, work and play – and how relieving it was for her to graduate with flying colours, slightly kick her feet up after decades of studying, spend time with her hobbies and plan the next step. Meghan has always been independent, brave and destined to accomplish so much; traits that make it an undoubted fact she’ll go far in what she does.

On top of all that? She’s never forgotten to be a terrific friend. We call her Mother Goose/Hen for obvious reasons; she values her friendships and relationships, puts time and effort into each of them and always looks out for others in times of need – with caring advice, a shoulder to wimper on and a witty joke to pick you up. Also, she’s the angel who cuts her night short to take care of a best friend, quietly slipping her into a chic pajama maxi-dress before tucking her into bed with watchful eyes. For all of the above – we thank you, Egg! Have a beautiful birthday – here are some of the special things your birthday party would call for…

On the meal, KATE says…

Even though our birthday girl knows how to turn on her inner diva, when it comes to good grub, sweet and simple keeps Meggo happy. She’s a lady who knows what she wants, knows how to get it and when it comes to the dinner table, it’s no different. Meghan tends to opt for tried and true classics, and although she is up for almost any new culinary adventure, she usually manages to find something on the menu that will keep her happy. Aside from her frequent visits to sushi houses, Meghan has a few  classic go-tos. Calamari is a must. A beautifully marinated steak with grilled tiger shrimp is a definite, usually with a side of truffled potatoes and al dente greens. For dessert, steer clear from chocolate, that is one thing that Meghan simply detests. Instead you can expect her to enjoy a delicate creme Brule.

On the drinks, CAT says…

Remember the time Meghan signed a hefty visa tab “I like to party”? I sure do. Meghan may have a 9 – 5 government job, enjoy the occasional night in with her cat or a rerun or two of Grey’s Anatomy, but that’s only one side of this (sometimes) wild girl. Give her an excuse and she’s the first one at the bar yelling “SHOTS!” While the Ottawa contingency of nuts will make sure there’s many of those accompanying our night out this evening, we also know that Meg often opts for the casual bevy. Our girly and traditional pal likes sticking to the classics, and who can resist a Strawberry Daiquiri? Tried, tested and true, this drink is one of Meggo’s faves for a night out with the gals. When it comes to dinner and a nice glass of wine Pinot Grigio is definitely where her finger lands on the wine list. I’ll never forget the first time she brought the cool Voga wine bottle to one of our potluck’s. A conversation piece and delicious vino in one. Again, for post meal drinks Meg heads for a classic. She won’t want to try anything with egg whites in it, too much garnish or squid ink – to that she’d say “I’d pay to know what that is.” No, Meg, like our idol Carrie Bradshaw, would be perfectly happy with a Cosmo. Simple and perfect. Finally, for her late night go-to she’ll order a Jaeger Bomb (or six). Just enough kick to get the party started and smooth enough to go down without any chase. We may not line 19 of these up, like we did on her 19th birthday, but you can bet there’s a j-bomb or two in Meghan’s near future.

On the music, JESS says…

You can’t nail this birthday girl’s music taste down – and I mean that in a very good way. As a singer with a trained melodic ear, Meg appreciates pretty notes, thoughtful lyrics and big uplifting anthems just as much as the next gal (if not more). That being said, that eclectic taste, ranging from romantic sounds to dance floor classics, has never excluded one of her greatest loves: a bumping beat. Her keen ear for all things hip-hop and R&B, which was most likely fostered in her early days as a dancer, often leaves Meg rapidly rhyming her pants off in the middle of a party – her quick tongue flying along with the catchy verses and fan favourites. Meg feels music, so whether it’s Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” echoing across a pub, Coldplay flying through the open windows of a roadtripping vehicle or “99 Problems” beating down on a dance floor, she’ll make sure everyone listens up and pays attention to the joyful jams. Some of my favourite moments with Eggo are cued by the opening beat of an old-school hip-hop classic, a motionless stare and smirk at each other and a loving rap battle. Now that’s friendship.

1. Theory of Relativity – Stars (new!) 2. Ignition – R. Kelly 3. No Church In The Wild – Jay-Z and Kanye 4. Beez in the Trap – Nicki Minaj 5. Juicy – Notorious BIG 6. Drop it Like Its Hot – Snoop-a-Loop 7. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Lauryn Hill 8. We’ve Got It Goin’ On – Backstreet Boys 9. Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve 9. Lemme See – Usher 10. Title and Registration – Death Cab For Cutie

On the outfit, KAYLEE says…

Meghan is lucky enough to have been born with the best accessory one could dream of: gorgeous piercing blue eyes. For this reason alone, her birthday dress should be a bright cerulean to make every guest a little more jealous of her coveted feature (ahem, brown eyed girl currently typing). A statement silver necklace and her signature pearl studs make the look birthday ready, and a neutral clutch with touches of colour, ties it all together with a perfect birthday bow. Now, the shoes. You may have noticed that these babies are none other than Jimmy Choo…but it is my belief that we all (most especially Meg) deserve a little spoiling on our special days, and these cream coloured, tiny wedge, classic sandals are just the ticket for each of Meg’s 24th year celebrations. As Meg’s style evolves with each life change she embarks on, I am thrilled to see her take risks with fashion; wearing bold patterns, unique accessories, and always staying true to her classic style and fun-loving self.

Happy Birthday Kaylee!

Today, one of our own is celebrating her 24th Birthday! Kaylee is not only a fantastic writer and our fashion guru, but also is one of the main reasons that inanutshell has been so successful over the past year and a half. Her input behind the scenes, whether it be organizing our meetings and taking care of all the technical details, shows how well-rounded this talented gal really is. Over the past year, we’ve watched Kaylee’s life change drastically; moving to a new city and starting a new career in a demanding field in which we’ve already seen her succeed. The wonderful thing about Kaylee is that she always handles the twists and turns of life with such grace, it often makes us wonder how she’s doing it so effortlessly. She is also a loyal and loving friend who we can always count on and she never misses a chance to spend time with those that she loves, even if it means spending most of her weekends commuting between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. As the last member to join our close-knit little group, we’re so thankful that the fates (and a shot of tequila) would bring us Kaylee’s friendship, a gift that will forever be unmatched. Happy Birthday!

This weekend, Kaylee’s man & large circle of friends in Toronto are throwing her a huge soirée to celebrate her 24th. While distance and circumstance might not allow all of the nuts to celebrate together this year, if we could throw her the perfect party, here’s what we’d do…

On the OUTFIT, Jess says…

Although this will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone – Kaylee’s fashion sense is exquisite. Without ever looking ostentatious or heavily premeditated, our dear fashionista exudes natural style in every kind of outfit; her own unique flavour of bohemian chic that doesn’t discriminate from either a colourful floral print or elegant black dress with timeless accessories. Whether wearing distressed jeans, leather sandals and a slouchy t-shirt underneath earthy gems and classic Ray Bans around the city or pairing a simple skirt and shirt combination with a statement necklace, wavy hair tucked up above green-rimmed eyelids and a pair of fierce heels for Saturday night cocktails – she always looks effortless, perfectly feminine, and stunning. Kaylee certainly fields the “What kind of thing are you wearing tonight?” question the most from her friends – and her typical breezy answer, before rocking a show stopping number?  “Not sure! Haven’t thought about it yet.”

(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

On the FOOD, Kate says…

Although Kaylee is our fashion forward and style savvy nut, she is also an experienced diner who appreciates great food and wine. Being raised by two beautiful, culturally aware people, Kaylee was one of those children who never shied away from an exotic meal and those early culinary experiences have led her to become a woman who enjoys the finer side of dining (sprinkled with a dash of the esoteric). She is always on  the hunt for the up and coming dining spots and in a short time of living in the big smoke, she quickly gained a handle on the pulse of the Toronto food scene. Any birthday menu for our lovely birthday girl must include a round of oysters served with lemon and horse radish: one of Kaylee’s dinnertime favourites. Followed by something nutritious yet hearty, like a quinoa, ground beef lettuce roll (beef larb) and polished off with a prime veal and risotto main course. Of course a little something sweet, like truffles and premium scotch liqueur, is the perfect way to send our precious birthday girl on her way with a full tum and smile on face.

On the DRINKS, Meghan says…

If you’ve ever visited Kaylee’s home in Montreal, you’d know that upon arrival, you’d be swiftly guided into the kitchen and handed a drink. While she may be inhabitting a different city, her love for a good cocktail hasn’t changed. One of her favourites is the Caesar, without too much spice. While this girl may be wild in some ways (aka impromptu Beyoncé performances in the middle of a party), when it comes to caesars, it’s mild all the way. With dinner, wine is a must! Not one to enjoy anything too fruity, Kaylee usually turns to a rich Chardonnay to accompany her meal, much like J. Lohr’s delicious variety, one that was always on hand during various celebrations in Montreal. For later on, Kaylee would definitely switch to a classic coctail: vodka soda, with a slice of lime. And, even though she “secretly” hates it, a good old fashioned shot of tequila is mandatory at this Birthday bash. While it may send her over the edge, I’d still pick Patron; a classy tequila for a classy girl!

On the MUSIC, Cat says…

You won’t find Kaylee gyrating to trance music or being the first in line to buy tickets for a dub step concert. No, you’ll find her secretly putting on her favourite Beyoncé song, standing on a chair, in the middle of a bustling party and singing out strong soulful lyrics, with just as much sass as the diva she idolizes. Or maybe, you’ll see her commandeering a night out, grabbing a mic, her main squeeze and everyone’s attention with a rousing karaoke routine to The Hip’s Bobcaygeon or The Dixie Chicks’ Traveling Soldier. While cruising in the car, it’s more mellow tunes she’ll groove to, from leading ladies like Norah Jones or Florence and the Machine. But, perhaps her most poignant music moments are when she tears up listening to her talented (and soon to be famous) best friend belt out lyrics from a Broadway musical. Or having her shoulder slumped around her seven besties screaming old Spice Girls jams, for old time’s sake. Or standing on the table tops of her family home, leading the pack in old Grease and Dirty Dancing favourites. Yes, her taste is eclectic, her style is impeccable and her ear is well tuned, but it’s her heart that forms the beat to the soundtrack of her wonderful life.

 

Celebrating Kaylee’s Birthday in 2010, with her girls from MTL & Ottawa <3

Colours of Communication

I was recently fortunate enough to take part in a training program through my work which focused on the various styles of communication and types of communicators. My colleagues and I were asked to fill out a questionnaire, that generated colour coordinated profiles based on your responses. Each colour was representative of a different type of person, including those who were detail oriented vs. goal oriented vs. emotionally driven …and the list goes on. The four colours that were introduced represented the four types of people that we generally interact with, whether it be at work or in our personal lives.

At the beginning of the day, we discussed the various colours and identified positive and negative attributes for each. We also looked at where conflicts could arise between colours and their specific communication styles.

This isn’t working.

In a series of activities, we were first asked to choose the colours that best represented our way of interacting and communicating. Next, we were given ‘coloured’ attributes and asked to distribute them to our colleagues. Finally, we were given the results of a quiz that we answered in advance, which identified which colours we strongly identified with and what style of person/communicator we were.

I have to say that there were vast differences between how I originally perceived myself and how my answers reflected my true ‘colours’. Furthermore, the way that my colleagues perceived me were different from how I thought I came across, leading me to reflect on both my successes and areas where I have room to improve.

Where do you think you fall?

The biggest lesson that I learned was that we have to stop focusing solely on our own way of communicating and interacting and embrace and adapt to the communication style of our counterparts. Whether this is with our superiors and colleagues in the office, with our family members or with our significant others – it’s not all about us. While I may be the type to assert my ideas or opinions, that type of outgoing communication may overwhelm or alienate the person I’m speaking with. If this type of interaction is continuous, I may (unknowingly) cause a riff in the relationship.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that while someone’s approaches may be vastly different from our own, that does not make them less valuable. As young adults who are slowly forging our way into the working world and building and maintaining relationships in our personal lives, it’s important to keep valuable lessons like these in mind. What I learned is that the different types of people, and their corresponding communication styles, bring a different, and necessary, element to our interactions. After all, how boring would the world be if we were all the same?

Interested in learning about yourself? Take this short quiz!
(While not the same as the in-depth program I was a part of, it highlights four different styles of communication and breaks down their pro’s and con’s!)

Five Friends…

Five nuts in January 2010

TGIF, nuts! As you’ll note from our “About Us” section – us five gals are very rarely in the same vicinity, which is one of the most wonderful perks of having this blog. It rounds us together when highways, commitments and life’s funny complications make it difficult to do so otherwise, sometimes for months at a time.

Have you heard about the project below? If you have two, five or seven best friends – it sounds like it would be such a neat idea. Similar to how the five of us will someday look back at (while still writing for it, of course) in a nutshell‘s archived posts to reminisce and laugh at the observations we made during this very transient and amusing period of our young adult lives – these guys chose to do so by taking the same goofy photo, at the same place, over the course of 30 years.

Think you’d try it? If you already have, send them to us – we’d love to see and hear your story!

Check this out: Five Friends Take The Same Group Photo for 30 years

Studying GOSSIP with Lainey Lui

Gossip often gets a bad rap.

……funny how that works, right?

For example, have you ever felt like the guy standing behind you in the grocery store buying canned ham is ACTUALLY judging YOU for lingering at the tabloid section? Has someone blatantly rolled their eyes at you when you quietly mention that you are and always will be on team Jen? Or how about getting scolded by your colleagues for only following every Kardashian and every man they’ve ever dated on Twitter (a total of about 250 people).

I can’t say that I’ve experienced this much in my own life, seeing as how my Bachelor Recaps seem to get more attention than anything else I’ve written … ever. But, I do know it happens.

Some people just can’t handle that most people like judging other people. Get what I’m saying, people?

But yesterday at the beautiful Terence Robert art gallery in downtown Ottawa, a fierce presence in the celebrity world was on hand to set the record straight on why gossiping can actually be a healthy cerebral exercise.

Lainey Lui.
eTalk host, celebrity blogger, hilarious human.

That someone was none other than Lainey Lui, eTalk host and creative mind behind laineygossip.com.

Not only did I have the chance to sit in on the intimate group discussion she hosted “Rumor est immortalis”, (one that Lainey announced would not be taking place in Toronto, amid big cheers from the collection of Ottawa fans, bloggers and “smuthounds”) but I had the privilege of sitting down with the celebrity maven for a one on one interview.

Her message was a clear one: “I’m tired of us feeling ashamed to be gossiping.”

For Lainey, her believers and really anyone who’s logged on to a celeb site, it can be about more than just getting your fix of the day’s hot goss.

Art, apps and gossip … what more could you want out of an evening?

“Nobody reads a story, any story, without placing their own history and experience into that story and interpreting it accordingly. So, when we talk about celebrity relationships it’s almost a way to talk about our own relationships. A way to establish boundaries with our own friends, with our own lovers. Celebrity gossip is a very safe way to dictate a code of conduct. When you talk about somebody dating and cheating, in essence your communicating your expectations for a relationship. How you would feel if you were in that relationship. And maybe subconsciously you’re passing that message on to that friend, or that girlfriend, or boyfriend about how you’d like to be treated.”

In many ways, how we react to the antics, triumphs and failures of celebrities can be seen as a study in social behaviour.

Does the fact that the headline of the New York Post the day after the Kristen Stewart cheating scandal leaked was “A TRAMPIRE is born” mean that women are still judged much more harshly for their sexual behaviour, in and outside of relationships?

Does her fan base erupting over the fact that Stewart – who’s Twilight character Bella is a young, impressional girl with a purity standard – had an affair mean that society still doesn’t like to see a young woman explore her sexuality? … Funny how only TODAY did provisions in the Affordable Care Act make birth control free for insured women in the United States. Almost A CENTURY after it first started being circulated in 1914.

OK, I know I love the Bachelor … but Teen Mom, REALLY?

Does the recent popularity of 50 Shades of Grey and … TEEN MOM … mean that women are regressing? That females are becoming complacent with seeing women take on a more passive role in society?

And what does celeb gossip say about the way we now communicate in relationships? Sure, the social media world went into a frenzy when Demi Moore (still using the handle @MrsKutcher) tweeted for the first time since filing for divorce, but wouldn’t your friends act the same way if your ex sent you a sassy tweet? Mine would (/ have).

Does the fact that any tom, dick and harry (or should I say, sam, deena and snooki) can become a celebrity overnight reflect the decline of the world economy? That the gap between celebrity and non-celebrity is closing? That young university and college graduates are getting stuck in the rat race more than ever before and will turn to outrageous behaviour to make their mark on the world?

Our role models.

Maybe you don’t agree with the above statements, but you should be able to agree there’s a valid argument there, at least.

Celebrity can be the study of human behaviour, no doubt about it. 

As Lainey aptly pointed out, gossip is not new and it’s not going anywhere:


“We’ve been gossiping from the dawn of time. What that means is that gossip, as an activity, has been with us forever. We are born to gossip. We are born to talk about people. We’re born to discuss these types of matters. It’s just the subject matter that has varied. 600 years ago we gossiped about royalty and the court of Louis IXV. Two generations ago we gossiped about John Kennedy. Today, we just happen to be gossiping about Angelina Jolie. The act of gossiping has not changed.”

Lastly, I could not really turn down the opportunity to ask a smart, successful, CANADIAN, woman – who started out as an independent blogger and broke into the world of mainstream media – what her advice would be to a group of aspiring young professionals.

“Be okay with saying ‘I don’t know’. I think there is a compulsion, especially with young women, to come out of university and become the power woman. You expect to strut down the corridor and say ‘I can do whatever you think I can do.’ There are benefits to that and there are certainly advantages to it, but there are more advantages coming into a work place and saying, ‘Teach me. I don’t know, but I really, really want to learn.’ I really think that is something that will get you farther than powering into an environment not willing to do and start at the beginning. I think that the danger sometimes in today’s society is that people want things too quickly, too much. For some reason we’ve been told that life is there for the taking and opportunity and success can come so quickly, but it’s more rewarding when it comes slowly and at your own sweat and blood and effort. “

Perhaps the biggest thing I took away from a lecture that really did make me think and reflect on the state of society, was that I have the upmost respect for someone who writes intellectually, dares to be different and worked her way to the top… in a nutshell.
Now, what are you waiting for? Go catch up on what Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are up to today.

Happiness from 9 to 5: How-To

First and foremost: I am no expert. A 20-something year-old like myself has a lot to learn about the workforce, and that, I will not deny. Nevertheless, there are certain rules to living happily, and many of us are guilty of ignoring these from the hours of 9AM to 5PM. We go about our lives work, work, working, often forgetting to stop and reflect on the thing we spend the majority of our time doing. I’m willing to bet each of us is in need of living by at least one of the following commandments…

1. Ask Yourself: What would Steve Jobs do?
If there’s nothing that excites you about the work you do, nothing that challenges you, makes you smile, or inspires you – you’ve got a serious problem. No amount of money or enticing perk will make you love your job, and as Steve Jobs once said, your work is a large portion of your life, so you better love it. It’s truly never too late to explore other options, and if you can’t seem to define your career path, look to your hobbies as a starting point.

2. Expand Your Horizons
Most of us dream of big corner offices, wine-induced lunch breaks, client trips to New York and countless freebies when we imagine ideal jobs…and that’s perfectly healthy to do. But when you’re sitting in your cubicle, with that PC that just won’t stop asking you to reboot, your dreams can easily begin to dwindle. Mindless reports and minutes ticking by can be unpleasant at best, so why not kick it up a notch? Be curious, ask questions, break the rules of 9 to 5 and do some research that may come in handy. You never know who may notice your newfound curiosity, or where it may take you.

3. Be Honest
There’s nothing worse than promising something to your boss that you A) Don’t have the slightest clue how to handle and/or B) Will not have time to do. Explaining to your superior that you cannot foresee meeting a deadline is much better received right away than 10 minutes before when your calendar has advised you of said deadline. Don’t be afraid! Most of the time, your honesty is appreciated, and I’d venture a guess that your happiness level will increase, while your anxiety level lessens.

4. Live to Learn
You’ll never stop learning, and one of the biggest mistakes someone can make is thinking they know it all. In fact, our generation is generally “known” to be like this – although I tend to think that we are just thriving on knowledge rather than walking around with our heads held high. The truth is, no matter how clueless a superior is about the digital world, they’ve been around the block a few more times, and they surely have some lessons to lend you – never forget it!
5. Do Not Dwell
There will always be bad days, mistakes, blunders, and moments you wish you could erase from your professional life – but dwelling on the negative will get you nowhere. The best solution to a problem is to concentrate on the next great thing you’ll accomplish. Work harder, be diligent, and whatever you do, don’t let imperfections get you down. We are not robots!!

 

6. Live a Little
Many of us find ourselves working 12 hour days and obsessively checking emails on Saturday afternoons. A key to being happy at work also involves being happy at home. It’s essential to take the time to refresh and think simply. Escape in the pages of a good book, chat with your friends, cook a new recipe, and take your mind off of this quarter’s numbers and that awful client call. In a nutshell, get a life.