In Conversation: Nancy Jo Sales

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Heather Reisman and Nancy Jo Sales

July 1, 2016

To be completely honest, I am a terrible reader and I definitely have the track record to prove it. Although I have quite an extensive book collection (covered in cobwebs), I couldn’t tell you the ending of any of them. I have mastered the art of beginning books and never finishing them.

Given my rocky relationship and commitment problems with books, I had never once thought of attending a book talk with an author before. Actually, what’s worse is that I was completely unaware these talks happen all the time, and that some bookstores actually have event calendars! I was exposed to a whole new world when one of my classmates shared an Indigo ‘In Conversation’ event with me and suggested I check it out. After doing a bit of research on the book, I made the decision to attend the event and begin a new chapter (pun intended) of my life…one where I actually finish books. I thought listening to a discussion held in a bookstore, would help breathe some new life into me and give me some inspiration to get cracking on kicking this nasty habit.

The discussion was held on the bottom level of the Bay Bloor Indigo bookstore, and the Chief Booklover of Indigo, Heather Reisman, was the one moderating the conversation with award-winning Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales. The discussion was on Sales’ newest book American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, which details the disturbing truths about the dark side of social media, and how social media platforms are essentially destroying the innocence of children and teens growing up today.

My whole inspiration for starting this blog was based on my personal observations of destructive trends happening on social media. A couple of years ago, I began to notice an alarming increase of hyper-sexualized posts coming from females (especially very young females) on all social media platforms, but I had yet to discover all the external factors that were simultaneously contributing to this trend. This discussion provided me with the answers to all my questions I didn’t know I had.

Did you know that kids are now watching porn as young as the age of six, even though it’s illegal? Did you ever give any thought to the connection between the ‘bro culture’ of Silicon Valley maintaining sexism in the tech industry, and how this works to support the toxic trends currently being observed? Did you know kids are spending an average of 9-11 hours per day on their mobile devices? Are you familiar with the term ‘slut page’, and how these pages are essentially self-generated pornography by children, being shared non-consensually?

I didn’t know any of this.

I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY  listening to Sales discuss certain aspects of her book and her corresponding research. What really mortified me was that I had no idea I was that out of touch with reality. I mean, I’m not that old. I’m a millennial, turning 25 later on this year, and I am someone who uses social media everyday, frequently. I was completely and utterly stunned to find out that I was so oblivious and unaware as to how serious and deeply rooted these issues really are for teens growing up in this day and age. A recurring theme, and what I found particularly fascinating, was how many times the role of porn was mentioned throughout the talk, and how this is one of the huge contributing factors to the disastrous state we are currently experiencing. The discussion also touched on the pressure social media places on girls to produce hyper-sexual content, and how this sexualization of girls has been linked to misery and a wide range of mental health problems in young females.

Going into the discussion, I had no intention of purchasing the book. But after listening to Sales talk about her findings and some of the topics covered in her book, I was so mind blown and I realized there was no way I could leave without purchasing a copy of American Girls ($40 CAD).

imageThe discussion left my head spinning, and left me feeling all types of ways. Primarily, I began to feel so sad for all the young teenage girls growing up now, who have to deal with all sorts of added pressure (as if growing up in general isn’t hard enough on its own). The discussion also inspired me to get to work, and try and figure out how on earth we can work towards correcting these trends.

I’m only two chapters into the book so far, and I’m already in love. I don’t want to give too much away, plus, technically I can’t really do that because I’m not finished the book yet. I am confident that this book is definitely what I need to kick my habit of not finishing books, because this book has become my new favourite accessory. I carry it around with me everywhere, and I kind of feel like one of those annoyingly proud parents who never misses a chance to bring up their kid or show you their kids most recent pictures. I never miss a chance to bring up this book or show people I’m reading it, because I truly feel like EVERYONE needs to read this.

imageSeeing as this book is so closely tied to everything my blog stands for, there are going to be tons of future posts where I delve deeper into the research and important topics this book explores. To learn more about Nancy Jo Sales you can head over to her website. I also suggest checking out this great interview on American Girls that she did with Teen VogueDon’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already, to be sure you don’t miss upcoming posts related to these topics!

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Women of Influence: My First Evening Series Event!

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When I first got the idea for beginning my blog, I devoted a good portion of time to researching websites and online resources created specifically for women. As this site becomes more and more developed, I plan to create and dedicate an entire page to exactly that. Whether it’s resources dedicated to personal finance, education, or body positivity, or more serious issues like sexual assault or domestic violence, my ultimate goal is to gather as many informative online resources for young females and women to have at their fingertips and become familiar with. So while I was conducting this research, and gathering a list of websites I found to be of interest, I stumbled upon Women of Influence.

What I found so intriguing by the site was the fact that it is essentially an all-encompassing package of everything needed to become a successful, well-rounded, businesswoman. WOI hosts inspiring and educational events, they offer development programs which can be tailored to your organizations needs, they write insightful articles on relevant and important issues, and their network boasts a large number of powerful professional women and celebrities alike. While scoping their website trying to learn more about their community and what they do, I came across the Women of Influence Evening Series event featuring keynote speaker Lesley-Anne Scorgie. I knew I HAD to go. The ticket price ($55.00) wasn’t too steep, especially when you consider the valuable financial advice you walk out the door with (and the free wine provided by Corby Spirits & Wine). But I was lucky enough to score a free ticket because my brother happened to know the keynote speaker personally, and she was kind enough to send me a ticket!

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My brother is a personal finance expert, and knows absolutely everything and anything related to money, investments, and saving. He is a role model to me and I am constantly inspired by his self-discipline when it comes to saving. Myself on the other hand, I’m the complete opposite. I really, really love to shop, and I have always been an impulse buyer. But over the past year, I’ve taken my head out of the clouds and I have come to the realization that personal finance is something I really need to pay more, and serious, attention to. Although I could sit down with my brother and ask for his financial advice anytime, I thought hearing it from someone I didn’t know would be more powerful, and really help to drive home the point. And boy was I right!

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It was so inspiring listening to Lesley-Ann speak about her story, and discuss not only the highs, but also the lows of her journey, which led her to where she is today. What really resonated with me, was her discussion on the topic of dealing with rejection, and how important it is to keep persevering through the bad. She mentioned being rejected thirty nine times when attempting to publish her book, and how the rejection fueled her appetite to not give up. Although I have always advocated and believed in that same idea to keep going no matter what, sometimes I find it very hard not to get down and discouraged when things don’t go as smooth as I had hoped, and it was a nice reminder to stay positive. Another aspect of her discussion I found interesting was her emphasis on not dwelling on the past. Typically, this is always easier said than done. But Scorgie really emphasized the fact that we shouldn’t ruminate on our past financial mistakes and mis-balanced cheque books. Instead, she suggests we should focus on moving forward and minimizing the chance of repeating our financial mistakes of the past, by creating financial plans for the future (hint: our new best friend should become the word ‘budget’).

Lesley-Anne also let us in on the financial secrets that all self-made millionaire women have in common, and her speech was followed by a panel discussion, which then opened up to questions from the crowd. Following the questions, there was a ‘connecting activity’, which encouraged everyone in the room to go network and meet some new people. While everyone was mingling, Lesley-Anne headed to the back of the room where a large line formed to purchase copies of her books (including her newest book Modern Couples Money Guide) and have them signed by her.

All in all, it was such a wonderful experience attending last nights Women of Influence Evening Series event, and I had the privilege of meeting some really great women. Not only did the keynote speaker do an amazing job, but aside from that, WOI and all the sponsors did a great job as well! The venue – The Grand Banking Hall of One King West Hotel & Residence – was absolutely stunning, and I definitely spent a good amount of time admiring the beautiful chandeliers and detailed architectural work. Corby Spirits & Wine kept the wine flowing all evening, Shoppers Drug Mart was there doing makeup touch ups and tutorials, and Smith School of Business (part of Queen’s University) had a table set up to discuss some of the programs they offer to help advance your career. There was a VIP giveaway basket featuring goodies from all the sponsors totaling just under $3000, and another prize for the winner of the ‘Social Media Contest’ (wherin the winner was selected from all the quotes and pictures posted on social media using the hashtag #WOIEvening). There were also swag bags on the way out, which had a Women of Influence Magazine as well as a Glow Magazine, and an investment pamphlet and cute little booklet from Scotia Bank, with sticky notes and notepad paper inside.

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Right before leaving, I stuck around for a bit so I could get in a quick word with Lesley-Ann, and kindly thank her for my ticket and see if she could sign my book I brought.

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It’s quite evident from hearing her speak and seeing her interact with all the event attendees that she is such a humble and down to earth woman, considering all she has accomplished. I absolutely cannot wait for the next Women of Influence Evening Series event (although from the website it doesn’t seem like it will be anytime soon), and I am so excited to see who the keynote speakers in the future will be. I highly recommend taking some time to visit the Women of Influence website, even if you’re not from Canada, because the great articles they have on their site will still be valuable and a great read for any female. For more about Lesley-Ann, you can head on over to her personal website or http://www.mevest.ca. I’m just beginning her book Well-Heeled, so stay tuned for an upcoming post on that!

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#MotivationMonday

April 26, 2016

I’m writing this post from my bed, a lot later than I had planned to, because I am not feeling so hot today.

The reason I’m in such rough shape today is because I ran the Mercedes Benz Oakville 10k race yesterday morning, which in my opinion, was well worth the state I’m currently in (even though it would be nice to having feeling in my legs again). The course I ran was absolutely stunning, and took me on a winding journey throughout downtown Oakville, along the waterfront, and past some of the most gorgeous mansion homes. It was no surprise I woke up feeling not so great, because similar to last year when I ran the Nike Women’s 15k, I got super sick the next day, which is fairly common if your body isn’t used to running long distance races.

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In my training leading up to the race, I had ran a total of 46.5k and finished 10k in under an hour, so I was very confident that the race would go well (as I was much better prepared than I had been for the 15k last year).  But boy was I wrong. Yesterday was an extremely challenging day for me, both physically and mentally.  During the first three kilometres, I was thinking “okay, I got this, this is going fine”.  But as I neared the halfway mark, I noticed my problematic knees really beginning to give me trouble, despite having attended physiotherapy the day before the race for knee mobilization work and taping. It also didn’t help that I was overdressed for the run, and the sun decided to show up and warm things up, making it even more of a challenge for myself.

To be honest, I was so close to giving up and walking.  My stomach started cramping up, and I started feeling very weak and exhausted around the 7k mark. I have no idea how, but I somehow found the strength to push through and keep going, and I think that is partly owed to some of the people with smiles from ear to ear clapping and cheering the runners on from the sidelines.

I finished the race with an official time of 01:12:17.9, with a pace of 7:13/km.  At first, I was very unhappy with my race time, due to the fact that in all my training leading up to the race, I had ran a lot quicker and finished in much less time. But what I soon realized is the fact that the time really means nothing. The medal is what means something, and this medal signifies perseverance and personal growth, which is much more important.  When I think back to three years ago when I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, and I couldn’t even run to catch the bus without losing my breathe, my race distance and time shows significant strides. The race was not easy, but it was definitely worth it. Although my time wasn’t what I had hoped for, it still represents personal growth, and it is a nice reminder that running really teaches you that you are capable of much more than you could ever imagine. Thinking back to my lifestyle a couple of years ago, I would have never in a million years believed anyone if they had told me I would willingly run 46.5 kilometres in less than a month.

My time not only shows I have come a long way in changing my lifestyle for the better, but it also inspires me to keep doing so, and to keep running so I can beat that record next time. The slogan of the race was #MindOverMileage, and I couldn’t think of a quote more fitting to sum up how this race made me feel. Running is all about your mindset, and a positive mind can help take you to places you could never have imagined, not only in regards to running, but also in regards to every aspect of your life. There will always be instances in life when you don’t achieve things in the time you wanted to, but no good comes from beating yourself up over it. You must remember to always be proud of what you have accomplished, and to persevere and push through the struggles that come your way and keep going until you get what it is you want.

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