Today is day four of five of my week of informational interviews in Toronto.  I’ve met with thirteen professionals within the broad spectrum of the communications industry, turned down one job offer, got two more real job interviews set up for tomorrow, and got a call from my bank thinking my VISA had been stolen because of the hundreds spent at Town Shoes.  So things are going well.

My brain is as full as my notepad – I am learning so much.  It’s impossible not to be inspired by all these driven, successful people I’m getting the chance to have conversations with.  There’s a recurring theme to some of the advice I’m receiving and I thought I’d share the wealth and write down some of these insights. 23 to be exact:

1.  Always read the morning news the day of an interview.  If the interviewer doesn’t ask you about it (which they might) work something interesting you read into conversation.  The VP of a Public Relations firm told me she will always ask: “What is the most interesting thing you read or heard in the news today?” and is baffled by how many people are baffled by that question.

2.  Really know why you want the job before going into an interview.  Because they will ask you.  “Why communications?” “Why -insert-career-?” “Why now?”

3.  Remember that even though you just graduated, you have something to offer.  Yes it can be intimidating, but know that the table has two sides.

4.  Ask yourself what interests you? What gets you excited? What do you like to read about?

5.  If you can, angle your career around digital.  Digital is where everything is headed.

6.  Meet people in each sector / industry / group you’re interested in.  Talking to real people will help narrow it down.  It really is so much about networking.

7.  Treat getting a job as a job. Unemployed? Spend at least 24 hours a week researching and working towards getting finding employment opportunities. Employed? 6-8 hours a week.

8.  Know what you will not do.  Know your morals.

9.  You can always say no at the end (i.e. try things out).

10.  Never turn down a job interview or a date (because you just never know).

11.  Get a business card.  Make it simple – just your name and address.  No snowflakes.

12.  Start to hone in on what it is you want and apply for everything that’s even close.

13.  Your resume needs a summary at the top – one line in bold stating who you are and what you’re about.   Example given: Recent graduate with relevant practical HR experience.

14.  Look at the 100 best and 50 best employers lists. Find a great company to work for.

15.  You need to be able to say in one sentence what it is you want.

16.  Find out what you love to do and get people to pay you to do it.

17.  In Canada not all the jobs are in Toronto, but most of the best jobs are in Toronto.

18.  90% of getting a job is attitude.  Be confident. Excited. Interested. Show that you’ll work your ass off.

19.  Play up the whole small town girl coming to make it in the big city – because “people just love that shit.”  Work off of being young and motivated and wanting to learn.

20.  Stroke the egos of the people you’re dealing with – bring up a recent campaign of theirs and ask questions.  Be curious.

21.  Anyone who says they have a five year plan is looking for disaster.  Things change and mold.

22. When you’re looking for a job you’re essentially shopping for learning opportunities.  What kind of person do you want to work for and learn from?

23.  Find out what you want and leverage your network to help you get there.  If you see a job description that looks interesting ask someone you know in the field if they know of anyone related to that kind of work who you could talk to.

One thing every single person has said?  Find out what it is you are passionate about and pursue it.  Essentially point number 16: find out what you love to do and how to get someone to pay you to do it.  This is really what it’s all about.  I am so excited.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
-Howard Thurman


So I’ve traveled across the country to the big city of Toronto to find my little old self a job.  Well, in the very least, to network and find out how to find my little old self a job.

Today is my first day of five.  I’ve had two informational interviews so far (10+ to go) – one with a digital media expert at Rogers and one with the public editor of the Toronto Star.  The more I keep talking to people the more I’m coming to understand (and believe) what my prof Gil talked about in digital communications class: the necessity to develop an online profile in order to get yourself out there in today’s job world.  So here I am back at the blogging.

(And can I tell you a secret?)  I like blogging.  As much as I used to make fun of bloggers (sorry bloggers) I can’t anymore because I would be a total hypocrite.  I enjoy writing out my thoughts and fine-tuning them more than I would in a journal because someone may be reading the words.  I like following blogs I’m interested in and connecting with others sharing similar interests.  It took me awhile but I’m converted.

Three stand-out items I’ve noticed about Toronto so far:

1. Despite what everyone from the island warns – the people here are super friendly!  The majority of people I’ve been interacting with today are in customer service getting paid to smile at me – but still.

2. Having a Starbucks to-go cup in one hand and a Blackberry/Ipod/insert-trendy-mobile-device-here in the other seems to be a necessity in any downtown Torontonian’s get-up.  Everyone is go-go-go and I feel it affecting me.  I think my mind is working faster over here than it does back home on the island.

3. Everyone has fantastic shoes.  I was at a walk-in clinic to fill a prescription this morning and the doctor was sporting some chocolate suede cowboy boots under his scrubs!  I told him I liked his boots and his questioning look makes me think he thought I was being sarcastic – but really I did.

On that note I’m going to go drop $130 on some Steve Madden’s I was eyeing up on Bloore St. West.

Hello.  I’m back.  I recently graduated university, became a Monday-Friday working girl, was a bridesmaid at my big sister’s wedding in London, spent all my new cash on food and concerts and clothing,  had all four wisdom teeth removed, and now here I am with time to burn while my cheeks de-poof.

It’s time to go vegan again.

Since my April challenge of eating vegan for thirty days straight I have been continuously on and off the wagon but always knowing that living a vegan (or in the least vegetarian/pescatarian) lifestyle is where I would like to be.  But breaking up with brie cheese and California rolls is like breaking up with a boy you really like but know is all wrong for you.  It sucks.  Every time you smell a BLT it brings you back to all the good times you had together and no matter how much you know it’s wrong, all wrong, it’s so hard to not give into old habits and do what you know is best for you.

FACT: I love cheese and whipped cream but it makes me feel bloaty and clogs up my insides.

FACT: Hot dogs are tasty especially at a baseball game or music festival but supporting factory farming practices isn’t worth the greasy yumminess on my tastebuds.

So here is the challenge.  Today, Thursday August 19th – Thursday September 16th I will cut out all meat, dairy, sugar, etc. and eat vegan.  Normally I would start a challenge on a Monday, ideally the first day of a month, playing the mind game that this scheduling will make me stick to the task at hand.  It never works.  So this time I am starting mid-month on a Thursday. Ha!  Fool-proof.

Do you have any suggestions/tips for transitioning into a veg*n lifestyle and getting over this initial hump?

Like yoga? Like being outside in the sun? Like music? Like supporting a good cause?

Well then I hope you’re free this Sunday morning!

Amy Chayko from Downdawg Yoga will be teaching a class with her live DJ at Centennial Square this Sunday July 11th at 9:30am.  A donation of $5 – $15 will help Siobhan McManus raise money for her 7,000 km bike ride across Canada. Siobhan is raising money for the National Kids Cancer Ride. This is an amazing cause and definitely worth supporting.

Check out the Facebook Event page for more info.  My friends Adrien and Lindsay also wrote fantastic blog posts with more information about the event and Siobhan’s story – definitely check it out.

Hope to see you Sunday!

The vegan diet is a more effective way of curbing climate change than driving a hybrid car (according to a 2009 study by researchers at the University of Chicago). This is worth repeating: eating less meat is a more effective way to help the environment than driving a hybrid car or reducing the amount you drive your vehicle.

Meatless Monday is an international campaign that started in 2003.  The non-profit initiative encourages people to cut meat out of their diets once a week to promote environmental sustainability and preventative health.  This campaign has become an international movement, with cities in U.S.A., Belgium, France, The United Kingdom, Brazil, Holland, Canada, Finland, Taiwan and Australia promoting Meatless Mondays.  Ghent, Belgium was the first city to officially promote Meatless (Thursdays, or VeggieDag, in their case) with government-funded support.  In April of this year San Francisco council adopted a meat-free resolutionMeatless Mondays is now endorsed by celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Alec Baldwin, Chris Martin, Al Gore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Pollan and Mario Batali.

There are three main reasons outlined in the media to reduce meat consumption:

1. Reduce your carbon footprint and help fight global warming

Cutting meat out of our diets is by far the most effective way to reduce our carbon footprint.  Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions -more than those emitted by all forms of transportation combined (which account for 13 per cent) and is a leading cause of deforestation and water pollution.  In Canada, it takes seven times more land to feed a non-vegetarian than to feed a vegetarian. With one-third of the world’s cereal harvest and 90 per cent of the world’s soy harvest being raised for animal feed, the energy required to grow these crops is a major factor in toxic gas emissions.

2. Help your current and future personal health

Avoiding meat and high-fat animal products lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, decreases obesity and prevents heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.  Cutting out meat once a week will increase veggie and greens consumption and make you aware of alternatives to the standard North American diet.  It’s time we start taking responsibility for the impact the food we eat and the lifestyle we live has on our health and well being.  Read more about this.

3. Boycott animal cruelty

The factory farming system of modern agriculture strives to maximize output while minimizing costs.  From PETA: Animals on today’s factory farms have no legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or cats: neglect, mutilation, genetic manipulation, and drug regimens that cause chronic pain and crippling, transport through all weather extremes, and gruesome and violent slaughter. Yet farmed animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than are the dogs and cats we cherish as companions.

For a clear portrayal of the brutality of standard factory farming, watch Meet Your Meat.

As outlined in the documentary Food Inc., increasingly strict laws are being passed in the States that make it illegal for consumers to view the conditions of factory farms owned by large corporations, like Monsanto.  The fact that government-backed laws can be implemented that block us from viewing the food we are putting into our bodies epitomizes the misconstrued realities of the modern food industry.

This movement is hot hot hot and we’re bring it to Victoria, baby!

For my PR and Marketing class my team is currently putting together a PR campaign to promote Meatless Mondays here in Victoria.  Although this started as a hypothetical campaign, we are now in touch with Trevor Murdock of Vancouver Island Vegetarian Association, who is planning to actually get the campaign going here in the city!  I had the opportunity to talk about Meatless Mondays on CFUV’s Break’in Ice: The Climate Change Reality Radio Show, with Richard Habgood and Brian Gordon.  There should be a podcast of the show out soon.  If any city in Canada is going to be a Meatless Monday city it should be Victoria.  We can be leaders in health promotion here on the West Coast and increase our notoriety as a forward-thinking and green city.

Cutting meat out of your diet one of the seven days a week isn’t the biggest deal

Check out for ways to get involved, meat-free recipes and other news about the international movement.  What it comes down to is that not eating pork, beef, or fish one out of seven days of the week is not the biggest deal in the world. If choosing a veggie burger instead of a beef burger once a week will have a significant impact on the health of your own body and everybody’s planet – can you really say no to that?

What’s important to know is that if you join in Meatless Mondays, you’re not saying that you’re going to become a vegetarian.  It’s not an all-or-nothing deal – the point of the campaign is to raise awareness around the global impacts of meat consumption and start a discussion and provide knowledge for people in their everyday lives.

Cut out meat once a week and help your planet, your body, and the animals.

Yesterday I went to a Moksha Yoga class.  The Moksha studio offers a Karma class a couple times a week, where a minimum $5.00 donation goes to a different charity each month.  Among all their studios they raise between $30,000 and $40,000 every year from Karma classes. This month’s donations are going to the Surfrider Foundation.

Moksha Yoga was founded in 2004 by two Canadians and is based on the philosophy of trying to attain moksha, or enlightenment.  Every studio owner must sign an agreement to operate under strict environmental and ethical standards, including using non-toxic supplies and offsetting their electricity consumption to achieve zero footprint.

Moksha is similar to Bikram in that it’s in a heated room, but the atmosphere is very different.  I feel more of a typical ‘yoga’ vibe in a Moksha class than I do in a Bikram class.

First of all, it’s not as hot.  Still a full-body sweat, but you can manage to change and put a hat on and still look decent to go run errands after a class, which I did yesterday and would be next to impossible to do after a sweaty Bikram class.  I’ve only attended Karma classes at Moksha, and these are an hour long (whereas Bikram classes are always 90 minutes).

Moksha is refreshing in that the postures vary and always happen in a different order.  Bikram classes follow the same 26 postures in the same order every class.  There are definite benefits to the consistency of Bikram’s, but it’s nice to not know what’s coming next in the series at Moksha – I find it easier to focus on the moment and not anticipate what I’m going to have to do soon.

Most importantly, the dialogue in Moksha is much softer and more peaceful than at Bikram’s.  In a Bikram class the philosophy is that if the teacher keeps chatting throughout the whole class, this will allow the student’s own mind to stay still and quiet while just listening to the words.  In Moksha there’s not as much talking, and the way they talk is different too.

Instead of saying “If you’re not locking your knee and giving it 100% then the posture hasn’t even started yet” (Bikram’s) a Moksha teacher might say “Listen to your body and do whatever works for you today – right this moment – and be happy about that.”  In other words, the atmosphere is much more ‘go at your own pace and listen to your body’ at Moksha, while at Bikram’s it’s more ‘you’re here for a reason, might as well push yourself to do the absolute best you possibly can.’

Both approaches work for what they are, but I find I can actually meditate and get outside my thoughts at Moksha, which is harder for me to do at Bikram’s.  I also find I don’t ever sit out of a posture at Moksha whereas if I’m not going 100% in a Bikram posture I might just give up and lie down.  It’s like with anything in life – if someone isn’t telling you that you have to do it you’re more likely to actually do it (we’re so rebellious like that).

In short, I can’t say which type of hot yoga I like better – I like them both for different reasons.  I think I like the way Moksha makes me feel during the class better, but I appreciate the fast results I get from enduring Bikram’s.  There’s a fantastic interview with Ted Grand, co-owner of Moksha, and he really outlines their philosophy as a community-driven yoga studio.  His approach to yoga and spirituality and a healthy diet is so good-hearted and real and it makes me want to support Moksha.

Here’s a little clip from the interview:

AINSLEY MAGNO: You’re not the end all or be all, and you’re not the set structure. Like you said in the workshop, you’re a playground, a breeding ground for people to get into it, to try it and go from there.

Read the rest of this entry »

1. It’s HOT. The room is 104 degrees (40 degrees Celcius) and can feel hotter depending on how many people are in the room and what time of day you go.  You’re going to sweat like you’ve never sweat before (and will learn to love this!)

2. Don’t be afraid to get naked.  Meaning, almost naked.  A sports bra and spandex shorts are ideal.  You might get up close and personal with your tummy rolls doing weird things – but it’s worth it – the less clothing the better (see # 1).

3. If you go regularly your skin will start to glow and feel as soft and smooth as the first time you shaved your legs (I pretty much assume only females read my blog) but really – hot yoga skin – incredible.

4. Don’t leave the room.  Just don’t risk it – some of the teachers get angry and you never know who you’re going to get.

5. Lie down whenever you want to (it’s better than leaving the room  -see # 4).  Sometimes I just lie there (I’ve even fallen asleep during class).  This isn’t the best, I know, but every once in awhile, if you’re just not feeling it then you’re not feeling it and that’s that, take a breather.

6. Whatever you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it – i.e. the times I’ve fallen asleep my body probably didn’t receive as many benefits as when I’ve pushed myself and stretched more than I thought  could.

7. If you practice regularly (most say at least four times a week would be considered regular practice) your body will start to even itself out and settle at the ideal weight and shape it is supposed to be at.  This means you could gain weight or lose weight (of course this is coupled with a healthy diet and lifestyle).

8. You need to drink a lot of water.  My teacher tonight was reminding us to drink even more water right now since spring is starting and it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated.  This depends on the individual, but 3-4 litres a day is recommended.

9. Try not to eat for at least two hours before the start of class.  You get into a lot of funky positions and if your body’s trying to digest something at the same time this can cause trouble.  I ate a cheeseburger right before my very first class when I was seventeen.  I will never do this again.  I had to sit in my car for about 40 minutes feeling nauseous before being able to drive home after that class.

10. You will get something from trying hot yoga.  Whether it’s peace of mind; heightened awareness and focus; toned body; clear skin; flexibility; decreased back pain; happiness; breathing technique; cool yoga outfits; or anything else.  For me, I know that the more I practice yoga, the better the rest of my life is, and if I can encourage others to try it out for themselves I just might be the happiest girl since Meg Ryan at the end of Sleepless in Seattle.