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Category: Special Interests

Discover a Colourful History

Daniel Rotsztain

Toronto’s vibrant history is characterized by its historic buildings. As part of the City’s TO Canada with Love celebrations, Toronto’s iconic historic sites have been captured in the pages of a beautifully rendered colouring book.

The initiative was inspired by artist and cartographer Daniel Rotsztain, a self-proclaimed “urban nerd” but fondly known by the public as The Urban Geographer.

Rotsztain previously drew all 100 branches of the Toronto Public Library in a colouring book project he describes as a “love letter to the library system.”

Although his library sketches began as a personal project three years ago, they proved so popular that fans pushed him to produce a trendy adult colouring book. Drawing Toronto’s historic sites seemed like a natural next step.

“I have always been interested in historical spaces; they may be old, but they’re very much alive,” he explains.

Rotsztain’s mission was no small feat. From July to early September of last year, he biked across the city and sketched all 95 buildings that comprise Toronto’s historic sites.

“I was intent on cycling to each site so I could explore the lesser-known boroughs that make up our picturesque city.”

Rotsztain also hopes to teach Torontonians with his colouring book.

“As I conducted research on the project, it was very important to me to delve deeper into the sites’ histories and tell the diverse stories associated with the site, not just the ones about the men whose names are in the history books and enshrined on street signs and park benches,” he explained.

Visit the gift shops of the Toronto History Museums to pick up your
copy of A Colourful History Toronto, a fabulous Christmas gift for the cultured and creative individuals on your Christmas shopping list.

This article originally appeared in the City of Toronto’s fall/winter 2017 edition of Toronto History Museums magazine.

How one family caregiver used grief to reinvent self & help society

In her mid 40s, Mary Bart became the primary caregiver for her mother, with Alzheimer’s, and father, with cancer. For 10 years, often seven days a week, Mary drove 40 minutes south to her parents’ home where she did “all the things that daughters do,” she explained.

A day in the life of Mary included taking her folks to medical appointments, cleaning the house, doing laundry, keeping the home stocked and meds on track, and generally ensuring her mom and dad were as clean, healthy, safe and comfortable as she could.

“Sometimes I’d take a day off, usually a Sunday,” she said. “And when I did, my dad would be very upset, and all kinds of guilt would be thrown my way.”

Needless to say, maintaining full-time employment while fulfilling her caregiving obligations was not an option for Mary. She left her corporate gig in the technology field to focus on caring for her parents.

A woman’s job

Caregiving has been described as one of the world’s most challenging jobs. Yet, many are thrown into it with little warning and no training, on top of demanding 9-to-5s.

Women bear the brunt of this burden, as two-thirds of all caregivers are female, many of whom feel that they sometimes have to choose between being a good employee and being a good daughter.

It is estimated that, every year, Canada loses the equivalent of nearly 558,000 full-time employees from the workforce due to the inability to manage the conflicting demands of paid work and care.

Mary’s alternative

Many days, Mary felt honoured to care for her parents, as they once had for her. But other days, she nearly went out of her mind. She also dealt with a common caregiver issue: guilt.

“Early into my caregiving journey, I freed myself from any guilt,” she explained. “Today, I miss them dearly, but I have no guilt; I can clearly separate grief from guilt, two very different things. I did the best I could, based on my energy and resources.”

About a year before her mother passed, Mary knew her mom’s path would soon end. In her 50s, and out of the workforce for a decade, she decided to reinvent herself to find ways to add purpose to her life.

“I had no desire to go back to the corporate world,” she said. “I thought, ‘there must be other caregivers out there who are experiencing what I have.’”

Caregiving Matters

Like any purposeful pioneer, Mary identified a need in the current market and sought to fill it with her expertise. In 2008, coupling her 18-year professional technology background with a recent decade of personal, hands-on caregiving experience, she founded Caregiving Matters, an internet-based registered Canadian charity offering education and support to family caregivers.

Ninety per cent of the charity’s efforts are driven through its website, which features full-length articles on relevant topics, blog posts, video workshops, podcasts with industry experts, and more.

“We leverage technology in everything we do to ensure a greater reach and sustainability,” Mary explained. “Users from more than 64 countries visit our site.”

The other 10 per cent of the charity’s resources are focused on live educational events in the GTA and surrounding regions.

“We tend to deal with tougher topics and ones that don’t get a lot of attention, like financial and legal issues among families,” said Mary. “We are honoured to work with lawyers and accountants who volunteer their time to share their knowledge.”

Caregiving Credibility

Eleanor Silverberg, owner and director of Jade Self Development Coaching, has been a grief specialist helping family caregivers cope for nearly 20 years, 10 years as a social worker for the Alzheimer Society of York Region.

She, too, was the primary caregiver for her mother and father, while raising teenagers—a circumstance she refers to as being a part of the “sandwich generation.”

An author and a recurring guest speaker on Caregiving Matters podcasts, blogs, and at live events, Eleanor finds the Caregiving Matters platform beneficial to industry professionals, in addition to caregivers in need of assistance.

“I just referred a podcast to my support group last week because we were talking about financial and estate matters,” Eleanor explained.  “It’s great that there’s a resource where I can send people to get answers on issues like that.”

Care for the Caregivers

Canada’s aging population is growing and fuelling caregiving needs across the country. By 2030, seniors are projected to account for close to one in four people.

Mary’s long-term goal is to raise awareness about Caregiving Matters and build upon its pool of resources to meet the growing demand for family caregiving support.

As Mary explained, “it’s a grassroots effort based on love and giving back, and it reaches a lot of people at a challenging time in their lives when they really need it.”

If you or someone you know is providing primary support to a family member, spouse, or loved one, visit the website and join the social communities:

I am a volunteer for Caregiving Matters. If you’d like to get involved, view volunteer opportunities.

~Write-or-die girl

The Market Gallery: Where Toronto’s Art, History & Culture Intersect

Nestled on the second floor of St. Lawrence Market, overlooking bustling crowds of shoppers, is The Market Gallery. This multi-purpose space occupies what was once Toronto’s original 1845 council chamber. Part of a network of municipal museums, The Market Gallery is a treasure trove of artworks collected by the City since the late 19th century.

“We have records that go back that far, starting from about 1855,” explained Neil Brochu, supervisor of Collections and Outreach at The Market Gallery.

“When anyone requests artwork from us, either for publication in a catalogue, to display in a civic building or office, or to borrow for another exhibition, we can easily pull those files and usually provide quite a deep historical record related to each piece.”

The gallery debuted its collection of more than 2700 works in 1979 to demonstrate Toronto’s rich artistic history. A large portion of the collection is comprised of official portraits of mayors and public officials. Also featured are landscapes, streetscapes, and works that capture the spirit of the city.

“Our mandate has always focused on collecting works about Toronto,” said Brochu. “Most of the artists are from Toronto and, by and large, the vast majority of pieces depict historical figures or places which document the changes in our city over time.”

The top floor of the gallery is devoted to administration and storage, including a work room where the team frames and mats pieces for display, and a purpose-built vault which houses pieces too large or valuable to display in municipal buildings. Also onsite is The Market Kitchen, a special-programming venue.

Currently on display at The Market Gallery until late November is Maple Leaf Forever: Toronto’s Take on a National Symbol. It features classic sportswear and Toronto memorabilia, military objects, items crafted for British royalty, and much more. It is presented as part of the City of Toronto’s TO Canada with Love program, marking Canada 150, and is funded in part by the Province of Ontario.

For new exhibits, tours, and special events, check toronto.ca/marketgallery for updates.

This article originally appeared in the City of Toronto’s fall/winter 2017 edition of Toronto History Museums magazine.

Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats

Canada has a unique flavour that differentiates it from all other nations. In Toronto, this essence is best exemplified by the diverse cuisines and unique culinary experiences that have become synonymous with its culture.

As part of the TO Canada with Love program, marking Canada 150, the City of Toronto will host Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats, a participatory celebration of Canadian food culture.

All Canadians are invited to share their most appetizing recipes, interesting culinary and dining traditions, and unique feasting experiences on the City’s dedicated blog, torontoeats150.tumblr.com.

Participants can also submit their recipes in person at any of Toronto’s History Museums, before or after discovering some of the incredible stories and stunning artifacts that illustrate the city’s history.

In addition to having their recipes memorialized on the blog, some lucky participants will have their entries published in an electronic cookbook, making Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats the perfect opportunity to share and preserve those special family recipes for generations to come.

As the icing on the cake, the City of Toronto is offering all Canadians the opportunity to taste the country’s rich heritage food for free. On the weekend of November 4 and 5, drop by any participating museum site to enjoy samples of recipes from the blog, live cooking demonstrations, and presentations. Each site will feature a different theme inspired by the museum’s historical time period and surrounding communities.

Keep an eye on the Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats blog for recipe submissions, information about downloading the e-cookbook, and the November food-themed weekend event.

Until then, bon appetit!

A version of this article originally appeared in the City of Toronto’s fall/winter 2017 edition of Toronto History Museums magazine.

Heightening creativity at home with geomancy

Melonie Arscott

Last Tuesday, I was forced to work from home because maintenance men were entering my suite (I always assume their fingers get stickier when no one is watching).

With a bad case of brain paralysis, I reached out to Melonie Arscott,  geomancer, feng shui specialist, and intuitive life coach, at Melo Spaces, to get some tips on pimping my home office to heighten my creative mojo.

“The physical elements of our environments and how we subconsciously process them can strongly influence our states of mind, including our productivity and creativity,” she told me. “If you make tiny adjustments to your office, you’ll set yourself up for fluid inspiration generation.”

Ummm…yes, please. I’ll have some of that!

I took detailed notes, as she spoke.

  • Nix EMFs: “First and foremost, cut down on high levels of EMFs; they make you tired and your brain foggy,” she advised. The easiest way to do this is by introducing plants—which reduce air pollution and noise— and flowers—which bring about chi—into a space.
  • Auditory arousal: “There is nothing more soothing than the sound of flowing water,” she said and suggested placing a mini water fountain in my office. She also recommended fast-paced classical music—Baroque period, for example—as it stimulates brainwave activity.
  • Colour psychology: “Colour ignites the mind and revives the spirit,” according to Melonie. Yellow and orange work the best to get the creative juices flowing. Small hints of colour, like on a mouse pad or vase, are sufficient to trigger fresh ideas.
  • Guiding light: “Expose your office to as much natural light as possible. The sun is nature’s antidepressant,” she joked. But if natural light isn’t available, she recommends opting for full-spectrum lighting.
  • Crystal light: “Hanging a spherical multifaceted crystal by a window so it can reflect sunlight light will bring more yang (active energy) into a dark room and promote motivation,” she added. Even if you don’t have a window, you can hang it somewhere where your room lighting will bounce off of it.
  • Scent stories:Essential oils can also awaken your inner innovator,” she concluded. “Peppermint oil is great for headaches when dabbed on the temples, and simply breathing it in relieves fatigue, but keep it away from your eyes.” Additionally, orange oil decreases anxiety and elevates mood levels, while cinnamon oil reduces frustration. These particular oils should not be applied to the body, though—best to invest in an aromatherapy diffuser.

For best results, Melonie recommends having a customized consultation and environmental report prepared. She is currently rebalancing the energy on her website (that is, it is under construction) but feel free to reach out to her for more info at info@melospaces.com.

Items listed in this post, like crystals, essential oils, and aromatherapy diffusers, can be found at crystal, new age, and health food stores.

~Write-or-die girl

trisharichards[@]hotmail.com

416-721-4101