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Month: December 2014

The year progresses and quite naturally we forget about the New Year’s Resolution made way back in January. Whatever festive spirit willed us to make that commitment then is long gone now, and we wonder when exactly we began to lose interest.

It’s funny how often we make New Year’s Resolutions for things that we’d really rather not do. It’s as if we’re using them as excuses to get some unpleasant work done, or to punish ourselves for the shortcomings of the previous year. They almost always require giving something up.

We need to start thinking about New Years’ Resolutions as an opportunity for positive change that is also progressive. Give yourself something exciting this New Year’s Day instead of forcing yourself to lose weight, cut back on TV time or shop less. The key is to figure out what you are truly passionate about. What do you have a genuine interest in? Once you have pinpointed this passion, be it for Italian cooking or for learning 50 different ways to paint a tree, tailor your New Year’s Resolution to fit. Once you have resolved that “I will learn a new Italian dish every month” you are more likely to be successful in your resolution because your passion and genuine interest in the topic will sustain you throughout the year.

New Year’s Day is a time for change and often it is the time when most people experience a renewal of spirits as they look towards an entirely new year. Make use of this time by proactively resolving to pursue one of your passions. If done in a positive way, you will experience the satisfaction of succeeding in following through with you resolution while also having fun.

From Our Hearts to Yours

Dear Friends, Advisors, Mentors and Sponsors,

What an incredible year! In such a short time, GEM has transitioned from a 3-month pilot project to a full 9-month mentorship program. Each month has brought incredible learning opportunities for our GEMgirls, new partnerships, and new team members.

We are so proud of our community and so fortunate to have made such wonderful new friends.

Thank you for your continued support.  May your holidays be warm and bright!

The GEM Team

Calm Down Bootcamp

Imagine a boot camp where you are not required to do pushups, run obstacles courses, or even sweat. The Calm Down Boot Camp, founded by Ali Tennen, is just that.

What is Calm Down Boot Camp?

Calm Down Boot Camps are relaxing, interactive, and inspirational trainings that help students and entrepreneurs with high ambitions, lower their stress. A multi-faceted approach is used to help participants learn how to calm down naturally.

What motivated you to create Calm Down Boot Camp?

I became motivated to create a Calm Down Boot Camp when I heard many of my yoga students complain about how they were ‘too busy to relax’. As a result, I began including inspirational content and practical tools my students could use and I received positive feedback. I decided to roll all these tools into training for yoga and non-yoga lovers.

I read on your blog that you are a teacher. Can you share what motivated you to pursue this profession?

As a teenager I began my own part time business, teaching piano. Before long, I had over forty students a week and realized that teaching was strength of mine. I struggled with confidence and motivation as a student. I believe that shaped me to become a compassionate and inspired teacher.

What advice would you offer teenage girls who are experiencing anxiety?

Recognize that when you feel anxious, oftentimes your feelings are trying to get your attention. Acknowledge these feelings by talking to someone you trust or journaling. Protect your mind from negative media and surround yourself with people who allow you to be yourself. Make an effort to empower yourself on a daily basis.

How would you encourage someone to follow their dreams? 

Sometimes people don’t follow their dreams because they lack clarity, confidence or knowledge. If it’s clarity you lack, daydream daily by drawing, writing, and creating a vision board to stimulate your imagination. If it’s confidence you lack, don’t pay attention to the voices of your inner or outer doubters. If you need to learn, find a mentor that has done what you aspire to do and follow their lead.

My friends say that they don’t have time to meditate. What tips would you give someone who had limited time to decompress? 

If you can’t meditate, imagine you’re on a beach sometimes. Try humming. Journal. Exercise.

Can you explain how laughing exercises relieve stress? 

Laughing, to help relieve stress, is ridiculously powerful. It has been proven to lower stress hormones and it increases the feel good chemicals in the body. Laughter allows one to break out of serious mode. You can benefit from laughter simply by initiating it at will for five minutes a day.

What is your favourite quote to helps you gain perspective? 

Dan Zadra said, “Worry is a misuse of the imagination.” This quote reminds me to use my imagination for good.

Ali Tennen has a Bachelor Degree in Music & Psychology and an Honours Degree in Education. She is a certified Hatha Yoga Instructor, Dream Coach, Strategy Coach and Laughter Yoga Leader. She has studied many facets of Healing Arts and uses a holistic approach with her students. For more information on her Calm Down Bootcamp Training please visist www.calmdown.ca. 

Selina McCallum is a GEMgirl in the 2014/15 cohort,  student at Marc Garneau C.I. and a Digital Journalism Intern for GEM.

GEM & Mathnasium Partner

Children don’t hate math.
They hate being confused and intimidated by math.
With understanding comes passion.
And with passion comes growth—a treasure is unlocked.

The Mathnasium method is used globally to teach math skills to students. Their goal is to significantly increase their students’ math skills, their understanding of math concepts, and their overall school performance, while building confidence and forging a positive attitude about the subject.

Kate Murray, owner of two Mathnaisum centres in Toronto, and GEM mentor recently partnered with GEM to offer three group study sessions. These study sessions will prepare our GEMgirls for their January exams. The sessions will take place on December 13, January 10, and January 17 at 2pm at the Don Mills Mathnasium location (189 The Donway West).

In addition to the group study sessions, Mathnasium will also be offering three scholarships for students to receive a customized learning plan and individualized math tutoring sessions. Stay tuned for more information on how to apply!

Kate is a passionate educator, who believes in the value of a good education. Having been a class room teacher, a Learning Strategist, and the Director of Teaching and Learning at an Independent school in Toronto, Kate knows how important a solid foundation in Math is. There are no quick fixes for math, which is why she believes in the Mathnasium Method. For more information on Mathnasium tutoring services, please call (416) 482-6284 or visit their website www.mathnasium.com. 

Follow The Leader

By: Anne-Marie Sorrenti

Mentorship’s Game Changer is Leadership Coaching

Over the past few weeks I have been honoured to work personally with each of our mentees in the magnificent and inspirational atrium of the Aga Khan Museum. Before meeting, the girls completed the Birkman Method® assessment. In our private consultations, we discussed the results generated by the questionnaire, which allowed the girls to talk about their interests, and to describe the productive behaviours, the needs, and the less productive (or stress) behaviours that are unique to each of them. We also considered leadership styles, potential work environments, and career choices that align well with their interests and needs.

The girls were so excited to get their feedback. Many were initially skeptical about whether the reports would accurately reflect their personalities, but most were surprised by how well their interests, behaviours, and needs were captured. “I do react that way when I am stressed,” said one GEMgirl. “I do love detail work,” said another. “I do prefer to work in groups!” said yet another. They came away from our consultations not so much focused on the career ‘titles’ as on the type of work environment that would best suit their leadership style, the way they interact with others, the type of activities they enjoy, and their thinking patterns. In a world where new types of careers are emerging at a rapid rate (social media specialists did not exist until a few years ago, for example!), the value of a creative and flexible approach, even within the bounds of the traditional professions, cannot be underestimated. The key message is that environments that allow our underlying needs to be met will in turn encourage energized, productive and satisfying work situations.

I have urged all the girls to share their reports with their mentors, and I have enjoyed speaking with these incredible women about the ‘mentoring approach’ that might work best for their respective mentees. For example, some GEMgirls prefer a more direct and frank communication style while others prefer a more diplomatic approach in their one-on-one relationships. Knowing some of these personal preferences accelerates and enhances the mentoring process. All GEMgirls and mentors are welcome to contact me over the course of the program with any questions they have relating to our consultations. Remember, self-knowledge breeds confidence, and confidence is contagious!

Anne-Marie Sorrenti is a leadership consultant with a special focus on women’s advancement and empowerment. She is a certified Birkman Method® consultant who offers workshops, leadership forums, and individual coaching services. She holds both a law degree and a PhD from the University of Toronto. She serves on the Board of Directors of GEM.