photo credit Kirani Kanavaros
Here's to strong women.
May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
At withinUs, we are fortunate to know many strong women. Over the years we have been connected with ambitious female entrepreneurs, passionate influencers and loyal customers - these women inspire us, motivate us, and keep pushing us forward.
We are honoured to share a few of our TruSupporters' views on strength, balance and community, and their personal stories and lessons they have learned from the strong and devoted female role models in their lives.
What does STRONG mean to you?
"Strong, for me, means having conviction, resilience, empathy, clarity of purpose. A willingness to listen and change, being simultaneously courageous and vulnerable, and finally, being humble enough to ask for help and support when you need it."
Debra Messing is an American actress known for her many television roles, most notably her eight-year run playing Grace Adler on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace. Throughout her career she received six Emmy Award nominations, and eight Golden Globe Award nominations.
"Strength to me is a hat-trick of awareness, compassion and vulnerability. There is nothing more attractive and inspiring than a leader who has a personal awareness and boldly operates in line with their values. Strength also means the willingness to create space and have compassion for others. And the final component in my opinion is a willingness to be vulnerable. For me, I'm most moved by people who share authentically and that means taking the risk of being vulnerable."
As a theatre professional for twenty-plus years, Todd is at home on stage and in front of an audience. He travels throughout the U.S. and Canada performing as MC and speaking at a home shows, corporate and charity events. You’ll find him on Love it or List It Vancouver, as well as other W Network programs such as Who Lives Here and Game of Homes. An entrepreneur from a young age, Todd’s company currently owns and manages multiple residential properties as well as several real estate ventures in renovation, marketing & design. He also leads an experienced team helping clients buy and sell homes.
"Being you is being strong in my opinion. It is so easy to forget who you are or not take a stand for what you believe in - it's easier to follow the masses. It's so much harder to be yourself, there is a vulnerability to that which comes from a place of inner strength. It shows strength when you can be confident in your beliefs - especially when your beliefs mean showing kindness and respect to others."
Nira Arora, a Canadian radio broadcaster. She co-hosts ‘Jonny, Holly and Nira’, a morning radio program on 94.5 Virgin Radio in Vancouver. Nira has 17 years of experience in the media world, not only as a radio broadcaster, but also as a television host.
"To me, strong means balance. We are all busy, and our priorities often outnumber the hours in the day. I am at my strongest when I feel in balance with all my nutrition, fitness and my priorities as a wife, mother, friend, and my charitable endeavours."
Kodette LaBarbera has built her life on building better communities through a healthy, active and charitable lifestyle. In 2013 she began co-starring on the W Network's hit TV show "Hockey Wives". Through the popular docu-series, she showcased her charitable endeavors, focusing on her commitment to Autism – a cause close to her heart.
"Strong to me means perseverance and fighting 'the good fight'. Standing in your truth, no matter what the consequences. People can judge you, they can challenge you, they can even try to change you - but the ultimate strength is knowing who you are, what you believe in, and adapting when you know it’s time to see things differently."
Jonny Staub is an on-air radio personality and is 1/3 of ‘Jonny, Holly and Nira’ on 94.5 Virgin Radio. He likes to think of himself as the “maitre’d of the morning”. Jonny is active with the Vancouver Pride Society and in 2008 co-hosted on out TV.
"Being described as 'strong' is one of the best compliments you can be given.
To me, strong is getting yourself across the finish line of a race. Strong is doing the best you can for your kids every day. Strong is facing setbacks and forging ahead instead of giving up. Strong is rolling with changes. Strong is dealing with your kids after a full day at work. Strong is being able to put yourself first when needed. Strong is learning from your mistakes. Strong is being scared out of your mind and doing it anyway. Strong is standing up for others. Strong is standing up for your kids. Strong is standing up for yourself. Sometimes, strong is just getting through the day. And if you're able to do it with a smile - you're stronger than you thought you were."
Amy Beeman is a Morning Radio Show Producer and Host for 94.5 Virgin Radio Vancouver. Amy loves staying active, and runs a couple half marathons every year. She also loves exploring Vancouver with her family and writing about her experiences in her blog - According to Amy.
"'Flexibility is strength'. To me this means that nothing that comes at you can break you – you bend and move to adapt to or avoid the many challenges that life presents."
Tracey is a withinUs Ambassador and a Managing Partner at CAI Private Equity. She received a B.Comm. from the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia and currently Chair of Feeney Brothers Utility Services LLC, GeoStabilization International LLC, White House Design Company Inc., and a Director of Canadian Heating Products Inc. and Tervita Corporation. Tracey is a past winner of Business in Vancouver's Top 40 Under 40 - Influential Women in Business Award - and WXN's Canada's Most Powerful Women, Top 100 Award.
How do you ensure you remain STRONG for your family and children?
"Being grounded, balanced and calm in my thoughts are the most important things I practice to remain strong for my children. Every morning I wake up 15 minutes before the kids and I meditate. If it feels good that morning, I use a mantra with the meditation. I like to breath in peace, love, and joy, while I breath out anything that doesn't serve me. I then set my intentions for the day. As a mom I feel I have the ability to tune and align the vibration of my home and everyone in it. I think it is important to be patient with yourself and getting to this point could take a few weeks. I also like to stop negative thoughts dead in their tracks. If I'm feeling annoyed by a family member, the natural thought would be "they are so annoying" or "leave me alone". Instead I change the thought to "they love me, they just care about me" and then I watch the magic that happens!"
Rhianna is a media personality and lifestyle connoisseur based in Montreal, Canada. Her background in fashion merchandising, PR, and marketing has allowed her to coordinate special projects with fashion emphasis through foundations such as the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
"This is a tough question for me now because I am pregnant, so I feel emotionally and physically tired all the time. Being a stepmom of 3 gets tough sometimes, but I find I’m at my best when I sleep!
Sleep sleep sleep!
It keeps me active for them and my mind clear for me. I also enjoy simple things, like getting lunch or dinner with a friend. I find having a good conversation with a friend is therapeutic and refreshing. Also a good one hour workout always clears my mind!"
Lilla, a withinUs Ambassador and California native, received a scholarship from Pepperdine University where she played indoor and outdoor beach Volleyball. In 2008, Lilla played on the US Women's Junior National team, which won the gold medal at the NORCECA Women's Junior Continental Championship. She went on to play professionally in Puerto Rico for Valencianas de Juncos.
"As busy women, we often make so many other things the priority besides ourselves. I ensure I remain strong emotionally and physically by making time for myself and planning ahead – whether its scheduling in my workouts through regular classes, meal prep or taking 10-15 minutes to myself to recharge catching up with a friend – all of these are key to making sure I’m strong and present for my children and family every day!"
How important is BALANCE, and how do you set aside time for yourself in the hustle and bustle of motherhood and work life?
"It’s hard, full stop. I am great at getting enough sleep, but not great at getting enough exercise. I’m working on it, but so many other things and people come first."
"Being balanced is extremely important to me. I never gave myself the opportunity to be balanced when my husband Mike was playing in the NHL. I don't even think I truly understood what being balanced was. Once he retired I realized that giving 90% of me to everyone else was not working for me, at no fault to anyone but myself. Soon after his retirement, I decided to start focusing on my whole self. I started working with a naturopath who helped balance my hormones and any other deficiencies. I now work with a life coach weekly, and I'm starting to work on what I love. I am really enjoying working with strong brands as an ambassador, and with people, creating an identity in the workforce. I also have good girlfriend time! Laughing with friends is such a nice remedy. Date nights with Mike, even if they are only once a month, are great too. When I take the time to care for myself in these ways, I find that when I'm with the kids, I feel stronger, calmer and we have a better time together."
photo credit Kirani Kanavaros
'The future is female’ - how do you contribute to building a strong future for females?
"I spend a lot of time mentoring young men and women and encouraging women to pursue a career in finance. I don’t think there is any substitute for seeing a woman in the role you aspire to for yourself. Female enrolment at the Sauder School at UBC has been over 50% now for a few years running, but women's interest in finance is stubbornly low. We’re working on that! When I speak to women at Sauder, I tell them they are to be feared as a cohort, and they will move through their 20's and 30's with more doors open for them than ever before. As the mother of a six-year old boy, I hope he will be able to keep up with all the superstar girls in his class!"
What is one of the most important lessons a female role model has taught you in your life?
"My Oma was in a German concentration camp when she was 8. It sounded like hell - having to sleep on straw, which also doubled as your washroom. It was really a terrible life at that point. But she would also remember the light times of having a best friend that they could pretend and play. How her mother would sneak her additional food at night. It is in those memories that I learned that the hand dealt to you isn’t who you are. It’s about how you play it out. Control what you can, and let go of the rest. I am so thankful that part of her continues to reside in my DNA."
"My mother, who has been a huge role model in my life always taught me to be committed, to always follow through with whatever I pursued. At times I learned it was hard, but following through with something you don’t want to do is empowering and also makes you stronger."
"I've been spoiled to have so many incredibly strong, passionate, and wise women in my life to help me shape my view of the world and to become the man I am today. One woman who had a particularly strong impact on me was Miss Town. She was the men's ballet teacher at my alma matter. A diminutive woman known to throw a chair or yell and scream at her students, she used ballet to teach discipline, responsibility, respect, and how to actually work HARD! She scared the crap out of me but was also there when any of us needed her for a quiet word of encouragement or support. We all loved her. She knew most of us would never be ballet dancers and she didn't care. She knew that if we applied her idea of work ethic and discipline to anything we chose to do we, could create whatever we wanted...and she was right. I barely knew how to plié when I arrived, but at the end of three years went on to dance the lead in the Nutcracker and beyond. To this day, I have no patience for mediocrity of effort in myself (and others). I don't care if the result isn't great but the effort and commitment - the discipline to strive for greatness is what counts. It also made for an easy first dance, twirling Rebecca around the dance floor at our wedding!"
"My Grandmother was one of my biggest influences in my life and inspired me constantly. The first Physiotherapist to start up her own practice in Calgary as a single mom back in the late 1940's. She was widowed while pregnant with my Dad, her new husband (a pilot) got shot down during the war while he was stationed overseas - all before she was 30. She faced adversity, but remained one of the most positive people I know.She lived independently until the age of 94. She made me laugh, taught me to stand on my own two feet, and was my anchor through rough seas."
Natalie is a withinUs Ambassador and lives for the outdoors. She leads a healthy, active lifestyle, and is an Ultramarathon trail runner, hiker and adventure seeker. Community Leader at Lululemon, Executive coach, Natalie Taylor Executive Coach and trainer at Tight Club.
What does STRONG mean to you? Share an important lesson a female role model has taught you. We would love to hear from you!
Visit the Strong As A Mother website for more information about this fantastic brand that works to build strength and community for women through apparel.