I'm putting together the final touches on my son's busy summer. Of all the things he's going to be doing, he's most excited about attending the Take Action Academy, a week-long sleep over camp for like-minded kids who are passionate about fundraising and philanthropy to learn how to inspire others. Of course there are some sports and arts, but for the most part, the Take Action Academy is a leadership camp to build esteem, create confidence, and help your little ball of passion achieve their goals of making the world a better place.
Inspired by his We Day experience, he teamed up with my husband to start raising funds for Free the Children, the charitable side of Me to We. For two months in the fall, he raked our neighbours lawns - and in the process collected over $300 for the charity.
For his Famous Canadian school project, he wrote a long essay about Craig Kielburger, inspired that Craig created Free the Children when he was only twelve and seventeen years later continues to motivate hundreds of thousands of young Canadians to create social change.
As luck would have it, there was an event at the Me to We store in downtown Toronto with Craig in attendace, so I brought Josh along with his jar of cash. To be able to personally hand his mentor the money he raised was incredibly special for Josh.
Watching him glow with pride after Craig thanked him profusely for all his hard work made me well up. On our way out we were handed a pamphlet about the Take Action Academy created by Craig. Josh almost fainted with excitement. My son was officially on fire.
"Pleeeaase can I go?" he asked sweetly.
We signed up right away! There are Take Action Academies all across the Canada this summer: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary and New Brunswick. If your kids want to change the world like mine does, this is the place to be.
Want to see how cool my son is? Read his first hand report on a camp for kids who love animals.
I'm not in the habit of doing nude photo shoots. Especially at "my age'. When my mompreneur friend Karyn Climans, helmet safety advocate and owner of Tail Wags, invited me to take it all off in support of Mothers Against Naked Riding, I agreed. I'm not an exhibitionist, especially as my once fit body is beginning to sag like an old fence. But, the underlying messages are so important I sucked it up and took it off.
Here's why I agreed to do go topless for the Mothers Against Naked Riding campaign.
First, my kids have finally discovered the joys of biking. On most weekends you'll find all of us peddling along on some path. It's an idyllic image...except for the fact that one of us isn't wearing a helmet. If you guessed it was my husband, you win....but we all lose. It makes me furious that, whenever he can, he "forgets" to put on his helmet. He's sending a hyprocritical message to my kids that THEY need to wear one, but daddy doesn't. To be a role model, we need to model the behaviour we want our kids to emulate. Also, he may actually fall of his bike and smash is head. Strangers things have happened.
Second, I agreed to pose topless for the Mothers Against Naked Riding campaign because I am trying really hard to celebrate my imperfections. That's what makes us all beautiful. When Karyn asked me to bare it all to promote helmet use, the first thing that crawled into my brain was that worm of insecurity. I'm not thin enough. My boobs aren't as perky as they once were. I have rolls of back fat where my muscles used to be.
And then I yelled STOP to that insidious insecurity and changed the message in my head. I'm not perfect but I am PRETTY DAMN GOOD. My boobs may droop but they are HEALTHY and BIG. And my rolls of fat are the price I've paid for living a more sedentary life. SO WHAT!
Both Karyn and I agreed there would be no airbrushing to create that damned illusion of perfection that makes all of us feel not good enough. So yay for Karyn, Samantha Monpetit- Huynh (from Core Expectations) and me for being beautiful, strong and confident enough to create an playful campaign to make you stop and think. And yay for photographer Kevin Gonsalves who did wonders with lighting.
Added perk: Gorgeous naked men! Here's a Mothers Against Naking Riding video featuring some lickable...I mean likeable guys showing their...ahem..support for wearing helmets.
The photos are fun. The message is serious. Please wear a helmet when you do sports - that includes your kids, your partner, your friends and you! Feel free to post these everywhere. And if you want to take it all off in the name of Naked Riding, you have my permission.
Arianna Huffington is a virtual mentor of mine. Of course she has no idea who I am, but after hearing her speak at the Canadian Marketing Awards earlier this year, I felt we were on the same virtual page, so to speak.
When I was invited to the First Year Anniversary of the Canadian Huffington Post, I almost didn't go. I'm not a fan of attending events alone and all my dates were busy. But I ignored my social anxiety and got ready to shmooze. I'm so glad I did.
I connected with Wilf Dinnick, founder of the innovative OpenFile.ca, and caught up with my lovely friend Farah who launched Speakers Spotlight. I also met Rebecca and Lisa, two smart-as-a whip Huff Post lifestyle editors who do a kick-ass job.
And then suddenly Arianna arrived. I didn't even know she was coming. And right beside her—Conrad Black. I strained to overhear their conversation but the room was too noisy. I'll bet he's going to be blogging for her, if he isn't already.
Once their secretive chat was done, I grabbed our official Rules for Moms card and scurried over to introduce myself to Arianna. Our converstation was short. I gave her my card, told her about YMC and she responded with, "We should work together." We posed for some photos together, in which she graciously held up our YMC-branded card.
And then she was gone, pulled away to address the crowd.
I met Arianna Huffington. For someone so powerful, she was humble and genuinely interested in those around her. I'm thrilled to have met my virtual mentor. Next on my bucket list, lunch with Arianna. What? It's possible!
As for you, the next time you get an invite and want to cancel because you don't have a date, let this awesome night be your reminder to go for it! Who knows what adventures are waiting just for you.