First ever Award Ceremony for "Prestige Toronto 2013" took place at Toronto City Hall on June 10th 2014. Feeling so proud to know all of you ladies and gentlemen! Oleg FastDeer - amazing video. You are always hiding behind the camera, but here - I caught you! Just a part of organizing committee here - some folks are missing :(
Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty - selling with a smile!
Hard to believe that my little project that started last year on June 25 is not a baby anymore! It is actually a full size toddler, with its own routine, circle of friends and a point of view.
In the last 365 days:
1. 357 posts were created! yes, I did miss a few days
2. Most popular series were: in first place, no doubt "Successful People from Our Neighborhood", I had and honor to meet and interview 31! truly amazing people. Their impact on my life is impossible to underestimate!
In second place, yes, don't laugh, "Foody Thursdays" - my recipe section. You, guys, sure love to eat! and now I am starting to think I actually can cook! 52 recipes were posted over this year, mainly traditional Ukrainian cuisine.
3. I got awarded Top #1 Contributor for the province of Ontario on Active Rain for 2013-2014! And trust me, it was a tough competition!
4. Now looking back at the past year, I can say, thanks to the blog, I got some awesome deals done as a Real Estate agent, but truly, I got so much more out of it! I met amazing people, made lifetime friends, became a member of some wonderful clubs and associations, took part in brilliant events, got invited to parties and celebrations and learned, learned, learned - every day, every minute of this crazy, unbelievable and happy year.
Somebody famous once said that he could never be bothered with a blog, as in his posts he is trying to look better then he actually is. How stupid! What is so bad about trying to look better then you are? Just do your best to look as good as you possibly can and your inner part will surely follow!
Now, plans for the next year!
1. Restructuring my web-site! There is a lot of useful stuff there, but it is a little challenging to navigate.
2. Successful People from Our Neighborhood will go on! And hopefully I will grow into some video interviews! Wow, that would be fun!
3. Foody Thursday will go on!
4. Some new series will be introduced and hopefully will win your hearts
This is all for now but I am sure this is just a smaller part of what is to come next year! Stay tuned!
Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty - selling with a smile!
True teachers never retire. Their passion to help and share the kindness of their hearts never goes away. Their wisdom and experience is always around for those in need. They step up with incredible generosity and support never expecting anything in return. It is a great honor for me to introduce Jaan Pill, teacher, documentary writer, Jane's Walk Connector, blogger at Preserved Stories, loving father and husband, and caring neighbor.
Jaan, my first question would be on how Preserved Stories got started and how did you come up with the idea?
I had worked as a teacher, retired from teaching in 2006, and I was looking for some sort of a micro-business. And I thought it would be great to put people’s life stories together in small packages to maintain family memories. I joined a business network and among the people I met was a web developer, Bruce Walden. Together we came up with Preserved Stories, as the name was available and represented what we were about to do. Then the site was developed over quite a bit of time with help from Walden Design in Toronto. When it was almost all ready to be launched I was working one day as a volunteer at John English Junior Middle School. They have a program called “Healthy Bites” – it’s a program for healthy eating, with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, for children at the school. One of the other parent volunteers that I met that day, while working a shift at Healthy Bites, was a web designer for a company called Maestra Web Design. Her name is Mary Bella. She does web design for artists, singers, and performers. She helped me to get the site launched and after many years of development it was finally up and running.
Is it hard to maintain? I know when dealing with the blog you have to be very organized and post regularly to maintain interest.
It is not hard, as I use the site for many purposes. One of the purposes is to organize my own thinking. The website also serves as a database. If I talk to someone about local history, I would often write a blog about that meeting, about what I’ve learned. One of the problems that come up is that I have my other work that involves a lot of transcribing, and it’s too easy to spend too much time on the site. So I had to cut back the amount of time I spend on writing blogs. But what I really like about the site is that people can visit it at their own convenience. I have people from around the world who visit the Preserved Stories website. And in terms of local history, I live in Long Branch in South Etobicoke and many of the people who visit my site, are people who used to live in Long Branch perhaps fifty or sixty years ago. And they have stories! One person contacted me from British Columbia. This person as a child, he and his brother used to play at the mouth of Etobicoke Creek in the 1950s. They used to have a raft and they would take the raft and tie it to a tree, then they would take a running jump and fall into the water. And that image has stayed in mind, for the person who contacted me, for all these years. Those few years they spent in Long Branch as children were the happiest memories of his life. I was able to share this story with others. Quite a few people who now live in Oakville or Mississauga or other places, they contact me and I get to share their stories. This website has become a community resource in terms of local history. It is also very relevant in terms of current issues. One of the recent interesting things we shared concerned a redevelopment project in Mississauga, under the name of the Lakeview Waterfront Connection Project. This is a great project, in which input from the Lakeview community in Mississauga is a key element. It will take many years and millions and millions of dollars. But the most important thing is that it springs from the community. However, we had a situation in the past year when a plan was announced, with reference to the sand beach at Marie Curtis Park, on the west side of Etobicoke Creek. Instead of having it remain as a sand beach, the plan was that it would become a pebble beach. So the famous sand beach would be gone, and it would be replaced by a beach made of small and medium size pebbles. This story has a connection to the history of Long Branch. We often think of the border between Mississauga and Toronto as being determined by Etobicoke Creek. That is how it works in areas that are at some distance to the north of Lake Ontario. But the situation changes when you get south of Lake Shore Boulevard West. The relevant history is that Etobicoke Creek used to have a western branch. There used to be an island between the western and eastern branches of Etobicoke Creek, south of Lake Shore Blvd. There was a large cottage community on the island from around the 1920s up until the 1950s. After Hurricane Hazel, which occurred in 1954, the western and southern branches were removed. Two of the branches where the stream used to run were filled in. Around that time the eastern branch of the creek was also channelized into a straight line. Despite all these changes, however, the boundary between Mississauga and Toronto is based on where the western and southern branches used to run. The outlet to the lake used to be located quite a ways to the west of where it empties now. And so – that part of Marie Curtis Park is part of Toronto, part of Long Branch. That west beach between Etobicoke Creek and Applewood Creek actually isn’t in Mississauga. At the meetings that were part of the Lakeview Waterfront Connection Environmental Assessment project, these proposals for the sand beach were discussed, but residents of South Etobicoke weren’t aware of these plans to remove the beach – even though the beach was in South Etobicoke, in Toronto. I found out about it through my contacts in the community. I was able to inform people on the Toronto side about this plan to remove the beach. I shared the details on my website and an email list that I use to keep people informed. And as soon as people have heard about it, they would stop me at the local No Frills store where I shop, or just stop me on the street, and inquire as to what was going on. As a result of this the planners involved in consulting with the affected communities made sure that they explained the plans to people in Toronto. Through a process of consultations, residents on the Toronto side of the border were able to state their point of view and explain how important the sand beach was to them. As a result of this, the planning for the redevelopment had a short delay. There were meetings involving people from Toronto, and the outcome of all these meetings was that most of the beach between Etobicoke Creek and Applewood Creek would be retained. A small part of the beach near Applewood Creek would become a pebble beach, but the major part of the sand beach would remain.
Wow, I had no idea they were planning such a thing!
Well, this is a good thing about sharing information. I’m pleased that I learned about the plans and was able to share the information with other people.
Wooden Deck at Marie Curtis Park
Even installing that wooden decking was quite disappointing because it is cutting into the sand beach. I know it is convenient to walk, but they still took a good chunk of the beach.
Yes. This is a trade off – you have the convenience of walking but there is still a problem. In terms of what happened with redevelopment on the eastern side of Marie Curtis Park – I’ve attended quite a few meetings, which the local councillor’s office had organized in the last couple of years. On the whole I am impressed with the fact that the input from the community has been taken into account. One example is that the original plan for the eastern part of Marie Curtis Park was for the parking lot to be installed close to where Hilo Road meets Forty Second Street. At various meetings people said, in so many words, “That it is a terrible place to move the parking lot to. For one thing, that area gets flooded when it rains.” One person said: “No-one ever complained about the long drive to the parking lot, where it is now. “ Some neighbors organized a petition, to make their views known. As a result of that input the original plan to change the location of the parking lot was changed. The parking lot’s planned location was moved back to where the original parking has been. And this is a great example of the fact that local planners can be receptive to what the community is interested in. And as a person involved in blogging I am interested in the distinction between rhetoric and substance, with regard to such matters. When planners talk about community input, residents are likely to ask themselves, “Is this all marketing and promotion? Or do the planners really mean what they say?” I would say that you would be able to see whether the community’s input has been taken into account when you look, further down the road, at the actual construction or building that has taken place. You can also look at the plans, if they are available, and get a good sense of what the outcome will be. And in terms of the redevelopment process in Lakeview in Mississauga, and in terms of much of the planning that has been happening around the Marie Curtis Park, you get a sense that the community’s input is indeed an important part of the planning process. Other people may see these matters differently, of course. These are just my views, based on my limited observations. I am not quite sure whether community input has been taken into account, or will be taken into account, in connection with the major City of Toronto wastewater management project involving the area around Colonel Samuel Smith Park. I’ve attended one of the meetings in connection with that project. It remains to be seen whether there will be a match between what the local community would like to see happening, with that project, and what the the planners decide to do. Also, in Mimico, we have this wall of condos along Humber Bay Shores and it can be argued, as some have argued, that this was what the community wanted. It looks to other Lakeshore residents, however, like it was planned and decided, possibly without much input from the community. Information about how planning decisions have been made with regard to Humber Bay Shores has not been easy to come by. I would say that little solid information is available, that I know of. It would be great to know the history of how planning decisions were made in that part of Toronto in previous years. Many people would be interested to know how we’ve ended up with the situation that now faces us along that part of the Lake Ontario shoreline. I would add, as I’ve discussed on my website, that City of Toronto planners view Mimico as extending to the Humber River. The Mimico Residents Association appears to have the view that Mimico ends at Park Lane. If I understand this correctly, that means that if you are a Mimico resident who lives east of Park Lane, you are considered to be ineligible for membership in the Mimico Residents Association. Aside from this point, I would add that I’m very impressed with the work of the latter association. They do a good job of speaking out on behalf of Mimico residents – in particular, on behalf of Mimico residents who live west of Park Lawn. Sometimes, as at a recent hearing at Queen’s Park regarding Bill 20, concerning the Ontario Municipal Board, they also do a good job in speaking out on behalf of residents at Humber Bay Shores. The topic of development in South Etobicoke is also related to the role that the Ontario Municipal Board plays in the City of Toronto, with regard to how final planning decisions are made. A related topic concerns recent City of Toronto proposals to set up a Local Appeal Board system, and a Development Permit System to address the current problems that come up when Toronto residents seek to have input concerning planning decisions that affect their local neighborhoods. So, I share information on my blog about the potential ways to ensure that condo development in South Etobicoke can take into account what the residents want, instead of taking into account only what the developers are interested in doing. In terms of the Mimico 20/20 planning process, my sense is that, on the whole, input from the community has been made an important part of the planning process. I have the sense that the results of the most recent planning, related to future development in Mimico, is that some residents are unhappy and some developers are unhappy. And when everyone is unhappy there is a potential for finding some solutions to meet the major concerns of everyone. However, there’s an issue related to the current City of Toronto planning environment. That issue – which is a big issue – is that if the developers aren’t pleased about planning proposals that have been agreed upon, with help from community input, they can go to the Ontario Municipal Board. By going to the OMB that can in many cases ensure that that the interests of the developers drive the final planning decisions. In effect the OMB in alignment with the developers becomes to de facto urban planner.
So, you are saying that those condos in Mimico south of Lakeshore were built against the public best interest. How did that happen? Wasn’t the community aware of the planning or their opinion simply wasn't considered?
I think this is a very interesting question and I have to make sure I take extreme care to ensure that what I say is based on evidence. I am not clear with regard to the evidence. I do know that the community has tried to find out what had happened in the past. I would say in my experience, and I speak just as an ordinary resident, that attempts to find information have been met in many cases with a lack of cooperation on the part of people who might be in a position to share that information. In terms of contrasts between how the things are done in different cities, the City of Mississauga has made it clear – has underlined the fact – that when they build high-rise and mid-rise condos they take into account what the community wants. Much of the development that is planned in Mississauga, as I understand, tends to be along the major arteries, as part of a twenty or thirty year year plan to bring exciting development and business opportunities into Mississauga. In terms of how the Lakeview area has been planned, as I understand the process, all of the sight lines, the views toward the lake, all of the shadow patterns, have been planned with the input from the community, and with the assistance of students from the University of Toronto. And I recall a meeting I attended in Mississauga, where Hazel McCallion, the Mayor of Mississauga, came to speak. It was a meeting concerned with the future of the Lake Ontario Waterfront. And one of the first things she said – and I paraphrase - was that, “In Mississauga we don’t build tall high-rises on the shoreline of Lake Ontario. We don’t do that. If you want to see tall high-rises on the shore of Lake Ontario – you go to Toronto.”
This is mean!
This is a reality. Also, I recall a meeting I attended, an annual general meeting of Lakeview Ratepayers Association, which I have highlighted on my website. Jim Tovey was the head, the president, of the Lakeview Ratepayers Association. He’s now the Ward 1 Councillor for the City of Mississauga. And he was a key part of that community’s efforts to make sure that Lakeview would be developed in the way that keeps in mind the needs of the residents. There will be some medium-size condos in Lakeview, but many of the homes would be townhouses, because townhouses are the affordable means for young families to get started in the current economic situation. Another thing that Jim Tovey said, at the annual general meeting that I attended in 2013, he said – I am paraphrasing this, and I have the recording – he said, in so many words, “In Lakeview, we are not going to have this tall condos by the lake.” He also said (and I paraphrase): “The local councillor of Etobicoke, I like the guy, but he surely likes those tall condos.” And to me, this is the part of the narrative, the part of the distinction between what is happening in Mississauga, and what is happening in Ward 6, in South Etobicoke. Also, as part of the planning process for Mimico 20/20, at one point the local Ward 6 councillor made a motion at the Etobicoke-York Community Council meeting. He said what we needed to do was give incentives to the developers to make sure that they would be happy proceeding with the construction of housing on the Mimico shoreline. And the local councillors representing Etobicoke-York said this was fine. The motion then went to City Council. And the councillors representing the rest of the City of Toronto began to ask: “What are you trying to tell us?” And the Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, Jennifer Keesmaat, she said, in so many words, that developers don’t need these kinds of incentives. If I recall the news reports correctly, she asked why these kinds of requests are being made. And the local councillor’s request was turned down, by the City Council. And I applaud that because we don’t need developers to be the people who make the planning decisions. We have planning staff, who in theory work with input from the community to arrive at planning decisions. And we don’t need a situation where a councillor is trying to step in, to help the developers.
Why would they need incentives, period? High-rise or townhomes, they are still making their x-amount.
Exactly, and this is what Toronto Council, in its wisdom, decided, but the local councilor and the community council, they went along with what developers thought was good for the community. And I am really pleased that this decision went in favor of the community and not in favor of whatever interests the local councilor represented when he made that motion.
You are saying some dangerous things here…
Well, I have to be very careful, but this motion is on the public record, and it was very well covered in the Etobicoke Guardian. I would add that, in other areas, such as the planning for the Colonel Samuel Smith Ice Trail, and for capital improvements at Marie Curtis Park, the local councillor has made a point of ensuring that community input was an integral part of the planning process.
No, I volunteer at John English. I help out as a volunteer with the Healthy Bites program, where the focus is on preparation of nutritious lunches for students who have signed up for the program. But for the last eleven years of my career I was working for the Peel District School Board. I worked as an elementary school teacher. The principal I worked with, his name is Mike James. He now is also retired. Mike and myself, we organize what are called Jane’s Walks in Long Branch. And this year, our third year of Jane’s Walks will be held on May 3rd and 4th and we will start at 10:30 in the morning of each day and we will start at the East Parking Lot at Marie Curtis Park.
This is a photo from the May 4, 2013 Jane’s Walk. The photo is taken at Marie Curtis Park at the start of the walk. One of the all participants is sharing some information. One of the walk leaders Jaan Pill, is on the right. Photo credit: Gay Chisholm.
And what is it exactly?
It is called a “walking conversation,” where people simply get together – we have a walk in the community, and we, as walk leaders, point out and share historical information. It is not some lecture, it is just a walking conversation. I also interview people during the year who are in their eighties and nineties. I ask them questions about what life was like when they were 7 or 8 years old. And I share this information with others. In some cases, some may not have the physical stamina to join us for walk, although wheelchairs are welcome, but they can still participate. I have to thank the local councillor’s office, as they encouraged me about three years ago to find out who in the community would be able to organize a Jane’s Walk. I contacted my network, I looked around, I couldn't find anyone. Then I asked my friend Mike James, who agreed to help. Otherwise I wouldn't have started. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the councillor’s office for the help to arrange the Jane’s Walk.
How many people do you normally get?
In the first year we had a lot of time to advertise, so we had eighty people. In the second year we had two walks, and we had about twenty-five people on each walk. But whether it‘s large or small – we are prepared for any size.
Do you think it is worth getting local students involved in this walks? There should be a lot of things for them to learn?
Absolutely! We would like to do more networking and marketing. One of our long term plans is to have more young people involved. I was always interested in leadership succession, and people taking over some of the things I do. So, certainly we want to get more people involved. I will make sure I contact the local Trustee for Toronto District School Board, Pamela Gough; she’s been always helpful. I would also like to add one more thing about students. When I was younger and first began working with computers, when I was getting stuck I would always ask someone who is thirty years younger to help me. Now, when I get stuck, I know to ask someone who is at least fifty years younger than I am.
I know, kids are so much smarter than us with technology; I go to my son for help all the time.
True, when I have issues with my smartphone I get help from kids. It’s like learning a language. If you are growing up with it, then you become totally fluent with it. But if you are not growing up with the language of computers, you will have to make a bit of an effort to maintain your fluency. And one thing about Ryerson, I’ve taken two courses so far and I hadn’t taken any courses before for a long time. I was really concerned – can I keep up with these young kids? And I was very pleased to learn, that yes, I can keep up! Yes, I can learn as quickly and as well, and I can get grades, which are equal or better, than students who are thirty years younger than me. Of course, I do have a lot of time to study – that helps too!
This is at the end of the May 4, 2013 Jane’s Walk, which went from Marie Curtis Park to the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds. The buildings at the site used to be part of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. Now they are part of Humber College. Photo credit: Gay Chisholm.
What does Jaan like? Any other hobbies you have?
I like to walk, like to keep fit. I lift weights and try to keep in shape. I like to read things that teenagers like to read. One of the books I read now is called “The Baby Experiment.” This is a book that some of the Grade 8 students at John English are reading. Also, I have an interest in mindfulness meditation. I became interested in meditation because when I was teaching at elementary school, I found that some days I would get angry at my students. Some people have said, that sometimes I am very nice but sometimes I am very prone to losing my temper and so, I found, with the stress of teaching, I was becoming angry so often, I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack. I thought my health was a great concern. And so ten years ago I took an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation taught by a family physician in Toronto. Students from all walks of life took this course and I learned how to meditate. And for the last ten years I have been meditating every day, and I practice this concept called mindfulness, where you simply tune into the here and now, which is not as easy to do as a person might imagine, but I do it. At first it was only a few seconds at a time; now I do it more often – a few minutes at a time, sometimes more. As a result of learning this technique, my interactions with my students became much better. Instead of screaming at a student I learned how to speak in a normal voice, explain what my concerns were and as a result I was happier, the students were happier, and at the end everybody was happier, because I learned how to explain things in a nice way instead of the other ways that could occur to me.
I bet you quite a few people could use this course.
Yes, I think so. And this requires motivation. And in my case the motivation was desperation. Also, all through my life I was involved with working and communicating with very young children, infants and toddlers, and also very old people. One of my friends is 95 years old. I speak with her several times over the phone during the day. I visit her regularly. I really enjoy the concept of being connected with very young people and very old people. And the reason I became a teacher, when I was in my twenties, I learned that whenever I walked into a room, and there was at least one infant there, that infant would pick me out, would notice me at once and feel right away, that, “Here is a friend.” I would always know how to relate to them.
They feel it no doubt!
Yes, they feel it. Once a visited a daycare in Vancouver, when I was a student at Simon Fraser University, and I found I enjoyed it. When I came to Toronto after I graduated I had heard there was a job opening for a supply teacher at a day care center at that time located at 228 McCaul Street in downtown Toronto. I became involved as a supply teacher and eventually I became involved in the running of the center even though I had no training as a day care worker. We needed to get a supervisor for the day care center that I was involved in running. One of the people who turned up was a young woman in her early twenties who had very good credentials. We hired her. And her name was May. And May is my wife. Years later we got married – so all of these things are connected. In fact I still remember that day – I stood on the sidewalk outside of the day care center, when I went to apply for a job there as a supply teacher. I stood on the sidewalk, I was looking at the front door and something in the pit of my stomach or my gut told me – “You move through that door right now!” And that was what I did. I felt that walking in there was something very important in my life.
What would you say is the most challenging thing when dealing with teenagers? How do you get them to listen to you?
It is very easy. This is how I get a teenager to listen to me: I listen to her. I tune into her concerns, what her interests are, how she sees the world, how she wants to do things. And also I knew at the age of 12 as much as an adult, about how the world is and how everything works, so I tune into that fact. I have tremendous respect for the kids. Of course, I have some knowledge that I can share, but to begin any conversation it is important to listen. The first thing I do when talking to a teenager, I listen, with my ears, with my heart, with my sense of body language. This is how I start the conversation. I don’t start the conversation by saying, “You should do this, you should do that, you should feel this, you should feel that,” because as soon as an adult does that – the doors are shut. And I know this because I was a teenager, I was a young person. Having said this – this is me. Someone else would have a totally different way to approach it. If it works for me, it is not necessarily going to work for other people and I seldom give advice unless I am asked for it.
You are a very unusual teacher. Teachers normally are very easy to pinpoint, because they have this constant urge to teach. You don’t seem to have it.
No, I don’t. In fact as a teacher I especially enjoyed teaching Grade 4. Students taught me so many things. One of the things they taught me was that friends are very important – also that recess is one of the most important times in a child’s life. What you do at recess, the friends you spend time with at recess, and all your activities with them are very important. Also, as a teacher, it just happened that one of the things I learned was that a very good way for a student of any age to demonstrate their mastery of a concept – it could be mathematics, literature or social studies; it could be anything. That way is: Get together with one or two friends, and rehearse some form of role-play. It might take a few minutes of rehearsal, and then you present it to the class. In class we always had lots of role-play and drama and the kids loved it. And every year I had at least one student in my class who would discover they had a particular skill in drama and I am really pleased they learned it. And also, I’ve made many presentations over the years, and have appeared in many media interviews. As a young person, I had speech problems and I really had to work on that. So, I’ve made many presentations and I learned how important it is to rehearse, how important it is when talking to the audience to sense their body language, sensing when they are getting bored, sensing what they really enjoy and working with that, because this is back-and-forth communication. And role-play and drama in elementary school is one of the many wonderful ways of learning these kinds of communication skills. And mastering these skills of being at ease in front of the audience, it’s a key part of public relations, it’s a key part of marketing, a key part of sales, of negotiating, a key part of conversation with a child or a neighbor; it’s a key part of life. And drama now is a part of the curriculum and there are many good reasons for every child to have a chance to get involved in drama. And also what is very interesting, the kids who can be introverted or even those who might have speech problems can often become very good at acting. In fact a few actors, like Bruce Willis, for example, as an adolescent, he stuttered – had a problem with getting his words out – but he found when he was acting, for various reasons, perhaps because he was playing a role or because he was acting and had total control of his breathing, he was able to work very well as an actor. And for people of the older generation, Marilyn Monroe, also as a child, she stuttered, but she found that she could develop this kind of breathy voice; she would have some extra breath in her speech when she was acting. She became a brilliant actor. Of course, she had other qualities, she had a way of connecting with audience, that had nothing to do with her speech, just her whole persona. All these things are so interesting and the way we find out is by being attentive and learning from our experiences.
What do you think about all the anti-bullying programs launched at schools these days? Do you think they cause the opposite effect?
Different people will say different things on this. I like to adopt an evidence-based approach regarding bullying. Bullying is a relationship problem when kids use power and aggression to cause harm to another person who is not in a position to defend himself, or herself. Often it is a group activity where some kids work as a team to focus on one particular child. Conflict is a regular part of life; everybody can have disagreements, everybody can argue and have conflicts, but when one person uses power – as an example, because of larger size or because of being older – in order to cause harm, we as adults are in a position to model better forms of behavior. We can teach children to deal with relationships in a way that is helpful for everyone and we have to go with the research. Conflict is normal, but bullying does not have to be a normal part of life. When bullying occurs – it is a form of warfare. And we know from the research, that the kids who are bullied in elementary school, in high school, university, in the work place – suffer, they suffer tremendously, to the extent that their chance of committing suicide is increased. We can say, as some people do, that it’s just about kids being kids, and adults being adults. But in a civilized society, this is not a sufficient answer. We realize that, in a civil society, we have a reason to be concerned for the life and well-being of every child, of every adolescent, of every adult – and I am a strong supporter of effective and well organized anti-bullying programs which are based on evidence of what works. In that regard, the PREVNet website shares some great information about anti-bullying programs that work. I've spent time in my volunteer work in years past organizing workshops about bullying. And, in fact, if you do a web-search with my name and the word “bullying” you would find information that I've shared with parents and other people. And certainly the key thing is if one child is being victimized, it is very helpful when one person in the group has the courage to step up and say: “You need to make this stop.” And I think this is very important, especially for every adult who is in the position to use wisdom to make bullying stop. Stepping in, making it stop, could literally save the person’s life. It can change the atmosphere in a classroom, it can make a big difference. And it is very important for kids to be feeling comfortable and knowing that they can go to an adult to deal with problems. And I encourage every effort to keep those lines of communication open. It’s among the most important things the adult can do – to help to defend those who otherwise can’t be defended and will be beaten down and destroyed.
Please, meet young and gorgeous Ella Korotkin, Law Clerk at Andrew Unger Professional Corporation, caring wife and loving mother. She knows the law, she sets the rules, she also.... hush-hush, don't tell anyone, makes beautiful jewelry when she has a spare minute. Honored to present - Ella!
Ella, where are you originally from?
I was born in Riga, Latvia and moved to Israel at a young age where we called the City of Haifa our home for three wonderful years. However our journey didn't end there and we moved to Montreal, Quebec where I have spent my teenage years. After my college graduation in 2004 my husband and I decided to move to Toronto in order to pursue our careers and start a family.
What was your first job and what was your worst job?
My first job was at my mother’s fashion boutique in Montreal. It is probably every girl’s dream (at least it was mine) to be surrounded by clothes, accessories and everything it took to update a wardrobe or to find the perfect dress. I would spend my evenings and weekends developing a strong work ethic and learning all about fashion and personalized customer service.
My worst job (or most challenging) was as a barista/ waitress at a local café the summer we moved to Toronto. Minimal pay and an unprofessional employer fit into this equation perfectly. However, this experience was very humbling and I have developed a thick skin and an appreciation for everyone that works in the service industry.
Do you like to travel and where would you like to go?
I love to travel and take time off whenever I can. I mostly enjoy “active” vacations such as European destinations and Road Trips. However I prefer cruises during the cold winter months. My family has discovered cruising fairly recently and we love the fact that it offers a perfect balance of activities, entertainment and relaxation. We love visiting different countries and we try to experience their culture to the fullest.
What do you like to do when you have time, your hobbies?
I grew up watching my mother create unique outfits, bake, crochet and do anything and everything she put her mind to. It was only natural that I would follow in her footsteps and take after as many hobbies as I possibly can. I love making jewelry, baby hair accessories, baking, scrapbooking, and the list goes on and on. For me, there is nothing more relaxing than brewing a cup of tea, turning music on and creating something with my hands.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
You don’t dwell on the challenges when you love what you do. I look at every challenge as a valuable lesson from which experience is derived. My motto is: “If It doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you” and change is an integral part of a successful career.
What is success for you, Ella?
Success for me is having a healthy and supportive family and a job that I love.
What do you still want to achieve?
There are many things that I would love to achieve, however I have to keep reminding myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day and to enjoy every single step along the way.
What does it take to be happy?
Happy is a state of mind. You have to stay optimistic everyday no matter how hard it may seem. My happiness greets me with open arms while yelling “MAMA!” at 5:30 pm every single day.
What is home for you?
Home is where your family is and where you feel loved and relaxed.
What part of your job do you like the most?
I’m a firm believer of “quality versus quantity” and I strive to provide great customer service.
I enjoy meeting with clients, going through their file while answering any questions they may have and making sure that their closing day will be smooth and hassle free. The best compliments our clients give are referrals and repeat business, and this always puts a smile on my face.
Thank you, Ella! All those words of wisdom are definitely worth remembering and repeating over and over again!
Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty
Artists are funny folks - they know how to create beauty, but most of them have no idea how to deliver it to the admirers and supporters. Since 1978 Donna Child, director and owner of Artworld Fine Art, was leading young and quite established artists towards their success and popularity, at the same time helping art lovers to discover the wonder of art. In October 2013 Gallery expanded and moved into a new fabulous location at 365 Evans Ave, Toronto. Being a true impersonation of beauty herself, Donna is more then just a successful manager, she is a real soul and moving power of the Gallery. Donna kindly agreed to share some thoughts on modern art and challenges faced by the art galleries.
Donna, what is your role at Artworld Fine Art?
I am the gallery director and have owned the business for about 19 years.
Did you start with Artworld Fine Art initially or was it something else?
I began my career in the Arts earning a degree in Fashion Design through the International Academy of Design in Toronto.After working in the industry for 10 years I applied my business and design skills to the field of visual art becoming the Gallery Director of Artworld Fine Art in 1995.
And how did the Artworld Fine Art Start?
Artworld Fine Art started in Sherway Gardens about 19 years ago and we operated until October of last year, 2013. We’ve always wanted to expand and turn the Gallery into more of an Art Hub, rather than just a typical art gallery. The art and custom framing will always be our main source of business but we also wanted to embrace other forms of art which includes music, dance, and sculpture. We are renting the gallery as a venue as well. We are also embracing literary arts with “Spoken Word Wednesday” which takes place on the second Wednesday of every month from 7-8:30PM. Its a free event and anyone can perform a poem, a rant a ballad and book reading. Many are published writers – others are reading for only the first time. We welcome everyone. This is our way of giving back to the community, inviting people over to enjoy the art and talk to other people who are also interested in art.
Donna Child, Director of Artworld Fine Art
Do you also have artists coming in?
I represent over 30 painter so yes we have a constant flow of artists coming through the gallery. Each month we host an exhibit that focuses on one artists work or a group of painters. On the exhibit opening night the artists are on present and will talk about their art, their future plans and how they got to the point they are at and will also discuss their techniques.
Do you paint yourself?
Nothing that I could actually put on display. I can tell you how its done, just don’t ask me to do it. LOL
A few words about your family, if you don’t mind?
My father is from 400 miles north of Winnipeg, he is of Ukrainian descent and my mother is of Irish descent. I was born and raised in the High Park area of Toronto.
They say, that running and Art Gallery is a perfect job for a woman, but is there any challenges that you come across?
Owning a gallery is a great job for anyone who is passionate about art, whether it is a male or female. Challenges? There are always challenges for anyone in business male or female. Balancing family life and professional life is my biggest challenge. Being a small business owner, requires a great deal of dedication and that does take you away from your personal life. Thankfully, I have an absolutely awesome husband, who is my biggest supporter.
What is your favorite part of running the Gallery?
My favorite part is getting to meet the people that I do. Everyone’s background is so different, so interesting. The reasons that people buy paintings are often very different as well. Sometimes they see a painting that reminds them childhood, or they just see something that just brings personal pleasure. And also being invited into people’s homes and actually see the painting that we've sold hanging in their home. And also seeing my artist achieve personal success and it is different for each of them is also very rewarding.
Artworld Fine Art at 365 Evans Ave, Toronto
One of your big dreams just came true – you moved into a large, wonderful gallery. Is there anything else you are trying to achieve? Any other ambitions?
Many, many ambitions! Obviously they are art related. But, I think our main mission is educating people on Art and getting rid of the stigma “that you have to know art in order to enjoy art”. So many people walk through this door and immediately comment “I don’t know anything about the art”. You don’t need to know about the art, you need to know what you like and this is the most important thing. I think also to get rid of the concept that you “buy art for investment”. I think this is the wrong idea.
There are certainly many paintings that do go up in value, but you must buy it because you love it first.
So, you are trying to help your clients to get something they really love and enjoy rather then something they think might be a good investment?
There are no guarantees that a painting will go up in value – but if you buy a painting and you really love it then you have invested in your personal well being – if it goes up in value that's the bonus.
Do you have any other hobbies outside the art?
Art is my first passion and will always be. But yes, outside of that I do many things. I run, this is my therapy. I love architecture. When we are travelling I am constantly out there looking at architecture of various cities that we travel to. And, of course, the art galleries. Also, I love to cook and being on our boat in the summer. But I don’t have enough time to do those things sometimes.
Do you like to travel and what parts of the world would you like to see?
Oh, gosh, I've traveled quite a bit. I don’t think there is a place in the world that I could call my favourite – haven’t found it yet – each city or country is so unique. I try to visit as many different areas of the world as I possibly can. We were in Belgium last year, this year we will be in Czech Republic. We've been to Spain, Switzerland, Holland, Central America, France, Italy through the United States.
Fine Art of the Gallery
Could you share a little bit on how young artists could get to meet you, get exhibits in your gallery?
I think our Gallery is quite unusual this way – we receive portfolios from everyone, no matter what level of experience they have and this is done on my web-site. In terms of the artist being accepted to the gallery, it's a process. It is definitely challenging for young artists, but it can be done. I know that one thing that is not taught enough in the art schools is how to promote yourself. So often, young artists walk through the door and they want to put their work into a gallery immediately, when they’ve never even visited the gallery before. They don’t know if their work is suitable for our space, they’ve no portfolio ready, no business cards, no web-site. I think the first challenge that a young artist must overcome is to come up with a marketing plan, decide how you are going to sell your work and make sure that you are going into a gallery that is going to be suitable for what you are painting.
Do you help them? Do you have specific people who can help with marketing?
Yes, I certainly do. Actually this week on March 6 we will be hosting a free night, where young students can come out and talk to one of our gallery artists, Mark Thurman who is very well established, has worked in a lot of fields of the art business and made his career in art, not only as a painter, but as a teacher, illustrator, and writer. So, there is a lot of different avenues for artists . Many young artists think they can become famous just painting. It is possible, challenging but possible, but they need to know that they have something else they can fall back on until they can to the point where they can do art full time and survive doing it.
On display straight ahead - art by Rick Taylor
Do you normally go out to find new artists or do they come to you?
Both. A lot of artists walk through the door and quite often we will see an artist's work and we will source them in.
What is success for you?
Being happy and being passionate about what I do. I think success is being able to work with people that you enjoy working with and I am very luck to have such an incredible group working with me – the are my extended family. Success is also being able to give back to the community, and in order to do that there is a degree of financial success that is required as well.
Through your 19 years in business, did you ever think that you are not doing the right thing and maybe you should be doing something else?
Probably. I think everybody goes through that. But for me, I think I always jumped back pretty quick and say: “No, I can’t possibly do something else” I am very passionate about what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else.
Some of the artists in your gallery come and go and some stay. What would be the reason? Are those who stay selling better than others?
Yes and no. We have artists that do very well for us and have for many many years, and of course they will remain with us. Several have been with the gallery from day one, for example Stephen Gillberry, the abstract painter. But then some artists go on to do other things, some become exclusive to other galleries. Many have tremendous success with other galleries, one of the gallery artists who launched her career in Canada with us quite some time ago went to become exclusive with gallery in the United States, her prices have gone up probably 4 times compared to what we were selling them for. So it totally made sense that she decided to go with that gallery.
I’ve seen Yana Movchan here before and don’t see her here now?
Yes, this is the artist I was talking about. I always told her that because of her incredible talent that one day a she would go one to exhibit with a high end European or American Art Gallery and do very very well. And this is exactly what happened to her, she is having a phenomenal career.
How about Katerina Mertikas? I see her art everywhere…
She is very popular, she’s done really well for us. She will actually be exhibiting in the next month in France, she is a part of the Canadian delegation, will be representing Canada in Paris.
Art by Katerina Mertikas
Is there any artist that you would really like to get for your gallery? Or genre?
I think we carry a very diverse selection of works in the gallery, so we have most of the genres covered. I have had the opportunity to sell the paintings by some very well established international painters. I’ve actually just posted on my Face Book page today: many years ago we sold two Andy Warhol pieces and it was just in the last month that Andy Warhol has become one of the top three bestselling auction artists of all times. When I think of those earlier Warhol pieces, I think, I should have kept them.
Don’t you feel that when artists become so popular and they started with you, this is part of your success as well?
I would like to think that I gave them a start – maybe the opportunity for exposure. I did not discover Andy Warhol, but I think just having a chance to sell art by those artists in the gallery is quite an accomplishment.
Sculpture at the Gallery
When you have some events or perhaps some new pieces of art coming to your gallery, how do you let the public know?
Through our web, and definitely our e-mail list.
So, the next one is coming on March 6?
Yes. This is the free event led by one of the gallery artists Mark Thurman, he is also a teacher at Sheridan College, and he teaches figurative drawing to the animation students. He will be talking about different art avenues that are available to young students in art.
Thankfully this new place allows you to hold all this events.
Yes, the gallery is a beautiful 7200 square foot space.
Do you have a professional message, Donna?
Yes, support Canadian art! All forms of it, not just visual, but also music, dance, we have so much talent in this country, incredible. And we need to support our home grown talent.
Donna with friends and supporters
For more information - visit Artworld Fine Art website also, don't forget to like them on Face Book
Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty
If you work in logistics and don't know who Dave Cox and Polaris Transportation are, there are only 2 options: you either haven't been in the field long enough or you are looking in the wrong direction. Dave hates being the center of attention and getting his permission for this publication wasn't easy. Running one of the largest and most successful transportation companies in North America, managing over 180 people, working 168 hours a week and always hiding from his well deserved round of applause - this is Dave!
Where are you from, Dave?
Scarborough. I was born in Scarborough, grew up in Scarborough, love Scarborough. When I was in school I kind of fell into this industry. First 2 years I went to University, I actually enjoyed it, as most people do. Then I got a job at Challenger Motor Freight and this paid for my education, which was exceptional! It was hard, as I was working full time and going t school. But as a 21-year old making 40 thousand dollars. This really put me through school. And from there on I always stayed in Kitchener-Cambridge area, met my wife and she was not coming to Scarborough, so I haven’t seen Scarborough in 20 years.
What were you taking at school?
Business and political science.
That’ not very close to logistics!
Yes, I know.
You have a daughter right?
Correct, almost 13, too old. She is very beautiful daughter, she is great at school, I am very proud of her. But I am afraid of boy thing.
What boy thing?
Well, as she gets older and boys come along. I am very protective. I really liked when she was five and six…
Would you like her to get into logistics?
No, no. Well, if she’d chose to – fine. But I don’t want her to come here, to Polaris, just because she thinks I expect her to. She needs to find out who she is as a person and it might take a few tries to figure out who she is, and may be start this or that and find out she doesn’t like it. But I want her to be herself, get her own education for what she wants to go through. And after all if she wants to be in transportation then I would invite her in. She would start at the very bottom as I did at Challenger and work her way up, as I think this is the only way you can really get respect.
What was your big dream as a child?
I always wanted to be in business and my parents always had businesses. And that’s why I went to school majoring in business. Pretty dull child, eh? Just let me be in business!
How did Polaris get started and how was your Dad involved?
Pretty simple actually. Larry’s background in 70-ies was union negotiator and he represented unions. A lot of industries back then were unionized. My mother worked at an old school trucking company – all regulated, so you could make lots of money. So, Larry thought: “Wait, let me try my hand in it!” He got out of labor negotiations, bought a trucking company, that’s been around for 45 years and made some money. Then the industry deregulated and along with that came many problems, he ended up going bankrupt mid 80-ies. And Larry is such an entrepreneur, he got himself back in the business - this time with warehousing and distribution. Made some god money. Early 90-ies – another recession came, there were a lot of empty buildings in Toronto, and landlords were desperate. If you were paying utilities – here is a free building for you. So, this was really hard to compete with and he went bankrupt again. So, this was around 92, we worked for a transportation company for a couple years and started Polaris. He lucked out – had some friends who gave him some business, he also had a friend who gave him some free office space, he had no money, so he financed it through the bank line and started with the runs to Chicago. I remember I was coming from the Challenger meeting and I saw this Polaris truck going down the road. And I drove for 5 minutes and I thought – this is a really catchy name, looks really good. And then I thought – wait, this is my father’s company! So, the long story short, he asked me to come work for him 3 or 4 times and I said “no”. Frankly, I did not know enough at the time. Challenger was much larger company and I was still learning. And in 97 I finally said “yes”, because I though, may be I did have something to offer – so I decided to join. Larry started the company more out of a necessity – he needed money, but he also has this entrepreneur spirit. When I first joined him in 98 – it was myself, he, my mother and we were in a small office and slowly but surely we were expanding what we do, trying to provide service, listen to our customers, what they want. If we are doing something wrong, doing our best to fix it. So, listening to our clients – it was a lot of word of the mouth, referrals for us. It probably wasn't till 2000 when we finally got the bank line.
So, Polaris started as a transportation company primarily? Cross docking and warehousing was added later?
Larry went from cartage in the 80ies to warehousing and distribution in late 80ies, and again to strictly trucking by1994. And as we grew, yes, we added up cross docking, and it became Polaris that you know today.
And how big is Polaris now?
About 180 people, about 110 pieces of equipment between the city and highway, 120 trailers. And what we do is very straight forward. You know the Grey Hound bus – this is Polaris philosophy. My drivers go to the specific terminals, they don’t deviate. If we have 1 skid on the truck, or 50 skids on the truck – we go. And we never say to the customer that we didn't move your freight because we didn’t have enough freight – we just go. And this is the Gray Hound Bus Model – Larry and I started. I remember when we first started running terminal to terminal, we decided to introduce this model – we had about 4 feet of trailer space and 49 feet empty and I thought: “Could it be that we fill this all out one day, wouldn't it be great?” And now, touch wood, we’ve done ok!
What is the most difficult part of your day to day work?
I am actually making it difficult myself. I am a perfectionist in the sense that if I say I’m gonna do something – I want it done. I’ve struggled, and I am getting better now, with delegating authority – big lessons to learn. I have a phenomenal team, that helps me delegate authority and they are really good, I can delegate more and more comfortably. And I think this is toughest thing I deal with on the day to day basis – me.
To let go?
Yes, let go. Absolutely. Someone asked me what my job was. My job is to feed 180 families. And I take this very seriously. I am afraid to make a bad decision. We all make bad decisions, of course. But again, on the overall scope of things, I make sure, that decisions we make are sound, or as sound as possible, so that I can sleep at night, knowing that I am not going to mess up 180 families, because they are relying upon those decisions.
What is your most favorite part?
It is like this – I think I am addicted. They always say alcoholics are addicted to alcohol, drug addicts – addicted to drugs, gamblers addicted to gambling. I love at the end of the week to say we made it to Saturday morning, we did a decent job. And there is many struggles day to day, right? With weather, mechanicals, border issues, sensitive clients with sensitive needs, and trying to meet all expectations. This is Saturday euphoria – I walk around my house relaxed. And closer to Sunday night a start to ramp that nervous energy for Monday morning again. This is the most exciting part, and it probably shouldn't be that way.
Polaris Wall of Fame
Does Dave have any hobbies?
I love sports – watching sports. I don’t have any time to play sports.
What are you still trying to achieve?
I am trying to make people at Polaris better managers, better people, better-rounded. They don’t necessarily have to be a manager or supervisor, but the way I like to work, whether it is from the clerical position or senior manager position, I let people work within their own parameters. I think people like creativity, I don’t like standing over someone’s shoulder, trying to make people rely upon themselves, and doing this helps the company. I think people take a little more from their job. We've had people who started in the very clerical functions and they come up to the most senior positions. And I enjoy watching people succeed. When people succeed they obviously help the company.
Do you have a lot of people who have been with the company for a long time?
Our first driver has been here for almost 20 years, and he is still here.
Do you still call all your drivers to say “Good night”?
Yes. I do. I don’t do it as often as I used to. Probably every other week or once a month. Typically I do it on the way home.
It is very important to them – to know someone cares.
Absolutely. And as matter of fact I had three conversations like this today when I got up - “Hey, how are you doing? Is everything all right?” Also trying to call at the end of the week, thank for their hard work. Being a driver is truly very difficult job – dealing with roads, other cars on the roads, dealing with different people and trying to be on time – it is a lot of pressure. I always encourage them to go have time with their family.
How do you deal with unfair accusations and crazy expectations?
I am trying to listen with a balanced approach. Again, me being a perfectionist, I am trying to do everything perfectly, but this is hard to do. First of all, I always try to listen to the person, to see if we ca do something better, to see if we can fix it. May be they have expectations level that is not realistic, but to them this is important so you have to really make them feel important and try to dialogue with them. We usually get a good back and forth. A lot of times just because this is such a spontaneous industry, the clients might be under a lot of pressure for that and sometimes the client just needs to be heard, sometimes they just may be upset, and sometimes it may not be us – they are just upset, and you just have to listen to them. But I always find this lead to a stronger relationship, and I always try to build this relationship. You may not always get along, just have to try as hard as you can. And you know, almost every time I ran into a disagreement with someone – it led to a stronger relationship. I don’t know why.
Well, that’s why they call it a moment of truth – there is an argument and depending on how you handle it, your relationship goes up or it goes down.
And for you it normally goes up?
Yes, we try. Our big thing as a company now is… This industry has become so transactional, no one talks to anyone anymore. This is good and bad. And from our perspective may be 7 or 8 loads you can get away with that. Loads picked up and delivered, no problems. But then the time comes when client needs to talk to someone, and may be they need this soft approach. And this is where our biggest concentration for this year – to make it less machinelike, more personal. So, we are spending a lot of time putting this special department together, it will hopefully be up by the end of June.
You are a very unusual company, as most LTL companies have a lot of sales force on the roads and not as many employees in operations. Yours is quite the opposite. Do you still have only one sales person?
Yes, for the most part Dave B is our only sales person, officially he is a business development guy. He helps us set up relationships with our partners and clients. We also have some commission sales people, but just a small group. Everything we’ve done is for the most part word of mouth and reputation. When we have some successes – we are thankful for it, but we also have to analyse what we do to make it success. And when we have failures – we have to do the same. I have one model – I am trying to be better today than I was yesterday. May be yesterday I did not succeed at all, but today I will succeed. And if you keep doing it every day – it builds and builds and builds.
Is there something new you are trying to learn?
I am trying to learn how to enjoy life. I've had luxuries that I never took advantage of. I want to spend as much time as I can with my family, but I work 80 hours a week. I am a workaholic. And this is what I am trying to learn – how to enjoy life more.
What is your favorite food?
I love all kinds of food, but I guess - any kind of fish. I’d like to try some exotic foods – shark, squid, octopus, you name it, alligator, stuff like this. Not that I would eat it regularly: “Oh, what’s for dinner today – Oh, alligator – Oh, good”.
Where would you like to travel?
When I was younger I always wanted to see Europe. As I am getting older – I fell in love with Europe. I’ve never been there. But there is so much to see. Italy for sure, but the country side, not the tourist’s places. Monaco! I want to see F1 race in Monaco in May, any May. Also UK, but not to see Big Ben or Buckingham Palace, I want to see soccer match, pubs, people. I want to see new people, try to understand them.
When it comes to gifts, do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving. If I don’t get any gifts from anyone – I would be quite happy. The most uncomfortable topic in the world is attention on me. I hate talking about Dave Cox. I am uncomfortable talking about Dave Cox. But if I can get a gift for someone, or just help, I would rather do it. I get really uncomfortable when my family asks what I want for Christmas.
Just say socks!
Yeah, right, socks.
Do you have a professional message?
Very simple – if you give your word, follow through on your word. Integrity is everything. I have made many bad decisions but I have followed through to keep my word. But integrity is everything. I believe that all people make mistakes and if I caused some harm to someone, may be I've spoken out of turn, or I was just completely wrong, I've got no problem extending my hand and saying “I am sorry, I was wrong” This is a big thing. Especially in transportation. I've spent thousands of dollars on hiring expedites because I've given my word and something had gone wrong and I felt it was my duty to make things wright. I never told the client, they have no idea the costs I've incurred, but I want to make sure I don’t break my promise. Integrity – this is my professional message.
Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty
My today's guest is carrying out a mission very noble, highly demanding and emotionally challenging. Susanna Yampolsky is a fitness personal trainer, prenatal and postnatal instructor, nutritionist, author of numerous health and fitness related articles. She helped many people with various health problems, including cancer, chronic fatigue, stroke, excessive or insufficient weight. Do you want to look great? Do you want to feel great? Ask Susanna how!
Susanna, when did you move to Canada and where are you originally from?
I am originally from Kiev, Ukraine. I came to Canada in the end of 1979 with my parents.
How about your family, any brothers or sisters?
I am the only child. My parents wanted to give me a better life than they had in Ukraine and that was the main reason why they came to Canada. I am very proud of my parents since they arrived with nothing to this country and were able to show me that with a lot of perseverance you can achieve many things in life.
Susanna, did you have a dream as a child?
As a child, I actually wanted to become a veterinarian, but we left Ukraine when I was 14 and when I came to Canada I realized there were many other possibilities.
What was your first job? And the worst job?
I got my first job when I was 15. I was cleaning apartments for senior people. I was paid $3 an hour, but I was happy I had some kind of money, since I was a teenager and like any other teenager I was interested in clothes and make up and my parents were not able to give me any extra money. My worst job was probably working night shifts at the pita factory. The work was tedious and it was very hot on the premises.
Do you have a funny story to share?
I guess one of the interesting stories that happened to me was when I went with my girlfriends to a bar/lounge and we were sitting at the table and having a drink. At some point we noticed a lot of commotion. We were trying to figure out what was going on and then we saw an oriental guy giving autographs to a lot of people. A lot of women were swooning all over him. I was not paying any attention to that as I am not a celebrity crazy person. All of a sudden some guy comes up to me and tells me that Suzur Lee would like to meet me. I said “who?” I had no idea who that was. Meanwhile, my girlfriends were really excited since this actually was a famous chef who appeared on many TV programs and he has several restaurants here and in New York. I said “ok” I will talk to him. So we ended up talking half of the night and he joined us with another chef at our table. He was actually a very interesting person and invited us to come to one of his restaurants and try his food.
Susanna, do you like to travel?
I do like to travel when time permits. I love Europe, would go back to Italy, Spain, France any time. I have never been to Greece, so that is probably where I would like to go next.
What about your hobbies, do you have any?
When I have spare time I love to go dancing, especially Latin dancing. I do a lot of Zumba classes at the gym (Zumba is a mix of aerobic and latin dance moves). I am a very people oriented person , so I really enjoy spending time with my family and my friends.
How did you decide to become a personal trainer?
I work as a personal fitness trainer. It is an interesting story how I decided to become one. I always wanted to go into health industry and thought that it would be a good choice for me to become a nutritionist. Therefore, in high school I took all required courses like chemistry and biology. But when I was applying to universities, my family was worried that this is really not such a great profession and there would not be enough jobs offered, so we decided that I should go into Business program at Ryerson. After graduating from Ryerson, I worked in several big companies but I never really enjoyed the business environment and the politics that went with it. I got married one year before my graduation from university and after couple of years of working we have decided to start a family. When I had my daughter, my husband and I felt that it would be more beneficial for me to stay home and take care of her. Then, when my daughter was 1 ½ years old, I got really sick and it took two weeks to diagnose me with brain aneurysm. I was lucky to be alive and the doctors were in awe that I still was alive. So for the treatment they decided to try and put me on steroids and bunch of other pills to shrink the damage that was done in the brain, which resulted in me gaining 50 lbs in two months. I was very depressed, but was happy that I survived and could be with my daughter. Some time has passed and I got better, but I still had a lot of extra weight on me, so I have decided to join the gym and hire a personal trainer to help me out. He was a great trainer, who was very knowledgeable and guided me to lose weight properly. I felt and looked great and a lot of people were asking me for advice. I learned so much and was excited about helping other people and he suggested that I take a Personal Fitness Trainer’s course and get a certificate. And that exactly what I did!!!
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is dealing with all kind of people. You have to find a personal way to deal with each person.
What is your favorite part?
What I like the most about my job is seeing people achieve results, feeling better about themselves and getting their health on the right track.
What is success for you?
Success to me is when people tell me that they could never have done this without me and how I changed their life. I have clients that have been with me for the last 10 years and we have become a family. I have helped them through good times and bad. When I see their children growing up realizing how important exercise and proper nutrition is, it means a lot to me. Because, children learn by example. It is important to show that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.
What would you still like to achieve?
I am ready to help more people and to show them that they could be in control of their bodies. It is hard to start, but once you do and you are hooked on it, you will never let go because it makes you feel amazing!
Two beauties - Susanna and her daughter
Susanna, are you a happy person?
Being happy for me means having my family and friends around me and enjoy life to the fullest, because I do know now that if you are given a second chance in life, you do have to take advantage of it.
Please, meet Jane Ivko, young, gorgeous and ambitious. Jane is Toronto based make up artist and eyelash extension specialist. You just take care of your inner world and Jane will make you look beautiful from the outside!
Jane, would you share a few word on your background, please?
I was born in Dushanbe, Tadjikistan. My parents came to Dushanbe from Leningrad, Russia and Harkov, Ukraine. My Mom was a professor of Russian language and literature. My Dad, master of sports in boxing, was also a professor, but at the Institute of physical education. My grandpa, farther's Dad, was a professor of Math and used to teach at the Institute of Mathematics.
What was your first job?
My first job was at the "office depot" in Israel, it was a lot of fun.
Jane at work
How about your worst job ever?
The most horrible job in my life was accountant.
Make up by Jane
Jane, could you share a funny story from you life?
Marina, I had a lot of funny stories, but they are not quite appropriate to be told in public!
Bridal make up by Jane
Do you like to travel?
I love to travel! When still in Israel I used to love travelling all over the Europe. Here, in Canada, winter weather always makes me crave sunshine and I really want to go somewhere closer to the ocean!
One of Jane's models - Nancy!
Do you have a hobby, Jane?
Unfortunately, I don't have much time for the hobbies, but when I get lucky, I love to read, listen to good music. I also decided to learn skating.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
When I do the eyelash extensions, it takes about 2 hours and you have to be concentrated and pay attention all the time, eyes get really tired.
Eyelash extensions in process
And what is the most rewarding part?
I love the results of my hard work, when my clients get happy. This is really awesome!
What is success for you?
Success for me is lots of clients, happy and satisfied clients, grateful clients! Monetary part of the business is also important. In a long run, I would really like to open my own salon, large and popular.
Smokey eyes by Jane
What is home for you?
Home for me is safety, love of my family, warmth and rest after the long busy day.
Jane. Make up by Jane
Jane, what would you still like to achieve?
I love my job, I add a part of my heart into every little project. I hope all my clients are happy and satisfied. I also hope that in the near future I could do even more for our lovely ladies, as I always continue learning. So far, beside eyelash extensions and make up, I am also a cosmetologist, I do facials, laser treatments and many more. This is my lifetime ambition to help ladies become even more beautiful, more confident and learn to love themselves, their appearance.
Thank you, Jane, we wish you all the best, lots of clients and all your wishes to come true!
Compliments of Marina Gavrylyuk Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group Summit Realty