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If there is anyone dependent on your income – parents, children, relatives – you need life insurance – Suze Orman

In the 21st century, women are empowered socially and can be found in every profession. Across North America, and the UK more women are enrolled in universities than men. Women are contributing more to the household income and are essential to maintain a certain lifestyle. Women are becoming breadwinners and do not understand their financial value and often do not take financial protection or life insurance.

I am starting a new series Life Insurance For Women. I am going to interview Chad from GoLife insurance   https://golife.ca/fourcolumns on the following ten topics:

  1. Women are being overcharged, a lot, for mortgage insurance – what you need to know!
  2. Why women talk themselves out of the life insurance they want/need?
  3. How to prepare for baby- 3 pieces to financial protection (will, mat leave savings, life insurance).
  4. Is underwriting for women different?
  5. A women’s perspective! Accessing life insurance in an industry designed by men.
  6. Is my life insurance at work enough?
  7. How does term insurance work? What are other types of life insurance?
  8. 5 things to know before buying life insurance online
  9. Stay at home mom’s and life insurance
  10. Don’t get oversold! Discovering your number

Women need to get life insurance for a number of reasons

Today many women make more than their spouses or are a single parent family. If something were to happen to you, life insurance will cover a lot of the expenses and will take care of your dependents. In North America, more than 50% of single mothers do not have insurance.

Women can use life insurance to save money.

Women can use insurance to protect against disability, chronic, terminal and critical illness.

The life expectancy of a woman is more than a man. I also want to make something very clear. Life insurance is also for the stay at home mom. A stay at home mom is one of the most difficult jobs but also adds so much emotional, mental, psychological and spiritual value to the household. If something were to happen to you, a cook, driver or housekeeper would have to be hired.

If you are the matriarch of the family, your death could have an impact on the family.

As a single person, life insurance could pay off your student loans, taxes, bills and other debts that your family might have to pay for.

I want you to think that life insurance is an investment and not an expense. Affiliate Disclaimer

Hi there! It is my goal to be completely transparent with you both here and within our community, and so I want to let you know that certain products and links to these products on this site are affiliate links. What are affiliate links? Essentially, when you click one of those links and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at absolutely no extra cost to you. I am deeply passionate about this site, and it is my goal to make this a place where you can come and trust that the information you are reading empowers you.

Photo Credits: Andrew Neel on Unsplash,  LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Victoria Heath on Unsplash,  Joey Pilgrim on Unsplash,  Joey Pilgrim on Unsplash, Joseph Kellner on Unsplash

The post Life Insurance for Women appeared first on Four Columns of a Balanced Life.

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Audrey, I have a deep respect for those in any of the forces. A pleasure to be interviewing the wife of an officer posted abroad. Tell me something important about you?

Hello, my name is Audrey Hasslocher. I am living overseas with my U.S. Army husband and my two beautiful daughters. I am a stay at home mom and attending a university online. I am happy to announce, I will be completing a degree in Communications and Public Relations in June! In my spare time, I write on my travel and lifestyle blog, www.foreverfreebird.com. It has been a way for me to stay connected to my friends and family overseas.

I read your story ‘A truly free bird’, wow! I was crying. So, let us start by discussing your homelessness. Walk me through that whole process?

The story I am going to share with you all is something very personal and was still difficult to share after all these years. For most of my life, I hid my childhood upbringing and the struggles I faced as a young woman. Only in the past few years did I begin to feel safe enough to share my story with others. When I began to share my story, I felt myself healing.

My story began when I was born in the projects and ghetto of San Antonio, Texas. At this time, my mother had 5 children to provide for all only using government assistance, welfare, and disability checks. My mother was born deaf and developmentally delayed due to her own mother contracting a virus during pregnancy. There are many things I remember about my home in the ghetto but the memories that ring the loudest were the violent screams from my own mother. She had many boyfriends but one, in particular, abused her, took advantage of her disabilities, and stole money from her.

One day, I came back to the house and heard my mother screaming inside. She was tied up and her boyfriend was beating her. The abuse did not stop at her and soon trickled down from my oldest sibling to finally my youngest. With the lack of food, adequate clothing, supervision, and safety Child Protective Services made the decision to remove all of her children. This is when I began my journey through the foster care system.

From the age of 7 to 18, I was raised by the state and rotated through many foster homes. Some foster homes were great but a few homes I experienced more abuse and neglect. Aside from the emotional abuse experienced at the hands of foster mothers, I was overall in a safer place. If I described foster care in one word it would be lonely. I felt extremely detached and unloved. I knew moving forward I would never experience the love of a family. The homes I lived in felt more like I was renting space or a tenant who could not step out of line or they would medicate me. Foster care’s first response to behavior problems is medicating the children until they are zombies. This helped foster parents better deal with their foster children since they were sedated. It is sad but a true problem in foster care.

Church and books helped pass by these lonely years. As I escaped to church I developed a relationship and love from the church members and the God they shared with me. In my heart, I desired an unconditional love and I found this in Jesus. I am glad I found religion at a young age as I may have followed a much darker path much like my foster siblings. I am sad to say, I have met many of them since and many followed the same broken path they were born into. Due to my escape into books and school, I excelled and graduated from high school with honors. I was accepted into my #1 university choice. Things were looking great and bright at this time in my life.

Unfortunately, no sooner did I graduate when I met someone who forever altered my life. A young man with a dark and troubled past. He appeared charming, handsome, and sweet but he was far from it. My advice to young women is to take your time when getting to know someone. I rushed our relationship and moved so quickly I missed all the red flags waving frantically in front of me. At the age of 18, I was pregnant, and my brighter days came to a screeching halt. His cheating began immediately, and it soon followed with intense arguments, yelling, and punching walls. These are all red flags and I should have known it would have only gotten worse from there. Shortly after I gave birth to my daughter, the physical abuse began. 

I get countless emails from women who are in abusive relationships. You walked away from one. How can women deal with such situations?

The strength that comes from walking away from an abusive relationship is incredible yet difficult. There are mixed feelings such as love, fear, hope, despair, yearning, and grief. The back and forth of one’s heart doesn’t go away once you have physically walked away. Many women have left physically but have never left mentally or emotionally. Sadly, it takes women a couple of times to learn the hard lesson that our partner will never change. In fact, it is statistically proven that abuse only gets worse and in unfortunate situations leads to death. If you are someone struggling with leaving your abusive partner, I urge you that there are brighter days without them. In the middle of my pain, I could not see a life without this person but as I stand here looking back, I am so thankful I am still not suffering at the hands of my abuser. Since leaving my ex my life has transformed into something beautiful, positive, and hopeful. 

I am a big believer in breaking the cycle of intergenerational behavior, toxic abuse, and negativity. How did you come out at the end of the tunnel ready to get rid of it in your own life? 

The day I finally decided to leave my ex, I was sitting in the car yelling at him about his cheating and lies. He became outraged and it prompted him to turn from the driver’s seat and begin punching me. I tried to cover my head but still felt the blows and soon began to feel dizzy. I was screaming for him to stop but he wouldn’t relent. I heard my 6-month-old begin crying in the back seat as she heard my screaming. It was at this moment, I realized I had continued the cycle of abuse I had lived as a little girl. The punching and screaming were a reoccurring event in my home in the projects. My daughter would one day come home to my screaming much as I did. It was this realization that sparked something inside me that powered a deep desire to be free. I reached out to a close friend to tell her what I was going to do. The sad part is I texted my ex I was leaving him and not coming back. I was expecting him to call me and beg me to stay. But instead, he responded, “good, by then.” With my ex out of the house, I called the police. They then escorted me to a battered women’s shelter. I had no family to rescue me but instead had to rescue myself… and my daughter. I had to give us both a chance to have a life without abuse. Life in the shelter was extremely difficult and it was filled with a lowness I had never felt before. But the freedom of building my own life again motivated me to continue pushing forward.

I decided to join the military and provide a life for my daughter that she deserved. We spent four amazing years in New York City as I worked in the Coast Guard. It was during this time I transformed from a scared and timid person into a strong and independent woman. My happiness was always in my reach and it started with leaving my toxic abuser. This period molded me and I continued to build a positive and healthy life myself and daughter.   

Everything happens for a reason. You are positive and focused on the future. What did you learn from everything you have been through?

Lessons Learned:

  • “I am lovable.”

The biggest lesson I learned from growing up in foster care was, “I am lovable.” Growing up in so many homes where love was absent, where I constantly yearned for a mother and a father, I never felt loved or considered myself lovable. After my father abandoned me and my mother allowed abuse, I felt far from lovable. I had to learn to allow myself to be loved and this was a difficult lesson. When I learned to love me, I was able to recognize love in others.

  • “Family is who we make it.”

As I became an adult I learned another valuable lesson, “Family is who we make it.” Family is not just blood but those who accept and love us as we are. I have met wonderful people who have taken me into their heart and have accepted and loved me. These are people I consider family and I am blessed because of it.

  • “I am strong, and I am worthy of good love.”

After leaving an abusive relationship, I learned “I am strong, and I am worthy of good love.” Many times, we do not allow ourselves to be loved or treated well because we do not think we deserve it. We choose not to leave because of fear no one could ever love us. We think this is the best love we will get so we stay in a toxic relationship. We have to remember we all have an inner strength. There is a warrior inside us all willing to fight if only we believe in her. When I believed in myself, when I fought for myself, I was able to win battles.

The life in the army. You are moving a lot. Tell me about some of the challenges in the army but also the positives?

Some of the challenges that come with being an army wife are the nomadic lifestyle. The constant moving adds an element of stress. The new homes, new schools, new friends, new rules, new cultures, and new places. It can be both an adventure and hardship. We recently moved to two different countries in two years. That was challenging, and we had to learn two completely different European cultures, customs, languages, and more from one year to the next. It is great being able to travel and visit so many countries but there are times I long for the comfort of home. Another positive has been the eye-opening experience of seeing new places and meeting different cultures.

A challenge for me personally has been the loss of my career. I think this is the same complaint of many military spouses. As a military member, myself I remember not thinking much of the wives or considering the journey they took to be next to their spouse. As a military spouse, I now understand the incredible sacrifice. I can see both sides and I respect them equally for each part has sacrifices even the children!

When I met my now husband, I did not envision the same year we married he would have joined the Army and received orders to move to Europe. It was all exciting but difficult. I had a great job surrounded by people I cared for doing something I genuinely believed in. I was working at the same homeless shelter that helped me get back on my feet those years ago. I was giving back and helping others the same was I was helped. It felt rewarding and so purposeful. I went from working full-time at a homeless shelter, part-time at a magazine firm, attending college full-time, a mother full-time to… just a stay at home wife.

It was incredibly shocking, and it was a hard transition. I became depressed and my days felt purposeless. I was in a mental rut and did not know how to escape. I dealt with this by again… fighting for myself. I gave myself a new purpose and refocused my energies on something new. I went out and made new friends, I tried new hobbies, I began my travel/lifestyle blog, I took trips to new places, and I made myself think happy. I reminded myself that purpose can be redefined. 

Audrey, I have to ask you this question. How does the army prepare you and how do you prepare yourself that someday, a chaplain arrives at your door and you know the news? 

I have thought of this scenario and each time incredible emotions rush over me. I can feel the tears as I think of my husband dying during war. I am grateful my husband is not in combat and it is not in his near future. However, even with that said, I know my heart will break with the news. I will be proud of him as he lived honorably and served his country honorably. I know my husband would never choose to leave us, but he would bravely fight for his country and what he believes in. In my heart, I had to accept this possibility and understand that each country requires men and women willing to fight for our freedoms. For that, I will respect his choices and commitment to his country even at the ultimate cost of his life. With that said, the truth is none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. We should remember to cherish our loved ones when they are standing next to us. 

I am so proud that our lives have crossed. My gratitude level has jumped 100% percent reading your story. Give my audience some advice on anything? 

Growing up I never had people who believed in me. People did not cheer me on. I had to learn to cheer for myself. I had to believe in my own dreams. I had to learn to love me. I became my biggest cheerleader.  My best advice is to “believe in yourself.”

The post Audrey: Army Wife appeared first on Four Columns of a Balanced Life.

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Diane worked in the wealth management business for 15+ years and took some time off to raise her kid. As she returns to work, I catch up with her and talk about time off, motherhood and challenges of returning to work.

Diane, good to connect with you again. What is new and exciting with you?

Hi Jerry, it’s been a while.  Nice to connect with you again. 2019 is proving to be a year of change.

After being home for 4yrs and my child having started school in September, I was torn on what I wanted to do with my life.  Did I want to return to work?  Did I want a career change?  Was I ready for full-time work again? All I knew was that I needed further brain activity for my own personal satisfaction, regardless of the form in which I could get that.

It so happened that in the new year, I went back to work on a whim, filling in last minute for 8 days – this was going to be a great test, it would tell me if I really wanted to be back in the workforce.  Well, within the first 3 days, I was offered 3 job opportunities.  If that’s not a sign, then I don’t know what is!

How was the time off for work?

Simply put, Amazing! I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home to raise my daughter and I wanted to make sure I took full advantage, knowing full well these years would be precious & gone too quickly. So, I did, I embraced it and went on many adventures.  Nothing to regret, only a million beautiful memories that I will forever cherish.

Let’s talk about marriage. What have you learned from it?

We all have our own journeys and meet at different stages of life. Andrew definitely came into my life not only when I needed him, but when I can honestly say I could appreciate him.  He has taught me many things; love, compromise, trust, perspective, self-worth, and balance.  We balance each other well; I keep him on his toes and he keeps me grounded LOL.

It sounds so cliché, but I often refer to him as my better half…. Not because he is ‘better’ than I, but because he has helped me be my best self.

How has motherhood changed you? What are you learning from it?

Motherhood has given back in so many ways.  I have learned what unconditional love truly is & how to love deeply with all your heart and soul.  We all experience love in various forms and know what unconditional love is, but being a parent puts you on the other side of the equation.  It is pretty powerful & amazing.

Also, Watching the world evolve and discovering everything again through the eyes of a child is pretty spectacular. From their joy and pleasure of feeling sand in their toes, the sight of a vibrant flower blooming from a bud to being able to ride their first tricycle, spelling their own names. All of this has taught me to reconnect and experience/appreciate all the wonders of life whenever possible, even the simplest of things.  Life is too precious, embrace what you have and enjoy whenever possible.

What have been some of the challenges returning to work?

The biggest challenge has been time management.  I want to still be able to do all that I did before I began working and not jeopardize the time I have with my child.  Someday, it seems impossible.  Those days are when I have to prioritize.  Our daily routine has changed a little, but our priorities have not – at the end of the day Mom or Dad will still do homework with her, we have dinner as a family and bedtime has been extended to being a bit later, but still a family affair.   Returning to work has given me a better balance to life and hopefully will allow my child the privilege of having a good female figure, in her life as well.

How are balancing food, faith, finance, and family?

Am I truly balancing it all?  As best as I can, I guess. I believe this is where you need a village to raise a child. Someday we have take-out so that the day/evening runs smoother.  Other days, I enlist the help of either Grandmothers… They’re great at keeping faith and traditions alive.  There’s no foolproof equation to this, certain seasons like Christmas you may be ranking top in the family & faith column when on regular days/weeks/months, you may be more focused on food and finance.

It’s a balancing act and I believe as long as the exposure to all columns/aspects of a healthy life is there on a regular basis, you’re doing fairly well.

The post Diane: The Mummy Returns appeared first on Four Columns of a Balanced Life.

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Liliane Fawzy is the creator and blogger at My Toronto, My World which is a travel blog dedicated to highlighting Toronto and Ontario in addition to the rest of the world.

I wrote about watching planes in Ottawa for her article 24 Best Things to do in Ottawa on Your Visit

The post Watching Planes in Ottawa appeared first on Four Columns of a Balanced Life.

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Lauren tell me something about yourself and Literary Dates?

I’m a single female living in NYC and soon will be turning the big 4-0. I wish I could say I’m fully embracing it but getting older does make me a bit nervous. Can a healthy lifestyle reverse aging? That’s what I’m telling myself! Time to put down the tacos and ice cream. Hmm? Well, everything in moderation, right? I will strive for restraint in my food choices, however, in my overall life choices, I want to continue to challenge myself and take risks. Maybe a little adventure is in store for me too? I hope!

I’ve digressed because this should be a more general “About Me.” Here I go: I’ve been living in NYC for almost 14 years. I stumbled a bit when I first moved here unsure of what I wanted to do but ultimately landed on a rewarding career working with kids in the hospital setting.

I blog about Literary Dates, which is when I read a book set in NYC, let the book be my guide, and inspire a fun tour of NYC. I’m exploring the city one book at a time and loving it! I have found a newfound appreciation of this city. The tours allow me to hold onto the book a little longer while I explore the city that I love through the characters’ eyes. For a book lover, it’s a dream!

Photo Credit: Steve Maxwell

What motivated you to start Literary Dates?

I knew I wanted to write so decided to try blogging. Since people say to write what you know, I settled on dating in NYC. I’ve been on many online dates, so I wouldn’t be short on material. However, I found that writing about specific dates didn’t feel right. I tended to write more about my general feelings about dating. At that time my blog was called Searching for Humor because I wanted to find the humorous side of dating to save my sanity.

Since I read a lot, especially chick lit, I thought writing book reviews on that genre would be a good fit. Like with my dating posts, I tried to put a humorous spin on my reviews. It was fun but still, I wasn’t completely motivated. I ended up having a large chunk of time when I didn’t write anything.

One day, I was chatting with a Twitter friend, @singleliving4me, after she posted a portrait of Audrey Hepburn. We chatted about our mutual love of Audrey Hepburn and she recommended a great biography about her. I couldn’t find that book, but instead found Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson. Most the book was all the behind the scenes stuff in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

After reading it, I got the idea to visit the NYC film sites and then blog about it. My Breakfast at Tiffany’s Tour was the first of my Literary Dates. I called it a date with myself in the city. I loved seeing the sites, taking pictures, and then blogging about it. My tour gave me that awesome vacation feeling.

This got me thinking…” So many books are set in NYC…why don’t I read more books set in NYC and do this again?” That’s how Literary Dates was born! Thanks to my other Twitter friend @Alex_Micati for inspiring my blog’s name.

I’ve been doing these little book tours for over a year now. I absolutely love it! I’ve even taken the act on the road, once on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and more recently in Dallas, Texas. I have ideas for possible future literary dates outside of NYC, which is fun to think about. I love this blog because it keeps giving me new ideas and cool stuff keeps popping up (like this interview!) I’m excited to see where it goes.

Please tell me the challenges of starting a blog?

I started blogging on a whim. I knew someone who was blogging and she recommended WordPress. It might be bad to admit, but I didn’t research at all. Not one bit. I went to WordPress.com and after a few clicks, I had my blog. Therefore, starting it, wasn’t a challenge for me. The challenges came when I was knee deep into blogging. Many of the issues that came up probably could have been avoided had I done some research. Much of the technical side of blogging is still over my head. I’m still trying to understand SEO, Pinterest, getting my photos right…and since I want to change my blog’s design theme, I’m worried about that being difficult for me. I still need to read a lot of how-to tutorials. One of these days! Once I figure out how to monetize, then maybe I can hire a tech assistant? One can dream!

Why do you like writing?

I feel like I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer. In person, I tend to be on the quieter, shy side so I express myself better through writing than orally. I can get my thoughts out better in the written form. For instance, I’m a texter which truly pisses off the people who prefer the ancient method of talking on the phone. They are a dying breed though so I’m relieved about that.

My introverted personality lends itself well to writing. I definitely enjoy plenty of me time! I love hanging out with good friends but I have to have time to myself.

It’s nice to channel this aspect of my personality in writing through my blog. Going on my literary dates completely fits in with my personality and motivates my writing.

Help me understand what being single in NYC is like?

Before I tackle this one, I want to start by saying that I don’t want to be all, “Oh dating in NYC is so hard. Feel sorry for me with all that I have to put up with!”

I will, however, say that dating in NYC sucks. I kid! It’s not all bad. No seriously, I’ve met plenty of nice guys. Well, mostly, except that one nutter or two.

Okay, I’ll be real. A few of the guys I’ve dated I’ve met more organically, but most of my dating experience in NYC, is from online dating/apps.

The truth is that most of the guys I’ve met have been nice. I actually don’t have many crazy stories because I think I’m good at weeding out the potential problem ones before we get to the date.

Dating obviously can be very frustrating. Like many people, I have been ghosted. It’s worse when it seemed very promising. I had a guy on a date talking about making me a CD (was a few years ago. I know.) and even said he wanted to make me some mac & cheese! Then, I didn’t hear from him.

With me, dating goes one of three ways: I like the guy, but he’s not into me, the guy likes me, but I’m not into him, or we like each other enough for a handful of dates but then it fizzles out. Ultimately not compatible.

I know a lot of people say dating in NYC is really hard. On Twitter, it seems like dating is hard for many women and men across the globe. However, I have always said that women outnumber men in NYC, so men have the advantage. My own brother often, not so subtlety, will point out the difficulty of dating in NYC. He’ll text me articles about the best places to live for singles. NYC is inevitably in the category of “worst areas to live as a single.”

With a city as big as NYC, with so many people and options, throw in online dating, and it gives people even more options. I think online dating adds to the firestorm and makes it harder. However, plenty of people have found love in this city. So, it is not impossible.

Like I said before, many people across the globe, have struggled with dating. So, I do not blame NYC. I’m sticking with you, New York!

Let us go for a walk and tell me something challenging you have been through. How did you deal with it?

My former job caused me a lot of stress. Since starting my career, I’ve stayed in various positions for a respectable length of time. After only 6 months, I started pursuing a new opportunity, which I ultimately got. I had to give my notice to my supervisor. Someone I respect and who have supported me my entire career (my field is a small world). I knew what people would think- that I’m not giving it a chance, not standing up for myself (to a particular person who caused me grief), not smart for giving up on a higher paying job, etc. However, I’ve always been an instinctual person and my gut was shouting to me loud and clear to get out. To me, leaving a situation that wasn’t right for me despite what people would think, was standing up for myself. I believed that wholeheartedly, so when my former supervisor or coworkers or anyone brought up those points, it didn’t affect me. It’s true what they say, “The only person who will truly look out for you, is you.” Listen to your gut! I’m so happy where I am now. Take it with a grain of salt, it’s only been about a month, but so far so good!

Life is tough, challenging and unfair. Do you agree? Give my audience some advice on how to deal with adversity?

I think life can be tough and challenging. However, I don’t think my life has been particularly unfair. Some groups of people have been treated unfairly: women and other marginalized groups. I’ve been lucky in life to be born to great, supportive parents who help me to succeed. I do think it’s important to raise girls to believe they can succeed in whatever they are passionate about. I believe with boys and girls, that we shouldn’t enforce certain kinds of play. Like only boys play with trucks and Legos and only girls can play with dolls. I’m all for getting rid of gender..

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Christophe James Mitchell is one of the top travel bloggers on the planet.

He is from Toronto and has visited more than 80 countries.

I wrote about Bellwoods Brewery for his article Lovers of Toronto Breweries Rejoice, Here are the Best Breweries in Toronto!

The post Bellwoods Brewery appeared first on Four Columns of a Balanced Life.

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Praneet, It was a pleasure to connect with you a while back. Welcome to my blog and let’s start by you telling my audience something about you?

Jerry, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts. Thank you for thinking of me!

I am a single and a proud mother to a beautiful 3-year old girl. She is at the center of everything I do and is my strength in everything thick and thin. I am a recruiter by profession and in my free time, I love to indulge in different forms of art such as painting, dancing, and embroidery. I am a foodie and a believer of super-heroes, magic, and fairy-tales.

Walk me through the life experience which has helped shape your present?

I am from India and come from a simple family. I moved to Canada a decade ago to pursue my MBA. After graduation and a few years of work, I moved back to India to spend time with my family. During my time in India, through a close relative’s suggestion, I got married within a short time. My husband worked in the US and after marriage, I moved to the US on a dependent visa. Like most people, I wasn’t ready for the unexpected sequence of events, let alone figuring out how to deal with it. The trauma and anxiety I endured influenced my outlook towards life to a great extent but it only made me stronger and more determined.

Three years ago, during the early hours of March 5th, I held my two-week-old daughter in my arms as cops walked around in my house. They had my husband in custody and were cross-examining me, my mother, and my mother-in-law. The previous night, you must know that I was a victim of another incident of domestic violence. This wasn’t the first time I was abused, as it occurred at regular intervals since my marriage in 2015. I had hoped things would change after the birth of our child. Talk about living in hope only to see it shattered time and again! I picked myself up each time life threw me down, hoping that a new day would bring a new ray of hope.

After the cross-examination and answering a series of uncomfortable questions, I looked around to see the four walls of the place that I once called home, quickly disappear. The police suggested I find another place to keep me and my baby safe. There I was then, staring into the jaws of a never-ending living hell with no job, a broken marriage, a baby without a father and no place to go to. A relative of mine who I wasn’t very close to came to my rescue. They took me under their wings and I lived with them for a month before moving to Canada.

It’s been a little over three years since that day and I am thankful to my family, relatives, and close friends who stood by me. Although divorced, I am now free, independent and enjoy life to the fullest. And so does my daughter. I work for an amazing organization, have great colleagues, and I continue to invest in my professional and personal development by studying part-time, learning salsa, and just appreciating each day as it comes. It’s been a humbling experience and it keeps me grounded in life. I chose to look at the tumultuous experiences as a stepping stone to achieve better outcomes in life.

Motherhood is huge. Help me understand how motherhood has impacted your life?

Motherhood has been a wonderful journey and the most gratifying experience. It is often inexplicable as it takes you through a mix of emotions. My daughter, undoubtedly, is the apple of my eye. She inspires me to work harder and be happier. From the ultrasound trips to her stretching and from her incessant hiccups in my womb to the first time I held her, this kid has helped me be strong and confident. There’s hardly a hurdle I can’t overcome with my daughter by my side. She completes me in all aspects!

I resonate with the adage, “Birth takes a woman’s deepest fears about herself and shows her that she is stronger than them.” I wish to make everything beautiful and happy for her and give her the life any kid deserves. She gives me the strength to fight the rigmarole of life and I find it easier to find inner peace in her company when things go awry. Motherhood has taught me to be patient and resilient. We laugh and cry together like there’s no tomorrow. While she takes her tiny steps each day, she’s helped me to take my own tiny steps towards a better and peaceful life.

What does female empowerment mean?

Female empowerment is the ability to take life-determining decisions through different problems in society. My experiences more than anything else have helped me understand this in its truest sense. Today, I stand strong, confident, and independent. I’ve taken charge of my life and I am proud as it gives me the power and the ability to instill the same qualities and capabilities in my daughter. In simple terms, female empowerment is giving women the right to live life just as men do. It means to create a society, where women have the opportunity and resources to live life with a sense of dignity and self-worth and with equal access to resources, rights, and status.

Female empowerment is not something you give but rather something you share with women without any conditions or restrictions. It’s not about what women can do, or what we decide they can wear and whom they choose to be friends with; decided often by other people in certain cultures. It’s about how we enable them to choose their journey that reflects their preferences and individuality. Reflecting on my own experiences, female empowerment starts at home and extends into the broader society.

Talk to me about your passion for Recruitment?

I know what it is to incur huge debts with no sight of a job on the horizon. It can erode your confidence and make you question your own abilities. I recall how this one person, who coincidentally happened to be my junior in college, helped me find my first job. We had never met but I give credit to his relentless efforts in coaching me and helping me prepare for the interview, which eventually helped me do amazingly secure my first job. The ability to connect people with their dream job ignites my passion and purpose in life. If I can’t find them a dream job today, I endeavor to keep in touch or act as a coach and talk them through a gloomy day. All it takes are words of encouragement and that’s all that some people might need to not give up.

It gives me immense pleasure when I am successful in assisting new immigrants and graduates to get back on their feet in a fiercely competitive and sometimes brutal economy. I love recruitment for the intrinsic satisfaction it provides especially when I see people do well in the jobs I have placed them in. And, frankly, they return the favor with countless blessings and good wishes – you can never have enough of that!

How can immigrants become successful in Toronto?

To new immigrants, I have 3 pieces of advice:

  1. Network – Connect with as many professionals as you can over LinkedIn or any other way that you are comfortable with. Connect for suggestions and ideas – not for a job to start with. They might not become your employers but could connect you with someone who might become your future employer.
  2. Integrate – Adapt the diverse Canadian culture and explore the various bridging programs. In class, education is the best way to meet people in the industry. Volunteering for different programs not only gives you the opportunity to network but also allows you to give back to society.
  3. Patience – Know that the pain is temporary and don’t give up, if you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will. Finding a job is a job in itself. It takes time, a lot of work and some amount of luck! Never say never and don’t lose hope. You will see light at the end of the tunnel.
How is food, faith, finance and family important to you and how you find balance?

My family is the most important and everything else falls in place by itself. My family has given me the confidence to stand strong. Everyone has different priorities and the way we find our balance is unique to our own situations. The key is to understand where your priorities lie.

The post Praneet Kaur: Recruitment Consultant appeared first on Four Columns of a Balanced Life.

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I have been to every state and province of central and northern India. I have met many Yogis and have seen some of them standing for days in a certain position. What is Yoga? What are all the Yoga poses, Hatha Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Yoga asanas, Yoga Nidra, Vinyasa Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Sahaja Yoga and Prana Yoga?

I talk to Mudit a childhood friend of mine, who has been practicing it for a long time. I want to get deeper into it besides all the commercialization and products that it entails. Mudit has an MBA and has been working as the Head of Retail for a bank in Dubai (UAE). His career has spanned three decades over 5 countries. However, Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness have always been a passion since school but over the last decade has become the central pillar in his life. His desire is to introduce as many people to these practices. He believes they are secular, free and the answer to some of the world’s problems like loneliness, radicalism, depression and poor mental/ physical health. Mudit would like to spend the rest of his life as an evangelist to share knowledge about these practices around the world and to help improve the quality of people’s lives.

Mudit, I always thought we would be sitting in London or New York over an investment banking deal. Here we are talking about spirituality and Yoga. Please tell my audience what is Yoga?

Yoga is a Sanskrit word which comes from the word “Yuj” which means to “join” or to “unite”.  At a basic level, it means to join or unite the body with the mind. At a more spiritual level, it implies a process of joining or uniting a human with the eternal spirit (Brahman).

The first time Yoga was mentioned was in the “Rig Veda” an ancient Sanskrit text (approx. 10,000 years old). Further mentions are found in the “Svetasvatara and Katha Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita (Vedic texts) and several types of Yoga are mentioned like Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Gyan Yoga, Raja Yoga, etc. This knowledge was part of Vedic thought encapsulated in the concept of “Sanatana Dharma” or Eternal principles (truths) that were meant to be relevant across all time periods. This knowledge evolved within the Indian subcontinent by the “Rishis” (seers) as was part of the earliest civilizations on planet earth.

Centuries later Patanjali produced a text called “Yoga Sutras” on the philosophy of Yoga.  He outlined eight limbs (steps) which are meant to be sequentially followed on the path to self-realization.

  1. Yama – Five abstentions (or outer observances), (Ahimsa (non-harming or non-violence in thought, word, and deed), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy or ‘right use of energy’), Aparigraha (non-greed or non-hoarding)
  2. Niyama – Five inner observances, (Shaucha (purification), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (self-discipline), Svadhyaya (self-study), Ishvara Pranidhana (devotion)
  3. Asana – Meaning “seat” and referring to the physical posture needed for meditation which popularly evolved as “Hatha Yoga
  4. Pranayama – Controlled or suspended breath/breathing exercises
  5. Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the senses
  6. Dharana – Single-pointed concentration
  7. Dhyana – Meditation (discussed later)
  8. Samadhi – Liberation

Most of the Western world, however, is familiar and primarily concerned with “Asana” or Hatha Yoga which are physical postures which are required for good health and wellbeing.

Is Hatha Yoga (asana) the same as physical exercises?

They are NOT the same and very different. In Hatha Yoga, the individual is meant to focus or bring awareness to his movements and breath. As a result, it was meant to be performed with a concentration in quietude. In exercises, there is no requirement to concentrate and hence very often gyms have music, TVs, etc. to entertain people. In exercises very often weights and machines are used, but in Yoga, an individual uses his body weight if required. Some props may be used in Yoga like towels or belts to help individuals reach a certain posture. Further exercises are primarily concerned with the outer body (muscles etc.) whilst Yoga works at massaging and stimulating organs within the body in addition to the outer body.

What are the benefits of Yoga (Hatha Yoga)?

There are many remarkable benefits of Yoga:

  • Improves your flexibility
  • Builds muscle strength
  • Perfects your posture
  • Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
  • Protects spine
  • Better bone health
  • Improves relaxation
  • Improves health
  • Regulates glands
  • Boosts immunity
  • Makes you happier

Help me understand what is Meditation?

The English word meditation is derived from an old French word meditacioun and the Latin meditatio from a verb meditari, meaning “to think, contemplate, devise, ponder”.

Meditation is a western word for the eastern Vedic practice of “Dhyana” mentioned as the seventh step in Patanjali’s “Yoga Sutras” and only one before the final 8th step of Samadhi (nirvana, moksha, self-realization).

The origin of the word “Dhyana” comes from the Sanskrit word “Dhyai” which is interpreted in English to mean to contemplate.

The classical definition of Dhyana/Meditation is the ability to focus on an “object or thought or being” to the exclusion of all other thoughts. This is possible ONLY when the mind is quiet, disciplined and is a result of the vigorous spiritual practice of the first 6 steps of the Patanjali yoga sutras. It is possible only when the mind has been trained to withdraw its senses from the external world of object and beings.

Today human beings are constantly subject to external messaging in terms of communication in various forms that encourage them to consume more (hence the term consumers) to live the projected perfect life. Success is defined materially in terms of material wealth reflected in terms of income, cars, houses, holidays, etc. The “instant culture” of instant success, recognition, satiation has resulted in minds and bodies being agitated and in constant flux as people feel inadequate and strive harder for instant gratification and in the process, disturb natural body rhythms of getting rest, sleep, etc. The results are a host of ailments from obesity to indigestion, to behavioral disorders, depression, etc.

As is the case for most spiritual practices, the constraints of modern living in terms of time constraints have led to the dilution of disciplined practices to adapt to modern day living needs. However, the benefits of these practices can still be reaped in modern day life.

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Victor, please explain to me a little about your style of music?

The Versatility in music ranges from Pop, Classic rock, Reggae, Country and Oldies. I can play any song regardless of the style.

Do you write, record your own music or do you strictly play other artist’s music?

I mostly perform other artists music but last year I did a Christmas album (received great feedback). Apart from doing live gigs,  I’m working on an original album.

I see your posts about performing at different venues. Talk to me about your band, music and venues?

This is a band with a compilation of the best of talented musicians with several years of experience. We mostly perform for socials, weddings….Highlights of the band are that we engage the crowd and perform songs what people want/request. We have a big repertoire of songs (over 300 songs).

Did your background help you in music?

Absolutely – growing in Goa we performed pretty much the same kind of music that is performed here.

How important is music to us as humans?

It’s a major therapy – cannot imagine life without music.

Name me some of your favorite Indian and Goan restaurants in the GTA?

Not many Goan restaurants out here – Konkan Delite and Mango Mirchi. Indian restaurants – The Host and Saravana Bhavan.

How do you keep the romance alive in your marriage?

Every now and then we go out for outings, getaways, drives, and vacations.

Help me understand how food, faith, family and finance are important in your own life?

It is a full circle. Everything is interrelated. One compliments the other.?

Give me a good family recipe of food

Tuna (Canned) Fish Croquettes:

For the Croquette Mixture:-

1 medium sized Onion (chopped)

3-4 Garlic cloves (chopped)

1-2 Green chilies (chopped )

1 tsp Black pepper powder

2 cans Tuna (well drained(Each tuna can weigh 142 grams) )

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp Vinegar

Salt (as required)

2 small Potatoes (peeled and mashed)

2 tbsp Coriander (chopped)

Breadcrumbs ((See the recipe for use of breadcrumbs in the mixture) )

For Deep-Frying Croquettes:-

1 Egg (egg beaten, add 1 tbsp water, mix well)

Bread crumbs (as required )

Oil (as required)

The post BigFoot Band appeared first on Four Columns of a Balanced Life.

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Marna a pleasure connecting with you on social media. Tell me a little about you and Suburban Goddess Mom?

Let see… I am 37 years old, divorced two years, mother of two (6 yr old boy, Brayden and 8yr old girl, JoJo).  I have a serious life partner named Chris, who has given me a second chance at true love.  In addition, I am a bit of a wild, untamed energy/free spirit. As a result, tattoos, piercings, crazy colored hair are part of my repertoire.  Similarly, I am a self-described mess and constant work in progress.  I am unabashedly me.  I have been blogging as The Suburban Goddess Mom for 5 months. The blog is a brutally honest account of my journey, transformation, and struggles. In conclusion, those who know me personally say it sounds just like me talking. 

What motivated you to start Suburban Goddess Mom?

I started my blog after posting on Facebook about a kick-ass day I was having.  It was one of those days where I felt like the best mother on earth.  The post read, “Today I feel like a suburban goddess mom and it’s only 9:30. Woke up at 6, made Chris his breakfast and lunch, cuddled with Brayden who woke up early, showered and washed my hair, I am dressed in non workout clothes, woke JoJo, got both kids dressed, fed them breakfast, did JoJo’s hair for a change, played two games with Brayden, getting kids to school on time, grocery shopped, went to Starbucks.  And I will spend the rest of the day at school talking about Hanukah.  Some days are like this and some days I wear PJs all day and get nothing done.  But today I am patting myself on the back!!!”  In conclusion, the feeling of writing this and the response to it compelled me to start the blog. 

Talk to me about some of the challenges of starting a blog?

The biggest challenge for me with starting the blog is doing all the things that don’t bring me joy and that are not fun about blogging.  Setting up websites, formatting, etc.  After struggling through it for maybe a month I began outsourcing those tasks to a Virtual Assistant.  Which allows me to write, work on social media engagement and interactions.  I love it!

Why do you like writing?

I have always loved writing.  I remember writing pages and pages of stories in elementary school.  Even in high school I always took creative writing very seriously. I spent I think three summers taking creative writing classes at Skidmore, Oxford, Sarah Lawrence, and Williams College.  I wish I had gone to college for writing but was influenced to do something practical, teaching. Which I did for 8 years and I am now back to writing.  

Help me understand what motherhood has taught you?

I am not naturally inclined to motherhood.  I am not the vision of perfection. However, I am strong and I can do anything. My mother was the most amazing woman on earth. 

Walk me through Portland, a reason to visit and some good restaurants? 

I moved to Portland, Maine two years ago after my divorce.  It is a beautiful city, affordable compared to other places I have lived and the majority of people here are strong, unique, kind and accepting.  Maine is known for its natural beauty; waterfront and woods.  It is the place to come for seafood especially Lobster.  Although I do not get to eat out very often, my top three restaurant choices are The Great Lost Bear (pub with tons of beer choices), Tiqa (Mediterranean food downtown), and Becky’s Diner (its where the fisherman all go).

Life is tough and challenging. Tell me something challenging you have been through and how did you deal with it?

I was in an extremely abusive and controlling marriage for ten years.  And one day I had just had enough and filed for divorce.  I moved 4 and a half hours away and started a new life.  At first, I dealt with it by being strong for my kids, pulling up my big girl panties and doing what needed to be done, then I dealt with it with alcohol, pot, and sex, and then finally I dealt with it with intensive therapy and tons of work on myself and introspection.

Life is incredibly tough, challenging and unfair.  My life certainly proves that. I deal with all of it by therapy, spiritual practices, writing about it, finding things to be grateful for, acknowledging things suck and it is not fair, and constant support from my friends and partner.

On the lighter side, I want a good joke.

I am not much of a joke person.  Mostly I say and do dumb stuff or participate in witty banter.  This one is from my daughter:

Did you hear the story about the piece of butter?

Never mind. I don’t want to spread it around.

The post Suburban Goddess Mom appeared first on Four Columns of a Balanced Life.

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