Curated by Komal: On Preparedness and Fear of My Potential

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe.

Hey guys,

Yesterday I did something I have never done before. I went out after the first snowfall of the year, and played in the snow with Mitch, and get this… I was happy about it.

I used to have a deep hatred for the winter months. Likely because of the sun setting at 4:30 pm, the cold, the lack of vitamin D — not to mention how sad I would get (thank you seasonal affective disorder). But this year, I hold an intention of enjoying this season. Of embracing hibernation, of buying some cross-country skis, and doing the one thing that had held me back from fully embracing winter: dressing for the weather.

You know, I realized something, going outside sucks when you don’t have the appropriate gear. So last night, I pulled out my Skida apparel (that I picked up in Vermont), donned my parka, and zipped up my insulated winter boots. We hung out outside for about an hour, and I was so joyful about it!

There’s a key to a full life here folks: preparation is a requirement of joy. Just as the winter months require us to dress to stay warm, our work and everyday lives require us to schedule and incorporate time for preparation.

I’ve noticed that areas where I am lacking preparation in my life are keeping me from fully enjoying life. My anxiety skyrockets when I’m about to take a stage unprepared, my mood changes when I eat food that I am sensitive to but choose to grab because I failed to prepare — the more we prep, the more we can be present in every moment of our lives.

What usually scares me about preparation is that I am afraid of my own potential. Humans have a tendency to self-sabotage, and I am not immune to this tendency. There are areas in my life that I want to be better in, but I’ve realized my lack of preparation is actually rooted in a deep fear of who I dream (and am destined) to become.

Being her might change my life too much, being her asks my current self to sacrifice too much, being her means that I won’t have any other excuses for not living the life of my dreams. But I have a feeling none of these excuses are true — they are ego rearing its head hoping I’ll stick to the status quo.

This is my call for preparation. I am committing to loving winter, to preparing appropriately to enjoy this season that can leave me feeling shitty. I also commit to showing up for myself more fully everyday and committing to preparing better for the things that I know will elevate me even more.

What we resist persists. But what we offer our time and attention to transforms for our benefit.

What are you hoping to improve in your life through preparation? Reply back with what’s on your mind (komal@komalminhas.com).

Until next Tuesday, 

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the vlog

This week's episode is part two of my trip to New Orleans for TED Women! 

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part eleven of a 20-part series we're publishing called Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we're talking female entrepreneurs' success rates. Statistically, female entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed than their male counterparts.

Click here to check out this week’s post to find out why!
 

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we're watching...

This Cards Against Humanity campaign video -- you should watch the video because it's great, but to sum it up, the company bought a plot of land on the US-Mexico border and is prepared for a legal fight with Donald Trump to make sure that his wall isn't built. For $15, you can buy a small piece of the land and be part of the fight. If we had a holiday gift guide, this would be #1. 

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we're reading...

  • This interview with Radhika Jones, the new editor in chief of Vanity Fair and the first Indian-American woman to take the helm of a major American magazine. 
  • This article about a new web-series called 195 Lewis, which centres around "black women loving other black women." 
  • Caroline Madormo's musings on why she's intentionally avoiding overnight success. 
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we recommend...

Donating to the Code-Switched Indiegogo campaign. It's a coming-soon sitcom about group of South-Asian Americans in Chicago, and we so want to see this project come to life!

WE'RE PLANNING...

After a few months of travelling and event planning, Kylie and I are hunkering down to do the everyday work, and to plan for the impact we want to make in 2018. Stay tuned! 

Curated by Komal: Rupi Kaur in Ottawa & Why Conversations Are My Thing

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe.

On Sunday night, I hosted Rupi for her final book tour stop in Ottawa. I shared the stage with her and interviewed her for the only Q&A on her 13-stop fall tour.

It was incredible.

I am at a loss for words right now. Sunday night was unexpected. Even though I was planning it for almost three months, and so many people I love were there, I felt in brand new territory. You see, my dream is to create and host my own talk show. And Rupi and her incredible manager, Rakhi were generous enough to allow last night to be my first step in that direction.

Conversation makes me come alive. Dialogue and words of impact are my tools for change and amplification. When I was sick, this idea kept coming up over and over again, and I couldn’t escape it. In fact, I didn’t want to. I just knew I had to figure out the how. 

So that’s where we are at. My incredible team came together to bring the night to life. To Kylie, Maddie, Ariana, Fatima, Renira, Henrietta, our production team (Mylene and David), and everyone else involved — thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s not easy to bring your dreams to life, but you all helped make it that much more possible.

Yesterday, I took the day off. Rupi, Rakhi and I went to a very exciting lunch, and then I took the girl’s to Le Nordik (an incredible spa here in Ottawa) for some well deserved post-tour R&R.

Guys, do something today that makes you come alive. You are powerful beyond measure, and the more you walk boldly towards your dreams the more full your spirit and life will be.


With love,

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the vlog

Join me each week to see the behind-the-scenes action at KoMedia. This week, I head to New Orleans to attend TED Women and support my incredible friend Valarie Kaur before she closed the conference with her talk on #revolutionarylove.

"Something about surviving -- getting sick and getting better, and exiting a company, two major life changing moves in a year, losing friends and finding love in unexpected places, finding love in myself again. All these things culminate to a very deep knowing of myself and a real lack of insecurity." 

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part ten of a 20-part series we're publishing called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we get into what makes feminist corporate culture truly impactful. Can corporations be feminist? How do you distinguish between PR campaigns and legitimately equity-based cultures? Which companies are leading the charge?

Click here to check out this week’s post on LinkedIn to find out!

“If you are in HR, support your company to define leadership and success in broader terms   that include teamwork, collaboration and learning. Women will more naturally rise to fill these roles if these qualities are valued and rewarded."

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we're watching...

This trailer for Code-Switched, a hilarious, coming-soon sitcom about a group of South-Asian Americans in Chicago. Coincidentally... 

we recommend...

Donating to the Code-Switched Indiegogo campaign. We so want to see this project come to life!

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we're reading...

  • Muslim American women tell Broadly what a year of living under Donald Trump has been like. 
  • Quartz's edited Louis CK's public apology to the women he sexually harassed and abused, making it a little less self-serving and a lot more real. 
  • NPR spoke to a scientist who's part of a growing movement of studying the subtle ways racism affects health. 

WE'RE PLANNING...

After a few months of travelling and event planning, Kylie and I are hunkering down to do the everyday work, and to plan for the impact we want to make in 2018. Stay tuned! 

Curated by Komal: Before We Lead, We Must Follow

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe.

Guys,

I am sitting on the floor of my hotel room in LA trying to stretch and write this letter after staying in bed for a good chunk of the morning. I’m at Summit, an incredible gathering of change makers from around the world — I got in yesterday after a life-changing time at TEDWomen supporting my Sikh sister Valarie Kaur. I shared on Instagram about how I pitched Valarie to let me shadow her at TEDWomen as she prepared her talk that would close the conference. I never imagined that it would lead to finding two life-long friends, allies, and sisters. My time in New Orleans changed me and showed me that in order to lead, at first we must follow.

Every leader at one point or another (and most, throughout their careers and lives), has someone they look up to that they deeply admire. We lead, in part, as a result of being filled with inspiration by another. We cannot lead without seeing the courage and bravery of those who have come before us and feeling the call to model what we’ve witnessed while adding our unique purpose to the mix.

At this moment in my life, I am in a season of following. As I look to cultivate my voice, work, impact, and purpose, I am looking to those who inspire me most. I have begun to reach out to them, offering my service to ensure they continue to rise and change this world for the better. In exchange I receive their wisdom, and I have the privilege of witnessing them in all their greatness in moments of impact.

I saw Valarie speak a year ago in Brooklyn on the Together Live tour. It changed me to see a Sikh woman take centre-stage and share our history with the world. She has been working tirelessly to shine a light on the hate crimes committed against the Sikh and Muslim communities since 9/11, and has begun a movement of #RevolutionaryLove that is taking the world (and your televisions) by storm. I had initially booked my trip to TEDWomen as a gift to myself and when I saw that Valarie was speaking, I knew in my bones that I was meant to help her.

While at TEDWomen, Jasvir (one of Valarie’s dearest friends) and I created the conditions she needed to labour a talk of transformative impact. You see, the talk Valarie came into TED with was not the one she delivered on stage. She started from scratch 24-hrs beforehand and brought music and power to stage a day later. Watching her commitment to her message and movement, and witnessing her genius first-hand was life-changing.

I have now seen one of the greatest orators of our time in one of her greatest moments of impact. I will hold that experience dear with me for years to come. I will also elevate my methods, habits, and behaviours to level up based on what I witnessed.

This is what can happen if you just go for it, if you just show up, and if you work against your fear.

I didn’t know many of my fellow attendees going into TEDWomen — in-fact, part of the reason I am in my room writing this while at Summit in LA is because I am also nervous about not having someone here with me (calling myself out!!). Fear is an interesting beast. But I believe she’s often there to remind us of how transformative ‘that scary thing’ will actually be for us. (I have a feeling something magical is about to happen once I leave this room, stay tuned until next week to find out what it ends up being! #facethefear

Take the leap, call the person you’ve always wanted to work with, do the project that keeps you up at night. Just fucking do it! I promise, working through the discomfort and showing up to do the work and following-thru can change your life forever.

I ended up with a forever sister. Who knows what’s in store for you.

Signing off until next Tuesday at 9 am,

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the vlog

Join me each week to see the behind-the-scenes action at KoMedia. This week, Kylie and I head to Boston to give a workshop at Harvard Business School. 

"I want to be a part of having more meaningful dialogues with women who want to make high impact in the world." 

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part nine of a 20-part series we're publishing called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, dive into the concept of women supporting women. It's a topic we often hear a lot about in women's empowerment spaces, but rarely do we do a deep dive into all the social factors that make women's professional relationships complicated. The good news is that we're definitely moving in the right direction. 

Click here to check out this week’s post on LinkedIn for more!
 

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we're watching...

The Miss Peru pageant quickly became a protest when contestants used their (literal and figurative stage) to shine a light on gendered violence in the country. 

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we're reading...

  • This is Us took a small step toward revolutionizing representation on screen when it featured a Sikh character -- with absolutely no reference to his religion or ethnicity. He was able to simply exist in the story as white characters have always been allowed to do in popular media. (Note here that Valarie made this happen with support from America Ferrera and the team at NBC)
  • What did Alice Kantor do when she realized the UK didn't have a single event aimed at empowering Black British women? She started one herself. 
  • We're loving this profile of Jessica Williams, who has fought for her career and belived in her craft every step of the way. 
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we recommend...

Supporting our friend Lindsey's Indiegogo campaign to fund World Changing Kids, an organization that's building a more empathetic, conscious and kind generation. 
 

WE'RE PLANNING...

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS 
Sold Out: The Sun and Her Flowers with Komal Minhas

Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'. Tickets are now sold out -- thank you so much for your support! 

Curated by Komal: On Mattering and Female Entrepreneurs on a Global Scale

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe. 

GUYS! I feel a little bit insane. Kylie and I did a seven week check-in with one of our advisors, and I realized how much we've been able to do in such a short period of time.

We've relaunched as a team (hey Kylie and Maddie!), I've delivered two keynotes, and a workshop (at Harvard!), we've been doing a huge amount of behind-the scenes action, we've planned and are close to executing Rupi's book tour stop + Q&A with me in a few weeks, and we've released eight vlogs, articles, and newsletters!

Phew...

When we first started, as with many endeavours, the workload, and capacity we had as a team wasn't clear. I needed time to get clear about my mission and vision. And everyday I am getting closer and closer to what that is.

I call this newsletter "your weekly dose of inspiration", and I mean it. What's become abundantly clear to me is that I am on a mission to inspire. I want to create content that I wish I had when I was sick and at my lowest, I want to carve out a corner of the internet where we can imperfectly show up, and still be seen, heard, and reminded that we matter.

Because you do matter.

And it's about time someone said it aloud. Last week, my coach and I dove into this concept. The concept of mattering. One of my limiting beliefs is that I have no purpose, or no significance in the lives of the people around me. Last week, I was able to name and face that fear with lightness, I laughed so hard when Raz (my coach) and I were talking about it, because in that moment I felt the true and real absurdity of it.

How dare I think that I don't matter. How dare I think that what I've endured and survived doesn't matter. How dare I think that I have no significance when I am so deeply loved by so many people. I do a disservice to their love by thinking any less of myself.

That's what I want to remind you of today. You matter. To your family, your friends, your partner, to your dog. You matter to your colleagues, and you matter to your truest self. Your lived experiences matter so much.

And let's not forget that scientifically, you are by definition matter.

You are an incredible being, and the love you give is the love this world needs. It's the love that you'll ultimately receive a thousand fold.

I believe that totally and fully.

So yes, things were hella murky when we first started back up in September, and I'm sure many of you weren't sure what would be landing in your inbox every week, but this is what I know for sure: I only know how to give you exactly what I have to give -- what I mean by that is, my capacity for b/s is really low. So what you get here every week is exactly where I'm at, what I'm reflecting on, and learnings and growth that I hope will benefit you as well. It's also a total reflection of the amount of love I've been given in my life, and a lotta that love is coming from each of you. And for that, I thank you.

Tomorrow I'm off to New Orleans and LA for two conferences I registered for as gifts to myself earlier this year. I am ready to be inspired, so I can keep paying it forward.

Wish me luck!

Signing off, until next Tuesday at 9 am,

With love,

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the vlog

Check out my keynote at Start-up Day on the Hill! I had a blast meeting so many inspirational entrepreneurs who are crushing it. Loved sharing my story with such an entrepreneurial audience.

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THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part eight of a 20-part series we're publishing on Medium called, Your Moment of Ambition.

While we're totally amazed by the 1,200 women per day starting businesses in the US, we can often focus too heavily on that number, when women in countries that have been labelled 'developing' are actually starting businesses at higher rates than American and Canadian women. This week, we celebrate some of those entrepreneurs, and the women (like Mariama Camara!) who devote their lives to getting startup funding to them. 

Click here to check out this week’s post!
 

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we're watching...

Anab Jain's TED Talk about the need to connect tangibly with our future selves and societies is so powerful -- her call to action energizes me to continue my mission of building a long-term legacy company.

"We have a chance to write ourselves into a future we want." 

Also, I was so moved by this interview with Selena Gomez and her best friend and kidney donor, Francia, who Selena says "saved her life".

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we're reading...

  • We've all heard stats about the lack of girls' education worldwide, but what is there to actually do about it? Danai Gurira tells us where to start

  • Not entrepreneurship per se, but we're loving that for the first time ever, there's an Indigenous woman running for the President of Mexico
  • Proof that Western companies who try to exploit non-Western markets are increasingly irrelevant -- this is where female entrepreneurs around the world come in.
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we recommend...

Applying for this job at the New York Times, where they'll send you to 52 countries over the course of a year. The deadline is today! 

WE'RE PLANNING...

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS 

Sold Out: The Sun and Her Flowers with Komal Minhas

Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'. Tickets are now sold out -- thank you so much for your support! 

Curated by Komal: Men as our Allies

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe. 

This week's focus is men as allies. We chose this topic a few weeks ago, and in light of the incredible courage, and pain we've witnessed across our collective social platforms through women sharing their experiences with sexual harassment and assault via #metoo, I felt compelled to get some thoughts on the male response (and lack there of) down in the newsletter.

Writing this letter hasn't been easy. One reason being, I don't really know how to define 'allyship' anymore. I used to think that a personal declaration, and having men call themselves 'feminists' was enough, that's no longer the case.

The past two years of my life have opened my eyes to my own intersectionality and that my lived experience is starkly different than many of the people in my life who don't look like me. With this in mind, I personally struggle with how best to be an ally myself, and how to determine my expectations for allies in my life as a woman of colour.

According to theantioppressionnetwork.com, "allyship is not an identity—it is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people."

It's tough to distill my sentiments about male allyship at this juncture. In large part because of the #metoo movement and the implications for all men. The visibility of the number of women who have been harassed, assaulted, raped, and continuously abused makes me realize how clear we must become about the standards and expectations we hold for men and 'male allies'. It's also had me reflecting on whether male perpetrators and bystanders can even be seen as allies. At this point, everyone has likely been complicit at one point or another with harassment or worse.

I want to share a few examples of posts from males on my feeds that caught my attention. They were two that spoke frankly about their complicity and actions, and who took time to share thoughts on constructive ways forward in educating themselves further, alongside the people around them.

A few days ago, in response to Lupita Nyong'o's piece about Weinstein's harassment of her, a friend of mine shared about a sexually inappropriate encounter he engaged in as a young teenager over 20 years ago. He shared the guilt he's held onto, and that he reached out to the woman he assaulted since then and that they've been able to discuss and reconcile the experience together. A key line stuck out to me: "she paid the primary cost of my sexual education". In this instance I was shocked by his courage. He outed himself and his experience with being someone who engaged in a non-consensual encounter more than 20 years ago, and held space for the true pain caused for his victim and himself. He then went on to reflect on how to enable other male perpetrators to engage with the shame they likely hold, and to use it to fuel this conversation and heal with their victims.

I've read post after post trivializing #metoo, but when people ask, "What came of #metoo?" I will point to the power of the collective of women coming forward, and how they prompted a response like his on Facebook. The kind of post I never would have imagined seeing on my feed -- a man taking accountability for an assault he committed, how he struggled to forgive himself, and how he worked to ensure the woman he assaulted was okay, and how they have since rebuilt their friendship.

Another friend posted about his ongoing complicity in witnessing acts of harassment, and how he wishes he would have spoken up time and again. He commits to speaking up more often moving forward and notes the relevance to him personally as he is a survivor of childhood sexual assault.

These posts have been few and far between on my feed, but I hold space in my heart for the men who have come forward (and will continue to) in the wake of the courageous women who have shared their pain so publicly. 

So what can allyship look like now? Now that we're actually naming the pain, the assault, and the tragedy publicly? How have we changed the expectation and definition? I feel like I've matured and clarified my expectations of it on my own journey these past three years -- it's not just a declaration of being a male ally or male feminist. Instead, it is an everyday call to action for men to be honest and accountable, and to be clear about what accountability looks like with the men around them -- to call their peers and others out and in necessary circumstances, to report them.

Part of the reason this week's newsletter came out a day late is because I wanted to take more time to get these thoughts together. This is such a complex and heavy topic, and deserves so much time and space to be processed by everyone. 

So guys, what are your thoughts here? I appreciate that this is a space where I can voice my thoughts even while they're in process. Shoot me an email at komal@komalminhas.com to share a bit about what this brings up for you, I'd love to expand my thoughts even more.

Signing off, until next Tuesday at 9 am,


With love,

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the vlog

Join me each week to see the behind-the-scenes action at KoMedia. This week, I head to Aylmer for a retreat with my speaking coach Majeed and some other fantastic speakers from across the East coast of Canada and the US.

"This weekend is about me reinvesting in myself, and refining my craft."

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part seven of a 20-part series we're publishing called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we dive into how men can be allies to female entrepreneurs, in business and in life. With all that's happening in pop culture news right now, it feels timely to be talking about how men can be better allies, not just in Hollywood but in all industries and around the world. 

"I don’t understand why anyone in modern society wouldn’t want to think of themselves as wanting to support the advancement of women, so it’s sort of a joke to me that there is a controversy about the term."

Click here to check out this week’s post!

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we're watching...

This Hour Has 22 Minutes' powerful take on Harvey Weinstein and the culture of sexual assault in media. Newsflash: It's not only men in positions of power who feel entitled to women's bodies. 

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we're reading...

  • This might be ten days old, but I thought it best to start on a lighter note... who better than Oprah to break your baby news? Here's Mindy Kaling on having Queen O share her pregnancy with the world! 
  • Leave it to Shondaland to succinctly sum up why the whole Harvey Weinstein mess isn't just a result of a few bad men doing very bad things -- it's the inevitable outcome of a pervasive culture of toxic masculinity, and we need to get comfortable with that fact so we can change it. 
  • Griffin Newman and Kevin Smith are two men who were complicit in toxic Hollywood masculinity for far too long, but their actions now are showing steps toward true allyship and provide good examples for other men who want to take similar steps. 
  • Reminder that the President of the United States is also an alleged abuser. His accusers hope he'll meet a similar resistance to Weinstein.
  • If you need a break from all this ongoing shit, a) I don't blame you, and b) I am here to remind you that it's actually psychologically necessary to waste time. 
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we recommend...

Applying for this job at the New York Times, where they'll send you to 52 countries over the course of a year. Opportunity of a lifetime or what?

WE'RE PLANNING...

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS 
Sold Out: The Sun and Her Flowers withKomal Minhas

Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'. Tickets are now sold out -- thank you so much for your support! 

START-UP DAY ON THE HILL!

Here's a look at my speech on the Scale-Up Stage at the Shaw Centre last week!

Curated by Komal: The Power of Women Investors

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe. 

Let's talk about money. 

How many of you cringed when you read that? For some, the topic of money causes a knee jerk reaction that leads to avoidance, and sometimes nausea. I want to help transform that feeling.

On Sunday, I stayed overnight with my business bestie Steph in a cottage in Wakefield an hour from where I live. I had been running all weekend. I worked all-day Saturday and needed a breather to regroup and give my brain a break. Steph is always the right person to do this with. Some heart-to-heart chats and games later, we got into the good (and once again, cerebral) stuff -- for us that topic is, how do we build our wealth in meaningful, but high-growth ways?

I've realized lately that this kind of conversation isn't one that's being had enough amongst young people, especially young women. I want to change that. Over the last few years, I have accumulated more wealth, and knowledge about investing, and I've personally invested in six companies. I am an investor -- it's time for me to talk more about it.

Last week I delivered my new keynote talk in Vermont about Redefining Wealth (scroll to 4:50 to see a clip). It's my mission to build and proliferate examples of more diverse, value-driven wealth holders who aren't sexual predators, white men, addicts, or assholes. I want to see more women who look like me, Joanne Wilson, Suzanne West, Oprah, Manjit Minhas, and countless others, coming to the forefront to give the world more positive, meaningful examples of what it means to be wealthy. 

We don't have to fear money. It holds so much potential for impact, love, service, and joy. As my coach Majeed said in our training last week, "Money flows to you because you're valuable, and flows through you to what you value. Ultimately, this makes you more valuable as you invest in yourself, and into things that will have a lasting impact and growth".

For me, my most recent investment is into a new Venture Capital fund out of NYC run by a woman I admire deeply, Lindsey Taylor Wood. The Helm is a VC fund that invests exclusively in high-growth female-led tech start-ups. There's a deeply rooted community aspect to the fund that is unique and meaningful for me as I keep learning more about investing. Check out their profile in Fast Company (+ a photo of me).

I am proud to be a founding member of this fund, and to support it's growth, and long-term impact. I am putting my money where my mouth is. It's time for more women to become investors. It's scary, it's strange, and for some, it's a space that makes no sense, but I'm here to share my experience to help educate and change the ratio

My call to action is to encourage everyone, whether you have $100 or $10,000 to explore what options exist for you to invest in something you love and that can provide a meaningful (read profit and service-related) return. Check out Wealth Simple as a starting point, they can help you build a portfolio in a few quick steps. Next, talk to people in your network or family about what investing could look like for you, and finish with finding your new favourite impact investor (female or otherwise) that you'll check-in on occasionally for inspiration.

Send me what you find at komal@komedia.ca.

Let's build our wealth together and provide more examples of positive wealth accumulation. 

Until next Tuesday at 9 am,

With love,

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the vlog

Join me each week to see the behind-the-scenes action at KoMedia. This week, we head to Burlington, where I give a keynote at the Vermont Women's Fund's annual gathering! 

"It's great to see another woman up there who's doing something really meaningful using an amazing platform, like Oprah Winfrey, the White House. Someone who looks like me, who's saying things like 'get involved in business at the high school level', and to see that magnified in this way was really inspiring."
                                                                         
                                                                - Kiran, an audience member at the event!

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part six of the 20-part series we're publishing on Medium called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we dive into the power of female investors, and why it's so important to have women sitting on both sides of the table. 

“We all want to change the world in different ways, and angel investing is one way you can put your time and money behind making the change you want to see in the world." - Katherine Hague


Click here to check out this week’s post on Medium to find out!
 

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we're watching...

Research shows we'll lose a vast number of jobs to technology over the next decade, but scary as this may seem, David Lee says it's an opportunity to change the way we think about work -- to create human-centred jobs that don't feel like work at all. 

"When you invite people to be more, they can amaze us with how much more they can be."

we're reading...

  • FastCompany wrote a really great piece that dives into what makes The Helm, the women-centric investment fund I shared about, different. Check out the third photo!

  • Investors are missing out on a huge opportunity in the beauty industry -- a classic example of (largely) male investors underestimating the purchasing power women hold.

  • This woman self-funded her trip to SPACE. Talk about investing in yourself.

  • Buzzfeed’s powerful call to readers to tell them who the Harvey Weinsteins of every industry are. We deeply believe in the power of media, and this kind of inquiry is step one in the effort to create a world where men don’t hold (and abuse) disproportionate power over women. Woody Allen calls this a “witch hunt atmosphere”; we call it progress (shout out to all the women sharing their stores, #metoo). Part of having more women investor's will be a shift in culture -- creating more accountability in spaces where sexual harassment and assault is rampant. 

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we recommend...

If you didn't read this week's Your Moment of Ambition you're missing out on the incredible Natalia Oberti Nogeura's Pipeline Angels -- an Angel Investing Bootcamp. Maybe you're the perfect fit for the fellowship!

WE'RE PLANNING...

Startup Day on The Hill

I'm joining hundreds of other entrepreneurs and changemakers for Startup Canada's Startup Day on the Hill on October 19th, where I'll be speaking about the power of redefining wealth.

Click here to get your ticket!

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS 
Sold Out: The Sun and Her Flowers withKomal Minhas

Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'. Tickets are now sold out -- thank you so much for your support! 

Curated by Komal: Self-Promotion + Integrity as a Precursor to Success

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe. 

So, this week we have two important topics of conversation. Self promotion. And Harvey Weinstein.

Let's begin with Weinstein. The notorious abuser, womanizer, and stereotypical Hollywood (or any field for that matter) male executive who gets off on using his power to feed his ego, and to harm dozens of women.

I read the original piece in the Times, alongside multiple articles that get deeper and deeper into his abuses, and that show a pattern in how he chose the women he would abuse, and his tactics for manipulation and for getting them alone. He created an entire company built around protecting his reputation and enabling his behaviour for over 20 years and was supported by the film industry the whole time. His films have been nominated for over 300 Oscars, many of the films are likely some of your favourites (they are mine too). How eff-ed up does that feel? 

Yesterday, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and other prominent actresses came out sharing their experiences with his harassment and assault. Twenty years ago, they had nowhere to go to report him without decimating their careers. One woman learned that even in 2015, with an undercover audio recording of him confessing his assaults, and with the support of the NYPD, it still wasn't enough to tarnish this Hollywood big wig.

But 2017 is different somehow. We have seen case after case of prominent man after man being outed, fired, and at times, taken to trial for their abuses. The timing for victims to be heard, supported, seen, and listened to is now.

So, what would happen if we enabled values-based people and organizations to lead society? What if we funded, invested in, and spent our money on content that is created by soulful, loving, grounded, whole humans? What if we shifted our current media (and societal paradigm), and supported people who weren't assholes?

Now is the time for women and men who hold great values and morals, and who choose not to harm others to be unabashedly seen in all their glory. Now is the time for women to lead the future of entertainment, and to create more of the experiences we consume. 

Last week when I witnessed my friend Rupi Kaur's theatrical release for her book in Tribeca, and felt the energy in that room of mostly female audience members feeling so seen, and having their lives and experiences mirrored to them, I knew I had a front seat to a social transformation. Creators like Rupi, Lilly Singh, Justin Baldoni, Issa Rae, Gina Rodriguez, Oprah, The Rock, and so many others are paving a path towards media we can be proud of consuming.

We represent the next wave of media makers, film producers, authors, poets, and entertainers that must be seen and heard from. It's time to support the self-promotion of people and brands that don't make us feel awful, and who aren't awful. People, products, and media that we can love consuming because we can love and support how they're made. Integrity must become a precursor to success.

Signing off until next Tuesday at 9 am.

With love,

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the vlog

Here's a look at my trip to New York City for my friend Rupi Kaur's book launch! She's been so successful at building an authentic, accessible and connected brand and it was amazing to experience that fully, and to support her launch in New York.

"We are on this ride together. We will build together, and we will rise together. Be unabashedly you, and put that shit (your art, what you are called to create) into the world. Consistently, over time." 
 

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THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part five of a 20-part series we're publishing on Medium called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we're talking about self-promotion. As women, it can often feel unnatural or wrong to brag about our accomplishments. But the truth is, especially as a entrepreneurs, it's absolutely essential -- not to mention good for healthy levels of confidence. 

“We discourage women from being ambitious and so women run up against all kinds of barriers and disapproval when we advocate for ourselves. It’s a huge double standard that we face."

Click here to check out this week’s post on Medium!

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we're watching...

What's your story? Your answer to this question is crucial to meaningful -- and effective -- self-promotion, according to the fantastic Tiffany Dufu

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we're reading...

  • Let's watch Issa Rae build an empire, shall we? #selfpromotionistheonlypromotion
  • We can talk about self-promotion all we want, but what happens when the work you're promoting attracts outright sexism? We're nodding along to this piece about 'making while female.'
  • The Unapologetically Brown Series is a street art project that brings visibility to the important work women of colour have contributed to popular culture and to society. 
  • How the inimitable Rupi Kaur has built a literary movement by staying true to her value of accessibility (it features interviews done at her book launch, check out the vlog to see some behind-the-scenes action!). 
  • What happens when doing the work that feels most right to you means you get slapped with a less than reputable label (in this writer's case, it was "mommy blogger"). 
  • As a white man in the film industry, Harvey Weinstein's behaviour toward women never got in the way of his career, or his self-promotion -- until it couldn't be ignored any longer. His story is exemplary of the world we don't want to live in anymore, and why we're working toward one in which integrity and reputation are precursors to success. 
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we recommend...

Today is National Coming Out Day! This week, we recommend checking out these resources compiled by the Human Rights Campaign. 

Sending love and admiration to anyone who's stepping into their truth today (and every day)!

WE'RE PLANNING...

Startup Day on The Hill
I'm joining hundreds of other entrepreneurs and changemakers for Startup Canada's Startup Day on the Hill on October 19th, where I'll be speaking about the power of redefining wealth.
Click here to get your ticket!

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS 
Sold Out: The Sun and Her Flowers with Komal Minhas
Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'. Tickets are now sold out -- thank you so much for your support! 

Curated by Komal: Embracing the Possibility of Failure

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe. 

I am writing this at 1:50 am after coming home from having dollar pizza with Rupi, her family and friends, after her phenomenal book launch in NYC.

We descended on the Tribeca Performing Arts Center early this evening, and I was all nerves and starstruck. You see, on stage with Rupi were going to be five phenomenal women, one of whom was Lilly Singh, aka iiSuperwomanii, a woman I have admired from afar for years, and whose vlogs provided me massive comfort as I faced my battle with cancer last year. The nerves were partially my own, but most were actually excitement for what Rupi was about to do.

Rupi is a New York Times bestselling author -- she's been on the list for over a year. She has sold more than a million books, and is turning 25 tomorrow. Rupi is the epitome of elegance, pure determination and grit, business savvy, unbelievable talent, and so much love. 

I am blessed to witness her take the world by storm, and tonight she levelled up hard. Tonight, we witnessed her light beam through her words into the souls of the audience. Tears, laughter, total and complete connection took place. The Sun and Her Flowers, her second book, is finally here, and Rupi is just getting started.

So why is this relevant to our discussions this week about fear of failure? For me in this particular moment, it's a reminder that even when we think we are failing and bottoming out, the people we love and hold close to our hearts may be lifting us up out of our darkness without us even realizing it.

The front end of this year took me to a darkness I never could have expected. Some of the glitters of hope and light that came through when I was down, were the updates I would receive from Rakhi (Rupi's manager, an incredible director and media force, and a dear friend), and Rupi. Knowing she would be finishing and launching her book, watching her from afar as she embarked on her global tour -- all this gave me solace as I knew I could not do the work I longed to do at that time.

Her success raised me up.

So, although today we are reflecting on experiences with failure, I urge you to think about times when you thought you failed, and to shift that memory and gain a new perspective on that moment. Who around you helped raise you up, directly (like Rupi did for me), or inadvertently (like Lilly's vlogs did for me, which I had the privilege of telling her about tonight)? Remind yourself of the love in your life, and that the choices you make, specifically the media you consume, when you are low, is deeply connected to how you can and will rise.

This right here is why I make this newsletter. Why I've been called to curate content. I want to create for you what I wish I had more of when I was at my rock bottom. What I wish I had when I needed light more than anything else.

This is my gift to you.

Let me know how you're doing this week. Shoot me an email at komal@komedia.ca, and I hope what follows below gives you the burst of something you need today.

Signing off until next Tuesday at 9 am,

With love,

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the vlog

Join me each week to see the behind-the-scenes action at KoMedia. This week, I travel home to Grande Prarie, Alberta and reflect on my body's boundaries when it comes to work. 

"Every time I work to take another step forward, I'm feeling out: What are my limitations? What are my boundaries? What am I working through here?"

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part four of a 20-part series we're publishing on Medium called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we dive head-first into failure: why it scares us so much, and why it shouldn't. 

Click here to check out this week’s post on Medium to find out!
 

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we're watching...

Marie Forleo's sit-down with Brendan Burchard, who's a big proponent of the long game -- sustainable, meaningful success. Coincidentally, Kylie and I are also currently reading his book, High Performance Habits

"High performers value wellbeing more than almost any other demographics that we've ever measured." 

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we're reading...

  • This woman says she has the key to success -- all you have to do is succeed less. (Or, in more earnest terms, succeed differently.)
     
  • Since Ursula Burns left Xerox, there are no Black women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Here, in systemic detail, is why. 
  • We felt super validated when everything we believe about success and building a meaningful, fulfilling life was confirmed by a real-life clinical psychotherapist.

  • What happens when your path to success is blocked by someone else’s actions against your body? (Warning: this piece is about sexual assault.)

  • Lady Gaga had to cancel a tour because of illness that some believe isn’t valid. What does her body’s supposed  failure and recovery mean for her career? (Also check-out her doc on Netflix -- she's phenomenal)
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we recommend...

Backing this Kickstarter project started by our friends Nida and Jonathan -- Impakt is a browser extension that helps you vote with your wallet and make ethical purchases. 

Also, if you're a young, ambitious woman looking for an incredible community and opportunity to connect with like-minded world-changers, apply for the Summit LA Scholarship. I am attending, and would love to see you there!

WE'RE PLANNING...

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS 
The Sun and Her Flowers with Komal Minhas

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Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'.

 

Curated by Komal: Why Representation Matters

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe. 

This week we're talking about representation.

“You can’t be what you can’t see”. I call an ever so subtle, bullsh*t.

This phrase, often used to justify the need for more representation in media, is not actually reflective of the experiences of many minority media makers and many cross-industry trailblazers who did not have the luxury of 'seeing' what they could become.

A few weeks ago, TIME Magazine released a series of covers with the words FIRST emblazoned on each. You saw the faces of Ava DuVernay, Oprah, Selena Gomez, Serena Williams, and many others taking their rightful places as the firsts in their fields. These women did not have the luxury of waiting for others to become an example for them to rise. These women had to slowly, and steadily, break barrier after barrier to carve out their lane, to stay in it, and to rise to the top.

There are many firsts yet to come, so many leadership positions, entertainment roles, and the like waiting for their ‘first’ to arrive. Until equal representation becomes so pervasive that we have to scour for positions where minority faces have yet to be seen, we MUST be what we can’t yet see. It is our inherent responsibility as minority media makers, entertainers, engineers, business leaders, etc… to find a crack or fissure and to work our way through it until we arrive. Day after day, role after role. Until a few generations from now, the seeds of our trailblazing begin to grow, deeply rooted and affecting systemic change.

That’s why I’m here. That’s why representation matters. This is my gentle reminder that our everyday act of showing up and demanding to be seen is an act of revolution.

This week, I look to Rupi Kaur’s poem of legacy, I look to Colin Kaepernick’s movement and so many the world-over called to #takeaknee. I look to Charles D. King sharing how he became the first black senior leader at one of the leading entertainment agencies in Hollywood and then created his own firm Macro, and won Oscars for his first production, Fences. I look to Clara Villarosa, who ran the largest African American Bookstore in the United States, and who everyday inspires others to trailblaze, and whom we’ve profiled in our weekly Medium series, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week is all about representation. The fact that it’s our responsibility as young, ambitious minority leaders to make space for ourselves in a world that was built on our exclusion.

Tell me what you dream of becoming in an email (komal@komedia.ca). I often find typing it out, and pushing send is the ultimate first step to bringing that imagined reality to life.

Until next Tuesday at 9 am,

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the vlog

Join me each week to see the behind-the-scenes action as I relaunch KoMedia. Here's day two of my trip to NYC and, as always, a quick heart-to-heart! 

"I just feel this really beautiful groundedness in knowing who I am, knowing what my purpose is, and knowing what I have to offer the world." 

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part one of a 20-part series we're publishing on Medium called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we take a closer look at the career path of one of Dream, Girl’s most popular characters, Clara Villarosa, and ask ourselves how her (incredibly successful nonetheless) journey might have been different if she’d been able to see herself and her interests represented in popular media.

Click here to check out this week’s post on Medium to find out!

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we're watching...

Charles D. King has banked on the power of representation in film for his entire career --- even while he was a trainee in a media agency’s mailroom. His interview with Complex dives into his deep belief in the relevancy of diverse media, and the work he’s done since an early age to be able to produce it.

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we're reading...

  • Before he was on The Daily Show, Hasan Minhaj was investing the money he earned working in tech support into a self-funded startup comedy and media career, complete with bootstrapped live events and independently produced YouTube videos. Sound familiar? ;)
     
  • We don’t often think about sports as socially impactful media, but what’s happening in the NFL right now (beautifully summed up by these photosZendaya tweeted this week) feels consequential beyond a good Super Bowl ad. We’re loving the NYT’s recent profile of Colin Kaepernick, which dives into how he came to be the activist we see today.
     
  • How Black Girl Gamers are creating a thriving community for, well, Black Girl Gamers that’s safe(r) from the industry’s rampant racism and sexism.
     
  • This Walrus piece which makes the case that the personal essay as a genre isn’t outdated; it's just no longer dominated by white writers. 
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we recommend...

Applying to attend the Obama Foundation's Summit along with hundreds of other civic leaders in Chicago later this month. 

WE'RE PLANNING...

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS 
The Sun and Her Flowers with Komal Minhas

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Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'.

 

Curated by Komal: The Power of Visualization and Amplifying Your Life

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WELCOME! 

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe. 

This week, our word of inspiration is: visualization.

I’m sitting in an office today working on building the company of my dreams. A few months ago, I didn’t think this was going to be possible. When I was at the peak of my sickness, I didn’t believe I would be able to come back to work and to do what I love. I didn’t think I’d be able to take a stage again, or that I would be able to think of my career in the same was as I did in the past -- I thought my life had changed forever.

In the thick of my burnout and sickness, visualization and dreaming seemed like painful taunts of a life I wouldn’t be able to experience anymore. Dreaming of an imagined future goal or hope felt futile when I struggled so hard to merely wake-up (and not fall over) in the mornings. Yet, slowly, every single day, more and more light came into my life.

Consistently, over time, I went to the appointments I needed to, I managed business logistics to decrease my overall stress, I met with my mindset coach/therapist to overcome my depression, and I did what I didn’t think was possible. I healed.

A few weeks ago, something incredible started happening. I slowly began visualizing my future self living a normal life. I began seeing myself walk onto stages, I began imagining my commute into the city every day with Mitch and dropping him off and heading over to my office and seeing Kylie in the mornings, I began believing in what I once thought was impossible. 

That is the power of belief. That is the power of putting in the work and time to heal and rise. And that is the power that each of us hold to amplify our lives in whatever ways we deem and dream necessary. My life has indeed changed, I've become stronger and more resilient that I had ever thought I'd need to be.

So, what do you dream to achieve? We hope today’s newsletter can plant a few seeds as to how to ensure your visualizations become reality. With slow and steady progress, and a commitment to your personal growth, you will get there

We’re in this together.

This week’s instalment of Curated by Komal includes our weekly series, Her Business: Stories from the Frontlines of Modern Entrepreneurship. This week’s article explores the power of visualization and how to stay accountable to your dreams. What we want you to watch this week is Lena Waithe’s Emmy’s acceptance speech -- she dreamed of taking that stage as a black queer woman, and through her incredible writing of the Thanksgiving episode of Master of None, she made that dream a reality. From there dive into this week’s articles sourced by Kylie, and don’t forget to  get your tickets for my event with Rupi Kaur on November 12th at the Museum of History in Gatineau. We’re over halfway sold out (!!!), and I wouldn’t want you to miss it.

Let us know what you think of this week’s content. (Ps -- you can subscribe to the newsletter here.) What dreams are you wanting to bring to life, and what can we bring your way every week to help you get there? Email me at komal@komedia.ca, I can’t wait to hear from you.

Signing off with love, until next Tuesday at 9 am,

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the vlog

This week Mitch and I head to NYC, and I reflect on what it's like to return to the city I had to leave suddenly after getting sick. There's some major heart-to-heart action in this episode.

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome back for part two of a 20-part series we're publishing on Medium called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we make the case for visualization as a tool for building a fulfilling life. We chat with experts and successful entrepreneurs to learn how putting your dreams out into the universe can manifest great things. 

Click here to check out this week’s post on Medium!

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we're watching...

I was up late watching the  Emmy's last night, and may have shed a few tears because of the level of heart-opening diversity on that stage! At 27, seeing people with my skin colour on that stage winning these incredible awards made me realize, maybe I could do it too. We've been watching Lena Waithe’s Emmy acceptance speech, over and over, but did you also see her earlier Instagram post about visualizing herself at the Emmys as a kid, or how about Ava Duvernay's tweet about Lena's hustle?
 

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we're reading...

  • This Medium piece, which we’re loving because the author describes visualization in a different way -- he calls it decision -- but also because he recognizes how non-negotiable self-care practices are, not only in the doing stage, but also in the dreaming and planning and “deciding” stages.
  • Hillary Clinton in conversation with America Ferrera, on what happens when what you dreamed for yourself (and for your country) doesn’t come to light.
  • This woman’s meditation on what it means to live her life authentically, regardless of the pressure that pervasive Western values have put on her identity.
  • A Dreamer’s account of what it feels like to be given the right to imagine a fulfilling life, only to have it abruptly and unkindly taken away five years later (a personal reflection on the DACA changes in the US).
  • Why the fall still feels like a time for planning and new beginnings, even when there’s no more "first day of school".
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we recommend...

Applying to attend the Obama Foundation's Summit along with hundreds of other civic leaders in Chicago later this month. (Hoping to get my ish together an applying this week, maybe see you there! Also, I took this picture at my first Clinton Global Initiative, still blows my mind.)

WE'RE PLANNING...

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS
The Sun and Her Flowers with Komal Minhas

Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'.

 

Curated by Komal: Welcome!

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe. 

As I sit to write today's letter, it's 10 pm the Monday before I launch this newsletter. I thought we'd be able to have everything set to go by 5 pm, but alas, my optimistic timelines weren't quite on point. Even though it's late, and I'm so ready for bed, something feels incredibly grounding and reassuring about this moment. It could be that it's been about a decade in the making, or that it marks my official comeback to work and career that I've longed for since I stepped away from Dream, Girl and my life nine months ago after getting sick.

The reason that resonates the most with me right now, is that this newsletter -- this space I want to create and hold for each of you every week -- is the strongest commitment to my self I have ever made. In this moment, I am smiling ear to ear. I have the privilege of doing what I love on my own terms. 'What I love' is hosting, curating, and creating for an audience who believes in me. I want to deliver new original content alongside content from others that has changed how I think about and see the world. Being able to create this newsletter for you is such an incredible gift in my life.

So as with any gift, I can't wait for you to peel back the layers of wrapping and get to the good stuff. First, a huge thank you to Renira for the incredible design and help with my slow and steady rebrand. 

Scroll down for my first weekly vlog, and the launch of Your Moment of Ambition on Medium, brought to you by Kylie Adair of the KoMedia team. From there, get into all the things we're listening to, reading, and recommending. And don't forget to get your tickets (link down below) to my event with the New York Times bestselling poet, Rupi Kaur in Ottawa on November 12th.

Welcome to the first instalment of of Curated by Komal. Can't wait to land in your inbox every Tuesday! (You can subscribe here.) Also, I'd love to hear your feedback this week. If you feel compelled, shoot me an email with your thoughts about today's newsletter at komal@komedia.ca


With love,

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the vlog

Join me each week to see the behind-the-scenes action at KoMedia. Here's a look at our first day in the office!

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part one of a 20-part series we're launching on Medium called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we talk about the social factors behind the stats on the many thousands of women who are starting their own businesses. What exactly is driving them to dive into entrepreneurship? How have their motives changed in recent years?

Click here to check out this week’s post on Medium to find out!

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we're listening to...

On my way to NYC this weekend, I turned on this podcast from Lewis Howes and planned to dose off. Instead, I was riveted by Dr. Michael Gervais, the sports psychologist working with the Seattle Seahawks, and many other world class athletes and leaders. His description of the concept of recovery in the realm of being a world class leader, and the belief that our limitlessness comes from compassion for the self, is so on point.

Listen to this conversation if you’re ready to take your mindset to the next level.

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we're reading...

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we recommend...

Checking out and applying for one of these 20 fully funded fellowships, curated by a friend of KoMedia, Shaaz Nasir.

WE'RE PLANNING...

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS 
The Sun and Her Flowers with Komal Minhas

Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'.

 

Happiness, pass it on.

With Tolfino and Yuki, our friends Sam and Josh's beautiful adopted pups enroute to Yosemite!

With Tolfino and Yuki, our friends Sam and Josh's beautiful adopted pups enroute to Yosemite!

I am literally not able to get this smile off my face! What a new feeling!! Joy just because. Appreciation and gratitude as a natural state? WHAT IS THIS EVEN!

I feel like my body and mind were so taxed that survival was all I could do for a long time. The front end of this year hurt me so much. It hurt so many people around me. The decisions I had to make, the way things had to happen. It was a pain, hurt, and anger party.

It's been a couple of weeks now. I've been consistent with my meditation practice. I've been walking, hiking, working out, 2-3 times a week. I've continued to eat whatever I want, but with gusto and joy instead of anger and an intention to numb.

Then this feeling started creeping up on me, and came on full force when we took time to go to California just because. Full. On. Happiness. In the quiet moments, contentment. On the rollercoasters (literal, not figurative this time ;-)), a deep sense of calm. An assuredness I've only really read about. And it hasn't been fleeting. It's the state I've started to consistently come back to. A few weeks of wellness is a lot for me these days! What a gift!

Our third time on Space Mountain!

Our third time on Space Mountain!

This joy is so light, it's so new, it's so welcomed! 

So I'd like to pass it on. I was just sitting here smiling so big, catching up on life stuff, and realized, if there was ever an emotion or experience to share it's this one. A simple moment. Filled with an emotion I found elusive for so long. 

This weekend, I hope you find moments of joy. Even if it's just one, take note of it, and come back to it when you need it.

Happy Easter/Vaisakhi/everything else folks! It's a time of new beginnings! Make it count!

 

To begin again: Where I've been, and what's been going on.

After a slow and steady hike in Vancouver in Feb. 

After a slow and steady hike in Vancouver in Feb. 

It's hard to know at the outset if this is going to be a gentle experience, or exceptionally turbulent. The experience being that of sitting down to write again. 

It's been well over a year since I've felt in control of my experiences, thoughts, and words. Writing for me is a form of catharsis and processing. But something deeply troubling was happening for the last year or more. My physical, lived experience continued to take up a painful amount of space in my heart, mind, and soul. I could not be still. Still long enough to reflect and be fully with what being sick was doing to me.

I struggled to know what to say, let alone how to say it. My life has been so deeply intertwined in others', I was so exhausted, and living from a place of survival only. What was mine? What was theirs? What was real? What was real?

My life has been one of extremes -- often going starkly from 0-100, or 100-1000, and I found myself sprinting to try and keep up. I went from living life in NYC, running a start-up, keeping up with the Joneses to semi-isolation 20-mins outside of Ottawa on an acreage. From the bright lights and hustle, to spying on the turkey's as they make their daily rounds scavenging food from the compost to the bird feeders and back again.

Pirate Koko reporting from the darkness of her cave.

Pirate Koko reporting from the darkness of her cave.

Speaking of bright lights… it may be time to let this loose. In early January when I arrived back in NYC from our winter break for the company, I suddenly lost vision in my left eye and started experiencing severe migraines, and other neurological issues. I later found out what I had was optic neuritis, inflammation of the optic nerve. Strangely enough, it was not connected to my concussion from December. 

Naturally. Because that’s my life 😂.

From January 10th to February 23rd our lives changed dramatically. For the first two weeks after the onset of symptoms, I experienced severe photophobia, vertigo, and sensory overwhelm, to the point where I would have to self-medicate to leave the house and to travel on the subway.

Prior to coming back to NYC in January, I had decided that I would move back to Ottawa at some point in 2017. I had hoped it would be after continuing some core work with Dream, Girl, but things clearly did not shake out that way. 

We very quickly packed up our essentials and moved back to Ottawa in late January after my acute symptoms passed and I could handle the car ride. 

It felt so surreal. In so many ways this is what I ‘wanted’, there was no doubt it was 100% what I needed (two weeks of vision therapy in NYC racked up well over $2000 in bills, so my appreciation for the Canadian health care system has become even more immense), but none of it was ‘on my terms’. I’ve only realized in the past few days, now that my stress has normalized, and I am back at a base functioning capacity, that I had almost no active agency in how this transpired. Because of the severity of what I was experiencing, I had no time, space, or energy to do much else but survive.

Optic neuritis, I would later find out, is connected with a number if illnesses, and in 60% of cases that my neurologist has seen, it is linked to multiple sclerosis.

So there was that.

I remember leaving the optometrist’s office after she dropped the potential MS bomb and just crying, so hard. It was raining outside, we were still in Brooklyn, and between the eye patch, sunglasses, rain, and tears streaming down my face, I am surprised I made it home, I am so appreciative that Mitch was there to guide me back.

I read a short essay recently that described life post-cancer. The author described the five stages of recovery. One was essentially that after survival, for a while, you have a heightened expectation and belief of any diagnosis. You’re wired to be in survival mode and for me it was prolonged by my concussion and this onset, so when I heard MS, I began preparing for the worst, and praying for the best.

We came home that day, and I cried. I cried hard. The pain was seeping out of me in sounds and words I couldn’t process or understand. The pain drenched my cheeks and shirt. The pain found its way into Mitch’s embrace, and he led me back to calm.

I was safe. This could be nothing. We are going to survive this like everything that’s come before.

This expedited our move significantly. I needed an MRI of my brain, I needed a neurologist, and I needed answers to help mitigate my stress, and to actually begin a long needed and required recovery.

After visiting my wonderful neurologist a few weeks after arriving home, we had my MRI done and were told about a small lesion in my right frontal lobe. I do not meet the McDonald criteria for MS, which is good news at this point. We will have a follow-up MRI in a year, and my neurologist has advised me to go on with my life as normal. If anything neurological flares up, or we find another lesion in a year, we’ll take it from there.

A clean(ish) bill of health!

I received that news a few hours after having to take the stage at a large business conference back home in Grande Prairie. I was so nervous and struggling with bringing that talk together. It was 45-mins long, I had just left DG, we had not publicly shared anything, and two days before the talk I had a sensory overwhelm panic attack while sitting with my family that left me tired and scared. I was so scared taking that stage that I might have an acute episode, or have my vision loss become more severe while on stage. It took all the strength I had left to make it through and cross that final barrier.

That was the official beginning of this new chapter.

We have moved in with Mitch’s dad in Carp, and we love it. We’ve changed the carpets, painted the walls, and brought even more life to this loving home.

Office transformation! As I was recovering, I loved watching Mr. Kate videos on YouTube!

Office transformation! As I was recovering, I loved watching Mr. Kate videos on YouTube!

Papa Joe has been such a light for me. When I was in my recovery from both my surgeries last year, we stayed out here and it’s a beautiful sanctuary for me. It’s a place where I’ve healed, and will heal even more fully. Him and Mitch make me laugh, and I feel safe to be whatever version of me I need to be as I heal. This is a place of real love.

My ‘full-time’ gig is my health. I’m working closely again with Steph over at EPIC Fitness to get active, to move my body, and come back to what I love: feeling strong and capable in my body. I’ve built a team of healthcare and complimentary care professionals who are helping me address root causes of my sicknesses (Hashimoto’s disease + cancer + concussion + optic neuritis all in two years seems like a lot), a big focus of this is food, cranial sacral therapy, thyroid-supporting meds, vision therapy (I still don't have my full vision back), and emotional release and processing.

Baby time has been great for the brain and heart. Love these little boos!

Baby time has been great for the brain and heart. Love these little boos!

I do find joy in creating, and with the slowing down and having almost three weeks now of ‘normal’ and ‘average’, and no travel, I am getting a sense of what my life can look and feel like without tremendous physical, emotional, and psychological stress.

What does this all mean for my ‘work’.

Down time = ideation time. I refuse to run a mile a minute anymore. I am responsible for changing the patterns and habits of a life that exacerbated such significant and severe health challenges, so that is my priority. As I eventually build my team, begin writing, and look at future projects or investments, I am going to take. my. time. I am going to have fun. Pause. Laugh. Do what I want, when I want. My mantra right now is slow and steady wins the race. The more time and space I make for myself right now, the better I will become. 

So much of the stress that compounded for me this past year was feeling like I was not in control of my own life. I didn’t take accountability and do what I needed to do to be happy, healthy, and free.

So now’s that time.

Seeing as though this is my first post back, I know there’s a lot here, and there’s no real synthesis or cohesive theme, message, or takeaway. That’s because I just need to get this out to continue. To keep taking my next steps forward, and to tune into and cultivate my voice even more. More fully. More deeply. More authentically, and hopefully with more impact.

There’s so much I’ve been through that I would like to share in the hopes of helping others. So that is my mission. How can I use my processing, and natural desires (to write, for example) to help others as I create this next chapter. 

Stay tuned as I figure it out <3.

With love,

- Komal

A New Chapter Begins: Leaving Dream, Girl's Daily Operations

From our first time meeting to our final video of last year and everything in between, my gratitude for Erin and our team is immense. 

From our first time meeting to our final video of last year and everything in between, my gratitude for Erin and our team is immense. 

It's taken me some time to get these words right, here they are for all of you: So much has changed and so fast, and it's time to fill you in.

 

I stepped back from the day-to-day operations of Dream, Girl and our distribution team in early January to rest and begin the next chapter of my life back in Ottawa. I am grateful for the contributions I made with our incredible team, and I couldn't be more proud of everything we accomplished and the impact we've had.

 

The past two and a half years of this journey have been unforgettable. I could not have dreamt of a better partner-in-crime than Erin to have walked this path with, each of us elevating the other and this movement with total abandon and heart every step of the way.

 

My gratitude to Erin, Diana, Kylie, and our team is immense. I so look forward to watching, alongside each of you and our investors, as they continue to move the company forward to share our mission to economically empower women and girls through the film and future content (like DG's new web series, Your Moment of Ambition!).

 

The events of last year left an indelible mark on my life, and it's time for me to hold space for my personal experiences and to continue cultivating my health and joy once more.

 

I look forward to sharing this next chapter on my blog (http://www.komalminhas.com) and on Instagram (@komalkminhas) and my official Facebook Page (https://m.facebook.com/komalkminhas/). Join me as I discover my new rhythm for creating, consulting, producing, speaking and investing in KoMedia's corner of the web and at future events across the globe.

 

With love,

 

Komal

Cancer, The White House, and Oprah all walk into a bar... the craziest three months of my life.

Koko, OPRAH, Erin

You guys… I can’t event with life right now.

What is even happening?

Even as I write these words, I know what’s happening. Everything that’s meant to.

Can we just. I haven’t written since May. Since then, many, many, many things have happened. 😂 😂 😂

Here’s a brief chronology:

  • May 2nd: Went under for my first surgery to remove the cancer in my leg. My surgeon removed about two Mars bars from my leg. Started recovery on some heavy heavy meds. Didn’t know how to slow down, started ‘working’ the next day. Was in a lot of pain for a good three weeks.

  • May 24th: In the throws of preparing for our White House premiere, got a call while standing in line at Staples with Diana as we were buying DVDs to burn the movie onto for Erin, that I indeed need a second surgery. They got all the cancer, which is great. But they needed to take another Mars bar out to make sure it doesn’t come back. FML. *Proceeds to hand credit card to Staples cashier*.

  • May 26th: My first pain free day, and the DAY WE PREMIERE OUR FIRST FILM AT THE FREAKING WHITE HOUSE. So many of our family and dearest friends were in the room with us. Erin and I cry when the film is complete, and hug each other in the aisle as we receive our first standing ovation for Dream, Girl. The cat’s out of the bag, and we couldn’t be more terrified and happy.

  • June 9th: We premiere our film in NYC at the iconic Paris Theater to 600 people, most of whom, WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW, WHO WERE THESE PEOPLE, THE COOLEST, MOST AMAZING PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. They made me cry, they stood up and cheered their hearts out for us. They gasped, laughed, cried, and cheered throughout our film. They loved our characters (REAL WOMEN). We had a Q&A that was one of my favourite things I’ve ever done. Then we partied on an NYC rooftop with the skyline behind us for many hours, celebrating one of the best nights of our lives.

Proud Mama at The Paris Theatre at our World Premiere.

Proud Mama at The Paris Theatre at our World Premiere.

  • June 10th - July: We undergo a number of identity crises, life crises, exhaustion crises, etc… and get back to work booking screenings, and figuring out how to both spread the film globally, and generate revenue to build our company up. Thousands of people around the world see the film. I also prepare for my next surgery while still recovering from the first. I go on my first run. I cry after because it’s the first time I’ve felt free in my body in over a year. I also cry from the pain of my incision post-run. I take a taxi home from the park because it hurt so much.

  • Early July - July 13th: I go home for an amazing family wedding and to start unwinding as I feel like I'm going to crash and burn. Erin is holding down the fort, and begins working with Diana and Kylie to pivot and streamline our sales and distribution processes, which is technically my wheelhouse. She crushes and makes space for me to process what’s about to happen. My first magazine cover ever is released. I have the best visit ever with my family, and start to feel the fear bubbling up for this next surgery. I head back to Ottawa.

Day 2.

Day 2.

  • July 14th: Surgery day. Also, one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. I was awake for this surgery, and it was the worst patient experience of my life. I’ll likely share more when I’ve better processed it. Lots of blood, lots of squeezing my eyes shut, a lack of freezing, and a huge amount of gratitude for the Summer 2016 playlist I made with my sisters.

  • July 14th - August 3rd: Recovery. Battle with a lot of negative thoughts, feelings, emotions. Healing my body. Healing my mind. Resting my nervous system and beginning to feel ‘normal’. Managing pain, but actually turning off, and tuning out. Lots of movies. Lots of love. Some of the most uncomfortable and hard days of my life. The day I found out, final final, that I am cancer free and need no more surgeries. That time Erin and Sal got to go on VACATION!

  • August 4th: The day we get to share that we are on Oprah’s #SuperSoul100 list. The day I did my first full day of work post-op. The day I realized my brain was still only at 60%. The day I was so eternally grateful for the Dream, Girl Team (Diana, Kylie, Prasanna, Maggie!). The day I felt more confident than I ever had in my life.

August 4th. The day I loved myself so fully, I could truly be present for the people around me.

August 4th. The day I will look back on (and read this post from) so I can remember, so vividly, the day I realized the purpose, foundation, fabric of my life. The day I accepted that the only thing I am meant to do in this life is help others by loving myself, and making good in this world.

August 4th. The day I looked myself in the mirror before bed and said... “I am proud of you. I am proud of what you’ve overcome, what you’ve survived the past 26 years, and what you choose to do in this world. I am proud of how you choose to make others feel.” I am proud of who I am.

I never want to forget this feeling. I never want to forget this day.

So many SHINY things have happened this year. Moments of acknowledgement, and moments of praise. I am in such deep gratitude to these moments, for helping uplift the impact of Dream, Girl, and for helping me at my core realize what matters to me most.

I have come through both the best and worst six months of my life. I survived cancer. I was slammed down to the concrete by life. And I was uplifted by meaningful, impactful, change driven work. I was brought back to life by love. By Mitch, my parents (and in-laws), my siblings, Erin, my best friends, our team, so many strangers. I did not rise because of the shiny. I did not rise because of Oprah, or magazines, or premieres. I rose because people loved me. They loved me back to health. Their love showed me the power of my own love. I have given these people every single ounce of me. And they gave it right back to me.

They loved me so hard, I fell in love with myself.

Today, because of Oprah, and her legacy of impact, and the resonance her name brings, I woke up from my recovery to a chorus of love that’s made me the most confident woman I have ever been.

I am ready. I am ready for this next chapter*. I am ready to rise, fall, be beat to the ground, and to rise again. Loved. Healed. Rested. And more resilient than ever.

 

*Don’t worry, I’m going to rest a while longer, then get to everything I’ve said above 😂 😂 😂

 

Cancer, thanks for the most confusing relationship of my life.

If you stay right here, and live right here, the world will grow bigger and clearer and more terrifying and more beautiful than it’s ever been before. That’s what happens when you refuse to look away or protect yourself from what’s right in front of you. You can take in the full scope of what you have and what you stand to lose. You can see past the jibber-jabber and the noise and the empty shiny distractions. You understand how little time you have left. You are finally wide awake.
— Heather Havrilesky
Post-op on May 2nd.

Post-op on May 2nd.

I have been so worried about writing this post. I've tried a dozen times, but I just don't know where to start or what to say.

Truth be told, I'm really mad and angry at cancer. I hate it... and yet, at moments, I am also grateful to it all at once. A paradox that I can't help but laugh and cry at.

Tomorrow I find out if they did in fact remove all of the cancer cells two weeks ago when they removed the equivalent of two Snickers bars from my leg. Two weeks ago, I had no idea what this recovery period would look or feel like. I had been so focused on getting to my surgery day, sane, and positive, that I didn't take a moment to ask myself or anyone else, what it would be like to be in recovery.

I wish I had. It's been 15 days, and I am still in pain. I am so frustrated, angry, and sad. My mobility, or lack thereof, has been the most constant reminder of what we just went through. Everyday I wake up, and as I move slowly out of my bed, and put pressure on my leg, I am reminded of the past two and a half months of agony. Of waking up unsure of what the day will be like, trying my best to choose positive thoughts and actions, while feeling as though there's an anchor weighing down my spirit and my life.

Fuck you cancer.

The day I was diagnosed with you, we were set to launch our new distribution system, to help spread and proliferate the impact of Dream, Girl around the world. Because of you, we were delayed, and now, as we have to alter our sales process with limited time before our launch, I look back on 'wasted time' spent worrying about you, dealing with you, and trying to find ways to accept you. All I want to do is help others, share our mission with the world, be there for Erin, but all you're making me do is question my very existence and capacity for action. EFF YOU.

The next month is going to change our lives. Dream, Girl is going to be released to the world, this gift we have been creating for two years... I am so full, so overwhelmed, so in awe of how much we can handle and persevere through. Cancer, you're one hell of a curve ball, and there's so many moments when I just can't help but laugh at the circumstances of my life. Like, WTF IS LIFE RIGHT NOW!?

You have made me so acutely aware of my humanity, of the impermanence of human life. You've forced me to deeply understand that I have no business expecting anything of this life. That my greatest gratitude must come from each breath I have the privilege of taking, and every time I get to say 'I love you,' to the people I love. Although this often brings me great sadness, I've become so aware of what matters most to me in this life. For this, I thank you cancer.

I thank you for helping me question and understand my desire the past two weeks to disassociate from my pain and anguish, to numb out. You've helped me realize that as I learn to accept my circumstances, and surrender to the hand that's been dealt to me, I can choose love, and choose compassion both for my circumstances, and for those suffering so much more than me. I can let others touch my heart, and I can get out of my head and move past my own story.

Hanging with the fam post-op.

Hanging with the fam post-op.

You brought my family together. Because of you, my parents stayed with Mitch's family, and they spent great, meaningful time together. In no other scenario would this have happened. Considering this silver lining, how could I not be grateful to you cancer?

You've made me take care of my nutrition, you've made me fight for me health. Thank you.

You led me to meeting a Buddhist monk who spoke to my soul. You showed me the depth of love, caring, passion, and grit my best friend and business partner is capable of mustering. You showed me my resilience, and ability to come back to my light and joy in the face of the greatest challenge. You showed me how loved I truly am. You reminded me of the people in my life I am blessed to call my friends and family. You gave me an opportunity to show up for myself.

You have also blessed me with a story, and an experience, that I can share with others who are going through similar, or worse experiences. To enable our collective empathy and compassion to grow.

You've brought richness to my life. But you've also brought waves of the greatest sorrow I've ever known. You've left me suspended in oblivion held by a golden thread that gives me life.

You've made sure I never take anything for granted ever again.

Courtesy of Katie and WANTcast.

Courtesy of Katie and WANTcast.

To live a full life is a privilege. To do the work that we do through Dream, Girl is a privilege. To have the supports that I do is a privilege. To have access to great health care and health supports is a privilege. Thank you for these reminders.

Regardless of tomorrow's outcome, I hope to make the best of the hand I've been dealt. To keep finding the courage to take the next step forward. To break open and show up through my greatest highs and lowest lows.

I never would have imagined that my life would look like this on any front. But today, in this moment, I hold the deepest gratitude to every challenge and joy that has come my way, and every challenge and joy that is yet to come -- for experiencing them as fully as possible is the most needed reminder that I am truly alive.

Meet my wellness team!

I just got back from my first time in a gym in months! As I was leaving, I had the biggest grin plastered on my face. I couldn't help but smile! 

You guys... I had energy to move my body. We did a movement assessment, not a workout, but looking around the gym, and seeing what my trainer had built, and how like me she is in her ambition, drive, and passion, made me feel right at home. 

Meet Stephanie Karlovits - my movement expert

She really is this awesome!

She really is this awesome!

It's been a slow build as I've been working with Steph. Her best friend is my best friend's brother. So we're basically family. 

Steph and I connected at my first public keynote in Ottawa last year at Ladies Who Lunch. I was promoting Dream, Girl, and she suggested I stop by her gym, Epic Fitness + Lifestyle, for a workout. I loved her energy immediately. So assured, confident, and kind. We didn't get on a call until January of this year, but as soon as we dived in, I knew I found a soul sister.

She helped me define my health manifesto, and supported me in realizing how I was relating to food, and how I could shift that relationship. She helped me understand that listening to my body, resting, and moving gently was not weakness, but was in fact just honouring where I was at.

She sat with me on Skype and explained exactly what cancer was when I was diagnosed. She took the time to make sure both energetically, and scientifically, I understood why this was happening to my body. 

Her gym, Epic Fitness + Lifestyle is a sanctuary for excellence and growth. As soon as I walked in today, I was in love.

Most of my relationship with Steph has been online, so being in her temple today was so invigorating. To occupy the space where someone you trust, and have on your team is in their element and where they shine so bright is such a gift. Her power and strength in that space has enabled me to know that I am truly on my way back to being STRONG. To moving my body with power and confidence. To doing burpees to my heart's content, and to getting back to doing full push-ups. To holding myself upside down in a handstand for as long as I want. These are my dreams - to be strong, to be in a headspace to dream of doing a standing back tuck, to having fun with my dreams for my body! Because, why not? To also knowing that I am both in control and not in control of my wellness, and that's okay, because if I need to I will pivot and adjust according to my needs. It's not all or nothing as I once believed, but I get to choose what I want this to be like.

God, this feels so good to write. What a powerhouse to be working with! Also, she's climbing Machu Picchu soon, and is fundraising $5000 to do it, interested in supporting her? Click here!

Next up...

Meet Jumanah Beck - my nutritionist

1/2 of her cookbooks that are amazing!

1/2 of her cookbooks that are amazing!

I heard of Jumanah and EarthSuit Nutrition through a friend I met online, Courtney McCarthy. Courtney has been open and courageous in sharing her own wellness journey online, and I was inspired to find out how she found success. She worked with Jumanah, and sang her praises!

I was sad to realize I would have to wait a number of months to work with her - her waitlist was 3-months! So in December I booked my sessions from Feb-April and was pumped to begin with her.

Our first meeting was on Skype, and she immediately offered support and meaningful advice for my acne, fatigue, lethargy, bloating, and everything in-between. It took my cancer diagnosis to really commit to the meal plans I had coming in from Jumanah, but once I did, I felt so good! After ten days of consistent commitment to her treatment meal plan, I had never felt better - actually! 

I tape the weekly meal plans she sends to my wall in the kitchen, and I order in my groceries every Sunday on Instacart. I use my Sunday evenings for food prep, and the meals are so simple and fun to make! Cauliflower mash is an example - it tastes even better than mashes potatoes! I also rigged a black eyed pea curry that I love! I have fun with the cooking, and it makes me feel so powerful and strong to know I am healing my own body!

Jumanah noted my low testosterone levels, and my spike in estrogen before my periods that cause a huge amount of cramps, pain and acne for me. She supplemented me, and this month I had my first pain free period in my adult life. Through the food she's prescribing, she's confident my body will be able to do this on its own soon. I feel such a relief to know that.

Finally, she see's me - really sees me. She understands my lifestyle, she's an entrepreneur herself, and reminds me to be kind to myself. Perfection is a disease, she says. She prescribes laughter to help my adrenal glands which are taxed and may be cause so much of the disruptions in my body with high levels of cortisol and adrenaline leading to high stress and fatigue. Who doesn't want more laughter in life? And she's making it a part of my to-do list which is exactly how I work.

It feels so liberating to see my food truly as medicine. It enables making healthy, life-supporting choices so much easier. And as those of you who have been reading along for the past year know, this is a huge breakthrough for me.

Last, but not least...

Meet Braelin Thornton - my financial advisor

The first moment I met Braelin, I knew we had to work together. She is equal parts passion, excitement, vision, and genuine brilliance. She has found creative expression through brilliantly managing her client's financial portfolios and dreams. 

That first day, I told Braelin that I want to build my portfolio into the billions. She looked at me with a sparkle in her eye, and said, 'Great, let's do it'. 

You might be wondering why I am including Braelin in my wellness team, but for me, a healthy attitude towards our spending and financial dreams is critical to our overall physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Braelin helps me see my financial goals as part of my personal mission in this world. Through getting a handle on my good and bad spending habits and beliefs, I can amplify my impact tenfold. 

Money is so hard to discuss and be about, but it, at its core, is simply energy. We move it from one place to another, and the more positivity, joy, and excitement we bring to it, the more abundant and impactful we can become.

My go to example for this is often Oprah. She has built an empire on helping millions feel heard, seen, and supported. Without her financial abundance and belief in herself, so many of our lives would be so much more bleak.

Braelin understands my dreams, my goals, my passion for discipline and determination. She's helping me feel empowered with my spending choices as I face my diagnosis. I am an emotional spender at times, but being able to name and face my bad habits head on, and to not spend my power away is very liberating.

She's helped me see that investing in my health, and in the things that bring me genuine joy is so good for my soul! Investing in Steph, in Jumanah, in her, and in the rest of the team I want to eventually bring on is going to help me expand in my dreams and impact.

It takes a village to raise a child, but it also take a village to get you healthy, happy, and to walk confidently towards that vision you have of yourself.

My friend Julie Beun told me she gave the following advice to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs last week and it stuck with me: decide the vision of who you truly want to be, what you want to embody in your values, your morals, and your impact, and walk confidently towards her (that vision of yourself) everyday. 

I see who I am becoming, and who I want to be in this world, and everyday I am taking steps towards her. Confidently, and so fully supported.

This all comes from a willingness to want to be better (whatever that may mean for you), and to ask for help. We can't achieve our dreams and goals alone, so reach out, ask for help, find the ones who get you, and you'll soar.

So I'll ask: I'm on the lookout for a great executive coach, and myofascial release (MFR) therapist, alongside a powerful energy healer. If you know of any, let me know!

On a final note. I've had the best four days of my life this week. Through the simplicity of passion, work, friendship, family, and self-love.

Even with cancer the world is bright, and full. Make today awesome folks.

Go do some epic shit. 

Feeling like myself again... for now.

A person can only have so much control over their mental state of mind when it feels like they're in the epicentre of a tornado.

That's been what this past month has felt like. I've had to begin 'living' in two cities again, my energy and mental clarity have been hazy at best, and I've realized, life for everyone around me continues moving forward with no pause for the weight of the experience I am going through. Add onto this mix a five-day fever, and you have me feeling the worst I've felt in years, and questioning every ounce of my self-worth with no perceived end in sight.

And that's why days like today are awesome. I'm not naive enough to think I'm on 'the other side' and that days won't keep sucking, and that I won't go down the rabbit hole of self-hatred anymore, but I have become so much more aware, and grateful for, the days that feel good. The days where I love myself, the days where I can really receive love from the people around me, the days where I remember my value, and the value of what I have to offer this world. The days when I can open my laptop and feel strong enough to think and work. 

Rather, I suppose it's moments like these, not days.

Waking up this morning was hard. Getting out of bed, opening my mind up to the fleury of the world and e-mails, and acknowledgements I am not apart of, and work that is being questioned, all enabling me to stare deep into that rabbit hole of self pity and a really bad day.

But then I made a choice. To call Mitch, and to lay all my insecurities bare, and to talk. To share. To ask for help, and another perspective to lift me back to life. To remind me of my worth, and what I am capable of. 

I am so used to thinking I have to go this alone. That I have to be strong enough to make it out of this. But that's only part of the story. I need help. Lots of it. I needed my mom here last week to take care of me, and I need her and Mitch everyday to remind me of who I am, because when you're sick, or when you're grieving, or when you're facing a disease that scares the crap out of you, you need help.

Asking for help is an act of bravery and courage, and it comes from you. Asking for help does not make you weak, it makes you better.

I was listening to Tony Robbins and Oprah yesterday because I needed a psychological lift, and Tony talked about something that resonated really deeply for me. Post-traumatic growth. One's ability to rise from trauma - our resilience and courage manifest when we are able to stand back up on our own two feet with our loved ones lifting us up. Our ability to look back and say, 'See how powerful that helped me become?'

Hearing about post-traumatic growth made me feel strong. It gave me space to breathe, it made me remember everything I've grown through, everything I've had to face in my life, and everything that has brought me to this moment. This reprieve from my mind, this moment of clarity, and words, and worth, and work. Today, in this moment, I feel like me again. The version of me that serves myself and the world most.

Every corner of this experience is so unbearably hard. But knowing I'm going to survive, and knowing that this struggle isn't forever, is the greatest hope I can hold onto. 

So here's to more and more moments of mental freedom, and the courage to ask for help to make it through the rest.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.
— Bob Marley

Two days ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. It's highly treatable, and I want to talk about it.

I was diagnosed with a rare, and highly treatable form of cancer, Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans. It was the biggest surprise of my life when it happened, but I'm feeling really good and positive about it and about my treatment options and success rate for being cancer free. Writing and sharing helps me process, so here we go!

March 3rd, 2016 - The day I was diagnosed.

March 3rd, 2016 - The day I was diagnosed.

The Diagnosis

I came back to Ottawa from NYC after moving after the New Year for a follow-up with my doctor on some thyroid issues I've been having. What I was told next was totally out of left field and has made the past 48-hours the most surreal of my life.

In December, I had two tumours removed from my right calf and upper thigh. Both were said to be benign. They were removed in a tiny room in a walk-in-clinic in Ottawa, and the surgeon was wearing jeans and let me and Mitch record him dissecting the tumours when they came out. It was the coolest thing. What I remember distinctly, is when we examined the second tumour (from my upper thigh), he said it had two parts to it, and as we cut it open he told me what he saw was extremely rare. 'One in a million people have this,' he said, 'It's a dermatofibroma'.

'Is it cancer?' I asked.

 'No,' he said, 'but we'll send it for a biopsy anyways'.

Then began a whirlwind period of time. I went back to Alberta for the holidays, showed off my cool scars and gross video to my family, had my cousin-sister remove my stitches in the guest bedroom of my brother's house, and then I came back to Ottawa, and moved my life to New York City to embark on year two of working on our start-up and planning to crush everything that lays ahead for Dream, Girl and our movement.

**Cue montage of hardworking ladies working their assess off to accomplish their biggest dreams in NYC... **

...then yesterday, as I sat on the crinkly paper on the bed in the examination room waiting for a requisition for blood work, I asked the doctor about a letter I had received.

'It said some results are in that need to be discussed, but I'm not sure what they'd be from,' I said forgetting about December's biopsy.

The doctor looked it up in his tablet, and he mumbled, 'No one has talked to you about this yet? These results came back in January.'

'No, I just got the letter yesterday.' I said. 

He started explaining how I needed to see a specialist, and he would put the referral in. It was one of my tumours from December. It came back and it's something really rare.

'Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans,' he said. 

Sarcoma... I knew that was cancer, and so I asked as the shock set in...

'It's cancer?'

'Yes, it's cancer. It's very rare. One in a million people are diagnosed with this annually.'

I felt the blood rush to my head, and I said so naively, 'I feel overwhelmed, really overwhelmed. Is that normal?'

He gave an uncomfortable, but sympathetic laugh. 'Yes, that is very normal, are you okay?'

I could feel my adrenaline pumping, I could feel the fear creeping in, and I did all that I could to stay as present and aware as possible. To hold onto every word as tears started rolling down my cheeks...

'They didn't get all of it during the first removal...'

'We will take care of you, don't worry...'

'You will hear back soon...'

'Do you need anything else?...'

I didn't want to cry anymore in that room beyond my first set of tears. I breathed deeply and asked for my blood work requisition for my thyroid hormones, and I walked out.

I got in my car, and drove to somewhere familiar, the parking lot by my house. I called Mitch, he was at work and couldn't answer. I called my brother, and I let myself finally react.

'Vickram Bhaji... I have cancer.'


A luminary (lit in honour of someone who has had cancer) from the 2010 Relay for Life.

A luminary (lit in honour of someone who has had cancer) from the 2010 Relay for Life.

There are going to be a lot of people who are surprised to hear me talk about my diagnosis so soon after finding out about it. But writing and sharing are my form of expression and are my way of processing big parts of my life. So I appreciate the time each of you are taking to hear and feel my story. There is no shame in this diagnosis, and I want to shine a bright light on the fear around it. I will fight this with every ounce of myself.

I admit, I have very little information on my specific prognosis. Here are the facts I've learned about online, so you my dear reader, are as informed as I am.

Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans:

  • Is a very rare form of cancer. It emerges at the top of the skin and is often thought to be a pimple or cyst. It grows very slowly, but when it does, it can grow something like a root system that can penetrate muscle and bone. 
  • With Moh's surgery there is a 98% (!!!!!!!!) chance of removing all the cancer cells and I most likely will not need chemo or radiation. In December they took a big chunk out, but the biopsy indicated that there is still cancer present.
  • I likely only need to see a dermatologist to have it removed in its entirety if it has not penetrated muscle and bone. If it has, I will have a team of specialists helping me figure this out.
  • At this point, I know nothing definitively and am filling in as many blanks as possible with the help of very informed friends and family until I get in for my next appointment.

So why am I sharing this? My history with cancer and what I've learned so far:

Such a fun day in 2007!

Such a fun day in 2007!

My first journal entry in 6th grade was about finding out that a young girl at our school was diagnosed with cancer. I was devastated and felt so sad for her and her family, and expressed myself as eloquently as a 12-year-old could. A few years later I started selling daffodils for the Canadian Cancer Society in the atrium of my high school. I then led the 'Think Pink' fundraiser at my school in 11th and 12th grades, and we raised over $10, 000 for the Breast Cancer Foundation and had our whole male faculty wear pink dresses for a day. We made the front page of the local paper!

A year later, I found my first tumour while I was away at university, and went numb. I was doing a breast exam in my dorm room after a shower, just like the women I worked with the year before at the Breast Cancer Foundation advised me to do, and there it was. I had to have my first biopsy at 18, the first of many. 

The survivors who joined us in 2012. Such a powerful night.

The survivors who joined us in 2012. Such a powerful night.

I felt such a lack of support on campus outside of my best friends Heather and Becca who had run the Relay for Life at their high school - a 12-hour overnight fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. It turned out my tumour wasn't cancerous (it was a fibroadenoma, I now have many in my body - benign fibrous growths that pop up every few years and that I monitor), but I had a fire to do something for those affected by cancer on our campus.

So, two years later, we decided to start the Relay for Life at Carleton University. In six years we have raised close to half a million dollars. The last Relay I co-chaired was four years ago this week, the 2016 event is this coming weekend.

One of my favourite nights! The 2012 Relay for Life!

We did it so there could be a community on our campus to talk about these supremely shocking and scary experiences; walking home alone from the doctor's office when you find a tumour, or hearing about a close friend or family member being diagnosed. Cancer thrives on our fear, and sharing and speaking about it, I believe, eviscerates that fear entirely.

After so many years of activism, I feel supremely prepared to face this. But it doesn't make it any less hard, scary, or shocking. 

So here's what I've learned in two days about why this is so important to share and talk about and to not let fester inside you:

  1. Get yourself checked out - it's actually better on the other side!

    • In the words of a sage man I know, 'Play with your boobs and balls folks, get that shit checked.' We get so scared of being diagnosed, but the longer we wait on something the worse it can get. It's not worth it to wait. I am so grateful we have found this cancer and that I get to give it all I've got in saying syonara to it! And truly, waiting is absolutely the hardest part, I now have waited to hear that I both do not, and now do, have cancer. It's better to work through the fear and find out, I promise.
  2. It doesn't matter how good the prognosis is, this is still scary as shit. So I shared it. 

    • I have a very big family, and I made the rounds of calls. I called and messaged my best friends. I had my moments of breakdown. I had my moments of research. I had my moments of thinking about the worst. Most of the moments were of positivity, strength, and sticking to the facts. But CANCER is a scary f***ing word. Also, I know so little about my situation and too much research can absolutely make my brain go down the gutter in the worst ways. So knowledge is power to a point. I let myself read Wikipedia, and WebMD, and a few stories from survivors. Nothing else. Mitch's cuddles helped big time.
  3. Although sharing it is hard, you never know who is working on your behalf.

    • A great benefit of being Indian is that so many of my family members work in the health system. So I have a number of people I love and trust, asking questions and sharing information from colleagues who are most well versed to share it. This is absolutely a privilege I don't take lightly, but one I am eternally grateful for. Overall, the vibe was that this is a 'good' cancer to have, but that I must aggressively seek treatment fast. If there's a remainder of cells so close to my lymph nodes we gotta be as proactive as possible. As a comedic pause, one of my aunt's thought I got this cancer from sun bathing in Mexico a few weeks ago since the growth was on my upper thigh. NOT SO (they don't know why this happens), but so cute. 
  4. I am so grateful for the massive army I have behind me. I hope your support system is strong, or can be made strong.

    • There has been no moment in the past 48-hours that I have felt alone. Every phone call, every text, I am blown away by the support system I have. I will lean, and hard, on everyone. The 'we' statements coming in bring me to tears:
      • 'We've got this.'
      • 'We're going to fight this.'
      • 'We're going to come out on top.'
  5. This cancer will thrive on my fear. So I will continue to shine a light on it.

    • Today, I worked. I stuck to my routine for sanity and progress' sake. Moving forward, I will listen to my body more. I will feel all the feels. I will keep meditating. I will continue down my path of learning how to better nourish my body. I will dive deep into my yoga practice. I will sleep. I will not let this random confused set of cells take up unnecessary emotional real estate in my brain. I will write about it, as often as I need, and I will fight. Hard.

So now what?

Rocking out at Relay 2011 with the Glee Club! 

Rocking out at Relay 2011 with the Glee Club! 

  1. I see the experts.
  2. They help me figure this out.
  3. I will share whatever I feel like sharing with no expectations.
  4. I will continue living my life in NYC and Ottawa as I get treated, and we will go on to launch our film in June! 
  5. I will survive, and be an advocate for conversations around cancer.

There's a lot I want to look into now. My childhood best friend is just emerging from a battle with thyroid cancer. We are both 26. Societally, and biologically something is shifting. The rates of cancer are exponentially increasing, and that's not okay. Prevention is key, but I feel like we have massive systems continuously working against us. But this is a conversation for another time.

All this to say. I feel good. I feel strong. I feel supported. We got this folks.

If you have any questions, or stories to shares, please do! This is a very intense situation and I am happy to create a small pocket of space for us to have a conversation about this (the comments below, Facebook, or my inbox are a good place we can start).

Until next time,

- Koko B. Ware (look it up, thanks for the nickname Meenu Didi)

"Rarely do we see wounds in the process of healing."

A week away helped create the space for this post.

A week away helped create the space for this post.

I have a bit of a grin on my face because I don't even know where to begin!

The past six weeks have been a whirlwind.

  • I live in Brooklyn now
  • We have a film that is 98% complete (Say whaaaaaa!?)
  • Our sales system for screenings is almost live (this is huge for us!)
  • We are on the cusp of releasing a 20-part web series to the world
  • We sent our rough cut to our first film festival, to the White House and to Glamour Magazine
  • I went on my first vacation in three years, to Mexico for a week
  • I have a health coach and a nutritionist who are helping me navigate life and my biochemical addictions to certain foods, and I love it and am struggling with it all at once
  • I love my apartment and have put my whole heart into making it feel like home
  • I am finally living close to, and working side-by-side with Erin. Every. Single. Day.
  • I am in a long-distance relationship with the love of my life, Mitch, and it's the hardest thing I've had to do
  • This is real life.

My body feels tired just thinking about it all!

I wrote a lot about the fear of moving, and resettling from Ottawa to NYC, and now that I'm here, that fear has (mostly) subsided, but let me tell you... flying into NYC instead of Ottawa for the first time, and walking right through customs with my E1 Visa, knowing that I LIVE HERE NOW was insanity.

It's one thing to be in the routine and intensity of our daily work for Dream, Girl, but it's an entirely different beast to come home to my new home after vacation and not know how permanent this is going to be. I have a feeling I'm going to be here for a long time.

I should have seen this coming.


My cozy Brooklyn apartment.

My cozy Brooklyn apartment.

I've been paused for a few minutes, contemplating what to write next. This doesn't feel like my other posts. I have no specific direction I want this piece to go in, or a specific topic that's making my heart sing or scream today, instead, it's like greeting an old friend, and warming up to each other again.

I was listening to Brene Brown's new book on my flight back from Cancun on Friday, and this sentence stayed with me:

"Rarely do we see wounds in the process of healing."

I feel like I left a lot on the page when I shared the deep vulnerability the night I was packing up my life in Ottawa. I for sure felt a vulnerability hangover, but I actually felt a relief that eclipsed any ounce of shame or fear that could have come up.

I was proud to release the emotions that led to my sobbing and writing that night, but I haven't felt stable enough to do that with all of you since.

To be honest, there is so much hard embedded in all of the dreams and goals, and plans that we have. To 'Dream Big' is to wear your heart on your sleeve at all times, and to understand that sharing vulnerability and authenticity are prerequisites to successfully taking that next leap forward.

Yet I found myself alone on my couch two weeks ago having a panic attack, and succumbing once again, to foods that don't serve me. I felt overwhelmed by loneliness, and feeling as though I had no one I could talk to who could understand what was going on in my life.

To some I would have sounded ungrateful. Others would have used my breakdown as validation that this kind of life is not one worth living, and that perhaps I was not as strong as they once thought. My mom would have held a great deal of fear and longing in her heart to be able to help me feel better, but in that moment I didn't need to instantly feel better. I just needed to feel, to feel seen, to feel heard, and to be reminded that I am loved. Deeply. Instead, I ate. I ate to fill a void that I couldn't name and I couldn't truly fill without opening up and connecting with my loved ones and myself.

IMG_0711.jpg

This is a habit and an addiction that I am willing to name and face now. I don't know how long it's going to take to feel content, strong, courageous, and whole with myself and my relationship with food, but that moment, and so many others before it, have led me to this moment, and naming that I want to be and feel better.

Food has always been my best friend and my comfort. I remember from a young age turning to food to comfort and numb emotions I had no depth or capacity to understand. But I understood food, I understood the artificial flavours, and the 'comfort' I felt.

Now I understand that there is an entire industry that was built on my dependency, and our collective biochemical addiction to many foods that have left me feeling empty and unworthy, and that define so much of my self worth. That night I broke, I hated every moment of feeling alone in this new city, of not having Mitch in my physical space, of feeling no other out but to eat.

I did stop myself, earlier than I would have in the past. I was so much more aware that night than I used to be. I knew exactly what was happening, and I knew I was ready to stop. I don't want to obsess about food anymore, I want to feel all of the good and the bad. I don't want to project so much power on this neutral substance anymore. I don't want to feel helpless to it anymore.

I am ready to have my life exist on one path. Not only my public path that I feel comfortable sharing and projecting, and then going home and hating myself. But rather, having integrity permeate all facets of my existence, and to actually utilizing the amazing community of people and family I have built around myself, and to not hide from them when I am low anymore.

It took some time to come back to calm that night, but Mitch stayed with me on FaceTime until I fell asleep. I went into the office the next day feeling raw, and emotionally hungover. I talked to my health coach, Steph, and she helped me realize and create 'rules' for myself to wake-up in my lowest moments, and to establish an action plan for resilience, and to enable myself to healthily navigate my lowest moments.

I am going to share that here with you today, both as a form of accountability, and hopefully, as a template if you are in need.


My Wellness Manifesto:

Food has been my last emotional resort in moments when I feel overwhelmed and as though I have no one to reach out to or talk to about what’s boiling under the surface. I commit to following the rules listed below, that I have established to prevent this habit from continuing on and to instantly shine a light on all guilt and shame I may feel. To do so:

  1. I will call one of the following people to talk through the emotions I am experiencing and need to further release or understand:
    1. Mitch
    2. Julie
    3. Erin
    4. Steph
    5. Myself
  2. Just as I am selective and thoughtful about the people I surround myself with, I will be extremely particular with what I choose to bring into my home, specifically with food. My home is my sanctuary, it is where I am safe and supported, it is where my food nourishes me.
    1. The foods I will eat are like the friends I listed above. They support me, nourish my mind, body, and soul, and they enable me to live the life of my dreams. These are foods that are nutrient dense, delicious, and that bring vibrancy and truth to my life. These foods bring truth because they do not numb, self-medicate, or sedate me. They force me to feel my emotions, good and bad. These foods are my best friends that allow me to be exactly where I am at, that truly ‘see’ me, and know that I can do anything.
    2. I will remember that food is neutral - it has no agenda. I will remember that it is my actions, not the food, that define me. Each action has either a positive, healthy outcome, or a negative, demeaning, and sinking outcome. I get to choose.
  3. My cause is to live a life of integrity that my audience and those I wish to lead, aspire to. I aim to support my vibrant life every day, through each decision, thought, and action in order to represent to this world, the living embodiment of integrity and of a values-driven life. This is not dependent on any aesthetic or appearance driven goals, but by daily integrity-filled and fuelled actions compounded over time.
    1. In the words of Steph: The strength of feeling your best on stage, and everyday will not come from the result of how you physically look, but it will be a result of every choice, every action that has allowed you to demonstrate your internal strength.  It will be the result of standing up to do what others CANNOT always do for themselves. You are the role model, the manifestation of ‘the best series of choices’ to show others that what is possible in health and in life. THAT is when you will feel at your best.  It will not be from shame, guilt or from not utilizing the resources (people, your self) that exist around you, or the presence of guilt that leads to a great workout.  Remember, food is that last resort friend/ex-boyfriend that needs to be cut off. At the end of that list of great friends… is your SELF... and you are enough to support yourself. You can get through these times with your OWN support, you just don't know it yet.
  4. I will love myself each and everyday of this life. I will understand the slip ups and hard and dark moments, and I will not judge myself for what transpires. I will hold myself accountable for how I react, and how much love I continue to demonstrate to myself. Not just lip-service, but action. ACTIONS that I commit to include:
    1. Daily meditation of 20-45 mins
    2. Daily movement of 20-45 mins
    3. Daily journaling 
    4. Consuming nourishing food to support my vibrant life
    5. Reaching out for support and love when I am in need
    6. Indulging my body with facials, days at the spa, massages, long walks, and clothes and shoes that make me feel like a queen
    7. Being non-judgemental in the moments when any of the above seem impossible, and moving on when I do find the strength I need

By committing to the rules, commitments, and understandings listed above, I hereby manifest my highest self to come forth to, each and every day, live my best possible life.

Food was my drug of choice when I felt alone. I will overcome it, and open up to love. My community, nourishing food, and my love for myself, are what serve me most.


When I started this post today, I didn't expect to share this - my deepest desire, and greatest challenge - with you all. I feel deep shame around the habits and actions I seek to change, but, as Brene Brown shared, "rarely do we see wounds in the process of healing."

I want to share my journey as I heal this deep wound, and my relationship with using food to nourish vs. numb, that I am on a journey to better understand.

To eliminate shame we have to shine a light on it. Although this feels incredibly vulnerable, and terrifying, here's to using the biggest flashlight I've got.