Women In Philanthropy Event – Still Time to Register!

“How can women act upon their passions so that they can invest in their community in a way that has both impact and meaning?” This is the question being addressed at this important upcoming workshop being held on Friday, November 15, which is National Philanthropy Day.

What better way as women to celebrate our community of giving than to participate in the Women in Philanthropy Workshop: Philanthropy with Passion and Purpose. This day of learning and networking organized by the McMaster University Alumni office will be held from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM at the Hamilton Convention Centre  (Registration 8:00 a.m.).  A light breakfast and buffet lunch will be provided. Registration is only $25.00. Space is still available.

Speakers include opening speaker and philanthropy guru Marnie Spears, the President and CEO of KCI Philanthropy,  and philanthropic expert Sandra Stephenson, a Partner with Evans, Sweeny Bordin.

There will be a panel discussion moderated by Lorna Somers, Director of Development for McMaster University who has a global career in gift planning and philanthropy, and has been recognized for excellence in writing, teaching and working with a full spectrum of charities and their boards around the world. Panelists include: Louise Barber, Lily Fong, Karen Dolyniuk, and Simone Robbins.

Click here for more info or to pre-reregister or contact Kris Gadjanski, Alumni House, McMaster University at 905-525-9140 Ext. 21837 or gadjank@mcmaster.ca .


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Hill’s Florist & Gift Baskets Honours Veterans with Window Display

Hill’s Florist & Gift Baskets is a Bloorcourt Village fixture and family business finalizing plans for its 80th anniversary open-house celebrations on November 30th. Prior to that event owner Lisa Hill-Callas had something else in mind – honouring veterans,  including her deceased father, with a touching Remembrance Day-themed display in the large south-east facing window of this historic corner shop on Bloor St. West near Christie Pits Park.
Hill's Florist window closeupIMAG2452Below a large red poppy is a framed picture of Lisa’s father, William George Hill (1922-2001) in his army uniform, and a note “Lest We Forget”. Mr. Hill had a dangerous job in the war, working with explosives. Semi-retired, he continued to work with Lisa and other family members part-time until his death in 2001.

A long-time friend of the family and customer, Shirley Jean Wood, aged 70, contributed to the display with a handwritten poem transcribed here:


A Prayer for the Veterans, for the Dear Soldiers of War

God Bless them brave and gallant soldiers, Lord,
who fought in the last two world wars.
They fought so mankind could live.
It was ever so very sad and tragic,
the friends and loved ones
that were left lying in Flanders Fields…

Now wouldn’t it just be wonderful
if the soldiers all over the world
would put down their weapons and instead
shake the enemy’s hand.

So Precious Father,
when the soldiers come calling at Heaven’s door
please open up a special room for them all
and give them eternal peace and loving joy.

In Jesus Christ’s name

c. 2013 Shirley Jean Wood


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Last updated: Nov. 9, 2013.

Posted in Poetry, Women in Business, Writing | Leave a comment

Women’s Business Club Toronto November Networking Meeting November 12


WBC Team

WBC Team

From a passion to help other women and the idea that we should all live our best lives while working on our businesses, Women’s Business Club was born. Describing itself as  a “club for women who are in business or thinking of starting one” Women’s Business Club holds monthly networking events open to the public in Toronto.

The November event  will be held on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm at 25 Sheppard Ave. West , #300,Toronto, ON M2N 6S9 (west of Yonge Street). Additional details and instructions for online registration including November 4 early bird* registration rate follow. Space is limited. Register online today.

The evening’s objectives and events include:

1. Crazy Networking – let someone promote you! You will act as ambassador for someone else and get referrals for your fellow entrepreneur and vice versa. It is fun and you will learn a lot about everyone present.

2. Mastermind session – attendees will brainstorm ideas to support each other in growing their businesses. After introducing each other the will come up with 3 issues that they have in their business and ask for support.

3. Connecting – connecting with each other during the meeting while  masterminding and crazy networking.

Bring your business cards, flyers, brochures or other marketing materials to pass around and place at the promotional “booth”.

Purchase your tickets online through Eventbrite. Space is limited and will not be reserved without payment.

*Early bird discounted price per ticket: $10 plus $1.24 tax – deadline November 4, 2013
Regular Event price per ticket: $15 plus $1.37 tax

If space is available, tickets may be purchased at the door for $20 on a first come first served basis.

To learn more about Women’s Business Club and its founders  visit their website at http://www.womensbusinessclub.biz/


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Review: TD Toronto Women in Business Luncheon

On Monday, September 30th, 2013 Women In Leadership Foundation – Toronto Chapter welcomed over 200 women (and a few men!) to the TD Toronto Women In Business Luncheon at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.

WIL Luncheon crowd shot          WIL luncheon Rose Gage

The attendees were welcomed by Rose Gage, Vice-Chair of the WIL Toronto Chapter who noted that proceeds from the event go to support WIL’s Mentorship Program which is being launched for 2013 on October 2, 2013.

Dianne Buckner, Host of Dragons’ Den and Business Correspondent was the panel moderator. She WIL Luncheon panelwas joined by (from left to right) Sue Cummings, EVP Human Resources, TD Bank Group.  Sangeetha Chandru, VP, Corporate Strategy, Sobeys Capital Inc., and  Janice Detta Colli, Managing Director, Boyden International.

The theme of the panel discussion was “Authentic Leadership.”

Some of the points raised by the moderator and panel are as follows:

  • when job opportunities are presented and say for example there are ten requirements for the position, often men will be confident enough to apply when they have 5-7 of the boxes checked whereas women will sometimes hold back unless they feel they can check off 7-9 of the requirement boxes; with the right support and confidence-building activities women can be encouraged to apply for more opportunities
  • sometimes women sell themselves short and are apologetic when asking for what they deserve whereas men don’t think twice to  ask to be paid what they deserve
  • when asked to apply for a position which was outside her comfort zone one panelist set up an 8 person advisory board of men and women she could call upon when she needed support, who had greater belief in her abilities than she did
  • be stubborn, learn from your failures, mentor, and give back
  • confidence without substance is just cockiness; build your domain expertise
  • when building a team have a clear separation between your friendship with them and what the job expectations are; it is important to know the little things about your staff and be there for them, have their back; get obstacles out of your team’s way so they can succeed and you will thereby succeed
  • there was some question of whether leaders can really enjoy work/life balance – that there are concessions and priorities that need to be considered; make conscious choices and come up with workable solutions to fit your personal life needs with the needs of the position

Special thanks to the event sponsors TD, Sobeys, Fairmont Royal York, PSAV, MCAP, Hill’s Florist & Fruit Baskets, See Creative, Enbridge, Worley Parsons, Canlan Ice Sports, and Ian Liwanag Photography.

For more information on Women In Leadership Foundation visit www.womeninleadership.ca 
Follow updates about the Women In Business Luncheon on Twitter with hashtag #WILTL

 Last updated: October 2, 2013 by G. MacDonald

Posted in Fundraisers, Inspiring Women, Women in Business | Tagged | Leave a comment

Opening night success for Canadian Premiere of “Shoreditch Madonna”

Shoreditch-960x1296If you have ever done one of those computer 3D puzzles where as you move the pieces together they either repel each other or seem to be drawn together with magnetic force accompanied by a satisfying click, then you will understand how the directorial debut of Director/Producer Justin Tensen left the audience with the same sense of satisfaction in this two act play Shoreditch Madonna on opening night of its Canadian Premiere on Friday Sept. 13, 2013.

British playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz interweaves the narratives of the characters with equal parts poetry and brutality.  Love, loss, innocence, guilt, unrequited love, secrets…all these play a role in her portrayal of the messiness of life and death in the East London District of Shoreditch.

Christina & Nick

Christina & Nick

Strong performances were delivered by Sasha Higgins in the role of Christina, grieving and guilty over her drug addict boyfriend’s suicide and Devlin, portrayed by Earl Pastko*, who knew the boyfriend but is dealing with his own demons over a lost child. The actors are both adept at playing tough intense characters keeping their feelings at bay with busyness while occasionally allowing their vulnerability to peek through. (Photos courtesy of Austin Ball.)

Devlin & Martha

Devlin & Martha

The story takes place over two sets – Christina’s apartment, and the artist’s studio shared by Michael (Jimi Shlag*), Nick (Robbie Beniuk), and Hodge (Sean Connolly Affleck). There is quite a bit of good humour in the interplay of the characters as they deal with the arrival of the famous Devlin, an artist whose best work is behind him, and Martha (Lina Roessler*), his ex-girlfriend, for a weekend workshop. This is a wonderful setup for the storylines to be woven together, tangled, and eventually sorted out.

The small quarters of the Storefront Theatre might have been a challenge to handle the set changes however this was cleverly overcome with a system of opaque curtains that were pulled by the characters at the beginning and conclusion of scenes to reveal and obscure the different places and activities. This was quite effective and the curtains almost became one of the characters as they played a role in shielding us from what was going on behind them and giving us glimpses until all was revealed.

Finally, there was great attention to detail in the set design and wardrobe (Reuben Looyenga, Art Director; Grace Cacciatore, Costumes). The crucifix on Nick’s shirt and the crown of thorns subtly projected on the wall near Christina’s bedroom were poignant symbols of the suffering and ultimate redemption the characters endure.

Upcoming Performances:  Sept. 25-29, 2013. (Wed. to Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m.) . Canadian Premiere.   The Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor St. W., Toronto (West of Ossington).
BUY TICKETS ONLINE:  Regular $20; Student/Rush $5.

Past performances: Sept. 13-15, 2013 and Sept. 18-22, 3013.

*Appearing courtesy of Actors Equity

Last updated: September 23, 2013 by G. MacDonald.
For additional details regarding the playwright and actors see the original blogpost

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Canadian Premiere of “Shoreditch Madonna”, a play by Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Shoreditch-960x1296Sept. 13-15, 2013, Sept. 18-22, 2013 and
Sept. 25-29, 2013. (Wed. to Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m.) . The Canadian Premiere of Shoreditch Madonna will be playing at  The Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor St. W., Toronto (West of Ossington) from September 13 to 29.

TICKETS:  Regular $20; Student/Rush $5. Purchase online  through secureaseat(r).

According to Three Seeds Productions, it is  “a play about visual artists living in the East End of London, England in modern times – but its essence is the universal desire among all beings for meaningful relationships and meaningful work. ” The play is the work of 44 year old British playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz who is best known as the author of Her Naked Skin (2008), her play about suffragettes which is better known as the first play by a living female playwright to be performed on the Olivier stage of the Royal National Theatre.  “Lenkiewicz has a knack for illuminating the lives of marginalized women” according to Maddy Coates in an article in The Guardian .

This is the Canadian Premiere of  Shoreditch Madonna, which first played at the Soho Theatre in London UK in 2005. (Information from Wikipedia.).

Director:  Justin Tensen
Earl Pastko*
Lina Roessler*
Sasha Higgins
Jimi Shlag*
Robbie Beniuk
Sean Connolly Affleck

*Appearing Courtesy of Actors Equity

Note: this is a small venue so be sure to purchase your tickets asap! I look forward to attending the Friday September 13 Opening Night to cover the event.

Last updated: September 18, 2013  G. MacDonald

Posted in Canadian Premiere, Theatre (Live) | 1 Comment

Bloor Ossington Folk Festival Sept 20-22 Toronto

BloorOssingtonFolkFestivalPoster croppedThis year (third year)  the folk festival is being held at Christie Pits and nearby venues from Friday Sept. 20 to Sunday Sept. 22 2013.  Three days of free folk music.
Also check out their Facebook page.

Here is a link to the full lineup. I am pleased to highlight some of the women presenting at this year’s event. (Watch for more info and links). Note – photos were obtained from artist websites pending permission.

Stephanie Cameron (Saving Gigi, Friday 8 p.m.) . No other info available at this time.

Jessy Bell SmithJessy Bell Smith (Saving Gigi, Friday 9 p.m.) Singer-songwriter.  Listen to four songs on her MySpace page. I like “Until the weather” from album Tiny Lights (2004).



Kira May (Studio 835, Friday  9:30 p.m.) Check out this link for a kira mayhaunting piece “Never Broke a Bone”. She is described as a Toronto-based vocal looper and portrait painter.

Julie DoironJulie Doiron (Main Stage at Christie Pits, Saturday 8 p.m.). As per Wikipedia she is an “award-winning singer-songwriter of Acadian heritage.” Check out her MySpace page and listen to songs like “No More” from 2007 album “I woke myself up”.


Alanna Gurr (Exclaim! Side Stage at Christie Pits, Sunday 2:30 p.m.) Alanna GurrCheck out her Facebook page. Watch her play “So hard” in her studio.


lily_frost_press_photo2-300x200Lily Frost (Exclaim! Side Stage at Christie Pits, Sunday 4:30 p.m.) Check out her beautiful website. She is described as a “Canadian art-rock/chamber pop songwriter”. She is also a jewellry designer and certified yoga instructor in Toronto. You can listen to “Background Radio” from the album “Do What You Love” at this link.

Last updated: Sept. 19, 2013 G. MacDonald

Posted in Canadian artists, Emerging talent, Live, Music, Songwriters | Leave a comment

3dntlogoWhy would you subject yourself to a 72-hour marathon of writing  a novel from scratch? I can’t speak for the other contestants of the International 3-Day Novel Contest who joined me on Labour Day Weekend challenge (August 31 to September 2), but I will tell you why this year I stopped dancing around the idea and finally registered to participate.

You may have met aspiring novelists like myself, or even be one. We love to say “I am writing a novel”. It often elicits a positive reaction and makes you feel kind of special. Five years and only thirteen chapters later it was getting a little “old”.  It is easy to procrastinate about completing such a daunting project when work and other commitments pull you away from writing. There have been some days when I have been in the mood to write and completed a chapter in 20 minutes. Then months go by when I don’t touch my project.

Usually at the end of August I, like many Canadians, look forward to Labour Day Weekend as a last chance to enjoy the summer before the job or  school year starts with all of its deadlines and events. This year my circumstances are different. I have enjoyed a wonderful sunny summer with a flexible schedule however my focus has been on job search as I make a career change. The thought of not having to think about cover letters and resumes for 72 hours while I focused on something I love doing, creative writing, was a strong incentive to make the commitment to the contest this year.

The contest was started in 1977. Writers around the world competed for one chance to have their finished work selected in January 2014 for publication or for other cash prizes or finalist mentions. The contest guidelines suggest that you embrace the contest as a personal challenge due to the high quality of submissions and strong competition, and to not be disappointed if you are not a finalist. This is the approach I took taking. At least you get a certificate if you submit your work by the deadline and have someone vouch for your having followed the rules.

My experience was a life-changing event, a “spirit quest”. In a contemplative moment on the Sunday afternoon, sleep-deprived at the kitchen table with my laptop, I looked up at m husband who had started preparing dinner and said “This reconfirms it for me. This is what I MUST do. I must write.” I cried a few tears and went back to my half-done novel which had somehow morphed from a light comedy to a dark psychological thriller/murder mystery. Well I stopped writing at midnight on the Monday night as per the rules, and submitted “The Goldilocks Perspective” online on the Tuesday morning. It is the bones of a good book and will require a lot more work and research but I now know that it is possible to complete at least a first draft of an entire novel in three days. I didn’t quite reach my target number of 30,000 words but I am going to continue working on this project and want to have it done before the winner is announced in January. I also have another novel “Birthday Girls” which is about 50% completed, which I started about five years ago. I now understand the discipline of just picking a time, allowing no interruptions, and just writing – no excuses. So stay tuned. I don’t know where this adventure will end up. Those who have read some of my chapters to date are very encouraging and that is what matters to me, that something I loved to write does the job of sharing my voice, and that it is enjoyed by someone who reads it.

For future reference and planning for the 2014 contest, which I am planning to enter, here are the rules You register online for $50.  Check out the event website www.3daynovel.com for more info.

Check out #3DNC on Twitter and my feed @sailonsilver to get a sense of the conversations that took place between myself and the other contestants that weekend.

Last updated: September 10 2013, G. MacDonald

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Aspiring writers please apply…

Interested in contributing to this blog? Contact sailonsilvergirl@rogers.com for more info on this volunteer opportunity.  I am interested in publishing stories about inspiring women around the world who are living their passion.  I will work as an editor with aspiring writers to give them a voice.

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Frida Kahlo – The world’s most widely-recognized female Hispanic artist

On Wednesday May 16, 2013  at 7:00 p.m. I attended another event in The Revue Cinema’s ‘Creative Women Film Series” which showcases creative and inspirational women. The film selected for this event was  Frida Naturaleza Viva (in Spanish with English subtitles, Mexico, 1984), an overview of the life and influences on the art of Frida Kahlo, described in the film’s prologue as  the world’s most widely-recognized female Hispanic  artist. This is an encore presentation brought back by popular demand, for which I am grateful as I missed the first time. The award-winning production was directed by Paul Leduc and stars Ofelia Medina as Frida. View Trailer.

Ellen Moorehouse, The Revue’s film series organizer, welcomed Berenice Villagomez, coordinator of University of Toronto’s Latin American Studies program who again introduced this  film presented as a pay-what-you-can screening through the generosity of the Consulate General of Mexico in Toronto.

This was not my first introduction to the artist Frida Kahlo. I first heard of her when the 2002 film starring Selma Hayek was being promoted. My first impression from those movie posters came from the artist’s self-portraits,  with her heavy eyebrows, exotic floral hair accessories, bright clothing, and pet monkeys amidst lush foliage. I did not see that movie until many years later when the Art Gallery of Ontario presented the Frida and Diego – Passion, Politics, and Painting exhibit and I wanted some more background before attending the exhibit. It was from the 2002 movie that I learned of the basic details of Frida Kahlo’s life including her strong relationship with her father, the tragic bus accident that crippled her and led to miscarriages, her fiery relationship with her philandering husband artist Diego Rivera, her political leanings, and her own passionate encounters with others. While she lay in the hospital her father brought her a painting kit which provided a creative outlet for portraying the joys and sorrows  of her life.

Berenice in her introduction to the Frida Naturaleza Viva  noted that for those who did not know much about the artist the film might seem hard to follow. I must agree that if I had not seen the 2002 film and attended the AGO exhibit the film might have been somewhat disjointed and confusing, as it has many flashbacks as it moves from the scenes of her apparently idyllic childhood, through the tragedy of the bus accident, her burgeoning artistic career and relationships, the loss of her beloved father, and eventually her own death at 47. This Mexican film portrayal of the artist incorporated a lot more music than the Hollywood version, with the actors portraying Frida and Diego humming and singing to each other throughout the film and portrays many tender moments in her life.

Frida Kahlo is a fascinating subject, and each additional medium that portrays her life and work provides more insights. Some of her art is disturbing and shocking, as were the experiences she had. Her work has been described as “poetry on canvas”, an apt summary. By looking at her art you feel privy to reading her secret diary, with her innermost sentiments laid bare, leaving you bereft, amused, sympathetic, confused, and even horrified. She was a courageous artist whose work posthumously elicits heart-wrenching responses. Her spirit endures through her artistic legacy for all who have the good fortune and empathy to receive them.

Last updated: May 19 2013 G. MacDonald


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