Painting the Town Red: Women’s Week!

Women. We’re strong, inspirational and beautiful. We represent the complete package of charm, intelligence, ambition and drive. This past week, I attended a few events, and it seems they had all been geared particularly towards us.

Distinctive Women: An Event to Support Women for Mental Health

I started my week off at Shepherd’s Fashions (145 Trainyards Drive) for what proved to be an incredible evening. Distinctive Women is a magazine that presents “unique accounts of triumph and success in respect to spotlighting spirited businesswomen from a range of disciplines and industries.” Partnering with Women for Mental Health, a philanthropic program at the Royal Ottawa, they created a night of fashion, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, auctions and networking.


I had the pleasure of meeting some incredible women: Nancy O’Dea, the chair of Women for Mental Health,

Nancy O’Dea, left, chair of Women for Mental Health, with the author (

Marlene Shepherd, owner of Shepherds Fashions and recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal honouring significant contributions and achievements by Canadians,

Marlene Shepherd, receiving the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (

Brenda and Ashley Robson, publisher and marketing manager (and mother & daughter, respectively!) of Distinctive Women

Brenda, right, and Ashley Robson, left, the mother-daughter team behind Distinctive Women (

and Michelle Valberg, founder of Valberg Imaging and a distinctive woman herself! 

Michelle Valberg, founder of Valberg Imaging (

Listening to these women tell their stories was totally inspiring. I suffer from an anxiety disorder myself, so having these stories of perseverance and success in the back of my mind will help to carry me through the harder times and push me to the top.

Candle Yoga

After a long week, I had an ideal start to my weekend by participating in a hot flow yoga class by candlelight at the Ottawa Athletics Club. Put on by two young women (Carolynn and Madison), the aim of the class was to open the body and mind to a greater state of ease and calm. The occasion allowed them to collect donations for their Bust a Move team. Bust a Move for Breast Health is coming up on March 2nd, sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society; attendees participate in a day-long fitness extravaganza with the goal of empowering women (and men!) to celebrate and fight for breast health. Like many others, Madison has been touched personally by breast cancer, with a grandmother who is a survivor. She went in for a routine mammogram, and a while later received the frightening diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer. Although her family was preparing for the inevitable, she kept fighting, endured and now lives cancer-free. Madison says she’s so inspired by her grandmother, influenced every day by such a strong and powerful woman. Attending these events and meeting all of these women has had a similar effect on me and will continue to be a lasting motivation.

Donate to Madison and the Treasure Chests at

Bust a Move, where every participant is required to raise $1,000

Exclusive Jewellery Party

I ended my fabulous week at a jewellery party hosted by Dr. Susan Dent, a medical oncologist of The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre. She and Toni Miller organized this event in order to raise funds for their Bust a Move team.  Incorporating a unique perspective for the fundraising element, they decided to enjoy an afternoon of shopping, wine, cheese and fab prizes. Toni supplied the jewellery as she is the owner of Bengal Bijoux – artisan, one-of-a-kind and limited-edition jewellery, sold exclusively online and at Justine & Justina’s (541 Sussex Drive). I thought it was a really neat idea, and the pieces are made from new and old stock. Basically, Toni takes vintage pieces that have never been used, but stored in a warehouse, and pairs them with new pieces. Toni and Susan are a unique team, as Dr. Dent was Toni’s doctor while she battled breast cancer. Fortunately, Toni has been cancer-free for 6½ years.

Dr. Susan Dent, left ( and Toni Miller, right (

This week gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing women who are making a huge difference in the world. Beyoncé says it best:

“How we’re smart enough to make these millions

Strong enough to bear the children

Then get back to business.”