Category Archives: YW Updates


Coldest Night of the Year in support of WNAH

Jessica never thought it could happen to her. She never imagined herself homeless… let alone homeless with two dependent children. But when Jessica fell on hard times, she found herself and her children, just 8 and 9 years old, in an emergency shelter. With only a year’s time to pick the pieces of her life back together in this living arrangement, she knew her family needed something more stable in order to set a plan for the future.

Looking for a fresh start and safe place to raise her children, Jessica packed up her car and headed to West Niagara. She researched about the support given to those in need through the YW’s West Niagara Affordable Housing program and was soon connected with her transitional housing worker, Keshia. Within a week of connecting with WNAH, Jessica and her two children were housed in Grimsby in May 2019. With a place to call home, Jessica worked with Keshia to set goals including establishing a budget, achieving her high school diploma and getting her children involved in the community. Not everyone gets a shot at a fresh start after they fall down, and Jessica didn’t want to waste it. She decided to take the opportunity to achieve her long-time dream of becoming a nurse.

After just one year in the program, Jessica has worked hard to achieve and surpass her goals. She returned to school and received her high school diploma – in fact, she just picked it up last week! She has already been accepted into multiple post-secondary programs and is hoping for an opportunity to begin her nursing studies in September 2021. She has already secured employment in the homecare field as a client companion – a job she enjoys.

WNAH has not only helped Jessica get back on her feet, but it has also given her children the chance to experience a fulfilling childhood. Both of her dependent children have become part of the Grimsby community. They’d discovered a love for their gymnastics lessons, swimming at the YMCA and have just started their mentorships with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Jessica is even looking ahead to the summer and enrolled her youngest in this upcoming baseball season!

“I feel more a part of Grimsby. This is our town,”

– Jessica

Jessica is also proud to now be leading by example for her two older children that live independently – showing them that anything is possible even after you fall down.

Today, we’re fortunate enough to share Jessica’s story and we thank her for her courage to tell it. When we asked her what inspired her to tell us her story, Jessica said she wanted to spread awareness about the resources that are available to those in need including the YW’s WNAH program. Without the support of YW and community services, she wouldn’t know where she would be today.  

Thank you to everyone who came out to support people like Jessica and her children in our West Niagara Affordable Housing program by participating and donating to the YW’s Coldest Night of the Year West Niagara walk.


Daisy’s journey began when she entered the Court Street Transitional Housing Program, after what she describes as a long walk of feeling alone and faced with many hardships. She felt completely supported from the day she moved into the YW’s supported housing. “I finally was where I needed to be,” explains Daisy. Having her Transitional Housing Worker just down the stairs from her to access when she needed support, was a relief and gave her a feeling she had not felt in a long time -that of safety.

Skills Development

While Daisy stayed with us at our Court Street building, she loved participating in our Skills Development workshops. At a time of her life when she thought of herself as someone who had lost all of her skills, it meant the world to be in a group that was all about celebrating your own strengths and beauty and all that you have overcome.

Moving on to Off-Site

Daisy successfully completed the Court Street Transitional Housing program, and then transitioned into the Off-Site Transitional Housing Program. During her time in the Off-Site program, she felt empowered by her Support Worker, who never judged, and felt she was met where she was at. Her Support Worker was able to focus on her needs and help her reach her goals. This month, Daisy completed the transitional housing program and has moved on to a place that she can now call her home.


Our support does not end there. One of the things that often make all of the difference for the women and families we serve, is that we are still there for them even when they have left our programs. For Daisy, knowing that the support is still there for her if and when she needs it, gives her the strength and the trust she needs to continue on on her path.

Daisy’s message for you?

“I’m just one of many individuals in the Niagara Region who are in need of this type of Transitional Housing opportunity and supports. Please keep in mind when you pass someone in public that you just never know their story. The YWCA is an organization that goes above and beyond for the individuals they support, and I would like to encourage the community to take the time to get involved or to learn more about what the YWCA has to offer the community.” For Daisy, the YW is the place where she felt empowered and supported every step of the way.

What is your boardroom used for?

Is it a multipurpose room set as a meeting space during the day and a bedroom to multiple people at night? A child’s safe place with their mom? Is it someone’s temporary home?

Here at the YWCA Niagara Region, ours is regularly just that.

I will never forget that one Friday morning I came into work at the YWCA Niagara Region. It was a little earlier than usual. I was on my way to the Fund Development office, walking past the boardroom when I noticed the lights were on. That was rare for that early in the morning. So, naturally, I glanced into the room.

What did I see?

Not one, not two, but three beds. In our boardroom! Unbelievable. The purpose of a boardroom is for meetings, not for someone to sleep at night. The fact that there were three was even more alarming. That meant three people were crammed into a room with all of the tables and chairs for a meeting along with the three beds. Three people!

The YWCA Niagara Region St. Catharines Emergency shelter already holds at least twenty women and their children every night. To think that more people needing a safe place to lay their heads are being put on pull out couches and cots was extremely upsetting. I then found out that there were two more cots in our Kate Leonard Room (another boardroom across the hall). Five people in total were sleeping in what was intended to be a meeting room. This was in decent weather. Can you imagine what the demand is like during terrible weather? I teared up a bit as my heart went out to these women and children.

How would I feel if I were tossed into a boardroom with two other people or with my little kids? How would you feel? Vulnerable, to say the least. Grateful, of course and happy to be safe; but sad, scared, and uncomfortable. I can’t grasp exactly how they must feel. Unless you’re in the position, how could you? The thought of small children and their mothers curling up in a room that I personally use to plan events and gain community support is upsetting. One that’s used to make decisions to help clients, not house them. It’s not a bedroom, there is no closet to put away clients’ belongings.

After taking a minute to let it sink in that this was a daily reality, I stepped outside with my hand to my lips in utter shock. The advocate on duty apologized that she hadn’t had time to clean up the beds. Well no kidding, there were at least 25 women and their children who most likely needed her attention in the morning. So, no, she didn’t have time to clean up all of the meeting rooms. This is what we have to do to ensure that Niagara women and children have somewhere they can safely sleep, have a warm meal, and the comfort of a shower, even if they have to be placed in a boardroom with others. At least they have a safe place and a semi-comfortable cot.

            “I was shocked and heartbroken, tearing up. I mean, who wants to sleep in a boardroom? My heart went out to these women and children living in this type of situation!”

The unfortunate thing is the YW as well as all of the other shelters across the region and country have been running overcapacity for quite some time. They’ve been struggling to find the room for women and children in need. In 2017, the YW operated at 110% capacity. Hotels are thrilled when they reach 60% capacity. That’s how high the demand for just a bed is. Not to mention the fact that the demand for meals went up 42% in the last year at the YW, which had us serve a total of 94,691 meals.

I can’t explain my heartbreak. We are trying our best, but the demand is still rising and we are running out of room.

This is why I’m participating in No Fixed Address and supporting the YWCA Niagara Region, and this is why I am passionate about my job.

Because there are women and children, as well as men (in the men’s shelter) who live in impossible situations and deserve better. Who would I be if I didn’t try to make a difference? I certainly would hope for help if I was in the situation, and the hard reality is it can happen to any one of us.

So, what is your boardroom used for?

Help me make a difference and participate in the YW’s No Fixed Address event on June 8th-9th, where we can help end homelessness.

Start Somewhere

Niagara Leadership Summit for Women

Sana Shah (Brock University)

On Saturday October 28th, YWCA Niagara Region hosted the fourth Annual Niagara Leadership Summit for Women. Since October is Women’s History Month, it seemed to be fitting to end the month on such a positive note. It was great to see a few men present in the crowd, who supported women’s rights and ability to lead in a rather male dominated community. I hope to see more men in the future at the summit because gender inequality does not only concern women; it is a larger problem concerning the Canadian community as a whole.

Ashley Callingbull was the keynote speaker for the summit, who became the first First Nations and Canadian woman to win the Mrs. Universe title in 2015. She is devoted to supporting the community. She shared with the audience her struggling childhood, and how she as a First Nations woman has to work extra hard to make achievements. Shining light on this issue, she further explained how she experienced racism from a young age. She brought attention to cases of missing and murdered indigenous women. However, most importantly she reminded the crowd that you can do anything you want to do, and be anything you want to be, and that the only person holding you down is yourself. So let us hold on to that and try to change the gender divide one-step at a time.

Once Ashley wrapped up her address, we had an opportunity to attend a workshop from a choice four, which included; Leadership in parenting, Women in politics, Breaking barriers in mental health, and Business and entrepreneurship.

I attended the Women in politics workshop, which focused greatly on the Niagara region. It was led by Elizabeth Zimmerman, Mishka Balsom, Debbie Zimmerman, Joyce Morroco, Carol Stewart-Kirkby, and Shirley Cordiner. We discussed as a group about Niagara’s democratic deficit in women’s representation in local politics. There is a link between low female voter turnout and low female representation in politics. After the workshop we took a short break and had a choice of attending another workshop from the following options; Aboriginal community justice, Conquering barriers to success, Decolonizing language, Disability leadership, Fair trade, Race and racism, Self-care for caregivers, Success in a male dominated industry, Women in STEM, and Volunteerism

I chose to attend the workshop on Aboriginal Justice, let by Celeste Smith. She spoke about the over-representation of Aboriginal youth as incarcerated individuals, regardless of Aboriginal people making up only 4% of the Canadian population. Smith is the director of Three Fires Community Justice Program, which is a diversion program that provides healing for Aboriginal youth and adults charged with criminal offence. It focuses on the community taking responsibility of the individuals that is at fault. The program begins with the belief that everyone is worth something.

Based on the two workshops I attended, I only wish I could have attended all of them, as they were quite insightful. The summit came to a closing with a discussion panel about women in politics; with a focus on voting, and closing remarks from Elisabeth Zimmerman (Executive Director of YWCA Niagara Region).

This summit was a Call to Action, a call to show up, take action and support one another. In order to make a large impact we need to start small, we need to start somewhere. Even the women’s rights movement started with only a handful of likeminded people who eventually got women the status of being ‘people’ in Canada and the right to vote. It may not be as bad as back then, but we are still far from being on the same playing field and having the same representation. As I end this piece, I encourage, just like most of the presenters at the summit, to save the date OCTOBER 22ND 2018 to go out and vote in the municipal elections. Have your voice heard. We can do anything we want; we just need to start somewhere.

International Women’s Day Events

This year’s International Women’s Day is Wednesday, March 8th, 2017. This day started in 1908 when 15, 000 women gathered to march in New York City with demands to have shorter working hours, increased wages, and the right to vote. It has since been “a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women” (International Women’s Day website). The history around this day is incredible. You can find out more here.

But what is it all about this year? The theme for 2017 is #BeBoldForChange. What does that mean? You get to decided that for yourself. We may each have a different view of what needs to be changed and how to go about it. Even the website has a variety of ways we can create change for women. Through the website you can pledge how you will strive to be bold for change this year. The main points are:

  • I’ll change bias and inequality
  • I’ll campaign against violence
  • I’ll forge women’s advancement
  • I’ll celebrate women’s achievement
  • I’ll champion women’s education

Luckily, there are a few events that are happening in the Niagara region to celebrate women on this amazing day.

The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce’s Women In Niagara Council is putting on an International Women’s Day event on March 3rd which will have Teresa Cascioli as the keynote speaker. Tickets are $57.50 – $75 depending on if you are a member. The WIN council will also be presenting Rosemary Hale with the International Women’s Day Award.


On March 3rd as well, the Greater Fort Erie Chamber of Commerce is hosting it’s 12th Annual International Women’s Day Networking Luncheon at Cherry Hill Club. Tickets are $45 plus tax for members and $50 plus tax for non-members. The guest speaker will be Shannon Passero celebrating strength, perseverance, and power.

Broadband’s 25th Anniversary Performance of Women in Music Benefit Concert for the YWCA Niagara Region is happening on Sunday, March 5th from 4-7 pm at St. John’s Activity Centre. This event is to celebrate International Women’s day focusing on Women in Music. Tickets are $20 dollars with proceeds going toward the YWCA Niagara Region.

On the actual day, March 8th, Be Bold For Change event is happening at Gwen’s Teas. This will be a more affordable event happening in the evening to ensure that it is accessible to a variety of people. A $5 donation to the YWCA Niagara Region is encouraged. The focus will be on how attendees will #BeBoldForChange to close the gender gap.

If there are any events you are aware of that are not posted, please tell us! You can also let us know how you feel they went if you were able to attend one.

Tell us how you will #BeBoldForChange by tagging us on Twitter @YWCA_Niagara

Fighting Human Trafficking

Janet and Karen were 17 years old and lived in Thunder Bay when an older girl befriended them. She was fun, beautiful, self-confident and the two high school girls felt special for getting to spend time with her. Until that one day when everything changed. They had plans to meet in the park as they had so many times before. This time was different. He was there. They had never seen him before but there was something about him, something in his eyes, that gave Janet a shiver. What happened next, happened fast. The thought of it is almost too hard to bear and yet, it is all too common and we need to, have to, talk about it.
Janet and Karen were shoved into a trunk and brought to Niagara. They found themselves in a hotel room and were soon caught in a web of forced sex work, drug addiction, emotional and physical abuse and no way out.

Service providers in Niagara see victims of human trafficking come to their doors on a regular basis but often lack the knowledge and tools to address their specific needs sufficiently. “That is what brought on the idea to get together to develop an Anti-Human Trafficking Protocol,” explains Krystal Snider, the YW’s Skills Development Coordinator. In partnership with the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre and Victim Services, she brought forward a proposal to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “The main goal is to enable community members to easily and clearly identify victims of human trafficking and to then be confident in their ability to offer supports and information about intervention to them.”
We are fortunate that the Canadian Women’s Foundation acknowledges the importance of Snider’s idea and proudly announce that the YW is the recipient of a $25,000 violence prevention grant.

“We see it regularly in our own shelters at the YW: women are sent in to recruit other women and girls to come work for them.”

“This project is so necessary because Niagara is home to two border cities – Niagara Falls and Fort Erie,” says Krystal. “There has been an identified need for quite some time. We see it regularly in our own shelters at the YW: women are sent in to recruit other women and girls to come work for them.” For Janet and Karen, the YW was their way out. They managed to escape the hotel room that had become their prison and are back safely with their families in Winnipeg today.

A shared Anti-Human Trafficking protocol in the region will help more women like Janet and Karen to get the support they need to escape human trafficking.

No Fixed Address – A Humbling Ride

Well, what do I say about my first time being involved with No Fixed Address? When I came on as a summer student, I had no idea what I was really in for. I had done research into the YWCA and their signaturKids playing in lote event of course, before beginning, but nothing can really prepare you for actually living it.

Coming into work every day at one of the shelters the YW runs grounded me from day one.

Every morning I walk past the ladies standing outside, talking together and starting their day. I say good morning and smile, stop and chat if they show an interest, before heading up to the loft to start the day. Through the social media management, the meetings, the donor relations, the planning and running around, I always have these ladies in the back of my mind.Niagara Roller Girls Chalk drawing
The day of NFA brought them screaming to the front.

When the sky opened up and soaked me through, I thought of them, and wondered how many had been caught in weather with nowhere to go. Those moments when I felt a little lost because I was aimless, I thought of them and wondered what it must feel like to not belong anywhere. Finally, when it came time to sleep in my car I thought of them.
With the windows open, and loud people around me; with no sense of privacy or personal space, with cramps in my back I thought of them. Then I cried. I sat there in the front seat trying to get comfortable and thought of these women I talk to every day, and the journey that brought them to us.

Please don’t get me wrong, I had so much fun throughout the day. I made new friends, laughed, and danced (badly). I enjoyed the games and the feeling of working together to make a difference. I will absolutely be back next year to help in any way I can.

Ultimately though, this amazing experience humbled me, and I am just so grateful for it.
on stage amount raised

NFA 2015: Past Participant Interview

Happy Thursday everyone! We are a little over a month away from next month’s NO FIXED ADDRESS 24 hour live-in-your-car-a-thon! Our big event takes place on August 14th and 15th in the Pen Centre parking lot! Our goal is to raise awareness about poverty and homelessness by having others experience what it’s like to live out of your car. Want to make a difference? Visit the NFA website to sign up, make a donation, or volunteer (!


Maybe you aren’t sure if you want to sign up just yet. Maybe you need to hear what it was like from someone who has participated in the event? Well, we reached out to past participant Christina Papetti to answer some questions about her and her family’s experience at No Fixed Address. Christina and her family have participated every year since 2012.

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Y: What first caught your attention about No Fixed Address in 2012?

C: The first time I heard about no fixed address was from my sister. She was working at the YWCA and told me about it and asked if we would do it. I’m so glad we did.

Y: Why did you choose to register as a team with your family, rather than as an individual?

C: We register every year as a family because we use this to help the homeless and it’s also bonding time for us! We do everything as a team: our signs, getting the donations, and we make it kind of like a family day. We look forward to it every year.

Y: What was your first family experience like at No Fixed Address?  What was it like trying to fit yourself and your children into one car for the night?

C: The first year was a little difficult, we weren’t very organized. We now know that it gets chilly out in the early early morning, so we bring warmer blankets and socks. I now know how much my daughter moves when she’s sleeping and how loud my son can really snore!

Y: What are some of the things that you and your children have learned from No Fixed Address?

C: I love that every year when we get home after spending the 24 hours in the car, my kids ALWAYS  say how sorry they feel for the people that have no choice but to sleep in their cars. They say how lucky they are that they only have to do it once a year and then they get to come home to THEIR beds.

Y: How has No Fixed Address changed yours and your family’s perspective on homelessness?

C: My kids see that it doesn’t take much to make a difference, and they see that some people really don’t have a choice. I think they have learned a lot. I am a very proud mother of all 3 of my kids; all 3 have done things that put me in awe. One example is how they gave up THEIR lunch money to buy a coffee and muffin for a older man who looked like he could use it. When I asked my son what he had eaten for lunch that day, his reply was “I’m good, I know I can eat when I get home.” It makes me so proud to know that my kids know that they can change the world for a person in need.

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A very special thank you to Christina and her family for their ongoing support — and to everyone involved in No Fixed Address! Make sure you sign up for NFA TODAY!

Finer Diner Dinner 2015

On the evening of Friday, June 19th, guests were welcomed to the Lancer Family Restaurant in St. Catharines to enjoy a gourmet dining experience with a fun 1950s theme, all in support of the YWCA Niagara Region! There were classic records, poodle skirts, beautiful scarves and even an Elvis look alike in attendance!


The idea behind this event was to have a gourmet dinner in a classic diner setting, hence the ‘Finer Diner’ title. Guests were served a delicious 5 course meal, which included tomato basil soup, beer pretzels, salad, delicious roast beef and old fashioned chocolate milkshakes. Each course was paired with a local wine or beer (thank you to Calamus Estate Winery, Brimstone Brewing, Fielding Estate Winery, and Konzelmann Estate Winery for your donations!). A very heartfelt thank you to Maria Donato for preparing and cooking the delicious food for the night. The cherry on top was a scrumptious 1950s themed cake made by Karen Teal. Our special guest, Elvis (Djino LeFrancois) cut the cake for our guests, provided us with amazing entertainment, and sang ‘The King’s’ greatest hits.


But that’s not all! A live auction was held and there were so many amazing prizes — everything from Niagara Falls Getaways to a Father’s Day Fishing & Beer basket! The auction was a huge success as guests kept bidding and bidding, all for a great local cause! Special thanks to Nicki Inch’s son, Nate, for hosting the live auction. Thank you to all of the guests for coming out, bidding on prizes and supporting the YWCA!

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And we can’t forget — a BIG BIG thank you goes out to the amazing planning committee who organized this event: Danielle Murray, Mary Comfort, Margaret Corbett, Sue Forgeron and Rachael Forgeron. These ladies used their creativity and connections to coordinate this one of a kind dinner and raised money for the essential programs and services at the YWCA! Another huge thank you to all the volunteers who came out and helped with the event for the night.  As always, without all the amazing volunteers taking the time to plan and attend events like this,  the YWCA would not be able to provide women with everything they need to reach their full potential.

Getting to Know You

Valentines Day has passed, but relationships are still on our minds! This month, our Bloggers chose three of five questions about all forms of relationships.


YWCA pictureTried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is..?

Communication and respect. When we’re angry, some of us can say some really mean things and the filter that we usually have is ignored. There is a reason why that filter is there. I think we need to try and see through all of the “red” and decide on what is best for the long-term of the relationship rather than try and hurt the other person as best as we can in that split second. Communication is key on defining what needs to be compromised on or what makes us uncomfortable, etc. but without respect, there will be more harm done than good.

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I think relationships will last if both sides reach out to each other. Nobody wants to feel like they’re the only one trying in a relationship!

What I love about my best friend is ..?

I’m close to my sister because even though we are not in the same city, we still communicate on a daily basis and share our fears and achievements.



Tried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is…

Don’t keep score.

 You knew you were in love when..?

It wasn’t the flowers, dinners out at fancy restaurants or even the weekend away during our first few months of dating.  These were all lovely and very much appreciated.  It was the moment he stopped, looked concerned and then easily fixed my front door screen from slamming shut, so the girls and I wouldn’t get hurt by it. 

That small gesture, melted my heart.

What I love about my best friend is ..?

I know, without a doubt that she will tell me exactly what I need to know – not always what I want to hear.  She is my sounding board, my champion and partner in crime!



Tried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is..?

Appreciate the little things; and this applies to any relationship, be it romantic, familial, platonic or professional. Oftentimes as we grow within our relationships, we can lose sight of why we enjoy spending time with that person or what drew us to them in the first place when we initially met. Sometimes our focus can be redirected towards how we can benefit from our relationships in a material way; unfortunately disregarding the other person is as an innate and caring individual. We tend to expect more out of people who we’ve known for a long time and as time goes on, this can build up to astronomical levels where your efforts, or theirs, don’t seem to meet the expectations anymore. Instead, I focus on the little things, such as bringing extra food to share in the office, giving them a ride to school, or setting aside an entire day or weekend to do things that we both love. It’s the little things, I find, that I remember the most.

You knew you were in love when..?cate

I caught him looking at me for an oddly long time, once during our first summer together. We were driving around in my hometown and as we stopped at a red light, I could feel him looking at me, so I looked at him in return. He wouldn’t break his gaze with me and at first I thought that there was something on my face, or there was something wrong with my hair or clothes. So I asked him, “what is it?”, to which he replied, “Nothing. Can’t I just admire you?” Three years later and he still does this periodically, each time reminding me how much I love him.

Fill in the blanks: I’m close to __________ because _________?

I’m close to my little sister because she is the most compassionate and patient person I know.



marTried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is..?

My best piece of relationship advice is to remember to continue growing with your partner!  We all change and evolve over time and if we don’t embrace these changes, we risk growing apart. Keep each other in the loop about new and interesting changes or opportunities that are happening in your life. Continue to grow as an individual and learn new things to share with your partner. Take an active interest in your partners hobbies.  Date nights and romance are very important! Make time to pamper each other. Treat each other to thoughtful gestures or meaningful gifts to create beautiful lasting memories. And lastly, be kind to each other!

What I love about my best friend is ..?

What I love about my best friend is his loyalty, dedication, and sense of humour. I love having him for my trusted companion. 

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I think commitment and hard work is what makes any relationship stand the test of time. You have to be willing to ride out the tough times without turning on each other. 



What I love about my best friend is ..?

What I love about my best friend is that she is funny and she is always there for me. She gives me realistic advice and always has my best interests in mind. 

Worse relationship advice you ever got, and from who?cosmo

I think Cosmo gives unrealistic and terrible flirting/relationship advice. To further prove my point, here is a BuzzFeed video that shows girls trying these tips on guys.

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I think communication is important for a relationship to be able to stand the test of time. By communicating with your partner, you guys get a clear understanding of how one feels towards an issue and how to best resolve an issue. 


What I love about my best friend is ..?

I love that my best friend is as completely crazy and insane as me and we are able to cry laughing while doing completely mundane things like grocery shopping. It doesn’t matter how often we see each other because I know regardless of my circumstances she is just a phone call away. She’s the person I can call at 4am from across the country and she would find a way to pick me up. 

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I think common interests and goals are very important when considering if a relationship will work out long term and I think too often we try to sell the mantra that “opposites attract”. I think that while opposing perspectives might initially bring you two together, I think being able to find common ground will likely KEEP you two together. 

carrieBest relationship advice you ever got, and from who?

The best relationship advice I have received would definitely be from none other than Carrie Bradshaw (#sexandthecity), who showed us that life can begin again after a disastrous relationship and that best friends are our true soulmates in life. 



Tried, Tested and True – your best piece of relationship advice you want to share with the world is..?

SAMIErase the illusion of perfection. Everyone likes to brag about their significant other. What you say to others is your business, but the expectations you hold to each other should include room for imperfections. Whether that be in ways you handle anger, sadness, or happiness, how you fail to pick up wet towels from the bathroom floor, or how you suck at cooking and wouldn’t be alive if the other didn’t take time to feed you every day, flaws exist and should be embraced. Sounds easy, but we tend to put the toughest expectations on the ones we hold the closest. They should be the ones we shower with forgiveness for not being perfect human beings, yet still the one you’ve chosen to build a life with. Remember, you’re not perfect either, and at some point, you’ll need understanding more than an anecdote to brag about.

You knew you were in love when..?

My sixteen year old heart thought I was in love the moment my husband – then boyfriend – grabbed my hand in the lobby of the movie theater back in 2000. And maybe I was. I do remember him leaving on the train for basic training in the army less than two years later and thinking if I never saw him again that I would be compromised as a human being, that I wasn’t sure I was equipped to deal with that loss. I wanted him in my life day in and day out and the separation was near unbearable. At some point between not shying away from holding his hand to crying in the train station, love had formed without me pinpointing the moment, but I knew it existed.

What do you think makes any relationship stand the test of time?

I should have a great answer for this because I’ve been in a relationship for 14+ years, but I’m not so sure I do. Over the years my husband and I have had issues like any couple. Maybe the difference between us and others who have since fallen apart was our refusal to give up on each other. Understanding can be the most difficult, especially when you disagree so wholeheartedly with whatever issue you’re facing. Reminding ourselves that the other thinks the way they do and acts the way they do for a reason, and that there’s much more to the person you love then this current debate or perceived ‘irreconcilable difference’, can get back to the core of the relationship and find a way to move on. As long as you’re not compromising your base values, a solution is always possible for those who would rather fight to be together than take the easy way out by ending it all.