Archive for June, 2013

Get Organized

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Something about our present day culture is making us want to put all our stuff into matching, labelled boxes. Magazine covers and websites urge us to “get organized”, “corral clutter” and “edit” our possessions. Life promises to be soothed, smoother and less demanding, if only all our stuff at home is in order. And so we take up the challenge.

No one mentions the downside of getting organized, namely that it takes a ton of time, makes a huge mess, and is never finished.

Life does not come to a standstill while “getting organized.” The neatness job has to take place during normal messy life, which seems unreasonable, and wandering about the house randomly with one shoe and bits of paper will not get the job done. Creating order takes order, one needs to be methodical and have a plan.

A recommended approach is the single-station, start with a single closet or drawer and do one per week. At that rate, things should be tidied up just before you move into Shady Acres Senior Care Facility in the year 2053. Nonetheless, this approach has its merits, just take everything out and start dealing with it.

Clothing is easy. In my house the starting point is to identify clothes sized three or four years younger than the child that they belong to. In a big family the solution is simple, give them to the younger sibling. Excellent start. Repeat for clothing all over the house, while keeping detailed notes to help with shopping requirements, such as ‘has no pants.’ For people who are no longer growing there are two general guidelines, don’t keep clothing because you feel sorry for it and don’t keep clothing if seeing it makes you laugh out loud. Once sorted you can have fun trying to emulate the California Closet look by getting matching hangers, and by grouping similar clothing. Honestly though, unless you own primarily beige suits and all things devoid of colour and pattern, your closet will not really look like those in the ads; however, your stuff will be neat and tidy.

All will be peachy until you start pulling out things stored up high, down low and at the back of closets. This is when time warps. First the ‘Memory Lane Effect’ kicks in, which is the time-sucking altered state one is transported to while reading letters that you wrote during university, which your mother gave back to you, or finding a bag of artwork your teenage son made in preschool, or opening a box of photos.

Once you are able to extract yourself from that fog of reminiscence, the ‘Questioning Process’ begins, which can take hours, for example, wondering what to do with a partially crushed suitcase. Perhaps save it for a situation where a suitcase needs to be ‘left behind’? What kind of situation would that be? Might we just keep it for storing things like other junk? Will anyone ever again learn a thing from this box full of textbooks? Might velour come back in style while I am still alive?
‘Memory Lane Effect’ and/or the ‘Questioning Process’ can cause you to spend half the day taken off work to “clean up the house” crouched in a closet.
And then all you will have done is made a mess.

Magazines do not tell you that getting organized will make a huge mess. Things will be strewn about into ‘meaningful’ piles when something else will need to happen, like a meal or sleep. The next thing you know the kids will have taken off with half of the stuff meant for discarding, professing their newfound undying devotion to items ignored for months. Family members or roommates might happily assume this new look is part of a groovy system where we just throw stuff around. So while you spread out and pile up the contents of closets, drawers and shelves, it’s important to avoid being overzealous, otherwise your home may appear ransacked as you battle ‘editing mess’ on top of new mess. The content feeling that you are meant to experience as your home is in the process of being organized may instead feel like the scene of a natural disaster, where if a burglar were to break in he might hesitate, thinking your place had already been hit.

So edit, sort, group and organize quickly and then carefully place the ordered, folded and stacked items back into the closet/drawer/shelf. For a finishing touch straight from magazine world, purchase some snappy striped boxes, bright file folders, sophisticated woven baskets or an official looking accordion file to gather some of your organized stuff.
It will suddenly seem so orderly in pretty boxes or neat files.
If you can find the instruction book for the label maker, go ahead and make labels too, so neat and weirdly rewarding.

The problem with getting organized though is that once you are done, you’re not done. The endless paper will keep rolling in, shoes will multiply and possessions will disperse by some mysterious force of physics.

Numerous tricks exist to deal with this ongoing movement toward disorder, all aimed at sending things toward their intended destination. A common method in many houses is to place items on the stairs. This only works if the placement of items is a) noticed and b) invites some kind of response. We all have family members who would step unquestioning over a moose carcass on the way upstairs, so certainly slippers or a package of toilet paper should hardly expect to attract attention.

Despite your best efforts, messes and chaos will reappear. This is best tackled by a feverish group session of ‘direct combat’, where all household members gather in the most offensive area and follow this rule: pick up, deal with, repeat. Constant movement is the key here with all items delivered definitively to their ultimate destinations including chargers, lab notes, a tie, water bottle, parking ticket, garden shears, school notice, photos from that birthday party, teacups, warranty receipt, one sock, bike helmet, bedroom pillow, a USB, sunglasses, team schedule, hoodie, two batteries and, oh my goodness, the printed concert tickets! Barking out orders like a drill sergeant can accompany this flurry if you like, although some think that is not necessary.

Maybe with our schedules so busy, our inboxes so jammed and our “to-do” lists so long we yearn for neat closets and orderly drawers to help create some calm. Certainly reordering our lives a bit would take more effort than cleaning a closet, but that is probably worth looking at as well.

4Cats Arts Studio

Monday, June 10th, 2013

The Best, Most Fun Art Studio Ever.

The urge to release the artist within is unleashed the moment you set foot inside 4Cats Dunbar Arts Studio. The walls are filled with colourful and joyful artwork, and with tempting art supplies all around, you feel inspired to sign up for a workshop, pronto.

Doing what you love for a living is something many of us dream about. Mel and Scott Baker, the duo behind 4Cats Dunbar, are the artists/curators/owners who have found a perfect environment to work together and fulfill their dreams of being involved in the creative process on a daily basis.

The affable couple are so at ease with one another that they complete each other’s sentences. They began dating in 2001 and married in 2009. They report that many of their dates involved creating artwork, which is how they still like to spend their time outside of the business.

Mel Baker began working at 4Cats in 2009 as an employee. She jumped at the prospect of purchasing the franchise when the opportunity presented itself in February 2010. Initially she was drawn to 4Cats because she is passionate about working with children, and with an undergraduate degree in child psychology she thought 4Cats would be a perfect place to work.  It didn’t take long for her to realize that she had merged her two interests, children and art, under one umbrella.

Scott Baker always dreamt of a creative job. He is a self-trained artist who has been putting pencil to paper for 30 years. He finds his work at 4Cats extremely satisfying thanks to the happy and vibrant environment. He is grateful for the opportunity to help others and at the same time to have the outlet to progress as an artist. His favourite artist is Picasso.  Mel Baker adores the entire Group of Seven; she narrows down Lawren Harris as her top pick.

The concept of 4Cats Arts Studio began in 2005 when founder and CEO Joey Simon first offered 4Cats classes out of the basement of a beautiful character home in Victoria. She chose the company name 4Cats to pay homage to 4Cats Cafe in Barcelona, Spain, which is where Picasso went with artist, poet and philosopher friends to discuss art and life and to make and show great art.

A mere eight years since its inception, 4Cats Arts Studio now has head offices in Vancouver and Toronto. With 58 franchises across Canada (Alberta, B.C. Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec), 4Cats Arts Studio has now gone global with locations opening in Australia, Mexico and the United States.

Who are 4Cat Dunbar’s clients? While children certainly are their key demographic, they also offer adult and family workshops.  The Bakers report that the five to eight year old classes tend to be the most popular, however, artists as young as two years old are enrolled in parent participation classes.

When Mel Baker is asked what she finds most satisfying about her work she immediately responds, “It’s the giggles.” Giggles come frequently in this creative environment where children have the liberty to experiment with a variety of art supplies, and explore different mediums. The laughter also results from the freedom to make a mess (which is not something that all children can do at home!), with the understanding that they will also help clean up afterwards, and that appears to go over well.

Inspiration for art classes is often drawn from the works of famous artists with a medium that corresponds, for instance, a Picasso class may utilize acrylic on canvas to produce cubist paintings and ceramics, while a Frida Kahlo class may use paper-mache and paint acrylic on canvas to create self-portraits.

In addition to creating art, some age-appropriate art history is offered to complement the class. Curators tell captivating and inspiring stories in a fun and humorous manner about the life and work of the artist. For example, did you know that Georgia O’Keefe loved nature so much as a child that she used to eat dirt? Scott Baker’s favorite class is the drawing class while Mel Baker enjoys the artist focus class. She says, “It’s always different as the projects change with each artist and I get to tell stories. It’s also really fun watching the kids’ paintings coming together each week, and to see the way each child interprets a painting differently.”

Beyond art classes, 4Cats Dunbar also offers birthday parties, as well as Pro-D day workshops and summer camps (which are open for registration now).

In any business what it really comes down to is customer satisfaction, and the following story is an endearing snapshot of their devoted fan base. A little boy and his family moved away from Dunbar to the Main Street area yet he adamantly refused to go elsewhere for art classes, and insisted on commuting to Dunbar 4Cats for two years.  Now that’s customer loyalty!

4Cats Arts Studio
4293 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2G1
Tel 604-569-2426

StudioHealth – ChiroWorks

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Vancouver’s Favourite Alternative Health Care Clinic

When I met Dr. Omar Elesseily it was immediately apparent that he derives joy from being a chiropractor. Deeply committed to his clients overall wellness and health, he takes pride in his work and in his ability to help people.

He says, “Through chiropractic ‘tune ups’ combined with massage therapy, and even occasional acupuncture, the vast majority of people could live much more vibrant and fulfilling lives.”

Dr. Elesseily (his clients fondly refer to him as “Dr. Omar”) was born and raised in Vancouver where he attended Simon Fraser University and majored in Kinesiology. He completed his chiropractic studies at Palmer College of Chiropractic West in California. He began his career in San Francisco where he established himself at one of the Bay Area’s top rehabilitation clinics. Applying his knowledge of sports chiropractic, Dr. Elesseily had the opportunity to work with neurologists and orthopedic surgeons who looked after the San Francisco 49ers, as well as other top professional teams in the area.

Inspired by this ‘cross-pollination’ approach to health care, Dr. Elesseily sought to introduce a similar multi-disciplinary concept to Vancouver. In 2003 he returned home and opened ‘Vancouver’s favourite alternative health care clinic’, StudioHealth – ChiroWorks. His goal was to offer an exceptional level of service provided by a team of exclusively selected practitioners who excel in their disciplines.

These disciplines include chiropractic; massage therapy, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine. Through a holistic approach to health care the practitioners assist patients in achieving optimal health.

In addition to Dr. Elesseily, StudioHealth’s team includes chiropractor Dr. Robin Ferguson, registered massage therapists Lindsey Ail, Rick Braun, Karen Martens and Jennifer Wick, registered acupuncturists Kelsey Jackson and Sala Salzgeber, and office manager Kimberley Lai.

The practitioners strive for measurable improvements in their clients’ health, which may be based on a reduction in aches and pains, fewer injuries, increased performance and stamina, and even a stronger immune system. Dr. Elesseily says this is one reason why so many athletes visit the clinic.

One client describes the clinic as “A professional business with a very calming, laid-back atmosphere. All of the staff is kind and welcoming. I personally love how the different disciplines work together to figure out a solution to help me with my health, mind, body and soul.”

StudioHealth’s team takes a preventative approach to health care. They encourage living a more active lifestyle in combination with the maintenance of one’s body through occasional chiropractic, massage therapy and acupuncture, although Dr. Elesseily points out that doing all three is not always necessary for everyone. He says, “It is no different than tuning up a car.  You do not necessarily wait for the transmission to fall out before you take it to a mechanic.”  Dr. Elesseily is such a proponent of his team that he turns to them for acupuncture and massage therapy.

Dr. Elesseily states that he and the other practitioners often see parents who have little energy and are too sore to actively play with their children. Many of these clients suffer from various sports or motor vehicle accident injuries that may not have been dealt with effectively. With treatment, StudioHealth is able to help turn this around and have you, literally, up and running again.

New clients commonly ask which practitioner they should see for treatment. Dr. Elesseily says, “Finding the necessary modality in the right combination, ‘dosage’ or treatment frequency is part of the adventures each time the practitioners see somebody new.” This is also where chiropractors lend their expertise by figuring out the general treatment plan for each individual.

Clients range from children all the way through to their oldest patient who is an awe-inspiring 102 years-old. The clinic displays a baby picture bulletin board, although Dr. Elesseily jokingly says that they do not have a grandparent board yet.

Convenience is the name of the game at StudioHealth. Open seven days a week, appointment times are flexible based on your schedule as well as a practitioner’s availability. Most extended health plans cover chiropractic, acupuncture and massage therapy, and medical referrals are not required.

Check out StudioHealth’s informative monthly newsletters, which are posted on the their website. Articles and blogs offer you the latest health news and tips specifically focused on chiropractic care, massage therapy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine and nutrition.

A fine model of practicing what he preaches, in his free time Dr. Elesseily keeps active playing ice hockey in a co-ed league, and he took up snowboarding this past winter. He gives back to the Dunbar community through his board of director involvement with the Dunbar Village Business Association.

Dr. Elesseily says, “Not enough health care practitioners take the time to listen to what outcome the patients hope to achieve. Even simply slowing down to ask how someone’s day is going has become under-valued. As much as I enjoy talking, I also like listening.”

StudioHealth Chiroworks
5733 Collingwood St
Vancouver BC V6N 4K6
Tel 604-269-3798