Casa Loma Toronto

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to Casa Loma this past March. I had had everyone from friends to patients at the clinic I work at recommending it, but for some reason in my mind I was terrified that it was going to be a super hokey tourist attraction, essentially just a large house decorated and marketed as a castle. I went in totally blind, having no familiarity with the history of Casa Loma or its first owner, Sir Henry Pellatt.

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Fortunately, I was wrong and I was not disappointed by the experience! Though the castle is not technically finished (portions of the basement including the pool were never quite completed), it still is indeed a castle, a smaller but still regal version of the castles I saw while touring Europe as a teenager. The original owner and creative mind behind Casa Loma was Sir Henry Pellatt, a man with a number of skills and talents. Heavily involved in the military and local commerce, Pellatt was also a one-mile race record-breaking star and millionaire.

In 1911 Sir Pellatt hired architect E.J. Lennox to help him design his Hill House, his Casa Loma, in Toronto, Ontario. It took roughly three years and $3.5 million dollars to build this grand 64,700 square foot house. According to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, that would be about $78.5 million dollars today!

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Unfortunately Sir Pellatt and his beloved Lady Pellatt only had the privilege of residing in Casa Loma for a decade or so. Soon enough they experienced great financial distress from the war and from the incredible expense of simply building, heating, staffing, and maintaining such a lavish property, and had to leave Casa Loma in 1924. After this, the property was briefly turned into the snazzy Casa Loma Hotel during the years of 1926-1929. This too was short-lived, and during the Great Depression possession of Casa Loma ended up in the hands of the City of Toronto, and is still owned by the city to this day. The Kiwanis Club of West Toronto took over the site and turned it into a tourist attraction open to the public, and continued to run the attraction until 2011 when the Casa Loma Corporation was formed. While the story of Sir Pellatt and Lady Pellatt is quite tragic, I do find it wonderful that such a lovely building and piece of history is accessible now to thousands of people, rather than kept private as a home for only 2-3 people.

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It is incredibly hard to pick a favourite room or aspect of this expansive property, but the conservatory is definitely in my top three. The beautiful stain glass windows, the natural light, and shining tile made me feel as if I was in a church, but less stuffy. It’s easy to daydream about high tea or sprawling out for a few hours with a good book in this warm, bright lit space. Also, if you’re into fancy bathrooms, the bathrooms just outside the conservatory down a side hallway are absolutely gorgeous. Each stall has its own sink and hand dryer, and there are two massive floor to ceiling mirrors that are perfect for a quick selfie or makeup touchup before you continue on with your tour.

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As you exit the conservatory and make your way into the library space with dining room and concert alcoves, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer size of the space. The square footage of the library alone is probably 10 times the size of my house! The deep wooden shelving and rich, warm flooring is contrasted marvellously by the intricate cream ceiling. I imagine there would have been more furniture in this space when it was lived in, but nowadays your voice will carry all the way across and echo, easily.

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Forgive the poor quality of my camera phone photos, they don’t do the space justice! Sir Pellatt’s study was a dream as it had a hidden secret staircase leading downstairs to his vault. Apparently there are three hidden passageways in Casa Loma, with one yet to be found. Whether or not that is true, is hard to say. I can only speculate that after all of these years if there is one that has yet to be found, it’s either been sealed off and plastered up well, or else has become so damaged that no one has found it. If I worked there it would take all of my willpower not to scour the castle, tapping on walls, in an attempt to find it.

In the basement you have access to a tunnel that takes you quite aways underground to the garage, stables, and plant nursery. Definitely drafty in the winter though, so dress accordingly! I was kind of wandering aimlessly for most of my visit, but if you’ve got a bit of a time crunch or want to see Casa Loma in a more methodical way, I recommend starting from the bottom up. In the basement is the cafe, the gift shop, the movie screening room (the unfinished pool), and washrooms. If you’d like the audio tour recording for your visit, pop by the gift shop first to pick up a headset. I preferred just to read the signs that interested me and wander at my own whimsy, but it was nice to watch the quick 30 minute history video in the unfinished pool first. Since I knew nothing before my visit, it gave me the historical backdrop and helped me figure out the areas I knew I’d want to spend more time in. Had I skipped the video, I probably wouldn’t have figured out that there was a tunnel and would have missed the nursery, which was one of my favourite parts of the experience.

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The second floor of the castle hosts all of the bedroom suites, each one more lavish and over-the-top than the last. I’m talking bathrooms bigger than most public school classrooms. Sir Pellatt and Lady Pellatt each had their own respective suites, with Lady Pellatt’s being the largest. There was also a suite specifically designed for the royal family should they have ever chosen to visit, as well as another guest suite. Throughout these of course were hidden servant stair wells to take Casa Loma staff amongst the levels and to their own, much humbler, sleeping quarters.

Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes and have scheduled a solid 2-4 hours out of your day if you want to thoroughly see everything! I know it may seem tempting to wear some cute heeled shoes, especially if you are set on taking some nice touristy photos of yourself and your travelling partners, but it is not worth it. If you do the tunnel and go through each floor and each room, you’ll have walked at least a few kilometres by the end of your visit. Comfortable footwear is handy as well if you’d like to hike up the number of staircases to the two open towers at Casa Loma.

I went on a Monday afternoon early in March, so I was lucky in that the castle overall wasn’t very busy. However, during busier times I could see there being a bit of a wait to see the towers as the staircases are only large enough for one person to go up or down at a time, and even then it’s tight. If you’re patient though, it is worth the wait. It was still a bit chilly in early March so I didn’t linger at the top of the towers, but it was great to pop my head out and see the skyline view of Toronto from atop the hill.

My only regret about visiting during the winter is that the gardens were covered in snow! I imagine they would be quite lovely to see during the summer. Even without the gardens though, I would say that this attraction was well worth the $30 CAD entrance fee. I think that there’s a little bit for everyone, whether you’re interested in antique cars, architecture, antique organs, interior design, or Canadian history overall. If you’re a film buff you may recognize Casa Loma as the setting for a number of famous movies. They’ve also added in a number of different Casa Loma escape rooms that you can experience after hours, which I think would be spooky and thrilling, particularly the escape room located in one of the towers. If you’re in Toronto and have never been, it’s definitely something I would recommend. I’ve been to Toronto annually for the past 4 years and have done the majority of the recommended downtown tourist attractions, but this is my favourite so far!

 

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NO BUY 2019: Thoughts on inevitably losing VIB Rouge Status

This is something I’ve been thinking about since I decided to do a “no buy” year back in December 2018, and then thinking about why losing VIB Rouge status is even important to me. Serein Wu recently posted a video touching on this and I share many of the same feelings.

Presently as I write this on April 8, 2019, a little more than 4 months into my 13-month no buy year, I would need to spend $940 at Sephora before taxes by the end of 2019 to reach VIB Rouge Status for 2020. I’ve only spent $60 at Sephora since December 2018, averaging out to about $15 per month. If I continue along similarly with this spending average, there is no way I will reach VIB Rouge Status again by 2020. Even if I were to quit buying replacement products from the clinic I work at or the drugstore, I would still have to spend a little over $100 a month at Sephora to reach status again.

I think I first entered a Sephora about 4 years ago or so, back when I was but an infant mystified by the world of makeup and skincare. My friends were super into Sephora, but we didn’t have one in my university city yet. However, one opened up not too much later, and I gradually began shopping there more and more. At first I had zero disposable income during my first year of university, but gradually I picked up part-time work while in school, which fuelled the shopping.

At one such part-time job at a spa in my hometown, I worked with a number of reception staff who were trained as makeup artists and collected makeup, and this rubbed off on me. At this point in time I thought it was wild and unfathomable that I somehow made VIB status, and couldn’t believe that these ladies regularly made VIB Rouge status. I was a little envious not only of their makeup skills, but their luxury makeup collections as well.

As I found myself working more, school getting more difficult, and my mental health declining, I spent more and more. I became a little obsessed with the cycle of new releases, and was the person who would stay up late just to get a new palette as soon as it launched on Sephora. At this point, I had definitely more than made VIB Rouge status, and maintained this status for 3 years.

Sephora has done this really great job of marketing their rewards program and making it seem far more luxurious and important than it actually is. Even the language they choose to use amplifies the want to reach each tier of the program. Rather than using “VIB level” or “VIB tier”, they use “VIB status”, alluding to high social standing. They stagger their “perks”, saving benefits like free standard shipping and VIB Rouge event access for Rouges only.

All of these perks make a person feel special and privileged at first, but when it comes down to it these perks are not really a worthy award for the amount of money you are spending, and their only use is to aid in the shopping process. The tiny sample sizes are often too small to even be considered a proper travel-size, and only wet your lips to encourage you to buy other high-end products. The savings you receive are minimal, and the events are entirely shopping and sale based. Why did it make sense to spend $1000 on makeup, before taxes, in a year just to receive free shipping and tiny samples? I very rarely place a makeup order under $50, so by default I’m getting free shipping regardless of my Rouge status. While I love samples and travel sizes as much as the next person and find them to be quite handy at times, they often just end up sitting in my bathroom drawer unused until they expire.

After mulling over these points and Serein’s video, I realized that being sad about losing a fake status was something I didn’t need to waste my time with. In fact, losing VIB Rouge status or VIB status would actually be an accomplishment; it would mean that I’m making wiser financial choices and refining and minimizing my beauty collection.

NO BUY 2019: Products I finished and replaced in March, no buy update

I have become very aware of my moments of weakness, and what triggers the mindless Sephora app browsing for myself.  Usually it stems from the idea that “*something has happened* so, I deserve *blank*”. For example, “A patient verbally abused me on the phone at work today, so I deserve a pick-me-up”, “I’ve been doing so great at my no-buy that I deserve a treat”, “It’s my birthday in April, so I deserve a gift”, etc. My default thought process basically goes about self-care and emotion-regulating entirely wrong.

I’ve been trying to rethink these sorts of enabling thoughts. “I work hard so I deserve to be debt-free”, for example. I still mindlessly scroll through the Sephora app, but for shorter periods of time, and I unload my cart more quickly rather than letting these items pile up there for another day. Spending money on things I don’t need or even necessarily want when I know I have debt and upcoming expenses is no longer something I can pretend is okay, and even “window shopping” online isn’t as satisfying as it used to be, which is good! This lowers temptation significantly.

Through all the temptations and tribulations, here is what I actually purchased in March:

  1. Glo Skin Beauty Foundation, Pressed Base, and Brush ($74). I will fully admit, this technically breaks my no-buy rules. I was not entirely out of foundation or powder foundation, and probably could have made do with what I’ve got at home for brushes. I broke my rules as we were placing a retail order at work, and when ordering for the clinic staff is able to get a discount. I stocked up on things I know I’ll use. I go through pressed powder like water, and wanted a dewy foundation in a more suitable shade for my skin tone. The shade I purchased, Tahini, is light enough that I can wear it now with a lighter powder if really blended out, but dark enough that I’ll still be able to wear it throughout most of the summer. Still though, I did break the rules, I cannot deny that!
  2. Essence Instant Matte Setting Spray ($6). I had entirely used up my last Essence Instant Matte and had no other matte setting sprays, so this was a rule-abiding replacement.
  3. Pixi 24K Eye Roller Serum ($28). I was entirely out of eye cream, so this is a rule-abiding replacement.
  4. Laroche Posay Cicaplast Hands ($12). This as well, technically breaks my no-buy. However I was stuck in Toronto with no hand lotion in the middle of winter, so I am justifying this purchase. I keep this in my purse and it will be used and appreciated quickly.
  5. SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3 ($125). This replaces the daytime moisturizer I finished.
  6. Laroche Posay Cicaplast Lips ($10). I was in need of a lip balm. I’m 90% sure I’ve already lost this in the depths of my car.
  7. Laroche Posay Lipikar 400ml ($33). I finished alllllll of my back up Celazome body lotions and purchased this as a replacement for my bathroom, and to refill all my little portable lotion tubes.

Total dollar value of products purchased: $288

What I used up in March:

  1. Essence Instant Matte Setting Spray ($6)
  2. Glo Skin Beauty Oil Control Emulsion ($56)
  3. Physicians Formula Killer Curves Mascara ($15)

Total dollar value of products used up: $76

Not my best month, according to the numbers! And definitely not great compared to last year’s numbers. In 2018, on average, I spent $197.83 per month at Sephora. Mind you, this didn’t include work purchases, and I certainly did a fair amount of shopping at work, so the numbers may not be that far off. Still, I would like to get to a point where I am spending significantly less than I did at this time last year, so that I can save significantly more money towards things that actually matter.

Because I am sitting pretty comfy with my makeup and skincare stash right now, I’m going to challenge myself more for the month of April within my no buy. I will buy absolutely nothing for my entire birthday month with my own money. I don’t foresee myself running out of anything, so I will need no replacements.

 

Ramble: Thoughts on Petubers/Pet YouTubers

I had been sick off and on for at least a week when I first starting writing this post, so Ispent a lot of time in bed falling down the Youtube rabbit hole of makeup videos and pet youtuber drama, and it got me thinking about the real life logistics of being a pet youtuber.

I want to differentiate that in this post I’m talking about pet youtube channels, so folks who live in a regular house and have a number of pets that they discuss online, not actual non-profit animal rescue or conservation groups/ranches like Kamp Kenan, etc. I started watching pet youtubers mid way through university, when I owned a betta fish, Scout Finch, and when I first got my Horsfield tortoise, Nugget. I originally came across Taylor Nicole Dean right before her channel really took off, while I was looking for betta fish care advice after receiving some really poor care instructions from my local Petland. From there, I started watching a number of other animal-based channels. At first I didn’t really bat an eyelash at pet youtubers and their exorbitant number of pets, but with the recent spew of videos criticizing popular petubers popping up, it’s made me think more about pet ownership and the logistics of owning as many pets as pet youtubers do. I don’t wish to chastise pet youtubers for their career or hobby choice, but just wanted to share my train of thought with others and see how others feel on this topic.

Time: I cannot fathom the amount of time that it would take on a daily basis to take care of 20-50+ pets. I understand that most Pet Youtubers do this as their full-time jobs, and may have assistants or family members who assist in their animal care. Let’s say that they spend a full 10 hours a day caring for their pets, and that they have 30 animals (based on the channels I’ve seen, 30 seems like a pretty average number, as I’ve seen folks who have anywhere from 15 to 50+ animals). Even if they are spending a full 10 hours a day solely on pet care, that only leaves 20 minutes per pet. Regardless of the type of animals, whether it be fish, reptiles, or mammals, I don’t think this is enough time per animal. Even if a decent portion of that animal count is fish, fish maintenance, especially for exotic saltwater fish, takes a fair amount of time. I presently only have two pets, my cat and my tortoise, but I spend anywhere from 1-3 dedicated hours with them on top of working full time to feed them, bathe them, brush them, play with them, cuddle with them, clean litterboxes and enclosures, etc. Keep in mind too, that this 10 hours just accounts for care, and not for filming or editing, which is very time consuming. The thought of having even 10-20 pets, even if they are mostly observational pets like reptiles and fish, terrifies me to be honest!

Days off: You…just don’t get any days off. Ever. That 10 hour day of animal care? That’s every single day, even weekends, even stat holidays, even when you want to go away on a trip. If you don’t have an assistant, or a very supportive family member or partner who doesn’t work while you’re away, who is going to put in that 8-10 hour work day of care for all of your animals? And does that assistant or family member or whoever properly understand how to care for multiple exotic pets all with varying dietary and environmental needs? Would they know what to do if the power goes off, or if an animal falls ill? You can’t just drop off a fleet of skinks and geckos at a pet hotel either if you don’t have a loved one or neighbour to take care of them when you’re away. If I had that number of pets I would feel as if I couldn’t go away, and I would be incredibly anxious about the wellbeing of my pets if I did go away. Being a pet youtuber in particular is one job you just can’t call in sick for. Even if you’re not filming, you still have to keep your animals alive and cared for.

Unstable work: Though there are a number of youtubers (Shane Dawson, Jenna Marbles, Tati Westbrook, the list goes on!) that have managed to turn Youtube into a lengthy career, as a viewer it seems that Youtube is a risky career field and that there is a certain element of financial instability with working full-time on Youtube. How can you pay for all of those expensive animals if your income is suddenly cut due to a change in an algorithm, fading popularity, and the like?

Emergency: If there is an emergency like a fire or other natural disaster in which you need to evacuate QUICKLY, there is no way you will be able to save or transport the majority of your animals. If you have 30+ animals it would take hours to even remove them from your home. If they are reptiles that have special heat and humidity set ups it would be impossible to recreate each of those environments while travelling or relocating. It would be difficult in general to fit 30+ animals into any vehicle, or even two or three average-sized vehicles.

What are your thoughts on petubers/ Pet Youtubers? I’ve veered away from watching them in recent months, as so many seemed focussed solely on Taylor Nicole Dean’s drama, and it’s very clear that she is going through some difficult things and just needs to figure that out on her own. There’s still the odd non-drama video that piques my interest, though. Who are your favourite petubers, and do you think it is ethical or in the best interests of animals to own that many pets?

 

 

My first year as a laser technician: What I learned

My first year as a laser technician in a cosmetic skin clinic was a bit of a wild one! Originally, I had started working at a prominent skin clinic in Western Canada as a part time receptionist, while working part time at Saje Natural Wellness, to save up money to move out on my own as I finished up my English degree and Public Relations certificate. I joke that I became a laser technician “by accident”, as I didn’t have an intention of becoming one or even staying in the same industry after I finished my degree.

However, less than a month into this new job, one of my coworkers announced that she was opening her own hair and wig salon, and would be drastically reducing her hours at the clinic. Because I was only part time at the time, and was nearly done my degree, the doctor and owner at that time asked if I wanted more hours and wanted to start training to be a laser technician. I honestly just said “Sure, I’ll give it a try.” because I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the clinic, how kind my coworkers there were, and knew that finding a job in January as an English B.A. graduate could be difficult. I figured that I would train as a laser technician and work enough hours to quit my lovely but exhausting retail gig, and keep searching for English-related jobs in the meanwhile.

I eventually quit searching as diligently for English-related jobs because I enjoyed the work I was doing, and most of the jobs relevant to my degree either strictly wanted Business majors, or paid less than what I was presently making at that time and had no benefits. I still keep my eye out for part-time English-related jobs because it is a passion of mine, but I am also happy with the path I chose for now. I kept working reception and laser, even as most of the chain of clinics sold to brand new, new-to-the-industry owner. I lasted about eight months with this new owner, until myself and nearly ever single staff member of not only our location, but the other locations by the same name, were laid off.

Though it was terrifying, disheartening, and stressful to be laid off (I hope to do a post in the future about what it is like to be laid off and how to prepare for a lay-off!), it ended up being a relief. I was laid off at the beginning of the lay-offs and didn’t have trouble collecting my severance. I was entirely free to seek employment elsewhere, and find a workplace whose ethics and protocol matched both mine and the industry’s standards.

A brand new clinic with only one other location out of province was opening up just around the block, and the timing of the lay off perfectly allowed for me to discover this clinic, interview with them, and train at their existing location before the clinic opened. I was so lucky to have been able to find a job relatively quickly! For the past five months I have been working for this new clinic and helped it to open, and I have learned and experienced a lot.

It’s been a wild year, but here is what I learned! I hope that what I’ve learned will help out other brand new laser technicians and medical aestheticians as they break their way into the industry.

  1. Be very aware of what your contract is saying before you sign it. Many contracts have strict conditions about contacting clients of the clinic if you are laid off, fired, or willingly choose to leave your current clinic to work elsewhere. It’s also just a good idea overall to know exactly what your expected duties are, when your benefits kick in, if you get commission and how and when you will receive it, your allotted number of vacation days, and other important policies. You can get in huge trouble for something as small as keeping notes you took at a work training seminar, if your contract specifies that those training notes cannot leave the clinic when you do. If you cannot afford to have someone who works in law look over it, at the bare minimum have a parent, sibling, spouse, and/or friend read it over, because they may notice things that you don’t notice and may understand some of the legal jargon that you don’t understand.
  2. Create a curated and professional social media presence for yourself. There are so many reasons to do this! One, it is an easily accessible place for you to create a portfolio of your knowledge and work, including before and afters, product information, tutorials, and career milestones. Two, clients/patients appreciate somewhere where they can access information about treatments and products, and it can prompt them to ask questions and book in. Three, it enables past clients/patients a way to find you if you end up working at a different location, for whatever reason that may be, as most clinics will pursue legal action if you are directly and actively contacting past clients once you no longer work there. Four, if you are on commission or only are paid for hours that you are booked with appointments, it can be a lifesaver. Some clinics advertise really well for their staff and clinic overall, some don’t advertise at all. Some clinics do advertise, but may not advertise you and your services specifically. This is a free means of bringing in foot traffic to ensure you get paid, regardless of what your employer is doing for marketing and advertising. And finally, it’s a really great way to network. I’ve met so many incredible and intelligent people in this industry just through Instagram alone, and I’ve learned a lot from their feeds. They inspire me to do things differently in my own social media and customer service, and alert me of incoming trends, new product launches, and the like.
  3. Consent forms are IMPORTANT. Consent forms are important not only because they make the client/patient aware of the risks and protocol of the treatment they are receiving, but they cover your butt legally. The client care coordinator I’ve had the privilege of working with for the past year or so has also created really thorough pre and post care sheets for treatments, so that clients/patients know exactly what they do to get the safest and most noticeable results. I like to briefly outline the risks of the treatment and what it entails first in the consultation with my clients/patients, give them a copy of the consent and pre/post care to take home with them to review, thoroughly go over the consent with them again immediately prior to treatment, get them to sign, initial, and date the consent form, and then go over post care immediately after treatment before they leave. Repetition aids memory, and I’ve found people would rather be told repeatedly and have a thorough understanding of what treatment will entail, than be told once and potentially forget what they were told. It gives patients more security and will save you from fewer complaints that the patient “didn’t know they were supposed to do such and such” or that they “didn’t know they would look like such and such post treatment”. As well, if you do post before and afters of work to Instagram, it can be a good idea to make sure that your patient fills out a brief photo release consent form, even if they give verbal consent to use their photos online. This way, the patient knows exactly how and where their photo will be used (e.g. will their identity be kept anonymous with blocked out eyes, which platforms their photo will be used on, etc.) and you have written proof that you did get their consent to post their photos. It covers your butt legally, and communicates to the client specifically how their photo will be used.
  4. Documentation is IMPORTANT. Whether your clinic or spa does paper charting or digital charting, I think it is really important to do very thorough charting whenever possible. I make note of not only the settings I used for the treatment, but what was discussed beforehand, what preferences or allergies the client may have, client reactions to treatment, the status of their skin, etc. I also like to make a few personal notes if the client and I talked about something in particular, so that I avoid asking them the same questions over and over each time I meet with them.  In Canada as well many people go on hot vacations over the winter, and come back with a tan. If a client has mentioned they will be going away somewhere warm I make note of this as well, as I can’t treat them if they have an active tan. For myself it is important to be thorough yet not biased and professional in these notes, as a client can request to have their chart given to them at any time. As well, documentation comes in handy if there is ever (God forbid!) a client complaint or treatment complication that comes up.
  5. Always seek out training and professional development opportunities. Medical aesthetics is a quickly evolving industry, and it is important to stay on top of not only aesthetics trends but the business side of things as well. Seek out training on new treatments and add each course or day-training to your linked-in immediately afterwards, keep copies of your certificates for yourself at home, and also display them in clinic or have them available in clinic if clients wish to view them. Even if the certificate is just for a day long laser training seminar, it still is reassuring for clients to see that you do have the training to you claim to have. Keep your resume and LinkedIn diverse by attending other seminars as well! I attended a free Human Rights in the Workplace conference the other day put on by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, and found it to be really interesting. Though it doesn’t pertain specifically to my position now, it is still handy information to know if I am ever in a management or human resources position within my present company, or if I change professions due to injury or interest.
  6. Seek out employers who are medical professionals. You will immediately have a safer laser practice if you are working with doctors and registered nurses, or dermatologists and plastics specialists. If you can, find medical professionals who are willing to train and mentor you, and who you can easily approach if you have questions regarding how clients’ health conditions or medications will interact with treatment, machine setting options, and skin conditions overall. Working with medical professionals rather than out of a spa or salon in which there are no medically trained individuals present will immediately elevate your practice and give you more support with what you do. Always look into their credentials and training, and feel free to ask them of their credentials, training, and areas of specialty during the interview process.
  7. Err on the side of caution. It is better to turn someone away and tell them you’ll have to consult with your medical director first, than to go ahead with a treatment you have a bad gut feeling about and end up scarring or blistering someone. Always start with your settings low, triple check your settings, and wait to see how the skin reacts. Always check in with your client and see how they are doing, and double check that safety glasses are worn at all times when lasering. Thoroughly sanitize your treatment room before and after each treatment, and do everything in your power to ensure a sanitary and safe treatment for both yourself and your client. I’ve been told by a number of technicians, doctors, and trainers, that you SHOULD be a little afraid–it is a laser, after all! If you lose that fear and respect for the intensity of the treatments you are carrying out, that enables reckless behaviour and potentially dangerous outcomes.

Though I am now only a year and a quarter into being a laser technician, I have learned so much, but still acknowledge that I have so much more to learn. I’m excited to see what this next year will bring!

NO BUY 2019: Trip to Toronto, and advice for those travelling on a low buy or no buy

Travelling while on a no buy can be…challenging. I recently had the privilege of travelling to Toronto for the Jack Summit 2019 national youth mental health advocacy conference. It’s an annual summit where around 200 or so applicants are selected to attend a three day long conference of panels, guest speakers, workshops, and networking events related to mental health advocacy for those under the age of 25. I decided to extend my visit by a few days to see more sights around Toronto, visit a few friends, and take a break from work stress.

For those who live in larger cities, this may not be a big deal. But coming from small-city-Saskatchewan where the shopping isn’t bad but definitely isn’t impressive; this posed quite a challenge for my no buy. In the past when I’ve gone to Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver, I have always flown home with a suitcase ready to wrench itself open at moment because it is so filled with purchases that I normally can’t get at home. Usually I’ve done a mini-clothing spree and have half a dozen Sephora purchases, alongside the usual post cards and Chapters/Indigo things I pick up at the airport or for the plane ride home.

This year I was determined to enjoy myself, but still do my best to stick to my no buy. I budgeted myself $100 per day maximum for sightseeing, eating out, transportation within the city, and shopping. Surprisingly, I did manage to stick to this budget! I think the thought of overspending, coming home to even more debt, and then letting that guilt ruin my holiday and conference, kept me in check. There were a few days where I was slightly over my budget, but this was balanced out by the few days where I was significantly under budget. By braving my public transportation anxieties (I am SUCH a country mouse in the city, as we don’t even have a subway system in my entire province) to take the subway and walk to the majority of my destinations, I spent maybe $45 total on transportation. To my recollection it was about $21 for the half a dozen subway rides I took, about $7 for the Uber my roomie and I took the last day of the conference when we were absolutely exhausted and overslept, and about $15 for the UP Express from downtown Toronto to the airport. For food, it fluctuated between cheap meals on the run and a few really nice sit down or order in meals, and I didn’t go too wild with any alcohol purchases, which is what usually hurts the food budget the most. For sightseeing I did a few free attractions like local art galleries and the Allen Gardens Conservatory, with a few paid entrance attractions like Casa Loma ($30 or so), which were worth the price because they were not only enjoyable but filled up so much of my day.

I think what was most impressive is that when it came down to shopping, I didn’t buy anything that violated my no buy. My purchases included: postcards to thank my conference sponsors from Casa Loma, an eye roller serum from Pixi by Petra (I was entirely out of any eye products for multiple weeks prior), a Laroche Posay Cicaplast hand lotion because I had forgotten mine at home and the hotel lotion was doing nothing to help my cracked hands, a 10 year goal planner from Indigo, and some bandaids and Polysporins because I absolutely destroyed my feet with the boots I was walking kilometres in.

It was really satisfying because when I flew home I didn’t have to worry about fitting everything into my carry-on bags, I knew that I hadn’t created a ton of debt to add onto my already existing debt, and I was going home with a few well-needed and well-wanted purchases that I was genuinely excited about!

My advice for anyone going on a tantalizing and tempting trip while sticking to a no buy:

  • Create a realistic (key word: REALISTIC) budget. Consider food, transportation, sightseeing, the taxes added onto those totals, and whatever shopping that fits into your rules. Make sure your estimates are realistic to the actual cost of those items in that area, and make sure to give yourself a bit of wiggle space. I like to round up my daily travel budget by about $15 to $20 to account for miscalculations or surprise expenses, like getting lost and having to take a cab, etc. Consider whether or not you will be eating in sit down restaurants or more so fast food and on the fly, whether or not you will be making your own food at where you are staying, and whether or not you’ll be consuming alcohol on your trip (that adds up quickly), but don’t deprive yourself of an enjoyable vacation. It’s a tricky balance, but I’m always reminded of my mom’s advice. She always says that you can eat inexpensive bologna sandwiches for weeks when you get home for a trip, but you should enjoy the brand new sights, scents, and tastes of your destination while you’re there.
  • Look for tourist deals or coupons before you head out on your trip. For example, Montreal has a MTL Passeport where tourists can by a two day or three day pass that gives them unlimited access to public transportation and a number of museums, galleries, and other attractions for the amount of time specified. If the attractions on that list are what you mainly plan on doing for that number of days, it can save you a fair bit of cash on admission to all of these attractions.
  • Research free attractions in the city. Toronto’s Allen Gardens is a beautiful example! I spent nearly an hour wandering around the glass conservatory checking out the plants and turtles, enjoying a break from the cold outside, and taking in the warm temperatures of the conservatory.
  • Take a breather when you are close to impulse buying. Take a lap around the mall, or take a moment to head to the bathroom and come back before purchasing something. It can be easy to get caught up in the mentality of “We don’t have that back home, I need to buy it, now or never!” with things that we don’t need or even want that badly. Taking a moment to think about how it will be a pain in the ass to haul home with you, or to remind yourself of the similar items you have back home, helps.

That’s about it from me today. How is everyone else doing on their 2019 no buys? The majority of folks seem to be on month three (except for those who started earlier, like me!). Has it gotten more difficult as time has gone on? Easier? I’d love to hear how you all are doing!

NO BUY 2019: Modern Renaissance Declutter

Rest in peace, Modern Renaissance. It’s been real(gar), but you are long past expired, you are patchy, you don’t blend well anymore, and it’s time for me to move on to newer, silkier palettes. ♥️