Director’s Notes: Start Of Summer Edition

Imperial Theatre has officially launched Season 25! Subscriptions are open to buy from now until July 4. To buy one of these dandy Subscriptions you just call Box Office directly at 674-4100. They are open Monday-Friday, 10:00am-5:00pm and four hours before shows.
Why buy a Subscription you ask? I am pleased you asked: subscribers get cheaper tickets; they get first crack at the best seats. they get to include one or two SNB, SJTC or Nutcracker tickets in their buy; they get an annual Season Launch Invitation; they get notified about new shows; six-pack subs get advance access to new shows and specials; six-Pack Subs get surprise promos and freebies all season.
I don’t usually like to be so forward about selling tickets but I am so excited about this season I cannot help myself. We have got so many cool shows and so much great music.
We’ve got ballet and street dance, magic and a Master of the Impossible. We’ve got Burlesque and Jazz, Golden Girls (in puppet form), Cathy Jones and an International Man of Misery (Jeremy Hotz). We’ve got Steven Page and Tomato Tomato and huge country star Brett Kissel. That’s not even all! We have more Christmas that anyone could shake a stick at. We even have Zombies (Evil Dead The Musical) and God (comedy show God is a Scottish Drag Queen). And that doesn’t even include all the other great music and theatre!
Finding three to six shows that you want to see and becoming a Subscriber is easier than it has ever been. And if you are just not up for ticket commitment single tickets go on sale July 5, except – Evil Dead The Musical and Brett Kissel are on sale now!
With that said let’s get down to summer plans. We are planning installation of a new marquee. That’s the thingie on the front of building that shows what event is in the theatre. We are still sporting the one that was installed twenty-five years ago when we went through our restoration. A new marquee means that we won’t have to send a staff member up a ladder in blizzards and rainstorms to update it; we’ll have the ability to program from the inside. This may not seem like a huge deal to you but it certainly is to Adam (our current marquee changer). We’re all pretty happy for Adam. Besides a new marquee we’ll be putting final touches on next season, which starts in September and hopefully enjoying some nice summer weather. Cheers to warm days and cold drinks, B. @ Imperial.

Self Esteem: Pain-Free Or Free To Be You

If you could live for ten years in total bliss, pain free, but not remember any of it, would you? I’m guessing many of you would answer with a resounding, Yes. Trials, errors and losses are all very painful. But let’s stop and think about this for a moment… immediate gratification is fleeting. It does not teach you anything and it certainly does not help you grow as a person.
True happiness comes from gaining insight and growing into your best self. In this pain-free scenario, you are numbing yourself, blocking yourself from the natural flow of life. This natural flow brings with it empowering insights and lessons that help you grow into who you were meant to be.
I’ve known my fair share of pain; we all have. Pain can be a profound teacher that directs us on the path of transformation. Often our reluctance to accept lessons from pain is influenced by our desire to avoid sorrow, distress, frustration and suffering. Understandably, we prefer almost anything to that kind of pain. Nevertheless, the joy always outweigh the risks. The memories of a lost loved one, success after failure, and learning from our mistakes are all things that bring growth. In turn, bringing us closer to being our truest self.
In today’s society there are many ways to dull the pain. However, the sad thing is by not allowing ourselves to feel pain, we may no longer feel the joy we once knew either. We must realize that both pain and joy are natural responses to life as it is. There are growing pains that come from learning through our mistakes; for to learn from them means we must honestly acknowledge them. Losing a loved one must be the largest heartbreak of all. Trying to move on without them can be debilitating. But our memories carry us through. Life throws a lot at us and yet, we are still here to tell the tale. We are not perfect. We are vulnerable. It hurts to be realistic, or wait when patience is required.
So, if I could live ten years in total bliss-pain-free-but not remember any of it, would I? No. I am willing to remain vulnerable to those painful realities that come with facing the truth about me (imperfect as I am), with learning, growing, loving, and trying to become who I was meant to be. Pain helps me remember that I am only human and I am in contact with life as it is meant to be experienced, thus becoming my deepest motivation to keep on living… in pain and joy.

The Crayon Box: Education & Open Dialog

For this week’s column, I sat down with two members of the Progressive Conservative Party, Gary Crosman (Hampton) and Bruce Northrup (Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins). Mr. Crosman started out by telling me about his father, a WWII Veteran who was a member of the legion for 60 years. His father told him to stay in school at a time when many were dropping out early and also instilled a good work ethic in him. Mr. Crosman became a politician because he wanted to give back to the community, while Mr. Northrup originally had no interest in politics. However, he was eventually convinced to run in the 2006 election.
Mr. Crosman, who has taught for 32 years, spent a lot of our time talking about the education system. He advocates for meeting the needs of the individual and giving all students opportunities to succeed. He says that the school system does not have the resources available to cater to all students, only some. He thinks that children who want to try the trades should be able to properly experience them. He feels that young children shouldn’t be held back a grade, as it ruins their social life, something more important to their development than the curriculum.
Mr. Northrup stressed the importance of keeping the local people here and creating opportunities for the youth. He says he wants to see the potash/salt mine reopened and also wants to lift the moratorium on drilling for natural gas regionally, but not for the whole province. He feels as though we have enough rules and regulations to ensure that the drilling is done correctly and in a way that won’t destroy the environment.
On healthcare, Mr. Crosman noted the importance of nurse-practitioners and felt as thought we should pay more attention to them and what they could do for our system. Mr. Northrup wants to ask the doctors for opinions on how to improve the healthcare system, which he views at vital. As he points out, “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have very much.”
When asked about the perception that politicians don’t always keep their promises, both candidates told me that they have ever only made one campaign promise each. Mr. Northrup’s was about something he knew was going to happen the very next day, while Mr. Crosman says he always promises to voice people’s concerns and to do the best he can. They both said that you shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep. They also both expressed that politicians should work as a team, and that the party in power should keep an open dialogue and listen to the opposition, which is something they feel doesn’t happen enough.
Finally, I asked the politicians what advice they would give to the youth. Mr. Crosman says that they should work hard and remember that the loudest voice doesn’t always speak for the majority. Mr. Northrup noted that education is very important, and advised that people get a good one. He says that people should try new things, and if they fail, try again.
We have added another two blue crayons to our Crayon Box. Turns out, according to studies, blue is the most popular favourite colour, which might explain why most people seem to pick it.

Designs For Real Life: A New Era of Laminate Countertops

Laminate countertops have been around since the 1930’s. Feel like you have been looking at the same countertop from the same decade? Good News. It’s an easy update and it will change your whole kitchen. Often going by different names, basically what you are looking at every day in your kitchen is post form countertops which is a sheet of laminate applied to particle board substrate with formed edges and backsplash.
Laminate countertops have come a long way over the years and even though stone countertops are at an all-time high, laminate is still #1 mostly because of affordability.
When you shop for laminate countertops today you will find hundreds of colors, styles and looks. You can now have laminate that looks so close to natural stone granite with all the big, unpredictable pattern which are perfect for a big island and instantly create a statement. Go for a wow pattern on the island and a more neutral smaller pattern on the perimeter of the kitchen for balance.
Check out the Formica 180 FX series of colors that has the most realistic stone looks, wood looks and artistic patterns. Laminate countertops also make a good desk surface and a perfect folding surface above a front load washer and dryer. All colors are very close in price range but what can be an upgrade is the depth of the piece you need. Standard countertops are under 26” deep including the overhang. Once you go past that depth, let’s say for a peninsula or an island, then you need a bar top piece. These pieces are finished on both sides and capped on the ends. Size can be an issue depending on your layout and because laminate is only available in certain sizes. It can cause more seams and some layouts that just won’t work with standard laminate countertops. We provide a service that we manufacture the countertop in shop by applying the desired laminate on MDF. We apply a square edge, wood or Corian edge. It’s a great alternative if needed.
Easy to clean, and inexpensive to switch it out with design trends over the years. If you are building a new home and want to have a few years to budget for stone countertops then laminate can be a solution. Have fun with the textures and go see all that is out there for your design.

Investing In Your Future: Dynamically Diversified Investing

As an experienced investor, you know that asset allocation is a vital strategy when it comes to assembling and maintaining your investment portfolio. Asset allocation simply means dividing your assets among the different asset classes – stocks, bonds and cash. A sound asset allocation strategy takes advantage of the long-established investing fact that there always has been, and always will be, market volatility but over the long term, markets have historically moved higher.
Diversification is an important aspect of asset allocation. A well-diversified portfolio includes a variety of assets across a number of investment categories. The objective is to smooth out risk by having the above average performance of some investments offset the below average performance of other investments. For this strategy to be effective, the assets in a portfolio must not be highly correlated, meaning that they are not expected to typically move in the same direction at the same time.
Many Canadian investors believe they are achieving adequate diversification by “buying the market” through an instrument such as an index fund. The problem with this approach is that 66% of the S&P/TSX index weight* is in just three sectors: Financials, Energy and Materials – sectors negatively influenced by the ongoing slowdown in global activity. With these currently highly correlated sectors so dominant, it is difficult to offset losses through investments in relatively small, less-correlated sectors such as Healthcare.
So, achieving true sector diversification within the Canadian market is difficult at best. That is why savvy Canadian investors have traditionally sought diversification by investing in various areas of the world. But rather than taking a do-it-yourself, hit-and-miss approach to diversification, many investors are now choosing a dynamic asset allocation strategy.

A basic static asset allocation strategy establishes a strategic mix of holdings across various asset classes and geographic regions, suited to your financial objectives and based on your goals and risk tolerance.
By contrast, a dynamic asset allocation strategy is guided by a strategic asset allocation mix, but may adjust target allocations as market conditions change – a continuous optimization that reduces the impact of shorter-term fluctuations.
A Portfolio Fund is a grouping of financial assets held by investors and managed by financial professionals. Certain Portfolio Funds combine a long-term investment management outlook with dynamic asset allocation strategies to adapt to shorter-term market movement with the goal of managing risk and enhancing returns.
Any investment plan should be evaluated regularly to ensure it continues to be right for you as your finances and objectives evolve. Your professional advisor can help you craft the best asset allocation and diversification strategy for you and keep it on track, dynamically.

This Place: Families Camping

Laura and Chris Wilson, newly married, moved to Kingston, NB in 2011. “It was a compromise,” Laura laughs, explaining that her husband prefers the wilderness. The couple enjoys the acreage and their quiet life on the peninsula.

The Wilsons always camped together, first taking their two dogs in a tent. But when their son Harrison was two, the couple started a tradition that is now an annual event for their boys. Laura and Chris spend much of their summer camping with sons, Harrison, 4, Duncan, 2, and their two dogs, Colbie and Katie.

The Wilson family spends many summer weekends at their favourite New Brunswick parks to unplug from the hustle and bustle of life. Their top three places to camp give them a place to hike and discover nature, all while building memories for their two small boys.

  1. Kouchibouguac National Park: Laura says the best thing about this park is that they’re completely cut off from the world. “You can get a signal in the bathroom, but that’s it,” she says with a laugh. With no internet, no cell service, and a long drive to any store, Laura says to come prepared (check out her top ten tips to family camping below). She says the park offers a lot for families, like easy hiking trails. Many of the trails are wheelchair accessible, perfect for strollers and toddlers. There is also a dog-friendly beach.
  2. Mactaquac Provincial Park: The campground at Mactaquac is wonderful for kids, offering planned activities for all age groups, like crafts, bingo, and a slip and slide. Laura says that there are kid boxes all along the trails with items that encourage an exploration of nature.
  3. Fundy National Park: If you are looking for a get away that is remote like those above, without the long drive, then Fundy is for you. Relatively local, the park offers a variety of hiking, beautiful views, and family fun. Don’t forget to check out Kelly’s famous sticky buns in Alma.

Camping with two boys under four and two dogs takes preparation, patience, and a positive outlook. Laura claims you need to “know your kid’s limits”. She advises not to push them too far, and not to lose confidence when the tantrums erupt, even on a 5K hike or at bedtime. Laura brings snacks, activities, and drinks to keep the boys from meltdown, yet her best advice is to understand in advance that it won’t ever be the ideal vacation. She remembers a week-long camping trip when both she and Chris got the flu, but she recalls it with a big laugh and says it didn’t stop them from camping again.

She approaches each trip with the knowledge that it won’t be perfect, instead it is the time away from the world with family that matters most. She emphasises the experiences she and Chris are giving the boys, often spending much longer on the trails than expected so they can inspect the insects, the leaves, and the moss, learning about the nature of our province. It’s these moments that make the camping trips worth all the prep, overshadowing the tantrums.

Still, one needs to prepare, and if you are thinking of camping, especially with children, Laura is the expert in family camping preparation. Here are Laura’s Top Ten Tips to Camping:

  1. Know Your Equipment and Your Camping Site: If you’ve just purchased a new BBQ, or stove, or tent, try it out at home first so you know that it has all the parts and poles.
  2. Start with a Packing List: Laura downloads a checklist that fits her family from Pinterest and works through it for each trip.
  3. Pack Extra Everything: Remember a second set of shoes and clothes for the kids–and yourself. Pack more than you need to be prepared for any snafu.
  4. Meal Plan: Laura creates a menu for the week. She often makes slow cooker meals ahead of time and puts those on in the trailer before an adventure. The meal is ready when they return. She brings lots of pre-prepared snacks like veggies, meats, cheeses, and sandwiches, things that can be packed into the hiking pack and easy to grab. The more chopping of vegetables and organizing of meals that can done at home the better. Meal planning gives you more time with the kids and less time preparing meals over a camp stove.
  5. Make It Fun: Laura makes sure to remind herself that her boys won’t be small forever, so these trips are meant to be fun for everyone to enjoy together.
  6. Realistic Expectations: Laura expects things to go wrong, but she doesn’t let the negative impact the bigger picture: time with her family. The perfect trip won’t happen: there will be tantrums, bedtime will be later, mornings start when the sun appears.
  7. Pack Camping-Only Toys: Laura keeps her camp trailer stocked with toys, games, and books that she only uses when they go camping. She often takes a trip to the dollar store for inexpensive and fun toys that are only for the camping trip. She explains that the new things don’t have to be expensive or elaborate, so go to the library for a fresh stack of books and DVDs.
  8. Create a Car Travel Box: Laura makes sure that along with the toys and books she finds things suitable for the car ride, too. She hides a stash of back up new things for the road like snacks, drinks, and fun little toys they wouldn’t normally get at home. “Glow sticks are great for night car rides!” she says.
  9. Try New Things: Laura encourages campers to explore the parks and campsites. The trails and new locations are a great learning experience for the family. The Wilsons explore the woods, often stopping to investigate a fuzzy fern or a wiggly worm. She says they rarely stay at the camp site, instead preferring to break out and explore the new little world around them.
  10. Make Camping About the Family: Laura’s tips are all designed to make the life of the camper easier so that the time you spend is with your family, not stressing about what to eat, where to go, and what you forgot. The lists, the prepared meals, the toys and games, all come down to family time. “The boys love it,” she says. Her boys know that camping season is here, the trailer is ready, and the first trip over the May long weekend sets the stage for their summer fun. Laura’s hope for you is to enjoy your time away from the world and focus on the time you have with your family.

The Crayon Box: Better Instead of More

At this point, my co-op placement is over, but you’ll still see my work for a few more weeks. 🙂
These next two editions will be spent looking at the Progressive Conservative party. Currently the opposition party, they’re looking to regain power this September. This week will be focused on Party Leader Blaine Higgs (Quispamsis).
Mr. Higgs believes that the government can be run better, because he thinks that money is being spent poorly. He says that throwing more money at things doesn’t necessarily make them better, but instead, the Conservative party would focus on how to spend money more efficiently.
Mr. Higgs recounted a time when he had designed schematics for a build. When the parts arrived, a co-worker called him down to come look at them. He then realized that while in theory the design worked, in practice, it didn’t. He related this to government, claiming that what looks good on paper in Fredericton doesn’t always work in practice. He believes that if someone is going to be affected by a decision, the government should have their input for guidance and pointed to the education system as an example, saying the government should ask for more input for the teachers, as he feels they don’t have enough say.
Mr. Higgs says he understands the sentiment that politicians will frequently go back on their word. He says that some politicians will reinvent their promises “from one bus stop to the next”, in order to appeal to the people in that area. He thinks we should blur the party lines some and that politicians should work together more than they do right now. As a display of this, Mr. Higgs mentioned that some of his staff are closely related to both the Liberals and the NDP. He feels as though the first thing a new party will do is throw out what the last one did. He also notes that while many jobs have a required skill set, being a politician doesn’t, even though the stakes are high in government. If he were a crayon, Mr. Higgs would want to be blended and made of of many colours, just like how he wants to get many opinions in order to get the best result from any potential legislation.
Mr. Higgs had some advice: you don’t need to own every conversation. He feels it’s important to listen more and speak less. He also thinks it’s important to not pretend to know everything, as no one does. To the youth, he says: stick with it. He says he knows young people have some good ideas and he wants to hear them. The province has opportunities, he claims, and he wants to make sure it stays that way. He points out that he doesn’t need another job, he already had one. At this point, he’s driven by passion and wants to make a change. In his own words, “it’s not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.”

Family Matters: Surviving Summer With Siblings

As summer approaches many of you may be wondering how to reduce the likelihood of your children arguing.  Not an easy task as there will probably be increased time together.
As a parent, with limited vacation time, it can be both unpleasant and frustrating to hear and see your children fight. The reasons for the spatting are numerous – competing for your attention, material possessions, obtaining better grades, or excelling in sports. Below are some strategies to help keep the peace between your kids over the summer months.
Set the Groundwork. Discuss with your children what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable. Behaviors like name-calling, yelling, swearing, hitting, etc. are all unacceptable. Get their input to come up with consequences when they do engage in these behaviors. The key is to do this before the fighting starts.
Don’t Get Involved. When possible and reasonable, try not to get involved.  Let your kiddos work out their differences without you.  You want your children to learn how to problem solve and find solutions.  If things get out of control, then step in. If you need to get involved, make sure that everyone is calm when trying to discuss the issue.
Avoid Investigating. Avoid taking the time to figure out who started the argument because it does not matter. It takes more than one person to be in an altercation and everyone involved is responsible for fueling it. Focus on finding a solution.
Individual Interests. Set time aside to enjoy all of your children’s different interests. Offer one-on-one time for you and your children to do their favorite things. Schedule enough time for each kiddo and the family.
Praise. Make sure to acknowledge and praise time cooperatively spent together. Point out positive and respectful behaviors.
Time Apart. There is nothing wrong with allowing time for your children to do their own things and be apart. Arranging different camps, play dates as well as having your children partake in different activities/classes that are of interest to them is perfectly healthy.
Schedule. If your children are constantly fighting over the same situations (i.e., what to watch on television, what game to play, or who goes first) create a schedule to help monitor who goes when and for how long.
To help reduce and/or limit sibling arguing and make the summer more pleasurable, keep the above strategies in mind and enjoy the parenting journey.

Life Balance: Understanding A Burnout

A burnout is not yet a term that can be found in any mental health professional’s handbook of diagnosable conditions. A burnout is defined instead as a lifestyle-related condition that stems from severe chronic stress. People do not burnout overnight. Instead, the nature of a burnout is much more subtle and progressive. Unfortunately, this slow-moving characteristic makes the condition that much more difficult to recognize.
Our bodies are fully equipped to sustain short bursts of stress related to high-pressure situations, which causes an influx of adrenaline and cortisol in the body. What our bodies are not used to, however, are consistently high levels of stress. Severe chronic stress can have a lasting impact on the brain’s physical structure, and can ultimately change the makeup of certain areas of the brain that are responsible for modulating our stress responses. Consequently, this makes our brains more vulnerable to neurotoxins. Other than impacting our brain’s structure, consistently high levels of stress can also impact normal body functions, such as our immune system, sleep hygiene and digestion.
A common burnout symptom may include physical exhaustion. This may manifest itself in insomnia, chronic fatigue and an increase in feelings of sickness. Victims of a burnout also often complain of a lack of productivity, which stems from an inability to concentrate and an increase in forgetfulness. Emotional exhaustion is a further burnout symptom and is characterized by feelings of cynicism and detachment and can also manifest itself in feelings of depression and anxiety.
Lifestyle changes are often considered crucial as a first step to recovery from a burnout. Finding some downtime in your day, where you can unplug from a stressful situation and engage in a hobby or activity that you generally enjoy doing, is one recommendation. A further recommendation includes connecting with others, in which you have cultivated a positive and meaningful connection with. This should involve going beyond immediate family, and extend to friends or distant relatives.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from a burnout, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above, it is important to seek help from a professional as soon as possible.
For more information on my counselling practice, please visit: cynthiaveniot.com.

Food For Thought: Build A Better Burger

Nothing says summer like relaxing on the deck while a delicious burger sizzles on the barbecue. But traditional burgers may not always fit in your healthy eating plan. Some simple changes can help you make the most of every bite.
Let’s start with the star of every good burger: the patty. Cut the fat by using lean ground beef, chicken or turkey. Add grated veggies like onion, carrot or mushrooms to keep it juicy. Then add extra flavor with herbs and spices like garlic, oregano, dill, chili powder, cumin or smoked paprika. Prefer a vegetarian option? Try a grilled portabella mushroom cap or a patty made from black beans or chickpeas.
Use a meat thermometer to get the perfect cook on your burger. Put the thermometer through the side of the patty, all the way to the middle. Beef, pork, veal or lamb should read 160⁰F. Poultry should be cooked to 165⁰F.
You can also make healthier choices when choosing a bun for your burger. Choose a whole grain or whole wheat bun, or use pita or flatbread for a change. Or think outside the bun and wrap your burger in a large leaf lettuce, like Boston bib or romaine. If you like lots of toppings, try an open faced burger so you have room to pile on the veggies… and you’ll probably need to eat it with a knife and fork.
That brings us to the toppings, where the possibilities are endless. Try fresh or grilled veggies such as tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms or zucchini. Add some greens with spinach, lettuce or arugula. Add a new flavour with condiments like tzatziki, salsa, pesto, guacamole or hummus.
Use smaller amounts of salty or sweet sauces. Look for lower sodium ketchup or sugar reduced BBQ sauce. Opt for a strong tasting cheese. A small amount will give you a punch of flavor for fewer calories and less fat. Try smoked Gouda, spiced Havarti, feta or goat cheese.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and tempt your taste buds with a new flavor combinations! Try a chicken patty with bocconcini cheese, sliced tomato and fresh basil. Top a turkey burger with caramelized onions, sliced pears and brie cheese for a sweet and savory burger. Maybe bring a Mediterranean flair to your beef burger by topping it with tzatziki, sliced cucumber, red onion and feta.
Looking for more healthy cooking ideas? Call 633-7787 or email caroline.black@sobeys.com or maryann.petersgallant@sobeys.com to learn more about Sobeys Dietitian’s classes.