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0 In Featured/ Society

Rusiana Mannarino, A Real Gem of a Woman

We all meet many people throughout the course of our lives  but not many can we call a friend.  Friendship is a value I hold dear and I chose one of my friends to be the first “Unforgettable person I have ever met” not only because I like her but because she has been such an inspiration to me throughout the few years we have known each other. I met Rusiana at a Yoga studio and I liked her right away: her big smile, her twinkly eyes but most of all her friendly disposition.  As I got to know Rusiana I realized that there was much more to this bubbly-smiley- friendly person I was always happy to run into.  She had a background story that I would never of guessed in a million years.

Rusiana grew up  in a poor neighbourhood in Indonesia and had a very difficult childhood. By the age of six she had endured very tough circumstances and was lacking the role models most children have growing up. Those feelings that something was very wrong with her environment, although she didn’t understand what was normal or abnormal, did cost her to lose her innocence.  Not knowing what she was actually doing Rusiana found a way to adapt to her surroundings by building a façade that could  change at her will so as to please everyone and therefore avoiding  the pain of being rejected.  This façade, she believed, was her personality and this ‘act’ worked out for many years. Although Rusiana followed her passion for Marketing and Business Management and graduated from the University of Tarumanagara in Jakarta,  she chose to work as a flight attendant for ten years instead of working in her field. Over the years Rusiana felt completely cornered by her choices and eventually she chose to face reality. Maybe she wasn’t the ‘happy-g0-lucky’ girl and realized she needed to make changes in her life.

That is the reason I believe that Rusiana is such an inspiration for women who are afraid to step out of their comfort zones.  I believe I read somewhere that “Nothing great ever comes out of comfort zones.” Ain’t that the truth! Unfortunately it is easier said than done. Rusiana’s strength is in her ability to step out of herself and take a hard look at who she really is. It takes an enormous amount of courage to face oneself, but it takes even more to be honest with what you do not like about yourself. Rusiana felt that she did deserved peace and harmony as much as others did but she felt nailed down by her fears and limitations.

The first step Rusiana took was to accept the fact that she had been mistreated in the past and the second was that she wasn’t going to be a victim anymore.  She took her power back with the help of what she calls her “Higher Power”: she listened to what her soul was starving for all those years.  No matter how deep the wounds were, Rusiana now had faith. This faith was what she hung onto whenever she felt weak and afraid. Then came the real challenge: she was offered a business opportunity that allowed her to reach her goals and transform herself into the woman she is today although  it meant facing her fears of success, failure, lacking skills, as well dealing with a  language barrier. The offer being in her field and leaning on her newfound faith, she rose to the opportunity. Rusiana never quit. No matter how rocky things got and how depressed she would get. Looking at the bigger picture helped her to stay focused and today, she is a successful businesswoman. When Rusiana feels she is reverting into her old self she uses gratitude, forgiveness, acceptance, and faith instead of the negative opposite such as fear, self-pity, self-hatred and procrastination.

In all humility, Rusiana believes she was put on this Earth to deliver a message of love and wishes that everyone could see the perfection her Higher Power has shown her. She wants to guide others on that road less traveled and that is why I believe she is one truly amazing and unforgettable person. I am without a doubt that she has found her deeper purpose and that as she continues to live her life, will help many others attain freedom from the fears and limitations that lurk in their minds. I am very lucky to count Rusiana as one of my friends and I will always be inspired by her relentless desire to be the best person she can be.


Rusiana is an Independent Consultant- Area Manager at Arbonne Canada and is the co-author of “Dear Stress, I’m breaking up with you”  and “Dear limits, get out of my way” from the series of books “Dear Women Guide Book Series” published by Golden Brick Road Publishing House Inc.


0 In Animal Rights/ Featured

What’s up with a rodeo at Montreal’s 375th Celebrations?

Here is what the whole rodeo debate is all about: while rodeos have been going on for 200 years, public awareness has been growing that they cause physical and emotional harm to the animals forced to perform in them.  Similar concerns have been arising about circuses and whale and dolphin acts, and of course the most barbaric abuse of all: bullfights.

Recently a Public Corporation was put into place in order to choose the activities for celebrating Montreal’s 375th anniversary. They decided to promote a 4-day rodeo as part of the festivities. There was negative reaction in the press concerning rodeos partly because of some very serious injuries being reported. These range from torn ligaments to, sadly, even death.   The case of Grady, the horse who died of a broken back at the Festival Western de St-Tite on May 28  was given a high profile in the media and concern abruptly mounted about whether rodeos were in fact ethical.  The truth is that hundreds of these animals suffer severe injuries in rodeos and many of them die every year. The organizers of such events claim that they are ensuring the safety and welfare of their animals, of course, but this just doesn’t seem right to many people; and not just to animal activists but to regular folks watching the evening news or reading the morning newspaper. Everyone understands the economic benefits that such events bring to a region but it just doesn’t seem fair, or even remotely humane for that matter, that these organizers make money by entertaining (?) crowds at the expense of the health and safety of innocent animals.

As I became more conscious of the hypocrisy surrounding these rodeos I decided to help law professor Alain Roy and his amazing team of dedicated law students  whose attempt  to block the rodeo from coming to Montreal may succeed in changing the future of this abusive sport.  Professor of family law at the University of Montreal, Alain Roy is  well-known as a defender of children’s as well as animals’ welfare.  Prof Roy explained to me that as of January 2015 the Province of Quebec has accorded to animals – who until then were just property according to the law — the status of  “sentient beings with biological needs.” This means that Quebec law now forbids any activity that compromises the health and safety of any animal (except animals used in agriculture or science). It is quite unbelievable that it is only today, in 2017, that citizens are fighting to ensure that archaic laws on the treatment of animals are getting updated and enforced.

Thankfully the debate about the rodeos during Montreal’s 375th Celebrations has opened the door for those who do not believe that we should be creating revenue from the fear and distress we inflict on helpless animals under the guise of entertainment.  Prof. Roy points out that what is being done to rodeo animals would be judged as appalling and unacceptable if it were being done to our own beloved pets or anyone else’s. What makes it any less unacceptable when it is done to the horses, calves, and steer in a rodeo?

Prof. Roy and his team, filing for an injunction against the Nomadfest Rodeo, succeeded in negotiating a court-certified agreement to create a balanced Consultative Committee consisting of 3 representatives for the rodeo, 3 representatives for animal rights, and 2 representatives from MAPAQ , which is the Quebec ministry responsible for the enforcement of the laws governing these animals. The goal of the Committee is to identify and assess the standards currently in practice for the security and well-being of rodeo animals.

 Gathering the direct evidence for the Committee will be two external veterinary and behavioral experts and a photographer, appointed by Prof. Roy, who will be given unlimited access to examine and film each animal, before and after each trial, as well as to film each trial, throughout the 4 full days of the Nomadfest rodeo as well as the 11 full days of the St-Tite Festival Western Rodeo. All the data will be compiled and analyzed by further external experts, who will then write a final report to be submitted to MAPAQ within a year for review and recommendations in light of Quebec’s new law.

I also want to make it clear that apart from the appointed external experts and photographer, whose expenses need to be paid, all those who are involved in this project – from Prof. Roy, his students, and his attorney, to the 3 animal-rights members of the Consultative Committee and all the other dedicated helpers in the background — are doing this on a VOLUNTEER basis. It is in order to raise the funds to pay for the travel, lodgings and time of the external experts and photographer that Prof. Roy and his team have created a GOFUNDME campaign on the web. The success of their evidence-gathering mandate depends critically on the work of these external experts, so I urge all those who care about the fate of the hapless victims of the rodeo to contribute to this effort on GOFUNDME. I truly believe that together we will be able to protect the welfare of these animals, now, and forever.

In Featured/ Health and Wellness

How to get healthier with a plant-based diet

The vegan diet has been around forever and has gained lots of momentum in the past decade due to the results of scientific studies as well as the endorsement of many influential doctors. Having always known that eating a plant-based diet had some health benefits,  I was still quite surprised while doing this research at the amount of studies correlating the vegan diet with a remarkable reduction of cardiovascular disease,  diabetes, inflammatory diseases such as lupus and arthritis,  prostate, colon, and breast cancer, muscular degeneration, cataracts, osteoporosis, and of course obesity.

According to Dr. Neal Barnard, a clinical researcher and Founder of the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine in the United States, the knowledge that a plant-based diet was a healthier diet to follow has been around since the 1950’s but has not reached the mainstream due to the interest of big industries. Today there is even more scientific data available and it is of a remarkable consistency. There are many more Doctors that share this point of view solely in the United States.

dr-caldwell-esselstynAfter having obtaining his Medical Doctor’s degree, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. was practicing as a surgeon,  but grew more and more frustrated with the way he and his colleagues were treating cancer and heart disease. He noticed that the reliance on pills and procedures were not healing his patients but was merely managing  their diseases. After putting his wife and himself on a plant-based diet, he noticed how healthier they were becoming which became a life-changing experiment. After serving many years on the Cleveland Clinic Board of Governor’s as well as Head of the Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery and Chair of the Breast Cancer Task Force, Dr. Esselstyn has published over 150 scientific publications. He is the author of books such as “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” where  he promotes the vegan diet as a better diet alternative in treating cancer and heart disease.

A vegan diet is full of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and soy products. On a nutritional level I have chosen some examples of what this diet means:

Plant-based proteins: We need protein but according to these studies a plant-based diet contains all the proteins we need and does not come with the saturated fats found in  meat therefore they are healthier for your heart, for example.

High in Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide the energy your body needs so it doesn’t burn muscle tissue.

Less saturated fats: Meat and dairy products contain a large amount of saturated fats;  again better for your cardiovascular health. Also meat and dairy products have been linked to inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and lupus.

High in Fiber: A plant-based diet is higher in fiber so in turn leads to healthier bowel movements which helps prevent colon cancer.

High in Magnesium: Magnesium helps the absorption of calcium which is related to bone health.

High in Potassium: Balances the acidity of the body, helps the kidneys eliminate toxins, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Antioxidants: Protect against cell damage and cancer.

A vegan diet is full of health benefits especially if you compare it to the American Diet which is creating obesity and disease at an alarming rate. I myself believe in these benefits being vegan,  but I have to warn you that I did it over many months and I informed myself so as to not lack any nutrients, such as Vitamin B12. ( I take a supplement of B12 every day). I see the difference of this diet on my skin, my hair, my weight as well as an increased amount of energy throughout the day. My blood work has never been better so I believe that the vegan diet is working for me. I hope you will be open-minded enough and give it a try if you have never – what do you have to lose?




2 In Featured/ Society

My journey into veganism

I was born in 1969. I was 15 years old when my favourite band “The Smiths” came out with the album “Meat is Murder.” This album was literally the soundtrack of my teenage years. We were the cool kids and Morrissey was our God. I listened to this album over and over again completely oblivious to Morrissey’s message. How could we? We were the intimidating kids.  We dressed in black from head to toe, stuck pins through our clothes and bodies, drank and smoked heavily, and wrote anarchy signs all over the subway stations, not realizing what any of it really meant. Now meat was murder?? What the F***!!  Did Morrissey lose his mind? I thought. I must of sang the lyrics to this song a million times over and over in my egotistical  “alternative” teenage head. I was totally unaware of the message. What was Morrissey talking about? Surely he didn’t want us to abandon our anti-establishment mission of anarchy to become vegans!? How dare he mess with us!

Vegetarians, we thought in those days, were hippies in California doing macrame and wearing flowery dresses. I just didn’t identify, even though the God of my World was a vegan. I could not nor would not at the time come close to understanding what was going on in Morrissey’s head.

But the seed had been planted. I pondered the issue and a few years later, without telling any of my friends of course, I read a book called a “Diet for a Small Planet” by Frances Moore Lappé, which was the first major book to note the environmental impact of meat production as a waste and the underlying cause of the global food scarcity. My heart sank and my thoughts changed, but I definitely lacked the courage to follow through with action.

I started buying books about vegetarian cooking and all that good stuff, but I hid it from my friends in the fear of not being so cool anymore. Fearing the unimaginable (not being one of the cool kids anymore), I turned my head the other way lacking the courage to face the reality that I was now aware of. Many years later vegetarian and vegan information was popping up in the social media and I became curious again. This time there were tons of resources where I decided to educate myself on this matter. There were books, documentaries, conferences, and the statistics were bewildering. I finally understood what Morrissey was talking about for all those years, and so began my journey into veganism.

I understood that vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. But vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, did not use any animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products. This meant a complete transformation from being a “normal” carnivore into not only a vegetarian but it also meant I had to let go of everything I thought was “normal.” Understanding the impact of being a vegan has on climate change, as well as the health benefits such as the reduction of diabetes and heart problems, as well as giving animals back their right to life and freedoms were my new guidelines.

It took many years for my transformation to happen.  First I cut down my consumption of meat and fish, followed by becoming vegetarian and later on letting go of all dairy products.  About a year later I stopped using any animal product and I was vegan. It took a lot of courage. I faced many critics but armed with a new passion and tons of facts, my journey was well on its way. I couldn’t turn my head away anymore. I wanted to be genuine and although it was not an easy transition I now stand a proud vegan. I have no desire to revert whatsoever. I hope you can relate to my story because my deepest wish today is to carry this message of love and kindness to as many hearts as possible. It is time to face the facts and stop being hypocritical. The planet, animals, as well as the survival of the human species are in a critical state of emergency. We need to take action NOW. Thank you Morrissey, you were right: meat is murder.