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This Mother’s Day, let’s talk about women and work

May 5, 2016 in Wellness for Lawyers Working Mothers Workplace Wellness

It’s been a while since I connected with the Curated Wellness community, and with Mother’s Day just around the corner, there’s no better time to share what’s been keeping me so busy.

The heart of CW is holistic wellness for everyone, no matter how ambitious you are or how lousy the wellness quotient of your profession is today – we are evolving, and working together, we’re getting better. I see it from the beginning to end of an engagement, and I hear about it from many of you, even years after working together. In fact, anyone who has taken my Stress 911 workshop knows that stress can be a good thing, it’s what we do before and after peaks of stress that impacts our wellbeing.

As a “little side project,” (she says, laughing at that naïve idea) I created a resource for new moms that is curated with the same rigor that goes into all CW curriculum. It’s holistic, comprehensive, and there’s nothing else like it. This time, though, it isn’t just me – it’s me grilling a faculty of 12 experts on different elements of maternal wellbeing. It’s also completely virtual and on-demand. It’s called the New Mom Dream Team.

When I was working on this resource, I had no idea that it would dovetail with my corporate work. I was actually considering not mentioning it here because, right on stereotype, I worried that talking about motherhood in a professional environment would paint me as too, well, unprofessional. Spoiler alert, I was very wrong about that. I just had to do something about the utter lack of comprehensive wellness resources for new moms, because I was one not so long ago, and I know first hand how big a difference the right support can make to mom, baby (and the rest of the family too). What has surprised and delighted me is the overwhelming interest from corporate clients to offer this resource to employees heading out on maternity leave. It’s part of a slow and steady shift to meaningful changes in the way women, men, work and family are fitting together. You’ll hear more about this in an upcoming piece in the Huffington Post.

It is already my belief that by tuning in here, you are a change-maker in your field, looking for a better way to live, work and lead. But the desire to be a leader in workplace wellness for women – and to support them right in the midst of the transition to motherhood – is truly breathtaking. And very, very smart (seen your ranking on  So if you’re among those who have beat me to the pitch, thank you, and I salute your vision. If this resonates and you’d like to find out more, reach out or take a look here.

This Mother’s Day, let’s make motherhood, families and career part of the same conversation. We all win.

Doing something innovative in this space at your organization?  Have a post-baby career story or challenge to share? I want to hear about it.




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Rachel Schipper joins Practising Law Institute Faculty

June 5, 2015 in Wellness for Lawyers Workplace Wellness

The Practising Law Institute (PLI) is a leader in continuing professional education for lawyers, with more than 1500 corporate clients. Its faculty is comprised of over 4000 leaders in a range of fields that offer high quality, innovative programs for its members.  Tuesday, June 9 will be the first program that Rachel Schipper does for PLI, and is available as a webinar.  While there is no replacement for live, in-person programming, this is a great way to see if the Curated Wellness approach is right for your organization.  You can find all the details at this link.

This is also a great opportunity to introduce your more skeptical friends and colleagues to wellness practices that are accessible, palatable, and geared for the busy urban professional.  And we all know someone like that.


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Last call for YogaBe + CPD – this week!

December 1, 2014 in Wellness for Lawyers Workplace Wellness

For the lawyers in your life!  There are still spaces left for the YogaBe + CPD workshop for Ontario lawyers happening this Wednesday, 11am-1:30pm, at YogaBe‘s decadent new studio on the PATH.  Come enjoy an all-levels yoga practice with studio Founder Laura Baron, a delicious lunch from Kupfert & Kim’s new food stand, and get the Skinny on Burnout that will help you live and work in a sustainable way, or recover if you missed the boat on that one.

We’re listening.  A recent study commissioned by the Canadian Bar Association showed (not so surprisingly) that stress, burnout, anxiety, poor physical health, and mental health issues (specifically depression) top the list of health and wellness issues Canadian lawyers face.   A dismal minority (3%) of Canadian lawyers believe that the legal profession provides enough support to lawyers who are confronting health and wellness issues, with a substantial majority (84%) valuing live education sessions on health and wellness.  We get it.  We also think an enjoyable long lunch break that just might change your life is a great idea.

We’d love to see you if you’re feeling inspired.  If you’re not feeling inspired, take that as your sign from the universe that it’s time to shake things up.  Funny how just one shift can do just that.  All the details are below.  Sign up is right here.

Can’t make it?  Arrange a private event for your team, just like this.  We’ll even come to your office.  Contact for more information.



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Let it be easy.

November 26, 2014 in Healthy Eating Inspiration Physical Health Special Offers Wellness for Lawyers

Around this time of year, there is a race to that December 31 finish line. Projects to complete, targets to meet, people to see, cards to write, presents to get, holidays to organize, summer clothes to put away, winter clothes to find…the list goes on. It’s only November and already my to-do list and wine consumption have both doubled.  At the same time, there is less daylight each day, and around us, hibernation abounds.  We knew this when the leaves transformed into fall splendour, and yet we kept going at full pace.

Other than summer, which is rightly a religion in Canada, we pretend that we don’t have seasons.  Somehow, we think, heated seats and other modern conveniences, like lightbulbs, will allow us to continue as if nothing is happening.  Then the first flurry comes, and it’s undeniable.  We trudge on through winter in our parkas, and try to get to Florida, or farther south.  Some of us even delight in the crisp air and silvery snow, getting out into the cold to ski or take the kids out sledding.  You winter people – you really live in the right place!

Our needs are different at this time of year than they were just a few short months ago, and paying attention to them can make the difference between a cozy winter and a marathon of colds and overwhelm.  Vitamin D levels dip as sunshine hours are a distant memory, hydration plummets as heating use increases, and we start to really feel the weight of things in our lives that we don’t love.  Targeted self-care that supports the seasonal transition is a great way to ease into winter, with grace.

This list of practices to support yourself is meant to be read like a menu; in the spirit of letting it be easy, I invite you to choose from it what you like, instead of trying to do it all.

  • Get that sunshine vitamin.  In summer we get 20,000 international units of vitamin D from only 20 minutes of sunbathing.  The 400 international units found in your multivitamin is a relic of the days when the only goal was to prevent rickets.  While the science of optimal levels of vitamin D is still inconclusive, there is consensus that optimal levels of this vitamin contribute to a broad range of health benefits, from lower rates of cancers to decreased joint and muscle stiffness. The dose deemed safe for unsupervised consumption is 4000 international units daily, provided you are over 9 years old.  Depending on your vitamin D levels, which you can find out with a simple blood test, you may want to take more (with medical supervision).
  • Give yourself a water drinking challenge.  Dehydration is a shockingly common cause of fatigue and fogginess.  The simple challenge of pouring yourself two litres of water in the morning and finishing it by 8pm provides much needed hydration, and also information about your habitual water consumption.  Please note that water is water.  Juice is not water.  Tea is not water, and coffee is basically the opposite of water, because it is dehydrating.
  • Exercise differently (formerly known as cross-training).  On this matter, forget the winter slump.  Give yourself the energetic opposite of your usual exercise style, and enjoy the physical cross training and mental shift that result.  If you are a regular yogi, try a team sport or something that cultivates and directs aggress energy, like squash or kickboxing.  If you’re a cardio junkie, experiment with a long walk or a restorative yoga class.
  • Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.  In lieu of hibernating, give yourself some extra rest.  This one is likely the toughest on the list, because it requires that you break what you will soon discover are serious habits, habits that probably involve a computer, television, or smartphone.  None of these things is contributing to a good night’s sleep.  Take the opportunity to cultivate a bedtime ritual that supports healthy sleep, such as a bath, reading, or taking a few minutes to count the things that you are grateful for.
  • Go on a technology vacation.  Decide on an amount of time – an hour when you are awake, a weekend – and release yourself from the habitual connection to technology.
  • Try Aryuvedic self-massage.  This practice, called Abhyanga, is a winter favourite.  It is inherently warming, and offers an incredible range of benefits including increased circulation, lymph drainage, lubricated joints and skin, and relaxation.  First, choose your oil: almond, olive, Aryuvedic-grade sesame or a dosha-specific oil.  Before showering, warm about 1/4 cup of the oil by putting a jar or cup of it in hot water.  Gently massage the oil into your skin from the soles of your feet up to your scalp.  In the shower, soap only your groin and underarms, rinsing the superficial oil residue from your body and leaving the bulk of it to nourish your skin throughout the day.


There are a few spaces left in the YogaBe + CPD Skinny on burnout workshop happening next Wednesday!  This December 3, 11am-1:30pm at YogaBe, the first yoga studio on Toronto’s PATH, located at MetroCentre, 200 Wellington Street W, PATH level.  $185+HST secures your place, and includes a 45-minute yoga class led by studio director Laura Baron, a delicious vegan and gluten free lunch from Kupfert & Kim, and a 90-minute CPD-accredited workshop with yours truly about the Skinny on Burnout (1.5 Professionalism Hours for Ontario Lawyers).   You can reserve your spot online right herePlease join us, and pass this information on to a lawyer in need – he or she will thank you.

Notice anything different?  The updated look and feel of is thanks to the creativity and tech savvy of development and communications expert Elyse Power.  In the spirit of letting it be easy, have her create or recreate your website, a.k.a. portal to the world.  For a taster (literally) of her unique brand of user-friendly what-you-didn’t-know-you-needed, try this robotic meal designer that finds recipes for the three random things in your fridge.

Enjoy! May the best of the season shine in your life.


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Relax! Announcing a collaboration with YogaBe

November 18, 2014 in Inspiration Physical Health Special Offers Wellness for Lawyers Workplace Wellness

One of the best perks of the work I do at Curated Wellness is getting to co-create with inspired entrepreneurs.  The passion that goes into birthing a new venture brings us some of the most enriching experiences and products – and YogaBe, Toronto’s first yoga studio on the PATH, is one such creation.  Its founder, Laura Baron, is a former Bay Street litigator, whose yogi tendencies compelled her to create the studio that Toronto’s financial district can now enjoy.

Together, we are offering an exceptional experience for Toronto lawyers to rejuvenate, learn, and earn those end-of-year CPD professionalism credits.  The program will be hosted at YogaBe’s convenient downtown studio in the MetroCentre, on Wednesday, December 3rd.  It includes a 45-minute, all-level yoga class led by Laura, a healthy lunch from PATH eatery Kupfert & Kim, and a 90-minute Curated Wellness workshop on practical strategies to manage stress and promote wellbeing called The Skinny on Burnout.

WHAT:  YogaBe + CPD: The Skinny on Burnout

WHEN: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: YogaBe Studio, 200 Wellington Street West, PATH Level, MetroCentre

COST: $185.00 + hst

Reserve your space online:

We hope to see you there!

Pass this on to a lawyer friend in need, they will thank you.



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Let’s go back to school (and feel alright)

November 4, 2013 in Wellness for Lawyers

Happy Monday! Check out my latest work for the Canadian Bar Association’s National Magazine, where I discuss how law schools are adressing physical and mental wellbeing – and challenge the profession to follow suit.

You can find the original article here.

If you know of an organization or employer who is doing something effective or innovative in the wellness space, I would love to hear about it. You can email me at – thank you in advance for taking the time to do so.

Poor health amongst lawyers isn’t news. The same goes for the negative side effects caused by poor health. For many lawyers, it’s really just cumulative, and an exercise in getting used to a suboptimal way of living. And yet, the truth is we made our own habits before we ever got to practising; after that, it’s our habits that have made us. Just think back to law school:

The laptops.

The summaries.

The stress.

The missing pages from short-term-loan books.

The study groups.

The pallor over the library at exam time.

The incredible number of remarkably diligent and studious peers.

The coffee consumption.

The guy who read the footnotes in the property textbook (he made partner last week).

The rash of breakups that hit every first year class like a post-Christmas epidemic.

Case law jokes – at parties. Even those that were funny.

It all seems mildly amusing thinking back on it, and I await the LLB/JD sitcom. But in the meantime, we have some serious business to attend to.

I revisited law schools this fall to refresh my memory and check out, as an observer, how students are coping with the early days of what will be a stressful profession. Law can be rewarding, stimulating, and full of opportunity. But what we’re seeing in law schools is a stunning pervasiveness of anxiety and stress-related symptoms. You know what I’m talking about – depression, insomnia, disordered eating, pill-popping, headaches and a general feeling of overwhelm.

The thing is law students are driven, brainy, and accustomed to external validation for a job well done. So it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. What came first? The demands of the profession, or the culture of high-achievers who will sacrifice nearly everything to make meeting impossible demands seem normal? In a pie-eating contest where the reward is more pie, something is not quite right.

Fortunately, the institutions that educate lawyers are taking this issue seriously. This year there were 2000 applications for 1200 articling positions in Ontario. But this is about more than supply and demand. These conditions are highlighting the festering struggles with anxiety, stress and depression that pervade our classrooms and offices. It is not serving our profession to continue in this way.

Last month, Osgoode Hall Law School spearheaded an initiative with four other law schools to address the health and wellbeing of law students in Ontario. With the help of a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the goal is to develop better support and mental health resources for law students. Today, Osgoode Hall Law School is the first Canadian law school to hire a full-time counselor (by design she is also a former lawyer) focused on the wellbeing of students. In the first year of this program, 12 per cent of students – that’s 105 people – have benefitted from confidential support services. University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law is also paying close attention to the well-being of its student body, with programs including in-house yoga and meditation, doggie days, and green smoothies at exam time. The dual efforts to de-stigmatize mental health challenges and provide programming to alleviate them are crucial steps in the right direction.

But real change has to be an inside job. If we’re talking about degrees of self-sacrifice over decades of study and work, then the antidote must be self-care and self-compassion. This can seem like a tall order in a profession characterized by type-A personalities, but that’s only because a lack of education about self-care has driven a culture that has not yet responded to the pull of being, well, human.

We hear about this condition before going to law school, we hear about it once we’re there, and we hear tragic stories and see evidence of these trends once we enter practice. And yet there continues to be some cognitive dissonance that allows us to believe that this mild epidemic of diminished well-being applies to others, to strangers, and not to us.

Until it hits close to home. A recent CBA-commissioned study about lawyers and wellness reveals that a dismal minority (3 per cent) of Canadian lawyers believe that the legal profession provides enough support to lawyers who are confronting health and wellness issues, with a substantial majority (84 per cent) valuing live education sessions on health and wellness. Stress, burnout, anxiety, poor physical health, and mental health issues (specifically depression) top the list of health and wellness issues Canadian lawyers face.

There is, at the very least some recognition that we have a problem. Now comes the hard part – being part of the solution. On that front – we could use some time back in law school.

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