CJA13 Campaign Video

Props to the incredible marketing team at Federation CJA. I’ve seen this video at least 40 times, and it still gives me chills.
Very proud to be working with such a creative and dedicated group of people.

If you haven’t had the pleasure, check out the 2013 campaign video:

If you’re interested in learning more about Federation CJA, click here.

Biking for a Cause

My amazing father is doing the CIBC 401 Bike Challenge to honour my late grandmother Gladys and her courageous 17 year cancer battle. He’ll be cycling 580 km over 2 days – from Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital to the Montreal Children’s Hospital – to raise money for kids fighting the disease.

The CIBC 401 Bike Challenge is an extreme endurance bike ride from Toronto to Montreal. A committed group of cyclists and volunteers will depart the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 and arrive at the Montreal Children’s Hospital on Friday, August 9, 2013, traveling 580km. The cyclists will make the inspired ride linking these two pediatric institutions and making a difference in their respective hematology/oncology divisions.

RB CIBC bike

To make a donation, please visit: https://register.401bikechallenge.ca/EVE/donate_2.asp

Happy Sloan Day!

Reliving my teen daydreams in preparation for tonight’s Sloan show in Montreal.  Sloan is a band I loved as a teenager, but never saw in concert.  

Last week an old friend asked me if I wanted to see Sloan live, and as it happens, they are playing “Twice Removed”; the first album of theirs I ever purchased.  I was a big fan in 1994, and revisiting them in preparation for the concert, I realize I still really enjoy their music today.

If you’re going to see the band tonight (or elsewhere on the tour) and want to check out the set list, this site is a great resource.

It’s always good to know what the band is going to be playing, especially if you – like me- enjoy singing along. As per my research, I’m playing “Twice Removed” all day…

Earth to Canadians and Americans living on the East Coast: IT SNOWS EVERY WINTER!

I’m just going to say it, I think the entire East coast is nuts.
How is it that every winter there’s some sort of panic when more than 1 cm of snow falls? People on the news are acting like it’s armageddon. They won’t leave their homes, schools are closed, businesses are closed…

Earth to Canadians and Americans living on the East Coast: IT SNOWS EVERY WINTER.

Having lived most of my life in Quebec, where we actually know how to deal with snow, I can’t help but laugh when I see how the other half lives. I drive a Jeep, with snowtires, and I own a shovel. In January it is totally acceptable to show up at a bar wearing Sorels. When it snows we don’t cry, we go skiing.
I live in a city where snow is pretty well cleared. And best of all, it acts as a nice filler for those pesky potholes downtown. Ok, so Quebec is far from perfect, but at least we don’t ignore an entire season and hope it will go away!

I mean really Ontario and New York – It might be time to purchase some actual snowplows. And I don’t mean gardening trucks with makeshift attachments. Or are you just hoping that Global Warming will make this problem moot? Maybe, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Reminds me of this fun clip:

Happy January!


It’s been a week since my sister’s wedding, which was beautiful – as was she – and I’m finally beginning to decompress. As the Maid of Honour (MOH), I was asked to give a speech. You’d think this would be an easy task. After all, I’m a writer, and over the years I’ve written speeches for everyone from CEOs, to corporate execs, I’ve written personal speeches and eulogies, and even written for friends speaking at their own sibling’s weddings. But this one really stumped me. It took me weeks to write, and re-write. It occured to me somewhere between drafts 7 and 12 that it’s because I’ve never written anything I care about so deeply before.

It had to be from the heart, to be spoken aloud, not only in front of an audience, but to the person in the world who is closer to me than anyone else: My sister. Once I finally did write it, I realized how many things I should have said aloud earlier. My mother, who lost her brother when she was 24, is a constant reminder that we need to tell the people we love just how much they mean to us. And while I hear her, like most children – even grown ones – I hear but I don’t always listen. I’m going to stop with my sappy rambling now and just reprint the speech below….

When we were kids, one day my sister and I had one of many blowout fights. My mother, a trained childhood educator, sat us down, and explained to us compassionately that it was important for us to work though our differences. “”One day,” she said, “the rest of our family will be gone, and your sister will be all you have left.” Erica and I looked at each other, considered this option, and, at the thought of being left alone with each other, burst into tears. My mother then burst into tears, and my father came home from work to find three sobbing women, a sight which the poor man would become all too accustomed to in years to come.

So, we did not get along when we were growing up. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun together. We did. Our parents are adventurous and intelligent and they had us along for the ride from day one. Whether it was climbing the camel’s hump or travelling to sun filled destinations, hanging with my Grandparents Gladys and Iz in lake placid or skiing every weekend in the winter. Even when we went on a cruise and our parents shoved us in a cube with family friends the Schrager girls, with a shower toilet and a curtain that exposed a PICTURE of a window because we were under sea- lever, and we had a blast. It wasn’t until years later that I realized what an amazing childhood we had, how many people we met because our parents were open-minded, and how many adventures we shared together.
We were talked to with adult vocabulary, which we subsequently used to torment each other. No I was not in your room, I was simply standing on your lintel, was not an unusual phrase in our house. We’ve always found things to fight about, whether it be dad’s shoes or disagreeing about how we’d like to remodel Peter’s house, I’ve found in you a worthy adversary, banter partner, and the only person capable of seeing directly through me. Mom always said you can only drive each other this crazy because you know each other well enough that you know exactly which buttons to push. There is certainly some truth to that statement. But it took me well into my twenties to realize just how right she was.

You are the only one who knows exactly what it was like to be raised by Sharon and Rob. We were surrounded with a lot of characters, a lot of culture, languages, and adult talk at a very young age. We were encouraged to be individuals, even if that meant Erica would dress like a boy for several years. We were equally comfortable at Hillsdale and at summer camp, and Erica relished the month every summer she spent up north with Therese and Jean Guy, living immersed in French in St Donat, playing tock and “visiting” with Therese’s elderly relatives.

I remember the weekend I went to visit you in Vancouver, your first year at UBC. That was the weekend we talked for the first time as people. We told each other about all our deep rooted issues with each other, we both cried, we both yelled, and it had to be resolved because we were sharing a closet sized dorm room with a bed fir for one seven year old. Over the past decade our relationship has continued to evolve, as you’ve become a close confidante, my vault, a position I know you sometimes thinks comes with far too much information.

I love our dinners, shopping – just not for bathing suits, never again – and hanging out with you and laughing. We still don’t always agree – in fact, we rarely agree – but I always respect and benefit from your perspective. And there’s no question that I’m a better person as a result of having you as a sounding board. While you don’t always agree with my choices, you’re always there, and have never, ever faltered in your support.

You make me laugh harder than anyone I’ve ever met, your sharp… You’re a natural athlete, a former competitive swimmer, a lifeguard, and I know you like to hide when you play the piano, but that doesn’t make you any less brilliant… You’re the best dog aunt around, although I’m pretty sure you taught Luca that lie down means flail on your back with your legs in the air. I always have fun with you, even if it’s doing the most asinine things like singing Lionel Richie, or making a game trying to herd our parents towards the gate before they missed a flight and got stuck in a forging country.

I first met Jer at YCC, one summer 5 years ago. My parents were out of town, and my girlfriend Alison and I went up together to visit our respective siblings on visiting day. I got to the camp and excitedly ran to Erica’s shack, where she lived as head of senior waterfront. I knocked on the door, waiting for my sister, but when it opened there stood a handsome lanky fellow with no shirt. “Hi, I’m Jer” he said, “I’m head of junior waterfront.” Now despite the fact that my parents met during an instructor’s course for lifeguards at McGill, it never occurred to me that Erica might have something going on with another swimming enthusiast.
Over the next few years I got to know Jer, first as Erica’s friend, then as a boyfriend. Oh, I’m sorry; I may have just made a faux pas. Guys, am I allowed to tell people you’re dating yet? It’s ok? Oh, good.

Anyway, I’ve gotten to know Jer over the past five years. Like Erica, he comes off as very quiet. But that certainly doesn’t mean he isn’t opinionated. Jer, you really are a wonderful addition to our family. People have asked me a lot in the past few months if I was excited because Erica and Jer got engaged and there’s going to be a new member of the family. The truth is, while I’m delighted to celebrate, I don’t really feel like anything is changing, because Jer has been a member of our family for quite some time already. Jer, in you, I’ve found the brother I have never had. You’ve proven not only that you’re there for Erica, but for me too, whether it be changing a light bulb or –despite your objections -being asked your take on my life or relationships, you’re always there. You guys are really an amazing match, and it’s been amazing to watch you grow and evolve into the couple you are today, real young adults who really respect and listen to each other.
Erica’, you’re not only getting a great guy, you’re marrying an amazing family; Ricky, Lauren, Matt, Galit and Scottie, you’ve not only welcomed Erica into your family, you’re included all of us. Dad and Ricky just have to stop getting matching haircuts, it’s freaking me out.

I would be remised if I did not mention those who are not with us to celebrate here today. Our grandparents Celia and Syd, Uncle Lionel, Daisy and Jack and especially Gladys and Isadore. Gladys, the quintessential lady, would have relished seeing you today, dressed up and grown up into the beauty you’ve become. She also would have thanked you for finally bringing a Jewish doctor into the Bishin family. Isadore would be so proud of you, and I think in Jer, you have found a man who is very much like our grandfather; a family man with good values, a heart of gold, and the sort of real stand up-guy the whole family can really count on.

Ecky, you’ve seen me at my best, and you’ve seen me at my very worst. There are days when we have hated each other, but we have never stopped loving each other. Thinking back onto mom’s words, I can safely say that there’s no one in the world I’d rather be left with that you. You are not only my sister; you are truly my best friend. I could not be more proud of you than I am today, and I love both of you very much.

Let’s raise a glass to Erica and Jer. I wish you a life filled with happiness, honesty, and, like our grandparents, 50 plus years of companionship and love.

Batgirls Drink for Charity

The Montreal Batgirls invite you to a night of drinks and fun at Typhoon to benefit Cancer research.

The Girl’s Summer Softball League (GSSL) is gearing up for its third annual All Star Softball tournament to benefit the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF.)   A rarity in the charity world, the GSSL’s All Star tournament has no overhead, which means all proceeds go directly to the cause.   The tournament raised $16,000 the first year, and $ 24,000 the second year.  With your help, this year, we hope to exceed $25,000.

In order to help fund the tournament, the Batgirls will be hosting an ICRF evening at Typhoon Lounge, 5752 Monkland Avenue, on Wednesday, August 4, from 5-11pm.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.  Typhoon will be graciously offering up happy hour specials from 4pm to 8pm, as well as 1$ bottle beers, $5 wines, and $7 martinis all night long.  Additionally, raffle prizes will be available to all attendees.

We invite you to join us for a drink August 4th, and to donate generously to the event, which has raised $ 40,000 to date to fight cancer. This year, funds raised will be donated in the memory of the league’s beloved head umpire and friend, Leon Blumer.

With your generous donations, this event is sure to be a home-run.

For tickets, please email Charna, Nat or Lesley.

Marketing Industry Information Evening

There’s a coagence ometzol event happening in Montreal tomorrow night, which you should definitely check out if you’re in the marketing world, or are looking to get into it.

The people at Ometz have put together a panel of marketing industry experts, who will both speak about their experiences, and answer questions.  It’s a chance to meet Experts in PR, Brand Management and E-Commerce.   Hear about their firms, Industry trends, and how you can get noticed as a job seeker.

The Marketing Industry evening’s panel of speakers includes Andy Nulman (Just for Laughs ex CEO), Robert Hoppenheim (Vic Park), Derek Cassoff (McGill Alumni), Monika Dygut (La Senza), and  Glen Eisenberg (Precision Advertising).

For more info visit http://www.ometz.ca/event/marketing-industry-information-evening-832/

Suri’s Soiree

This Saturday, March 27, 2010, at 9pm, the Israel Cancer Research Fund is honouring the life of Sarah “Suri” Gonshor at it’s 7th annual new leadership event, aptly titled Suri’s Soiree. This is an occasion which is very close to my heart, not only because the funds go towards eradicating cancer, but because it is a celebration of my dear friend Josh’s sister, who died when she was just 24 years old.

sarah-gonshorIt’s been almost 10 years since Suri passed away after a difficult three and a half year battle with cancer, but she is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of her family, friends, and countless others who she touched in her short life.

Suri was a community leader, artist, teacher, singer and actor who enjoyed life to its fullest and valued art in its many forms. It is with her passions in mind that Suri’s loved ones have joined forces with ICRF to out together this incredible event.

Suri’s Soiree, where the impossible is possible, will feature Canadian singer and songwriter Kuba Oms, DJ NV Nazli Var, who regularly spins at Montreal hot-spot Garde Manger and Grammy award winning musical guest, COMMON, who is scheduled to perform a compilation of his most popular hits.

All of the proceeds from the event will go to ICRF, which has raised more than 33 million dollars to date for over 1800 cancer research projects.

Suri’s friends, family, ICRF and this blogger invite you to be part of a celebration of life and art on March 27th, 2010, at the Segal Center for the performing arts.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.icrfnewleadership.com


It’s been a Lung week…

Well, it’s been a rather long, or should I say “lung” week. Bad pun. I’ll blame the meds.

I got my H1N1 shot early because I’m asthmatic, which is the good news. As with every shot, there’s always the chance of some side effects. Well, I was one of the lucky ones who got some flu-like side effects, which would have been fine, except I’m asthmatic, and it went to my lungs. To make a long story short, I ended up in the hospital last week.

This is me all masked up, making my best really annoyed to be here face.
Despite my best efforts, the flu has bitten me in the ass. Lu... on Twitpic

After a while, the venolin and o2 gave me some relief, and I was in a more friendly and playful mood. (I was also likely a bit high from all the ventolin.) Feeling much better.  Breathing is goooood on Twitpic

Then had to go on pretnizone, a steroid i affectionately refer to as the devil. It does excellent work, but it has unpleasant side effects. BLEH!

Despite my little ordeal, I’m feeling pretty lucky. My brother in law’s uncle got H1N1 and has been in the hospital on a respirator for 2 weeks. Now THAT is scary.

I’m still rather weak and wheezy, but getting better daily.

Breast Cancer Research: Donate

On Sunday, October 4th, 2009, I will be participating in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure, Canada’s largest single day, volunteer-led fundraising event dedicated to raising funds for breast cancer research, and education and awareness programs.

My paternal grandmother, Gladys, was diagnosed with breast cancer the same month my mother discovered she was pregnant with me in 1979. At the time, it was considered unlikely that she would be around long enough to see her first grandchild born. But, armed with a tremendous will to live, she underwent a radical mastectomy, and embarked on a series of clinical trials, most notably for a then little-known drug called Tamoxifen.

With Grandma Gladys, circa 1985
Lesley and Grandma Gladys, circa 1985

At the time, I was a baby, and too little to understand the significance of the Tamoxifen trials, and the effect and hope it was having – not just on my grandmother, but on thousands of women. I would later learn that it was this drug, and the subsequent clinical trial, that helped to keep her alive throughout my childhood.

Now, nearly 30 years after breast cancer first rocked my family, it is still a nationwide crisis. In 2009, an estimated 22,700 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women, with one in nine women expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime.
While my grandmother was never cancer free, she fought the disease, and lived post-diagnosis for 17 courageous years. When she passed away in 1996, she left us all feeling lucky to have known her, and more determined than ever to keep fighting.

This year, I will be running the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure in Glady’s memory.

Help us continue to fight this disease, and to find the course of treatment that will finally eradicate breast cancer. My goal is to raise $1,700 : One hundred dollars for each of the years my grandmother courageously fought the disease. To contribute, click here to visit my donation page.

No donation amount is too small – every little bit helps.

Cloudvertising at Third Tuesday

Last night was a special summer edition of Third Tuesday Montreal. There were three presentations, in the style of Pecha Kucha (20 slides, 20 second each, for a total of 6min 40sec) featuring CT Moore, Julien Smith and Sylvain Grand’Maison.

CT Moore is an old friend and colleague of mine – who also happens to be a fun and engaging  speaker – so I thought I’d pass on his presentation. The topic of his presentation was Cloudvertising: Social Media and the Future of Online Advertising, and it explored how social media will shape the way that online ads and marketing campaigns will be targeted.

This is the Ustream recording of the appearance, with the Powerpoint presentation below.

Remembering Sheila Finestone

Sheila Finestone, the Former Liberal Senator and Member of Parliament has passed away. It seems so odd to me that she’s died. She was 82, but her own mother, Minnie, only died within the past decade, giving me the impression that Sheila would live forever. It wasn’t just her mother, either. Sheila was a firecracker, so full of life. It’s hard to imagine her not being around anymore.  

In Canada, she’s well known for her politics. She helped organize the Yvette women’s movement during the 1980 referendum on Quebec sovereignty, which fought to keep Canada united. She was an MP in Montreal for over a decade, and a later a Senator.

She also threw an amazing Passover Seder.

My dad grew up in her house, a regular playmate of two of her four boys. When exam time rolled around, the boys were each sent to their rooms to study, and my father, not wanting to leave, would sprawl out fully clothed in the big bathtub under the skylight to do his work.

While I never had any inclination to hang out in her bathroom, later in life I too would find myself not wanting to leave the Finestone home. Sheila’s sharp wit and intellect extended to her kids and to their kids, and to date, that family is one of the most fun and intelligent groups I’ve ever known.

In my life, Sheila has always been someone to look up to. In a time when housewives were the norm she set out on a courageous uncharted path. I liked her on a personal level too. She was brash, opinionated, classy, funny and fiercely devoted to her family. She loved her grandkids, and like any grandmother, got a kick out of trying to play matchmaker for her eldest grandson.

My family arrived up north two years ago and found her vacuuming her family’s cottage. When my mother asked her why on earth she wasn’t relaxing, Sheila replied with a smile: ‘But, it’s dusty in here, and accomplishing something is so satisfying!’ That truly was the way she lived her life, both in the political arena and personally; constantly taking matters into her own hands and getting things done. And not just getting thing done ‘ striving to make things better.

I will always remember her as a real, and wonderfully textured woman who stood up for what she believed in.

RIP Sheila.

Softball Spazzery

It’s my third year playing women’s summer softball, and I absolutely love it. I never played softball as a kid ‘ I was always a soccer player ‘ but a few years ago when a girlfriend of mine decided to put together a team for and join our local league, I thought ‘why not’?

We were all horrible that first year. I mean, like a slapstick comedy. People were falling all over the place, no one could hit, no one knew the rules yet, and the dugouts were stacked full of boyfriends and brothers desperately trying to explain what the hell was going on. If two girls were running for the same ball in the outfield they would inevitably run right into each other, causing both to fall over backwards ‘ and neither to catch the ball. What would have been a single base hit in any other game became a home run, and the few people who actually knew the rules seemed like superstars to the rest of us.

But, we stuck to it. Horrible as we might have been, the games were always a ton of fun. Slowly terms like ‘cut-off’ and ‘foul-tip’ began to make sense. We hired real umpires, got coaches, and by the time the second season was in full swing, we were actually playing real softball.

Last week, while at a pre-season game, I found myself thinking: ‘Hm, we’ve gotten pretty hardcore.’ Maybe that’s why I reached out to catch a ball with my un-gloved hand. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking. Actually, I’m quite certain I wasn’t thinking at all. As you might expect, catching a softball flying full force with a bare hand is not a great idea. In a word: Ouch!

So, now I’m out for at least a week with a bad sprain, pondering our league’s rise to competency, and looking hilariously badass with my wounded finger. I must admit, I could not have picked a better finger to injure’

the badass

That’s me looking as badass as I’ll probably ever look.

Sunglasses and BBQ

This post appears courtesy of Gypsybandito.

Lesley Bishin wears her sunglasses at lunch, so she can, so she can’ eat Bofinger

For those who don’t know, Bofinger is small chain of Barbeque Smokehouses in Montreal. They have some seriously dangerous BBQ ribs, pulled pork, and all kinds of charred, meaty goodness. I’ve known the owners for a few years now, and even working for one of them in college; they’re good guys who know how to run great restaurants, and have a few that range from BBQ to haute-cuisine.

Tips for reaching your “frigid Zen.”

A coworker of mine wrote a cute article for the Link Newspaper about winter life. Having moved to Quebec from Ireland four years ago, he shares his anecdotes about learning to embrace winter, and offers tips for reaching your “frigid Zen.” It’s -21°C in Montreal with the windchill factor today, so I’ve been inspired to pass on my favorites from the list…

La survivance, non:‘Survival’ admits defeat, Montreal’s winter needs to be lived.

Tip #3: Adopt the right attitude

Using the winter as an excuse to not exercise is a recipe for the blues and a big belly, which will only increase your dread of the next winter.

Get a dog. Okay, this may not be practical for many people, but if you can own a dog, it’s the best way to get outside. No matter the weather, Fido will need to do his business and go for a walk. Once you get outside, you’ll be glad you did. In fact, Quebec’s sunny blue skies on a winter’s day are far more tolerable than the wet and cloudy days of the coasts. Oh, and dogs are great.

Tip #1: Get dressed for the occasion

Invest in proper boots, gloves, a hat and a jacket. Rather than buying one pretty coat and one functional jacket, combine your budget into one garment that is both cool and warm. This will give you the proper attitude to go outside, without freezing to death or looking like your dad. Layering is an effective tool to bridge the divide.

Read the entire article here.

Displaced Swimmers

Marianopolis Master’s Swim Team Faces Displacement.
First published in Westmount Life Magazine

The members of the Marianopolis Master’s swim team are busy this month. In addition to their schedules as professionals, parents and athletes, they are currently canvassing every pool in the Montreal area, trying to find a new home. No one knows where the quarter-century old swim team will end up, but one thing is for certain: June third the doors of Marianopolis college close and the building and its sports complex will be sold. As of press time, there are 25 team members all suited up with no place to swim. Continue reading “Displaced Swimmers”