No More Macarons Please

The dialogue surrounding fashion blogging has always been varied, opinionated, passionate and diverse. And while brands continue to benefit from the reach of fashion influencers and tastemakers, I believe that it is fair to say that it was the unsuspecting macaron that has benefited the most from the social media phenomenon of fashion blogging.

I often wonder if I am the only one sick of it.

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The characteristics of the macaron are reflective of those of a high-priced fashion commodity; they are colourful, indulgent, expensive, pretty to look at, though wildly impractical. They will not stave off hunger and the consumption will likely result in a feeling of imminent joy followed by swift, remorseful guilt. How many calories did I consume in two bites? How many thousands of dollars did I just spend on a quilted piece of leather and chain with a double C emblem, a sufficient chunk of change that could have easily been put towards the downpayment of a house?

Thus the relation of the macaron to the high fashion commodity are on par. Both are wistful, beautiful, unattainable. Much like the fashion bloggers we follow who are sponsored by major brands and flown all over the world for collaborations and shows, most are skinny and gorgeous and want us to believe they are able to maintain this model-esque aesthetic while stuffing their faces non-stop with high calorie macarons (and some can!).

It’s not the topic of taking images of food that most likely was not consumed which bothers me so. For social commentary on that, follow the YouDidNotEatThat Instagram account. I don’t really care if people are pretending to eat. That’s on them and it is on the people who are following them to ensure they are secure enough to know what’s most likely going on. There is a false economy being created in those images and it involves couture combined with high calorie treats and its something that I don’t even care to elaborate on.

No. It’s the frivolity of it all that is starting to get to me. In a world where planes are being shot down from the skies and civilians are dying on a daily basis in wars that most of us can’t even begin to relate to, I am becoming increasingly frustrated every time I see an intelligent friend of mine pose with a macaron.

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Now, I know people will say the world needs a break from reality. It is not healthy for people to allow themselves to be so consumed with the dire situations of the world. True. But do we need to be so far removed that we are walking the line of pure idiocy? Building dream worlds of fashion and food are fun but I know better. And I know that these people do to. I know that the majority of the people behind these photos are smart, intelligent people. And posing with a macaron more than once makes me upset that they are dumbing themselves down to appease the masses.

A macaron shot is not challenging your audience. It is making them dumb and fat.

And I could be wrong. As I said, these fashion bloggers know their audiences and if images with macarons makes their audiences giddy with joy, then the fault is not with the blogger but with the masses and this conversation can be altered and applied to various degrees of society, i.e. laugh-box sitcoms, America Has Talent, whatever.

My concern is much like that of a feminist who is sad her friends feel the need to show their cleavage and play dumb to get a man, especially when she knows they are smart and capable of better. I know the people in my social circles are capable of creating proper influential content.  They influence me every day. The world of fashion and beauty blogging is vital and strong and needs to be nourished so that we can all continue to benefit from it, PR people, brands and bloggers. And longevity in blogging will come from content and not trends of fluff.

So in short – Stop. Move away from the macaron.

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The Strategy Launches, Modern Man Early Bird Ends Today, The Skinny Tee and More

Last week was a crazy one in the world of Val the publicist. In addition to hosting two awesome client events, we also had some major PR crisis management to deal with aka The Skinny Tee by Christopher Lee Sauve getting pulled from The Bay, news that was in every major outlet in Canada and even travelled as far as Cosmo in the states and Vogue in the UK.

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Aside from the terrifying and sad fact that a tee shirt can make international headlines in today’s world, it was a good way to sharpen my crisis-management skills for clients. After CTV in Vancouver gave a highly subjective report on the topic, failing to mention the designer’s name or even interviewing him, in favour for interviewing a mental health expert who called the designer “unintelligent”, we contacted the station and segment producer to see if they’d be willing to give Christopher the chance to defend himself and they did which was highly respectable of them. You can see here.  

We also celebrated the launch of The Strategy with our client Natasha Lawrence, the site’s creator.The Strategy is the brainchild of Natasha Lawrence who, after close mentorship and experience working at The Coveteur with Erin Kleinberg, launched a site that shares the fashionable mindsets behind some of the most influential tastemakers.

 

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I wore this cute jumper from Saks and these beige summer flat sandals from Le Chateau.

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Here are a few photos from the event, and you can see the rest here.

 

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Here is me and Melissa who I have officially dubbed as Liz and Liz from Nick Kroll’s Publizity

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And finally, the much anticipated event of the summer, Modern Man Event is happening on July 11th! Today is the LAST day to get your early bird tickets and if you are a blogger or media person, get at me right NOW for your media accreditation! This is one event that you do not want to miss.

What’s happening:

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Sponsors:

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The event is going to be insane with booze, fashion, food, live performances and more.

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Early bird tickets end today and your ticket includes drink tickets, food and access, for just $30! Get your tickets NOW!

So that’s all for now! Hope you all have an amazing Canada Day tomorrow!

 

 

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Saying Bye to ValTorontoGal…..Saying Hello To The Next Steps

Well, ValTorontoGal has been with me and a massive part of my identity for the past four years. My Twitter avatar with the big hat and glasses, while charming and still very much a part of I feel I am inside,  is no longer how I want to be identified on such a massive marketing platform as I am making changes in my personal career and life (that said, she can stay here on the blog ———–> look she’s right there)

I started this blog in 2010 and when it started to gain some traction and I started working with brands, I was identified as a blogger and that was awesome. I loved it. I got a ton of free stuff, I pissed some people off (in truth, I regret most of that nonsense now,  the scathing blog posts calling people on their shit, I really do. I still think a lot of the same way, but trying to get attention via “calling people out” blog posts was not the way to go about it. These days, grown up Val is happy to let the silliness roll of her back, because I’m happier in own skin and my own life. I can choose the situations I want to be in and maybe I was just trying to fit a square peg in a circle hole too many times.) dsc00567-400x225 Pictured above: Humble beginnings. Shot Sept, 2011 when I left my full time job and started to take chances….From my first ever own apartment, the 1 bedroom junior suite and my first ever “home office”. 

And now the term “blogger” has left me feeling restless and uncertain and almost afraid that it is hindering my personal growth as the professional business person I am striving everyday to become. My company is a labour of love. This blog is now more something that I feel as a nagging chore that I have to half-heartedly update with something about make up and the like because a PR company sent me a free lipstick or something and I feel bad not doing it. I’d seriously rather just buy my own lipstick at this point. Freebies were/are/and will always be awesome. And they are important part of the relationships between brands and bloggers. And if my heart isn’t in the review, then I can’t take the freebies unless people know there is no guarantee I will write about it.

This blog is still a blog, in that it is a web log of who I am and who I have been for the past four years. I will continue to use it as such. I am happy it’s here because I am ready to use it again as a writing outlet and not necessarily a pass to free product, food and booze. I will still write about fashion and beauty and food and stuff as I see fitting because it’s my online web log and I like fashion and beauty and food and stuff. If a brand chooses to send me stuff, that’s cool and I will disclose that If I like it, maybe I will write about it. I’m happy to remain identified as an influencer. But I don’t want to have that horrid feeling of  ”I should tweet this, I should update my blog, I should simultaneously share what I am doing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram”.

I feel as though the compulsion to do so is starting to interfere with my happiness. The over-sharing and the over consuming of what everyone is doing online, people who aren’t really even my good friends, is starting to mess with my head a bit. I’m finding Instagram boring has hell. As a PR person, it’s great. It’s a tool. I am looking at what people are posting and the brands they are taking pictures of. As myself in my personal time, I don’t know if I can care what anyone is eating anymore or what they are wearing to work. Is that bad? It is bad. Because I totally post pictures like that too.

So I don’t know anything anymore. On Sunday, I had a beautiful day. Brody and I did some chores, we played tennis, we took Oscar to the off-leash park, we tried a new ramen restaurant and we watched the season finale of Game of Thrones. I left my phone at home and several times throughout the day, I had intrusive thoughts about needing to take a picture with my tennis racket or tweet about the new place I was eating at. I had to push them out because it’s my Sunday with my two boys and it’s mine. I need that time. I need it for my health and sanity and the compulsive need to share that personal sunny Sunday with social media is straight-up insane. It is. For me, anyways. I DID have a compulsive need to share how many steps I walked with my FitBit though because I AM OBSESSED with FitBit! (totally bought and purchased myself). Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.24.16 PM And please, please, please don’t take this post as me “getting up on my high horse” or being “hypocritical because, Val, you totally like just posted something to Instagram like  34 minutes ago”. Social media is very important and a critical component to my career and I DO love it. I LOVE it! I do it everyday for many brands. I do like sharing somethings sometimes! I am in the promotions game, it’s all about spreading the word, at the end of the day.  And when I am happy in my personal life, and experiencing a moment of amazingness then I still want to share.

Here’s what it is:

It’s the compulsion to share after four years of being acclimatized to this behaviour is what is bringing me down and directly affecting my ability to be happy in my spare time. And honestly, I’m not one to bite the hand that feeds. It has been one incredible ride. The experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met and the opportunities I have encountered have truly been second to none. I would have not been where I am today without this URL.

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Writing and blogging like this is therapeutic to me. I am not going to give this up, ever. The term “blogger” is one that I am no longer interested in. I am a woman who will soon be someone’s wife, I have a dog, I have a business that I work very hard at every single day to grow, I like to write and I will do so here as I see fit. But enhancing my “blogging career”, along with the “ValTorontoGal” image ends here. My new Twitter handle is ValCharmingGal in honour of my business and my devotion to remaining consistent in branding and messaging.

I guess I feel like I could write forever on this topic but no need. I’m sure you get the gist. Long story short, My new Twitter handle is ValCharmingGal and I will write on this blog about work and my life and things I like and get back to better writing and posts. No schedule needed.

The funny  thing is, it’s posts like these that have always got the most traction as opposed to the hyper-branded ones. In fact, the more branded my blog became, the traffic started to dwindle. People can tell when you have a passion for the content you are creating, I suppose. Which is why the bloggers who are totally devoted to their sites and the things they write about either in fashion, beauty, music, food, etc. continue to kick butt.

I can’t wait to see where this blog will take me next……!

XO

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Charming Events! TK in Montreal, Father’s Day, Taste, and Modern Man

It’s been a crazy few weeks, not that I’m complaining. It seems as though it’s a summer of events for Charming Media and I am super fine with that.

About a week and a half ago, I was in Montreal with Turkish Airlines to celebrate the launch of flights between Montreal and Istanbul (official post here)

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Super fun times! The flying chefs came in to bring us delicious food and there were over 300 people at the celebration gala!

I got home on the Thursday evening  then started to prep for Toronto Taste in support of Second Harvest! It was an incredible evening! So many people came out and supported the cause and celebrated some of the best food and wine offerings in the city!

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Our next big event this summer is the Modern Man event! We are very excited for this one, as it’s the only event in the city that caters specifically to the Modern Man!

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We’ll be filling Roy Thompson Hall with incredible live performances, men’s fashion and accessory exhibitors, delicious food, VIPs, premium drinks and more! Tickets are currently just $40! Head to the Modern Man website now!

In all the excitement of events, I didn’t forget Father’s Day either! If you’re in the Toronto PATH today and still haven’t picked up a gift for dad, check out my gift selections on the Urban Lifestylist Blog!

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That’s it for now! Happy Friday the 13th!

 

 

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#TorontoTaste – Just 6 Days Away!

I feel very lucky this year that Charming Media is the official pro bono PR agency of Toronto’s food rescue charity, Second Harvest. And while being associated with such an incredible cause is fabulous, we are also very lucky to be working on helping to promote Toronto’s most prestigious food and beverage event of the year, Toronto Taste!

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This is an event that celebrates the culinary spirit of the city with some of Toronto’s top chefs and beverage purveyors. I have never been, so I am SO excited that I get to go this year! Even if it’s in a working capacity :) I’m excited to taste some creations from Toronto Taste ambassadors Mark McEwan, Bob Blumer and Roger Mooking!

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Toronto Taste 2014

Indulge in 70 amazing gourmet food and beverage stations. Mix and mingle with celebrity chefs in a breathtaking lakeside locale in downtown Toronto. Relish in the gratification of supporting Second Harvest’s food rescue program.

Presented by The Daniels Corporation.

Sunday, June 8, 2014, 6pm
Lakeside, Corus Quay

Tickets are $250 each
(Includes food and drink. A tax receipt will be issued for $125)

Dress:
Summer cocktail

While the $250 dollar price tag may seem a bit daunting at first, I like to look at it as only $125 due to the $125 tax receipt that can be claimed. Also, I spend $125 on a night out for one meal with appetizers and a bottle of wine. This is an EVENT. Actually, it is THE EVENT! You get all you can eat and drink, it’s outdoors, it’s an actual experience, and you get to leave with the feeling that you actually did something good, as all the money and profits go to supporting Second Harvest throughout the year, keeping trucks on the road, rescuing food and bringing it to people who really need it.

Here’s where you can buy tickets! Please share this post with your friends and help spread the word of this incredible cause!

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Perfect Peep Toes

I’m wildly into peep toe booties or shooties these days. I think because of how long it took for summer to actually arrive that I tried to get my toes some air even though it was still a bit chilly out.

Here are my top three favourite peep toe shoes!

These from Le Chateau are amazing! Italian leather, velcro back and SUPER comfy! I’ve been wearing these non-stop, even with dresses and shorts! The thicker heel makes them easier to walk in that most high shoes and they are super versatile.

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I have been eyeing these little numbers from Ann Taylor for a while. They are actually too gorgeous and perfect for words. It was one of those “I don’t really NEED them” but I visited them at the store twice and could not stop thinking about them. Stunning colour and beautiful laser-cut design. Ann Taylor shoes tend to be rather manageable in terms of walking. These can also be worn with just about anything from shorts, pants, skirts and dresses.

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And here’s a great combo of the two. The ever fabulous Jeanne Beker recently launched her own line at the Shoe Company. This shoe is definitely one of my favourites from the line. I love the snakeskin details!
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Are you a peep toe shootie fan? What’s your fave?

 

 

 

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Eat Prepd – Toronto’s Newest Food Delivery Service

There are plenty of awesome food delivery services in the city, such as those that send organic fruits and vegetables to your door, those that let you order right off the computer, those that bring juiced cleanses to you directly on a daily basis. Prepd is the first of its kind to deliver complete and easy recipes with all the ingredients that you need to prepare them with right to your front door.

I love cooking but I hate ingredient shopping so I always just end up cooking the same meals over and over with the same stuff we buy each week. Drives Brody nuts so he ends up cooking most of the time so we have something different.

Prepd is an incredible concept.

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The following box of fresh ingredients was delivered to my door, along with recipes and instructions.

IMG_5806 After about 30 minutes of prep and cooking, we had a delicious steak dinner with potatoes and asparagus with a warm baguette on the side and delicious kale vegetable soup.

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For a busy gal like me, I love this. I also love that you get exactly what you need in terms of ingredients so you aren’t left with a guilty feeling while your veggies that you haven’t had a chance to ear wrinkle and fade away in the crisper. I’m also way into supporting new local businesses, especially ones with great concepts like this one.

Want to give Prepd a go? I have some coupon codes for you!

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The first one is $60 off (ie free order for 2 people) with a limit of 2 uses and the 2nd one is $30 off (ie 50% off an order for 2 people) with a limit of 4 uses.
If you have a particularly busy week in the foreseeable future, I suggest giving Prepd a go to see how it can make things just a little bit easier and more delicious! Enjoy!

 

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Launch of Toronto’s Urban Lifestylist Blog – Live Life, Don’t Live In Malls

I feel like I’m always up to something fun and this latest project with Oxford Properties is no different. Charming Media is working with Oxford on an innovative initiative to help Torontonians guide themselves through the incredible offerings inside one of its most trafficked spaces, the Toronto PATH AND I’m contributing too! As a hard working entrepreneur, I value my free time very much. Weekends are meant for living life, not living in malls. But, as a fashion and beauty lover, well, I DO need to get my fix. The Urban Lifestylist blog has been put in place to help Torontonians who are traversing through the PATH on a day to day basis to get the items they need and want during their day to day, leaving more free time for the best things.

In addition to contributions from myself, the Urban Lifestylist Blog will be populated with helpful articles on gift guides, fashion and beauty tips, food and drink picks and so much more from some of Toronto’s favourite writers, Nicki Laborie from ViewTheVibe.com, Sonya Davidson from AZNModern.com and Dani Goddard from GirslofTO.com .

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 2.34.39 PM Good looking bunch, right?

The Toronto PATH is full of really awesome retailers like Nine West, Brooks Brothers, MAC, Body Shop, Pandora, Smart Set, and more. There is really everything you need!

Check out my first post in the intro! Get the full article here and stay tuned as myself and these lovely gals charm our way through Royal Bank Plaza, Richmond Adelaide Centre and Metro Centre this summer!

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Summer IS HERE! Book Your Long Weekend Stay at Viamede NOW!

It honestly could not have been a better weekend. Not only was the weather incredible, but I got to spend it at one of my favourite places, Viamede with some of my favourite people.

I get to Viamede as often as I possibly can. Not only is it one of the incredible accounts I get to work on at Charming Media, it is also only a 2 hour trip away from the big city (traffic depending) and a slice of heaven on Stoney Lake. It’s essentially cottaging with all the fixings, like incredible food, a pub, and the hotel luxuries of a shower and a comfy bed.

This weekend, we celebrated #Viamede14Open, the opening after a long winter of renos. We had an incredible time! I even did karaoke for the first time “WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY!”! And I played FROLF for the first time.

Here’s a photo cluster of some of my favourite shots taken by guests (and my own faves!)

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If you are still looking for something to do this long weekend, call Viamede NOW and book  your stay. You won’t regret it. Plus, you’ll get 10% off and complimentary bottle of wine for your room! Just mention this blog!

Enjoy the SUNSHINE! And happy Monday!

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Toronto Review – Should You Visit a Psychic?

So since my last post about my epic Dubai fail, I have been moving forward, as I do whenever life kicks me in the face. In spite of my “killer attitude” and “positive vibes”, I still felt a bit down last weekend while I watched the gals explore the new Le Chateau store, ride camels and discover Dubai. I mean, what human wouldn’t?

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So I was feeling bleak (and let’s be honest, who isn’t with this weather). I am lucky for my friends though. My biz partner, Mel, saw I could use a pick me up and a reminder that “everything happens for a reason” so she treated me to an hour long sesh with her psychic.

The fact that Melissa has her own personal psychic on speed dial is precisely one of the reasons why we are so well paired for business. She’s wonderfully optimistic and a cheerleader and I tend to be too serious and cynical and pessimistic at times so I bring her down to earth as needed and she pushes me to get my head out of my ass when required. Which I really required last weekend. And what better way to get your head out of your ass than visiting a psychic!

So, this particular psychic works out of her home. It’s a nice home too. No crystal balls or beaded curtains in sight. She’s a mom and grandmother and very kind. I took the stance that I would not give her any leading information because I wanted to see what she was all about and if she could pinpoint me without me telling her anything.

Maybe it was the week I had had, but once she started talking to me I almost felt like crying. She was saying some intense stuff, mostly about my relationship with Brody, stuff that I already knew really but it was nice to hear it. She told me I’m a girl who marries only for love and never for circumstance or money (would you believe that I was in a position to marry both out of circumstance and for money, like twice before? It’s true!).

She told me that Brody was the love of my life and my best friend and that the only thing that will ever bring us apart is death. I knew that, but confirmation is nice.

She told me about our personalities, about his (she never met him) and about mine (she never met be before) and why our personalities make us a perfect fit. He is the King of Wands and I am the Queen of Cups.

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 FYI:

The King of Wands: Creative, Inspiring, Forceful, Charismatic and Bold

The Queen of Cups: Loving, Tenderhearted, Intuitive, Psychic and Spiritual 

Then we did some more tarot reading. First card I pulled:

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That was a nice one to see.

From reading my cards, the psychic told me I’d be very successful, that there were demons in my past that I need to let go of, because they are the only thing that could stop me from achieving my dreams now in that I tend to let them override my inner strength with self-consciousness and incessant worry that I am not capable of pulling off the things in my life that I will come to pull of.

I pulled this card as well.

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She said that I break my own heart too much.  I let worry over come me. I let self-doubt and self-hate consume me too much. That’s certainly true. I always worry about something and if there is nothing to worry about, I will find it. I will also find something to hate on about myself as well.

She says that I will have children. And I pulled the Knight of Wands card, who will be apple of his father’s eye. That is a nice thought.

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I really enjoyed the card reading portion. A lot of it was true. It surprised me how much was true actually. About Brody and about myself and about my career and about what I let hold me back.

The stuff that I didn’t buy was the “One of your dead grandmothers is here to talk to you”. Both my grandmothers are alive. So apparently it was my great grandmother. Then someone else with the letter G. My grandpa, Giuseppe? Sure, that’s him.

Ok, what I don’t get is why do your dead relatives only tell psychics the first letter of their names? This was the part when my bull shit detector started to flash. That said, I know that dead relatives DO actually come to psychics sometimes, because one time, my best friend Becky had all her friends come over for her birthday and invited a psychic and a dead relative came and really laid on some heavy stuff that was ALL true to one of the attendees, something that no reaching-for-it psychic could have come up with. So, I guess it happens and when it doesn’t happen, the psychic needs to come up with some crap or other. That’s the nature of the biz, right? Because at the end of the day, it’s still a business and you want your customers to come back.

At the end of the session, I did feel better. It was probably exactly what the doctor ordered, because while my intuition (QUEEN OF CUPS, SEEEEE!) told me there was some evident BS happening, it also told me that there was some prominent truths being shared and I liked that.

Here’s Cathy Starkman’s info if you want to book a session. She has appeared on Proud FM with Mike Chalut! www.cathystarkman.com

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