5 Steps to Saving the World (Just a Little Bit)

By: Ashoke Mohanraj


New Years Resolutions – everyone makes one but few of us keep them. Whether we are looking to actually start working out, read more books, or stop our awful spending habits, everyone wants to be a slightly better version of themselves in 2018. But what if I told you that this post could not only help you be a better version of yourself, but could actually help us save the world. That would be pretty cool, right? What if I told you this could be accomplished in five steps? Even better? I thought so!


Saving the world starts with our footprint – our ecological footprint that is! Our ecological footprint is calculated by measuring the amount of resources that are being used for any given activity, ranging from the waste of your candy bar wrapper to the amount of water used to create the sweater you’re wearing.

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Now saving the world may not happen overnight, but decreasing our ecological footprint is a good start. How can you reduce your ecological footprint you ask? Well here’s a list of a few simple things you can do to significantly reduce your ecological impacts in 2018.


1) Bottle Your Own Water

Nobody likes to be thirsty, so don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re stranded without some water. As tempting as it may be to buy that fancy bottle of Fiji water at the closest 7/11, just invest in a reusable water bottle you can take on the go. Not only will you always be able to quench your thirst, but you can feel good knowing you’re going to be saving a couple of bucks. Worried about refilling your bottle with tap water? Then check out the “Bobble” which includes a filter that leaves your water crystal clear.


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2) The Gift of Cloth

If you’ve ever had to wrap any present, you know the struggle of folding the wrapping paper 7 times to get the perfect length. Not to mention wrapping any object that isn’t the shape of a box is a complete disaster, the paper becomes ripped and wrinkly and by the third attempt, you start getting a little more than slightly ticked off. Why bother, right? Nobody ever says “wow that wrapping paper is so stunning” they just claw through it leaving behind a mess for you to clean up. Rather than wasting all that paper and making your life harder, why not just package your gifts in reusable cloth bags. Not only do these reduce the amount of waste generated this year, but they look great and can be reused over and over again.


3) Take Your Tumbler

During these cold winter months, the days can feel long, and well, pretty frigid. Some of us really depend on warm caffeine fix to keep us going. But all those Starbucks runs can really burn a hole in your wallet and in your trash can. 3 billion of the 200 billion cups Americans throw away each year are Starbucks cups because they can’t be recycled. That’s a lot of wasted cups. Fortunately many shops including Starbucks allow you to bring your own coffee tumbler in and will reward you with a discount. Not only are you saving the planet but you’re saving some pocket change while you’re at it.


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4) Turn Down The Thermostat

Yes, it does gets ridiculously cold up here in Canada during the winter but it also means that it’s time for sweater weather. Rather than cranking up your thermostat all the time to stay warm, keep it at one consistent temperature throughout. Not only will this reduce the amount of energy you’re using but it will make you feel a lot warmer. If you are feeling cold, throw on that ugly sweater your grandma got your for Christmas. Who says you can only use those things once a year?



5) BYOB – Bring Your Own Bag

When going shopping, bring your own reusable bags so that you can avoid those wasteful plastic ones. Plastic bags take about 1000 years to decompose, plus they cost you an extra 10 cents. Save yourself the hassle and just bring your own bag. Not only do you look super fashionable, but you can feel good knowing that you’re diverting waste from landfills and being an eco-friendly shopper. Most grocery stores sell them or you can even find some really hip ones online. Save the planet and look good while doing it.


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These are just a few of many small ways you can reduce your ecological footprint. They don’t take much effort and are really easy to implement into your daily life. Not only do these small actions reduce your impact on the environment but they also make your life a lot simpler and can even save you a few bucks – two resolutions in one! There are so many other ways to reduce your ecological footprint and if you start to influence the people around you to make those changes as well, we can make a substantial difference to our planet. If you’d like to calculate your ecological footprint, check out See what your current ecological footprint is, then make some changes this year and see the progress you’ve made afterwards. With five simple steps, we can actually stick to a New Year’s Resolution and even save the world!

The 6 Best Apps to Download if you Want to Live your Best Life

Between work, school, homework, chores, and seeing friends, it is not always possible to be the best version of ourselves. We all wish we could sleep a little better, exercise a little more, and try not steal our younger sibling’s Halloween candy and eat it in one sitting under the cloak of night. Well thankfully, there’s an app for that…for all of that. After some painstaking research (think: trying out a bunch of cool apps), here are some awesome and affordable phone apps to help you live your best life!


1. If you want to be a little more mindful…

The App: Calm
The Price: Free
Calm is an app focused on mindfulness and meditation — both of which will help you centre yourself and help you work towards a stress-free life. This app offers guided meditation sessions available in varying lengths, covering topics such as calming anxiety, deep sleep and even working on non-judgement and forgiveness. It’s a great all around app for those trying to reach inner peace and avoid yelling at the Starbucks barista for no reason.




2. If you want some organization in your life…

The App: Evernote
The Price: Free
Evernote is, as its name suggests, focuses on one particular thing and does it really, really well – note taking! From quick Post-it-style reminders to lengthy research, graphs and presentation material, this exceptionally clean, sleek app is a must-have companion. Evernote also has features that facilitate collaboration, so you can buddy up and share notes with a friend.




3. If you want de-stress-cercise…

The App: Carrot Rewards
The Price: Free
Carrot Rewards is an app that threatens, inspires, ridicules, and bribes you — whatever it takes — to get you moving. And who doesn’t love a good bribe or bit of ridicule to help achieve fitness goals? This app is a wonderful motivator that features a “7 minutes in hell” workout that will require you to do 30 seconds of 12 punishing exercises, and will berate you if you don’t.




4. If you want to stay calm but also Nama-slay at Yoga…

The App: Pocket Yoga
The Price: 2.99
Pocket Yoga’s vocal and visual instructions will take you through each pose, including your breathing. It even lets you integrate your own music if you don’t like their default tracks. This app is extremely customizable and will fit the lifestyle for app user – whether you’re a beginner or master Yogi! You can study the correct body positions from their library of 200 illustrated poses and select one of 27 programs to fit your experience level. The app tracks your practices and how many calories you’ve burned, so you can follow your progress easily!




5. If you want to eat a little better…

The App: Diets Suck
The Price: Free
If you want to make healthy changes for your lifestyle, but changing everything at once seems overwhelming, this is the app for you! “Diets Suck” encourages small, simple changes to your diet by delivering reminders and achievable goals to help build healthy habits like drinking a glass of water each lunchtime, or eating a doctor-repelling apple a day. 




6. If you want to drift off into Dreamland with ease…

The App: Sleep Better
The Price: Free
Sleep Better tracks everything about your day-to-day life to help you, well, sleep better! It tracks your sleep duration, cycle and efficiency, and it combines that information with information about your waking hours. You can use it to enter daily habits such as alcohol or caffeine consumption, before figuring out where the connections are. You can learn a lot about what works best for you!



Do you have a favourite app for healthy living? Leave it in the comment below! Until then, we will be trying out all these awesome apps for ourselves and living our best lives! 


Happy Apping,
The Phoenix Pham

PLP’s Favourite Studying Tips

October is a month that brings us mixed feelings. On the one hand, you have changing leaves, sweater weather, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes (if you’re into that sort of thing). On the other hand, you have the burden of harder test and assignments, and even mid term exams (if you’re into that sort of thing). Now instead of reading Buzzfeed articles about what exam time feels like, or making pizza from scratch to avoid doing work, check out some useful and creative study tips from our own PLP community. These tips are straight from the bird’s mouth, and have been tested by some incredible leaders!


  1. Turn off your Tech

“Getting off Facebook (I’ve heard) is effective! Or more generally, just unplugging from social media for a bit is super helpful in actually get stuff done” – Marley Greenberg
“There are some apps like Cold Turkey you can download on your laptop to block specific sites for a certain period of time. I also like just turning off all notifications on my phone” – Parnika Sharma




  1. Location, Location, Location!

“I think that finding a good study space is essential: somewhere not too distracting, but also where you won’t fall asleep! (I like to study outside in a park for example, because I tend to fall asleep in my bed!)” – Mel Seabrook


“Studying in weird location is pretty affective! It sounds odd, but being in a new environment helps you recall what you learned better” – Cassie Cowan


“Don’t study in your bed!! Naps are tempting!!” – Olivia Kulback


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  1. Make some (white) Noise

“I usually use white noise from YouTube to focus! it really drowns out the rest of the world and allows me to focus on my work” – Rachel Lloyd


  1. Study for your Learning Style

“Being a kinesthetic and musical-linguistic learner, I’ve had to find unique ways to study to keep information in my brain. I find creating actions, songs, and mnemonic devices help me retain and recall information that is typically dry or concepts that are difficult to comprehend!” – Erica Seetner


“For stuff that’s very content-based, I record myself reading my notes and then I go take a walk in the forest by my house as I listen to them! Even just reading them aloud really helps if you’re an auditory learner like moi!” – Jillian Prins


  1. Study with Purpose

“If you study to remember, you will forget, but if you study to understand, you will remember” – Don Pan


“Set an objective and stick with it. There’s no point in carving out several hours of your day to study if you don’t know what you want to achieve in that time. It will just breed procrastination. Align your studying to goals and objectives, not hours you can study.” – Nathan Elias
“I like to make lists of all my readings, quizzes and other homework. That way, when something is done, I get to take it off the list. It’s a good feeling seeing your list get smaller and smaller and it motivates you to continue to study” – Pauline Kashtelyan
“Plan out in advance what you’re going to study and for how long. That way, you can stick to your plan and feel good once you hit those checkpoints.” – Ashoke Mohanraj


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  1. Be Organized

“Something that I find really helpful is first making sure that I’m 100% organized. That way I know exactly what needs to get done and I can then prioritize and ensure that each task has an adequate amount of time. I’ll typically make a to do list that breaks down each task into manageable chunks. I find that “write essay” is an overwhelming task, but “start research, write the introduction, edit, etc.” are much more realistic and manageable. I then transfer these different tasks into my agenda so that I know when I need to complete each goal.” – Jaclyn Grossman


“I like to start off by being organized, it helps to have all the materials, documents and what not in one place so you don’t have an excuse to get up and look for stuff” – Ashoke


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What are some of your favourite study tips? Let us know in the comment section below!
Until then, try out some of these tips and see what you think! You can thank us for the A+ later…
Happy studying!
The Phoenix Pham!

Five Charities to get Involved with this Year

As a young leader, philanthropy is a huge part of both growing personally and developing professionally. Not only does philanthropy provide the opportunity to help others in need, but it helps to bring empathy and perspective taking to the foreground. If you are interested in volunteering in some charitable organizations this year, but don’t know which organization you’d like to get involved with, here are some charities that are doing excellent work in various capacities all over Canada. Whether you get involved in these charities through chapters in your community, through your school, or as an independent project, take a look at our list of “Five Awesome Charities to get Involved With this Year” and see which cause sparks a passion in you!


Canadian Cancer Society
  • The Mission: To eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer
  • Why they stand out: With an abundance of ways to get involved and volunteer depending on your own interests, hobbies, skills, and availability, The Canadian Cancer Society allows volunteers to engage in ways that are beneficial to the organization, but that also promote collaboration and engagement with fellow participants.
  • How to get involved: You can donate directly to the Canadian Cancer Society itself, host your own fundraiser, or volunteer for one their large events like CIBC run for the cure, or Relay for Life. Not only are these large events lots of fun, but they bring in some of the largest donations for the organizatio

Operation Smile
The mission: Operation Smile is an international medical charity that has provided (and continues to) provide hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities.
Why they stand out: Operation Smile is one of the oldest and largest volunteer-based organizations dedicated to improving the health and lives of children worldwide through access to surgical care. If you are passionate about helping children in developing countries with important medical needs, this is the charity to join.
How to get involved: become a medical volunteer and help overseas, create a fundraising campaign, create care packages or help gather supplies

Right to Play
  • The Mission: Right to Play uses the power of play to educate and empower children to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict and disease in disadvantaged communities
  • Why they stand out: Not only does RTP give children the power of play, they teach important lessons through play (such as safety, health, and avoiding conflict)
  • How to get involved: volunteer through a local chapter, become a play coach, bring RTP to your school (or old elementary school), or create your own fundraiser.

Diabetes Association (Diabetes Canada)
  • The mission: to build awareness of the diabetes and its implications, which are often misunderstood.
  • Why they stand out: Because the epidemic is growing so rapidly, diabetes affects more than 10 million Canadians. It is important to create awareness and also help fund research. This is a great charity to get involved with if your passion lies in health and wellness.
  • How to get involved: Join “Team Diabetes” and keep up-to-date on all their international events, like runs, cycles, and hikes. If physical activity isn’t your favourite way to show support, you can always support a participant or donate directly to the organization

Girls on the Run
The mission: To create a nurturing, self-esteem boosting environment for young women through coaching and physical fitness
Why they stand out: This charity hits young women where it hurts: their physical and mental health. By promoting positivity through physical fitness and inner strength, girls from grades 3-8 can feel good about achieving fitness goals and collaborating with other girls. If you feel passionate about self-esteem, well-being, and female empowerment, this is the organization for you!
How to get involved: volunteer to be a role model for the young women, sign up to be a coach, or be a running buddy and inspire young women at any school in your area.


While there are many many many more charities in your area to get involved and volunteer with, these few charities are a great place to start your search and ignite your passion. If you’re still looking for some other organizations to get involved with, make sure you check out your school’s clubs and council fairs or any community centre in your area. You can always get involved in another charity…particularly one close to home. In fact, I know a charity that is always looking for more volunteers. You can read about it here (


We can’t wait to see how and where you get involved! Keep us posted…we love to hear from you!


Until next time,
The PLP Team

How to Get (and stay) Organized!

PLP’s Guide to a Successful School Year
We know, we know… the last thing you want to think about right now is the first day of school, but as summer winds down, we can’t help but bring up the inevitable. Before October rolls around and you realize that all of your assignments are no where to be found and your metaphorical ship is sinking, take some time to get organized and start the school year the right way. Here are PLP’s 9 tips to get (and stay) organized all school-year long!


1. Pay attention in class

Don’t be that person who goes home and has to message everyone else at 3am asking if your essay is due tomorrow or a week from now. The first step to being organized actually knowing what’s due and when it’s due!




2. Use an agenda, but do it your way

Not everyone likes carrying around a calendar or an agenda everywhere they go. If you do, that’s great! But if you don’t, find the method that works for you. Use your Google calendar (it’ll send reminders to your phone or computer), use the calendar on your phone, or use a whiteboard in your room. Any method is the right method…as long as it works for you!


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3. Write everything down… literally. everything.

No matter how good your memory is, you will never ever remember all of your assignments, tests, club meetings, doctors’ appointments, uncle’s birthday dinners, etc. without writing these events down. You can easily keep track of what you have going on by writing (or typing) it out.


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4. Create a schedule, but be realistic

Just writing that you have a Biology exam isn’t going to help you prepare for it. You need to implement the time it will take to prepare into your schedule so you won’t be blindsided on the day that it’s due. If you know your bio exam is on Monday, you can schedule a few hours each day to make sure you have enough study time. It is also important to be realistic in how much you are scheduling each day. If you say you’re going to study 2 units, write an English essay, make a poster for your student council, and go to soccer practice all on one night… it might not actually happen (and then you’ll be playing catch up).


5. Be kind to yourself

When we say create a schedule, we don’t just mean for school work. Schedule some YOU time. Whether it’s watching Netflix, hanging out with friends, or going on a walk, it’s important to tae some time for yourself each day. Taking breaks will keep you feeling happy and healthy, which will actually make you work more efficiently.


6. Hold yourself accountable

It’s one thing to say that you’re going to follow a schedule and get all kinds of work done, but it’s a whole other thing to really do it. Find a way to hold yourself accountable, whether it’s highlighting each task as you complete it, finding a buddy to compare notes with, or posting sticky notes around your room with reminders. Whatever you do, just make sure that it really works for you.


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7. Make a backup plan

Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned. Don’t panic! Things can and will go wrong sometimes. All that really matters is how you handle it. Take a look at what you weren’t able to get done that day and see where you can realistically fit it in your schedule. If you can’t find the space you need, be creative with your problem solving. See if someone else can help you out, if you can get an extension, or if there’s something that you can cancel.


8. Give yourself a daily check in

Each day, give yourself a little check list to make sure you’re on track. Ask yourself questions like:
  • Do I know what I have due?
  • Did I write everything down?
  • Did I accomplish my goals for today?
  • If I didn’t accomplish my goals, did I re-organized my schedule?
  • Did I do something positive for myself?
These check-ins will help you hold yourself accountable, and keep you consistently aware of what you have to complete.


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9. Treat ‘yo self

After all this hard work, you deserve something awesome. Find a way to reward yourself after you’ve completed a goal or finished a certain amount of work. You will be much more successful if you are happy than if you are constantly working without a light at the end of the tunnel.


Now while there’s still plenty of summer left (and believe us, you should enjoy every second of it with these tips), it is never too early to get yourself ready for the upcoming year. The more proactive you are at the beginning of school, the better you’ll be all year long. So kick this year off the right way! Until then, we will be buying cool floaties for those last few pool parties and waiting for those school supply coupons to hit the market.


Stay classy (and organized),
The PLP Pham 

6 Ways to De-stress this Summer

Ah summer! A perfect time to:
Sing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” on repeat until September
Chase after every ice cream truck you see screaming, “I love your work!”
Play video games in an air-conditioned space
Relax and rejuvenate after a difficult school year.


Now we know that everyone has their own strategies to power down and recharge before the final days of summer encroach on the fun, and we know we’ve given you some tips to recharge before, but we thought we would give you some ideas that would turn up the fun and turn up the sun! Here are our top six ways to recuperate over the summer holidays!
  1. Enjoy the Outdoors
Pretend you’re Giselle from Enchanted and go outside like you’ve never experienced anything more exciting! Sing with some birds, make friends with some vermin…okay so maybe don’t take this metaphor too seriously, but definitely frolic in the summer sun, Disney princess-style. Not only it is a great time of year to enjoy the temperature, but also the sun provides you with lots of Vitamin D, which will protect you from harmful diseases and boost your mood. There’s a reason we sing so many songs about the sun!
  1. Take up a Hobby
With all the schoolwork out of the way, summer is a great time to take on a hobby. Whether it’s gardening, joining a sports team, getting to the golf course, or just doing yoga in the park once a week, there are so many amazing places to go and many amazing things to see in your own backyard. By changing up your usual routine, you may find new and interesting ways to combat stress that you can take into the school year ahead. Who knows, you may even spark a new passion!
  1. Do something fun
There are so many incredible events right in your own backyard that will facilitate an amazing summer and help you say “bye-bye” to the year-round blues. Check out some food festivals near you, an event with a big old slip n’ slide, look into some local summer concerts, or see a cool play! Psssst! If you live in Toronto, here’s a comprehensive list of all the amazing things to do this summer!
  1. Do something fun (indoor edition)
Now summer isn’t just about spending time outside or playing sports. There are a lot of great indoor activities that you probably did not have time to do throughout the year, and are a great way to escape the summer heat via air conditioning. Let out your inner rage at a rage room (which allows you to de-stress through smashing all the glassware you want), use your problem-soling skills in an escape room (because nothing says de-stress like decoding a murder), or get active via indoor playground (try pursuit OCR). These indoor spaces will challenge you both mentally and physically, plus they will keep you cool and collected until Labour Day rolls around.
  1. Get reacquainted with your Summer Friends
Hanging out with your school friends all year long can be exhausting – especially if all you talk about is school related problems! Summer can be a great time to escape your normal friend group that you see all the time, and give you the opportunity to see all those friends that you never get to see. A change in scenery can be healthy for the brain (and ensure that you get the mental break you need). Sometimes, people in our lives can be our greatest stressor, but we may not notice how stressed we are until we remove ourselves from the situation. By allowing some change to your everyday routine, you create the opportunity for some well-received fun with a whole new crew.
  1. Have a BBQ
Nothing says summer like a BBQ – the delicious burgers, the chilled-out environment and the chance to catch up with some friends. The more we get outside, the more we can take advantage of all the Vitamin D up in the sky. Eating outdoors amongst the trees and nature may help calm the nerves and help us lead a healthier life.


So what are you waiting for, Pham? Get out there this summer and take advantage of these next couple of months. We all know how quickly summer can fly by, so don’t wait – get out there and de-stress the summer way! What are some of your favourite ways to chill out during the summer? Let us know in the comments below!


Until then, we will be enjoying the great outdoors, sipping on some summer smoothies, and getting out tan on (with lots of SPF of course!)



Sunnily yours,
The Phoenix Team

Conference: Top 5


While it’s been almost a month since we left for The Phoenix Leadership Conference, we still can’t stop screaming “YAAAAAS,” cheering about horsies, or telling everyone we know about how Thousand Island dressing is the best condiment for Rotisserie Raccoon.


Those four days may have gone by in the blink of an eye, but we have so many wonderful pictures and memories to remind us of the incredible weekend that made us better leaders. Now it may be hard to pick and choose the absolute best memories from the weekend (because let’s be honest, every moment of that weekend was the best moment), these were some of our favourite memories and moments from PLC 2017!
  1. Getting off the Bus




There are few things as spectacular (and a little overwhelming) as getting off the bus. Builders screaming, everyone cheering, and getting high fives from a row of strangers that would soon become some of your closest friends. From those first steps, we could tell we had a bunch of superpeople on our hands! We saw that everyone was ready to jump into this experience with two feet and create the best weekend possible.
  1. Talent Show




Getting up and performing isn’t an easy feat – or so we thought! This year, we got to witness some incredible acts – everything from booty-shaking dancers (thanks, Ashoke) to amazing artists to sensational singers. Not only was it a great reminder of how PHabulousluy talented our Pham is, but the best part was watching this group of leaders work up the courage to try something scary and perform for an audience – some for the first time.


Most of all, we’ll remember the impromptu dance party acts, the mini-cheer off and of course, each and every “Standing O”. What a great way to end our Saturday night!
  1. The Cheer-Offs



Sometimes, there is nothing better than some good, old-fashioned cheering, but this weekend’s cheering was anything but old-fashioned! There was some serious competition, creativity, and spirit at each and every cheer-off throughout the weekend.


Groups decked out in their red, blue, and black apparel cheered their faces off about what Jaclyn was wearing, pretended to be Phoenixes, and created and performed intricate stomps as an entire unit. A big CAW-ngratulations to the Advocate unit for winning The Phoenix Spirit Cup this year. Better luck next time, Agents and LIT (we know you’re already preparing your cheers for next year’s takedown!)
  1. Becky G (feat. Pitbull)



We “Can’t Get Enough” of the Conference song this year! From morning to night, Becky G blasted through the dining hall, getting everyone up from their seats and dancing to the beat (even if they weren’t done eating yet – that shows dedication)!


Watching the infectious spirit of Becky G fill the room really made the Conference spirit something tangible and meaningful. We truly felt the fuego (fire) all weekend long!
  1. Camp Fire



This was probably our most profound and meaningful moment of the entire weekend. Listening to everyone read all the “If You Really Knew Me’s” that were written and posted on the wall over the weekend was something so special because it truly united us as a group. Ending the campfire with the burning of the IYRKM box, Ryan Grossman on the guitar, and a bedtime story from Papa D created a perfect end to a perfect evening and perfect weekend!


While there are so many more incredible experiences (including, but not limited to, all of them), we cannot possibly list each and every one. What were your favourite experiences from the weekend? Let us know in the comments below!


We are so happy that we were able to extend our Flock this year and include all of our new phriends and phamily in this wonderful experience. Speaking of the Phoenix Pham, we hope you all come and hang out with us at our PLP Pool Party on June 24th! Can’t wait to see you there!


BYORR (Bring your own Rotisserie Raccoon)
Until next time,
The Phoenix Pham

How to use Gainz to Gain a Better Life



Whether you just finished exam season, planning your prom, or are simply stuck in a rut at work, it can be easy to let things like diet, exercise, and sanity fall to the wayside. While we always swear to be healthier on January 1st, we are rarely where we want to be come May. Now, not everyone has the same goals – not everyone wants to make exercise part of their regularly scheduled programming – but maintaining good health is something that affects everyone. Exercise isn’t just about losing weight, there are so many important reasons why you should maintain physical activity.
  1. You will be physically healthier

Sure, this one seems kind of obvious, but exercise is more than just about numbers on a scale. We tend to only talk about the aesthetic benefits, but we forget that exercise can also positively affect your internal wires and gears. Physical activity also does things like reduce blood pressure (lowering risk of heart disease), lowers risk of type-2 diabetes, and boots immune function (i.e. keeps you from getting the sniffles all the time). Physical activity also strengthens your bones and muscles – your ability to pick things up easily and fight the forces of evil…if you’re a super hero in your spare time that is.



  1. You’ll get a caffeine-free caffeine kick

Now this point can seem counterproductive – after a long workout all you want to do is nap on the floor – but working out truly helps with long-term energy storage. When we exercise, we take in lots of oxygen, and oxygen is a natural energy booster (probably has something to do with needing it stay alive). The more active we are, the more active we can be, which can help us get all those things done on our to do list.


  1. You’ll sleep better

While this may sound hypocritical (see: last point), exercise can really both energize and aid in sleep. Physical activity can make us sleeeeepy…in fact, it can make us sleepy just thinking about it, but it can definitely help us with our overall sleeping patterns. Exercise can help keep our natural body clock in tune – just try not to exercise too close to bedtime or it may have the opposite affect.


  1. You’ll become smarter – no studying required

Exercise can improve your overall cognitive functioning (a fancy way of saying “brain power”). The best part? You don’t even need to work that hard! Even something as simple as moderate walking has been proven to help your brain’s memory center, the hippocampus, maintain its health and vitality. Physical activity also lowers cortisol levels, the stress hormone associated with the improved mood, and an improvement of those can definitely help your next important test.  So the next time you’re having a study session, you might want to try it on a treadmill.


  1. It’s a mood booster

To quote Elle Woods: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Endorphins are the energy boosting chemical in our brain and when we hit the gym, we get a rush of those chemicals. That’s why we always feel pretty good after a workout – even though we know we might be sore in a few days. The more we workout, the happier we feel!


Well now that we know the benefits of exercise, we just need to find a way to get more of it in a fun, exciting way. OH WAIT HERE’S A THOUGHT! Come to PLP’s FINAL WORKSHOP OF THE YEAR on April 30th  which is THIS SUNDAY! We are hosting a de-stress bootcamp, so come sweat, smile, and shake the stress away with us. All the info is on our Facebook page, so don’t forget to check it out and join us for some weekend fun!



For now, we will be prepping ourselves for the workshop with a bunch of 80’s workout videos. I hear there’s an easy way to create Buns of Steel…


Full of endorphins,
The PLP Pham!

Sparking Joy and Leadership

You know how walking into an organized space makes you feel a heck of a lot better than if you were to walk into a room full of chaos and dirty laundry? The same feeling works for the relationships in your life.


I’ve recently hopped on the KonMari trend. For those of you who’ve never heard of KonMari, it’s a method of tidying (coined by the author Marie Kondo) that promises you’ll never have to clean again after you’ve successfully completed the process. This method is outlined in KonMari’s book, The Magic Art of Tidying Up, which has sold millions of copies. While the KonMari method teaches us how to tidy up our physical life, it teaches us how to tidy up our emotional life in the process!


This book fell into my lap, as if by magic. Well, I guess you wouldn’t exactly call it magic since it was just lent to me by a friend. But, it is funny how books sometimes have come into my life exactly when I needed them. What is interesting is that my sister was also lent The Magic Art of Tidying Up by a different friend in a different city. It was hilarious when she called me and said, “You’ve gotta read this book! It’s changed my life!” And when I told her that I’d recently read the book and de-cluttered my entire room, she was floored.


I’ve never been a super neat person. My room has never been in chaos, but I did have clothes strewn about and I had trouble keeping my room clean. That all changed after I finished this book. What’s crazy is that this book not only helped me get my space cleared, but it helped me clear out my emotional space too. To top that off, I’ve picked up some skills on how I can become a better leader as well. And how does tidying relate to becoming an effective leader? I’ll get to that in a second.


This book has helped millions of people clean up their spaces. The reason why Marie Kondo’s method is so effective is simple: she has a revolutionary approach to tidying that also helps people hone in on what makes them happy. And it’s crazy – her method of tidying really does keep its promise of never having to tidy again. I first began applying her method 6 months ago, and my room has remained pretty organized. Or, at least it’s definitely much tidier than it was before.


So, how does KonMari’s method of tidying work so excellently, and how can it make you a better leader? Well, Kondo asks that we eliminate all of our clutter. And though this concept isn’t new in the cleaning world, her method of eliminating clutter certainly is. She teaches us that we need to let go of all the items that do not spark joy.


That’s seriously it. You simply give away all your material items that don’t bring you joy.


The practice of discovering what does and does not spark joy has been an incredible tool for me. Here are three ways that recognizing what sparks joy in your heart can make you a better person, and a better leader.


1. You realize how difficult it is to let go of what no longer serves you

There was this old pair of pants I had difficulty parting with when I was getting rid of things that no longer sparked joy. I had a lot of good memories while I had worn this pair of pants, and I thought they were pretty cool. The thing is, these pants didn’t fit me anymore. So, whenever I saw this piece of clothing in my drawer, I would get sad that I couldn’t wear them.


This was clearly an article of clothing that did not bring me joy. On top of that, I couldn’t even wear these pants anymore. They weren’t serving me in any way. But because I had so many memories attached to them, I felt sad and almost guilty that I should get rid of them. However, I was determined to follow her method properly, so I chucked the pants. Now, something incredible happens when I open my drawer. Every pair of pants I own makes me happy to see. I feel no guilt or shame when I look at my clothing.


Getting rid of those pants helped me realize something. This concept can be applied to toxic relationships, which I started to notice more clearly in my life. Sometimes relationships can be difficult to let go of, even though they may be hurting more than helping. This happens because we usually have good reasons to hold onto a bad relationship. I’ll offer a personal example: I once had a very close friend who behaved selfishly and ignored my boundaries. I didn’t want to end the relationship because I knew it would hurt her. I also felt guilty for wanting to end a four-year friendship. I held onto that relationship for longer than I should have because I wasn’t ultimately comfortable with going after what made me happy. I’ve found that it’s hard to go after what makes you happy when I hold on to what makes me unhappy.


It’s important to recognize that some things are hard to let go of, even though you know it’s for the greater good. It’s even more important to release the things that don’t spark joy. This is an important skill for a leader to have.


2. It helps you practice your “joy sparking” muscles

Before I’d got rid of those pants, I hadn’t realized that opening my drawer involved some subconscious guilt and shame. I didn’t realize that though opening my drawer was a small part of my day, it was an unnecessary unhappiness and burden. I noticed that once all the clothing that did not spark joy in me was gone, my day was better. Every item of clothing I own now makes me happy. And by getting rid of the clothes that did not spark joy, I was able to take better care of the clothes that I already owned and loved. And, when I would shop for new clothes, I had a better understanding of what would spark joy.


This exercise helped me realize that I was out of touch with my inner compass that told me what I liked. It is so important, especially for leaders, to know exactly what brings positivity in. Though it can sound simple, it often isn’t easy to know what exactly you need and what will add to your life.


Once the toxic friendship was out of my life, I noticed a huge change in my own wellbeing. I no longer needed to keep up a façade of pretending that I was happy in the friendship. I no longer had to excuse behaviour that repeatedly hurt me. I didn’t even realize how much of a burden that friendship had become for me until it was gone. Knowing what I didn’t like helped me realize what I did like. Releasing the toxic friendship helped me invite better relationships into my life, and because I wasn’t nurturing a dead friendship, I now had the time to deepen existing relationships that were healthy.


It’s important to get good at knowing what works and what doesn’t. You can’t go after your dreams without this skill. You won’t even know what your dreams are without it!


3. You gain a peaceful space

People don’t realize how much their surroundings influence their attitude. Once my room was truly tidy, I realized how lovely it was to come home after a long day of work. Cleaning was one less stress. And, I truly loved the space I was in because I was surrounded by items that I loved.


A peaceful space can be applied to your emotional life as well as your physical life. Eliminating toxic relationships and focusing on the loving ones that help will help you in almost all areas of your life. There’s a saying that goes: you are the average of the 5 people you hang around most. It’s important to surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire, rather than weighing you down. You can cultivate those qualities that really help you to shine bright.


It’s important to take care of yourself, leader. You can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself. Good leaders take care of themselves well so they can go on to save the world. In addition, this sets a great example for those your life.


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I think it’s safe to say that we all hold onto things for too long when we don’t need to. The same thing goes for relationships. And trust me, I know how hard it is to let go of relationships.


I cared very much about people’s opinions of me, and I worried about them disliking me if I were to let go of a relationship. The process of ending a relationship can be devastating. I think it’s more important for me to talk about how much better I feel now that I’ve made the decision to end harmful relationships.


I had a pattern in my life where I’d consistently befriend and date narcissists. But when I underwent a massive depression, I found that my energy felt so drained when I’d be around narcissistic friends. Not all of my friends made me feel that way, of course. It got to a point where I’d feel physically exhausted after being around these people, so I just stopped being around them. I felt free. My days became easier and I felt cared for by the people in my life. Allowing space into my life wasn’t as lonely as I’d thought; in fact, it made room to welcome in people who are better for you – the people who bring you joy.


This is the magic of recognizing that what sparks joy in your heart makes you a better leader. I hope reading this will you deepen your practice in finding what sets the soul on fire…or at least have a cleaner room!


By: Ana Vermeulen

The Top 10 Things Your Teachers Don’t Want to See in Your Paper

It’s that time of year (looking at you, first years) where teachers decide that the “fun” they inflicted on you with midterms isn’t enough and it’s time to tackle (*dun dun dun*) the essay. Whether your paper is one page or 12 pages, here are some easy reminders of what NOT to do that will easily raise your paper a grade point.
  1. Hyperbolic opening lines

Since the dawn of time, it has been decreed that no one should begin a paper with useless, grandiose statements. If your paper begins with “since the dawn of time” or some other over generalized statement, print that sucker out, crumple it in a ball and try to sink a three-pointer in your trash can because that is all your paper will be good for. Irrelevant, incorrect, and hyperbolic opening statements ruin your credibility and your teachers will tune out. Immediately. Unless you’re Jane Austen, you teacher doesn’t need to know what truth you think is universally acknowledged.


Better idea? Hook ‘em fast and quick. Connect your thesis to their world, make it memorable, make it count. You only get one shot at a first impression.


  1. A thesis they didn’t ask for

The best way to begin a paper is to go over the guideline you’ve been given and break down the important parts: what do they expect you to cover, what should the word count be, are there any sub-questions they want you to answer? If you think it’s just a paper on whether or not Romeo and Juliet were romantic saps but your teacher wanted you to compare and contrast it with three other Shakespearean romances, odds are, you’re not going to rock this paper.


Better idea? Make a checklist out of “action items” within the guideline. Then, when you’re proofreading you can double-check your work to see that you included everything you needed! If you don’t include what they asked for, your paper is not going to get the marks it deserves (no matter how genius your analysis is).


  1. Flying blind

Similar to not reading the guideline, if you don’t make an outline of your paper, you won’t have a solid structure. Think about the arguments you want to make, how they connect to one another, and how to properly support them. Does one of your points have no evidence? Should two of your points go back to back? Think about the flow of your paper so it doesn’t read like the stream of consciousness, 3 a.m. coffee explosion that it may be.


Better idea? Make an outline with all your arguments and how they specifically support your thesis before beginning. Having a direction will help you know where to take the paper and will be evident to the reader, making you seem super duper smart.


  1. Citing Wikipedia

Listen, we all go on Wikipedia. There is no shame in that. Citing Wikipedia on your paper? That’s a little more likely to get you into trouble. Stick to your library’s resources and other academic journals to source your knowledge.


Better idea? Use Wikipedia as a jumping board and look at the points of the article. Then you can use scholarly sources to back up and prove your thesis!
Pro-tip: When you’re citing something in a text – quote and cite it properly! It shows exactly where your idea stemmed from (plus it proves you did the readings).


  1. An excellent summary of events

Papers (for the most part) aren’t about summary – they’re about analysis. Instead of just listing off all the textual examples that prove you’re right, elaborate on them, connect the dots, and answer the question your prof is banging their head against the desk asking: why is this important and why does this matter?


Better idea? Budget your word count into your guideline to make connections – real world and other sources. The more you show you’ve been thinking about this paper, the more they will too.


  1. A thesis that got lost somewhere after paragraph two

Instead of focusing on tricks that make your paper seem longer than it is, look at tricks that make the word count matter and work for you. Each argument should be connected back to your thesis – never let your teacher wonder what your thesis is, or think you’ve gotten derailed. Worried you’re connecting it too much? Connect it again! A paper is an argument, use it to prove your prowess.


Better idea? Write your thesis on coloured paper and tape it somewhere in your eye line to keep it top of mind.



  1. Not proofreading

Simple grammar mistakes, typos, and run on sentences will turn off a teacher immediately. If they’re so busy circling comma splices and fragments that they lose sight of your argument you’ve lost the battle and the war. Proofreading seems like a chore (especially after an all-nighter) but it’s worth every ounce of energy you can put into it.


Better idea? Have a friend on standby to edit your paper! Not only will a neutral pair of eyes work wonders to point out the weak points of your paper, but also it will give you 20 minutes to get that second (or third) coffee. You can also proofread the paper backwords which will keep your brain active and remove any bias you may have about a particular phrase.


  1. An essay written by you and

No matter how strong the paper is, if you are desperately trying to seem smarter with big words, chances are you’re going to lose your unique voice and the persuasiveness of your paper. Word choice and diction are imperative to a paper’s argument (the same applies to veering the other way – definitely avoid slang at all costs, there’s a happy medium in between the two worlds).


Better idea? Use or similar tools to change up words you use too often. Adding new words into your rotation is great, as long as you stop before you sign your paper “Baby Kangaroo Tribiani” OR



  1. Passive Voice

Passive voice is when the noun being acted upon is made the subject of the sentence. (Active voice is when the noun doing the action is the subject.) Passive voice makes papers weaker and less focussed – it’s important to keep the argument moving!


Better idea? Remove passive voice with a fun exercise! According to Professor Rebecca Johnson, if you can add the phrase “by zombies” after the verb, your sentence has passive voice.


  1. Plagiarism

Don’t do it. With technology these days it is insanely easy to identify plagiarism and it’s just downright not worth it.


Better idea? Write your own paper! And use these tips to make it just as good (or even better) than that one you were going to steal.