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Holiday Potluck Lunch Meeting

Welcome, you beautiful MAWBsters, to the MAWBBlog!  It’s December—Welcome to the last daytime Meetup of the year and our annual Holiday Potluck Lunch Meeting!  Heck, some would say its the last Meetup of the decade! Thoughts are on the upcoming holiday season frenzy, and for many the prospect of having the kids at home for two weeks, but we still made the time to come out and have a potluck lunch with our MAWBsisters for the end of the year.  Our membership has surpassed the 2000 mark, and there is limited space for all of the in-person events, so it is hard for people to stay on top of all the MAWB activity taking place. Each month I recap the monthly Meet Ups, as well as some of the other in-person MAWB events, for all the members who are unable to attend. So, although the Facebook group is incredibly active (more about that later), sometimes life and other obligations make it hard to get out to the events. This blog is meant to keep everyone involved, virtually.

Pictures from our MAWB Holiday Potluck Lunch Meeting

Welcome To The MAWB!

The MAWB is Mississauga and Area Women in Business, a networking group for women entrepreneurs from Mississauga and the surrounding communities. Whether you’re a solopreneur, an employee of a larger organization looking to expand your network, or someone with an MLM as a side hustle or your main source of income, MAWBsters, as we refer to ourselves, come together to support and encourage each other, share ideas, and foster real relationships amongst members.  Our group’s sensibility, as established by our Admin and MAWBBoss, Christine Hull, is that people will do business with those they Know, Like, and Trust. While this is an approach that is promoted by many networking groups, it is fully embraced by the MAWB. The opening networking at all of the meetups consists of a lot of hugs and a lot of laughter amongst friends, and everyone is a friend, even if it is your first meetup.   

Networking at the MAWB Holiday Potluck Lunch Meeting

Most of the activity between members takes place online through the MAWB Facebook Group.  The Facebook Group follows theme days, which are posted every morning. While you do get the opportunity to promote your business, the idea is to get to know your fellow MAWBsters as people first, engage with each other, and meet in person for coffee/not-coffee dates.  Theme days include Marketing Monday, Welcome Wednesday, and Social Saturday. You can find the whole list on the MAWB Facebook group in the Files tab, or click on the link.

So, as a fair warning to all the newbies out there, don’t be alarmed if someone you don’t know reaches out to you and says, “Hey, you look cool.  Let’s have coffee.” This is just how we roll.

10-Second Success Stories

Once again, Christine started the meeting with a great big WELCOME to all the seasoned members and first-timers in the room.  We had upwards of 70 people at the meeting today (ah, the powerful lure of a Potluck!), with 7 newbies/first-timers there. It has been a great icebreaker at the last few meetings, so Christine kicked things off with 10-Second Success Stories—members have the chance to pop up and quickly tell everyone something great that has happened in the last week or so, although this time it was expanded to include great things that happened in the last year.  It doesn’t have to be related to your biz, it can be a personal or life event as well. Because it is so rapid fire and I am frantically taking notes,I didn’t get everyone, but I tried my best and I apologize if I missed you:

  • Dianne MacMillan kicked things off with a couple of success stories: she lost 20lbs and she has started a vlog working with fellow MAWBster and workout guru, Dianne Akam
  • Colette Rabba will be offering workshops in the new year
  • Mo Akins started her series of Health and Wellness Podcasts
  • Renu Arora went on Business retreat cruise, and because of a Law of Attraction Seminar she presented, she ended up with a client from Germany
  • Andrea Martin switched the focus of her business away from make-up and more towards the design side and ended up decorating a room for the Holiday House Tour
  • Janice Best opened her hypnosis clinic and it has been a success
  • Tamiah Johnson started her own networking group, P.E.A.C.E
  • Sonia Madan was introduced to, and fell in love with, the VoxxLife products and signed up as a rep
  • Shalini Dharna won the Mississauga News Reader’s Choice Diamond Award for Best Accounting Firm in Mississauga
  • Marta Andrade did online groceries for the first time last week, and it changed her life!
  • Melissa Brankiewicz has grown her business and is now working and offering classes at Zed Holistic Touch
  • Cathy Bochnak became a baba for the first time
  • Shelley Foster has been training with Maria Howlett and now has the muscles that used to be there, bacl
  • Cheryl Martin will be doing a solstice meditation with horses
  • Linsey Denham has gotten creative again and has submitted some work for consideration
  • Sandi Eavans-Laing has completed her rebranding and is now Laing Travel
  • Fernanda Silva has been delivering Christmas gifts to seniors
  • Trish Beesley moved to Barrie and has already booked two conferences

As always, it was so inspiring to hear all of the wonderful accomplishments of our fellow MAWBsisters.  

The (Useful and Sparkly) MAWB Agenda

Christine took us quickly through the Agenda, introducing the speaker for the day.  Huma Haider, aka Huma the Hypnotist, will be presenting techniques to help alleviate stress—something some of us will definitely be using over the upcoming weeks, I think.   A quick run-through of the statistics shows membership at 2027 members, with 53 new members in the last month. With 1648 of those members actively participating in the Facebook Group, the participation rate for the last month of 82%, which is phenomenal!  We have consistently posted participation rates in the mid-80-percents since I started keeping track of this statistic. This is so incredible, and it shows how collaborative this group is. So, if you’re a new member and you’re a little bit shy, maybe hanging back and not chiming in on the comment threads, I say take the plunge!  You will be accepted and encouraged, and maybe you’ll make some new friends.

Making new friends at the MAWB Holiday Potluck Lunch Meeting

We’re going to take some time to mention the other groups and activities the MAWB supports.  There is are two comment pods, one for Facebook, moderated by Dianne MacMillan, from Wearable Neurotech and new one for LinkedIn, moderated by Sherri Lojzer, from Mindwave Coaching.  If you would like more information on how the comment pods work, please contact Dianne or Sherri directly.  

Every month, Christine creates an Instagram Challenge calendar, with suggested content for each day, so you don’t have to generate your own.  It’s a lot of work to manage social media content, and this makes it a lot easier. It’s also a way to help track the growth of your following, and to check in on what your fellow MAWBsisters have to say by using the hashtag MAWB(month)—with the month name changing along with the calendar.  So for December it is #mawbdecember. Make sure to follow each monthly hashtag so the posts will show up in your feed.

The Events tab in the Facebook Group is the best way to keep on top of all the upcoming Meetups, social events, and Lunch and Learn Webinars.  There will be a big, I mean BIG event coming up in March for International Women’s Day. A collective of 8 local women’s groups, including our very own MAWBBoss, have come together and created a special event being held at NUVO Network, with a panel of female business powerhouses to inspire us all.  There will also be a vendor marketplace at the event, but spaces are limited. Christine will be creating an event in the MAWB FaceBook group with all the details. This is a not-to -be-missed event!  

There is the MAWB Book Club, moderated by Cake by Sadaf’s Sadaf Khalid Palijo, assisted by visual artist extraordinaire, Shelley Foster.  Discussions take place both online and in person, and discussion points are posted in the group throughout the month.  If you’re interested in participating, please PM Shelley or Sadaf, as this is a closed group. There is also the MAWB Get Fit group, which supports members in their efforts to live a healthy lifestyle.  They have weekly challenges, and previous challenges have involved increasing water intake and cutting out sugar. Jennifer Mariuz Hook and Vinnie Coluccio are the moderators of this group, and again, if you are interested in participating, please contact them via PM as it is a closed group.

Finally, there is an online directory for the MAWB.  Did you know about it?  I have to confess, I know about it but I have not yet entered my information, and I’m betting a lot of you haven’t either. Go online and enter your information into the directory.  We have over 2000 members, who offer a wide variety of products and services, and we have it at our fingertips, or at least we would if we all used it. So, everyone, please make a point to go online and enter your contact info!  And if you’re already in the directory, just have a peek and make sure everything is as it should be under your name.

Next month we will be having a couple of celebrations for the MAWB’s 2nd Anniversary at the daytime and evening meetups.  There will be swag, so don’t miss out!  


Once again, we did a Twofer Two—two people, two minutes each to do a quick introduction, sort of like speed dating.  I was paired with Huma Haider, our resident hypnotist, and Huma has had a really great year—she has been on TV, has been featured in a documentary, has worked on every continent except Antarctica (but I don’t know if all of that happened this year), and has clients all over the world because of her participation in FaceBook groups.  Don’t let anyone tell you there is not power in social media. Oh, and yeah, she lost 50 pounds. Huma is on a roll! Her goal for 2020 is to become involved in more groups, host online workshops, and to expand on the niche she has created for herself in the area of stress management. My goal for 2020 is to actually set some goals and achieve them.  I like crossing things off a list. I’m very task oriented. This is also my year to be open minded and try new things.


Oh, Yeah!  What happens in Muskoka stays in Muskoka!  Except, of course, all the new skills and knowledge you will pick up to help take your business to the next level. Full details are available in the private group for registered attendees.  There is still room available for this incredibly reasonably priced, information-packed weekend of business development and personal improvement, so if you have a friend who is on the fence, encourage them to come along.  The more the merrier, and the more information there will be available to share. Let’s fill up this place so we can keep it to ourselves! If you are interested and want to know more, please contact one of the Retreat Committee members, Carrie Whiteduck, Donna Smith-Major, Farrah Murray Snyed, Amber Schmitt Dinda, or Jenn Hook.

Details for the 2020 MAWB Retreat are as follows:  It is being held at the Severn Lodge in Muskoka, the weekend of May 22–24, and, ladies, we will have the run of the place.  There is going to be a marketplace, so if you are interested in having a table, please contact someone from the registration committee. The price is $475/person based on a double occupancy room (which means two beds with one person in each, not one bed with two people), but if you want to solo it in a room, you can do so for $650.  These rates are fully tax deductible, and are all inclusive except for your adult beverages, so remember to byob.

There will be plenty of MAWB activity taking place: workshops––there were 23 in April, but I’m sure there will be many more this time because it is a larger facility and we will have up to 90 MAWBsters there; shared mealtimes; parties; maybe a Polar Bear Dip in the lake, who knows?  Activities offered by Severn Lodge include canoeing, kayaking, tennis, and nature walks. There is also a lot of demand for creative workshops, so if you have a creative flair and can teach the skills, contact the planning committee. All I know for sure is that I am already registered and I can’t wait! 


I sat and had a very quiet chat with Amber Dinda—she had no voice from doing so many chalk art holiday workshops.  Her goal for her business in 2020 is to build business in the Corporate Lunch & Learn area.  

Many Thanks – MarketPlace Recap

On December 8 the MAWB held a Holiday Marketplace, and Christine took a moment to extend heartfelt thanks to the people who took a conversation in the parking lot after a meetup and turned it into an actual event in less than a week!  Thanks to Susie Beghin for providing the venue at Alpha’s Discovery Kids; thanks to Amber Dinda for all her organizational expertise; thanks to all the activity sponsors and door prize donors; thanks to the 20+ vendors who came out; and finally, thanks to everyone who came out and visited and shopped, and made the event come to life!

Thanks yous were also on tap for all the many MAWBsters who made the collection for The Compass this month so successful.  As many of you know, we have done many collections on the past to assist The Compass Food Bank in their efforts to help those in need in the Port Credit area.  For this meeting, in lieu of a Secret Santa exchange we opted to make donations of small-sum gift cards, in $5 or $10 increments.  As Christine said, although $5 doesn’t get someone a lot in terms of volume, a $5 gift card not only gets them a warm beverage and maybe something to eat, it also gives a homeless person a few hours in a warm, safe environment.  Elizabeth Lapointe was trying to keep a tally, but the donations just kept coming, so as best she can figure, we got $500 total in Tim’s, Walmart, Loblaws, Starbucks, etc. You, ladies, are awesome.

We then paused for our group photo and a photo of the gorgeous Holiday-themed cake Sadaf made for the potluck.

MAWB Network - December 2019 Group Photo

Huma the Hypnotist

Huma Haider is a Certified Hypnotist associated with the NGH USA. She is also trained in Rapid Transformational Therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and has many years of experience working with clients with various challenges all around the world.

Huma Haider took us through a presentation on how self-hypnosis can help us handle stress.

Huma Haider took us through a presentation on how self-hypnosis can help us handle stress.  At the beginning of last year, Huma started the Keto diet and lost 50 pounds, but during the summer she gained half of it back because she ate her stress.The keys to conquering your stress are:

  • Awareness: recognize when you are under stress
  • Assessment: evaluate your stress level and what steps you need to take
  • Action: Use hypnosis techniques to manage your stress

Bilateral Stimulation relies on confusing your brain.  First, rate your stress level; then hold an object and move it from one hand to the other; this makes your brain concentrate on your movement not your stress; rate your stress level.

Vocalize your feelings: stand up and jump up and down three times and shout, “I’m excited! I’m excited! I’m excited!”  You are actually telling yourself to change your mind.

Visualization: Imagine you’re holding a big, juicy, lemon.  It is heavy, it’s juicy, you can smell it, you can taste it.  Your body will react because the subconscious is strong.

Muscle memory: Take your pencil and hold it between your front teeth, pointing outwards; balance it.  It forces your face into a smile, and that will lift your mood.

Huma the Hypnotist demonstrating the pencil exercise to help reduce stress.

Box breathing:  Breathe in for four counts; hold for four counts; breathe out for four counts; hold for four counts.  The combination of the deep breathing and the counting is very calming. It allows you to mentally step back from your stressor.

If you are interested in learning more, go to her website for free webinars.

MAWB Huma the Hypnotist

And remember, STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS

We then broke for our Potluck lunch, and what a spread it was.  There was so much delicious food, and such variety. I will not apologize for bringing home leftovers—there were samosas!  SA. MO. SAS! I couldn’t leave them there.

Delicious Food from our MAWB Holiday Potluck Lunch Meeting

Holiday Potluck Lunch Meeting Winners

Every month we have a few door prize sponsors, usually three or four.  As a door prize sponsor you have the benefit of standing in front of the group for a few minutes to discuss your business and what you can provide to our members.  You are also encouraged to get together for a coffee date with the winner of your door prize. If this is something you’re interested in doing, please PM Christine Hull to make arrangements.

This month’s door prizes were donated and awarded as follows:

  • Khatija Qureshi gave a 1 hour LinkedIn consultation won by Mary Kay Sales Director Fernanda Silva
  • Umbreen Shaikh from Skinfinity Aesthetics donated a photofacial, won by Mary Portillo
  • Sandi Evans Laing, from Laing Travel, donated a each bag full of travel goodies, won by Monica Dennison, who is, ironically, another travel agent!
  • Marta Andrade, from Elleseven Design, donated a 30-minute branding audit, won by Wearable Neurotech’s Dianne MacMillan
  • Finally, Meera Senjaliya, a pelvic health physiotherapist, donated a free consultation, won by Violetta Haluszka, an Insurance broker

Perfect Vision for 2020

To wrap up the party, and the year, Christine asked everyone for their word of the year for 2020.  Some of the shout-outs included:

  • Power
  • Focus
  • Resilience
  • Soar (said with a Scottish accent)
  • Learn & Earn
  • Expansion
  • Self Worth
  • Belief
  • Sustainability
  • Collaboration
  • Cake
  • Fearless Fierce
  • Comfort Zone
  • Giving
  • I Can
  • Magic
  • Inspired

So ladies, looking forward through the holiday season and into the new year, think about your vision for 2020, and if you’re comfortable with it, share your word with the Group.  See you next year! Don’t forget to check our Events calendar regularly for updates.

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