VGM: Bozena, you are originally from Poland and your family settled in Canada. Tell us about your childhood and some of the struggles you had to overcome.
I had to overcome coming from another country, not speaking English and trying to learn the new language in grade school. And let’s not forget kids are mean. I got teased because I was just learning English. That went on for years. I remember how bad I got bullied. One girl who was much bigger than myself cornered me and was trying to pick a fight with me. All of her friends were watching and laughing. She accused me of saying something that I never said. I couldn’t wait until school was finished. I am 6 feet tall now. So I was always one of the tallest kids in school. I wore glasses. I didn’t wear the clothes the other kids did because my parents were making sure they could provide for their children. So needless to say, I couldn’t wait until I graduated from high school.
Life has not come easy for you although many might believe you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You had to learn English as it was not your first language, came from another country and your family struggled when they moved from Poland. How have hardships and adversity shaped you into the person you are today?
It made me a stronger and confident human being. It made me to speak up for myself and not let anyone walk all over me. I voice my opinion when I need too. It made me a better person where I will always be kind to others and help with no expectations and for this I can sleep at night.
You mentioned being bullied as a child. How do you think this has affected you as an adult? And having children now, what do you think parents and other adults can do to combat bullying today?
I second guess myself quite a bit. It’s not something that just goes away because you get older and life happens. Deep down if something tragic happens then it all comes back to you. Then you become insecure about what you might have said. Or you listen to a friend that may be just giving you advice and you take it as an attack. Then you think you deserve it and what the person is saying to you is true. It’s a vicious circle.
My job is to do whatever I can to protect my children, especially from bullying. Parents need to communicate with their children. ALWAYS THAT IS A MUST. It does not matter how busy your life is. Do you always ask, “How was school?” “Did anything happen that upset you?” When you ask these questions on a regular basis, you have a trusting relationship with your child. The child feels comfortable. Then if there are any issues you deal with it and tell them how wrong it is to be rude to someone or to tease them. I’m just giving a few examples. But we need to teach our children to always be kind to others even if they see someone that’s not. They should not follow in their footsteps. This will also teach your child confidence and security that they will develop.
We consider you a role model for today’s modern woman. You are a businesswoman, mother and model. How do you manage to wear so many hats and do you believe women can truly have it all?
I came from a hard working European family. There was no such thing as “can’t do it”. I watched my mom do it all and it was just how I was raised. I didn’t know any differently. Yes, of course I believe women can have it all. I wanted to have children. I took my children to work with me. I took my children to all my appointments. Whatever you want in your life you go for. It’s not easy to start. There’s a hiccup along the way. But you deal with that at that time and make it work with all that is already in your life.
You are extremely busy and time for you alone is precious. What do you do with your own time and how do you choose to spend it?
I don’t ever stop. Spending time alone with my children and watching Netflix is my relaxing time with them. Being divorced you get that alone time. So I have learned to lock myself at home and watch either comedies or romantic dramas. Maybe I have a glass of wine. I also enjoy having my closest girls over for wine and lots of laughs. That’s what I look forward too.
You were married, had children and are now divorced. What advice do you have for women who are at similar crossroads in their lives. How did you move forward to create a new life for yourself and your children?
You never go into a marriage thinking you are going to divorce. But it happens and you go through a grieving process. There’s no time limit on how long you grieve for. It’s different for everyone. You have no choice but to move forward. If you don’t, you will bury yourself in a place where it will be hard to get out of. You will pity yourself. I was at my worst when I was going through my divorce and I had three little ones to take care of. It was a long process. You have your highs and lows. But after going through all that pain I finally got stronger and kept getting stronger because life was still throwing stones at me. I was focusing on what I wanted to do and what I enjoy doing, especially with my children. That was my only focus. I started to create my own life and my own hobbies. Which felt at that time like babies steps that I was taking. But all that got me to where I am now.
You know the importance of giving back. What charities or organizations are important to your heart and why?
I am all for charities to help in anyway because it’s always a good cause. I am helping to organize the fashion show for the Windsor Symphony Orchestra Guild. It’s a very important event. During the Christmas holidays, my boys play hockey and the coach in that league asks parents to help families that are in need. It’s optional. They don’t have clothes, toys for kids or food. We always try to help and get other parents on the team too. Sick kids Toronto Charity holds a very special place in my heart. My daughter as a newborn was diagnosed with a “co arc aorta”. Seven days after birth she was rushed in a helicopter to Toronto Sick Kids. After that we had nothing but bad news. We were there for 6 weeks. Thankfully she had surgery and is doing excellent since. I am so blessed for the cardiac floor. Wonderful staff.
Tell us about your passion for fitness and why it has been such a focal point in your life?
I have always had a passion for fitness. I would go twice a day at times. Then I started to work at a fitness club, from sales to personal training. Now I am a fitness spin instructor. Working out keeps you healthier in every aspect. You have more energy even if you think you don’t or don’t have it in you. You sleep much better. It keeps you from being depressed. My children know the how important it is to stay healthy by working out at the gym. I put them through a workout at home all the time and they love it. I get women asking me for advice on how they can get leaner and healthier. I love helping them because I want them to get to where they want too. When they leave happy and confident, they look up to you for guiding them on the right path. This is what I live for.
You mentioned that clean eating is important to you. What words of advice do you have for someone who is attempting to change his or her diet to a healthier lifestyle? Do you have any simple, favorite recipes you would like to share with us?
It is very important to eat preservative free. By this I mean gluten free and GMO free. Since my children were babies I started them on only organic free. Then I did the same for myself gradually as it took time to find which brands were truly organic. In my household you will only find organic. That’s all my children know.
If you are going to try to change your lifestyle by eating healthier, start by buying gluten free and GMO free. You will start feeling better, more energetic. Also, try clean water with lemon squeezed in at least once a day. It’s a nice antioxidant and offers hydration that our body needs. Coconut water lives in my house. I drink it like it’s candy. I love it so much. It has great electrolytes and it is the best hydration for our skin. At one point of my life I was very stressed and didn’t eat well. That lasted more than a few months. I drank always lots of coconut water. After a few weeks I noticed how glowing my skin was. I felt better too. I have some recipes. But I make my own up as I go as I love to cook.
You have mentioned the importance of gratitude. How do you express gratitude on a daily basis? And also, what are you grateful for today that you might have taken for granted before?
I’m here and alive. I have a roof over my head and I have food to put on the table. I have three wonderful, happy children that make me smile and my heart is full because of them. Life is too short to take life for granted. But I have taken life for granted long ago. What was all in front of me I ignored and didn’t appreciate.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Travelling for work, investing in properties, of course travelling for modeling. I want to continue travelling with my children. It’s something we always enjoy together. I want to continue helping others, especially when needed. That’s a given to me.
Who is the person who you believe has shaped you and most influenced you so far in life? And why?
The only answer I have for that is myself. I can’t say I have just that one person who has influenced me. I have my family of course. I have my closest friends that I keep close to me that have been an amazing support throughout my roller coaster journey. But I don’t have that one person that just influenced me. I did that all by myself. I can actually confidently say that.
Do you have any regrets? And if so, what are they?
This is a tough question to answer. But yes. I regret counting on a man financially. Being a stay-at-home mom and then life happens and you divorce. Then you feel stuck and only counting on his support for years when you have children together. They act as they have more power over you. It’s a horrific feeling. Then you are starting from the bottom and you are low already. But it’s much worse when you have to count on that support. That’s my only important regret in my life.
What can we look forward to seeing you in in the future?
Being in a magazine is my dream. Yes, I have done a few trips to Miami and had bikini shoots, New York for fashion. And in LA I just finished shooting lingerie and that I’m excited to see that. All these are great photographers that I have shot with. My own website these will be on to see.