Passing Under to Get Over

“Empowerment is a lot of things, but it’s really finding that strength. Finding your own strength, that’s it really…finding your strength through whatever and feeling that burning fire within, that’s what empowerment is to me. That burning flame inside that makes you want to keep going.”

What’s the best way to tie shoelaces? Yes, we’re very aware of the irony involved with she.lace asking how to tie shoelaces. Not to string you along… We’re inquiring about the method and not so much the technique. For example, there’s the “ladder”, “bow”, “zipper”, “checkerboard” just to name a few. Here’s the thing, regardless of which style you adopt we can guarantee there will be some loops, twists, passing under and going over. Seems like passing under really can get you over. Yes, yes… we need to provide more context. Well, like we always request give us until the end of the post. We’re going to give you a very “colourful and structured construction” for you to observe. In the meantime, let’s test your observational skills. When’s the last time you were in a vehicle travelling on a freeway? For some of us this is a daily occurrence (if you live in the Greater Toronto Area, go ahead and substitute “occurrence” for “headache”). This is our “ludicrous” hypothesis… In order to get onto the freeway your vehicle would have to use an “on ramp” of some sort. We believe that’s a reasonable educated guess, but here’s where our scientific study meets unknown variables. The structure of that aforementioned “on ramp” could be an incline, decline, straight path, etc. Well, like most successful scientific studies we’re going to reduce our “sample size”. Let’s focus on a specific Toronto freeway known for its intense inclines/declines: the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) a.k.a. the “Don Valley Parking Lot”. As the name implies (not our sarcastic nickname) this stretch of highway runs along what used to be Toronto’s Don River. It certainly lives up to its name because this valley makes for a route filled with ups & downs, and twists & turns. To say the least, it’s entertaining driving and beautiful scenery. The point we want you to gauge (as in speedometer,😉) is the DVP is literally a method of “passing under to get over”. When people drive along it they are passing under, the valley, one part of Toronto to get over to another. Besides, it has some pretty cool on-ramps.

When’s the last time you took a moment to analyze the on-ramp for a highway you frequently travel on? But here’s the real challenge.  Take a day, any day, to observe how many times or occurrences require you to pass under to get over. In other words, try to be conscious of how many times you “double back” when you forget something, or hit delete on the keyboard/keypad to retype, or simply reverse while making a 3-point turn. Sometimes life requires you to take “1 step backwards, in order to take 2 steps forward”. Everytime you do that you’re “passing under to get over”… This isn’t simply a “good” way to travel, it’s the only way to travel. So, we suggest you enjoy the view from below and prepare for the beautiful scenery from atop. That’s what our she.lace model does, and believe us she’s travelled along some interesting “on-ramps”. No matter if it’s been breaking for the decline or accelerating on the incline… She’s always had drive. Something tells us you’re going to like her story.


A few weeks back our post “Loving the Love” introduced you to a few women who have been showing the she.lace movement uninterrupted support. BUT there was one those supporters who’s name was not “supporting” the theme of that blog. Yes, you may recall the problematic @likelesley who appeared to wanted to be “liked” when we wanted to show her “love”. Well, we tracked down this young lady with the paradoxical name and it turns out she “likes that she’s loved”. More importantly, she ” likes to love “….no we really mean it, she loves to love others. Lesley is the definition of a ” bleeding heart”, so much so that she would donate the “blood” from that heart if she felt it could benefit others. If you’re ready for your weekly installment of empowerment… take a listen to someone who knows the value of the lessons learned from “passing under to get over”. First things first, let’s settle this name debacle once and for all.


Ahhh, so “like” is a play on words…we like it! Being “like Lesley” may be a lofty goal, but who better than her to give you a model to follow (that was an accidental pun). As she mentioned, she can show you to get voluminous and curly hair or how to use just the right amount of makeup to accentuate your natural beauty. More importantly, she can impart on you how to have a “voluminous” character and accentuate those naturally beautiful attributes you have within. Why do we have the confidence that she can help others do these things? It’s not just her, it’s her life’s journey that she takes complete ownership of and wears as a badge of honour. Lesley’s story is one that embodies the concept of “passing under to get over”, and she uses her experiences as a cautionary “maximum speed” sign for any women getting on a similar on-ramp. Since she mentioned it in the above clip we might as well find out a little more about her blog. Just like she.lace, her movement is more than just an IG page.


Probably one of the most powerful things someone can do is to take their hardships and be courageous enough to share them publicly in the hopes that others can learn, vicariously, through their experiences. This is what Lesley is fully prepared and determined to do. For Lesley, she relishes being able to use her difficulties that have transpired as a way to heal herself and the world, one woman at a time. She.lace asked Lesley to share some of those “difficult” experiences without, of course, going beyond her comfort level. Here’s how she responded:

Strong is an understatement ⬆️, and might we add jubilant. It’s actually nearly awe inspiring to observe the vibrant disposition and temperament that Lesley possess considering the trials and tribulations she’s endured.

WIth that smile and lightheartedness comes a complete understanding that it’s daily victories that help individuals win the battle of perseverance. Lesley’s ability to embrace her vulnerability is a major reason why she’s aware that she’s still passing under to get over. But, she knows the destination of the route she has embarked on:

Well, let us know when Indigo and Amazon will be selling this book, we’re going to need it for the “she.lace book club”. So, as if writing a blog, modelling and being a budding brand ambassador isn’t enough (not to mention: playing multiple instruments, avid swimmer…the list just goes on) Lesley knows how to “capture” a moment. Yes, she dabbles in photography…and yes, she also has an amazing eye which compliments her creativity. Take a look at her site. What’s more incredible than her impressive knowledge of “the rule of thirds”, “negative space” or other useful photography techniques…is the impetus for her picking up the lens:


That’s what she.lace can really refer to as changing your perspective on life. We should all strive to be so resilient to take a negative experience and funnel it into a productive outlet. Fortunately for she.lace Lesley does enjoy being in front of the camera because the camera loves her. But, she did mention that she truly enjoys being behind the camera for cathartic reasons. And, she.lace is always willing to endorse a shameless plug…so shout out to recording artist Vanessa Lu who Lesley takes photos for.

Sidebar: Of course Lesley’s selfless nature would cause her to share her moment on the  “viewfinder” with someone else. she.lace can understand that…heck, it’s what we’re all about. Plus, Vanessa Lu is actually really dope…thanks for the potential future model Lesley 😝. This girl can sing though, as Lesley would say “jeehz jeehz”:


According to Lesley, the fact that she finds “peace” at loud and rambunctious events like concerts is “weird and different”. Well, we respectfully disagree…in she.lace’s opinion it makes complete sense. Consider the concerts that Lesley attends to take photos an example of “ordered chaos”. Excuse the oxymoron, our point is that it resembles experiences in her life and her method of coping and getting through. When everything around her seems to be runamuck she’s able to cling to something that brings her joy and fulfillment and push forward. It’s kind of like being in the eye of a hurricane, finding that stillness no matter what. So, what empowers that stillness for a young lady as complex as Lesley. What empowers those, who empower others:

In a word, Lesley says it’s strength that enables empowerment. And the source of her strength…the kind of strength that can “move mountains”…is simply positivity:


“The sun rises in the East and sets in the West…” What are we going on about? Some things are the order of nature…exactly when they happen may be subject to change, but rest assure it will happen. Sooo, of course she.lace asked Lesley why she decided to model for us:

When you’re profiling an individual whose life experiences perfectly exemplifies the metaphor of “passing under to get over”… It only makes sense you take them to a place that literally requires you to pass under, to get over.


Those are the sights of the photoshoot location, and if you’re an attentive listener you might have already picked up on the sounds. If you were listening closely to the interview excerpts your ears may have picked up on the distinctive sounds of vehicles (as well as children playing). Now to be fair, vehicles as ambient noise isn’t unfamiliar at all. BUT, these vehicle sounds were emanating from the overpass that sits directly on top Toronto’s Underpass Park. In fact the overpass is the “roof” of the park, a roof that’s supported by some of the most artistic pillars you might ever come across. A fully loaded children’s playground (it even has a seesaw, so cool), basketball court, skatepark all enclosed by walls and walls of art… A true urban park in every sense of the word. The best part might be that this all exists in a repurposed alcove that sits under a busy downtown Toronto overpass.

Almost five years ago (August 2, 2012 to be exact) an underused, and apparently unwelcoming, vacant space was transformed into an urban oasis. Waterfront Toronto alongside the City of Toronto (with funding from the provincial and federal governments as well) created Canada’s most extensive, and Toronto’s first, park under an overpass. Some may suggest this was part of a larger revitalization project of the surrounding community. Be that as it may…the end result is a well designed inviting park that actually connects neighbourhoods of the West Don Lands, that were once, physically, separated. And of course, art! Speaking of which… there’s one particular installment in the park that we just couldn’t stop staring at.

The overall design direction and architect of the park was spearheaded by PFS Studio in collaboration with The Planning Partnership. HOWEVER, this mesmerizing piece of public art on display in the video above is the work of Paul Raff Studio…it’s called Mirage. Paul Raff Studio describes Mirage’s functions as: “using reflectivity to draw people into and through the space…large scale mirror-like surfaces create an illusory appearance, which bends light rays to produce a displaced image much like a mirage… It makes the low space expand upward, and it reflects and transforms the urban environment in delightful and ever-changing ways.”

Sidenote: Public art was a top priority for Waterfront Toronto when the Underpass Park was in the planning strategy phase. According to Waterfront Toronto, “Public art plays a critical role in Underpass Park…. When planning the overarching public art strategy for the West Don Lands, Underpass Park was identified as a high priority public art opportunity.” The picture below is a list of the artists who’ve contributed to the art on display in the park…looks like the public art opportunity has been seized.


Well, it’s a fitting public art display for a fitting public space. If you ever happen to be travelling over the Eastern Avenue, Richmond and Adelaide overpasses en route to or from the DVP (there’s a reason we referenced it above)…take a moment to remember the beautiful park below. A couple of turns and you’ll find yourself enjoying a 2.5 acre urban landscape just south of King Street East on Lower River Street. Lesley sure had fun.


So what sneakers does Lesley wear when she’s skateboarding, hanging from rims, posing in mirrors and climbing on banisters at the Underpass Park?


Wowzers, likelesley actually said she loves shoes… That’s unlike her. Notice she mentioned the creativy,  that can flow from a silhouette such as the Nike Roshe Run? Well, she’s partial to that particular sneaker… Extremely partial.

Roshe Galore
Lesley’s “Roshe Family”

Yeah, just a snippet of her collection of Roshe Run sneakers. So, let’s hold off on feeling sympathetic that she didn’t get a custom pair yet. Look closely at that photo though, sneaker art at its finest.

Yes, we know Lesley is wearing the Nike Flyknit Racer but there’s something perplexing about the Nike Roshe that we needed to be clarified. For us, the pronunciation of this sneaker is an example of “tamato, tomato”…”Rooch, Ro-she”. Well, the Queen of this sneaker has a PSA for anyone out there who feels the same way she.lace does:

Well, thanks for the clarification and English lesson all in one. Don’t you worry, @she.lace will be posting something in the coming weeks that will really “clear the air” when it comes to Lesley’s Roshe romance.

”I love that they’re lightweight & ‘breezy’, perfect for summer. The best part about them though is the silhouette! With such a nice slim fit they look amazing with any outfit.”

Of course Lesley would be drawn to the Nike Flyknit OG. Yes, just in case you didn’t know…the Racer was the FIRST silhouette that laid claim to the revolutionary material that took more than 10 years of research and production. Hypebeast gives a full run down of the chronological application of the Flyknit material to Nike models (pay close attention to the giant reduction in Nike’s ecological footprint this technology enables). There’s another element to the crown Queen Lesley wears on her beautiful head of curly hair. The Nike Flyknit Racer is one of many sneakers this sneaker enthusiast owns… We mean MANY. How many you ask?

Despite the sheer number of sneakers she owns, this love affair encounters serious interferences:


The Flyknit Racer is a sneaker that’s indicative of Lesley’s drive. She’s always on the go making impactful power moves, but yet still light and gentle with her approach. Having a mindset of being constantly “in motion” and doing many things simultaneously doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an individual who is conflicted, undecided or lacks commitment. It could simply mean, like Lesley, you have many avenues that you want to explore. she.lace encourages you to do exactly that…try as many things as you can. Caution, this can and will most likely lead to some challenges and pitfalls. Just remember this, the lessons you learn from “trial and error” could serve as a useful guideline for others. We truly believe the most utility in life comes from those experiences in which we have to pass under in order to get over. With that being said…this is one “on-ramp” that we should all drive on likelesley. Turning an abusive situation into one’s motivation to prevail and help heal others is nothing short of remarkable.

Next week, we’re going to show you how she.lace can help style your life from your soul to your sole.

2 thoughts on “Passing Under to Get Over

  1. Love her story and the pictures here are amazing! Especially the shot of the ceiling-mirror-art and the big, red shoe!
    Must visit Underpass Park


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