With a blink… it’s March

181b03584b88e11c0aa9485bb4fad232I’m a planner. A big one. In the beginning of January, I would have told you I knew how 2014 was going to play out. I’d be back to training, running — racing! I’d be engaged with my work and the value I was adding to the community. I would have opportunities to travel and perhaps make that trip to Ireland happen this summer. I’d be in in the usual whirlwind of dating. I’d be keen, excited — and trying to make it.

It’s funny how much can change in the blink of an eye.

It’s been a wild 6 weeks. It feels like my entire life was thrown in the air, jumbled up like a big load of laundry and landed square in front of me — with a “figure it out.”

Everything and nothing has changed.

I’ve had moments of absolute bliss, as high as you can possibly be on cloud nine and the happiest I’ve been in ages. I’ve also had the worst anxiety of my life, been completely overwhelmed and ended the day in tears.

One thing I know for sure is that during periods of change, growth is inevitable. You can either resist change — or you can accept it. The key is to focus on what you can control {like your thoughts and actions} and figure out how to process the rest. I fully acknowledge that life continually teaches us lessons and at some point, we’ll reflect back on life and see how the pieces fit into the puzzle.

I don’t know what I’ve ‘achieved’ over the last month, but I do know that I’ve been blessed to learn a ton. I’ve been at my most vulnerable, unsure if I would be accepted. I’ve dug deep inside me to find strength. I’ve leaned in and asked for help. I’ve put full trust in others. I’ve spent days doing absolutely nothing and totally over the moon about it. I’ve made commitments to myself surrounding boundaries, balance and taking care of me. I’ve been my best self. I’ve been my worst self. I’ve rocked out some days, I’ve totally screwed up other days — but slowly, but surely, I’ve made progress.

10 things I’ve learned {and re-learned} in 6 weeks:

  1. The past does not equal the future. Reflect on the past, stay focused on the present and work towards the future.
  2. Setting boundaries is a way of caring for yourself. Pay attention to the people and places that energize and drain you.
  3. Nourish your spirit by taking care of your soul. Get some fresh air, slow down, sleep.
  4. Never underestimate the power of a hug. They can turn a bad day into a good day — and a good day into a great day.
  5. Laughter is an instant vacation. Laugh until your belly hurts. And then do it again. And again.
  6. Sleep solves everything. Fact.
  7. Say thank you. Show appreciation for anyone and everyone who brightens your day.
  8. Let go of who you think you should be — and just be who you are.
  9. You don’t have to have everything figured out all at once.
  10. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe deep. Repeat.

Life is by no means bad, it’s just different. And I think I like… different.

Embracing the unknown and headed into March filled with light and love.

“Of course there is no formula for success except, perhaps, an unconditional acceptance of life and what it brings.” – Arthur Rubinstein

We all have a story to tell

I’m pretty sure I started blogging back in 2004, may have been 2003. My blog looked very different back then — both in look/feel and content. I wrote all in lower case for one! I shared every deep dark secret from the early years in uni and I believe I had about 5 followers — all of who were my closest friends. Over time it evolved into the beast it is today.

It took me a long time to get comfortable with putting my personal self out to the professional world, and my professional self out to the personal world. Everything I had been told in my early 20’s reinforced that you need to put a cookie cutter version of yourself out to the corporate world. For a long time… I did just that.  Mentally, I struggled with separating the two. For me — it wasn’t black and white. My content was all over the place — everything from the future of work to a dating tragedy to balancing work/school to a mental meltdown to my latest travel plans. I would start writing about dating and tie it back to employee experience. I would write about work/life balance and tie it back to employee health and the latest travel deal. I’m sure to the average reader, it was a bit chaotic.

At some point — I think around 2010 — I said to myself: I’m stressed out over blog logistics. This is stupid. I re-branded my blog, poured my heart into writing and finally accepted the fact that I was going to put ME out to the world. Whatever content I wanted to write, I would write. I knew that I only wanted to work for companies that would accept me, for me. I didn’t want to have to be a tamed down version of myself, I wanted to be authentic, vulnerable — and me. I knew that the people I wanted in my life would accept that.

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A few months ago, I randomly heard about the Canadian Weblog Awards. I checked out the competition, submitted a few nominations and posted about it on my social networks. A week ago they shortlisted to top 5 in each category and I was stoked to find out that a few of my nominees — and myself — made the cut!

Today I checked my email to find out that the final winners have been announced — and I was included! That’s kinda crazy, eh!!

Why do I write? I write because reflection allows me to move forward. I write because education is super important to me and the internet seems like a pretty good place to elevate your voice. I write because maybe, just maybe, someone will find comfort in my words and realize that we’re all in this together.

Thank you to whoever nominated me and to everyone who has been along for this journey. So many greats blogs were nominated, make sure to check out the winners across the 34 categories. THRILLED that 2 of my fabulous {and very deserving} friends also won:

What blogs do I read? About a bazillion a week– some of which I’m a regular and others I just stumble upon through link sharing on social. :)

Here are a few of my favourites:

  • A Life Less Bullshit: Nicole writes about creating a life that you love and she’s a pretty badass human being too!
  • Hooray Collective: Cool people doing cool shit — and then talking about it.
  • Marika Richoz: Marika spills out truth bombs and seriously I think people do cartwheels and give high fives every time she posts!
  • Steph Corker: A must follow on the Ironman and Luon scene, Steph is always inspiring everyone around her to dream big.
  • Team Ninja: Elliot & Tom have been blogging their running journey, always authentic and generally entertaining.
  • Mary Beth LaRue: Mary Beth is a yogini, living her most blissful life — she writes posts that always hit your heart.
  • Little Lessy: Allessia has a mad eye for design, typography and finding simplicity in a big city.
  • The Day Book: Sydney has always intrigued me with the tales of her life  — filled to the brim with love, fashion and the sweetest little boy.

Stalk them, find one that’s up your alley, then add it to your favourites — you won’t regret it!

Lastly, thank you to the Elan Morgan and the Canadian Weblog Awards. Major love to everyone involved. xo

PS – Thinking about getting into writing? This post by Leo Babatua on ZenHabits is EXACTLY why I write — and it offers tips on how to get started writing too!

Professional Selfies

I’ve been thinking about getting new headshots for quite some time, like probably 2 years. The last ones I had were taken in 2010 and although I loved them, they’re just not me anymore. I have evolved — and also, no longer have bangs. :)

A week or so ago, my girlfriend, Erin, posted on her Facebook recommending Chris Thorn Photography. It was short, sweet and she pretty much just said that Chris was a great guy. I got in touch with him, made an appointment and planned to meet up while I was on vacay.

Growing up I was NEVER comfortable with having my photo taken. I hated it. Bleh. I clearly remember someone trying to take my photo at Christmas in 1996. At that exact movement, I had braces, an eye patch over my right eye {long story} and I was an awkward tween. I avoided pictures and cameras like the plague. In 2003, I moved to Calgary, started university and learned that photos were a part of university culture. I definitely had a desire to fit in and soon after, taught myself to fake smile. The dreaded fake smile. Let me tell you, the fake smile, helped me for years and years — even sometimes, helps me to this day.

I arrived at Chris’ studio nervous and crossing my fingers that he was truly a good dude and not a nut bar. I really really really appreciate authenticity and warmth in a person. Chris was exactly that. He made me comfortable, we laughed and soon enough I told him that I used to hate having my photo taken. He was like – wha? We got over that quickly. I truly felt like Chris had my back throughout the process. I was crystal clear with what I needed — casual, warm, headshots that looked like ME. He moved quick, told me how to find my inner America’s Next Top Model and soon enough, he had taken a bazillion photos. 

Within a couple days, he had about 40 images back to me and told me I needed to choose a few. You know how hard that is? I went photo through photo judging my smile trying to determine if it was fake or genuine. Then I went to a few friends and made them vote {typical Type A behaviour}. The end result? A few photos that I love. Photos that are ME. 

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Chris, thank you. I am totally over the moon with both the experience and the outcome. Thank you for being you — and thank you for bringing out the best in me.

PS – A pile of people have asked me why I would get headshots taken? Seriously folks, having a nice photo of yourself is necessary in today’s world! No one wants to see a cropped bar photo — perhaps they never did… They want to see a quality photo that showcases YOU. My main objective in getting my photos taken was for speaking gigs, but seriously whether you want to use them for your LinkedIn profile or for an award submission or for your Outlook profile photo at work — you will find a use for them! Promise.

Dreaming Big – Part 1: Vision Boards

A few nights ago I started thinking about goals. It was random and motivating and ended up turning  into one long, very nerdtastic, project.

In 2010, I created my first vision board! I closed out 2009 with some very big goals for the upcoming year. I was entering into my final year of university and I had a number of intentions: get my degree, complete my designation, keep on track for 5 years of well-rounded HR experience and begin creating my personal brand. 2010 was the year I got involved in social media {really learned and understood why Twitter is rad!}. It was also probably my most successful year of my career.  I figured out what I was good at. I interviewed with executives across the country. I had job offer after job offer. I was recognized for my contributions to the community and my industry. I had opportunity after opportunity presented to me. And, I was happy. Pretty sure I was sleeping 8 hours a night back then too. ;)

I account a lot of my successes that year to dreaming big and staying focused. I had a personal board of directors who kept me in check, a mentor to push me into the uncomfortable and goals that aligned with my personal and professional growth. The year was by no means perfect — Exhibit A, Exhibit B — but did I learn a hell of a lot and did it contribute to who I am today? You bet.

I have no idea where I first learned about vision boards, maybe elementary school. :) I am a visual learner and liked the idea because I thought it would help my dreams come to life. In 2010, I wrote all my goals and then transformed it into a visual. Pretty straightforward.

This year, I approached things a little bit different. 

I’m 100% not ready to write my goals for 2014. I’m still focused on getting through this year and doing a lot of reflection on what worked and didn’t work. I’m very committed to reflection, learning from the past and moving forward with intentions. I feel like I gotta get to the end of the year, get on a plane to the UK, sleep a bit,  figure out what I’ve learned  this year and then write about it. Writing has always helped me move forward. 

I decided I would create a vision board based on my gut. What’s important to me right now, in this very instant? What am I not focusing on, that I really should be focusing on? Who do I want to be? What do I want to achieve in 2014?

A couple of hours later, I ended up with this:

Capture

Whoa, eh.

You know when something — just works? I put the finishing touches on my vision board and knew I’d hit the mark. It gave me clarity, inspiration and showed me what I’m working towards: strength, vulnerability, stillness, gratitude and embracing me for me. 

Next up, I plan to write my goals {and make them public!}, find a mentor and re-jig my personal board of directors. All good problems to have.

Interested in making your own vision board? Sweet!

A little advice from me to you:

  1. Brainstorm, dream and dig deep. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What gets you jazzed up and talking with your hands? What could you talk about with a stranger till the sun comes up? What is eating away at your brain and something you know you need to focus on?
  2. Do a sanity check with yourself. Did your “dreaming” land you on a tropical island with your mega babe husband, with wads of cash tucked into your bikini, a bling of a ring on your finger and a butler waiting for you with your glass of champagne? Similar to writing goals, you’re not going to want to create a “yeah-freaking-right-this-is-unachieveable-in-one-year board.” ;) Think about what REALLY matters to you — to your core. Start there. Be honest with yourself about what you want. There is no right or wrong. Just remember that you’re human.
  3. Find pictures — whether it be words or images. Pinterest and Google are both great starting places. Drop in keywords {could be related to your career, relationships, health or any items on your bucket list} and scroll through images. This process in itself will get you thinking even more outside the box about what you’re looking for.  When you find images you like, save them all to your desktop.
  4. Send Oprah some gratitude. In my opinion, Oprah has got the best tool on the internet for creating a vision board. Check it out and if it works for you, use it! I always loved Oprah’s web application because it allowed you to export it as .jpg, send to your mentors, save it in your Dropbox, etc.  You can also do an old-school vision board with magazines, scissors, glue, etc! 
  5. Get clear on what you want. When you start uploading pictures to your board, you’ll realize that you don’t love some or they weren’t what you originally intended. My best advice? Go with the flow. Find your focus. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Your vision board will be a work in progress and it’ll take a bit for you to be like — whoa, that’s it. 
  6. Keep it top of mind. Make your desktop background your vision board. How’s that for staying present on your goals? Alternatively, you could print it out and pin it up at work or on the fridge at home.
  7. Share it. I’m a big believer in sharing goals. Personally, it keeps me in check with myself and holds me accountable. Whether you want to blog about it, share it with your sister, brother or best friend, or send your mentor a note with your game plan… I’d encourage you to get comfortable with involving others in your journey.
  8. Take action. What’s stopping you? Like Amber Rae says — nothing. Get moving. Hustle. Figure out what you want and GET AFTER IT.
  9. Go with the flow. You may achieve a few things on your vision board — or you may achieve all of it. You will grow over the course of the coming year and your intentions may change. Be flexible and adapt as you evolve.

Dreaming big in 2014? Excited to head down this little journey? Keen on making a vision board or stoked on setting goals? Let me know what you’re working towards, I’d love to be a part of your journey.

PS – I turn 30 in 6 months. Like exactly, 6 months today. Eep. If anyone knows how to process that, please let me know. xo

Three Years Ago

Three years ago… I flew from Calgary to Vancouver for my first speaking gig.

Three years ago… a young woman approached me post-session wanting to chat about her brand.

Three years ago… I met Stephanie Wiriahardja.

Two years ago… she wrote this post.

Tomorrow… we take the stage.

Together as a duo, sharing our story.

Thank you to YWiB Simon Fraser for the opportunity. Catch the highlights on Twitter via #YWiBYou.

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Stephanie and me at TEDxKidsBC 2013

15 Q’s: Lunch with the Ladies

LWTL: If you could trade shoes with someone for a day who would it be and why?

JW: Hands down it would be Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor & National Advocate at the United Nations Foundation. She used to work side by side with Kofi Annan, she’s an incredible public speaker and she’s a mover & shaker committed to solving global issues. I had the privilege of hearing Gillian speak at a UN Summit in 2012 and I would bend over backwards to peer inside her world.

Read More: Lunch with the Ladies’s Blog

#33Coffees

RSVP 33: What advice would you like to share?

Jillian said an important thing she learned was to outsource the work she didn’t want to do. Learning that her time is valuable and choosing where she spent it was a huge lesson for her when she worked as a consultant. Even if you’re capable of doing the work, if you hate it and it takes you four hours and a lot of mental anguish to complete a two hour task, it’s worth it to hire it out. And in life, if you hate cleaning, hire a cleaner.

Read More: RSVP33’s Blog

Don’t Sell to Me Dude

Gaping Void

Once upon a time there was an idiot who liked to sell. He called every week. He sent email after email – often multiple times a week. He added features to my plan without figuring out if they were helpful. He continually connected me to more people in his organization – introductions up the ying. Later I would find out that the people were additional Sales Representatives. More people who didn’t know how to sell – gah. He’d bundle additional products onto my plan, before finding out if I’m even keeping the plan. :| Day after day he continually showed that he had no idea how to sell and was making a desperate plea to save the relationship.

Here’s the thing… I don’t like being sold to. And does anyone? I’m not convinced.

I’m not an expert on sales or business development – not my comfort zone in the least. One thing I know for sure is a large part of selling in today’s world is about building relationships.

Connect with your client – like really connect with them. Build trust, listen to them, show you value their relationship. Understand their business, products and what they need. Ask questions to show you’re curious. Value their time. Share your knowledge on the industry and competing products. Admit when you’re wrong.

We live in a community of choice.

Products compete against each other and we {the buyer} have the power to choose which product we want.

BOOM. Scary world for sales dudes who don’t know how to sell.

The key question that a sales dude {or lady} needs to ask him/herself is: How do I add value?

Seriously. That’s the golden ticket!

If you add value and probably, make their life easier, you will do well. In today’s world, adding value isn’t a nice to have, it’s a requirement.

“Stop selling. Start helping.” – Zig Ziglar

Want to learn more? I loved this podcast from “Don’t Sell Me Bro:” Episode 9 – Just Say No to Sales.

Must Follow, Say What?

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In November I received an email from Corinne at The Social Media Network advising that I was nominated in one of the award categories for the Vancouver Social Media Awards 2013!

I had been following along with the discussion surrounding the social media awards on Twitter for the past couple of weeks — but I was totally caught off guard to receive the nomination. I was asked to confirm availability {they have a few events shakin’ down in the Spring} and they advised they would be knocking down the nominations to ‘Top 7’ in each category by mid-December.

Last week The Social Media Network confirmed that they received 150 nominations — pretty wicked if you ask me. There are 8 categories… 4 for students {best student blog, best social video channel, best social media, must follow} and 4 for industry {best company blog, best social video channel, best social media campaign, must follow}.

A few minutes ago I heard from the crew and they told me I placed Top 7 for the Must Follow of 2013 Award!!

The Must Follow of 2013 award recognizes a single company or professional as an MVP using social media. An ideal candidate for Must Follow of 2013 should exhibit the following qualities:

  • Has a strong personal brand that utilizes and engages using social media
  • Actively uses multiple social platforms
  • A trendsetter that inspires others to emulate best social media practices
  • Exhibits knowledge on a niche topic that inspires insightful conversations online
  • Engages customers in a meaningful way

This award will be given to a single company or professional who excels in social media branding/marketing, whether it’s through Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, G+, etc.

So I can add this to my resume right? ;)

I started tweeting solely because a few colleagues I met on conference in Tunisia told me I had to be on it. I started blogging because I love to write and lost the key to my diary. I got on the beast that is Facebook because that’s what all the cool kids were doing. I’m on Google+ …. um, haven’t figured out why yet. I’m on YouTube because I needed a place to showcase video.

2013 Vancouver Social Meida Awards nominee

All of the social media networks are tools. The reason I use any of them is education and communication — whether sending or receiving.

Simple as that.

So what’s next? The Top 7 will be whittled down to Top 3. This will take place during the Spring and then the Top 3 will battle it out in person on March 28, 2013!

Exciting times!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you!

Now I just need to find out who nominated me. Come forward, tell me, tell me!

PS – This city is full of talented, amazing folks who totally get digital and social. Crazy amazing. Start listening and engaging. Let them in your life. Soak up their knowledge. Learn from them.

 

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From 28 to 38

Thanks to a nudge from my friend, Michelle, who is a dynamo at Lululemon Athletica, tonight I wrote my 1 year, 5 year and 10 year goals (exciting and stressful all at the same time).

1 YEAR

  • I will be dairy free by December 2012.
  • I will yoga it up (power/yin) 3x a week by January 2013.
  • I will complete the UBC Duathlon by March 2013.
  • I will run a sub-2:00 Half Marathon in Vancouver by August 2013.
  • I will write an e-book on career development by September 2013.
  • I will speak at an international conference on rethinking HR by October 2013.

5 YEARS

  • I will pay off my undergraduate student loans by December 2013.
  • I will travel to India to teach youth about entrepreneurship by December 2014.
  • I will take 1 ‘mind-body-soul’ me-cation a year by June 2015.
  • I will attend the global TED conference by March 2016.
  • I will run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon with my best friend by October 2016.
  • I will complete my Master of Arts in International Communications by August 2017.

10 YEARS

  • I will teach part-time at Simon Fraser University by December 2017.
  • I will run the Boston Marathon by April 2018.
  • I will devour every ounce of South Africa by March 2019.
  • I will support/mentor Scoliosis patients at BC Childrens Hospital by December 2020.
  • I will write and publish a book by June 2021.
  • I will consult with the UN Foundation on solving global issues by December 2022.

BOOM.

You know what’s scary? I actually think I can do it — and the goal I’m most confident on is the last one. Eeep!

Some people will read this post and think I’m doomed for a nervous breakdown — or  think yah right, like this will ever happen. Others will read it and think — power to yah girl!

I’m a goal setter. It’s who I am. 

I have no doubt that my goals will change and evolve based on the experiences I have over the next few years. Guess what? I’m ok with that.

Regardless if it’s working towards running the Boston Marathon {god help me} — or raising goats in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan {not in the plan, but you never know}, I’m a big believer in moving forward, learning, challenging myself — and most importantly, being happy with where I’m at and where I’m headed.

Lululemon’s goal setting worksheet was extremely helpful in writing my goals and if you want to jump on the goal setting train, I’d highly recommend checking it out.

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