10 Days to Celebrate 10 Years

When I came back from London, I threw up a quick post highlighting how the trip was everything I could have asked for and more.

The last time I went to London it was 2005. I was 21 and headed on Contiki {If you’ve never heard of Contiki, please google it. If you’re under 25, it’s an absolute must do!}… high level: 5 weeks, 10 countries, 50 youth — rowdy. It’s fair to say that I don’t recall a lot about the London, other than I loved it. We did a lot of touristy stuff back then, so it was super great that I didn’t have to add that crap to the list this time. :)

This time, I flew out on the red eye Christmas Eve, arriving into Gatwick on Christmas Day. Fun fact about the UK… they shut down on Christmas Day. Yep, like no transit, no trains, no nothing. Melissa had arranged for a car service to pick me up, so before you knew it I was en route to West Hampstead.

I don’t travel well, like… don’t. travel. well. I love to travel, but the thought of being on a plane for more than a couple of hours stresses me right out. On this flight, I lucked out. {Merry Christmas to me!}. The plane was probably half full and I scored 3 seats — woop!

I arrived at Melissa’s with a — holy shit, I can’t believe I’m actually here. It’s somewhat a bizarre feeling to sleep most of a flight and wake up in a different country. Anyways, it was officially Christmas Day and to celebrate we caught up and ate swordfish. Probably the most non-traditional Christmas I’ve ever had. And you know what? It was perfect. :)

I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn’t make a lot of ‘plans’ during this trip. I needed to go with the flow. I needed to relax. I needed to recharge. We took each day as it came, went with the flow and adapted as necessary.

On my first full day in the UK, we toured around Central London — 17,000 steps later, we had covered Oxford Street, Mayfair, Embankment, Southbank and Bermondsey. London was quite a bit more chilly than I was expecting, so the cold kept up our pace and it was lovely to have a local as a tour guide. We popped into a cafe for tea, then a pub for mulled wine and just enjoyed each other.

Melissa and I go way back to 2003. I had met her through friends when I was in first year at the University of Calgary. We had ridiculous times together. She was an English major {and brainiac} and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. When we weren’t attending classes, we were making a disgrace of ourselves at the university bar, going to costume parties and having an absolute blast. 

When I had arrived, I had given Melissa a card that she wasn’t allowed to open until Boxing Day evening. Once we got back to her flat, I told her it was time!! She opened the card to learn that we were headed away for the weekend {high five to me keeping a secret from her!}… destination: unknown! She was all stressed out about what to pack and I kept on playing mind games with her to make her think we were leaving the country. :)

The next morning we were up bright and early, en route to the train station. With this whole “no plans vacation,” normal day-to-day crap that would normally stress you out {i.e. tube construction, train delays, etc} didn’t phase me at all. A few hours later, we were on the train and moving at snail pace. When we got to our stop, I told her — we’re here! The mystery destination was — Bath, UK aka a beautiful town full of history, roman baths and a divine boutique hotel.

We spent the weekend seeing the local sights — Royal Crescent, The Circus, Pulteney Bridge and explored via the cobble stone streets. I had tweeted Alastair Coote {born in Bath, lived in Vancouver, now in NYC} for his recos, so make sure to keep them top of mind if you have Bath on your bucket list! Our hotel was perfect, the Thermae Bath Spa was the perfect cure for our hangover and the restaurants we ate at were incredible. Other than spraining my ankle {more to come on that later}, the weekend was absolutely perfect. That is until we left Bath to head back to London — and got on the wrong train… headed in the wrong direction…

Once we were back and sorted in London, Melissa and I had a quick chat about the next few days. We had plans for NYE — headed to a dinner party at her colleague’s house, but other than that… NO PLANS. Hurrah. I got on the Google and figured out a few places I wanted to check out.

On Sunday, we explored Camden and then headed to Leciester Square, Covent Garden, Chinatown and Picadilly Circus. The last time I was in London I remember having just awful food, so this time I went on a mission for good eats. Melissa and I had come up with a list of the places we wanted to fill our bellies with yum. Sagar in Covent Garden was on the list.

One thing I absolutely loved about this trip was that we took our mornings easy. We woke up, had tea, made breakfast, showered when we felt like it and got out of the house when we were ready. On Monday, Melissa headed into work for the day and I went exploring. I met up with a friend from Calgary in the afternoon and then Melissa and I headed to Soho for dinner. Melissa introduced me to Regent Street and Lexington Street — big shopping streets and they both kinda gave me anxiety. So. Many. People.

On New Years Eve, it POURED with rain. The only day I wish I had my Hunter boots with me. We headed down to Borough Market for local eats and a coffee, then made our way to Soho for lunch at Mildred’s aka the top vegetarian restaurant in the city. Divine.

I love fireworks, like, LOVE FIREWORKS. Part of me wanted to head down to the chaos in Central London with the kazillion of people and experience the show. The other part of me knew that was exactly the opposite of how I needed to end the the year and get started off on a great note. Instead, Melissa and I headed to Latifa’s house for incredible food, red wine, Cards of Humanity and a ton of laughs. We closed down the party around 3 and headed back to Melissa’s to drink another bottle of wine and went to bed just before the sun came up. We must have been channeling our inner 20 year old’s. :)

The next few days flew by… Melissa and I talked about what worked and didn’t work in  2013 and what changes we wanted to make as we entered the new year. Our last day together was spent in Westminster, Victoria Street and Pimlico. We met up for breakfast with our friend, Dan, and then ran over to Westminster Abbey to get one last photo. I had forgot about Westminster Abbey. It’s breathtaking and I’m so glad we squeezed it in before I ran to the train.

My flight home was awful. To my left was a girl throwing up the whole flight, to my right was a guy with “man cold.” I sat there for 10 hours assuming I would either arrive home with the plague or die mid-flight.

I’m still alive to tell this story — so, moving on…

If you head to London, these are my musts:

Sights

  • London Bridge. It’s gorgeous — especially at sunset.
  • Covent Garden. There are tons of cute stores in the Market, the performers outside are entertaining and all the patios are heated!!
  • Soho. Located in London’s West End, Soho is the mecca of fantastic food and drinks. 
  • Borough Market. Filled to the brim with fresh food, culture and good vibes. Check their hours before you pop over!
  • Primrose Hill. Best view of the whole city.

Restaurants

  • Wahaca in Soho. Try the plantain tacos, black bean tostadas and sweet potato & feta taquitos. Off the hook.
  • Mildred’s in Soho. Organic, vegetarian and ah-maz-ing. Try it all.
  • The Orange in Pimlico. We hit it up for brunch. You can’t go wrong with an omelette and mint tea.
  • Green Rocket Cafe in Bath. Again, vegetarian. Cute cafe that does breakfast, lunch or dinner. Small town feel with an unreal menu.
  • Yak Yeti Yak in Bath. The most fantastic meal I’ve had in ages. We had the cauli pakora, yak yeti yak chicken, aloo channa, bhuteko bhat, a couple of Nepalese beer and ended our night with the chiyaa ice cream. To die for.

What did I learn while away?

  1. It’s a waste of energy to stress about things that are not in your control. Take a deep breath, re-evaluate and remove yourself from the stress.
  2. Going with the flow isn’t a bad thing. Forget this YOLO/FOMO crap, it is hugely empowering to do just do whatever you want.
  3. It’s crazy important to take time for YOU. Maybe it’s a trip away, maybe it’s time with your best friend, maybe it’s time on your own. Figure out what your soul needs — and do just that.

I recently discovered a new iPhone app called Replay. It helped me turn a whole pile of photos into this cute video! My heart is beaming. 10 days in London was an absolutely wonderful break from reality:

Melissa, thank you for 10 years of life, laughter and love. Blessed to call you my friend. xo

Kicking Off 2014

Last night I returned back to Vancouver after spending the last 10 days in London with my best friend, Melissa.

We’ve both had a tough year and the one thing we both knew was that the best possible way to move forward into 2014… was with each other. The trip was everything I could of asked for — and more. We celebrated our friendship {we meet 10 years ago at the University of Calgary!}, honoured our past and got giddy over the future.

Cheers to laughter, friendship and creating new memories.

MJreunion

January 2nd – Westminster Abbey

Friends, Sunset & SUP = #BestLife

“Here’s to the moments where we chose to celebrate life, simply because it was worth it.” 

Thank you to Vancouver, we love you [the t-shirt project] for creating a community of rad, adventure-seekin’, Vancouver-lovin folks, Red Paddle Co for the sweet SUP boards and ZERBIN for the tunes.

Summer in Vancouver

Perfect summer night in Vancouver.

A Lonely Connected Life

I often turn online relationships into in-real-life. I meet incredible people online, why wouldn’t I want to meet them in person? Upon meeting, I often get the same response:

Thank you for meeting with me. I know how busy you are.

Wow, you know so many people. Your calendar must be packed. 

You have so many friends.

Regardless of meaning to, people sum you up before they meet you. I pride myself on being very much like my online persona. People meet me and say — you’re one in the same and that’s refreshing. So they know the basics… I’m extroverted, love to chat, work in HR and I’m always out and about in the community. But then comes the assumptions, I’m popular {because I have a ‘following’ obviously}, I’m intimidating {because I throw down the smack obviously}, I’m organized {because I’m involved with a lot of things obviously}, I’m loaded {because I live the sweet life obviously} and I’m spoiled {because my parents totally took care of me obviously.}

All of it makes me laugh. Just a wee bit ridiculous. Popular? Well in high school I was totally introverted and more academic, book worm than gossip girl. I have friends that I love, yes — but I wouldn’t call it 90210. Intimidating? I have a bit of a no-bullshit way to life and I definitely voice my opinion whenever I get the chance. I get this more from guys, then girls… I think it may have to do with gender norms than anything else. Organized? I’m the worst. Do I have my heart in my work and life? Absolutely. I respond to meeting requests weeks late, my email Inbox is a disaster, tweets overwhelm me and I haven’t checked the voicemail on my landline since September 2011. Loaded? I was raised well but my parents didn’t pay for everything growing up. I spend the money most would use for a house downpayment on travelling the world and I shop at H&M rather than Holt Renfrew. Spoiled? I spoil myself from time to time, does that count? ;) This week I went for a mani/pedi — and I loved it.

I usually just look at people in shock and say:

Stop being crazy. I’m just me.

Over the last 8 years the online world has had a much bigger impact on my life. I’ve had the opportunity to connect and meet with incredible people. People who I hold close to my heart and would do anything for. I’ve had the opportunity to grow my brand and have a voice in the community. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much about myself and the world. I’ve had the opportunity to give back to others through a new medium.

Every so often, I get home on a Friday night, check Facebook to see what I missed, laugh over the latest Instagram pics, respond to the 30 mentions on Twitter — and then think whoa. Not whoa I just spent 30 mins on social media, but whoa no one called tonight… whoa I never called anyone tonight. It’s 8pm on a Friday — it’s been a hell-ish week and I just want to go out for a glass of wine.

Where are my friends?

Regardless of all the positives of social media and living in a connected world — in-real-life relationships are still gold.

Over the last year, I’ve probably been the worst friend that I’ve been in my whole life. I constantly feel pulled in a million directions and I often don’t keep up with the time quality friendships require. I tend to ‘book’ friends, whether that mean scheduling them in the calendar or blocking time to ‘save’ for friends. I send birthday cards late. I go 2 months without seeing a friend, even though I’ve been thinking about them everyday.  Couple all of that with the fact we have shifted to a world of Facebook announcements — everything from the new baby to the marriage to the new job to the cancer scare. And if you miss the update? Bad friend alert.

As a generation, we have to commit to knowing everything about our friends through two channels. Remember the days when you would talk to your friend every 24 hours and catch up on what happened at school, the fight you just had with your mom and what you thought of the boy down the street? If you were really intense you talked on the phone while watching Saved by the Bell, maybe a little MSN chat action too. You would say things like — Hey let’s hang out Friday… Ok, sounds good!

It was easy.

We live a busy, scheduled life. Social media competes with work, which competes with community involvements, and friends and family. While I was in Costa Rica in February, I missed the birth of a friend’s baby. A friend from university who I totally cherish, but because we live in separate cities now most of our communication is online. The announcement goes out on Facebook — baby born! I catch the update 3 weeks later. THREE WEEKS. I was horrified. I missed the birth of her first baby. Damn you Facebook. If I had written it down I wouldn’t have missed it, but instead I depended on technology just like it wants me to.

I share therefore I am.

If I don’t sign into Facebook everyday… I miss birthdays. If I don’t wish a happy birthday to all of these people that are mostly my friends {but gosh I don’t know, Facebook is a bit of a beast and there’s for sure people in the slew that I don’t know at all anymore} … then they will look into it. What a bitch. She didn’t wish me a Happy Birthday.

Expectations of friendship hasn’t changed — but technology has changed. And I don’t believe we’ve really thought through how the two intersect. Lines have blurred. We’ve swapped hugs for texts. We have a fear of interrupting other peoples days and plans because they might be ‘busy.’ We default to email communication and hiding behind the computer screen when we don’t want to deal with something. We text, tweet and talk at the same time.

Just because you put out a lot about yourself online doesn’t mean that the people listening are your friends. Just because you know a lot of people doesn’t mean they are quality relationships. Social media complexes the traditional ‘networking’ and friendship models.

Focus on quality over quantity.

This morning local dynamo, Sonia, shared a TED talk by Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? It was originally created for TEDxUIUC in February 2011 and has now been picked up on TED.com. The talk focuses on how we expect more of technology than we do of each other and it was a great watch.

As a global community, we are connected. As a Gen Y community, we are dependent on being connected.

This isn’t a call to action for you to be less connected. This is a call to action for you {and me} to be more aware of how you spend your time and how dependent you are on technology. Commit to yourself that you will be a good friend and value your in-real-life relationships. Do whatever you need to do to remember birthdays, weddings and all the things that matter to the ones you love.

Call people because you care. 

Send a card in the mail because you’re thinking of someone. 

Your ‘followers’ on Twitter, your ‘friends’ on Facebook, your ‘connections’ on LinkedIn {and the list goes on} are just numbers. Forget about influence, focus on friendship.

At the end of the day:

  • Who would give you the gold star for being a great friend?
  • Who would hold your hand if you were going through a health scare?
  • Who have you helped lately?
  • Who has your back?
  • Who knows you?

What do you want to be known for?

The popular girl?

Or the girl that changed the world surrounded by people who had her heart?

ghoulfriends

 

Best Health Magazine - October 2010

 

As of late, I have been going through a lot of “friend change.”  I’m truly trying to determine who I want in my life – and even more so, why are they in my life?  What is everyone bringing to the table? We should all be held accountable as respectful, supportive, honest and truly good friends.

Anyways, I was at the drug store the other day and spotted Best Health magazine.  On the cover, it had an article titled “Quiz – 5 Friend Types That Drag You Down.”  I thought… PERFECT, this could solve all my problems.  All I need to do is identify these friends and then I can ELIMINATE THEM.

So on Thursday night, I sit down to start on the magazine… I force myself to read the whole magazine cover to cover, instead of just rushing toward this quiz that could CHANGE MY LIFE. ;)

So I read and read and read…

Finally I think I’ve missed the article, so I check the page number… according to the table of contents, the quiz is on page 112.  I finally find the article… it’s titled “Girlfriend or Ghoulfriend?” (clever eh?)… I read the half page (see picture below)…

I turn the page… and what? …. WHAT? … there is a Cool Whip advertisement and it’s the back cover to the magazine. THE BACK COVER.  Now extremely confused, I checked the table of contents again and the last article of the magazine starts on page 128.

I’m MISSING PAGES.

I’m missing articles titled “Bonding over Beauty,” “How to Help a Friend with Cancer,” and “Best Health Minute,” and “My Healthy Life.”  More importantly, I’m missing 90% of the “Girlfriend or Goulfriend?” article including the quiz that could CHANGE MY LIFE.

What ever happened to quality control?  Seriously, I’ve never felt so ripped off from a magazine.

How on earth would I overhaul my friend circle without the quiz??

So today I went to grab groceries and spotted the magazine again… and guess what?

The whole article is there! The whole magazine COMPLETE!

Seriously, I think the world is playing games with me.

Did I buy the complete magazine today? No.  I’m writing to Best Health magazine to advise of the situation and what a critical component this article was to my friend drama stress levels.

Deep breath.

In and out.

Breathe.

Obviously I should go talk to a Psychologist about my love for magazines and how they can completely control my life. :P

in response to: casting call

Tonight I got home from work and did my usual check on @MarleyLynnG‘s blog, Bright Lights.

Today’s post was a little different than the rest.  Today Marley called out for a soulmate… Now, I have never met Marley.  I’ve followed her blog.  I’ve tweeted her way.  We Facebook.  We offer support to each other.  But have I ever met her?  No.

Her post touched my heart and made me smile.  [Seriously, this girl brings me such joy].

So in response to her blog post, I’m offering the following:

A good communicator?

A good sense of humor?

Enthusiasm for life?

A young ambitious lady?

Loyal too?

Some P action?

Hookups and discounts?

Great wardrobe to borrow from?

[I think we’re around the same size too!]

So…

Love, Jill XO

PS – You would be silly not to have this girl in your life.

Follow her. Subscribe to her. Be her soulmate too.

PPS – Disregard how tired I look… the bags under my eyes… and the mood lighting. Monday’s… le sigh.

extra love to my girls

Today was a big day for a few of my girls.

Amy and Melissa – you’re both on my mind tonight.

First of all, change is good. I’m a true believer.

Regardless of tears of joy or sadness, you’re both moving in a new  direction.  There is lots to look forward to. Lots of progress to be made and success to be had.

“Rather than wishing for change,
you first must be prepared to change.”
Catherine Pulsifer

By all means… you are both ready for change. Approach it head on. Do us proud. I know you are both more than capable.

With absolutely all my love. XO