#RealTalk

Me - September 2013

Last week I posted this photo on Instagram with the following comment:

 … my today: no shower, haven’t left the house, cleaned my floors, dealt with weeks worth of laundry, 900+ unread email, anxiety over work, Michael Franti kitchen dance party, heart to heart with a friend, breakfast for dinner. None of it is bad, all of it is LIFE. Be who you are. #RealTalk 

Soon after I had the most hearts I’ve ever received on Instagram and an onslaught of texts saying, thank you for posting that {uh, what?}.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone’s highlight reel.” – Steve Furtick

Let’s go back in time just a wee bit…

I had been wandering around my house for most of the day, every so often picking up my iPhone and strumming through photos on Instagram. I saw Starbucks PSL’s, beautiful pictures of fall gracing our city, people exploring the west coast, posed photos and fake smiles. Well maybe they weren’t all fake, but you know what I’m saying…

I didn’t see pictures of people lounging in their pyjamas, dudes eating cheerios, girls without makeup, kids digging in the dirt or any shocking #whatiwore‘s.

We live in a world where we document – and I love it. I really do.

Why it’s tough is that we’ve been trained, brought up, taught… to talk about the good. If you talk about the bad, then people look down on you and say that you’re being whiney, a debbie downer or you’re just looking for attention. We then forget that we’re getting consumed in other people’s happy place – and start comparing ourselves to this portion of their life that we see. It’s easy to warp yourself into a little bubble of – I’m not attractive enough. I’m not popular enough. I’m not perfect enough. I’m not good enough. Social has assisted in amplifying our insecurities. Only when you take a step back do you realize that – she/he has gotta be human. No one is perfect.

A large part of the reason why I started blogging {back in the day} was because that I knew there must be other people in the world who were thinking about what I was. I took a leap of faith and put myself out there because I wanted others to feel less alone.

It’s easy to feel alone in this big bad world – but when you step outside your box, your life and your world, you quickly realize that in fact, you’re not alone. To many degrees, we’re all the same. Rise in the morning, get ready for our day, tackle life’s ebbs and flows, deal with good days and bad days, feel overjoyed, feel stressed, feel content, feel frustrated, spend time with those who matter, brush our teeth and go to bed. We face many of the challenges, just in a way that’s unique to each of us.

I posted this photo on Instagram because I had something to say, not because the picture was perfect, nor because I was in some sunshine-y mental state. I posted the photo because when I look back in my feed, I want it to be a reflection of who I am.

Everyone uses social for their own purpose, but I use Instagram to tell a story. The story of me, a girl who loves to run, strive high, see the world and make a difference in the community. Life isn’t perfect and I don’t want it to be. The challenges I’ve faced in life have made me, me. To weed through my story and pull out the challenges/negative/whatever-the-hell-you-want-to-call-it would be doing me a disservice. I don’t want to be known as the girl who had it easy. I don’t want to be known as the girl online who is a totally different person in real life. I don’t want to be known as the one who put her superficial self out to the world. I want to be known as the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, pushes boundaries, voices her opinion and adds value to the world. Yep, that girl. That’s the one I’m working towards.

We all get caught in the vortex of social, sharing and editing a photo so it looks oh so perfect. It’s easy and we’re human. My challenge to you {and me} is… get comfortable showcasing the real you. Forget about what people will think. Forget good. Forget bad. Focus on YOU. If you are your true, authentic, real deal self, that is the person that the world is going to fall in love with. Promise.

Be who you are.

Two Years

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In August 2011, I left the corporate world in Calgary to start a new chapter.

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Blessed to the brim that I can call the west coast home.

Thank you Vancouver. xo

Getting Back on Track

SetbacksIt’s been months and months and months since my mind has felt clear. I’m not even sure I’m there yet, but I’m slowly starting to move forward. Life has been chaotic – most of it has landed on me, some of it I’ve created, none of it I want.

6 months has flown by and I feel like the year hasn’t started.

All I want to do is write. Almost every moment of every day I think about writing. I want to write about what I’ve learned and where I’m headed.

Writing helps me figure my shit out. In the past I’ve poured my heart into a blog post, pressed publish — and boom, moved forward.

For half a year, I’ve gone to sleep with a jam packed brain. Thinking about the past, thinking about the future, thinking about my day.

I’ve worried and worried some more. And for what?

PS – The first step is the hardest. Slowly but surely…

A Little Place Called Home

This morning MoneySense Magazine announced that Vancouver was #10 on their ‘Canada’s Best Places to Live‘ list. I know top #10… eye roll.  Based on their rating factors, a few issues in Vancouver brought the ranking down – average house price ($882k – whoa!) and average household income (a slim $81k). Fair.

I read the survey, freaked out over the rating, then thought – I am willing to put up with the housing costs and low incomes in order to live in this city. Truth! Get a roommate, bunk with your sister, live with a psycho boyfriend – do what it takes to make this city work.

Vancouver makes me feel like I’m whole.

Note: Something I love about the digital world is how random things appear in front of you at any given time. Thanks to Amber for sharing this video of downtown Vancouver. Gave me goosebumps. Well done Joel Schat

Peace Comes From Within

Me at 28

I took today for me.

I’m not sure what I accomplished. Perhaps nothing.

Tonight I went out for groceries and when I got home, I caught my reflection in the mirror.

I paused and thought… I like who I’m becoming.

For the majority of my life, I’ve been trying to be more, I’ve been trying to meet the expectations of others. I’ve been constantly telling myself — strive higher… you haven’t achieved enough, you aren’t good enough {badass self-limiting beliefs up in my brain}.

Over the last three months, I’ve taken time for me. Life rattled me up and forced me to re-think where I was headed, and more importantly, why?

I started to explore what really gets me going and out of bed in the morning. I’ve learned that education and communication are core to my being.

I’ve realized that the feeling of overwhelm is in my control. I choose what I’m involved with, how I handle situations and where I spend my time.

I’ve taken more time outs since October, then I’ve probably taken in my life. I’ve chosen to ignore my phone, ignore email, ignore the training schedule. I’ve cancelled on events. I’ve gone against my schedule. I’ve gone weekends without leaving my house.

I’ve gained much appreciation for silence — and learned the importance of taking time for me.

Both giving and receiving have their place in the world — and I’ve accepted that I need both. I have to invest in myself in order to be a support system to those around me.

I’m a bundle of energy who loves to teach, travel and learn. I’m always late, highly opinionated and often disorganized. I’m not perfect and never hope to be.

Tonight I had a moment. That moment when you accept who you are and where you’re headed.

“Learn to accept and appreciate each aspect of who you are: all your strengths and weaknesses; the parts you love as well as those you dislike, and all the mistakes and triumphs. It’s this complicated mixture that makes you unique – and that’s definitely a fact worth celebrating.” – Scott McIntyre

Hey Patch, Let’s Chat

PP: Why do you grow your own food? 

JW: To my core, I am a learner. I love to experience new things and put knowledge into action. Over the last year, I have been developing my kitchen skillz and I have learned a lot about local food. I like growing my own food, because I know exactly what goes into it! Water and love, baby!

Read More: Patch Planter’s Blog

Reflecting on 2012

Reflection is always important — but the end of the year continually reminds me that I need to pause, reflect and determine how I want to move forward. The past 12 months have been a whirlwind.  I started the year with this quote:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” – League of their Own

… and my word, it hit home. This past year was tough! One thing I know for sure is that you need to be thankful for the hard times in your life, because those are the times when you grow and learn the most.

This year I learned:

  • People are #1. Throughout the year I ended up being in a number of situations where I didn’t feel like people were being treated fairly. One thing I know for sure is that people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. In both my personal and professional life, I believe in ‘lead with heart.’ As leaders, we need to be human. We need to respect people’s feelings, listen and truly treat people like we want to be treated. Choose your friends, boss, clients — and every relationship in your control, wisely. 
  • Transparency is the new marketing. No one is perfect — and I don’t believe that anyone wants to work with or be friends with people who claim to be. First and foremost, we’re all human. People want to deal with real people — and vulnerability is a strength. Be open; allow people to see who you are. Talk about your learnings — and your failures. Admit fault when you’ve made a mistake.
  • Don’t fight change. I cried a lot in September — more tears than I’ve had in years in fact. During periods of change, the only thing you can control is your reaction. Everything happens for a reason and change is inevitable. Accept it for what it is and figure out how you’re going to move forward.
  • Always have a plan b. When you’re headed into uncertainty, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Enough said.
  • Trust your gut. There is a lot to be said for intuition. When you get a feeling that something shady/wrong/sketch — it probably is. Use your head, but trust your gut. Take in all the information, but always remember to look out for you.
  • You have to take care of yourself first. I’m continually guilty of taking care of everyone else, before I take care of me. I’ve been falling into that trap for years with boyfriends, best friends and random people I have met along the way. This year I learned to be put me first {it’s still such an odd thing}. I stopped attending events I didn’t want to go to. I didn’t return phone calls when I didn’t feel like talking. I refused to be the go-to, because I knew it wasn’t in my best interest. A little wisdom from Paul Coehlo, “When you say yes to others, make sure you’re not saying no to yourself.” Don’t apologize for making yourself a priority.
  • Slow down. Life is meant to be lived.

Despite the ups and downs of the year, a lot of good happened. I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Palm Springs, Whistler, Seattle, New York and Mexico. For the first time in my life, I learned the power of physical strength. I learned to run — completing 15 races — and became a regular at power yoga. I learned the importance of fuelling your body with good and keeping a close eye on your health. I cut out wheat, dairy and now regularly spend time in the kitchen. I truly love cooking and exploring new foods. I met a number of new friends in 2011 and throughout this past year, I focused on developing and strengthening those relationships.

Highlights of the year:

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January

The year started off with a chilly dip in the Pacific Ocean. In 2011, I was blessed to meet a local entrepreneur, Helen. She invited me to the Polar Bear Swim that took place at English Bay. With 2000 people, we charged at the 8 degree ocean. After a few shrieks in the ocean, we were back on the beach shivering and smiling. 1st Polar Bear swim complete!

February

After finding a deal through YVRdeals {and Chris Myden}, I booked a trip to Costa Rica. At the time I had no plan, just needed a little escape. I had met an entrepreneur {all around fabulous woman}, Shannon Ward, a few months earlier — and she would be living in Costa Rica while I was down there. I ended up heading to Santa Teresa and spent 10 days with my her family. The trip was filled with sunshine, surfing and delicious eats. A highlight was taking a raw food cooking course with Joanne at The Healing Cuisine.

March

International Women’s Day took place on March 8th. I was honoured to be included in Networking in Van’s “Women Making a Difference” campaign. On IWD, people all over the world celebrate the achievements of women, inspire other women and reflect on the progress women have made in our communities. There were a number of events that took place in Vancouver and I had the privilege to learn from a few. I’m thankful to have met a ton of female entrepreneurs in Vancouver — and around the world {including Judy, Jill, Heather, Zoe, ChristineKatherine, Erin and more}. Positive role models who are movin’, shakin’ and making a difference in the community.

April

In April, I had the opportunity to speak at 2 events — York University’s ‘Apex Leadership Conference‘ and Simon Fraser University’s ‘Synergy Conference.’ The events were back to back — with one being in Toronto and the other in Surrey. In a matter of 24 hours, I held a workshop and facilitated a panel, flew across the country and held another 2 workshops at Synergy. It was an absolutely exhausting — and totally rewarding weekend. One thing I’ve figured out in the last few years is that education is a core part of who I am. I truly love teaching students and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to facilitate two very engaged groups of students.

photo_1May

May was busy — with a trip to Palm Springs for a me-cation and learning from Richard Branson at a Board of Trade event. A total highlight was my weekend away in Whistler to visit my adopted family, the GossWards. Shannon, Brett and Kaede had moved back to Whistler from Costa Rica — and I wanted to see their lovely faces again. I  had never been to Whistler, so Shannon and Kaede took me up the mountain to do Peak 2 Peak. It was the end of the season, but skiers and boarders were still taking on the remaining snow. Whistler is a beautiful little gem — from taking in the views at Blackcomb to Sushi Village to a little birthday surprise, I feel lucky to have met {and learn from} this wonderful family.

June

On June 2nd, my niece Maddie turned 1 {and I turned 28}! Maddie was born on my birthday in June 2011. Now we’ll be celebrating together forever! On Friday, I had a dinner party at my place {thank you for being the Executive Chef, Dan!} and on Saturday I took the float place over to Salt Spring for a family birthday with Maddie. We had a fun afternoon in the sunshine at Mom’s house — halibut burgers, birthday cake and a very spoiled  1st grandchild!

July

In July, I headed to New York with Marina for the UN Global Partnership Summit. We spent a few days learning from global change makers from the United Nations, Global Poverty Project, ONE Campaign and Pan American Health Organization. A highlight was learning from Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor to the UN Foundation — absolutely inspiring few days determining how young leaders can support the UN Millennium Development Goals and create positive change in the community. In addition to the summit, Marina and I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, shopped in SOHO, dined in Little Italy — and I ended the trip with a run through Central Park.

August

Whether taking a pool day, attending a festival or parade, or running the seawall — the month was a busy one!  On August 10th, I completed my first half marathon {holy moly, eh!}. After an adductor injury mid-year, I was forced to take a DNF for a Seattle half marathon — and then I registered for Lululemon’s Seawheeze half marathon in Vancouver. In retrospect, it was my race. Luon, sunshine and running in the city that I love. Reagan and I ran together; finishing in 2:22 {feeling totally good and injury free!}.

photo_2September

Vancouver is one of the best places to live in the world — and I continually remind myself that I’m blessed to live here. Thanks to the team at Vancouver We Love You, my friend, Kate, had the opportunity to use SUP boards throughout the summer. One day in early September, we headed down to Kits Beach for a SUP sesh at sunset. It was a picture perfect night filled with paddling, laughter and trying not to fall into the ocean.

October

TELUS asked me to blog an international event coming to town, We Day. We Day is a day of celebration, inspiration and an opportunity for youth to take action and create change in their communities. I had an absolutely incredible few days with the team at Free the Children and the We Day youth. From meeting Desmond Tutu to learning from Spencer West to documenting the day — the event was a highlight of the year. It was inspiring to watch 18,000+ youth get excited to positively impact their school and community.

November

Running has hugely changed my life. Throughout my running journey, I was continually asked — How did you start running? How do I start running? Can you help me? … After a bit of brainstorming, I launched Runcouver. The goal is to connect all levels of pavement crushers and trail dominators, into one positive, motivating, goal crushing community. In addition to Runcouver, I launched the #RunCrew. The 2012/2013 pilot consists of 10 young women who are committed to striving high and I’ll be coaching them to their 1st half marathon in Summer 2013.

December

The year came to an end with major job change. After almost 2 years consulting, I decided to go back in-house for an amazing opportunity at a growing company. I am now a HR Generalist at Avigilon. I feel blessed to work on a progressive, entrepreneurial team with a down-t0-earth {and wicked smart} leader. My role supports day-to-day global HR operations, with a focus on employee relations, training and development, benefits and compensation and employee experience.  I’m learning a ton and my days are wild busy — both good problems to have. I’ve officially been there a month and I feel like I couldn’t have landed at a better company. It’s awesome to be surrounded by people who truly love what they do.


“You have to fight through some bad days, to earn the best days of your life.” – Unknown

Officially closing out 2012. To laughter, love and living in 2013.

2012 Blogging

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Fun facts: 

In 2012, I wrote 90 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 248 posts.

The busiest day of the year was October 4th with 655 views. That’s the day I went rampage on Kitchen Aid. The post: Kitchen Aid Social Media Debacle. Note: The lady still hasn’t been fired yet. 

My readers have come from 116 countries. Most visitors came from Canada, then the United States, then the UK.

My most active commenter was a psycho stalker who I ended up reporting as spam. ;) Much love to Tod, Nikki and Kymme who also gave me a whole lotta love in 2012.

This beast of a little girl blog had it’s most traffic to date — and I wrote less posts than I have in the past few years. Woop!

On to the next one! Happy 2013 everyone. xx

Body Love

This afternoon, I was on my way back from Horseshoe Bay — and started thinking about technology and the Internet. I spent the hour commute back into downtown Vancouver on my iPhone.

Everyone on the bus was on their phone.

No one was reading. No one was talking.

Or were they?

I was texting, tweeting, reading articles and writing emails. I assume people were doing the same — probably playing games too.

I started thinking about what life would be like without technology? I hardly remember those days… and you know what, that somewhat terrifies me.

I am attached to my phone and the Internet. I live and breathe it — day in and day out. 

Is the dependency on technology healthy? I’ve got no idea…

I remember long play dates with friends when I was in elementary school. I remember writing in journals and having a pen pal in middle school. I remember when I used to chat with my girlfriends for 4+ hours on the phone in high school — every, single, night. All of that has been bundled up into Facebook, Twitter and beyond.

We’ve changed the way we communicate and we need to accept it.  The Internet — it’s not good or bad — it’s just different. Time and time again the world has shown me that the Internet is a powerful tool to get your message out to the masses.

An image that came through my Facebook feed today — was that of Stella Boonshoft. An 18 year old student from New York City who was recently featured on Humans of New York {an amazing blog and must subscribe}.

Stella tells a story of bullying and body image. A month ago she posted her picture on her blog with a statement to the world that pretty much said — Leave me alone and let me be. Stop judging. Accept me for who I am.

Kudos to Stella for finding her voice and taking a stance — brave young woman.

“There is no such thing as a good or bad body. Our bodies are all beautiful because they are vessels for our souls. They allow us to feel, express, hurt, love, laugh, cry, and most importantly create change in the world.” – Stella Boonshoft

Since then hundreds of thousands of people have seen her photo and given their opinion {both positive and negative}. She has been called fat and unhealthy. She has accused of wanting to be famous or using the ‘tell all’ as a motive to gain attention.

The Internet can be a beast.

One thing that has continually been reinforced to me over the years is… “if one person learns, you’ve done your job.” Not everyone is going to understand your message or be in a place where it’s relevant to them. We have to accept that for what it is and truck forward.

If someone is learning — continue.

Stella stood up and said what so many people in the world are thinking. With one post, she made a difference in the lives of others. With one post, she made an impact on the community. With one post, she gave young women all over the world — hope.

Vulnerability is hard. It’s important because it forces you to grow.

Vulnerability gives you the power to accept you for who you are — and just be.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

Learn more about Stella and her mission to change the way we think about our bodies:

http://thebodyloveblog.tumblr.com

{… thank you Internet. Blessed to learn about Stella. Blessed to share her message with others.}