Boyfriend Roulette, Shrinking Yourself Down & Doing Your Own Thing

Love

Men. Gah.

Women. GAH.

All the time I get asked — “Are you dating anyone right now?”  Sometimes the answer is — “Gawd no”… other times it’s “dating around”… often it’s “I can barely take care of me, why on earth do you want me taking care of anyone else?” ROAR.

I’ll meet a new friend, who happens to be of the opposite gender — and BOOM — the friends pounce. “Who’s the new guy?” “Awe, you two would be so great together” “This is PERFECT. You can bring him to our wedding this summer.” …blah blah BLAH. I usually respond back with a “We’re just friends.” — and  about 64 eye rolls. The debate then starts on whether women and men can be friends. The girls say — of course, they can! The guys — ALWAYS say, nada, no way, not in a million years, babe.

UGH.

Here’s the thing… if I wanted to snap my fingers and be in “a relationship” right now… I could be. Simple as that.

It’s not hard to find a young buck, lock eyes and frolick into the sunset. Hell, people do it each and every day. You go out, meet a few guys at the bar, plan a date with one of them — and then continue on that rotation until you find one you can tolerate for a week. You both “settle” — likely because you both don’t know what you deserve, want or need. You both don’t talk about that though… you talk about everything else, planning weekends away and date nights with friends. Soon enough, you’ve been together for 3 months, 6 months, a year — and then depending on how self-aware you are, you either accept that this is what you deserve or you break if off.

I’ve been there. I’ve done that. In 2012, I vow’d to never do it again.

DATING FOR THE SAKE OF DATING

Lots of people date for the sake of dating (aka DSFD). They like meeting new people, like the stories that come from bad dates and end up carving out what they’re looking for. It’s social, fun and can make you feel like you’re working towards something.

I get why people do it. I really do.

When I think of DFSD, I think of boyfriend roulette. You walk into a coffee shop,  a guy looks you up and down, and you think — YEAH, BABE. He approaches you over your Grande Soy Americano Double Whip Misto Crap… asks for your number and you agree to Friday night at 7pm. Romantic. You go to dinner to find out he’s a nice guy but there’s no chemistry. You don’t want to reject him {he’s not that bad after all}, so you agree to a second date.

At the gym the next morning, you notice a new guy lifting weights. You smile at each other and continue busting your groove on the elliptical machine. When you head to the mirror to do some squats, he approaches you and starts up conversation. Soon enough you’re laughing, he’s not staring at his biceps anymore — and you agree to coffee on Sunday. You skip Sbux, hit up a local joint and lock eyes over itty bitty cups of espresso. An hour turns into two and soon enough, he says, “I’ve gotta run. I’ll call you.”

You never hear from him and he never returns the gym. You go back to coffee shop guy and meet up for date #2…

Dating for the sake of dating stresses me the hell out. It’s not the conversation, time or meeting someone new that’s the problem… it’s the meeting someone who you wouldn’t normally spend a second of energy on.

I don’t have anyone in my life that’s average. Yep, true story. The people I have in my life and the people I continue to surround myself with are anything but average. {We’re not talking physical folks, we’re talking smarts. Not saying that they’re not babes… but you know what I’m saying…} The biggest challenge I have in the dating world right now is that I feel like I have to dumb myself down to get through a date. No, I’m not a brainac, nor the most awesome chick on the planet. I’m just a girl who cares more about a 9 to 5 job, a cat and watching football on Sunday’s. Not that there is anything wrong with cats or football…

THE FIRST DATE

I agree to the date, actually legit look forward to it — and meet the guy. He has it all together — good job, friend circle, hobbies and doesn’t seem to be a serial killer. The problem? It feels superficial. I ask him about his job… he tells me, he’s been there awhile and it’s ok, pays the bills. I ask him about his friends and he says, that he’s had them for years and they’re the best! His hobbies include watching TV and playing hockey a couple of times a week. He sits there content and happy, without much care in the world. I try to dig deep and I get — nothing.

At that point, I have two options:

  1. Play down who I am and just give him high level — which generally means a second date.
  2. Be who I am — which generally intimidates/terrifies him and we end the night with a hug and “it was nice to meet you.”

Generally I choose the latter. How the hell are you going to meet someone amazing unless you show up and be who you are? I go into every date with the best case situation of making a new friend. More than that? Not even on my radar.

When  they ask me what I do for work… I tell them — with passion, excitement and energy. When they ask me what I do outside of work…. I tell them — giving back to the community, working with youth and travelling the world. I babble on asking them about their life, telling them about mine and eventually he says:

I’ve never met a girl like you. Awe. A sweet nothing. UGH.

There is a huge difference between… I’ve never met a girl like you {and there is no way on earth I’m ready for it} and I’ve never met a girl like you {and I’m stoked for the challenge}. The illusion of dating women like me is intriguing. I get that. But you know what? It’s also tough as hell. Dating a woman like me means you are going to have someone who asks you to be vulnerable and authentic — all while encouraging you to dream big, follow your heart and be the best version of yourself. And in today’s world, lots of people aren’t ready for that.

I believe that the thing that makes me different from let’s say — “average,” is that I am assertive and self-aware. Dropping truth bombs like it’s hot. The part I struggle with about “I’ve never met a girl like you” is that if you truly believe in surrounding yourself with people who lift you higher… then you should have friends like me. Right? <Insert Silence>.

Recently on a date, I asked a guy: “What excites you?” {… thinking it was a basic question.} He paused and responded with: “That’s a hard question. I’ll have to think about that and get back to you.” I sat there… stunned.

To be honest, he could have said anything. The answer itself didn’t matter. What mattered was that he cared about something that was bigger than himself.

I’ve dated people who don’t get me. I’ve dated people who’ve pretended to get me. I’ve pushed every ounce of me aside in a relationship to give to a significant other. In every single one of my past relationships, I’ve dumbed myself down. EVERY SINGLE ONE.

I recently read a post by Danielle La Porte that hit the heart. Within it, she wrote:

“The next opportunity to meet, to work, to dine, to interact, to kiss, to speak, to spend, to serve (no matter how shiny, sexy, lucrative, coveted, necessary, obligatory or useful it may seem), ask yourself this:

Will I have to shrink to make this work? or Is this a place where I can expand?” 

Simple, profound and something we all need to keep top of mind. In order to be your best self, you need to surround yourself with people who will help you shine.

SETTLING FOR LESS THAN YOU DESERVE

Settling scares the shit out of me. 

I don’t want to ever meet someone who thinks — damn I thought I could do better than Jillian, but hey, this is better than nothing. Does that give you hives? I think I’m already breaking out.

According to some random article that I recently read, the #1 thing that people settle on is personality. PERSONALITY. Good gawd. I’ve been there, yes I have… and I don’t wish it upon anyone.

I think we’re  all realistic enough to know that a lot of people are on the search for perfection {terrifying}. When they can’t find what they’re looking for, they settle. All of those people need a little wake up call on real life. Oh hey, you’re not perfect, your significant other won’t be perfect and NO ONE is perfect. A cat, a dog, 2.5 children, bills that pay themselves and a white picket fence? That’s imaginary land!

Deep dive into your relationship. If the bad outweighs the good, you owe it to yourself to get out and move on.

Get to the root of what’s motivating you to settle. Lonely? Fear of being single? Frustration with years of dating? The ticking time bomb in your ovaries? For years, I settled because I believed I didn’t deserve any better. Awful, eh. If there’s any ounce of learning that comes from this post, I hope it’s the following:

If you don’t value yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to value you either.

Once you’ve thought through why you’ve been settling, then figure out your deal breakers. Smoking and drug use are obviously turn off’s, but I’m also an absolute no go if someone isn’t passionate about something. Whether it be your love for running, writing, science or the arts — you gotta be living for something.

What are those those things that you must see in your significant other or must have in a relationship? For me, it comes down to values. Respect, communication and support are huge for me. If I trust you, I tell you everything. I give more than I take — and friendship means the world to me.

KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT

Here’s the thing about getting older… you start to figure out what you want. Yeehaw.

When I was a young bird, I mostly dated the bad boy aka the jerk. They were charismatic, a shit ton of trouble and the worst communicators {no offense meant guys, I’m sure you’re good guys now}. I would clamor for attention. They would get drunk, not come home, sometimes cheat and keep me around for fun.

Eventually I grew up and learned that I deserved better than that. I went from dating bad boys to meeting good guys. My immediate reaction was — “wow, he’s boring.” Seriously. The thing about bad boys is… they’re challenging — and a little part of them is intriguing. You think you can change them. Part of you thinks that their disrespectful behaviour is normal. All of it is a bit of a effed up bad news bears vortex.

Slowly I learned that just because a guy is a nice, lovely and treats you well, doesn’t mean he’s boring at all. In fact, nice guys and nice girls generally make healthy relationships. Surprise surprise! Honesty, trust, empathy, respect, shared values — all seems pretty good to me.

When I think about what I want in a relationship, first and foremost, it’s emotional connection. I need to ‘get’ the other person and they need to ‘get’ me. I believe relationships hit all new levels when there is compassion, laughter, an understanding that it’s ok to make mistakes {and learn from them} and a mutual desire to grow, both individually and as a duo.

I know that’s out there and one day when I’m ready, it will find me. Someone will walk into my life, look into my soul and see me for me — crushing my fears, embracing my dreams and loving perfectly, flawed me.

It won’t be perfect. It wont always be easy. But 100% it will be worth it.

ADVICE FOR ME (AND YOU!)

The most lonely you will ever feel is when you realize that you’re in a relationship that’s not right for you.

Be happy with yourself before you try to find happiness with someone else.

If you want to date someone great. Be someone great.

// end rant

Eat Clean – Best Recipes of 2013

Avocado ToastEver since cutting out dairy and wheat {mostly}, I’ve spent A LOT more time in the kitchen. It can be tricky eating out — and almost always stressful when you are starving at your desk at 2pm with chocolate and latte cravings. When I eat crap, I feel like crap. When I eat dairy or wheat, I feel disgusting. So, about a year ago, I made a commitment to myself to pay more attention to what I put into my body and start making clean eating a priority.

I’ve learned that I fuel my body with the best when I’m organized. For me, this means having a plan of attack before heading into a new week, thinking through meals, weekly grocery shopping and finding new recipes that I’m excited about. I’m very much a learner and have thoroughly enjoyed stepping outside of what I know and experimenting with the unfamiliar.

For the most part I eat vegetarian, no dairy, no wheat. Every so often I eat fish or seafood. Why? I like it.

Throughout 2013, I tried a ton of recipes. Lot of wins, some failures. When I’m looking to try something new, I tend to check out: Oh She Glows, The Kitchn, Elana’s Pantry, Edible Perspective and Vegan Yack Attack. Pinterest also has many gems — Whole Foods does a great job of curating content.

This year I learned that… you have to add banana to a green smoothie in order for it to not to taste like ass; it’s super easy to overcook rice pasta — set a timer; you need to rinse quinoa {high five!}; overnight oats make for healthy {and efficient} breakfasts; sorrel is a tasty green; and that I love avocados more than any other fruit or vegetable. Obsessed.

These were my favourite recipes of the year:

…. um, YUM. The strong majority of them get 5 stars, a few get 4/5 stars, all are worth trying them out.

I’m not going to pretend that trying out new recipes doesn’t take time. It sure does! My advice to you would be stock your kitchen with the ingredients you always use {for me, this would be grains, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, vinegars, almond milk and coconut milk}. Then, buy the fresh veggies, fruit or meat you need weekly {or daily or whenever!}.

I never ever EVER eat well every day of the week. Something will happen in my week that throws me off track and the next thing you know I’m at Starbucks having an Awake Tea Latte for “lunch.” Heh. I almost always take time over the weekend to think through lunches for the week and find a few new recipes to try {usually 2 max}. The more recipes that you try, the more often you’ll be able to wing meals. With a large recipe rolodex in my head now, I’m a lot less dependent on recipes and often couple “winging it” with new recipes and a bit of the basics.

Never forget about the basics. I’m pretty sure my favourite snack on this planet is avocado on {gluten free} toast with crushed roasted red peppers and sea salt. I  love rice pasta with olive oil, garlic, lemon and sea salt. Pancakes are my best life. Love love love.

When brainstorming basics, think about mexican {tacos are simple and amazing}, italian {pasta with veggies — easy peasy},  thai {stir-fry with basmati rice} or a simple salad. Any of them can be whipped up in a pinch!

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child

Interested in salivating a little bit more? I save all recipes I find {and fall in love with} in my Evernote vortex. It’s public — no need to have Evernote, to view them! Although, I highly recommend you get it. :) It’s an awesome way to keep life organized!

Got a fave recipe that you’ve tried this year? Share it with  me. I’d love to try something new!

Major gratitude to Joanne at The Healing Cuisine for always teaching me a new thing or two about nourishing your body with good. If you are ever in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, look her up! Her cooking classes are off the hook!

PS – Be mindful that your  meals are balanced — ensure you have calcium, protein, iron, vitamin B12 and omega 3’s in your diet!

Expand Your Mind – Best Reads of 2013

Last week I was giving myself a hard time because I hadn’t finished a single book in 2013. Gah. I have been given books. I have been lent books. I have bought books. YET, NONE READ. {None finished would actually be more accurate. Been working on Steve Jobs’ biography for like 10 months}. I am the kind of person who gets super caught up in a book. I love reading and once I get started, I usually can’t put the book down. I’m often hesitant to start a book during the work week as I always have a sneaking suspicion it’s going to affect how much sleep I get. And hell, I’ve needed all the sleep I can get this past year.

A few days after I was getting all mental on myself for not reading, I arrived back on planet earth. It only took a quick browse through my Evernote and Twitter favourites to remember that I read ALL THE TIME — just not books. :) Articles, posts and random doses of inspirations fly through my social media feeds every moment of every day {often in a somewhat overwhelming way}. Every now and again, I’ll click a link and be swept away. Whether it be a post that completely resonates with where I’m at today {or where I want to be tomorrow} or a big reality check in the face or something that gets my creative juices flowing… I read, re-read and share it with anyone I think might love it.

While I’ve been reflecting on 2013, some of my favourite posts of the year have come top of mind {in no particular order}:

If you’re keen on being a better human, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable, thinking outside the box and drilling down on what’s most important, than you’ll likely enjoy some of these reads.

“A good book is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility what human nature is of what happens in the world. It’s a creator of inwardness.” — Susan Sontag

Do you have a favourite post {or book} from last year? Spread the love. Share it with me.

PS – Since last week I’ve finished 2 books — “Doppler” by Erlend Loe and “Start” by Jon Acuff. Hurrah! Books {and sleeping} will be a part of my 2014. Setting that intention right now.

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

2013 Blogging

Capture

In 2013, I wrote 41 new posts — which in all honesty is itty bitty compared to previous years. There are many times this year where I’ve felt like I can’t write publicly {I know, I know — goes against what I’m about}. I’ve been confused as to if I’ve felt censored, or just not ready to share what I’ve been thinking. More to come on that in the next few weeks.

The busiest day of the year was November 3rd with 935 views. Woop! That’s the day I went on a rant about Instagram and how people need to start embracing their true selves. Yep, true story. The post: #RealTalk.

Some of my most popular posts have been from previous years — thank you to everyone who’s still reading the story of my breast lumpectomy. Although it feels like I was writing that post an eternity ago {2010}, I still flashback to that summer every day.

My readers have come from 119 countries — with a whole pile of fan girls {and boys} in Canada! This year I’ve grown a readership is Bosnia and Latvia, which seems pretty random — and awesome!

Thank you for reading, pushing me to dream bigger and being a constant source of inspiration.

Happy 2014. xo

A Grateful Heart

UntitledLast weekend I celebrated Christmas with the family {… early!} and today I’m en route to the UK. A little bit wild — and proof that I’m oh so very blessed.

I had been thinking about my flight to the UK over the past few weeks. As much as this vacation isn’t supposed to be about crossing things off a list or doing work, I knew that I needed to spend some time writing.

A half hour into the plane ride, I pulled out my laptop and pounded out word after word. The plan? To reflect on this year, pulling out the highlights, learning’s and please-don’t-let-this-happen-again’s… {will be posted early in the New Year}.

If last week, someone would have asked me how my year went, I likely would have said — horrific. It’s been a tough one. But once I started reflecting and writing, it became very apparent that although a whole bunch of shitty stuff happened this year, there has also been a hell of a lot of good.

So I switched gears from my reflection post… and started writing friendship love notes aka “gratitude bombs.”  You know those people in your life who just get you, those people who stay with you through thick and thin, those people who add so much value to your life, you can’t even put it into words… those people, are who I wrote to.

This year I have let 2013 get the best of me. I have gotten caught up in life, the day-to-day and often lost sight of the present. With that has come a whole pile of learning. One thing I’ve learned is that life is short and it can change in an instant. More than ever, I know the importance of speaking up, wearing your heart on your sleeve and getting comfortable with vulnerability.

I sat there on the plane writing my love notes thinking do these people know how much they matter to me? I honestly had no idea. Once I started going through my year, I very quickly realized I couldn’t have done it without them. They challenged me, they supported me, they pushed me to think outside of my sometimes-psycho thought process… they got me to today.

And for that, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Merry Christmas from London. xo

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –  William Arthur Ward

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.

2013CWA-3rd

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. 

photo (35)

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:

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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

3 Weeks, 3 Plane Tickets

Buying a plane ticket on a whim? Over and over again, that’s what I do. Hell, it’s how I ended up in Belize, Costa Rica, New York and Hawaii.

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve bought 3 plane tickets. Oh me, oh my.

London, UK – December 2013

Hyde-Park-Winter-Wonderland

I spent about 24 hours debating if I should go to London for Christmas. My bestest of best friends, Melissa, lives there and it’s been about 6 years since we have spent more than a few days in the same city. She wasn’t going home for Christmas this year — and I was in need of a vacation, so… there you go, flight booked. The plan? We don’t have one — and I’m stoked for that. As long as the trip includes wine and each other, I’ll be a happy little girl.

Sydney, Australia – February 2014

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Australia has been on my bucket list since the beginning of time. I’ve struggled with it because I have always thought I would never go for less than a month. I was always expected that on my first trip to Australia, I would tackle the whole beast – yep, all 7,692,024 km. :/ Last weekend, a Norwegian airline, Wideroe, published mistake fares and I hopped on the deal. Vancouver to Australia for $800. Boom. Done. The plan? No idea, other than I will likely spend a week in Sydney and a week in Melbourne. I’ve made a promise to myself that I won’t get stressed out over ‘seeing’ everything. Through my Contiki trip in 2005, working with Team Australia at WorldSkills 2009 and getting to know JCI Australia over the past few years, I’ve met a ton of amazing people down under. Can’t wait to see their friendly faces and soak up the beauty that is Australia.

Stockholm, Sweden – May 2014

stockholmpanorama
A few years back I met a fab young woman named Cecilia. We met while attending a conference with 7,000 young global leaders in Osaka, Japan. She’s a dynamo and someone I clicked with instantly. We’ve stayed in touch and been following each other’s running {and life} journeys. Last year Cecilia completed the GotesborgsVaret Half Marathon and she sent me a note saying that one day I should come and run it with her. Wideroe’s mistake fares, included Europe, and I just knew I had to book it. :) The only thing I didn’t think through? The race is already sold out ha ha. ;) Need to negotiate my way in through a charity race bib… more to come on that note! The plan? A couple days in Stockholm, the half marathon in Gothenburg and some time with my soul sister soaking up Sweden.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Last year I started to think about how I wanted to celebrate turning 30 {next June by the way}. I knew I wanted to travel… I thought about taking 3 months off to just roam the world and see where I ended up. Back then, I was consulting and hyper-flexible. My plan was to compress 1 year of work into 9 months and then walk away from work with no worries. Sounds easy eh? ;) Now, I’m working for fast-paced company with an exciting role and I can’t imagine walking away for 3 months — at least not in the next few years. These individual trips will be my gift to myself. An opportunity to relax and recharge. An opportunity to get comfortable with the unfamiliar. An opportunity to put down the map and get wonderfully lost.

Do you have travel tips or must see’s for the UK, Australia or Sweden? Holla at me. I’m keen to live like a local and have the time of my life. xx