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:

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

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

The 3 R’s

1Last week I went on one of those types of breaks where you need to find your sanity and start over again. Ever been on one? I go on them every now and again… This one was pretty major though, as I’d been putting it off for about oh, say, 8 months. You know what happens when you put off shit? It blows up in your face and you wish you had dealt with it in the moment. ;) The plan? 6 days out of the office. No work. No email. Minimal social media.  The goal? Perhaps inner peace, rainbows, unicorns and anything else that would fit in that realm. It went like this….

 

Wednesday

  1. Wake up at the crack of dawn.
  2. Check email. Bad.
  3. Check email again. Double bad.
  4. Start thinking about the last time I took a vacation. Like a real, unplugged vacation. Whoa, a long time. Like 3 years ago. Bad.
  5. Realize that I need to re-program myself. Gah.
  6. Do nothing.
  7. Pretend like I’m ok with doing nothing.
  8. Spend a considerable amount of time deciding on an outfit.
  9. Rush over to my photographer’s studio to get headshots done. Laugh, smile, push my bangs out of my face — and repeat.
  10. Meet up with Kate and head to Sunset Beach.
  11. Discover that gold shoes aren’t winter beach attire.
  12. Do nothing.
  13. Do nothing.
  14. Go to sleep way too late. Like, WAY too late.

3Thursday

  1. Sleep in.
  2. Pickup rental car. Drive to America.
  3. Stop in Blaine, WA to check out the cutest cafe: Little Red Caboose.
  4. Drive to Birch Bay, WA to go for a run. This is what happens when your love for running takes over your brain.
  5. Run through Birch Bay State Park. A blissful 8k along the ocean.
  6. Hang out. Do nothing.
  7. Drive to Bellingham, WA.
  8. Find brekkie: Old Town Cafe.
  9. Stop in at Fairhaven Runners. Try on 67 pairs of runners and realize that Saucony Kinvara’s have made me very very picky.
  10. Drive to Marine Park to catch the sunset.
  11. Drive to Burlington, WA to hit up Lululemon outlet. Unnecessary.
  12. Stock up on pantry goodness at Trader Joe’s. Fall in love with every hipster boy in the joint.
  13. Head to Target to get the essentials – shampoo, conditioner, bobby pins, a nightie, the usual.
  14. Mentally prepare for Border Patrol.
  15. Get sent ‘inside’ at Border Patrol. Pay taxes.
  16. Take wrong highway and end up en route to Hope.
  17. Arrive home exhausted out of my mind.
  18. Ignore iPhone.
  19. Fall instantly asleep.

Friday

  1. Sleep in.
  2. Roadtrip to Ikea Coquitlam to do a return. Not so fun fact: Ikea Richmond has been on strike for the last eternity and they’ve cut services, including returns. 35 people also doing returns. Grateful that I brought earbuds and Ben Howard is on Rdio.
  3. Decide that I should stop by Metrotown Mall; haven’t been there in forever. Bad idea.
  4. Spend a couple hours at the mall. Hours I will never get back.
  5. Waste precious life moments in traffic.
  6. 4Drop by Home Depot in search of some man help. Spend a considerable amount of time chatting with Jared and Manny about wood screws, studs and the weight of my headboard. Leave with supplies and think, “Dave, needs to help me with this.”
  7. Stop by lululemon SSC to hug a friend. Necessary.
  8. Drop off rental car.
  9. Walk home in the crisp cold — perfection.
  10. Receive new headshots and squeal with excitement {…thank you Chris Thorn!}.
  11. Head straight to bed at a really reasonable, if not, early hour. Sleep is critical for a high functioning brain!

Saturday

  1. Sleep in. Realize that I slept more soundly than I have in ages.
  2. Deal with my chaotic home.
  3. Think about drywall anchors. Determine that I don’t actually know what to do with them.
  4. Get distracted.
  5. Do nothing.
  6. Do nothing.
  7. Check Twitter and see a tweet from Chris Guillebeau about mistake flights aka danger land aka stop now, cut your credit card up, proceed with caution.
  8. Tell myself that I need to stop booking flights and race entries on a whim.
  9. Go back and forth on what cities I should visit in 2014.
  10. Hesitate.
  11. Decide life is short.
  12. 7Book flight to Australia. Boom.
  13. Message Cecilia to see if she’s running the Goteborg Half Marathon.
  14. Hesitate.
  15. Book flight to Sweden. Double boom.
  16. Weee!
  17. Do nothing.
  18. Nap.
  19. Do laundry.
  20. Wait for flight tickets to arrive.
  21. Refresh.
  22. Refresh.
  23. Refresh.
  24. 12 hours later, flight to Australia is ticketed!!!
  25. Refresh.
  26. Make Kiva donation. Lend Bon in Cambodia money to pay her daughter’s school fees.
  27. Refresh…

Sunday

  1. Accept the fact that I only slept 90 mins last night and move forward with my day. Oh hey insomnia, you’re BRUTAL.
  2. Refresh.
  3. Refresh.
  4. Get frustrated that second tickets haven’t arrived yet.
  5. Refresh.
  6. Realize that these mistake fares have added stress to my life.
  7. Refresh.
  8. Realize I’m no where near organized for my day when my sister and niece call to announce they’re at my front door. Oops.
  9. Head to Terra Breads for tea lattes and sweet treats.
  10. Take the AquaBus for a little tour around the harbour.6
  11. Adventure in the Kids Market at Granville Island. Play play play.
  12. Pick up local goodness from the Market — fresh pasta from Zara’s {to die for}.
  13. Visit the Aquarium — turtles, dolphins and beluga whales, oh me, oh my.
  14. Family dinner.
  15. Head to bed at ‘mom time’ — 9pm!!!

Monday

  1. Wake up — rested. Amazing.
  2. Check email. Flight to Sweden is finally ticketed {36 hours later}!
  3. Decide today is the day I learn about drywall anchors! Google. Realize I’m going to have to use a drill bit. Ugh.
  4. Decide today is not the day I learn about drill bits!
  5. Do nothing.
  6. Deal with a whole pile of life shit I’d been putting off.
  7. Feel better.
  8. Go for a quickie run around the seawall. Every step counts.
  9. Do nothing.
  10. Head to appointment with the Life Doctor. Ehhh.
  11. Meet up with Alex for tea and real talk.
  12. Stretch it out at yin with Elle Basten.
  13. Realize that I haven’t thought about work in days.
  14. Head to bed filled to the brim with gratitude.

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

My staycation was no where near perfect, but I can definitely say it was — progress. I went from being absolutely wired, high-strung and frustrated to being carefree, happy and motivated. I had been going back and forth whether I was going to get ‘life stuff’ done while I was away from work… Part of me knew I needed a break from personal work, as well as, professional work. The other part of me knew that my personal work needed to get organized at some point and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do it. I decided the latter was going to be able to help me move forward into 2014 with a bit clearer of a mindset.

My first day on vacation was hard, but no surprise, it got easier. I think a lot about how I have programmed myself and organized my life. My usual is go, go go, while being continually consumed in conversation, relationships and technology. The feeling that I had on my first day off scared me. I didn’t know what to do with myself — and felt, absolutely lost. Where was that girl who loves to read and write? The one who picked up calls from friends instead of ignoring them? Gone?

When I actually reached that moment of checking out of work and focusing on me, I realized I was exhausted. I felt grateful for the opportunity to check out of work for a week. I felt thankful for a support system who continually looks out for me {regardless of how delusional I’m being}. I knew I had to commit to — relax, recharge, renew. Those 3 R’s would be the key to coming back to  ‘life’ filled with enough energy for my day to day and excitement for the future.

I forgot about what I wanted to get done over the week and decided that anything {or nothing} was acceptable. I committed to myself that I would take it one day at a time and that I would allow myself to change plans if I wanted to. I gave myself the green light for sleeping too much, getting caught up in a book, getting lost in my thoughts and eating peanut butter cups in my bed {guilty as charged}.

A few things that have been top of mind this week:

  • Examine what you tolerate.
  • Be selective in your battles.
  • Do more of what makes you happy.
  • Rest is just as important as training.
  • Slow down — start living.
  • Embrace simplicity.

A huge thank you to two friends — much gratitude to Jen for always pushing me to take care of me and to Elliot for continually reinforcing the importance of soul recovery.


Thinking about taking a staycation? A few tips before you head into solitude:

  • Start prepping for your vacation days before you walk out of the office. The easiest way to head out on vacation worry-free is to feel comfortable with where you’re at. Catch up on work, ensure critical areas are being covered and make sure to set your out of office.
  • Leave your computer at the office. Do you need it while you’re away? I didn’t think so.
  • Disconnect your work email and calendar from your smart phone. Yep, remove it.
  • Turn off all smart phone notifications. I’m not one to use notifications to start with, but seriously, you don’t need to be notified of every single freakin’ Instagram heart. It’s added noise in an already chaotic world.
  • Run errands. You don’t want to spend your whole vacation running errands and crossing things off your to-do list. Try and do it ahead of time!

While you’re away, make sure to:

  • Walk away from your smart phone. You know what? When you’re ‘doing nothing’, you don’t really need it. No need for Google Maps, Facebook status updates or checking the weather 64 times a day. Turn on airplane mode and travel back in time to 1991 when we weren’t all obsessed with technology.
  • Minimize plans. Don’t book yourself all day, every day with adventures, activities and commitments. You won’t have the opportunity to recharge.
  • Be a tourist in your own city. Get lost in a new neighbourhood, adventure to the beach or mountains or check out a new cafe. Every city has treasures that are waiting to be discovered.
  • Treat yourself. You deserve it.

Be Bloggin’

Last week I received this email:

A Girl Named Jillian has been nominated for the  2013 Canadian Weblog Awards  in the Life and Sports, Fitness & Recreation categories.

The 2013 Canadian Weblog Awards are a juried competition — no voting! — with nominations that are open in 34 categories between February 1st and October 31st, 2013. The nominees shortlist will be announced on December 1, 2013, and the winners will be announced on December 7, 2013. A running blogroll of the nominees is kept throughout the year so that we can highlight Canada’s blogging talent. 

Congratulations, and good luck!

2013 Canadian Weblog Awards

Shit damn. Sweet! No voting?! Double sweet!

High five to to whomever nominated me. Absolutely honoured. I’m just a girl, blogging my thoughts, pretending that I live in a bubble where no one reads this thing. For real. xo