Back to the Grind

ForScreenshot 2016-04-12 18.16.13 the last 10 days we’ve been on “vacation.” Not that kind of vacation where you book time off to escape, travel the world, or staycation tho…

We are lucky to work for companies that recognize that closing up shop (over the holidays) is important — and encouraging “employees” (bleh, so formal) to recharge, relax and reflect on the last year (and the year to come!) is super important!

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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!

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

Chin Up Buttercup

One of my favourite quotes is…

“Never let the things you want, make you forget the things you have.”

Tonight this came across Pinterest — and I loved it.

I am thankful for…

The taxes I pay because it means that I’m employed.

The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.

My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.

A lawn that has to be mowed, windows that have to be washed and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.

All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.

That lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.

The huge piles of laundry and ironing because it mans my loved ones are nearby.

The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I am alive.

Something to keep top of mind.

Chin up buttercup.

be thankful

Thanksgiving has been in affect in Canada since 1959 and annual holiday revolving around giving thanks.

Today I am thankful for small things.  I am thankful that Treena invited me to Orphan’s Thanksgiving dinner.  I’m thankful that my appetizer and dessert turned out just right.  I am thankful that I’ve taken a moment to decompress and relax.

Today isn’t what’s important.  It’s necessary that we give thanks every day and truly look at the big picture.

I am blessed to have family, friends, a home,and the bare essentials, but I also know that I need a lot more than those things to have a truly fulfilled life.

This year, I am thankful for so many aspects of my life, but especially…

I am thankful for quality relationships with many girlfriends near and far… Marta, Marley, Lily, and Haley – you are my world.

I am thankful for the strong relationship my younger sister, Laura and I have developed over the years.  I am thankful for what she has taught me and how she can put life back into perspective.

I am thankful for two little girls in my life who truly make me smile and appreciate the small things.

I am thankful I can continually give back to the community.  I am thankful I can see the direct impact on people, youth, and the future.

I am thankful that life keeps on presenting me with the opportunity to learn, to gain skills, and to be educated.

I am thankful for love and all that it has taught me.

I am thankful for my health.

I am thankful for always having faith – and hope. Everything will truly work out in the end.

I am thankful that I don’t have everything I desire.

I am thankful that life gives me challenges and teaches me to handle adversity.

I am thankful that I still have a lot of life to live.

Lastly, I am thankful for my strength.  The strength to be a good friend, sister, and daughter.  The strength to balance university, my career, and community involvements.  The strength to keep moving forward…

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  May your day be filled with abundance and love. ❤

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward