#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.

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:

photo

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.

A Little Escape

I know that you’re not supposed to run away from your problems… or feel a need to run away from your life.

These days many in the self-development world — “experts,” say… if you need a vacation, you need a new life.

It in it’s simplest form, the statement makes sense to me.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been guilty of saying… “I  just need a moment to breathe”…”I need to get caught up on email”…”I need time to just think”… and before you knew it I had booked a trip to the hot hot heat.

I just need some time in a beautiful place to clear my head.

Regardless of what category you put ‘needing a vacation’ into… I know I need it. Yep, need it.

I need to be able to walk away from my current life and reflect on what’s working and not working. I need to think about my constant state of being busy and overloaded {for a great post by Danielle LaPorte on being overwhelmed… click here} — and determine what changes needed to be made. I need to gain clarity on what’s truly important. I need a little Eat : Pray : Love.

If all this means I’m running away — c’est la vie. If it means — I need a new/revised life… well I’ll be the first to admit that maybe I do.

Looking forward to some time with my head. Looking forward to moving into 2013 with a little bit more focus.

What do YOU want out of life?

This weekend is Wanderlust — a yoga, music, heart-filled festival taking place in Whistler. I had been debating attending, but honestly, summer has been full on and it was stressing me to commit to another event.

Thankfully Lululemon used Ustream to live stream a seminar with Susanne Conrad! Susanne is the Director of Possibility on the Lulu team and had a plan to inspire the crew!

I tuned into the session and learned a lot about creating the future you want to live. At one point we were challenged to complete an exercise where we would determine what we want in our life and what we don’t.

From my desk in downtown Vancouver, I took part. I went with my gut and ended up with this:

At my core, I want to be able to give. Give with all my heart. ❤

Very rewarding exercise; thank you to Susanne and the team at Lululemon for including those offsite in the event!

Going Backwards to Go Forwards

Sometime during my trip to Costa Rica, life hit me square in the face like a ton of bricks. I woke up wide-eyed with anxiety and immense pressure to succeed.

The anxiety wasn’t driven from “figuring out my future” or long-term planning. Instead I began to think about what I do and why I do it.

A simple question:

Do I love what I do?

And if I don’t love what I do… then why am I doing it?

My answer is: I don’t know.

{…insert quarter life crisis. 28 this year by the way.}

When I tell people that I don’t think I’ll be working in HR long-term, they look at me in shock. They always say: “But you’re good at it.”

Well let me tell you… that’s not enough. And it’s never a reason to stay in your profession. Strengths should be aligned with passion. As much as I hate the word “passion” …it’ll be easiest to use to explain my point.

When people ask me why I like HR, my answer is:

“I like to help people. I like to give people tools to ensure they are successful in their roles.”

Um, I’m pretty sure my answer should be: “I really like policy and procedure manuals” or “benefits plans blow my mind” or “I dreamt of a compensation structure last night.” Truth. I’m not your typical HR professional and that’s always been why I’ve done well in the industry. I’ve gained momentum from being different and providing fresh ‘GenY’ perspective. I often consider “fresh” to just be mouthy and opinionated. :)

I love lots of what I do, but when I think about my profession… I’ve come to realize, it’s just not me. The profession has been built upon structure, policies and providing information in a uniform way. Yes, I am blessed to work with people who understand progressive HR… who understand that the function can have a place on the management team… and who truly respect my opinion. But the truth is… the ‘profession’ and the HR industry aren’t going to change for a very long time.

The profession isn’t progressive — and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying to conform to it.

I’m pretty sure my ‘passion’ is education.

I love to teach.

I love to lead.

I love to think outside the box, brainstorm creative solutions and solve problems.

I love to empower people to make positive change.

I love to help people grow.

So what does this mean?

In the short-term, I’m not sure. I am completely committed to my clients, my teams and the projects on my plate for the next few years. I’m honored to learn from great companies with strong leaders. I have been given the opportunity to lead JCI Vancouver as 2012 Chapter President which will no doubt develop my leadership skills. I have some exciting opportunities in the works — including attending the UN Global Partnership Summit in New York and teaching entrepreneurship/social enterprise to youth for 4 weeks in India.

Often I lecture to business students at Canadian universities. We talk about how Generation Y (and some of Generation X) will have a number of “careers” in their lifetime and they often don’t end up in the field they specialized in. I know the topics inside and out — yet it takes me ages to apply it to my own life. :)

I was groomed to be HR for the rest of my life. I completed a Diploma in HR, then a Degree in HR. I completed my HR designation.  In 2010, I was given an award by the province for being a rising star in the industry. The last 8 years of my life have been dedicated to the profession.

By no means was it time wasted… it all built me into who I am today.

In 2012, I need to think through how I can tie my strengths, commitment to education and interest in changing the world — into some sort of a career.

I’m 100% committed to the land of entrepreneurship, just need to rethink the day-to-day.

My advice to you (and me):

When you’re sorting out what life throws at you…
Don’t worry what others will think.
Think about you need and go out there and get it.

Deep breath.