Every end is a new beginning…

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

It’s time to say goodbye to the girl who created My Pen, My Voice. Although this was my writing outlet for many years, I am ready to move on. Head over to VanessaGrillone.com to keep up with my new work.

 

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If you’re brave enough to say goodbye…

Uncategorized
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I finally figured out why I’ve changed the format, layout, and logo of this blog so many times in the last year. I finally understand why looking at a blank post fills me with anxiety. I finally understand why this has to be my last blog post on My Pen, My Voice (for real this time).

I have outgrown my blog and the brand I created. 

I started blogging in 2010, as a shy twenty-one-year old searching desperately for her voice. My Pen, My Voice became a place to share my stories, document my life, and hone in on my writing style. As the years went on, my confidence as a writer grew ten-fold and the sentiment behind My Pen, My Voice no longer reigned true. Try as I might, there was no change great enough to turn this blog into something that represented me while still staying true to the brand I created.

Although I am proud of this blog and cherish every person it allowed me to meet and every door it has swung open for me, I feel ready to move on and leave it behind for good. It will remain an active website so that I can always look back, but that is all. My Pen, My Voice is all about the clumsy, crazy, scary things that come with trying to find yourself, trying to become who you are. Now that I am who I am, it is time for us to part ways.

Why now? I am ready to leave this younger version of myself behind and focus on my career. I hope to find more challenging forums and outlets to submit my work to. I hope to write more risky and opinionated pieces that I didn’t feel comfortable writing about on here. I hope to finally sit down and write the novel that’s been in my head for years. No, I will do all these things and more.

Why now? Because sometimes decisions are already made in the subconscious of your heart and it takes a little time for you realize it. This decision involves an intense amount of growth and change. This decision allows me to stop hiding behind my blog and try something new.

So it is time to say goodbye to an old friend and hello to a new adventure; thanks for following along.

Xoxo,

Vanessa 

 

They keep tellin’ me I’m doing it wrong…

Lifestyle/Personal, Uncategorized

The title of this blog post comes from a song written by one of my friends.  It’s about being confident in your choices, being proud of the life you’re living, and not caring about what ANYONE thinks about you.

Only two weeks into 2016 and I’m already learning loads about what I want from life. I’m learning about what makes me happy and who I love spending my time with. I’m understanding the importance of personal growth and change. I’m accepting that trust is earned, judgement is unnecessary, and happiness is a state of mind.

I’m fine with being on a different wavelength and I’m okay with letting go of situations I have no control over.

“I’m not scared of being a little bit different. I’m feeling good just the way I am.”

-The Simple Things by Out of the Blue

Xoxo,
Vanessa 

The Bride’s Diary – 10 Months To Go

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

The Bride's Diary

With Christmas over and a new year beginning, the realization that our wedding is only 10 months away has hit me hard. The to-do list is far from complete and seems to be getting longer.

  • Suits, Bridesmaid Dresses, and Flower Girl Outfits
  • Honeymoon
  • Hotel
  • Transportation
  • Shower prizes/decor/planning
  • Shower invitations
  • Wedding invitations
  • Shoes
  • Cake finalization
  • Complete form for DJ
  • Alex’s ring
  • Marriage Licence
  • Ceremony Writing
  • Planning the Bachelorette
  • Wedding Favours
  • Finalize Guest List

Thankfully we’re working with some great vendors and have super supportive and opinionated family members who can make a decision for us when we have no clue what to do LOL! We also know two other couples that are getting married within a few months of us so swapping reviews, ideas, and vendor options has been great!

Lately we’ve been taking a look at cakes and didn’t realize how many kinds of cake there are. Did you know that there are about a million flavours, you can have fondant or buttercream, AND some layers can even be fake? Since our colour scheme is blush and black, I have my heart set on a cake with some kind of blush in it. See below for the Pinterest-vortex-of-options I’ve been sucked into recently. Any suggestions?

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Xoxo,

Vanessa  

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” ― Alfred Lord Tennyson

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Quite honestly, 2015 has been the most difficult and hectic year of my life. Change came at me from every direction simultaneously slapping me in the face and rubbing my back. Below are my most “liked” Instagram moments of the year and although I wrote about many more of them in my diary, I can understand why these were most-liked. These nine moments captured by various filters represent the biggest changes I faced, both happy and sad.
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  1. The day we got engaged; a surprise to say the least
  2. My birthday tattoo; a reminder to keep writing, fighting, and trying
  3. Outfit from my birthday weekend in the city; the most confident I’ve felt in a while
  4. The birth of my niece; my heart grew 6 sizes that day
  5. My last day working at Caruso Gourmet Pizza; the start of a new office job
  6. Our seven-year anniversary; and several wishes for the future
  7. Christmas Eve with my siblings; we like each other sometimes
  8. Walking to the hospital food court with my niece; where most of my October was spent
  9. The day I found my wedding dress; I felt like a Princess

In 2014 I wished for 2015 to be a year of clarity and man did I get what I asked for. It became painstakingly clear that nothing is more important than family. That life is fragile and nothing is permanent, so to what makes you happy is the only way to make a life worth living. It became clear that plans are wonderful but flexibility is the key to sanity.

Because of this I am not making resolutions for 2016 – I don’t know what the year will bring but I am hoping for happiness, health, and adventure.

Xoxo,

Vanessa 

 

Conversations for Two [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

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These are pieces of my story. We carve out our world in sections of memory. Some things take root.

I finished reading Conversations for Two by Jacqueline Markowitz almost a week ago and it’s still haunting me (in the best kind of way).  When someone close to you passes there is a period of time where you are flooded with memories you shared with them. A period where you try to understand who they were, what they loved, and what they could have become.

When one woman comes across her brother’s writing twenty-five years after his death, she is transported through fragments of memories that piece together who he really was and what he loved most. As someone who diligently keeps a notebook at arms length, who writes down everything, I was completely enthralled by this concept. What would people learn about me from those notebooks? What kinds of emotions would it evoke?

Conversations for Two is filled with unanswered questions, quaint memories, and heartwarming poems. Written with sincerity and literary tenacity, this novel is reminiscent of Michael Ondaatje’s work. It is a dark, deep, and transcendent read. I warn you that this novel demands your attention. It requires your focus and your heart. It’s the perfect novel for those few days between Christmas and New Year’s when your heart is filled with joy and magic is around every corner.

Xoxo, 

Vanessa 

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of Conversations for Two in exchange for an honest review.

Turn Up the Good – Weekend Bliss

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Uncategorized

 
Instead of writing non-stop this weekend, I walked. I explored, drove, ate, and laughed. I went to Toronto and to Hamilton. I bustled around a Christmas Market and nearly peed myself at a comedy show (Jim Jefferies is one gifted storyteller). I took selfies and talked about politics. I visited my old bosses and reminisced my heart out. 

I felt blissfully light and optimistic while I dreamed about the future. I’ve been trying to picture, as well as, plan my next step. A tiny piece of me wants to go back to school – I miss learning and expanding my brain creatively.  Some days being twenty-six makes me feel old and stuck, other days  I feel young and my gut knows that change is imminent.

“Change is the end result of all true learning.”  – Leo Buscaglia

  
  
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Xoxo,

Vanessa

Everything I Never told You [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

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This weekend I read Everything I Never told You by Celeste Ng and subsequently had my heart broken in a million different pieces. Although my family is the type who says what they feel, I’m fairly certain that we’ve all held on tight to our own thoughts and feelings at least once. I often kept my thoughts to myself, letting emotions build until I couldn’t hold it in anymore.

The Lee family does that over and over again without realizing it. The unravelling of their relationships begins slowly and intensifies as time goes on. Dreams and pressures are transferred from mother and father straight to their children, depositing unrealistic goals and expectations. It is not until Lydia’s body is found that the Lee’s are forced to take a look at the state of their fragile family.

Going back and forth through time, the reader is transported into the mind of each character. Reading their innermost thoughts leaves you with a guilty knot in your stomach, as if you’ve stumbled on pages of their dairy. You find yourself aching to shake them while screaming “SAY SOMETHING, SAY ANYTHING!” But I guess that’s kind of the point…

“Before that she hadn’t realized how fragile happiness was, how if you were careless, you could knock it over and shatter it.”

― Celeste NgEverything I Never Told You

Everything I Never told You will delight, sadden, and entertain its readers. It will force them to remember all of those things they wish they said to someone. It begs its reader to not only be true to themselves but to be honest to those that love them.

 

Xoxo,

Vanessa 

Disclosure: I requested this novel from Penguin Random House Canada and was sent a copy in exchange for an honest review.

It Saved Me

Lifestyle/Personal

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I’ve been dealing with anxiety for as long as I can remember. In high school I would lose sleep over exams, homework, and friendships. In University I lost ten pounds over an exam. My heart was constantly in my throat, my head ached, and I felt nauseous beyond recognition. I went to the doctor and she recommended anti-anxiety medication to help get me through. I was firmly against it; I shouldn’t have to take pills to get through my day or my life. My doctor wrote me a prescription but I never filled it. I was able to self-talk and get through it on my own.

Fast forward seven years, the anxiety still loomed its ugly head but never to the extent it had during university. I could control it, handle it, and even forget about it from time to time. Writing helped, falling in love helped, talking to my family helped; I was on the right path. Until my life completely changed; I went from two part time jobs and writing to a full-fledge office job, purchasing a condo, and getting engaged in less than five months.

To most people these would be considered good things, in fact, that should have been the best time of my life. Those five months were the hardest months of my life. I struggled immensely at my new job. Training was simple: dive in with the sink or swim mentality, which I see now is necessary for the line of work I’m in. It weighed me down though; every single day I failed. I became anxious every time the phone rang, I made so many mistakes, I received lectures that would eventually teach me something, and I spent the better part of two months crying. I’d sob in the bathroom or on the way to work, I’d tear up on the way home or even in my boss’s office. I felt like a failure. I was broken.

I was upset that the job I had wasn’t in my field of study, that I didn’t have time to write, that the job itself was demanding and stressful. I would wake up every morning with a pain in my chest and bouts of nausea. I’d come home from work with a headache and a poor attitude.

After I got engaged I thought I would be better, allow myself to be happy, make the most of my job. But I didn’t. I began to stress about wedding plans, finances, and who would be offended by what. My family became worried, my fiancé didn’t know what to do. He got frustrated and offended. I didn’t feel like kissing let alone having sex, I was upset, anxious, and depressed. We got into many heated arguments over it. I am not spending the rest of my life like this. This is supposed to be the happiest time in our lives, he said to me. I agreed but couldn’t get the darkness out of my soul. Every morning was a battle, every evening a war-zone.

It was around the time of my third week at the new job that my mom suggested I go see the doctor. She wanted me to start taking anxiety medication. Both my mother and father had been on anxiety medication and swore by it. I, however, needed a little bit more convincing. After work one Thursday evening I went to see my family doctor. It was dark, dreary, and pouring; a reflection of my heart. After melting down in front of my doctor, she prescribed a pill that I could take when I felt the anxiety coming. It was a bandaid that could help get me through the morning.

Three weeks later I was out of pills and more anxious than ever. This pill didn’t heal or help, it just made me feel like a partial-zombie for an hour. The next time I saw her she prescribed something a little different. It would be a six-month stint, where I would take one pill a day, upping my dosage in increments, then weaning myself off it in six months.

In spite of the side effects – nausea and dizziness – I felt like a completely different person. I was more calm and less irritable, my anxiety a mere whisper as oppose to a deafening roar, I felt happier more often, and I got tonnes of uninterrupted sleep. I had simply become myself again; my fiancé and I were back to having fun and being in love, I could sit outside with my family without itching for a fight or longing to be alone, I hadn’t cried at work or to work since I started taking my medication, and I found the work load more manageable.

Just to be clear, I’m not a pill-pusher. I’m not telling you that you need medication to be happy or that it’s the only way. What I’m trying to say is that it’s worked for me. Pride can kill you in more ways than asking for help can. My help came in the form of a yellow and white pill; yours might be therapy or jogging or self-talking or reading or screaming or a simple conversation with a friend. Anxiety is awful and we all experience it on some level but we can fight it together. Asking for help saved my relationship, my family life, and my job.

I stopped taking my medication before the six months were up. I stopped taking them before Alex’s surgery and my dad’s but the amazing thing is that I handled the anxiety better than ever. Everything that has happened put life into perspective. Instead of needing the pills I take every day one at a time, I don’t take on more than I can handle, and I remind myself that I have one life, and it’s up to ME to make it great.

 

Xoxo,

Vanessa

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks [Book Review]

Book Reviews

9780345811370What I love most about the written word is its ability to transcend time. Books survive their creators, emotions and purpose carrying on regardless of the publishing date. Gratitude by Oliver Sacks contains four essays written in the last few months of his life. Coming to terms with his own death, Sacks recounts  moments filled with love, passion, and work.

It is the fate of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

Although this short book deserves a long review, it doesn’t need one. This is a book that you should read. When things are going well, this book will bring you back down and put life into perspective. When this are going terribly, it will remind you that good things are on the way. Regardless of the ups or downs you’re facing, gratitude is a necessity; without it moments turn into fleeting memories. Without gratitude my life loses meaning and purpose.

Xoxo,

Vanessa

** Disclosure: I was sent a copy of Gratitude from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.  **