What is Happy?

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

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I had a thought yesterday and it created another thought, which rolled into another, and then into a labyrinth of the best thoughts that could be thunk. But then the phone rang. POOF! Gone. My life has become a series of cycles; planning, researching, working, budgeting.

Apparently that is what growing up is all about. On my drive to work I often think about happiness, I look at the person in the car next to me and wonder if they’re happy. I wonder if they like their job, if they’re passionate about what they do. I imagine what their home-life, love-life, and hobbies are. I wonder, what is happy?

My happy comes in the form of moments. My niece’s smile, a perfectly written sentence, my fiance’s hand reaching for mine, a drive up north, having dinner with my family, crying over a character in a book, saying something smart or witty enough to evoke laughter from someone. My happy comes from something more than 9-5, although I do leave the office feeling accomplished and useful, my life will always be about more than that.

That is my happy. What’s yours?

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

 Goodbye Gourmet Pizza [ A Letter ]

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal
  

 

On Wednesday evening, I got word that Caruso Gourmet Pizza locked its heavy black doors for good. Caruso Gourmet Pizza was many things to many people; an excuse to forgo their diet for one night, a place to relax over a cup of coffee with friends, a Friday lunchtime tradition with coworkers, and even a daily stop on the morning commute for the best cappuccino in town.

To me, Caruso’s was a second home. I first started working there at the age of sixteen, when they were located in a tiny shop on the second floor of a complex. In the ten years I worked there, I learned more about life, responsibility, and customer service than I thought possible. I made incredible friendships with coworkers and lasting relationships with the regulars.

Somewhere a long the line my bosses, Domenic and Dina Caruso, became a third set of grandparents to me. I talked to them openly about my life, my dreams, and my passions. Equally, I complained about my life, my dreams, and my passions. They always listened to me fully and gave me advice without hesitation. Dom and I spoke daily about books, writing, and even current events. He’d tell me story after story and more often than not, I’d leave for the day feeling inspired and ready to write.

In fairness, I’m not THAT special; Domenic and Dina had incredible relationships with every single one of their customers. During a busy lunch or dinner rush, they always made time to chat with a customer, or shake hands with a friend. Not to mention sending me from table to table with complimentary espressos in hand. To many, the building was much more than a place to eat;  it was a place to be among friends.

I am truly saddened by the closure of such a wonderful establishment. Caruso’s is a huge part of Bolton’s history, culture, and identity. I will miss the warmth of the ovens, the delicious pizza, and having a second place to call home.

Here’s is my heartfelt thank you to Domenic and Dina Caruso, for everything you’ve done for me personally, for everything you’ve done for this town, and for keeping the Bolton youth employed and on the right track. I wish you the best of luck and hope you can finally have some time for yourselves, you deserve it.

Love Always,
Vanessa Xo

Looking Back to Move Forward

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal
Photo from Ultralinx

Photo from Ultralinx

When I was younger I was against looking back; moving forward meant forgetting the past. Yesterday as I went through my various memory boxes and packed up my old notebooks, I realized that sometimes the only way to know how to move forward is by looking back.

Relationships are quickly put into perspective as memories jump out of photos and leap off of letters. Reminders of who you were and how far you’ve come smile at you like an old friend. Suddenly your entire world expands and everything makes sense, including the hard times you couldn’t control, the hard times that you created, and even the good times you didn’t think could be beat.

“Taking time to look back, is a foundation on course to build a stable future.”
Unarine Ramaru

Here’s to a brand new week of a brand new month. Remember that you can face anything that this week throws your way. Remember to start and end each day with a smile. Remember to love.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

 

The Rise of Self-Love

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

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I received a press-release recently about Triumph’s Beauty-Full collection. I don’t purchase underwear or lingerie all that often, so this press release fell short for me in actually purchasing anything from Triumph. What didn’t get lost on me was the fact that sometime in the last year or so, the definition of beauty has changed from being thin to being in love with your skin.

I love how little I hear about wanting to be skinny, about losing weight. I love that it’s more about being healthy and eating the right food. I love that there are women out there like the owners of The Store On Queen who emulate health, confidence, and beauty regardless of weight or size. I love that celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Pink, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, and Lena Dunham are dismissing body-shamers and spreading love, light, and self-worth.

I love that my generation and the younger generation (from what my narrow little brown eyes have seen) have snubbed the notion that being thin is equivalent to being beautiful. I love going to the mall and seeing young women of all shapes and sizes trying on clothes and walking around with their heads held high. I know that there are tonnes of wicked and sad things going on in the world, but I also know that good things will only happen if we build ourselves up rather than cut ourselves down.

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”  ― Simone de Beauvoir

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

*Photo from: Lotus Leaf*

The Saint Tavern and Tattoo Parlours

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

Weekends are my absolute favourite; I get to catch up on my reading and blogging, spend time with my family, and have an adventure or two with my love. On Saturday Alex and I headed down to The Saint Tavern for breakfast.

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I loved the dark and cool vibe of the restaurant, the deliciously creamy and strong latte, and the delectable Duck Egg St. Benny. The service was fantastic, it felt like being at home, with a bunch of other brunching strangers enjoying their meals.

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After breakfast we walked around the city and ended up at a tattoo parlour near my house. I finally got the “writerly” tattoo I’ve been wanting. It’s a semicolon on my right wrist, which was inspired by this photo on Pinterest. I’m hoping that it will remind me to use my spare time wisely. To use every moment that I’m not at working, writing things down, creating characters, and stringing stories together.

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“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Signs and All the Jazz

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

I believe in all kinds of magic, in dreams coming true, in luck, and hard work. BUT I’ve very rarely looked for or believed in signs. I’ve had trust my gut when making decisions but I’ve never sought out signs from the universe to lend some help. On Friday, for the first time in a very long time I felt as though the universe was trying to tell me something. On the way to and from work, a giant white plastic bag flew into my windshield, getting stuck momentarily before I regained sight of the road in front of me. Also on the way to work I nearly got hit by a transport truck who was making a left hand turn (thank goodness I sped up at the last moment).

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That was the moment I realized that life was trying to tell me something. It was literally trying to hit me in the face. Telling me to wake up and see the good in life. Telling me to stop letting nerves dictate my life and to go with the flow. Telling me to pay attention and make time for what I love to do. Telling me that life is so so short and it doesn’t make sense to spend a single moment dreading failure or even making plans.

Life is life and I have the capacity to handle anything that comes my way. I have a dream big enough to give me courage, a brain smart enough to give me strength, and a heart full enough to not only guide me, but to ensure that I have just the right amount of love and laughter in my life.

I’ll take that as a really great sign…

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Laptop on Rice/ Blue Monday Indeed

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Uncategorized

Yesterday was not a good day. I woke up feeling less than impressed with myself. I woke up feeling sweaty, ugly, and fat. Yes, it was one of THOSE Mondays. I tried to push those thoughts aside and get to the regularly scheduled programming of my brain — How much money will we need at closing? How much can I save this month? How much will we need for furniture or a wedding? Will we ever be able to afford a wedding? How is my job search going? Why haven’t I heard from anyone? So on and so forth.

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Later on that morning, I returned home from a Doctor’s appointment and spilled about half of my perfectly semi-sweet and creamy dark roast coffee all over my MacBook Air. It immediately shut off and wouldn’t turn back on. Please don’t ask me how I managed it. I am always anal when it comes to food or beverages coming in close contact with my laptop. I cleaned what I could and threw my laptop into a container with rice and although I started off hopeful, I think it is fair to say that my laptop is fried and I cannot afford a new one. The worst part of all this is that I have EVERYTHING I’ve written in the last five years is on that laptop. Every photo I’ve taken was stored on that laptop. Everything I’ve been working on lately is ON that laptop. AND I DO NOT HAVE A BACKUP! I have a USB with some of my work on it but not all of it. I always assumed I could do it eventually and eventually never came. (Also, I didn’t back up anything to iCloud – doh!).

What I care most about are my photos. I can always write more words, better words, but if my computer-genius cousin can’t get my photos back I’ll be devastated (I have photos on there from 2008 that I never developed, some from my sister’s wedding, and every photo I’ve ever taken of my niece or with my boyfriend). I don’t know how to end this post or if there’s a point in divulging the tears that I shed or the words that I screamed, so I’ll end it with this: ALWAYS BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE. Also, let’s hope that by some miracle my laptop starts working and all of my photos reappear.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

A Book Review(ish) & January Blues

Book Reviews, Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

“If you live through defeat, you’re not defeated. If you are beaten but acquire wisdom, you have won. Lose yourself to improve yourself. Only when we shed all self-definition do we find who we really are.” The Tao of Wu

January always starts off a little slowly for me. I let the previous year linger in the air instead of focusing on the year ahead. I give myself a much-needed break from the blog, reading, and even writing stories. And then suddenly it hits me, I want to do everything all at once. I start tweeting again, my fingers itch to write the perfect sentence, my brain longs to learn something new, and I’ve morphed into that version of myself that I like best: the passionate go-getter ready to take a chance. The woman who is willing to lose all other versions of herself, especially the ones that do anything but empower her.

From Amazon.uk

From Amazon.uk

Usually a conversation with my best friend or my parents is all I need to get out of my funky version of January Blues but this time it was actually a book that kicked my butt into gear. A Man Called Ove is the loveliest book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s about an old man called Ove who is stuck in his ways and just wants to die. He misses his wife desperately and wants nothing more than to take his own life to be with her, the trouble is that the entire world is so incompetent that they won’t let it happen. Neighbours and stray cats meander their way into Ove’s life and he begins to feel responsible for them. How can he go off to be with his wife when men can’t reverse trailers or bleed radiators, when women don’t know how to drive, or when teenagers can’t fix their own bikes? Ove doesn’t stand for this, he believes that people should be able to do the most basic things in life, no gadgets or technology should be doing it for them. Ove’s view on how the world should be is contagious and quite hilarious if I may say so, but the most endearing part of the entire novel is how he and his useless neighbours depend on one another. This novel is about relationships, about love, and about doing the right thing no matter what. Ove’s love, determination, and selflessness inspired me, as did all of the chapters about his late wife Sonja.

“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.” 
― Fredrik BackmanA Man Called Ove

In A Man Called Ove, and my own life, time is of the essence. And even though I’m not quite sure where 2015 will lead me, I vow to rock the crap out of it, to say yes, and to simply live.

Love always, 
Vanessa XX

Ringing in the Resolutions

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal
From Pinterest

From Pinterest

As I think back on 2014 I realize that I spent most of it in a hibernating kind of contemplation. I thought instead of doing. I questioned instead of acting. I was afraid and didn’t take enough risks.

My Year in Review

  • I changed my blog multiple times and am currently looking at new themes for the new year
  • I thought about giving up blogging altogether
  • I quit my job at the pizza place and gave a half-ass attempt to freelancing, then wound up serving pizza again
  • I went on multiple interviews and learned a lot from them
  • I applied to a million jobs (am still applying on a daily basis, HELP)
  • I got a part-time job at Oxford Learning Centre
  • I had many downtown adventures and attended a few amazing events
  • I took a short fiction writing class at Ryerson and adored it
  • I started writing short stories and began submitting them to literary magazines (I even entered CBC’s Short Story Contest)
  • I wrote a novella based loosely on my Uncle’s life for NaNoWriMo
  • I started writing for Passion8 Mag, which has helped harness my creativity
  • I started cooking
  • I TURNED 25
  • I met and spoke with inspiring women thanks to Ten Thousand Coffees
  • I read 61 books and loved most of them
  • I spent loads of time with my family, my niece, my in-laws, and my friends — they’ve been my happiness this year
  • My boyfriend and I have taken our relationship to the next level (more on that another time)
  • I thought a lot about privacy and social media and how it tends to make you lose sense of yourself
  • I decided to delete my Facebook account since I only use it to creep other people

The small steps I took in 2014 were on a winding road that led me back to the beginning more than once. It was the year of ONE-STEP-FORWARD-TWO-STEPS-BACK and I’m completely dizzy from losing my footing so many times. Some days I wasn’t quite sure who I was, nor where I was headed. If I wish for anything in 2015 it would have to be clarity. I just want to know what I’m supposed to be doing. I want to feel more like myself. I want to make something of myself!

Resolutions for 2015 

  • BE PRESENT (Keep my phone in my purse.)
  • WRITE MORE POETRY AND SHORT STORIES (Who cares if no one reads them.)
  • FOCUS ON STARTING MY CAREER (Even if it what I’m doing isn’t part of the original plan.)
  • GET MY PRIVACY BACK (Social media is convenient, but privacy is unparalleled. I will share what I want, not what I think I have to.)

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
― T.S. Eliot

Happy New Year!

See you in 2015!

– Vanessa

Snowfall Brings out the Best/Worst in People

Bursting the Bubble, Uncategorized
From Pinterest

From Pinterest

On the way home from work, my dad was rescued by four  firefighters. He’d gotten his car good and stuck. A few seconds later four men jumped out of the car behind him and pushed him on his way. My neighbour, sister, and mother were less fortunate, as they pushed my sister’s car up our court, several on-lookers just stood there and on-looked. Pretending not to notice.

I truly believe that snowstorms and natural disasters of the like bring out the best and worst in people. Yesterday as I tried desperately to drive to work (which is a five-minute drive at most) I found myself stuck in the middle of my court. With my wheels turning beyond control and my steering wheel giving out on me, I was just about ready to give up. Thankfully my neighbour came to the rescue. He not only cleaned off my entire car but somehow got my car loose and pushed me on my way.

My five-minute drive turned into a 15-minute drive complete with getting stuck at the end of my court and sliding every time I turned. Getting into a parking spot in a lot that had not been plowed was no easy feat. Luckily for me there was a young guy getting Chinese food next door to my work. After watching me reverse and go forward, reverse and go forward, and still not make it properly into a spot, he graciously pushed my car into said spot. I guess he could see the panic-stricken look on my face and decided to help a sister out.

Thank you to everyone who took the time and effort to help someone who was in need during the storm yesterday. Your selflessness will not be forgotten and is much appreciated. Snowstorms can be a mix of beautiful, scary, and ugly, but your help made it mostly beautiful. So thanks, from all of us.

“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”
― Mary Oliver

– Vanessa