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

New Mantra for the New Working Girl

Lifestyle/Personal

Sorry if I’ve been silent of the social media airwaves (and my beloved blog) this week. I started a new job and have had a difficult time managing my extracurricular activities. I’m sure that in due time I’ll be able to do both calmly and with confidence. I’ll be wildly available on social media (after work hours or on lunch), will be writing away at 6 AM, will be reading books and reviewing them often, AND sharing stories, blogs, and photos with you. Until I get into a routine I’ll be flip-flopping around as best as I can. Thanks for keeping up, for caring, and for reading the words that are close to my heart.

from Pinterest

from Pinterest

When Petals Fall

Lifestyle/Personal

From Flowers For website

Can you recall the exact moment you saw a flower petal fall? I do. I was sitting at the dining room table, writing away as the sun spilled onto my page. I heard it before I saw it, a tiny crack that demanded my peripheries to pay attention. It fell with a slow determined grace, as if it chose that moment to fall. By the time I turned my head, it was already bathing beautifully in the sunlight. As I looked at it I was thankful for the gentle reminder that there is a certain elegance to falling (or failing). For it creates vast opportunities for growth, change, and thoughts anew.

“What is so marvelous about living today is that it is possible to extend, like a flower, spreading petals in all directions.”
Carolyn Kizer

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

 

A Weekend Mantra [brought to you in part by Beuller and a customer at work]

Lifestyle/Personal

You kids are too complicated with your gadgets and sharing everything. One day you’ll realize that life is flying right by you.

I don’t know if it’s actually the gadgets and countless hours we spend online or if life has always been a whirlwind of long days and short years, but time really does fly. I’ve been writing my “sequel” to My Pen, My Voice and I’m finding it difficult to recall major milestones, anecdotes, or funny stories from the day I turned twenty-five until this very moment. I’ve had to look through my journals and my blog posts to help me remember what I was doing and how it made me feel. It seems like everything happens so fast that I barely have time to process it as it’s happening, perhaps that is why I feel the compulsion to write it all down. The good, the bad, and everything in between.

I’m coming to the end of YEAR 25 of my life (my birthday is in two months) and I hope that in year 26 I can slow things down a little bit. I want progress, change, and to continue to create, I just want to feel like it’s okay to sit back and enjoy it. I refuse to go through another year and think so what exactly did I do last year?

From Giphy

From Giphy

The only plan I have for this weekend is to keep my social media and cellphone use to a minimum and to enjoy each moment. Amazing things happen every day, if you choose to see them

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Eating Alone

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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On Saturday after work I had a hankering for a Big Mac, and a hankering fuelled by hunger is one that must be taken care of. So, on the way to my boyfriend’s house I stopped at the McDonald’s and ordered myself a Big Mac. I paid the $8.00, which I made in tips the night prior, grabbed my tray and sat down alone to eat my meal. As I slowly savoured my french fries, allowing the tremendous amount of salt to cut my tongue, I wondered why I don’t go out by myself more often. As I gorged on my meal I people-watched and made up my own conversations based on their hand movements and facial expressions. I let my eyes wander and my mind create (that is my business after all). I even thought about what other people might think about me — Wow she looks hungry – is she even breathing between bites? She looks sad, maybe she just got dumped. Maybe she got stood up. Maybe she’s in rush. 

It’s an interesting feeling when you’re able to put your phone away and be left alone with your thoughts. To watch the world go on around you as you sit perfectly still. To marinate in your own thoughts, fears, and worries and really connect with them. As of late I feel like everyone is walking around in a frozen cloud of thoughts, unable to forget them, to control them, or really sift through them and figure things out. After lunch I felt a new air of confidence about the future, the present, and taking chances.

From Pinterest

From Pinterest

 HAVE A CHALLENGING, CREATIVE, AND WONDERFUL MONDAY!

Love always,
Vanessa XX

 

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

Do you remember what high school was like?

Lifestyle/Personal

I drove past my high school last week and couldn’t believe how different it looked. I remember it being a lot bigger when I went there. It’s been seven years since the last time I walked the halls, ten years since the first time I stepped into the school. I remember being a nervous wreck the few weeks before school started, asking my sister over and over again how to work my lock, how I would find my locker, and if I would be able to go to my locker between classes. I don’t remember what her answers were, but she more than likely told me to just relax.

Do you remember who you were in high school? What you did? How you felt? When I think about the four years I spent walking the same packed hallways, a sea of forest green sweaters and black pants, I remember wondering if anyone noticed me. I always did well in school but making friends and being social took work. I remember the friends that eventually made, every crush that I had, and every single time I was heartbroken. I recall everything being a BIG DEAL, I can still feel my back up against my locker, my friends on either side, judging others and being judged. I remember skipping class for the first time, driving to school for the first time, being kissed for the first time.

I’ve held on to memories of parties I hosted and parties I attended. Silly mistakes and risks taken make me shake my head. I was desperate to belong and to be liked. It’s funny to think back and picture that younger version of me walking the halls. I can smell the desperation leaking from her pores. I want to reach out and hug her, to tell her that it gets better, and then worse, and then awesome. I want to tell her that everything gets a lot harder, but dreams come true. I want to tell her that after high school is over, real life begins. You’ll find out who your friends really are and you’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin. I want to tell her that she will find love and it will be better than she ever dreamed it could be. I want to tell her that one day all her pain and confusion will be a distant memory, a grainy photograph, and a subtle reminder that she lived through it, that she became the best version of herself.

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– Vanessa

change the way you look at things

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

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At a family dinner the other night I noticed something, I’ve changed. My relationship has changed. My goals have changed. My need to impress people has changed. What I spend my money on has changed. What I want for my future has changed. The way that I think about things has changed. The way I share things has changed.

Sometimes changes come hard and fast, other times they trickle in. From now until THE END you’ll notice a few differences on My Pen, My Voice. For starters the theme is completely different, I don’t love it or hate it, I’m just trying something new. I’m trying to arrange it so that I can keep the blog portion and still have an area to share new projects and exciting articles that I write for other websites. And for right now, this works.

I hope you’ll stick with me for the next few months and enjoy all of the changes as they occur. Let me know what you like and what you don’t, what works and what doesn’t.

Vanessa xo

Obligatory (& Necessary) Thanksgiving Post

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

 

book-page-pumpkin-1_thumb[7]Although we shouldn’t need a holiday to remind us to be thankful, we’re human. We’re self-obsessed beings who thrive on pity, and focus on the bad instead of the good. We need Thanksgiving to take a step back and think about all of the people and moments that make us happy. To remember that life is fragile and we should enjoy what we have before it gets taken away from us.

I’m thankful for… (equally and in no particular order) 

  • family and friends
  • my niece
  • my boyfriend
  • LOVE & LAUGHTER
  • sight and health
  • books and words
  • music and movement
  • travel and adventure
  • dreams and goals
  • traditions (new and old)
  • good food and sweet wine
  • inspiration and creativity
  • work
  • romance and hand holding
  • passion and dedication
  • YOU!
“Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.” 
― John Henry Jowett

 

Happy Thanksgiving!
Vanessa xo

WILD [Book Review]

Book Reviews

WildTP_Books-330

My cousin Amanda recommended that I read WILD by Cheryl Strayed. It’s one of her favourite books, one that she knew I would love too. WILD is the most intense memoir(ish) book that I have read this year. Cheryl holds nothing back when retelling dark and incredibly personal stories from her childhood, her teen years, and her adulthood.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

I adored Cheryl’s writing style, her voice and her views on life. I held my breath on every word of every sentence. I cried, I laughed, I shuttered, and I wondered if I could ever do what The Queen of the PCT did. I enjoyed every person she met on the trail, I cringed at the thought of toenails falling off and the immense strain the hike put on her body, and I cried whenever she discovered something new about herself or her mother. I admire everything about her journey and more so, I admire her ability to write it all down and leave it on the page. WILD is about more than her literal journey, the PCT hike, it’s about life and how we approach it. It’s about the simplicity of complex problems if you just sit down, empty your pack, and think things through. It’s about how to carry yourself through life while understanding everything around you. It’s about lives ending too soon and appreciating the relationships that you have. It’s about goals and dreams and letting go when it’s time to let go.

“It was all unkown to me then….except the fact that I didn’t have to know. that it was enough to trust that what i’d done was true… to know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. that it was everything. it was my life — like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. so very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.” 
Vanessa xx
*quote from pg 311