Isabelle’s First Birthday

Family Time

My god-daughter turned one this weekend, as I’m sure you noticed on my Instagram account. We celebrated her birthday at a park in Woodbridge with family and friends. I never realize how much is involved preparing for events like this until I have to be apart of them. Jessica, Richard, and my mom prepared all of the food and salads while the rest of us were on decoration duty at the park.

Isabelle, dressed in a flapper’s kind of romper, ballet slippers, and a beautiful headpiece was the life of the party. She spent a little time with everyone that attended, ran around with her little zombie arms stretched out in front of her, and danced at the first hint of a song being sung.

photo 3Is it wrong to wish that she never grows up? Sometimes I look at her and think You’ve got your entire life in front of you baby girl, don’t rush it! Watching her grow and change so much in only a year has been a wonderful gift. It blows my mind how she understands things. She knows who she’s “talking” to, she recognizes songs and movies, she can even say a few words. She’s at the age/phase where she imitates everyone, she wants to say what they say and do what they do. She loves to share but will tease you with kisses. When she actually wants to cuddle, her body becomes a little heavy marshmallow that you never want to let go of.

1560767_10152528291636084_8102617684228122907_nShe hates when you sing Happy Birthday to her — she shakes her head and keeps saying no! But she has no issue with eating the frosting off of her cake. Baby Girl loves cake and her family. I’m always wondering what she’s thinking and I cannot wait until she can tell me exactly what is on her mind. I can’t wait to take her to shows, bring her to the zoo, take her on the subway with me, take her shopping, or take her to the bookstore. But wait, let me slow down a bit and enjoy her for what and who she is now, a beautiful little one year old with nothing but happiness in her big brown eyes.

“You know what the great thing about babies is? They are like little bundles of hope. Like the future in a basket.”
― Lish McBrideHold Me Closer, Necromancer

Vanessa Xo

The Closet Purge of 2014

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

I feel different lately, like everything inside of my head has jumbled together, broken a part, and ended up in a different place. My heart feels the same and yet just as different as the thoughts in my head. I still love who I love but some kinds of love have come to an end. I’m still me but with a different style and interests and likes. For example, my bedroom is no longer ME. I walk into it and stare at the deep purple walls realizing that they belong to a quiet, angry, and confused young girl. I sit at my desk and the sad purple walls stare right back, asking me Who are you? These walls don’t belong to the confident and happy dreamer I’ve become and so they must go.

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A few other things have to go too. After years of nagging from my mother and a little inspiration from my best friend, I completely purged my closet on Sunday. Sometimes you grow out of clothes physically, sometimes emotionally. I looked at the clothes hanging in my closet and the a lime green chiffon shirt, two pairs of shorts that don’t fit, a dress that I wore to my nineteenth birthday, etc. no longer appeal to me. I am not the same person who wore those items so I got rid of them. I kept anything that I wear often and will only add items to my closet that represent me.

photo 2It seems like the more I get rid of the more I’m able to see who I really am. The more I change, the more I can discover what really matters to me. It’s the most refreshing feeling in the entire world. My last day at the pizza place is Friday and I think that’s the spark for all of these little changes. I outgrew that job, I outgrew my clothes, and I’ve certainly outgrown some of my thoughts. I’m welcoming the new with open arms and a waving flag that reads COME GET ME! I’M READY!

Love Always (if not forever)

Vanessa

greatness and all that jazz

Bursting the Bubble, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

piclabThursday was a perfect day for walking around the streets of Toronto with one of my favourite girlies in all the land. I invited my brother’s girlfriend, Christine, to accompany me to the Chapters Indigo media preview. Although she’s been dating my brother for years we’ve never spent much time together, so when I went to pick her up I was a little nervous. I’m always scared that I’ll be awkward or run out of things to say to people but I was happily surprised when we literally could not stop talking!

I think one reason we get along so well is because we are a lot alike. We crave adventure, we’re ambitious, we’re quiet and yet can’t stop talking when we’re with people we like spending time with. We keep things to ourselves but are learning to speak our minds. We love our families, boyfriends, friends, and even books. We’re tired of saying yes to people who don’t appreciate us and have made a pact to not do things that make us unhappy just to make someone else happy.

As our chatting continued, my nervous energy melted away and we were both able to enjoy an evening in the city. We walked to Chapters Indigo head office and then over to The Store On Queen so I could pick up a pair of pants I ordered (I was super bummed that I didn’t get to meet Hubby and Wifey), and finally headed to the O&B Canteen for a bite to eat (dinner was delicious by the way).

IMG_7516IMG_7517IMG_7520 IMG_7553I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again — I LOVE BEING DOWNTOWN. The hustle and bustle makes me feel alive. The murmur of various conversations, the sardine-packed sidewalks, the endless rows of great shops and fabulous restaurants is so different from anything I experience on a day-to-day basis. King Street West is my favourite part of the city — it’s familiar and foreign. I can navigate that block pretty well and still see something new every time I walk it. I feel like I belong in the city, I should be walking home from work, grabbing an early drink or a late latte with my boyfriend, friends, or solo. 

What is about the city that makes me feel great? Is it just Toronto or all cities that make me feel like I can do anything, be anyone, and achieve my biggest dreams? An important part of this feeling is surrounding myself with people who feel the same way, or who at very least believe that I am capable of all those things. People who think I am great and that I can achieve greatness. Thank you to all of those people.

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 Love Always and Forever,

Vanessa Xo

the weight of Insecurities

Bursting the Bubble, Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

Perhaps you saw my sulky tweet about going for a physical. The one where I gained 6 pounds since the last time I visited the doctor two years ago. I don’t usually tweet things like that, I highly doubt you care how much I weigh or how much I’ve gained, but I do. In 10th grade I got fed up with being the only girl who wasn’t naturally thin, so I made it my goal to become skinny. I wanted to be pretty, thin, and get noticed by the hot guys in my grade. I wanted desperately to have a boyfriend. I went on a strict NO JUNK FOOD diet and worked out with Billy Blanks tapes every day. Eventually I lost the weight but it didn’t get me a boyfriend, nor did it rid of my insecurities.

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Feeling beautiful is all that matters. Thin, thick, whatever. Beauty is on the inside. Oh and CHOCOLATE TASTES AS GOOD AS ANYTHING FEELS!

The thing is that I will never be thin — maybe subtly toned and thick but never thin. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that or be okay with it. Even nine years later, I don’t feel confident most days. I try on clothes and even though I’m “tiny”, it doesn’t make me enjoy shopping any more than someone who isn’t. In fact, trying on clothes isn’t the only thing that irks me, I hate seeing myself naked. I despise bathing suits and refuse to look at myself before heading into the shower. In the mirror all I see are the same imperfections I’d notice when I was sixteen years old. I see extra skin or flab that wasn’t there before, I see cellulite from my bum to my upper back thighs and I grimace. How can a 25-year-old woman not love her body? Not love the skin that’s treated her well her entire life? It baffles me and sickens me that hearing that I am now 129lbs instead of 123lbs is something that could ruin my day but it does.

So what now? Is this vanity or a simple case of I don’t look like the women I see in magazines or movies? Or is it something even worse than that? Have I made being “thin” “skinny” or “tiny” my main characteristic? Am I vain enough to think that that’s how people remember me or am I silly enough to hope that that’s how they remember me? The more important question is why, why would I want that to be the way people remember me? Wouldn’t I rather have people say “Vanessa? You mean the writer from My Pen, My Voice?” or “Vanessa? That sweet girl with a weird but fun sense of humour?”  or “Oh Vanessa? Ya I remember her! She’s awesome.”  There are all kinds of beautiful out there and they don’t start with a number on the scale.

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This is me. Today. I’m a writer, traveller, and reader. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, niece, girlfriend, cousin, and friend. I have brown eyes, big thighs, and a small waist. I have big feet and love having my toenails painted. I like my lips, they’re exactly like my moms. I love to laugh, especially if it’s over a Lavazza latte. I like working out and I am healthy but I love my mom’s muffins and cookies too much to give them up. I love Italian food and penne alla vodka is my favourite dish. I weigh 129lbs and I am beautiful, not in spite of or because of that number. It’s just one little piece of who I am and if I can have so many people love me for all of these things, then I can learn to love myself too. It’s a journey, a process, and I’m on the right track.

Love Always and Forever,

Vanessa Xo

frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I went for a pedicure with my bestie last night — my tootsies were in dire need of it, and really is there a better way to spend $20 (other than on books)? We always use pedicures for serious gab-fests that start off with, So Vanessa, how are you really feeling? My answer nearly shocked the poop out of my bestie, I’m good, feeling relaxed. Never has she ever heard me say that I’m feeling relaxxxxxeeeeedddddd — especially when things aren’t going my way. Why am I feeling so relaxed?

e403472c2554bd9d1eea706760a6a2d7I don’t give a damn about anything that doesn’t directly affect me. I no longer care about the little things and I’m learning to let go of situations and people who I can’t control. I’m being honest with myself for the first time in forever and frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks!

The other day I went for a jog, I looked up at the clear blue sky and had to stop moving. I just stood there and stared, it looked as crisp as the ocean, and I wanted to jump in. It was the most beautiful sky I have ever seen, I felt so big and so small, and ready to take on the world. There are so many beautiful sights to behold and I just want to see them all. The only way to appreciate them is to be calm, cool, collected, and relaxed. I look at photos of my niece sometimes and the look in her eyes is the epitome of curiosity and excitement.

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She is literally experiencing everything for the first time and you can tell that she is in love with life. She inspires me every single day to look at things differently. To learn, to grow, and to love life, because before we even know anything about anything that is what we are programmed to do.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

 

 

 

Summertime Sadness?

Lifestyle/Personal

I’ve yet to find sadness in this beautiful summer that we’re having, what I’m finding is quite the opposite. Not only summertime happiness, but hope, choices, and wonder as well. At this stage of my life I’m fortunate enough to have my options open. I could be a freelance writer, continue to look for a job in publishing, I could learn SEO and become an SEO specialist, or even go back to school to become a librarian technician (seriously I’ve been considering it). I could also take a break from all of these life decisions and travel. The trouble is that the more options I have, the more stressed out I feel. I received a wonderful email from a fellow writer and blogger (Not A Model) who noticed how down I’ve been about job hunting and simply advised me to try not to sweat it too much! 

It’s so difficult to enjoy anything when your mind is in stressed-out-over-drive. There is no way I would have enjoyed date-night at Astoria if my thoughts were on my poor interviewing skills or whether I will ever find a job that I really want. There is a slim chance that I would have enjoyed my cousin’s baby shower if I was focussing on my next step. There is an even slimmer chance that I would have enjoyed my first jog of the summer if I had been thinking back to my last interview “disaster” rather than singing along to the music on my iPod. I wouldn’t have felt the blood pumping or my calves strengthening or the oxygen running through my veins. I wouldn’t have run as hard as I did, I wouldn’t be breathing as heavily, nor would I have noticed the warmth of the sun on my back.

So even in the dead heat of summer, I’ll try not to sweat it…

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

i saw the sign

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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Sometimes things happen that you can’t explain. Moments occur that leave you curious, shocked, and with a perpetual look of confusion on your face. At work the other day I said something to a customer (an older George Clooney kind of man) about how women usually listen to their friend’s orders and follow their lead, not men. He replied with big eyes and lifted brows, “It’s 2014 — don’t get stuck thinking like that. This is Bolton, those people patterns don’t stick anywhere else. You need to get to the city, then maybe to London, see other places. Don’t get stuck in this kind of thinking — it’s just Bolton.”

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Am I THAT transparent? I served this man his pizza feeling utterly naked, completely stripped to the core with nowhere to run or hide. I have never felt so naive or narrow-minded in my life. Maybe I’m reading too much into this but when a first-time customer drops a mind-blowing bomb like that, you can’t help but take notice. Could this be a sign? A BIG RED STOP SIGN APPEARING OUT OF THIN AIR (OR AIR THAT SMELLS LIKE A COOKED PIZZA)? I THINK IT IS!

“You are doing all right. You are a good little soldier. You are feeling sad now because it is wartime. You are engaged in the greatest battle of them all: the battle to be yourself. It is the ugliest battle.”

— THE GIRL WHO WAS SATURDAY NIGHT

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

A stye in the eye and a silky smooth face

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

I don’t think I’ve EVER written about facial products but I feel like I have to share something with you. Last week I developed a nasty stye. I’ve never had one before and I assume that this one was caused by the self-imposed stressed that is eating away at my heart. Nonetheless, there were a few things that I had to do in order to ensure a speedy recovery — no makeup (including the little bit of mascara I usually wear to work), no contact lenses, and no harsh soaps or creams. Except for the engagement party, I’ve stuck to that. I also went to the walk-in and purchased some eye drops and have been putting warm compress on my eyes.

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In just a week my skin has completely changed. Blemishes have almost disappeared, I have no pimples, my skin is soft, creamy, and smooth. It seems that I have developed a new skin regimen that actually works, all thanks to this nasty, pus-filled, red, itchy stye. No soap on the face in the morning, simply washing my face with warm water and then applying a thin layer of Olay complete cream for sensitive skin. At night I just was my face with Dove shea butter soap and apply another thin layer of the cream. THAT’S IT!

I guess sometimes, negative things/styes/experiences can lead to good ones…

it just takes time.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

weekend living/ how others see you…

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

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The way others see you can sometimes be the complete and total opposite of how you see yourself.

“I was listening to Z1035 and their D.J. reminded me so much of you! Especially the way she tells stories: she’s sarcastic, kind of vulgar, and doesn’t give a crap about what anyone thinks. I swear I picture tour face when she’s talking. Maybe you should think about a career change.” — Cousin Tania I took all of that as a compliment and assumed that she meant it as such. I come off as smart, funny, sarcastic, bitchy, and confident?don’t care what other people think about me? That is certainly not how it feels when I’m inside my own head — there’s nothing but doubts and need to succeed and a desperate attempt to be accepted and approved by all. The fact that someone out there thinks of me as confident is reason enough for me believe that I really don’t give a crap about what people think of me. IMG_0405 IMG_0410 IMG_0427 I’ve been marinating over this since last Thursday, when I saw my cousin Tania, and have taken every opportunity to walk with my head up high, to not talk myself down, and to let loose and not care about the opinions or judgements of others. My bestie and cousin had their engagement party on Saturday and I used it to put that decision to the test. I wore my new (and favourite) party dress from Forever21, the reddest shoes I could find, talked up a storm, smiled, laughed, left my phone inside, and for the first time in a long time, I felt happy and content in my own skin, and with my life decisions.

Remember: You are younger today than you ever will be again. Make the most of it! 

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

who would i be if…

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

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As I walked the streets of Toronto last weekend I couldn’t help but wonder how my life (and myself) would have been different if I grew up in the city. I see young families often when I talk into hipster coffee shops — the children have this air about them, a confidence, an independence that I don’t think living in the ‘burbs offers a person.

I was seven when we moved from Etobicoke to Bolton, which is way up north (it’s really not that far from the city). For the next sixteen years I lived in a quaint little bubble — free of sex (I didn’t know what a blow job was until I graduated from high school), drugs, homeless people, dark and scary alleyways, and yes, rock n’ roll. I went on the subway by myself for the first time at the age of twenty-three, when I got an internship downtown Toronto at Random House of Canada. I still don’t get most dirty jokes, I’m as “innocent and naive” as they come, sometimes I can be a little narrow-minded and a little afraid to broaden my horizons.

What would I be like if I were a born and bred city girl? Would I be braver or more independent? Would I be more street smart than book smart? Would I love the city and hate the ‘burbs? Or the other way around? Would I be as passionate about Toronto and travel as I am now? Would I be living the “artist life” in a cramped apartment on top of a store on Queen West, working at a local pub at night, writing during the day and trying desperately to make ends meet?

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No one knows. I can picture myself in a bunch of different scenarios but that is simply my imagination running wild. The fact of the matter is that I am who I am. Where I grew up had a lot to do with the woman I’ve become BUT that doesn’t mean I can’t spread my wings a little. The best part about knowing who you are, and I mean really admitting to the faults and follies, is that you can work on them. You can become a better you. I can be that small town girl who loves heading farther up north just as much as she loves roaming the city streets. There is no one or the other, there is no black or white, but a million shades of grey (I can’t even tell you how many shades of red I turned reading that book :P).

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo