Oh Sunday, I love you!

Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

On Sunday, the sun shone through the blinds onto the kitchen counter and illuminated our quiet breakfast of toast, coffee, and our latest reads (a book for me and the CNN app on Alex’s phone). Alex looked at me and asked if I wanted to go out. We had no plan, no rhyme or reason to leave the house, but we did anyway. The sunshine filled us with excitement and warmth as we drove down to Of Things Past, a consignment store off of Dufferin. Since the purchase of our condo I can’t help but look anywhere and everywhere for future decor inspiration.

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From decorative chandeliers to dinnerware and gorgeous sofas, Of Things Past has one-of-a-kind pieces that will really make your house stand out. I fell in love with a desk or two and promised myself to head back there when we start buying furniture. Next we went over to Yorkdale and spend some time window-shopping and chatting. I fell in love with a new (to me) store — Anthropologie. I adore their home decor and their clothing. Their stationery and journals are adorable, their aprons are so sweet, and their dinnerware is gorgeous! As we sat down and had lunch at Joey’s (which was delicious), I couldn’t get my mind off of that store and the goodies I could treat myself to!

I have to admit that the best part of my day wasn’t the delicious meal or cappuccino pictured above, it was spending the day with my boyfriend. He has this way of making me focus on the now rather than the unknown future. He always makes me smile and never forgets to tell me that I’m beautiful. He constantly reminds me that it’s the little things matter.

Wishing you a lovely week!

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

 

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

What story do you tell others?

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

Right now, you’re living your story. Your job, education, family, friends, relationships, dreams, and passions are all part of it. What story do you tell others? Mine is something along the lines of I’m a writer, looking for a full-time job because people don’t want to pay me for my words.

Let’s pretend that your story is the palm of your hand.

Look at it.

Now bring it up to your face, place it above your nose.

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Can’t see, can you?

If you’re constantly telling a negative story about your life, eventually that is all you’ll be able to see. You’ll get stuck in the ‘sad’ retelling of your life and forget what it means to reach out and search for more. You’ll forget what it feels like to have adventures, to grab onto life and do what you want with it. You’ll think that this is it. You’ll forget how to live.

Take down your hand.

Wash it.

Start fresh. 

– Vanessa

Not That Kind of Girl [Book Review/Thank You]

Book Reviews

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I’ve been excited to read Not That Kind of Girl since my interning days at Random House Canada when the book was first announced. I’ve watched Girls on HBO and love it but my admiration for Lena Dunham has more so to do with her words and her kick-ass attitude than her acting. Not That Kind of Girl feels like you’re reading a script from Girls, except it’s a tad more poetic and 100% real. Lena holds nothing back, sharing insights and stories about love, sex, her body, friendship, work, and family life. She writes with honesty, conviction, and passion. In sharing everything she’s “learned’ you can’t help but learn something about yourself or about the person you want to be.

Lena’s book doesn’t need to be reviewed. No matter what I say fans  will still flock to bookshops and purchase their own copy. In the big scheme of publicity, my review will not boost her sales or gain her fans, so instead of writing a review I’d rather write a thank you.

Thank you for expressing everything that I have ever felt, witnessed, or experienced in a kick-ass, unforgiving way. Thank you understanding the basic human condition, that we are all assholes who are afraid of death. Thank you for making the personal essay cool, valid, relatable, honest, and smart. For publishing the kind of words that fill voids, generate laughter, and banish embarrassment. Reading your book has given me the courage to continue writing personal essays, to share my thoughts with the world, and to challenge myself as a writer. Thank you for showing me that every story is important and that my thoughts are valid.

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AND I DECIDED THEN THAT I WILL NEVER BE JEALOUS. I WILL NEVER BE VENGEFUL. I WON’T BE THREATENED BY THE OLD, OR BY THE NEW. I’LL OPEN WIDE LIKE A DAISY EVERY MORNING. I WILL MAKE MY WORK. (201)

 

Vanessa Xo

WILD [Book Review]

Book Reviews

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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

Lesson Learned: falling into place

Lifestyle/Personal

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On my 25th birthday I held my breath and blew out the candles with such ferocity that my wish didn’t have a chance to exist…

The clock ticks faster these days and any attempt to slow down my thoughts results in a quickened heart rate and nervous tic. I noticed crows-feet digging lines into the corners of his eyes as I sang him Happy Birthday the other day. A mirror of those lines are in the corner of my own, not to mention the pillows of darkness beneath my eyes. We’re getting older, but we’re so young — the world is still ours.

Every rash decision I’ve made and every opportunity I’ve been afraid to take has led me to this land of mass confusion. All options are in the air — I’m a juggler throwing balls so high, losing them in the sky. I’m waiting impatiently for one to come back down, hit me in the head, and get me back on track. My mind is fatigued most days and this uncertainty isn’t invigorating, it’s a burden. I’m waiting for everything to fall into place.

“Falling into Place:
deciding everything is falling into place perfectly as long as you don’t get too picky about what you mean by place. Or perfectly.” ― Brian Andreas

Talk soon,
Vanessa

LAUGH at YOURSELF, Joan Rivers said so.

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

Anyone who has access to a T.V., a cell phone, or the Internet knows that last week Joan Rivers passed away at the age of 81. I’m not going to pretend that I was a huge fan of hers or that I idolized her. However, after watching a few memorial clips about her I’ve fallen for the way that she looks at life. She was a comedian; a hilarious, smart, powerful woman who wasn’t afraid to laugh at herself. I read the jokes she made about her husband committing suicide, the jokes she made about her excessive plastic surgery, and the jokes she made about her sex life. Although they made me laugh, I admire her comments on laughter itself most of all. She had the ability to laugh at herself, to speak her mind, and to question how society is run. She proved that laugher is the best medicine.

I watched a clip of her on Larry King where she said something along the lines of if you can laugh about it, everything will be okay. My biggest problem lately is taking everything personally, cutting myself up because of what I think other people think about me. Whether it’s an interview I didn’t get, or a look from a complete stranger, or telling people I’m unemployed instead of freelancing, it’s like I’m punishing myself. If you think about my situation the way people like Joan Rivers thinks about things, the fact that I have six years of post-secondary education and can’t even get an interview for a receptionist position not only comments on how much of a failure our school system is, but it’s kind of funny. Who do you have to blow know around this province to be taken seriously?! I know it’s not personal, even if I sometimes picture HR printing out my resume and covering it with a bright red LOSER stamp.

The only thing I can do is laugh about the interviews I don’t get, smile at the people who think I’ve wasted my entire life on following a dream, become a Joan Rivers kind of optimist (see quote below), work hard to create the life I want to live, and laugh at all of the mistakes I make along the way.

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“I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”

– Joan Rivers

Talk Soon,
Vanessa

The Dentist’s Chair [OR] Where I Met my Life Coach

Lifestyle/Personal

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My cousin is training to be a dental hygienist. There’s a hands-on part to her studies where real live people (like myself) can go in and get their teeth cleaned (for $27). While laying there with my mouth open, I noticed how calm and cool my little cousin was (okay she’s 19 now). Her movements were executed without hesitation. She knew exactly what she was doing, you could smell the focus and determination. She had more confidence in her bright blue eyes than I have in my entire body. I am so proud of her.

As part of your cleaning, you get checked over by a certified dentist. The dentist that checked me over had the sweetest accent I’ve ever heard (I think it’s Polish), dirty blonde hair, plain glasses hiding beautiful wise green eyes, and a smile that puts you at ease. “You have beautiful eyes, are they natural?” is the first thing she said to me when she came over to my chair. I’m rarely complimented on my eyes so of course I turned seven shades of red. As she checked out my teeth, she asked my age, and was shocked to find out that I’m twenty-five. I went on to answer her questions about my schooling, my years at the pizza place, and my current employment status.

“It’s so sad how little importance education has these days. We tell you to follow your heart and your dreams, you study hard, and there are no jobs,” at this point her hands were in my mouth so I couldn’t respond. “Don’t go back to the pizza place, you don’t want to be the pizza girl the rest of your life. Go to the gym every single day. That’s what I would do, darling. Maybe go back to school for something else, something to add to your passion. Whatever you do, don’t take is personally. It’s nothing against you. You should come back and we can talk about ego-boosting. You could use an ego-boost. Your cousin here, she’s cool. She knows what she wants and she’s focussed. You need that.”

Can we just marinate on the fact that this woman, who I’ve never met before, summed up my fears, dreams, and needs in one breath? Let’s just say that her words echoed in my brain for the rest of the appointment. As my ears filled with the sound of little sharp instruments scraping teeth, tubes sucking up saliva, and rubber gloves snapping, my eyes closed and I focussed on my dreams for the first time in months.

Talk soon,
Vanessa

Credo quia impossibile… [NEW MANTRA]

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

Credo quia impossibile…

I believe it because it is impossible…

I found that Latin phrase on the signed copy of Cloud by Eric McCormack that I won from The Cooke Agency via Twitter. Can a phrase like that be a mantra because if so, it’s mine now. Over the last few years (like many other university graduates) I’ve struggled to start my career. My dreams include working for a publishing company or other bookish establishment and living in the heart of Toronto (with the bf), while writing freelance articles and keeping up with my blog. Right now I’m unemployed,  living with my parents at least 50 minutes from the city, and yes still blogging and freelancing. My dreams seem anything but possible from where I’m sitting, and yet I can’t stop believing that one day it will happen. I don’t think that my dreams are too big, or impossible, or crazy, I just need to keep trying and hope for a bit of luck to come my way…

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One day I’ll be able to miss this view…

ENJOY LIFE AND KICK ASS, 
VANESSA XX

* Photo taken with the Nokia Lumia 1020!