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

Coffee Shop Thoughts

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

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Nervous legs twitch beneath every coffee table in my peripheral. The entire cafe takes another sip of their foamy, double-shot cappuccinos and put down their cups in unison as I breathe a sigh of relief. Their nervous ticks and hipster shades soothe me. After an intense conversation with a fellow writer/friend I see my life, my decisions, my writing, and my blog in a new light. Ideas of substance burst into flames when under intense pressure. It’s time to diminish the stress and thrive on new thoughts and different ventures. I’ve tried this before and failed quite successfully but I deserve a second chance.

This doesn’t mean you won’t hear from me at all.

It just means that I have to put a few other things first.

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!

Liberate yourself from expectations

Lifestyle/Personal

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I had a package waiting for me when I got home from a walk the other night. It was a gift from a fellow writer (VANESSA SHIELDS). A book to help guide me in the right direction. A book to help pin-point my desires, my dreams, and the way I want to feel. Needless to say, I started reading it the second I got it out of the packaging. I don’t normally read self-help books or books that require me to plan out or question my life with such tenacity but I must admit I already feel more at ease. I made a list of the way I want to feel and added in little things to help me feel that way.

CREATIVE – write 500 words a day towards a new novel (totally doable)

CONNECTED – put away my cellphone when I’m with someone  (necessary for sanity and the sake of my relationships)

SPONTANEOUS – stop planning every minute of every single day (also necessary or else I’ll go crazy)

CONFIDENT/SEXY – look at myself in the mirror and remember the things I like about myself  (a little harder to do but not impossible)

I’m looking at my life from an entirely different perspective and am totally willing to let go expectations. Expectations about careers AND the people in my life. All of those expectations that were thrust upon me and all of the ones I have for myself. It’s not easy to liberate yourself from expectations, it’s a struggle every single day. The kind of struggle that turns into a mantra until your breathing slows down and you feel a little calmer. I understand that expectations can be a fuel to reach your potential but they can also be ticking-time-bombs. If you’re doing something just because you think you have to, are you really living your own life?

“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”
― Jodi PicoultNineteen Minutes

ENJOY LIFE AND KICK ASS, 
VANESSA XX

#GIRLBOSS [Book Review]

Book Reviews

I haven’t had the urge to carry a notebook around with me while reading a book in a long while, and then I picked up a copy of #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso. I found myself needing to write down all of the important quotes, anything that related to me and my current way of life, and ANYTHING that opened my eyes a little wider or got my heart pumping.

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#GIRLBOSS is Sophia’s story, how she went from selling a stolen book online, to shoplifting, to starting an eBay shop (Nasty Gal Vintage), to where she is today — CEO and Creative Director of a Nasty Gal. It’s the story of how she worked her way from the very bottom to the top by working long hours alone in front of a computer screen or sifting through thrift shops, teaching herself HOW to run her own business. She discusses what worked for her and what didn’t, she talks about all of the shitty jobs she had and how they prepared her for what would eventually become her empire.

BUT it’s not all about her nor is it a guide to becoming her. It’s a guide to becoming your OWN #GIRLBOSS, whatever that means to you. It’s not about becoming an entrepreneur, it’s about becoming entrepreneurial in everything that you do. It’s chalk-full of helpful hints, quotes, and stories from other successful #GIRLBOSSES (Alexi Wasser, Jenne Lombardo etc.). It’s a kick-ass book designed to open your eyes and help you on the road to kicking ass. I totally recommend it to any woman out there who knows that they’re destined for awesome and needs a little push in the right direction. All I know is that the second I put the book down I brainstormed ways to improve this blog, I made a plan to connect better with my readers, I searched up freelancing websites, and I decided to become that 1% (if you read the book, you know what I’m talking about).

Here are some of my favourite quotes from #GIRLBOSS!

you combine hard work, creativity, and self-determination, and things start to happen. (p 16)
There are secret opportunities inside every failure. (P 51)
Life is unwritten, like a great big experiment… I think it’s worth putting up with making some compromises, and even playing by (some of) the rules. (95)
Take care of the little things — even the little things that you hate — and treat them as promises to your own future. (121)
The last thing the world needs is another boring person or another boring brand, so embrace all the things that make you different (143)
Enjoy life and kick ass, 
Vanessa xx

Job hunting, failing, and all things necessary

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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I’m currently reading #GIRL BOSS by Sophia Amoruso, filled with witty anecdotes, great advice, and life stories, Sophia’s book is just what I need. I’m job hunting again, ya’ll know this, but this time there’s a hint of desperation in my voice, in my cover letters. It’s getting overwhelming.

The other day I was listening to the radio and  heard the hosts talking about college and university. How parents and young people go to school, take Liberal Arts programs, finish school and struggle to find a job. Not only that but they spend FOUR LONG YEARS gaining ‘skills’ that are useless in the workforce. They come out of school thinking that they will be hired for being awesome, that they’ll make great money, love their jobs, and get to spend lavishly. I am was one of those people. The truth is that that doesn’t happen and if you’re taking a Liberal Arts program you have to remember that you might not land the job of your dreams, you might end up doing something a little less glamorous but that’s life. You have to work and work hard until you get somewhere you’re happy with. It’s all about gaining experience, crawling before you walk, and walking before you run.

Please don’t get me wrong I am ALL for dreams. I have big dreams and even greater hopes for my future. I always thought I would be something awesome, working hard in the city, wearing heels to work, living and breathing my job, being recognized for what I do because I’m awesome at it. The problem is that I could never picture the “it”. Yes, I want to write and be known for it. I would also love to work in publishing, spend my days surrounded by books, but I don’t know what exactly I want to do in publishing. I’m not complaining that nothing awesome has happened to me. I’m confident that one day it will. I truly believe that if you find something you love you should find a way to get paid for doing it, you just have to understand that it doesn’t come easy. Nothing ever does and it’s okay to not have it all figured out.

I am in awe of women who seemingly have their shit together. Women that are doing what they love, kicking ass and rocking the world. Valerie from Charming Media, the ladies of TSOQ, my editor at Chic Darling, and the loveable Casie Stewart are women (close to home) that inspire me. What I forget to remember is that they didn’t just land where they are now by sitting around doing nothing and for a time I am certain that they were all a little lost and confused about where they wanted to go in life. BUT they made it, they persevered and they are doing what they love. They gained EXPERIENCE and that is what I must do now.  Maybe if I focus a little less on where I want to end up and focus more on trying new things, something truly wonderful will fall into place.

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Your challenge as a #GIRLBOSS is to dive headfirst into things without being too attached to the results. When your goal is to gain experience, perspective, and knowledge, failure is no longer a possibility. Failure is your intention.

 

– Vanessa Xo

Quote from page 138 of #GIRLBOSS

Goodbye ?

Lifestyle/Personal

The other day I thought about contacting agents and putting together a proposal to turn my blog into a book. I saved all of my posts to a Pages document and fantasized about all the wonderful people in the world, reading my blogs (mini-essays) in print form and really resonating with my words. I thought about all of the people my words could touch, how many people could feel a little less lonely because they read something I wrote.

I was quickly brought back to reality after speaking to a few of my friends and colleagues. My blog doesn’t have a theme, it doesn’t have a niche, and I never really thought about an audience when I started it. It was simply meant to be something that was for me, somewhere I could practice my writing and maybe even build a platform. After 4 years and approximately 240,000 words I realized that I’m not far off from where I started. I’ve made wonderful connections and have worked with amazing brands but my blog is too personal and that creates a roadblock. I totally get it, I understand it. The thing is that I don’t know how to write any other way, I don’t know how to write without my heart in my left hand and my pen in my right. I write to understand truths, to find the truth and hope that someone out there understands where I’m coming from.

If I stopped writing this blog, I don’t think many people would notice. I’m a tiny person with a tiny, yet emotionally charged, blog in an internet world full of bloggers. FUN bloggers who can inspire your wardrobe or your next travel destination or a craft or your latest home improvement project OR your next meal. They’re all well-written, they have prettier photos, and they don’t force you to contemplate life. They just are. That is why they are so much more successful than I am.

When is it time to realize that I am not the next Carrie Bradshaw or Emily Schuman or Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman or even Julie Powell? Will it be enough for me to know that My Pen, My Voice is still just a place for me to think, to discover, to tell personal stories? Yes it will. When will I realize that this blog still has the same intention as it did in 2010 — to put my thoughts out there and hope they put a smile on even one person’s face? Today.

My Pen, My Voice isn’t going anywhere (in print or otherwise).

As seen on Twitter: ‏@AmandaLogan

As seen on Twitter: ‏@AmandaLogan

– Vanessa

patience is a necessary nuisance

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

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My last day at work was a tough one. Tears were not shed but a piece of me will always be in that place, second homes are not easily forgotten no matter how imperfect or stressful or dramatic they are. I worked with such amazing kids (I say kids because they’re closer to 14 than I am), I served fantastic customers who would give me advice or make me laugh when I was having a bad day, and I worked for two people who were more than my bosses, sometimes they were my friends, sometimes they were my grandparents, sometimes they were my therapists. I’m happy and relived that I left on good terms, that their door is always open and that I can return as a customer and a friend. I’m ecstatic that they believe in me and that they wish for me to be successful. I hope I can make them proud. *If you’re ever in town (Bolton) give them a visit, I swear their lattes are the best kept secret in Bolton — the pizza is pretty rad too*

I can be impatient and a little stubborn sometimes, so now that I’m on full-out-job-hunting-mode I’m a little hyper. I want things to happen so I’m going out and getting it — or trying to. I’m feeling the pressure and in spite of those who think me a little crazy, I feel like something awesome is just on the horizon. Dreams, they drive your soul and guide you in the right direction. I might not have a plan but I know that I’m on the right path.

Hope your long weekend is filled with love and light!

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