Question: When does a blogger stop blogging?

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

I started my blog in 2010 as a way to get my writing out there, as a way to get comfortable with my words being read by family members and complete strangers. It’s evolved many times as my content expanded into book reviews, product reviews, travel diaries, restaurant reviews, and everything else in between. I’m proud of the my voice, the voice that this blog has helped harness and create, but when is it time to move on? When I started My Pen, My Voice I wasn’t sure how long it would last or who I would meet because of it. I’ve met some wonderful writers, publishing folk, and have made great friends that I am thankful for. I’m thankful for being able to share my life with other people and for those posts that actually resonated with my readers (however few they might be).

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I know fashion bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, and book bloggers who have made careers out of their blogs. Who have made so many opportunities for themselves in this vast place we call the Internet. They’ve made a name for themselves and stand out from the millions and millions of bloggers out there. I’ve been waiting patiently for my break, convinced that my blog would be turned into a book or that someone in publishing (or even Ellen DeGeneres) would stumble upon my blog and offer me a book deal. It hasn’t happened, but instead of being devastated I’m shifting my energy.

I love my blog, but I’m afraid that sometimes it distracts me from other writing projects, from a novel I’ve been thinking about, from short stories that I’ve started but never finished, and from pitching to other websites or magazines with different content than my own. I fear that since I am my own editor I’m not growing as a writer and that my content has been recycled. I find that to be a wasteful state for a writer, for a person.

“the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
– Benjamin Franklin 

Long blog short, my last post on My Pen, My Voice will be published December 31, 2014. It’s time to make some changes in my life and make some room for other writing priorities. I will begin a new year not as a blogger/writer but as a Writer. You’ll still read my words on Chic Darling, Passion8, and CanCulture. I’ll still be writing every single day. I’ll still be tweeting and reading and sharing my adventures with you, but it won’t be here, on this blog. Maybe one day I’ll have an author website or maybe I’ll write for a magazine or freelance my ass off. I don’t know, I just know that it’s time to move on because change is good and I’m ready for it.

So, let’s make these last few months of 2014 and this blog count.

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…almost

Vanessa xo

Lesson Learned: Don’t Half-Ass your Life

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

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It’s a little-known fact that my mother and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, and yet I’m more like her than my father. I might shrug off her bits of advice and pretend that I don’t care what she thinks, but the truth is that her acceptance and wisdom mean a lot to me. My mom has this way of always doing things perfectly, she puts 100% of effort into everything she does. Whether it’s making dinner, grocery shopping, or reading to my niece, she never looks for a short cut. My mother is always put together. She ALWAYS has a pair of earrings on, long mascaraed lashes, and combed hair, even if she’s walking out of the house in track pants. If my mother had a mantra or a set of guidelines for life, it would look something like this:

Don’t half-ass your life.
Do things the right way, not the easy way.
Clean your room, make sure your clothes match, put on some mascara.
We might not be rich, but we can be presentable. 
Don’t do it for anyone else, Do it for you. 
Take pride in your life. 

Whenever I feel like giving up or convince myself that going out in a ratty sweater and old track pants is okay, my mom’s voice pops into my head, altering my choices. If you can’t show up to your own life and give 150% every single day, nothing awesome will ever happen. I think my mom is my number one (silent) supporter. She believes in me and knows my potential more than anyone else — it may have something to do with me living in her uterus for nine months.

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When I’m feeling uninspired, self-conscious, and down about my life choices, she sends me little notes of inspiration and positivity. When I don’t believe in myself, she does. When I don’t do my very best, she pushes me to. There’s no way that a daughter of hers is going to waste her life, or half-ass her dreams. She might seem like an overbearing mother, a nag even, but she’s my nag and when her green eyes burst with passion and her hands start flailing, I know she’s about to tell me one of those secrets to life, and I listen with an open heart.

Talk soon,
Vanessa

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

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!

the transformation begins via a fresh coat of paint

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

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Last night I went to spIn in Woodbridge with one of my favourite human beings. We chatted for three hours non-stop about life, love, work, travel, and everything else in between. I’ve known Lina for almost three years, travelled with her (and our bfs to Chicago), and have had many adventures with her in between. She’s a creative type (like myself) who is yearning to get into interior design. We’re both working our butts off, taking risks, and just hoping for hard work and luck to thrust us into our desired careers. We’re both a little unsettled and without plans in sight, we’re driving ourselves crazy!

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Somewhere between coffee/tea and dessert, we had an epiphany. We feel so unsettled because we have so many options and don’t know what to choose. Since my closet purge I’ve been trying to let go of some baggage, allow for little changes to uplift my mood, spark some creativity, and maybe even help me focus a little on who I am and what I really want. My latest project is redecorating my room, I do a lot of writing, blogging, and job hunting in there but recently the dark purple walls have been weighing me down and closing in on me. I want to feel relaxed, confident, and focussed and since colours really do affect your mood the purple has got to go. I choose a different state of mind.

 We can literally do anything we want right now, the toughest part is figuring out the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. Maybe all you need is a fresh coat of paint and an open-mind.

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

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