if you think adventure is dangerous…

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

photo-1Somehow summer is nearly over and I haven’t done anything that I’ve wanted to do. I wanted to go to a cottage, head over to the beach, have lunch or brunch on a patio downtown, take a stroll down Queen Street and maybe hit up Kensington Market again, and I definitely wanted to plan a girl’s weekend. The only thing I “did” so far this summer was read and visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m not complaining so much as I’m disappointed that I didn’t make the time to do the things on my SUMMER LIST.

After completing my internship at Random House and going back to Caruso’s Gourmet Pizza, I slipped back into a routine. Wake, eat, clean, work out, shower, read, write, eat, read, work, shower, sleep, and it’s been pretty steady for the last month or so. Contiki tours tweeted that Paulo Coelho quote yesterday and it’s been screaming over my thoughts ever since.

If routine is lethal, I’ve been dead for years.

So what can I do exactly? Head out on the open road and wish for an adventure? Try to pack in all of the things I wanted to do this summer in the last few weeks? FINALLY plan that girl’s weekend I’ve been itching to plan?

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

ADVICE in the comments would be delightful!

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Love Always 
Vanessa Xo

P.S If you haven’t picked up your copy of Twenty-One Truths or My Pen, My Voice on Amazon.com please do so shortly — they will only be available for a few months! XOXO

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual [Book Review]

Book Reviews, Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun

9781443407236I fell in love with Kim Izzo’s writing after reading her second novel My Life in Black and White. Her work is filled with quick wit, classic charm, and fantastic fashion. They’re the type of novels where you get more out of it than you thought you would. They’re the type of novels that you can’t put down, and that you don’t want to end.  I was graciously sent a copy of her first novel by the author herself.  The Jane Austen Marriage Manual begins as most novels do, with a crisis. Kate is simply down on her luck, her mother gambled away their home, her grandmother is ill, her boyfriend dumped her for someone younger and put her into a load of debt due to his schooling, and she has lost her job. Her solution, take everything she’s ever learned from Jane Austen novels and put it into use. This forty-year-old ex beauty editor will try to solve all of her problems by marrying for money. She has been given a freelance writing assignment trying to answer the question, Is a woman of forty too old to marry for money? Kate finds the answer to that question and learns a lot more than she bargained for.

In truth, I have never read Jane Austen (gasp!), nor am I close to the age of forty, nor do I understand the desperation that comes with having everything taken away from you (thank goodness), but I still enjoyed this novel and related to it on different levels. Kim Izzo made me feel as though I had gone through ALL of those things and made me wonder what I would ever do in a situation such as hers. Could I marry for money? Could I pretend I was someone else? Do desperate times really call for desperate measures? For Kate they did and I enjoyed following her along in this journey. She’s a very flawed character, one that you even dislike for a few chapters, but she has such a tremendous heart, an independent mind, and has such a belief in true romance that you can’t help but root for her. What I like most about Kate is her determination.

I stomped away determined to prove that I could land in shit and come out smelling like a rose.” (107)

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual forced me to think about love, romance, and family relationships. How they’re displayed and depicted in movies and novels, and whether or not they can mirror real life. It’s so easy to get swept up in the kind of passion and grand gestures one sees and reads but, as the wise and handsome Griff states, “Love doesn’t have to be explosive twenty-four/seven. If you’d slow down long enough, you might be happy”.

Thank you to Kim Izzo for sending me this wonderful novel — I will definitely be following your writing, can’t wait for the next one!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

It's a little vain…

Lifestyle/Personal

Whenever I get a little down, I tend to obsess over Pinterest and Twitter searching for positive life affirming quotes. I also hang out with positive people who can distract or enlighten me, who remind me why I hate being a Negative Nancy (SP, RP, JP, AB). So what if I have to go ask my old boss for some hours? So what if I’m not exactly where I want to be right now? So what if I’m not as settled as some people I know? So what if my life is a little up-in-the-air? Is that any reason to be embarrassed? I’m literally doing everything I can do to get myself where I want to be and that should be enough. It’s funny how when a function is coming up and the guests are people you haven’t seen in a long time, you start second-guessing your life. You start to worry about what they will think about you, you wish you had better things to say about your life, you spend days picking out your outfit to make sure you impress them. People you never see.

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Why?

Who cares?

Not me. At least I know that I shouldn’t because there’s nothing to be embarrassed about and it’s a little vain to think that these people actually give two shits about how well (or poorly) your life is going. So buck up, shut up, and just enjoy the small-talk. You’ve got more important things to give your attention to, like the review you need to write, the next Workstory interview you need to conduct, asking your ex-boss for a few hours so that you can pay the bills, and that little something on Amazon that you need to look into…

It’s time to pull up the big girl pants and get focussed on the important things.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

It’s a little vain…

Lifestyle/Personal

Whenever I get a little down, I tend to obsess over Pinterest and Twitter searching for positive life affirming quotes. I also hang out with positive people who can distract or enlighten me, who remind me why I hate being a Negative Nancy (SP, RP, JP, AB). So what if I have to go ask my old boss for some hours? So what if I’m not exactly where I want to be right now? So what if I’m not as settled as some people I know? So what if my life is a little up-in-the-air? Is that any reason to be embarrassed? I’m literally doing everything I can do to get myself where I want to be and that should be enough. It’s funny how when a function is coming up and the guests are people you haven’t seen in a long time, you start second-guessing your life. You start to worry about what they will think about you, you wish you had better things to say about your life, you spend days picking out your outfit to make sure you impress them. People you never see.

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Why?

Who cares?

Not me. At least I know that I shouldn’t because there’s nothing to be embarrassed about and it’s a little vain to think that these people actually give two shits about how well (or poorly) your life is going. So buck up, shut up, and just enjoy the small-talk. You’ve got more important things to give your attention to, like the review you need to write, the next Workstory interview you need to conduct, asking your ex-boss for a few hours so that you can pay the bills, and that little something on Amazon that you need to look into…

It’s time to pull up the big girl pants and get focussed on the important things.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

Bursting the Bubble [Week 10]

Bursting the Bubble

This week on Bursting the Bubble I want tell show you a few things. I’ve been told that Toronto is beautiful in the summer. I, being the weird-ish Italian girl from up North (a co-worker’s description not my own), have never experienced it and took this week to find said beauty.

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You’re right, Toronto is beautiful in the summer and I thoroughly enjoy coming downtown to work every single day. However, you can take the girl out of the suburb but you can’t take the suburb out of the girl — THIS girl anyways. As much as I love becoming “so-Toronto” (my best friend’s description not my own), I love being “so-Bolton” too. I love coming home, to my little town with big houses, green lawns, large fields, and a vast clear sky. I always assumed that I’d want to live downtown, right in the heart of the city but this internship has taught me otherwise. I want to WORK in the city and LIVE in the suburbs — reasonably close to a subway station if possible. It would be experiencing the best of both worlds, my two favourite worlds. The hustle and bustle of the city, the loud and always delayed subway, the many many faces rushing to work in the morning, and then the quiet picturesque scenes of Bolton, the long roads leading nowhere, and the calm constant breeze with its tiny hint of manure.

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Thanks to this internship I’m learning more about myself and what I want out of life. I feel myself growing, changing, and becoming a little more independent. I’m finding it easier to be honest with myself, to relax, and to get things done. There are so many little things I’m finding out about myself, like the fact that I genuinely like people. I like talking to them, I like helping them, I like being social — this coming from a girl who would lie to her friends to avoid going to parties. Apparently this once shy and immensely quiet girl is capable of socializing and interacting with people on many different levels.

Maybe I’m coming out of my shell a bit more, maybe I’ve found a grain of confidence, who knows?

Regardless, I’m loving it.

I feel more like myself now than ever before.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

when my breathing stopped

Categories, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

20130612-200345.jpgWe’d been stopped in the subway tunnel for 15 minutes when my breathing stopped. My heart was being crushed under immense pressure. My lungs – well they said a sweet toodle-oo with a great big eff you! At that point I put up the volume of my music and rested my head on my bag. With my eyes closed I felt a little bit better, in spite of the fact that the B.O. of the man in front of me found its way into my nostrils.

Apparently I can’t handle being confined and helpless. When the train began moving again my head spun, my stomach convulsed, and I nearly lost my composure. For over an hour I was stuck on that train. The train that toyed with my emotions: Go. Stop. Wait. Go. Go. Stop. Wait. Wait. Go slowly. Stop. I could sense the annoyance mount in the other passengers. I saw the roll of their eyes every time the driver explained about the signaling problems and apologized for the inconvenience.

All I kept thinking was; Breathe, Vanessa. Breathe. Don’t get anxious over something you literally have no control over. You think the driver WANTS to be stopped? No. Breathe. You’ll get home eventually. Calm down and take a nap. That mantra (thanks MOM!) was the only thing that kept me from experiencing a full-blown anxiety attack that night.

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Funny how that all happened on my way home, just after I tweeted: Potential is one of my favourite words. To me it’s hopeful and optimistic; attainable and reachable. Each day has the potential of turning out wonderful or completely shitty. Most things you have no control over but you DO have control over how you react to certain things, which is why I still ended up having a pretty okay evening. I didn’t spend my night complaining about the TTC or that I got home late. I went on with my night as if nothing happened. I wrote a little, worked out, ate a handful (or two) of my mom’s homemade chocolate almonds – the ones I’m not supposed to eat because they’re for my sister’s baby shower (#Sorry #NoI’mNot). Then I climbed into bed and let my mind wander.

I thought about all the wonderful things that could happen. I thought about potential and let the word swim around in my mind. I thought about taking up photography. I thought about taking writing classes. I thought about the novel I’m slowly working on (or maybe it’s a short story). I thought about becoming an aunt. I thought about traveling: New York, England, Italy, and Paris – I’m coming for you. I thought about marriage. I thought about family. I thought about love. I thought about change. I thought about work. I thought about words. I thought about time and reminded myself that all good things can’t come at once — no matter how hard you work for them.

I thought good thoughts and woke up with a smile.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Who Named the Knife – and other thoughts

Lifestyle/Personal
“When you feel envy and wish you were someone else, remember you that you have to take the whole life.”
Who Named the Knife by Linda Spalding

It’s terrifyingly easy to become envious of someone else’s life. It’s easy to get so caught up in what others are doing (especially with all of this social media, sharing, and documenting) that you lose sight of your own dreams and wishes. I’ve written about this before and I’ll probably write about it again because it’s something that scares me a lot. When you can’t see the finish line or you feel like many people are sprinting faster than you (even though you’re working just as hard), self-doubt will sweep you up on its dark cloud and suffocate you. You can’t let that happen. Keep sprinting even when your lungs give out. No matter how many people pass you, keep sprinting.

If you look far enough into the distance you’ll realize that they aren’t gunning for the same finish line as you.

At some point the track branches off and we all have our own path to follow.

Your finish line is yours and yours alone.

Cross it.

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Then Again [Book Review]

Book Reviews

978-1-58836-942-0Knowing my obsession with memoirs, Lindsey recommended Then Again by Diane Keaton and I’ve been enthralled by it. I’ve mentioned it a few times in the past few blog posts and now that I am finished it, I highly recommend it. I’ve never cared much for Diane Keaton but I found reading about her life intriguing. She tells you everything, she writes beautifully, and she isn’t afraid to cast herself in a bad light. Diane Keaton has seemingly low self-esteem and doesn’t think much of herself considering she had a dream and made it happen. I was left in awe when she spoke of her relationships with Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, and Al Pacino. It was incredible to read how she taught Al Pacino how to drive or how Woody Allen wrote Annie Hall based on her life or her true feeling about The Godfather. It was fascinating to read Woody Allen’s love letters to her.

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The most amazing part of her memoir though, and the entire premise behind it, is that it’s a combination of her mother’s memoir as well. Dorothy Hall kept journals, took photos, and made scrapbooks, and they all make an appearance in this memoir. This memoir compares a housewife of the 1960’s with big dreams and a knack for writing, creativity, and self-expression, with an aspiring teenage actress, letting you see how similar those two can actually be.

Dorothy Hall is one of the most inspiring women I’ve read about. She is a woman who found her voice by putting a pen to paper. She believed in the power of THINKING. She believed in her family and I found her portrayal of family dynamics enriching. Her words tugged at my heart-strings and I learned a lot from Dorothy Hall and Diane Keaton. This memoir made me wish for a simpler time, where people need to make a greater effort to communicate. Now, I want nothing more than to TALK more to my mom, to THINK more, to DREAM bigger, and to WORK harder. This memoir will always have a soft-spot in my heart and I can’t wait to pass it on to my mom and dad, who will love it for different reasons.

dorothyhallpg-vertical“Dad was always telling me to think. Think ahead. Think….But it was Mom’s struggles, her conflicts, and her love that made whatever ability I have to think possible. She supported choices that created experiences that expanded my life. As a girl, Mom, like me, had vague grandiose aspirations, but, unlike me, no one helped her expand on them; no one could.” (171)
 

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

Kindred Spirits

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

So, I finally met up with the ever wonderful and super inspiring Amanda DiPasquale from Not A Model Blog. We’ve been meaning to meet up for ages and finally that day came. On a sticky and humid Thursday we met for lunch at St.Lawrence Market and chatted about books and writing. It was so nice talking to a fellow writer, reader, dreamer, and blogger. One who can listen to my corny stories and appreciate them. One who can quote lines from books I’ve read and understand what it feels like to love (and sometimes hate) being a writer. One of those people who remind you why you write, who remind you that it’s okay to be sensitive to your surroundings, that it’s okay to analyze things — that’s why you’re a writer. I don’t often come across a person I can really relate to, a person with similar ambitions, and even though our stories are different I feels as though I’ve found a kindred spirit in Amanda. I think that’s why I love her blog posts so much, I can always find something relatable and inspiring.

Our conversation left me feeling incredibly motivated to go after what I want and I appreciate all of her advice. It also got me back on track with my blog, it reminded me WHY I started it in the first place, and I promise to bring it back to where I want it to be.

Thanks for the wonderful conversation Amanda; I’m really looking forward to working with you soon!

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Long Weekend Bliss

Book Reviews, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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How is it Monday already? I’m convinced time goes by faster when you get an extra day off work. I love weekends for two simple reasons: sweatpants and messy hair. I love waking up early, throwing on my sweatpants (or staying in my pjs) and basking in the fact that I can be comfy and cozy all the live-long day. I spent this long weekend enjoying an extra day in my sweats, surrounded by my family, my boyfriend, books, and my notebook (all of my favourite things).

I don’t know if you’re aware of this but I am a total homebody. I go through phases where I want nothing more than to stay out of my house all weekend, then the next week I’ll be curled up on the couch with a book for two days straight. This weekend I tried my best to find a balance. I spent a lot of time at home with my family or with my book and also made time to hang out with the boyfriend’s family (and a really tall glass of sangria — thanks for that Rita!). Is it odd that sometimes I forget how much I love being around people? How much I enjoy having conversations with people? Gosh that sounds ridiculous.

I get stuck in this routine of being alone and it’s hard to get out of it, but I’m trying. It helps to surround myself with people who love me, with people who enjoy my company, with people who get me into a fit of giggles, with people I can just be myself around. The kind of people who can pull me out of my own head  — I live a lot in my own thoughts and it’s exhausting.

But enough with this word “exhausting”, enough with the phrase “I’m exhausted”. I say that all too often and it’s starting to get on my nerves. I’m way too young to be tired all of the time and it’s a lame excuse made by someone who is too lazy and too uptight to enjoy her life. Quite silly, isn’t it?

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Looks like I’ve got some work to do, some people to see, and a life to LIVE.

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Love Always 

Vanessa Xo