Part of the Machine: Anchors, Goals, and a New Year on the Horizon

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Uncategorized




Photo Credit: Pinterest

Between watching the film Hugo and re-reading Minimalism: how to live a meaningful life, I’m feeling very reflective. I’m all over the place this week, perhaps it’s the combination of those two creative works and another year coming to an end. Between trying to figure out what my anchors are (what is keeping me stagnant, what is keeping me from becoming passionate and happy and creative) and trying to figure out my purpose, I’m also trying to make goals for the year to come.

My anchors start with my current job, gel with my fears and anxiety, and blend with my constant want of things. My purpose, my reason for being here, that’s a little trickier to figure out. I know that I want to do something meaningful with my life, I know that I want to make a difference in someone else’s life but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. Goals for the year to come: get rid of my anchors, I’m tired of being weighed down. Get rid of all those things I don’t need or use and to stop wanting more of them. To start having adventures and stop wanting purses or shoes or new gadgets. To spend time at the library, pick up books at random and LEARN (CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT I DON’T OWN A LIBRARY CARD?). To make more TIME for what I love, who I love, and all of the activities I’ve wanted to try.

So there it is, another list that will be lost in this unending world of blogs. A list not so different from the one I made last year. The reason I didn’t stick to that list is simple: I didn’t want it enough. If I don’t stick to the list above, I’ll never become the person I know I can be.

I know that’s a lot to take in on Christmas Eve at 8:00 a.m. and I should be watching The Grinch or something instead, but I had to get that all out before I felt like celebrating. Before I could wish you all a Merry Christmas indeed. I hope you spend the holiday’s with people you love, I hope you enjoy every single moment and aren’t glued to your cell phone (note to self). I hope it’s the perfect ending to a terrific year.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo


“And I realize that mystery is the catalyst for imagination.”

Bursting the Bubble, film, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Lately I’ve been watching, reading, and searching for things to inspire me, to open up my mind, to get my brain going. The other day I watched one of J.J. Abrams TEDTalks on Netflix where he discussed this box.


When he was a kid he bought this $15 magic mystery box, which contained $50 worth of magic, with his grandfather. He has never opened the box. He keeps it in his office and looks at it often. He loves what the box represents – mystery, the unknown, potential, possibilities. It’s the not-knowing that intrigues him.

The night after I watched his talk, I was bullied into watching Castaway with my dad. There I was confronted with another unopened box, this one representing hope, faith, and grace.

What’s in the box and why am I being surrounded by unopened boxes?

Why is everything a mystery? 

Aren’t I supposed to be thinking OUTSIDE the box?!?! 

Needless to say I’ve been Googling the possibilities of what is in either of these unopened boxes and I’ve stumbled on some pretty creative answers. I’ve even written my own list of what could be inside that FedEx box because I gotsta knowwwww. I’m at the mercy of these mysteries but that’s where the magic begins. My mind is exploding with possibilities.


Because really, the possibilities are endless.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

*The title of this post is a quote from the transcript of J.J. Abrams TedTalk*

The girl who stopped living

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

When you read this, I’ll be in New York with one of my best friends! And while I’m exploring the city for a second time, shopping, and hopefully getting inspiration for a travel diary, I thought I’d leave you with a little poem. My first writing voice was a poetic one and I like to come back to it once in a while. They tend to be my most personal journal entries or blog posts, they always leave me feeling empty, spent, and satisfied. I hope you like it.

When Girl Meets Boy

The girl who stopped living

and the boy who just wanted to be alone

they met in the most unlikely place, filled with people, music and drinks overflown

The girl who stopped living (or perhaps never lived before)

forgot about her fears, her pain, and her insecures.

The boy who just wanted to be alone bumped into a girl

her bright brown eyes, so filled with life, caught him by surprise

— but he opened his palms and rolled the dice

“Hi” he breathed “can I get you a drink?”

A nod of her head and he could no longer think

red on her cheeks and he knew this was it

That evening they spent, attached at the hip

in the dark and quiet corner

whispering and things.

As the night turned to day, and the sun was born

the boy said goodbye to the girl, eyes still bright and warm

As she linked arms with her friends and strutted away,

the boy (for the very first time) felt lonely,

in the worst kind of way.


Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

* Poem written on October 27, 2013 by me (Vanessa Grillone), share with care or leave it be! *

Bursting the Bubble [Week 11]

Bursting the Bubble, Toronto Adventures

Yes, you read that correctly, I just finished WEEK ELEVEN of my internship — next week is the final week. But before I dwell on the sadness that envelopes my heart at the thought of that, I’ll tell you what happened this week.

Random House of Canada, Chatelaine Magazine, and Flare Magazine teamed up to celebrate the launch of Crazy Rich Asians at the Shangri-La Hotel on Tuesday. Although I’m still an intern, I got to attend as a blogger which meant I received a wicked gift bag at the end of the evening. This launch was by far the swankiest I’ve attended. The hotel is GORGEOUS and the Museum room was perfect for the event — plus the hotel is mentioned a few times throughout the novel, so why not!

I started the night out with the signature drink: Shangri-La Lemonade. A delicious concoction of vodka, cranberry juice, ginger, orange juice, and soda. Then I mingled with my fellow bloggers and watched the room get pretty packed with both book people and magazine people. It was great to attend an event where the two worlds intertwined. Kevin Kwan took the stage, as did the publisher of Doubleday Canada, and two seriously fashion forward ladies from Chatelaine and Flare – which was my favourite part of the evening. Kevin Kwan gave a sweet, sincere, and witty speech, mentioning his love for Canada and his gratitude for Canadians who love to read!

Week 11 was FULL of binding and mailings but just as full of good weather, hard work, and a few laughs. I love working with positive, passionate, and upbeat people who listen, answer, and understand. Everyone has taught me something about the world of publishing and I am so glad I decided to come into this internship with an open mind and all the energy and passion needed to back it up. I now understand why internships are so important and how great they can be if you give your all.

Also, this week I’ve been preparing for interviews (that I hope will come up). I’ve been sending out my resume, gathering references, and researching all I possibly can about interviews to ensure that I make a great first impression. This internship has made me want to work, to start a career, and to devote my energy, time, and passion to a job I enjoy.

largeIt’s also helped me appreciate many of the people in my life. I don’t know if I mentioned this before but my family waits for me every single night to eat dinner with them. I get home anywhere between 6:35 and 7:10, and for a family who used to eat dinner at 6:00 on the nose, eating at 7:00 would normally cause a serious kind of HANGER. Even if they’re hangry, they don’t mention it. We eat together and discuss our days and they ALWAYS listen to my stories and to my anxious yammering (even my 16-year-old brother who probably doesn’t care at all). Getting home and talking to my family makes the subway delays and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 400 disappear. I definitely appreciate the bf and my best friend a lot more too — I don’t see them as often as I’d like and when I do, I usually fall asleep! I always miss them and I appreciate their encouragement and their constant belief in me — I owe you two, forever!

Next week is my final week as a publicity intern at Random House of Canada. I’m a little sad at the prospect but you never really know where life is going to take you. It will be the end of a three-month chapter but the beginning of something else too.

I feel like I’m on the edge of glory.

I know that I’ll have to make a leap to something bigger? different? and I have less than a week to do it…

Here goes nothing!

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.


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

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.


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

Bursting the Bubble [Week 6]

Bursting the Bubble

After going nonstop on my Vancouver Vacation/Adventure, Week 6 felt like it went by reallllllyyyyyyy slowwwwwwww. Does anyone else feel seriously depressed after returning from vacation? I didn’t have the same spring in my step this week, my thoughts were like anchors, weighing me down, my body folding in half from the pressure until I finally collapsed on the ground.


I find that the BEST way to get over a funk like this is the read a great book, write it out, and talk to people who understand you. I wrote a hell of a lot this week (mostly emo-diary entries that I refuse to subject my wonderful readers to), I gabbed with the lovely Lindsey over lunch, and I read Sunset Park. I found the book incredibly moving, it pulled me out of my own self-inflicted misery, and it helped me understand what was really weighing on me.

“…he wonders if it is worth hoping for a future when there is no future, and from now on, he tells himself, he will stop hoping for anything and live only for the now, this moment, this passing moment, the now that is here and then not here, the now that is gone foever.” (Page 308)

Okay so that quote sounds morbid and depressing but what it’s saying is to live in the NOW. Something my parents, my boyfriend, and Lindsey have told me this week on some level or another.

* POP * * Cue Bubble Burst Moment *

The question remains, can I live in the moment and NOT let my thoughts consume me? What should I be doing to better understand what I WANT to do in the future? What choice can I make today to ensure that I am living in the moment and not thinking so much about what will happen after June 27th? So far I’ve enrolled in a seminar at Ryerson about getting published (which I think will help out with my own writing aspirations and better my understanding of what the publishing industry is all about). I’ve been poking my head around in different departments at work to try to figure out which one interests me most. I’ve also been looking into writing classes offered by Ryerson. Right now I’m interested in books, publishing, and writing so each day I do something that relates to them in some way.

I wake up every morning and ask myself what do I want to do today? What interests me? What would make me happy right now? It’s amazing to start the day that way, to really put thought into yourself and each moment. I hope to walk into Week 7 of my internship with a bigger spring in my step than ever before! I’m looking forward to the other half of my internship and will think of each day as its own entity — making each one count.


But that’s next week.

Right now it’s Saturday morning and nothing would make me happier than eating breakfast with the boyfriend and family.

So THAT is exactly what I’m going to do.

HAPPY LONG WEEKEND from my heart to yours.

image copy 2

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

I thrive best hermit style

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal


One of the best pieces of advice (or scorn) my mother ever said to me was “You can’t be a hermit all your life, Vanessa!” To which I always replied by going to my room, closing the door, reading a book, and not coming down until dinner. I disliked people, I hated how no one listened to me, I avoided going outside simply because I hated smelling like fresh air, I hated the beach simply because the sand made me itch, and I was the kind of kid who would read a book inside on the couch instead of outside at the cottage with my family. Why? Well, I was a shy kid, the kind of kid who kept quiet, the kind of kid who felt uncomfortable whenever I left the house, whenever I was in a big crowd.


I’m either growing up, changing, or taking my mom’s advice and putting it to good use (probably a little bit of all three). Although there is still no greater comfort to me than staying home, I find myself wanting to get outside, wanting to take a walk on my lunch, wanting to explore, wanting to be surrounded by people. I pay attention to things like flowers blooming, I sit outside and read just to be in the company of my parents when they’re hanging out in the backyard, I go nuts when my sister talks about the baby growing inside her (I freak out every time she gets bigger), I make an effort to be home when we have company. I’m noticing there’s so much LIFE outside, so much LIVING going on, so many MOMENTS to be apart of. Sounds a little bizarre that I’m just seeing all of this now, doesn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, when I need to be left alone, I am. When I need to concentrate or just NOT be social, everyone leaves me be, but I feel as though I’m finally starting to live. I’m finally starting to see the need for a balance between all of the wonderful books and stories that I read, and the one life that I’m living.

‘Cause that’s just it, you’re only given one life and it’s YOUR fault if you’re not enjoying it, living it, breathing it.

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo 

Bursting the Bubble [New BLOG Series]

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

I start a twelve-week publicity internship with Random House Canada tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited!!!!!! <– notice that’s 6 exclamation points worth of excitement.  I’m even more excited to share this experience with all of YOU. So, I’ve decided to start my very first blog series called Bursting the Bubble. 

image copy

I know the whole little girl, big city blog is a little redundant nowadays but this is a huge step for me. It might only be a three-month chapter of my life but it’s a very important one. So, every Saturday for the next 12 weeks I will be posting my thoughts, challenges, and feelings about the 9-5 life of a publicity intern in one the greatest publishing houses in the world — with a one week break when I go to Vancouver.

If all goes as planned the first post of this series will go up on April 6th!

Until then, I’ll be blogging, working, and embracing this new (life) chapter that I’m about to write.

Wish me luck 😉

Love Always

Vanessa Xo 


Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

Today I went to my sister’s second ultrasound, which means she’s hit the 20-week mark of her pregnancy (WOW!). I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’ve seen ultrasounds on T.V. and in movies but never in real life. I walked into Exam Room #5 to see my sister laying on a bed, her hard round tummy exposed and plastered with a nasty green goop. I walked further into the room and took a look at the extremely high-tech computer. I watched as the technician glided a gray gizmo along my sister’s belly. And there it was, my niece or nephew. With a perfectly round head, a sweet little nose, and the tiniest feet I’ve ever seen. I watched him (I always say ‘him’, I don’t know why) move around, kick, and then place his fists under his chin, as if posing for Mommy, Daddy, Tia, and Grandma! My eyes began to fill with tears, my heart was literally swollen with happiness, and I thought So THIS is love at first sight. 

In the car on the way home I stared at the ultrasound picture and couldn’t get over how incredible that moment was. I’m so glad my sister and brother-in-law asked me to go with them (or said yes when I harassed them about it :P). It was an amazing thing to witness and seeing the smile on my sister and brother-in-law’s face really spoke to me. It spoke of happiness, of excitement, of awe, of shock, and of pure pure love. The last time I saw my sister this happy was on her wedding day — her happiness is a beautiful sight.

Baby Bear, you will be the most loved child on the face of the Earth and your Tia cannot wait to meet you!

Jess and Rich, thank you for letting me be apart of this amazing day.

Jess, that's going to be YOU soon -- minus the cat, we hate cats.

Jess, that’s going to be YOU soon — minus the cat, we hate cats.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo