Trust the Timing [Friday Mantra]

Lifestyle/Personal
From Pinterest

From Pinterest

No matter how into the future I’m thinking, or how excited I get for certain things to happen, there is always something that brings me back to the present. More often than not it’s a bumpy road derailing my plans or the simple thought that I have to learn to trust the timing of my life. Everything that I want to happen, everything that I’m excited about will come in its own time, and usually after a continuous downpour of hard work. If there is one thing I hope for you it’s that you have an easier time trusting the timing of your life. That you don’t stress over things that you have planned years into the future and that you stress even less about those things that don’t work out. My boss always told me that when one door closes, another one opens and I bet if you take the time to sit down and think about it, you’ll see that it’s true.

Wishing you a blissful Friday and a weekend filled with love, adventure, and spontaneity.

Love Always,

Vanessa

The Illuminations [Book Review]

Book Reviews
From the Penguin Random House Canada Website

From the Penguin Random House Canada Website

 Standing one evening at the window of her house by the sea, Anne Quirk sees a rabbit disappearing in the snow. Nobody remembers her now, but this elderly woman was in her youth an artistic pioneer, a creator of groundbreaking documentary photographs. Her beloved grandson, Luke, now a captain in the British army is on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. When his mission goes horribly wrong, he ultimately comes face to face with questions of loyalty and moral responsibility that will continue to haunt him. Once Luke returns home to Scotland, Anne’s secret story begins to emerge, along with his, and they set out for an old guest house in Blackpool where she once kept a room. There they witness the annual illuminations–the dazzling artificial lights that brighten the seaside resort town as the season turns to winter. (From the Penguin Random House Canada Website)

Imagine a novel about everything. A novel about the past, the present, the future. About time and how quickly it can pass by. A novel about the fine line between love, loss, and hope beyond help. A novel about family and the secrets we harbor to protect ourselves and one another.

“He wanted to help her picture things and put her story together, for him and for her… He wanted to establish her good times.” (247)

I can’t begin to explain what The Illuminations made me feel while I was reading it — a book about everything makes you feel everything. I felt confused and saddened by Anne’s state of mind, but mystified by the stories that she would tell when her mind allowed her to remember. I felt annoyed by Maureen’s need to help a perfect stranger, pitying herself rather than helping her family or letting them into her life. I was tickled by the relationship between Anne and her grandson Luke, what she taught him about life and photography is pure gold. Before the family secrets began to unravel I was less than impressed with Anne’s daughter Alice, but that changed near the end of the novel. And Harry, Anne’s one true love, he was a mystery to me throughout the novel. I’m not quite sure if he deserved Anne but their relationship just goes to show you how powerful hope, faith, and love can be.

The Illuminations is about all of that and so much more. Author Andrew O’Hagan masterfully exposes the secrets to living. He delves into the idea that every life is extraordinary and that everyday things can in fact be wonderful works of art. This is the kind of novel that will have you thinking about your own story, your past, and your goals for the future. The Illuminations will guide its reader into the brightness of the world, if only they dare to open their eyes.

“You’ve got to live a life proportionate to your nature,’ she said. ‘You’ve got to find out what that means and then stick to it.'” (97)

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

* The Illuminations comes out February 17th, 2015

* Disclosure: I received an ARC of The Illuminations from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

When I’m Happy, I Gain Weight

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

“Once her love had been publicized, it would gain weight (literally), become a burden.”
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

Is it just me (and my boyfriend) who gain weight when we’re happy? Seriously, over the last six years I’ve noticed that when we have the least amount of stress in our lives, or when we’re at a really good place with each other, we tend to gain weight. I’m not a psychology major so I don’t know if there is a connection between love/happiness and weight. What I do know is that recently my boyfriend and I have put on a few pounds and both of us are feeling uncomfortable. My jeans have gotten a little to snug and over the weekend he had a hard time buttoning up his dress pants. If you’ve read my fitness post on the Passion8 blog, you’ll know that I believe in the old everything in moderation mantra. So, Alex and I decided to start eating a bit healthier; limit alcohol intake, no more cream in my coffee, salads over fries, chicken over red meat, and no more snacks before bed. We’re not out to lose a million pounds, nor do we feel it necessary to be skinny. We just want to feel healthy and make better choices when it comes to eating.

-2Throughout the day we’ve been sending each other photos of our meals and snacks. I’m not sure if it’s a competitive thing or just a friendly bit of motivation, either way it seems to be working. My biggest problem is what to have for breakfast, my mom makes the most delicious muffins in the world and I can’t get out of the habit of eating one each morning (and sometimes one before bed). They complement my coffee than cereal, plus they’re convenient and hit my cravings for something sweet. Do you guys have any ideas for breakfast? A healthy granola or something? I would love to try out a recipe!

Happy Friday!

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

 

Word of the Week [CATALYST]

Word of the Week

unnamed

Contrary to popular belief I was a very quiet child. I said more things in my head than I did out loud. I remember being afraid to talk, afraid that I would be made fun of or get interrupted. When I was twelve, I couldn’t take it anymore. My fear grew wings and I picked up a pen. My fear inspired me to start writing, to let it all out. I began writing poetry, short stories, and “screen plays” in my diary. I wrote about my days at school, about my parents, and about my siblings. I wrote because it felt good. Since then I’ve learned to share my writing, I’ve met many people who push me harder, who challenge me, and who inspire me. I’ve read books that trigger my imagination and get my creative juices flowing. I’ve had many set-backs and faced a bit of criticism but even that forced me to work harder.

I chose CATALYST as the word of this week because sometimes in order to feel motivated you need to look around and open your eyes. You need to listen to what people are saying and allow their words to translate into something that can push you to do more, to do something different, and to try. Sometimes you just need to listen to yourself. You need to open up your heart and let it whisper your deepest dreams and desires.

Be your own catalyst. Make it happen.

“They are the ones who bring meaning to our lives, who happen to inspire, who spark a fire that we carry with us for the rest of our days, who are but pillars of hope and sometimes sacrifice, life-changers, life-savers, catalysts.”
― Chirag Tulsiani

– Vanessa

i've forgotten how to dream

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

QUoteI had an awfully sad thought the other day and I’ve placed it on a photo that I took during my mid-week staycation. 

Could this deep rooted sadness just be a phase? A side-effect of that disturbing mix of boredom and fear that has overcome me as of late? I despise the word bored. I detest feeling afraid. Afraid of what? Bored how? I don’t feel challenged or excited anymore. I don’t feel like I’m living so much as existing and I’ve created this cocoon of safety that makes me not want to try new things. That gives me a kind of anxiety that eats away at my heart, at my dreams,

Could it be all of the rejection I’ve received lately? Could it be that my insecurities are taking over? Could I just grow a pair already and make a change? Insanity is, after all, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

How to become sane (again):

WHEN IN DOUBT, OR BEING REJECTED, REMEMBER WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO.(you love to write and you do it for you)

DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

MAKE A SCARY LEAP OF FAITH.

DON’T TURN BACK.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

A Case of the Reds

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I think I’ve had a case of the mad reds (Breakfast at Tiffany’s reference) and I’ve turned on everything and everyone that I love.

tumblr_me0kldUxd41qec4gro1_500

The mad reds are quite a bit worse than the boring old sad sorry blues. You’re mad at everything because you don’t understand what you’re afraid of, you see red all around you and your heart simply can take any added stress. But when you finally get through the mad reds and skip past the sad blues, life seems a bit clearer, like putting on a pair of glasses for the first time. Everything is crisp and fresh and new. You understand where your fear came from and what triggered your anger. With this understanding you discover ways to move forward, to fix things.

Or at least you’re on your way to figuring out exactly what you want to change and why you’re so afraid.

And that’s exactly where I’m at.

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

"As it turns out, I was missing pretty much everything."

Book Reviews, Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I received On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz from Simon & Schuster Canada last week.

On-Looking-jacket-lores

This book documents 11 walks that the author takes with various “experts”. Alexandra walks with an urban sociologist, an artist, a geologist, a physician, a child, a dog, and a few others. Alexandra and her readers are forced to see things differently, to engage in the surroundings while walking, to see everything with eyes, ears, nose, and hands.

Page 75

Page 75

Although I sometimes felt lost and confused by the technical terms used by the geologist, physician, and urban sociologist, I learned so much about their various subjects and I found it fascinating to see what they see. This book is a delightful combination of history, facts, stories, and lessons to learn. I must admit that I felt a little bit nervous while reading On Looking. I kept wondering what I was missing whenever I took my dog for a walk around our quiet suburban neighbourhood. I was scared that I missed so many things, that I walked around with blinders. I asked myself: when do I actually walk with my eyes open? When do I walk at full attention? When do I actually see things?

“Vacations are the adult exceptions [to the we’ve seen it all before attitude] … we actually do see new places and…we bother to look…some of our fondness for so-called vacation locales…is due to simply looking.” (Page 30)

I only SEE and really look around when I travel. My eyes are sometimes open so wide that my eyelids become sore. As I finished this book, I decided to add start looking and observing more when walking to my New Year’s Resolutions. I started today. I went for a walk with my dog and my boyfriend and we let the dog lead. We observed him, what he sniffed, what excited him, what made him walk faster or slower. I paid attention to the things I’ve seen so many times over the last 15 years. I thoroughly enjoyed this walk. Here is what I saw…

And so, Waffles led the way. Taking a route that we'd never taken before. It was cold, damp, and surprisingly quiet out.

And so, Waffles led the way.Choosing a route that we’d never taken before. It was cold, damp, and surprisingly quiet out.

What happened to that broken branch? Why does this tree look so sad?

What happened to that broken branch? Why does this tree look so sad?

I've walked by this post a million times and just noticed the graffiti on it. Who wrote it? What does it say?

I’ve walked by this post a million times and just noticed the graffiti on it. Who wrote it? What does it say?

Waffles didn't care much for these tires. How long have they been there?

Waffles didn’t care much for these tires. How long have they been there?

IMG_1856

IMG_1860

Where’s his head?

The twigs create a path, circa 1997.

The twigs create a path, circa 1997.

He saw something, felt something, kept sniffing, looking up at the dead trees.

He saw something, felt something, kept sniffing, looking up at the dead trees.

I plan on taking more walks, with my eyes wide open. I look forward to the next time I go downtown, the next time I can look at buildings and appreciate them, the next time I can pick apart signs, the next time I smell something different. I’ve got a long way to go, I’ve got a lot to learn but I’m ready to become more observant.

This walk is just the beginning…

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo



** Title from page 259. **

“As it turns out, I was missing pretty much everything.”

Book Reviews, Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I received On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz from Simon & Schuster Canada last week.

On-Looking-jacket-lores

This book documents 11 walks that the author takes with various “experts”. Alexandra walks with an urban sociologist, an artist, a geologist, a physician, a child, a dog, and a few others. Alexandra and her readers are forced to see things differently, to engage in the surroundings while walking, to see everything with eyes, ears, nose, and hands.

Page 75

Page 75

Although I sometimes felt lost and confused by the technical terms used by the geologist, physician, and urban sociologist, I learned so much about their various subjects and I found it fascinating to see what they see. This book is a delightful combination of history, facts, stories, and lessons to learn. I must admit that I felt a little bit nervous while reading On Looking. I kept wondering what I was missing whenever I took my dog for a walk around our quiet suburban neighbourhood. I was scared that I missed so many things, that I walked around with blinders. I asked myself: when do I actually walk with my eyes open? When do I walk at full attention? When do I actually see things?

“Vacations are the adult exceptions [to the we’ve seen it all before attitude] … we actually do see new places and…we bother to look…some of our fondness for so-called vacation locales…is due to simply looking.” (Page 30)

I only SEE and really look around when I travel. My eyes are sometimes open so wide that my eyelids become sore. As I finished this book, I decided to add start looking and observing more when walking to my New Year’s Resolutions. I started today. I went for a walk with my dog and my boyfriend and we let the dog lead. We observed him, what he sniffed, what excited him, what made him walk faster or slower. I paid attention to the things I’ve seen so many times over the last 15 years. I thoroughly enjoyed this walk. Here is what I saw…

And so, Waffles led the way. Taking a route that we'd never taken before. It was cold, damp, and surprisingly quiet out.

And so, Waffles led the way.Choosing a route that we’d never taken before. It was cold, damp, and surprisingly quiet out.

What happened to that broken branch? Why does this tree look so sad?

What happened to that broken branch? Why does this tree look so sad?

I've walked by this post a million times and just noticed the graffiti on it. Who wrote it? What does it say?

I’ve walked by this post a million times and just noticed the graffiti on it. Who wrote it? What does it say?

Waffles didn't care much for these tires. How long have they been there?

Waffles didn’t care much for these tires. How long have they been there?

IMG_1856

IMG_1860

Where’s his head?

The twigs create a path, circa 1997.

The twigs create a path, circa 1997.

He saw something, felt something, kept sniffing, looking up at the dead trees.

He saw something, felt something, kept sniffing, looking up at the dead trees.

I plan on taking more walks, with my eyes wide open. I look forward to the next time I go downtown, the next time I can look at buildings and appreciate them, the next time I can pick apart signs, the next time I smell something different. I’ve got a long way to go, I’ve got a lot to learn but I’m ready to become more observant.

This walk is just the beginning…

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo



** Title from page 259. **