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

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

the weight of Insecurities

Bursting the Bubble, Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

Perhaps you saw my sulky tweet about going for a physical. The one where I gained 6 pounds since the last time I visited the doctor two years ago. I don’t usually tweet things like that, I highly doubt you care how much I weigh or how much I’ve gained, but I do. In 10th grade I got fed up with being the only girl who wasn’t naturally thin, so I made it my goal to become skinny. I wanted to be pretty, thin, and get noticed by the hot guys in my grade. I wanted desperately to have a boyfriend. I went on a strict NO JUNK FOOD diet and worked out with Billy Blanks tapes every day. Eventually I lost the weight but it didn’t get me a boyfriend, nor did it rid of my insecurities.

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Feeling beautiful is all that matters. Thin, thick, whatever. Beauty is on the inside. Oh and CHOCOLATE TASTES AS GOOD AS ANYTHING FEELS!

The thing is that I will never be thin — maybe subtly toned and thick but never thin. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over that or be okay with it. Even nine years later, I don’t feel confident most days. I try on clothes and even though I’m “tiny”, it doesn’t make me enjoy shopping any more than someone who isn’t. In fact, trying on clothes isn’t the only thing that irks me, I hate seeing myself naked. I despise bathing suits and refuse to look at myself before heading into the shower. In the mirror all I see are the same imperfections I’d notice when I was sixteen years old. I see extra skin or flab that wasn’t there before, I see cellulite from my bum to my upper back thighs and I grimace. How can a 25-year-old woman not love her body? Not love the skin that’s treated her well her entire life? It baffles me and sickens me that hearing that I am now 129lbs instead of 123lbs is something that could ruin my day but it does.

So what now? Is this vanity or a simple case of I don’t look like the women I see in magazines or movies? Or is it something even worse than that? Have I made being “thin” “skinny” or “tiny” my main characteristic? Am I vain enough to think that that’s how people remember me or am I silly enough to hope that that’s how they remember me? The more important question is why, why would I want that to be the way people remember me? Wouldn’t I rather have people say “Vanessa? You mean the writer from My Pen, My Voice?” or “Vanessa? That sweet girl with a weird but fun sense of humour?”  or “Oh Vanessa? Ya I remember her! She’s awesome.”  There are all kinds of beautiful out there and they don’t start with a number on the scale.

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This is me. Today. I’m a writer, traveller, and reader. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, niece, girlfriend, cousin, and friend. I have brown eyes, big thighs, and a small waist. I have big feet and love having my toenails painted. I like my lips, they’re exactly like my moms. I love to laugh, especially if it’s over a Lavazza latte. I like working out and I am healthy but I love my mom’s muffins and cookies too much to give them up. I love Italian food and penne alla vodka is my favourite dish. I weigh 129lbs and I am beautiful, not in spite of or because of that number. It’s just one little piece of who I am and if I can have so many people love me for all of these things, then I can learn to love myself too. It’s a journey, a process, and I’m on the right track.

Love Always and Forever,

Vanessa Xo

Baby Steps, Girlllllllll

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands

I’m learning that baby steps are necessary to get anywhere you want to go. The slow hesitant steps, the wobbling from side to side, the zombie-like stance you take, it’s all part of growing up and getting what you want.

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There’s always a chance that you might fail, or falling and fall hard. But there is also a chance of succeeding, of living out your dreams and then finding new ones to aspire to. There is always risk involved in gaining any kind of reward or recognition. You just have to be brave and let go of all the places and people who are holding you back — sometimes you even have to let go of a version of yourself. In my case that means leaving a place of work, in two weeks time I’ll be out of the kitchen and into the world. I may not have a plan, but I’ve got a few things lined up. I’m afraid and utterly sceptic but in my heart of hearts I believe that I WILL NOT GET A JOB IN WRITING OR PUBLISHING UNLESS I DO THIS. I will take a chance on myself and give it 195% of my effort.

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With nothing holding me back, no comfort, no convenience, no stagnant days, my life has opened up and so have my options. In order to walk, you have to let go and take it one step at a time. Stay tuned for this little adventure (or twenty-something crisis). I’ve got some fun stuff coming up on the blog, writing blog tour, book blog tour, product reviews, event recaps, a one-day vacation, stagette with my girls, Izzy’s first birthday, and everything else in between. You can also check out some of my posts on Chic Darling — there’s always something fun going on over there!

Love ALWAYS and FORVER,

Vanessa Xo

frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I went for a pedicure with my bestie last night — my tootsies were in dire need of it, and really is there a better way to spend $20 (other than on books)? We always use pedicures for serious gab-fests that start off with, So Vanessa, how are you really feeling? My answer nearly shocked the poop out of my bestie, I’m good, feeling relaxed. Never has she ever heard me say that I’m feeling relaxxxxxeeeeedddddd — especially when things aren’t going my way. Why am I feeling so relaxed?

e403472c2554bd9d1eea706760a6a2d7I don’t give a damn about anything that doesn’t directly affect me. I no longer care about the little things and I’m learning to let go of situations and people who I can’t control. I’m being honest with myself for the first time in forever and frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks!

The other day I went for a jog, I looked up at the clear blue sky and had to stop moving. I just stood there and stared, it looked as crisp as the ocean, and I wanted to jump in. It was the most beautiful sky I have ever seen, I felt so big and so small, and ready to take on the world. There are so many beautiful sights to behold and I just want to see them all. The only way to appreciate them is to be calm, cool, collected, and relaxed. I look at photos of my niece sometimes and the look in her eyes is the epitome of curiosity and excitement.

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She is literally experiencing everything for the first time and you can tell that she is in love with life. She inspires me every single day to look at things differently. To learn, to grow, and to love life, because before we even know anything about anything that is what we are programmed to do.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

 

 

 

but i’ve got a dream worth protectin’

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

62847759b0c2ef40b245e69d63a2635fI don’t know if the YES PROJECT made me do it or if it was my need for change, for a new chapter but I made a decision to start fresh. To let go of the places and circumstances that are holding me back and just be free. I’ve been bowling with bumper guards for too long (metaphorically speaking) and it’s about time to put them down. I know I talk about it a lot about doing this but now I have no choice. It’s a new chapter whether I’m terrified or not. It all ends August 1st, one final goodbye and I’m off to something new. I don’t know where I’m headed but it starts with a pen and a dream, and it’s worth protecting.

Talk soon,

Vanessa

The YES Project

Bursting the Bubble, Categories, Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

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It’s no secret that I’m less than satisfied with my current state of affairs. It’s no secret that I don’t have a plan or that I’m itching to do things that are just unrealistic at this point in my life. It’s no secret that I take things too personally and can’t sleep at night. It’s no longer a secret that this attitude is putting strain on my relationships. Something has to change. It’s impossible to be unhappy all of the time, it’s not like me to be tired all of the time, to lack motivation in getting things done. It’s unlike me to be this extreme brand of antisocial. Something has to change.

I had a very serious conversation with my cousin today (iMessages can get very serious) about everything I just blurted out above. Her solution was simple and yet completely and utterly insane.

“Just start saying yes. Even if it’s stupid or out of your way or seems like a waste of time, say yes. It helps! You have no idea where it could lead.”

So, welcome to the YES PROJECT. I will start saying yes to all of those things I find excuses for. I will say yes and attend events that are an utter inconvenience. I will say yes to doing new things, even if they scare the crap out of me. I will not cancel plans. I will say yes to trips and extra shifts at work and to going out even if it’s past my bedtime. I will say yes to possibilities.

I will say yes to life and I’ll even keep you posted.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

do you remember ?

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

photo 2Yesterday night I went to my brother’s high school graduation, which means that it’s been seven years since I graduated. Do you remember what it felt like to sit among all of your classmates and listen to esteemed facility yap and yap and yap about how the future is yours, about how proud they are of you, and most importantly about how much potential you have? In all honesty I thought watching my brother graduate would bring back such memories but it didn’t. It brought on anxiety and the inevitable revaluation of my life choices.

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There I was, so young and impressionable, not entirely sure where I was headed but completely sure that it would involve the written word. I have many things to be proud of, many words that I’m happy to share, and yet all I can think about are the opportunities I let slip away. The ones I was too afraid to take, the ones that could have made my life a little bit different.

But I digress, graduations aren’t about fear. Graduations are about courage. They’re about new beginnings and new chapters. The Valedictorian at my brother’s ceremony ended his speech with something along the lines of:

“Everything you’ve ever done, ever thought, ever experienced, and ever felt, has led up to this moment in your life… you define the next moment… make it count.”

All I can hope for is that my brother makes his decisions with care but without fear. I hope that his hard work and dedication will lead him to whatever he desires. I hope that he’ll forget about what he “should” do and that he’ll follow his heart. I hope that he makes every moment count. I hope that he won’t let opportunities slip by him because of his insecurities or fear of change. If I’m honest with myself, the kid is a million times braver than me and I couldn’t be more proud. I might be older than him but I do look up to him (and not just because he’s 19 feet taller than me). I hope that I can borrow a little bit of his courage and make the next moments in my life the very best ones…

419c6bb8911856ec5b02c6b9dd6f07bbTalk soon,

Vanessa Xo

 

Summertime Sadness?

Lifestyle/Personal

I’ve yet to find sadness in this beautiful summer that we’re having, what I’m finding is quite the opposite. Not only summertime happiness, but hope, choices, and wonder as well. At this stage of my life I’m fortunate enough to have my options open. I could be a freelance writer, continue to look for a job in publishing, I could learn SEO and become an SEO specialist, or even go back to school to become a librarian technician (seriously I’ve been considering it). I could also take a break from all of these life decisions and travel. The trouble is that the more options I have, the more stressed out I feel. I received a wonderful email from a fellow writer and blogger (Not A Model) who noticed how down I’ve been about job hunting and simply advised me to try not to sweat it too much! 

It’s so difficult to enjoy anything when your mind is in stressed-out-over-drive. There is no way I would have enjoyed date-night at Astoria if my thoughts were on my poor interviewing skills or whether I will ever find a job that I really want. There is a slim chance that I would have enjoyed my cousin’s baby shower if I was focussing on my next step. There is an even slimmer chance that I would have enjoyed my first jog of the summer if I had been thinking back to my last interview “disaster” rather than singing along to the music on my iPod. I wouldn’t have felt the blood pumping or my calves strengthening or the oxygen running through my veins. I wouldn’t have run as hard as I did, I wouldn’t be breathing as heavily, nor would I have noticed the warmth of the sun on my back.

So even in the dead heat of summer, I’ll try not to sweat it…

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

the life you have is completely yours

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Uncategorized

“But your task is to become something much more unique and surprising than anyone your parents could ever imagine you to be. You have to know that the life you have is completely yours.”  — THE GIRL WHO WAS SATURDAY NIGHT

I like to think that many years ago on a cold, snowy day as my dad watched T.V. and my mum crocheted a blanket, I sat on the floor with my sister and picked up a book. As I flipped through the pages and made up my own stories, both of my parents smiled and said “Yep, she’s going to be a great writer some day — or at very least, an avid reader”. That didn’t happen and I’m unsure if my parents ever stood over my crib and took a guess at who or what I was going to become.

I think the hardest part of growing up and becoming an adult isn’t getting my career started or getting out of the pizza place, it’s being Me. It’s forgetting about all of those outside factors, the opinions of others, the welcome and unwelcome advice, the negative comments or generalizations and simply being myself. I’m indecisive and I struggle with making decisions because I let so many other outside factors effect them. I’m always concerned about how any decision effects everyone else around me, I wonder and wonder if I can do certain things, and I second guess myself a lot. Maybe that’s why I am where I am right now.

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This life is completely and totally mine and I have to start acting like it. I’m going to start doing what I want to do, I am going to speak up and air my thoughts.

I am not going to let my fear stop me, I’m not going remain in unhappy atmospheres surrounded by unhappy people.

I’m going to take risks and make mistakes, but they’re mine.

And it’s okay because nothing is permanent, not even pain.

 

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo