Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Awards



The lovely Victoria Stacey of Florals and Teacups nominated me for the Sisterhood of World Bloggers Awards the other day and I’m happy to finally get around to participating. My sincerest thanks to Victoria for the nomination – you are a wonderful human being and a fantastic blogger!

“The Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award is an award that celebrates female bloggers. After being nominated by a fellow blogger, you must thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog, and answer a series of ten questions that the person who nominated you has created. Then you create ten new questions for your nominees to answer and make a list of at least ten nominees (blogs that you enjoy reading).”

  1. Describe your blog in one sentence. A memoir in motion.
  2. What is the best place you have ever travelled to? I’d have to say that it’s a tie between Vancouver and New York City. Both beautiful and full of life; I felt rejuvenated and inspired from the moment I landed.
  3. What is the weirdest food you have ever tried (either abroad or at home)? Is liver weird? I’m not too adventurous when it comes to food.
  4. If you won a free trip anywhere in the world, where would you go and with who? Europe. I’ve never been and would love to explore a few places with my fiancé on our honeymoon.
  5. If you could only blog about one specific thing for the rest of your life, what would you choose? That’s a tough one; I write about whatever I’m experiencing at a specific moment in time. To write about only one thing wouldn’t be authentic or me.
  6. Where do you hope your blog will be in the next year? I always hope that it’ll blow up and be turned into a book. THAT is my hope every single year but realistically, I just hope it’s still around and that people continue reading.
  7. Who or what inspired you to blog? One of my best friends inspired me to start this blog. She said that if I wanted my writing to really exist, I’d have to put it online.
  8. Why do you continue to blog? It gives me clarity.
  9. If you aren’t blogging, what are you doing? Writing in my notebook, spending time with my fiancé and family, reading, or painting my nails.
  10. Share your favourite blog post ever (could be your own, or someone you admire!) Most recently: The Crawl by Amanda DiPasquale

I’ll be honest the older I get, the crazier life gets, and the less time I have to follow blogs. I do have a few blogs that I visit whenever I find the time. Here are six female bloggers that I admire.

Victoria Stacey Florals and Teacups (is this allowed?) 

Megan Radisa and Meaghan Onorato The Meg Life

Amanda DiPasquale Not A Model Blog

Karen Viray The Red Bow Blog 

Lindsey Reeder Reeder Reads 

10 Questions: 

  1. Describe your blog in 140 characters.
  2. How do you hope to inspire other women with your blog?
  3. Why did you start blogging?
  4. Why do you continue to blog?
  5. What is the best meal you’ve ever cooked or eaten?
  6. What is your favourite blog post (that you’ve written or that’s been written by someone else)?
  7. What is your favourite book?
  8. If you could tell your 10-year-old self something, what would it be?
  9. Who is your fashion icon and why?
  10. Beyonce or Adele?



What is Happy?

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal


I had a thought yesterday and it created another thought, which rolled into another, and then into a labyrinth of the best thoughts that could be thunk. But then the phone rang. POOF! Gone. My life has become a series of cycles; planning, researching, working, budgeting.

Apparently that is what growing up is all about. On my drive to work I often think about happiness, I look at the person in the car next to me and wonder if they’re happy. I wonder if they like their job, if they’re passionate about what they do. I imagine what their home-life, love-life, and hobbies are. I wonder, what is happy?

My happy comes in the form of moments. My niece’s smile, a perfectly written sentence, my fiance’s hand reaching for mine, a drive up north, having dinner with my family, crying over a character in a book, saying something smart or witty enough to evoke laughter from someone. My happy comes from something more than 9-5, although I do leave the office feeling accomplished and useful, my life will always be about more than that.

That is my happy. What’s yours?

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

The TO-READ Pile

Book Reviews

A book collection screams to be added to, regardless of whether or not you actually read the purchased books right away. There’s something beautiful about receiving a book in the mail or scouring shelves in the local Chapters until you find that one perfect read. I go through book-buying binges and am lucky enough to receive books from publishing houses too. As such, I always have a number of books stacked neatly on my bookshelf, in a special spot I’ve designated for the TO-READ Pile. Right now I’m reading The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingelman Sundberg, but I’ve still got three more books that I want to finish this month!

“It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read.”― Lemony Snicket

summer jam series

Nice Is Just A Place In France by The Betches: LOOK, MAYBE YOU’RE A NICE GIRL, but we’re guessing you’re more like us or you probably wouldn’t have picked up this book. Not that we have a problem with girls who are nice people. But being nice is just not the way to get what you want. And this book is about getting what you want. Not in like a finding happiness, giving back to the world, being grateful for what you have sort of way. But in a ruling your world, being the most desired, powerful badass in the room way, so you can come out on top of any situation: guys, career, friends, enemies, whatever.  How does a betch make that happen?

Spinster – Making A Life Of One’s Own by Kate Bolick: Whom to marry, and when will it happen—these two questions define every woman’s existence.” So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why­ she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remains unmarried.

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better by Monica Heisey: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better is a collection of stories, essays, advice, and drawings from writer and comedian Monica Heisey. Created to help you live your Best Life, this book offers tips on everything from workplace politics to sexting, from how to make your apartment look like you read design blogs to where to cry in public. Important guides like “How To Watch Literally Hours of TV At A Time” will help you sort your life out for good, while thought—provoking personal essays such as “Pizzas I Have Loved” and helpful exercises like “Are You Being Flirted With, A Quiz” provide some gravitas and perspective to help you navigate this modern world. Plus there is a very weird short story about bees.

What books are in you TO-READ pile? Plan on reading any of the three I listed?

Want to start a book club? Let’s chat!

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

*Synopses from links above*

Shed your Skin



Those days are going to come and go. The days where you feel inadequate as a writer, noticing the strides other people are making, wondering why you’re not working hard enough to make them yourself. The days where the words get stuck in your brain, turning into a web of thoughts that cannot untangle. The days when you go to work with the most positive attitude and whimper in the bathroom because you’re making mistakes or feel overwhelmed. The days where nothing you do is right, or even enough. One of those days where you feel like shedding your skin and starting fresh.

Days and weeks where your anxiety becomes so intense it paralyses you, body and mind. You make an appointment with the doctor and the hairdresser on the same day at the same time. You forget about that story you started writing or that you promised to get together with a friend. It gets so bad that you feel sick ever day, your head aches, and your body sore. Those days where you take the anti-anixety pills your doctor gave you, but they just make things worse. They turn you into some kind of zombie, The Walking Dead are more alive than you.

But then there’s a day where everything is okay. Not just okay, but magical in its closeness to perfection. A day where you feel good, write well, and work better. Where a smile doesn’t leave your face and laughter widens your mouth letting through a booming sound known as pure, innocent happiness. A day where you know in your heart of hearts that you are loved, that you love others, and that even the bad days aren’t so bad at all.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

*Photo from Pinterest*

On Writing [About Life, Online]

Fiction, Lifestyle/Personal

I find writing about life, blogging about life, and dreaming about the future more difficult than actually living it. When I try to do all four, sometimes it’s impossible. I can’t say that I write to remember, I write to share, to express, to create, and most days to forget. When I sit at my laptop I often catch a glimpse of myself in the screen and I wonder about her. Who is this woman (that looks like a teenager) trying to fool? Her words could never express the amount of confusion that goes on inside her head, the fear in her heart. I don’t know if she’s more afraid that things won’t work out, or just scared that they won’t work out the way she thought they might.

I think myself an imposture. Writer’s write and some days I just can’t. I won’t. Who really cares what it feels like to be me at almost thirty, or ever for that matter? Who cares that some days my confidence sinks so far below the surface of my skin that I can’t quite remember who I am or what my ambitions are? That I’m suddenly anxious, afraid, and completely downtrodden by my own crippling doubts. Who cares that I suddenly feel lonely? Who notices that I put up brick walls and allow the doors, windows, and tiny cracks of light to be shut up with thick plaster? Who cares that I’m trapped with only the stench of my own morning breath to keep me company?

Who cares that I don’t feel strong enough to break the walls down?

Probably everyone, most likely no one.

Perhaps it’s only me and my fingers tapping at the keys.

Perhaps that is how it will always be.

*Excerpt from my next book This is Almost Thirty

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Hashtag First World Problems [A NARRATIVE]



Hashtag First World Problems

Written by Vanessa Grillone on December 8th.

It wasn’t until I discovered the hashtag FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS that I realized this world has some serious issues.

Public transit is so unreliable #firstworldproblems

Too tired to get up, too hungry to sleep #firstworldproblems

Hungover at work #firstworldproblems

When your favourite purse is sold out in store and it takes 3 weeks to ship to you #firstworldproblems

When your fridge is full but you have nothing to eat #firstworldproblems

The real first world problem is that all these first world countries are filled with a bunch of whiny complaining infants who spit out their milk when it’s too cold, instead of appreciating the fact that their parents could actually afford milk in the first place. People love to complain, I know that for a fact. We love telling people how difficult our lives are, how we’re “too busy” to make time for anyone else, how our lives are just one colossal disappointment after another/

I don’t want to go to work #FirstWorldProblems

“This is fucking ridiculous!” I protested and slammed my laptop shut. This outburst caused other four-eyed writers in the dimly lit, ironic coffee shop, to give me the stink-eye. I smiled shyly until they turned back to their screens. I am not a writer, I am a business student, studying the ways of social media marketing. I come to the same coffee shop every Sunday, ordering a black coffee, and sitting on one of the stools by the window. I don’t believe in online branding, I don’t understand how stupid the world has become. Who the fuck cares what this blogger or that influencer thinks? Why can’t people make their own choices?

I let my eyes wander out the window in front of me. I knew what lay behind. A few gentlemen baristas standing behind the excessively large counter, discussing their latest short story or science fiction novel as they serve gluten-free muffins and fat-free scones. On the couches sit students, writers, and bloggers, all pretending to write while constantly checking their social media feeds. There are a few of the more experienced salt-and-pepper writers with unwashed hair and heavy bags under their eyes, who actually have notebooks beside them filled with character notes and sketches. And then there are a few groups of women, sipping  sweet drinks with gossip dripping from their insecure lips.

This normally busy Toronto street is ghostly on Sundays, especially in the winter. Street cars trudge by, pedestrians walk sombrely, bikers barely pedal as they enjoy the Sunday slow-down before Monday comes and the rush of a new week begins. What would happen if people stopped complaining for twenty-four hours?

I’m not stupid or naive. I grew up in a loving family where money problems never reached the surface. Although I’ve worked since I was sixteen, my parents paid for my schooling and some months they even covered my rent. I have nothing to complain about but I know that as a product of this generation I let myself fall into the moshpit of complaining brats.

What if I stopped complaining for one day? Stopped any negative thought from entering my head, trained myself to be better than my society? What would happen? I’d probably worry less and laugh more. I’d deal with shitty circumstances a little better without giving myself pimples or insomnia. I’d appreciate our shitty transit system since I would use my extra time waiting to read. I’d learn how to take my time and stop rushing life. I’d probably have more friends who like their lives instead of friends who can’t see the good things right in front of them.

If I learned how to complain less and appreciate more, I’d probably be the only one in my generation with a smile on their face.

I’d probably be the only one living.

– Vanessa

*Hashtag First World Problems is a work of fiction*

#NYC, I’m coming for you

Bursting the Bubble, Categories, Family Time


Nothing beats exploring a new city with people you love, or returning to a city you love with someone new. So, one month today I’ll be heading to NYC with one of my besties! We’ve never travelled together, in fact I’ve never travelled without the boyfriend or a family member so this should be interesting. I think she’ll be the perfect travel companion though, she’s totally laid-back, I’ve known her forever, we have similar interests, and I feel comfortable enough to fart in front of her, so we’re good.

I’ve been trying to travel as much as I can within the last five you, ya know, before I have to grow up and pay rent or something. I love travelling, in spite of flying, waiting in lines, and jet lag. Jet lag really gets to me, I slept for an entire day in Vancouver and couldn’t stay up past 11 PM in Vegas, I’m not even kidding.

I’m the type of traveller who wakes up early, jam-packs my day, takes a thirty-minute afternoon cat-nap, and heads out on the town for dinner. I try to get the most out of every trip I take and every minute I have in each city. Vancouver, Chicago, Dominican, Vegas, and NYC have been my destinations in the last five years and I’m excited to be heading back to New York. This time I’m going with a brand new notebook and everything I’m learning in my Creative Travel Writing Class. I hope to bring back a wicked travel diary for all of you, and myself. I’m also heading to New York with a wish-list, things I didn’t do last time and places I want to see again.

PicMonkey Collage1. Empire State Building

2. Return to Shake Shack and have the most delicious burger ever! (Again)

3. Strand Bookstore – obviously

4. Central Park – my last travel buddies were too tired to take a long walk in Central Park

5. Shopping on 5th Avenue, starting with breakfast at Tiffany’s (duh!)

My travel partner has a list of her own and I cannot wait to see what’s on it. After we check off those things we’re going to keep walking until we get lost, until we’ve found some really cool places that are off the touristy grid. I wonder what we’ll find…

Any suggestions on what we should do or see? Or how I can possibly pack lightly for this trip?

Let me know in the comments!


Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Stay True.

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal
Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker

The most difficult thing about blogging (writing) is staying true to the voice of your blog. It’s difficult to stay true to the brand you created when there are so many other blogs and brands to be intimidated by. I created this blog as a space for my personal thoughts, as a space to practice and improve my writing, as a place to learn more about myself, as a place to share great books. Admittedly I’ve lost sight of my voice a couple of times. Sometimes I didn’t even recognize the woman holding the pen, I didn’t hear my own nasally soften-spoken voice when I read my posts over again. The important thing is that I noticed and I put myself back on track.


Another difficult part of blogging (writing) is privacy — what do you share? What do you keep to yourself? I’ve had people tell me that they follow my blog in a tone that makes me feel like they know more about me than I think they do. I’ve had people tell me that I should be careful. That my generation doesn’t know the importance of privacy. Well, that’s what social media is, letting people into your life, into your home. It’s scary how BIG social media has become in my life, I’m even applying for jobs with SOCIAL MEDIA in their description.

Sometimes I sit back and think oh my gosh, I’m sharing my thoughts with who knows how many people. On top of that it’s on the INTERNET, FOREVER. After the initial nausea from that thought subsides, I allow myself to think other thoughts. My Pen, My Voice is a brand. It is a brand that I created. It’s ME, it’s who I am and what I represent BUT I get to choose what I share. Along with this blog I have two other notebooks with me at all times. One is a diary and one is the rough beginnings of my novel — neither of which I share on my blog.

I think people forget that there’s a person behind a blog, a twitter account, an Instagram account etc and what they share is only fraction of their lives. They let you see what they want you to see.

I am my truest self when I write.

 I write with honesty, intention, passion, and determination, but please don’t forget —

My Pen, My Voice is just one side of me.

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!


Love Always

Vanessa Xo