#NYC, I’m coming for you

Bursting the Bubble, Categories, Family Time

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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.

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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!

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo

LET’S GO, GET UP, MOVE IT, WE GOTTA GO!

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Reading the works of Paul Auster has made me understand that if I want to write a great novel I first must try to understand people. I need to listen to the universal truths that are spewed out on the morning drive, on the early train, on my lunchtime walks. I need to train myself to listen, to pay attention.  Why am I so afraid to listen?  To write what I hear, what I see, what I feel? AM I hiding from the world? (It’s a little late for that, isn’t it?). This is the time to say everything, to be young and do what young people do.

But as the sun peeks out from the clouds and spreads warmth on my face, igniting the words on this page, I feel nothing and everything all at once. I don’t know where to begin. I falter. I’m afraid to move but anxious to go. You know the dread you feel when you sit down on the subway (a 30 minute ride) and suddenly the alarms in your stomach and ass start ringing, screaming YOU SHOULD PROBABLY FIND A BATHROOM? Yeah, my life feels a lot like that right now. I’m pinching my cheeks, playing tricks on my mind and body, teaching them patience (or trying to). But the screaming continues — LET’S GO, GET UP, MOVE IT, WE GOTTA GO!

By comparing my life to a bowel movement I’m not trying to imply that my life is shitty. In fact, it’s far from that. It’s the urgency I feel at every moment, the anxiety that I’m trying to get across, to relieve myself of with this post, with these words.

Writing as catharsis is not bullshit. IT actually works. I feel lighter already.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

An Author’s Life for me, yo ho, yo ho!

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I’ve had a book in my hand since before I can remember. I’ve read many books and all of them have had some small impact on my life, on the person I’ve become. Funnily enough I haven’t acknowledged the person behind the words, behind the book. I always thought my gratitude could be found in the flip of the last page of their novel. I always thought that was enough. I never made a point to obsess over an author and I learned very early on in my English degree that you should never associate an author with a character or belief in their book (or even as the narrator for that matter). So in order to save myself from putting the author’s face to any character I forgot about them altogether — I rarely looked at an author photo or read their biography. It’s funny to me because as an aspiring novelist/author I know that I would want my readers to know who I am, or at very least acknowledge that there is someone (actually many people) behind the book they’re holding in their hands.

Interning at Random House of Canada has changed all of that. I now realize how many people are involved in getting a book out there. I now know how important publicity, online marketing, and media are in getting a novel onto a bestseller list. I understand the importance in having an editor who believes in you and who can guide your writing into the right direction. I’ve seen how many interviews one author can do in a day, I’ve been there when they are shuffled from store-to-store to sign stock, I’ve been to their launches and felt extremely honoured to be there. Now that I’ve spoken to a few authors of books I’ve actually read, I see how important it is to know these faces, to see these people, to support these people, to watch their interviews, to follow them on twitter — their book, their words, have made a difference in my life.

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Their masterpiece is my inspiration.

Their work is my play, my pleasure, and my escape.

And for that I say thank you to every author of every single book I’ve ever read.

Thank you.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

An Author's Life for me, yo ho, yo ho!

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

I’ve had a book in my hand since before I can remember. I’ve read many books and all of them have had some small impact on my life, on the person I’ve become. Funnily enough I haven’t acknowledged the person behind the words, behind the book. I always thought my gratitude could be found in the flip of the last page of their novel. I always thought that was enough. I never made a point to obsess over an author and I learned very early on in my English degree that you should never associate an author with a character or belief in their book (or even as the narrator for that matter). So in order to save myself from putting the author’s face to any character I forgot about them altogether — I rarely looked at an author photo or read their biography. It’s funny to me because as an aspiring novelist/author I know that I would want my readers to know who I am, or at very least acknowledge that there is someone (actually many people) behind the book they’re holding in their hands.

Interning at Random House of Canada has changed all of that. I now realize how many people are involved in getting a book out there. I now know how important publicity, online marketing, and media are in getting a novel onto a bestseller list. I understand the importance in having an editor who believes in you and who can guide your writing into the right direction. I’ve seen how many interviews one author can do in a day, I’ve been there when they are shuffled from store-to-store to sign stock, I’ve been to their launches and felt extremely honoured to be there. Now that I’ve spoken to a few authors of books I’ve actually read, I see how important it is to know these faces, to see these people, to support these people, to watch their interviews, to follow them on twitter — their book, their words, have made a difference in my life.

calvin376_2

Their masterpiece is my inspiration.

Their work is my play, my pleasure, and my escape.

And for that I say thank you to every author of every single book I’ve ever read.

Thank you.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

The single blue rose in a sea of red

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice.” — Steve Jobs

As if finding my voice wasn’t tough enough, I let myself become bombarded by the opinions and thoughts of others. Sometimes their voices overpower my own — an engine roars to life when I start to speak. I guess it helps that my inner voice keeps me going; the pen hitting paper, skating along in unison with my thoughts. It’s that voice that reminds me of my goals, it keeps me on my path, it tells me that it’s okay to be the single blue rose in a sea of red.

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It’s my inner voice that allows me to NOT get side-tracked by other people’s goals or opinions. I live a lot inside my own head, my inner voice just doesn’t shut up (that’s why I’m always writing). But this voice isn’t lonesome or sad or weak. It is strong and confident and powerful.

My outer voice is still trying to catch up to my inner voice, to my writing.

All in good time.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

until i became…Myself.

Fashion & Beauty, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Today while I looked at Steven’s (UNTIL I BECAME) previous blog posts, I thought about the event at Minling Pan Studio and pondered over the wonderful clothes that I get to look at and/or try on at Moda L Boutique. Then I thought about my own style and about the clothes that I like to wear. What is my style?

“Fashion is bought, style is what you have.”

Take tonight’s outfit: jeans from Forever 21, shirt stolen from my sister about four years ago, boots from Walmart, and the purse is my dad’s 35-year-old camera bag. My jewelry is minimum and all three were gifts and I purchased the scarf at Forever 21 in Chicago. My outfit is inexpensive but cute and comfortable. More importantly, it’s me.

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I understand how important your appearance can be and what it can tell people about you. I feel as though each day I get a little more comfortable in my own skin, I put a little more effort into choosing my outfits, I think about what my clothes will stay about me. Although I love brand names they’re not really me, plus I can’t justify breaking the bank for a new pair of jeans. By the same token, I can feel my style changing, I notice when I’m pulling something out of my closet that I haven’t worn in years or buying something I probably wouldn’t have chosen even a year ago.

I can see that I’m changing and I feel more confident in the clothes that I wear. All of these changes are going a little bit deeper though, a little below the surface. I’m not sure if I’m finally accepting who I am or if I’m really changing but I speak differently, I think differently, I write differently, and I don’t get offended as easily. I have never felt this…well… great about who I am, who I’m becoming. I’m slowly becoming less afraid, I’m slowly taking chances, I’m slowly accepting my mistakes, and I’m not ashamed to make some new ones. It’s not just the clothes or the conscious effort I’m putting into it, it’s everything and everyone around me as well. It’s the fact that I’m growing up and that I’m starting to understand what I want out of life and who I want to be apart of it. 

I never knew how good it would feel to finally become Myself.

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Back to Basics — Again.

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Last year I entered My Pen, My Voice in the Writer’s Digest 20th Annual Self-Published Book Awards contest. Although I didn’t win, I thought the comments from the judges were worth posting. It was incredible to get some feedback on a book I published in 2011 and it made me wonder why I haven’t really written  poetry since. Poetry was my go-to outlet. I started “really” writing when I was twelve-years-old and it was always in the form of poetry. In fact my book is 90% poetry, written between the ages of twelve and eighteen.

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I think I’d like to get back to basics, study a bit of poetry, write more poetry again. The best way to write poetry is to start reading it again and so I ask you, what is your favourite poetry anthology? Who is your favourite poet? Where do I begin? Let me know in the comments 🙂

… it’s back to basics for me… again

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Positivity Breeds Productivity

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

At one time or another I have been called Debbie-Downer, Bitter-Betty, and Sour-Puss-Sally. I guess you could say that (sometimes) I let my mood dictate my life, my work, and my attitude. As of late I’ve been trying my very hardest to be positive. It’s Christmas time, I’ve got some wonderful Christmas parties to attend, I’ve got some coffee dates scheduled, some writing time planned, some reading to do, some family bonding time to adhere to, and a few other (possibly) fantastic things coming up that I can’t yet tell you about.

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I have MANY things to feel positive about and many things to be thankful for – why should I waste time being a Negative-Nancy? I’ve heard that positive thoughts breed positive results. I’ve also heard that positivity breeds productivity and that cannot be further from the truth false. When I feel good or optimistic I can write for hours on end, I can work out and not feel sleepy, I can try baking something, I can read non-stop. The better mood I am in, the more productive I can be! I guess you can call me Positive-Pam from now on — actually just call me Vanessa, I kind of like my name 😛

The only thing about happiness/positivity is… well Charlie Brown describes it best:

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Well there’s no use dwelling on that! So stay tuned for some book reviews, a Buytopia Deal review (hopefully next weekend), my usual babbling, and maybe even a short story or two?

Love Always
Vanessa Xo