There’s Always Money in the Banana Stand: An Unrelated Title for a Relatable Post.

There’s a quaint little expression, that I’m sure you’re all very familiar with, “if you never try, then you’ll never know

Cryptic? Yes. ClichĂŠ? Absolutely. Accurate? Without a doubt. It’s an undeniable fact, that in order to move forward, you literally just have to move. Period. You can’t get anywhere without simply putting one foot in front of the other, and trying. This is applicable to a million different situations, both figurative and literal in nature. From the simple act of dragging yourself out of bed in the morning, and blindly maneuvering to the closest source of caffeine. To something more profound, such as deciding what you love the most in this world and creating a meaningful life around it. My belief is that the bigger the try and the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. This is not to say that bigger is necessarily always better, but we’ll save that debate for another day. To further illustrate my point – and I promise I have one – allow me to direct you to some red hot examples.

Starting from the top of the stack:

What if my guy, Otis Redding, the absolute King of Southern Soul, hadn’t realized that his time in Dawson, Georgia had reached an expiration date, no longer propelling his impending musical legacy forward. In order for him to move ahead, he needed to make a change. What if he didn’t pack up his bags and take the heel toe express over to LA in 1960? Pause. Imagine a world without oxygen. No thanks, I’m all set. Circling back: Someone please explain to me where 99% of marriages and rom-com soundtracks would be without the galactic force that was and still is “Try a Little Tenderness“. Absolutely nowhere good, that’s where. Additionally, decades later, Kanye and Jay Z would be down a few dollars, and one very catchy chune, circa 2011 Throwback Alert. Pulling into my next stop on the road, chalk full of examples: Perhaps, a certain scientific duo made in heaven, otherwise known as Benji Franklin, featuring Tommy Edison? I’m not sure if I speak for myself on this one, but I’ve got a lot of time for not sitting in my living room in the dark, after the sun sets every day. And moreover, zero time for being a pioneer – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Electricity, keep doing what you’re doing, we’re all very into it. Conclusively, if these delightfully brilliant individuals didn’t get out there, while unapologetically doing their thing, taking a couple questionable risks along the way, our whole entire world would be an exponentially less soulful and convenient place. And personally, I’d take not freezing in total and complete darkness during the winter months, while listening to Sitting by the Dock of the Bay, over the latter, any day of the week. Mix in some red wine, now it’s a party. Mic drop.

To switch gears, on to a more personal and hopefully relatable tangent, I can attest to the fact that sometimes the first step in the right direction, can be the hardest one of all. To find the motivation and courage to realize that you’re not where you’re meant to be can be extraordinarily daunting and uncertain. But 26 years as an occupant of Earth has taught me that hindsight is a beautiful thing. There’s no better feeling than looking back, and being able to internally give yourself a high five, satisfied that you made the move to greener pastures. Now, I’m not saying that you have to become an international soul sensation, or the inventor of an absolutely clutch household item, such as the lightbulb… But, instead, figure out what makes you tick, what it is that you want to accomplish, trust yourself and your journey, and follow that path as passionately, authentically and relentlessly as you can.

So…

How do you figure this out? Trial and error. Sometimes you fall flat on your face, and other times you blow yourself away. I, myself, am not a gambler. But, I encourage you to get out there and roll the dice, baby. Confidence paired with fearlessness, it’s a hard battle to lose. In either scenario, you’re learning about yourself, and more importantly, about how you handle success and recover from failure. I’m convinced that having the ability to do this with tact cannot be taught, but rather, acquired through experience. The way in which a person picks themselves up after suffering a blow to ego is what defines them, not the event itself. There are few things less savory than a sore loser or someone who takes themselves too seriously. Crocs, barometric pressure migraines, unwelcome conversations in the gym changing room and cargo shorts being a close second. Someone had to say it.

To date, I have followed what feels like at least a hundred different winding roads, that have lead me to where I am today. This process can be frustrating, and doesn’t generally happen overnight. ClichĂŠ alert: Rome and BeyoncĂŠ were not built in a day, and neither was this pop culture spin off to an old, wise saying. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our parents were right: if it comes easy, it’s probably too good to be true (if you listen carefully you can hear the overdramatic exhale of my 13 year old self, accompanied by a drawn out eye roll). Every time I felt as though I’d reached a comfortable destination, be it professionally or personally, I made the most of it, thinking it was the correct path, until realizing that it was not. Lesson #235: Never get too comfortable. It’s usually a sign that you’ve stopped growing into something better. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying different things on, and seeing how they fit. From these past experiences, I feel wiser in knowing what works for me and what does not, and ultimately created a framework for what I want in life and how I want to get there. That said, this plan will continue to change, as you can’t control what various curve balls that life has in store. Part of discovering your best self, and happiest life, is to be open to change and to never stop evolving and exploring. Be honest with yourself, and keep your expectations realistic. More often than not, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I’m pleased to say, that I’m overwhelmingly happy with where I’ve landed, but I know that I’ll never stop changing and growing and redefining my best self. And hopefully one day, become the next Otis Redding… Maybe just in the shower.

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Humble With A Hint Of Kanye

Admittedly, I have been on a pretty serious hiatus from my little personal blogosphere. After weeks of tirelessly trying to come up with something relevant to say, I simply reflected on a million different conversations that I’ve had with a number of brilliant humans over the last few weeks. We’re all busy, and experiencing life from different angles, but certain things seem to be unanimous. With that said, I finally sat myself down, and took the pressure off. This is when the words start to flow. Sometimes you just have to go full Kanye with yourself and remember “I see what you’re saying and imma let you finish but…”

Perspective:

Take a moment, try to picture your life up until this exact moment, as if it were a film. Now picture a freeze frame (or two) from that film, where you were suddenly veiled with absolute certainty that you were exactly where you were meant to be, or perhaps the complete opposite of that. Every now and then, we experience an unexpected clarity that makes us feel totally in control. On the flip side, there are also times where we feel like a puppet attached to an invisible set of strings. I think we can all agree that the initial transition into adulthood, and mastering the art of “responsibility” is a bit of a juggling act. Or, at times, similar to navigating the depths of Pan’s Labyrinth. After a recent discussion with some friends, we established that with little exception, despite what you see at first glance, or in someone’s social media highlight reel, most of us have absolutely no clue what we’re doing. You might venture to say it’s the biggest ‘blind leading the blind, grass is greener’ classic mix up that many of us are completely ignorant to until we’re on the other side, slightly jaded (but 100% wiser) by the traumas of young adulthood. In your twenties and sometimes even into your thirties, you experience what can only be described as the feeling of being pushed into a flash mob, where everyone knows the same perfectly choreographed dance routine but you. In reality, we’re all just stumbling along, learning things as we go, developing a new move here and there, that will ultimately get us to where we need to be. It’s that uncomfortable limbo where you’re dialed in to what needs to go down, but you’re not 100% sure whether or not you’re completely screwing it up.

Here’s the good news:

You’re part of the majority. We’re all a little clueless. You always hear the saying “your 20’s are your selfish years” – don’t get me wrong, I don’t entirely disagree – but I think many people miss the point of this statement. Selfishness should be entirely left out of the equation. I don’t think the focus should be on disqualifying the role that others play in your life in order to live a fulfilling one. Maybe your twenties are about grabbing onto every opportunity, loving your friends and family whole heartedly and dwelling heavily in the belief that life isn’t about avoiding the bumps and bruises, but instead, collecting the figurative scars that are left behind, proving that we showed up for it.

Here’s my theory:

Every person in your life plays a role, it might not be obvious at first, but they will shape you and your perspective on the world.. Which is kind of awesome. They all come with a little lesson or memory attached to them. A friend of mine once compared friendships to those little red monkeys in a barrel; when you find a good one, grab onto them and link your way to the top. Absorb each others qualities and thrive in that mutual energy. Every single human has value, and what we need to realize is that our relationships need to be value-added ones. Bring something to the table, and realize the importance of what others have to give. A word of warning, do not use these people, but always walk into an interaction with the knowledge that you can learn from them. In other words, be humble, stay kind and be curious. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by some seriously amazing unicorns that gifted me with the following life hacks, that I’m going to toss out there for everyone to enjoy:

  1. Remember how much power you hold by simply choosing to operate with decisiveness and tact. Don’t second guess your intuition, apologize, or say ‘I don’t know’. Trust in your ability to choose your path and make your own decisions.
  2. Obstacles and challenges happen. Adulthood comes hand in hand with adversity. The trick is to define yourself by your character in how you behave, despite what life throws at you.
  3. We don’t necessarily ‘get over’ a major event that ultimately carves the pathway for us to navigate through on our journey in life. Instead, focus on absorbing these moments, events, losses or victories. By wading through something, and truly valuing its presence in our lives, we often become kinder, different, more evolved versions of ourselves. This is magical, so enjoy life, even when it’s hard.
  4. You don’t stumble upon a happy life, you make one.
  5. When you’re finished changing. You’re finished. Adapting is an absolute strength.
  6. Everyone is doing their best, based on their level of awareness. Expect less, and give as much as you can.
  7. Stop believing that the next moment is more important than the current one. Be present.
  8. Nothing belongs to us; not things, not humans. Understand and appreciate the things that exist in your life, but don’t take them for granted. Even the air we breathe must be exhaled.
  9. If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
  10. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they are finished. Always remember to be kind to yourself. Simply strive to be better than you were yesterday.

Similar To Usher In That, These Are My Confessions.

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Oh, I’m Out There Jerry. And I’m Loving Every Minute Of It.

Have a goal. Big, small.. Who cares. Wake up everyday with motivation, and fall asleep with a smile and a sense of satisfaction. Be at peace with yourself, and trust your journey. Live your life to the fullest, every single second of it. And never ever doubt what you’re made of.

In the past three months, I’ve been fortunate enough to be propelled both voluntarily and involuntarily into a variety of scenarios, both good and bad, that have given me a great deal of perspective on what I believe to be some of the most fundamental structures of human nature, life, relationships with yourself, with your family, your friends and if you’re lucky, someone who takes your breath away. I still have an unbelievable amount of things that I want and need to learn, and am constantly humbled by my daily pit falls that either turn into comical anecdotes or an opportunity to grow. To provide you with an example: I lost my car in a parking lot for 40 minutes while doing groceries this past weekend, to the point where I legtimately questioned my own sanity/whether or not I had suffered a minor stroke.. I was the quintissential Derek Zoolander, aimlessly wandering around a Loblaws parking lot, reaching out to God in an attempt to figure out who I was. Four panic stricken phone calls to my immediate family and friends, and roughly 21 full laps of the entire parking lot later, and I was able to locate what had been deemed, my “stolen” vehicle. To say that it was a production, would be a slight understatement. I can actually feel you judging me through the screen. Anyone who knows me is likely rolling their eyes, as this is not the first time that I’ve had a completely unnecessary drama involving my vehicle (a moment of silence in hopes that it’s at least mildly endearing). The point is, I will be the first one to point out my flaws. Ultimately, I think that this is one of the most intrinsic things to get a handle on in order to self evaluate, improve and evolve into a better version of yourself; laugh at yourself, learn from your mistakes and stop taking life so seriously. To circle back to my original point, here are some of the introspective, golden pieces of Baritte sized wisdom that I’ve come up with so far… Will these truth bombs change in a week, a month or a year from now?… Probably. So stay tuned.

A Healthy Serving Of Truth

As a rule of thumb, I truly believe that passion changes absolutely everything. Always be ambitious, but not thirsty. Believe me, there’s a palpable difference. Get out there, do your thing, and do it unapologetically. One thing I’ve come face to face with is that too many people are satisfied with settling for mediocrity; crappy books, bad coffee, and can I just say, if you don’t like anything on the menu.. leave the damn restaurant – both figuratively and literally. Wake up every day with gratitude and the belief that you have the power to change your life – think of it as a really complicated version of those “choose your own adventure” books, less the fire breathing dragons. Don’t ever stop smiling, even if it’s hard; It will draw the right people in, and force the wrong ones out. I’m going to come right out and say it, in the most basic terms, Maya Angelou hit the nail right on the head when she said that you shouldn’t go through life wearing a catcher’s mitt on both hands, you need to be able to throw something back. This is applicable to literally every conceivable scenario that you’ll face in life. The minute you start expecting to take more than you give within any situation, sound the alarm.. you’re doing it wrong. Never ever stop giving; love, warmth, happiness, and gratitude.

Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smaller acts of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Moreover, If you go into a situation with an open heart and an open mind, it’s extremely difficult to make the wrong decision. Be happy, because while everything in life is complicated, you’re still doing fine. How others see you, and also how they make you feel, actually says a lot about them – so be mindful. If you’re questioning whether or not you can trust somebody, generally speaking, the best way to find out is by simply trusting them. And if you can’t, be someone who has an understanding and forgiving heart.. leave them better than you found them. Make mistakes. Sometimes life gives you a second chance to get it right.

Last but not least.. you really, truly can tell a lot about a person by how they handle the following three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights. I have seen it, lived it and bought the t shirt… pure unadulterated truth.

Feel The Fear, And Do It Anyway

An amazing thing happens when you are honest with yourself and start doing what you love, and what truly makes you happy. Your life stops moving at an uncontrollably high speed – you stop accidentally wishing your life away.. no more waiting for the weekend, a better job, a better circumstance.. You stop merely looking forward to the next best thing. You start to enjoy each moment for what it is, each person for what they bring into your life, and the enormous wave of moments that fill up each and every day. You move fluidly and steadily without anticipating the next moment to be of greater value than the present one. With this sense of peace and contentment, comes new perspective. Namaste, kitties.

To Each & Every Person That’s Challenged Me, Loved Me, or Passed In & Out of My Life: Thank You.

I hope you have the guts to speak up about something that’s important to you. I hope that you sing loudly, and for no reason – even if people tell you that you can’t. And in fact, especially then, that’s when I hope you’ll sing the loudest. I hope you stop beating yourself up about everything that’s out of your control. I hope you fall insanely in love with someone unexpected. I hope that you forget about your troubles, and learn to be completely, and totally free.. And more importantly, happy.

Ain’t It Funny How..

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The first step to getting what you want is having the courage to get rid of what you don’t. Sounds fairly simple, doesn’t it? Any number of choices and decisions, no matter how big, small or truly (in)significant can change your life in a second, day, week, month, year.. You see where I’m going with this.. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s got to be one of the most simultaneously terrifying and extraordinarily empowering notions. Think about it this way, if someone or something makes you unhappy.. say “buh-byeee”. If you wish to see the world.. buy a ticket, board a plane. These are decisions that are totally and completely within your control. The only thing truly stopping you from changing your life is whether or not you have the guts to take a risk and follow through. In order to truly face the world head on and crush your goals, it’s absolutely crucial to simplify. Eliminate the bad, the negative, the destructive.. Choose to not over complicate things. The reality is, it’s usually a lot easier said than done. It took me about 45 seconds to type the above statement, but 24 years to truly implement this strategy into my daily life.. And believe me, I’m still actively working on it!

When you look at any scenario in a truly objective form, it becomes painfully obvious as to what should stay and what should go. This is generally why we can absolutely kill it at dishing out great advice to others, but struggle when it comes to tackling our own introspective dilemmas. We will dance back and forth between what we think the best solution might be, weighing out the pros and cons.. In these situations, we are often our own worst enemy. When you can’t come up with a solution for fear of choosing the wrong one, you end up in a strange overzealous ball of indecisiveness – which, full disclosure, has been a natural habitat that I’ve enjoyed living in many times over the last few years. Just remember – warning, some groundbreaking, deep food for thought, headed your way – indecision is also a decision. You are choosing to put yourself in a place where no change or progress can be made, parking you in a really awkward limbo. Think of it as cranial purgatory… Or, like that annoying jail in Monopoly (do not even get me started on that tiny hell). In order to reach your true comfort zone and potential in life, it’s generally a requirement that you spend some time disciplining yourself. Discipline is uncomfortable. Ironically, in order to be truly comfortable with your life and the decisions you’ve made, you have to endure a state of discomfort. That’s not to say that obstacles or hurdles in life are all bad.. Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. If there’s one thing you can always count on, it’s change – It’s consistent and inevitable. So welcome it, buckle up and enjoy the ride. You have to be willing to surrender who you are, for who you could become. The problem is, when it comes to reflecting on ourselves or the various situations that we might be facing, there is a certain element involved that creates a barrier between logic and emotion. This funny little barrier is usually created by the fabric of our ego, pride, and maybe a dab of delusion – let’s face it, this is all a part of our charm as human beings, drunk on the idea that a perfect love, path or choice exists. We are all complex, strange, inexplicably complicated and perfectly (or not so perfectly) imperfect.. Luck of the draw.

The entire notion of perfection is actually a really amusing concept to me. It’s a word and an idea that has an unbelievably broad spectrum of potential definitions that will vary depending on who you talk to. Despite the difficulty of creating a single host definition, we all strive to attain a form that is more or less fabricated by our own perception of what an ideal [life, house, partner, body, etc..etc.] should resemble. Why do we do this? Honesty, it beats me. But we do it, it’s simply in our nature. Those who claim to live a life free of endlessly striving to attain some sort of idealistic imagery or portrayal, I’m on to you. Going against the grain, in and of itself, is an ideal and a cliche. And that’s totally okay! Just be yourself, whatever that is. The best thing you can be is the most genuine, authentic version of you.

I think the important thing that I’m trying to get at here is the idea of acceptance. In order to live a productive, happy and peaceful life, it is paramount to accept what you can’t change, and to also understand that flaws and challenges are the framework for understanding who you are. The second element that I’m all over lately, that’s so important to grasp, is perception – your mindset and outlook on life can completely alter your mood and your interactions with others. You cannot change people, and you can’t always change your circumstances.. But one thing you can always change is how you understand them, see them, perceive them and your perspective on everything that surrounds you. The moment you truly understand this, and let go of trying to change people and things, you become 100 times more powerful in simply controlling your own mind. Live in endless possibility, and love unapologetically.. And I really believe that if you do, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.

If you still aren’t convinced, then you can always try this much simpler equation to absolutely killing it at life:

Kanye at day.

Drake at night.

Rick Ross at lunch.

xo

I’m alive, it’s 2015.

My philosophy for the coming year, or, avoiding my quarter life crisis:

Wake up early. Drink coffee. Work hard. Be ambitious. Keep your priorities straight, your mind right, and your head up. Do well, live well, and dress really well. Do what you love, love what you do. Never settle for a life you don’t want. It’s time to start living.

My Wish For You:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read beautiful books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

The last few days of 2014, or, The Gypsy Life:

The holidays have been and probably always will be an absolute whirlwind for me, as I’m sure many of you can relate to. Due to my loveable, but modern family, I have a variety of Christmas dinner celebrations to attend in multiple cities. I literally transform into a gypsy during this time of year, and travel around to see all my family and friends with roughly 300 pounds of presents and luggage in tow. January marks the end of this blissful and chaotic madness, which is bittersweet.. But also a huge relief (wheew, I can breathe again). That being said, I’m so fortunate to have amazing people in my life that are worth travelling for, and I’m lucky to be able to spend the holidays with them! I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again.. I didn’t choose the gypsy life, the gypsy life chose me.

2015:

Here we go again! Another new year, bursting with fresh beginnings and 365 days of unknown adventures and opportunities awaiting our discovery.. So, in the words of the ever-wise Vince Vaughn: Grab that net, and catch that beautiful butterfly, friends (figuratively speaking, of course.. or literally, if you’re into that). With each new year lies another opportunity to “get it right”. In reality, we often fall short of our own expectations, biting off more than we can chew. But even if you missed the mark this past year, you’ve still progressed, evolved and learned a little bit more about yourself.. It’s a chance to re-evaluate your current situation, and make changes where you see fit in order to better yourself. And honestly, in my opinion, that is a huge accomplishment in and of itself! I’m somebody who gets overwhelmed by taking on more than I can handle. I like to break things down, and create manageable and realistic goals for myself. For example, instead of projecting to be a super ninja body builder by the time 2016 rolls around, I would much rather commit to daily or weekly fitness goals.. Such as, hitting the gym 5 times a week and only indulging in pizza (my vice! god love it..) on weekends. When your goals (or “resolutions” as some might call them.. sorry, but that word makes me cringe..) are attainable and scheduled on a daily or weekly basis, it’s a heck of a lot easier to stay on track and not get discouraged (RE: the notorious february resolution burnout).

Switching gears..

2014, on a global level, was very troublesome in a lot of ways. We witnessed a huge shift in the level and degree of hatred, violence and ignorance that is relentlessly plaguing our world. Love, peace and respect are all concepts that seem so far fetched in the face of political and religious warfare. Some might argue that these things have always been a growing toxin in our society, which I do not disagree with, but it’s just so much harder to ignore when it transpires so frequently, tragically and without remorse. Terrorism has become such a general term that stands as an umbrella for countless forms of violence that do not see human beings, innocent lives, families or humility because those behind it are blinded by their own egocentric value systems. Whatever your opinion may be, it’s getting to the point where there seem to be fewer and fewer boundaries that are left unchartered in the way of how wars are fought and how we treat one another. This is so concerning to me, and you can’t help but wonder where, when and if it will ever stop. Are we a species that will ultimately act as it’s own killer due to greed, religion, hate and lack of communication skills? Perhaps that’s a bit extreme, but you catch my drift.. And definitely some food for thought that I strongly believe we should all dabble in: Take it home, chew on it a bit, and see what you come up with, in terms of an opinion.

Another topic that has gained a lot of attention this past year has been the utter lack of awareness, knowledge and compassion surrounding mental illness and resources available to those suffering in silence. This is such an enormous issue and is still not getting the attention that it deserves. I would love for 2015 to mark itself as a time where the stigma for these invisible diseases vanish, and for more resources to become available for inviduals and their families. January 28th is ‘Bell Let’s Talk’, a movement that works to create more awareness and acceptance for mental illness. Here’s a link to the official site: http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/ Educate yourself, join the conversation and help end the stigma!

Similarly, I can only hope that 2015 brings more acceptance and love and less fear towards those who don’t fit into a conventional mould.  I strongly believe that you don’t necessarily have to agree with how every single person chooses to live their life or the choices that they make.. But it’s your obligation as a human being to at least have enough sense to realize that it’s not your right to tell another person what they can and cannot do. Just because you don’t understand why or how people can possibly enjoy watching curling on television does not give you some empirical power to tell them that it’s wrong. Sounds ridiculous right? The same concept applies to the confused idea that simply because you don’t understand why a young girl realizes that she would rather be a boy, or that two men wish to celebrate their love by getting married automatically means that it shouldn’t happen. The simple fact that you are afraid of something you do not understand or agree with does not grant you the power to take away someone elses rights. Peace, acceptance, and respect: let’s do more of that this year.

A couple goals that I have for myself this year:

1) Give Back: I am so fortunate to be where I am in my life, and have so many supportive wonderful people in it. I think it’s really important to always step back and be thankful for what you have versus wallowing over what you don’t have. If you know me, you’ve probably heard my recent war cry of an impending “quarter life crisis” – I will touch more on this in a later post.. I feel like my life needs to have more meaning to it, in the sense that I want to be a part of more positive change and proactive activities to better our planet. After much deliberation, I have found an organization that I feel really passionate about – Big Brothers and Big Sisters. They have a really amazing program called “Go Girls” that promotes healthy attitudes toward health, fitness and positive body images. It’s so hard to be a young girl, and they deserve positive role models! If you’re interested in this program I highly suggest checking it out — Link: http://www.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/en/home/mentoringprograms/gogirls.aspx Alternatively, figure out what you’re passionate about, or what you’d like to see change in our world, whether it be on a global level or something more community based and do your part to contribute!

2) Read More: I am so busy and barely have a spare minute to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee let alone pick up a book and read for an uninterrupted period of time. I feel like this is a problem that so many people fall victim to. Between work, the gym, and maintaining a social life it’s nearly impossible. (I will admit that I find time to feed my extreme addiction to “Scandal“… If you haven’t seen it, drop everything and watch it immediately. You’re welcome.) I have so many books that I want to read and I really truly enjoy slipping into another world through literature and I’m going to make a more valiant effort to read before bedtime. My goal is to finish at least one book a month. We’ll see how it goes…

3) Cultivate Kindness: I realize this is a very general goal. But every day, find a way to be more kind and do at least one thing to brighten someone elses day. It doesn’t have to be much, a little really goes a long way. We’re so used to not making eye contact with strangers and experiencing road rage (I am the worst for this.. Ever heard of Napoleon syndrome?…), that even the smallest gesture can turn someone’s day around. I realized this when I noticed that the barista who serves me coffee every morning was wearing a little extra makeup and did something different with her hair. I internally thought she looked amazing, but thought to myself.. Why not tell her? I mentioned to her that she looked gorgeous, and the smile that instantly spread across her face was so worth the risk of potentially having sounded creepy. She told me that it meant a lot hearing a compliment from another woman. Women are rarely nice to one another, and it made me think about how meaningful and important it is to compliment each other and genuinely appreciate the struggle that every woman goes through to get ready each morning… It’s so real! This is just one example, but the point is.. it doesn’t take much to make someone smile. Lastly, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. I know that I’m an enormous perfectionist and am often my toughest critic. Appreciate yourself, your body and your spirit and if you’re able to be at peace with yourself you’ll feel more inclined to spread that same kindness towards others. Smile at yourself, smile at others, smile at animals… Just smile!

4) Break My Comfort Zone: I think my biggest fear is probably living a complacent life. I want to be constantly evolving, improving myself and learning new things about myself and the world. I want to travel new places, see new things, and take my career to the next level. This is going to be a huge year in making moves to ensure that I don’t settle into a life that’s not full of adventure. Wish me luck! And I encourage you to do the same; push yourself to limits you never thought possible and make a million beautiful memories.

 

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Happy New Year, and may 2015 be the best year yet! XO

 

A “Type A” Girls Guide to Keeping It Simple This Holiday Season

sparkle pants

Being that I am consistently towing the line of a type A personality, while desparetly trying to vibe and chill like my more progressive, mellow friends; I set out to organize my life in a way that allows me to relax and ultmatimately enjoy the perks of what I assume to be a laid back existence (whatever that is .. half kidding). For those of you that can’t relate.. I envy your chill-ness, keep it up. Whenever a seasonal event approaches and we are catapulted into gift giving and holiday activities, I fantasize about hosting fabulous parties with Pinterest-inspired cocktails, creating a spreadsheet for the perfect gifts for all of my friends and family, and crossing each thing off with an unnecessary sense of accomplishment and ease by early December during leisurely strolls through beautiful one of a kind boutiques. Each and every year I consistently tell myself that, “This will be the year that I get my Christmas self together. This will be the year that I enjoy the season, as opposed to blowing into Holt Renfrew on the 22nd of December like a hurricane and doing all my shopping in one short and painful swoop. This is the year!” – It’s easier said than done, am I right or am I right?

As another mid December swell approaches and Christmas parties loom in the not so distant future, I am determined to create a more harmonious evironment for myself than in previous years.. Here are some tips that I’ve found to open up more time for enjoying the holidays without breaking the bank or becoming the personification of a tornado three days before Christmas:

1) Shop from home: The less you deal with crowds the happier you will be. I’m not sure if I speak for myself here, but pushing through crowds of other stressed out shoppers aimlessly meandering around busy malls is sort of what I imagine hell might be like.. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Do not even get me started on mall parking lots during the months of December through January. You will also open up the possibilty of truly unique and one of a kind gifts that can’t be found in your city’s local department stores. And let’s be honest, hearing the doorbell ring and receiving a box of goodies is always way more fun anyways..

2) Prioritize your DIY ventures: If you’re like me and yearn for cute festive DIY projects to fill your home with or use as party favors, it can sometimes get a little overwhelming trying to accomplish everything you set out to do (re: the scrapbooking incident of October 2014, my neck was never the same). Pick one holiday craft to work on over the course of a few weeks. As the world’s most indecisive 24 year old female, I realize that this in and of itself sounds like an enormous chore.. But in the end, you will actually be able to enjoy your project and the outcome will have a much higher, and more impressive quality than if you attempt to cram 4 or 5 projects into a small time frame. If you finish your first project sooner than expected, get out there and find your next creative venture you ambitious holiday mama!

3) Make lists: There are three types of people in this world: those who make lists, those who don’t and those who do and lose them 5 minutes later. My life can be summarized by the flurry of post-it notes on my desk at work, or the calendar alerts in my phone. I cannot live without the ritualistic effect that is writing down my tasks and honey-to-do’s on a piece of paper or at the very least in my phone or iPad. It helps things stick in my brain. Even if you are not a list maker, I highly encourage you to try this method when it comes to party planning or gift giving procedures. Writing things down as they pop into your head and keeping them handy will free up space in your brain, and allow you to relax and feel good about crossing off each task as you go along. (Tip: if you have a tendancy to misplace paper lists, take a photo of it on your phone or download a list making app in your phone so that you don’t have to stress about losing your ideas or to-do’s.)

4) Become an expert: Get really good at one or two cocktails and treats. They can become your fall back go-to’s in years to come. That way you can feel confident as a party host, or guest in what you can bring to the table (pun intended). In other words, hit up Pinterest or any of your favorite foodie sites and find some staples that are simple, delicious and unique!

5) Simplify: Whether you have 1 or 10+ people to shop for over the holidays, sometimes it’s easier to invest your money in one really nice or thoughtful thing instead of a 100 tiny novelties. I find that a little goes a long way, especially if it’s thoughtful or something that the person will get a lot of use out of. It’s not necessarily about how much you are giving or how expensive it is, but the thought that went into it and how much the recipient will appreciate it. Create a budget for how much you’re willing to spend, write down the names for each person you’re buying for and divide accordingly. If you’re a student or on a super tight budget, there are a million ways to show people you care without spending a lot of money. Something as simple as baking cookies and making a personalized box for them to go in,  a hot coco kit in a mason jar or even framing a special photo.. No matter what your budget or gift, keep it simple and thoughtful.

And last but not certainly not least, pour yourself a glass of prosecco or your favorite holiday cheer and enjoy the fine specimens, whether they be your family or friends or both, that you are lucky enough to be surrounded by.

 

 

 

What I’m listening to: December 2014

Anyone that truly knows me is well aware of how much music impacts my daily life – this could be due to my systematically categorized playlists, suited to fit some of the most obscure moments and beyond or simply by picking up on it over the years. I grew up in an environment that was always under the influence of music in some way, shape or form. Roadtrips with my parents always consisted of my dad’s classic rock and or Beatles playlists, Christmas was always about Frank Sinatra while cozying up to the fire, and I vividly remember walking to school with my AC/DC Back in Black cd playing on repeat in my walkman (ancient fossil-type technology).. I was also a ballet dancer from age 3 until I was 19.. This true passion for dance really made me understand music and rhythm on a completely different level than I would have if I had not been so immersed in it. I also took piano lessons and somehow managed to win multiple scholarships – which is a little known fact that many of my closest friends don’t even know about me.. Surprise! Unfortunately, I ended up quitting piano because it fell lower and lower on the list of priorities as I got older and my other extracurriculars like dance, sports and gymnastics took greater influence in my life (and let’s be honest, practicing for 30 minutes straight everyday after school under the eagle eyed supervision of my parents was just not vibing well with my 16 year old girl social life). I haven’t touched a piano since the day that I quit, and it’s something I actually really regret and am always hoping to someday get back into.. Stay tuned?

I am most definitely a person who will play a certain genre of music that depends entirely on my mood. When you’re happy, there is just nothing like jamming out to your favourite upbeat playlist, feeling like a trendy bad ass? Kings of Leon, hey what’s up. Relationship going south? John Mayer it is.. and so forth..

Anyways, I will stop myself from boring you with my little personal ramblings here and get to the good stuff. Below are some links to my latest musical inspirations that have found themselves on my most recent playlists.. Enjoy!