Tuesday Thoughts

Well hello, there!

I've wanted to blog for a few weeks' now but never knew where to start. Isn't that something we all struggle with? Where to begin? What to do first? What to stick with? What to love the most? What to get rid of and leave behind? So much has been going on as of late, its hard to know where to start and what to share.

Springtime

There is something about this spring that has awaken me to so many new things. New things about the world around me, about people, but most importantly, about myself. The new greenery and flowers blooming, even the fresh smell of spring has awoken me in a different way than the last few years. I've happily welcomed this.

Motherhood/Back to Work #onthecampaigntrail

Its an overwhelming bittersweet time for me personally right now. I'm transitioning from my year off on maternity leave, entering back into not only the workforce, but the campaign trail. Ontario's provincial election is 23 days away on June 7th. When I began working 4 years ago in politics at Queen's Park, I knew this election time would come eventually, I just didn't think it would come this fast. Much like my time with Blake. Where did this past year really go?

Because of the transition heading back to work, it has meant closing the book on being a stay-at home mom for the past year. It has meant starting a new chapter of watching Blake transition to day care. I'm also preparing to move back home to Peterborough for a few week's while I work #onthecampaigntrail. I promise to blog about this exciting adventure in a separate post.

What the last few weeks has taught me is about sacrifice. Loving what you do for a living, while you have to watch what you've did for the past year fade into the sunset. Knowing that while it is hard to watch your child grow up, this is what life is all about.

I've been trying to soak up as many friend hangouts, family catch up's, sunsets on the dock and coffee shop visits before reality sets in next week when I officially go back to work.

I love me some routine

I've enjoyed setting up a productive routine for the past little while, knowing full-well that, that routine is going straight out the window now that the campaign has started. If there is something I have learned about myself, its that while I love new things and discovering the unknown, I thrive on routine. Don't we all as human beings? I've learned this the most from watching Blake. He loves meeting new people, taking in new things, not going to bed on time once and a while, but he pays for it a few days later. He sleeps better, eats better and you can tell he's just an overall more happier baby when he's in his routine. This is us as adults too, we just don't like to admit it.

Learning Overload 

I've been the type of person that has 100 tabs open in my browser; articles saved to read; and so many random notes about motivational TED talks written down in my notebook but it hasn't been until recently that I've wondered... is it too much? I'm not saying I want to stop learning but at some point, is it too much? If I want to speed up in the areas of my life I want to succeed it, does it mean I have to slow down in other areas of my life that don't allow me to grow? If anything, Blake has been the greatest reminder for me to slow down.

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7 Ways to Manage Your Digital Footprint

If you visit here often or we follow each other on social media, you would have noticed some changes last fall to my photography and branding.

It was just some simple, subtle, yet positive changes that helped to spice things up around here and on my social platforms. Hello, new headshot! :P 

Its like when I re-arrange furniture in my house when the seasons change, it is the simplest thing to do and the BEST feeling when its done. In the social world, you really always have to be changing it up to keep fresh, continue to evolve and be noticed as you and your brand grow and evolve.

The intended change was good because it made me realize how you have to take continued stock or inventory of your digital footprint. Simply put, you have to keep track of all your social profiles. Sounds easy but it isn't.

Even if you’re not rebranding, having all of your passwords and log-in information in one place is a good place to start. This made things SO much easier for me when I went to do my rebrand and proudly post my new headshot across all my social platforms last fall.

This blog post can serve both individuals or even businesses and social/digital managers that manage their company's corporate communications and brands. Here are 7 things I learned last fall with my rebrand for how you too, can easily manage your digital footprint at any point in time.

7 Ways to Manage Your Digital Footprint

  1. Create and maintain a locked password document (that requires a password to get into the document). This should contain all of your social media platform passwords. This is an easy way to keep organized, period.
  2. Establish and set your brand guideline. This will ensure you execute your brand with consistent colours, fonts and look/feel across all social platforms you use. It is best to create a mood board and then a brand board to always refer back too. I've provided my latest rebrand branding board below for your reference :)
  3. Once you've set your 'look and feel', hire a professional photographer to capture your brand - it’s a wise investment and some of the best money you will spend!
  4. Have a consistent logo/photo/headshot across all of your social platforms.
  5. When/if you decide to change your logo/photo/headshot, take the time to update your bio and descriptions with the same consistent wording and put this across all of your platforms.
  6. Update your website or your blog at the same time to reflect any of these new changes and introduce your new rebrand.
  7. Review your analytics on each of your social platforms and website/blog to determine what platforms are working best for you. When you rebrand, its a perfect time to add new platforms, change the function of existing platforms or decide altogether to stop using certain social platforms if you find you're not getting the ROI for the value you're putting in. Your followers on each of your social platforms will tell you a lot about what they consume from your brand.

If you have questions about your own social media profiles, need help in rebranding or want to know more about the analytics behind your social platforms,let's get in touch!

Snowstorm, Pea Coats & 2 a.m. Chaos: What is Your Character Defining Moment?

It was 10 years ago last weekend that I was College Royal President at the University of Guelph. Where did that time go. Seriously.

Among the many awesome things that took place that year, I think everyone will always remember 2008  as the year of the 'snow storm and coat fiasco.' It is a memory that while I cringe at first, it really was a character defining moment for me and my team of volunteers... and something I {now} laugh at when I look back.

It was early March and it had been beautiful weather until that Saturday when we were holding the annual ball. 2000+ students ascend on the University for a formal night known as the 'College Royal Ball.' That Saturday it started snowing. And it continued. All. Day. Long. To point that we had to meet late that afternoon and decide whether, for safety precautions, to cancel the ball after consulting with University administration. We decided to go on and hold the ball. If only had we known, that it would be our outsourced coat check that would be our dreaded nightmare, not the snow.

Because it was snowstorm of the century, everyone came in their formal suits and ball gowns in what felt like their snow suits. There were a lot more snow pants, boots and snow jackets that I ever remember seeing at any other ball. By the end of an epic night of dancing and drinking, 2000+ students (give or take) lined up all at once to get their myriad of clothing apparel. And what we realized quickly as an executive, was that the group we had outsourced coat check responsibilities too had not been as *organized* as we had thought - stuffing jackets here and there, not in numerical order.

It was a nightmare. Seriously, the worst nightmare of its kind.

What it turned out to be was a bonafide mess of huge piles of snow pants and jackets all unorganized - and of course, all the men's black pea coats looked all the same that year, making for an even tougher time to decipher whose jacket was whose when we were trying to rally and help.

It was a nightmare. Have I mentioned that already?

When I called my parents that morning at their chore time, 6:30 a.m. to explain what had happened, I think they could tell in my exhausted voice that I hadn't went to bed yet. 24 hours later.

To say I had to keep my composure as President; put on a brave face; role up my sleeves and go to work to help hand back jackets; all while {trying} to remain calm and stay positive for everyone around me was one of the hardest things I've done to date.

It truly was my first 'adult-like' experience where I had to put on my big girl pants and think and act like an adult. It really was a character defining moment for me as a person but also, a future glimpse into how to pull yourself together and how you have to act as a professional in the workplace when $*** hits the fan (in not so nice terms).

We all have our character defining moments. That moment that will forever be etched into your memory as the time you had to become an adult and act like one, whether you liked it or not, or whether you expected it or not. I'd love to hear your character defining moments, share below!

Happy Friday and happy College Royal weekend to those I may see back on campus this weekend! Oh and Happy St. Patty's day from your Irish friend :)

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Processing Random Thoughts

I've found this week to be draining for some odd reason. I alluded to this yesterday on Instagram.

I'm not sure if its the lingering hangover from Daylight Savings time or a flurry of ideas that are sitting in my brain. Regardless, that aching feeling of wanting to get the ideas out is enervating. I shared the photo of paint splatter as a way to try and capture what I {think} my brain looks like on the inside right now. I was glad to hear from other on instagram who could relate.

And so, to find a solution, I figured I would share some of these random thoughts. The thoughts that are swirling around in my head. Expect some blog posts to come from these:

Positivity. This is the basis to the world functioning better. There can't be enough of it in the world and I'll admit, some days, the realist in me sets in more than the optimist. I'm not sure if research supports this (send me any papers you find if it does!!) but am I wrong in saying that millennial's seem more positive than baby boomers (cue the tomato throwing now, I'll duck). It is so refreshing (regardless of age) when you sit down at a table and have a meeting or conversation and sharing of ideas when it is all positive. Positivity, or the lack there of sometimes, is why I sometimes question if more millennials are not pursuing careers in the sector I work in, Agriculture. So many thoughts on these two ideas - millennials being more positive and positivity within the sector I work in and how millennials view it.

Millennials. In keeping on this same topic, I am one. A millennial. I talk about them a lot here on the ol' blog. And they seem to be a conversation starter. Scratch that, its all people have been talking about for the last 5 years or so, since it became apparent that we as a generation weren't going away. When people recognized that we're going to leave a profound impact on this world and not to mention, we have surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation now. Well, at least in the US according to this article. Millennials seems to be at the forefront of many of the conversations within my social circles and network recently for some reason. Especially when it comes to career conversations. Things like the role of millenials on Boards; what millennials value that differs from baby boomers; and is the workplace ready to evolve to these values. Either way, I have lots to say from my experience (both professionally and personally) so look forward to blog posts upcoming!

Motherhood. Is it OK to feel that you want to go back to work earlier than expected once you realize your baby can now breathe, eat and sleep on his own and perhaps doesn't need you like he use too? Blake's crawling away from me tells me that he is going to be just fine come May (his first birthday). Also child care, why doesn't anyone talk about the beast that is finding child care? :S

Personal Brand. Ok, one more millennial thought. It seems that every millennial has or wants too establish their own personal brand along with maintaining their role/jobs within a company in their 9 to 5 job. This can be done, but with a bit of sacrifice on the millennials part and the company depending on expectations. Where previous workers/generation were so loyal to their company's brand, are workplaces ready for this millennial "selfishness" as I've heard it called? And even more, are workplaces OK with millennial's side hustles perhaps taking the spotlight away from the work millennial's do in their 9-5's?!

Creativity overload. As a creative entrepreneur, how do my fellow CE's quiet your thoughts? How do you stop, or should I say, harness, the creative ideas waterfall that can come on the most random days? Do you write everything down on paper and pen? Put it in your iPhone notebook? How do you orgnaiz the thoughts? How do you tell your brain right at bedtime to stop thinking and put the ideas to rest? Literally. I would love to hear your tips!

Productivity. I am almost done this book and it is hands down, one of the best books I've read in a while. An easy, simple yet thought-provoking read, it has calmed my mind as a women but also fueled my motivation to want to do better, but in a more efficient way. Grab your copy, you won't be disappointed!

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Why #IWD2018 is Different This Year

Empowered. Powerful. Unstoppable. Unique. Confident. Brave. Motivated. Creative. Inspired. Different. Honest. These words on my shirt in the picture above couldn't sum up more perfectly, what today is all about.

This year's International Women's Day feels different for me.

Its probably because since last year when we celebrated #IWD2017, I have since become a mom and am now raising a boy. Some days, the task of motherhood can seem daunting. To know I am raising a child that will go out in the world, makes me want to do more than I know is possible - to help foster a world that when Blake grows up, he is proud of. A positive place that will leave him with endless possibilities and limited barriers.

Why do I talk about Blake on a day like International Women's Day?

Its because today in particular, I am so grateful for being a woman, becoming a mom, and in particular, being a mom to a boy in hopes that one day when he's old enough, he too will empower women.

Today, I am celebrating what we collectively have done as women, including the powerful women before us that blazed the trail. Today, I am celebrating everything we CAN do as women and ARE doing and what the men around us CAN do to help and ARE doing to help. I'm choosing to not look at the obstacles ahead, and instead, today I celebrate why I am able to reach my goals as a woman. And how, through living that reality, it will help to teach Blake the utmost respect and equality for the women in his life.

I have 7 things in particular that I want to acknowledge and be grateful for on a day like today. These things allow me to be able to do this new thing called parenthood while also being a working woman:

  • A strong partner who is firm in who he is, believes in everything I do and is strong in his conviction as seeing us as equal partners and parents. Andrew's commitment in wanting me to be the best version of myself and pursue my dreams is why I continue to push boundaries and do what I love. Thank you Andrew for loving me for who I am #WontheHusbandLottery
  • We never know what type of baby we'll get (after all that planning, come on! ha) but I am so thankful that Blake has allowed me to do what I have done since he arrived 9 months ago (and yes I admit, some days, it has seemed a bit crazy). I'm thankful that Blake travels well, is a happy baby and has allowed me to get back on my feet quickly. He has been there through the 'happy' and also the days of tears as I've learned just what it meant to figure this crazy new 'mom world' out. He thankfully can't judge me (yet!) but he's never cared if I've put on mismatching socks on him, sang off tune way too loud or sounded weird when I talk to him. He just loves me. There is nothing better than that and boy, am I grateful for his affection and warm smiles when I've needed them most.
  • A supportive family has provided me with the love and help when I've needed it or when I've asked for it. They've allowed me to fit into my "new mom shoes" on my own terms and at my own pace. I am so fortunate that these are my 'peeps' who just get me and who have shown Blake, in a short time, just what true family is all about.
  • Something I would have never thought of before a child, but quality, affordable childcare (aka. our babysitter Brooke, thank you Brooke!) has been something I have never taken for granted. Finding that person who just 'gets' your child and is always there when you need them is a true treasure.
  • My friends, colleagues, industry associates, my network, groups, boards, sponsors and mentors who, whether female or male, have engaged in the gender parity conversation and are always looking for solutions. I've never felt like since becoming a mom, I've had to sacrifice who I am because of gender expectations and my new found role with a child. These people have never made me feel bad for a being a mom, they've allowed me to embrace it and love it while I follow my passions. Thank you to these people for helping me continue to be me :)
  • Small things that I may not have appreciated before a baby but now, I treasure. Things like accessible coffee shops and stores for baby strollers (right, Lyns?!), random strangers that stop and ask about the baby or hold open a door, salespeople who offer to hold your baby (yes I know, they're complete strangers!), flexible work schedules, support through social media, or emails and calls from friends - these small gestures have meant the world.
  • And most importantly, self care. Its something over the past year that I've learned to take way more seriously. I realize now, it was definitely something I neglected in the past. I've embraced the oxygen mask analogy of "put your mask on first before you take care of others." There is something so healthy about taking care of yourself first so you can give your BEST self to the world. Coffee dates by yourself, reading a book outside, getting a pedicure or massage, making a tasty homemade smoothie, taking a walk or hitting the gym - self care is truly the best medicine of all.

To say I have a full heart on this International Women's Day is an understatement. I am grateful for the opportunities I've been afforded; the paths I've been able to venture down; what I've been able to say and contribute; and the people I've been profoundly impacted by. I hope I am doing the same for my fellow women (and men).

To my fellow women who are out there pushing boundaries, doing your thing, and just enjoying being yourself (you bada$$ women!!), YOU ROCK. And to all the men out there helping us women #pressforprogress, THANK YOU for being equal partners.

Happy #IWD2018 :)