The Sunday 7

Inspired by Interior designer and blogger Shea McGee at Studio McGee, I've followed suit and started my own 'Sunday 7' series here on the blog. Shea was the keynote at the Blog Podium conference I attended in Toronto this past September. This series can be a fun a way to capture all of the random work + play items-articles-happenings-design inspiration-photos-thoughts that spark my interest.

Hope you enjoy!

  1. Loving this DIY calligraphy wrapping paper that may look ah-mazing all year round, not just under the Christmas tree.
  2. If you are in need of some of the cutest cards and prints, check out local Ontario gal Sarah's Etsy shop, 'Sweet Simplicity Paper Co.'
  3. I ordered matching beanies for Blake and I from Muskoka Baby, a Muskoka mom making handmade and fashionable baby products and accessories!
  4. If you haven't yet read about 94-year old tweeter Harry Leslie Smith, do yourself a favour and read this fascinating article about him.
  5. My family and I visited the Toronto Christmas Market for the first time together this weekend, in the well-known distillery district. What a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas and take in the historic buildings in a beautiful setting. Oh and it was my first time trying mulled wine (so good!). I'll be trying my hand at  making mulled wine over the holidays with this recipe.
  6. We are heading west this week to visit the in-laws in Manitoba for Christmas. You'll be able to find me in the quiet countryside, cozied up with a new good read and browsing (for hours) in my favourite little shop, Pineridge Hollow.
  7. The first major snowfall this weekend at home on the farm was so peaceful and calming. You could tell even Duke our farm dog enjoyed the new blanket of snow. I was able to write a blog post about this welcomed 'quietness' that the snow brings, I'll be sharing next week!

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Holding Ourselves Back

I am a proud woman working in the agriculture-food sector. It is an industry that has perhaps been viewed as more of a "boys only club" but women have and continue to play an important role in the industry, especially with many women-led initiatives like Ag Women's Network getting the attention they so deserve.

I am proud to have been raised by two strong parents who taught me I could do anything I dreamed of. Watching my mom on my family's dairy farm, working alongside my dad in the barn, and seeing how my dad treated her as an equal, was very empowering.

And because of this, I am proud to now be married to a man who appreciates a strong woman who is just as strong-willed, has just as strong of a work ethic, and can have an opinion just as much as he does. Andrew is the one who pushes me to be better and pursue my business endeavors including this one at The Passionate Voice.

Because I was also the oldest of four kids, I spent most of my days in the dairy barn with my dad and my brothers rather than spending time in the kitchen. To be honest, I still love it down at the barn with the cows more than being in the kitchen. This doesn't mean I don't love cooking or baking or keeping my house clean though. I love doing all of those.. and if you ask my husband, I am a pretty decent baker and cook (thanks to my mom who can milk cows AND is wonderful at cooking/baking!).

I am proud to be part of so many wonderful organizations outside of my day-to-day job that include committees/boards that are a mix of men and women and who celebrate strong women. There are also committees I belong too or events I attend that I'm proud to be associated with including Ag Women's Network, Lean in Canada and Women of Influence. I love what these events and committees stand for but sometimes I do laugh at the fact that while we talk about 'equality' and being treated 'fairly' by men, that we don't laugh at ourselves for having 'women only' events.

I am proud to have many strong women friends and mentors who come from not only agriculture, but from many other industries and places both rural and urban. Having a variety of friends and mentors from various backgrounds creates a wonderfully diverse network that you can rely on at any time. This doesn't mean that I don't have incredible male mentors and friends. I look up to my dad who, just like my mom, helped instill in me such powerful skills that I am so thankful to have as a woman.

What has become more and more apparent for me as I get further in my career, meet more women, address the much talked about 'glass ceiling' and soon enter motherhood come May, is that while we talk about breaking through this ceiling and wanting to be treated as equals, perhaps we as women need to self reflect first and realize that sometimes the only thing holding women are back... is ourselves. 

[Tweet ""Sometimes the only thing holding women back.. is ourselves" - The Passionate Voice"]

I've never felt like I have been held back for being a woman. If I didn't speak up, its not because they didn't let me, its because I chose not too. If I didn't come across seriously enough, it wasn't anyone else's fault but mine. I think realizing this has been extremely powerful for me as a woman.  I've never looked at myself any differently than my male counterparts which has helped me be bolder and more confident in what I want to say and what I want to do and accomplish.

Women are often held back because we hold ourselves back. Instead of wondering why men aren't inviting us to the table, invite yourself and sit at the head table, not at the side/back of the room as Sheryl Sandberg offered the same sentiment in her book, Lean In. Don't offer to take notes if that is what is expected of you. If you aren't asked for your opinion, speak up anyways. Think you have a valuable idea? Self promote like men do. Don't think that its 'shameless' self promotion. It's self promotion. Period. There is a lot to learn from our male counterparts. Yes, countries like Canada and the US haven't even elected a female Prime Minister or President yet but we're making huge strides to get there. I have faith that in my lifetime, we'll see it happen.

The reality is, is that men and women are different and sometimes yes, there are different expectations asked of women. We are asked to be tough yet sweet. Motherly yet stern. Be as good in the boardroom as we are in the kitchen. All while say raising kids and/or dealing with pregnancy. There are a roller coaster of emotions that women face that men don't.  But it doesn't mean that women can't have everything (and more!) that men do.

Women, we need to speak up more. We need to be more confident in our abilities.We need to be loud and proud and in a well-articulated and well-constructed way. We can garner the respect of our peers, both male and female. We can balance it all as long as we set our own personal boundaries as to what "balance" means to each of us individually without judgement. Yes we face challenges, but we can't forget that men face challenges too. And most importantly, we all have opportunities available to us.

Women have all the talent in the world. We just have to make sure, that above all else, the only person who isn't holding us back.. is ourselves. Have the confidence to be the person you want to be and make the change you want to see. Have it all... and then more.

Happy International Women's Day, friends! #IWD2017

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Conferences to Consider Attending

One of my 2017 goals this year is to attend a personal development course or conference. I realized the other day that I better get on this because once May comes and Baby A arrives, my time *may* be limited. Unless I decide to do a conference or course in the fall once I've *adjusted* to this new exciting, scary thing called motherhood.

With warmer temps recently and the feeling that Spring (may) just be around the corner, it has me feeling rejuvenated to want to learn and take in new things, a lot like how the New Year makes me feel.

I love attending conferences, not only because of the people and networking, but because while I'm there, I usually get so many ideas at conferences that leaves me feeling excited about new ways of thinking; taking new approaches to ideas; and adding to my side business and brand.

I've had a few people recently mention to me that they are looking for a conference to attend this year and I wanted to share some of the conferences that I either follow, engage with on social media or have found online, if  you, like me, are looking for a conference to attend this year.

March

  • Advancing Women's Conference West - March 6-7- Calgary, AB (Created for every woman who wants to achieve success. Whether you are a crop, fruit, vegetable, dairy or livestock producer, own your own small or large ag business or in a career path with an ag organization or association - this conference is for you. Gain or hone the skills that will bring you success in your career, family life and community.)
  • Peterborough International Women's Day Conference - March 8 - Toronto, ON (The Women Business Network of Peterborough is hosting Peterborough’s first full-day International Women's Day conference, bringing this global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women into our own community).
  • Dx3 Canada Technology, Digital Media & Retail Event - March 8-9 - Toronto, ON (Dx3 is Canada’s largest conference and trade show dedicated to digital marketing, advertising and retail. Dx3 connects the world’s top technology brands including Facebook, IBM, Samsung, Microsoft and MasterCard to Canada’s leading consumer brands, retailers and agencies by curating engaging content, immersive experiences and platforms that enable meaningful face-to-face commerce.)
  • Women in Leadership & Business - March 27-28 - Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (What do successful business people know and do that you can take and immediately put into action to jump-start, re-focus and re-energize your business and career? Join Leaders, Senior & Middle Managers, Business Owners and Entrepreneurs)

April

  • The Art of Marketing - April 3 - Toronto, ON (The Art of Marketing is a thought-provoking conference that explores the power shift in brand-consumer relationships. It puts the spotlight on how business models are being disrupted and, as a result, how marketers need to rethink how to achieve their goals.)
  • The Art of Leadership for Women - April 5 - Vancouver, BC (one day conference features five internationally renowned bestselling authors and thought leaders, who will share an exciting blend of cutting edge thinking and real world experience on today’s most critical leadership issues.)
  • WNORTH - April 19-21 - Whistler, BC (boutique-style conference is focused on providing a forum for women who are the next generation of senior leadership in their organization to come together to enhance their leadership training, engage in high-level networking and witness inspirational talks from leading women in business.)
  • B Connected Conference - April 22-23 - Toronto, ON (Canada’s Digital Influencer Conference, is open to influencers, small business owners, charitables organizations, not for profit associations, and major brands, looking to enhance their social media and blogging skills. BDigital. BInfluential. BConnected! This Conference aims to help you achieve an interactive learning experience within the social media and blogging industries. It’s a fun and intimate event for influencers, brands and speakers alike!)
  • Atlantic Farm Women Conference - April 28-29 - Halifax, NS (In the past, Farm women sought out these conferences as a unique way to work collaboratively and help move agriculture forward. We plan to pair some serious discussions with some light and fun activities!  We'll send you home stuffed with new knowledge and rejuvenated to continue in this industry!  You'll meet women from across Atlantic Canada who love this industry as much as you AND you're guaranteed to have fun doing it!)

May

  • Leadercast - May 5 - Held virtually in 100+ countries (Leadercast Live is the largest one-day leadership event in the world. Broadcast live each year from Atlanta to 100,000+ people in hundreds of locations around the world, Leadercast Live brings together many of the world’s most recognized and respected global leaders to create a leadership experience unlike any other.)
  • Globe and Mail Small Business Summit - May 9 - Toronto, ON (They are the disrupters. The leaders. The brightest entrepreneurs in Canadian business. The Globe and Mail has invited them to share their insights during an inspiring day of keynote talks, workshops and networking. Walk away with new ideas and actionable tips on securing financing, acquiring talent and expanding sales, and take your business to the next level in this rapidly changing marketplace.)
  • Canadian Public Relations Conference - May 28-30 - Kelowna, BC (The 2017 National Conference embraces and celebrates what it means to illuminate. For starters, our host city Kelowna is illuminated constantly thanks to 2000 hours of sunshine each year and breathtaking Northern Light displays. Then, during each session, expert presenters will illuminate new concepts, enlightening delegates by providing deeper understanding of public relations.Finally, as the crown jewel of the CPRS, Illuminate 2017 will serve to maintain our illustrious status as leaders in the Canadian public relations and communications industry.)

June

  • The Art of Leadership for Women - June 13 - Toronto, ON (one day conference features five internationally renowned bestselling authors and thought leaders, who will share an exciting blend of cutting edge thinking and real world experience on today’s most critical leadership issues.)

September

  • Blog Podium - typically held in September but date & location still TBD (BlogPodium is a series of conferences and small workshops designed to connect people together, encourage collaboration and sharing, and of course, have a great time. We are Canada’s Conference for Design and Lifestyle Bloggers)
  • Inbound Marketing - September 25-28 - Boston, MA (INBOUND's purpose is to provide the inspiration, education, and connections you need to transform your business. This November, we will host thousands of marketing and sales professionals from almost every industry imaginable and from all corners of the globe at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

October

  • Advancing Women Conference East - October 30-31- Niagara Falls, ON (Created for every woman who wants to achieve success. Whether you are a crop, fruit, vegetable, dairy or livestock producer, own your own small or large ag business or in a career path with an ag organization or association - this conference is for you. Gain or hone the skills that will bring you success in your career, family life and community.)
  • Food Bloggers of Canada - October 20-22 - Ottawa, ON (FBC2017 is Canada’s only national conference for food bloggers.  It’s a fun, intimate event for bloggers, brands and speakers alike.  We focus on providing professional development for our members and other interested bloggers; an intimate atmosphere to foster blogger to blogger and blogger to brand networking; great food; and fun)
  • Tedx Toronto - date still TBD - Toronto, ON (Tedx Toronto is Canada's largest Tedx event, a platform for exceptional ideas and a catalyst for profound change. In our seventh year, TEDxToronto is Canada’s largest TEDx event, a platform for exceptional ideas, and a catalyst for profound change. The annual, one-day conference draws a diverse and passionate array of speakers, performers, demos and audience members)

*Each of the descriptions about each conference  were taken directly from conference websites.

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2016 {the year of many firsts}... and the best is yet to come in 2017!

While we're 14 days into 2017, I couldn't look back on 2016 more fondly as a year that I considered 'the best year yet.'

Until this year..... more to come on that so read on!

I made a commitment last year to make 2016 'different' in everything I did - personal, professional, my business, my hobbies AND my attitude. One of those differences that inevitably fell into my lap was embracing firsts, something I may not have been so open too in the past.

Embracing 'firsts' teaches you so much about yourself - what your capcity is for courage, strength, spontaneity, adventure, experiencing news things that you're not use too or comfortable with and just how open you (and your attitude) are to welcoming firsts, in the first place!

I really tried to continue living by the motto I shared back in my 2015 Year in Review"Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone." Some firsts last year weren't easy, but man did they feel good after they were done, knowing I had set my mind to doing them!

To reflect on what some of those 'firsts' were for me and others close to me, I thought I would highlight some of the memorable 'firsts' from last year (there were surely more but not enough time to capture everything!):

  • Travelling with my family on our first out-of-province trip to receive our second Holstein Canada Master Breeder award in Banff, Alberta
  • Horeseback riding in the Alberta mountains
  • Hiked a mountain (Tunnel Mountain in Banff)
  • Explored many new towns, cities and destinations in our very own Ontario including the Muskokas, Bayfield, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Lake of the Woods/Kenora and Bobcaygeon (home to the infamous Tragically Hip song!)
  • Worked with new clients both in and outside of agriculture - learning about new industries is fascinating (and what agriculture can learn from these industries is invaluable!)
  • My family started building their first robotic dairy barn, which will be completed this winter
  • Andrew and I took our boat through the Trent Severn Waterway liftlocks in my hometown of Hastings
  • I visited my first-ever cranberry and shrimp farms
  • Met so many new, amazing #girlbosses including Canada's own Conquer Kit writer & speaker, Natalie MacNeil
  • Flew in a helicopter, experiencing the beautiful fall scenery of the Muskokas
  • Saw my mom featured on the cover of a national dairy magazine, The Progressive Dairyman (way to go, mom!)
  • Experienced many amazing new firsts at work as a Press Secretary, I feel so fortunate to do what I do in the industry I love
  • Saw the Northern Lights for the first time while visiting Manitoba last summer
  • ..... and the best "first" of 2016... Andrew and I found out we're expecting a baby in 2017!

What I thought was the best year yet in 2016 is certainly going to be topped this year with the incredible gift that Andrew and I have been blessed with.

To be given the the gift of parenthood is going to be by far the greatest thing we've ever done come May, 2017 and we couldn't be more ready (despite doing this 'thing' called parenthood for the first time!).

Let the countdown begin for the BEST 'FIRST' EVER coming up in 2017! :)

2015 Year in Review

My Kind of Saturday

My Kind of Saturday

I always enjoy Saturday mornings back at home on my family's farm. I have always loved the 'routine' that accompanies a dairy farming lifestyle because you always knew you had to be at home in the morning and at night time to milk the cows and do chores (can you tell I like routine?!) Weekends including Saturday mornings are no different. I always love getting up to help with chores, knowing that once chores are done, we still have an entire day to ourselves to do whatever our heart desires. And to top that, you feel SO productive knowing that by 9am you've did all of that work to get the cows milked, fed and feeling comfortable... and the day is just starting!

One of my other favourite Saturday morning routines when I am home for the weekend is visiting our local, hometown coffee shop and settling in for a great coffee, a good read and sometimes, some computer work and blogging (they have free wifi, what an enticing service offered by a rural, small-town business!) There is nothing better than feeling so inspired & productive while enjoying the best cup of jo (better than Timmies dare I say!) and seeing people from your hometown at the same time.

THIS is my kind of Saturday.... there really is nothing better.

What does your 'best version of Saturday' look like?!

Happy Easter weekend!