Small Gestures, Big Impact #BellLetsTalk

On a day like today, where we celebrate #BellLetsTalk day, it’s one day of the year where we are reminded to share both the good and bad around mental health.

Today is dedicated to sharing our stories, so we’re not alone in the struggles we almost all face daily in keeping a healthy mental health. If we looked at mental health the way we looked at physical health, our world would certainly be a different place.

I wanted to share a story from last week in hopes that today, we can be reminded of the good.. the good stories, good moments, and good human beings that are out there, who help contribute positively to our mental health and well-being.

Two small moments last week that took place in my local Balzacs coffee shop reminded me of just how powerful small gestures can be in leaving a lasting impact... by complete strangers.

When I entered the coffee shop, I wasn’t surprised to see the place was packed.. buzzing with people meeting, writing, studying, reflecting. A mom in front of me in line had, what appeared to be a newborn baby and a young toddler.. and here, there were no tables or seats available for this busy mom to sit down and enjoy her coffee with her fam.

What happened next was a small yet subtle reminder that good people DO still exist. A man kindly stood up and offered to give up his table for the young mom. Thank god, good people really do exist. As a new mom who finds one baby a lot to handle, I was so appreciative for this man and his kind gesture for the mom who had her two hands full.

The second moment in the coffee shop was personal for me - one of the most random yet most powerful moments. A middle aged woman happened to come over to my table as I typed away (I was probably working on the ol’ blog!) and said how she didn’t want to appear weird but that she had noticed my smile, how infectious it was and how it lit up the room when I walked into the coffee shop.

What?

I didn’t know this lady. Hadn’t noticed her in the coffee shop. Nor had I even realized I was smiling?! Maybe I was smiling while I was writing and I didn’t even realize it?! I'll never know. I kindly thanked the lady and said how wonderful it was of her to come over and share something like that with me, as I blushed.

As she left, a wave of emotion came over me (it could be this new-found emotion that has come over me ever since having a baby, not quite sure?!) but I was reminded of just how amazing moments like that can completely transform your day. Just how amazing human beings can be and are.

How complete strangers can remind you of your most random qualities; how a random stranger can transform your mood in an instant; how a small moment or gesture like this can make you feel so connected to a complete stranger; and how your heart can feel so full over something that seems so trivial and small yet something that can be so powerful.

How a complete stranger can remind you, that despite all the negativity that appears to be going on in the world, good and positivity always prevails.

To the man who gave up his table and the lady whose compliment has etched a mark in my heart forever, thank you. Thank you for helping people you didn’t have too. Whose day you transformed. Whose mental health you helped without realizing.

What I hope to do on a day like today is pay it forward. While discussing mental health today, let's share everything - the good, the bad, the ugly - but let's also try and share the positive. Because that is just one of the many ways we can help contribute to this all so important conversation around mental health.

#BellLetsTalk

If you would like to speak to a professional, you can call Ontario's Mental Health Hotline 24/7 at 1-866-531-2600.

[Photo Source]

The Sunday 7

  1. If only it was March right now and this beautiful sunny, Sunday was an indication that Spring was here. Unfortunately, looks like we may have to brace ourselves for some more winter weather (I mean, it is January still). In the meantime, I am enjoying as much time outdoors as possible and snapped this photo above on the city limits of Guelph overlooking the countryside #MyFavouriteViews #RemindsMeOfTheFarm
  2. I  can't wait to try out this Mexican restaurant in Waterloo that I read about in Toque magazine, a free amazingly-designed magazine I found (for free!) in my local Balzacs in Guelph.
  3. I purchased this refreshing face mist from The Body Shop over the holidays and I'm loving it! Its the perfect mid-day pick up.
  4. I also recently bought these beauties (thanks to Winners!) and can’t wait to get to wear these.. in bare feet, with warm, sunny weather.. sometime soon hopefully #dreaming
  5. This place in Prince Edward County for a creative genius retreat looks ah-mazing! Who wants to hit the road and go with me for a weekend of brainstorming, writing and no cellphones (only for photos of course!)
  6. How is it February in 4 days?! We have lots of exciting plans in store for the next month. To keep me organized (and happy every time I open up my laptop), I found this cute February desktop wallpaper.
  7. Bell Let's Talk Day is coming up this week on Wednesday, January 31st! Be sure to participate on social media if you can or at least watch some of the awesome shows that will be airing featuring real-life people talking #MentalHealth#EndtheStigma

Summer Searching

I've been struggling with words lately. How to find the right ones - how to string words together to create a well-articulated thought. Words just aren't flowing as easily as they typically do. I'm not sure if its because I'm 'baby drunk' (drunk on the baby, not alcohol), sleep deprived, stepping outside of my comfort zone or what. It could also be that wordsmithing, what I did in my 'day job,' has taken a back seat to motherhood as of late.

I start the day with such intention to write, only to be met with mid-day fatigue (or a hungry baby). This leads to another day gone by, resulting in me lying awake at night with what feels like hundreds of ideas being thrown around by my brain. To the point, I've put a notepad beside my bed to write everything down, afraid that it can't wait until the morning to document (or in case I don't remember).

I'm sure you've been there with me.

Blog posts unpublished; tweets sitting in draft form; instagram posts deleted because you didn't think the photo was 'good enough' for its angle or lighting and you couldn't put your own unique words/thoughts to the picture.

Writing is a lot like a muscle. To get stronger or in the case of writing, better at it, you need to work at it and eventually you'll see results. My writing will never be perfect but doing more of it will help to get better at it.

So I'm going on that basis for my writing this summer - its better to put thoughts out there as they are, imperfect with errors, rather than have the ideas sitting in the draft folder. I'll keep going with my #Blog452 commitment - blogging every week, for 52 weeks of the year.

I love that summer as a season allows us to do this - relax and be easier on ourselves. Summer is a time for welcomed self-reflection for our society - we are just too damn busy the rest of the year.

Summer is the only time of year (besides the two weeks at Christmas) where we as a society see it as 'acceptable' to unplug. We accept that people are away on holidays and relaxing during the summer months. It is almost a societal norm that everyone takes it easier on each other during the summer.

The summer also allows us time to rest our brains, self-reflect and take stock of what we love about our lives and also, what are the irritants/things we want to change, or wish we could change. Its probably because we have the time to finally think and self-reflect while we feel at peace and ease... or its the beer or wine that helps to stimulate our thoughts and relax :) I think its why so many of us come back in September recharged with motivation to want to tackle our goals.

I'm doing so much self-reflection recently thanks to summer and of course, because of Blake. Even before May, I had made a commitment in 2017 to set goals, create a routine and adjust/adapt along the way to work towards accomplishing these goals.

I think summertime reflection is necessary to a healthy lifestyle, both professionally and personally. Self-awareness is the key to happiness. Its healthy to take stock of what we're good at; what we could be better at; what we want more of; and what we could get rid of. This type of reflection allows us to enjoy more of what we love and (finally) take action on the things we want to change. This is something I've gotten a lot better at this year since becoming a mom, as I blogged about earlier - we should "Strive for progress, not perfection.'

I really love the liberating and 'free' feeling of summer. There is no better feeling than sitting on a dock at dusk, looking out at the calm waters and mentally taking stock of everything I love about life and what I want to change/do more of.

Summer searching fuels an incredible sensation to want to kick butt. I'll be so ready for fall when summer decides to be over. Until then, lets take advantage of the warm, sunny summer weather as long as it lasts.

It All Begins With a Lemonade Stand

With a newborn, you can find me most days outdoors, gallivanting  around with the baby in the stroller, enjoying the summer sun. I always love seeing what adventures I'll get up too or things I'll encounter.

Last week, I was out for a walk in our neighbourhood when I came upon a young girl selling lemonade.

I looked like I was going to be her next customer as I was walking closer to her. It was then I realized I didn't have $$$ on me so I quickly turned around to run back home and grab change. I can only imagine the look of sheer disappointment on this girls face thinking she was losing a customer as I ran away from her. I was happy to return a few minutes later to buy a cup of her homemade lemonade.

There was nothing better than watching the pride on this young girls' face when I returned and asked her 'How much?' With the biggest smile on her face, she confidently said, "$1 please." She had all the right things going for her - a well-written, visible sign with the $1 per cup cost; she had the cute little table and chair; she had manners and spoke well; and she genuinely looked like she loved what she was doing.

And to top it off, she was so pleasant when I approached her with the baby - she even asked questions about me and the baby, the customer. Who taught this girl proper marketing etiquette at such a young age?!

It was one of those moments, as a random stranger, that you take so much pride in doing what you did to help encourage this person.

It also brought back so many memories for me as a kid... because I did the exact same thing! I held many a rummage sale and (tried) to sell lemonade to no avail.

The difference for me was that growing up in the country, trying to sell things on a random weekday in the summer, half way down a long driveway was not that financially viable or successful. There aren't that many customers who probably think stopping in a car and walking up to a young child in the country looks OK to those driving by. I get it now, but it was hard to swallow at the time.

Clearly my entrepreneurial spirit was evident already at a young age.

The acts of this little random stranger last week was an amazing reminder of what we're all capable of and how it all begins at a young age:

  • The ideas we have that spark within us;
  • How unafraid we are of big, hairy, audacious goals (and we don't even know what 'goals' are yet);
  • How we take a pretty basic product and only because of how we sell it, the product becomes a hit;
  • The complete, random strangers we are OK with meeting in order to make a sale (and a buck);
  • When we realize we can make money doing something we love or at least enjoy doing;
  • And ultimately, we have the guts to do something we have never did before (and don't know the outcome of as to whether we'll be successful or not) and we still go ahead with the idea and sell the lemonade!

It takes some serious guts as a young kid to have the motivation, confidence and persistence to want to do something like sell lemonade, while other kids are out playing with their friends.

At what age or stage in our lives do you think we lose that self-confidence and belief in our abilities that so many of us clearly have as young kids? When do we lose that entrepreneurial mindset of fending for ourselves and running with our own ideas, only to worry what others think of us and our skillset to land a job that may not be for us?

As a quote I found perfectly says, "When life gives you lemons, you build a lemonade stand and profit."

[Tweet ""When life gives you lemons, you build a lemonade stand and profit.""]

As the young girl packed up after selling me her last cup of lemonade, I encouraged her to make sure she sets up shop more this summer because I'd be sure to be back. She said she would.

I better start saving my loonies now because she has a repeat customer that will guarantee her sales for her young start-up venture (or college education) ;)

[Photo Source]

To The Journey We Begin

"A new is baby is like the beginning of all things - wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities."

- Edna J LaShan

I intentionally decided to step back from the Passionate Voice over the past month and take a break from my own personal #Blog452 goal for 2017 since experiencing the greatest life gift a month ago.

Only a few short hours after sharing my last blog post, on May 27, 2017, one month ago today, we were blessed by welcoming Blake Andrew Arklie into the world.

Taking the time to step back from blogging, use social media with more intention and purpose since then and relish in the arrival of our new baby has been a gift. Getting to know this new, tiny human being while at the same time, adjusting to the new roles of motherhood and parenthood, has been a gratifying and humbling tiring experience.

It has taken me several attempts to write this post as the words didn't seem to embody all I've been thinking and feeling. Every time I began to write this post, I was overcome with emotion, of course positive ones. To try and find words to accurately reflect how life changed a month ago is next to impossible.

And then I realized, after trying to start this post many a time, this post is a reflection of what I am learning (in a short time of course) about motherhood, "Its progress, not perfection." 

You'll never find the perfect words to sum up something as magical as this so here it goes, my first blog post being wrote, while breastfeeding, balancing a baby and typing with one finger (I feel like I'm in grade 3 computer class all over again learning to type, but again, progress not perfection).

No book, manual or course can prepare you for what I am realizing is the single most unique experience that anyone can go through. Every person is different, every baby is different, therefore making every person's version of parenthood so unique.

It has been an incredible (and daunting) feeling, knowing I am now not only responsible for myself, but another human being.... and that the values and perspectives I share will ultimately help to shape who he becomes.

I am proud to have been raised into who I am by my parents and my upbringing; proud of the choices I've made and the paths I've pursued in my personal life, my career and my hobbies... but being Blake's mom is now the cherry on top.

Watching Andrew take on his new role of being a father has also been the most heart-bursting thing to watch. So many of the cliche things they say about parenthood ring so true now - you never truly feel a love like this until you watch your partner you love, love the baby you created together #HeartExplosion

Learning Blake's small, subtle cues of what his different cries are for and what he needs; watching him grow each day (seriously can't believe how much they change so quickly!); experiencing all of his 'firsts' with him; taking him out to do the most mundane tasks, only to be admired by men and women of all ages (people really do love babies!); and enjoying long walks with Blake in the stroller, Starbucks coffee in hand while the warm summer sun beats down, are just a few of the small day-to-day experiences I am continually in awe of and thankful for.

Of course there are late nights, long days, cries and poopy diapers - the detailed stuff the books don't (really) prepare you for, but I'm just thankful that my job and my upbringing on the dairy farm helped prepare me for late nights, early mornings and operating on only a few hours of sleep on any given day. As I keep joking to find the positive, you can sleep when your dead right?! #IWish #StillNeedSleep

Navigating this new phase of life and my new role as mom has been 'interesting' on some days but having the best husband and partner to share in this with makes this the greatest adventure we've embarked on together. If I thought it was liberating not knowing what was ahead as we prepared for Blake's impending arrival, not knowing what is in store each day with a newborn baby and learning something new each day as a new mom is even more liberating.

I've relinquished full control to a small tiny being and for the first time in my life, it feels amazing to not have expectations because as I shared on instagram last week, when you don't have expectations, you don't have disappointments. Another new lesson for this mom.

I was passionate about everything I did in life before Blake arrived (hence why this is called 'The Passionate Voice') but now I wake up, yes a little more tired, but with an added sense of purpose. If I wanted to do things before Blake, I only want to do them THAT much bigger and better now. The purpose, passion and perspective I have for life and seeing it through the eyes of our newborn, has added a whole new vigour to which I want to do this thing called 'life.'

If any time in life, I'm realizing this is the best time to let the dishes pile, the laundry heap and the dust collect, there will be enough time for all of that. For now, I'm trying to soak this all up.

I'm hoping to continue kicking butt with my 2017 goals and it looks like I can check off the biggest one of them all not only for 2017 but in life.. becoming a mom to a healthy baby! I do plan to share more and do more here on The Passionate Voice to make even more of a difference because if I wanted to leave the planet a better place before Blake, I only want that a million times more now.

Here's to our journey ahead as a family of 3.. its going to be one hell of a beautiful, bumpy ride :)