Thinking & Operating in 'the Gap'

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I’ve always disliked short work weeks. We’re all trying to cram the same amount of work from a five-day work week into four. This week is no different - lots of deadlines, projects to get done and last minute demands that are making me wish tomorrow wasn’t Friday.

I know, I said it (and I love my Friday’s!).

I AM working on some fun branding projects though this week, as well as content strategy and content creation for clients that I’m excited for. So there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

The one thing I did for myself this week was get the chance to sit down with someone from a leading tech organization in Canada’s ‘silicon valley of the north‘ aka. Kitchener. I’ve always loved the Tannery area of KW, in Guelph’s backyard. There is something about knowing the ideas that are being cooked up behind the walls of the buildings in the area that gets me excited when visiting.

The one thing the meeting made me realize, besides how fortunate I am to meet the people I am in my journey, is how not having the answer to all the ‘big ideas’ or ‘big questions’ I have is also part of this journey of this little thing called life. Right now I’m feeling so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by people from different backgrounds, experiences and who think differently, who are all excited to tackle big world problems and come up with solutions. Especially when many of these people seem to have one thing in common that we want to find solutions for: food/agriculture. One of my true passions.

It reminded me of this recent newsletter I read (thank you for the continued amazing content, Sarah!) and this idea of the gap:

“I call the space between having a question and knowing the answer, the gap. The gap is the unknown, the fear of making a change in your life when you don’t know what the outcome will be. Humans are really bad at the gap, we are terrible at operating in spaces where there is an unknown.”

I feel like I’ve been operating in the ‘gap’ for a few years now. Having ideas and not knowing exactly how to get to the answer.. but enjoying the process or journey to get there aka. the gap.

Its how I felt last summer when I was between my political job and starting my own business - again, the gap. I continue to operate in the gap even now that my own business is almost a year old.. the questions I have: what to do next, where to take things, should I scale, how do I scale. I’m operating in the gap.

Not to get too philosophical here for a Thursday but isn’t that really what life is all about anyways? Trying to think and operate ‘in the gap’ between the two things we know for sure are to happen to us, birth and death?

Sorry to go all deep on this rainy Thursday, it just felt necessary to share :)

What’s the other thing I learned in that meeting this week (among so many other awesome things)? That Jeff Bezos of Amazon writes a press release for every idea he has, as a way to work backwards from the idea to know how to make the idea a reality. How cool is that?!

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.

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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) ;)

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