Saturday Morning Inspiration

Happy sunny, Saturday friends! That's if you're in Ontario I guess but if you're like me, you are SO freakin' happy it is sunny and warm. This delayed Spring has been so hard to deal with but I think it is safe to say that Spring may finally be here to stay.

Before I spend the rest of the day outside enjoying this fresh air, I had some creative juice to get out this morning. So to my computer I went to write...

I don't know about you, but I always need to be in a creative mood to write. We all need something to stimulate us. And while I've been bad here on the ol' blog of only blogging when that creative spirit is in full force, I'm continually reminded of this message:

Writing is like a muscle, you must work at it to get stronger.

One thing I've tried to do in the last little while is create habits around fostering creativity especially around my writing deadlines. For anyone who designs, wordsmiths, brainstorms or works in the creative/marketing/communications field, we all know that being in a creative mood helps to make the words and ideas flow easier. Or a glass of wine or rye always helps too ;)

And of course when deadlines are impending, that is when creativity usually decides to take a hike.

That's when habits come in to handy.

One of these habits I've been trying lately is creating 'mood boards' to help me visually get into the creative spirit. Sourcing photos from fellow bloggers, things I find online or social and capturing my own photos has certainly helped me at referring back to these mood boards whenever I'm in a rut and need inspiration. You could also call these vision boards. Here is an example below of the cottage vision board I created when I knew I'd be tasked with the interior design for our little cotty :)

I had mentioned this idea of mood boards/vision boards to a colleague a while ago and she loved this idea and asked that I share an example here on the blog. So voila, here is a spring mood board above I created just this week that may help inspire you as well, like it has for me this morning.

Let's be serious though, just waking up to this sun and warmer temps this morning was enough inspiration itself. Thank you Spring for making your very late entrance to the party, regardless, we are so happy to see you!

{tulips/robins eggs/split leaf philodendron/coffee/wisdom begins in wonder}

The Sunday 7

  1. Well hello there, it appears it has been a while! The past couple of weeks have saw me on the road and really what feels like this, there and everywhere. I proudly became an aunt on April 2nd to sweet baby Claire (congrats Justin and Meghan!). I can't believe what this year has brought for our family #Blessed
  2. If your in southern Ontario this weekend, your probably experiencing the same freezing rain/snow storm we are, which has had everyone indoors for the past 48 hours :S We are actually now currently siting here without power which means all our candles are out and lit up. Its actually quite romantic for a Sunday evening ;) But really, where the heck is #Spring?!!!!
  3. I've been meaning to blog lately but I'm been finding it hard after the Humboldt Broncos tragedy that took place last week in Saskatchewan. I've sat down so many times to try and put words down and for some reason, I can't put the words together to express my emotions and the emotions of so many of us Canadians after seeing something like this shake our country to its core. But I want too and I will this coming week. At least I know one thing - we are truly an incredible country after seeing how we've rose collectively as a country in a time like this #United
  4. One thing that the Humboldt Broncos tragedy reminded me to do is check my organ donation status after one of the players, Logan Boulet saved 6 lives through his organ donation. I checked tonight and I was already signed up, thankfully. Sign up today to give the gift of life #BeaDonor
  5. Keeping in the hockey spirit, now that the NHL playoffs are here, we're cheering on our favourite team #GoJetsGo
  6. I recently finished this book and it is hands down, one of the best books I've read. I'm now on to this book.
  7. Today, I listened to this podcast on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday with Gretchen Rubin (Author of The Happiness Project). So many good lessons in this one, it wanted me to pull back out my Happiness Project book and read it again. The biggest take-away? Happiness is like a muscle, you must work at it and exercise it. It was a perspective I needed to hear and be reminded of right now.

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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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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 :)

Motivated by Inspiration #AskHerToRun

I have a new found love relationship with Saturday’s. Saturday’s, for some time, have been my least favourite day of the weekend. I love the feeling that Friday night’s give me of the excitement for the weekend ahead. And if you’re a regular reader, you know I love my Sunday’s, period.

It wasn’t until recently that I’ve tried to learn to re-love my Saturday morning’s – whether it is taking in a quiet morning with Blake and a cup of coffee; walking through the dairy barns back home on the farm; listening to the Top 40 countdown at the cottage; or attending an event that tugs on my inner nerd personal development heart strings - I’m slowly learning to fall back in love with my Saturday’s.

This past weekend, I attended the first-ever #Guelph Women’s Campaign school, aimed at enticing women to learn more about politics, especially municipal politics, with the goal of motivating more women to run in politics. It was my type of Saturday morning– a little early morning action to talk politics surrounded by like-minded women #MyJam.

It was a day full of learning with so many great key messages and take-aways, and such tangible resources were shared for those interested in potentially running in politics and/or those who want to help support more women to run.

To say I left inspired by my profession of politics and motivated to want to do more is an understatement.

When the sold-out room of 50+ women were asked, "who was interested in running in the upcoming Ontario municipal election?", more than 15+ women stood up. The other half of the room stood up when asked if they wanted to help a fellow women run. Throughout the day, we shared ideas on why more women should run in politics, how campaigns work, what the rules are that govern something like a municipal election, and talked communications strategies. It was a brilliant day for those who may know nothing about the political process or for those who needed that little bit of kick ass inspiration to push them to run.

My 4 big key takeaways from the day were:

  • It is healthy to attend events like this, even if you think you know everything about politics. You never truly stop learning about the political process. It is an asset to understand how our political processes work at all levels of government.
  • The proper campaign has purpose – platform – people – and a plan.
  • Find your reason WHY to run – it the basis, foundation and purpose for everything you do in politics (it also reminded me to re-read Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’).
  • Men are assets for women and want to help and support us in being successful, if we ask for their help in the first place. It was why the hashtag #AskHimToHelpHerRun was started the day of our event!

It was one of those Saturday’s that reminded me of why I chose to work in politics - why I am so passionate about wanting to make a difference in public service and the lives of other especially now that I have a son.

It was a Saturday that gave me all the feels – I left motivated to want to do more, thanks to the inspiration that a room full of brilliantly smart and motivated women left me with. A special note of thanks to Ashley, Maureen and Alicia for a super fun Saturday together 😉

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