Things I Love About Our Country #Canada150

Happy belated Canada day, friends!

Now that I am (somewhat) caught up on sleep from what was an epic Canada day long weekend, which included celebrating my little brother's wedding, I wanted to share 6 of the things I love about our country to commemorate #Canada150. Hope you got to celebrate what was uniquely yours on Canada day!

[1. Food and wine]  - strawberry picking, pumpkin patches, cherries, maple syrup, lentils, there are so many amazing things I've been surprised to learn we grow, produce and harvest within our very own country. We truly have one of the safest, most sustainable food systems in the world with the abundance and variety of yummy foods we produce. We should also be proud of our emerging wine industry - we may be a few hundred years behind Europe in our wine production but our wines from BC and Ontario are still incredibly tasty too! The photo of the cherries above is actually our neighbour's cherry tree. Talk about eating and enjoying local?! #HowCoolIsThat

[2. The views and our 4 seasons] - I think it is fair to say we may have some of the most diverse, vast landscapes of any country in the world in part because of the 4 seasons we get to experience. From the mountain views, to the prairie flats, our waterways to the red dirt on the east coast, you can experience so much in just one country (even though it takes a far distance to get from one end to the other and 4 changes of clothing for each season!). I feel fortunate to have visited almost all Canadian provinces - the only two provinces I have yet to visit are Newfoundland and Saskatchewan which I have added to my travel bucket list! Some of my favourite views (of so many in our country) that I've been able to personally savour include mountains views from Sidney, BC and Banff/Lake Louise, AB; rocky shores in Lake-of-the-Woods/Kenora, ON; watching the northern lights in the prairie, Manitoba skies; harbour ocean-front views in North Rustico, PEI and one of my absolute favorite views, the calming, scenic views from my family's cottage on the Trent River in ON. Oh and fall is still my favourite season of them all :)

[3. Innovations and creations] - I didn't realize how many incredible innovations our country and Canadians are responsible. Some of them are life changing and some are the simple pleasures we and so many millions enjoy - things like insulin, peanut butter (one of my absolute favs!), the life vest, the electric wheelchair, backup lights on modern cars, garbage bags and the paint roller. You can read more awesome inventions here. Who knew how truly awesome we are?!

[4. The Great Lakes] - Being raised on the water, I've always been attached to the water and love a good deep breathe of fresh, water air (it could also be the fact that I am the water sign Cancer). Being from Ontario, I love how close we are to the Great Lakes, all 5 of which are just a drive a way to enjoy. I'll never forget learning in grade school how to remember the names of our 5 Great Lakes - remember the acronym HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior!) You are welcome :) Side note, my girlfriends and I thought the Great Lakes are so awesome that we got the sweatshirt I'm pictured in above, made last summer when we were all in Grand Bend #BestIdeaEver

[5. The Canadian game of Hockey] - The photo above of the goalie is of my very own husband Andrew in his glory days as a goalie for the University of Guelph. He has since hung up his pads, but I love how much we enjoy the game of hockey together. I've always been a huge fan (of not only him) but the game of hockey itself. I have loved being a fan in the stands since a young age and understand the game enough to rock our family hockey pool which I won this year ;)

[6. Our 'Canadianisms'] - There are so many awesome things that make us known as Canadians that I'm calling these our 'Canadianism's. Things like the iconic Hudsons Bay brand of colourful stripes (I have the paddle above!), maple syrup, poutine, Tim Hortons, the red maple leaf, our manners/politeness - these are just a few of the things that make us so uniquely known around the world as Canadians.

[Photo Source]
[Photo Source]

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

A Summer of Firsts [and some fan girl moments]

"I never have time to do anything, let alone try anything new." This is something I often hear friends, family (even I use to be guilty of saying this) about doing things, let alone trying new things outside of the usual 'life schedule' of work-sleep-eat-repeat. Now, my life schedule goes a little beyond the work-sleep-eat-repeat mentality (throw in a bit of commuting-travelling-attending Board meetings--working out-side hustling'-time with the hubby/friends - enjoying myself with a good book) and that is my daily 'life schedule.'

Some would call it overwhelming and it can be a little too much sometimes I know, but for the most part, I love it. I'm getting all I can out of this thing called life.

I am always surprised at the number of people who comment on how their busyness is why they can't try new things. We as humans make excuses for a lot of things - not working out, not making our own meals at home, complaining about things out of our control, not volunteering because we think we're busy at work, or not pursuing a side business or passion project because we're sometimes not only scared, we're simply lazy.

After reflecting on what I hoped 2016 would be, this summer has proven to be one of those summers that exceeded my expectations. Beyond the eight weddings we attended (yes, I said eight), this summer was a summer of many firsts where I tried and experienced so many new things.  summer-of-firsts

What were some of these 'new things'?

  • My family and I finally went through lock 18 in my hometown of Hastings with our boat as part of the Trent Severn Waterway, something we had never done before, even though we have lived a few minutes down the road from the locks our entire lives
  • Took trips to see new places that Andrew and I had never visited before including Petroglyphs Provincial Park  in my parents backyard
  • I'm running again, something I haven't did since high school
  • I've tried new craft beers including Lake of the Woods Brew during a visit to Kenora, ON (my first time visiting during the summer!) and new, local craft brewers in Rockwood, Four Fathers Brewing Co (you have to try their beer, its so good!)
  • I've embraced red wine, something I use to think was repulsive but as I guess as my taste buds have matured, so have my tastes in wine
  • I've taken up a sport I've never played before...  tennis. Can't say I'm great yet but at least its a start (Serena seriously makes it look so easy!)
  • I tried my hand at painting and came up with his (simplistic) masterpiece pictured above that I now have proudly displayed above my desk in my office.. thanks to Instagram for the inspiration, I tried my hand at painting.. and thanks to a little cheap paint from Michaels, it didn't turn out all that bad!

Another cool moment this summer was meeting fellow #girlbosses at various events who follow my work and have been followers on Twitter. Can you say #fangirlmoments?! It has been so awesome meeting fellow women in agriculture who are as passionate about their work and have the same zest for life. Thanks for following along, enjoying and sharing your positive feedback,  Alison and Emily :)

To say I've gotten the most out of 2016 so far is an understatement. I've loved every minute of embracing this 'new change' I've felt to try and explore new things. For those who think age is a limitation to trying new things, you are absolutely wrong. You can be a child at heart for as long as you'd like as long as you're open to the idea of trying new things AND finding (or carving out) the time to make it happen. Adjust that 'life schedule' so you can welcome  'new' things into your life, the feeling is liberating.

Adios summer 2016, you were a slice.

5 Things Vacation Will Teach You About A Break From Social Media

Internet Free VacationHow is it the last week of August? I mean, really.... where has summer gone?

Not that I am entirely sad though. I always enjoy the beginning of summer and then eventually want a 'start fresh' with September since fall is my favourite season.

I recently blogged that I enjoyed a week of vacation to Manitoba/Kenora/Lake-of-the-Woods (wish I could go back!) and that due to no internet connection while on holidays, I didn't have access to email or social media.

Considering social media is what I do for a living, having no access to it seemed like a problem .....  or so I thought. 

After a few days of worry and not knowing what to do with my phone (it is normal to have the shakes at first when you're on withdrawl, right?!) I finally adapted to what life felt like without a phone. And man did it ever feel good! So good in fact that I wanted to share with you in this separate post, the reasons why it was so refreshing to step back from social media and take a break from it when its something you do for a living.

Ironically, I read this article before I left about why you shouldn't check email while on vacation and I can honestly say, a week without social media/email was one of the healthiest breaks I've taken in a long time.

When I try and think of when the last time was that I didn't have access to internet on my phone at my fingertips, the last time was 2009 when I travelled to Europe. Yes we had cellphones (flip phones back then.. does that date me or what?!) but you couldn't use them overseas as I suspect you can now with smartphones. I remember leaving my cellphone at home at the time thinking, well, the only way I can communicate to let people still know I was alive was through quick and costly collect calls or my laptop. The only way I could get access to wifi on my laptop while travelling was going to an internet cafe or paying an arm and a leg at the hostels I stayed at to connect to wifi.

My recent vacation made me realize just how dependent we are as social media users, especially since we as Canadians spend the most time on the internet than any other country in the western world.

[Tweet ""Canadians spend the most time on the internet than any other country in the western world.""]

So what were those 5 things vacation taught me about a break from social media?

  1. Social media networks don't justify that you 'lived' through something - Just because you didn't document the moment or snap a photo to share with your network(s) of something you are experiencing that you think is cool, doesn't mean it didn't happen. Savour those moments with those around you and those your spending time with so you can truly be 'in the moment,' rather than thinking about what angle would be best for the best photo op.
  2. Set boundaries to not miss out on life moments -  If it is imperative that you be on social media during say long weekends, camping adventures, holidays, etc.... try and ask yourself if it is really necessary to bring the phone along with you. Set boundaries to your social media use - as an example, only check social media once or twice a day so you feel like you are in control of your social media habits, not the other way around.
  3. Use social media with intention and a purpose - This was probably the biggest lesson I learned while on vacation and then reconnecting after a week away. Was I really using social media for the right reasons before I left and in the most strategic way possible? Was I using it for professional reasons with a hint of 'personal' in there or was I just browsing social media to fill time that I should have otherwise been 'guarding.' Since returning, I've downloaded the app Moments to keep track of how much time I'm spending on my phone and on social media apps so I can cut back intentionally and use social media more purposefully.
  4. Choose to follow social media users and content that will better your life - After returning from holidays and catching up on things I seemed to have 'missed' while I was away, it was interesting to see how others chose to spend their time on a long-weekend in August and not for professional development or purposes that bettered them. It made me take a second look at the people and brands I follow and the type of content I am constantly indulging in to make sure that the people I follow and the content I consumer on social media channels adds value to my day whether it be from a personal standpoint (a funny laugh, a cute outfit, a good read, seeing other's adventures and obviously my friend's) and from a professional development standpoint (articles on social media, millennials, leadership, agriculture/food, business, #girlbosses, etc)
  5. See social media for what it is - likes don't justify the means - My biggest takeaway from a social media free week? That I can still live and exist in a world without social media. While I may have felt like I was missing out at the beginning, the guilt eventually passed and I realized how amazing it felt to really 'live' without having likes justify the means of what I was doing each day. Being in control and having the power to put my phone down was empowering!

I'm proud to say that since returning home from vacation, I've made a more conscious effort throughout August to only post when I felt like I had something to say and not just sit around browsing my social media channels.

This new intention and purpose I'm using with social media has felt so good. Try it with me! 

[Photo Source]

Where is the Pause Button At?

Say it with me... where is 2016 going?! Can we just push the pause button so we can slow this year down? And then on the other hand, I think of all the things I've did so far in 2016 and I'm not surprised we're already into August.

2016 has been an incredible year of travelling and 'firsts' for me including trips and experiences enjoyed in Mont Tremblant, Quebec; Banff, Alberta; wine tours to NOTL and discovering new little towns across Ontario like Jordan. And there are so many more towns and adventures I want to see and do before the summer begins to wind down.

My husband and I typically get a chance to visit my in-laws over the holidays back home in Manitoba but this summer, we were able to head to the prairies to take in the beauty of the western skies and canola/sunflower fields during the beautiful summer months.

Another first I got to experience with my in-laws was visiting their cottage on Lake-of-the-Woods near Kenora, Ontario. The views were spectacular.. as fellow blogger and friend Jen commented on my social media accounts when I posted the top photo, it looks like a photo from the group of even artists. Experiencing the beauty of the wilderness in the heat of the summer was so refreshing.

One of the best parts about my recent trip to Manitoba and cottaging in northern Ontario, besides seeing family and friends of course, was enjoying Lake-of-the-Woods and the outdoors without internet connection. I'll blog about this in a follow up post to elaborate more but the thrill of not having to answer emails and social media accounts was a healthy blessing in disguise for a society of people that now depend on these devices and mediums to keep us stimulated throughout the day.

Because of that, I was able to fish, canoe, finish the summer-fiction best seller 'The Nest' in two days, enjoy Ontario craft beer at the local famous brewhouse, Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, hike to Rushing River provincial park, and see the Northern Lights for the first time in my life! The pictures don't do these moments justice.

Hope you all are enjoying this beautiful summer... I think I can smell fall in the air already!

 Manitoba 2016