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 :)

The Sunday 7

Today, I'm surrounded by some of the best people. Friends. We are ringing in the New Year and welcoming 2018 with open arms. And boy does it feel good. I love all of this inspiration heading into the new year. Happy New Year's Eve, friends!

  1. This article about love and why we don't openly express love more often (written by a man I might add!) hit home. It makes me want to hug every person I know.
  2. I can't WAIT for this little beauty of a cook book to be released in April so I can make every recipe and eat every damn bite.
  3. Downloaded this app to begin expanding my language palette in 2018 (is that even I thing? Yep because I just made it up :P)
  4. Hands down, one of the best books I read last year, Chasing Slow. The powerful message resonated, especially after the year we've had, having a baby and wanting the right type of lifestyle for our new family of 3.
  5. Starting off my 2018 reading list by digging in to this little gem.
  6. What I love about all the New Years hype and celebration? All the glitz and glitter!
  7. This article has made me rethink my 2018 goals a bit differently - "Often it’s not what we start doing that makes a difference, but the thing we stop doing that creates the biggest shift."

Happy (early) 2018 :)

[Photo Source]

Talk Is Cheap

Do you ever read someone's tweet that is getting a lot of attention or hear an idea your colleague has shared in a meeting and think... I already thought that?!

You came up with that same idea or thought days earlier or even months/years ago, yet you didn't do anything with that said idea or tweet?

You wonder why the hell you didn't speak up earlier, tweet the thought out or share your idea so you could get the praise that someone else is now getting?

Yup, it happens to all of us.

What is the difference from you did with the idea/thought and what the other person did? They actually DID something with it. They took action. Spoke up. Stepped out of the comfortable into the uncomfortable to see where the idea or thought would land, unsure if it would ruffle feathers or land well with others.

And that is where the difference lies.[Tweet "Some of us only talk about our ideas while others actually do something with them."]

We're all capable of thinking big things. There isn't a copyright on coming up with new thoughts or ideas. Unless of course, someone has patented the idea and then well, you've out of luck. I'm sure some of the best inventions were thought of way before they actually were invented. Like Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Iowa who in 1912 actually DID something with an idea and thought that slicing bread was a genius, convenient idea that would be the next big thing... and of course it sure was. Its why we continue to use the phrase, 'The greatest thing since sliced bread."

I joke about this often with Andrew. If we were to write down all the ideas we had in a year in a little black book and look back 20 years from now  to see if the ideas were invented, maybe we'd be upset with ourselves that we hadn't actually did something with those ideas #Millionaires? #OhWell

I've been experiencing this on Twitter lately where so many of my tweets are sitting in my draft folder, doing what? Nothing. And I wonder why I didn't share them if others are talking about things I had thought of tweeting about ages ago.

It makes me think about my #Blog452 goal I set earlier this year for my blog. It hasn't been an epic fail but I certainly haven't stuck to my commitment of blogging each week for 52 weeks of this year.

Where am I? 34 posts this year. So if we were evaluating this like a calculus test that you need to pass to get into University,  I would have got a 65%. A pass but not great.

Today's lesson on the blog - Talk is cheap. Its what you actually DO with your ideas and thoughts and the action you take that will separate you from the rest of the crowd.

What is my goal now for the rest of 2017? See if I can fulfill this damn #Blog452 goal I created for myself because what's the point of creating a goal if you're not going to stick to try and fulfill it?

So what's one of the first things I also did today that I haven't done this entire year? I started AND finished this blog post - writing, graphic and all - in one sitting. So excuse any grammatical or writing errors that you may find, this new mama is just happy she accomplished another first in 2017 and actually stuck to doing something from beginning to end #FeelingAccomplished #HappySunday

[Photo Source]

Sunday's are for Thanks

Sunday’s for me are a day of reflection and for gratitude. I realize everyday we must be grateful but Sunday’s in particular allows us peace, calmness and clarity to see through the busyness of life to realize how fortunate we are. I think we all struggle with gratefulness in some form or another – especially in the social media age of keeping up with everyone's perfected instagrammed lives, it can be hard to keep our brains focused on what it is in our lives that is good.

For the first time in a while, we weren’t road warriors this weekend with Blake. We stayed put and enjoyed the things that we love about the city we live in. It made me appreciate the small things we did that had such a big impact on why our weekend was so awesome. Here is just a sample of our weekend that has me full of gratitude....

  • The best news from friends
  • Catch ups with friends by a fire outdoors, reminding us of the last few summer weekends we have
  • Free tomatoes from a stranger/neighbour down the road whose garden was too plentiful... something I think many gardeners experienced this year with their tomato crops
  • Trying this alternative version of a 7-layer dip from Alberta Milk that was super quick to make (still haven't tried it, its chilling in the fridge!) and a new chocoloate zucchini bread recipe (baking in the oven as we speak!)
  • Sunflowers to brighten the kitchen table
  • Watching your newborn discover new sights and sounds in the most simplest things
  • Prepping for an upcoming social media presentation this week and loving every minute of it!
  • Working on an exciting social media project that captures the social media usage of Ontario agriculture stakeholders.. its in its early stages but the results are going to be interesting to say the least (have I mentioned how much I love figures and stats when it comes to social media?!)
  • Reading Magnolia Journal on a Sunday morning with a coffee in hand and a sleeping baby in my arms
  • A bike ride on the most gorgeous Sunday evening... this weather couldn't be more perfect!
  • Fulfilling my promise at the beginning of the week of blogging every day this week which I am happy to report I did.. 7 for 7! And the best part?! More ideas are a brewin' so watch for more to come!

I’m trying my hardest this year to practice gratitude, its why I'm proud to have kept up with my commitment and one of my goals for this year of writing down one thing each day I'm grateful for. Let's just say that my #365DaysofGratitude jar is overflowing. I can't wait to read them all at the end of the year.

A line from the latest Magnolia Journal said it best, "Gratitude turns what you have into enough." Amen to that. Happy Sunday!

[Tweet ""Gratitude turns what you have into enough.""]

#365DaysofGratitude: My colourful jar of daily happiness

I've promised for some time I would share more about #365DaysofGratitude, something I've committed to do this year (along with #Blog452). These were 2 of the 5 goals I set for 2017 and so far, I'm happy to say its something I've stuck to doing every night. Yay to goal-setting AND actually executing as I recently shared in my 2017 Q1 check-in!

Over the Christmas holidays, I happened to stumble upon a Facebook post by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of one of my favourite books Big Magic & the well-known Eat, Pray, Love. She talked about what she called her 'Happiness Jar' and it sparked my interest to want to do something similar. The results from something so minimal, free and easy seemed so transformational. The concept is similar to what many authors suggest in keeping a 'gratitude journal' where you write down three things you are grateful for each day.

I know, a lot of people after reading something like this think:

  1.  Its a nice thought but I don't really have the time;
  2.  I would never stick to doing this everyday;
  3. Why would I write down what I'm happy/grateful for, seems pointless when I KNOW what I'm grateful for.

But for some reason, the idea stuck with me.

It was exactly the constant daily, habitual reminder I needed to appreciate the small things that make up each day that I've perhaps neglected over the years. I think its just human nature to worry more about the big ticket items of less trivial meaning and what went wrong/what could have been, rather than what is in our control that makes us happy in a day. That despite the fast-paced world we live in, cherishing the small details along the way is what gets us through life. That, and a positive attitude.

I liked Gilberts' way of putting one thought in a jar at the end of each day, because I would be able to visually see the results of sticking to it each day as the jar get fuller.

I also loved the simple fact of using bright coloured sticky notes to document my #365DaysofGratitude. Colourful sticky notes always = happiness!  ;)

Writing down one simple thing I'm grateful for at the end of each day... or something that has made me laugh, appreciative, happy or feel fortunate for.... has been such a fun exercise since starting on January 1st.

On bad days when I've need the boost to see that 'this too shall pass,' the daily habit of reflection has provided the retrospect that was so needed in moments like those.

On the good days, it has made me love and appreciate these days even more.

And the best part about using a 'jar' is it feels a lot like the passage "my cup runneth over." Its only April and my jar is already filled, to the point that I may have just underestimated how committed I was going to be to this daily challenge, because I may have bought too small of a jar. A larger jar is an upgrade I am excited to invest in.

Not only has it changed my daily mindset of how to approach things differently in professional and personal settings, I really can't wait to get to the end of the year now so I can dump out all 365 gratitude notes on my coffee table and read them back to myself. Some I know I'm going to laugh at; others I will cry at for good reason; and I suspect that at the end of the year, I will know what areas of my life I'm routinely grateful for.

This has been one of those goals I've loved executing everyday that really, anyone that has access to pen, paper, a jar/box of some type and a commitment to do it everyday, can do.

It is a worthwhile #2017 goal that has had such a profound payoff.. and its only April!