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

2015 - A Year in Review

12015 has been a big year in many ways, with many highs and some unexpected challenges. Regardless, it has been a tremendous year of growth and reflection both personally and professionally. I started out 2015 with the idea in mind of 'forging a new path' and that, I did. It has left me SO excited for 2016 and the year ahead. It is exciting to think that today, January 1st, is the 1st page of a 365-page book that is waiting to be written.

Don't mind if I get started writing NOW.

Here are 11 particular experiences and memories that really made 2015 what it was - a year of perspective, growth, learning, perseverance and gratitude:

  • [1] New York Trip- A trip to New York in May with my husband provided exactly the right perspective for both relaxation and worldly experience that I needed and boy, was New York even more beautiful (and busier!) than I imagined. Visiting a new city is such a freeing feeling that really gets you in a different mindset. New York was a city with so much to do, see and appreciate. We definitely will be returning. As always, time will my husband is the best.
  • [2] The Year that was Trudeau & Politics - As a political nerd, I followed the federal election with intense interest. It was refreshing to see Justin Trudeau run a positive campaign (that won!) that promoted a hopeful message for 'Real Change.' It made Canadians reinvigorated to vote; interested in politics once again; and made Canadians realize the greatness and potential of our country just like I reflected this past summer. Trudeau's "Because its 2015" was simply brilliant. I feel so fortunate I was able to see him in action, in person, on the campaign trail.
  • [4] Making a Difference in Volunteering - My involvement with a number of boards and committees is where I truly feel fulfilled. I really do believe that everyone should be involved in an 'extra curricular' that is outside of their day-to-day work life. Something that brings added value to their life so they can feel they are giving back in a greater capacity. One of the newest endeavors I've been proud to help with and see grow this year is the Ag Women's Network in Ontario. It has helped start such productive and fruitful conversations for women (and men!) in the agriculture sector. Now that we've 'opened the can of worms' so to speak, there is much work to do that I can't wait to work on.
  • [5] Living by a Motto - I blogged this year about the quote 'Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone' and this motto was something I tried to work and live by everyday in 2015. At times it was scary. I can see why most people want to stay in their 'comfort zone.' Putting yourself out there with your ideas; attracting new clients; selling yourself; learning a new skill or hobby; or simply changing a habit, can be scary and daunting. But it feels so good to live 'life on the edge' by stepping outside of the boundaries of being comfortable. That is where I've made the greatest progress.
  • [6] - Taking Things to the Next Level - My #PassionateVoice work this year was extremely fulfilling and clients I worked with were amazing. It gives me such great pride and pleasure in helping others understand and recognize the importance of why they need to use social media and the impact it can have to show they are leaders in their field or industry. One lesson I am working on though is how to 'say no' to potential clients whose vision I honestly know doesn't align with what I offer. What I've realized more importantly though this year is that effective communication as a skill is becoming so invaluable (and so rare) as we introduce more technology in our daily lives.
  • [8] A Girl's Best Friends - If anything, this year made me appreciate even more so, the friends I have. They were there for me and understood when I necessarily couldn't be there for them in return. They were an amazing support system through the highs and lows. We had weddings to celebrate, experienced so many fun times together.. have I mentioned that my friends are a BLAST? You need friends who remind you why life is so great in times where you maybe can't see it yourself. Thank you friends, thank you.
  • [9] Home, When You Need to Be There - This past year brought unexpected and unfortunate news that my dad's cancer from almost a decade ago, had returned in early 2015. Its something I didn't share openly on this space and on social media. I spent a lot of time at home this summer, exactly where I needed to be. Helping out where I could on the farm, enjoying the small moments that truly mattered with my dad and family at our cottage. After prayers, treatment and healing, my dad is feeling great and ready to start 2016 fresh and put this 'hiccup' behind him. When family calls, there is no other option than home. I am utterly grateful for my dad's prognosis; the treatments and procedures he received; and the healing process he recovered from. #KeepFightingforaCure
  • [10] Exploring the Province - I am fortunate with my job to get to travel to all ends of the province and it has made me appreciate the beautiful province of Ontario that we get to call home. We are a melting pot of diverse scenery, cultures, tradition, landscape, people and 'quirks.' This year I enjoyed so many little 'jems' of towns and places across Ontario, including visiting Sudbury for the first time as one example. I hope to keep discovering and exploring the many 'nooks and crannies' of our great province.
  • [11] - A Bold Approach for a New Generation - This post I wrote in 2015 generated a lot of great discussion on social media channels and was something I was proud to have wrote. I am proud to be a Generation Y'er and see so clearly, the distinct differences we bring to the table compared to our predecessors. We have so much to offer the world, IF we can build off our strengths and work on our characterized weaknesses.

I'd love to hear what you learned this year ; what doors you opened or closed; and what brought you the greatest happiness, satisfaction or disappointment.