Living in a Calculated World

Stories From a Country Girl

Its hard to believe it was 10+ years ago I first entered the world of blogging.

I look back on those days fondly.

{Now I know how most seniors feel when they talk the good ol’ days.. you know, those days before smartphones, technology and all this craziness}

But in all seriousness, even 10 years ago, the digital sphere was a different time.

(OK, now I definitely sound like a senior).  This may be the first blog post that ‘dates me’ as a human. Sigh.

Yes, it’s been that long since my ‘Stories From a Country Girl’ days for those blog readers who have so loyally followed me here all the way from then, to my Passionate Voice blog and now to my new home. Thank you to those readers for your continual support and readership throughout all these years 🙏 Even if there are only 6 of you 😉

I’ve been doing a ton of listening, conversing and reflecting throughout the month of January for work. It has me thinking of how we’re living in such different times than even a short 10 years ago from so many standpoints – in life, in work, with social media, technology, consumer behavior, disruption, the list goes on.

I’ve been thinking long and hard lately about the role of social media and the impact it has on our lives and our mental health. Its something that bombards us and inundates us both personally and professionally every day. We’ve never been properly trained in it and the research isn’t quite there yet to show the long-term lasting effects, yet we continue to use it at such rapid rates. I see firsthand and realize its benefits but I also see the cautions we need to talk about more, to engage productively and healthily with our social media feeds.

And this comes from someone who does social media for a living!

Even blogging 10 years ago was a completely different landscape. It wasn’t so ‘calculated’ as the entire world now is with blogging and social media. When we were blogging back in ‘those days’, we didn’t have to have well-curated graphics that had consistent branding with the ‘right’ fonts. We didn’t care about likes/followers, we just blogged about what we thought about and cared for and if the likes followed, then great but that wasn’t the end goal. We didn’t care about promoting our messages beyond our followers, trying to make our content ‘salesy’ for people to eat up and then buy from us. Hell, we didn’t even give the proper credit for graphics/photos when we searched on Google and used them for our blog posts.

Side note: If you previously read my SFACG blog when I first started, yes, the image above is my old header and no, I didn’t end up purchasing the image for $20 but I am at least giving image credit below 😉

I sometimes wish we had that type of freedom again.

To read blogs written in the ‘old school way’ of blogging. Or think in that easygoing way #FreeThinking. Or blog in the carefree way, whenever we wanted too, without the branding, the content calendar and the perfectly placed hashtags. Blogging in a world where we didn’t have to worry that if you said something that not everyone agreed with, you didn’t have to face the social media wrath you probably would today. I wish we all had that freedom to only care about ourselves and what we thought. And not in a selfish, narcissistic way, but a way that was healthy for us. A time where if you had something to say and wanted to passionately say it, you just said it (HECK YES!)

I really do wish some days we were living in a less calculated world. I miss those days of off-the-cuff randomness. Whose with me?

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Our Someday List - part I

Someday List

We all have a ‘someday’ list.

Whether that is a physical list we keep on our smartphone, a list we write down on a notepad, or a mental list we have stored in our heads.

A list of things we want to do.

Jobs we’d like to pursue or try [one day].  

Places we’d like to visit and discover.

New things we want to learn.

Books we want to read.

The goals we want to accomplish… someday.

Blog posts we want to write… and do.. and then they sit in the draft folder for a very long time (this is a huge problem for me!)

I clearly have a ‘someday’ list. I am the master of all list makers so of course I made a ‘someday’ list.

But slowly I’ve started realizing that while this list is a great idea, it sets expectations for a life I haven’t lived yet.

And so, I told myself this year; instead of continually adding to the list, why don’t I start DOING things off the list.

It’s what forced me, in a good way, to take the leap and step out on my own and start my own business. Because I’d always had that on my ‘someday list.

Its what motivated me to finally travel to Quebec City this fall with Andrew, after always wanting to travel to la belle province.

If there is anything parenthood has taught me, it’s that I want to start crossing things off my ‘someday’ list and actually start living the list rather than continually add to it.

Because I knew I would regret it if I didn’t start living life this way.

I realize there are restrictions and limitations to what we can do with our lists. Our dream jobs just don’t pop up. We can’t just all quit our jobs and go travelling. We would all love to spend money on experiences, yet we have to save money for our future.

So yes, we have to be realistic with what we put on our lists in the first place.

But the other lesson in all of this that I’ve tried to remember, is that we have a lifetime (hopefully!) to do all of the things on our someday list. So there is no point in rushing to get all the items done. We have a lifetime,  if we’re lucky to do them all. Of course, there are some things I am glad I got done sans children 😉

The point is, what are you doing now to cross that next item off of your ‘someday’ list if you have one?

Seize the day, friends!

… (and I’ll be back soon with part 2 as to WHY our someday list keeps growing instead of crossing items off).

Daydreaming and Boredom

Daydreaming and Boredom

These are two words you won’t hear a busy person say together very often. Or a parent.

I read these two words recently in an article and it hit me – just how much I wish I could pair these two words together in my life after a very busy fall.

I have never been a fan of ‘boredom.’ I was never that child that was ‘bored.’ I always found something to do.

And that translated into the rest of my life. I have never been bored and I never want to be bored. Period.

But it’s something that motherhood has made me wish for now. Those days as DINKS (double income, no kids) where we could get up at whatever time we wanted and do with the rest of our day how we wanted. Not on anyone else’s schedule but ours.

I miss those days of freedom pre-kid when we could let our brains ‘wander’ and daydream. Where if you got groceries and watched a movie, it was a ‘big Saturday.’ I never really appreciated parents saying this to me before kids. Now I completely get it.

The new mother in me craves these days. Especially recently. I wish I could let my brain have days where I was bored so I could only daydream. On days like Sunday’s before children, where I would get the best ideas because there was no expectation for my brain to ‘be on.’

If anything, becoming a mother and now an entrepreneur, I’m trying to train myself to daydream but in a more regimented/routine way. (Does this even make sense when you’re trying to daydream?!)

Isn’t the whole point of daydreaming to let your brain wander when IT wants too, not when YOU want it too?

Its hard to ask yourself to show up on Monday morning at your desk and ask your brain to ‘daydream’ as if its like a scheduled meeting.

But in this content-driven, communications world I’m living, now as a profession, I have to ask myself to do daydream in a more scheduled way.

Can other parents and entrepreneurs relate?

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Mondazzzze

Mondaze

How many of us sat down at our desks this morning, coffee in hand, ready to ‘relax’ by browsing blogs and articles, after a busy weekend of Christmas festivities?! (ME!)

With the busyness of this Fall and all that has come with starting my own business, I purposely decided to take a break from social media in the last week. Taking this much-needed time to step back and reflect is so valuable.. and so healthy (and needed!) in today’s over-connected society.

It finally felt good to sit down at my computer this morning to read blogs, news articles and catch up on what I missed lately. Here are some articles that resonated, maybe they will for you as well:

  • Speaking of taking breaks, Cait Flanders, a personal finance blogger who I followed since my Stories From a County Girl days, has decided to retire from blogging. I see her valid points in wanting to step back from everything and do things on her own terms (even though her audience will miss her!). This is a good read.

  • I’m going to keep this quick note saved somewhere to remind myself why, just one simple thing we do today, can change the trajectory of where we want to be in the future. Your future self with thank you.

  • On another Seth Godin note (his content really is so simply brilliant), I keep saying it, but I’m really going to try and make a consistent effort at this blogging thing. Its something I love to do and don’t make enough time to do. Every time I blog, I feel reinvigorated and happy. That’s enough reason to get back at this.

  • In addition to the words ‘innovation’ and ‘disruption,’ the other word I continue to hear referenced is artificial intelligence. This article was a good one, highlighting how AI and the algorithm are the way of the future.

  • I’ve been eating up everything Rachel Hollis says after reading ‘Girl, Wash Your Face.’ I happened to be browsing on her website and found this old article she wrote on ‘How to Start a Business.’ So timely in my situation! I loved her line “You can have a business or you can have a baby.” SO TRUE!

  • Once you’re done reading these articles, you may just want to listen to this Gerry Vee podcast. This interview with him is so refreshing, he shares so many good one-liners. I really have to read his books because I so appreciate his honesty and humour (and his swearing, I really am a fan! ha)

Happy Monday!

6 Lessons Learned #onthecampaigntrail

When people ask what I do/did for work, a lot of people seem surprised when I told them I worked at Queen’s Park in provincial politics. I’m sure a lot of people wonder, “How the heck does someone go about getting into a job like that?” The saying ‘Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” couldn’t be more true than the last four years of my career. I was in the right place at the right time with the right skillset that was needed. And it just happened to be in politics.

I was so honoured to serve in this capacity – serve the public and my agriculture community, using my communications skills to serve a man in politics who I was extremely proud to represent in the agriculture, food and rural affairs portfolio. This pride was evident when I made the decision to move back home to Peterborough this past May/June after my maternity leave, to help in the re-election campaign of the Minister I served, Jeff Leal. And thus began my #ONTHECAMPAIGNTRAIL journey that I shared on social media.

My campaign experience (and really, my time as a political staffer) was once-in-a-lifetime, simply because of the team of people we had. I shared my journey on social media to try and show the fun, quirky side to the campaign but also share the honest hard work, long hours and realities that are faced by volunteers when working a political campaign. And ultimately, to show people a ‘behind the scenes’ of what politics/campaigns really look like so more people know there actually is a real-life ‘West Wing.’

Disclaimer: I’ve never watched the full series of West Wing to know what exactly goes on, I’ve just been told I was the equivalent of C.J. Cregg 

And I speak so positively about the entire experience, despite the outcome on E-day, June 7th. Which was not favourable for us. Simply put, the voters practiced their democratic right and told us what they wanted. And it wasn’t our team. Despite that, I learned so much. I had 50 lessons I shared #onthecampaigntrail but I figured that may be too many to share for one blog post, so I narrowed it down to 6 lessons I wanted to share from the campaign:

  1. Respect means everything – My campaign experience was incredible because the voters were incredible. Full stop. The people of Peterborough were respectful, kind and cordial, even if they told us they weren’t voting for us. I was amazed at how many people knew about the election, knew of the candidates and the work that had been done for their city by Jeff. It was refreshing to see a city so engaged in politics and care so much for the people serving them. And yes, I was proud to not have one door slammed in my face during the campaign #goals. But in all seriousness, the same can be said for my time spent at Queen’s Park. Being respectful to anyone and everyone, regardless of party colour or role, is a simple yet smart tactic to use not only as a staffer, but as a human being.

  2. Nothing will replace face-to-face interactions with people – As much as I love social media, there is nothing more engaging then hearing what voters had to say in person and reading their body language (especially as I approached them with the red shoes I wore door knocking!) The conversations I had with voters were simply the best. I really wish that everyone had the opportunity to door knock on a campaign at least once in their lifetime. There is really no interaction like it – when you’re trying to keep things light while you’re bringing up something that a lot of people dread talking about = politics.

  3. There is no place like home – Rediscovering the city I grew up near, was magic. Walking the streets I’ve drove down so many times growing up; learning the rich history of the city (former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson once lived in Peterborough!); seeing the beautiful architecture, details and stories of the homes; and taking in the nature trails, waterfront and landmarks made the long hours of door knocking so enjoyable. Peterborough, you really are a beautiful city and gem to live in.

  4. If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life – Moving away from Blake and Andrew for three weeks wasn’t easy at first but doing the work I was doing with the team, made everything so much easier. Having the purpose and mission we had to represent a candidate that was so widely-respected made the long days bearable. I was so thankful for the technology we have so I could connect with Blake every night on FaceTime (and remind him what his mama looked like!). And an additional perk was that this was the longest time I had spent at home on the farm since before University 

  5. Small things make the biggest difference – Brewing coffee with your team in the mornings; picking up a sprinkled donut at the local coffee shop to refuel when you needed the sugar rush; finding a free book that you love, in a library on the front lawn of a voter’s house; seeing your campaign ad in the local newspaper; watching a young person interview your candidate; seeing your Premier knock it out of the park in a TV debate #SorryNotSorry; taking the time to stop to celebrate Blake’s first birthday during the campaign –  small moments like these kept things light-hearted at times when I needed to be reminded most that life will go on regardless of the outcome.

  6. Your dreams are bigger than you – And finally, by far my greatest lesson learned was watching Jeff Leal, our candidate on the campaign trail.  Watching a person of such integrity and commitment work the long hours he did, all for the sole purpose of wanting to make a positive difference in his community, reignited my passion for public service. There is a reason we have people in public office to represent us. To serve us. To uphold our democracy. To try and make our communities better places to live all for our benefit. If our public servants are motivated by the right morals and act from the right place in their heart, you only want to work harder for them. Canvassing and knocking on doors with Jeff opened my eyes to how much of a difference one person can make in the lives of others. He knew everyone – all of the small details, and he genuinely cared for each and every person he visited with. I wanted to work hard for him and succeed because of him. It didn’t seem like work, it felt like an honour. At the end of the day, while he wasn’t re-elected, I am certain that everyone in Peterborough respects him. They respected what he did for the city of Peterborough and are thankful for the time he gave as their MPP for 15 years. Working for a man of integrity & commitment who betters the lives of others made the outcome hard to understand but, I would do it all again. It was an absolute honour, Jeff. Thank you for allowing me to serve on the team.

One of the most common questions I got after the election loss was “Do you at least still have a job?” And sadly, no. All 400 political staffers lost their job as well that day on June 7th. But its something I’ve come to terms with. What’s the saying? “When one door closes, another one opens.”

The lessons I learned not only on the campaign trail, but as a political staffer over the last four years will be lessons I’ll take with me personally and professionally forever. Thank you to the party members, MPP’s, fellow staffers, media, personnel, kitchen staff, ministry staff, #OntAg stakeholders and to the legislature herself. It was a time, QP. This isn’t the end, politics.

One final thought from the campaign trail that couldn’t be more true for the times we’re living in but really, a reminder for life: Lose with dignity & never stop fighting for what you believe in.

Make sure to check back this week as I have some big, exciting news to share! 

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