As some of you may know, I moved back to Canada after spending nearly 10 years (off and on) in London, UK. While it's absolutely amazing to be back surrounded by all of my fellow maple syrup loving, overly friendly, beautiful Canucks, I kind of forgot about one major issue:
And I'm not talking about the dusting of snow that Londoners would get here and there (and yes, the entire city would shut down). I'm talking about 40cm of snowfall in an afternoon; temperatures of up (down?) to -45 degrees celsius (yes you read that right. Celsius. Go ahead, read that sentence again) with the windchill. Don't know what a windchill is? Count yourself lucky.
I'm talking about winters that stretch from November to April. The kind that, by March it's a slushy grey mess and the "fun" parts of winter begin to dissipate. Skiing is on its way out, the trails for snowshoeing or hiking with the dog are sloppy and the bright sunshine that once reflected off that powdery white stuff is melting into the grey skies of spring.
Now don't get me wrong. I'll take the above versus winters in London (or any weather in London really, because let's be honest, their seasons are a little less apparent than ours). The dampness doesn't sink into your bones here, the snow is generally quite pretty and fluffy, the sun usually shines bright and it comes with a number of amazing winter sports.
But, I have realized that there are a few ways to survive winter now that I'm back. The fact I have a South African born, British boyfriend means I'm seeing winter through his eyes now too - eyes that are usually seen only through the slit of his scarf in these really cold days! So in no particular order, here's my survival list:
1. Take up winter hobbies. Yes, this is easier said than done when the wind is blowing, you need to dig your car out of the driveway, put on 15 layers and wait for your car to warm up. BUT, you can find local trails for a hike (with the dog is our fave!) and find a pub/cafe/restaurant nearby; slap on some snowshoes (surprisingly not very expensive) and head into the forest; hit the ski slopes for some downhill, or borrow a pair of cross country skis to tour around. Also on my list this year? Rent a fat bike - I've been wanting to do this since they first came out and have yet to do! Also fun? Get chummy with friends that have some (or all of the above) like our neighbour who has three snowmobiles that he leaves the keys in so anytime we want to go for a ride, we're good to go!
2. Make plans to get OUT. Another one that is very easy to let slide. Hibernation mode is a real thing and it can be so tempting when you're looking at another snowstorm rolling in. But as long as you've got a good set of winter tires, and the roads are clear, make plans to get out! I make plans to go to yoga, meet a friend or client for coffee or glass of wine, head for a guitar lesson (ok mine was cancelled this week due to a snowstorm followed by freezing rain but shit happens), my boyfriend and I went to a dance lesson last week then had margaritas - change up the routine! Whatever you have to do to stay motivated when the days are short and the weather isn't kind. Hit the gym on your way home from work, meet a friend for a drink or work from the coffee shop for a bit. You know the saying, 'misery loves company'? Never has this been truer when talking to a fellow Canadian about shovelling your way out of the driveway to get your caffeine fix at Starbees.
3. Get good at hygge (hoo-gah). Ok I know this contradicts the above, but there's a time and a place. After a long day skiing? Enjoy your après ski at home next to the fireplace. Pour a glass of wine (or two, or three - you're not driving anywhere else today!) and embrace the cozy side of winter. Our pup is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and while he loves running around in the snow, anything too chilly and he's out. I can put him in the warmest coats I've bought him, but at a certain point, it's time to head inside. So slip into those yoga pants, thick reading socks, park it on the sofa and get your snuggle on.
4. Plan a trip (or at least daydream!). Statistics show even looking at images of exotic locations or daydreaming about your next vacation can do wonders for your mental health. We have a trip coming up to Bahamas in February and I cannot wait to feel some sun on my (pasty) skin. When the snow is coming down? I can sit smugly knowing I'll soon be on a white sand beach, sipping a cold cocktail, with the snow a million miles away. Equally, when you arrive back from said vacation, you'll need to still look at those photos, because that warm vacation feeling you were rocking only days ago? Ya, that will be long gone.
5. Supplements help. This may not be for everyone but seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real thing and a daily dose of Vitamin D has certainly helped me stave this off! I could have used it as well in London due to its lack of sunny days but better late than never!
6. Embrace the seasons. I feel so lucky to be back in Ottawa. This part of Canada has such distinctive seasons and I've loved embracing each one. Without our cold, snowy winters, we wouldn't have our hot and sunny summers, or our colourful falls and refreshing springs. I also think it's what makes us Canadians so unique - we bond through the tough times and celebrate the good ones. When I see snowstorms covered on the news here, you know what's often shown? The guy that skated down to his local Tims after freezing rain last week. The community that helped each other dig out their cars after a huge snowstorm. The many winter festivals on offer with large turnouts, or the sheer number of people skating on the Rideau Canal daily. You see, winter isn't something to dread, but I think it's something to lean into. Even when this is my current backyard:
How about you? How do you embrace / enjoy / get through the winter months? I'd love to hear from you! Until then...stay warm! ❄️
At some point, I really started to live by this motto.
I think it was around the time I was going through a divorce in my twenties. I had all of these big dreams and goals of what I wanted to achieve with my life and sadly, that relationship wasn't very conducive to that (amongst other things).
Starting life anew, alone for the first time as an adult, in a foreign country was damn hard - and freaking scary. But I knew in order to become the best version of me, I was going to have to put myself out there and soar.
Traveling around the world networking with some very important people, my first real interview, being filmed for live reporting, taking street dance and ballet classes, enrolling in a writing course, taking up yoga, joining a cycle club, my first race, getting my own place, going freelance and needing to be responsible for my own pay cheque each week, moving to a new city and having to make new friends, learning guitar.
All are things that I had to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. Of course I was nervous. Of course my anxiety was riding high. On my way to some of the above, my stomach was often flip-flopping.
But, I also just said to myself, "fake it til ya make it" and it immediately put my mind at ease. Plus, worst case scenario, I could use it in my memoirs right? 😅
The latest undertaking is the guitar lessons. I bought a cheap guitar when I was in London and it has sat in a corner for the last three years. I tried to do the online courses and just couldn't wrap my head around it. So, this week I went to my first lesson and had all those same feelings. I was worried I would look stupid or have no idea what I was doing. Which, having never played a guitar in my life, of course I would have no idea what I was doing!
But I left that class on such a high - the pride, accomplishment, and excitement with starting something new reassured me it was all worth it. And I guarantee you, all of the other people you see when scrolling through instagram doing something exciting, transforming their lives, travelling somewhere exotic - all of them had similar fears and feelings of doubt before they started too.
So why not try something new yourself this year? I promise you won't regret it!
I get a lot of questions about what it's like working for myself from home. They usually fit into one of two categories: "Oh did you post your photo to Facebook today? All done for the day then?" (my dad) to "How the hell do you find the time to juggle so many different clients and types of work?" (usually every other person who has ever worked for themselves in freelance).
Obviously we tend to lean toward the latter - working for yourself brings a certain hunger that I have to admit, makes me sometimes miss the steady income and monotonous office life. It brought stability even though it lacked a few things: mainly passion and challenge. As a writer and marketer, we crave a little bit more. We tend to feel things differently, crave emotion in a different way and want to help others do the same for their brand/magazine/company/whatever it may be. We're also a new generation up against the old ways of doing things. I recently tried to explain what I do to my boyfriend's mother while on a safari in South Africa and I realized this is not only a job that didn't exist 10, 15 even 5 years ago, it's also having to explain how people engage with the world now.
And while it definitely has its perks (I wrote about this in my last blog post): work wherever you want, while you travel, while you sit in pjs, while you drink your second or third cup of coffee with your pup - guess which one is me? (Oh wait, are all of them me? 🧐?) What I have discovered is a few life-saving things to help create a routine. So if you also work from home, maybe some of these items will help inspire you? And please comment for other tips that work for you! Let's lift each other up!
1. Create an inspiring work space. This can change and evolve day to day. Sometimes it's Starbucks, sometimes it's your couch, sometimes it's the kitchen table. My biggest change recently? I FINALLY ordered a desktop - iMac (yes I am 100% an Apple yuppy with every product I can get my hands on). Having a set "office" has created such a creative outlet for me - I brew a cup of tea or make a coffee, head to the office and just switch into office mode. I find hours can go by and I'm so much more inspired here lately!
2. To-do lists. Post-Its, workbooks, notes in your phone, pen on your hand, lipstick on the mirror - I don't care where you write it down, just do it! I suffer from self-diagnosed OCD (that's a thing right?) I love creating lists and ticking items off. Not only that, it lets me see what's high priority and what can wait. When you have a number of different projects or clients on the go, it also lets you switch hats just a little more seamlessly!
3. Take breaks in nature. I have to admit, I started to do this more once our pup Kingsley came along. But it has been such an incredible boost! Writers block? Overwhelmed? Need to change focus? Getting up, and getting out can do a world of difference to your mental state and therefore your creative state.
4. Connecting with other humans. This one can be incredibly tricky when you work from home! But don't belittle the banter you'd experience in an office setting. Bouncing ideas off of other people, taking a break from your workload, or just pausing to meet a friend for coffee can do wonders for your creativity and mental health! And no, sadly, your pet doesn't count - it needs to be a two-way convo!
Have I missed any other tips for maintaining your sanity while working from home? Feel free to comment below! 🤓
Work form home co-workers not so hard working...
I wanted to wish a very happy 2019 to you all and let you know that yes, I am still here! This blog part of my website has always been close to my heart, but sadly it is often the first thing to fall to the wayside when the days and weeks start to get busy!
But I wanted to sign on today to let you know, that moving forward, one of my goals is a weekly blog post for 2019! I don't love public vows for new year's resolutions (for the obvious fact that majority of them end up being a bust which leads me to not updating on them, which leads to less blog posts, which leads to where we are right now!).
I'm going to be honest - 2018 was a bit of a tough one as well. I moved back to Canada at the end of 2017 after almost a decade in London UK. The adjustment to a slower life out in the country has been a little trying at times. It's temporary and we're looking to move this spring (yay adulting!) but throw in a relationship (with a foreigner I uprooted to come with me!), friendships old and new, family commitments, career growth and a puppy (freaking adorable puppy but still) made this year one of the most trying in a long time. I found I let things pile up on me more than I have in the past - my motivation and drive to work on myself took a nosedive in the latter half of the year.
2018 was also the first year I worked full time start to finish for myself as a freelancer. The freedom it provides is obviously the top attraction for many people - no sole boss, no stuffy office, no annoying team building days. But it can also be very isolating and taxing. There is no "off" time when you work for yourself. I find I constantly blur the lines between "working day" and "off the clock". These are constantly shifting. Work is also usually a constant on vacation which makes it hard to switch my brain off. Setting boundaries is something I'm working on to make sure I'm giving 100% of myself (and still have 100% to give).
Now I'm going into 2019 a little more organized and aware of what this process entails. It's scary but it's also exciting! Along with continuing to work in the luxury yachting world as a marketer and freelance writer, I'm proud to include two new clients in my portfolio for the future - both are part of the local community in different fields, and that was a wee goal of mine for 2018 - grow that sense of community that I found lacking in a big city like London.
And I'm not writing today to say that the clock changed to 12:01 on January 1 and suddenly my perspective shifted. I'm saying it's ok to not have all the plans work out; it's ok to not have 10 resolutions to become the best you; it's ok to have them and not reach them too. Because of this overload, I didn't even have a bright idea of what I wanted to accomplish or create in my 2019 until halfway through the Christmas break when I locked myself in my office and wrote a few things down. I always have plenty of little goals flitting around my head - I have become that person that normally has three or four different books on the go - but I wanted them to be tangible and smart about how I wanted my year to unfold.
So with a new year beginning with new promises for the year ahead, I thought I'd share just a few of the items I jotted down (perhaps these are the ones I'm most sure about but who can say!)
How about you? Have you set any goals for 2019?
*Not forgetting to show gratitude for all the amazing things that also happened in 2018, a small highlight reel: