Monday Five

So I’ve been away for blogging for some time now. Just about 3 months, actually, which is probably the longest I’ve gone without blogging for as long as I can remember.

I thought I might try and get back into things by talking about 5 things I’ve been up to in the last few months. My blog has always been the place where I can look back and re-visit any time in my life, so it only seems fitting that I should at least make an effort to record the craziness of 2014 so far.

1. In January, the CASA Cares team started getting into serious planning mode for our 11th annual charity fashion show. We hosted weekly practice meetings for the models, and I spent a countless amount of hours visiting venues, and putting together the bigger details (like the name, theme, etc). It was by far the biggest event we planned of the year, took a total of 5 months of planning, and was one of the most rewarding experiences of my entire year.

Tickets

CNTM1

modelz2

The event came together amazingly well (of course there are things I can imagine doing differently now) but we had one of the best groups of student models I could have ever imagined. They went from a group of strangers to a team of dedicated individuals who really made the show one of the best ever.

The fashion show took place at the end of March, and was probably one of the most stressful days of my life… Ever. Seriously, organizing a 500 person event with a team of 17 executives was hands down of the most trying moments I might ever have to go through. But I learned so much, and love my team even more for going through all of it with me.

fashion showAt the end of the show, my team presented me with flowers. Such love <3

2. The main reason that I kind of disappeared for 3 months is because I did this crazy thing and ran in the University-wide elections to be the President of the Union that represents all 40,000 undergraduate students. It took months of preparation and putting a team together. We poured our heart and souls into a campaign, we put so much trust into each other after having known some of each other only for weeks. It was probably the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done, and I genuinely couldn’t imagine having done it with anyone but these other 7 people.

experiencecsu

We ended up losing the election to one of the other two teams that ran. I haven’t spoken much about it since finding out two weeks ago. Coincidentally, we got the results the night of the fashion show, right after the event was over. It was such a “circle of life” kind of moment, one year coming to an end and finding out that the following year would be going in a complete different direction than I had planned. It hasn’t been easy to readjust.

I don’t think I’ve ever gone under as much scrutiny as being a Presidential candidate in these elections. We spent a good month preparing our campaign, posters, platform, and then we had just over two weeks of actual campaigning in school to do. If I said I slept 4-5 hours per night, I’d almost think I was exaggerating. Those campaigning days are still such a blur to me, I sometimes don’t even know *how* I got myself out of bed every day. But I did, and it was hands down the craziest experience (no pun intended on our team name) I’ve ever undergone in University.

3. I applied for another internship too soon after elections were over, and found out I wasn’t accepted for that either. Hey, if I’m writing a candid blog post on my life, it has its ups & downs. There have been a lot, and I mean a LOT of both recently.

4. The interesting thing through all of this is that I’ve learned a heck of a lot about myself. Okay, so maybe I’m a little bit less confident in myself some days than I used to be, but I know I just haven’t found the opportunity that’s right for me just yet. It’s scary, because I’m turning 25 in just a few months, and I just imagined myself in a very different place right NOW, but that’s part of life- right? It’s not always sunshine and rainbows. Life is also about rejection, and failing at some things even when you’re doing awesome at others. I’ve taken all this extra time in my schedule to find myself again, fall back in love with my favorite things that took a back-burner in all of this mess, and that’s been really nice. I started reading again, seeing friends, family, sleeping, and even planning to go to some concerts in the near future.

The GirlsCelebrating one of my best friends’ 25th birthday, worry free in April. <3

Some days I wake up and think that things really do happen for a reason, and other days I wake up wondering why I can’t just get *one single thing* that I want in life. I’m melodramatic sometimes, what can I say. I’m kinda scared to see what this summer holds for me, in all of its unpredictability. But scary isn’t necessarily bad. I have so much wide-open-time to find another extraordinary opportunity to go after!

5. My niece is here! I’m ending this long-rambling blog post with some good news! She was born with several complications, but everything is looking up officially. I got to hold her for the first time over the weekend and she is just the sweetest, most precious little thing I’ve ever seen. Well, at least since my nephew was born! I can’t wait for her release from the hospital (soon, I think!) to spend more time with her. Yay, babies. :)

Eliana

I’m an auntie… Again!

Dear Eli,

I remember the day I found out about you for the first time like it was just last week. I was docking in Miami after a week-long cruise through Central America, and your dad sent me a text message with the news- I was going to be an auntie again. I was OVER THE MOON, what a way to end a vacation, right?! We had just spent a week in Miami earlier that month as a family, all your grandparents, your parents, your brother, and me (family vacations are the new thing since your brother was born) and it just felt like all was right in the world.

Fast-forward to 5 months later when we discovered you weren’t just a baby, but a baby girl?! The entire family nearly fell off their chairs with excitement. We have all been SO anxious to meet you. These past 9 months have simultaneously gone by in the blink of an eye, and yet I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to finally hold my niece in my arms. I’m such an emotional auntie- you’re going to have to get used to that.

You were born yesterday, April 8th 2014, at 7:27am, but not without a few complications along the way. You are a sweet, quiet, calm 6.5 pound baby (so little!) that has a few little obstacles to jump over before you can settle happily into the crazy family that you’ll soon get to know. Your existence is still so surreal to me, because I haven’t been allowed to hold you yet. I’m already so sad and nostalgic for Day 1, that memorable day where we’re all supposed to say hello to you for the first time, and yet we all have to wait just a little bit longer until you’re feeling better.

I told you I was an emotional auntie! Already sad and nostalgic and you’re barely a day and a half old… I mean really.

It’s been SUCH a different experience, seeing you come into this world compared to your brother. If I’ve learned anything in the last 2 and a half years with you brother, it’s to enjoy every single day with you, instead of looking ahead to what you’ll do next. These first days are so precious, and I can’t wait to finally spend some time with you and see what you’re like.

I wrote a letter to your brother on the day he was born that looks forward to all the things I wanted to do with him. I’m not going to do the same for you, because you’re already such a different case, and you’re making that very known to the family. Instead, I’m going to keep sending you love, positive thoughts, and enjoy seeing your sweet, squishy little face in all of our arms.

I am just so excited to really see you and hold you for the first time, even though you’re already here, I can hardly think any further than that yet. Soon enough you’ll be playing with barbies, wearing dresses, and breaking lots of boys’ hearts. I’m going to be patient this time around and spoil you every day that I get to see you until those days come around.

Keep on fighting, you are gonna be one hell of a tough cookie later on.

Love always,

Auntie Melissa

Favorite Reads of 2013

For the last few years, I’ve become even more of a reader than I ever was growing up. I was really set this year on getting through a huge amount of my un-read bookshelf, but as life sometimes goes, I didn’t. I went months without picking up any book at all because I was just too busy and had zero desire to.

That’s not to say that I didn’t read at all in 2013, though. Actually, some of my now all-time favorite books I read for the first time this year. In no particular order, here were the ones that really stood out:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore- read my review
I can’t remember the last time I loved a fiction book this much. I had been meaning to read it for YEARS, but finally a good blogger friend, Jessica, convinced me it was time to pick it up and that I wouldn’t regret it. I actually re-reading this book in the last two weeks of December because I knew that to get back into reading, a favorite novel would do the trick. I loved it JUST as much the second time around.

kristin

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Another book that sat on my shelf for far too long. I read this book while I was on vacation and, even though I knew everyone loved it, was still completely caught off guard by how much the story impacted me. I haven’t had the chance to read his other two books yet, but I do plan to in 2014.

khaled

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor- read my review
2013 was the year I discovered my love of fantasy novels, because this one also completely blew me away. The storyline is so out of the ordinary, but I just could not put it down for the life of me. I’ve been meaning to read the sequel ever since, but didn’t want to wait two years for the third to come out! I would have to say that Laini Taylor and Kristin Cashore have some of the most eloquent & beautiful writing I’ve ever seen in YA novels.

laini

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahallan
This non-fiction book tells the story of the author who develops an extremely rare disease that literally turns your brain against the rest of your body. It was pure luck that a doctor would finally diagnose her correctly when she was on the brink of losing herself completely. The book is extremely well researched and includes pieces from videos, her journal, and the few things she does remember from that time in her life. As a past Psychology student, this book fascinated me from start to finish.

susannah

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I’ve never been big on thrillers, but the way Flynn manipulates the reader throughout this entire story is absolutely insane. I know not everyone likes that feeling very much, but I think it’s the sign of being an incredibly talented writer if you can have everyone believe with such certainty that a certain story-line is developing, when in fact it’s entirely another. SO GOOD.

gillian

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
I went through a YA fantasy phase this year, and after the other two I needed my fix! Jessica is always the best at recommending so I trusted her 100% and was not disappointed in the least. I am a big fan of all these emerging authors with these completely out of the ordinary stories to tell! Definitely check this one out if you’re looking for a good fantasy ready, but nothing too over-the-top complicated.

leigh

Behind Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
I’ve always been very interested in Indian culture, and this non-fiction book, written by a journalist, tells the story of a group of families that live in an Indian slum, and how all their lives come together. They are in fact all real people, but the way she wrote her book, it comes together much in the way a fiction novel might. It’s really eye opening to see how some people are forced to live on the other side of the world, and how corrupt their government is. It’s hard to believe there’s nothing we can do from the comfort of our homes, when these people live with almost nothing.

katherine

 

What were your favorites of the year? Any must-reads in 2014?

Well, that was fun, 2013!

I remember when 2012 was coming to an end, I was  bit nervous. Last year was so wonderful, and I was worried that 2013 just wouldn’t be able to match up- no matter how hard I tried.

But on the contrary, 2013 has been one of the most amazing years of my life. It had its ups and downs of course, but I also learned so much about myself in the process. I wrote a post at the beginning of the year and said:

I want to make 2013 matter in the grander scheme of things. I want EVERY year to matter, but now that I’ve experienced Great Big Things, I want to continue to experience them without feeling like a new year means a new me. I want to always improve on myself, yes, but I don’t want the experiences of one year to negatively affect how I view the next, like thinking they can’t match up to one another.”

I completely forgot that I had even written that, and just came across it now. I’m happy to say that I think I found a way to make this true for myself. Because 2013 was VERY different from 2012, and I imagine 2014 will be even more different than the last two years combined, but everything happens like a domino effect. I’ve realized that if I want something, if I want something to happen for myself, it’s not TIME that will matter, it’s the choices that I make and the chances that I take on myself.

Here’s a little look back at the last 365 days:

January 
- I set some New Year’s Goals that I stuck to for a little while, but life just got so hectic that I didn’t keep up very well after the first few months. I think this is the first year I can say that I did not pay much attention to goals. Luckily, some of the ones that I *didn’t* think I would accomplish I actually did, without even realizing I would. So that’s pretty cool!

- I read like 8 books this month, which would end up being almost half of what I read all year. SAD FACE. I only read 23 books all year (I actually read one book, Graceling, twice!) I’d really like to get back into reading more in 2014 again. I’m not too sure why I stopped!

February
- Attended the first annual Entertainment & Management Conference at McGill University in Montreal. It was SUCH an awesome day, and my first conference ever attended. I just registered for this years’ as well… Only one month away!

desautels

- I started my blog feature ‘Five Songs That Changed My Life’ which I kept going for 6 months before deciding to close it down. I had always wanted to invite bloggers to take over once a week for a feature, and opening it to music lovers was the best way to do it!

March
- I found the time to do a lot of writing around the internet, apparently!

- I went on a road trip to New York City with three friends from work. I hadn’t been since 2008 and had been DYING to get back there. We spent three nights, and I fell right back in love with the city that never sleeps.

nyc

- Ending my first year with Casa Cares, we hosted our annual fashion show benefiting the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. We spent MONTHS putting the event together, and raised almost $20,000 for the cause. It was such an amazing night, and it’s also when I started announcing that I would be next year’s President!

fashionshow

April
- I went on a road trip to Boston for the very first time with a friend, and spent the weekend visiting their concert venues (ha)! On our first night there we went to see Andy Grammer & Parachute, and on our second, we saw Andrew McMahon, one of my absolute favorite musicians. If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time you’ll know that I’ve been a fan of his since 2004, and this was the first (and only) time I met him. What an epic weekend! I also discovered one of my now-favorite bands, Erland, who opened up for Andrew that night!

andrew

May
- On May 1st, I officially signed my papers to start my one-year mandate as Casa Cares President. I’m about 4 months away from my term coming to an end, which is CRAZY. Time flies! I remember how scared and excited I was to get started, and now we’re just a few events away from the end of the year.

president

- I interviewed Joe Trohman and Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy for CONFRONT Magazine towards the end of the month, and I can still say hands down that it’s in my Top 5 interviews of all time working for the magazine. I wrote about it over here. You can read the feature article on the bands’ break-up and reunion here! So glad to have these boys back.

June
- I went on (another) road trip to Toronto with one of my best friends to see Taylor Swift & Ed Sheeran on their North American tour together! We also went to the MMVA’s red carpet which was a pretty cool experience. But really, hanging out in TO for a few days & being away from home? Much needed.

We’d bought our tickets for the Swift/Sheeran show almost 9 months in advance (such Ed Sheeran fans we are!) but it was still bittersweet, knowing I wouldn’t be seeing him for a few years while he records his next album. Three times in two years was pretty great.

ed

July
- I turned 24!! I celebrated quietly with some friends & family, and it was all kinds of lovely. I also decided to start a second 365 Photo Project on Facebook, which I’m not almost halfway through.

365

- My nephew was baptized and I officially became his Godmother, too! It was pretty neat. My best girl friends came to celebrate!

baptism

- I went on a mini one-day road trip to some random town to see another favorite band, Jimmy Eat World! It’s been a while since I had seen them, but this year was extra awesome because THEN WE MET JIM ADKINS. Apparently it was the year to meet favorite musicians, that’s three more down!

jeww

August
-  I always look back fondly on the month of August, because it always seems to be the month that I leave for vacation! This year was no different. I spent one week in Miami with my family, fell in love with yet another city of the world, and then headed out on my first ever cruise with one of my best friends. We went through Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Grand Cayman, and one final day in Miami when we docked. It was beautiful, a tiny bit more expensive than I had planned, but so great to get away for two weeks.

liberty

- When I got home from my cruise, one of my best friends came over and asked me if I’d like to be the maid of honor at her wedding in 2015. She wrote me a nice card and EVERYTHING. I can’t wait! The next day was her engagement celebratory brunch, and that’s when I realized I’m at the age where I have FRIENDS getting MARRIED.

maidofhonor

September
- The semester of crazy began. Casa Cares hosted like, 4 events to kick off the year, which meant lots of long, tiring nights spent at school. I didn’t realize JUST how much work this year would be, so September was a nice little wake up call. I started off pretty stressed, and did my best to enjoy it more & more as we went. I think after our huge 20-team soccer tournament being such a success, I realized that although it was a LOT of work, it wasn’t as scary as it felt in the beginning.

casacares

October
- School, school, school. My social life revolved around it in October with more outings related to University life than ever before. Between events, midterms, doing interviews to hire the second half of my team for Casa Cares, it *kind of* felt like I lived in my office! But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I discovered multi-tasking, getting work done & still having time to see friends on a WHOLE new level.

schoolife

- My nephew turned TWO YEARS OLD, and I got to announce that I was going to be an auntie for a second time. I would (2 months later) find out to a little girl. Yay :)

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- On a whim, I applied for an internship position with this extremely cool adventure travel company called Beach Travellers. I went through 3 rounds of interviews, and then? I got the freaking job. They also invited me out to a retreat in Tofino, British Columbia in mid-November!

BTwelcome

November
- 2013 was the year of opportunities! I was offered the position of Music Editor with MTL Blog, one of the biggest online websites for 20-something Montrealers. I’ve spent the last two months getting more & more used to the position, and can’t wait to see what I get to do with them in 2014!

- I spent 3 days in Tofino, BC with Beach Travellers. I literally got on a plane from Montreal to meet 15 strangers, and by the end of our first night it felt like I’d known them forever. It was, hands down, one of the coolest weekends of the entire year.

wedotof

- Casa Cares hosted our last event of the month, a gala for Movember Canada! Actually, we hosted something like 7 events throughout November, but this was our biggest by far. In total for Movember, we ended up raising almost $8,000. It was such a crazy month for my entire team. Between getting our new executives settled in & continuing to plan events AND getting through finals? Man, my team is one hell of a talented bunch.

moo

December
- We had to put down my dog that we’ve had for about 15 years now. I was really quiet about the whole thing because my mom brought him to the vet on the day of one of my finals and I just wasn’t in any way prepared to deal with it. But it’s been very strange without him around, he was a great dog for a very long time!

- I got to go into an interview with two members from The Wanted. I think they get a lot of bad press (One Direction rivals, just another boy band, blah blah) but they were honestly HILARIOUS and I had a great time. Very cool guys.

thewanted

- My month-long hiatus from blogging was definitely due to the fact that there was A LOT GOING ON. Between two weeks of finals, going back to work full-time for the holidays, meeting someone that I started seeing, spending time at the MTL Blog offices, & of course the holidays, it was a crazy crazy time. But of course, I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

cd1There was no one picture that included all those things, so here’s a cute one of my nephew instead :)

2013 was definitely very good to me. I’m going to try not to be too worried going into 2014, and instead just enjoy the good times as they come. I’m turning TWENTY-FIVE in just 6 months. Time to make the rest of my early 20′s count!

Happy New Year! 

Merry Christmas!

So… I’ve been a little absent from the blog world. Hi!

Things got a bit hectic around here, and even though school ended two weeks ago, that just made no difference whatsoever because I was still very busy. Luckily, I managed a few days off for Christmas, and ended up sleeping at my brother’s house on Christmas Eve. My nephew was beyond excited that we were having a sleepover, LET me tell you!

IMG_4460My mom left in the afternoon on the 24th to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, so I forced her into taking a selfie with me before she headed out!

IMG_4465My nephew and I had some fun sending Christmas snapchats to friends on Christmas Eve before dinner. :)

IMG_4477My sister-in-law makes some seriously good food, but this homemade ice-cream cake was AMAZING.

We spent Christmas Eve relaxing among family members, eating lots of food, and of course, my nephew completely wore me out- as a two year old might. By 1am, I was lying on the floor completely exhausted, and he was racing around the 10-person dining room table with the radio blaring in the background. I don’t know where the kid gets his energy.

We went to bed around 2am. He was a big fan of the idea that I would be sleeping in his (Queen size) bed with him, which I did. He didn’t know it was Christmas, of course, but he was awake at 7:30am the next morning anyways, and by 8am I had a toddler hovering over me wondering if I might make him some breakfast. So, you know.

IMG_4480The family slowly woke up, and my sister-in-law made some more kick ass food before we attacked that awesome pile of presents. And yes, that is the Empire State Building made out of Lego on the right hand side. Last year, my brother and nephew had made the Twin Towers for the holidays. It’s a bit of a tradition to have Lego monuments in the house!

IMG_4483Christmas Brunch is the best kind of tradition. Anything with hash browns, really.

We took a little break in between breakfast and presents to play karaoke, because my nephew is a VERY big fan of singing. My brother found us some sweet Justin Bieber karaoke tracks and we had some fun doing that for almost half an hour. Of course, my nephew out-sung the two of us!

IMG_4493Presents were opened! This kid makes Christmas so exciting for all of us, honestly.

IMG_4498After presents, the entire family was back to being exhausted, so we all took naps! I hid away with one of my favorite books I’ve been re-reading, Graceling, and got some good alone time in. It was so wonderful. Best way to spend a Christmas afternoon, if you ask me!

IMG_4502The rest of our day was just as relaxing. Even my nephew took it pretty easy.

IMG_4505His relaxing escalated rather quickly when he refused to have any clothes on, but we let him. Because Christmas. ;)

After a quick (but oh so relaxing) two days off, it was back to work for me on Boxing Day! There is never much rest when you’re working retail in December, but it was nice to take a couple days and just do a whole lot of nothing with family. I’ll be doing the same thing for New Year’s, and I can’t wait. School already starts back up in about a week, and then there won’t be any time off for the foreseeable future. I wouldn’t have it any other way though, really!

How was your Christmas?

2013 in Music

lorde

I can’t remember the last year that there was SO MUCH good music that came out. I don’t know if it’s just that I kept up with more of it this year, or everyone just chose to release music in 2013, but my God this list took me about 3 minutes to put together. I wish I was kidding.

The worst part is it doesn’t even include all my favorite albums, and there is still a list of them that I’ve been meaning to download a copy of and just haven’t gotten around to yet. Yes, 2013 was definitely a good year in music. It wouldn’t feel right to go celebrate 2014 without properly honoring my top 10 of the year (and honorable mentions, of course), so here we go. Maybe you’ll find some good new music to end your year off, too?

10. Little Comets- Life Is Elsewhere
I discovered this band when reviewing their debut album for Confront Magazine, and it’s absolutely stunning. What a talent, and I can’t wait to see what they do next! The song below is an acoustic version of one of their tracks, and it is just gut-wrenchingly beautiful. I love when singers have voices that are completely out of the ordinary.

9. MS MR- Secondhand Rapture
Definitely a break-out band in 2013, this indie/pop duo completely won me over. I love the new indie/pop genre and I think their debut album really captures everything that’s fun and beautiful about it! I’m also a big fan of the male-female duo, which is a rarity in music today.

8. Twenty One Pilots- Vessel
This album should be much closer to #1 on this list, but there were just too many GREAT records this year. This one is by far the furthest from my usual style. T.O.P are a hybrid between pop and maybe a little bit of rap and something else, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what. I can’t BELIEVE this is their debut. I think I just love every band signed with Fueled By Ramen. I can’t wait to see these guys live. I have literally had this record on repeat since it came out! The song below is a favorite for sure.

7. The 1975- Self-Titled
I’m sad I didn’t give this album a chance sooner, because it is AMAZING. I can’t believe I’m saying this for the fourth album in a row, but this is another stellar debut album in 2013. Their indie/rock feel is so spot on, and the lead singer’s voice gets me, without fail, on every song. The one below just happens to be a favorite at the moment, but the entire album is goosebump-worthy.

6. Paramore- Self-Titled
I’ve loved Paramore for so long, it was SO good to see them come back with some new music this year. Although they do sound a bit different on this album, while still being so distinctly themselves. I love hearing how much they have grown and improved as a band over the years. Seeing them live a month or so ago only solidified how freaking amazing they still are. Hayley Williams is so kick ass. :)

5. Jimmy Eat World- Damage
Another long time favorite band, I had to give this record a few listens before really falling in love with it. It seems to be that way for all of their new releases, but when it hits me how good their new music is, I just can’t get enough of it. Another solid Jimmy Eat World album to add to the collection!

4. Erland- On Our Side
I discovered these guys back in April when they played the opening set for Andrew McMahon, and it has been love ever since. I’m almost surprised that I put this album in my top 5, but it seemed like such a natural thing to do after listening to it pretty much nonstop since I first picked it up in April. So talented, and I do hope they make it out to Montreal some time soon. They put on a great live show!

3. Fall Out Boy- Save Rock & Roll
I have to admit, I did not love this album when it first came out. It didn’t make sense to me like their previous records, and I really REALLY wanted to love F.O.B now that they were back together. Finally, after interviewing them & hearing all the songs live, the album just STUCK and now I cannot get enough of it. So happy to have them back together! (I’m still coming to terms with their Pax-Am songs… Not sure what those are about yet)

2. Icona Pop- This Is… Icona Pop
I reviewed this album for Confront Magazine, and it still remains the only album to EVER get a 5 star rating from me, ever. It may not be particularly deep in terms of lyrics, but you won’t get another feel-good record like this one. Another stellar indie/pop/electro record in the books for 2013!

1. Lorde- Pure Heroine
This girl gets the #1 spot, hands down. I have never been so blown away by a debut. Or if I have, I certainly don’t remember it. I could literally listen to every single song on Pure Heroine on repeat, all day. I can’t believe she recorded the entire album at the age of 16, and now at 17 she is taking the musical world by storm. If you ever trusted me on music before and you haven’t listened to Lorde yet (I don’t see how this might be possible) then I highly suggest you checking her out right now!

Honorable mentions: 
Vance Joy- God Loves You When You’re Dancing
Andrew McMahon- The Pop Underground
Kings of Leon- Mechanical Bull
Panic! at the Disco- Too Weird To Live, Too Rare to Die

What were your favorites? 

Life, Lately

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Life lately has been very busy. Sometimes it feels like I won’t ever see the light at the end of the tunnel, but then I hand in another project, or cross another item off my to-do list and I feel like I’m taking another step in the right direction.

This year has been amazing, life-changing, and ultimately has pushed and pulled me apart in so many ways, sometimes I’m not even sure how I got here in one piece.

Since coming home from BC last weekend, I’ve been immersed in catching up on work. I took four days COMPLETELY off, something I didn’t even realize I could do or, really, just how much I needed it. I came home feeling so refreshed, making it that much harder to jump right back into the toughest part of semester. Finals.

I’m ready for this semester to be over, enjoy the holidays with family, and start fresh in January. There are so many things to look forward to in the New Year, I don’t even know where to start. I remember when 2012 ended and 2013 began, I was scared. I felt like 2012 was this big, amazing year, and nothing would top it. The truth is that 2012 ended up being the year that I learned how to embrace opportunity, and that has followed me all year. Now, I’m excited for the next challenges to come. Bring it.

scaresyou

Life has otherwise been a blur of late nights spent at school, early mornings rushing back out of the house, a few home cooked meals, some evenings spent with friends, the occasional social outing, lots of coffee, more coffee, wanderlust, trying to get back into writing, scrambling to get through all the projects and finals coming up, organizing the last few events with CASA Cares, and settling into a new rhythm that includes my two new jobs with MTL Blog and Beach Travellers.

I’ve been trying to keep making time to see my nephew, who still seems to be growing in leaps & bounds each time I see him, and more recently I’ve decided it’s time to pick up a book again. It’s definitely been a struggle to read even just a few pages each day because my brain doesn’t feel like it can function after my 18-20 hour days, but I miss it terribly. I miss being a book nerd.

These last few weeks of semester are bound to go by faster than I can even imagine between finals and events, but there are a few things I’d like to be doing in the midst of it all:

- Get back into reading. Like, seriously.

- Avoid spending money on silly things, especially food at school. Save those pennies for travels!

- Find time for friends & family, however possible

- Don’t stop writing

If I’ve learned anything this semester, it’s that I sacrifice the things I love too easily. Since coming home from BC, I’m so inspired to pick up my  hobbies again and do the things that make the tough days a little bit better.

How’s your life been, lately?

Tofino, BC- Part 2

On our final full day in Tofino, we were going surfing! I had never been before, so it was quite a terrifying (but memorable) experience. Our surf coach was a really rad guy who used to teach surf lessons for Beach Travellers in Costa Rica, and he made sure everyone was comfortable going out there & knew all the important safety rules before heading out.

After we all struggled into our wet suits, he got us all settled on the beach and gave us the basics to try and get us up on our boards during our first lesson! Even the seasoned surfers sat in on the lesson and helped to make sure we understood what was going on. We were SO lucky, after two days of chill and rain, it was a bright & beautiful sunshine in Tofino. Such a perfect day!

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The girls, all suited up!

IMG_4041Mandatory (and oh so awesome) group shot with surf boards

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Surf lessons on our fake boards in the sand!

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A few of us walking out into the ocean!

Overall surf experience for me was a bit scary. Luckily one of the guys stayed with me for a little while and managed to help me through my first massive wave which took me under water and completely caught me off guard. This city girl was NOT prepared for the freezing cold waves in the Pacific Ocean, but I’m definitely glad I gave it a shot. I ended up spending about half an hour-45 minutes in the water, and then spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the beach, going into the ocean in my wet suit, and of course taking pictures!

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That night was our most epic, in all kinds of epic proportions. We headed back to the beach house around 3pm where most of us spent a solid hour in the hot tub warming up before showering, and getting into our onesies for our themed party that night. It was a literal evening spent in PJ’s with some beer and awesome people.

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Group onesie shot!

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Loved that shark onesie!

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The game got serious, but ultimately Mike & Robbie deserved that win!

Our jet lag and early start to the party meant we were all peacefully asleep before 1am (although it definitely felt like 4!) but it was better for us, because the 8am wake-up for breakfast the next day would have been even tougher on us all. Our last morning in Tofino was just as amazing as every other day, just much more sad. I didn’t think it would be so tough to say goodbye, but spending four straight days completely stress free was ultimately the best thing ever.

IMG_3991The waitress was kind enough to get a panorama shot of everyone together! Such a great way to end the weekend.

IMG_3993Breakfast at The Spotted Bear was SO yummy. I ate like a champion all weekend!

tofino9Kaz and I at breakfast, looking tired, but so happy :)

We had a bit of time to spare before we had to load up the cars and head out, so we wandered around the little part of town we were in. It was all surf shops- very quiet and quaint- so I headed up the street where you had the most beautiful view of the mountains and the docks.

tof11I was so sad to leave, I felt like I was just settling into this beautiful new place!

tof12One last picture in Tofino <3

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We finally had to say goodbye to the BT guys who would be staying in Tofino for a few more days, packed up our BT vans, and started making the drive back to the Victoria airport. I would be traveling for the longest that day- we left around 11am and I wouldn’t get home until 8am the next day! I was very sad indeed. Luckily, I got to sit in the front & we jammed to some great tunes for five hours, enjoying the gorgeous view.

tof14The clouds were falling from the sky into the mountains on our drive home

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Despite having a 3 hour layover in Vancouver, surrounded with everyone’s stuff and all of us sitting in a circle on the floor, I just had this moment of clarity, reminded me that I feel most like myself when I’m traveling somewhere new. Sometimes (like the two days leading up to my trip) I start to get really nervous or anxious about doing something so far out of my comfort zone (like meeting 15 new people across the country) but then I remember that it’s GOOD to do something that scares you once in a while. It makes life so much more interesting.

I came home exhausted, but so ready to start this job. I want to travel with Beach Travellers this summer. They won me over. I’m crazy about this company that I work for, and I want everyone to experience this kind of weekend but on bigger levels, in Thailand, Bali, and Costa Rica. I can’t wait to see where this SBM position takes me. If I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s that my life can be so uncertain, but in the best way possible.

Tofino, British Columbia- Part 1

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In my last post, I briefly mentioned that I got this amazing job as a student brand manager for a travel company called Beach Travellers. I had kind of applied on a whim, thinking that I loved travel and they seemed like a really cool company, so why not? I went through 3 rounds of interviews before being accepted and making it into the Top 10 SBM’s chosen. When I found out, I was in complete shock- all I knew is that I felt like I was getting a dream job AND they were flying me out to the West Coast of Canada for 4 days for a retreat.

Well, last weekend was that retreat. And it was so amazing to discover another part of my country. I absolutely adore traveling and flying, but this was the first time I would be getting on a plane by myself- nevermind the fact that I was flying three time zones away to meet 15 people I had literally never seen before in my life.

The weekend was kiiiiinda life changing. I’ve been home for about a week now and I’m still in that phase of being depressed and feeling like my brain hasn’t quite come home with me. Here’s what the first half of my weekend looked like:

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My alarm went off at 3am on Friday November 8th, and it was off to the airport in Montreal for a 5:30am flight to Toronto! From there, I met up with the four student brand managers who call TO home, and we all boarded a 7:30am flight direct to Vancouver, BC.

IMG_3807Montreal at 5:30am… I love my city!

When we arrived in Vancouver, we met up with another SBM as well as the Beach Travellers tour guide for Thailand, both who flew in from Edmonton. The 7 of us hopped a late morning flight from Vancouver to Victoria, where we would be meeting the rest of the SBM’s (who are from BC) and the gang from Beach Travellers for our 6 hour road trip to Tofino!

IMG_3819Victoria, BC from a tiny plane window. So gorgeous!

IMG_3825In total, we were 14 people in two vans heading out to beach city. We split up in the two cars & started making the afternoon drive up.

IMG_4044We stopped in Cathedral Park to stretch our legs and wander around a little bit. Of course, photo ops with the massive trees were a must!

IMG_4043We made another stop near this gorgeous waterfall overlooking all the mountains around us. It was breathtaking!

IMG_3885We made one final stop at Long Beach, Tofino, before heading to the beach house for the evening. It was misty and the sun was setting, but it all added to the charm of the place. We had all been in the car for close to 6 hours, and spent 5-10 minutes throwing around a freesbie and just running across the sand, soaking in Tofino for the first time.

tofino1Such a beautiful place!

When we got to the beach house where we would be spending the weekend, we were introduced to the two guys who founded the company & given our itinerary for the weekend (in true Beach Travellers form!) The rest of our night was free to do whatever we wanted, and we all ended up lounging in the cozy living room, playing a hilarious game called ‘Cards Against Humanity’ and basically getting to know each other better.

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It was crazy to think that I had met these people all within 12 hours, and I felt like I knew them all for so, so much longer. We all immediately got along super well, which made it so much easier to kick back and relax.

Jet lag settled in really quickly on all of us, so we had an early 11pm bedtime, which was all sorts of fine with me!

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The next morning, we all got decked out in our brand new Beach Travellers swag, took some pictures, and settled into the living room once again to get our SBM training. It was awesome. We got to listen to the entire history of the company, the breakdown of each trip & how they came to exist, all right from the two guys who make them happen. Basically, the end result was that I was pretty much ready to book my Thailand and Bali trips ASAP, like, get me a computer and let me put down that deposit right away.

tofino3BT gang signs, if you’re wondering what on earth we’re doing here.

IMG_3924After a very productive morning, we had some lunch & then headed out to Cox Bay for a little trek around the beach and up to the view points. It was so charming, despite the rain, I could have stayed there all day.

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We headed back to the beach house after about an hour or so, had a quick afternoon brainstorming session, and then got our things together for an evening out in Tofino! The guys of BT took the whole gang out to dinner at a place called The Shelter, and it was absolutely amazing. Lots of drinks, delicious food, and then a small trip to the Tofino Brewery ended off our second evening in town.

tofino8Beer in Tofino is so darn good!

Overall, our first day and a half on the West Coast were tons of fun. Even the “work” part didn’t feel quite like work.

The next day would be our free day in Tofino, and the guys were taking us surfing! It was quite an experience….

October Moments

Oh, hi there blog. It kind of seems like every time I’m feeling inspired to write, two more weeks fly by in the blink of an eye and my blog has fallen to the wayside again. Sad face.

Luckily though, it’s all because life is going on like crazy and I’m overwhelmed with tons of amazing things happening! Here are some highlights from the last month or so:

1. I survived nearly 3 weeks of interviews for Casa Cares and hired an additional 7 new executives for my team! We’re now almost 20 people total and I love each and every one of their faces. They’re such dedicated individuals and I couldn’t be more proud of how quickly they jumped right in and they’re ready to get to work!

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2. Throughout nonstop interviews I also managed to survive midterms. JUST BARELY, but I survived. Note to self: interviews + midterms do not mix. Luckily, it was worth it :)

3. There were some really beautiful, warm days in October before it started getting chilly and I tried to take advantage. Lunch on terraces between classes, cocktails at school watching the sun set, evenings at the park with my nephew, and gorgeous walks. November is already extremely cold and I MISS the beautiful weather, but so glad I enjoyed some little moments here and there before winter started to creep in.

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4. I hit 5 years at my current job, which is INSANE to me. That is 1/5 of my whole life (actually, a tiny bit more) spent in this place. I’ve grown up so much working there, and despite being retail, I couldn’t ask for a better place to spend some of my most life changing years. I was all nostalgic and emotional about it this month! Yay for random milestones?!

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5. My nephew turned two and it’s like this switch went off in his head and he’s an actual, legitimate, for REAL toddler now. I’ve referred to him as one for the last 6 months, but he is officially using words and he calls me ‘auntie’ in French and he actually asks for me when I’m not around. He’s becoming AWARE and recognizes me as a friend and it’s the strangest, cutest thing. We celebrated his birthday two weekends in a row which was lots of fun. My brother and sis-in-law also moved into a new home so we  had a house-warming and I just love “our” new house, ha :)

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6. Casa Cares hosted another successful event in support of Movember Canada! We had a cocktail event at our University with about 40 or so students, a guest speaker from the organization, lots of wine, food, cupcakes, and it was just lovely. Great way to welcome the new team!

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7. I was offered a writing position with a really amazing Montreal culture blog/website called MTL Blog. They are by far one of the most well known in the city and I have the opportunity to spend some time working on their music section. I’m so excited to bring Montreal music to more Montrealers, and it was really an opportunity that fell right out of the sky. Yay!

8. I pulled my very first, legitimate ALL NIGHTER at school. Literally stayed at school for 24 straight hours, and was awake for 33 total. I didn’t know what it was like to NOT feel human until I woke up the following day after 14 hours of sleep and realized it was like a haze had been lifted. I can’t say this was a “good” moment in the month, but as a BIG sleeper, this was definitely memorable, ha! Hopefully never doing this again, but definitely an experience for the books. I don’t know how students do this regularly!

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9. In September, I applied for a “Student Brand Manager” position with a travel company called Beach Travelers. Basically, it’s an internship with them to promote their brand across campus. There were over 500 applicants and only 25 total across the country would be chosen. I was one of them! AND? I’m being flown out to Vancouver for 4 days this coming weekend to celebrate. I’m so, so, SO excited. A little terrified, but I can’t wait to see what this internship is about. Oh, and I can’t WAIT to convince lots and lots of people to travel to beautiful parts of the world. It’s going to take all my restraint not to book every single one of their trips for myself!

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10. Between the CRAZY that is my life, I somehow found a couple days in there for myself. I caught up with some TV, some sleep, and tried my best to find ways to take care of myself so that I dont’ burn out. I can’t believe I’m surviving this crazy semester. I’m officially a big believer in “you make time for the things you love most”. No one can say that they “don’t have time” for any particular thing, because if you really WANT something, you will make it happen for yourself.

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How was your October?