Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Volunteering is Caring - #GGCaring




It’s amazing how one thing, one person, or a team of people can have such an immense and lasting impact on your life.  For me, that thing happens to be volunteering.  It’s more than a way to get involved, to get to know my community or to connect with others. It’s a way to help, it’s a way to give back when I’ve got so much, and it’s enriched my life in so many ways – more than I can count.  That’s why I am so delighted to share more about my volunteer experience, as well as the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. This truly special award recognizes the valuable contributions of caring volunteers who accomplish so much yet ask for so little in return. 




As for me, I’ve been involved in volunteering in a wide variety of areas, from festivals and events to youth programs and not-for-profits. That said, the program that I’ve been part of the longest (and you may remember me mentioning before) is my experience with Forum for Young Canadians.  Forum is a non-partisan program that allows high school age students from all corners of Canada to come to Ottawa and engage with Canadian politics and public affairs.  I was initially a participant in Grade 12 and I had such an incredible time. I was so inspired by getting an insider’s view of how things work in our nation’s capital as well as by engaging with people my own age on issues important to us and to Canada. The program left a lasting impression – I was determined to share that experience with others 

I first came back as part of the logistics team in 2005, helping out with all of the behind-the-scenes action that makes the program run – from organizing room set-up, escorting students on visits to Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court, and Rideau Hall, to photographing the various sessions, to training Polling Clerks and Deputy Returning Officers in our mock election, to acting as master of ceremonies for talent night, to helping to organize and run a formal dinner with program sponsors and Members of Parliament at the Chateau Laurier, and so much more.  Through it all, I've worked with many teams of absolutely phenomenal volunteers.




One thing about volunteering is that you often end up working with interesting, engaged, caring and like-minded people.  The people I've met volunteering have become some of my very best friends (Looking at you #lifeohlife crew!), have helped me network, have helped encourage me in my career, have supported me (and others) – and all of this in addition to supporting the work of a not-for-profit and program that we hold dear.

Programs like Forum wouldn't be able to run without their volunteers. Unsurprisingly, most of these volunteers, more often than not (at least in my experience), are unfailingly humble about their contributions. Many, who I've met and worked with, are happy to carry out their work behind the scenes, lifting others up, supporting, and most importantly caring, without asking for anything in return. 


I think that’s why I so appreciate the idea of the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. It recognizes the contributions of these valuable, wonderful, humble people – “individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter and more caring nation”.  These are the often-unsung heroes who work tirelessly to help others, to the betterment of their communities, their country, and all who come in contact with them.  I don’t know about you, but I could rattle off a lengthy list of volunteers who would be deserving of this award, and certainly a nomination (which you can do here in 3 simple steps).  I truly feel that this is a wonderful way to honour Canadians who have given so much to others. 


Want to know more? You can find all of the details about nominating a deserving volunteer that you know at caring.gg.ca.  


This is a sponsored post in collaboration with the Rideau Hall Foundation.  I am so absolutely proud to share a post about something so worthwhile as the Caring Canadian Award, especially given that volunteerism and volunteers have played such an important role in my life.  Thank you for supporting partnerships that help make this blog possible!
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Friday, June 12, 2015

Intentional Gratefulness v.9

   
It is currently my very favourite (albeit very short) time of year - when the lilacs are out! It's the time of year when I am often known to stop every time I see a lilac bush and just envelope my whole face in the gorgeous purple blooms that smell better than pretty much anything else.  I think it recalls the nostalgia of a beloved hiding spot on the property where I lived growing up - a little hidden spot inside a ring of lilac bushes.  I would hide there even when not playing hide and seek, just sit surrounded by gorgeous flowers and their intoxicating aroma - it was absolutely heavenly.  I think those happy memories combined with the beauty and brevity of these flowers fills me with delight each time I encounter them.  
   
So what am I grateful for today? The fleeting few moments of late spring when I can surround myself with these fragrant flowers that give me a moment of blissful enjoyment and pure happiness whenever I encounter them.  
   
What have you been feeling grateful for lately?
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Monday, June 08, 2015

10 Ways to Transition Your Wardrobe Through Weight Loss



When I embarked on a journey towards a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body, I knew there would be challenges and obstacles to meet head-on, hard work to put in, and temptations to overcome. A lifestyle overhaul was in order, for sure. After putting many kilometres in on the jogging trail, making multiple trips to the gym, and adapting a renewed view on clean, healthy eating, the progress began. Thanks to this lifestyle change -- no fad diets here! -- over the course of the last year, I've been able to shed 65 pounds and move down from a size 18-20 to a size 12-14. It has absolutely been a rewarding journey thus far! And the rewards are definitely motivation to continue. 

But, along the way, I realized that my wardrobe needed some major changes as well. Garments (and in some cases, shoes!) that had been in major rotation became far too big, while favourite items saved from before I'd gained weight were still much too small. I certainly didn't want to break the bank by investing in a new wardrobe at each of five size changes I've had thus far, but I still wanted to dress the body I had in a stylish way. Over the course of this (very much ongoing) weight loss process and transformation, I've picked up a number of ways to transition my wardrobe along with my changing shape, and I wanted to share 10 of the tricks I've learned along the way, especially for those who may be facing a similar sartorial challenge.


1. Shop, and EDIT your closet
It's crucial to take a long hard look at what you already have. To streamline, donate or sell things that no longer fit. Get creative with pieces you already have, or have a second look at things that may previously have been a touch snug that might fit after a few inches lost. I often started out feeling I had nothing to wear, when to my surprise, there were already some decent options hiding in my own closet.

2. Hit the clearance rack
If new is the only way to go, shop those sale racks. When I knew my shape would likely be changing again, I wanted to scrimp and save on clothing items wherever possible. Sale and clearance racks allowed me to find what new pieces I needed without spending heavily on a temporary wardrobe.

3. Embrace knits
Of all of the items in my closet, I found that my knitwear was what was most easily adaptable as my size changed. Fitted sweaters became looser fitting, of course, but most still managed to look slouchy instead of sloppy, and I was able to use those as key transition pieces. Crucial.

4. Online marketplaces are the greatest 
I found so many plus-size (and later, straight size) picks on eBay and kijiji from great brands that allowed me to pick up on-trend items for a great price. Similarly, selling off my outgrown items helped add a few dollars back to my pocket, which is always a good thing.

5. Accessorize
During the weight loss process, my wardrobe became much smaller, simpler and streamlined out of necessity. To change up my look when certain pieces got repeated, accessories (that always fit!) --from bags to shoes to statement necklaces and more -- made a huge difference in changing up a look.

 

6. Befriend your tailor
At my biggest, I didn't invest in many pieces I wanted to keep. However, there were some items that I really loved and wanted to keep, even though they no longer fit. Rather than getting rid of them, I took them to the tailor. Often, getting pieces taken in is much more economical than you'd think, and certainly much easier on the pocketbook than buying a whole new garment.

7. Belt it
Honestly, I don't know what I would have done without my selection of belts. From giving shape to suddenly sack-like shift dresses to magically holding up loosened trousers, skirts, or jeans, they were, and are, essential. Pro tip: Play with layers and lengths to cover up the dreaded belted fabric-bunching with a tunic, blouse, or sweater.

8. Shop secondhand
Thrift shops are always a treasure trove for adding unique pieces to a wardrobe, and they especially come in handy when trying to maintain an often rapidly-changing wardrobe on a dime. More than once I'd bring bags of clothes in to donate, and then spend some time perusing the racks for new-to-me items in a smaller size. Win-win.

9. Stretch is best
Stretch jersey and ponte fabrics have been a staple throughout the weight loss process. The same goes for denim -- look for stretch! As an example, I was at one stage wearing jeans two sizes too large that still looked flattering (as long as I wore the aforementioned belt) because of their all-important stretch. I'm not suggesting buying stretchy items in a too-small size and squeezing into them, but rather simply sticking to forgiving fabrics will still work even as you transition to a smaller size. As always, I focused on dressing the body I had -- it kept me feeling motivated and positive, rather than stressed about the size I hadn't yet reached.

10. Swap it
Let's face it, clothing swaps are always a good idea. But certainly swapping was one of my favourite guilt-free ways to freshen up my wardrobe while dealing with transitioning sizes. I'd hand off too-big items to some friends, while others would hand down to me items they'd similarly outgrown. Whether formally organized or a fun swap between friends, clothing (and accessory!) swaps are a great for those striving for style on a budget.

These are a few of the tricks I've picked up along the way (and am continuing to use after PEI's longest and worst winter ever -my running routine suffered!). But certainly, the most important weight-loss style lesson I've learned? Love and dress the body you have now, no matter its shape.

On a similar journey? I'd love to hear your stories and tips! 

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New In: Beauty




I was, recently, lucky enough to get away to the mainland and Moncton for a weekend getaway with my best friend Holly. We had an absolutely wonderful weekend that involved great chats, delicious dinners, and of course, some shopping around the city.  Finally getting to visit a Sephora and MAC in person after so long had me in absolute heaven. You'll hear me gush about the gorgeous items I picked up (and all of which I am SUPER happy with) in the video above.  
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Island Snapshots v.5: North Cape

  
A major positive of living in a remote corner of PEI is the abundance of beautiful scenery.  I spend more evenings than not discovering and exploring some new-to-me shores and vistas.  Prior to moving here, I hadn't spent much time in the western part of PEI but it is just as lovely and breathtaking as the rest of the little Island that I love.

One of my favourite places to go for a walk (and especially to watch the sunset) is the westernmost tip of the Island, North Cape.  It is home to wild cliffs, crashing waves, a trail that passes along the shore and through the woods, not to mention the constantly beating blades of the well-placed windmills (it is the. windiest. spot. ever.).  I often have it all to myself, although I suspect that will change as summer visitors come and discover this lonely corner of the isle where the Gulf of Saint Laurence meets the Northumberland Strait.  
  
I never tire of the smell of the salt in the air and the sound of waves crashing on the shoreline, it is a combination that always brings me back to a place of peace and relaxation = bliss.  
  
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