Travel. Travel was undoubtedly the most important source of my happiness and awe in life this year. Whether I was with my family in Maui (or there again with my friends, repeat offender!), exploring Paris with one of my besties only to join up with more of our crew in Ireland then Northern Ireland, visiting my sister in London, getting to see Greece (a lifelong dream) in the trip of a lifetime with my boyfriend or exploring the beauty that is all around us here in the West Coast, I had the travel bug bad this year and it’s not going away any time soon. Travel really is the channel in which all my happiest memories get made these days – it almost feels like my journeys are in hi-def or something along those lines, everything is experienced more intensely, vividly and joyously.
Redefining, recalibrating and growing. It’s hard to think that To Vogue or Bust used to be just a style blog. I love a good style blog but this time last year, I was feeling distinctly uninspired by what I was doing and knew something was amiss in my journey as a blogger. It was really a hard point in my life and all in all, it didn’t help that this internal struggle was being reinforced by a standstill in all other areas of my life. While a lot of people think setting goals and the like is bullshit, I for one look forward to this time every year because just like last year, it gave me a chance to really reassess. Once I thought about what did inspire me, what would make me happy and what I thought would give all those around me the most inspiration and value too, the solution was so simple – I had to grow my verticals. Fitness, travel, health, etc – all the things that I spend my days focused on and excited about were surely things that would perfectly fit into the umbrella of my mission: provide a roadmap to an exciting, full life lived with authentic style. As soon as I made that shift, not only did I feel myself literally explode with ideas, inspiration and excitement, but the universe similarly shifted. Opportunities that I am so thankful for began to come in and now, I feel like I’m on the right track. I know that mine is just one of many digital spaces out there in the virtual atmosphere but the most important thing is that I really stand by what I share, the brands I work with, the tips I give (that I hope help out whether it’s style, fitness, travel, etc!) and all in all, I’m just jazzed about what I do, and I really couldn’t ask for more. And on that note, thank you so much for following along on the transition.
Getting real on my health. I’ve always been a really athletic girl and was used to my body bouncing back no matter what I did to it, so ditching my fitness routine for a month or so while I travel then hitting it hard when I got home was something that I never even thought twice about doing. I really was fully convinced my body could do anything…or so I thought. I didn’t talk about it too too much on here but having my back fully go out on me this September (and still dealing with it even now) while training for my next half was awful, scary and a real humbling reminder that first of all, I’m getting old(er) so I can’t run my body into the ground anymore, and most importantly, that I need to listen to my body. It was giving me warning signs for weeks before my back spasmed so awfully that it sent my body into full shock (complete with vision/hearing loss, drenching myself in cold sweat, etc). When I finally saw a physiotherapist that day, she basically said all we could do was damage control for a bit – it was so spasmed and so locked up I could definitely not do any rehab exercises, let alone walk (the typically 10 minute walk that day home from physio took about 30 minutes and I got a lot of funny looks). From there though, a slow process of recovery began and I’m happy to report that for the past month or so, I’ve been working out pretty normally 5x a week, which I can’t stress enough is something I am so, so grateful for. Taking those couple of months off of being able to move really affected me both mentally and physically – as someone who has always had a natural urge to be quite active, it really messed with my mind, my self-esteem and as much as I hate to admit it, my body did change. As much as I was hoping I wouldn’t experience too much muscle loss, you just can’t go from working out the way I had been for years to nothing for a couple of months while recovering and not see some changes. Everything felt softer, I started feeling self-conscious in things I would never think twice about wearing before, etc. Like I said, humbling and a bit unnerving, even though appearance should be the last thing on my mind when all I had to focus on was getting better. Fortunately though, now that I’m back to my routine and finally feeling more like myself (again, mentally and physically – fitness/health is so key to my mental state!), I’m making a real heartfelt promise to myself to always listen to my body (meditation is big for that), to make sure that I’m getting as strong as I can in 2016 but to do it without hurting myself (I discovered some interesting spinal challenges I need to overcome but still, nothing that will keep me from living a full and active life) and all in all, just really recommitting to my health and fitness like never before.
Blue ocean. Finally, this was the year that I really implemented a blue ocean approach, which I learned from the lovely Marie Forleo. It’s basically both a strategic approach from a professional standpoint and a personal perspective that helps you see how in the marketplace (particularly in a very over saturated market like fashion/lifestyle blogging), to be both professionally successful and personally sane, you need to see that you’re in your own, unpolluted blue ocean. People who live in red oceans (bloody from their perceived competition – kind of a gross metaphor, actually) are typically easy to spot – they go on Instagram rants, they’re unsupportive, they write long blog posts hating on other bloggers or on social media itself, etc. I totally get it because this weird world we’re working in really sets you up for comparison – if you let it. But this year, though I’ve always made a point of trying to be supportive and am lucky to count some of my closest friends as fellow bloggers, I really took the blue ocean to heart and it made such a difference. As bloggers, we’re all individuals selling our individual brand, so as long as we’re authentic, we’re inherently in blue oceans as it is. I really made an effort to hone in on what I thought was unique about me, my brand and what I had to say and remained as authentic to that as I could – I have so much growing and learning to do but I definitely am happy to report that I feel a lot more proud and happy with the content and messages I had this year than ever before, and I attribute a whole lot of that to constantly repeating to myself “blue ocean, blue ocean.”
It’s become something of an annual tradition for Alicia and I to sit down with my brand new beautiful Design Love Co planner and chart out the next year – see last year’s post as evidence!
I know not everyone is into goal/intention setting but for me, with a mind that goes off at a million miles per hour and in a thousand different directions…well, the structure is needed. I’m very much a creative type but if I don’t set aside time to really create a vision, do the work of figuring out what I really want (can be harder to pinpoint it exactly without some work, trust me!) and literally pencil out what it is I hope to achieve…well, nothing would happen. Not everyone needs it but I certainly need to articulate what I hope to achieve, how I’m going to get there, why it’s important to me and when I’d like to hit that goal by. When I do this, magic happens. Not every goal or intention gets ticked off but miraculously, some often do – in fact, sometimes I surpass what I even had hoped for.
So without further ado, a few things that I am so looking forward to tackling in the new year.
Travel. Shouldn’t come as a surprise that the thing I’m most excited for last year (and the year before that, for that matter) is what I most desperately want to keep doing again this year. While I’m going to just keep doing my weird thing and flying out on a whim whenever I see a good sale (my most recent Maui trip literally came together in a week), I also am so excited to continue doing trips like Greece where I can work with tourism boards, hotels, restaurants, etc to really delve way more deeply into what each destination has to offer and to pull together incredible guides for you (on that note, stay tuned for staycation, Greece and Maui content in the new year – didn’t want to harass you with it with the holidays going on!). I want to explore Europe more deeply this year (on my wish list: Prague, the Scandi countries, Italy, Scotland and of course, more of Ireland, Paris and Greece, my faves) and I also really want to explore more of what we have at home or near us, whether it’s going on hikes in the mountains here in Vancouver or doing a road trip with my besties to California. Finally, I’ve always, always, always wanted to do Japan. It’s a bit of harder one to pull off but I’d love to figure out a way to visit it this year! Anything and everything is possible and I’m hoping you guys take the leap and go somewhere you’ve always dreamt of!
More changing and growing! This is getting boring, right? I’m basically just repeating everything I was thankful for in 2015. But really, can’t disclose too much but To Vogue or Bust is currently in a state of evolution under the expert eye of Sarah Konyer, and I’m so excited to reveal a space soon that will make navigation and exploration so much easier and really capture the more dynamic, multi-vertical quality that this space of mine has grown into. I also have a personal project in the works that I’m really excited to share, I have some new content I’m dying to put out and so much more. I obviously knew TVOB had grown into something of a business when I quit my day job to pursue it full-time but I think this was the year I really realized…it’s a business! I’m excited to look into some support, growing it into more of a collaborative/team approach and continuing to do my best to put out content that I’m proud of. And on that note, if you have anything you’d like to see more of or a topic you really want me to cover, always feel free to email me!
Buying my first place. Yup, I’m just gonna go ahead and put it out there. We’ve been dealing with a particularly large load of shit in our current space over the past few months and it made me really realize that while you can’t ever escape home stress (whether it’s in the form of repairs, stratas, etc), at least the home-related stress would be in regards to a space that is actually an asset to me. This might actually be more like a two year goal with the way the market is currently but if it doesn’t scare you a little, it’s not really a good goal. So there. This one really actually scares me and I’m not quite sure if I’m ready for it so all the more reason to put it out there!
Keep playing. I’m getting an electric guitar this year in addition to my acoustic and I’m just gonna keep playing, keep loving this hobby of mine and keep being that weird nerd who reads rock star bios on the regular, pilfers the record store and keeps trying to spam my Spotify account on you guys (username: tovogueorbust). I don’t know why music makes me so happy but it always has and I think it’s so important to have a hobby that you just do for the love of it, so if you don’t have one yet, I encourage you to get one! This one of mine brings me a lot of joy.
Stronger than ever before. As I mentioned in my look back at 2015, this year was amazing in every way but one: the major health setback I experienced with my back. I fully intend to make 2016 the year that no matter what, even if I’m on the road for a month I take care of my poor weird back, keep all the micro muscles that support it strong and never, ever, ever let this happen again. It will mean less running than I’d like (I have a flat spine and the impact really affects my lower back) so no plans for any more halfs this year, but I’m really excited to try for my first triathlon ever, especially as an ex-competitive swimmer who desperately misses hitting the pool and as someone who’s developed a big love for biking later in life. I think it’s the perfect combo of three things I love and to get there, I’m also going to be working hard at the gym, the physio, the barre and the mat to make sure I do it injury-free. To kick it all off on a good note, I’m also doing my 4th Whole 30 beginning January 4th just to get the new year off on the right foot (if you haven’t done a Whole 30 and are feeling sluggish, I promise it’s not that bad and it might actually help revolutionize the way you eat for the better well after you’re done). If you want to join me on the experience or if you want me to cover anything about it, just let me know!
Pitch something really ridiculous. Three times. I’m so, so, so grateful for all the incredible opportunities I had this year. It’s hard to believe that this time last year, I honestly was doubting whether I’d made the right decision going full-time. This has been such a fulfilling year for me professionally, but to keep things interesting, I think sometimes you need to get out of your work grind (even if you love your work like I do) and set your sights on something so ridiculous, so audacious, it can’t possibly work out…except it might. When I really let myself dream wildly, a few things come to mind as unfathomable but super amazing options. Host a TV series (maybe even a digital?) as I’m someone who for whatever reason actually really likes being on camera, get to interview some of my heroes (mostly all musicians), etc. There’s a very high probability that pitching out these ideas to the right people will amount to nothing…but it gets you thinking about what makes you excited and most importantly, there is that teeny tiny hope that it could turn into something. So here’s to dreaming big in 2016 and not forgetting to be ridiculous in your wishes sometimes.
And I think that just about covers it! All in all, I just hope I have an incredible 2016 in good health, with lots of eye-opening travel, new professional opportunities, the power to push my boundaries further back and to spend lots of time with my loved ones. I hope you all have the most incredible night ringing in the new year tonight and that you have the 2016 experience you deserve. I can’t wait to experience the year with you and on that note, I really, really, really want to thank you all for checking in, for supporting, for sharing and for being there. It sounds corny but really and truly, the heartfelt emails and comments I get from any of you mean so much to me. I wouldn’t be doing To Vogue or Bust if it wasn’t for you and hoping that I have a chance to connect with any of you, to share something that might be of use or to even just share a touch of inspiration when it’s needed are the reasons I do this. So thank you again for everything and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!