28 Lessons in 28 Pictures

April 8, 2016
Happy Friday guys!!! I am so excited to take off this weekend for a little birthday getaway with Matt and my family to the cabin – the big 2-9 is right around the corner (this Sunday, eep!) and I’m so excited to take on this year, especially since the last couple of months of my 28th year of life have been a bit more challenging than usual. Having said that, 28 is undoubtedly one of the best years of my life if not the best year. I had so many adventures, so much growth and it was just one of those years that really allowed me to experience life pretty damn fully. So naturally, I learned a few things over the span of the year – 28 in fact, for each of my 28 years (until Sunday that is, then we’re rolling into the quick slide to 30).
1. Expectations are the root of all disappointment – I’ve always been someone whose had maybe unattainably high expectations both of myself and of other people, and that saying is so true. I could have avoided a lot of anger, disappointment and hurt if I expected nothing and appreciated everything (the one exception is when you pay for something – then I’m a big believer that you should get what you bought!).
2. If you don’t have time to see your family (or at the very least, pick up the phone and have a catch up), you need to eliminate some things from your life. I had a couple moments throughout the year when I found myself going into work crunch really intensely which, of course, happens to everyone. My family really and truly is my world though, so when I discovered myself forgetting to check in or going over for visits, it was an automatic signal to me to pull back.
3. Listen to your body. I’ve never had to do this as attentively as this year! If you read my road to recovery post-injury story yesterday, you’ll know how big of an impact meditation has had. My goal for 29 is to feel full of vitality, respect my limits and to allow my body to show me what it is it wants (because our bodies are intelligent that way).
4. Get into nature as much as you can. Growing up in Lynn Valley, this used to not be something I had to consciously do. But now that I’m in the city and travel so much (usually to other cities), finding solace at the cabin, in the forest or by the ocean is so key to me. I try to get out at least once a week for a good uninterrupted hour.
5. Travel, travel, travel because you never know when you might not be able to (and I’m not just talking settling down or having a job that limits it – think injury, illness, etc). Having said that, I learned the hard way this year that you need to somehow find a balance too. Never a bad call to break up your trips and to allow for downtime afterwards too to readjust!
6. Turn off the TV. Matt and I both have such severe Netflix addictions it’s not even funny and we love following a storyline by watching a series, but we’ve made a point this year of turning off the TV and going to watch the sunset, doing a relaxing bedtime routine, going out for ice cream, etc. This is easy to do in the summer when we’re out all the time anyway but just as important when it gets cold out!
7. Carry-on only. Seriously, unless it’s for a fashion-centric campaign that I have to pack for, making the switch to carry-on only travelling has actually changed my life. See my carry-on guide here and my packing tips here.
8. Miss your friends? Catch up on an adventure with them. I’m so lucky to have literally the best friends in the world. They are so supportive, we’re all always there for each other and I just have the best time with them. The only drawback? We’re dispersed all around the world! Fortunately, we all love to travel and have made it an unofficial annual tradition to do a big trip together. Aside from the fact that having adventures with them honestly brings boundless joy to my life, we also get to catch up in a more intense way than we would’ve if it was just a visit home.
9. Sometimes, you do have to listen to that feeling of FOMO. Listen, I’m getting old (clearly). The temptation to stay in and do nothing has never been more intense in my life than in my 28th year. Would I rather hang out with a couple of my best friends and watch Broad City literally 99% of the time? YES! But sometimes, even if that temptation is at an all-time high, if you get that real gut instinct that you will regret not going out, you’ve got to listen to it. That’s when the best memories are made (like when we dragged ourselves out despite the crowds to see the Eiffel Tower sparkling with fireworks on Bastille Day).
10. Explore new places but know your happy places. Since I was a Francophone initially, I felt an immediate affinity to Paris the second I landed there years ago. I’ve been to Paris now heaps of times and people often ask why I keep going back (same for Ireland). But to me, I think there’s so much value in feeling a sense of home in a place you truly love. Go back again and again, get to know everything about it (though you never can know everything) and allow yourself to start feeling at home somewhere that isn’t home. I think that’s what makes the world feel smaller and to me, that’s a wonderful feeling.
11. And on that note, move away. I have been dying to move away for years. It is still in the works, trust me. I think there’s nothing that gives you a greater perspective, challenges you more and opens up your eyes. It’s been some time since I’ve made a big move somewhere but the time is nigh!
12. Dress up more. I was talking with Alicia about this the other day – especially when the going gets tough or when you’re in a stressful period, it feels so easy to default constantly to your cozies. And while being comfortable and classic is always the most important thing to me, I think there’s something to be said for not forgetting to make yourself feel special sometimes. Do your hair, put on some makeup and wear a pretty dress or beautiful heels – it seems like nothing but it can make a world of difference to your mood, especially when your mood needs a little lifting.
13. Be a tourist in your own city. I love travelling and love exploring new places, but Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. While I feel like most of the time, I do a good job of getting outside and seeing it, I always have those weeks (especially when it’s grey and rainy) when I legitimately hate the city. I tried really hard this year to make a point of seeing the city with fresh eyes and each time I do, I feel more grateful to live here and more in love with our beautiful (albeit expensive) city.
14. Take proper breaks. It’s part of the beauty and the struggle of a blogger’s work that you kind of take your work wherever you are with you. The only problem is that as blessed as I feel to be doing something I love so much, I really don’t take breaks…ever. This year, I had a little radio silence at various points (travelling, the holidays, etc) and it honestly helped me reset so much, plus it got me more inspired/excited.
15. Make your home (and your office) a temple. I’m not not tidy but I’m also not someone who gets a kick out of picking things up and scrubbing surfaces (because really and truly, I seem to have a lot of those people in my life). Having said that, when I’ve put in a concerted effort to make my space tidy, calm and inspiring, everything in my life kind of seems to follow suit. Happy I did a big clean last weekend in particular because there’s nothing like starting a new year off with a clean slate!
16. Aim for awe. There have been studies that support that the feeling of awe sustains longer periods of happiness and reductions in stress than other emotions you might have expected would make a bigger impact. I think it’s because when you feel awe, you have no choice but to be highly present (more on that later). I feel like that’s why people feel so much change and joy when they travel – you’re seeing everything with fresh eyes and so you’re in an almost continuous state of awe. It’s one of the feelings I’ve focused on attaining as much as possible this year and I can’t stress enough that each time, it’s created the most vivid memory that has sustained me through the tougher times.
17. Listen to others. I am a big talker. I can go on forever and ever and ever (as Matt knows too well). This year, I tried not only to just shut the eff up more often and to do a better job of listening, but I’ve tried to probe those closer to me too and to hear how they’re feeling. I’ve tried that especially in this 8-year long partnership (weird) with Matty boy and while he might say otherwise, I feel like it’s helped me understand everything a bit more and be a bit gentler since I have a greater understanding of what might be going on with him and in that head of his.
18. Tequila makes everything better. Picture above is proof. In fact, all of Maui was proof of this fact. That is all.
19. Beng positive is a choice. I remember hearing a quote from Goldie Hawn that went something along the lines of “I wake up every day so damn happy because I decide I’m happy.” I really tried to apply that to the winter this year – a time I typically really struggle with (S.A.D., that shit is real here in the PNW!). I not only made a daily commitment to just being happy and staying positive, but I tried to make the most out of the season too. Lots of cozy trips to Whistler, going up Grouse and so much more – it honestly made me so excited about winter and looking back now, what was typically a dark period was actually a particularly bright one.
20. Relax. Yes, everyone needs to cut stress out. But when doctors tell you to reduce stress, they rarely tell you how to do that exactly. As someone who probably runs at a slightly more high-strung level than most, I’ve got a whole arsenal of things that promote relaxation every day (meditation, aromatherapy, a soothing nighttime ritual, a nightly Epsom salt bath) and try to carve out time once a month to just spend a day doing nothing. My favourite way to unwind? Scandinave Spa!
21. If it rains, get outside and splash around. The first time my back went out on me, I was so scared by the complete shock it put my body in I didn’t leave the house for quite some time and could hardly walk as it is. The second time round, I went to Whistler the following weekend and did my teeny tiny stepping all around the village. Not only did it from a physical standpoint actually promote recovery, but just getting outside and having fun in the rain despite the latest setback helped me so much at a psychological level too, which in turn helped with my recovery. 5 months in since my last back sprain and I feel like I’m so much more empowered and ready to deal with the setbacks as they happen, and way stronger than before too!
22. As my lovely pal Alicia would say, OWN IT. I feel like this year, I messed up a bunch. I mean, I always do every year but just every time it happened this year, I felt that overwhelming sinking feeling. I hate “failing” and hate letting people down. But then, I started to shift my thinking – sure, I made unintentional mistakes (maybe timing on posting wasn’t great, I didn’t recognize someone on the street who I’ve met like 5 times before, etc). Everyone does! Just own it. Recognize it, see what you need to do if there is anything you can do and move on. In other words, own your mistakes, your flaws and also all the good stuff (your successes, accomplishments, chiseled six pack, etc).
23. Patience is a virtue. I’m currently dealing with something that is truly testing my patience and as anyone who knows me would say, it’s definitely not uncharacteristic, even if it is deserved. The thing is, impatience and stressing over everything actually impacts me more than it impacts anyone else (and usually the things that I get the most impatient about are work-related, deadline-driven – something I’m obsessed with but understand not everyone else is). So, lay off the gas pedal – do something else, take a break, whatever. Feeling overwhelming impatience is just likely to add to the pile of stress we all already have to deal with anyway.
24. Scare yourself. I actually like to scare myself but I feel like this year, I didn’t do as much of it as I usually do. It’s because like fitness, you kind of push your boundaries each time you test yourself, and it gets easier the more and more you do it to kind of then settle into the new limits you’ve created for yourself. The last time I was really scared was standing here at the Cliffs of Moher – I have an irrational fear of someone pushing me off a cliff (or down stairs, or off a bridge – a past life death maybe?) and was literally terrified when this shot was taken. But then, I felt that rush I had kind of forgotten about and it reminded me (just in time for the big 2-9!) to take more chance this year! I want to be scared more and I want to test my boundaries.
25. Embrace your damn shape. Every year I say I’m going to stop wearing minimizing bras and then every year, those stupid things keep somehow showing up on my body almost every day. I’ve thought about reductions but just don’t want to go through it so really that leaves me with one final option: let those 30F’s fly! Well, not fly – keep them holstered. But maybe show off the hourglass shape I kind of always feel like I’m covering up more! It’s weird because when it comes to workout gear or being on the beach, I could care less. But in my day to day, I still feel like that awkward brace-faced 14 year old who’s hobbled over because creepy old dudes keep staring at your chest and you’re heavy mouth breathing down at the ground trying to avoid eye contact. I mean, I’m almost 30 years old. Time to grow up, stand up tall and be proud of the back-breakers I’ve got (I mean, literally they hurt my back but whatever, more reason to do back strengthening exercises).
26. Be present every single day. For me, this was the turning point for everything. I used to get really bad anticipatory anxiety and it would affect everything (my digestion, my ability to focus, etc). Since I just calmed down and chilled out, it’s crazy how everything’s just dissipated. That is, until I forget to meditate or take a few minutes out of the day to just sit still, enjoy nature, breathe, whatever. I can always feel it because that same hamster-on-a-wheel cycle of thought kicks up again. So in my 29th year, same thing: find a moment to be truly present every day.
27. Don’t forget to be inspired. Since I started doing this gig full-time, sometimes it’s hard to stop and just read other blogs, read a magazine, get inspired by fashion week, a new trend I heard about, etc. I’ve been carving out time every day to read my favourite blogs (I’ll share some of my faves by industry [wellness, fashion, etc] soon!) and to brows Pinterest.
28. Be proud! Like so many of us, I am 100% my worst critic. I think I have a pretty solid sense of confidence and I genuinely do like myself (which I know sounds weird but it’s true, I legitimately think I’m the funniest person in the world so long as there’s no one else there to stare at me blankly after yet another one of my jokes). But at the same time, I get really down on myself a lot of the time. Usually, it’s related to work stuff or just my typical personal flaws, but this year in particular with 8 months of not being able to work out at the high level I was before, I really was body bashing myself for the first time since I was the aforementioned heavy-breathing brace-faced 14 year old. I mean, it was hard – being fit and athletic is who I am and not only was that temporarily taken away from me and affecting me at a psychological level, but physically too there was just no way I could keep up the same muscle tone and all that. But fortunately, I caught myself really quickly. I first made some of the necessary changes (upped swimming sessions so that I could get more cardio in, tried to focus on eating more whole, unprocessed foods more often) but then I really strictly prohibited any negative self-talk of any kind. It really did the trick – not only did I instantly feel better, but I honestly think I started to look better and I felt more eager to do the right steps to not only continue on my road to recovery, but to get stronger and healthier period. And I feel proud! And I think more of us should feel proud on a regular basis, not just of our appearance but of everything.
And with that, I have like ten minutes to pack for the cabin. I’m getting too old for these lists, I think I’ve got to cap it at 30. But thank you so much for reading if you’ve made it down to here now and for having read all this past year! It was such a big year for me and I feel so honoured to be sharing it with you. If you want to see someone thoroughly enjoying ringing in their 29th year with G&T’s and probably some ocean swims, make sure you follow along on Snapchat (@tovogueorbust) and tune in this Sunday!
Happy weekend loves!

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  • Reply Petite Paulina May 3, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Great post, thanks for sharing. It’s important to take a step back and look at what you’ve achieved every now and then. It’s so easy to get caught up with day to day life, we often forget all the little things we’ve done which are equally important as the big achievements.

  • Reply May 3, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Amazing words and advice. You really struck a chord on a few for me.. Especially taking time of each day to be really present. Love your blog. Keep up the great writing and beautiful pics.. And happy happy birthday. All the best

  • Reply Jackie May 3, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    This was such a great post!! Happy birthday – I\x26#39;m sure you’re having a ton of fun celebrating at the cabin right now!

  • Reply Lauren May 3, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Great post. I don’t usually comment on the blogs I read but I found this inspiring for my big year of change since having a baby. Great advice.

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