learning

the time i followed my ticker and hit the reset button.

I experienced a big (read: massive) life transition just over three years ago. A new city, solo status and wide open social calendar was my reality as I was welcomed into a pretty badass community. With like minded people surrounding me and opporunity a'plenty to get to know Vancouver on a whole new level, my once empty calendar was quickly jam-packed with coffee dates, workout plans and networking events. On a mission to 'do more' I layered on the commitments - what I can now identify as my 'feel less' tactic. The 'do more' turned into 'be more', 'connect more', 'write more', 'date more' - among others - which created some pretty gnarly 'less' activity. 'Sleep less' was a big one, with 'dance less' following close behind. My pursuit of stuffing what I was feeling by adding on more 'things' to life disconnected me from what mattered the most; my friends near and far, my family and most importantly, myself. Yet, while hindsight is 20/20, in the moment,'more' felt like the right and the only thing to do.

I was looking - searching - for an answer to what else I could be doing that would fill the empty feeling that I had  through long days of impactful work with fantastic people. All signs pointed to being in the best place possible to learn and grow a career with heaps of potential - yet I looked at myself with disappointment and frustration. How the heck could it be that by having such a full life I felt so empty? My 'more' mentality kept me moving forward, asking for bigger projects and expanding my working days well beyond the norm of the nine-to-five. And then, May 2013 rolled around.

May was a month of #wishbombs. June was a month of adventure; where Iceland was not only an uncharted travel experience but also a first taste of doing less and experiencing more. July was a tipping point where 'more' met 'enough'. August was a month of boldness; admitting that life wasn't working and making the claim that it was worth changing something; and resigning from a job that had supported me through three career changes in three years and never stopped believing in me or my potential. And it was bold to not know what I was going to do next. All I knew is that I was following my heart and getting back in touch with a part of me that I had quieted too many years before.

My last day at work, October 5, came around uncharcteristically fast; and with it, a day that I thought would be marked by tears, apologies, promises and yes, a red carpet and a marching band wishing me well into the next chapter of life. Much like every other Saturday this year, it came and passed without event. No pomp and circumstance, no red carpet, no marching band. Most suprisingly, no remorse and no regret. Let's be honest - there was fear coursing through every vein in my body and a sense of 'what now?' that I couldn't ignore. AND, I felt complete, in every sense of the word.

Now, I'm finding my happy. I'm creating and connecting. I'm writing, sharing, playing in new career opportunities and listening to heaps of really good music. My days are experiments in working some, playing some, drinking too much coffee and getting some time for me. And it's a fine balance - always trying to do what's needed in the moment and know when I'm going into 'more' over drive. Which doesn't come easy, but I'm learning.

So, here goes. I'm re-meeting myself. I'm getting to know the real Me and letting that whiskey-loving, Jess-of-all-trades, Americano junkie out. I'm writing. I'm storytelling about people that I think are interesting. And I'm learning along the way. Lots. Stay tuned for tales of travel, trials, tribulations, celebrations - you get it. There's more to come, always with a side of something to make you go 'hmmm.' Enjoy the ride.

#wishbomb

dinner with poppa robson happens every so often when business brings the big guy to the coast from our prairie origins. food and drink aside (which are always very much a treat) there seems to be a theme of my mind being blown by something wish (dad) sees and hears in me or is seeing or experiencing in his day to day that we end up ruminating on. tonight was no different - and I walked away with a lot of juicy Q's to dig into. what propelled me into a 'whaaaaaat!!' moment was the most innocent comment made while we stood waiting for valet to bring my whip (that little sunflower is still holding up - heck yes) up from the lot. i mentioned something about my experience of my smarts and some questions i had been asking about what i knew from experience and curiosity. he laid THIS down as a parting comment:

the knowing of our 'smarts' is the confidence piece. how you talk about it and use those smarts....that's maturity. - poppa robson

simple - yes. profound? maybe not. thought provoking? Uhhh, yup. confidence in what we know is essentially defining what we stand for - or more specifically, what we are willing to take or make a stand for. the interactions bit - and maturity and what not - thats a practice of speaking with confidence and not telling someone 'hey, I'm a smarty pants and look at what I know' - or if that's what is needed, it's perhaps finding a way to plop some elegance in there. elegance or grace. or both.

dad: thanks for the real deal. I'm on for a life of laughs and big freakin cab sauvs. glad we can have both together. oh, and keep the #wishbombs coming. this buckaroo has a ton more to learn from ya, guy.

an ode to online....the things you learn in the dating world

let it be known: i have been dating. online. THREE YEARS AGO, i would not have had the balls to tell anyone that - actually, i woudln't have even thought about putting my name and picture on any site anywhere for fear of someone seeing it and outing me as 'online' - a status that most definitely i was TERRIFIED of being associated with. TWO YEARS AGO, i more or less wore the 'i'm online, i'm rad, i'm gonna be findin' me a boyfriend right quick' tshirt and was quick to tell anyone how i was leaping into the dating pool - quick to share juuuuust in case they might, again, see me online and beat me to the punch of telling other people. again, blokcing mechanism. and, a loud one. ONE YEAR AGO, i had a lingering profile and was actively waiting for someone, anyone, to knock on my proverbial dating-door (ie: message me with a witty note that might spark an interest because, gosh knows, i was all to caught up in being 'busy' to take a stand for what i really wanted in a man and make a real effort to attract that....)

since then, you'll be relieved (maybe not as much as I am) to know that my outlook has shifted from the 'hell no!' to the 'hallelujah online!' to the 'meh' to a very healthy place - of curiosity, connection and confidence. most of the time. haha.

and so, in this seemingly life-long experience i have recently reflected on a couple things i have learned and feel compelled to share. because, there is a 'silver lining of learning' and opportunity for reflection around every date - even the ones where the sweet man wears corduroy pants and a Metallica t-shirt.

learning point #1. you get out what you put in. for every 'dang, still no messages', i could only look to how actively - or inactively - i was involving myself in the process. trend in the jess-life is when busy-ness gets the best of me,  my me-life gets the worst of me. the times i had the most fun on dates and met the most interesting people were the times i spent time being interested - and connecting with people that i was inspired by.  good reminder in how to be present to what i want and not auto-pilot my way through life.

learning point #2. i've got a good gut - and it's time to listen to it. that weird pitty feeling in my stomach when something doesn't sound right or something in a profile rubs me the wrong way? LISTEN to it. stop forcing a conversation if all signs point to 'run the other way - don't even stop at the front door to get your shoes!!' - and trust what i know and how i know i want to be engaged. #nuffsaid

learning point #3. life repeats itself, if you let it. goes hand in hand with trusting my gut. when i feel myself not being really 'me' to catch someone's attention - i need to stop. not only am i repeating a bad habit and trying to 'fit a mold' - i'm not valuing mine or their time - which ends up in one too many coffee dates (and normally it truly is just one) and a feeling of 'womp womp' upon departure. i'm moreso me in every interaction now than ever - and have to remember in every split-second-of-doubt to be me, in every moment. all ways, always.

i might be done with the online thing for now - and know that these wee lessons-on-life apply as much in the off-line-love-life - if not moreso. practice, practice, practice.....right?

#workinprogress.

when cobblestone streets turn on light bulbs

as i ambled home this evening following a brisk jaunt around the seawall in downtown vancouver (thank you miss laurel richardson for the company and conversations!), i found myself negotiating the quaint cobblestone street on west 3rd avenue, contemplating whether to start making dinner and cleaning the house or to get rolling on laundry when i returned home (yes, happy dreary wednesday, vancouver).  when looking to cross arbutus, i paused briefly to allow a gleaming beacon of rain safety (read: cab) to roll through a stop sign and down the ominous, rain soaked hill.  ever so cautiously, i stepped into the street, nearly in front of an suv that i assumed had seen my obnoxiously green, yellow and white plaid (italicized for intentional emphasis) running jacket. wrong move.

had i not performed a slight stutter step, 'driver' would have flattened by plaid ass.

now, granted, it was nearly pouring.  street lights and loud outer wear should not excuse the near miss that occurred.  but, my lesson learned while walking away from that nearly fateful intersection was not about rain awareness and safe driving/crossing the street.  it's about consistency.

i didn't lash out.  i didn't kick his car, throw my used tupperware at his fender, or stand in the middle of the road stringing together colorful language in only partially sensical order.  i simply stopped, adjusted my approach to the intersection, and moved on when it was safe and clear to do so.  and, in walking away from that moment, i realized how a simple reminder of the importance of consistency fully grounded me in that instance.

yesterday evening, at a networking event put on by networkinginvan.com (thanks Jen, again, for hosting such a great session!), some of the speakers touched on what consistency means in our personal brands, and how to ensure that our representation remains uniform across all channels we connect through.  and, taking that conversation offline, that the why you show up and what you stand for in your face to face connections and how you interact with different environments (ie: cobble stone street near misses) ultimately speaks to that brand.

so, next time a freak out seems appropriate, i'll make sure i think twice.  i'll continue to ask myself 'if this was something in 'US Weekly', would my mom be proud of me?' or 'is this what i want to represent?'.  because freaking out in the middle of kitsilano could cost me some of that consistency.....and tupperware, depending on how far i end up throwing it.

blank canvases and hidden gems

arts and crafts night, robson style. starts off with a trip to Michael's for some canvases, paint, Mod Podge (oh yes, bringing it back 90s craft style, best believe it) and brushes.  I had every intention of splashing paint all over 6 canvases tonight - a flurry of words, colors, shapes, dots and swirls.  But in stopping once I got home, and looking at my space, and the years of confusion around how I have been trying to define what my space means to me, and how I want it to communicate a feeling, thought, expereience or other to those who visit, I came to a lovely realization: make it what you want it to be and take comfort in the fact that you can paint over, and over, and over again, if something you splash on the canvas doesn't work for you anymore.

in some ways, i'm an old school girl - i see a comittment as permanency, see choices as a ball and chain, locking you to a fate with those decisions for ever more.  I am shifting that thinking, day by day, to see each choice as a step, or a layer of paint.  Slowly, with intnetion, I am building my own staircase, painting my own masterpiece, towards my ideal life.  There may be some slanted stairs in there that might branch off to other hidden pathways, or some layers of paint that I create that need covering up and movement faster than others, but it's all a progression.  It's try it out, try it on, tade it in. Or run with it, make it epic, and make moves from there.

We are at the steering wheel of our own futures.  The choices we make are ours and ours alone.  Each step we take today builds our moementum, gives us a chance to see, do and try, and is ultimately putting tools in our toolboxes for the next stair, the next layer, and the next choice.

I choose to learn, grow and develop every day.  I choose to be inspired by passion, to surround myself with people living lives they love, and to constantly be in a place of wonderment with life.

and i choose to paint. layers, and layers and layers.

what do YOU choose?

xo j