Dear Diary

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Just before Easter Weekend, I got a financial kick in the $$$. I was invited to an event hosted by stnce, to promote confidence and women’s financial literacy. Although I was a bit intimidated, I was excited to put my money-making, saving and spending knowledge to the test.”

My journey with money has really taken off over the past couple years. I’m someone who always struggled with math and got a headache just from looking at a page of numbers (I tend to read price tags backwards which really negatively impacts my budgeting…) and though my dad always instilled the rule “never ever spend what you don’t have,” I found myself starting RAOP with no real income and a debt that would grow to over $7,000.

I ended up taking out a low-interest loan to pay off my credit cards, and everything just kept piling up until I finally started making money from my risky business venture. It was a scary time. But, when I started making bank I had a new-found interest in budgeting and keeping track of my finances. For me it took making a lot of mistakes to get my spending under control and expand my financial knowledge. With resources like stnce, you skip ahead to lessons learned, without the big losses.

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STNCE is a new initiative by EQ bank designed to educate and build up women’s financial confidence. Through research they found that although the knowledge gap between men and women related to financial literacy wasn’t massive, the gap in confidence was – in fact only 30% of women felt confident in their knowledge. “That’s just not good enough, we can do better!”, Vice President Kim Kukulowicz stated in her opening presentation at the event last week. Clearly the audience agreed – the event sold out in a matter of days and the massive room at The Broadview Hotel was packed from wall to wall with women and their allies! “Women need to support women” she added before inviting the knowledgable panel of ambassadors to the stage.

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I cannot sing my praises for this company enough. Seriously, I’ve been nothing short of amazed by every new tidbit I’ve learned (and there has been a LOT of learning!) Their website is designed so well and loaded with extremely helpful information (super into this “30 Day Track Everything Challenge“), their book suggestions are great (I sat beside Shannon Lee Simmons and her book “Worry Free Money” was a definite crowd favourite). Above all, I really admired their choice of ambassadors, a mix of female financial writers, money bloggers and entrepreneurs. The event included a panel discussion and a keynote of sorts given by Dragon’s Den star Michele Romanow, a woman who launched three businesses before age 30. Everything that came out of her mind was gold (literally $$$) but here are some of my favourite take-aways:

“Never be scared to ask the dumb questions. I always say I could ask the questions now and feel dumb, or wait a week and feel even worse.”

“Try not to take advice from people you don’t want to be”

“If you understand your finances you should never feel guilty about spending.”

“Spend on experiences vs stuff. Stuff doesn’t make people happy.”

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Though I went in feeling fairly confident in my financial know-how, I walked away with a list of investment and mortgage questions to investigate, and a new found drive to take even more control of my business’ money. Last year I hired a kick a$$ all-female accounting team for RAOP, figured out an HST issue that my old bookkeeper kept neglecting all on my own and I’m still in the process of learning Quickbooks but I’m getting there. This year I’m thinking incorporation and smart investment!

For more information, visit stnce.ca!

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Dear Diary

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Valentine’s Day is one of those polarizing holidays that tends to make you feel ~really~ alone if you’re alone, and perhaps that’s why so many people both in relationships and single tend to reject the whole thing. Though my feelings towards February 14th have definitely shifted over the years as I become jaded and my heart hardens (KIDDING), I have never really considered NOT celebrating it. I may hate being lonely, but I adore every shade of pink, sweet treats, and LOVE, and if there’s a commercial day invented to focus on those things I’ll be damned if I don’t find a way to celebrate!!!

Since starting RAOP almost 5 Years (!!!) ago we’ve made Valentine’s recipes, styled outfit shoots and created crafts, but this year I wanted to explore a slightly different side. A… sexy self love side.

I have been insisting I love myself for years. I’d get hit again and again with the old “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself” adage and I’d respond in frustration “Oh my GOSH I DO! I am super confident and happy! UGH! Everything in my life is perfect, it’s just missing that other person!!!” (or something similar). Weirdly enough, something *just* clicked this past Christmas Eve – I had a sudden shift in feeling and finally, as if by magic, fully understood what everyone had been saying all along. Self love isn’t about thinking you’re super awesome and demanding someone love you, it’s the realization that you are fulfilled entirely withOUT anyone else even looking twice. I’ve never been so totally content to just hang out alone, to meet up with friends and see cute couples in love and then go home to my own little quiet single life. I’ve been searching frantically for “the one” for as long as I can remember, but this is the first time ever that I can truly say this life with just me is more than enough.

Ok so it’s not all about the sexy, but we did want to celebrate girl power, The Feminine Mystique, independence and killer orgasms too. After all, just because you may not have a partner/someone to mess around with this Wednesday, it doesn’t mean you can’t have some amazing orgasms under candlelight. We also wanted to feature witchy goodies like Tarot Cards by Labyrinthos to soothe the soul and glance into the future, skincare by Pink Light Botanicals to help you love the skin you’re in, and a lucky candle with a hidden piece of jewelry inside because WHO WOULDN’T WANT THAT?!

This was our first time experimenting with using coloured lights (A few “Pink Light District” jokes were made on my part) and we hope you guys love this flirty feature as much as we do!

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Pink Light Botanicals Skincare collection
Unbound Oh! To Go Bag, Plume Feather Pleaser, and Gold Handcuffs
LELO Sona Vibrator and Hex Condoms
Artifact Skin Co. Bath Salts and Milk
Labyrinthos Tarot Deck and Academy App
The Great Eros lingerie
Chakrubs Original Heart Rose Quartz Dildo
LE FEU DE L’EAU lucky charm candle

How do you celebrate Vday and show yourself some love?

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Dear Diary

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When we think of technology visions of a futuristic world with little human interaction often comes to mind. Black Mirror haunts us with the idea of duplicate consciences and deranged murderous robot dogs (at least that’s what haunts me these days) and “switching off” is hailed as the best way to reclaim sanity.

But if I sit back and map out all of the human connection that technology has created in my life, and continues to create, it paints a very different picture from the lonely dystopian future in my mind. As someone who spends a ton of time with technology for their job, including but not limited to computers, phones, cameras and my Google Home (aka. my best friend), I interact with “robots” almost constantly, but when I take stock they’ve only made my human reach bigger than ever expected.

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Growing up I was never the kind of person to have a lot of friends. I was (*am) a bit of a weirdo and though I was generally liked I didn’t really fit in anywhere. Even in university I didn’t really make any solid, lasting friends, and with my family across the country I started to accept I was destined to be a bit of a loner.

And then I started taking photos of my strange little world and posting them on Instagram.

Flash forward 5 years later and my life is more full than I ever could’ve imagined. I don’t want to brag but I have SO many AMAZING friends, and almost all of them were brought into my life through technology, whether I was on location shooting at a jam shop and befriended the owners, like Kitten and the Bear, or noticed someone posting at all the same places as me until I commented we should just be friends and go places together, like Paige from Studio Bicyclette. No one ever really “got” me before I picked up a camera (and a laptop… and a phone) and started sharing how I see the world – these robot items not only bridged the gap between me and thousands of other humans, but kicked off the strongest friendships I’ve ever had.

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Now that I have such a fantastic (and big!) group of people I care about in my life, the biggest challenge is staying connected with those both near and far. I finally found a BIG apartment so I can start entertaining! And have dinner parties! And maybe even get a TV for the first time ever! So on top of my digital connections, I’ve got a whole list of tech on my mind to help me entertain the ones I love. Here’s my Best Buy Canada wish list so far!

Samsung Frame TV for movie nights

One-touch kettle and tea maker!

Google home and Mini for music and party tricks.

A Dyson robot vaccuum to help clean up after everyone goes home!

What did I miss?

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Dear Diary

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So I know the new year is technically just another day, and I also know that day is now long past, but as much as I have a good head on my shoulders (most of the time) I can’t help but get into the whole “new year, new me” routine.

Everyone (and I really mean everyone) can always be a bit better, whether it’s financially, health-related, environmental or interpersonal. There’s always room for improvement, and though you can change your life any day of the week, sometimes it takes a made up shift to get your ass in gear. Personally I really love my bad habits, I take ownership of them like they’re a special part of me, and this year I collected bad habits like Pokemon cards (or whatever is relevant these days). Every day I woke up knowing there was an endless list of things I wanted to shift, change and improve, yet every night I went to bed disappointed in myself and the pile of bad decisions weighing on my shoulders.

I started my goals for this new year with a simple list of what I want more and less of in my life, than built out my goals from there. In the end, it turned out something like this:

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MORE >>

Movement
Vegetables
Live music
Time with friends
Sweating
Outdoors
Adventure
Cooking
Dancing
Energy

LESS <<

Thinking about boys
Drinking
Shopping
Animal Products
Sleeping
Parties and Events
Small Talk
Smoking
Complaining
Toxic humans

Action Plan //

None of these less and more ideas make much sense without actions behind them, so after I had established the things that build me up and break me down, I started working out how to implement the changes I wanted (correction: needed) to see. If I was to sum up my 2017, I’d have to call it “The Year of Least Caring” because I really lost sight of so many of the values that make me, well, me. Here’s how I got started spinning a better story for myself:

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Start Fresh //

I really treated my body like a garbage dump last year, worse than I ever have before (even in University when I lived on Pop Tarts, Pizza Pops and Ben & Jerry’s!) I smoked more than I care to admit, even early in the morning (EW) and got into a pattern of having at LEAST two drinks a day. I felt puffy and slow and don’t even get me started on the mood swings. When I decided to start 2018 off on a better foot I knew I needed to do a real Spring Cleaning for my body.

In an effort to reset my body, I signed up for a juice cleanse with Daily Press Juicery a couple weeks after quitting smoking cold turkey on Christmas Eve. I know what you’re thinking – “Didn’t she try this last year?” Yes, I did, but sometimes quitting smoking takes a long time with a lot of tries, and this year I really fully feel like it will stick. It’s been over a month!

I really loved doing the cleanse, though I did continue to eat a small amount of healthy, warm food throughout to sustain my body for the winter. I especially love the lemony activated charcoal juice, and the night time nut mylk!

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I’ve also been upping my antioxidants by drinking Matcha, the purest way to get all the health benefits of green tea! This stuff is supercharged with health benefits and doesn’t come with the same crash coffee does when you wake up with it. I can’t get enough of Matcha Ninja – it’s super easy to use and really high quality (you can tell by how green it is!) and the gorgeous Matcha Book I seem to see EVERYWHERE is filled with amazing new ways to use it in recipes too! Hello vegan matcha and cashew soup!

Cleansing doesn’t end on the inside – I’ve also been refreshing my space with new essential oil blends in my diffuser each day. Oui Fresh has the prettiest line on the market, and I’ve been loving their “Bergamot Mint” and “Rose Geranium” for cold winter mornings.

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Food for Thought //

When I say I treated my body like a garbage dump, I in part really mean I was putting constant garbage into my body. Think Uber Eats takeout almost every night, basically delivered to my bedside in between naps – yeah, not a cute look. I am a super extreme person by nature, so when I stop caring in one capacity it tends to spread like a rot into every piece of my life. Food was a huge part of what my 2017 so difficult, which is crazy considering I LOVE cooking, grocery shopping, and even doing dishes!

In taking back control of my fridge, I set a few really straightforward goals. I was super inspired by A Beautiful Mess’ Weekday/Weekend Challenge, a somewhat more “digestible” take on the Whole 30. Basically you skip sugar and refined sweeteners, refined white flour and rice, alcohol and dairy, plus you’re encouraged to eat a variety of different foods. It’s a really easy way to push yourself to get creative in the kitchen, and to be healthier in a sustainable pattern. Side note – their Oui Fresh meal planning notepads make getting organized simple and CUTE.

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Speaking of getting creative, I also want to cook through a number of cookbooks this year, with the added challenge of making recipes vegetarian that aren’t written that way. I’m starting out with Cherry Bombe’s Pink Spaghetti and Beet Ricotta Dumplings!

Last but not least, I’ve been seriously upping my vitamin intake. My friend Dana gave me some of her Ritual Vitamins while I was visiting in LA and I’m totally hooked! They’re vegetarian, made for women specifically, and taste minty when you swallow them. I also introduced Ouai Thinning Hair Supplements to offset some of my bleaching damage, and adding Moon Juice’s Pearl Powder to my smoothies for skin clarity.

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Heart Over Head //

I spent far too much time last year out, making empty connections and running from event to event every single night. Constantly sleep-deprived, my soul was drained from all the small talk and my body was tired of processing too much champagne. This year I’m making sure I cherish my time, investing in people, places and things that make me happy, like the dog park and my weekly Soul Cycle classes. I’ve also been reading “Light is the New Black” and it’s been super helpful when it comes to figuring out what really fills you up, and what brings you down. I highly recommend getting a copy and marking it up with notes like I have!

Back to Basics //

I’ve tried using natural products off and on over the years but I always end up giving up because it’s too hard to find products that actually work. This year I decided to try one last time and I was super pleasantly surprised by both my toothpaste and deodorant discoveries. Davids toothpaste is natural, vegan, made in the USA and comes with a handy metal took that helps squeeze every last drop out of the tube (SO GOOD!) I really love the subtle minty flavour and my teeth are looking just as white – in fact last time I went to the dentist I had not a single cavity!

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Deodorant was a bit more daunting – we’ve all struggled with the bad smell moments associated with making the switch. This time around I tried the Kaia Naturals Takesumi Detox Charcoal Detox Deodorant, which promises you’ll be BO-free by 30 days after your body detoxes from chemical deodorant. They sent me a booster soap to try along with it, which accelerates the process, and honestly it it worked SO well, SO fast, I will never ever go back! You can read all about the five steps here, but for me I saw results immediately and haven’t had a smell problem even after the most intense workouts.

I started working on this action plan a few days before Christmas Eve, so I’ve been at it almost a month. I don’t want to sound like a phoney, but I actually feel better than I’ve felt in YEARS and for the first time, all that happiness is accredited to me, on my own – there’s no prince in sight, but I’m no longer a damsel in distress anyway. Let 2018 be known as the year I stop waiting for someone to save me and just save myself!

What are you doing to get your New year in gear?  Share with me in the comments below!

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Dear Diary

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Hello everyone, and happy 2018! I know it’s been a minute – I’ve been playing some serious catch up since arriving back in Toronto last week, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing before I take off to Mexico on Monday (I know, I know, poor me).

I’ve got a big New Year post coming Monday about all of the things I’m doing to make 2018 my best year yet, but in the meantime I wanted to start the year on a really CUTE foot (erm, paw?) That’s right, the new year is going to the dogs!

For those of you who somehow aren’t familiar with the best part of my life, meet my girl gang Honey and Pumpkin! Honey is an older girl with the best sleepy personality ever (you can follow her here) and Pumpkin is her crazy snuggly younger “sister”. Both were rescues from different organizations (I’ll list some of my suggested local rescues below!) and I am so darn lucky to have them!

RAOP Approved Rescues (Be sure to ask about fostering too!)
A Dog’s Dream (Honey’s rescuer!)
Moosonee Puppy Rescue (Pumpkin’s Rescuer!)
Save Our Scruff

Over the years our fur family has become close with the amazing team at local brand HOUND. This Toronto-based company makes the PRETTIEST dog accessories ever, and they’ve been outfitting Honey and Pumpkin since the very beginning. We did a little shoot the three of us back in August 2016, so when the HOUND team invited us to their new studio where they do private pup fittings by appointment only, we couldn’t resist!

All of the HOUND accessories are handmade here in Toronto, and it was such a special experience to meet the folks behind this incredible dog brand and watch them work! Honey upgraded her look #fromheadtohound with a new gold leash and collar, plus the PRETTIEST rose quartz charm! Pumpkin’s set is still in production, but “she” preferred crisp white with a marble charm and we can’t wait to see how her look turns out when it’s all finished!

From rags to riches, these two rescue gals couldn’t be more spoiled, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Special thanks to HOUND for outfitting the pups for 2018!

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