Dear DiaryDress Up

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I put writing this post off for as long as I possibly could, likely because on some subconscious level 2017 seemed too difficult to sum up… but as I sit poolside in Palm Springs with a group of amazing, strong women, sipping lemonade made with lemons I *just* picked from the tree, I find myself flooded with the need to put it all down.

Better late than never right?

Though it had small, short-lived pockets of truly amazing, the past year overall certainly wasn’t my best. 365 days is a lot to sum up in a blog post, especially with most humans’ attention span being so short when it comes to digesting online content, but having been a writer my whole life, putting everything out there on “paper” feels like the best bookend to start a new chapter with newfound clarity. Last year I pushed myself to share the intimate details of an abusive relationship I was in, and it was amazing to see the support and connection it created – hopefully we can go into 2018 feeling just as connected!

So what made my 2017? I always read these wretchedly vague posts from bloggers this time of year that promise to be personal but shed little light on actual details. So I say bring on the TMI!

My 2017 was:

Over 3 months spent exploring California
6+ attempts to quit smoking (I think I’ve finally done it though!)
3 trips to New York
2 adventures in places I’ve never been before (NOLA + Havana)
Tried casual sex twice (spoiler alert: I AM TERRIBLE AT IT)
1 weekend spent in a tiny home on a vinyard
2 mended friendships
6 times deleting all of my online dating profiles (and just as many re-building them)
1 book pitch to a publisher
11 hair colour changes
1 new nephew (honorary nephew, but still!)
All the career success
5 heartbreaks.

But what about my #2017bestnine? I didn’t post it this year because honestly, it wasn’t correct! My biggest post of the year by a landslide was actually about my most recent breakup (for those of you who operate more visually, there was a rainbow and legs dressed up for a wedding involved). Though I still absolutely stand behind everything I said in that post about my frustration with men, dating, and lack of commitment, I realized that using one boy as the visual for that sentiment simply wasn’t fair – that relationship was wonderful up until the end, maybe one of my best ever, and though that boyfriend was the catalyst for the post, he certainly didn’t define the problem. I want to continue voicing my concerns about modern dating and trying to build a family on your own, but perhaps with a less “attack” direction on just one person (is this how Carrie Bradshaw felt sharing her dating stories?) In case you were wondering where that one went, now you know.

Keep reading if you want more

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If I’ve learned any one lesson this year, it’s that women can do whatever the hell they want. We are challenging society like never before, demanding that what we’ve come to accept as normal (aka #metoo) be acknowledged as what it really is: a total nightmare. With the momentum we’ve found coming together in 2017, I can’t wait to see what change is around the corner in 2018. No rain, no flowers, right?

2017 had a LOT of rain for me, so I’m making 2018 all about the bright, beautiful flowers. Personally I find the more I make my goals happen professionally, the more my personal goals seem to flee in the opposite direction (why is it that balance is always so difficult for women?) This year, everything personal takes precedent – what feeds my soul? What do I love? It means less parties, less material, and much more truth. I did a little survey on my page and all of you seemed to want more personal/dating stuff, so that starts here – get ready to get REALLY personal with me this year, likely in a lot of ways you didn’t see coming. I am preparing to take control of my life on the personal front in a BIG, terrifying way (guesses welcome) and I can’t wait to share the challenges and triumphs with you guys – I promise it will be unlike ANYTHING I’ve ever done before, and I hope you guys will be on board with the ups and downs.

Someone recently said to me “2018 is going to be your best year yet, because life is what you make it”, so let’s live up to that prediction – let’s make 2018 our wildest, best, most love-filled year YET!

Happy NYE everyone. See you on the other side.

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Dress Up

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For those of you who have been following me since the beginning, you probably have a sense of how much I love birthdays. I tend to go really over the top, planning days of celebration and adventures and splurging on the perfect princess dress. It’s been the same since I can remember, and I was always insistent I would never grow out of it.

But this year I decided to do things a bit differently.

My 26 was odd to say the least – I went through massive changes and when I compare this month last year to the present it’s almost unrecognizable. I’m living somewhere new, business is booming, I’ve travelled almost nonstop, lost so many friends and somehow gained even more. I’ve learned how to be happier single than I’ve ever been in my life, and, well, learned how to be single in general. Instead of throwing a massive party, dragging all my pals to a theme park or making an absurd dinner reservation, I decided to ring in 27 with a trip somewhere totally new, setting the stage for a fresh start and a year filled with even more exploration and forward momentum than the last.

Scroll down to read more…

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With almost no planning my good friend Dani and I somehow ended up on a plane to Cuba on the eve of my 27the birthday. We landed late at night, and the lack of streetlights made everything but the sticky heat impossible to decipher. We checked into Memories Jibocoa, our home for the weekend, and it suffices to say from that second on every moment following was pure pastel-tinted heaven.

I’ll be sharing so much more about Cuba, including my Havana city guide, resort details, scuba diving expeditions and more in the coming posts, but let’s get back to the birthday theme as that’s what this particular bit is all about. Instead of my usual princess plans, I spent my day exploring the bustling streets of Havana, sipping daiquiris at Hemingway’s favourite bar and swimming under the stars. Instead of splurging on tulle and sequins, I went for a timeless summer citrus dress from For Love and lemons and traded a sparkly clutch and disco platforms for a backpack and walkable mules.

What does it all mean?!?

Maybe I’m overanalyzing, but turning 27 not only looked different than all the years that came before, but felt different too. Though in a lot of ways I “had less”, namely a partner to shower me with attention, I found myself more content than I thought possible without a great love in my life. There was a lightness to my 27th birthday; less pressure, and for the first time in years no tears of disappointment or irrational arguments. I literally smiled all day long.

I’ve honestly been dreading turning 27 since my last birthday, resentful to find myself in my late 20s with no wedding in the works or family of my own on the way… I know, I know, I’m still young, but 27 was my goal age for starting a family and I’m *very* goal oriented! To my surprise, 27 may have been my absolute best birthday ever, despite looking different than I expected and I’m heading into this year happily single, full of inspiration and ready to push myself to only get better with age. If this is how growing up feels, maybe it isn’t so bad after all?

Scroll down to shop my look!

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Dress Up

View More: http://ainsleyrose.pass.us/alyssa

Ainsley and I have known one another since high school in North Vancouver believe it or not, and I’ve loved watching her incredible career in photography blow up over the years. I’ve been eagerly waiting for a chance to collaborate on a shoot of some sort with her, so when she messaged me asking if I’d be up to work together during a short visit to Toronto a few months ago I jumped at the chance right away.

Ainsley specializes in bridal, but because I was fresh out of a really hard breakup and we didn’t have much time to put together a massive shoot, I suggested we go for something a little more stripped down. We agreed to get together in Paige from Bicyclette’s bedroom, dress up in favourites by For Love and Lemons from the shop, and shoot a bit of boudoir!

I’ve never done anything like this before, but at the time my confidence was at an all-time low, and I figured, why not prance around in my most beautiful underwear and feel good about myself? Seriously, though it was pretty nerve wracking at first, but I strongly believe every single person should try a shoot like this at least once in their lifetime. It was so inspiring and confidence-boosting to work with Ainsley (she’s both the nicest and babeliest girl you’ll ever meet), and the best part was I went into it knowing I was taking these photos just for me, not for a partner or admirer. It was liberating, exciting, and just so much fun!

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I already can’t wait to see what we come up with next time we find ourselves in the same city!

All photos by Ainsley Rose Photography. To book your own boudoir shoot you can reach Ainsley through this contact form

Dear DiaryDress Up

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I wanted to start off by saying how sorry I am that I haven’t been blogging as much lately. Life has gotten beyond crazy busy for me lately, and between juggling three pets, freelancing, and a full time job, I’m having a hard time managing my time. That being said, I’m here, I’m back, and I’ve got some fun new pastel posts coming your way very soon!

For now I thought I’d share an interview I recently did with I Chose Art, a local blog that does “look books” with all sorts of wonderful folks. Dani Lyn Ayee and I got together in front of my favourite doorway in the city on a super windy day a few weeks ago, and I was so happy with the results when she finally published the post this past week.

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Click here to read the interview, see more of the photos, and watch the little video she shot too!

All photos via I Chose Art