Dear Diary

DSC_3526

As most of you know by now, I have moved, but what very few of you know is why and how this all happened so fast. Sometimes you choose change, and sometimes it chooses you – which was the case this time around.

I was happily enjoying my time in California when Jo called to inform me that #ThePastelPalace was flooding. The landlord would do nothing, the entire roof of the building was shot, and we had to move. Soon.

I came home from California and hit the ground running – I hired a real estate agent (she was awesome! You can find her here!) and saw as many places as I could in the span of a few days. I applied for a mortgage, but in the end decided to try renting in a newer building before investing in one. Though I’ve always been super resistant to condo living, a long string of housing issues has lead to over 12 moves in the span of 7 years, and this time around I decided to take the leap and try something new.

I ended up landing just that – a brand new condo in one of Toronto’s busiest areas, a unit that no one had ever lived in before in a building that’s still being completed. It couldn’t have been more of a change, but with all the other changes I had taken by the horns so far this year, I jumped in with both feet.

And then, the matter of actually moving…

scroll down to keep reading

DSC_3554

DSC_3564

DSC_3540

DSC_3534

I used to be the master of packing and unpacking, and though the latter has stuck, I find myself more and more paralyzed when it comes to packing up. I get anxious about what I’ll need, when I’ll need it, how to prevent my favourite things from breaking… the list of worries goes on and on. With all the massive emotional baggage I was already carrying about leaving a place where so many dreams had been hatched and lost, I simply couldn’t take on any more weight.

For the first time in my life, I hired proper movers. The best movers in the city at that.

Cargo Cabbie has been voted best movers in Toronto for the past 6 years, and after spending a day with them it’s easy to see why. A team of their three best came in on time (actually, ahead of schedule), helped me pack all my belongings properly, and guided me through the quickest and easiest move I’ve ever experienced. They were so caring with my treasures, and even convinced me to try their plastic bins, which I LOVED. These stackable buckets fit a ton, are easier to carry than an awkward box, and they’re totally reusable. Plus when you’re finished unpacking them, Cargo Cabbie comes right on over to scoop them up – mess and waste free! I can not rave enough about this part of the service.

So how do I feel now, after making the big move?

Change is never easy, good or bad, but this particular shift has without a doubt been crucial. It’s the official start to a new chapter, after escaping the city for a few months to get a bit of myself back. Now, I get to cultivate that self – give it a place to grow and thrive and become so much more than it ever was. I’m a stronger version of who I was, a forever altered Alyssa, and this new home is my fortress and mine alone.

I couldn’t be more grateful for where I am, and what lies ahead in this fresh new space.

DSC_3502

DSC_3510

DSC_3587

DSC_3555

DSC_3576

Dear Diary

DSC_0242

When I quit my full time job back in November, I was sure I’d have so much more time. Time to get all my work done, time to see the people I love, time to walk my dog and make fancy dinners every night and try out hundreds of hair masks.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t really the case.

Managing your own time is hard, no matter how well suited you are for it or how much you want to be your own boss. Even without a 9-5 office job I find myself in a state of constant-rush, always struggling to keep up with my own work schedule, stay healthy and maintain some form of a social life. Most days I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel with no carrot reward in sight, and often fitting in even the most simple of tasks can seem far-fetched. On one hand I’d love to slow down, but on the other I can’t imagine giving up all of the momentum Random Acts of Pastel has picked up over the past year. It really all comes down to balance, priorities, and making every minute count, which means anything that can save me precious time is welcomed.

DSC_0272

DSC_0251

DSC_0238

DSC_0256

Que SweetSpot Labs, the pH balanced and gynecologist recommended on-the-go cleaning regimen that keeps you feeling fresh no matter how busy your day might be. Heading straight to a meeting after your morning workout and don’t have time to shower? SweetSpot Labs has you covered. Crashed at a friend’s after an event that was serving a bit too much complimentary bubbly? It’s ok, you’ve got SweetSpot Labs in your bag. 98% naturally formulated with ingredients like aloe and cucumber, SweetSpot Labs‘ washes and wipes are the perfect way to stay clean and healthy if you’re always on the move, and they’ve even teamed up with my pals at U by Kotex to help make period time a little less stressful.

At the end of the day, being busy doesn’t have to be a bad thing- it’s all about finding that sweet spot!

P.S. American friends: if you head to Target and buy any two U by Kotex products and/or SweetSpot products, you can get a bonus SweetSpot deluxe wipette sample, OR receive 15% off all SweetSpot and U by Kotex products through the Cartwheel App!

Dear Diary

DSC_0076

We’ve already been over my personal 2016 resolutions, most of which are going quite well actually, but this post is all about those dollars. That’s right, RAOP is finally making bank (sort of), and this year our tiny team has some pretty big plans for the pastel empire. The only problem? We really need to get on top of proper money management.

A few months ago I was able to get myself out of credit card debt with the help of Mogo (aka my financial superhero), but now it’s time to move on to bigger financial woes. We finally set up RAOP as an actual business and got ourselves an accountant, but that doesn’t mean our personal money struggles aren’t still coming into play.

Making the move from working at a cushy full time job to working for ourselves here at The Pastel Palace was a tough call for Johanna and I, and though the payoff (not to mention the FUN) has been more than worth it, we’ve definitely got a lot to learn when it comes to budgeting and running a business. Freelance life can be difficult to navigate no matter what field you’re in, and we’re just starting to grasp basic concepts like knowing our worth, charging appropriately for projects, and keeping track of what we’re spending. On top of that, we’ve come up with a few key goals and money saving tips to keep us in the green this year, and we’re sharing them below!

Keep scrolling for our favourite tips and tricks

DSC_0085

DSC_0117

Don’t Spend on small stuff // I am really bad for spending all of my money on pretty little things, and though a lot of them end up as props in shoots etc. I still can’t help but feel the need to scale down and rethink my approach a bit. Weekly fresh flowers and paper clips shaped like flamingos might look nice in the studio, but saving those pennies to invest in new photo backdrops makes a lot more sense (cents?)

What’s Old is New Again // Johanna is the queen of DIY, and she’s been doing a great job of repurposing and reinventing around the house lately. Old band t-shirt? Let’s make it a crop top and use the extra fabric to make macrame plant hangers! Backpack too stained from pen ink? Give it new life with a quick dye in the bath tub!

Plan ahead // One of our biggest shortcomings is budgeting and keeping track of what we spend, so the prepaid Mogo card is sort of a lifesaver. All you do is load the card with your spending money (ex. our entire budget for a shoot), and whether you’re shopping online or irl you can never overspend! It’s a really clever way to stay on top of budgeting, and the card designs are really pretty to boot.

DSC_0072

DSC_0053

Don’t get Screwed by CC Debt // I may have gotten my credit card under control, but Johanna still has a handful of debt and student loans to pay off. We’re trying to work out a plan to help her get on top of it, and Mogo’s Liquid Loan is definitely a contender, but in the meantime she’s just saving whenever she can. As for me, I’ll be keeping a very close watch on our new business account visa- there’s something extra scary about falling off the wagon with that card!

Back to Basics // Since leaving our 9-5 life we’ve had to make a lot of little lifestyle adjustments, including but not limited to making tea at home instead of splurging at coffee shops, getting creative with cocktail recipes instead of overspending at the bar, and making more home cooked meals with friends.

Swap Meet // We love the idea of trading what you don’t need for something you do, and we try to do so as much as possible. We’ll often trade social media consultation for business advice and locally-made goods, and we’re really into Toronto’s trading group Bunz Trading Zone. Offering goods and services is a great way to get what you need for less, and it also helps build a really wonderful sense of community, even in the big city.

Dear DiarySips, Sweets & Snacks

DSC_0201

There were moments when I doubted this post would ever come, but here we are: I did it! Well, sort of. I admit, I snuck a tiny bit of super healthy food during the 48 hours when I wasn’t supposed to ingest any solids, and I may or may not have baked up some vegan chocolate chip cookies late at night on the very last day…

Alright, so maybe I didn’t do everything exactly right, but I ended up with so many great takeaways that it honestly doesn’t matter all that much at this point how I got here. I’ve never been the type to play by the rules- I find I do best when I do things my own way. That said, I really did do my best to stick to the schedule, and though it was a struggle at the time the improvements that I’ve seen in my life since have already been so worth it.

Some of the benefits I’ve noticed, to name a few:

// I haven’t touched a cigarette in over a week and don’t really feel the desire to smoke anymore! Yay!

// So far I’ve stuck to a 100% plant-based diet and I’m eating way more veggies on the daily. I’ve rediscovered the joy of trying new recipes and putting together healthy homemade meals. I plan to move forward eating as clean, cruelty-free, and plant based as possible, and I’m actually paying attention to what I put into my body for the first time in ages.

// I have so much energy! I’m working out again! I actually feel nourished! Possibilities are endless!

// Cleansing real toxins out of my body inspired me to clean other toxins out of my life too, from people to activities, and everything in between. I made some hard decisions, and said goodbye to some parts of my life that I loved dearly but needed to let go- much like smoking I suppose.

On the third day of the cleanse Marcelina (aka my amazing Village Juicery nutritionist) wrote “embrace lightness” into my schedule, and that really sums up how I feel this week. I recently read a quote “If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down”, and I couldn’t agree more- I feel so ready to take off into 2016 at full speed, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the jumpstart that Village Juicery gave me!

DSC_0043

DSC_0185

Dear Diary

tumblr_nzmuljygRn1thz0kjo1_1280

I haven’t done a really truly honest post in a long time, but since it’s a new year (Happy New Year by the way), and my newest romance has just come to an end, it felt important to start off on a new foot. After all, I was a writer before I was a blogger, and having a place to share my thoughts and feelings was a big part of why I started RAOP in the first place.

In a lot of ways I’m crazy lucky- I have an amazing apartment, the best gang of friends a girl could ask for, two purrfect pets, and on top of all that, my dream job. Everyday I get to wake up and do what I love, a career that I pulled from my imagination and somehow managed to make into a full-time reality. Every night as I snuggle up into my bed I thank my lucky stars for where I am and all of the extraordinary moments I’ve had.

But if we’re being honest, and that’s what this post is all about, there’s something missing.

I’ve written the words “It’s no secret I’m a hopeless romantic” far too many times, but in this case I think it’s worth repeating. I am one of those people who just loves love- I swoon over engagements, cry in almost every movie I see and sob at weddings. My parents have been together since their early teens and were married before my mom turned 20, and as the most in-love married couple I’ve ever come across they’ve given me some pretty big shoes to fill. As soon as I’d watched my first fairytale as a child I became fixated on finding “the one”. I knew it was only a matter of time.

And yet here I am, 25 years old, and two nights ago I had my first New Year’s Eve since puberty that didn’t include a kiss at midnight with someone I love.

So here’s the thing- In every way I can fathom, I have built my life into a fairytale. I have worked hard to get where I am, climbed my way up the long braid of golden hair to the highest tower and kissed far too many frogs along the way. I’m not afraid to say that I love myself, that I love being single, that I am strong and confident and hardworking, and that I think I have a lot to offer another person. But even though I believe in love above all other things in this life, I somehow can’t seem to find it, or at least to make it last.

I know, I know I should be happy with what I have, but in the spirit of “being real”, everything I have feels a little less sparkly without someone to share it with. As a blogger and a follower of other bloggers in my community and beyond, I see so many posts about happy relationships, new engagements, fresh babies and tales of sweet meetings, but I’ve never really seen anything about us single bloggers- how hard it can be to date, and even worse, to love. Between people who don’t understand what I do or take it seriously, and people who are trying to take advantage of what I do (oh yeah, I had a first date tell me they’d like me to show them how to be successful on Instagram and then leave directly after I shared my story) it’s a bit of a mine field out there. And then there’s the issue of finding someone I’m serious about and not knowing when or how to introduce them to my world. On one hand I can’t help but crave posting about dinner dates, about holding hands on a snowy walk and driving off into the sunset. But on the other sharing my relationships only means sharing my heartbreak, and unfortunately the past year has taught me that I need to ask myself “Is it possible this person is just posting about me and asking to be on my feed for a follower boost, or do they genuinely like me?”

In short, I’m a little tired. Yes I’m young, and yes good things come to those who wait/when they least expect it/etc. but I can’t help but feel a little less twinkly every time I walk away from a lacklustre date or give my heart away to someone who doesn’t have the capacity to give theirs back. Each time a relationship ends, whether it’s my choice or not, that happily ever after slips further into the distance, at times so faded and small that I start to question if it even exists at all, or if it’s simply a mirage painted by watercolour films and mommy bloggers.

I wish I had an answer to my own questions, but that would be too easy wouldn’t it? As a go-getter in every other aspect of my life, the hardest part about this whole thing is I really have no control in the matter. All I can do is wait with fingers crossed for someone to share my sparkle with, listen to Katy Perry songs, and keep closing my eyes to make a wish every time it’s 11:11…

In the meantime, a little bit of self improvement never hurt anyone either, right?

In the interest of healing from heartbreak, I’m making January all about growth and self-love. Get ready for healthy recipes, new workouts, daunting challenges and more honesty than ever before. After all, single, married, in a relationship, or otherwise, we’re all in this new year together.

Header image by the incredible Matt Crump