I was writing blog posts last week and brainstorming content, but I still don’t feel like it’s the right time to post. I was planning a surprise trip to Kamloops, relaxing and spending time with my family and friends. But after years of battling (battling like a warrior) COPD,  I found out my Grandpa wasn’t doing very well. And on February 25 he became the best guardian angel I could ever hope for.

I was always very shy when I was little. To those of you who know me now, that may come as a bit of a surprise. It was always just our little family growing up in Smithers, BC and every summer when we made the long drive south to visit my dad’s family or if my mom’s family flew over from Ireland it took me quite awhile to warm up and have a conversation with anyone.

This was never the case with my grandpa. He was always the one family member I felt like I knew for years and could make me laugh instantly. His well-timed pranks and silly stories about my dad and uncles always made my sisters and I giggle. He was the one extended family member I could instantly feel at home with.

I feel like we lost the best Berard. The one who would light the room up. I hate to think of future family gatherings without his laugh and wink.

My dad and I had a Chad Brownlee CD playing in our house a few years ago and when I came into the room I said “You know who this song reminds me of?” and he said “Grandpa”. I am not sure if grandpa ever heard it, but he loved his western movies so I am sure he would appreciate a country song. And if my dad and I both thought it, we can’t be wrong. So this one’s for you Grandpa Berard: His Own Terms.

Continuing with my #Goalsetting series for 2014 thanks to the inspiration of Lara Casey


Part 3: 2014 Vision

What is your 2014 vision?

This seems like such a BIG question, I have struggled to answer it. Even with the additional questions Lara phrased, I wasn’t sure where to start. I kept relating back to this blog post I wrote last summer when I had yet to arrive in Winnipeg. My first six months I was so busy just getting set up and trying to be successful at work that I wasn’t really living. When everything slowed down, I forgot that maybe the whole point of moving here was to learn to be okay with myself in “the empty moments”.

So my 2014 vision is to establish a healthy, functioning and fun day-to-day life. To learn how to build structure in my life that works for me when there is none. To eliminate stress from places it doesn’t need to be. To give myself a solid foundation for the future. For so long I have focused on my career (this sounds silly coming from someone who just started working, but I was pretty intense in school) and now I want to give myself a year to take care of me: mind, body and soul.

What are you saying NO to in 2014?

  • Worrying: No one knows this better than my family, but I stress over the big and the little. I try to remind myself a lot that I finished my degree and no one can steal it from me, I have a job that can pay all my bills, and it is just me to take care of, BUT I still get all riled up over unnecessary things in my day-to-day.
  • Gizmos and gadgets: I come home way too often and binge-watch tv on my laptop instead of picking up a book. I text like crazy, but never actually send any of my friends a card. I type out my thoughts and don’t pick up a journal to just free write and doodle.
  • The sweet stuff: There is something at my office we like to call the “United Way 15″ and it is so true. Everyone complains about all of the candy, but it keeps showing up at our desks. And I’m not any better when at the end of a long work day, I pick up take-out instead of spending time in the kitchen.
  • My VISA: That baby is getting tucked away deep into my wallet so I forget it exists and can erase my debt.

What are you saying YES to in 2014?

  • The unexpected: I think part of what has made my time here so fun is everything I am learning about myself in this new city and new job. I want to say “yes” to more things that are not typically me and see what I discover.
  • Lists: I was such a “let’s write everything down in my agenda and check off all my post-it notes” kinda gal in university. Not having class assignments anymore has made me think I don’t need to do this, but I love that kind of stuff and it works.
  • All the feelings: Life is going to be easy and hard and I sure as hell don’t have it figured out. I need to live it and love it and accept that some days I just need to cry. I don’t think I have really had a problem with this before (I wear my heart on my sleeve), but it’s a good reminder. And I think it also represents my desire to re-explore my faith.

My word for 2014 is:

Day. While brainstorming I went through: present, mindful, simplify, health, build, and calm. My vision for 2014 is about learning to live everyday and not just looking forward to the next big thing so it only made sense to give myself that reminder. “Day” lets me know that every 24 hours I have a chance to build on my goals. The most important thing is to not let the days pass me by and instead tackle them one by one.

What is your word for 2014 and why?

I went to a wedding on Saturday. It was my first time attending one on my own especially only knowing the bride, but there was no way I would miss out on celebrating her special day! I’ve blogged before about how I didn’t just secure an apartment, but also became friends with the former tenant and property manager. I was so thrilled to be invited to her wedding and when I realized she may need some extra help the day of, I offered to take care of decorating the reception venue. While I love event planning at United Way, we don’t really spend time adding flowers or candles to our special events (which is the best part)!

wedding collage

Check out the pictures for what I would call a rustic, candelit, pinecone party. Sarah had her father cut log stumps from their firewood collection for the centrepieces, purchased a gazillion pinecones, scattered candles everywhere, got a great deal on gorgeous Ikea white lanterns, and her mother has some amazing chalkboard lettering skills. I think a winter wedding is so unique and with the huge pile of snow we got earlier in the week combined with warmer weather and blue skies, it was a beautiful day for a Winterpeg wedding. The groom’s Filipino culture was incorporated into the Catholic wedding ceremony and I loved learning about their Ninongs and Ninangs (wedding sponsors), the Presentation of Arras (the bride gets coins from the groom!), the Unity Candle (the same light received at Baptism), and the Veil (purity) and Cord symbolizing how two become one (they also played the Spice Girls’ 2 Become 1 later that night).


I went to the bachelorette party a couple weekends ago and drank a few glasses of wine with her bridal party on Friday night so I knew some of the girls when I showed up. But really, I made all my friends on the dance floor. Nothing like some Macklemore and the Backstreet Boys to really bring people together. And while I am pretty darn happy with my single status, seeing two people so in love certainly makes me excited for my own wedding in the future. The Maid of Honour ended her speech with sharing that she hoped in the future they could look back at this day as the one where “they loved each other the least”. What a beautiful sentiment  - congrats to Sarah and Ben!

I’m a total girly girl and while I may be spending my Valentine’s night as a single lady binge-watching the new season of House of Cards, I love this season of love! It doesn’t hurt that one of my friends is getting married tomorrow and I get to ooh and aah all day long at her wedding.

I wish you love, secret admirers, Hershey kisses, all the pink things, and a good hair day!

Favourite Valentine song:

Favourite sweet treats for my family and friends:


Favourite wardrobe choices for the day:


Favourite reminder to feel love:


Happy Valentine’s Day! And special love for my friends who found their forever Valentine’s and are becoming newlyweds this year – I’m so happy for Sarah, Amrita, Claire, and Geralyn. 

I can already feel my mood changing the last few weeks! Just getting my apartment cleaned up, knowing I am on my way to something better with this goal-setting, really connecting with friends here in Winnipeg, and speaking up at work about the learning I am interested in – I’ve found my happy place. I had a wonderful time in BC when I was back for Christmas, but it was confusing. I felt like I had lives in two provinces and didn’t want to compare them, but I was. When my flight landed back in Winnipeg though, something inside me said I was home. And my mindset has shifted since I have been back. All this to say – I am becoming fired up about life. And so on to round two of #2014Goalsetting…

Part 2: Get Fired Up

What did you learn from what worked?

  1. Taking big risks are worth it (when you trust your instincts and ask for advice and support from your friends and family).
  2. I am more independent than I ever thought I was and it really is not that scary to venture off on your own.
  3. Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned, but the unexpected can be a more-than-pleasant surprise. (I never planned to move to Winnipeg or go into event planning, but I am now so proud to live here and event planning is showing me skills and interests that I never realized I had).

What did you learn from what didn’t work?

  1. I need a little structure in my life to help me complete daily tasks (financial planning, cleaning, meal prep, and exercise,).
  2. While it is normal to “let go” a little from people when you move away, I have realized how important it is for me to stay in touch.
  3. I need to give myself a break and not rush life. It is normal to feel lost at this stage and when I do become overwhelmed, I should speak up. Others have been here before me.

What fires you up? What are the things that light your soul on fire?

  • Getting crafty with décor and gifts
  • Trying new recipes in the kitchen
  • Rocking out on the dancefloor
  • Taking the time to reflect through writing
  • When books and my imagination become entwined and I’m the main character
  • Going for drives, turning up the music, and singing loudly
  • Movie and popcorn nights all curled up on my couch
  • Chatting with friends about our dreams for the future
  • Reading news stories that interest me and spark new ideas
  • Hugs and high fives
  • Giggling over way too many inside jokes with my events team
  • Endlessly long phone calls with friends and family back in BC
  • Being a tourist in Winnipeg and discovering new favourite places
  • Does sleeping in count?

What is something in your daily life that fires YOU up?