Yesterday was a big day at work. In fact, it will likely go down as one of the most important in our organization’s history. After several years of collaborative, thoughtful, hard, all-encompassing work, our Community Task Force to End Homelessness and the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council announced a plan to end homelessness in Winnipeg. I will let The Plan do the talking, I don’t need to explain it to you, but I knew I wanted to blog about this day and I didn’t really know what to say. When I got to work yesterday morning though, I picked up one of the summary pieces hot off the printer and read this story:

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I knew it perfectly summed up how I felt about this issue. Our belief in the ability to actually end homelessness, the way we all react when this topic comes up in conversation, our opinions on what led someone to this life – it is perfectly captured in how we react to someone who is a little worse for wear calling out to us on the street. Do you stop and say hello? Do you reach into your pocket to see what change you have? Do you offer a smile? Do you walk past blindly? Do you shrink away and cross the street?

I hope you make some kind of connection with them. I hope you look into their eyes and recognize them. There is a lot of hurt and despair in our world, it comes in many forms and each of us are affected differently by that. We may feel a stronger pull to certain issues because of past experience or personal connection. I understand that and I believe it takes all of us with our different convictions and the organizations that represent them to make up our world. But I hope homelessness becomes an issue that you take the time to learn more about and help make a difference in your own way. Everyone deserves a place to call home and so many people in our country still don’t have that basic right.

So tomorrow when you go on your lunch break and head out of the office to walk around the neighbourhood, don’t just grab your purse and umbrella. Bring your respect, your compassion, your smile, and offer it to someone. Look them square in the eye and show them that you see them. That they matter. That you are equal.

“I know that when I look into the eyes of another woman or man, or into the face of a child; when I hug a stranger as I wander the streets looking for someone who will take my two bags of recycling each week, I know I am giving more than money. I am giving dignity and hope the way someone once gave it to me.” – Dr. Lucy Miller, President & CEO of United Way of Calgary and Area

 

Happy Easter Sunday! Spring has finally arrived (fingers crossed for no more random snow) and it is blue skies, sunshine and maybe even +14 degrees today. I bought five bouquets of tulips this past week and made easter egg garlands around my apartment. Usually the days I feel the loneliest are holidays when I am used to traditions with my family who now feel so far away, but I was really looking forward to Easter. I took some time off work to make it a four-day weekend for myself and I think after such a long, cold winter spring feels extra special.

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I feel like in some ways on this blog I haven’t really shut up about how the past year has been surprising and challenging. I have struggled with homesickness, found it frustrating to settle into work, been slow at making friends, and simply felt lost. But the past few weeks have felt better. I decided that I cannot complain about things if I am not actively trying to make life better for myself.

So I have worked at turning my apartment more into a home, spoke up at work about what I want, put thought into friend dates, and prioritized quiet time to reflect through out the week. And the truth is, I have had several moments when I stopped and realized “this is what I have waited and worked for”. There were so many weekends in the last two or three years where I had a mountain of textbooks piled around me in my room and hours of work to do and I daydreamed about what non-university life would be like. So now that I’m done, it turns out it can be exactly like my daydreams if I make it so.

And that is what this proverb reminds me of (plus it just looks pretty for Easter) – if you work on yourself and what is important to you, that is true and lasting happiness. It’s not the quick fixes, but the hard days and difficult questions that you force yourself to face because the results are so worth it… a continual feast!

I hope all of you bring a happy heart to your Easter feasts tonight! And p.s. I actually made Sunday morning pancakes today…

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I spend plenty more time than I should every day on social media, but it has led to some worthy finds that make me smile, pause, laugh out loud, and reflect daily. So let me show you my favourites on all three social media channels and hope that it brings you a little more light in your life!

Facebook: Humans of New York

I probably started following HONY about two years ago and since then I have tried to get all my friends hooked on it. Brandon Stanton is the man behind HONY and travels around NYC with his camera capturing human moments on the city streets.  Even better than the photos are the captions that go along with them, words that often startle me and change my perspective on strangers I pass by every day. The comments from Facebook fans always bring humour and Brandon never posts who in the picture gave the quote so we are left to guess. His cute Microfashion series featuring kids and their street style will warm anyone’s heart!


Instagram: Tyler Knott

I only came across Tyler on Instagram about two months ago, but since then his posts have completely brought out the romantic in me. Between his Daily Haiku written in gorgeous handwriting and the Typewriter Series that gives some love to the old-school technology, I find myself wishing for a sweetheart to share these words with! I am impatiently waiting for his book to come out this fall. If you need a little more love in your life (and who doesn’t?), I recommend bringing Tyler into your daily Instagram scrolling.

Twitter: Dana Weiss & Andi Lavinthal (when they are live-tweeting during The Bachelor tv episodes)

I can no longer watch any Bachelor episodes without constantly hitting refresh on Twitter to hear what Dana and Andi are thinking. Their snarky humour always cracks me up and they say exactly what all of us at home are chatting about with our friends. I know this follow isn’t a daily smile, but they make it worth it every time The Bachelor launches a new series. You won’t be disappointed!

 

Do you have any favourite follows to share?

A weekend or two ago, I made the best Saturday morning plans I have ever had. Honestly, I was excited all week and I still can’t think of anything more fun: my dear friend Kyla from Freckled Nest Design came over and we dined on chocolate chip pancakes and mimosas while watercolour painting envelopes! It was just perfect with the sun streaming in, some daffodils to brighten the place up, and a major catch up session of girl talk. Actually, we talked a lot about family and entrepreneurship. Grownups, I guess.

I met Kyla through Amber at Girl with the Red Hair when I was hired in Winnipeg and realized I did not know a single person here other than my family. While Amber and Kyla had never been face-to-face, they had become friends in the blogging world and Kyla was so warm and gracious to offer to help show me around! We have bonded over our love of The Bachelor TV series, farmer’s market mornings, chocolate chip cookies and pancakes, holiday craft sale crawls, Kacey Musgraves’ songs, and too many other things I cannot think to name.

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I was inspired to do the envelope craft because I had stumbled upon Stephanie Fishwick’s blog post a few weeks before and pinned it immediately. It seemed simple enough for a painting-challenged person like me and affordable too! I picked up $3 watercolours from the dollar store, used a set of paintbrushes I stole from my mom who found them at a garage sale, and bought a pack of 50 envelopes from Staples for $10 that met Stephanie’s criteria of being 100% cotton. This was such a relaxing, easy thing to do and I managed to finish nine envelopes – back and front – that morning. I got a little more creative as the time wore on although I do humbly admit I copied some of Stephanie’s ideas.

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It turns out Kyla and I are trendsetters as I discovered yesterday on Instagram that April is National Letter Writing Month! Actually I am pretty certain this is an American holiday, but I think Canadians should be allowed to adopt holidays that are such good ideas. The best part is two companies called Egg Press and Hello!Lucky joined forces and kicked off a WRITE_ON campaign challenging people to write 30 letters in 30 days this month. Since we are only a day behind, I hope you will join me in tackling this written word challenge and share your experience on social media through #30in30. Thirty letters in thirty hand-painted watercolour envelopes is sure to warm the hearts of your friends and family.

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When was the last time you sent or received a letter?

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Happy New Year! I know it is April Fool’s Day, but I have decided to change it to New Year’s Day instead and launch my resolutions. I am three months late, but it is never too late to make some changes and do what you need to do to become your best self. I can’t ignore my past, but I feel like the start of 2014 has been a whirlwind rollercoaster ride I never wanted.  So let’s pop some bubbly and cheers to a fresh start (and to Lara Casey for inspiring me to do this in the first place)!

Part 5: Set Good Goals

Review

I followed Lara Casey’s advice to Review and after reading through my first four posts, I changed a few things. As I was writing these goalsetting posts I felt like I was all over the map, but reading them now there are consistent themes and hopes through out. While I needed to edit, I do think my resolutions are a clear reflection of everything I worked on in this series.

I deleted my Pinterest vision board.  It never came easy to me when I was making it and I realized I would never look back on it for motivation. Instead, I am using my Pinterest board full of quotes as I already glance at it for inspiration whenever I need it. I also changed my 2014 word to “Today” simply because “Day” never really sounded right, but it holds the same meaning. And as much as I love the song I chose, it also never sat well with me for this. Instead I am going with something a little more upbeat and fearless: Sara Bareille’s Brave.

Set GOOD GOALS

With all this in my mind, below are my goals for 2014. (Note that I have not included a career category as that is something I choose to keep private and I have already set those goals for the year with my manager at work). My wonderful friend Kyla gave me a tip that sometimes you have project goals and sometimes you have maintenance goals. I would refer to my radical goals as project goals and the ones below as maintenance. They are all small pieces that will add up to big change in my life.

Health

  1. At least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
  2. Reach my happy, healthy target weight of xxx lbs.
  3. Starbucks will become a Friday (or extra special occasion) treat.

Home

  1. Every Tuesday clean and dust the apartment.
  2. Every Wednesday go through mail, papers, etc.
  3. Every Thursday pay bills and review budget.

Finance

  1. Pay off my VISA and then continue to pay off at the end of  every month.
  2. Save $xxxx into my Rainy Day fund.
  3. Reach YNAB’s Rule Four so I am living on last month’s income and not paycheque-to-paycheque.

Hobbies

  1. Try one new dinner recipe and one new dessert recipe each month.
  2. Craft one new DIY project each month.
  3. Blog post three times per week.
  4. Read two books each month – one for book club and one for me.

Relationships

  1. Connect with one BC friend and one MB friend each week.
  2. Send one letter, postcard, email, picture, or note to family or friends each week.
  3. Renew and strengthen my faith.

Part 6: Make it Happen

I am committed to reviewing my progress and updating you, my dear readers, on all of it every three months. So in the last week of June, September and December I will post a review of my dedication to these goals and along the way I will share the things I learn like fun DIY crafts, good books, or delicious recipes.

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How are your New Year’s resolutions going three months into 2014? If you don’t make resolutions are you currently having success with any goals you have set for yourself?