Be confident in the person you are and everything you stand for – that’s the only way to make things happen.
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I love discovering new brands that have something unique to offer to their customers. I am a fanatic for dainty jewelry, versatile accessories, handbags, and notebooks, so when my cousin told me about The Red Bow Shoppe, I knew I had to check it out. The Red Bow is an online shoppe inspired by Hello Kitty and the Iconic ‘Red Bow’ for fashionable, grown-up Hello Kitty fans with luxe taste. Each piece is chosen by Karen (the owner) herself, where she hopes each customer will find a little everyday luxury to add to their style. I browsed their website and quickly fell in love with a few pieces…
I got in touch with Karen and we’ve teamed up to provide my readers and followers with a wonderful giveaway. As summer is just around the corner WE want to know what your summer plans/dreams/memories are. What can you win? A Red Ibiza Notebook — to keep track of all your summer adventures and a Red Bow Besties Bracelet.
TWEET or INSTAGRAM a picture that represents your Summer Dreams and give us a little explanation too.
Be sure to include @redbowshoppe and @VanessaGrillone in your Tweets/Instagram Pictures as well as the hashtag #RedBowSummer
The contest is NOW OPEN — the last day to enter is June 26th at which time a winner will be chosen!
Best of LUCK!
** This contest is open to Canadian entrants only **
This week on Bursting the Bubble I want
tell show you a few things. I’ve been told that Toronto is beautiful in the summer. I, being the weird-ish Italian girl from up North (a co-worker’s description not my own), have never experienced it and took this week to find said beauty.
You’re right, Toronto is beautiful in the summer and I thoroughly enjoy coming downtown to work every single day. However, you can take the girl out of the suburb but you can’t take the suburb out of the girl — THIS girl anyways. As much as I love becoming “so-Toronto” (my best friend’s description not my own), I love being “so-Bolton” too. I love coming home, to my little town with big houses, green lawns, large fields, and a vast clear sky. I always assumed that I’d want to live downtown, right in the heart of the city but this internship has taught me otherwise. I want to WORK in the city and LIVE in the suburbs — reasonably close to a subway station if possible. It would be experiencing the best of both worlds, my two favourite worlds. The hustle and bustle of the city, the loud and always delayed subway, the many many faces rushing to work in the morning, and then the quiet picturesque scenes of Bolton, the long roads leading nowhere, and the calm constant breeze with its tiny hint of manure.
Thanks to this internship I’m learning more about myself and what I want out of life. I feel myself growing, changing, and becoming a little more independent. I’m finding it easier to be honest with myself, to relax, and to get things done. There are so many little things I’m finding out about myself, like the fact that I genuinely like people. I like talking to them, I like helping them, I like being social — this coming from a girl who would lie to her friends to avoid going to parties. Apparently this once shy and immensely quiet girl is capable of socializing and interacting with people on many different levels.
Maybe I’m coming out of my shell a bit more, maybe I’ve found a grain of confidence, who knows?
Regardless, I’m loving it.
I feel more like myself now than ever before.
We’d been stopped in the subway tunnel for 15 minutes when my breathing stopped. My heart was being crushed under immense pressure. My lungs – well they said a sweet toodle-oo with a great big eff you! At that point I put up the volume of my music and rested my head on my bag. With my eyes closed I felt a little bit better, in spite of the fact that the B.O. of the man in front of me found its way into my nostrils.
Apparently I can’t handle being confined and helpless. When the train began moving again my head spun, my stomach convulsed, and I nearly lost my composure. For over an hour I was stuck on that train. The train that toyed with my emotions: Go. Stop. Wait. Go. Go. Stop. Wait. Wait. Go slowly. Stop. I could sense the annoyance mount in the other passengers. I saw the roll of their eyes every time the driver explained about the signaling problems and apologized for the inconvenience.
All I kept thinking was; Breathe, Vanessa. Breathe. Don’t get anxious over something you literally have no control over. You think the driver WANTS to be stopped? No. Breathe. You’ll get home eventually. Calm down and take a nap. That mantra (thanks MOM!) was the only thing that kept me from experiencing a full-blown anxiety attack that night.
Funny how that all happened on my way home, just after I tweeted: Potential is one of my favourite words. To me it’s hopeful and optimistic; attainable and reachable. Each day has the potential of turning out wonderful or completely shitty. Most things you have no control over but you DO have control over how you react to certain things, which is why I still ended up having a pretty okay evening. I didn’t spend my night complaining about the TTC or that I got home late. I went on with my night as if nothing happened. I wrote a little, worked out, ate a handful (or two) of my mom’s homemade chocolate almonds – the ones I’m not supposed to eat because they’re for my sister’s baby shower (#Sorry #NoI’mNot). Then I climbed into bed and let my mind wander.
I thought about all the wonderful things that could happen. I thought about potential and let the word swim around in my mind. I thought about taking up photography. I thought about taking writing classes. I thought about the novel I’m slowly working on (or maybe it’s a short story). I thought about becoming an aunt. I thought about traveling: New York, England, Italy, and Paris – I’m coming for you. I thought about marriage. I thought about family. I thought about love. I thought about change. I thought about work. I thought about words. I thought about time and reminded myself that all good things can’t come at once — no matter how hard you work for them.
I thought good thoughts and woke up with a smile.
As I read most of Trains and Lovers (my second Random House read for June) on the subway, I could almost pretend that I was there with Kay, David, Hugh, and Andrew. Sitting across from them, listening intently to their stories of love and all of the different ways you can love someone. I even thought for a brief moment I saw a fleeting fishing boat outside the subway window — the boat that sparked the conversation between these unforgettable characters.
In Trains and Lovers, Alexander McCall Smith explores the nature of love—and trains—through a series of intertwined romantic tales. The rocking of the train car, the sound of its wheels on the rails…there’s something special about this form of travel that makes for easy conversation. Which is just what happens to the 4 strangers who meet in Trains and Lovers. As they travel by rail from Edinburgh to London, they entertain one another with tales of how trains have changed their lives.
I read this novel in black and white. Each scene appeared in my mind as a photo, a blurred moment that was barely captured. The edges of my book faded away as I got caught up in the story and the words came to life. Trains and Lovers is the most charming book I’ve read in a while. I’ve never read Alexander McCall Smith before but I will definitely check out his previous work in hopes to find some more of his quick wit, his real-life honesty, and his way of words. I love how he describes the most basic human interactions, the way he depicts love, and the way he frames so many little truths about humanity. You can easily see a piece of yourself in each of these characters and find it exciting to learn a bit more about them.
This book has its own little rhythm to it, it’s slightly poetic. At some points you’ll feel the swaying of the train and hear the screeching of the breaks, and you’ll hope that this little story isn’t quite finished. You have so much more to learn about these people, about life! I underlined so many wonderful quotes in this sweet and profound novel.
Each of us has his or her reasons, for making this journey, for being as we are, for continuing with the lives we lead; ordinary lives, of course, but touched here and there with moments of understanding and insight, and sheer marvel.” (Page 239)
This novel will fill you with many moments of understanding and insight. It will remind you of what a wonderfully amazing stupid thing love is. It will remind you that we all go through the same things, we do stupid things for love, and we all feel love in the same way — that’s what makes it so great. We’re all idiots. We’re all suckers for love.
We live and breathe love. Loving someone ‘is the good thing we do in our lives’.
Trains and Lovers comes out today – get on board!
The most difficult thing about blogging (writing) is staying true to the voice of your blog. It’s difficult to stay true to the brand you created when there are so many other blogs and brands to be intimidated by. I created this blog as a space for my personal thoughts, as a space to practice and improve my writing, as a place to learn more about myself, as a place to share great books. Admittedly I’ve lost sight of my voice a couple of times. Sometimes I didn’t even recognize the woman holding the pen, I didn’t hear my own nasally soften-spoken voice when I read my posts over again. The important thing is that I noticed and I put myself back on track.
Another difficult part of blogging (writing) is privacy — what do you share? What do you keep to yourself? I’ve had people tell me that they follow my blog in a tone that makes me feel like they know more about me than I think they do. I’ve had people tell me that I should be careful. That my generation doesn’t know the importance of privacy. Well, that’s what social media is, letting people into your life, into your home. It’s scary how BIG social media has become in my life, I’m even applying for jobs with SOCIAL MEDIA in their description.
Sometimes I sit back and think oh my gosh, I’m sharing my thoughts with who knows how many people. On top of that it’s on the INTERNET, FOREVER. After the initial nausea from that thought subsides, I allow myself to think other thoughts. My Pen, My Voice is a brand. It is a brand that I created. It’s ME, it’s who I am and what I represent BUT I get to choose what I share. Along with this blog I have two other notebooks with me at all times. One is a diary and one is the rough beginnings of my novel — neither of which I share on my blog.
I think people forget that there’s a person behind a blog, a twitter account, an Instagram account etc and what they share is only fraction of their lives. They let you see what they want you to see.
I am my truest self when I write.
I write with honesty, intention, passion, and determination, but please don’t forget –
My Pen, My Voice is just one side of me.
An old man sits alone and plays Solitaire at my local Tim Horton’s. He’s concentrating intensely and yet he’s so far removed from angst. You can tell that he’s enjoying himself. The shuffling, the flipping of every card, the way he holds it in the air until he finds the right spot for it – there is something calming about it. I’m mesmerized. There’s something so sweet and serene about this entire scene that I realize I’ve lost my spot in line. I’m a young girl creeping on an old man and his deck of cards, who has just lost her spot in line. I wonder who noticed. I wonder why I never saw this solitary man, with his deck of cards, his empty coffee mug, and a few crumbs left on his plate. I wonder how many other people noticed him at all.
Solitaire. I guess I’m a solitary person. I like to be alone. I like the quiet. I enjoy silence: I hear it’s golden, although I’ve always pictured it as a shade of pastel pink and tasting like bubble gum. Silence is sweet and sometimes we need to give our mouth a rest and let our eyes take over.
So, this week I let my eyes take over.
* A white box with a huge carrot cupcake appears on my desk with a plop, a lovely handwritten note is stuck onto it. It’s dripping with positive words and beautiful thoughts.
* A young woman with her legs crossed tightly sits across from her friend at Starbucks. Her eyes are rolling so far into the back of her head that I can’t see what colour they are; they’re lost in her lids. A look of disgust is on her lips as she speaks. What is she saying? I don’t want to know. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
* An abandoned bright orange construction helmet resting beside a sign that screams DANGER! WORKERS ABOVE!
* Red and white business cards falling out of my wallet - I pick them up the same way I’ve picked myself off the floor many times before.
* A seagull’s lonely
quill feather sleeping on the sidewalk, smiling at me. It recognizes the writer who walks past but doesn’t pick it up because she’s also afraid of germs.
* Construction. An ever-growing city.
* Cotton candy clouds spanning further than the end of the earth, shaped perfectly to the dome that is our sky.
* A girl with a smile from ear-to-ear, a spark in her eyes, and a story to tell – I catch her reflection in the subway window and realize that its me.
I saw a lot this week and I tried my best to listen as well. I heard everything around me. I heard praises, scorns, advice, beautiful music, panic, fear, private whispers, and laughter. Hearing. Seeing. Actions we do without thinking, without noticing. My goal for the final three weeks of my internship is to be conscious of what I’m seeing and hearing. I have a few more events coming up, a few more books to read, a few more manuscripts to bind, a few more questions to ask, and plenty more to learn — I want to absorb it all.
I want to learn it all.
In January I was sent an ARC from Simon & Schuster of Sahar Delijani’s debut novel Children of the Jacaranda Tree.
Neda is born in Evin Prison, where her mother is allowed to nurse her for a few months before the arms of a guard appear at the cell door one day and, simply, take her away. Omid, at age three, witnesses the arrests of his political activist parents from his perch at their kitchen table, yogurt dripping from his fingertips. More than twenty years after the violent, bloody purge that took place inside Tehran’s prisons, Sheida learns that her father was one of those executed, that the silent void firmly planted between her and her mother all these years was not just the sad loss that comes with death, but the anguish and the horror of murder.
Neda, Omid, and Sheida are just three of the many unforgettable characters in Sahar Delijani’s startling debut novel, Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Set in post-revolutionary Iran, from 1983 to 2011, it follows a group of mothers, fathers, children, and lovers, some connected by family, others brought together by the tide of history that forces its way into their lives. Finally, years later, it is the next generation that is left with the burden of the past and their country’s tenuous future as a new wave of protest and political strife begins.
I have to start by saying that I am thoroughly looking forward to any other book penned by Sahar Delijani. Her writing is clean, delicious, and addictive — she takes you to a place filled with turmoil and pain and showers you with an immense amount of love. The characters are real, complex, and so full of emotion that I was sad to let them go.
There are so many lessons to learn from this book, so many times I wondered how people actually go through such horrific events and stay brave. There were so many times my heart ached and wondered if I would ever be brave enough to fight for my beliefs. There were so many times I felt thankful for not having to go through what the characters in the novel did. The thing about novels revolving around historical events is that the reality hits you smack in the face, punches you right in the gut, leaves you a little winded and breathless, Children of the Jacaranda Tree did that and so much more.
I’m a little sad that I can’t share any quotes from the book with you but I urge you to pick up a copy of this book and get lost in the great writing, the wonderful characters, and the beautiful sentiment behind the story.
** The synopsis is from the Simon & Schuster website ** ** The title of this post is an indirect quote from page 113 of the novel **
It’s terrifyingly easy to become envious of someone else’s life. It’s easy to get so caught up in what others are doing (especially with all of this social media, sharing, and documenting) that you lose sight of your own dreams and wishes. I’ve written about this before and I’ll probably write about it again because it’s something that scares me a lot. When you can’t see the finish line or you feel like many people are sprinting faster than you (even though you’re working just as hard), self-doubt will sweep you up on its dark cloud and suffocate you. You can’t let that happen. Keep sprinting even when your lungs give out. No matter how many people pass you, keep sprinting.
If you look far enough into the distance you’ll realize that they aren’t gunning for the same finish line as you.
At some point the track branches off and we all have our own path to follow.
Your finish line is yours and yours alone.
You can check out my post here: The following is a guest post from Vanessa Grillone, Publicity Intern