Saturday 29 December 2018

2018 - Lessons Learned

Longtime readers of this blog will know that there's nothing like the end of the year to turn me into a nostalgic mush. I had written about some of my biggest lessons learned last year for 2017, and the lessons certainly continued well into 2018. This year saw the growth of my business, continued travel and so many incredible opportunities that I am so grateful for. 2018 was also a year that I started to prioritize balance, particularly in the work/life area, and gave myself permission to say no to jobs and opportunities when I felt like they were at a sacrifice to my mental health. Overall, I look back at 2018 fondly as a year of growth, both personally and professionally with many lessons learned along the way that helped to shape a healthier outlook on life.

There Will Always Be Opportunity

The biggest change in my outlook from 2017 to 2018, and one of my greatest lessons learned this year is that just because you turn down an opportunity, does not mean that there will never be another that comes along. Although I've always passed on opportunities that I felt did not align with my personal brand, 2018 was the first time that I said "no" because I recognized that I would not be able to comfortably fulfil them without it taking a toll on my mental health. I'll be honest, I really struggled with this at first. When you work for yourself, it can be incredibly difficult to turn down jobs - especially when you're responsible for bills, savings and keeping yourself afloat. I worried that just because I said no to one opportunity that it could mean the end of others coming my way. What I learned in 2018 is to trust my own instincts and know that there will always be opportunity to work hard towards. The expression 'when one door closes, another door opens' really does have something to it! Trust your own instincts and have confidence in your abilities - the next big adventure is just around the corner.

I Am In Control Of My Media Intake

Social media was definitely a hot-button topic all year, specifically how a curated version of reality affects others. Instagram is definitely at the core of most debates, with arguments about how seeing a highlight reel of someone's life can negatively affect someone's perception of their own life. While I would never deny that there's a lot of truth to these arguments, in 2018 I finally figured out my own way of controlling the media I consumed and how it made me feel - I simply unfollowed anyone who brought out negative emotions in myself. It sounds so simple, but if you're struggling with the negative affects of social media I would highly suggest the same practice. See someone buying their following or engagement and it's making you mad? Unfollow! It's amazing how my relationship with social media changed for the better in 2018 when I took control of the content that I was consuming.

You Get What You Put Out

Another lesson that was a big one for me this year was that the energy you put out into the world is the energy that you get back. To be honest, I've known this to be true for some time which is why I try to keep things positive, but in 2018 I learned that the saying rings true even down to the smallest of details. I'll use an example; maybe I was having a bad day, or wanted to vent and complain about a minor inconvenience in my life. Typically my usual routine would be to log onto Twitter and complain -  and more often times than not, my venting sessions would be met by joined complaints and with others joining in. I understand that it's naive to think that life is all sunshine and rainbows, but stay with me: typically when you step back and think about the big picture, if you have your health and people that you love, it kind of is. When it comes to life, I feel best when focusing on the positive and leaving the negative thoughts for when it's truly warranted. Put out positive energy into the world and you'll get that same energy back, tenfold.

What do you guys think? What has been some of your greatest lessons for 2018? Are you looking forward to the new year? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Sunday 9 December 2018

My Favourite Places in Hamilton, Ontario

Once November draws to an end, so does my traveling schedule for the year. While I'm not one to get on an airplane during the snowy months of late-November and December (I actually hate traveling during the holidays) it doesn't bother me much since there's so many amazing places to explore that are just a short car-trip away from downtown Toronto. Lately I've been really enjoying taking the short drive to Hamilton, Ontario to explore it's vibrant restaurant and café scene.

While I've been having the best time exploring and trying out new spots in a city that isn't my own, there's been a few places that have quickly become my favourite and a must-visit anytime that I find myself in Hamilton. These places speak to my little pink soul in terms of décor, food, friendliness of staff and just general amazingness.

Without further ado, here's a list of some of my favourite places to visit when I find myself in Hamilton, Ontario.

Frats Cucina

Take one look at the décor at Frats Cucina and you can see why this beautiful restaurant tops my list as favourite spot in Hamilton. What keeps me coming back is their food - omg, the food. Napoli-style pizzas made fresh in-house, charcuterie boards, delicious salads - everything is just so good. I love how the menu is a beautiful mix of traditional Italian fare, with modern elements and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Wether you're in the mood for a quick drink, or an all-out feast, I would definitely give Frats Cucina a try.

Hello Baked

Imagine the most beautiful little shop that houses and entire wall of bulk candy, offers a curated section of local gift offerings and smells like freshly baked cookies. That's Hello Baked for you. You  may recognized Hello Baked's beautiful iced sugar cookies from events and vendors all over the GTA, those little beauties are made and sold at this beautiful shop too. Owner Jessica is such a sweet woman and, fun fact - we actually discovered that we were in the same elementary school class decades ago. Such a small world! Whether it's for a box of candy or just to enjoy the scenery, I always make it a point to stop into Hello Baked while in Hamilton (hint - check out the mural on the side of the shop. You can't miss it!)


Part café, part bistro, part bookshop, Synonym is a recent discovery for me and has quickly landed a spot on my must-visit list every time that I find myself in Hamilton. The coffee and matcha selection is excellent, and I'm partial to any café that offers oat milk as a dairy alternative. Decor is simple yet purposeful and front of the space boasts amazing light, while the back nooks are perfect if you're craving a more subdued area. All around a solid café with great atmosphere, a friendly staff and delicious coffee to boot. Make sure to stop into Synonym, at the very least to grab an oat-milk matcha latte for the drive back to Toronto.

Although these three places top my list as must-visit spots to hit up the next time you're in Hamilton, there's also a few other establishments that I've really enjoyed but have only been able to visit once:

What do you guys think? Are there any places in Hamilton that you've really been enjoying? Keep in mind that this post is written from the perspective of a Toronto-based girl visiting the area, so I'm definitely no expert! Let me know!

xo Joëlle

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