Here are 8 quick travel tips to make it a smooth and enjoyable trip that you'll remember long after you return home.
So you've planned your next trip and chosen a destination that calls to you!
Here are 8 quick travel tips to make it a smooth and enjoyable trip that you'll remember long after you return home.
Often, the best discoveries are those made when you least expect it (certainly not while you're rushing or stressed).
It's such a great feeling to skip a massive line!
Staying hydrated is important, and a reusable bottle avoids plastic waste. Just don't fill it up until you're past security at their airport to avoid delays or them confiscating it!
You'll learn more about local life if you shop and prepare your food rather than always eating out. You'll save some money too!
If you should ever lose your documents, having a copy can speed up replacing them, especially since we tend not to know our card numbers or other info by heart.
In case one pair gives your feet a hard time. Painful feet can be a real nuisance when traveling. Love your feet because they take you places!
If your battery dies and you don't have access to a charger on the go, these inexpensive packs can save you and get you to the end of your day.
Remember that a place is not your personal playground. Respect the locals, nature, architecture, language, culture and any rules of the place you're visiting.
Got a tip to share too? Leave a comment below!
Dive right in:
I have always loved taking long exploratory walks around urban neighborhoods, no matter whether I have traveled to a faraway place or I am happily acting like a tourist in my own city. I don't necessarily always plan to collect photos, but they seem to be inevitable. The simple act of moving, observing and being in the moment fuels my creativity.
Knowing this, I have gotten into the habit of scheduling a seasonal "staycation" -- a mini vacation (sometimes just a day or two, sometimes a whole week) in my own city of Montreal, where I devote time to exploring different areas and appreciating how they change with the seasons.
In the mood to stretch my legs and to spend a little time outdoors with my camera, I signed up for one of the Photowalk Montreal group itineraries, organized by graphic artist and photographer Elodie Le Pape.
Every month or so, a new itinerary is proposed to explore a different facet of Montreal. Essentially, you meet up with a group of people on a Saturday and take a leisurely 2-hour walk together, snapping photos of whatever inspires you.
When I met up with about 24 strangers at metro Mont-Royal for that day's "Colors of the Plateau and Village" itinerary, I felt a bit outside my comfort zone. For me, photography is usually a solitary act. It is how I unwind, how I practice mindfulness, how I pay attention to my posture, and how I reflect on my way of seeing and feeling things in this world. When I travel, I usually carve out time to walk around with my camera on my own. If I'm in a group, I make mental notes of where to return to when I have more time to observe and experiment. Being such a solo photographer, I had no idea how it would feel for me to be part of a large group of photography-lovers. Would I keep the pace and find inspiration without feeling pressured? Would there be a lot of discussion and comparison? Would be end up with extremely similar photos?
What I quickly noticed when we set out on our photowalk was that the atmosphere was pleasantly informal and relaxed, such that you could make the experience whatever you wanted it to be. For this group, it doesn't matter if you're a beginner or an expert, if you have a cell phone or fancy gear, or if you simply feel like going for a stroll (thus totally ditching the "photo" part of a "photowalk"). You can take your time (as long as you don't lose the group), and be as talkative or as quietly focused as you wish. If city photography is not your thing, you are totally free to take portrait photos with a buddy, while scouting out interesting backdrops for future photoshoots.
I admit that it was still an odd sight to watch 25 people silently fill a narrow street and spread out into different directions like ants infiltrating a space! Some photographers were much more assertive than I was, climbing residents' staircases for better views, getting really up close and personal with their subjects.
I stayed true to my usual style -- looking for unique compositions and details that highlight colors, textures and that celebrate the ordinary. I appreciated that there was room for every type of photographer, and that the photos would reflect our individual styles, in the end.
The highlight of the photowalk was to discover a couple of charming streets that I had not yet explored. I was so glad to have done something outside of my creative comfort zone. It was a refreshing exercise to try something new but to still find my unique perspective and style within that new experience.
Since the photowalk, I have enjoyed a few leisurely walks on the Plateau, Little Italy and around the Parc Olympique, taking in the miracles of spring. It always astonishes me how a little bit of time outside, away from my screen and phone, can refresh my mind and spirit. (Though, between you and me, it can be a little overwhelming to come home to hundreds of new images to sort and process!)
I am often asked for advice for beginner photographers, and I almost always say this: take long walks and practice. Whether you join an organized photowalk for a structured itinerary, or you just weave in and out of streets on a whim, you are sure to find inspiration if you are open to it. Once something makes you slow your step, capture it in different ways -- different angles and compositions will tell a different story, and different camera settings will teach you about light. Finally, always look with your eyes first. Especially when the goal of the walk is to take pictures, it's easy to become a hurried collector and snap, snap, snap. Slow down, relax your shoulders, look at the scene and pay attention to how it makes you feel. What draws your eye naturally? Try to recreate that with your lens.
But, most of all: have fun. No matter how your photos turn out, at least you've taken a nice walk through town!
Tell me: Have you ever been on a photowalk? How was your experience?
Imagine creating a home for yourself and your family that feels cozy, stylish and representative of your tastes, without breaking the bank.
Imagine feeling that interior design does not have to be a daunting task, and that a beautiful space can be achieved with a few creative ideas, helpful tips and tricks, and original finds from independent businesses.
That is precisely what Kat Mannell offers us with her inspiring interior design blog and Instagram account "Life at Number 63".
Based in the UK, Kat left her job as an interior design assistant for the affluent and decided to show home enthusiasts that it is unnecessary to spend endless amounts on designer labels and bespoke items to create a perfect home. She is also a passionate advocate for small businesses and handmade items.
Kat thoughtfully renovated her Victorian home to create a stylish Scandinavian-inspired interior on a budget. Only 18 months after the start of her journey, her audience has grown to almost 60 thousand followers, with whom she shares her unique finds, favorite brands, inspiring color schemes, interior trends and design tricks.
What is special about "Life at Number 63" on Instagram is that Kat takes us through her space at least twice a day, showing us different angles and different ways of styling the rooms. In fact, Kat proves that a decor need not be set in stone! Kat embraces change at home, switching the color scheme and decor frequently.
"I live in the moment, and if I feel like a room or part of a room isn't making me happy anymore, then I change it. I like to shop my home as well as buying new things, as even moving around furniture or accessories can make an area feel fresh."
Her two little girls Ruby and Molly also embrace a changing decor like their Mum.
"They are used to it! I think that, since we have lived in the same house all their lives, they are very settled children, and so a few colour changes or new items don't daunt them at all."
Kat describes her home style as "scandi, hygge and botanical".
She loves clean lines, soft pinks and Scandinavian-inspired furniture and accessories.
There isn't a spot of the house that is hidden from our view - we can admire every corner, and sometimes Kat takes us on a tour of the layout in her Instagram Stories.
"It's not a large house, but I try to be creative with my shots, and actually photograph every angle and corner possible!"
Her personal favorite spot at home is simply her side of the bed. "I layer it up with blankets, turn my air diffuser and string lights on and curl up with a book and a cup of tea. Bliss!"
Other than showcasing her own space and guiding others in their home decor projects with her helpful blog articles, Kat also hosts an Instagram challenge she created under the hashtag "#spotthenewtrend", with prizes to be won. "I base the theme on current and future trends, and people use the hashtag on their posts containing that theme, and I share their posts on my stories. There are now over 18000 posts to the hashtag, which I'm thrilled with!"
Kat shares her surprise about the online community she has discovered. "There are so many people whose home is a huge part of their lives, and who want to make a cozy, inviting space to share with friends and family".
Aside from her work as an interior blogger and influencer, Kat is also the owner of the online shop Art House Illustration, where she sells her custom house portraits as prints.
When we talked about how she juggles her numerous projects, passions, collaborations and parenting, Kat confessed that keeping up with it all can sometimes be a challenge. "I have to be organized (which isn't my strong suit if I'm honest). I make a list of things to do at the start of the week, even down to small details and then work my way through them. If it all stays in my head, then sometimes I can feel a little stressed. List making is definitely key!"
Although Kat is grateful for the huge community support she surprisingly experienced, she attributes her success to her persistence in following her dream. "Just believe in yourself and go for it," she advises fellow bloggers and entrepreneurs. "I really wanted Instagram and my blog to succeed, and I have put in many hours and late nights, which has often been exhausting, but it's always worth it in the end."
Follow Kat over on "Life at Number 63" on her blog and Instagram to discover her home and her affordable tips and tricks to creating a unique home you adore!
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Don't worry, it's not contagious. And it's actually pretty cool.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve been aware of the fact that every word I read or hear is colored. To be more precise, every letter and every number has its “own color”. I see these so vividly and automatically in my mind, without any effort or control, that I used to think it was a common experience shared by everyone.
It wasn’t until a Neuroscience class during the first semester of my Master’s in my twenties that I finally learned that my color perception was not common, and that it was called "synesthesia". I approached the Professor after class and he enthusiastically asked whether I would take a battery of tests, since he conducts research on the neurobiological basis of synesthesia. Suddenly, I found myself in a tiny windowless Italian office for two hours, answering detailed questionnaires and assigning all letters, numbers and days of the week a precise shade of color using the color wheel in PowerPoint, until it was confirmed that I indeed have a very strong and consistent form of synesthesia.
I felt strangely giddy.
What is synesthesia?
Synesthesia comes from the Greek “syn” (meaning “together”) and “aesthesis” (meaning “sense perception”). It is a relatively rare neurological phenomenon occurring in about 2-4% of the world's population. It is characterized by an unusual blending of the senses in the brain, where specific physical stimuli consistently trigger more than one perceptual sensation, typically across sensory modalities.
There are different types of synesthesia, depending on which senses have been blended. Certain sounds (e.g. musical notes) or visual symbols (e.g. letters or numbers) can induce vivid experiences of color, touch, taste, smell, or can even evoke specific personalities. These experiences differ from synesthete to synesthete, but, in all cases, they are involuntary and remain consistent over time.
Seeing colors: My experience with grapheme-color synesthesia
The type of synesthesia I experience is called "grapheme-color synesthesia".
The colors I see in response to letters, numbers, whole words, and other symbols are very precise. For example, "D", "J" and "P" are all green, but they differ in their shades. Similarly, "C" is mustard yellow, whereas "I" is a brighter, sunshine yellow. I see these colors in my mind, although I can project them onto a page or a wall if I think of them. The first letter of a word determines the color for the whole word, and it is based on the orthography, not the sound it makes. For example, the words "cat" and "catastrophe" are both the same mustard yellow color, and the words "photography" and "psychology" are both the same clover green. On the other hand, "site" is dark red, contrary to "cite" which is mustard yellow, even though they share the same sound.
Proper names follow the same colors as common words, but for some reason, days of the week and months of the year have some kind of special status. "Monday" is greyish white, even though the letter M is a midnight blue. "February" is a dark pinkish coral, although the letter F is usually dark purple.
Numbers, unlike words which have one main color, are colored according to their individual digits. For example, 27 is not just one color, but is made up of a yellowish-orange 2 and a reddish-brown 7. Punctuation marks and other symbols also have their own colors, but they are somehow less salient than letters or numbers.
These experiences are vivid whether I read text or hear language. When I see font colors that are incongruent with my "own colors", it is a tremendously unsettling experience! I genuinely have trouble focusing on colored font or on objects like alphabet toys when the colors differ from the ones I instinctively see!
Synesthesia and multilingualism
My color perceptions in response to language occur not only in my most dominant language (English), but also in any additional languages I have learned, whether I've learned them during early childhood or adulthood.
The colors tend to be consistent when the orthography is consistent (French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch), but different when the script is non-alphabetic (Armenian).
I have noticed that my color perceptions are weaker when my proficiency is weaker in a language. For example, as I have less exposure to Armenian script in adulthood than I did in childhood, I have noticed that the color perception of some letters is much less salient than other letters I am more familiar with and can recognize more easily.
On the other hand, scripts I can decipher only in part (Greek) only have some colored letters, whereas scripts I cannot decipher at all (Russian) are not colored at all.
Although letters and words typically share the same color associations across my languages, some symbols do not. Quotation marks, for example, are red in English (” “), blue in French («, ») but yellow in German („“).
Exceptions to my colors
There are a few exceptions where the semantic meaning of the word influences its color. For example, "acqua" in Italian or "agua" in Spanish are both blueish white, even though the letter A is dark red.
The word “blue” is actually blue, rather than being brownish-orange like the letter B. Oddly enough, though, the word “green” is brownish-red and not green, so I have no idea what makes the meaning prevail in some cases but not in others!
Spatial organization with synesthesia
In addition to seeing colors in response to orthographic symbols, there are a number of other “odd” spatial experiences linked to my form of synesthesia.
When people speak, I see words and sentences running through my mind like subtitles.
Days of the week are organized in a specific way (from left to right), as are months of the year (from top to bottom).
Research has shown that these kinds of spatial features seem to be a rather consistent experience among synesthetes.
The upside and downside to living with synesthesia
Over the years, I've grown quite attached to my synesthesia. If I am extremely fatigued, ill or waking up from surgery, I immediately "check" if my synesthesia is still instinctive and strong, for fear of losing it. I love this aspect of my brain and my sensory experience, despite some of the quirks associated with it.
On the upside, I am quick at spotting typos or mistakes, as well as items on a list because my brain kind of sorts by color as my eyes flit over the writing.
I have a strong visual, photographic memory -- a correlation that has often been reported in individuals with synesthesia. It can help me recall things, like names or phone numbers, because I tend to feel its color. For example, I know my doctor's office is on the 2nd floor because the number is yellow.
However, synesthesia can also interfere with my memory. I often confuse numbers or names because of their similar color. For example, I always think that the metro station Vendôme in Montreal is on the green line instead of the orange line, because words beginning with V are green. I experience the "tip of the tongue" phenomenon quite a lot when trying to remember someone's name and only being able to see its color in my mind.
Other disadvantages to synesthesia have been reported in the scientific literature. Like other synesthetes have reported, I have odd difficulties in basic sense of direction (unless I see a map, which becomes imprinted in my photographic memory), basic arithmetic and left-right issues (I often have to consciously think about what is "left" and what is "right").
My earliest recollections of color experiences
Although I had no idea that this was a special neurological trait until my early twenties, my earliest recollection of my color experiences is from around the time I started daycare and kindergarten. I remember playing with magnetic alphabet letters and feeling that "A" was indeed a very red letter. I also remember the French alphabet cards that my Grade 1 teacher had posted above the blackboard, and that the word île (island) was “a very yellow word”.
Another very strong early memory comes from playing the board-game "Life" with my sister. I would spin the wheel and feel unsettled that the number 6 was yellow instead of olive green, and that the number 1 definitely should have been reddish-brown instead of blue.
I didn’t vocalize any of this until sometime in high school when I was shopping for notebooks and school supplies, and I finally told my mom that I needed a green notebook for Physics (“because Physics is a green subject!”) and a blue notebook for Math. I honestly thought she knew exactly what I meant — well, because Moms know everything — but it turns out she had absolutely no clue and I was totally alone in this experience.
I have since then tried to convince her that she and my grandmother must also have SOME form of synesthesia because research into the genetics of synesthesia has revealed that it is indeed hereditary. But alas, I am the only one in my family with this "strange" experience that I'm consistently (but lovingly?) called a "weirdo" over.
Jokes aside, though, I am thankful that I have never felt that my experiences were not valid, nor have I ever felt alienated or ridiculed over them.
Other forms of synesthesia I also experience
My color-grapheme synesthesia is the first form of synesthesia that I noticed growing up, because it is so visual and salient. However, I also have other more discrete forms of synesthesia.
"Hearing-motion synesthesia" is when witnessing movement causes an auditory perception. At preschool age, I first noticed that I could hear sounds when watching the TV on mute. I would have the 6 o'clock news on mute while playing with my toys, and I remember "hearing" the frequency of the news anchors' voices based on the movement of their lips, as well as the sounds of their hand gestures and their stacks of paper on their desks.
I seem to "hear" all kinds of movement - gestures, an object cutting through space or other silent bursts of visual stimuli.
I also have a mild case of "mirror touch synesthesia" where I experience a sensation in a part of my body when I watch someone else experience a sensation in that body part.
If I watch a scene of someone burning their hand, I feel the sensation in my own hand. It can get quite disconcerting, but I always describe it as a heightened sense of empathy!
Lastly, I've noticed that I tend to personify objects and feel as though they have personalities. Again, it's not as salient as my main form of color synesthesia. I can sometimes find myself taking a plate from the kitchen cupboard and upon thinking for a minute, replacing it with another, because it didn't "feel" right.
The science of synesthesia
Although the occurrence of synesthesia has been reported for over a century, it was long treated as a subjective experience unworthy of scientific investigation. Recently, however, a growing body of research has begun to investigate the cognitive and neural bases of synesthesia and has demonstrated that these experiences are real and verifiable. It has been claimed that synesthesia arises from neuro-developmental differences in the maturation of the brain, which give rise to atypical connections between different brain regions that would not normally interact.
In grapheme-color synesthesia, it seems that the brain areas involved in color processing and in the identification of letters and numbers are connected or “cross-activated”.
Brain imaging studies have revealed significant differences between the brains of synesthetes and non-synesthetes in the way they respond to linguistic stimuli such as graphemes and phonemes (written symbols and sounds). For grapheme-color synesthetes, letters and words have been shown to elicit activation in the brain regions actually involved in processing color, whereas this enhanced activation was not found in non-synesthetes, nor for stimuli that do not typically induce internal color experiences in these individuals. In addition to activating early visual areas responsible for the perception of color, synesthetes also activated “higher-order” brain areas responsible for the cross-modal integration of language and visual form.
The study of synesthesia is now seen as a window into perception, cognition and language, and the connection between them.
My colored world, inside and out
Living in a world of constant color stimulation for as long as I can remember, it's no wonder that I adore vibrant colors and have a slight aversion to white!
In the objects and art that I choose for my home, I surround myself with color. It makes me feel good. My photography is no exception - I am drawn to colorful details and scenery like a bug to a light!
Ask me anything!
Synesthesia is a unique neurological and psychological experience. Feel free to leave a comment below and ask me anything you'd like to know about it. I'll answer about my own experience or point you towards resources where you could learn more.
From my heart to yours,
I’ve always been a dreamer.
Being a dreamer doesn’t only mean having lofty goals for yourself that are beautifully out of reach (until, somehow, they are not).
Being a dreamer also means you often reflect on your life. On who you are, on what fills you with joy (or doesn’t), on how far you have come, and on what you deeply wish for yourself. Those wishes can be tangible or idealistic, for the near future or way down the line. But every dreamer has those wishes.
If you have been following me for some time, you know that I usually start the year with a reflection. I look back in order to look forward, and I choose 3 words as the main “themes” or intentions to guide my new year. These words are thoughtfully conjured up as a culmination of what I loved and disliked about the previous year.
Why 3? Because I have a thing for trilogies.
I am as strategic as I am intuitive in this process. You can read my summary of 2018 in this post and get your hands on this free workbook that walks you through this process of reflecting so you can arrive at your own 3 words for the year.
If I can align myself with these deep wishes in my daily actions and reactions, I will get closer to my goals and my dreams – as an individual, as a professional, as an entrepreneur, as an artist. It’s not easy, but growth never stems from what is easy!
For 2019, my 3 words are PRESENCE, EASE and TRUST.
Presence has been a work in progress since 2017. As an entrepreneur and someone with multiple competing projects and passions, I find it TOO easy to get caught up in the hustle, competition and over-stimulation that characterizes the current world around us.
Suddenly, meals get gobbled, breaths are held, social media dictates our self-worth, mornings hurriedly turn to night, seasons dissolve into one another, and we wonder where it all went and what it all means.
It has been a powerful realization for me just how much a mindful, grateful and present mindset benefit my creativity, my photography, my business growth, my income, my collaborations, my health and my inner peace.
In 2019, I wish to continue doing those activities which ground me. Those activities which emphasize observation, introspection and connection with the world around me. Journalling, gardening, practicing deep breathing, taking walks, cooking and slowly savoring new recipes, spending time away from devices or social media, seeing my osteopath regularly, and of course, practicing photography just for the FUN of noticing and being in the moment.
I wish to let go a little bit of that sense of urgency that guides many of my actions. It’s what fuels my productivity and my ideas, but it also often costs me a sense of calm.
Making time for these practices takes time out of my work, but ultimately makes me more inspired, more focused and more connected to myself and to you. I will continue to explore the links between mindfulness and photography in the posts I share with you this year.
Don’t get me wrong: By “ease”, I don’t mean taking the path of least resistance.
Or maybe I do?
It is actually about not wanting to create or attract resistance. It’s NOT about taking the easy way out. I will continue to take risks, be bold in my decisions and to chase my dreams far outside of my comfort zone – because that is who I am.
But I wish for good things to flow abundantly, and for pieces to fall into place seemingly effortlessly (although we all know that nothing is truly effortless).
This means focusing on the beautiful synchronicities of life, maintaining a grateful disposition, and choosing not to feed feelings of negativity, doubt, irritation, resentment or fear.
It means getting better at moving on from opportunities that are not right for me, where there is too much resistance or sacrifice. It means getting better at complaining less, until there are fewer and fewer reasons to complain.
Honestly, I hesitated between the word “ease” and “grace”. But, ultimately, both convey my wish for a smooth, fluid movement through this year, through the triumphs, opportunities and challenges it will inevitably contain. I wish to deal nimbly with whatever I’m dealt, to accept my decisions with grace, and to let go of anything that blocks this fluidity – be it doubt, pain or even perfectionism.
In 2018, my faith and forgiveness in "life” crumbled under the weight of grief.
I hope that I can rebuild my trust in life’s journey in 2019.
“What is for you will not pass you.” That quote is on a bracelet my sister gave me for Christmas. And what a beautiful motto to guide me this year, to take some weight off my shoulders and to reduce some resistance in my own reactions to circumstances.
I hope to trust more in the story, in its plot twists, characters and message.
Presence. Ease. Trust. What doesn’t fit these themes, doesn’t fit my year.
What are YOUR words for 2019? Leave a comment here or post about it on social media using #My3WordsFor2019.
I wish for you to know what you wish for, and to chase it with all your might! In 2019 and always.
From my heart to yours,
Free downloads for VIPs:
The end of the year always brings about a desire to reflect on the last twelve months - to recap its ups and downs, triumphs and challenges, to extract the most meaningful
experiences and ponder what we have learned. We can't help but feel hopeful,
optimistic, though possibly a little daunted when turning the page from one year to
the next, a blank slate ahead of us, waiting to be written.
Over the last two years, I have developed and used these reflection prompts to help me verbalize my insights, wishes and goals both with respect to my business but also my personal life. When I do this exercise, I am always amazed at how it reduces my anxiety, grounds my perspective, centers me with my main priorities and boosts my confidence in my abilities and my decisions.
It helps me distill what I want to do less of, more of, and what I want to maintain in the new year. It gives me a roadmap to follow during the year when I want to focus or reassess my strategies. It allows me to celebrate my growth and my purpose.
Without further ado, I invite you to sign up to receive this tool in your inbox, with the hope that you can use the exercises or tweak them to reflect on YOUR life or business.
This free workbook is for you if:
Setting New Years' Resolutions are not always helpful. This workbook helps develop strategies to re-assess and recenter your priorities and intentions for work and for life.
Sign up here to receive it in your inbox!
Happy New Year!
I wish you light, inspiration and ease for 2019! I hope you will do and be what inspires you most, without self-doubt or fear. Because if we all feel inspired, we will collectively make this world a better place! Thank you so so much for being there with me this year, for all your kind words, memorable conversations, touching collaborations and for your trust in me. It is an incredible privilege to meet you, create for you, and get to know you!
From my heart to yours,
Read the English version here
Vous me connaissez maintenant : de temps en temps, je vide mon coeur sur une page.
En fait, je le fais assez souvent. Mais, de temps en temps, je vous permets de le lire!
Pendant le temps des fêtes, je suis souvent en mode réflexion. Je pense à l'année derrière moi - à mes réussites, ces défis inattendus, ma croissance personnelle et la croissance de mon entreprise. C'est en réfléchissant sur les 12 derniers mois que je peux aborder la nouvelle année avec motivation et intention. Je partage mes stratégies de réfléction et de planification dans ce document gratuit que vous pouvez télécharger, mais pour l'instant ce que j'aimerais partager avec vous est un résumé sincère et vulnérable de mon année 2018.
Cette fois, dans ce billet de blog, je laisse mes mots au premier plan. Mes photos n'apparaissent qu'à la fin de l'article. C'est un peu comme une lettre personnelle pour vous.
Lorsque 2018 a commencé, mes 3 thèmes pour l'année était: rêves, équilibre, magnétisme. Je voulais avoir plus de temps et de confiance dans mes rêves, de faire et d'être ce que je voulais faire et être au fond de moi. Je voulais apprendre à mieux respirer, à écouter plus attentivement mon corps et à trouver ma paix avec mon parcours et mes décisions.
Ce fut une année avec quelques gros chapitres significatifs plutôt que cent chapitres plus courts.
Ce fut l'année où j'ai consacré plus d'énergie et de passion que jamais à la croissance de mon entreprise. L'année où j'ai appris à laisser de côté ces expériences qui faisaient pencher la balance trop loin vers la négativité et l'épuisement émotionnelle. L'année où je n'ai pas eu peur de penser et de dire à haute-voix: «Non, désolée, cela ne me convient pas.» L'année où j'ai cessé de justifier mes choix auprès de ceux qui ne pouvaient pas assez modifier leur point de vue pour chercher à me comprendre.
C'était l'année de 52 articles de blog publiés, de 25 marchés ou expositions auxquelles j'ai participé avec mon entreprise, de 5 marchés que j'ai organisées avec notre incroyable équipe Etsy Montréal et également l'année où mon 13e manuscrit scientifique a été soumis pour publication.
Mais, puisque nous comptons ...... c’était aussi l’année de ma 2e chirurgie abdominale majeure en moins de 2 ans, plus de 25 scans ou IRM subis par mon corps et… un événement que je ne parviens jamais à décrire en partie à cause de mes propres tabous personnels et en partie parce que cela me déchire le coeur, ce fut l'année d'une 3ème fausse couche - celle-ci étant moins ambiguë, plus triste et plus conséquente que les précédentes.
Ce fut aussi une année de nombreuses premières. Cette année, j'ai rédigé de A à Z mon tout premier livre. C'est l'année où j'ai mis en mots pour la première fois comment l'endométriose sévère et des problèmes ovariens ont affecté ma vie et ma carrière. C'était la toute première année pour mon organisation de santé nommée "Alba", un projet qui a pour but d'aider d'autres femmes et familles atteintes à travers le partage de témoignages, d'oeuvres d'art et de fonds collectés pour la recherche. Ce fut aussi la première année où j'ai offert aurant de séances portraits ou des photoshoots d'événements, la première fois où je suis passée à la télé, mon premier voyage aux Maritimes, ma première présentation à un congrès sur la santé de la femme ainsi que la première fois où j'ai conçu moi-même le design d'un gros kiosque pour une exposition. Plusieurs de ces premières expériences étaient loin en dehors de ma zone de confort. L'anxiété, des "pep-talks" avec moi-même et beaucoup de préparation ont fait de ces événements un succès qui méritait d'être célébré à chaque fois.
Ce fut une année où j'ai trouvé ma raison d'être, où j'ai perdu ma foi, où j'ai retrouvé ma volonté de continuer à avancer dans la direction des rêves qui me faisaient vibrer.
Je me sens à la fois épuisée et rechargée en ce début de janvier 2019, mais je suis surtout curieuse de voir comment cette année se déroulera. Quels tests et quels triomphes me portera 2019 entre ses pages? Chaque rebondissement a fait de moi un personnage plus complexe et une histoire plus complexe à raconter. En effet, je suis heureuse de raconter cette histoire plus en détail dans une version révisée de mon livre plus tard cette année.
Ce qui est important, et voilà ce qui vous concerne: je suis tellement réconfortée et émue par l’idée que vous soyez ici avec moi. J'adore partager avec vous ce que je vois, ce que je ressens, où je vais, comment je vis, ce que je collectionne et ce dont je rêve. Mon travail est alimenté par la nostalgie, l'inspiration, les récits mais aussi par VOUS tous. J'adore vous aider à trouver des éléments de décoration qui vous inspirent, jaser avec vous de voyages et de photographie, recevoir votre feedback touchant. Vous ne savez pas comment cela alimente ma passion, ma créativité et mes activités quotidiennes.
Merci de lire, de me suivre, de magasiner et de partager. Merci de laisser des commentaires de temps en temps; j'aime ça savoir que vous êtes de l'autre côté de l'écran!
De mon coeur au vôtre,
Et maintenant, OUI, quelques photos!
Depuis combien de temps me suivez-vous? Laissez-moi un commentaire ci-dessous!
Lire la version française ici
You know me by now: Now and then, I spill my heart onto the page.
Well, I do so quite often actually. But, now and then, I actually let you read it!
I have been in reflection mode as I always am during the holidays, looking back on my accomplishments, unexpected plot twists and personal growth of the last 12 months, so that I can dive into 2019 with intention and excitement. I share my step-by-step process of reflection and intention with you in this free download, but what I want to share with you now in this blog post is a heartfelt summary of my past year.
This time, I'm putting my words in full focus, and the photographs appear at the end of the post. Consider this a personal letter to you.
When 2018 began, my three wishes for the year were dreams, balance and magnetism. I wanted to have more time, conviction and confidence to DO and BE what truly excited me. I wanted to learn to breathe better, to listen more attentively to my body, and to get better at making peace with my path and my decisions.
It felt like a year with a few BIG chapters rather than a hundred smaller ones.
It was the year where I poured more energy and passion than ever into my growing business. The year where I learned to properly let go of experiences that tipped the scale too far towards resentment and negativity. The year where I wasn’t afraid of thinking and saying “No, sorry, that doesn’t work for me”, instead of complaining in secret. The year where I stopped justifying my choices to those who couldn’t bend their perspective enough to understand them.
It was the year of 52 blog posts published, 25 shows I participated in with my shop, 5 shows I co-organized with our amazing Etsy Montreal team and my 13th scientific manuscript submitted for publication.
But, since we’re counting...... it was also the year of my 2nd major abdominal surgery within 2 years, over 25 scans or MRIs and … something I still can’t manage to put into words partly because of my own taboos and partly because it hurts so very deeply, a 3rd miscarriage – this one more devastating and consequential than those more ambiguous, earlier losses of pregnancy.
It was also a year of many firsts. This year, I wrote my first book cover to cover. It was the first time I ever put into writing how endometriosis and ovarian failure has affected my life and my career path. It was the first year for my newly founded health organization Alba, which truthfully causes me mild anxiety but huge excitement at the same time. It was the first year I booked so many portrait / event photoshoots, the first time I appeared on TV, the first time I traveled to maritime Canada, the first time I presented a project at a health conference, and the first time I designed a large booth for an art exhibition. Many of these firsts were so far outside of my comfort zone, it took quite some pep talks to myself and preparation to achieve these milestones!
It was a year of finding my truth, losing my faith, and finding my will to keep moving in the direction of my dreams.
I feel both exhausted and refreshed at the start of this year, but mostly I am curious to see how it will unfold – what tests and triumphs it will carry between its pages. Each plot twist has made me a more complex character, and has made a more complex story to tell. Having come to terms with this, I'm excited to tell this story more fully in a revised version of my book later this year.
Importantly, and this is where YOU come in: I am so comforted and so deeply thrilled by the idea of you being here with me. I love sharing with you what I see, what I feel, where I go, how I live, what I collect and what I dream of. My work is fueled by nostalgia, inspiration, stories but also by YOU. Helping you find decor pieces that inspire you, talking about places or photography with you, getting your heartwarming feedback in response to my work. You have no idea how this fuels my passion, my creativity and my day-to-day activities.
Thank you for reading, for following, for shopping and for sharing. Please remember to leave me comments now and then. I love to connect with you and to know that you’re on the other side of the screen.
From my heart to yours,
And now, yes, some pictures!
How long have you been following me for? Leave me a comment below to say hello!
This fall, I vowed to go on weekly photo-walks through Montreal neighborhoods to really take in the fiery colors before they faded into a long, unrelenting winter. Despite a very busy schedule, pushing myself to take my camera out for a walk helped renew my energy, creativity and courage (because many of my projects are in uncharted territories for me right now!)
The residential streets in the Plateau Mont-Royal and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhoods held beautiful treasures, no matter how grey a day it was.
I never tire of our walk-up staircases, contrasts between adjacent homes, how nature and wrought-iron get tangled into one, and the secret universes tucked away in back alleys.
On the day I chose to visit Parc Lafontaine, the sun created a symphony of color. The squirrels and ducks seemed lighthearted, basking in light and tapestries of fallen leaves. The main aisle coming in from the entrance on Rachel Street (corner Calixa Lavallée) was almost regal. A quiet weekday mid-morning, only my footsteps could be heard crashing through the ankle-deep row of leaves. Squirrels were pouncing and diving from benches all around me, playful and friendly. Leaves were falling all around me, getting caught in my long hair or on the sleeves of my wooly sweater. It was magical, and before I knew it, I had spent three hours in the park.
I also took some time to stroll through the campus of my alma mater McGill University. If you step off the main paths, you'll find little pockets of color and peace to read, think or - in my case - take pictures.
These are just a few of the picturesque corners of Montreal in autumn. Our city boasts a ton of charming areas and cozy cafes to discover. Making it a habit to take a short walk and to notice the beauty of this season does the mind and body good.
Do you like to take walks in the fall? What is your favorite corner in Montreal?
From my heart to yours.
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If you have followed my photography for a while, you know that architecture is one of the main themes that draw my eye.
Despite my strong penchant for vibrant color, there is something powerful about architectural photographs in black and white. Doing away with color somehow enhances patterns, textures and moods.
Here are some of my favorite architecture snapshots, from Montreal and my travels.
Do you have a favorite?
From my heart to yours.
The practice of photography can sometimes be a true exercise of patience.
Of course, in some cases, one has to be very quick to capture a candid pose, a fleeting moment or an action in real-time. A lot of the time, though, a carefully composed photograph requires waiting for the elements you imagined to come together, or crowds to disperse. The scene is there, in front of you and in your mind, but you have to carve it out and freeze it just the way you want it to look in the photograph.
And for someone whose strongest suit isn't patience (ahem! hi!), this can be a therapeutic exercise!
Here are just 5 of the (many) photographs where I remember having to be really patient.
La Cubana (Havana, Cuba). I took 18 variations of this composition. The first couple were just of the empty square. My eye is always drawn to architectural details, so that scene was interesting enough for me. The repetition of doorways, the lintels and columns, the rough texture of the decaying walls, the contrasting colors of the painted doors and fresh laundry, the broken balustrade revealing a touch of sky.
But then, she appeared. From the tip of the square, she caught my eye. Her hat, her off-the-shoulders top, the way her skirt swayed when she walked, her assured step, her shadow cast by the beating midday sun... Her presence anchored the eye, and tied together the whole scene. My shutter followed her across the square, until I settled on this variation. A sense of movement, frozen, hanging, like those of the linens. A sense of character, like that of the aging building.
It may have taken over a quarter of an hour, standing there, repeating the procedure over and over again, to finally capture La Cubana.
Alfama (Lisboa, Portugal). Darkened cobblestones and metal tracks, against the pale church façade and the summer sky. The way the tram lines overhead and the tracks on the pavement gracefully curved around the corner, out of sight. The texture of the crumbling paint on the houses. The elegant details of the wrought iron balconies, lampposts and junctions in the tram lines. "Wouldn't it be lovely if a tram came down this way right now?" Well, "right now" may have been a dozen or two dozen minutes later. But, I waited. I studied the light, memorized the composition I wanted. And waited. I can remember my excitement (and relief) when the narrow lane livened up with the sound of its arrival. It was worth it, in the end.
The Perfect Sea (Corfu town, Corfu). It is already a feat to photograph a place when you've only just arrived - jet-lagged, still only beginning to unwind during those first few hours of your long-anticipated European holiday. But when throngs of visitors crowd the scene that you know has a near-perfect symmetry begging to be photographed, it takes some extra willpower to pause, centered, elbows in the air, waiting for every last person and their shadow to clear the frame.
Tramonto veneziano (Venice, Italy). When I am in my beloved Venice, I make sure that I have time. Time to walk, time to watch, time to feel. With a blank schedule, with only a general sense of where I feel like going, I wander. That allows me to wait for a moment that's all mine -- a reflection that no one else waited to see, a lane without people in it, just Venice. And this silhouette of a gondola, its gondoliere and a passenger, crossing a sunbeam of a thousand fiery crystals at dusk.
La Maruzzella (Santa Maria al Bagno, Italy). It was lunchtime and this small town on Italy's heel had paused for lunch. The menu was written on paper tablecloths stretched beneath the elbows of hungry locals and pinned down by decanters of local white wine. As we sat and savored urchins, spaghetti, clams and mussels, the Sea demanded to be thanked. It crept up and up, splashing onto the deck as though it tried to get further and stronger with each slam. I wanted to see it come through the gate. I waited an absurd amount of time to catch it, but it kept falling short of the gate each time. Until, finally, it slammed through.
Do you ever wait long for your pictures? Leave me a comment and let me know!
From my heart to yours.
As you may know from following me here and on Instagram, I traveled to Nova Scotia, Canada for the first time this summer. I loved the experience and felt totally rejuvenated by the fresh air, scrumptious seafood, warm people and breathtaking landscapes. I launched my Nova Scotia collection upon my return and it has already made its way into many of your homes!
If you are planning a trip to Maritime Canada and need some helpful advice on what to see, here are 11 stops I recommend adding to your itinerary.
This one seems rather obvious, but walking the Halifax harbour end-to-end was one of the highlights of my trip. Eating on-site at one of the food shacks (fresh lobster rolls and other casual foods) is quite fun . If you enjoy handcrafted ales, I recommend the Gahan House Harbourfront brewery or the Stubborn Goat Beer Garden where you could sit outside and take in the beautiful view!
The Bay of Fundy coastline from Blomidon to Digby
The hilly drive toward Blomidon Provincial Park offers stunning views which make you feel tiny. At low tide, it all looks even more mystical, and I am fairly sure you will find yourself in awe of the scenery. Driving along the coast to Digby takes about two hours. You can reward yourself with the infamous Digby scallops upon arrival.
Once in a while, you stumble upon a small but significant place that just steals your heart. Halls Harbour is special and quite possibly underrated compared to places such as Peggy's Cove. The windy and rainy weather set the mood for our visit. The more we tried to approach the ocean, stumbling on the rocks and pebbles that filled the shore at low tide, the more we felt like we were on another planet. A quaint fishing village, the harbour is lovely to walk around. Then, you reach the main waterfront restaurant, the Halls Harbour Lobster Pound, where you could choose your own lobster and (unless you get attached to him) take him to the cookhouse.
Vineyards of the Annapolis Valley
If you're a wine lover, you'll LOVE the Annapolis valley. The valley is located between two mountain ranges and one of the first areas to grow and cultivate grapes in North America. You can get a passport booklet called "The Nova Scotia Good Cheer Trail" which gives you a list of all the wineries and brewing companies, and allows you to collect stamps to win prizes in return. I loved the service we received at the Planters' Ridge Winery and the gorgeous views at the Luckett Vineyards. On my bucket list for next time: a hot air balloon ride over the valley which ends in a wine-tasting event. Yes, please.
What a lovely family-friendly place to spend a few hours. It's so peaceful to walk the shore and beachcomb during low-tide, visit the local shops filled with art and other mementos, and grab a fresh lunch. For a casual but delicious bite, try What's the Scoop takeout.
Rainbow Haven Beach
Only a ten-minute drive from Fisherman's Cove is Rainbow Haven Beach Provincial Park (Cole Harbour), a long, sandy beach (with some pebbles) with a long boardwalk over sand dunes.
Lawrencetown Beach is about a half-hour away from Fisherman's Cove and Halifax. A surfer's beach with strong waves and currents, it's a beautiful place to take in the dramatic scenery. The beach is composed both of sand and large pebbles.
World-famous Peggy's Cove! And, once you see it, you'll understand why. This place somehow pulls on the heartstrings.
Try to avoid crowds by getting an early start, and take your time walking around the harbour and around the lighthouse. It's worth exploring different vantage points and just feeling like a small dot against a vast ocean. The town has done a great job at putting up signs that explain the history of the place and how the houses have been built. We ate a delicious hot dog from "Peggy's Dogs", an awesome stand run by Claire who also owns an inn in Peggy's Cove.
Mahone Bay and Lunenburg
Mahone Bay was lovely and larger than expected, with wonderful shops (art, home decor, antiques, jewelry) to discover. From there, colorful Lunenburg is only a fifteen-minute drive away. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lunenburg charmed us with its architecture, shop-filled streets, bustling waterfront and, of course, the Bluenose II (a replica of the iconic racing boat you see on our Canadian dime).
The waterfront is a mix of old and new, with modern eateries sharing the space with the Museum of the Atlantic and an old warehouse.
If you love oysters, don't miss out on the mouth-watering food (and wine) at the Half Shell Oyster Bar. The view isn't half bad, either!
Martinique Beach Provincial Park has a vast (5km) white beach. It is the longest sandy beach in Nova Scotia. It tends to be colder and windier there because of its open area, so pack accordingly! It's a lovely place to fly a kite or have a picnic.
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island deserves a post of its own, as there are so many points of interest, especially if you enjoy hiking. You may know there is a whole discussion about whether to drive the Cabot Trail clockwise or counterclockwise. Truthfully, it's not the end of the world if you do it clockwise (even though you'll be on the opposite side of the road from the sweeping views), because there are so many easily accessible lookout points to pull off into along the dramatic coastline.
Personal highlights on the west coast of the Cabot Trail included Inverness, Chéticamp, the Highlands, Cap-Rouge, the Skytrail (hold onto your hat!) and Pleasant Bay. I can't wait to return to explore the East Coast! Cape Breton is a place you'll be making plans to return to before even having left.
Have you been to Nova Scotia? What are some of your favorite places?
Leave a comment, I would love to know!
From my heart to yours.
Kindly credit Veni Etiam Photography if reposting these photographs
When I lived abroad, I always kept a list of things I wanted to see and do in the city on my free time. Even in times of intense work with little or no flexibility in my schedule, I would try to sneak in some exploring and unwinding time to roam unknown streets, find new cafés, visit museums, fill a notebook, climb a tower for views, take a day trip.
That habit totally stuck with me when I returned to Montreal and moved from the suburbs into the city. Sometimes, it’s easier to get to know a foreign place better than our own backyard, because of that sense that time is limited. But I try to be a tourist in my own city, to look for experiences and perspectives that keep me from taking it for granted. It also allows me to keep adding new photographs to the Montreal collection, currently sold in various shops around the city.
I love to take long walks, tackling one neighborhood at a time, honing in on details that both you and I could easily miss! I love celebrating those details through my photography. Looking at some photos, you may not immediately guess that they are taken in Montreal, because the details could exist anywhere. But, there's something special about looking at your own city with a detail-oriented eye. Sometimes, it makes a more subtle souvenir, not only of the place, but of a mood or moment.
Do you like to take walks in your own hometown? Do you ever take pictures of what you see? Share them with me on Instagram - I would love to see a little piece of the world through your eyes!
From my heart to yours.
The child in us comes alive at the sight of a colorful house. Sometimes there’s nothing more joyful than colorful doors or shutters, like out of a storybook.
What color would you paint your house, if you could?
Here are 5 photos to inspire you and your color palette.
Have an inspiring week!
From my heart to yours.
For more of this series:
Do you remember how you felt whenever you look back on your old photos?
This was one of the first ever digital photos I took, and it happened to be in my beloved Venice.
My new camera was only two weeks old, and I was still learning basic things like how not to get my finger to obscure the lens...
I remember sitting along the water of the Riva degli Schiavoni when the contrast between light (Palace) and dark (Prison) caught my eye. I knew right away it had to be a black and white shot. I also knew right away that it was destined to be one of my favorites. I look back on it now and smile, because my train of thought is frozen in that frame.
And, little did I know, hundreds of thousands of photos would follow it over the years, and I'd have a photography shop 7 years later...
From my heart to yours.
Thanks for stopping by! #OnTheBlog are the stories behind my prints, posts about my travels, glimpses into my daily life, news about my shop, events in the Montreal community and tips on travel, home and photography.
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