Advice

Reading Lately (Round 1)

Hey everyone! I have been a bit MIA as work was a little crazy and my husband had just returned from a trip. But, I am back this week and wanted to share some of what I have been reading lately on the internet. I subscribe to over 30 blogs (using Bloglovin’) that I read on a regular basis. Plus, I tend to find out new blogs and articles just by scrolling through Instagram. What can I say? I just really like to know what is going on, finding new sources of inspiration and just in general I really enjoy reading.

Check out all the amazing posts below!

  1. An Open Letter To The Woman Wearing The $10,000 Purse on Instagram. I really connected with this post by Jeanette from J’s Everyday Fashion. Social media creates a place that can create resentment, allows for judgement, and doesn’t show real life. Her thoughts are so insightful on how to remember to just pull yourself back and not jump straight to judging others.
  2. Perspective Change. From the Penny Pincher Fashion blog, this post talks about those “a-ha moments” where something you should have known all along suddenly strikes you. She goes on to talk about changing your perspective and making sure to give yourself the grace that you are good enough.
  3. How To Get Your Mojo Back. I love Lydia, her YouTube Channel is one I watch consistently. However, on her blog she likes to hit just a bit deeper. Here she discusses how to love blogging again if you have been having a rough go of it lately.
  4. 5 Ways To Stay Motivated After January. Jacey is super honest, and I love her for it. She has been open about her struggle with ADD which I find amazing. I loved her tips for sticking to your 2018 goals. Simple, to the point and easy to follow.
  5. This Is For The Multifaceted Females. Victoria is one of my favourite people to follow. The pictures in this post are out of this world, but the message in this is just everything! The key line – “We don’t fit into one box anymore, and we certainly won’t let anyone put us back in there.”
Let’s Talk – Mental HealthWeekend Wear and A Special Event

 

Advice, Life, Personal

Let’s Talk

If you are in crisis, please go to your local hospital or call 911 immediately.

One in five Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their lives.

Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 31, 2018 aka Today.

So let’s get this conversation started. My type of blogging may be focused on fashion and lifestyle, but sometimes we just have to go deeper. Let’s make it okay for every day to be a day that its okay to talk about mental health.

First off all, I am no expert regarding mental health, but suffering from anxiety myself has allowed me understand how important this is. I just want to open this up for conversation while providing you with helpful information.

In our online community, we have already been talking about mental health and why it is so important (ex. unfollowing people on Instagram that make you feel bad about yourself).  However, by learning more about mental health, we can take steps to help ourselves and others improve mental health and reduce the risk and stigma of mental illness.

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health is not only the avoidance of serious mental illness. Your mental health is affected by numerous factors from your daily life, including the stress of balancing work with your health and relationships.

Good mental health is the willingness to think about and deal with everyday challenges. These could involve:

  • Making choices and decisions
  • Adapting to and coping with difficult situations
  • Talking about one’s needs and desires
  • Maintaining meaningful relationships
  • Remember that everyone has good and bad days, with or without a mental illness

Just as our lives and circumstances continually change, so do our moods and thoughts, and our sense of well-being. We all feel sad, worried, scared or suspicious sometimes. But these kinds of feelings may become a problem if they get in the way of our daily lives over a long period. When there are changes in a person’s thinking, mood or behaviour, and these
changes cause a lot of distress and make it difficult to do daily tasks, that person may have a mental illness.

Ending The Stigma

Negative attitudes (prejudice) + negative responses (discrimination) = STIGMA

Stigma is thinking less of a person because of his or her condition.

Stigma can make people feel unwanted and ashamed for something that is not their choice or fault. This is often harder to deal with than the illness itself, and is one of the main reasons someone may not seek out help.

What Can You Do?

  1. Treat everyone with respect. Treating people with respect is about treating people in a way that they consider respectful.
  2. Be warm, caring and non-judgmental. If you approach every interaction you have with warmth and caring, you will help to create an environment where distress is less likely. If something does come up, people around you will feel supported and more likely to share their difficulties.
  3. Challenge stigma when you see it. Help to challenge popular myths surrounding mental illness by become mindful of erroneous thoughts and opinions that perpetuate the myths around mental illness – and then correct them.
  4. Watch your language. It’s important to remember to put the person first. Avoid using language that stigmatizes mental health or illness further.
  5. Learn the facts about mental health and mental illness. Do your research. Educate yourself and those around you.
  6. Help raise awareness about mental health. Take action – spread the word, raise awareness, make a difference.

If You Need Help Now!

  • Visit your local emergency department or call 911.
  • Call the Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668-6868.
  • Call a distress line or crisis centre in your area.
  • For a list of crisis centres across Canada, visit www.suicideprevention.ca.

Other Resources

Information in this blog is not to be used for diagnosis, treatment or referral services. Individuals should contact their personal physician and/or their local addiction or mental health agency for further information.
Advice

Networking 101

Bloggers Sip-n-TeaThere are so many of us out there that get put off, worried or stressed out when when we hear the word “networking”. So today I am going to be sharing my top tips to make this a little less scary, but also more effective.

Last week I was invited to attend the cutest event hosted by two bloggers here in Edmonton called “Bloggers Sip-n-Tea. It is events like these where you can put all of these tips to work.

Bloggers Sip-n-Tea

1. Be Yourself.

Events like these are the starting point for many new relationships. Be genuine, be authentic, be you. The people that you connect with while being yourself will be the ones you will want to stay in touch. These are the relationships to focus on growing.

Bloggers Sip-n-Tea

2. Be Prepared and Positive.

Before you get there, do your research. Check out people you know will be attending through their social media, including LinkedIn. This will help you have poignant questions that will keep your conversations informative and relevant. This also shows the other person that you have taken the time to learn about them, helping to foster your relationship.

Bloggers Sip-n-Tea

3. Others Want to Help.

People are generally very kind and helpful. The majority are also flattered and welcoming when you ask them question. Give them the opportunity to provide you with advice and sincerely listen. You will learn so much.

Bloggers Sip-n-Tea

4. Just Jump In.

This is probably one of the hardest things to master, but it will help you in the end. There is absolutely nothing wrong with joining in with a conversation that is already happening. Wait for a natural break and introduce yourself. Don’t forget this is a chance for both you and others to meet new people.

Bloggers Sip-n-Tea

5. Building Relationships Builds Confidence.

Catching up with people and meeting new ones can really inspire you. Personally, this is my favourite part of networking and attending events. No matter how awkward I feel at the beginning of an event, every time I am leaving, I am revived. Ready to take on new challenges and so excited to keep moving forward.

Bloggers Sip-n-Tea

6. Keep Going.

Once you have met and connected with new people, you must continue to put effort in. Keep in touch with who you met through an appropriate means, whether that is in my case Instagram or for more professional networking LinkedIn or email. You never know when this relationship will open you up to new opportunities, or when you will be able to help out the other person.

My Outfit: Top here | Jeans here | Bag (old) – similar here | Boots here | Earrings (not online) – similar here

Bloggers Sip-n-Tea

Thank you first of all to the amazing hosts of this event, Orlandice (@bunny_and_moon) and Faiza (@stylegarnish_).

Further, thank you to all of the amazing ladies I was lucky enough to meet!

Bloggers Sip-n-Tea

Thank you to all of the event sponsors for helping us to have such an amazing time.

@lipstickempire | @fabloomosity | @milkandcookiesbakeshop | @prairiecouturemobile | @blushpartyproducts

@thought_process | @allurebychelsea | @jewelry_by_mehnaaz | @zaraimage | @zakhiyya.b

@buono.pizzeria | @staycreativebox | @sparker360

Advice, Home, Life, Personal

Top 5 Tips for Cleaning Off Your Desk

Clean Off Your Desk Day

Top Here (on sale!!) | Jeans Here

Today is Clean Off Your Desk Day! It is time to clean off your desk and get productive for 2018! This day is an opportunity to begin your new year with a clean and organized workspace, and maybe buy some cute desk accessories that are great to look at and will help your space stay clean. Check out my top items below!

Clean Off Your Desk Day

Why does a clean desk even matter?

First you may be wondering why even spend the time and bother cleaning up this space? Whether your desk is in a private, a cubicle, or in your home, an uncluttered, organized, and clean will help you work more efficiently and give you a sense of peace when you sit down to work. Also, consider these reasons:

  • Distraction –  A cluttered desk is filled with potential distractions. From file folders, random papers, and sticky notes, there one million distractions available to take your mind off what you want to focus on.
  • Reputation – Having a clean desk is a reflection of your habits. It will show you as efficient, organized, and prepared to take on newer or bigger projects.
  • Space – A clean space allows you to have the room to work! Even with all the technology we use everyday, there are still physical items you will need to use. The ability to spread them out and reference them easily is so useful.

Clean Off Your Desk Day

Top 5 Tips for Cleaning Off Your Desk

1. Clean off your desk top space. Whatever sits on top of your desk needs to be there for a reason. Think about only keeping items you use on a daily basis here.

2. Keep things in reach. This means in drawers or on your desk in specific containers. There is nothing worse than not being able to find a pen or pencil when you are on the phone with someone trying to take down information.

Clean Off Your Desk Day

3. Use your drawers and cupboards. Store all of your non-daily supplies and current projects in drawers or cupboards. This allows easy access but keeps your desktop clutter free.

4. Create your system. Take this time to organize but also to develop a system that works for you. Label all your files and store them upright for easy access and better use of space. I also recommend always having blank folders on hand so you can keep your system going.

Clean Off Your Desk Day

5. Schedule a regular clean out. Clean out your drawers and cupboards at least once a year. Get rid of those old files you don’t need, but make sure you shred anything that contains information you wouldn’t want getting into the wrong hands. Through out other things you have been accumulating and never use (like those pens from hotels and your dentist).

Clean Off Your Desk Day

Those are my top 5 tips to cleaning up and organizing your desk space. I hope you all get a inspired by #cleanyourdeskday and do a little organizing this week. It will make you feel even better to start the year fresh and get productive!

Technology Favourites | My Career Conversation with Rachelle
Advice, Life, Personal

Technology Day 2018

Happy Technology Day!

National Technology Day!

Technology has changed the world. January 6 is the day to recognize those achievements and to look to the future of technology. The world I have lived in for the past 28 years has changed exponentially. We now carry around small computers in our hands every day. We can connect with the world every second of every day.

I wanted to acknowledge this day because without technology, I wouldn’t be able to connect with all of you around the world. As you can see by this photo, my phone is a part of my every day life, it even gets checked during photo shoots! With that thought in mind I thought I would share some of my favourite pieces of technology and their accessories that allow me to connect with you all!

1. Samsung Galaxy S8

What can I say – I am an Android girl through and through. I has a big screen, great camera, and it is sooooo easy to use.

2. Phone Case

This is my favourite phone case. It has marble, black and pink – so basically an Instagram dream. Plus it is super affordable and provides pretty good protection for my phone.

3. PopSocket

If you haven’t heard of a PopSocket you are missing out. All phone seem to be so big these days and my fingers tend to start aching if I use my phone for a long time, like you know, scrolling through Instagram for 4 hours… This allows your hand to relax while still holding your phone securely. It also acts as a stand when you want to watch videos!

4. Bluetooth Remote

Well, as shown by my Instagram I take a lot of my photos by myself. So the discovery of this remote has helped me so much! You just connect the remote to your phone, open your camera app and bam! You can take photos without having to hold your phone. Btw – works on both Apple and Androids 🙂

5. Flexible Tripod

Like the remote above, this Tripod makes my life so much easier. I can easily slip my phone into the holder, stand up the tripod or wrap it around a railing, and snap my pictures! The set I have link includes the same bluetooth remote I have above if you would prefer to buy everything together.

6. Tablet Stand

This is the stand I use to hold my tablet on my desk while I charge it and when I want to watch videos on it while working (hello YouTube makeup tutorials I am obsessed). It keeps it out of the way while still being easily accessible. Personally, I have not stuck mine to my furniture, and that has not caused a stability problem at all!

7. Multiple USB Ports Data Hub

Well, I don’t know if anyone is like me but I have run out of USB ports on my laptop. One for my printer, mouse and keyboard means I have one left for everything else. So I use this to allow me 4 extra USB ports to work with, and it is a literally life saver for me.

8. Power Bank

I don’t think I need to tell anyone out there how annoying it is when your phone dies in the middle of the day. I am a heavy cell phone user (obviously) and once charged, this power bank charges my phone fully 3 whole times. It comes on every trip with me for the plane ride and I even use to charge my tablet when necessary.

9. External Hard Drive

I have two of these babies. In addition to Dropbox, I keep all my blog photos on one of these, and my second one is used for personal files. It is so important to backup your files to multiple places. You never know what you will need and what happens if your laptop dies?!

10. Tablet Case with Keyboard

Protect your tablet while basically turning it into a mini computer! Heck yes! I use this versus carrying my laptop on most trips as it allows me to easily type and work while being much lighter than carrying my computer around. Easily connects to your tablet through bluetooth and away you go.

11. Samsung Tablet E 9.6

I love my Samsung Tablet. I use it at least 3 times a day. I watch YouTube or Netflix while I get ready in the morning, I watch it while I take a bath, and every time I can’t find my phone! My tablet also sync’s perfectly with my phone so it makes my life super easy.

Alright! I hope you enjoyed my little round up of my favourite pieces of technology and the accessories I use along with them. What are your favourite pieces of technology?

Check out my 2018 goals| My Career Conversation with Rachelle
Advice, Career Conversations

Courtney’s Career Conversations – Meet Rachelle

Introducing Rachelle!

Well everyone, this is an extreme honour for me today to introduce you to Rachelle! For those of you who don’t know… this is my big sister, my best friend, and my hairstylist! Having been around her my whole life I know how hard she has worked to excel at her career. The going has not always been easy, but it has been extremely fulfilling for her. I was so happy when she agreed to write this post, as I think this isn’t a career path that many people think about pursuing, but it is also one that many people have misconceptions about. So without further ado, here is Rachelle’s career story, in her own words.

The Passion Begins

When I get asked what I do for a living I tell people I’m a hairstylist.  Usually that results in a hundred questions about their hair, or any good/bad experiences they have had with their hair and hairstylists.  It’s funny to me that people think hairstylist just cut hair all day for a living.  Yes that’s part of what we do and what the public sees. But let me tell you what we really do!

First, let me tell you a bit of my story and how I became the hairstylist I am today.  I got my first taste of the whole makeup, facials, crazy fun hair-do’s as a young girl.  No, I was not cutting my Barbie’s hair, I wouldn’t dare cut Barbie’s beautiful long hair!  My Aunt and Uncle came for a visit from Vancouver when I was in grade 6 or 7 and my aunt had brought all this fun facial and makeup stuff to use on my mom, sister and I for a fun girls night.  I was a bit reluctant at first, I don’t like doing things to make myself stand out but my mom told me I had to.  She did my sister and my makeup and hair. Then she took some pictures and I thought… OK this is actually kind of fun!

Soon after that my parents bought me the movie The Beautician and The Beast with Fran Drescher.  I fell in love.  Not with the movie it’s a bit cheesy but that’s when I knew, I want to be a beautician when I grow up.  I was pretty set and determined that was what I was going to be.  In Grade 8 we had Take Your Kid to Work Day.  It’s to help children start to think about what they may want to do when they grow up.

My parents both work office jobs and that did not interest me at all.  I’d rather go to school for the day than sit in an office learning about a job I had zero interest in.  I told this to my mom and asked her if I could go to my hair salon instead and shadow my hairstylist for a day.  We called them up and they graciously allowed me to spend the day there.  I had so much fun watching her interact with her clients, and seeing what she got to do every day.  After that day I was not going to do any other job.  That was it.  My parents were a bit skeptical but only because they cared.

Learning The Way

First, I’m the shyest person around. How am I going to talk to clients if I can’t even ask someone at a changing room in a store if I could try a shirt on?  Second, it can be extremely low paying.  Yes, you may think you pay so much for your hair, but we don’t take all that home on our paycheck.  Sometimes it’s just half, 50% commission.  Then deduct all the taxes for the government. Sometimes we get deducted product costs like the shampoo we use to wash out your hair colour or the gel, or hairspray we are using on your hair (yup all that can come off our half!). Sometimes you split your tips.  There’s no such thing as paid time away from work, if you want or need a day off its without pay.  Some of these are dependent on where you work and who owns the salon as well.

My mom and dad knew this by talking to my hairstylist, so they always wanted me to look at other options just in case.  I took Cosmetology in high school as my parents wanted to make sure that this was what I wanted to do as a career before they forked out all the money for school.  It’s not cheap, and I always appreciated that my parents would pay for any education I wanted to take.  My parents as skeptical as they were, were still my biggest supporters, and still are.  My dad was my very first haircut not on a mannequin. If that’s not love for your kid I don’t know what else is!

New and Different Experiences

There’s a few different ways you can become a hairstylist and achieve your license. I decided on 1400 hours of schooling then 1400 hours of apprenticing at a hair salon.  We are a trade so it’s much like becoming a welder, electrician, etc.  After I finished my schooling I was out to find a job and was so excited.  My first job was at a salon close to home that will remain nameless.  I only worked there for 2 and a half months and it was horrible.

It was a bigger salon with receptionists, and techs (people that help clean, sweep, fold towels, etc.) and about 10-15 stylists.  None of which were nice to me.  I stuck to myself trying to help the techs make rip foils for colours, fold towels but I was told that wasn’t my job.  I barely got booked clients because they went to the top hairstylists first, so I’d be booked last.  They would pile colour bowls on my station to clean for them and never helped me if I had a question.  I stood all day working on a mannequin practicing perming or roller sets or round brushing.

After being there 2 and a half months the owner called me and fired me.  I was devastated.  She told me I was a horrible stylist and needed to go back to school.  This was all I ever wanted to be how could I be so crappy at it?  I had worked so hard in school?  A week later my mom made me go hand out resumes.  I didn’t want to I was embarrassed at what happened, talk about a crushed dream!  Well what do you know, the same day I dropped off a resume I got a call from a salon also close to home and went in a few hours later for an interview.

Two very nice, friendly ladies interviewed me and I was relieved that at the time only 7 hairstylists worked there, 1 massage therapist and 2 estheticians that worked opposite of each other so it was nice and small.  They hired me that same day and I started the following week.  That was 13 years ago.  Every woman there helped me excel as an apprentice.  Told me I didn’t suck, that I was great for someone just fresh out of school.  They built up my confidence, helped shape the hairstylist I am today and for that I am truly grateful for the woman, past and present that I’ve worked with.

The Truth About What Hairstylist Do

Being a hairstylist is so much more than just cutting hair all day.  Like I said I’ve been at the same place for 13 years.  Some of my clients I see more than I see my own family.  I know about their lives, their children, what they do for work, and I have a lot of families as my clients so then you really get to know everyone.  Yes, we talk about their hair, what new cut they want to try, what colour they think they should do but some of the appointment is chit chat about life.  I’ve given a lot of girl advice to my male teenage boy clients who don’t understand teenage girls. I’ve been there to listen to them vent about their husbands or wives. A shoulder to cry on through a breakup, divorce, a death of a pet or family member. Sadly, I’ve have also had to shave a few heads for my female clients going through cancer which is hard on both of us.

Not all appointments are sad though most are happy talking about their travel plans, crazy animals or kids, and exciting things they may be doing in the future.  Just like any job, I have shitty days where maybe you had a crazy client or someone that was rude to you, but that doesn’t happen often.  I don’t get paid a lot, my hairstylist growing up was right in warning my parents, but I go to work every day and love what I do.  I never wake up in the morning saying, damn I don’t want to go to work today.  Not many people can say that.

My job is forever changing and that’s also exciting for me.  There’s always new trends to learn about, which if you have a good stylist they should always be up on their education.  At the salon I’m at we really push education, and it shines through all our talented stylists.  We will travel all over Canada to attend them, on our days off, out of our own pockets.  It’s 100% worth it and I personally always come back fired up and excited to tell and show my clients who are interested what I’ve learned to keep them trendy and looking awesome.  I mean they are my walking billboards and there’s nothing better than seeing one of your clients in public and thinking, wow their hair is on point!

Building and Growing

Now you can make money as a hairstylist for anyone that is curious.  Since we are a trade there’s many roads you can take.  You can teach at a school. Such as, high school teaching cosmetology or at any of the hair trade schools.  You can work for a company such as Redken, Bed Head, Sexy Hair, etc. being an educator.  Some people like being on stage as a platform artist teaching big classes all the new up and coming trends.

For me, I love being behind my chair.  It’s my happy place where I get to talk to people all day, make them look fabulous and have them leave feeling amazing.  Do I want to have my own salon?  I get asked that a lot.  Most definitely I do!  I’m only 32 I have a lot more to excel at in my career but I’m extremely proud of how far I’ve come so far.

Rachelle: Vest (old) – Similar Here and Here | T-Shirt Here
Courtney: Sweatshirt (not online) – Similar Here, Here and Here | Jeans Here

Special thank you to the Cutting Edge Hair Company for allowing us to use the salon. Please check them out if you are local to the Edmonton area.
Website: www.cuttingedgehair.ca | Instagram: @cehaircompany | Facebook: The Cutting Edge Hair Company
Check out my last Career Conversations post here. | Check out my New Year’s Goals here.
Advice, Life, Personal

Reflecting and Moving Forward

Welcome to the New Year everyone!

Wedding Photos

Reflecting on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

For the past couple of days, as I see 2018 coming up fast, I thought it was time for reflecting. Well, what can I say. 2017 for the most part was just plain old not a great year for me. It had it’s moments don’t get me wrong. Some very high highs, but it also had some pretty low lows for me.

Of course, the best moment happened on April 22nd. I married the person who will forever try to make things better through any means necessary. Let’s just put it this way… I am not an easy person to live with and somehow he puts up with it. I can’t thank him enough for all of the effort he puts in to keeping me happy and our marriage. So that is why, this post is all wedding photos I haven’t shared before.

To be honest, most of 2017 I don’t even wish to write about. I really do wish to just simply let go, and leave it behind now. However, there are so many moments, reactions, and thoughts I plan to leave in 2017. So for some lovely encouragement and accountability for myself, here are my simple goals (not resolutions) for 2018.

1. Be a better partner.

Like I said, my husband is one pretty awesome person. He stuck with me through some pretty trying times. So this year, my first goal is to be a better partner for him. For me this truly means putting in the effort to spend more time together, stop reacting abruptly to situations, and in general practice being more considerate and appreciative of him.

2. Be better to myself.

This is probably the most typical goal anyone has for a new year. In 2018, I want to just simple be a healthier version of myself. I want to cook more, eat out less, work out more (this will be the hardest one for me I think), and make sure to take the time for myself I need to recoup my energy.

3. Be financially better.

Honestly, I don’t make many bad financial decisions in my opinion. However, I do love to buy new things. I mean, just check out this blog lol! For 2018, I am planning for every second month, starting in January, to be no spend months (aka no new clothes, beauty products, books, etc.) because truly I have most things I could ever need… in bulk!

4. Be a better blogger.

I love this little space I have made for myself on the internet. This website and my social media accounts truly bring me joy. I love planning content, responding to comments, and maybe just helping someone out there a little with my content. In 2018, I want to be more consistent in posting, providing content I love, and hopefully you will too.

5. Be better at accepting where I am.

I questioned myself a lot in 2017. Everything from my job, to my overall career, my relationships and even the person I want to be. While the above goals answer a lot of these questions, I plan to work at being better accepting where I am. This really focuses on being more grateful for what I have. Because let’s be honest, I have it pretty good.

What are you planning for goals or resolutions in 2018?

All photos are by Michael from Photoflow Photography.
Advice, Career Conversations

Courtney’s Career Conversations – Meet Cara

https://www.thecourtneycollection.ca/career-conversations-cara/Meet Cara

This woman is something else. Beautiful on the inside and out.  She is someone I love to talk to as she just lights up the conversation with her positive attitude and the fact that she will cheer you on to your goals and encourage you without a second thought. I first met Cara through my best friend when he was attending the same University that she was attending. He ending up moving in with her and on my first visit to see him in Portland I was sleeping on her couch! The first time I met her in person I was welcomed right into her tribe. A tribe that includes millions of pictures as this girl is the selfie queen. However, this girl is so much more. She has worked extremely hard and overcome some very trying times to get to where she is today. I am so excited to get to share her story with you. So here she is, in her own words. I hope you enjoy!

And don’t forget to follow her:

https://www.thecourtneycollection.ca/career-conversations-cara/

Education

  • University of Western States– Portland, Oregon
    • Doctor of Chiropractic, September 2013
    • Summa cum laude
  • University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
    • Bachelor of Science, June 2010
    • Specialization in Cell Biology

https://www.thecourtneycollection.ca/career-conversations-cara/

What is the secret to success?

What is the secret to success? If it was as easy as just one secret then wouldn’t everyone be successful? Success to me is waking up every day wanting to be better and to do better than yesterday. It is making goals and then reaching them. It is not letting obstacles get in your way. It is about mindset, passion, purpose, and growth.

I grew up in a small town in rural Northern Alberta. My parents separated when I was three years old and my brother and I split our time between their two houses. My parents were not very traditional in the sense that we did not grow up with many rules. My mom worked out of town often and so we were on our own from a young age. My mom worked so hard usually having 2-3 jobs at a time to make sure my brother and I always had everything we wanted and needed. I even figure skated growing up, one of the most expensive sports. However, money was always a struggle and even as a child I knew the pressure my parents were constantly under. My dad would always say, “I would give you everything if I could honey”. I think my childhood experience is one of the major driving forces for my success today. My parents worked hard but they did not have the skill set or the education for a lucrative career.

https://www.thecourtneycollection.ca/career-conversations-cara/

Sometimes You Just Know

This experience led me to want more, to want a better life for myself and my future children. I wanted a career I could be proud of, one that gave me independence and allowed me financial freedom. I remember my first trip to the Chiropractic office like it was yesterday. It was year 2000 and I was 12 years old. The waiting room had toys and books littered about, a large plant in front of a bay window shedding light on the front desk lady with a big smile. It was warm, inviting, and relaxing. Once in the treatment room I couldn’t help but stare at the posters on the wall, huge anatomical pictures of the various body systems. I told my mom I wanted to know all the parts of the human body. There was a computer in the corner and a giant blue bouncy ball.  After a short wait, Dr. Gingerich entered. He had red hair and a deep voice. He sat in front of the computer on the big blue ball and asked me a few questions while typing away. The reason I was there was because I had fallen hard on my tail bone during skating practice. After he finished his history and exam he had me lay on the table. Then with a little twist and a quick push my back popped and immediate relief washed over me. In five minutes he had me feeling 100%. I walked out of there thinking to myself, “wow what an amazing job he has”.

Of course, I was young and there was no way I could already know what I wanted to be when I grew up right? Well…wrong because I did know, and I wanted to be a Doctor of Chiropractic. What an amazing ability to be able to decrease pain, heal the body, and improve someone’s life without the use of drugs or surgery. I was sold. Academic work always came easy to me, so I knew nothing was out of reach. I was lucky though, I really enjoyed my schoolwork and had a passion for learning. At age 12 I was in 8th grade, I had skipped grade 6 after a series of aptitude tests deemed me eligible. I started working at age 14 as soon as I was legal, I knew going to post-secondary school was not going to be cheap and although my parents would support me if they could I knew they did not have the resources.

At age 17 I graduated high school with Honours and about half a dozen scholarships ranging from $500-$2000. I moved out and started my Bachelor’s degree that fall. Throughout my undergrad years I worked 2-3 part time jobs to afford tuition, books and living expenses. I continued to apply for scholarships I was eligible for, as every little bit helped. Although I flew through secondary school with ease, I am not going to lie, the first couple years of my degree were tough. I was 17 living on my own and there were a lot of distractions and temptations. For the first time in my life I let my grades slip. I failed an English paper, the first “F” I had ever seen. I then received “D’s” in one Biology class and one Chemistry class. The reason I am not afraid to admit my faults is that its not the fault that matters but how you grow from it. Being a very self-motivated and disciplined person, I was disappointed in my performance and knew I could do better. I re-wrote the paper, and re-took both those classes receiving an “A+” for all three. I never received a letter grade below a B for the rest of my post-secondary education (8 years and 3 degrees in total).

https://www.thecourtneycollection.ca/career-conversations-cara/

It Takes Hard Work

In 2010 I graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science with Specialization in Cell Biology.  I was 22 at the time and I was working part time in a Neuroscience lab performing spinal cord injury research. My work from the time I spent in the lab was published in three different scientific journals and I was invited to present my research at an international conference in Vienna, Austria. I would have never even had this opportunity had it not been for a dear friend and mentor, Miss Erin Brennan. During my 3rd year of University as I was contemplating my future she encouraged me to do the research project even though it would mean additional hours and a huge challenge. I listened to her and from her advice that day you would be hard-pressed to find me backing down from anything. Instead I rose to the challenge and it paid off immensely.

When I was researching which lab I wanted to work in, I discovered Dr. Vivian Mushahwar, a renowned Neuroscientist. Her research lab was the only one at that was part of the Cell Biology & Neuroscience departments. I knew I wanted to work in her lab and no other. I emailed her and did not get a response. Instead of getting discouraged I thought to myself she must be an incredibly busy lady and my email might have been missed. I emailed her again until I finally received a response. She agreed to meet with me and I was given the position. I spent two years working in her lab, the first as a student intern and the second year on a full salary. Had I not re-sent the email the outcome may have been completely different. The lesson I learned here was to persevere until given a definitive answer.

https://www.thecourtneycollection.ca/career-conversations-cara/

The Next Move

I started chiropractic school in the fall of 2010 at the University of Western States in Portland, OR. I absolutely loved the program from day one and immersed myself fully in the training. I decided to fast-track the program by completing a summer term each year to finish my Doctorate in 3 years instead of 4. School was challenging but stimulating. I was soaking up the information like a sponge and practicing my skills daily. I knew right away that I had chosen the right career and couldn’t wait to be fully certified. I graduated in September 2013 at the top of my class and started working right away. I had just completed my final internship at a clinic in Lake Oswego, OR and was hired on as an Associate Doctor. I worked there under the mentorship of Dr. Jason Bussanich, DC for three years. Dr. Jason taught me so much in addition to what we learned in school and really helped shape the Doctor I am today.

https://www.thecourtneycollection.ca/career-conversations-cara/

New Beginnings

In 2016 I decided to leave the practice in Lake Oswego and move back to Canada. I had reconnected with the love of my life and wanted to be closer to him and my family. I moved to Calgary, AB in the spring and have been loving life here ever since. I joined a busy practice in the NW Hamptons community and just started at a second clinic location downtown. I will split my time between the two practices to touch the lives of as many people as possible. A lot of people are often concerned when I tell them how busy I am, but this is what I live for. It has taken me just shy of 30 years to get where I am today but I can confidently say I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to do. If it wasn’t clear throughout my story I want to emphasize the importance of having mentors in your life. I have often had to overcome challenges solo and at the end of the day you really can only depend on you, but look to those who have been there before you, learn from their mistakes and grow from it. I pride myself today on being a mentor, friend, and role model to many people which is why I wanted to share my story. I hope you can take something from it to ensure your own success!

Check out Tracy’s Career Conversation here. Check out my last post here.
Advice

How To Be A Friend, Even When You’re Busy

https://wp.me/p9aznB-8m https://wp.me/p9aznB-8m https://wp.me/p9aznB-8m https://wp.me/p9aznB-8m https://wp.me/p9aznB-8m

Sweater (softest ever) here | Jeans here |  Bag here | Booties (old) – similar here

During busy times, finding time for your key relationships can be hard.

Lately, I have had some friends going through some very hard times both professionally and personally. I really like to think that I am the person that my friends can rely on and reach out to no matter the time of day or how far away we are from each other. This is not always easy, and sometimes I really feel like I am failing at my relationships. I have had to cancel coffee and lunch dates repeatedly lately, after I had already rebooked them twice! This got me thinking about how no matter how busy I may be, what are some things that I can do to make sure my friends really know that I will be there for them.

The Little Things

While Facebook can’t replace that real human contact, when I am busy and I find a minute and send my friends a message, or hell even a good GIF. Especially when I know one of my friends is having a bad day or going through a hard time in their life, I like to make sure I they know I am thinking of them, supporting them even if from a distance, and if I can I will sure as hell try to make them laugh.

Be Proactive

Everyone is busy. The busier I get, the more I forget things. Then I have these split second thoughts about someone and how I miss them. This is the moment to take advantage of, and send your friend a quick “Hi there, hope things are going well!” It is 5 seconds of your day, just send the text. It is better than going months without talking to those wonderful humans.

Use Technology

Another thing I make sure to do is contact my friends who are on my IM system through work. I ensure I keep these nice and professional as it is my work computer, but I make sure to reach out to my friends on a regular basis. I have been my friends supporter, cheerleader, and sometimes hard to take advice giver over IM. Feedback I have received from this is that sometimes this can make such a difference in your friends life.

Pause for 30 Minutes

I will make every effort I can to meet my friends who work near me for coffee. Even though it may be a short period of time during the busy day, it is two birds with one stone. I get a break and I get to meet up with my friends and catch up with what is going on in their lives. I know that if I can make their day just a little bit brighter, those 30 minutes were probably the best spent of my day.

Book It… and Make It Happen

This was one area I used to be so much better at, and this is the part that has been getting to me lately. The key here is to get your friends in your calendar, and make the commitment to get there, be present, and enjoy the time. Getting this habit and getting these dates on your calendar on a regular basis will help. Prioritizing these relationships is key to maintaining them.

Do you have any other methods you use for keeping your friendships alive? Please share in the comments below!

Advice, Career Conversations

Courtney’s Career Conversations – Meet Tracy

Courtney & Tracy

Meet Tracy

I had to think pretty long and hard about how I would introduce Tracy to everyone on the blog. I first met her in 2010 working in my first internal audit position. Since then I have more stories and advice she has shared with me then I could ever type into probably 1000 blog posts. Our conversations range from fangirling over Game of Thrones, to talking about her dress obsession (34 at one point), and to her helping me choose between jobs.

This special lady, or as I call her, my work Mom, has always been open and honest (and sometimes brutally straight-forward) when I go to her for career advice. But really, that’s what we all need sometimes right?! So without further ado, here is Tracy in her own words to share her career path (so far) with you.

 

Courtney & Tracy

Education

  • University of Western Ontario (Western University), 1988
    • Bachelor of Arts, Administrative & Commercial Studies, Finance and Economics Specialization
  • Certified Management Accountant, 1992
  • Certified Internal Auditor, 2001

Courtney & Tracy

Background

I recently had a blip in my career path that caused me to question some of my choices, however briefly, because I have not always followed a traditional path of vertical movement up the organization.

Born in 1967, I am at the front end of Generation X.  That means more to some people than others, but for me one of the biggest impacts on my career was arriving at the tail end of the baby boom.  Literally since I started working in 1988 I have heard of the impending mass retirement of the boomers and the subsequent availability of countless advancement opportunities.  29 years later I am still waiting for this to come to pass.

I was a bit of a keener where education was concerned.  I decided on business/accounting in high school and chose my university accordingly.  I went to the University of Western Ontario (Western University) and was the only person from my small town Manitoba high school to go there.  I realized when I was older that this was a pretty big and brave move.  I got my CMA designation a few years after graduating University.  The date on my designation is actually 1 day before my 25th birthday (yes, I am proud of that).  Eleven years later I earned by Certified Internal Auditor designation as well.

Courtney & Tracy

My Story

I progressed through jobs rapidly early in my career, always leaving because I had outgrown the position not due to performance or personnel issues.  I also made sure to always leave the role in a better state than I found it.

At 24 years old I was in the 5th and final level of the CMA program but I only had 3 years of work experience.  The positions that matched my experience were hesitant to hire me because I was unlikely to stay long given my progress towards my designation.  The positions that suited my education level wanted much more than 3 years of work experience.

The next logical step for me was to go somewhere that wanted my educational qualifications and would accept my limited years of experience.  So, in November 1991, I moved to Arviat, Nunavut (formerly part of the Northwest Territories or NWT) and assumed the role of District Comptroller.  I moved to Yellowknife for a head office position with the same organization about 18 months into my time in the NWT, staying with that organization and in the territory for 4 years total.

My next geographical move was to Edmonton, where I still am today.  I held contract positions for a few years before re-entering the world of permanent employment with the provincial government.  I stayed with the government, though with 4 roles in 3 ministries, for another 8 years.

I left government to return to the not for profit world where I began.  I was 38 and landed the role of CFO at a large faith based social services organization.  It was a perfect fit.  I thought I was finally home, and for a time I was.  I was responsible for Accounting, Payroll and IT when I began.  While I was there, purchasing and administrative support were also added to my responsibilities.  After three years, I sadly tendered my resignation to allow me to spend quality time with my daughter while she was still a child.  It was the right decision but I did come to question it some years later.

I left the NPO in an economic boom time.  I signed up with a placement agency to do some management level temping. My second temping assignment was with an oil and gas company to do some internal audit work. That 3 month contract was extended twice and then I was offered a full time senior auditor position.  I loved my boss and I accepted the job.  I spent 8 years as an employee of that company until I was laid off due to the elimination of the department I was in.

Courtney & Tracy

Courtney: Dress old – similar here and here | Long Blazer here | Boots here | Cocktail Ring old – similar here (less than $20)
I am not linking Tracy’s outfit except for her purse for the best reason. Her and I would prefer that you check out Peace Handicrafts, and consider making a purchase. Peace Handicrafts is a social-support business established in 2002 to provide training and employment opportunities to landmine victims, disabled persons and the deaf in Cambodia.

What now?

I was given a nice parting package, so I was not in immediate financial distress.  That did not lessen the unavoidable aspects of being laid off 28 years into a career.  A career that somewhat significantly defined you as a person, at least in your mind.  I felt I was fine.  I knew that it was not performance based – I was appraised as a high performer my entire time with the company.  But I was at a loss as to where to go, what to do.  And, I soon discovered, my career pathing was not consistent.

Was I a controller?  Not based on the job postings I saw.  My experience was too much.  Was I a CFO?  I was away from it for almost 8 years.  What about internal audit – was I a manager, senior auditor, did I even want to do that?  I got interviews.  I got good feedback.  I got “over-qualified”.  I did not get offers.  For 6 months.  After 4 months I was seriously questioning leaving my CFO role, even though I knew it was right for my personal life and wellbeing.  What had I done?

I decided to quit waiting for a paid position.  I signed up with Accounting for International Development and accepted a two month volunteer assignment with and NGO in Cambodia.  I thought, if nobody will pay me to do what I do then I will do it for free!  Actually, since I paid my way, I paid them to work for them.  It was well worth it.  Even before I left things started to shift.

Three days before I was flying out to Cambodia I received a phone call to set up an interview for the next week.  This was the perfect position based on my background.  A director role in a faith based, government funded organization with responsibility for accounting operations, financial reporting, compliance and even a charitable foundation.  It was like I had pathed my career specifically for it.

Then I got the offer.  And now I am in the job.  It is early on but I believe this is the place I am meant to be.  I turned 50 this year, have 29 years invested in my career and it seems to be working out.

Why did I feel the need to write this?  Because, despite conventional wisdom up until my generation, I followed my gut for 29 years.  I moved jobs when I felt it was time, no matter how short my tenure.  I moved laterally, several times.  I changed focus from financial reporting to internal audit and back more than once.  I attained a C-suite job at an organization with more than 1000 employees and then I left it!

The millennials coming up behind me are better at not following conventional paths and I applaud that.  I also want my example out there to show that job-hopping the right way, following your gut and doing what you need to for you, is okay.  You can still get where you want to be.

Check out my last work wear post here.