Three amazing women making a living of their art and passion: The entrepreneur, the ballerina and the photographer. Last Saturday, at 12:56PM, I was getting out of a taxi while carrying at least four bags and running on the snow covered sidewalks of Griffintown to make a photoshoot appointment I had organized with a ballerina and her student in a private wine club. That's right, you read correctly. I was meeting two dancers and a photographer to capture the grace and beauty of ballet at Le PARLOIR- caves privées. Why oh why would I do this? In the world of me, why NOT ?
The entrepreneur: Le PARLOIR - Caves Privées
Located on Guy street between Notre-Dame and William, Le PARLOIR is a private club that offers an innovating membership concept for wine collectors. Perfect for those who wish to grow their wine cellar space in the city (Ahem...or literally because you are running out of space), Le PARLOIR allows you to store your bottles in a space size and controlled temperature that is convenient for you while providing a gorgeous and private lounge to enjoy a glass of your favourite drink! When I say gorgeous lounge, I mean pretty much everyone who first enters this place has to pick up their jaw from the floor (I mean just look at this photo right here). With its brass bar stools, exquisite granite countertops and leather touches, the ambiance is that of an elegant vintage style and yet cozy with the velvety seaters, warm lighting and Persian rugs. Did I mention the music? Since it is a private club, the place is never overflowing with people and is perfect for small networking meetings, happy hour with close friends and being part of a wine loving community. It is of course possible to host a larger group for special events, but one must see about that with the lovely owner: Sandrine Balthazard!
Possessing a B.Sc in Entrepreneurial and Organizational Leadership from HEC, Sandrine Balthazard is the founder of the fabulous PARLOIR. With her in-depth knowledge of the wine business and charming personality, Sandrine couldn't be a better pioneer and leader in the launch of this concept. One fine evening, Phil and I were hosting a traditional "Tuscan wine night" with good friends at Le PARLOIR, which let's face it, has become the extension of our living room at this point and while admiring the place as I had done a million times before, I suddenly saw ballet movements in perfect harmony with the beauty of this place. In my mind: a coupé passé over here, an adagio over there - YES! Being quite artistic herself (you should see her paintings), Sandrine agreed almost instantly as I suggested the photoshoot idea to her, quickly grasping the vision I had in my head and generously offered the lounge. Lucky me, I happen to know a certain ballerina who might be available for this...
The ballerina - DellAira Designs
Having befriended the enchanting soloist Sahra Maira from Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, I couldn't help but think of her as the star ballerina for this project. When you meet someone as kind and as hard-working, it is inevitable. As some of you already know, this particular dancer leads a double career: one as an accomplished dancer and one as a seamstress. Not only does she dance, she also started DellAira Designs, her very own line of dance-wear. You can either buy from pieces she already made or pick the fabric, style and measurements and voilà! You got yourself a one-of-a-kind dance leotard or elegant outfit for a night out on the town. The demand for these leotards (and bike-tards!) is increasingly high as they are handmade and the quality is hard to beat. Much of her work is showcased in the photos of the shoot! Click here to check them out!
Needless to say, Sahra was thrilled at the idea and accepted to participate in this photoshoot project. Not only that, she suggested to bring one of her students, Lola Oliveras Lafrance, a brilliant addition to the team and introduced me to the wonderful individual who would crystallize this idea into reality...
The Dance Photographer - Morgan Petroski Photography
With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and a background in documentary photography and portraiture, Morgan's professional work always tells a story. With many years of experience under her belt, it is quite impressive to watch her work: sizing the room, the ease witch which she identified the right angle down to the smallest of details. Morgan is also quite knowledgable of the ballet movements and poses, there was a strong understanding of the dance photography I had never seen before. She knew the ballet vocabulary and what poses would maximize the effect she was looking for and in talking with her, I discovered that she too had been a dancer for many years. Being a photographer capturing dancers truly is the combination of two passions!
Watching it all unfold right before my eyes was amazing. Everyone collaborating like we'd been doing this every weekend: Sandrine opening up shop for us and giving us carte blanche, Sahra and Lola organizing outfits and lacing up into pointes almost immediately, Morgan rearranging furniture (with the precious help of Dino!) and it all went seamlessly. The hours flew by and all day I watched the beautiful ballerinas jumping or posing so delicately, knowing well the necessary strengths behind every movement, under the conceptual eyes of Morgan. Aaaaand they also threw me in there for a a few shots, wearing a leotard that Sahra made special for me! (I love it!!) I don't have half the grace of a ballerina, but my heart as a writer and art advocate is full. Orchestrating this event which brought entrepreneurs, professionals and artists together and seeing the final product is so rewarding. Not only are all three women incredibly talented and dedicated, their kindness blew me away and made this project all the more memorable. Turns out, it was a pretty good idea after all...or perhaps I should let the breathtaking photos speak for themselves! ;)
Sandrine Balthazard, Sahra Maira (Lola Oliveras Lafrance), and Morgan Petroski, thank you!
What about you bee reader? What's an idea you want to see realized?
Remember the time when you stood in an elevator and the person walking in from another floor made eye contact with you? Said a low but precious “hi” or just acknowledged your presence somehow? It was cool, wasn’t it…
A few years ago, I was leaving work later one evening to go to ballet class. As I was waiting, I fetched my earphones to have my music ready for my commute. I actually try not to put my earphones on in the elevator out of respect for those around me but seeing that it was 7 pm, I figured there wouldn’t be anyone there. The elevator dings at its arrival, I step in and saw a gentleman standing there. Noticing my earphones the man commented on how the younger generation is always “connected”. What he did not know is that my music was not playing yet. The ONE time I decided to play my music in the elevator, I get busted AND judged for it, giving a bad name to my generation on top of it. It was for music, not candy crush, but I understand what it looks like from the outside. I of course immediately turned around, took my earpieces out and said smiling “not all of us ” to his surprise. Ever since then though, this further reinforced my habit of keeping my earphones out of sight so long as there are people around me in the elevator and on my way in and out of the work environment. Had this been the eighties, I would have had earphones and a chunky yellow Sony Walkman and the man would have made the same comment. He had a point though, must we always be connected?
Standing in the elevator my way down this week, I decided to pay attention to individuals walking in at each stop, as I usually do, but this time I noted who was looking up and who was looking down at their phone *crowd gasps in shock* Why would I conduct such an elaborate and scientific experiment you ask? I was curious to see how many of us make a conscious effort to have contact with others. And it IS a CONSCIOUS effort to battle the habit of automatically reaching for our phone to fill, what, one minute of an elevator ride with mindless phone browsing? We can hardly get a glance from anyone anymore. Someone actually saying hello seems to be a miraculous surviving breed of humans. Indeed, the social skills that were once presented during those few instants shared with strangers are slowly being pulverized by our attachment to our mobile phones.
Increasing efficiency at a cost...
This happens all the time of course. Those little in-between moments when we used to let our brain chill and relax while waiting to start the next task are now almost all occupied by, you know it, cell phone checking. When we stop to think of it, our phones are now computers that have the ability to take photos, share information and...oh yeah, make phone calls. With our lifestyle being that of speed, we try and stay productive each second of the day. Yet, the fact that smartphones offer the possibility to do more with them, especially checking social network sites, is what constitutes the instigation to addiction. Why? Because if those social networks (i.e. likes, comments) produce any kinds of positive feedback while we use them (which they do), that is what reinforces its use (James Robert, 2014).
According to Aric Suber-Jenkins in the What your smartphone addiction is doing to your brain article "Any entity that can produce a pleasurable sensation has the potential of becoming addictive”, quoting a study ran by James Robert, a marketing professor at Baylor University. Furthermore, Suber-Jenkins goes on to explains that according to the study, the features that are most commonly used on our cell phones - email, texting and social media – seem to activate the same neurological circuits that other more “traditional” addictions do. This seems alarming and yet, not surprising at all.
Alone time with our thoughts...
We find ourselves unconsciously searching for our cell phone to check emails pretty much anywhere and at any time. While it may be quite practical at times, this does reinforce a reflex to continuously verify the status of things on our smartphones or tablets to stay on top of things. This, in turn, goes on to essentially kill any innocently free moment we have to ourselves. Even a simple task like walking has become dangerously invaded by our mobile phones. All of these constant human-to-electronic device interactions leave us less time for human-to-human interactions. Our mobile phones activities are therefore unsurprisingly changing our cognitive reflexes and the manner in which we build and develop our relationships, and experts say this could even leave us with higher levels of social anxiety (Caglar Yildrim from Sandee LaMotte, 2017).
As if this wasn’t enough, technological advancements are actually fostering individuals to do more with their phone by asking us to cash cheques by phone, pay your milk and bread by phone, get your receipt by email, scan your plane ticket with your phone, scan your rebate coupon, etc. Once again, these are all very practical and paperless which is good for the environment (yaaay!) but while we are attempting to limit our phone usage, everything around us is encouraging us to use it. Get out of the way “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) NoMophoBia is here! You read correctly, and this, of course, stands for “No Mobile Phone phoBIA”. Understandably a very common concept among us in 2018, mentions Sandee LaMotte (2017) in his article entitled “Smartphone addiction could be changing your brain”. In this piece the author reviews a variety of studies, though some using rather small study groups, revealing that the addictiveness of the smartphones could be hindering our ability to be attentive. In my opinion, this is a self-feeding cycle…
We are reinforced to use our cell phones by positive rewards like messages, likes, and comments which decrease our human interactivity in real time which consequently, in time, decreases our social abilities which then feeds the need to use our cell phones to fill the “awkward” moments we spend with strangers we don’t know how to interact with.
Tolerating, scratch that, enjoying the in-between moments of nothing
Luckily for previous generations, like mine, who grew up without these devices already possess a set of social skills (that did not include “filters”) and the awareness to catch ourselves in our habits and make an effort to control the use. The concern is for the later generations that may already be using these devices at a critical age where cognitive and social development occur. So, the psychology message behind this is to increase awareness of our phone usage from savage to normal and to not be afraid to take a break and slow down the pace. My way of doing so is to take back those peaceful moments when we are “in-between”: waiting for the bus or the metro, sitting in a lobby waiting for an appointment, waiting in line at the grocery store, walking home (ok I do have music then) and other moments like those to let my mind drift in a daydream and just bee… ;)
How about you? Do you find you are addicted to your smartphone or is it all good?
I got your attention with that title, didn’t I? This is quite a popular topic among bloggers, influencers and all other names you giveth thee. Considering the amount of information that is accessible on this topic, I thought it would be interesting to launch 2018 by exploring the behaviours around content creators. January and February can be a little slow while we are hanging in the winter vortex and many of us writers can be asking ourselves: what should I write about?
But first, what is content creation?
Put very simply, content creation is the act of, well, creating content. Pretty much what I am doing at the moment: writing about something, expressing thoughts targeting a certain audience. Content creation can also be photography, video montages and other types of format.
Back to the initial question: what should I write about?
Myself? I could write for days. In the world of me, a blank page is stimulating, like a blank canvas, it means possibilities. Why I have the stories in my head right now. The challenge is: will what I write be engaging? Will my content be informative? Because let’s face it, the motivation to write and share is usually to engage and inform, to inspire and transform one word at a time. That being said, even though we may have billions of ideas percolating in our head, it doesn’t mean that any of them will be a pertinent topic for the target audience. What would give our own content significant traction? What behaviours revolve around successful content creators? Since I am no content creator expert, I am in no position to give advice here. However, as a career counsellor expert, I have spotted a few psychological truths and behavioural tendencies that can explain part of the success these folks have. These are hardly secrets but I still think they should be explained and reviewed as it can take the pressure off and perhaps also engage and inspire? ;)
Content creators have a team. Don’t be fooled by the solo act. A behavioural tendency that these individuals have in common is that they are highly self-aware. They know their strengths and accept what their weaker links are and therefore, are not shy to invest in the proper tools they require to achieve their goals. Most online content creators that do well have a team assisting them in developing and maintaining their brand. An “entourage” if you will, of specialists like a glam squad for hair and makeup, photographers and touch up artists that will analyze every inch of those photos (...then again Botox, lip injection and teeth whitening frenzy are still very much present but between that and filters who can tell anymore?). Also, don’t go thinking all of those professional photos, videos, websites, logos, and more have magically appeared. There are graphic designers, advisors, “photoshopers” and more that are once again part of the team. Even if the creator is a photographer, for example, he or she will still need to take time to sort and edit. While they are doing all that, less time can be spent on generating more content. Which leads me to my next point...is all this time allocated to inventing material actually getting remuneration? That depends.
Is the content creator doing it to make a living out of it or just for the free props and events?
CEO of Media Shower, John Hargrave says: “Online content creators get paid far less than they are worth”. How true this is, at least for individuals starting out on their own and not creating content for an already existing business or company. Many are extremely talented and work through blood, sweat and tears at generating and editing posts, videos, texts but not a penny will roll in if there is no product or service to be sold. Apart from getting visibility through sponsors or YouTube Ads (and you will need a lot of those), as Hargrave explains in his article, there needs to be a business to sell or a second income. So what are the psychological or behavioural tendencies here? Prosperous online content creators are true social butterflies and have harnessed a solid network foundation long before launching social media channels. This audience ensures followership and increases business. Guess what, 80% of all employment opportunities are in the hidden market. Those precious contacts enable them to stay in the know of upcoming tendencies and new business opportunities.
Successful content creators are excellent communicators. They shine under the spotlight and have a natural talent for the written word and/or are very well spoken. They possess a clear vision as to where they want to take their followers and will do so with wittiness and a great sense of humour. The power to convince is a strong force but one has to be convinced to be convincing. Keeping it authentic is key. Their vision is what keeps them motivated and of course motivation fuels perseverance to achieve.
I have found that for most of the popular online content creators, education does not seem to have an impact on their credibility. At first glance, experience, name dropping, and followership are what define credentials. While I am certainly not saying content creators are uneducated, far from it actually. Degrees just don't appear to be a sought out thing in the "about/bio" section. This movement is quite interesting to some extent as entrepreneurial efforts and supporters are placed forward. There exists a vibe of encouragement, of boldness and excitement in launching one's brand online. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have definitely evolved with their members and cultivated an even stronger adherence by creating business profiles. Allowing sellers and shoppers to coexist in a productive harmony.
On the other hand, the purchasing client should obviously be concerned if the individual is selling personal “counselling”. While there are many schools of thought, the individual should be a member of the appropriate professional association ensuring proper practice and that a certain code of ethics is being respected. That’s my career counsellor hat talking here ;)
In hopes that this article was informative and inspiring, these were my simple observations on what behaviours successfully shape content creation.
What bloggers do you prefer most? What makes you read an article? What IGers do you find inspiring and why?
I’d love to hear your thoughts/comments.
Bee writing x
Hello bee readers,
I have been meaning to write for quite some time but for some reason, every time I picked up my virtual pen to begin, the subject I had in mind didn't seem quite right or deep enough. In those cases I rather hold back than write only for the sake of adding content (like some blogs we know all too well...ahem!).
As the end of 2017 approaches, the need to stop and look back on the past year always arises. As intellectual and emotional beings, it is only human to want to process and define all that we have gone through and make something of it. This gives us the perception of control that we need to function better with. That is, if we can properly describe where we stand now, we have a clearer vision for what we are aiming for next. True, this is something we should do on a regular basis not simply at the year's end, but we are also social creatures and perhaps feel more accountable doing this analysis along with the rest of the world.
For my part, here are some take away messages I have understood from 2017...
2017 reminded me of how quickly life can turn around, in an instant. As well as I know this and I am the first to always say how life is now (and let's not confuse that with YOLO) my inner circle was shook with the threat of illness. The universe launched thunder bolts of life and death related events, taking us all by surprise, we plunged head first in an overwhelming reality. Thankfully everyone is well now. 2017 reminded us all not to take health and longevity for granted and further reinforced that life is now. Feel it now, say it now and no regrets. The dust has been shaken off and we are turning a page to something new, something very good. Gratefully also, quite a few rainbows appeared after the storm and my family grew, in all senses of the term.
2017 has badgered me with situations that have taught me to let go. That is something that is VERY difficult for me to do. Especially when it comes to matters of justice. If I feel a situation is unfair, I tend to get involved even if it's not my problem but for someone important to me. Something snaps inside and I need to fight for that cause. To argue and push until fairness is reached. Unfortunately, as you already know, not all situations can be won and some will take more time to come around. Some may never come at all! 2017 pushed me to yes, be the change I want to see. I learned to stop myself in my tracks before stepping into my armour and grabbing my sword. I had talks with myself, out loud to weigh the battles I was considering. While looking at the big picture I asked myself: "Is the cause truly worth it? Will the audience ever truly recognize what I am trying to say here?" and if the answer was no, I discarded all thoughts of engaging my energy any further and spared it for other more important matters. It was no easy task since by nature, I am one to persist. I was surprised at how well I let my temper cool off once I realized the situation in question just was not worth any shred of my efforts. How empowering it is to rise above and let go of the insignificant. I was pleasantly surprised by the universe's way of smiling and nodding at me for those glorious moments. I got a few pearls of wisdom this year.
2017 made me see how high I place the bar for myself. In terms of accomplishments and as a family member even. I work hard to be all that I can be as a daughter, as a sister, as a wife, as a career counsellor, as an "artist", as a Montrealer and while I am very content with all that I do and who I am as a person, I never quite seem to do enough. I am easily impressed by others' talents. This admiration of others while harmless does come with the price of blinding me to my own achievements and talents a short time after I reached them. While I am proud of myself to a certain level, I will never cease to be inspired by other individuals' abilities. That being said, I have to stop diminishing or underestimating my own. A dear colleague of mine described it as self-advocacy and I am in love with the concept. Doing it however will be a challenge. I will make this a resolution. Even though we should not keep those for the beginning of a new year, the timing seems perfect. It doesn't matter if others can recognize my potential or not. What matters is if Ivana does. For the sake of owning this resolution and to end this post strong...
2017 reminded me that I am a force of good and of stability. That while organized chaos reigns around me and I witness friends and family deal with cards of moving to a new home, welcoming a baby, handling a divorce, transitioning through career changes, battling illness, celebrating marriage, anything! ...I remain the same through it all. Though it doesn't mean change will not occur or that I don't actively seek it, I seem to always go through very long slices of life with grand discipline. While for some it is to pick up and reroot easily, always starting fresh somewhere new and seeking adventures, my legendary and unsurpassed talent is to grow strong below the surface and stride along unwavering. It seems that my purpose is to be a source of stable energy and strength in the good and in the bad for all who cross my path (well would ya look at that...I complimented myself!). Even my leo zodiac quality is "fixed" ;) Let's take a few examples:
University studies: 8 years
First job after that: 8 years and counting...
Living downtown: 9 years and counting...
Clearly I value experience and investing in long term relationships be them professional or friendly. Sure, my perseverance makes me stubborn: you'll have to convince me to change my mind. But if there's something you can count on is that, as previously mentioned, I won't let go easily and I will keep rediscovering what it is I believe in most and you, reader, are part of that! :)
I thank you bee readers for having read me, a little, a lot, throughout this year. May 2018 grant your heart's desires. If you could wrap up 2017 in one word, what would it be? Mine would be: growth!
Bee in health and happiness, always...
Choreographer, Dancer and Producer Eva Kolarova launches new community engaging performance: BLUE DEPENDENCE
Dear bee readers,
As you know, I am a big fan of the arts, especially music and dance, and I am absolutely delighted to inform you that I will be attending what is sure to be a moving and inspiring performance: BLUE DEPENDENCE by the talented Eva Kolarova on Friday.
When we met just last Sunday, I was able to discuss with her and go in depth on the purpose and all of the preparation behind this show. I was amazed at the dedication and pure passion that was sitting right in front of me. Having been a professional dancer for many years now, Eva admitted she always had the desire to one day be choreographing performances and take the lead on making her very own creations. Sure enough, BLUE DEPENDENCE is her third full length show. This time, however, not only is she self-producing it entirely, she is performing in it as well and the amount of effort required for this kind of project is quite grueling. Yet, there she is, taking the time to have a coffee with me while orchestrating it all.
As we were chatting, Eva mentioned that there are many schools of thought on choreography and while there is none better than the other, she values the clarity of the message that is being conveyed in the work she creates: "I usually have a story and clear message. I really want to have an impact and for the person to have clear thoughts on the subject" she says. And what is the subject, the true purpose of BLUE DEPENDENCE? Addiction, which is something that "really bothers me, it is all over". She clarified that while we may typically think of addiction as dependence on a drug, it can present itself in quite many different ways. The dependence we have on technology, or our computers and smart phones for example "even dependence to another person" she mentions is something to be included in addiction. She is quite right! BLUE DEPENDENCE depicts the journey and the emotions that the individual goes through when dealing with addiction.
So of course, I had to ask...why BLUE and not yellow? ;) "It is everywhere, it is a colour we can all see and connect with easily. It is also poetic!" fair enough. Perhaps also, we tend to feel a little blue at times when dealing with such afflictions.
Another unique element of this humble artist is the connection she is striving to build with her community. She took it upon herself to reach out to rehabilitation and healing centers to personally invite clients to her show. This performance would obviously be a cathartic experience in terms of expressing the motions they are living. She even met with a therapist who handles such cases to help her portray an authentic story from beginning to end: the euphoria, the struggle, the desperation and perhaps also a little peace.
It takes a team
On top of handling the choreography and the dancing, Eva is showing tremendous leadership by managing all communication, marketing, networking including the logistics that inevitably comes with the organization of such a performance. Everything is falling into place for the two performances that are taking place October 20th and 21st at Places des Arts (my new home these days!) and though Eva very much enjoys choreography creation, the thrills of performing on stage call to her still.
What marked me most however was the recognition she feels and demonstrates for her team as well as the fraternity they share: "I am so lucky to have beautiful artists with me. The composers, lighting experts and all of my dancers are extremely talented" she mentions. "I am grateful for their trust and all of the energy they are giving to me and to this project".
And how lucky we, Montrealers, are to have such artists in our city, pouring their heart and souls into its improvement and evolution, one great performance at a time.
Bee there on Friday! Can't wait!
P.S. Get your tickets here!
Choreographer - Eva Kolarova
Dancers - Sara Harton, Eva Kolarova, José Flores, Francois Richard
Concept for Video Projection and photo material - Paolo A.Santos
Music composer - Charles Bicari and Alder & Ash
Lighting Designer and Technical Director - Pierre Lavoie
I was very excited to attend the premiere of Stabat Mater and Beethoven's 7th symphony, as I usually am for any Grands Ballets performance, but this time particularly since it was the first "spectacle" for Ivan Cavallari, the new Artistic director. Also, the promotional video for this piece featured my ballet teacher, the beautiful Emma Garau and was thrilled to see her and the rest of the gang perform!
The first thing I noticed was the dancers standing there, already on stage as we took our seats. It felt as though we were backstage and the dancers were the ones watching us, already positioned in their respective spots already setting a more serious climate. In the first part, the Stabat Mater performance, the dancers and the duet of singing voices immediately tap into our emotional attention and one cannot help but feel the distress. A distress and unconsolable anguish from the mother that "was standing", which is what Stabat Mater means in latin. Yet, at one point during the performance, the women dancers wore high heels, bringing us forward to a more present and urban time. Reminding us that this same distress and anguish are timeless all the while releasing us from it by dancing and expressing these emotions for us.
After intermission, I couldn't wait to see what Les Grands Ballets had in store for us with Beethoven's 7th symphony and of course, you already know they did not disappoint. Setting a very different ambiance with their bright white leotards, the dancers were bouncing on stage like diamonds and feathers but moved with such precision. Being a drummer I can't help but look for timing with movements and let me tell you, every single jump, entrance to the stage, twirl and arabesque unfolded with the exact amount of energy to match the tempo. The dancer's movements expressed pure joy and enthusiasm, it was hard not to smile. Especially when I spotted Emma Garau on stage! I can't wait to see her in class Monday evening, what motivation for me to practice! Particularly though, I was impressed at the ease with which the dancers were able to shift from one emotionally heavy performance to such a light hearted and happy one. Each performance equally beautiful but with an extremely different presence; both will carry you away to another world; fulfilling the exact purpose of the art.
I applaud the entire team for this beautiful yin yang duo of pieces that came together exquisitely. I highly recommend you go see it...your artistic heart will thank you for it.
Next? The Phantom of the Opera!
Bee...living at Place des Arts these days ;)
Hello Beeple people,
It has been quite a few weeks since my last post and already the hot summer days are gone. September is here and as usual, the wind of change is in the air! Though I'm not doing my wardrobe switch just yet, the awkward days where one does not know exactly what to wear have returned as we transition from one season to the next. Oh yes, and the pumpkin-spice-everything too.
Just like one of my fellow bloggers Careers by Coco recently shared on her latest piece, it is time to write about revisiting preset goals. Oh yes, the ones we perhaps put on the shelf for a little while as we enjoyed the summer festivities and time with friends and family. Autumn usually brings a pinch of reality with schools and universities calling their fellow students back to intellectual labor, with the end of vacation and routine creeping back in, and finally with the crisp weather reminding us that we cannot bask in summer glory eternally (or at least in Montreal we can't...). In my last post, I mentioned to catch up and take advantage of the quiet times. Now that businesses are back to regular mode, the work starts rolling in. So I am really glad I took care of the following projects I had in mind:
"Big deal!" I hear you say. These aren't that major. I agree. Ain't not big deal, but leaving them to later will turn them into just that, a big deal, since I'll be up against a dead line. It's those little things that we leave to "another time" that end up catching up to us or that we never get around to doing and leave us with regret. Not taking advantage of the free time to cross things off your list will also leave you no room to add new goals.
So as you can see, I haven't given up on ballet just yet and switching schools will help me keep my goal intact. So will the new iPad. Sure it's expensive, but I already see a significant difference with clients as I can use it to work with them without printing anything anymore. It is practical and environment friendly. So even though you don't think some of your actions are truly meaningful, they are and carry more value than you imagine in staying in line with your original goals. Let it be said that everyone's goals are personal and attached to their reality and where they are at in the different chapters of their life. For example, I don't have children yet but perhaps one day one of my summer catching up moves will be to sign them up early to Italian and music courses. You can be sure I would be first in line for that ;)
If required, update your endeavors!
So if you didn't have time to check your list, that is totally understandable. You can work at it now, with the Harvest season coming in full swing soon, it's a great momentum to pick up where you left off and strike when you feel it's right. Unless your original goal is no longer what you want, which happens, waiting too long will sap on drive and motivation. If you lose sight of the purpose however, re-examine your goal(s) and the original intent you had. If the situation has changed and the objective it is no longer a desire or needed, cross it off the list and make room for the updated endeavors! Hanging on to erroneous beliefs out of guilt isn't productive and good for the soul. Accept that the nature of the situation has changed and that the goal simply does not fit with where you are now.
Easier said than done, but this isn't give up, it is adapting to new circumstances. So take out the broom and sweep those old goals out the door. Creating a new list of attainable goals can be quite refreshing too. Key word here: attainable and real. If these goals are too hard to reach you either need to renegotiate them to something you can see in the long run or you need a better strategy, i.e. elaborate a plan with key players and partners that will help you. But that's for another post!
For now, I am looking forward to warm bowls of chilly and a road trip to New York City with friends to see central park (an other parts of the city!) in the fall. If you have any recommendations of what activities we should do, comment or email me!
What about you bee reader? Any special goals or thing(s) you are looking forward to this fall?
Bee...Falling back into it!
Hello bee readers,
So summer is finally here and man have we been waiting for it here in Canada. After six long months of winter cold, we are way overdue for the summer heat and the outdoors. There is still that cold wind that seems to come down on us and gets on my nerves but still, it's summer. This usually means that every single opportunity we have to enjoy a fresh cup of white sangria on a sunny terrace somewhere in Montreal will be taken. Oh yes it will. This season naturally brings a big wave of vacationers which of course translates into quieter offices and a slow down in business transactions. But while everyone is out there celebrating the season's festivities and tumbleweed is the only thing rolling at work, now is the time to strike.
Strike for what exactly? Catching up on all those little things we set aside and tell ourselves we will get to when it's calmer at work. Well, that time has finally come and it's now or never (In the voice of Elvis Presley:' "it's now or neveeer!") it truly is though.
Take advantage of the fact that there are less interruptions, a little less buzz and a little less conversation a little more action please (That's Elvis again! but I digress). Go back to your annual objectives list and see if you are on track. If not, get your ducks in a row and make some significant progress before you get really busy again
On the other hand, if you're on schedule and have time to spare, this is indeed the time to catch up in other areas or take initiatives on new projects and ideas that have been on the back burner for a while. So go ahead, organize that plan with clear steps, call up a meeting with your team and get the ball rolling before it's too late.
What needs updating and improvement?
Not sure what to start with? Begin by going back to the basics of how you get your work done every day. Is there anything there that needs updating? Any forms that could become digital and paperless? Take a step back and observe what needs smoothing over. Call up a meeting with the team and share the initiative, two heads are better than one. Sure, a few colleagues may be on vacation at the moment but it is still the right time. Re-questioning working methods is always a good idea to improve processes and making sure we are up to date with the latest trends and practices. Which leads me to my next point.
Updating your skills
When is the last time you took a class or participated in a workshop? If you're like me and are member of a professional order (designation), you are obligated to complete a certain number of hours of pertinent training every five years. Knowing that summertime can be calmer, strike at the opportunity to get a few classes done. Myself? I signed up for an online deontology and ethics class, one that had been staring at me for a while and I'm finally getting it over with.
Another idea could be to organize learning lunches for some coaching and team development. Sharing ideas, tips and tricks amongst colleagues also reinforces team spirit and trust.
It's terrace season and what better excuse to invite someone for a happy hour than the sunny weather? Everyone is in the mood to extend their day with a tasty drink and good company. Think about it, will you want to do this on a dark winter evening when you'll have a blizzard to face? No. Take advantage of the psychological effects that the lightened atmosphere and the festivities has on society to network! Solidify acquaintances and friendships with a warm breeze in your hair and you sunglasses on.
Finally, do make sure to take time to relax and disconnect from the world a little. That too is quite the investment! ;)
As a career consultant, I see about 120 career transitioning clients a year. Some know exactly what they are looking for next, others have not got a clue. No matter what though, every individual is different and he or she is looking for something that will answer his or her needs at the moment. There would be many ways to categorize anyone who is currently looking for a job, however, one that I find life changing is the difference between those who value their work and those who merely see it as revenue.
Yesterday, my parents, Phil and I visited my grand-parents for Father's Day and over a few slices of bread, cheese and glasses of wine, my nonno Alfredo (grand-father) told us about his days as a foreman. He explained how his humble beginnings as a construction worker quickly catapulted him into becoming an expert in drilling and blasting with controlled use of explosives. Wait, what? Explosives? Like actual dynamite? (so now you get the title) Yes, dynamite. Alfredo became what we call "Dynamiteur" en français, in the excavation of very well known aqueduct projects in the city of Montreal. But who wanted to be in charge of such dangerous work? "No one!" said my grand-father.
Internally connecting to your work
Dealing with explosives for excavation purposes was not a job many around him wanted for its obvious heavy responsibility and life threatening consequences. Being quite human himself, Alfredo wasn't unafraid of the explosives. Rather, his desire for leadership, for learning and for him to gain more responsibility were stronger. So while everyone else turned away from handling explosives, Alfredo was the first to walk up to the task and start the official training process to get his permit. I also suspect that his experience as a WWII soldier and new-comer to Canada contributed to his familiarity with explosives and his perseverance: he was used to braving the unknown. He mentioned that after his training, he was the only one in his crew who could read and understand plans. Rather than let himself be overcome by uncertainty, he took the time to understand what needed to be done and was grateful for the trust his supervisor gave him. He connected with his work through purpose and by the use of his transferable skills. Keep in mind also that nonno had left everything behind to come find opportunity and be his own boss. He took every single chance that would get him closer to his goal of gaining decisional power at work. Sure enough, he was rapidly promoted to foreman while still controlling the use of explosives.
Though I am certain being promoted enabled my nonno to get a higher pay, it was not his first motive. He also worked in very difficult conditions: risking his life with every decision, working in dangerous areas and outside rain or shine, not having access to a phone not a pharmacy all the while learning another language. It was his internal connection to his work that lead him to success. The simple use of his natural abilities and the simple fact that he saw meaning in his work. That was the key to outstanding performance and happiness.
Of course, one can argue that there are different motives to work and I agree with that. Individual differences are of course at the base of what motivates each and everyone of us. However, I still believe that when you value what you do and don't just do it because it's: "literally, like, 15 minutes from home by car and the benefits are good", the quality of your work will be much greater and so will the rewards of accomplishing it. The greater you feel, the more your mental and physical health will benefit from it. On the other hand, the effects of the generous employer will inevitably fade with time. Individuals slowly start to do their work mechanically and without purpose. Before they know it, five years have come and gone and the "connectedness" to their work has completely vanished.
A simple question to help identify what makes one happy at work: what are the the tasks that make you happy? What moments to you feel most useful? What projects are you most proud of? What are the tasks you are done with? Finally, what do all of these have in common? Food for thought.
Give it time and PPP!
Through the years, my grand-father was involved in the infrastructure and excavation of the Decarie boulevard and other big projects that required digging deeper than the metro level and managing three different teams at one time. As he was telling us his adventures, he spoke as though he had been there just yesterday and said with an unmistakable Italian accent "J'ai aimé mon travail, il faut aimer son travail". Initially, as everyone else, using dynamite wasn't something my grand-father expected to enjoy. Yet, as he began to understand its mechanisms and master the art of using explosives safely to excavate, build and therefore contribute to the city's infrastructure, the appreciation for his own work grew and consequently so did his expertise and leadership. What better way to feed motivation than by being passionate for what you do every single day? As you see, it is a self-feeding cycle.
Often times now, with all of the different jobs and positions that exist, we are quick to dismiss what we dislike. I often hear the following in my office: "It wasn't for me, I wasn't passionate about it", Ok, fair enough. How long did you practice your work though? Did you truly give it a chance or were you discouraged by the environment, lack of support or other such factors? It can take years before we start feeling like we truly master the nature of our work. The "triple P" will help you out: Patience in letting yourself be a beginner, Practice to learn and Perseverance when facing obstacles.
The lasting effect of loving your work
It may be easy to underestimate the importance of a profession while being young. As time goes by though, human beings look for purpose in the life they have lead thus far. Yesterday, my nonno disappeared in the basement for a while and returned a few moments later holding an old and dusty work bag. He unzipped it to reveal its contents, and out came two construction hats with his name on them, an attachable light for walking through dark tunnels, old protective glasses, a small leather pocket with a tiny aspirin tin box inside and plasters, a variety of other tools and a lock with all of the keys to the explosives that were under his supervision. As my 95 year old grand-father explained all of this to me, I marveled as his sharp memories. I can assure you that listening to his stories about being a foreman working in the city and having the responsibility of controlling dangerous explosives is pure confirmation that when you truly enjoy and appreciate what you do, the satisfactory effects of it will last you a lifetime.
Lucky me, I too happen to have a "blast" at work!! 😜
Bee working with conviction xx
Hello bee readers! 👯
So the last time I wrote I had just gotten a new pair of pointe shoes (ballet) and was quite happy slash nervous on the matter. So here's a mini update on what's going on.
I finally went to my first pointe class and as I tied my lovely pink ribbons, which Sahra Maira kindly sewed on for me the night before by the way, I felt a familiar sense of awkwardness and intimidation settling in. Once again, I was the odd one out. Once again, I asked myself "what am I doing here?" But my tenacious spirit shut those two up in a second and I took my place at the barre. The teacher knew it was my first pointe class ever so she graciously let me get away with all my faults. God bless her. As I carried on though, I realized early in the class that my feet are nowhere near being ready to take me up on pointe. That is, up on my big toes. So I kept on with half pointe and that was much better.
Another misfortune is the fact that my pointe shoes were too big for me👎. Something that both the teacher AND Sahra had immediately noticed. So I went back to Rossetti's and explained it all and Mr. Winston was totally cool about it, like he promised. So back to the drawing board it was for me, trying on different pairs. Unfortunately the pairs that would likely fit best were backordered. So June has arrived and out of the three I am waiting for, one pair has arrived. The rest are expected in late June. So I am patiently waiting for them to pick up where I left off. That being said, I thought it was important to share that with you, dear reader. I haven't given up. Then again, do I ever? Not unless I have decided that the goal is no longer the right one for me.
What are you working on?
My name is Ivana. I love photography and meeting people. I hold a Master's in counselling psychology and work as a career consultant. Music is my fuel and an important source of energy in my life. I drive my vespa around the city and I love what I do! :) About this blog: me on my artistic soap box!
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