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Calm TF Down. Meditation + Calming A Restless Mind.

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Calm TF Down. Meditation + Calming A Restless Mind.

"Anytime that you're feeling restless, take a deep breath and let it go."

- Erasure

MY MIND IS ON 100. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. AND MY BODY IS PAYING THE PRICE.

It may not seem like that, because on the surface-level, I'm quiet, keep to myself and look dis-interested (#RBF 😒) all the time. Unless you are in my very tiny circle of people that I let in, actually like and who 'get' me - I don't shout out rando ideas, share thoughts openly, show emotions freely, or act like a scattered person when there are a million tasks on my plate. But - i'm thinking. Overthinking, observing, calculating and contemplating about a lot of fucking shit.

I am a Sag. We are known as perpetual over-thinkers. I am also a creative / intellectual / philosophical soul. There is a lot of shit going on, at all times, in my brain.
I have complete monologues in my head about hypothetical conversations that never happen IRL - on what I would say approaching certain situations, or how I would present ideas if I was in an elevator, or what I would say to an ungrateful know-it-all pop-tart that's trying to test me. I also think about a hundred business ideas, stuff I need to do the next day, if I should or shouldn't colour my hair this month or what meal-prep delivery service I should use (and why I should just stop being lazy and do it myself). The point is - my brain has ALL the tabs open, is on 100 all the fucking time, and I need to learn how to calm tf down, sometimes.

FIGHT OR FLIGHT PANIC-MODE.

There was a point mid summer 2017, where I went though significant, noticeable periods of anxiety and stress. I remember a moment on a Sunday afternoon in June, where I was sitting on a patio and having an impromptu conversation with a few people about a business idea that I am developing, and going home and feeling SO edgy and restless - and not in a good way. I don't know what exactly triggered it (looking back it was probably a build-up of mental stress), but my heart was racing, my limbs restless, and I COULD NOT calm my body and brain. I felt like I was vibrating at a way different frequency than normal. I was in a 'fight or flight' panicked mode, and did a bunch of different things in the next 6-8 hour span to try and dissipate this feeling of anxiety and panic.

Step 1: roll and smoke 💨 (indica obv). / Step 2: turn off tv, macbook, spotify, phone ringer + notifications. / Step 3: find + download meditation app.  / Step 4: learn how to meditate, then meditate. / Step 5: gentle yoga. / Step 6: sit in a hot bath. / Step 7: smoke again. / Step 8: meditate again. / Step 9: try and sleep. / Step 10: sit in a hot bath again. / Step 11: meditate again. / Step 12: lie in bed with nature sounds, hoping to fall asleep. Ugh.

MINDFULNESS + MOVING FORWARD. AND FALLING AGAIN.

I woke up the next day still feeling on edge, and it did take a few more days to calm my body completely. I can tell you, that because of the anxiety attack, I have taken on daily meditation and self-care a lot more intentionally. I was never really that person that was into 'thoughtful mindfulness', 'daily intentions' and 'that kinda hippy/yogi/om stuff' - but being open to it has honestly changed my balance spectrum of being on 100 vs being at a 0. I found a median that works for me. Oftentimes in the past, I thought that I didn't have time for meditation, or 'just wasn't into it', but 10-15 minutes of meditation a day is more valuable than most people think. Your mind is a crazy powerful thing, that manifests itself in your body - and your body suffers when least expected.

A month after that anxiety attack, I got hit with Bell's Palsy very rapidly and very randomly. Not saying that stress was the main cause (and my physician says the actual cause is still unknown...and I really had no idea what tf BP was, but according to the ER doctor apparently 1% of the population gets it randomly from something as simple as a cold virus 😕), but I am pretty sure it was my body STILL harbouring stress and manifesting itself in my body. Not going into detail, I became depressed, frustrated and forced to really slow down and take a break from everything. I was devastated and drained, but it was a low-point that I used to really re-assess, re-group and re-up myself.

The thing I learned was that I needed to allow myself to BE STILL, CLEAR MY MIND and REST MY BODY. I wasn’t balanced, because I was always overthinking, taking on too many things, stressing about dumb things and letting people in that I didn’t even like. I didn’t take time for mindfulness - and my body shut down.

So that said - meditation and being 'still'? I now work on it every day. There are days I've missed, and even while in meditation my mind wanders and gets distracted, but it's inevitable and natural for this to happen, especially in the A.D.D. world that we live in. I've learned it's OK to be imperfect, to wander, and to fall. To be honest, I am the kind of person that doesn't do well with habitual things and routine (and commitment in general), but for the past few months, it's the one thing that has been a constant, gets me up early, and a ritual I actually look forward to doing. Just like we work on our physical fitness, working on our mental fitness is equally important.

MY MEDITATION APP OF CHOICE - 'CALM'

Although traditional meditation certainly doesn't involve an app, and even the idea of a 'meditation app' seems quite odd - I felt like I needed one because I'm a newbie, needed guidance, and like the idea of having it at my fingertips at all times (and I am obsessed with my phone). I downloaded the CALM App. It has helped me introduce daily meditation into my routine, and is now key 🔑 to my day to day. I am sure there are other meditation apps out there, but I was honestly drawn to this in the app store because of the aesthetic of the icon and the simplicity of the word 'Calm'.

Image Source: Calm website ( www.calm.com )

Image Source: Calm website (www.calm.com)

When opening the app, you get a screen that says 'take a deep breath' then it brings you to the home screen where you have three main options: MEDITATE, MUSIC or SLEEP. There is also an option on the main screen for the 'Daily Calm' which is a daily guided meditation. I typically use MEDITATE, and choose the guided sessions (I'm not quite there in terms of doing unguided silent meditation, mainly because I get easily distracted). I started off using "7 Days of Calming Anxiety" which is a 7 Day (~10 minute sessions) guided program to assist with anxiety/stress, and also use the "Breathe" session, which is literally just a screen that guides you through deep breathing exercise (honestly this option is so simple and effective at instantly calming you, but it's amazing how we don't practice 'deep breathing' on a regular basis). What I like about the app is that you can choose different focuses (Anxiety, Focus, Sleep, Self-Care, Personal Growth...), and within each focus there are a number of different programs you can choose. There's even a 2 minute "Emergency Calm" for those i'm-gonna-explode-and-cut-a-bitch moments. I also like that you can leave the home screen sound on and just keep it on as calm background noise - I often just turn it on when I'm writing (like right now), reading or just need something neutral to listen too. All in all, if you're a newbie to meditation, you might be surprised how an app and 10-15 minutes can calm your restless (sometimes reckless) mind.

SO. PAUSE. BREATHE DEEPLY + INTENTIONALLY. BE STILL. THEN GO BACK TO YOUR DAY-TO-DAY HUSTLES.

P.S. There's a free version. I upgraded to the monthly subscription (access to more shit), because I realized that my mental health + wellness is key to my overall self + wealth. 

P.P.S. Watch the movie "FEEL RICH" - it's on Netflix, honestly just watch it.

CALM AF, BUT ONLY SOMETIMES. 💆🏻
KMV

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Let It Go. The Art of Brushing It Off

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Let It Go. The Art of Brushing It Off

“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice, well, then you’re going to get fucked.”

- Mark Manson

My longtime stylist, who is my fellow Sagittarian soul-brother, always tells me that we are both natural worriers. Although we are broad thinking, optimistic and creative souls, we often get consumed by the most minuscule of details. It's difficult to "let shit go" when you're the type of person who is detail obsessed, need to be in control of particularities, and also have paper thin patience for stupidness. There's rarely a postmortem moment (of a project, a task, or an event) when I'm not over-analyzing every small thing, and going over tiny details in my head. I cringe when I have finalized a print design and the font kerning is 0.0001mm off. I wanna puke when I see post-event photo edits and the food plating I planned is wrong because the caterer used a different serving platter than what I had specified. And don't get me started on the millennial bullshittery that I wanna punch in the face every damn day. I admit, "letting shit go" is difficult to do if you're borderline OCD (borderline neurotic, borderline clusterfuck... but who's judging) and I'm still learning. But, I'm committed to being more patient, learning the art of brushing it off and giving zero fucks about things that really don't matter. To be honest, the older I get, the less and less patience I have - but the more I practice constructive ways of moving on, the more I realize there are way more important things to give actual fucks about. Like your health, family, inner happiness, world issues, a glass of vintage rosé and a great margherita pizza.

Here are some of my tips that help me brush it off:

MEDITATE, LET IT GO, KEEP IT MOVING.

WRITE THAT SHIT DOWN. ALL OF THE BS, ALL OF THE RANTS + VENTS. PEN TO PAPER THERAPY.

Harness That NEGATIVE Energy Into Productivity.

When In Doubt, Just Sleep. OR GET LAID.

P.S. I have recently read the book 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*uck' by Mark Manson. I suggest you read it. Or not. BUT it is a great read, and I swear I have highlighted and bookmarked the crap out of it. 

LET 👏 THAT 👏 SHIT 👏 GO 👏
KMV

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6 Tips for Influencers and Content Creators on Approaching and Collaborating with Brands

6 Tips for Influencers and Content Creators on Approaching and Collaborating with Brands

Original Guest Post for SEE GIRL WORK Blog


Whether you are a seasoned influencer or just starting out in your blogging career, here are six tips for influencers, content creators, and bloggers on approaching and collaborating with brands.

The Brand-Influencer collabo is a powerful thing.
It’s a key component of any brand marketing strategy that reaches target audiences in a personable and organic way, while at the same time, helps to build an influencer’s portfolio of content and credibility.

For influencers, the right approach and the right pitch is important when starting communication with any brand.

As the Director of Creative and Marketing for MaskerAide Inc., a Canadian skincare company whose brands include MaskerAide and washbeautyco. by MaskerAide, I see A LOT of pitches for collaborations come across my desk — some are great, and some not so great.

Regardless of how small or large a brand may be, it is always important to approach companies in a professional manner. As we grow as a beauty brand, we continue to regularly work with collaborators, and more importantly, maintain relationships with influencers that can grow with the brand and create content that we can both be proud to share.

With over 16 years of experience in communications, marketing, and project management, I know maintaining and nurturing relationships is vital in any industry, especially the social media sector. That said, as an influencer looking to connect with brands like us, here are my 6 tips for approaching brands for collaborations:

1. Stand Out. First Impressions Count

“I have 20K followers, want to collaborate?”

I get hundreds of these ‘let’s collab’ emails on a regular basis, and to be honest, I skip over the majority of them that are generic, super short and don’t mention our brand or products at all. I can tell right way that: a) this person is just fishing for any brand to work with them, regardless of how it relates to their personal brand or blog; and b) they aren’t putting much effort into their first impression and point of contact, and probably won’t put as much effort into an actual collaboration. Hard pass.

I always do first pass checks of all their social media accounts before engaging in conversations. If you state in your email that you are a beauty influencer, but your Instagram account is a mish-mash of poorly photographed beauty products, your dog, random memes and fake followers… or if your Twitter account is a bunch of retweets and rants about non-beauty related topics, chances are I won’t be inclined to work with you.

Just like applying for jobs, your resume and cover letter (in this case, your introduction email and media kit), need to stand out and make a great first impression.

Do your brand research, be professional, concise, and make sure your social platforms are presented in a way that you want your potential brand collaborators to see. I am not always looking for someone with 100K followers — quality content and consistency in content will always make a better first impression, so make it count.

P.S. Spelling is important! This is more of a pet peeve for me but happens way too often. It’s common sense. Spell the brand name right, spell my name right.

2. Create a Media Kit.

A Media Kit is key and communicates your personal brand and details in a polished, concise way. At a minimum, your Media Kit should show: WHO you are, WHAT your focus and demographics are, WHERE we can find your social media channels, a current snapshot of your follower/subscriber/page view count, and your rates.

It also helps to list some brands you have previously worked with, including links to content you have created, so brands can see examples of past collaborations. If you don’t have a Media Kit, create one (1-2 page PDF or one that is accessible online or in the cloud) — you’ll be thankful once you have one.

3. Be Upfront about the Compensation (Monetary, In-Kind Product or Otherwise).

This is Business 101. Be upfront regarding compensation, whether it be monetary or in the form of in-kind products or services. Brands will either decline, agree, or start a negotiation — which is why it is a good idea to put your suggested rates in your Media Kit so it can act as a starting point for your potential collaboration agreement.

4. Be You. Be Authentic

I know this sounds overplayed and you’ve heard it before… BUT, authenticity and individuality matter to brands. Just like yourselves, brands are also building their ideal audience, and most brands will agree that working with influencers and bloggers to create quality, authentic content and interactions is key for organic growth and overall brand retention.

We are all storytelling, and we are all looking to make connections on authentic, sometimes emotional levels. No one is looking for robots, and brands should never tell you what your exact captions should be, and how you should pose holding your detox tea.

Be transparent, write captions in your tone, and create content in your style. If you have a unique idea or cool spin you want to pitch to a brand, do it. Not everyone wants the cookie-cutter approach to content. Brands will appreciate it, and most importantly your audience will appreciate it.

5. Request a Campaign or Collaboration Brief.

Following my last point on authenticity and individuality, it is equally important to discuss the collaboration guidelines with the brand to get an overview of the objective, goals, and deliverables. This is important because it sets the expectations for both parties. Although some guidelines may be very loose (like receiving products and/or monetary compensation in exchange for a sponsored blog review or Instagram post), some social campaigns and collaborations have specifics in terms of: the platform deliverable (example: Instagram only, multi-channel, a Snap story etc.), deadlines, and the trackable data (example: certain hashtags or affiliate links).

Brands may have certain marketing campaigns that may revolve around a new product launch, a charity initiative, holiday activations etc., so it is always good to ask if there are specific campaigns or current social initiatives the brand is doing, that you may or may not want to participate in.

6. Stay In Contact. We’re in it for the Long Game.

Some of our best brand advocates are the bloggers and influencers we’ve stayed in contact with. These are individuals who are genuine fans of the brand and products and have worked with us on product reviews, content creation, and collaborations. Keeping in touch, whether it be through social media interactions, emails or going for coffee (or cocktails) is key to maintaining good business.

Building relationships with brands (and also vice versa), will strengthen your credibility and open up future opportunities with the brand.

As brands grow and expand, maintaining and nurturing relationships with its core group of supporters and influencers is super important. I’ve always been a fan of Jim Collins’ quote in his book Good to Great: Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” We are all in it for the long game, and we all want to grow and succeed with the right people — so stay in touch with brands you genuinely support and want to continue working with, you never know what opportunities may open up.


Originally posted on See Girl Work. See Original Post Link here >

Love is a personal journey.

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Love is a personal journey.

"I've always loved the idea of not being what people expect me to be."

-Dita Von Teese

I often get many questions about my love life, and why I don't put importance on getting married, having kids, and doing the things the typical person of my age (mid-late 30's) should be doing or caring about. The thing is, I really don't care for it. And it's not because I don't believe in it, and I certainly don't think other people shouldn't choose these life paths, it's just that I don't put so much of a focus on it as others. It just means that I'm comfortable with stepping outside of the typical 'love/life path', and forging my own path.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in love. In fact, I love, love. I enjoy the love feeling, the kindred spirit of love, and being overcome with love. I’ve had my share of first loves, lust that I thought was love, heartbreaking love and grown-up love. Love is personal, and everyone experiences it differently.

Personal journey's are all different, and with mine I've realized what love means to me. To me it's not the grand gestures, or diamond engagement rings, or being constantly attached at the hip to your significant other in perfect vlog-worthy moments. To me, it's sharing private moments, and feeling inner happiness. It's not about showing off your relationship on the gram, but rather keeping it close and intimate. It's not even about the physical act of saying 'I love you', it's the way someone shows you love, without saying a thing. If you know me, as I've gotten older I tend to separate my love life, personal life, work life and family life. And for me it works. For some people, they can't bare the idea of not meshing everything together. But in terms of me and my journey, the separation helps me stay balanced and focused.

The thought of being referred to as a 'duo', turns me off. The fact that people get worried or concerned if you show up to events solo, is mind boggling. I am comfortable in my own solo skin, regardless if I am in a relationship or single. When did people in relationships stop being their own, singular, standalone person? I have been there, and done that. And truthfully I am thankful I did, because now looking back at it, I know what I don't want. What I do want is to stay defined as my own person. I need a lot of space - to breathe, to run, to love on my own terms.

It's OK to love differently. It's OK to not want the basic definition of love. It's OK to not fall into 'the natural progression of relationships is marriage then kids'.

If you are the kind of couple that wants to Goldie-Hawn-and-Kurt-Russell it (a long-term companionship with no official marriage), then go for it, it's more than OK. If you fall in-and-out of lust and situationships, that's OK too. Just because the outside world can't handle the way you love in a not-so-familiar way, only reinforces the fact that you're being YOU. In general, people don't handle non-traditional ideas very well. They reject it at first, because they really don't know how to react, because there isn't a precedence for how they should react. If a couple decides to make a mutual life choice to not have children, the majority of the basic population out there cannot process the idea of this in a positive way. That's normal. Being comfortable in how you love is a beautiful thing. Embrace it.

Always be YOU, and don't settle for what you THINK is the right path. LOVE how you want, you'll be happier for it. 

❤️ KMV

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