It’s that time to review how the past year went, but instead of doing my usual 10 Questions blog I thought I’d recap what’s been an amazing decade in photos. I tried to pick out just one photo each year for the last 10 years to encompass the best moments but it was pretty much impossible, plus I didn’t have photos for everything.
In reviewing the decade’s moments, I’ve realized how blessed I’ve been to have amazing memories with family and friends, often experiencing music with them, travelling, being a part of a community in Vancouver, and of course, hitting some personal milestones. If this decade is a sign of what’s to come as I enter my 40’s in the next few years, I’m excited!
2010: Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver
I can still feel the moment when the Canadian Men’s Hockey Team was playing for the gold medal. We were watching with friends at Heineken House in Richmond, and you could feel the tension in the air as the game was tied up and we went into “sudden death” overtime. I remember seeing Sidney Crosby toss the puck into the goal, and the place erupted. I managed to take video, but this photo of Leo in motion is everything.
My first niece Aaliyah is born
My sister gave birth for the first time to my niece Aaliyah in September of 2010. Since then I’ve enjoyed every second being an auntie, and am lucky that they don’t live very far so I’ve gotten to see her grow up into a fun, smart, caring, and talented girl.
Best moment without a photo: In 2010, I was invited to be a part of the third edition of the CRAVE Vancouver Guide. It was the first time they had a B2B business section, where Danielle LaPorte was also featured, and my CRAVE testimonial made it on the back cover along with VITA Daily’s.
2011: Seeing Prince in concert
When I found out Prince was coming to town, I automatically assumed concert tickets to see this legendary artist would be out of reach. Thanks to my music-loving friend Alexis, we scored $30 balcony tickets. She’s great for knowing about encores, and we noticed that most people had left just after (even before) the first encore. By the second encore, everyone in our entire row had left, leaving us room to dance freely. They brought the house lights up so you could see all of his female band members and it was like they were playing in our living room. This isn’t the greatest quality photo, but that stage reminds me of one of the best concerts I’ll ever have attended in my life.
2012: Birthday sushi dinner at Tokyo’s Kyubey
For my 30th birthday, my mom-in-law took Leo and I to Tokyo for a week. On that trip, I was able to see old friends living in Japan, and meet up with my uncle and aunt. If that alone wasn’t an amazing experience, her good friend Yoshiomi Tamai (Founder and President of an amazing non-profit, Ashinaga) took us to Kyubey, a small 12-seat or so restaurant in the Ginza area of Tokyo, for an authentic sushi dinner. I might have sat in the same seat as a Hollywood celebrity, but one of the best moments of that night was when the owner Yosuke Imada came out and showed everyone his Wall Street Journal article.
30th in Las Vegas with the crew
Later that year, my friends and I took a trip down to Bellingham and hopped on an Allegiant Air flight to celebrate turning 30 in Vegas together. I was a lot more controlled than when we were there five years earlier, but there was still a lot of alcohol had by all, and this photo of some of my crew walking in bare feet through one of the casinos around 3am says it all. I think that was the last time I wore a dress to a nightclub as well.
Best moment without a photo: Launching Conscious PR
Four years after starting my public relations business and a few years after getting the intuition to work for clients with social/environmental impact, I acted on the spiritual ‘download’ I got in late 2011. With the help of graphic and web designers, I launched the new brand in 2012 that would allow me to earn more, learn how to be a leader, and increase the impact of my work.
2013: Moving in with Leo
In February of 2013, my sister’s brand new basement suite was open for business and Leo and I both left our nests to experience living together. Paying minimal rent with a family discount, I had expected to save up for a good five years before we could afford to move into a condo. That plan would accelerate a lot faster when his mom decided to sell her home and give us the ability to buy a new house in Vancouver. This was just before properties in the city rose to more than $1 million, so we got in just at the right time, and are able to rent out our basement suite to help us pay for our mortgage. The photo below is with family at our housewarming in the Fall and I love that my aunt still had the time stamp setting on her digital camera.
Laser Eye Surgery
On a snowy day in late 2013, I made what I call the best financial purchase of my life by getting laser eye surgery at Lasik MD. That day was spent with some plastic vintage-looking sunglasses, listening to the audio book for Touch the Sky, and putting a ton of eyedrops in. But look how happy I am at my vision!
2014: Completing my paternal grandfather’s biography
Around the time my grandfather would have turned 100, I printed what would become an heirloom for generations of my family to come: A collaborative biography of his life. Taking a few years to complete with help from family members to write and edit the text and collect and scan hundreds of photos and documents, this project showed me not only how amazing my grandfather was when he was younger, but also what my family and I were capable of completing together.
Below is a great photo of him I got from his nephew and wife, which is on the inside back cover of the book.
Dancewalking with Tree
In 2013, I met the force that is Theresa “Tree” Walsh and about a year later got to work with her on the very first G Day in Vancouver. That year, Tree resurrected her dance walking activity along Commercial Drive, and it was one of the most vulnerable but thrilling days I’ve had. Armed with a juiced up speaker, she led a train of dance walkers from Broadway to 6th Avenue, and back. There aren’t very many women I know with extensive knowledge of old school 80’s and 90’s music, but she’s one of them.
Best moment without a photo: SVI Hollyhock
In September of that year, I attended the Social Venture Institute Conference at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, which is a very special place. One of the moments I’ll never forget is when I went for a swim in the ocean, and saw two men having a conversation about what looked like serious business. After shaking hands, one of the men returned to camp while the other stripped bare naked and dove into the ocean. Only at Hollyhock.
Photo: Gail Ignacio
2015: Launching Rescued Clothing Co
This year, my sister and I did what we’ve been talking about since I had started Conscious PR: launched a side biz together. It was the first time we took a stab at a product and while it never made us any money, it allowed us to flex our creativity, upcycle a whole bunch of t-shirts and fabric, and test out a working relationship. I discovered that I’m a pretty damn good stylist, and love the look above that was produced with one of Leo’s ball caps and my sis’s international student’s skateboard.
Say Hi to a Stranger – Third edition
In 2015 Conscious PR sponsored the second and third editions of Say Hi to a Stranger, founded by my colleague Kaare Long (centre, below) in 2013. We learned from the Spring edition that our volunteers needed t-shirts (thanks, The Print Doctor!), and the summer weather not only cooperated with us but made it a bit easier for strangers to welcome our hellos. I said the most amount of “hi”s in my life and talked to a diverse range of people that reminded me how easy it is to create community, just by saying “hi.”
2016: Chantal is born
In March 2016 my sister had her second child, Chantal. She’s the baby on the very left (with her older six YO sister Aaliyah), along with her cousins Mila and Gavin on the right. I don’t know who took this photo, but it’s gold.
Leo and I got married at University Women’s Club at Hycroft, the venue of my dreams. The photographer of my dreams, Tomasz Wagner, took some of my fav photos of the decade, honouring our families and fulfilling my personal photo dream of a Vanity Fair-worthy shot of our bridal party.
After getting married, I knew that changing my surname to my married name would be a good opportunity to reinvent my personal brand. I took new headshots shortly after the wedding so I could take advantage of my newly coloured hair. Heather Pennell took brilliant photos (with creative direction from Azalea Moen) that were suitable for both business and personal purposes. What I love about the header photo (above) is that it was taken on a bridge at Vanier Park, as if to symbolize bridging my work and new personal life, and during a moment when I felt the most natural and wasn’t trying so hard to smile or pose.
2017: Journals by Me
Volunteering at The Art of Leadership Conference in Fall 2016 fired up my intuition in a big way and one of those ways ended up manifesting in an idea for journals with bold covers. It’s another creation that didn’t become a money maker, but it’s definitely a product that came from the most creative depths of my soul, something that Spirit told me to launch one Saturday morning in November. I had photos taken of them and above is one of my favourites of my best-selling journal.
Honeymoon in New York City
Getting married gave Leo and I the opportunity to travel where we’ve always dreamed of visiting: NYC. On the anniversary of our first official date, we ate smoked meat sandwiches at the legendary Katz’s Deli. I was also able to re-create a photo of my grandfather which he took at the top of the Empire State Building in 1950. It was also the trip I decided I had the best seafood meal of my life and would officially become vegetarian.
Best moment without a photo: Launching this website.
Best moment without a photo: My second trip to the SVI Conference at Hollyhock in 2017, when I was re-introduced to Andrea Curtis and Adrian Sinclair, who spoke about their need for marketing & communications experts on the Board of Directors for the Vancouver Mural Festival (which IMO, is one of the coolest arts & culture festivals in our city’s history). I was elected to the Board in 2018 and am now in my second term on the board as Secretary.
2018: Romeo’s legendary birthday party
In Fall 2018, my friend Romeo hosted his birthday party and our baker friend Crissa was back in Vancouver for a year so she made a cannabis-inspired cake in his honour. Not having been to a great house party in a really long time, this one was definitely for the books as it would be when I was introduced to K-Pop bands and tried vaping for the first time.
Best moment without a photo: In March, I discovered I was sensitive to dairy and it would be the ticket to the vegan diet I’ve always desired. I cleansed for four months starting in April, and then decided I would permanently stop eating dairy, making my 36th birthday the starting point of eating a fully vegan diet.
I also decided to close Conscious PR in the summer, and was fortunate to make connections that led me to contract work for some great female-led businesses at the end of last year. It also allowed me to start dreaming about potential careers again.
2019: Launching my first book
In 2017 I’d written and edited the first draft of The Only PR Guide You’ll Ever Need, intending to launch it sometime a year later after rebranding and re-launching Conscious PR. When that didn’t happen, I struggled whether the book was worth still publishing, and am so glad I did it because I was able to experience the process of self-publishing, have another product to build on my personal brand, and fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a real bonafide author!
Richelle & Nicky’s wedding, AKA #NickElleinMTL
The photo below came in just in time, and I’m so proud and grateful that my cousin not only got married in Montreal to give hubs and I an excuse to travel there, but we were able to reunite and meet with new family members on the East coast and get this dream shot of all of us! It would have been an even bigger photo with the rest of the West coast and Chicago contingent, but we may not have all fit, haha!
Photo: Brent Calis Photography
Best moment without a photo: Discovering I have hypochlorhydria, which is the cause of the digestive issues I experienced this past decade, but also crucial to my journey to eating vegan.
Best moment without a photo: All of the small moments I’ve spent with Leo, who’s evolved over 12 years from a friend to my boyfriend to life partner. I’m hoping we can do a lot more travelling in this next decade, but even the days and nights we spend relaxing at home and watching TV or movies remind me of how full my life is and that it’s often the little things that mean a lot, rather than the big experiences.