NYFW: How fashion helped feed the homeless

Every second, it’s estimated that 11 million bits of information are transmitted to our brains. There is just not enough time or energy to care about everything, so we prioritize based on what we need or what we're willing to give. This is why I find it brilliant to group business and philanthropy; essentially, giving and gaining simultaneously.


In response to New York City’s homelessness, Jordana Guimaraes started The Nylon Project - an initiative that included a New York Fashion Week runway show and event designed to help raise awareness and funds. The launch of the #ItCanBeYou campaign was held at the popular nightlife spot The Delancey in Manhattan and featured influencers and celebrities from the US and Canada.

The success of this event and campaign was based on Jordana's ability to find out where people were paying attention (New York Fashion Week) and placing her project in the centre of it. The masses are already interested in attending fashion shows; dressing up, mingling with celebrities, and taking photos. Why not bring fundraising opportunities directly to them?

Perhaps it’s fanciful to be discussing fashion in the face of the city’s most neglected. Or perhaps the project conceptualizes what it means to help the homeless by finding an accessible approach to raising money. Fifty percent of the proceeds from sponsorships and runway show ticket sales were used to fund this initiative - a total of $12,500.

The February 7 fashion show featured 25 influencers, myself included, who walked the runway wearing sponsored brands. The money raised will provide the homeless with 1,500 meals and clothing to prepare them for a job interview.

New York City homeless shelters have seen a surge in recent years. In a city of 8.5 million people, more than 58,000 homeless men, women, and children sleep in homeless shelters. For some perspective, if Yankee Stadium offered seats to all the homeless in New York, there would be thousands of people still standing.

The shelter population in New York has been growing over the last several years. But why that is happening — and what to do about it — are a matter of dispute.

While mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is building and preserving affordable units, Jordana is heading out with food funded by the NYFW event. The rest of us participating in this project will continue advocating for change in New York, Vancouver, and London. We do what we can although the process can feel overwhelming, like trying to fill a pothole in what's really a crater.

Nonetheless, it's a start. 

Fashion may not curb homelessness, but it can certainly serve as a means to put positive change in motion. By getting creative with solutions and tapping into markets with established followers and appeal - such as fashion and entertainment - it opens up the sphere of possibility to combat a growing problem. Only then are we in a position to understand the success and significance of something like The Nylon Project. 


The Nylon Project details:

Celebrities in attendance included Christina Milian, Jenni Farley (JWOWW), Wé McDonald of Season 11 of The Voice, Gender Capitalist Rain Dove, Peter Madrigal of Vanderpump Rules, Miss New York 2016 Nicole Kulovany, Rachel Lynch of I Hate Blonde.

Sponsored brands included Anje Clothing, Belle Fare, Fair Harbor, JayDee, Eternal Springs, SCRD, Wild Mantle, SoFrancisco, Karli Buxton, The Valencia, Mana Made Jewelry, Lonewolf Collective, HERO New York, Conscious Step, Mr. Custom Made, ARMARIUM, House of Eleven and Alkemi Collective.

Other sponsors included Christo Fifth Avenue + Guilty Beauty Gal – responsible for all make-up & hair as well as Latoya Mcleary responsible for styling the show.

Digital sponsor StayFilm created a platform in which everyone can use moving forward to assemble images & videos of what they’re doing to aid the homeless in their community and turn it into a video which can be shared on social media via our #ItCanBeYou.


For more information on The Nylon Project go to: https://www.facebook.com/thenylonproject1/

Tweet The Nylon Project : @nylon_project

Instagram: @thenylonproject1

Hooray! A beer cocktail that doesn't taste like death by sugar.

It's the buzz of a beer and the flavour of a cocktail without the sugar - seriously. 

If we can somehow comprehend beer infused with marijuana, then beer that emulates a cocktail doesn’t feel so farfetched.

Introducing Ascot Beer Cocktail Company – a unique line of beer cocktails that uses natural ingredients.
 
Backed by twenty years of bartending experience, Nick Devine is the mastermind behind the balanced brews. As a partner in the successful Cascade Company, which owns The Cascade Room, El Camino’s, The Union, Charlie’s Little Italian, as well as Main Street Brewing (where the beer cocktails are currently sold) Devine is no stranger to designing cocktails that appeal the masses. 

“I wanted to create a line of beer cocktails using fresh, quality ingredients that were approachable and convenient and delivered on taste,” he says.

In the case of his two current concoctions – No. 1 Mojito and No. 2 Paloma – it’s mission accomplished.

Three-parts beer to one-part juice, each blend encapsulates the sophistication of a cocktail with the crushable nature of a beer.  

The mojito features mint leaves muddled with cane sugar, citrus oils and spearmint oils, and fresh lime juice blended with premium craft beer. The Paloma, which is usually a tequila-based cocktail, is sweetened with blue agave syrup, fresh squeezed pink grapefruit, lime, and a pinch of salt, all added to premium craft beer.

New flavours are also on the horizon, including Devine’s take on the rum-based cocktail Dark ‘n’ Stormy. To emulate the rum he will add a touch of molasses with the cane sugar, fresh ginger, ginger extract, and lime juice, again with a craft beer base.

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Both the Paloma and Mojito are quite high in alcohol content, finishing at 7.5%. With a malty backdrop and a pop of flavour that mimics the cocktail (citrusy or minty) the drink is lower on the sugary-sweet scale than I had assumed. You can also mix it with a weaker lager or a Mexican beer if you are inclined to enhance the flavour of beer.

I enjoyed it as is.

One of Devine’s biggest challenges in the process of bottling his beer cocktails was figuring out how to keep the flavours of the cocktail from fading over time.

“It's the oils," he says. "They are meant to enhance the natural flavours and keep them prominent when it sits in the bottle. 

One might assume that such a product would have beer-lovers cringing like vampires in daylight upon heading the word 'cocktail.' But those fears are quickly dismantled when the cap pops off. With a hint of a classic cocktail at the forefront (without the whoosh of sugar) followed by a malty finish, even the most stringent beer-drinkers will find the flavours pleasing. 

“When we opened Main Street Brewing two years ago, my focus shifted to using beer as the base instead of spirits, and was so taken with the results, that I never looked back.”

Well played, Devine. 

The Mojito and Paloma are currently available exclusively at Main Street Brewing, both in the Tasting Room and Retail Store, located at 261 East 7th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.

Why TrendVancouver is the must-attend networking event in October.

Networking can sometimes be downright unfulfilling – or terrifying if you aren’t inclined to striking up conversations with strangers. I’ve attended hundreds of events and one thing I’ve learned about the art of networking is that it matters. It’s actually a pretty big deal. How else can you expect to meet people who can offer mentorship, personally help with your business and ideas, or at least put you in touch with the someone who can?

But in a world of exchanging business cards and forced small talk, TRENDVancouver is anything but your typical networking event.

It's the first ever event that combines boutique shopping with business networking opportunities by bringing together 35 carefully curated vendors. The business-suit woman, the new mom looking to start working again, and the entrepreneur who needs a little extra push, are all going to walk away with something of value.

That's rare.

TRENDVancouver is focused on catering to what co-founders Shannon Lorenz and Christina Petry have dubbed “the modern day woman”- someone both stylish and business-savvy. For this reason, they have established partnerships with a range of vendors, including The Juice Truck, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Fine Finds Boutique, Urban Barn and Lash Fabulous.

Event participants will have the opportunity to peruse retail pop-ups, enjoy a beauty treatment or relax at the Sparkling Hill Resort bar.

Local celebrity and style icon, Fiona Forbes will be co-hosting the event with a number of well-known Vancouverites including, Matthew McCormick, who was recently named 2016 Designer of the Year by Western Living.

“We really thought about what the modern day woman would be looking for in an event and broke it into five categories: style, wellness, beauty, connection, and home,” explains Lorenz. "We also have a Mentor Lounge because we wanted to make sure there was stimulating conversations coming from the event.”

And maybe therein lies the difference between this event and one of the many, many others in Vancouver. With five categories highlighted under one roof, surely you’re going to walk away with an applicable skill, an outfit for the office, or a kickass new contact in your phone. 

“More than anything, this is an intimate experience to make awesome female connections,” says Petry.

Whenever I feel like I'm dragging my feet to a networking event I always try to keep one thing in mind: could this be the one?

We've all heard of six degrees of separation, the theory that contends you are just six introductions away from any other person on the planet. To think that we are bound to everyone by a trail of six people, any one of whom could change our life – isn’t that’s worth networking for?

Or, in the case of TRENDVancouver, at the very least show up and shop your heart out. 

Admission is $25 with $5 per ticket benefitting Dress for Success Vancouver - a non-profit organization that empowers and supports women in both work and in life.


TRENDVancouver 2016

Where: Yaletown Roundhouse Community Centre – 181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver

When: Sunday, October 2; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets: $25. Click here for tickets.


Credits:

Black and White photo

Photograpy-The Collective You @thecollectiveyou
Makeup, Hair & Styling for Shannon & Christina - Red Carpet Ready by Christina @rcrbychristina
Clothing-Fine Finds Boutique @finefindsboutique

Color Photos

Photography-Ainsley Rose @ainsley_rose

Shannon:
Makeup: Anna Riese of La Biosthetique Canada @annariese @labiosthetiquecanada
Hair-Red Carpet Ready by Christina @rcrbychristina
Outfit-BCBGMAXAZRIA @bcbgmaxazria

Christina:
Outfit-BCBGMAXAZRIA @bcbgmaxazria

Stop asking me what my dream job is.

My most secret fear, at least according to my zodiac sign, is the fear of making decisions. 

Well that's not so secret to me and it’s taken a long time to feel comfortable about it. Actually, that’s not entirely true. But it’s a good place to start.  

Have you ever been asked the question "what is your dream job?"

Last week I was asked four times. FOUR TIMES. 

And each time my response was enthusiastic but different, and delivered more like the answer to a game show question: An anchor! A freelance journalist who travels the world! A news reporter! Ooh, ooh, I got it: host of my own show! 

But the only answer that actually felt right was: I don't know.

I don’t know if there is one job for me.

But when I say that, I am met with the same look I get when people ask me when I’m getting married or when I plan on having kids, like they know something I don’t about the way life works, like they have The Checklist in their back pocket and are ready to whip it out and say “the clock is ticking” as if that is a perfectly reasonable response. 

And that's when I wonder if I could be using my time machine more effectively. Perhaps, to avoid conversations like this. 

Yes, some people have one goal in mind and they pursue that goal like an arrow. I operate more like an explosion: pieces of myself flung every which way, some that will miss the mark and others that will hit a bull’s-eye.

But don’t confuse my shrapnel-like indecisiveness for idleness.

The decisions I have made consist of waking up every day and putting many wheels in motion. I’m interested in so many things that I have a hard time imagining myself doing one thing, let alone the same thing every day. 

When I do become interested in something, it's all consuming. Opportunities have lead to fulfilling jobs because I say yes. I lean in. I want it all.  

And the thing is, I become pretty good at whatever it is I’m doing.

But then...

I start to get bored. And I go on to learn something else.

Last month I was absolutely sure I needed to learn astronomy to improve my writing. Before that I was studying to be a Scrabble champion. And before that? It was time to write a book.  

It's all been within the realm of journalism, but it's always changing, an ebb and flow branching back to my childhood.

At six-years-old, I was so feverish to write that when my mom gifted me an old typewriter, and that typewriter ran out of paper, I tried to jam cardboard into it so I could keep writing. 

The tendency to become a momentary expert of something before its abrupt abandonment doesn't give me any anxiety. What does, is when I'm asked the question over and over again: what’s your dream job?

By now, I think you know why this question is problematic. 

I feel like I am merrily floating down the river of life, enjoying the variety of opportunities coming my way, when someone puts a waterfall up ahead and tells me if I don’t decide by 30 exactly what it is I want to do, I will go over the edge and it will be too late. I’ll be just another story of wasted potential, someone who could have been something great but just couldn’t commit to THE DREAM.

I worry that there is something wrong with me, that I will fall behind because I can't decide on that ONE THING, I can't declare to the world in big shiny lights, ta-da, drum roll, that my career choice is...

What is your dream job?

Life suddenly becomes a game of snakes and ladders and I'm slipping because I'm not working towards ONE THING.  

I recently read an article that said you are the designer of your own destiny, and that you get to decide, you must decide, because if you don’t, someone else will. Indecision, it said, is a bad decision.

You know what I think about that?

I think your idea of destiny is bullshit. The idea that we need to figure out our one path, our one true calling, and ride it out until retirement drives me crazy.

It’s those expectations that ruin potential.

I thought that maybe one day there would be this magical fork in the road that would force me to make a concrete decision: do you want to go this way or that way?

Even now at the age of twenty-six, I have encountered no such fork. 

But after getting asked so many times about this “dream job," I started to think that maybe I couldn’thave it all. Maybe I had to choose one door. Walk one path. A stable 9-5 might make me happy. A job title without a slash. Consistency. A steady paycheque. Maybe it's time to put that one chosen career up high like a star on top of a Christmas tree and spend my life figuring out how to get there. 

But why can’t I have it all, try it all, be it all? What if a career is more like floating down a river than it is climbing up a ladder?

Maybe instead of asking what my dream job is, ask me if I’m happy? So long as the answer is yes, then I don’t see a problem.

Because I don’t have a fear of making a decision, I have a fear of ending up as someone I’m not because I thought I had to. 

I hate rosé so I decided to drink it with a wine expert

I remember the night I tried my first drink: Smirnoff Ice. I am the fastest human alive I yelled while running drunkenly across an open field in Toronto at twelve years old. I thought it had given me superpowers.

The first time I tried rosé was quite a different memory. I’m at a grungy high school party, it’s late, and my friends aren't there yet, when a stranger offers to pour me some “it-goes-down-like-juice” wine. Since I expect it to taste like lemonade and be instantly intoxicating, I’m like, ya whatever,while leaning against the kitchen counter in my Bootlegger pleather jacket. 

Of course, the wine tastes the way all chilled wine tastes when you’re seventeen and broke: bitter and served disrespectfully at room temperature. A few glasses give me no more than a sugar rush and a wicked hangover; no superpowers.

The disappointment of this introduction was significant enough for me to swear off rosé for years – condemning it to the list of things not to be revisited again, right there among spray tans and Nicholas Sparks novels.

In 2016, we now live in a wine world where, for the first time, North America is producing something unlike the pink sugar-water of my adolescence. Today’s rosés are considered elegant and refreshing.

How I would go about cracking the door back open to the world of rosé started at Vancouver Urban Winery, sitting at a table with its wine director, David Stansfield. The subject of my interview, of course, being VUW’s summer vino trio - three new Okanagan grown, Railtown made wines consisting of a Merlot, a Pinot Gris and VUW’s first-ever Rosé.

  Image provided by Camber Comm

“Remember when we called it blush? It sounds like a lost Prince album. Or white zinfandel, which is neither white nor zinfandel,” Stansfield says of the North American rosé mishap. 

In front of me are three bottles, all considered the perfect introduction to B.C. wines by Stansfield’s standards. A black berry and dark plum, fruit-forward merlot, a pinot gris that has a bit of texture but is more crisp than anything, and the coveted rosé with an alcohol percentage sitting modestly at 10% (less sugar means less alcohol). All three are high in drinkability and low in complexity to appeal the neighbourhood folk; something you can bag up and take back to the party or drink on the walk there. Essentially, wine not to be saved but consumed.

“This,” Stansfield says while swirling his glass, “is an acid-driven, dry, fresh rosé.”

I feel like now is the time to warn him about my rosé-bias.

“I have to warn you,” I say as my glass is poured. “I swore off rosé a long time ago and haven't tried it since.”

He encourages me not to be so narrow-minded. And that was that.

I recently came across an article about an experiment from Columbia University neuroscientist Daniel Salzman, in which he said that no event or object is ever experienced in perfect, objective isolation. It is instead subject to our past experiences, our current mood, our expectations, and any number of incidental details.

My first experience with rosé was nothing short of uncomfortable. Now, nearly a decade later, I have a glass in my hand in the presence of good company, sitting at a table in the rustic settlement building on a beautiful Thursday afternoon.  

If Salzman is right, these emotional associations will, in turn, affect what I taste.

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Stansfield explains that the rosé is made from fruit grown in the calcium-rich soil of the iconic Sperling Estate Vineyard and based on the Provençal-style of rosé (simple, dry, crisp, and fruity without being syrupy-sweet). The pale pink colour gives way to notes of fresh strawberry and grapefruit with a clean finish that’s distinctly B.C. He is proud of how the wine turned out. “It’s pretty rad,” might have been the exact words.

Wine, Stansfield tells me, is a living, breathing thing. You have to take every bottle on its own terms. And so, basking in the ambiance of this moment, I raise the glass to my lips. For whatever reason – viticulture or circumstance - it tastes wonderful.


VANCOUVER URBAN WINERY

The small lot wines are made in-house from 100% Okanagan grapes by Winemaker, Kelly Symonds and Associate Winemaker, Lynzee Schatz. All three summer wines are available exclusively at Vancouver Urban Winery’s boutique, located inside The Settlement Building (55 Dunlevy Ave).

Hours: Monday to Friday 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.

THE SETTLEMENT BUILDING
Phone: +1 (604) 566-9463
Website: www.settlementbuilding.com

SOCIAL MEDIA:
Instagram: @settlementbuilding
Facebook: /The Settlement Building

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First off, who here know the secret to success?

I was asked to be a speaker at the inaugural Sparkle Project event and fundraiser. This is what I said:

First off, who here knows the secret to success?

Me neither.

A matter of fact, I don’t have the answers to most of the big questions and sometimes that really freaks me out.

But I find comfort in what I do have, and those are my stories and the lessons I've learned from them during my short time on this earth - about 9,500 days. By the way, that’s what I’m going to start doing from now on: instead of telling people how old I am, I’m just going to say how many days I’ve been alive and hope they are too lazy to do the math. 

I don’t have much time up here to talk to you and I want to make sure I get to the important things like atoms, and overcoming doubt, and why following your dreams is easier than you think. 

Let’s get started!

Some of you here know me, some of you don’t, and one of you has definitely given birth to me. My mom, she’s right over there. Hi mom, and thanks for coming.

Every time I get asked to speak in front of people, the same thought crosses my mind: why me, what can I offer? And the more time that passes the more I realize it’s not actually about me. I don’t need that kind of pressure! 

This is about you.

Yes, I'll share a bit about what I’ve learned, and through that, hopefully light a fire under you or maybe say something that will help you overcome the fear that’s stopping you from taking the next step in your life. But ultimately, it’s your choice what you do with what I say. These words could live and die here, if you choose to do nothing. 

So here are some of the lessons I’ve learned during my 9,500 days: 

Each day I start from where I am with what I have.

My god isn’t it ever easy to wake up, roll over, and compare our life to others? That gripping panic that you aren’t doing enough can be debilitating! Someone is farther ahead in their career, maybe they have more money, a better house, their relationship seems easier.

But I’m telling you that each day you wake up, you have a few things that are all yours, things that no one can take away from you. 

Grit: Your ability not to give up.   

Instinct: The feeling that guides you, and only you. 

And something I call magic, which is a few things wrapped up in one. First, the willingness to fail.

Think about that: the willingness to fail.

To actually put yourself in a position to jump and have it all go wrong on the way down. More on that later, trust me. 

Next, your magic is your ability to selflessly help others succeed. And finally, the belief that things will always, always get better. Go on and have your bad days, but always believe it will get better.

You know, I had a really bad day recently.

I applied for a full-time position at one of my jobs. A matter of fact, I thought I was going to get the job because I had already been filling in periodically for the past year. I even called up my girlfriends and said, “Friday night, we’re going out to celebrate!

I didn’t get the job.

And not only did I not get the job, but I helped train the girl who did. I did it graciously. I did it willingly. I did it because I want the women around me to succeed. But man was that a hard day. Afterwards, I went home, I got back in bed, I cancelled all my plans, and I didn't move. It was 10 a.m.

And that’s the funny thing about working in morning television, a lot can happen before most people wake up.  

So, I took that day to be sad, but that’s it. The next day I woke up, I stopped feeling sorry for myself, and things slowly got better because I believed they would. 

I ended up getting some great feedback on an article I wrote.

Later that week I got not one, but two, job offers.

As days went on, I felt a sense of clarity because I knew that was no longer my path. Sometimes eliminating an opportunity can be just as liberating as getting one. 

The next lesson I have for you is not to do this alone or selfishly. 

Start doing things for the sake of doing them, not because you are seeking praise. Help others for the sake of being compassionate, not because you want something in return. 

Next: Go outside of your comfort zone.

And before I continue, I know you have probably seen this embroidered on some pillow at your friend’s house. Live, Laugh, Love and life happens at the end of your comfort zone – or whatever. And you are like, okay yes, but what does that even mean?!

I want to tell you a story that I heard once, and to me, this is what "going outside your comfort zone" really is.

Prior to Cortez, several adventurers had come to Mexico, attempted to conquer it, and failed. 

When Cortez came to Mexico, he burnt all the ships in the harbour. His reasoning was that if his men knew that there was no other option but to move forward and conquer, they would do so. 

Other men had always had it in the back of their minds that if things didn’t work out, they could always run back to the ships and sail away.

Now, I’m not encouraging you to literally burn things down, like gee, I want to lose weight so I’m going to set the fridge on fire – no. I’m encouraging you to step so far outside your comfort zone that there is no other way but forward. 

Whatever ships are holding you back or making it easier for you not to move on, burn those. 

Next, and here’s that crazy truth about following your dreams: it is the easiest thing you will ever do.  

Remember how I mentioned instinct? I know you know what it takes to get to where you want to be, it’s just a matter of coming up with a plan and actually doing it.

That doesn’t mean it won’t take hard work. What I’m telling you is that when it does get hard, you will be ready. And when you start to think: there are people way farther ahead than me, there are already so many fashion bloggers, fitness bloggers, better writers, better photographers, and on, and on, and on – you will be able to draw from that reservoir of belief that you are meant to be on this path.  

This is your life. This is your story. Wake up and do something about it.

When doubt creeps in, and it will, when you start to think that maybe you shouldn’t, maybe you can’t, maybe it’s already been done, think this instead: Five years from now is going to happen no matter what. Where will you be if you don’t try?

Begin to see your work in terms of progress, not perfection. Read, learn, find mentors, and don’t ask permission to get started. Don’t even ask permission from yourself, you can’t be trusted not to talk yourself out of it. But that thing, that voice, listen to that when you feel lost or intimidated. 

I’m actually starting to run out of time up here. I was going to tell you a story I recently read about why you should be more like Genghis Khan but there are lots of children here, ya – looking around this is basically a room full of young people - so I’m going to skip that. But parents, if you want to go out for coffee I'll tell you my theory why your kids should be more like Genghis Khan. 

So this next lesson might be my favourite: 

Never stop learning. 

Every week I write down six things that I’ve learned from Monday to Friday. You would be surprised how incredible it is just to see that progress week after week. Becoming actively aware of what you learn by writing it down will make you feel full of ideas, invigorated by the world around you, and it will give you confidence in conversations. 

A matter of fact, I want to close by sharing something I learned recently about atoms. 

Basically, atoms make up absolutely everything around us. They are the basis for everything in the universe since the beginning of time.

You are made of atoms.

And because atoms are so long-lived, it’s believed that every atom you possess has most likely passed through several stars and millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. Isn’t that incredible to think about?

You are made of the same matter that makes up the entire universe, and in turn, the universe is made of you. Because of this, I do believe you attract what you want from the universe from the core of your very being. 

Now, depending on what you believe – and I’m in Abbotsford so I have to be really careful with this – but depending on what you believe, when we die our atoms will move off to find new uses elsewhere – as part of a leaf on a beautiful, tall tree, another human being or animal, perhaps, a drop of dew. 

When I am at my family’s cabin in 100 Mile, the one my Opa built with his own hands before passing away from cancer, I can feel him all around me.

Because atoms go on forever, it has even been suggested that the atoms that make us now, might once have belonged to Shakespeare, or Buddha, or Genghis Khan. 

I tell you this as a reminder of how amazing you are, how powerful you are. And how you should never, ever doubt your ability to do anything that you want to do. You are made of sparkly stars.  

Each day that you wake up, start from where you are with what you have. Because what you have and who you are, is enough.

Thank you. 

Why being 25 was a lesson in failure.

Something happened in 1914 that I think we can all learn a lot from. At the age of 67, a fire engulfed Thomas Edison’s factory, destroying the majority of his life’s work.Meanwhile, Edison’s 24-year-old son, Charles, was busy frantically searching for his father. When he finally found him, Edison was calmly watching the fire, his face lit up by the glow of the flames. 

The next morning, while searching through the rubble, Edison told his son, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.”

During his lifetime, Edison accumulated 2,332 patents worldwide for his inventions, although, he is most famously known for creating the first long-lasting lightbulb. After the fire destroyed much of his work, he went on to attain nearly 100 more patents before his death at age 84. The point is, he never stopped.

The scary thing is that in order to give ourselves enough opportunities to succeed, we also must accept there is equal opportunity to fail - possibly hundreds of times. Diving in head first is as dangerous as it sounds. 

It's become common practice to stamp a disappointing situation with a hearty "everything happens for a reason." But finding the value in failure is about more than just using a comforting phrase as a bandaid. You have to work to create the reason. 

Throughout the past six months, I have been challenged to see my shortcomings as a gateway to better things. 

From August 2015 – January 2016, I was making more money than I ever had due to some pretty high caliber writing contracts. I felt like I was finally on the cusp of getting paid what I was worth. As the editor of a small team of writers, I was also fulfilling my dream of helping others hone their skills, and as a writer myself, I was receiving encouraging feedback from my own editors. Could things stay this good forever? Of course not. 

It all changed - and quite suddenly - as it often does in the freelance world. A prosperous contract wasn’t renewed because the company decided to go in a different direction, one publication was altogether discontinued, and another decided to put my column on hold – potentially indefinitely. It was three hard blows to my confidence and my bank account in a very short period of time. I was no longer sure of my next step.

In the midst of all this turmoil, I was also vying for a full-time position with CTV as the traffic reporter. Although I made it far in the interview process, I was not offered the job in the end. If there was ever a time to develop a permanent eye twitch, that was probably it. I felt like all the wheels I had set in motion came to a grinding halt and I was shoved from the precipice of my success with only a gorge of uncertainty beneath me. 

Then something wonderful happened. 

In life, there are really only two choices: get better or get worse. I was suddenly forced to consider other opportunities I would have overlooked if I was comfortable. I also started opening myself up to the idea that unexpected change is a good thing. It's also terrifying. But being uncomfortable is probably one of the best things that can happen to a writer – to anyone, really. It keeps you constantly on the hunt for more and always in a position to get better. It might also induce severe and prolonged bouts of panic; po-ta-to, po-ta-to. 

As I go into my 26th year of life, I'd like to say I have the luxury of freedom. Whatever comes next is entirely up to me. That freedom is not easy, don't get me wrong. My days are a tug-of-war between euphoria and doubt, as if one side of my brain is chanting "you got this!" and the other side is saying "today is probably the day it all comes crashing down." 

I don't have a list of "25 things I learned at 25," but what I do have is this: we aren’t supposed to know what comes next, not even close, not even a little bit. Also, being happy all. the. time would be exhausting and is a sign of being a psychopath. Probably. 

I need life to shake me up every now and then so I can evaluate if I truly have a strong foundation. This year was all about finding my footing on that shaky ground, ironing out the kinks, and being OK to start from scratch on any given day.

If Edison can watch his life’s work go up in flames and bask in the heat, I too can look at uncertainty as an opportunity to build again, and maybe even roast some marshmallows while I'm at it. 

Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.
— David Bowie