How to Create an All-Star LinkedIn Profile in 5 Easy Steps

If you’re an entrepreneur, looking for a new job, a second career, wanting to become a recognized thought leader, but aren’t sure you’re profile is the best it can be, then read on!

I recently completed the Learning Linkedin online course through LinkedIn. Then used what I learned to help others update their LinkedIn profiles (even using my photography skills to take a few head shots!). I want to share some of what I’ve learned with you on what you need to do to have a complete and kickass profile.

Do you have an incomplete LinkedIn profile?

I hate to break it to you but quickly throwing up any old photo and doing the bare minimum in terms of completing your profile is not good enough.

If you want to have an amazing LinkedIn profile, first things first, take the time to complete it correctly.  If you’re going to put yourself out there, then it’s probably a good idea to make time to put a solid professional foot forward.  Make sure you’re the image and information you publish is how you want to be seen by others professionally.

(there are over 600 million registered members on LinkedIn btw, and a majority of recruiters use LinkedIn)

Just as important, LinkedIn operates as a search engine. The more complete your profile is, using relevant keywords and phrases targeted to your industry, the more you’ll increase your chances of being discovered by others.

Before we get started on some LinkedIn basics to get your profile looking profesh quickly, you’ll need to TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS so that your connections won’t get updated on changes you make! Trust me, this can be pretty embarrassing.

Alright, now that you’ve done that, here are some simple steps you can take to get your profile looking polished and ready to get noticed.

STEP 1: All eyes will be on the top 1/3 of your profile.  Make sure this section is on point, so people want to learn more about you.

(a) Profile Photo: Make sure your headshot is a sharp, clear and professional-looking image. Notice I said “professional-looking” and not professional.

In my opinion, you don’t have to hire a professional photographer unless you want to (or use that as your excuse for using a photo that does not allow your beautiful personality to shine).

(b) Header: Change out that standard LinkedIn blue background header. You can use customize the header with your own image that aligns with your personal brand and will help your uniqueness shine.

Tip: You can use an app like Canva to find backgrounds that you can also customize to really get something that reflects your style and personal brand.

(c) Headline/ Tagline: You have 120 characters (each section has maximum word counts). Use the header to add relevant keywords or a tagline that tells the viewer something unique about you or the expertise you possess and not just your job title.

STEP 2: Take some time to write a kick-ass Summary

Complete the About section. The first two sentences should be attention-grabbing. You want to see the viewer on why they should want to keep reading. Here’s a summary of word counts for each section.

This section is a “Summary” so try to keep it concise.

The best part of the summary is that this offers the chance to use relevant keywords and phrases that prospective employers or recruiters are searching for.

What relevant keywords should you use? Look at the job postings for positions you are interested in, and you will be able to identify the appropriate keywords and skills that you should be highlighting. Keep in mind that you should highlight skills that you actually have and can prove examples of your work successes (accomplishment statements).

Another strategy for including additional keywords is to add a “Areas of Expertise” section following your summary. You can then list the relevant skills you possess that the prospective employer would be interested in.

STEP 3: Showcase some of the noteworthy accomplishments of your Work Experience.

Don’t just list your job title and move on. This section should line up with the information on your resume.

This provides yet another opportunity to provide searchable keywords and phrases while highlighting significant accomplishments or the relevant skills an employer would be interested in.

Include your previous work experience as far back as you think is sufficient.

STEP 4: Skills section

Be strategic in how you use this section. Make sure that if you are putting an “Areas of Expertise” in your Summary section then those skills should also be in this section.

STEP 5: Make sure you complete the other sections

To finish your profile, you’ll need to complete the rest of these sections. LinkedIn will reward you with an All-star status!

  • Education section
  • Languages
  • Volunteer work
  • Certifications, Training, courses or workshops that would be relevant to the type of role you are targeted
  • Add the Alumni page of your university
  • Follow companies you are interested in (you can follow up to 50 companies)

TIP: It’s important to keep your profile updated and make sure your resume and profile information remain consistent as you make changes.

If you’ve followed these steps, you should have a nicely completed profile that you can be proud of.

I hope you find this information on LinkedIn helpful to get you started on how to set up your profile so that you put your best professional foot forward.

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3 Things I’ve Learned from doing 10 Minutes of Daily Meditation

Woman sitting cross-legged on sofa with eyes closed in meditation

Finding Meditation to Deal with Burn-Out

Yoga and meditation, two practices that I thought were reserved for seniors, hipster moms and hippies. But then again, when I was in my 20s and 30s I thought 40 was really old. Ha! The joke’s on me.

Now, as a woman over 40, I don’t consider myself old and I wish I had been more open-minded of both these mind and body practices years ago.

Meditation, well, this came to me rather recently and out of a need to take of my mental health and wellness. I wanted to find a way to help me cope during my burn-out.

Flatlay of Selfcare magazine and candle

3 Things Meditation Has Taught Me

Lesson #1: Making “me” a priority doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming

For 10 minutes every morning I sit and meditate (or try to meditate as it doesn’t come easy most days). I’ve been doing this for over 200 days straight at the time of writing this post – a personal record!

I used to wake up each morning thinking about all the things that needed to get done that day. I’d be so caught up in the swirl of thoughts and stress that I barely ever noticed when I showered or left the apartment. One minute I was just getting out of bed, next I was at my desk in the office. What happened in between was a blur.

With meditation I’ve made the decision to carve out that time to intentionally slow down. Time to sit, be still and seek to find some sense of calm, clarity, and focus.

This small mindfulness meditation practice has become my morning routine. It’s a self-care practice that I never thought I’d embrace let alone come to rely on as a way to start my day off in a much better way no matter how I’m feeling and particularly when I’m not feeling so great.

Because it’s only a 10 minute meditation practice the time commitment is minimal. It’s way easier than my attempts at committing to regular workouts at the gym (and I never have to worry about sweat ruining my blowout!)

Woman sitting on bed, legs crossed in meditation pose

Lesson #2: Meditation doesn’t have to cost a lot unless you want it

Meditation doesn’t have to be an expensive practice.

When I signed up to join a 5k Running clinic with a friend a few years ago, I went all out and bought new outfits! I’m talking a running jacket – water resistant and with a hood, running tights, new sports bras, pretty tank tops (bright colours were a must), socks and of course new running shoes – I ‘needed’ proper running shoes if I was gonna be a runner.

I convinced myself (didn’t need much convincing) that I needed all that stuff. I simply had to look like a runner even though I knew I hated distance running and had zero desire to enter a race once the clinic was over. My personal best would be to actually stick around long enough to finish the clinic! Yet there I was, looking cute in my running outfit, hating every minute of it, and suffering in silence because I had painful shin splints every single time my feet hit the pavement. Let me also mention the hot mess that was my hair from all that sweating! Black women, you know what I’m talking about. Cha-Ching, more money at the hair salon to deal with the aftermath.

Have you ever decided to sign up for a new activity and then gone all out and splurged in new gear – clothes, tech or even fancy smoothies and energy bars cuz that’s part of the experience? I can’t possibly be the only one who does that?!

Meditation can be no cost or low cost

In my head, this is what my ideal meditation might involve. Fancy candles, a really pretty cushion to sit on, all plush and soft to the touch, never mind that my hips would be screaming bloody murder if I even attempted to sit cross-legged for more than a minute (or long enough to take a photo!).

The thought of setting up a nice little meditation corner in my space sounds exciting, plus the photos in the magazine make it look super chic and very zen. Y’all this is really where my headspace would have been before learning my life lessons from meditation.

All style first and foremost and then the substance after.

Learning to meditate for me so far has cost very little. I took the free trial of two apps first and then decided on the subscription to the Headspace app which I’ve used regularly for well over a year and a half now. I could have probably watched some free YouTube videos as well but I really like Headspace.

With my 10 minute morning meditation routine, I don’t need any fancy props our outfits. It’s just me, myself and I, sitting on a chair in my pjs. I’m only required to bring an open mind, curiosity, patience and a real desire to learn from the practice of mediation.

This no-spend or minimal spend approach to my extracurricular activity was a first for me and I love that I don’t have to think about cool gadgets or stylish workout gear.

This isn’t to say that I won’t spend money on a meditation class in future. I do want to participate in a group learning environment and meet new people but I know I can plan to do the and set aside a budget for it and not fall prey to getting this season’s hot new print for yoga pants.

Lesson #3: Meditation is a Judgement-free zone and being kind to yourself is required

Meditation teaches us to have a non-judgemental attitude starting with how we relate to ourselves. Surprisingly, this has been one of the biggest and hardest lesson for me to learn so far.

With mediation I’m leaning to have more compassion for myself by being more aware of the negative self-talk that happens say, when my mind wanders during the mediation or if I have self-doubt about whether I’m doing it right, or if I’m simply not in the mood that day to meditate. It’s about being kind to myself, saying “it’s ok” if it’s not working out today. I can try again tomorrow. I’m trying and that’s a good thing.

Self-love and self-compassion sounds simple and a no-brainer but it doesn’t come easy for a lot of people, myself included. It’s a work in progress but it is one of my favourite lessons from the practice that I go back to regularly when things get hard.

Final Words

I’ve only provided three lessons here but I find with each daily meditation session I learn something new, even with sessions I repeat. I now appreciate why mediation is a life long journey and why it’s still remains such a powerful self-care practice that’s good for the mind, body and spirit.

Peace out!

P.s. I did finish the 5km running clinic and exceeded my personal best by running in the pouring rain during one class …I will never do that again.

Posted in Health and Wellness, lifestyle, selfcare | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Where We Ate in Montreal (Plus Montreal Restaurant Recommendations)

 Eating Out on a Montreal Weekend Getaway 

You’ll probably not get any argument that Montreal’s food scene is amazing and that it really is a foodie’s paradise. Italian, French and Mexican, Pub grub and cafe style! There are great restaurants aplenty in the city and if you failed to make a proper plan like we did on our recent weekend getaway to Montreal, you’ll not be at a loss for find a place to have a good meal.

In case you want some ideas of where to eat, I’m sharing the Montreal restaurants where we ate along with a list of suggestions of where to eat that was shared with us by a friend.

Where We Ate:

On a recent weekend getaway to Montreal, Quebec we didn’t do much planning, the food choices were rather random and based on proximity to where we were at the time. I must say I wasn’t disappointed. But before I get into that, I want to share a couple of tips with you:

Tip 1: Make reservations if you can, even if there are only two of you. I was surprised to see how busy many restaurants were in Old Montreal (the patios for packed)

Tip 2: If there’s only two of you, try to be flexible in where you are seated – at the bar or by some bar stools by window might be available and you may get seated even if you didn’t have a reservation- this happened to us twice and we were seated right away.

Le Warehouse (pub food chain in downtown Montreal)

Wall Art is a rabbit in a suit at Warehouse Restaurant in Montreal

We chose the Warehouse because it was a short walk from the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, our first stop of the morning and was one the only places along a row of restaurants and pubs that was open at the time we were looking to grab a quick bite.

Maison Christian Faure

For the French pastry / any kind of pastry lover in you! We stopped by Maison Christian Faure for some afternoon tea while we were walking around Old Montreal. It’s a chic little cafe with desserts that will make your eyes a big as saucers and may cause you to drool. Talk about a sugar rush! Also, it was just all very pretty to look at.

They also serve lunch as well and from what I spied on the tables beside me, the lunchtime dishes looked as yummy as the desserts.

Inside pastries

We had pastries from the selection on the pastry tray and tea from a variety of teas. Sorry, I cannot recall the names of what we had but seriously, does it matter? Look at the selection! 

We did have to wait for about 10-15 minutes for a seat. It was around the afternoon rush hour so seating was limited and the place was busy. 

The service was efficient and friendly. They also had a takeaway counter – I noticed people coming in to get macaroons and cakes to-go.

Pizzeria Mangiafoco – Mozzarella Bar

(Located in Old Montreal)  Great vibe and fast service. There was a live DJ but the music was just right (not too loud), the place was busy and pizza really good.


Tasty Mexican food in a lively atmosphere (also has a small side-walk patio). We arrived at 6:30 pm on a Sunday and without reservations. We were met with a small lineup and the place was already fully booked…almost. We lucked out and since we were a party of 2, they checked and found one table available for 1.5 hour so we jumped on it! We weren’t planning on a late night so it was perfect.

The service was excellent and fast. The food – we opted for tapas – was great! The vibe was lively and casual atmosphere, great spot to have drinks with a small group of friends (with reservations made well ahead of time). 

Olive + Gourmando 

For the brunch lovers out there and the pastries! We enjoyed breakfast very much and regretted not getting a brioche or croissant to go.

Tip for getting a seat at Olive + Gourmando:  The restaurant is not that big and it looks like they also provide to-go service as well so the small entrance way can be lined up with people.

We arrived for breakfast super early on a Sunday morning (they open at 8). We were glad we got there at 8:30 because it quickly started filling by 9:00 and people were still coming. I was told the brioche comes out at 9:30 or so – if you wanted brioche for breakfast you’ll have to wait.


I know, I know, I’m awesome! Here is an additional list of restaurants in Montreal that was recommended to us for our recent trip. Ok, so I cannot take any credit for the actual list. We also didn’t get a chance to check out the restaurants on the list either.

I’m sharing the list of restaurants in Montreal because I have the list and it’d be shame not to share it with you guys and also I wish I had access to the list like this whenever I travel – recommendations from friends of friends who’ve actually eaten at some of these places. It would be a nice starting point for my own research. I hope you find this useful as well.

Brunch | Lunch


Crew Collective & Cafe

Olive + Gourmando


Garde Manger

Bocata – Restaurant and Wine Bar

Au Pied de Cochon

Patios | Terraces

Montreal Poutine

Pub BreWskey

Terrasse Sur L’Auberge

Again, I’d suggest you call head and make reservations if possible, especially if you are a party of more than one and it’s a popular spot. Alternatively, go early or prepare to wait. In any event, I’m sure you’ll find great food to enjoy as much as we did.

Bon appétit!

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6 Things You Can Do On Your First Montreal Weekend Getaway

Woman standing in front of a giant Ferris Wheel in Old Port Montreal
Old Port, Montreal

Taking A 2 Day City Break in Montreal

It was Victoria Day long weekend for us. It signals that Summer is Coming! It’s a time when families are headed to the cottage, others take the kids to Canada’s Wonderland, and if the weather is decent we all expect sunshine and some serious fireworks to celebrate the holiday.

This year we took advantage of the 3-day weekend went to do a city break in Montreal, Quebec (in Quebec it is National Patriotes Day on May 20th).

There was rain in the forecast for the weekend and we had our fingers crossed they got it wrong! Whether rain or sunshine a few days in Montreal provides opportunities to have a great time. It’s Montreal after all. It’s a great city, lots of art, culture, interesting architecture, shopping and great food (ahhh, the pastries!).

Keeping Montreal Weekend Trip Planning Simple

This was not really a planned trip. It was planned in that we bought tickets a couple weeks before we left and only because we decided to see the Thierry Mugler exhibit at The Montreal Museum of Fine Art (Musée des Beaux-Artes).

We weren’t too committed to ‘doing’ much and content with taking a slow, relaxed unplanned approach to the two days we had in the city.

I checked out a few sites for tips and put together a simple itinerary that included more museums because of the weather. We also asked friends for a list of recommendations for places to eat and decided not to make this a ‘shopping’ trip – we’d save that for another time.

We also decided to stick to downtown Montreal and keep it simple. The last time we visited we checkout a few neighbourhoods and that was great but since this was a last minute trip and we weren’t interested in having a jam-packed exhausting time of it, we were keeping the planning simple.

Where We Stayed in Downtown Montreal

Interior lobby seating area of Hotel Bonaventure in Montreal
Hotel Bonaventure, Montreal

We decided to stay at the Hotel Bonaventure

  • It’s about 15-20 minutes drive from the airport (with no traffic),
  • It’s downtown across from the Via Rail train station (if you’re taking the train into the city)
  • Close to a number of metro stations
  • Greenery and pond with ducks
  • Heated outdoor swimming pool

There was a lot of places to sit in the stylish lobby, which was great because I sat out there for hours reading and people watching before dinner.

The hotel staff was friendly, check in was easy and the Concierge we met was so knowledgeable and friendly.

We would definitely stay there again.

6 Things to Do in Montreal in Two Days

#1 : Fashion, Art and History

Two large red heart statutes in front of the Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal

We started the morning at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts to see the Thierry Mugler exhibit.

Tip: We got there around 10:00 am, well before the lineups. It’s was perfect as it gave us ample time to take in the exhibit with just a few other early birds and you can then spend some time explore the rest of the museum.

The exhibit was fantastic, btw. It was a large collection of his designs and images. We kept moving from room to room to room. I wasn’t expecting to see so many items on display and each room having a different theme and experience. I’d highly recommend it.

Image of one of Thierry Muglers designs
Thierry Mugler

#2. Do A Walking Tour

Since we did not have “must see” items on our list except for the Mugler exhibit, we opted to do a walking tour of Old Montreal to get some history, get a little more familiar with the area and basically kill a late afternoon with something to do before dinner.

We were lucky to get the last spots in the last tour of the day (thanks to the Concierge at the hotel – another reason why I like hotel stays). The tour was 1.5 hours well spent.

Interior of the Notre Dame Basilica- Montreal
<a href="http://&lt;!– wp:heading {"level":6} –> <h6></h6> <!– /wp:heading –> <!– wp:paragraph –> <p></p&gt; Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal

#3. Walking around Old Montreal and Old Port (Vieux-Port) on your own (Free)

Woman standing in front of Notre Dame Of Bonsecours Chapel

This is a tourist hotspot and restaurant hub. You can easily spend half a day there, taking a slow stroll on foot or in a horse drawn carriage if that’s your thing, check out some of the historical buildings, buy souvenirs, watch the artists and street performers at work or get ice cream or a drink on a patio at one of the many restaurants. There is something for everyone.

Marché Bonsecours (Free) – in addition to the attractive shiny dome and 100+ year heritage building, Bonsecours Market boasts a number of boutiques for shopping. I may or may not have purchased a watch (shhh!).

#4. Eat, Eat and Eat

Photo of breakfast dish

Montreal is not only known for it’s fashion but also it’s food. There are loads of restaurant options to choose from and at every price point. We saw some skipped the pricey joints and anything requiring we get dressed up (typically on vacay, I like to be out all day walking and exploring, so no wardrobe changes for me once I leave my hotel).

I’ll be sharing another post about where we ate in Montreal so be sure to check that out but here is the quick rundown of the not-so-fancy, but casual dining, and reasonably priced places where we ate:

  • Warehouse
  • Olive & Gourmando
  • Maison Christian Faure
  • Pizzeria Mangiafoco
  • Escondite

#5. Check out the Wax Museum

It was raining pretty hard so decided to check out a few museums. We discovered the Grevin Museum – Wax Museum of Montreal, a museum tucked away on the 5th of The Montreal Eaton Centre shopping mall which made it a little tricky to find. Also like most of Montreal at the time of writing this, parts of the Eaton Centre was being renovated.

This was a fun museum that was not busy so we didn’t have to worry about line-ups or buying tickets in advance. If you’re looking for things to do in Montreal when it’s raining, this isn’t a bad idea. It’s located inside of a mall so you can hang out with celebs and royalty at the museum and then do some shopping.

We also wanted to check out the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal but it was closed until June 2019 so we’ll have to save that for our next visit.

#6. Old Montreal – Vieux-Montréal

We spent an afternoon in Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal) walking around cobblestone streets and watching horse-drawn carriages with tourists pass by. We lucked out on the weather so this was an ideal way to spend time exploring this part of city at a leisurely pace.

There are lots of restaurants, patios, shops in Old Montreal. It’s also near Old Port (where you’ll also find the Ferris Wheel, zip-lining and other amusement park type attractions). You can easily spend the day here.

Horse and carriage rider in Old Montréal

It’s been 10 years since my last visit to Montreal. I was reminded of how much I love Montreal and should make it a regular summer travel destination, especially if I’m travelling solo or on a limited travel budget and larger scale travel isn’t doable (….or really if I want to do some shopping!).

For us forty-something women who want to travel solo, this is a great city to do so in that it’s walk-able and the metro (subway) system is easy to navigate – I suck at using maps so that’s important to me. I also like that’s just a cool city for art, food, culture and the pace is just right. I can’t wait to go back.

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This is How I Embrace Getting Uncomfortable to Find Happiness

Intentionally Getting Uncomfortable

I’m a lifelong learner – if I could get paid to take classes for a living, I’d probably be happy (assuming it’s not math…).

Every year, as part of my goal setting, which involves sitting down with a pen and post-it note and jotting a few things down, I try to list one new thing I want to do or learn for the year, sometimes more.

You see, what this boils down to for me is that variety really is the spice of life, to borrow an old saying. I honestly believe that this approach to being happier is what has kept me, in some ways, out of the clutches of prolonged melancholy or depression.

Trying new things, I discovered are a solid practice for maintaining my mental wellness. The odd thing is that I hadn’t connected it to my happiness before. If I’m not learning something new, then I’m usually pretty miserable.

5 Awesome Benefits of being Uncomfortable:

1. You’re in control. You decided what new thing you want to try and just go for it!

2. You’ll feel a sense of motivation when you take that first step (ok, you’ll probably also feel sick to your stomach, but that should pass, eventually)

3. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment having done it.

4. Your more risk-averse friends will totally admire you (yes, I am a Badass, Zumba rock star, that’s right!)

5. It has the power to be transformative. You’ll learn something about yourself from all that discomfort, like, that you’re in fact, a real badass.

So, should I jump out of a plane or climb a mountain to feel the fear?

Some people may feel that the idea of feel the fear and do it anyway, has to mean doing something scary big and very extreme. I personally believe that if you really desire to experience what it’s like to jump out of planes, do stand up comedy or pose nude for an art class like Marianne Power, author of Help Me, My Perfectly Disastrous Journey Through the World of Self-Help, then go for it!

I also think you can do things you are curious about, that you get excited about and yes, that scares you a lot or a little. This could be as extreme as hang gliding or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or less expensive and still risky like learning to ice skate (I did this and trust me, the fear of falling and breaking your bones is real!), learning to Tango when you are rhythmically challenge, or training for a 10k when can barely get up the flights of stairs at the subway without wheezing. Just sayin’ when it comes to getting uncomfortable for personal growth, you do you boo!

I have a friend who has a list of 50 new things she wants to try for her 50th year. I love that idea! Having a variety of new, interesting, fun and sometimes scary things to experience throughout the year is such a great way to keep active, to stay curious and to grow!

Here are 3 less extreme, yet uncomfortable experiences I’ve had:

1. Solo Travel: I know people who are scared of solo travel. I was one of them until I decided to ease myself into it. I started with a solo trip to visit family in England. I had a place to stay but was free to wander the London streets all day alone. Since then I’ve travelled solo to Chicago, Spain, Savannah, Georgia and Portugal.

2. Giddy Up: I rode a horse for the first time in Iceland in the rain, cold and strong winds. Horses scare me and riding a horse for an hour in awful weather, I was freaked out the entire time.

3. Getting punched in the face: I took a technical boxing class, at Cabbagetown Boxing Gym (I think part of that movie Cinderella Man with Russell Crow was filmed there). It legit smelled like what you imagined an authentic; old school boxing gym would look and smell like. The instructor, well, he looked like he coached many champs back in the day.

I tried to do a bit of sparring in the ring with a more seasoned boxer. I was terrified and I got punched in the face and lost a contact lens. That ended my boxing career before it ever started. I was completely fine, I was properly protected and the punch didn’t hurt (also my fault for dropping my gloves and leaving my face exposed).

Turned that I absolutely LOVED every, single, gruelling, sweaty workout! To this day, I will swear that boxing is the best fitness workout you can get!

Some Final thoughts

In all of these activities, I’m usually mediocre at best, or sometimes the classes were not that great, or the students are far younger or more experienced than me, but I’m still happier for silencing the self-doubt and fear and taking the time to intentionally get uncomfortable by putting myself out there to learn something new, maybe meet interesting people, have fun and be a happier me.

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Travel: Things to Do In a New York Weekend

A Weekend Getaway in NYC

Ambitious. That’s the word my friend used to describe the itinerary she set for a recent weekend getaway to New York City ( NYC). We arrive mid-day on a Friday and caught a morning flight out on Monday.

Before I share the itinerary of what we managed to pack into a two-day trip to the Big Apple, I can report, because my friend was keeping track, that we walked nearly thirty-thousand steps on day 1 of the trip, yup, that was not a typo.

On Day 2 we logged a mere 19,000 steps. I know, slackers! Tbh, despite wearing comfy sneakers, the soles of our feet were naturally worn out and we definitely had to step lightly on our final full day.

So here’s what we managed to see and do in a two-day trip to NYC:

Prior to Departure we bought a CityPass

We also skipped the yellow cab experience and bought a Metro card and learned to navigate the New York subway system instead.


We flew Porter Airlines into Newark, New Jersey and took a shuttle into lower Manhattan. The cost at the time was between $30 – $40 depending on if you take a hotel shuttle (mini van) or taxi.

Where We Stayed

Holiday Inn in The financial district. The location was beside Sauce & Barrel Restaurant (so good) and Clinton Hall where we grabbed burgers and fries before heading to the only attraction we had time for that day.

This location was not only close to the subway lines (and a short ride to Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Central Station) but also some iconic attractions that are in walking distance include:

  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum (included with CityPass3)
  • Westfield World Trade Center
  • Charging Bull statute
  • Staten Island Ferry and ferry to Ellis Island
  • National Museum of American Indians
  • New York Stock Exchange building

Where We Ate

This trip was more about the sights and not about the food…next visit maybe! Still enjoyed some really good meals:

Clinton Hall

Sauce & Barrel Pizzeria Bar

George’s New York

Salt + Charcoal Japanese Grill

Mani in Pasta Roman Style Pizza and Cucina

A few hours well spent at The MET

With only a few hours in the late afternoon the day we arrived and the rain, we opted to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It was ideal because it was raining and even if it were busy we had the City Pass that allowed us to bypass any regular lineups.

This turned out to be a highlight of the trip. Since we got there later in the afternoon (after 2pm), it was busy but we still managed to find lesser crowded galleries to spend time in and just enjoy the art, the history, and space.

Day One: Manhattan in 30,000 Steps

One Day Itinerary was jam packed

This was really about seeing as much of Manhattan as we could but still taking our time to enjoy the sights and summer-like weather we were lucky to have.

Aside from the Empire State Building (which was including in the CityPass) most of the sights were FREE!

A few highlights

  • Someone wearing a giant pink dog costume spotted at NBC Studio building
  • Seeing the original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals at The New York Public Library (that space library itself is impressive)
  • Strolling through Bryant Park
  • Watching people ice skate at Rockafella centre in 18 degree Celsius temps
  • Stumbling across participants in Tartan Week celebrations near Times Square.
  • Avoiding Times Square!

Day 2: Morning in Lower Manhattan

We started with an early breakfast and hopped on the train to the Brooklyn Bridge to try to avoid the crowds.

From there we headed back down to the financial district to take in the sights mentioned above.

Day 2: Afternoon in Brooklyn, Williamsburg & Dumbo

This was not part of the original itinerary! We walked so much the day before and done so much we agreed that getting out of Manhattan and checking out Brooklyn by ferry would be a nice slower pace and a great way to see and experience a different vibe of New York.

The day started with a quick visit to the Brooklyn Bridge by subway. 8:30am and it was starting to get busy with tourists, cyclists and runners. It was seriously impressive structure.

Then we got the subway again to head off to Chelsea Market and views of the High Line.

Loved Chelsea Market! Wish I had spent more time at one of their many eateries or browse the shops. I suggest making this an early morning visit. It was packed!

Near Chelsea Market is the High Line. The elevator was broken so we had to walk up several flights.

We didn’t spend time here although the weather was perfect for a day lounging in the sun but we had more distance to cover! Next up, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Lunch in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

We didn’t have a plan, and instead took in some of the cool boutiques and stopped for lunch at Salt + Charcoal (Insert link) – the wait for the food was long but so worth it!

Travel Tip: This part of the trip was very unplanned, like we basically got off the train into Williamsburg and asked a barista in the first coffee shop we spotted to point us in the direction of where might be interesting to check out.

You may want to do some generally planning and have an idea of what most interest you as a starting point and then go from there.

We walked from there to the ferry, stopping along to check out more pretty shops.

People Watching in DUMBO, Brooklyn

The ferry ride was cheap and a quick way to Dumbo.

Again, with no plans we were open to exploring and just checking out the neighbourhood at a leisurely pace. Basically, our feet were still tired from the day before so limiting how much time we spent on our feet was the only plan!

Dumbo didn’t disappoint with its energy and buzz. It was poppin’. The sidewalks were teaming with people and the line-ups were everywhere, I mean EVERY.WHERE.

But, the weather was amazing, we were in NYC for one more day and we were content to walk around aimlessly and people watch.

Travel Tip: Make these areas something you do in the morning. If you want to eat at Gramaldi’s Pizza or Jane’s Pizza or the Shake Shack in DUMBO then be prepared to wait in long lines. Well, basically every cafe and restaurant was packed and buzzing with chatter.

Final Words

There is really a lot to see and do in New York and I can see why people keep returning again and again.

I also realized that I would not do a solo trip to NYC. I found the pace and place a bit overwhelming and I’m really happy to have had an excellent travel buddy for this trip.

I can definitely see another weekend visit to slow stroll some of the cool boutiques in SoHo, perhaps see a show and check out a couple restaurants (making sure to get recommendations and try to make reservations ahead of time).

Now, if only someone could do something about the exchange rate.

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Travel: How to Switch Off When You Are in Vacation Mode

Why is it that the day you’re supposed to leave on vacay you find yourself working with a million ‘little’ things to take care of before you can log off… well, you may need to send a few emails at the airport, and maybe bang out the draft presentation during the flight, but as soon as that plan lands, that’s it, your done…well, maybe you’ll just check your email quickly before you head to the beach.

It’s Hard to ‘Let Go’ of Work

Caba de Roca, Portugal

Hands up if you sometimes have trouble letting go of work thoughts when on vacation! 🙋🏾‍♀️  I also don’t like planning vacations (finding flights, deciding on accommodations and itineraries), airports or flying, or packing and feeling like I’m going to forget something. Or not wanting to come home…🙃 Gah! (but I digress)

It’s funny how work can creep into your downtime when you don’t expect it. I get it, you want to make sure everything is taken care of before you go and that no one is left having to do your work while your gone. It can also be hard to shut off because you are so used to being “on” all the time.

That’s the trouble, isn’t it? Being “on” all the time and never truly “letting go” of work that gets in the way of being present and enjoying the vacation.

I did a solo travel to Portugal because I needed to let go of work and the best part of the trip was when I decided to set the intention to relax. I seriously had to tell myself that I was going to take the day off, grab my novel, a book I had for about a year without cracking it open, found a lovely little cafe and read, eat pastries and sip espresso. It was bliss.

3 Tips for Letting Go of Work While On Vacation

Here are 3 ways I’ve use to help me let go of work thoughts when I’m on vacation and enjoy the time off to the fullest:

  1. Never check my work email once I’ve left for vacation
  2. Stop and breathe: Plan to be fully present in the moment. I take the time out to really look at my surroundings and the beauty of the new landscape and to simply just take it all in. 
  3. Planning to ease back into work: I always take an extra day on my return to unpack, do laundry and other chores before going back to work. 

Being Present while Travelling is Good is Good Self-Care

Travel is great for destressing, reminding ourselves to slow-down, be present. Being in a beautiful place can also serve as a great remind to practice gratitude as well as way to awaken our creativity and liven our spirits. It’s my kind of therapy ,that’s for sure!

Now if only they could invent a way to beam me to my destination! Captain Kirk knew what it was all about! 💫 

Do you find challenging to let go of work while heading into vacay mode?

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Solo Traveller: Portugal (a Selfcare Travel Story)

Dealing with the fallouot from Burnout

I was exhausted, both psychically and mentally and looking forward to a much-needed staycation. Basically, I planned on firmly planting myself on my sofa with a bag of sweet potatoes chips and binge-watching British dramas on Netflix. 

That was the plan until a colleague told me about her recent trip to Lisbon. She mentioned that it was less expensive than other European cities so my Canadian dollars would go further, the weather was incredible, the people were nice and the pastries and wine were delicious.

Self-care made me do it (…or could it have been the promise of sunshine and pastries?). In any event, I managed to get the last seat on a flight to Lisbon using my Aeroplan travel rewards points. Now that’s what I call serendipity!

Going the Stress-Free Solo Travel Route

As a solo traveller, I try to book my trips well in advance, do a bit of research and pull together an itinerary with top places to see and restaurants to check out.

Not having plans would normally stress me out. However, I was already stressed out and truly exhausted and in desperate need of some self-care. That meant being strategic in my effort to spend as little energy as possible to find ways to make this last minute trip as stress-free as possible.

Here’s what I did to have a stress-free trip:

(1) I spoke with colleagues about their recent trips and asked for and received recommendations that formed the basis for an itinerary.

(2) I contacted my local Flight Centre and worked with them to pre-book some parts of my trip including hotel stays in Lisbon and Porto, a few sightseeing tours and a train ticket to Porto.

Bonus: This also provided a great opportunity to get some travel info from the travel associate who had been to a number of cities in Portugal.

(3) Leveraged the knowledge of hotel and restaurant staff for recommendations on where to shop, things to do and places to eat.

Days 1 – 4 in Lisbon:

My first four days in Lisbon was spent learning about its history, getting to know some of the locals, enjoying the famous pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts), and learning to say “thank you” in Portuguese. (I will save the mishaps of this trip for another post. What I will say, is that I felt like I was being tested for sure!)

I learned through my tours that the city is made of seven hills (or so it is said). I believe it, as the muscles in my legs burned as hot as the sun that was beating down on me as I explored the cobbled stoned, narrow streets of Alfama, Chaido, Barrio Alto and Alfama neighbourhoods.

I had nothing but time on my hands. So I stood more still, and for longer periods of time than I ever have, simply taking in the Instagram-worthy panoramic views of the city with its clay-coloured rooftops dotting the horizon from different vantage points.

There were some very familiar-looking monuments too, including the towering Christos Rei statue, inspired by the famous Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the 25 de Abril Bridge, which bears a striking resemblance to San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge.

My sightseeing tours took me to the famous Coach Museum in Belem, a royal palace in Sintra and a tiny beach and fishing village in Cascais. I also stood at the end of the earth, well, maybe it wasn’t the end of the earth but Cabo da Roca, the famous landmark identifying the westernmost extent of continental Europe, had a pretty stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean and nothing else as far as the eye could see.

Days 5 – 7 in Porto:

On the fifth day, I boarded a train at Lisbon’s architecturally impressive train station to the coastal city of Porto (known for port wine and Dom Luis Bridge).

At this leg of the journey, I had planned to do some sightseeing based on an itinary my good friend put together for me to help eleviate some of my stress.

However, I was stuck in traffic from the train station. What was supposed to be a short 15 minute cab ride too what seemed like hours. I probably could have walked.

That set the tone for the trip for me. After checking into my hotel, I went for a walk and realized that Porto was teeming with tourists. After a day of sightseeing, I gave up. I was tired and I felt like what I really needed was to give myself permission to do ‘nothing’.

I spent the remainder of stay roaming the streets with my camera, popping into shops, sipping espresso, eating more pastries and finishing the novel I had brought with me. It was, in a word, relaxing.

One of my favourite solo travel tips:

If you are anything like me, limited experience as a solo traveller, and one who sucks at reading maps and is slightly directionally challenged, then consider adding tours to your trip.

I found it to always be a great way to familiarize myself with a city in the first few days and get to learn about the history, culture and visit key landmarks without needing to read a guidebook.

Two cities in seven days were just the right self-care remedy for me. It was enough time to get a taste of what Portugal has to offer and for me to feel a lot calmer and well rested than before I arrived.

There were a lot of places in Lisbon I didn’t get the chance to visit and there are a number of other cities in Portugal I’d love to see. You know what that means? I’ll just have to plan (or not plan) another self-care travel trip to Portugal soon!

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I’m Dealing with Dry Eye Syndrome and It’s a Real Pain

Chronic Dry Eyes affecting your Life

Does this sound familiar? Imagine you have a blind date one evening and your dressed up, looking hot and look in the mirror and staring back at you are two severely red eyes and your first thought is “argh. I look like a hot mess”. This happens throughout your day at the office, at after work events, and after a couple hours on the computer.

You can reach for popular eye drops to “get the red out” but you know relying on that only makes the problem worse and that you’re issue isn’t going away, no matter how much sleep you get.

Well, that’s basically my chronic dry eyes story! Can one have ‘clear eye” envy? Seriously, is that a thing? Cuz I got that! My ‘demon eyes’. That’s what I’ve taken to referring to my dry eyes lately. Chronically red, very dry, sometimes painful and always super embarrassing. That’s what I deal with every single day with my dry eye syndrome.

In the past I’ve also experience such hypersensitivity to light it was brutally painful to open my eyes. Thank you aging, Canadian cold winters, and probably LASIK.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome or dry eye disease in the simpliest terms is what happens when your eyes don’t make the right quantity or quality of tears to properly lubricate and moisturizer the eyes’ surface.

Dry eye syndrome symptoms can include:

  • Burning sensation
  • Itchy eyes
  • Heavy eyes
  • Fatigued eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Dryness sensation
  • Red eyes
  • Sensitive to light
  • Blurred vision ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Is there a cure to dry eyes?

Nope. Looks like I gotta live with my demon eyes for forevah! (Cue: legit bawling)

Dry eye syndrome is brutal y’all and it’s just not cute. I feel it’s gotten worse over the years because of aging, laser eye surgery and too much screen time.

On a recent visit to my Optomitrist, she suggested I try:

  • Omega 3 vitamins ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

How I take care of my dry eyes

Since there’s no cure I’ve been changing up my lifestyle a bit to help ease the unpleasantness that comes with always looking like I haven’t slept or have been crying for 10 years. Argh.

Here are some practical ways I’m taking care of my dry eyes and finding some relief:

  1. Lubricating eye drops. First thing when I wake and throughout the day.
  2. Eye Compress. I’m also trying these rather stylish Heyedrate Compress from Eye Love the Sun  and the Medi Beads Eye Compress by Bruder to hope provide some much needed relief and hydration. ⠀
  3. Screen Time. My reduction in screen time at night;
  4. Omega 3 vitamins; and
  5. Air Care: I’ve also been using a humidifier at night which helps with the dryness of the air in my bedroom.

I’m rolling with the punches of this thing called life. When it comes to dealing with my chronic dry eyes I’ve been reading what I can about dry eyes and practising gratitude because in the grand scheme of things, I can’t complain because I’ve got my sight and fairly healthy eyes (I visit my Optomitrist for regular checkups) and for that I truly am grateful.

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9 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Better Sleep


Why Sleep Deprivation is a Bad Thing

Is sleep envy a thing? If it is, I got it. My friend told me once her head hits the pillow she sleeps like a baby. Another friend says they get eight hours of restful (and deep) sleep each night. Another said she could easily sleep for nine hours and even 14 if she could. I envy all you great sleepers out there!

Me, Insomnia and late nights with BBC

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a terrible sleeper. I have no trouble falling asleep but staying asleep, well that’s another story. I suffer from bouts of insomnia as well. Sometimes I would find myself wide awake at 2 am, watching documentaries on BBC and internally freaking out about the fact that it’s 2 am and I have to get up in a few hours and I’m gonna be a hot mess!!!

About two years ago things with my sleep came to a head. I suffered chronic hip pain that left me miserable and sleep deprived for nearly a year. I mean  I was NOT sleeping for more than two hours at a time, getting up in serious pain, using a Spikey ball to loosen the muscle spasm, then back to try to get another 2 hours. Needless to say, I was freaking miserable and not a fun person to be around during the day. Not getting enough sleep affects your:

Mood – don’t be offended if you notice people avoiding you at the office cuz no one wants to deal with the cranky pants version of you.

Ability to concentrate, problem solve or exercise good judgment – yup, lack of sleep can lead you to make some dumb decisions (on the upside, you can always blame your dumb decisions on lack of sleep!)

Creativity and productivity – chronic lack of sleep can mess up your alertness, attention and ability to concentrate. you may find yourself stuck on that same paragraph for an hour now or worse missing important deadlines. 

Overall health – weight gain and weakened immune system can also happen, because the normal weight gain and hormonal changes that come with ageing simply isn’t enough ladies! (rolls eyes)

Skin! Yes, fine lines and dull looking skin. Chronic sleep loss can make you look all haggard and tired with dark circles under your eyes that even the best concealer couldn’t cover-up (unless of course, you’re a 40-something sleep deprived Beauty blogger/ Youtuber who can work miracles cuz it will take some serious hocus-pocus!)

woman sleeping

9 Things to Try for Better Sleep

Having to figure out how to get better sleep become a priority for me. What has made the difference for me in the past year has been:

Easy Fixes can make to help improve your sleep

I have my morning ritual down but never paid much attention to what habits, good or bad, I had for a nighttime routine.  The game changer came when I decided I needed to be more intentional about establishing a nighttime routine. I needed to focus on getting enough, and better, sleep and to take deliberate action to make that happen.

Here are simple ways to improve your nighttime routine:

  1. iPhone Screen Time and Do Not Disturb features – Using my iPhone features to power down and cut off screen time by 8:00 pm. This reminds me to put the phone away and pick up a book before bed. I keep saying I want to read more, now I can.

2. Eliminating caffeine intake after 2pm. I love an evening cup of tea but recently switched to decaffeinated tea so I don’t have to give up that simple pleasure while setting up my body up for better sleep.

3. Eliminating the glowing screen distractions. No t.v. , laptops, digital alarm clocks or tablets in bedroom. Of course this also means no more watching 2am BBC documentaries in bed if insomnia kicks in. Instead I practice deep breathing exercises until I fall back asleep.

4. Putting the phone out of reach. I put my phone face down and on the farthest end of my night table, out of arms reach. Some folks put the phone in a different room but I like to have it close by in case of family emergencies or my own.

5. Keep calm once sleep time is gone. To keep that calm, well rested vibe going, I don’t check emails or messages when I wake up. Ain’t nobody got time for notifications to ruin my morning zen! Instead, I only use my phone when I wake to access the Headspace app for my morning 10-minute meditation session. Then I put the phone away until an hour later when I’m heading to the office.

More costly upgrades for improved sleep time:

6. Blackout curtains. I need quiet and darkness to sleep well and blackout curtains do the trick for eliminating street lights and early morning sunlight in the summertime.

7. Improved Air Quality – I got a really good, pretty quiet, humidifier – the dryness in the air affected my chronic dry eyes which in turn affected my sleep. I’m also one of those people that cannot sleep with the constant humming noises from things like humidifiers or even the ticking of clocks. It was important to me to find a dehumidifier that was quiet enough to not disrupt my precious hours of sleep.

8. Pillow perfect – I invested in an ergonomic pillow that supports my head and neck just right and is comfortable which definitely added to an improved sleep experience.

9. Proper foundation – Consider getting a new mattress. One of the best sleep I’ve ever had was in law school one summer when I sublet my friend’s apartment for the summer. Her mattress was ridiculously comfortable and helped me to sleep really well.

Would love to hear what good nighttime habits you have in place to help you sleep better! Leave a comment


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