My TOP 16 Christmas Gift Ideas

This year, on the 24th of December, a lot of us won’t be able to be with our families. It pains me to think about not being able to spend the holidays together, but it won’t stop me from leaving a little gift on their doorstep to show that I’m thinking of them!

When I was younger, I was always so eager to see my gifts that I would tear open the wrapping paper, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to take even more pleasure in giving than in receiving.

I know that I would love to receive each of the items on the list below. Although everyone has different tastes, I hope that you find something you like – or that someone you love would like! – on this list as well.

Since I’m a bit of a communications addict, you’ll notice that a lot of the gift ideas are photo-and-video-themed!

1. Google Photo Book:

My favourite of all time – I myself have a small collection focusing on travel and family.  Take the pictures in your phone that you barely ever look at and use them to put a smile on someone’s face. It’s magical to get lost in time in front of the fireplace, off wandering somewhere in our memories.

2. An online concert:

A concert at home means that you don’t even need to look for a parking spot! Take a look at some options here.

3. Professional photoshoot:

Whether in the studio or the outdoors, it’s great to have a professional to take pictures that you can keep for a lifetime. Check out Ariann Bt, Manon Boyer Photo and Cookie Photo.

4. 1 week of supper at Évoila5:

I personally love Évoila5! For approximately $100 you have 5 balanced meals ready to cook. I like the fact that they’re environmentally friendly, packaged entirely without plastic. Local, healthy and green – what more could you ask for?!

5. Dream time with a stylist:

When you look good, you feel good! Who doesn’t want a chance to makeover their wardrobe with a pro? Some great options are Raffiné, Les Effrontés and Style Sandra!

6. Family photo slide show:

Open up the Photos folder on your computer or your phone. How many photos are there that you don’t see often enough? Take them all and put together a montage to watch on Christmas Eve over Zoom with your family. A truly heartfelt gift that requires $0, just your time!

7. Weighted blanket:

A blanket that helps with anxiety and relaxation. I think we all need it! Check your local Costco to see if they still have some in stock – if not, you can find them online as well! A great luxury for cold nights.

8. My biography:

Give your children the gift of family history with My Biography. Give your parents a chance to tell their story for generations to come.

9. Music:

A Spotify subscription is an incredible gift! When I was young, we made ‘tapes’ – today, we make Spotify playlists! Give a membership & make a personalized playlist to remember good times!

10. Skiing:

A gift certificate for a day of skiing at the mountain of your choice!  We have so many beautiful places in Quebec to choose from.

11. Les Impatients Art Work:

Buy local for a good cause. Les Impatients helps people with mental illness through artistic expression. The pandemic is difficult for all of us, but especially for vulnerable people. T-shirt, pillowcase, glasses, note pads, gift wrap… the options are endless!

12. Luxury cuisine:

The Chef’s Box. Like eating at Europea, one of the best restaurants in Montreal, but without the trip! Celebration box, brunch box… offer them a 7-course meal this Christmas!

13. The homemade gift:

What’s your secret recipe? Start baking – cookies, spaghetti sauce, donuts, vinaigrette…  I have a feeling home cooking is going to be all the rage next year!

14. Meditation classes:

I think we would have a much better (and calmer!) world if we all started meditating, don’t you? Give someone the gift of meditation classes to unwind from a year that’s been stressful for us all.

15. Boutique Josyben

Do you know someone who looooves horses and classic fashion & design? Josyben also offers home staging services.  It’s new, it’s local, it’s unique. Check out their jewelry – absolutely beautiful!

16. Channel your inner Hallmark:

Unplug from your computer, your phone & your television, sit still and start speaking from the heart on paper. Give compliments, tell your loved ones why you appreciate them & thank them for being in your life. It’s not just a card – it’s a priceless expression of love and gratitude.

No, we won’t get to celebrate all together this Christmas, but giving a little something might just feel like we are giving a part of us, of our hearts.

Be kind, be good, be safe.

LiZ

Idea Generator, Communicator, Blogger, Connector, Communication Coach – I love to make my clients shine.  If you are an entrepreneur & need to shine, I would love to help. Contact me to find out more about my services!

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

What if the Rolling Stones were right?

Have you ever wanted something so intensely and dreamed of it to the point of not seeing how lucky you already were? While you’re thinking about it, here’s a great example.

My father was an entrepreneur, a lumber merchant.

Grandfather playing with grandson

My father with his grandson

He was born on November 26, 1918 – I know, it’s been a while! It was a time when men dreamed of having a son to perpetuate their family name, their company…

My father was no different, he dreamed of having a son so that one day he could take over the family company: Bois Péladeau.

One day, my mother was visiting her doctor.  She was gaining weight, and it seemed that her hormones were playing tricks on her.  There were no little ‘blue-line tests’ at the time, so she went to the doctor who saw her right away and told her she was ‘pregnant’!

Everyone was very excited and my father worked twice as hard at the office, ecstatic about the possibility of finally having a son. He bought a new house, big enough for the growing family.

Months passed and eventually my mother went back to the doctor for a second pre-natal appointment. He told her the most shocking thing possible: she was not actually pregnant. He had made a mistake – instead she had a fibroid, dangerously big, and he had to operate immediately! He also told her that she would never be able to have any more children. All this in a cold and arrogant tone, devoid of empathy.

My mother was devastated. My father, furious.

My father had to grieve while also worrying about his wife (my mother’s) health, with the added stressor of having purchased a new house. It was inconceivable to him that a doctor would make such a mistake. He found the doctor to be carefree and inhumane.  My father had never met him, but he said that if he ever did…

Well, life is full of surprises! One day, my parents were invited to a cocktail party at a friend’s house. You already know the routine – have a bite to eat, shake people’s hands, introduce yourselves and chat. Strangely enough, the infamous doctor was there and introduced himself to my father, mentioning his title long before his name. Needless to say, when Dad heard his name as he was shaking his hand, the poor doctor was afraid for his life when he looked up. My mother had to take my father out of the cocktail very quickly, because she too was scared for the doctor’s life!

Finally, my mother calmed my father down and they comforted themselves by thinking about how lucky they were to already have two beautiful, healthy daughters!

As always, life goes on. Mum organized a garage sale to help her through her grief, and she sold everything & anything that could remind her of the arrival of a baby.

Since life is full of twists and turns, weeks went by and eventually my mother learned that despite the fact that she had been told that she would never have another child, she was pregnant and that this beautiful baby (me  😊) was going to show up in the spring!

You could say my parents had me late in life. I was an accident – I like to think I was a ‘happy’ accident. It’s possible that my older sisters didn’t always feel the same way though!

Poor dad, like the Rolling Stones famously sang: “You can’t always get what you want – you get what you need”. Maybe my father didn’t need a boy, but three girls!

Family wedding photo

My wedding

Why am I telling you all this?

Maybe because with everything we’re going through right now, I realize that I too have everything I need.  I would like to do more business, travel, have my friends and family over, but maybe right now, I need to realize how lucky I am with what I already have.

However, a good part of my life, I was always looking forward to something in the future: studying in Boston (because it would be more exciting than Montreal – never happened), my second child (who never came), the big party on December 31 (which is often more boring than expected) …

I’ve heard so many people say, “I’m sooo looking forward to my vacation, so I can finally have fun!” “I can’t wait for my retirement to finally do what I want!”. It’s like we’re living in the future. It might be possible that this whole crisis is to teach us to be more connected, more conscious, to live in the present moment, because we never know what awaits us.

I am a dreamer and an idealist, often wanting more, but I realize that my happiest, most precious moments are not always accompanied by grand music and fireworks.

When I think of my happiest times, strangely enough… they happen to be in very simple moments.

The time my 4-year-old son brought me a gift first thing in the morning, For mother’s day, a beautiful plastic bracelet he had made at the daycare (which I still have).

Plastic beaded bracelet

My son’s bracelet

Every May 28th, when I’m celebrating my birthday surrounded by my childhood friends, good food, good music & great stories. That moment when I stop to observe each one of them, and I tell myself how much I love them & how lucky I am.

When I’m with my family, my sisters, my nephews, my husband, and my son and we’re playing Queen of Spades and my sister Carole is trying to score points and we’re all laughing!

When Friday night comes, it’s ‘pizza night’ and I sit on the sofa by the fire with my hubby to watch a good movie and drink our gin & tonics that he prepares with his treasured recipe & with lots of love. The moment when we’re all cozy & he plays with my hair like he always has!

When my son, 6 feet tall and eighteen years old, says to me, “Good night, I love you” in the evening before going to bed.

When I walk with my dog every morning and she turns to me as if to say, “Did you see how beautiful it is around us?”

Time goes by and you realize that what you wanted intensely, might not have been what you needed.

My father had always dreamed of a son but life turned out differently and instead gave him three daughters that he adored. Later, he ended up with 3 grandsons of whom he was so very proud… better late than never!

Grandfather with two grandsons in tuxedos

My father with his two grandsons

I believe the happiest times are not found in the future but in everyday life.  Every day, if you are conscious enough and you open your eyes wide enough, you can find little jewels!

So, it seems the Rolling Stones were right… “you can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need”. Thank you, Mick!

If you liked this article please share it – hopefully it could do a friend some good!

Please give it some love & comment below, I’d love to know what you think!

Stay Safe!

LiZ

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Gisele’s Legacy

It was Friday, November 13, 2009.  What a year!  Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett, hallmarks of my adolescence, both passed away.  Obama fever was in full swing. For me, it was one of the hardest years of my life for a whole other reason.  Before we get there, let me tell you about Gisele.

Gisele is my mother.

She was born on February 15, 1929 in Pointe-aux-Trembles, Quebec. She was the eldest of 10 children: Gaston, Yvon, Claude, Renée, Paul, Janine, Huguette, Jocelyne, and Vivianne. At that time, the priests regularly visited families to ‘encourage’ them to raise large families. My grandfather loved the priest very much. My grandmother, not so much. The priest lectured her, “If you don’t make 10 children, you’ll go to hell!” So, my grandmother would often fall asleep at the kitchen table before going to bed.  There were a few reasons for this – one, because with 10 children you can imagine that making meals for 12 and washing dishes was particularly long and two, after the priest’s visit, she was in no hurry to find my grandfather in bed!

Vintage sepia photo of woman

Mom in her 20s

Gisele had beautiful eyes that were sometimes blue, sometimes green, and sometimes grey but always piercing!!

She loved children very much, possibly as a result of so much time spent looking after her siblings. Being the eldest she always had to set a good example and be responsible!

At 17, she was tired of being ‘responsible’, so she left her parent’s house. She wanted to be independent and become a fashion designer, just like her favourite aunt. After leaving home, she found a job as a seamstress.

In 1948, Gisele was 19 years old and dreaming of a man in uniform. The war had just ended and Canadian soldiers were seen as superheroes. She met Jean, eleven years her senior, and it was love at first sight for both of them. She wanted to be the perfect housewife so she took diction classes, learnt how to cook and did everything she could to fulfill this role.

Fast forward six years later, Jean and Gisele married and had three daughters.

Bride and three other women smiling

Mom happy with her three girls

My mother was fantastic, a beautiful ‘joie de vivre’.  She loved to sing in the car – Aznavour, Bécaud and Reggiani. She loved the piano, so my sisters and I all learnt how to play. She loved people and people loved her.

She would spend several hours on the phone with Madeleine, Florence and several other good friends of hers. If anyone ever said anything bad about an acquaintance, she would quickly come to their defense. She was, simply put, a good person.

Every night she made a good supper, because she believed in the importance of having family dinners. Every morning for breakfast, all the cereal boxes were taken out and she prepared a beautiful table with freshly squeezed orange juice. Sometimes there was even a small note wishing us good luck on our exams that day!

It was very important to her that her daughters were healthy, so she was one of the pioneers of brown bread and healthy cereals. If we were lucky (not really), she would make us good healthy juice from her juicer: apple- carrot-celery. Ah, and don’t forget the finishing touch: a big spoonful of cod liver oil to top off this healthy cocktail – eurk!!

She honestly had a heart of gold. She was always entertaining her friends, our friends, family… everyone was always welcome.

Woman and child in swing

Mom young at heart with my son

She often spent nights making us costumes for Halloween contests at school. Gisele’s costumes were so well-made that the judges sometimes thought they were rented! I dressed up as a bottle of 7UP, a skunk (I know) and Kermit the Frog, among other things. She would probably have been an excellent designer, but instead she chose to be our mother.

Gisele was beautiful.  She wore virtually no makeup and never had a wrinkle to hide. She was stylish and feminine, often seen in skirts or dresses, with a small elegant shoe.

My whole life, she’s always been in perfect health. I don’t know if it was the cod liver oil or the garlic that she put everywhere. Did I tell you that she cooked illegally well?!

She was a regular jokester but once she sat at the bridge table with the ‘women’, she often surprised us all by winning 1st place!

I loved that woman whole-heartedly.

Bride and mother smiling

Mom at my wedding

That’s why in 2009, I devoted all my time to her. It’s not always easy when you have an 8-year-old and a husband. It was important for me to paint a picture of her for you, because when we talk about an 80-year-old lady often we imagine an elderly person of no importance. The fact is, this is rarely the case.  Older people often find themselves prisoners of an old body that doesn’t reflect the youthfulness of their hearts.

Between 2008 and 2009, I moved my mother 4 times. At some point, I stopped counting the number of times I had visited her in the hospital. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and as if that wasn’t enough, her breast cancer reappeared.  I was burnt out and exhausted, and so were my sisters.  When the doctors gave her 3 to 6 months to live, my heart was broken into a thousand pieces. I couldn’t imagine not seeing her anymore, but I knew I was lucky to be able to be with her every remaining day. I was very strong in front of her, but I always imagined the worst in private. Before I entered her residence, I always took a deep breath to remind myself to stay strong and yet, believe it or not, I lived the purest moments with her even as her impending death approached.

It makes me sad to admit it, but I think I took her for granted before she got sick. She had always been so healthy – she had cheeks so pink, I imagined she would definitely live to be 90, even 100 years old.  So I was often in a hurry, impatient at times, not really present. Once I knew her days were numbered, she had my full attention.

I was afraid to go into her apartment but once I got there, I didn’t want to leave her. Often, she would sleep in her room and I would stay in the next room, reveling in my closeness to her as I wrote. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything and yet time was passing so quickly, meanwhile all I wanted was to stop the clock.

One of the last times I was with her, I felt like I was with my child.  I lay down next to her and held her in my arms. She hardly spoke. At some point, she said softly, “It feels good”. Just hearing these words was a beautiful gift. Another time we looked at each other, and I felt all the love in her eyes, then she gave me a beautiful smile and said, “my Zabeth”, the nickname she had given me as a child. I had a flashback in that moment, right back to being 5 years old again. An incredible love came over me. She was there, Gisele, I felt my mother’s bright spirit so intensely in that moment.

On Friday the 13th, a few minutes before midnight, she passed away. She gave me everything and in turn I tried to give everything I could back to her. Our love did a full 360.

 

As I’m writing this it’s Friday the 13th, 2020.

My sister asked me earlier today if I was sad and truthfully, the answer is no. I certainly wanted to keep my mother alive forever but we all know that’s not possible. It’s the cycle of life. Over time, I’ve come to understand and accept this simple yet powerful fact.

We attach great importance  to the last moments of life, but what matters more is the legacy that a parent leaves with us – the good memories, the small moments of happiness, the love we felt, the good meals we shared, the life lessons and values we will practice and the traditions we will continue with the next generation.

No, I’m not sad, because I still feel her here all the time. I start my day with her voice saying “Don’t forget your breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day!”, and strangely I find myself repeating it to my son!  Her voice comes to me throughout the day in different ways.

Woman and child on yellow slide

Mom happy Mammy

She’s still here. That I can say with certainty. In my everyday routine, in my sisters, her sisters, my nephews, my son. In every meal I prepare I see myself with her in the kitchen, happy to gather everyone around good food, a beautiful table & family values.

I don’t think it’s correct to say that we die. There’s some energy left when people leave this lifetime, this planet. I don’t understand everything, but I know that as long as there is love, you never die!

 

If you enjoyed this article or relate to it please share it and tell me your story in the comments. It’s a crazy time we are living, and I hope this text can help someone in some way.

Stay safe,

LiZ

 

 

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EVERYTHING CAN CHANGE IN A MINUTE

It was the summer of 1991, one year before the Barcelona Olympics. I left for Europe alone with my backpack on my back, sad to leave everything I knew – my family, my home, my friends, my everyday routine…my comfort zone!

I knew that I was starting a new chapter. No longer a kid but now an independent woman.  If anything happened, I was on my own. Everybody else was on the other side of the ocean.  If I needed rescuing, I had to count on myself alone. The concept can be scary but my need for adventure was too strong to ignore. This experience was one of the foundations in my life and I carry it with me to this day. You will soon find out why!

Vintage-photo-of-woman-in-candy-store

Liz – Barcelona

I’d always dreamed of being trilingual, so I started in Barcelona. I went to a renowned international language school and made 3 good friends: an Italian, a Belgian-Portuguese and an American from California.

I had an amazing time discovering Spain – the food, the people, the nature, cafés, restaurants, life! Travelling can be paradise but, as life goes, everything can change in just one minute.

Vintage-photo-of-woman-in-front-of-postcard-display

Liz – souvenirs

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Liz & Julene – Corte Ingles

Vintage-photo-of-woman-in-front-of-stairs

Liz – Park Guell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lived with a Spanish family and another tenant, Javier. He was very nice. He told me he was from Porto, Portugal and that he’d had to get away from his hometown because he had a drug addiction. At that point he had been clean for 7 months & was looking for a new start. I know nothing about drugs and personally never felt an attraction to them.  I had a good friend at the time who’d been addicted to cocaine since her mother’s death. Strangely enough, like Javier, she had also been clean for the last 7 months. She had driven me to the airport with my parents and had confided in me that is was very difficult, like a 7-month itch.  At the airport I asked her to stay strong, and to not do anything stupid while I was away. When I met Javier I felt that by helping him, in a strange way, I was also helping her.

I was going to school every morning but I didn’t feel as though I was learning Spanish fast enough. So, Javier promised me that the upcoming Saturday he would take me to spend the day with his Spanish friends so I could practice & at the end of the day I would be trilingual!  We laughed together. We helped each other. He confided in me & in return for my listening ear and support, he helped me with my homework when I needed it. Both away from home, we had developed a nice little friendship.

One morning I was waiting for the shower before school. I knocked & knocked but there was no answer. Eventually I got really worried, so I went through the window to find him on the floor. I tried to revive him then ran to find a doctor next door, only to find out he had the needle in his arm. It had been hiding under his body. He had overdosed – he was dead.

The adventure was no longer a happy one.  The lady where I lived begged me not to tell anyone since it would be bad for her ‘reputation’. I went to school as normal, except nothing was normal. I felt like a walking zombie.

I kept wondering to myself, “Where is Javier now? Why didn’t my gut wake me up earlier? Did he come knocking on my door for help & I didn’t hear him? What if I could have stopped him? What’s the meaning of life? Why is this happening?”

I wanted to scream! I called my parents to make sure they were okay and because I needed to hear their voices. Of course, I couldn’t tell them anything – they would have had a heart attack on the spot! But I needed to be certain they were okay & make sure my friend Anna was okay too.

I went to school in body but my mind was not there, like I was on another planet. The happy energetic person I was had been transformed. Everybody was asking, “Are you okay?”

I felt like I stepped from paradise to hell in 24 hours. You’ve probably heard the saying ‘1 day at a time’. It’s so true, because 24 hours later everything was going to change again, like I said that is the rule of life!

That day, I couldn’t speak for many hours until at some point I was alone with my 3 friends and I exploded! I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was going crazy. When I did, I saw their mouths drop in unison. I felt relieved. I wasn’t alone anymore.

When I explained what had happened my friend Isabelle, the Belgian-Portuguese, exclaimed, “Enough with Barcelona, you’re coming home with me! Get your bags, we’re leaving, we’re going to Belgium & Portugal!”

So, we left. Isabelle & her parents felt so bad that they pampered me. They introduced me to their friends. I had all these offers from people who wanted to show me around their city, in Belgium & then in Portugal. I saw so many beautiful places. I biked in Knokke, Belgium and in Holland on historic tours with Bebelle’s good buddy Reggie & his friends. I met great people. I jumped from a rock into the beautiful emerald sea of the Algarve in the South of Portugal, picked lemons in the garden one day with Monique, Isabelle’s mom, and picked almonds one day with José, her dad.  I was back in paradise… until I had to leave. I fell in love with her family & that part of the world, because of their care and generosity. Really, Isabelle was a godsend!

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Liz, Isabelle & cousin – Algarve

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Liz – Las Ramblas

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Liz – Sitges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few years later I went to Isabelle (Bebelle)’s wedding, and she came to mine with her mom. I went back to Portugal with my husband & my son. A few years later Bebelle called to tell me that her younger cousin Justine was coming to live in Montreal to study at HEC, and she asked me to keep an eye on her since she would be far away from her parents. I was happy to, and since Justine has gone back to France, I’ve followed her adventures with her now famous company Respire. I’ve also made friends with her mom Nathalie & keep in touch with her on Instagram.

Today we can’t really travel, but my mind travels every time I cross path with Bebelle’s Instagram posts of her surfing in the Algarve!

Woman-with-surfboard-on-beach

Bebelle surfing – Portugal

Why am I telling you this story? I don’t know exactly. Maybe it’s because I needed to visit happy memories in my mind, escape to better times?

Maybe I wanted to tell you something like… “Please don’t give up if something bad happens. Believe, because life works in mysterious ways, it really does.” Maybe I wanted to say, “Be good to people because 20 years from now, you could have a great friendship that started right about now!”

Or maybe I wanted to say “Thank you Isabelle for taking me away from Barcelona that day & bringing me into your world!”

 

Wherever you are, stay safe & don’t give up!

You are not alone.

A friendly face could be just around the corner.

 

If you like this article please let me know in the comments below, and by sharing and giving it some love! If you’ve made friends travelling or met people that have helped you out in a time of need, please share your story with me & tag them in the comments to say thank you!

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12 (Legal) Ways to Get High

Many things are uncertain right now, not just here in Montreal, but also In the US & around the world,everyone is trying to cope, it’s one crisis after another.  If that wasn’t enough, all this uncertainty is giving rise to dangerous times of solitude & depression. The first thing many of us want to do is grab a drink or a smoke to numb everything & let it pass. This might only be making things worse. The human body is complex and intelligent & it really does not need artificial stimuli from the outside world.  It creates its own chemicals in the brain to make you happy. I would like to suggest a few alternatives to help you activate these natural happy chemicals!

Please keep this list close to you, somewhere everyone can see it – by your phone, on your desk or even on your fridge & share, share, share! My goal is to help you get this kind of high as often as possible!!!

1. Get high on colours

Our world is filled with colours, however many of us don’t realize how many ways they can impact our lives. Colours can influence our behaviour & wellbeing, with different colours having a different effect.

Pink is a calming & reassuring colour – it has even been used in prisons to calm inmates.

Blue is peaceful & calm. It can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety & even slow your heart rate!  You just have to look up to notice how a blue sky affects our mood.

Green seems to make positive emotions stronger & negative emotions weaker.

Red, on the other hand, can amplify negativity. We have enough of that in our lives, so it can be best to avoid this colour.

Check out my interview on The Survival Show with 1 of the 100 world color experts, Marie-Chantal Milette!

2. Get high on nature

When I was a kid my mother didn’t let me play inside, meaning I spent my days outside in the fresh air. When we are kids our sense of wonder is on overload watching all the discoveries nature has to offer us. Isn’t that what we’re looking for when we run from the city to the country any weekend we can? Go to the forest, to the park, to the blue of the water and the sky & the green of the trees – the fresh air can only do you good!  Besides, remember that green seems to make positive emotions stronger!!!

Woman in pink jacket posing in front of autumnal nature background

3. Get high on exercise

Have you ever wondered why so many people run? Maybe they’re all hooked on the runner’s high! The latest research indicates that the so-called ‘runner’s high’ is likely caused by two endogenous chemicals: beta-endorphin, an endogenous opioid involved in pain reduction and relaxation. So walk, bike, dance, run, do push ups …just keep moving, no matter how small your step seems. All great athletes started with just one step. Take that first step!

4. Get high on knowledge

Read books, learn a skill, learn a new language, brush up on your history. You will be amazed how much you can find on Google & Youtube, as well as by how much new information your brain can take in!

5. Get high on art

Smiling woman doing an art project

Art is therapeutic – in fact, art therapy is a technique rooted in the idea that creative expression can foster healing and mental well-being.  Both creating art and viewing art created by others can be used to help people explore emotions, develop self-awareness, cope with stress, boost self-esteem and work on social skills!

Paint an old piece of furniture, write, sing, dance, recite poems, take pictures, cook, paint a canvas, colour in a new colouring book, paint by numbers, or visit a famous art gallery on line! You can also check out the Transform Art episode of The Survival Show here.

Visit Omer DeSerres for more ideas!

6. Get high on good old fashioned board games

Remember that feeling when you were a kid right before making a great move in a game? That feeling of being totally submerged in the experience? All the stress goes away, you’re in a different zone!  Play with the whole family, no matter how old your kids are. There are games to suit everyone’s age and interests!

A few of my favourites are Twister, Catch Phrase, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Taboo, Scattergories, and Monopoly.

Check out Jeux Divertioz for more board game inspiration!

7. Get high on animals

Stop staring at a screen, go outside and check out the birds, squirrels, rabbits and ducks. Maybe even offer to walk the neighbor’s dog. If you decide to get a pet reflect first and know that it is not temporary, it’s for life – their life. Pets really do enhance your life in so many ways, even in terms of your health! They have been found to lower blood pressure, cholesterol level & decrease levels of loneliness in their humans. You can also volunteer or help save a life by considering adopting from an animal shelter, such as the SPCA. Check the web for more shelters in your area.

Woman smiling with dog

8. Get high on humour

Go ahead, release those beta endorphins!  Read jokes on the web, rent comedy shows on Netflix, and check out YouTube for some hilarious comedians. My all-time, laugh-out-loud favourite shows include Black-ish, Friends, Seinfeld, Sex in the City, and Cheers. Let me know what you think if you decide to check any of them out!

9. Get high on smiles

Yes, a simple smile to someone at the grocery store or the bus stop goes a long way!  Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits. That is probably why that old Coke commercial was so popular: “have a coke & a smile!”

Woman in white jacket smiing

10. Get high on music

Chances are you’ve had an experience where you hear a song & you get goose bumps or chills. Science has confirmed the existence of the euphoric music-induced “chills.”  An article featured on Get Healthy Stay Healthy suggests that music is good for improving mood, reducing stress, lessening anxiety, improving exercise, improving memory, easing pain, providing comfort, improving cognition, helping children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, soothing premature babies, and so much more. Frankly, they had me at ‘improving mood’ – music certainly has this effect on me all the time!

Try giving some Canadian artists a listen. Some of my favourites are Diana Krall, Rufus Wainwright, Drake, Shawn Mendes, and Eli Rose (Carrousel) & Coeur de Pirate!

If you are with Videotron & you would like to discover music from Quebec, check out their QUB Musique service.

You can also go on Spotify & make yourself your own uplifting playlist!

11. Get high on slowing down

Try out yoga, Tai Chi, or meditation.

Yoga can help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind, as well as reduce your feelings of stress.

Tai Chi is an ancient martial art literally translated as ‘Supreme Ultimate Force’. It became popular in China due to its various health benefits and was promoted across the country to help elderly people keep up with their mental, physical and energetic health.

Meditation is the practice of focused concentration and has been known to reduce stress, whether positive or negative. It also reduces anxiety, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated – it’s really the science of staying still. Light a candle, stare at it, and try to think of the flame and nothing else. Sound simple? Good luck! Leave a comment letting me know how it goes.

12. Get high on giving

Charity can boost both mental & physical health. Research shows that those who volunteer live longer & happier lives. You will experience lower blood pressure, lower stress levels, less anxiety and depression, and increased self-esteem.  It’s not about the quantity, or how much you can give. You can call someone, go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbour, cook cookies for a friend…the possibilities are endless!

 

Just don’t get high on fear, drugs, booze & negativity, because they tend to make things much worse. Get going by looking over these 12 ideas, picking your favourite one for the day and dropping me a line to tell me how it goes. I would really love to hear from you!

Stay home & stay safe,

LiZ

Lionzest

 

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Are you ready for the world to see your business with fresh eyes? Contact Lionzest to discuss how we can energize your business and make you shine.

 

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A Master Class on Resilience

The Return of Isolation, or: A Master Class on Resilience!

The Premier of Quebec has spoken – it’s time for everyone to go back home & stay safe.

Frankly, when all this started, I was watching Legault religiously every day for 4 months. I felt ready to attack anything in the morning but after watching the press conference at 1:30pm, I felt a significant drop in energy & I had a hard time concentrating. Something in my head could not process. I repeated to myself: “everything is going to be okay”, but a little negative voice followed… “or is it?”

I decided that I had to stop cold turkey and cut myself off from all the bad news to save my sanity. That’s exactly what I did when June came around. Unconsciously I thought to myself ‘it’s nice outside, summer is coming, school’s out, the sun and the heat are here, it is going to be okay, like I said’ …unconsciously.

The Survival Show

In March when things sounded really bad, I wanted to make a difference. I could not run to hospitals to offer my help so I decided to do what I do best: communicate & promote great people. It started with an idea of a show where everyone would tell their story & give their top 3 survival tips.  I called it “The Survival Show”. This show was a dream I’ve had for a very long time. I’m a PR girl.  I meet tons of amazing people & I was dreaming of a platform, a media to make them shine.  The dream had just been sleeping inside my head & Covid woke it up.

 It started with a test drive with my sister (Boutique Josyben) & my friend Paul, an amazing investment teacher.  Michael Wallace (business coach at Fascinnovation) gave me the push I needed, telling me to “stop testing & just do it!” I’m so grateful to Michael for giving me that little push I needed – it’s no wonder you are a great coach to so many business people! Take a look at our interview here.

Laurie from OM Creative was next up. She spoke about life storms, what she learned while suffering from Lyme disease & what we can all learn from life storms.

Melissa Dawn, who you might have seen on morning TV, taught us how to be the CEO of our own lives.

Marie-Chantal Millette, one of the 100 colour experts in the world, gave a lesson on how to use colours to help impact our day to day. She did this all while feeding her newborn son, demonstrating another gift from Covid: truly authentic moments!

Laur Fugère, a performer, voice coach, and ex singer in big productions like Cats, Les Misérables & Le Cirque du Soleil, almost made me cry. Watch for my moving chin in the video. You can see me trying to keep it all in but with great difficulty as I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of her voice. Tell me you don’t feel the same when you hear her sing at the end of her interview?!

Daniele Soaré, first woman to work on the Toronto Stock Exchange, had it all: a luxurious life, big hotels & limousines. She left it all to live in Montreal offering her services as a Financial Coach.  Seeing how zen she is, it seems like it was a great choice that has given her a much more rewarding life!

Marie-Reine from Face Yoga Passion told us how facial yoga can help us feel better & look better! Learn more here.

Martine Lafontaine, who became a Mourning Counselor after the tragic death of her child, tells us about the fact that 95% of people have unresolved grief.  We live difficult chapters of our lives and we often think we have moved on when in reality, we’re not quite there yet.

Frankly, I find all my guests amazing.  I wish I could tell you about all 30 of them. Everyone has a story, something we can learn from. All of them offer their top 3 tips to you in my Survival Show series.

I have a favour to ask.  Please head over to the Lionzest YouTube channel, click on one of the videos & watch it.  Like them, comment on them.  Pleasssseeee give me suggestions below on what you would like in the next season of The Survival Show – your feedback lets me know how I can improve to bring you better content!

I am working on interviews to help new entrepreneurs & interviews to help you keep a healthy body and mind. I am preparing these right now & I can’t wait to introduce to you some more incredible guests so you can hear their stories & tips!

So yes, the bad news is that “stay home stay safe” is back, but there’s always a bright side. The good news is this: you are not alone, I am right here with you, trying to figure out new ways to get a message of hope to you!

Oops! I almost forgot – stay tuned to see my whole new look (new name, new branding, new blogs). I’m sure you’re going to loveeee it!  Keep an eye on my Instagram as well, where you’ll be able to keep up with my latest videos.

Stay home & stay safe,

LiZ

Lionzest

 

If you want to see our latest articles – lists full of tips, inspiration & motivation – subscribe to our newsletter!

Are you ready for the world to see your business with fresh eyes? Contact Lionzest to discuss how we can energize your business and make you shine.

 

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Top 18 Ways To Escape Without Leaving Quebec This Summer

While this summer may look different than we had imagined, I’m looking at it as an opportunity to explore the places we call home! I’ve travelled across Canada before & I know we have many beauuuutiful places that we often take for granted, starting with my incredible province – Québec!

Top 18 Ways To Escape Without Leaving Quebec This Summer:

 

1. Go to Provence without leaving Quebec

Lavender Fields

When you picture lush lavender fields you may be thinking about France, but what you might not have known is that we have them right here in Quebec! You can find them less than an hour from Montreal at Maison Lavande in Saint-Eustache, or venture a little further out to Bleu Lavande in Stanstead. In addition to its beauty and calming effects, these lavender fields are the perfect place for a summer photoshoot!

2. California vibes…(wellll, close enough):

Have you ever tried paddle boarding? If not, now’s the perfect time! At Sup Montreal you can rent a board, take lessons or participate in a planned excursion. Paddle boarding is super fun and a great workout – the perfect way to spend a hot summer day.

3. Unwind at the largest outdoor spa in North America

Improve your health & relax at Nordik, the largest spa in North America! Be sure to reserve in advance to take advantage of their wide array of massages, body care treatments and rituals. You can also visit the little village of Chelsea while you’re there!

4. A walk & swim in the park

Specifically, Parc de la Mauricie! With over 150 lakes and a variety of activities offered from canoeing and hiking to camping overnight, there’s so much to do and see here.

5. A bike ride & wine

Brome-Missiquoi’s wine route is home to 20 vineyards, 21 restaurants and 4 routes to drive or cycle! Reserve in advance if you want to join a guided tour and come ready to be wow-ed by Quebec’s wine culture.

6. Drive-in – just like the good old days, but better

Retro is back in style, and drive-ins are no exception! This is a great way to spend a summer night while following social distancing regulations. Now all you have to do is decide if you’re team rom-com or action.

7. All about the birds & the stars at Parc Mégantic

Take part in the park’s astronomy activities or see what birds you can spot while you hike. Make sure to buy your access right online before heading to this amazing National Park!

8. Sleep with wolves

Spend the night in Parc Omega’s Wolf Cabin, marveling at the panoramic views of these fascinating canines. The cabin can sleep up to 4 people and is fully equipped with everything you need for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

9. Take a kitesurfing or windsurfing lesson

Ever wanted to learn how to wakeboard, snowboard, surf, or sail? How about you combine them all into one sport and take a kitesurfing or windsurfing lesson?! This extreme sport is guaranteed to thrill you – and we think there’s no better way to spend a summer day than out on the water.

10. Golf initiation

Golf courses are a great getaway! Take a golf lesson at a nice course that you don’t need to be a member of to get a taste for the sport.

11. OSM Classical flight from your car:

Drive to the Trudeau airport but try another type of flight! On August 5th, check out the OSM’s Classical Flight Benefit concert for a night of incredible music supporting the Orchestra’s mission of music accessibility and education.

12. How about a concert on a lake

Two musicians on a raft in a lake

You can hire Quebecois singer Stéphanie Bédard for a private concert at your cottage by the lake! This is a great option for those looking to do something special this summer.

13. For a longer road trip

Though the drive is long, it is completely worth it to experience the beauty of Les Iles de la Madeleine! Discover the nature, flavours and culture of the 8 islands while enjoying a vacation without leaving Quebec.

14. Another long drive with a worthwhile reward

L’Ile d’Anticosti! This is probably the most beautiful place in Quebec and with a range of accommodation and hiking trails, certainly has something for everyone.

15. Almost like flying

If you’ve been missing being up in the air, this could be the activity for you! Spend 1.5 hours among the treetops at Action Tremblant’s zipline adventure. Lines range from 230 feet to over 650 feet long and are sure to satisfy adrenaline seekers!

16. For a magical dinner

Make a reservation at Au Pied de Cochon’s Cabane d’à Côté to enjoy a magnificent orchard picnic featuring a fresh seasonal menu. What better way to enjoy the beauty of Quebec than by sampling some of its finest local products?!

17. Stop at a not so ordinary snack bar by the water

Located in Vaudreil-Dorion, this resto-terrasse is revamping fast food. Satisfy your cravings with a good french-fry or taco at Patate et Persil – we don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

18. Hit the road

Get in your car, put on your favorite Spotify mix, roll down the windows, sing your heart on & drive for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or hours!  You can do the same thing on a bus but you might get a few awkward looks 😊!  Sometimes you don’t have to go far – music can easily transport you to better places.

 

If you want to see our latest articles – lists full of tips, inspiration & motivation – subscribe to our newsletter!

Are you ready for the world to see your business with fresh eyes? Contact Lionzest to discuss how we can energize your business and make you shine.

 

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Survival Show: From storm to rainbow

Do you have bad days? 

Meet Mariel (Laurie) who discovered her strength & her new biz from a health life storm she had to go through. She will teach you to leave the “treadmill of insanity” by learning “to be” instead of “doing”. Thank you Laurie, for all your tips. 

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COVID Routine: TOP 15 Tips in my Lionzest Survival Kit

When I was a kid, I hated the idea of ‘routine’ and even just the word itself. I was afraid if I fell into a routine, I would stop being the passionate person that I am, which is the equivalent of happiness to me. Today, with this life storm we are facing, I’m incredibly thankful that I have a routine.

Although it is altered in some ways I feel as though if I didn’t follow this routine, I would not be myself – the girl with the lion inside, the girl with the pink glasses. Today, I thank God for routine!

So here are a few tips for getting through this crazy time. I hope I can help you see through pink glasses too:

TOP 15 Tips in my Lionzest Survival Kit:

 

1. Pet Therapy

I wake up and the first thing I do is pet my cat, which has been proven to be good for my health. Research shows that a cat’s purr not only lowers stress but can also lower blood pressure!!

2. Quotation inspiration

I grab my phone to find a quote that gives me a small boost. I like to share these quotes on my social networks to spread positivity to others. Check out my Lionzest Instagram and Facebook and let me know if any inspire you!

3. Accomplishment #1

I make my bed. If I don’t accomplish much (or anything) during the day, at least I know I made my bed! It also makes my room look cleaner and when I turn in for the night it feels like a little retreat.

4. Finding my zen

Meditation with the app Let’s Meditate.  I love it because I can do it in bed and the app lets you pick a theme and a duration. Go for 5 minutes, 14 minutes, 42 minutes…You decide! Some of the themes you can choose from are: Beginner’s Guide, Attract Abundance, Ease Urgencies, and Confidence. There is a theme for everyone! I find this lowers my stress, anxiety and helps me focus.

5. Better than coffee

I take a shower. I like to mix it up by starting with a hot shower and ending with a cold shower.  It wakes me up and keeps me from thinking about my troubles since I’m busy wondering if I’ll survive the shower!  That’s not all it does – it also improves circulation, helps treat depression, stimulates weight loss and strengthens your immune system. What’s not to love?!

6. Power suit

I get dressed. I feel more confident and ready to take on the day.  This is important to me because if not I feel depressed and will probably give off those negative vibes to others.

7. The great outdoors

I take a long walk with my dog. I smile and greet a lot of people. I even say “hello” to the drivers alone in their buses!  I feel the breeze on my face, stop at the park and take in all the beauty of the water, the birds, rabbits… I am in another world!  My dog is a good guide – if ever I pass a park or walk too fast, she stops, sits and looks at me.  She is 100 pounds so I have no choice but to listen and slow down. These walks outside help my body release endorphins (the happy hormone!) and increase my intake of vitamin D.  On top of it all, this is often where I solve challenges and get my best business ideas!

8. Drugged with music

I listen to my music on full blast while I walk and sometimes in the kitchen while I make my morning shake. Ideally what I listen to is upbeat and full of happiness! Some of my favourite tunes are Happy, Sun is Shining (Axwell & Ingrosso), Say a Little Prayer, Faith (George Michael) and Love Generation.  What’s on your Spotify playlist?

9. Rendezvous with Frank

I have a daily “rendezvous” with François Legault, our Premier, just to know if this whole thing is over yet. He’s live every day at 1 p.m. to give an update on what’s going on. The TV goes OFF immediately after, around 1:30 p.m. If not, welcome to the abyss of fear and what could happen. Then I wouldn’t have the energy to do anything and I’d probably get that ‘it’s the end of the world’ feeling.  So, the TV goes on at 1pm and off at 1:30!

10. Comfort food

I eat!!! A little too much 😊 – except in the morning, when I take my protein shake with all my vitamins. I’ve tried many shakes and this one (Whole Earth & Sea, made in Canada) is my favourite of all. Lunch is often a salad. In the evening it’s really important that the three of us eat together as a family and have the chance to talk about all kinds of things. I make desserts – there have been a lot of banana breads coming out of my kitchen lately, along with reminders of my childhood (fudge, rice krispie squares, pouding chomeur)!!! I love and need to cook for my family.

11. Reaching out

I make daily calls to friends and family to make sure everything is okay with them. I think most people are in their own little bubbles and afraid to reach out. Maybe they’re scared to disturb people or to hear bad news and not know how to react. My sisters are used to my calls so for them it’s just a nice part of their daily routine. As for my friends, the first thing they always say is: “I am so glad you called”. I hear the gratitude in their voices and in return, it makes me feel good. By taking a small and simple action, I feel as though I have made a difference.

12. Giving back & having purpose

I work, which gives me purpose and helps me feel useful.  I’m currently working on my “Survival Show” video series and I’m having so much fun doing it.  When I’m not helping a client with videos and their image, I feel as though I’m making a difference by introducing amazing people and giving advice on how to survive this ‘thing’ we are all going through.

13. Relaxation time

In the evening: long live Netflix!!!  I’ve finished all the shows I was watching and now I need inspiration – do you have any suggestions for me? For you, here are some of the shows I was hooked on: Modern Love, Peaky Blinders, Morning Show, Last Kingdom, Self Made, The Crown, The Witcher, The Hunters (Al Pacino is amazing!), Unorthodox, David Letterman: My Guest Needs No Introduction, The Bodyguard, Grace & Frankie (hard to believe they’re 80!!), and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (probably inspired by Joan Rivers). Let me know if you give any of them a try!

14. Perfect sleep formula

To set myself up for a good sleep, I make a big cup of Sleepytime chamomile herbal tea (the box with the teddy bear on it!), and I also take a good quality Magnesium supplement. This is my magic recipe – I sleep like a baby afterwards and forget whatever is going on to dream of a better tomorrow!

15. The power of positivity

I try to stay positive all day long.  I think that my positive attitude, music, family and the other tips mentioned above have truly been lifesavers for me!

 

So, the next time you see me radiating bubbly happiness and you wonder if it is all in my DNA, now you know: it’s not, I get a little help every day!

 

Need more help?  I hear you.  I have been working on a series of video interviews to help you get through this.  They are short and will introduce you to amazing, talented experts who will share their stories and their tips.  Please come watch on Facebook & Youtube. Like, comment & share – you might even help brighten someone else’s day!

 

We’re going to be okay. Now that I’ve shared mine, I’d love to hear what your routine is to help you get through this!

 

Are you ready for the world to see your business with fresh eyes? Contact Lionzest to discuss how we can energize your business and make you shine.

 

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My Father’s “Why” – Integrity, business and fathers

Integrity: The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

This is the story of a passionate man. Passionate about work, family and life. What drove this passion? His clear purpose to avenge his father and be a great dad.

This is the story of my father and the events that made him the man he was and me the person that I am.

Born in 1918, he would have been 100 years old this November.

My father was a protector. Probably because of what was once taken from his family. You see, he was very close with his own father, Henri, who tragically passed away when my father

was just 17.

Henri was an entrepreneur with integrity and passion. Peladeau Lumber was his business.

In the 1920’s, when hardly anyone was travelling abroad, Henri imported the latest technology – a machine to make his business run faster and better. He was very avant-garde, always staying one step ahead. Nothing could stop him. At a time when business was monopolized by the English, my French-Canadian grandfather stormed the gates of entrepreneurship in Quebec.

And he made his mark. He went to mass every night, had a golden tongue, lived with integrity and suffered one fatal flaw – that he believed everyone else was honorable, like him.

My grandmother tried to warn him with the wise words, “There are no friends in business.” Sadly, she was right.

My grandfather did business with two people he believed to be friends. People he believed lived with integrity, spoke the truth and were honorable. They were not. And he lost everything as a result.

Shortly after that devastating loss, he died of throat cancer.

My father suffered greatly from the loss of his father, a man he admired, respected and considered his “buddy”.

Henri was generous to a fault, happy to treat the neighborhood children to ice cream while his wife waited anxiously at home for the groceries he had been sent out to buy. In the eyes of my father, Henri was everything he wanted to be. A good person, a good father and a good businessman

When Henri died, many of his so-called “friends” disappeared. When my grandfather had been a rich and healthy man, the family was very popular. When he lost his company and was diagnosed with cancer, it was as if people thought his downfall was contagious. A whole community disappeared.

Sadly, cancer and poverty bring the best and the worst in people.

That experience became the foundation of my father’s character. He became very careful about who he associated with and never granted time to superficial people.

He once said to me, “The most beautiful inheritance is to receive nothing because it gives you the motivation to want to get back what you lost.”

The house in Outremont, the cottage on the waterfront in St-Eustache, the business, his name. My grandfather lost everything except for the love and admiration of his son.

My father started his revenge plan young and followed in his father’s entrepreneurial footsteps. He went to war and, during his stay in England, studied to be an accountant in order to understand figures and ensure nobody ever played him. Then he took a long distance course to learn everything about lumber (this was long before the internet!).

He started work at a leading lumber company, working his way up the ladder to become vice president. Working almost day and night, he ended up in the hospital after suffering a heart attack. When the doctors ordered him to rest, he decided it was the perfect time to open his own business. Against, of course, the advice of the doctor and my mother!

My father’s priority was to put his plan into action; to build his new company from scratch and reclaim his father’s honor. He made a name for himself in the lumber industry and his business thrived because it was built on solid values.

When he turned 86 years old, after living a good life and achieving his purpose, my father left to join his father. But his company continues after more than 60 years, thriving on the same values of commitment and, above all, integrity.

My father’s “why” was to build a company and a life that would have filled his father with pride, as much in family, as in business, as in life.

He wanted more than anything in the world to finish his father’s work of being a great dad and building a great business, both based on solid grounds.

100 years after his birth, the legacy lives on. His why, his purpose, is in Bois Peladeau and in my family’s household. His business partner is now 88 years old and still goes to work everyday because he enjoys what he built with my father so much and now continues to build the future with his son.

In my own business, I keep the legacy strong as well, surrounding myself with people like him and searching out only clients, partners, suppliers and friends with integrity and authenticity. My father was often described as the lion of the family, and I have even infused that into my business. Lions resonate with courage and integrity – the cornerstones of Lionzest. To live with integrity is my grandfather’s inheritance and it is the best inheritance!

Aside from always living with integrity, the greatest lesson my father and grandfather taught me is that a successful business starts with understanding your “why”. Your passion, your purpose is what drives you forward and empowers you to connect with your audience.

This is why, before each video (since the camera does not lie) I ask my clients to be fiercely authentic. That authenticity is what I find most attractive in business and in life, and it’s what resonates with your customers.

What is your “why”? Don’t worry if you’re not clear on it. That’s where I come in. Contact me today. Together, we’ll uncover your “why” and make you shine!

Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Grandfather. Happy Father’s Day, wherever you are!


 

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