Thursday, April 19, 2012

Just Breathe

This past weekend I attended Breathe Now, a western Canada conference organized by 4 fabulous women, for women!  What a wonderful weekend-I needed the time and space to just relax and breathe, which is exactly what I did. Conferences are always so much fun, because you get to meet such amazing people.  I added many new names to follow on Twitter, as well as sites to visit and people to see.

Breathe Now was also my very first speaking experience where I wasn't on a panel, but talking for 20 minutes straight-which is a little nerve wracking.  My session was on community, and I talked about how I went from a 'good girl' who never rocked the boat, to an opinionated community builder.  It was quite a journey, and you can expect to see a post here along the same lines for those of you who didn't make it to Breathe Now.

I left on Friday and caught a ferry, took the bus to downtown Vancouver, and made my way to the Helijet terminal.  The terminal is a hike from the bus stops along Georgia street, and it was a bit of a challenge to make my way to the terminal.

Hint: there is a walk way from the train station to the sea bus, and you can take that to get to the helijet.  Although the signs DO say "Fare Paid Zone" as you descend the escalators to the sea bus, transit security told me it was okay and that tickets are not checked until you are actually at the sea bus.  For the helijet, you go out a side door once you reach the bottom.

Helijet in Vancouver

Helijet flew me from Vancouver Harbour to the Victoria Harbour. At the terminals there were complimentary snacks, coffee, newspapers, wifi, and a computer. I absolutely loved the flight and the views were fantastic!  As someone who has spent many, many hours on ferries, it was amazing to have the opportunity to experience a flight instead.  I don't think I could ever afford to do this on a regular basis, but as a treat or special occasion, flying to the Island is well worth it.

The views were phenomenal.  Wow, we live in a beautiful area.

North ShoreGulf Islands

Once I arrived in Victoria I did a little exploring, ate an amazing prawn curry at the Bengal Lounge in the Empress with Shelly from Eves Tribe, and headed to bed.  From my room, I could see the Parliament buildings and BC Museum all lit up.

View from my Hotel Room

For the first day of Breathe Now, I had the chance to enjoy speakers.  We talked about fashion and how to build a wardrobe with Bonnie from Mayfair Mall.  Did you know that you can book a time with her to get a fashion consultation for free?  What a deal!    Next was my favourite session-Talking about Mental Health with Airdrie Miller and Jess Howard.

Sometimes, you go to conferences and it's all about money and sponsors.  The conversations get lost in talk about hits, sponsors, SEO, and business networking. Granted those things are part of blogging, but I loved that Breathe Now focused on US, the writers, and taking time to breathe and take care of ourselves.

Rona  Maynard

Rona Maynard was fantastic.  I loved listening to her!

After all that connecting I had the chance to have dinner at Vista 18 with my aunt and uncle, who I loved dearly and don't see nearly enough.  For some reason I didn't get a photo, which I wish I did-but it was amazing to see them again.   That evening, I hung out with the rest of the Breathe Now people at Temple, where we watched a fashion show and got to know each other.

The next day was my session, which I think went well, and then we listened to Biff Naked.  I admit I haven't listened to her music before, but she was lovely. Tiny, soft spoken, warm, funny and kind, her talk at Breathe Now inspired me the most.  I highly recommend that if you ever get the chance to hear her speak, you need to go.  One thing that made me giggle was I commented on how much I loved her shoes-gorgeous pumps that I would SO wear.  You would assume that a celeb would be wearing Jimmy Choos or some other ridiculously expensive item, but she smiled, then took one off and held it out to me.  They are vegan, she explained-and from The Bay.

I loved that.

Bif NakedBreathe Now

Lunches with friends, shared bars of chocolates during sessions, chatting with the Used Victoria ladies, meeting bloggers who I've chatted with for months, all came together to make the  entire weekend  a blast.  This was so not the hectic "oh my goodness I have to be in a million places at once" type of conference, or one where women were trying to out clamour each other for brands, but a more relaxed, centered, inspirational conference.   I cannot wait to return next year (yes, there will be a next year!), and breathe.

Just breathe.

Disclosure:  As a speaker, I was treated to a return heli-jet flight and 2 nights at the Empress hotel courtesy of Heli-jet and Fairmont Hotels, both sponsors of the conference.  They were both absolutely amazing and I can't thank them enough for a fantastic weekend. 

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