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  • Do you desire a life where you know and live your inner purpose? That instead of floating through life you know exactly what your true desires are and living to your fullest potential? Do you feel like what you are longing for is just hidden under the surface and once you discover it there will be no holding you back?

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Lesley Stefanski, Vancouver
We wake up to the cool crisp December air and it instantly feels like Christmas. After travelling for over 28 hours we linger over breakfast and slowly put ourselves together before heading to our final destination, our downtown condo.

Once we’re packed, for the last time, and secured into the vehicle we make the trip West and as we descend the hill to our home I take in a long breath then sigh, a restorative sigh. We are home! And I am so happy.

After years of wondering where home was, and even though we knew earlier this year that we would be staying in Vancouver longer than the initial anticipated 3 years, we now know that Vancouver is home. And always will be home.

We walk into a home that smells of lemon and cleaning solution and a fridge stocked full of groceries from my mom. There are white flowers placed in a white milk jug to celebrate our return. And the view! We stand at the window taking it all in while memories of the past two and a half months flash in front of us. What a life we live!

Setting to work putting our belongings away and starting the laundry everything feels just right. We stop for a quick lunch at one of our favourite cafes before heading back home to a setting sun. There is piano music playing, as always, and when I dim the lights memories from last year come to mind. The anticipation of our baby and celebrating our last christmas alone. Then there was the memory of different piano music playing but the way the lights dimmed memories of Isla’s first days with us with the dark night sky and sleepless nights. Everything becomes a glittering memory with the cool crisp December air.

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Our last few days in Porto flow easily into one another as we finish off with three different Port tours as well as a visit to the Bolsa Palace near the river bank. We take walks along the river’s edge in the sunlight taking in the city that we called home for a month in as much as possible. We visit our favourite restaurants for the last time to enjoy our favourite meals as well as to say goodbye to the ones who have served us. On one of our last evenings we venture to a new restaurant and the whole way Isla is awake and crying – we think it might be a horrible evening and consider cancelling our reservations. However we are greeted with smiles and helpful hands who whisk our baby away to entertain her while we enjoy a three course meal. It is one of the most relaxing meals we’ve had in awhile.

Our last night in Porto the city begins the Christmas celebrations with christmas lights, antique markets, marching bands, outdoor ice rinks, as well as beautifully displayed Christmas markets. We walk around one last time enjoying all the sights and sounds, walking one last time up the steep hills before stopping for one last family selfie in front of the lit up Christmas tree. It was the perfect send off.

We begin our journey home with a happy smiling babe, who everyone calls the most happiest well behaved baby they have ever met. We are asked time and time again if she is always like this and we answer with pride “yes”. We are calm and relaxed, knowing there will be moments of tears and cries from her. When we are standing still in a lineup for over two hours she is awake and somehow happy, always looking for the next person to smile at, to spread some cheer and make their day.

Then finally, after many many hours of travelling, we crawl it into a familiar bed and we all fall asleep together. When we wake up at 7am the following morning on December 1 we realize our European adventure has finally come to an end, but our life as a family is still beginning.

Lesley Stefanski, blogging, authentically
When I first started blogging it was more like an online journal entry filled with quick little snippets of my thoughts from that day, or even events and outings. There was nothing significant except for the outrageous spelling mistakes and horrendous grammatical errors. But I wrote for me and me alone. It was the perfect introduction for me to write authentically and honestly.

Then I started writing as an extension of my business everything changed. I started looking to see how other people were writing or expressing themselves and quickly got lost in the world of writing without a voice. I was in constant turmoil because I felt like I couldn’t write or express myself the way that other bloggers could. I felt that I had to use inspiration from their blog topics or categories and write similarly to gain any sort of readership. I became so clouded with everyone else’s words that it took me awhile to realize how lost I was from my own true voice and writing style.

I have been asked on numerous occasions how I have been able to find my own writing style, how to write authentically and honestly in a way that resonates with readers and allows yourself to be set a part.

I feel inadequate to be teaching on how to write authentically since I still feel like I’m on the journey myself, but I will share what I have learned and what I know to be true for me.

 

The guide to Writing and Blogging Authentically:

 

1) What style are you attracted to?

I researched and kept track of the style of writing that appealed to me. This was everything from magazines, blogs, novels, and books. I learned that I enjoyed reading detailed, feminine and sometimes called floral style of writing. It moved me in ways that typically only classical writing has in the past.

I began experimenting with this style of writing and found that although there were a few bumps to overcome, I began to look forward to writing and expressing myself in a more feminine and detailed way.

This style of writing has been called too elaborate for business writing, and though I agree when writing sales pages or contracts, it is completely different for a blog.

2) What topics resonate with you?

This time I took to researching what made my heart skip a beat or flutter a little bit faster when speaking with others. This one took more time as I have lots of interests and passions, but I slowly started to narrow it down to which topics made me the most excited to speak about. I absolutely love to talk about dreams and visions, business and creative industries, and creating a lifestyle that resonates deeply with you.

I then began to experiment with these topics on my blog and took note as to which ones I was having difficulty writing about, which ones came easily, and which ones I was resisting all together.

Typically what I was resisting was the topic that I was going through at the moment or what I needed to write about the most. When I realized I was having difficultly on another topic I assessed whether it was something I truly enjoyed writing about or was forcing myself to write about it because I felt that it complimented the rest of my writing or was ‘expected’ of me because others in my industry wrote about it.

Every topic I wrote about would be assessed with whether I enjoyed writing about it or not and once enough research was gathered I would decide whether it was something I wanted to continue writing about or not.

3) What topics resonate with your readers?

After you have done the research as to what you enjoy writing about now you can start researching what your readers enjoy reading! This one is the most time consuming as the research never ends.

I assess what resonates with my readers through the following avenues:

  • comments and likes on the post, Facebook, or Instagram
  • google analytics and how many click throughs I received through Facebook or Instagram
  • google analytics to view the most popular posts
  • google analytics to view the topics that my readers are most attracted to

Once you have a writing style that you enjoy, topics that you can’t stop writing about, and a list of posts/topics that resonate with your readers you begin to build a strong platform to continue building upon while your tastes and life experiences expand and grow.

Even though you have done all this research you will most likely still have days where you feel like what your writing about has already been written about. You will have days where you feel like you are forcing yourself to write even when you have no desire to press another key on the keyboard. You will wonder if anyone cares if you write another word. You will wonder if you are lost in the sea of all the other bloggers and writers in the world.

I can only say is yes, it probably has already been transcribed by someone else. You are another blog amongst the billions out there. But no matter what, your voice, your thoughts, your views are needed and wanted and even if there is only one reader – write to that one reader.

  • December 10, 2014 - 3:09 AM

    Jenny - Thank you so much for this post Lesley. I love your ability to adapt your love for literature and styles of writing to your own writing. Great post!ReplyCancel

    • December 12, 2014 - 10:01 AM

      Lesley - You are welcome Jenny!ReplyCancel

  • December 11, 2014 - 3:32 PM

    Scarlett - This is a great reminder of remember to really look at others writing and keep practicing to refine your own style!ReplyCancel

    • December 12, 2014 - 10:01 AM

      Lesley - Writing and refining is a never ending process for sure!ReplyCancel

Weekend in Lisbon-16
We prepare for our trip south and we are packed into one backback before jumping in a taxi and then on a train within an hour. As we settle into our seats we smile at each other that being the well seasoned travellers that we are it takes no time to fill a bag with only the things we need for a weekend getaway. She sleeps soundly on the train and when she does wake she is happy to enjoy sitting on our laps playing with our faces and hands.

We arrive into Lisbon and instantly feel the pulse of the city and the warmth of the sun on our faces. What a change from stormy Porto! A quick walk from the station we enter into a luxurious apartment right in the centre of the city with a view down a famous street that meets the water. We unpack and settle in before placing her in the stroller to grab a quick bite at a nearby cafe. With eclectic furnishings and the friendliest baristas Mister and I eat in silence while they entertain Isla so we can enjoy our meal. I grab a cup of fruit salad and savour every single bite of kiwi, pineapple, mango, and grapes. It is so delicious I cannot help but smile.

We stroll through the city to another nearby station and hop on a train West. We step off the platform in the most magical of places where there is a beautiful flowing energy that makes you think of secret gardens and fairies dancing in beams of light. We walk the cobblestone path through a thick forest that smells of fresh rain and spring water, the air thick with humidity but a coolness of dew on your face. We make our way to a beautiful and majestic country estate with an indian influence. Everything is simply romantic filled with light and open spaces. We spend as much time as possible walking through the house and through the gardens before we have to make our way home. Throughout the whole experience Isla babbled and exclaimed in her excited way whenever we walked through a passageway in the home or through the forest, completely happy with our excursion. And while we made our way home she fell asleep in his arms, completely at peace to be with us. We place her in the pram later that evening to go out for dinner at a nearby restaurant and have a delicious meal that once again we savour and enjoy completely. We talk excitedly about the past few weeks together, how much Isla has grown and the little person she is becoming, we talk of our plans for the next couple of weeks and most importantly our last week in Europe. When we finally crawl into bed we are tired, full, satisfied and completely energized.

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The next morning we are awake early and ready to start the day with anticipation. We leave the flat and walk across the street to a nearby hotel lounge where we enjoy a delicious breakfast and a latte while Isla sits in her highchair, content and happy. She gravitates everyone towards her with her smiles and willingness to giggle and play peek-a-boo with ease. We walk the streets towards Igreja do Carmo and take in the beauty of the old ruin and the magnificent stone carvings and the view of the city below. Our afternoon is slow wandering around the city, the air thick with the smell of roasting chestnuts as we make our way through the streets taking in as much as possible. We stop into a lingerie store where I stock up on beautiful italian lace bras and then later I stock up on classic cardigans in grey, navy, and black. We take a tram to nearby Mosteiro dos Jeronimos where the building is filled with such intricate architectural details that everything looks like lace. Once again everything is breathtaking. We head out for dinner later that evening and under a candle lit dinner where the room smells of delicious vanilla we sink into deserts that leave a lasting flavour on our tongues.

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Sunday morning we take our breakfast once again in the hotel lounge where they are excited to see Isla. We linger over bowls of fresh fruit, buttery croissants, and tangy orange juice. With our stomachs full we explore the castle above the city, spending as much time as possible before the rain sets in and our train whistle blows to take us home. She sleeps almost the whole train ride home while him and I sit in our seats next to one another we hold the other’s hand filled with love – for each other, for her, for travel, and for this experience of living abroad.

The evening we return from Lisbon we feel a jolt of energy run through our system as we realize it is our last week in Porto and our last week in Europe. We place her in her pram late at night and wander until we find a restaurant that is open and find a french influence tapas restaurant that delights us completely. We savour each bite and sip a smooth yet bold Portuguese red wine. While she sleeps next to us we talk of traditional elegance and how we want that to look like for us. We also talk of a chateau in the mountains where we celebrate future Christmases together, starting our own traditions and way of doing life.

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Lesley Stefanski, Lifestyle Design
Our second to last week in Porto is filled with all the familiar rituals of daily life. Of waking in white sheets and bringing her into our bed so she can crawl and explore to her heart’s content while we wipe the sleep from our eyes. Of laundry tumbling then being hung to dry, playtimes on the hardwood floor where she learns to crawl up and down the couch with such ease and speed that soon the bed is no challenge for her. Of bottle washing, feedings, and bedtime snuggles. All within its own space in time.

Porto is filled with hills so we get our daily exercise pushing her pram up and down the steep hills to our many destinations. Everywhere we turn we met with beautifully restored buildings with gorgeous tile work and intricate ceiling details and also with completely run down and ruined buildings that it is impossible for anyone to live there.

We take a walk to a near by manicured garden and lay my scarf from Tanzania on the damp grass to let her crawl around and explore her surroundings. The view of the city is gorgeous from the stone walls the surround the garden and the greenery is just starting to change from the lush hue of summer to the tangy hues of autumn. She crawls over and under us and we leave her be, happy to watch her from our spot on the grass.

We find a quiet little restaurant that serves that most delicious burgers that we frequent often and becomes our go-to lunch spot.