I'm standing in a field with a light-brown hat covering my nose and mouth.

Saying Goodbye to 34 & Hello to 35!

This past Wednesday, I celebrated my 35th birthday! Woohoo! It was filled with beautiful well-wishes, love, fun, balloons and, of course, lots of cake. As a way to commemorate entering my mid-30s, I asked the fantastic Sara Wilbur of Sara Wilbur Photography to do a photo shoot for my birthday.

I'm sitting in a field with colourful balloons behind me. I'm smiling as I hold out a cupcake.
Happy birthday to me! There’s no better way to celebrate your birthday than with balloons, cupcakes, and your favourite hat.

I’ve known Sara for over five years. She was the third person I met when I started working at the CNIB Foundation, formally known as CNIB. She was a corporate communications specialist, and to be honest, an absolute badass! She’s always been super creative and talented, and when she started her photography business, I knew I needed to do a session with her.

I won’t lie; I had no idea what to expect or what I wanted. But, what I did know is that I wanted photos to be fun, silly, and capture who I am today. As we were gearing up for the shoot, Sara asked me a bunch of questions about what I wanted, and I really had no clue. At the end of the day, we shot at the Bowmanville Valley Conservation Area. She picked up colourful balloons and cupcakes, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I'm sitting in a field and have just taken a bite out of my cupcake. Colourful balloons are behind me and I have icing on my lips.
Taking a bite into turning 35!

Now, while I’m incredibly excited about turning 35, I’m also really proud of what I accomplished as a 34-year-old. There were things I did that I’ve had on my bucket list, but thought would never happen for me. So I want to take a moment to say “YAY ME!” and acknowledge what I managed to do.

So, what happened when I was 34? Well, let’s see…

  • I learned to feel sexy in my own skin – Shortly after I turned 34, I did a boudoir shoot with the amazing Provocateur Images. I’ve always struggled with feeling comfortable in my skin, but after that experience and seeing the results, my self-image completely changed. You can read all about that experience in my post, Loving the skin I’m in.
  • We finally re-organized the guest room – Since we’ve moved in, our guest room had become this repository of stuff. I’m not going to lie, it was pure chaos. I hated the idea of even opening the door to that room because it was just abunch of ugly. Well, in January, we finally finished up the guest room to something that has become one of my favourite rooms in the house. You can read all about it in my post, One Room Challenge – Guest Room Reveal.
  • I became certified – In February, I became one of the first 50 people IN THE WORLD to become certified as an Accessible Documents Specialist from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. This may be a little niche, but I’ve had a passion for creating accessible content since my second day at the CNIB Foundation. I’ve been constantly learning, growing and applying my knowledge to create accessible digital content. This certification took a hell of a lot of studying and practice, but it was totally worth it!
  • I was an IABC World Conference presenter – In June, I did something that I’ve been dreaming about since my first semester in the PR program at Durham College; I presented at the IABC World Conference. I’ll never forget where I was when I learned that I was accepted to speak at this prestigous conference. Peter and I had just met at Home Depot in Whitby, Ont., to pick something up. I got a notification as I was parking that I had a new email. When I opened it, I actually screamed. Like, if someone had said, “Good God get a grip girl” to me, they would have been totally right to say it. I lost my shit! I couldn’t believe it. A happy dance and some tears followed, but then it was time to get to work and putting the presentation together. I was so nervous to present at the conference, which as virtual in 2021 given the pandemic. That whole imposter syndrome was turning its ugly head, but I NAILED IT! I’m still in disbelief that it even happened, but it did!!!
  • I became a public speaker – OK, so after the IABC World Conference, I started to submit presentation proposals to conferences where I felt I had something to offer. Most recently, I spoke at the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta, Ga. I will say, what I do talk about and present is always focused on communications embedding accessibility into its various practices. Even if I can help just one person or organization become more inclusive and accessible in their communications, I’ve done a good job.
  • I landed my dream jobs – After just over 5.5 years with the CNIB Foundation, things changed for me. While I absolutely loved the people I was working with and what the organization was doing, I just felt like something was missing. So, I took a leap of faith and joined an incredible company called AbleDocs. Not only that, in that same week, I was offered the role of part-time co-ordinator for the PR and Strategic Communications program at Durham College, the same program I graduated from back in 2015. Seriously, they came up one day apart. It was just meant to be. And, I can’t stress this enough, I’m beyond happy and fulfilled with what I’m doing now.

But some things happened in day-to-day interactions that also had such a significant impact on me. Simple Zoom dates with friends, movie nights in with Peter, cuddling my dogs, silly jokes with my boss…there’s just so much day-to-day stuff that made 34 such a wonderful year.

I'm standing on a bridge holding colourful balloons. I'm wearing a light-brown hat, a black leather jacket, a black dress and a light-coloured scarf.
I still can’t believe everything I accomplished when I was 34!

Now that I’m 35, what am I looking forward to most? Honestly, I want to focus on work-life balance. I’m continuing to work on myself and my relationships with those who are closest to me. I want to grow my professional brand in my field and speak at more conferences. I know I’m weird for wanting to speak in front of a large group of people, but I’ve learned to love it! At the end of the day, I just want to be happy!

So, cheers to turning 35! May this year bring me as much joy as the last.

Until next time!

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