Tag Archives: Gradititude

Coffee shop conversations

When’s the last time you had a meaningful and uplifting conversation with a stranger?

There’s no denying it, winters in Vancouver are dreary. The constant rain and cold makes it easy to justify staying in and cuddling up in your warm bed instead of venturing out… Netflix marathon anyone? If you’re like me, cooping yourself up in the house, avoiding the crappy weather can make the days lonely and leave you feeling uninspired and demotivated.

I have to admit the rainy weather gives me the lonely winter blues from time to time. Today, I decided I wasn’t going to let the rain be an excuse to sit around the house – so I got my butt out the door and headed to my favourite place to go when I need to feel inspired: my local coffee shop.

I came with my ipad, notebook and pen in tow, all set to read the news paper and then get to mapping out some juicy goals and action plans with my steaming cup of coffee!

I grabbed a coveted window seat and proceeded to look for today’s Globe and Mail (my favourite paper).. I started glancing around with no luck, then was informed by the older gentlemen sitting two seats over that there were no papers today due to the holiday. Darn.

He continued to tell me that he too was disappointed that there was no paper to read with his coffee, and then looked at me with an inviting smile and said: “I guess we’ll have to just talk to one another instead, huh?”

Wait. What? Talk to each other? For some people, that kind of invitation would instantly make them think ‘no way, i’m too busy to spend time talking to a stranger’ or – even more common, a profound uncomfortable feeling. I could have easily turned him down and exited the cafe… but I plastered a smile on my face and said: “Sounds like a great idea (extended my hand), I’m Amanda.”

For the next hour I chatted with my new friend, Sol, and learned all about his his wonderful wife, two beautiful daughters (his face completely lit up every time he talked about them, I might add) and his dog, Gucci (who I recognize as the beautiful boarder collie who’s often tied up outside of the coffee shop). We shared a few laughs, got deep into a conversation about politics and the civil unrest happening back in his home country in the middle east – and then he spoke, almost tearfully, about how grateful he was to be able to live in Canada.

Ah ha! One of my favourite topics. Whenever people talk about how fortunate and grateful they are to live in a country as free and prosperous as Canada, I immediately find that wonderful meaningful connection that lights me up inside.

An hour flew by before I realized I had to leave, but before I could, he asked me what I did with my spare time? I told him about my love for weight lifting and fitness and he looked at me wide-eyed and said: “On top of your career you do all of that?! You are one wonderful woman. After a big smile and a hug, I said goodbye, thanked him for the wonderful conversation and headed outside to give Gucci some love before I headed off.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to get inspired and energized is to engage in meaningful conversation – especially with new people. I love hearing people’s stories, experiences, history and most importantly – perspectives on common issues. By talking and sharing our thoughts with others it allows us to earn new things, meet new people and find meaning – both in the most simple or complex of ways. To some people, striking up conversation with a complete stranger sounds bizarre, uncomfortable and honestly the very last thing you want to do when you’re feeling lonely or not your best self, but I know meaningful conversation and connection is what lifts my mood and inspires me the absolute most.

The sad fact is, we don’t make time for random conversation and experiences anymore. You never know when that next stranger you chat with could become your next partner, mentor, business associate or life-long friend.

So, the next time you’re at your favourite coffee shop, why not start a casual conversation with a stranger? You might not get lucky every time, but I’m confident you’ll come away with new found energy, new perspectives, knowledge, or at the very least, a new face to say hello to the next time you stop in for your cup of joe.


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What amazing feats did you accomplish last week?

Friend: “How was your week?”

Me: “Well (pauses to think), ummm… amazing, actually now that I think about it, pretty amazing.”

Hold that thought…

Before I get to why this past week has been so great, I have to voice my apologies to those who follow this blog (the handful or two haha). In recent months I’ve found myself not exactly uninterested in writing, but have simply chosen to spend my time soaking up reality versus glued to technology. Spending time with friends, teaching and working out at the gym, reading and just being disconnected… in order to be more connected to my life.

It’s one of those problems us Gen Y’s face on a daily basis. Be connected, create content and share your life socially… but be careful not to be too connected.. or create too much…or share too much.. where are we supposed to draw the line?! It’s a fine line and for those of you who have mastered it, kudos to you. For those of us still searching.. don’t give up!

Switching back to this past week…

If you’re new to The PR Life, you should probably know the my day job consists of working in a high-stress, work-with-a-constant-sence-of-urgency, media relations/crisis focused, PR agency. It’s great and I love it, don’t get me wrong – but I often care too much about my job… I know, hugeeee problem to have right? Some days when you have five upcoming deadlines (three of which are past-due), three clients emailing you with requests that need attention immediately (all of whom are made to believe and feel like they are our only client of course) and a call that a crisis is just about to break for another client… you may experience your pulse start to race, your head spin and your chest tighten because you have no idea where to start.


Okay, this may have been a tad of an over-exaggeration. The five-deadlines are usually only two… but everything else is legit!

As tough as this can be, it’s all worth it when your client’s story (that you conceptualized, wrote and pitched to the assignment editor) makes the front page of the local newspaper you secured the day before. It’s worth it when your colleagues are just as excited about a two-minute radio interview, as you are (even if the client really doesn’t understand how hard you worked as a team to make that happen). And, it’s worth it when you send over a coverage report to a client and their minds = blown. That’s amazing.


Now let’s jump to spending quality times with friends, social commitments and second jobs.

*Raise your hand if this describes you.*

Greattttt – we’re all over-achievers. Glad we settled that. So imagine this: you see a tweet a few weeks past from a local woman’s entrepreneurial-philanthropic networking group saying: “only ONE spot left for our next all-male-staffed, hottest-bar-in-the-city, event!”

My reaction: Well, I haven’t been to a networking event in a while… and I’d have to go alone (#getuncomfortable)… sign me up!

Two weeks later I find myself chatting with a lovely young lady who I had the pleasure of meeting once over coffee nearly a year ago. We were catching up and she was telling me all about her new exciting job (which she loves) and when someone joins the conversation and asks how we know each other she jumps in “Amanda was the reason I quit my job, changed my career goals and found something I truly love. She basically changed my life.”


Me: Ughhhh… what?

So that’s not awkward or anything to the person we just met. I’m sure they were thinking “Who the hell is this girl?”

Not only that, but the friend who insisted this girl chat with me – also met up with me this past week for a catch up. Funny enough, her and I had a similar conversation this past fall. She too decided at that time to quit her job, take time to re-align herself with her passions, travel the world and come back to land an incredible new opportunity of a job (seriously mind-blowing, congrats again lady – well deserved)! She told me that a large part of her decision was because of our conversation about being passionate about everything you do in your life. Through that conversation, she found courage to take the leap.

I am simply humbled.

Okay, let’s really talk about second “jobs”

I used quotations because my second job is really not something that I consider a job. I consider what I do with my personal time actually a gift.

How I got so lucky to find such a supportive, driven, motivating fitness community still baffles me. Over the past eight months I’ve been training at a functional fitness gym called Element Athletic. I fortunately was thrown into it while taking my kettlebell certification back in March of last year and immediately realized this place was exactly what I had been looking for, for years. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by motivated, friendly, go-getters who enjoy kicking their own butt just as much as the next person?


That’s what I thought.

As of recently, I’ve been given the opportunity to put my ass-kicking motivational teaching style to the test. Again, I’ve been blown away by the support, excitement and acceptance from my peers (many of who can out-burpee and out-pullup me like pros, I might add) – who are thrilled to get some female instruction into the already wicked culture.

Although they are appreciative of my whip-cracking motivation, I am more appreciative of the opportunity to lead such awesome, hard-working, fitness nuts (I say that in the most like-minded, endearing way of course.. as I’m one of them)! I feel selfish in some regard because the motivation, contentment and positive energy that I get out of the entire experience is something unequivocally amazing.


So this is all great, right?

Right… so why, when my friend asked how my week was, was I about to start complaining about things I still haven’t achieved or that I still can’t do a pullup (I’m working on this and I have a plan that I will be posting about soon – check back if you want to do it with me!) or start talking about where I envision my career in three years? WHY? Because I get too wrapped up in constant pressure to do more, be everywhere at once and be further in life than where I am now. All this stress, for no reason.

I am grateful for my friend’s question because he reminded me the importance of reflection. Reflecting back to those experiences and aspects of life that make you happy is something so important that often gets overlooked, but is immensely valuable for your mental state.

So, when you’re feeling stressed or as if you have bitten off more than you can chew – think about how many tasks you accomplished in the past week. How many hurtles did you clear? How many people did you help inspire?

I bet know it’s more than you think.

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Filed under Personal Records, Positive Reinforcement, Public Relations