Monday, August 10, 2015

Weekend Adventures

This weekend I had a lot of 'me' time and I feel like it was well deserved. July was an amazing month, but boy was it busy! After Fringe, I was basically in the city for less than a week. I took off to Nashville for an incredible experience at Summit, came home for 4 days and then got back on a plane to go to Alberta for 10 days. I'll be blogging more about both of those trips -- I can't wait to share all that I learned / saw / did / experienced - ahhhh!!

ashley gibson toronto

My weekend started off with a super fun party in the east end of the city to celebrate the first birthday of the Confidential Musical Theatre Project. I've had the pleasure of performing in 2 shows with this company and both have helped me grow as a performer! It's an exhilarating (and terrifying) experience that I think every actor should pursue. I got to sing "I Still Believe in Love" from They're Playing Our Song and broadcasted it live on Periscope (you can follow me @ashleydtl to catch those sorts of things!) It was an awesome night and I had a blast connecting with fellow performers and reflecting on all that has happened in a year!

The rest of the weekend was pretty relaxing. Since I moved to the west end of Toronto (after being an east ender for a loooong time) I've been discovering all sorts of great places in my hood to substitute all of my old haunts. I decided to explore Roncesvalles on Saturday as I was looking for a dress to wear to a wedding in September.

Most of my wardrobe comes from Damzels and I had wanted to visit the west end location for some time - it did not disappoint! I found myself trying on countless dresses and had to choose between a bunch of dresses for the wedding. I found a beautiful green dress to wear and also grabbed a sweet bamboo t-shirt that is so soft! I love the service when I go to Damzels and always leave happy.

damzels toronto

Since it was a 'me' day, I treated myself to a quickie mani at The Ten Spot and enjoyed some huevos rancheros for brunch at The Ace

The Ace Toronto

In between brunching & my manicure, I checked out all sorts of neat little stores on Roncesvalles and had a lovely afternoon! I picked up some awesome cards at Scout and coveted some beautiful jewelry and handbags at Frock. After I nearly walked all the way down to Queen Street, I walked back up to where I had parked my bicycle and biked to the Junction in the sunshine to get a cupcake at Bunners.

gluten free vegan cupcake Toronto Bunners

Peaches and cream? Heck, yes!

It was a perfect day to be out on my bicycle and walking in the sunshine, exploring different neighbourhoods that are close to me. I maybe capped all of that off with a nap - that's what weekends are for, right?!

How was your weekend? Do you have any favourite spots in the west end of Toronto?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fringe 2015

I have to say that Fringe is always one of my favourite times of year - it's kind of like Christmas for actors. You stay out late, see old friends and rush from venue to venue taking in as many shows as your schedule will allow - I love it! With nearly 150 shows happening right now, there truly is something for everyone and a week into the Fringe I am feeling oh-so-inspired.

I started off by seeing People Suck for its opening night last Wednesday which was a great way to kick off the festival! The premise is simple - sometimes people suck - and the cast delivered that message through some very funny songs and physical humour. There was a Gilbert & Sullivan-esque number about grammar that I found especially enjoyable and revelled in all the different ways that people can be terrible. My friend Megan (who I connected with YEARS ago through a message board back in the day) co-wrote and starred in the show and it made me so proud to see her shine! They've been getting great reviews and have had a few sold out shows, which is all kinds of awesome!!

I knew that I would spend most of Saturday engaging in Fringe activities, but I didn't anticipate pushing through 11 hours of musical adventures! I spent the early part of my day in the Annex Theatre, being inspired once again by mega talented friends in Adventures of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl with Rebecca Perry and Starry Notions with Ryan G. Hinds. Rebecca has been all over the Fringe circuit over the last couple of years and is about to embark on an incredible adventure to Edinburgh for their Fringe. She is so talented and works like crazy - it's just so great to see. Before Fringe I had seen glimpses of performances by Ryan G. Hinds, but never a full show -- gah, I was missing out! He is so charismatic, hilarious and rocks glitter lips like it's nobody's business. His show gave me feelings in my eyes and I was captivated by his performance (and especially loved his homage to Disney villain, Ursula)

I spent my afternoon enjoying time with friends, having snacks and got to see Rounding the Bend and I'm Right Here before the day was done. I loved hearing wonderful female harmonies performed by a very talented cast in Rounding the Bend and was reminded of the impact that social media has on our lives in I'm Right Here. Four shows felt like a pretty solid day and I had the chance to see lots of lovely friends in the Fringe tent that evening. 

On Sunday I saw Summerland and I loved every second. 

With a cast of 100 students, this show reminded me of why I decided to go to musical theatre college. I had tears in my eyes for most of the 90 minutes and probably could have easily watched 90 minutes more. So much raw talent. Awesome musical arrangements. Beautiful dancing. A magical story. So special. I was a bit of a wreck at the end of the show and have sung its praises to anyone who will listen since Sunday afternoon. Part of what I love about the Fringe is that for $10 you can be treated to an epic piece of theatre and entertainment that transports you to another world for a moment in your life. I would go see it again in a heartbeat just to feel all the feelings again. Sum-mer-land

I also had the pleasure of seeing Sword Play: A Play of Swords on Sunday night. It was the perfect way to end the weekend with a lot of laughing and memories of my very first Nintendo back in the 80's. 

My Fringe adventures will continue this week! Now that word of mouth is spreading and many reviews have come out, I've narrowed down my picks and booked advance tickets to a few shows. I can't wait to see Morro and Jasp Do Puberty (they're always fab), The Orchid and the Crow (Daniel Tobias is an outstanding performer and it will be great to see him in a very different kind of show) and The Dinner Table which is a site-specific show with only 12 audience members and some of the city's best storytellers + dinner. 

There is still time to get out and see some incredible theatre and party it up in the Fringe tent! Follow along with the #FringeTO hashtag and enjoy some of the amazing talent that is gracing stages all over Toronto this week!! 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Getting Settled into my New Space

It's been a month of change for me with a shiny new job and new home! I moved in with Corbin on May 1st and I've spent the month getting comfy in my new digs. It's certainly a change for me as I had been in my previous home for the last 5 years (with a variety of roommates) AND my new place is in the west end of Toronto.

If you're familiar with Toronto, you know that there is a pretty strong divide between the east and west ends with Yonge Street being the dividing line. While I'm fond of both sides, I am an east ender at heart! I was born at Toronto East General, went to Earl Haig Public School, Westwood Junior High and East York Collegiate and then resided in Greektown/Riverdale for the last 8 consecutive years. I can basically do a tour of "Ashley Gibson, This is Your Life" whilst walking around the east side. That being said, there are lots of great things about where I'm living now and I'm making the adjustment. I love my 15-20 minute bike ride to work on the mornings I'm in the office/kitchen and there's lots of cute places around here that I'm quickly falling in love with. I'm planning to write a couple of posts on my fave spots from my old neighbourhood and then some of my new discoveries.

cycling in Toronto

Part of moving into my new space has been adjusting to my new room. It's about half the size of my old room and has ZERO closet space. I did a whole lot of purging (with some very successful trips to Kind Exchange, Goodwill and Re: Reading) and the experience has encouraged me to work on being more of a minimalist. My previous room had been furnished, so with Lindsay's help I embarked on an Ikea adventure for some pieces to furnish my new space. I'm really happy with the pieces that I found - they're practical and fit the aesthetic I wanted for the room.

With Corbin's help, there was a bit of Tetris to determine the best configuration of my new room and I'm really happy with how it all worked out! I've got a great workspace for the days I work from home or want to sit and blog. I've also got enough space to do my workouts, which makes my life a lot easier! Corbin and I painted last weekend which included a lovely bright white on the walls, a new coat of paint for my bookcase to match the room and some bright sunshine-y yellow on the inside of the bookcase as well as some cubbies for storage. I'm so thankful for everything Corbin has done to help me get settled - he is such an incredible partner and (now) housemate!

With all the furniture in place and (nearly) everything unpacked, it's become time to add finishing touches to add some pizazz to the room. In a serendipitous moment, I received a message from the folks at Minted, highlighting their art marketplace. Minted carries an awesome selection of art (and other pretty things) by artists from all over the world. Artists submit their work and are entered into monthly art and design competitions where the Minted-goers help curate their selection.

I've spent more time than I'd like to admit browsing Minted's selection of artwork! There's a beautiful selection of art, photography and typography. On some prints, you can change the colours to suit the palate you're working with, which is a neat feature. I like that you can easily mark your favourites on your profile and also had fun playing with different configurations of pieces on my pin boards.

Minted pinboard inspiration

(Ohmigosh - the penguin!!)

To make life easy, there's also a variety of frame options that you can pair with your print to make sure you get it right up on your wall! Shipping to Canada for a framed print looks like it might be a bit steep, but if you're in the States the ground shipping option for framed prints doesn't look too bad. Unframed prints up to 16" x 20" come in mailers with protective pads to prevent bending and larger unframed prints are shipped in tubes with various shipping options.

Because of the number of artists who contribute to the marketplace, there really is something for everyone. Every time I see something that I think is my ABSOLUTE favourite, I find something else that changes my mind! I also like that you can easily choose which size you'd like the print in - it makes it super easy to find things that fit into your space, exactly the want you would want them.

Moving into a new space is exciting and I'm doing my best to take the time to make it 'just so'; I spend enough time in there, so I better love it! I'm excited to choose some gorgeous prints, frame 'em and get them up on my bare walls to really complete the room. Picking out art seems like such a grown up thing to do, but I'm happy to have a sweet resource to choose prints from and I'm looking forward to the end result!

This is a sponsored post brought to you by Minted. All opinions are my own, especially my fondness for all things yellow and that penguin print. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ditching the Limiting Beliefs

"I'm not good with money"

This is how I've viewed myself for a really long time. Maybe even my my whole adult life.

Growing up we didn't have a tonne of money, but my parents made sure I didn't go without. I got my first job at 17, and instead of saving my money, I used it for lunches, clothing and fun. I felt entitled to spend it however I chose since I was the one earning it. I acquired my first major debt at 19 when I took out a student line of credit and a student loan to put myself through musical theatre school. I got my credit card towards the end of musical theatre school. And when I got my first "grown up" job following college, I still didn't place my focus on budgeting, saving or paying down my debt; I continued to do whatever I wanted with my money.

Over the years I've continued to pay down my credit line and student loan slowly, but have managed to rack up my fair share of credit card debt. Up until last year, even when I was working jobs that paid me well, I still didn't take the time to learn more about budgeting or saving and wrote it off to "I can do what I want with my money" and "I'm just not good with it".

Inspiration from wellness coach, Ashley Gibson

The limiting beliefs we have about ourselves can be paralyzing. You may not even realize that you have them. Are there thoughts you have about yourself on a regular basis that are holding you back? Do you find yourself making flippant comments about a certain personality trait or quality? Are there certain qualities you admire in others and deep down inside you wish you possessed?

Your limiting beliefs could be related to any number of things:
  • Money & personal finances ("I'm not good with money")
  • Health & fitness ("I'll never lose weight" "I'm not motivated")
  • Trust & relationships ("I've been betrayed before so I can't trust" "I'll be single forever")
  • Success ("I'll never be successful" "I fail at everything" "I don't deserve to be successful")
  • Time & resources ("I don't have enough time" "I'm too busy")
  • Procrastination ("I never finish things" "I'm just a lazy person")
  • Being enough ("I'm not good/smart/thin/young/wealthy enough")
These beliefs that we hold about ourselves are the things standing in the way of achieving success. Once we start believing something, our choices and actions follow and your limiting belief has the ability to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The amazing thing about life is that we get to make choices. And while it can be difficult to re-program our brains and our thoughts, it can be done and we can leave those limiting beliefs in the dust behind us. 

5 Ways to Ditch Your Limiting Beliefs

  1. Start by determining what's holding you back - maybe it's something from the list above or maybe it's something different entirely. Once you start to recognize patterns in your thoughts you can move forward in addressing and challenging them.
  2. Don't be afraid to ask for help - it can be super scary to ask for help in any area of our lives, but especially the ones that may be holding us back. But it's okay, and it's totally a good thing. Asking for help will look differently for different people. It might mean seeing a counsellor or therapist to work through some of your "stuff". Maybe it's hiring an advisor or coach to help guide you. It could even be finding a book / blog post / podcast to start steering you in a new direction. Whatever the help, it's out there and you deserve to utilize it.
  3. Find a new mantra - turn that limiting belief around into something positive and say it 'til you mean it. Repeat it to yourself daily. Initially you might find this new mantra laughable because it's the exact opposite of what you've believed for perhaps as long as you can remember - and that's okay. The saying "fake it til you make it" applies here; give yourself some time to get to know your new mantra and really adopt it as your own. Watch what follows.
  4. Make a plan and run with it - once you've turned your limiting belief on its head, set some shiny, new goals and make them happen! Ridding yourself of the things that have been holding you back can be very freeing and can open up a multitude of new doors. Open them and just go.
  5. Trust that you are enough - because you are. 
When you can leave your limiting beliefs in the past, you can open yourself up to a world of possibility, positivity and new adventures. It's certainly not easy, but it's worth it - what do you have to lose?

Yesterday I met with a financial advisor. When he asked me about my goals, I said "I want to work on finally dealing with my debts. I want to work towards saving and having a reserve. I'd like to learn how to budget. I want to work on being a grown up". For me, this was a HUGE step in leaving my limiting belief in the past and working with a new attitude of abundance and positivity in this area. I left with some extra pep in my step and excitement about the future, and that's a pretty awesome way to feel. 

If you are looking for help to overcome your limiting beliefs relating to healthy eating, fitness and setting goals, I'm looking for 8 people to join me in a group beginning on Monday June 8, 2015. I'm so excited to be offering this group. We're going to tackle clean eating, incorporating exercise and goal setting with 3 weeks of daily assignments, incredible workouts, meal planning tips, videos and resources. I'm also offering an amazing personal development book as a special bonus from me to those who reserve their spot before Friday May 22. You can grab your application here

Monday, May 11, 2015

Beachbody Super Saturday Toronto - April 2015

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend my second ever Super Saturday and my very first in Toronto! Super Saturday is a quarterly event for Beachbody coaches to connect, learn, hear news about the company and develop as leaders. They're hosted across North America and it's an awesome chance to meet local coaches, gain new information about Beachbody and where the company is heading, learn about exciting announcements and participate in live workouts!

Beachbody Coach Toronto Canada
En route to North York
For my first Super Saturday, I was so lucky to attend the Tampa event alongside my coach and team. I'm the lone Canadian on my team, so it was so nice to meet everyone in person and engage with our community! There are a couple of gals I've known for a few years through the Toronto healthy living blogger community who have also become coaches and it was great to reconnect. I was looking forward to this Toronto event, as it was a chance for me to connect with some local coaches and learn more information about where the business is heading in Canada.

Hanging with my buddies for the day, Morgan & Kate
So lovely to see Shannon as well
While I know that the Beachbody coaching opportunity is still pretty new in Canada, I was shocked to learn that Ontario actually has the fewest coaches per capita across the country. I realize that it's a big province, but that really surprised me! It also highlighted what an awesome opportunity it is for people to become coaches in our area. When I was in Tampa, there were 950 people (mostly coaches, some guests) at the event and there were events happening in Orlando and Miami on the same day as well. The Toronto event covered the whole GTA and surrounding areas and there were just 300 coaches.
I got to meet Jeff Matthewson from Beachbody Corporate and helps oversee Canada
In addition to some great presentations and trainings, we had the opportunity to do a live workout, which included P90X Live (omg, so many squats!!) and Shaun T's brand new program CIZE that is launching in the summer!

It was so much fun!!! Cize is based in dance, but with the intention of EVERYONE being able to do it, whatever level of dancer you are. It reminded me of zumba, but with more of a hip hop feel! I am SO excited for this program to come out. I just adore Shaun T and have had great results with Insanity and Insanity Max:30, so I really believe this is going to be an amazing addition to my collection of workouts! If you wanna learn more about CIZE, you can enter your email HERE to get all the updates!! I'll be running a CIZE group this summer and would love for you to join in the fun.

All ready to work out
Attending Beachbody events inspires me so much and is a great reminder of why I'm a Coach. It also got me more excited for Summit in Nashville in July, which is a gigantic event with tens of thousands of coaches!! It's going to be incredible and I can't wait to hang out with my team once again! I had a great time with my fellow Torontonian coaches, and look forward to future events and watching the Toronto community grow. There are some awesome things happening in Canada, and I'm excited for me and my growing team to be a part of that!!