Monday, 22 September 2014

Just the Beginning

As with all things that end, there is a new beginning. Being positive about living life in Canada when I wasn't quite prepared to has been a struggle for me. However, I have been attempting to launch a business in Tillsonburg (Ontario), returned to teaching/tutoring, editing and writing for my small business, BEEM Tutoring (my 8 year old company!), and have decided to start my own health and wellness business (I'm in love with it!), and lastly I've decided to become a partner with my sister and my good friend, Robbie (my nickname for her for the sake of privacy) and begin a new business with them that will likely launch this October! Yowza! I'm only biting off a little bit more than I can chew ;)

Regardless of how crazy things have been, I am so incredibly happy! Being in control of my own businesses makes me feel alive and free. It's empowering, uplifting and motivating-even on the most difficult days. It's going to be a tough few years, but I'm going to try and completely close my tutoring company and only work the other three. My heart isn't in teaching/tutoring anymore. If someone needs me to edit or write, I will absolutely do so, but no teaching. My cut-off date for teaching/tutoring is going to be December 31st, 2014, unless a huge contract comes my way (like the contract that's in the works for a three-week ESL course teaching 15 students and I get to design the curriculum and choose whatever materials I want!!! It's a dream, so I hope it's approved!). Bye-bye, Miss Miki!!!

My health and wellness business took me to Montreal this weekend and it was...Incredible. I didn't expect to fall in love, but I have. I love Montreal and my Francophone neighbours!!! How amazing are they? Hospitable. Funny. Helpful. Unwavering in their kindness and patience with my pitiful French. Although I was in and out of the Palais des congrès de Montréal, I managed to go for a few walks, spend time with amazing (and I mean AMAZING) women and pamper myself! I also snuck in a few long-awaited drinks: Maker’s Mark on the rocks and Johnnie Walker on the rocks.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon and might have unpacked, registered and then hit the bar in the Embassy Suites Hotel (I’d give it a 4/5 mainly because considering the cost of the room, there was no free wifi)

I registered for the conference and this was the VERY lovely “survival kit” I received:

So, the next morning I was up, dressed and all set for day one and what a fantastic day it was!!!

 CNTC 2014: Montreal, Quebec, Canada!!! Theme: Fall in Love (that I did!)
 Phew! It's not a dreaded "Hello, my name is Mikiko" sticker!
 Oh, the showcase of white Mercedes that most people wouldn't stop taking photos beside. Not this girl; I'm just not a car person. Hence the reason I haven't talked about my new car..My first car...EVER. (it's a manual and it's a BMW and I just watched how oil is changed!)
Friday AM before most people had even arrived

I'd debated for weeks whether or not I should go. My primary concern was that Habibi, who, last I heard, shuttles between Calgary, Alberta (Canada) and Montreal. I feared running into him. Yes, Montreal is BIG, but you have to remember the world is a lot smaller than we realize. I knew I would run the risk of seeing him. Thursday night I completely pampered myself with a massage/jet soak in a HUGE tub!!! What a long awaited treat. I may have spent a loooong time taking care of myself, but it beat going outside and facing the world. I wasn't emotionally ready for that. I received a call from a client I have about drafting a proposal for the aforementioned contract, so I spent the remainder of the evening doing that (the deadline was Thursday at midnight).

Conferenence-Day 1: Friday (me with the AWESOME "K" who drove to Montreal!!!)

Friday evening was an awards ceremony where girls literally showed up dressed like it was the Oscars. I opted for something a little less formal, lol, but I DID want to dress up...It's been YEARS since I've gotten dressed up!

Some of my AMAZING colleagues! The lovely lady in black in the front is expecting her first baby! The incredible woman in black in the back is a superstar in Poland! The lady in white is my lifeline and shining star! The lady in blue pushed me to enjoy the evening EVEN though it meant stepping out of my comfort zone! 
K and I at the awards gala

Sooo, I really wanted to go out dancing in Montreal. I don't know why I wanted to go out so badly, but it got to the point where I gave the ladies a choice: come with me, or worry about me going out alone ;)  They were psyched to go out drinking and dancing! I had looked up good dancing nightclubs online, but none of the places looked good, so as we were leaving the convention centre I asked the security guard what the best club is to go dancing at in Montreal and he said Buonanotte. So, away we went! While the ladies enjoyed the fresh air, I went inside where it was warm and inviting. I had my drink within minutes and enjoyed the quite before the storm.

The ladies ended up getting a table, ordering food and starting the dance floor. They also managed to introduce me to a group of guys who said they "are" (I don't really know what that means. Did they create it? Do they run/oversee it?) Elite Daily which I thought was pretty cool! We chatted, drank and danced with them and had an awesome night!!! They're from NY. Talk about a long way from home, lol, although not as far as the group of Texan guys celebrating a bachelor party.  I somehow ended up drinking vodka (NEVER a good idea. Really, it brings out the carefree and absurdly confident, I-can-do-anything-so-I-WILL-do-anything Mik). It really was a blast and I ended up getting back to the hotel around 1:30am (only to have to get up at 7:30am for the conference the next day at 9am. I couldn't sleep though and passed out around 3-ish).

I woke up just a bit hungover. I drank A LOT of water, packed energy bars, fizz tabs for the extra boost and hoped I looked decent, hahaha! That evening we were to all wear red, so our nation did: red t-shirts and jeans! 

The team I'm blessed to have by my side!

In spite of the fear of seeing Habibi, I did leave my hotel room. I couldn't imagine going all the way there and NOT exploring and walking around the city. I went all over, quite without a clue as to where the heck I was going, but determined to get lost in it all!

The following snapshots are from the area around my hotel (the first of two) and the convention centre:

 Woooohoooo! LOVE bike shares!!! WISH it would get to London already!
 Square Victoria looking towards the metro and Rue Saint Antoine
 The fountains were gorgeous and does that metro station look familiar??? Sorry it's a crappy shot, but it looked exactly like those in Paris!!!

Walking around the second hotel I was at, The Courtyard Marriott: 

 I don't know who this dude is, but the whole thing reminded me of Paris!!!
 Hotel #2: The Courtyard Marriott
 Some pda's going on between two kid statues!
 This shot's blurry because it started to rain. It's a bunch of men (I don't know who they are though)
 Look what I found! McGill University :)
 I know you can't tell by my crap picture, but there was a big hill in the background! The grounds here are BEAUTIFUL!
So pretty in spite of the looong walk you have to make to get to the building, hahaha!

Unfortunately, it was around this time that it began to rain so much that I couldn't take anymore pictures :(  It didn't matter though. The rain was refreshing, the streets empty and I was sad that I hadn't made an effort to visit Montreal sooner. My excuse wasn't valid even though my emotional reasons were understandable. That's when I decided that I would never again let Habibi hold me back from doing what I want, living the life I've always envisioned and being the best version of myself. Next year the Canadian conference is in Calgary. The irony? Apparently he's there for work a lot, too. No matter! I'm going to go and enjoy it, and although I'm not in love with Calgary, I will get to see one of my best friends who lives there!!! It's going to be momentous!

Dear Montreal, you're a mini, but Canadianized (and AWESOME), version of Paris! I love your energy, your obvious, but not flaunted beauty and grace; I hope to see you again! Thank you for making me feel like a proud Lévesque (my mother’s maiden name. Her father’s family were Métis!)!!! Je vais pratiquer le français et japonais! Please don’t leave us, Quèbec! I love you. Au revoir…For now.

I can't detract (in both senses of the word) from Montreal and the experiences I had there (I heard Jack Canfield speak! It was phenomenal!). So I will post about life in little London, Ontario at a later date ;)