Designer. Writer. Traveller.

September 1st, 2011 - April 29th, 2016

Morgan EmmessComment

Today is my last (full time) day at Weddingstar - I'm sticking around part time to help my colleagues through another round of our annual magazine. But boy does it feel good knowing that I'll still be in a place of comfort two days a week. A place where I'm familiar with my surroundings and comfortable knowing, more or less, what each day will hold. But where's the fun in that?

As I mentioned here, being uncomfortable can be a really good thing. Not so much if it's due to a wedgie per se, but you get the idea. That anxious feeling you get when you're "new" again... Now that's exciting - and humbling. Coming from a position where I had a lot of the answers, going in to one where I'll have a-thousand-and-one questions. Not knowing what obstacles lie around the next bend, or what opportunities may arise. It's all proof that there's always more to learn. And with that, comes growth. Then eventually, if you've hit a similar plateau, you'll break through it and continue to move forward.

As I pack up my office, I reflect on how much has happened over the past 5 years and all the ups and downs we had along the way. From winning the pitch to bring the magazine in house, to getting engaged (which you can read about here), all the while moving up the creative ladder. To all the amazing people I've had the chance to work with, this one's not easy as I'm going to miss the fun times we had. But the ladder all of a sudden got taller, and so I must go.

- xomo

Antigua Part 2: St. James' Club and Devil's Bridge

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As I'm going through all the images we took in Antigua, it's incredibly difficult to curate which ones to post since there are so many! So, I'll be posting a link to the entire gallery with Part 3.

The second part of our Antiguan adventures continued on a different side of the island where the wedding was taking place, at St. James' Club. (If you missed Part 1, click here). About a 45 minute taxi ride from Jolly Harbour, we drove high into the mountains and through some really gorgeous scenery - none of which I have pictures for because I was too busy trying not to be sick from the winding roads, the heat and being in the back seat of a minivan. But boy, was it worth it.

We arrived at the hotel and met up with Mark's brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law right away, since they just happened to be in the lobby. After some giddy excitement, a few beers and a walking tour of the property, the rest of the family started to arrive, and with that, shenanigans ensued. It. Was. SoMuchFun.

A really good family friend, Judy, decided to come last minute. Everyone had kept it a surprise, so to see the look on my father-in-law's face and the tears in his eyes when she walked in was so incredibly special, especially since they hadn't seen eachother in about 15 years.

After that (and a few 'welcome' cocktails in the lobby), we congregated on the balcony of the villa where we were staying and spent hours catching up. And, because my mother-in-law is amazing, they had already stopped and gone shopping for food and booze, so we were all set and good times were rollin'.

Now, you may be wondering what the heck is in this picture below? Well, let me tell you...

After dinner a few of us kept the party going at the hotel bar. All of a sudden, Christina (my almost sister-in-law) comes running around the corner to me screaming "there's a bunny on the dance floor". Without hesitation, I ran over and there he was - a white rabbit hopping around all by its lonesome. Long story short, there was a magic show earlier and as the magician was packing up, he let the rabbit roam around. Did we ask to pick him up? Uhh, of course! That's when we found out there was a dove, too. And they were friends. So without further ado, meet Cotton and Peter! (I'm not gonna lie, I completely forgot the dove's name so I made this one up and for some reason Peter seemed fitting). And yes, they're sitting in a black top hat.

We tried to keep them but eventually (after running around the bar showing everyone including my husband who was super impressed), we had to give them back. But this picture is proof that we weren't crazy or hallucinating on drugs.

The following night everyone headed to Shirley Heights where the view was spectacular and the party was happening. The place was a logistical nightmare and you'd have better luck battling Genghis Khan than trying to get a hamburger, but it was worth it for this.

After the wedding, we rented a car so we could go exploring. Our first stop was Devil's Bridge, and while it's incredibly beautiful, the story behind it is quite dim. Devil's Bridge is a natural limestone arch carved from the sea, where slaves used to go and throw themselves overboard to their death. Hence, the name... Now how 'bout we revel in this marvelous natural formation?

More to come, stay tuned for Part 3.

- xomo

Weekend Wanders: The Murder House

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Before we left for Antigua, my good friend Andrea offered to teach me about photography. As I had never shot anything using a DSLR camera before (iPhone or point-and-click cameras were as technical as I got), and I had a wedding coming up that I was photographing, I thought it was probably a good idea. So, I dragged her to a place I'd heard about that turned out to be extra-creepy but super cool. She wasn't exactly pleased and proceeded to dub it "The Murder House".

In case an extremely creepy house wasn't enough, this place came with an added bonus - an equally creepy abandoned ice cream truck. It's interesting to imagine the history behind places like this. Seeing things in this state makes you wonder about the stories these places hold. 

The place was clearly abandoned and random artifacts were strewn about the property. Books, single shoes and cassette tapes to name a few (if you're too young to know what those are, click here). Being the nosy toad, as my father would say, I am, I had to go inside...

Warning: disturbing content ahead (aka the remains of a cat to put it nicely), so if you do not want to see that, then do not scroll past this point.

Now, I'm wondering how many of you didn't want to see that but scrolled down anyways!

I promise I'll wander somewhere a bit more uplifting next time.

- xomo

Antigua Part 1: Sunburnt Adventures and The 4 O'Clock Club

Morgan Emmess6 Comments

We recently flew to Antigua for my brother in-law's destination wedding, and if you're wondering where the heck that is, it's in the heart of the Caribbean right beside St. Kitts (see map). Being our first tropical holiday in a while, we were super stoked for palm trees, beautiful, blue water and some non-Canadian sun... which, we regretted not 24 hours after we landed as we burnt various random parts (armpit, kneecap, lower calves and belly rolls to name a few).

The island was lush with tropical forest and surrounded by beautiful beaches. And, as we found out when we landed, contained an impressive mountain range. We already knew about the mountains (my husband definitely does his research), but we were impressed with how big they actually were. The largest mountain on the island, Mount Obama (yes, the name was changed once he became president), stands 402 meters high or just over 1300 feet, which is nothing compared to the Rockies, but still offered one fabulous vista.

We spent our first three nights at a hotel called Sugar Ridge, just outside Jolly Harbour. The wedding was being held on the other side of the island, but we thought we'd get some quieter time in before we met up with everyone for the wedding. But then, the 4 o'clock club came along and quiet time was a distant memory.

Our first order of business when travelling is always to go exploring. And by exploring, we mean head to the pool bar. We became fast friends with everyone there and the 4 o'clock club was born, which basically means you know you'll see the same group of people, at the bar, around 4 o'clock. Makes sense, right?

On our last day at Sugar Ridge, we decided to go on a hike with the group. A local gentleman by the name of Vonn, offered to take us through his village which he did - for 3 hours. For 3 hours we walked (and sweat) our way through parts of Antigua you may not normally see. We visited his family home, various gardens where he taught us about the plants, fruits and vegetables that grew there - mango, lime, okra, tamarind, carob, the black pineapple (which is indigenous to Antigua) and a few more I can't remember the name of - and even a local boy getting his hair cut, who I'm pretty sure didn't appreciate all eight of us cramming in to watch.

It was hot, but beautiful and so worth it. And the best part? We were back by 3:55.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3. Also, notice the armpit burn!?

- xomo

Reality Check: Yes, This Is Actually Happening

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Click for image source.

Click for image source.

As I'm reading all the wonderful comments from everyone on the job change announcement I posted on Facebook last night, thank you. But it left me thinking... Holy shit.

The feelings running through me right now are pretty intense. But you know what, it's a great feeling to feel, no matter what the feeling may be.

Yes, I've freelanced before and I have experience in time management and maintaining client relationships, but for some reason, this fear I'm feeling is even more real this time. And as I'm typing this I'm realizing why... In the past I've always supplemented my freelancing with another part-time position, which definitely took a bit of the stress off and made it easier to pay bills.

I've saved for this and I have clients already lined up, but the biggest fear that I repeatedly go through is - what if I don't get more work after those projects are complete?

Nothing is guaranteed, so it means there is always a chance I won't get more work no matter how hard I try. In which case, at least I gave it a shot. And I'd rather try and fail than never try at all and live with regret about "what could have been". But never having run a business before, I think this is where my biggest fear lies - in my ability to produce clients.

Reality is definitely setting in as I'm slowly packing up my office belongings, including multiple pairs of office shoes, my snack drawer, stacks of magazines and family photos. I've come a long way with this company, but now it's time for my journey to continue in another direction. I think back to where I was when I started here and how much I've grown since then, both personally and professionally. It reminds me of the first time I moved out on my own. It's bittersweet.

There will probably be a few more posts similar to this one as I navigate through this roller coaster of emotions, but thank you so much for reading. This is truly therapeutic for me.

- xomo