She Goes…to Canada?!

Oh Canadaaaaa, the land I call my…COLD, I call you COLD.  Canada, I underestimated your bite…

I’ve been in Montreal for just over one week and my face hasn’t fallen off yet, which continues to shock me.  Colder than any weather I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime (I’m from California where we just “opt out” of Winter), Montreal has been sitting at about -15 degrees Celsius.  I would cry if it weren’t for the fear of my tears freezing on my cheek.  This place is some kind of Polar Vortex meets charming, modern city- and I swear, I didn’t lose my mind- there’s a good reason I came here.

My Internal Compass told me to do it.

For those of you asking and saying things like: “What the f**k are you doing in Canada?!  I thought you were on the beach in Central America!?”  First of all, thank you for your messages and for making me laugh.  YES, I was just in Costa Rica 9 days ago.  And NO, I haven’t lost my mind (completely).  And YES (Mom), I have a warm jacket to wear- I even have gloves.

Like all good travel stories begin, I decided to book a last minute flight to Montreal on a total whim.  It was NYE, on Facebook messenger videochat, and I was catching up with my friend Nina Lantinga.  I met Nina last March in Thailand while she was sourcing materials for her company, Lantinga Vita and I was on a Press Trip.  Nina and I connected right off the bat when we met.  It was that moment when you meet someone and think, “This person is going to be significant in my life in someway, but I am not quite sure how.”

So, on the phone, when Nina mentioned a need for a sales, marketing and strategy expert  (and I had just finished ranting about wanting to “slow down for a bit”) we both immediately knew there was a mutually beneficial opportunity here.  I have consulted different entrepreneurs over the last couple years on branding, marketing and strategy, so why wouldn’t I do the same for my friend Nina, especially with her having an immediate need?  We made the decision together, within minutes, for me to come up to Montreal and work with her.  The next thing I knew, I was booking my ticket and boarding a plane two days later.  I’m all for a last minute travel plan, so it felt natural to me to say “YES” and get like Nike, just do it.

Two days after that conversation, I flew to Montreal and as soon as I got off the plane I was smacked right in the face with ice, snow and a circle of friends to keep me warm.  Nina met me at baggage claim and started laughing hysterically at me immediately as she saw my get up- flip flops, tank top and tan skin.  I laughed too, “I’m coming from Costa Rica woman, what do you expect?!  I have a jacket don’t worry…”

We walked outside and my skin burned..but in a cold way I never knew possible.  It was clear right away, this was going to take some adjusting.  Day one was good, but freezing and uncomfortable.  Overall though, it felt invigorating to make a bold decision based on gut instinct…again.  The “internal compass” I’m always talking about pointed me here, and so here I came, cold weather and snow be damned.

My body has been in a bit of shock adjusting from months spent in South and Central America, but my mind, my heart, and my internal compass are happy which is all that matters.  Culture shock wears off quickly and it’s exciting to be working on a new project.

I always knew I wanted to help others build their dreams and chase their visions- I just needed to do it for myself first.  Two and a half years, thirty-three countries and a digital business later, I feel I’ve done that.  Now, I can confidently step in and help someone else drive their own vision, their own brand, while aligning it with my own.

After a week of diving into the Lantinga Vita business, I feel very passionate about partnering up with Nina longterm and helping her brand reach international markets.  I’m trying the whole “working on a team” thing again, and am loving it so far.  After 2.5 years of operating completely autonomously, never walking into an office, zero meetings, etc., it all feels brand new again…like the first week of school, except older, wiser and with less acne.  It’s good to be “back in the saddle.”

So what does all this mean for my travels and She Goes Global?  A home base (that currently happens to be freezing) and frequent international trips to build the brand on an international level.  My next international trip will be next month (stay tuned for location announcement)!  Essentially, I’m tying together my two worlds of expertise: corporate strategy with travel and international branding.  My past with my present- corporate Barbie meets nomadic travel woman.  So far I like this new “merged persona” and am enjoying exploring a totally new place with such rich culture (and snow).

Stay tuned for many a “I’m freezing my ass off” live update on my Instagram (like this one), and fun travel news to report soon.

Sending you all love (and warmth) from freezing cold Montreal!

~HMD

Ps.  If you’re in the area, lets meet up for coffee (or wine) and complain about how cold we are together!

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