How Hiring A Publicist Changed The Course Of My Life Forever

I know this sounds like a sales pitch but I assure you, it’s not going to be that. I want to share my personal experience in case it can help you the way it has helped me. Life has a way of taking us down some weird and wonderful paths. You never know who you’re going to meet, or how that meeting may alter your life. With that in mind, I want to share with you how hiring a publicist changed the course of my life forever – for the better. This is about how the right person asked me the right question to refocus me in a way I didn’t even know I needed.

I met Crystal Richard at a social media convention in San Diego, California in March of 2019 through mutual friends.

My husband and I working remotely from our airstream in a field by a creek in rural Nova Scotia

While I only spoke with her in passing a few times over the course of those 3 days, she seemed like a really nice person with a beautifully sunny disposition. I began following her on social media and was quite impressed with her entrepreneurial side. Like myself, she was a multi-passionate entrepreneur. Crystal owns her own PR firm and often shares the work of her impressive roster of clients. She also had a personal blog that helps you develop a coastal crush on her home province of New Brunswick. Crystal also has an apparel company of sea-worthy designs she was regularly promoting and attending trade shows with. 

While struggling with my own overloaded work schedule, I reached out to Crystal to ask if we could have a chat about how she juggles her own busy workload from multiple businesses. Over a zoom call, we got to know each other, as well as share trade secrets about how we each operated. It was extremely helpful, plus Crystal’s energy and enthusiasm is something that should be bottled up and distributed to the world. It’s contagious, in the best way.

As my businesses expanded, I felt it was time to look in to professional help to spread the word of what I was doing, as well as look for new opportunities. I didn’t have time to write press releases or make media contacts on top of everything else I was doing. I reached out to Crystal again, and we scheduled a discovery meeting to see if we were the right fit. That one meeting was priceless.

Alicia Simms & Crystal Richard, Truro

I feel like I am actually living a dream. A dream I realized when the perfect person asked me the perfect question.

Crystal asked me a series of questions, but the hands down most important one was “what are your dream goals?”

Dramatic pause.

What were my dream goals? I honestly wasn’t sure. If felt like when you wake up kind of remembering a dream, but can’t quite get the details. I had a vague idea, but suddenly wasn’t sure what I was working towards. Like ‘I want to be a whatever-figure business’ – but doing what? What is my end game?  I knew I was working hard on my businesses, and I wanted them to grow and succeed, but what were MY actual dream goals? After sitting back and thinking about it, I outlined a few things for Crystal but once we got off our call I REALLY stewed on it, and it lit my heart on fire. If I could be anything in the world, what would it be? I am in that position now? I knew it wasn’t working 60 hour weeks tethered to my laptop in an office.

airstream trailer nova scotia graves island provincial park mobile living travel writer
Our Airstream at Graves Island Provincial Park, Nova Scotia

One thing I really wanted to pursue was writing. I had done freelance writing for the local paper in St John’s, Newfoundland on the side. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but never considered it as something I should pursue. Now here I am, sitting at my desk in our Airstream trailer (affectionately named Clutterbug) in a field by a creek without cell service. I’m looking at the trees surrounding me, and listening to the gentle rain pinging on the aluminum shell while writing a travel article about my favourite places in Nova Scotia. I feel like I am actually living a dream. A dream I realized when the perfect person asked me the perfect question.

Maybe you’re not in a position to hire a publicist, and that’s ok. If it’s something you’ve considered or think you might be interested in knowing more about, I obviously suggest you reach out to Crystal. She’s your biggest cheerleader – you just don’t know it yet. The moral of the story is that sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to help you see things more clearly. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help or to even just discuss options and brainstorm. In the meantime, I’d like to extend the same thought provoking question that she did to me, that lit my heart on fire:

What is your dream goal?

Take your time. Think it out. And most importantly, don’t limit yourself with this answer. Dare to dream big.

Now how will you get yourself there? Start with the goal and work back from that. If you need help with that question or answer, reach out to a close friend, someone who’s doing what you want to do, a coach, or feel free to pop me an email. Let’s reach our dream goals together!

divorced remarried

Divorce and Marriage

His first time. Not mine. 
When I first met Tyson, and people started to ask about him, the first question was always ‘divorced?’. Because its far more common to be divorced than never married once you’re over 30.

I remember the first time I heard of a friend’s parents getting divorced when I was growing up, and it was almost earth shattering. I felt so bad for that friend. None of us had any frame of reference for what she was going through, or what to expect from that point. 

While divorce has become much more common in this day and age, it’s not something we openly talk about outside of the dramatics of the nastier situations. We don’t talk about the feelings you may experience when the person you thought would be your person forever ends up not to be. About how much harder it gets to start over the older you get. Regardless of whether you were the initiator or the other party, we don’t talk about what the whole experience does to you mentally and emotionally in some cases, unless it’s extreme. 

I feel like I wear a black mark on me since I’ve been divorced.

It’s a hard topic because there are SO many scenarios that lead to divorce, and they’re certainly not all the same. There are no blanket statements about moving on. I’ve wrestled with how deep to get in to my own experience because I don’t want to make any insinuations based on my perspective. So let me say this: I feel like I wear a black mark on me since I’ve been divorced. A feeling which is not helped every year filing taxes, and having to click the divorced box no matter how many years have passed since it happened. How card renewals show up with the married name even though you’ve called and called, and been assured it would be changed this time. And then there’s the new relationships, where loved ones continually caution you ‘not to move too fast’ or even worse – ‘Maybe you should just be by yourself for awhile’ This statement is usually made by people who have been in committed relationships for 10+years and haven’t experienced dating (or breakups for that matter) over 30.

What is the correct time for mourning your marriage or relationship? If you even are mourning it. And even if you aren’t – what governing party decided what the right amount of time is to meet someone or dare to try again, whether it’s Mr Right or Mr Right Now? 

Married Again..?

When Tyson told me he wanted to get married and have a wedding – well, let’s just say I internally panicked. Maybe not so internally –  I’m pretty transparent. I told myself I’d never get married again, would never change my name again. I was so mean to myself with my internal dialogue, and told myself people who know I was married before are definitely going to think, “Is she seriously going to have ANOTHER wedding?”. I thought of how many people I knew who’d never been married at this point and wanted to be, like I was somehow flaunting it.

A part of me resented him for it because I knew first hand marriage is not what keeps people together. Why couldn’t we just agree we loved each other and not have to get the government involved? I wrestled with so many feelings and most of them were strangling the little joy there was because this perfect-for-me man wanted to marry me. 

It’s been a constant struggle from the day he asked me until now with our wedding day being just 3 days away. I’m asked ‘are you excited’ on a regular basis and I know my face contorts into trying to show a smile, but it’s like my muscle memory is saying you’re a fool to believe. I would never say to another person who was remarrying the things I have said to myself or felt. We truly are our own worst enemies.

Over this last month, the month of the wedding, I’ve tried really hard to let go of all those past memories of what comes after it doesn’t work out, of the stigmas attached to remarrying, and just focus on the positive of it, but it’s been hard. I worry writing this will hurt Tyson’s feelings but I’ve been honest about my struggle with him.. somewhat. I never wanted him to think my adversity or negativity had anything at all to do with him because it doesn’t. If I wasn’t so sure in our love and commitment to each other, I would never go through with a marriage again, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to let go of years of self-deprecation.

Upward & Onward

I guess I just want to let people who are divorced and maybe wrestling with those stigmas and feelings know; I see you. I know it can feel like you have a black mark on you too, and it’s ok to feel all the things – good, bad and questionable. It’s ok if you never want to try marriage again. It’s ok if you are on your third time. Try not to limit yourself with final statements because you never know where life will take you.

Tyson, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. Especially with love. To think I could have let those bad decisions keep me from being here with you today is…. unfathomable. Thank you for understanding, as best you could, what I was going through in my own head, and allowing me the space to process my feelings. 

married remarried wedding divorced
Photo by Erin Falkenham

The Other ‘F’ Word

Let’s talk about the other ‘F’ word we don’t like to say in public – forty! Us 80’s babies grew up believing this was the end of our ‘fun’ lives. Forty was an unfathomable milestone where we were thinking more about retirement then recreation – our fun loving youthful lives would be over!

Still a single digit age

The first hurdle to major adulthood is 30, but it feels like there’s still some hope to cling to there doesn’t it? Like the clock is ticking away the seconds of your youthful and carefree life on some imaginary timeline, but you still have time to ‘get your shit together’ – whatever that means. Like there’s a checklist of goals you have to meet before you turn 40. After that, well who knows.

Even at that time, forty felt so far away, but doesn’t it seem like decades are getting shorter? Now it’s my turn to advance to this previously dreaded decade, but first I want to take some time to talk about my experience turning forty in this post-pandemic – social media – ‘living your best life’ age of being. Strap in and pour yourself a drink as we look back at the decades that got me here.

My 20s

One of many nights on George Street in my early 20s

My 20s were like a lot of peoples’ – messy, fun, then.. messy again. Here’s the cliff notes version: I moved from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia for university at 18, which was my first time living away from home. I actually spent a lot of that first year depressed, and didn’t think I was going to make it through the school year. Spoiler alert – I did, but I definitely looked in to other options. I worked hard in school, made new friends, tested my boundaries with lack of sleep, alcohol and just how cheaply you could survive. I pulled all-nighters to finish projects. I pulled all-nighters that were drunken adventures. I dated. I went to Italy with my university which was my first trip to Europe. I graduated, and questioned what the hell you do when you’re not going to back to school in September.

After university, I moved back to Newfoundland and got married. Bought my first house, and changed careers. I got divorced, and tried to figure out what you do when the tried and true life plan fails. I dated again. I gave myself my first orgasm without a partner (look, i was a late bloomer). Is that a weird thing to write? Honestly – I feel like it’s a big deal that it took me that long. It’s something I laugh about a lot because most people do that in their teens. Like I said – I was a late bloomer, and honestly I had body and self confidence issues that really held me back.

By the end of my 20s, I was in my dream job as a tattooer, but I was STILL wondering what the hell I was doing with my life, just like I was at the start of this decade.

My 30s

I honestly don’t feel like I figured myself out at all until I was in my early 30s; that’s when I started to feel truly happy with who I was becoming as a person. Who the hell started the idea that you had to have life figured out before you were 30?! What does that even mean?

In my mid 30s in Paris

My 30s is when I became comfortable in my own skin, and in my clothes or even really caring about clothes at all. This is when I started to feel comfortable experimenting with makeup, and not hating what I saw in the mirror. I don’t think some people realize how many adults struggle with their own appearance or where they’re at in their lives versus where society has lead us to believe they should be.

In the beginning of this decade, I sold my first house and bought another. I had been tattooing for a few years, and loving what I was doing. I dated more. Hell, I got married again, and divorced…again. (insert face palm here – this could be an entire blog on its own).

For me this was the most important decade. This was where I hit rock bottom. Crying on the floor as my marriage died -again, facing being divorced for a second time, and believing I could not have both a successful professional life and personal life as well. I dated again. None of my friends or family were divorced or had any experience dating in their 30s. My professional life was soaring as I opened my own business and then another, but my personal life was a raging dumpster fire. I feel like I took the reins to my own life, but still wasn’t sure what to do with them.

“Enjoy yourself; that’s what your 20s are for. Your 30s are to learn the lessons. Your 40s are to pay for the drinks.”

Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

As I entered my late 30s, I was ending yet another relationship, in counselling trying to figure out why I was a magnet for said terrible relationships, and trying to accept that I couldn’t have a career and a happy home life. Then something profound happened to me at 37 – I let go of the expectations of where I was supposed to be for my age. Regardless of where popular culture said I should be at this point in my life, I would rather be alone then try and make myself smaller so a relationship would work, which is essentially what I had been doing since my 20s.

I realized it was time to love myself first, and the life I had, rather than be sad for what I didn’t, but this was something I couldn’t do until now, until this point. I needed all those experiences in those decades to get to this place of learning to let go of where society told me I should be.

This will be the best year.

I don’t mean that in a generic ‘this will be the best year ever!’, trying-to-accept-my-age kind of way. I literally mean, with where my life is going (and where I’ve been), this will actually be the best year of my life so far, I have no doubt. Some people figured it out early. They met their spouse in high school or shortly thereafter, stayed in the same career field they started in, and generally followed a fairly straightforward life path. I cannot say the same, but I’m not sad about it. Not now anyway.

Weeks before my 40th birthday in the Dominican Republic.

Does the younger generation still believe 40 is ‘old’? Has society shifted enough to realize that we have so much more life to live than is defined by an outdated ideal? How we ever got brainwashed in to believing that we had to figure our lives out in our 20s, I’m not sure, but I hope the teens of today can see our generation and be encouraged instead of stifled. Hell, I hope people at any age will read this and be brought some form of comfort if they feel like they still haven’t figured it out.

It’s hard to summarize three decades of life experience into an easily readable format, but I hope this suffices to say that every day of this life really is a gift, as cliché as that is. The bad days, as well as the good serve a purpose in our lives. It’s more than a glossy highlight reel of the best times, and it’s never too late to do anything: to start a new job, to make a move, to believe in yourself.

Forty ain’t so bad. I’m happy where I’m at in life, and it took me every day of these forty years to be able to say that. I hope in another decade I’m adding another paragraph of life adventures to this synopsis – one that is full of experiences, and looking forward to yet another decade, and another ‘f’ word.

6 Transformational Books To Read This Winter

I loved seeing people’s year end posts on social about how many books they read over the year. I like to switch between genres with my reading. Going from an autobiography- learning the twists and turns in a person’s life to get where they are today fascinates me (which is how Life Simmsulated came to be), to a fluffy fictional rom-com or mystery novel. Near and dear to my heart, and library card, are personal and professional development books – I cannot get enough. I’m deep in to reading during the winter months, so I thought I would share a few books that have made an impact on me. For anyone else out there who loves a little PD, here are 6 transformational books to read this winter.

1. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama XIV & Howard Cutler

I first read this book when I was an angsty teen in high school. I was struggling with so many emotions at the time, and ‘happiness’ seemed to elude me. It was when Chapters stores first came to Canada and, oh, how I loved browsing the aisles of books. I saw this one on an end cap and the idea of happiness being an art form intrigued me.
It was definitely over my head at the time, but I read it, underlined parts, and tried to really understand his words and teachings. The book is made up of a series of interviews Cutler conducted with his Holiness around the idea that happiness doesn’t come from outside or environmental influences. He poses many relatable questions and scenarios. I’ve since read it twice more in the last two decades of my life, and its hit differently each time. It’s written from a philosophical perspective, but the genuine lessons of getting down to what’s important, and training yourself on behaviours that lead to a happy life, are definitely worth taking in. This is a book I will likely reread every decade of my life for continued personal development, and take away something new each time.

2. Good to Great by Jim Collins

I got this book as a Christmas gift a couple of years back, and I’m glad I did. I’m not analytically minded so it was a harder read for me, but the takeaways were priceless. If you’re a person who geeks out on research, you’ll really enjoy this book, but don’t be discouraged if you’re not!
This book is great if you are building, or work with a team. As a small business owner with a small but growing team, I loved the theory around getting the right people on the bus and dissecting the different levels of effective leadership. It was equally great that the book uses examples of what doesn’t work as well. It asked a lot of questions, and I made a lot of notes reading this book. It’s an excellent tool for professional development. Check out Jim Collins site here.

3. The Stoic Challenge by William B. Irvine

My partner Tyson read this book and thought it was something I would enjoy – spoiler alert: he was right! Who isn’t looking for a ‘guide to becoming tougher, calmer and more resilient’? I was hooked by the first chapter entitled ‘A Day at the Airport’. This is something I’m very familiar with, which is rarely without its stresses and anxieties.
This book is quite optimistic in its approach to treat life’s constant borage of unpredictability as a series of tests from a hypothetical Stoic God. It looks at examining our emotional reactions to different scenarios, and learning to reframe events that happen in our lives, from every day stresses to a crisis. This book really made me stop and examine how I react to things. Its a great guide for dealing with the road blocks life is bound to throw at you. Check out more from William B. Irvine here.

4. Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

This was the first Brené Brown book I read, and I knew it would not be my last. I had just finished a leadership course where we had talked about this book, and Brené’s research, when a trip to my local book store had this puppy sitting on a table out front. I decided to pick it up and so my love of Brené Brown’s work began (I’ve since read almost all of her books).

Like all her work, she talks about wrestling with vulnerability, shame and empathy, but this book views it through the lense of being a leader and leading. It’s an excellent handbook to anyone looking to be a more empathic leader in their business, team or relationships honestly. Even if you’ve read other titles by Brené, I would highly recommend picking this up to further your professional development. Honestly, its also great personal development, which in turn makes you a better professional! See more from Brené here.

5. Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

I borrowed this book from a good friend, and after I finished it, I had to get my own copy. This truly is a workbook, and I did every activity Marie laid out. It was an excellent tool for mapping out what you want for yourself and your business, as well as dealing with the dreaded worst case scenarios. I focused in on dream situations for my business and myself, and drilled down on goals I had but wasn’t fully working toward.

This is an incredibly thought-provoking and actionable book. I would highly recommend to anyone looking to get clearer on their goals and dreams. It also helps to work out a lot of the ‘what if’s that stand in our way. This is personal AND professional development to the max! Check out more from Marie here.

6. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

I’ve saved the best for last. If you follow me on social, I’ve talked about this book before, and I’m sure I will again. I think this is the single most transformative book I’ve ever read. This should be taught to kids in high school – maybe even younger. It is FULL of fundamentals on understanding and dealing with shame, and vulnerability that we should be taught all our lives, but we’re not. This book is helpful in regards to working on relationships of every kind: family or romantic relationships, parenting and at work.

You can literally apply it to understanding every area of your life. I would have lived my life so differently had I found this book earlier – that is to say, I feel like I could have weathered the shame storms I found myself in as opposed to lose myself in them. I think of the relationship problems I’ve had, and how so many problems are rooted in shame and vulnerability we may not even realize we’re feeling. Obviously, I highly recommend this book no matter what stage of your life you find yourself in. It truly is the peak of personal development.

I hope this has been informative for you, and some of these books speak to your own reading goals. Perhaps I’ll work on a fiction list! I’m always looking for recommendations so feel free to share your own with me here. May these titles help you on your own personal and professional development paths! Happy reading!