Challenge Accepted: April’s Mini-adventure in New Westminster

Earlier this month I challenged myself to do one thing each month that I wouldn’t normally to alone. And there I was this morning, April 29th, still not having done anything. Not willing to let myself just forget about it I decided to hop on the Skytain and venture to New Westminster Quay, which I discovered is now called River Market at Westminster Quay . I hadn’t been since it had been redone and I was pleasantly surprised. River Market is a short walk from New Westminster Station so it was super easy to access.

I entered on the 2nd floor and came across this cool hopscotch “game” that included facts about New Westminster in some of the boxes. A man ahead of me pulled his keys out of his pocket, threw them onto a square and proceeded to play. Nothing like reverting back to your childhood!

The next thing I saw was the Vancouver Circus School where people were trying all kinds of things. While it’s not my cup of tea, mostly because I’m afraid, I can imagine it was quite fun for everyone that was bouncing around.  There were a few business on this level and I checked out a pottery shop that sold pottery created by local artisans. There was also a craft fair supporting a local elementary school.

Downstairs boasted more shops and a variety of eateries. I was tempted to try something from Re-Up BBQ (I will another time) but opted for a London Fog from Tre Galli Gelato Caffe. Since once of my reasons for challenging myself is to be out of my comfort zone I forced myself to find a table to sit at instead of walking with my drink.

When I finished my drink I went for a short walk along the Fraser River. It was raining, surprise surprise, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I remember seeing this Tin Soldier before but I didn’t recall knowing it was the tallest one in the world!

I also popped into the Fraser River Discovery Centre to see what it was all about. It turns out it’s a museum with tons of interactive and hands-on activities. I thought it might be good for a school field trip so I inquired about that.

Finally I hit Columbia Street and walked to Big Star Sandwich Co. which I had seen when driving by in the past. I ordered a small #2 (turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese and guacamole.) It was really good and I would go back again!

After eating in the establishment (look at me go, that was twice I didn’t get something to go!) I walked back to New West Station and so ended my mini-adventure.

I have to say I really enjoyed it and while my challenge was only one thing per month I think I’ll be more inclined to do more. It was fun to explore somewhere different and I really didn’t care what anyone was thinking about me sitting somewhere alone.

Check out:

http://rivermarket.ca/
https://bigstarsandwich.com/
https://www.fraserriverdiscovery.org/

 

Living in the Moment

Put April, May and June together and what have you got? Aprilmayjune. In no time the school year will come to an end. Stress levels are high. Patience is wearing thin. And all the while, for various reasons, many of us, myself included, are wishing the days away. I often catch myself thinking about the future: summer plans, the next school year, completing my graduate diploma (I’m only one semester in!) But lately, I’ve been working on being more present and have started exploring meditation as you’ll see below.

Oprah & Deepak Hope in Uncertain Times:

A good friend and colleague mentioned a 21-day Meditation Experience that she had done in the past. As luck would have it, a new 21-day program had just started so I downloaded the app. In the past I was super skeptical of meditation. Afterall, I was the person who had to stifle laughter the first few times I went to yoga when I was expected to sit there silently.  Anyway, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. Each day there is a new centering thought, Sanskrit mantra and message.

Oprah and Deepak speak about the daily topic and then the meditation begins. I was presently surprised to find it so relaxing. I was able, if only for a short period of time, to take my mind off of work and life stresses. I admit I’m a few days behind but it’s something I believe I will continue with.

Visit https://chopracentermeditation.com for more info!

Guided Meditation at Kushala Yoga:

Another good friend and colleague mentioned Guided Meditation by donation at a local yoga studio so a few of us decided to check it out. I’ve been twice and both weeks were different. The first week included a 30 minute meditation…yikes! I didn’t think I would be able to do it for that long but I surprised myself. It really didn’t seem like that long. The second week was different; we did concentration exercises (counting breaths) and a 10 minute meditation. Both were great and this has become part of my Thursday night.

You can find info about the studio here: https://www.kushalayoga.com

I think meditation helps me to remember to live in the moment. To focus on what’s happening in the present. Today is a gift. I need to let go of my current worries and anxieties about the future. I shouldn’t be counting the minutes until the end of the day or counting the days until summer. Life is precious. Live every day like it’s your last; one day it will be.

Challenge Accepted: Changing my Definition of Independent

Independent? I have a career. I own a home. I own a car. I pay my own bills. I do my own shopping. I have a savings account. Surely this means I’m independent, right?

I’ve recently been reminiscing about my solo trip to Amsterdam last summer. During those two weeks I experienced a different type of independence; one that was quite different than at home. But why? Why is it that when I travel I thoroughly enjoy taking public transit? At home I haven’t taken a bus since 2010 and I take the Skytain the least amount possible. Why is it that I didn’t hesitate one bit to eat at a restaurant alone in Amsterdam? I wouldn’t dream of doing that at home. And walking around Vancouver by myself? No way! Yet walking around Amsterdam solo was incredible.

Why is it that when I’m at home I don’t push myself out of my comfort zone? I’m guessing it’s because I don’t have to. I’m surrounded by family and friends to join me at restaurants or exploring Vancouver and I don’t need to take public transit often because I have a car.  But if there is something I want to do that nobody else wants to or nobody else is available that day…I don’t do it. I stay home and miss out. It’s ridiculous really. I long to feel that sense of independence I had in Amsterdam when I’m at home. And so, I’ve challenged myself…

Once a month for the remainder of 2017 I will do something I wouldn’t normally do. Alone. Go out for coffee and actually sit in the coffee shop. Eat a meal in a restaurant. Go to a movie. Walk around downtown Vancouver. Go for a hike. Check out a museum. Really, the possibilities are endless. Maybe by the end of the year I’ll feel that different type of independence or maybe I won’t. Maybe that feeling can only be found while in a different country. All I know is that there is only one way to find out.

The Road More Travelled

This post is really more for myself as opposed to anyone else.  It’s more of a means for me to keep track of my travels and it will be edited as time goes on.  More than once, for whatever reason, I’ve found myself trying to think of the places I have been.  A post like this will make it easy for me to remember!  I certainly haven’t done as much travelling as many people but I feel like I’m off to a good start…

CANADA
British Columbia – home sweet home!
Alberta – Edmonton
Ontario – Niagara Falls, Toronto

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Alaska – Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway, Juneau, Whittier
Arizona – Scottsdale
California – Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco
Florida – Orlando
Hawaii – Maui
Oregon – Portland
Massachusetts – Boston
Nevada – Las Vegas, Wendover
New York – Buffalo, New York City, Niagara Falls
*Puerto Rico – San Juan
Utah – Wendover
Washington – Bellingham, Seattle

EUROPE
Belgium – Bruges, Ghent
England – London, Richmond
Germany – Cologne, Cochem
The Netherlands – Amsterdam, Volendam
Scotland – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Inverurie

MEXICO
Cabo San Lucas
Puerto Vallarta

BAHAMAS
Nassau
Princess Cays
Half Moon Cay

SINT MAARTEN
Philipsburg

SAINT-MARTIN
Marigot

TURKS AND CAICOS
Grand Turk

Have a Little Faith: The Story of How Following My Heart Changed Me

Self-conscious. Safe. Introverted. Hurt. 

Those four words described me pretty accurately until last August when I decided to embark on the biggest adventure of my life so far. Those of you who have already read my other posts will know that I decided to travel solo to Amsterdam (for history, culture and maybe a little bit of love.) This is the story of how it all came to be:

Let’s go back to March 2016…

At the insistence of two of my girlfriends, despite my resistance, I had recently gotten back into the dating game. I had been out with a few men but I didn’t connect with them on the level I was looking for.

Well, after 2 weeks in Maui I checked my messages and one from a guy in the Netherlands piqued my interest. Why? Because he mentioned travel, specifically Scotland, which I had mentioned in my profile. I read his profile and it made me laugh out loud more than once and he had done a lot of travelling. I remember thinking, “He’s safe. We’ll talk about travel for a bit and then I’ll never talk to him again” and I responded.

Along came June 2016…

We were spending a crazy amount of time texting with each other; pretty much whenever we were both awake. We had a ton in common and he had so many of the qualities I was looking for in someone. There was only one problem. He lived in Holland. As crazy as it sounds, I felt an intense emotional connection and the more we texted the more I felt like I had to meet this guy.

One of my girlfriends suggested we go to Holland in the summer. We started looking into it and it looked like we could plan a pretty awesome trip; a European vacation with the bonus of meeting C! By the end of the month I had informed him of our intentions to visit Amsterdam in the summer. We started Skyping (boy, was I ever nervous the first time) in preparation for a REAL conversation one day.

The hitch in our plan…

“I need dental surgery and our benefits don’t cover it.” What!?! No! My friend couldn’t go through with our trip. I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I HAD to meet C. I needed to know if there was a connection in person. But I was absolutely terrified of travelling on my own. I was so torn. One of my biggest concerns was how my parents would react if I told them I was thinking of going on my own. I started doing some soul searching and research about female solo travel and came to the following conclusions:

*I’m single. I might always be single. Should I miss out on travelling just because I can’t find someone to go with?

*I’m smart and cautious. Just because I would be in a different country didn’t mean I would suddenly become careless.

*I would experience complete independence for the first time in my life.

*If I was miserable I didn’t have to leave my hotel or I could book a flight to the UK to visit family there. Worst case, I could book an earlier flight home. If it was THAT horrible money would be the least of my concerns.

*I would discover if I liked travelling solo. If I didn’t, I never had to do it again.

***Check out this cool read by Carolyn Smurthwaite who compiled quotes from female solo travellers.  I’m even quoted in it!
http://gapyeargal.com/2017/04/12/quotes-to-inspire-solo-female-travelers/

August Came Around…

I still hadn’t booked anything. My parents had come around and one night I was at their house when my mom asked if I had booked my flight and hotel yet. I don’t think she really thought I ever would. I told her I was giving myself until the following night. She asked why I would wait and said that I should do now. And so I did. I booked my flight and hotel. There was no turning back.

8 days later…

I hopped on a plane headed for Amsterdam. Little did I know that this two-week trip that took me WAY out of my comfort zone would be such an empowering experience. I was forced to figure things out for myself. I asked for help. I ate at restaurants alone. I wandered aimlessly. I got lost. I talked to strangers. I made new friends. And, to top it all off, I healed my heart.

When I returned home two weeks later I wasn’t the same person.  As ridiculous as it sounds, I left as a 33 year old girl and returned as a 33 year old woman.

Confident. Brave. Independent. Hopeful.

Fast-forward to today…

One week ago I dropped C off at the airport after spending four weeks together. We never know what exactly the future holds but I do know that if it wasn’t for this man I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

Follow your heart; you never know where it might take you.