October & November Update

I’m comfortable talking about just about anything – but not my wins. Don’t try to get me talking about the good things that happen to me. Why? Because this late update post is the perfect example of the result – utter avoidance and procrastination.

It doesn’t feel right talking about the things I’ve accomplished. Even when I’ve worked for them. Even when I’ve manifested them. Even when I’m proud inside – I have so much difficulty expressing it outwardly.

So, let’s call this post an exercise of rebellion against my former habits. I have so much good to highlight in this personal update, and I hope you’ll sit back and let me spill.

October and November were bursting at the seams with good things – I almost am not sure where to start – perhaps with the unexpected.

October saw me reach my very first organic freelance recommendation – meaning that someone reached out to me for my work. The freelance world is tough. I can reach for 100 projects and maybe land 1. It’s very competitive, and you have to constantly be willing to put yourself out there and look for those opportunities because they don’t come to you.

I guess technically when you reach a certain level, those projects do come to you. But I’m not at that level, not yet! Yet having that happen, just once, made it feel like anything is possible for me.

October and November were actually really great months for career growth for me overall. I know I’m capable, but I’m also really hard on myself, so having opportunities be presented to me is mind-blowing. My gut-reaction is to wonder why, and feel like I don’t deserve it. Then I try to remind myself that I am hard working, and I can accept the good things that happen to me. That part of me is still a work in progress.

The most exciting thing that happened to me was winning Impact Magazine’s Holiday Recipe Contest (!!!!!!). The chose my recipe, the Sugar(less) Cookie Bites, as the feature. As the winner, I also won a brand new Kitchen Aid Professional Series Blender (!!!!). This has me feeling truly truly grateful. Even as a wellness blogger and total foodie, I admit I have no fancy kitchen appliances or gadgets – really just the basics, if that. I work with what I’ve got, but I’m so excited to have this blender and I’m eager to come out with some amazing recipes with it!

Amidst all of this excitement, I also got to spend time with so many people I love in November. Our friends came out for a visit, and it was just when I needed it. Being around people you love breathes life back into you – a reminder that the connection we have with one another is the greatest currency we have.

Her !

Their visit was basically the perfect mix of running around and seeing things, but also staying in and straight chillin’. We ate lots of good food (too much?? Nah), played board games, and even though the weather wasn’t the best we did a lot of exploring.

Fresh off the end of their visit, I found myself visiting with my family back home one week later. My family means everything to me, and being able to spend quality time with them was such a blessing. My sisters partner, (and arch nemesis/ bff 2nd in command) Thomas, took us out for an incredible dinner. They happened to be doing spoken-word poetry at the restaurant that night which was so cool to witness and enjoy.

Pre-dinner selfies

I spent the following day visiting with my niece all day. She’s 3, and like most 3 year olds has an incredible amount of energy! I did my best to entertain her and let’s just say I had no trouble sleeping that night. I also got to squeeze in a little visit with my older sister that night and eat pizza.

I spent the next day with my mom. We went out to Banff to enjoy the hot springs and some lunch. The drive was incredible, and it gave us a chance to visit.

Even when I lived closer, I never went out of my way to go to the Banff Hot Springs. But on a Wednesday afternoon, on a perfectly brisk day, it’s just great. The temperature was on point, and it was quiet- maybe only another 10 or so people there.

Mum sneaking behind the trees

October and November were so great that December is really going to have to pull up to show up! My career has been growing, but not in a way that has taken time away from my family or friends. This does feel like the part of my life where I find a place of balance in that. Yes I can be career-driven and goal-oriented, but it doesn’t mean I need to run myself into the ground and miss out on spending time with people I love.

Last night, Matthew suggested I close my eyes and take some time to envision what I see for myself and my career. Sometimes I feel like I’m moving so fast, I forget to maintain a sense of clarity when it comes to this. I think mapping out what this looks like is going to really define the next year for me! Would you guys be interested in hearing more about this?

But before 2020 is here, I have a huge project that is being unveiled on my Instagram this month and I hope you will follow along, because I don’t want you to miss it!

I’ll see you there !

September Update

Why does the rain always make me feel so tapped into my emotions? At least it makes for a great cozy moment, to cuddle up with a warm-cuppa-something and tell you about my September.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that I was all-in to the Strong Babe Summer Guide for September. There are a few reasons why I decided to stick to this guide for September. Firstly, I always seem to thrive when I have some sort of goal I’m working towards. I knew that promising to share my journey in my stories every day would also hold me accountable.

What also inspired me is the fact that at the end of August, I just wasn’t feelin’ myself. I know we all go through those phases. Although self-care is almost always at the forefront of my mind, I wanted to make a more conscious effort to work on myself. And leave the excuses behind!

I was looking back at an old photo that was taken when I was creating the Strong Babe Summer Guide, and I remembered that this was the best I’d felt physically and mentally in a long time. I just wanted that feeling back again. So I committed to 30 days of putting myself first.

This is from when I first created the
Strong Babe Summer Guide !

I won’t walk you through the nitty gritty of every single day, but I’d love to share my HIGHS and my LOWS with you. No challenge is ever perfect – and my journey wasn’t, but there were definitely some great parts!

LOWS: During September, I got sick not once but twice. It was really hard to not beat myself up about it. On those weeks it was definitely more difficult to keep up with my goal of working out consistently and eating according to plan.

The other thing I struggled with was preparation! I came to realize that preparation is actually a huge component of being successful with this guide. The Strong Babe Summer Guide has an intense focus on whole foods – so if you are used to living by convenience foods this can be a struggle!

I don’t necessarily rely on foods of convenience, but I did find that when I didn’t prepare my snacks in advance I was often left without many options. My bad!

Beginning of September

Now it’s time for the fun part:

HIGHS: There were some days where sticking to the plan was hard. Because this wasn’t easy, it made the feeling of accomplishment from sticking to it feel so good. A sense of accomplishment is one of the best natural highs. It’s really so empowering – to do what you say you will, no matter what gets in your way!

Because this plan focuses on whole foods, my digestion was on point. For me, bad digestion really impacts my mood, mental health, energy levels, and skin. Because I was able to impact my digestion in such a positive way, I had more energy, stable moods, less anxiety, and my skin was so smooth and glowy!

The combination of strength building exercises and eating healthy was great for my self-confidence. It made me feel like such a health-queen-badass. The reason I started this guide in the first place was to feel more comfortable in my skin. Reaching that goal was such an emotional release.

I feel proud of myself for the work I put in, not just because I proved to myself I could do it, but because the results were off the charts too.

End of September

A lot of people tend to focus on the physical aspects of a health journey, and the mental/emotional benefits are secondary. For me, feeling confident, happy, and full of self-love is always the driving force. Any weight loss or body composition changes are secondary. That’s why I emphasize that this guide is NOT another diet book! A million of those already exist. The Strong Babe Summer Guide is about overall wellness.

That said, I know people love those “transformation photos” so I did take one or two comparison photos. I notice more defined muscles, A less puffy face (thank you low cortisol!), and small changes in my waist as well.

So what’s next?

In going through this guide during September, I realized that some additions could be made to make it that much better. I may be adding a few amendments here and there, like more snack options, which I feel could be helpful with this guide. For instance, plain non-dairy yogurt is a great snack that totally fits this guide, but hasn’t been included yet!

I would also love to come out with a plant-based version of this guide! In a world where eating plant-forward is more prevalent, I think it makes sense to have that option. In the meantime, protein swaps can easily be made with this guide.

Of course if/when these things happen, you will all be the first to know.

My September was all about giving myself the love, attention, and care that I really needed. It was a great reboot.

And now, we’re nearing the end of October already! Looks like I’ll have another update for you soon.

Until then, take care!

August Update – Take My Money

When I got my very first job at 14, my Mom encouraged me to save 10% from each and every paycheque. I remember that talk distinctly – I remember having every intention of doing so. But intentions mean nothing, and I never did save that 10% from every pay day. But if I had gotten into that habit, I wonder where I might be in life today…

Because really, I could have used that this month. Like, BAD.

At the beginning of August, we made plans to drive out to the Okanagan to see my Grandma. I’ve been missing her like crazy. I kid you not, we were about 3 or 4 hours away, surrounded in the nook of the mountains, and I just let out the deepest exhale. I paused to myself, after what had been a stressful week, and thought “everything is going to be ok”.

Then our transmission broke. (!!!). Beyond fixing. The diagnosis was TERMINAL. No longer drive-able. We couldn’t even make it home. It was done.

We ended up spending the entire weekend scrambling to find a new vehicle, stuck in a small town and ready to settle on the next best thing. Our options were limited.

It was a stressful time, but once all was settled, I really felt like we got our bearings again.

One week later, the transmission in our new vehicle started to slip. It was all downhill from there. Before the month was over, we would have to get rid of this vehicle too.

I know this is a wild story, but I CANNOT make this stuff up! I mean I could, but isn’t it way more exciting when it’s real life stuff? I feel like I emptied by bank account into my hands and threw it up in the air to the universe as if to say “Here – TAKE MY MONEY!”.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this. Firstly, always be prepared. I live life flying by the seat of my pants most of the time. Thank goodness for my partner, or who is always thinking ahead. We were able to navigate our way through this without totally screwing ourselves financially.

The second lesson here is that life happens. You can make all of the plans that you want, but there are some things in life that just cannot be anticipated. You’ve got to roll with the punches. Learning to be adaptable has saved me so much stress in the long run.

Although not your typical update post, I hope you enjoyed! Other than that, you didn’t miss much. I spent all my time doing two things: working, or beachin’ it (a little more on the workin’ side than I would have liked, but that’s how it goes!) .

How was your August?

March and April Update

Hello my friends!

By the time I was able to get around to bringing you an update for March, I realized that April was also almost over. I’ve decided to combine them into one cohesive, delightful update.

When we last spoke, I had just moved to Vancouver in a last-minute sort of fashion, and was just soaking everything in. Part of the joy of moving somewhere new is being able to be a tourist in your own city. And the fun in that regard hasn’t stopped.

For example, just last weekend we walked through the trendy area of Kitsilano, exploring the neighbourhood, the trendy shops, and a great (also insanely busy!) cafe. We then took a boardwalk back towards our neighbourhood, exploring an area that is so close to use that we hadn’t had the chance to enjoy yet.

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We rounded off the afternoon by stopping for a vegan cinnamon bun at a cafe just a few blocks away from us. It’s all still so fun and exciting. I know eventually this feeling might fade, but in terms of all the things we could see, we’ve barely touched the tip of ice berg. There will be more adventures for many more weeks to come.

Settling into life here has been very rewarding. I have a job I enjoy, I’ve been trying new things (dance classes!!) and I’m settling into a routine overall that works for me.

But the one thing that sticks in the back of my mind is that I never want to become complacent. I always want to keep pushing the envelope to see what’s possible for me. And that’s not because my life right now isn’t good enough – it’s just because I know for me that growth is the key to happiness.

Speaking of growth, spring is here. It’s just so beautiful here. I am eagerly awaiting summer – all I can think about is beach days, picnics, iced coffee, and feeling the sun on my skin.

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We’re ready for good weather!

We’ll be doing some kind of adventure this summer, but we haven’t decided on what exactly. It could be a house boating weekend, it could be a drive down to the US, it could be a week somewhere warm. All of those ideas are on our list, but right now we have bigger fish to fry… like finding a more permanent place to live. Once we get that ironed out, we can move onto the next big thing.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to my twin sister and her partner coming out here in June (yay!) and my mom coming out here in July (YAY AGAIN!). The only downside to being here is missing my family, and although we stay in touch constantly, I miss their energy and physical presence. I can’t wait to see them again.

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Aside from missing my family and friends a great deal, life is so great right now. It’s peaceful. And this move was a great reminder that some of the best moves in life challenge you, test you, and are incredibly scary. But if you trust your gut enough, and you’re willing to take the leap… it just might pay off.

What are your plans for this summer? I’d love to hear them! Maybe it will give us some more good ideas to consider.

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February Update P2 – Life in YVR

When I left off last, I was telling you guys about turning 30 and introducing yet another massive change in my life: my big move to Vancouver!

As I mentioned, I coincidentally had already booked a sisters weekend out here on the 22nd of February. When I was planning it I was mainly thinking of an epic way to celebrate my birthday milestone. However it also occurred to me that the three of us had never taken a full on sisters trip together before – and there’s no time like the present so we made it happen.

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Left to right – Lauren, Me, Stephanie

For me there were so many highlights of the weekend, but just being in the presence of my sisters for that amount of time is such a gift. My older sister Stephanie is a busy working mom, and my twin sister Lauren is in school as well as working to get hours in her career, so normally we are lucky if we can all just plan a dinner together.

We spent the weekend drinking coffee, eating avocado toast, and roasting each other with jokes every chance we got. We window shopped, went for a nice dinner, and nerded OUT learning about stars at the Space Center.

When Steph left on Sunday, I cried because I had the most amazing time and I knew I would be missing her. When Lauren left on Monday, I cried again for all the same reasons. The only thing really difficult about leaving Calgary (again) is that my family is there – my sisters, my mom, and my cute as a button niece.

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My beautiful sisters! I love them so!

But in so many other ways I have been called to this next phase of the journey. Both personally and professionally, Vancouver offers growth for me. I’ve already connected with some really amazing people, and I really want to get out there and meet more!

Professionally I feel my options are limitless. The health and wellness industry is BOOMING here. This is a place I can utilize my knowledge and skills because they are more valuable here. Unfortunately right now, Calgary currently has the worst unemployment rate in Canada. Getting a job is very competitive – even if you are a great candidate, you may not even have your resume viewed for the role.

I know some of you right now are wondering: wait, Jen, aren’t you self-employed? Yes, for the past 6 months I have been exclusively self-employed. But I was called here for a change, and in that aspect I desperately needed one.

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Athena chillin in our new bedroom

Although people tend to see self-employment and employment as one greater or less than, the truth is that it’s all grey. There are good things about being self-employed and there are not so great things – just as there is when you’re working for someone else. Being self-employed I enjoyed the freedom, the creativity, and being able to be with my dogs more.

But I struggled with the loneliness, the uncertainty, and never being able to leave work at work. So seeking employment became important to me. Nothing regarding Standing Strong Wellness will change – I will still be writing blog posts, sharing bomb recipes, and consulting clients. My freelance career is taking a back seat in favour of security and stability. That’s really what I need right now!

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Checking out one of the beaches with Matthew

Will I ever be self-employed again down the road? It’s likely! I do have a new focus that I’m looking at right now for the long-term. I cant reveal anything yet! Whether that looks like a side hustle or becomes something more, we’ll see. I promise to share when the time is right!

At any rate, we’re here now and we’re settling in. What do I think of Vancouver? Let’s see here….

Tons of dope plant-forward food options

Mountains AND ocean, the best of both worlds

DOGS EVERYWHERE

Milder weather

Tons of opportunity

…. yep, it’s safe to say we’re loving it here! And we ain’t seen nothing yet. We still have so much to see and explore, learn and do. As always, I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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Goodies from Granville Market!

I hope you are all doing amazing, feel free to share your recent changes in the comments below!

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February Update P1 -Turning 30 & Stuff

Okay, I’m going to be honest… we just skipped right over January. We just skipped right over it, and we’re not looking back. Obviously life has been a whirlwind and I’ve let my posts slide, but that’s the life of a blogger sometimes. And once you read all about February part 1 and 2, you’ll understand why.

Let’s just jump in fresh with February, which was kind of a big deal.

On February 9th, I turned 30. There’s nothing like a milestone birthday to help you freak out a little – am I right?? Or maybe that’s just me.

I love birthdays. Unfortunately, it has to be someone else’s birthday. I actually despise my own birthday. I know that sounds negative-Nancy but damnit, it’s true. Going back as far as I can remember, I look back on how my anxiety builds up until my birthday and then that day, I crash and burn.

I know it has a lot to do with pressure/plans/expectations that surround birthdays, and not necessarily the getting older itself. I’m actually enjoying getting older. Instead of constantly questioning who I am, I am finally moving into the stage of sinking into who I know I am. It feels great.

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Although I might come across as a person who is sure of myself, I am actually not really that person. But in the past few months I have come to question myself less, and I also think that comes with the territory of getting older. For that I am grateful.

Having a twin makes a birthday cooler too – it helps me focus on celebrating someone else instead of narrowly focusing on myself. I know she had a good one, and that matters to me so much more than my own birthday ever could – even if it happens to be on the same day under the same mother!

But as happy as I was to have turned 30, a part of me was restless for a shift. Well let’s get real… when this year haven’t I been?

Just a few weeks ago, my routine was nothing to strive for. Working at home alone, I would wake up at 5 am (ish) and drink coffee for an hour before starting work for the day. I’d been concentrating on my freelance writing, so I would write from about 6-10 or 11 am. Then I would go to the grocery store and come home, followed by work for another couple of hours. Around 4 I would begin making dinner, and by the time I cooked, cleaned, and showered it would be around 7 pm. I would relax for 2 hours and go to bed.

Sometimes I would hit the gym, although not nearly as much as I should have been. Sometimes I would visit with friends, but working at home alone had made me become more and more reclusive and solitary. This is the pattern I fell into, but not necessarily one that served me.

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It wasn’t really that bad, but it wasn’t necessarily good. I would say I felt about 78% happy.

78%!!!!!

Where was my other 22%??

I’m not one to settle into a situation where I think that things could be better.

After talking about it with Matthew, we realized we felt the same.

When we came back to Calgary a few months ago, our only plan was to have no plan – to find our grounding and figure out where the universe called us next.

I can tell you we stayed true to that. Matthew expressed interest in some jobs on the west coast. I began looking also. Self employment has been wonderful to me, but it’s also challenging.

Working alone comes with a level of uncertainty that never goes away. Because there is no physical barrier between my down time and my work time (being that it all happens in the same place – at home) I constantly stress about working. I’ve also gotten lonely over the past few months – I miss having someone around to talk to. I didn’t decide outright to just find a job – any job, but I decided that I was willing to look and accept one if I felt it was the right fit and change for me…

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I guess Matthew and I both found what we were looking for in Vancouver, and in just a few short weeks our whole life would turn upside down (again) as we packed up and moved to Vancouver.

Funnily enough, I already had a sisters weekend planned in Vancouver the weekend of February 22nd. This vacation would become a STAYcation, and I would never board that plane back to Calgary.

It’s felt like it’s all been happening on a whim, I don’t think I’ve even fully absorbed it yet.

I can’t wait to tell you guys more in Part 2 – where I’ll explain more about my amazing sisters weekend, new career path, what I think of it here in Van, and what the plan is next.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

December Update – I Kept it Together at Christmas (!!!)

December is joyous and stressful as hell. We all know it. It’s full of love and family, but its also busy and chaotic. At least that’s how it goes for me.

Me and my sisters are now grown adults with significant others and kids (well, kid). Gone are the days of simplicity around Christmas where all you have to do is wake up in your home and stay in your pajamas for 3 days straight.

We’re pretty close, but throughout the year it can be hard to get us all together. It’s nice to know that Christmas is one of those times that with everyone dashing back and forth, we will all still find time to make it work.

At my big sister’s Birthday Dinner in Mid December!

But between gift buying and holiday baking, I usually find myself pretty exhausted. It’s that classic time of year when my mental health starts to backslide, and I find it hard to keep up. Classic anxiety – you feel like you have to do it all and do it perfectly, and when you don’t (i.e. your christmas cookies don’t turn out, a family gathering plan goes slightly awry) you can feel like the whole world is falling apart.

Thankfully this year was a little different. And I’m proud of myself. After going through the cycle of craziness and burn out over the past 10+ holidays, I finally kept it together. I won’t say anxiety was non-existent, but it was at the lowest level it’s been in a really long time.

The reasoning behind this is two-fold. 

Number 1: You can only go through the same experience so many times until you finally get around to figuring out how to help yourself. After repeating a similar cycle holiday in and holiday out, I realized that I needed to change some things. Drawing boundaries where I am comfortable has been an important part of this. So is taking the time to recharge with Matthew and the dogs. For the past few years we have made our own small, unextravagant family dinner and it is becoming one of my favourite traditions.

Being in the kitchen alone really zens me, so an afternoon revolving around that makes perfect sense.

 

What really makes the holidays special: Her!

Number 2: Keep it low key. This has gotten easier over the years, especially since my niece joined us. The older I get, the more I realize that Christmas isn’t about the gifts or the obligations, it’s about family. During the holidays, spending time with them is all I care about. And making my niece smile! My expectations are lower, and therefore easily fulfilled.

Now that my niece is a toddler and more able to participate, the holidays are that much better. Watching her be excited for Santa to visit it, and seeing the glow on her face when she opens a gift is the best part. Christmas is really for the kids – I had always heard that said but couldn’t truly understand until this year. I get it now though.

Tuckered out after opening gifts

I know I’m not the only one who finds the holidays difficult, as so many of us who struggle with mental health find it difficult to cope. Whether that resonates with you or not, I hope you all enjoyed your holidays!

What helps you get through the busy holiday season? What do you look forward to the most? I know all of our experiences vary so much, and I’m always curious about how other people see it.

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Oh and one more thing – these Shortbread Cookies (gf & vegan!) by The Unconventional Baker are just heaven! Festively fitting and great at Christmas, but also wonderful at any time of year… I highly recommend.

 

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November Update – P2 – Why We Stayed

I’m sitting here with a big cup of tea in my hand ready to settle in… this is gonna be a big one. Yes, I’ve been putting this post off. Mostly because I haven’t been able to get my thoughts in order, as a lot has been going on these past few weeks.

It’s hard to be vulnerable, even in this space at times, for fear of judgement or criticism. But I have to put all that aside, because I want you to know where my heads at. And selfishly, I think it will help me sort my thoughts out for myself. I have never really been a person to hold back anyways, so yes – I’m about to lay it all out there for you.

If you need to refresh your memory, you can read November Update Part 1 here, but for a quick recap I’ll just remind you that when we last left off, I was headed back home to Calgary. What sparked this decision was that I had developed an ulcer, and in therefore not in good condition for travelling. I also wanted to see my doctor.

My sister and her SO took me to the Knordic Spa in Kananaskis – AMAZING.

Before I jump into it I want to say something really important. I was a mix bag of emotions coming back. What really comforted me was seeing my family again. They were all so happy to see me, and I know they missed me as much as I missed them. They gave me a safe place to land. They have always supported me unconditionally.

If I went to my family right now and said I wanted to be a naked astronaut, my older sister would say

“You accomplish everything you set your mind to so if you want to be a naked astronaut I know you can do it!”

My mom would say “A naked astronaut! Fun! Is there a naked astronaut party? You know what, let’s have it at my place to celebrate!”

My twin sister would simply ask “so… when do we leave?”

Fully relaxed at the Knordic Spa!

 

When we came back to Calgary, we truly had no plan. At this point M & I were looking at places to go next nation-wide. We promised each other that we would be open to any opportunity. Really having a break and time together to think about it helped me realize a few things…

  1. Living on the road is hard. Like, really hard. Like, don’t know where you are sleeping at 10 pm sometimes hard. Dogs shitting all over the backseat hard. Scary motel hard. LA 8-LANE traffic hard. Roasting in the vehicle overnight when it’s 38 degrees hard. You catch my drift. YES, living on the road is freakin’ amazing for so many reasons (I’ll get to that later). But like any lifestyle it also has its challenges!
  2. It’s hard on our dogs. Our dogs were actually such champions on the road, and I couldn’t have asked more from them. However when they get sick, or need medical attention, things can get complicated and fast. What made having our babies with us the most difficult was a lack of adequate space for them in terms of leaving them alone. The truck is definitely a “second home” to them, but it’s not an appropriate place to leave them for any amount of extended time.
  3. Working on the road is great. Working on the road while your partner is also working on the road is crazy. Matthew and I both made money working while we travelled. I know this sounds like a dream – and if we had even remotely the same kind of careers it might have been! However our dedication to our work brought us to have different priorities day-to-day, and that’s just tough. Often times we found that when M was free and able to do something, I needed to work, thus he was on dog-dad duty. And vice-versa. I would work on the road again because the digital nomad life is 111637/10 awesome and suitable for me, but I think we would have to figure out a way to structure it better so that it made sense for me and my partner.
  4. Money matters. Matthew and I worked incredibly hard to be able to travel for 3 months, but as time went on it began to dawn on us that we didn’t want to see it all slip away. I am definitely the one in the relationship who is… ehm… more comfortable spending money. But at the end of the day we agree – building up our savings and always having a plan for “after” or “if” is also important. So for us we kept in mind not wanting to travel until every last penny was spent.

Reunited with my BFFS

For all of those reasons, we decided to hunker down and regroup. Right now our focus is on financial stability & me working on my health. Unfortunately last week my ulcer burst and I have been dealing with more stomach issues. I have been taking incredible steps to heal it & I will definitely be sharing that journey with you all!

Travelling was so amazing, and I cherish all the memories we made. I miss going to sleep and waking with the sun. I miss the thrill of seeing something new. I miss long drives with iced coffee and a good podcast. I miss it. And I will travel again – sooner rather than later! Whether it’s M’s mom watching the dogs, or us investing in a better equipped travelling rig (bus or van), we’ll be doing a lot more of it in the future. Just smarter.

As for how long we’ll be in Calgary, I’m not sure. I do feel like I’m being called out to the East – and I want to follow that calling. However, we’ve committed to staying for a least a few months, so no decisions need to be made yet. I’m willing to walk through any doors that open for me. And it is with that open heart, spirit, and mindset that I will continue on in 2019.

What I’m most proud of is Matthew and I working together to make decisions that are going to keep moving us forward. It isn’t always easy working as a team, especially when we have different ideas that just don’t seem to jive. But we always manage to come together to work toward a common goal. We are not just a couple – we are a team.

I can honestly say I’m at a really great place in my life. And although in a way it might almost seem like I’m “back where I started”, nothing could be further from the truth. I am not the same.

I’ve grown a lot. I’ve faced challenges, outside and within myself. I’ve learned more about what are absolute musts in my life, and what I can live without. I have more gratitude because I know what it’s like to live with the bare minimum (she writes from her mattress on the floor). I’m at peace because I get it now… that home is no place in particular, but really any place that I can be with them…

From mountain tops, to backroad alleyways… from the hottest, driest dessert to the cold Alberta winters… from a warm motel bed to a deflated air mattress on the ground… these three are my home.

Thank you guys so much for following my journey, it truly is one of my favourite parts of this blog – sharing it all with you guys.

Do you guys have any travel plans for 2019? I’d love to hear them!

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November Update – P1 – Going Home??

The start of November doesn’t feel like a month ago – it feels like a year ago. When you read about everything that has happened, you’ll understand why.

When I last updated you, we were leaving our camping spot outside of Palm Dessert. Needing a break from the sweat, sweat, and more sweat of camping in the dessert, we decided to treat ourselves to a 2-night stay at a motel in Palm Springs.

In Palm Springs we found a gem of a place called “Great Shakes” that makes dairy free milkshakes – I haven’t been on such a sugar high since my last DQ Ice Cream cake… but man oh man, was it good! The motel on the other hand… a little sketch. I know everyone talks about how great Palm Springs was, but to be totally honest we preferred Palm Dessert. Palm Dessert was filled with healthy food options, fancy stores filled with things I couldn’t afford, and +55 communities. It was just clean and nice – a refreshing place to stop each day while we were camping and stock up on food and water (and sometimes wifi).

Matthew and the pups at Great Shakes

Upon leaving Palm Springs, we were on a mission to deliver a plane across country to New York. Pay attention closely because this is where everything turns upside down.

It was in Palm Springs that I started noticing that I had a constant feeling of having something stuck in my throat. For the first couple of days I really didn’t give it much thought, and we hit the road without delay.

Over the next two days, things got much worse for me. My insides wretched, but stomach burned, my intestines twisted. I had a fever on and off and severe nausea. I could barely eat, and I wasn’t functioning well overall. Living on the road started to feel impossible. When you are on the road and adhering to a schedule, being sick freakin’ sucks. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I knew I needed some kind of medical intervention.

I had to go home.

It is easy to say it now but in the moment it was such a gut-wrenching decision for me (literally). I didn’t want to feel like a failure, but I also felt stuck between staying on the road in the condition I was in, or going to take care of myself.

It reminded me that in life, most things are not black and white. Decisions that matter are rarely easy, or necessarily even that one is better than the other. It’s just a decision between two paths.

Although in one way reluctant to make the decision, I did want to go home. When I am unwell, I want a comfy bed to lie in, my family, and the comforts of a home. It’s practically a human instinct.

What I thought would be sadness upon my return to Calgary was actually relief. There is something to be said about seeing things that are familiar. Seeing my family and their smiling faces warmed my heart. Being here again was actually…. nice.

Calgary has a lot to offer, but went unappreciated by me because I was so used to it here. This time was different. If only I were more able to enjoy it, but first: I had an important job to do. I needed to get back my health.

Ultimately suspecting that I was dealing with an ulcer, the next step in my journey was a doctor’s visit.

But you’ll have to wait until Part 2 to find out what he said – and why my health has been so challenging these past few weeks (I wish I could say it gets better…!)

Chat soon Strong Babes,

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October Update – P2 – San Diego and Desert Shenanigans

When we left off last, I shared with you the incredible story of “the shittiest night ever” – if you missed it, you can read October Update Part 1 HERE!

We slept one exhausting night in the San Bernardino Forest until making our way into a city on the outskirts of San Diego. We delivered something to a woman named Kari, who turned out to be a godsend for us.

Kari has a suite above her garage with a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. She invited us to stay there for over a week – purely out of the kindness of her heart. It was amazing to be able to stay on her property which had chickens, a beautiful garden, and a pool in the yard. She was an incredible host, and on our first day there she and her son took us for a hike and for dinner. Believe it or not this was Matthew and mine’s first hike together – I’ve been trying to get him to do one with me for years! We hiked up Potato Chip mountain.

I normally would have shyed away from a social situation like this – hiking for hours with someone I don’t know – but I decided to be open to the experience and it was well worth it. Sometimes you just have to be a YES person and do something that makes you uncomfortable. You probably won’t regret it.

See why it’s called Potato Chip?

Our family at the top!

 

There are so many highlights from San Diego – where do I start? There was Black’s Beach, San Diego’s nudist beach. To get there is a bit of a hike, but one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. A cliff hangs over you on one side, and the ocean welcomes you on the other. It was a very mellow and chill beach. Of course it’s not for everyone, but we are comfortable enough to be around nudity and no one was bothering anybody, as it is at most nude beaches (I believe).

We also went to dog beach, and the area was definitely a bit more lively. The weather wasn’t as nice that day, but it was still fun exploring the neighbourhood.

As you well know by now I am into healthy food, so finding Evolution Fast Food was a highlight for me. It’s a fast food stop with healthy food! Amazing burgers, shakes, wraps, desserts and more – all plant based. We went there twice in the matter of a couple of days because after the first round, we just couldn’t get enough.

Ocean Beach

Near Black’s Beach

That chocolate shake was HEAVEN

Moving on from San Diego was bitter sweet – we were having a great time there but it was time to get the show on the road!

We drove to LA and met up with my friend Kim. We grabbed coffee and headed to Venice beach. I know travellers go on and on about the LA traffic, but let me tell you that traffic was BAD! Maybe the worst in the world? It’s incomparable to anything I’ve ever experienced! And we had driven through New York and across the southern states.

I was holding onto the sides of my seat for dear life – and Matthew is an excellent driver. Venice beach was crazy busy, but cool to see. We didn’t have much time as we needed to find a camping spot for the night, so we hit the road.

The next day we moved to the spot that we would camp at for over a week. We found it on iOverlander (an app that helps you find off the beaten path camp spots). It was off a side road on a pass leading out of Palm Dessert.

Morning Coffee 

The view

The view was absolutely stunning, especially at sunrise and sunset. We got into a routine: each morning I would go to the Starbucks down the road and work for 3-4 hours while Matthew stayed with the dogs, got groceries, and ran any other errands we needed done. In the afternoon we would head back to the site. It was hard to do much, as the temperate was burning hot almost the entire time we camped there. We would make our meals, play with the dogs, and I would read. Not having data or access to the internet gave me a chance to unwind. We would get into our tent at sunset and watch a movie together on the iPad.

On one of those days we took a day trip to Slab City – known as “Squatters Paradise” is also called the last free place in America. Everything looks very post-apocalyptic, but this isn’t just a tourist attraction: people actually live there. It’s home to snowbirds, squatters, and people just looking to live in a seriously off-grid community. There is no electricity, no running water, and no law enforcement.

I am interested in alternative ways of living, and the lifestyles here are definitely alternative. Aside from the lifestyle itself, there’s also the interesting look of Slab. I often found myself looking around in wonder: is it junk or is it art?

And sometimes it was just junk, just art, or kind of both.

Slab City was a place that lived up to our expectations in terms of how cool we heard it was. I highly recommend it for anyone passing through if you’re into seeing something a little wild, different, grungy and unique.

 

The second half of October was a whole lot of sunshine. At this point, us Canadians are almost sick of the blazing heat. We can’t leave our dogs alone in the car – ever. We can’t escape the heat at our campsite – even being in the shade leaves us sweating. By this time, we were ready for a change.

It was time to head North, after a quick stop in Palm Springs.

Things are really about to change in November – and not the way we planned…

Until next time!

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