travel more. worry less.

Traveling has changed me.

As a child I was fortunate enough to go on frequent family vacations. I am forever thankful to my parents for providing me with those opportunities. Together we created memories that will last a life time. Something to look back on and reminisce about.

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Although these trips have been special, I believe traveling as a young adult is different. It strengthens you. It allows you to grow and get cultured. It makes you appreciate the little things. And it ultimately defines the rest of your life.

As you know, over the past year and a half I’ve done a bit of traveling to Europe (Finding the Inspiration) to visit my boyfriend. I’ve always been a nervous flyer. I don’t enjoy being on a plane, especially when I’m by myself, surrounded by complete strangers. What am I supposed to do for 7 hours? Who can I talk to? Where do I go when I get off the plane? Will I have enough money? What if I get lost? These thoughts floated around in my head incessantly. Until I decided to let go. I chose to let these worries escape me and learned how to go with the flow (a skill that is difficult to master). It ultimately opened my eyes and changed my attitude into a more care-free, positive, enriched attitude.

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I’ve discovered new things about myself that will stay with me throughout my life. Lessons that I’ll be able to hopefully one day share with my children. Ideas and thoughts that I would like to share with you now.

5 things traveling has taught me:

  1. Experiences over Material things. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to shop. But, I’ve learned to recognize my needs vs. my wants. Happiness isn’t about getting those pair of shoes you’ll probably never wear, or that new handbag that is similar to another one you already have in your closet. Happiness is about making memories and embracing new experiences. My travels have taught me to buy experiences, not things.
  2. Taking a break from social media is okay. We have become so dependent on our phones and computers, that we often forget how to live our life free of them. I’ll admit, I’m still learning to master this. But, traveling has taught me to break free from social media and take time to enjoy what I’m doing, in the moment, rather than spending my time showing everyone else what I’m doing.
  3. The best restaurants are hidden away from tourist attractions. If you’re looking for delicious food at an affordable price, avoid the high traffic tourist areas. Yes, it might be nice to sit under the Eiffel Tower for dinner, but you’ll pay the price for it and it probably won’t be the greatest food. In my opinion, I got more joy out of stumbling upon a small, quaint restaurant down a cobblestone alley than going to a fancy, extravagant lounge.
  4. Step out of your comfort zone. Meet new people. Try different foods. Speak the language. Be adventurous. Say yes. In our lives, we often get scared of trying new things. But, I’ve come to learn that the magic happens outside of your comfort zone. This March, Justin and I are traveling around Switzerland and we decided to go paragliding during our time in Interlaken. I’m terrified. But I know it’s going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
  5. Appreciate the beauty. Breathe in the culture and nature while you’re visiting a new place. Sometimes you have to put your camera down and just enjoy where you are, who you’re with and what you’re looking at. Let it sink in and envelop you. Because that is what you’ll carry with you forever.

I’m sure as a take flight and explore new destinations, I’ll add more lessons to this list. I look forward to exploring and experiencing life the best way I know possible.

finding the inspiration

It isn’t always easy to find meaningful topics to blog about. Not to mention the fact that life gets in the way, and frequently, you don’t get the opportunity to just take a moment and appreciate all the amazing things you got going on. It’s been about 8 months since my last entry and I feel like so many spectacular things have happened to me.

At the airport with Justin

At the airport with Justin

I’ll start with the month of December. For me, this was an exciting month. For obvious reasons it meant that Christmas was fast approaching, but more importantly, my boyfriend, Justin, would be coming home from Ireland for the holidays. At this point, we had been apart for 4 months, so it was really nice to spend some quality time with each other and our families.

Another special moment, was when my brother and sister-in-law told the family at Christmas that they are expecting a baby in summer 2015. After an extremely tough 6 months, with the loss of my niece, Isla (A Journey of Grief), it was a bittersweet moment of joy to find out that we would be welcoming another little one into this world. With it now being just over a year, my family has had time to heal and we couldn’t be happier for them. I’m so looking forward to meeting my little nephew at the end of the month!

This brings me to the month of March. My first trip on a plane by myself. First stop, Ireland.

Justin picked me up at the airport and I spent a few days with him in Limerick. While Justin had classes, I was able to explore the downtown city centre. There’s something so exhilarating about being in a place, by yourself, navigating through unknown territory. The city lies on the River Shannon and has a vast variety of old architecture, lush pastures, unique shops and local pubs. Definitely worth traveling to.

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After seeing Justin’s home away from home, we were on our way to our next travel destination. Paris! For anyone who doesn’t knows me, I have been dying to go to Paris for years. So when Justin and I decided to book the trip and go, I was ecstatic. We rented a quaint little apartment through Airbnb, which was located in the 3rd arrondissement. Once we arrived, it was beginning to get dark, so as soon as we got settled in, we decided to head over to the Champ de Mars. I will never forget the feeling I had when I got off the metro and finally, after months of anticipation, walked the streets of Paris. My face hurt from smiling so much. We turned the corner, and there she was. The most magnificent, breath-taking piece of architecture I have ever seen. The Eiffel Tower.

During our stay, it was impossible to see everything Paris has to offer. But, we were able to see the iconic architecture, taste the delicious food, explore the chic boutiques, and experience Parisian culture. Here are some of my favourite pictures from the trip.

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Eiffel Tower (Day and Night)

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Garden Shop (near Notre Dame) and Pont des Arts (love lock bridge)

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Sacré-Cœur and Moulin Rouge (Montmarte)

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Arc de Triomphe and Candles at Notre Dame Cathedral

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Musée d’Orsay and The Catacombs of Paris

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Palace of Versaille (Inside) and Jardin du Luxembourg

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Notre Dame Cathedral and Palace of Versailles

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The Louvre and Our love lock on Pont des Art

After our time in Paris, we flew back to the Emerald Isle and landed ourselves in Dublin! I had traveled to Dublin once before as a child, but let me tell you, it is much better as an adult. During the day we walked around the city and in the evening we enjoyed a few pints at The Temple Bar. Again, here are a few photos I took along the way.

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St. Stephen’s Green and Flowers at Dublin Castle

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Entrance way to the garden at Dublin Castle

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Christ Church Cathedral and The Temple Bar

On to the next adventure…

a journey of grief

I wish I could sit here and say that it was a grey and miserable day. But, it wasn’t. It was sunny and beautiful outside. The beginning of what I thought would be the best summer of my life. Instead, it was the day that would change me, forever.

I decided it was the perfect morning to go for a run along the beach. My boyfriend and I were up at his cottage, three hours from home. Out we went, iPhone’s in hand, music playing softly through our earphones. We were about halfway through our 5 kilometer run. As I quickly changed to the next song, I realized that my music was being interrupted by an unfamiliar jingle that was my ringer. I looked down to see that my Mum was trying to reach me. I answered the phone call, a little out of breath, explaining to my Mum that we were just out for a run. She told me the news.

My sister, who was 34 weeks pregnant, had an episode during the night and was rushed to hospital in the morning. There was no fetal heartbeat. As my Mum told me the news, it was as if everyone surrounding me was moving in super speed and I was stuck, in this slow motion nightmare that was consuming me. I talked to my sister briefly on the phone. As she sobbed, I sobbed. Both of us were completely and utterly heartbroken. We later found out that my sister was having a baby girl. Isla Alexandra Claire. My first and only niece.

Nearly 3 months since the loss of Isla, my family and I still grieve. It comes in waves. Some days, I feel better than others. But then it hits me. I won’t get to be the kind of aunt that I was so looking forward to being. Many keep telling me that I’m still an aunt. But it just doesn’t feel the same.

She’s gone.

I never saw the colour of her eyes. I never saw her smile or heard her laugh.

My emotions vary. I feel numb, frustrated, angry, sad, and empty. I try to stay strong, because I know I need to be strong for my family, especially my sister. But some days, I’m tired of pretending to be brave. I’m tired of seeing all the great things going on in other people’s lives around me. Because, for me…My heart now has an Isla-shaped hole that will never be filled. A missing puzzle piece.

So as I mourn for her, I can only hope that Isla is in a safer place, looking over me and my family.

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Isla Alexandra Claire – June 1, 2014

it’s time to live your life

Starting a new year is a funny thing. We all vow to change ourselves for the better. Claim that this is the year we’re going to try something new and exciting – take risks. Maybe we try and be kinder to those around us. Or aspire to live a healthier, active lifestyle. I say it’s funny because every new year that approaches we become obsessed with it all (myself included). But do we ever really stick to our resolutions for those 12 months?

You may not want to hear this, but no, many of us don’t. We fall off the wagon and lose inspiration to stay on track. Discouraging, I know. Personally, I can count on all 10 fingers and toes how many times I haven’t stuck to a resolution. Reality of it is, life gets in the way. We become busy and tired and it’s much easier to lose that motivation rather than feed it.

So what’s different about 2014? Nothing really haha. However, I’ve decided to take on the challenge of sticking to my resolutions. Not too sure what I was thinking when I decided to make multiple resolutions, seeing as I usually can’t keep up with one. I guess I just felt like I needed a positive change and this was the first step to accomplishing that.

411bded171c5553f3c9e6d66d2b2690dI thought my blog would be the perfect opportunity to update you all on my progress so far, in hopes to pass on a little inspiration to those who are feeling defeated. And, to kill two birds with one stone, by sharing with you all, it helps me stay accountable!

Resolution #1: Try a new physical activity (long-term goal: to lose some weight and be healthier). I decided to try hot yoga. I had heard many great things about it so I said, why not? The week after new years eve, I dragged my boyfriend to a hot yoga class at Moksha Yoga in Milton and signed up for an intro month. Needless to say, I’ve been hooked ever since. Not only is it relaxing, but it strengthens and tones muscles I didn’t even know existed. If you’re looking for something new to try, I definitely recommend this. It may be a bit difficult at first, but it becomes easier over time (I promise).

Along with hot yoga, I’ve been using a (free) app called My Fitness Pal to record what I’m eating on a daily basis. It just helps me monitor the things I’m having and keeps me motivated when I add in cardiovascular/strength activities. Here are some screen shots of what it looks like – As you can see, I’ve been good and have logged on for 18 consecutive days!

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Resolution #2: Keep my room clean and tidy. I know what you’re thinking…Shouldn’t a 25 year old always keep their room clean and tidy? I’ll go ahead and answer for you….yes. However, being a working girl who likes to socialize from time to time, it’s difficult to always maintain that cleanliness. I’m not saying I’m a slob, but when I’m deciding what to wear, clothes usually end up everywhere (bed, ottoman, floor). By the time I actually figure out the perfect outfit, I don’t have time to make my bed because I’m in too much of a rush out the door. It’s a vicious cycle. But, that was the old me! The new me has been very diligent about keeping things in a neat, organized manner. Don’t you think?

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Resolution #3: Floss my teeth at least once a day, every day (my dentist will love me for this one). I obviously brush my teeth, but I’ve never been big on flossing. I had braces, so trying to get that silly threader underneath my bracket is always a tedious task. It was laziness really. So, I decided this was the year I was going to make a conscious effort to floss once a day, every day. So far I’ve been really good about it. And I’ll have you all know, my dentist applauded me on finally listening to him after all these years! Hopefully I can keep it up.

There you have it. New year. New me. (And new blog theme).

This too, is your year to stick to it. Another chance for us to get it right. What are your resolutions?

I make a difference, now what about you?

“Why do you want to be a teacher? There are absolutely no teaching jobs right now..”
“I’m sure you’re just teaching to get summers off!”
“The pay and benefits are so amazing, I don’t blame you for wanting to be a teacher”

No, I don’t want to teach just because I get summers off and really great benefits. And yes, I realize that teaching jobs are difficult to come by these days. But before you judge me for what I want to pursue in life. Maybe you need to check yourself and reflect on your own life decisions. So, ‘let me break it down for you…’

I want to be a teacher because it’s a goal of mine to make a difference in a child’s life. I want to teach kids how to be the best person they can be. I love watching my students discover new things and witnessing that ‘lightbulb’ moment when they begin to understand something they didn’t before. I want to strive to give my students a positive school experience where they can push their limits and prove to themselves that they can do anything they put their minds too. I want to be an educator who is a life long learner. I want my students to teach me new things and pose thought provoking questions, allowing me to dig deeper and provide them with the answers. I desire a career where I can laugh/smile every day and enjoy the little experiences with my students. And most importantly, I want to inspire the kids I teach to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams and not let anyone tear them down for it!

A poem by teacher, Taylor Mali inspired this blog post and made me want to stand up for myself and every other passionate teacher who deals with judgement from others. Fight for what you believe in. Share with everyone all the amazing hard work you do to ensure your students succeed.

Because at the end of the day, we truly do make a difference. Do you?


(Shout out to Rebecca for sharing this video with me!)