Life is Change, Growth is Optional

I returned to Canada on January 22, 2016 after 380 days of travel around the world with a very specific agenda for my time back in my homeland. Traveling sparked an inner questioning process that I did my best to distract myself from while on the road, but I needed to explore this spark and ask myself some really tough questions. Was I on the course I wanted to be on? Was I growing emotionally, spiritually, physically? Was I achieving the connection I desired? Was I reaching my personal and professional goals? If the answer to any of my questions was no, then I had to discover why.

I wish I could say asking yourself tough questions is fast, easy, or fun- but that would be a lie. What I can say is that it is the most rewarding thing you could ever do.

I feel I have accomplished what I set out to do upon my return to Canada. I think in order to live your best life you need to stop, slow down, and take inventory of yourself. As the old saying goes, you can’t see your reflection in running water.

Through this questioning and reflection process one theme emerged as the most important: adventure is a core value in my life. To get the most satisfaction from life I needed to explore ways to continue to work towards my professional goals whilst simultaneously fulfilling my need for adventure.  It seemed like a lofty idea at first, but as I began researching different opportunities I realized that it was entirely attainable.

It may seem obvious that working abroad would meet this need, but it took me a while to seriously consider it. Don’t get me wrong, I have always wanted to live and work abroad, but I believed it too difficult as a health care professional due to licensing requirements. Nevertheless, I began researching different countries and their requirements to become licensed as a foreign trained pharmacist. I won’t bore you with the lengthy results of my findings, but the summary is it is difficult in most other countries and you need a lot of money and time to do so. However, there are a few countries that it is (relatively) easier to obtain a license.

I am excited to share with you that I have accepted a pharmacist position in Bermuda and will be moving there in a few short days. I settled on Bermuda due to the proximity to Nova Scotia, the likeness in pharmacy practice, the ease of licensing, the climate, the friendliness of the people, and the incredible opportunity I was presented with. I will share more details of the process after I settle in!

I am very hopeful Bermuda will provide the balance of adventure and structure that I crave. I am beyond thrilled and excited to share this new chapter in my life with all of you.

 “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” – Alan Cohen

 

 

 

An Epic Canadian Weekend

Hey everyone!

I am so excited to share with you our adventures from the weekend. It was one of my favorite winter weekends to date, and it may be the most stereotypical Canadian weekend ever to be written about.

We awoke on Saturday morning to a crisp morning with beautiful sunshine forecast for the entire day. After the storm at the end of the week there was enough snow to cover the trees and ground and make for a stunning winter drive. We jumped in the car with our sights set on discovering the Northumberland Shore.

Our first order of business, as always, was food. I have wanted to visit Sugar Moon Farm in Earltown for years after stumbling upon their Facebook page with delectable looking pancakes. We decided it was the perfect winter day for a visit to the Maple Syrup Farm and to sample their specialty brunch.

We arrived after an hour and twenty minute scenic drive along the backroads. We were greeted to an adorable log house with a wood stove pumping heat to a full restaurant of patrons. We were quickly seated at one end of the family style tables and given menus with mouthwatering selections. Chris opted for the “Sugar Moon Classic,”a 3-stack of buttermilk pancakes, maple baked beans, and a knackwurst sausage. I went with “Wild about blueberries,” a 2-stack of buttermilk pancakes topped with wild blueberry compote, maple whipped cream, and breakfast sausages. Of course, all of this was drenched in their house made maple syrup.

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Seriously, could this be any more perfect of a meal? (I wasn’t able to snap a picture of Chris’s before he dug in).

We finished our brunch and purchased a bottle of mid-season harvested maple syrup and a bottle of maple mustard that we sampled with our sausages and couldn’t get enough of.

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We then hustled outside for a Canadian classic, sugar on snow. This is a winter treated created by combining maple syrup and water, boiling for a few minutes, and then drizzling the resulting sugary liquid over snow to be promptly eaten. It took me back to my childhood when mom used to do this for us as kids. I don’t recall it being quite as chewy, but it was delicious nonetheless.

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We wandered the grounds of the farm for 20 minutes while waiting for a syrup tour to start. You are able to rent snowshoes from the farm and there is a 6.5 km trail system accessed from the parking lot. Chris and I were both so incredibly full from our brunch that it was out of the question. Pro tip: Snowshoe first, brunch second.

The syrup tour was 30 minutes long and very informative. Canada produces over 80% of the worlds maple syrup, the greatest producer being the province of Quebec. We learned it takes a TON of sap to produce a single bottle of syrup. It deepened our appreciation for this delicious national treasure.

We bid farewell to Sugar Moon Farm and headed towards Lyons Brook with our eyes set on our next local delicacy: beer. Uncle Leo’s is one of our absolute favorite brewers and we couldn’t resist stopping by on our way through. We picked up an altbier, red ale, cream stout, and a smoked porter before continuing on to grab something to pair with the beer.

What could go better with beer and the maple mustard we picked up at Sugar Moon? Sausages of course! We swung in to The Pork Shop in New Glasgow to grab several varieties of sausages for an easy supper after a long day of venturing.

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On Sunday we were graced with another stunning winter day and decided to try our hand at cross-country skiing. Chris’s coworker was kind enough to lend her gear for us to give it a go. The local golf course allows for skiing during the winter months and is just around the corner from our house.

It was an entertaining couple of hours to say the least. I thought my downhill skiing experience would be of some help; I  was wrong. It was so much fun despite the numerous wipeouts on my behalf, and there is no better way to enjoy a beautiful winter day. Chris and I are interested in investing in skis for next season.

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After skiing we headed to the rink for a public skate. It has been over 2 years since either of us have been on a pair of skates, luckily we faired better than on the skis. I failed to snap a picture of us skating, but if you google pro skating pictures you will get the idea (haha).

We warmed up with a couple of hot chocolates and considered what would have made the weekend any more Canadian. The only thing we could come up with was to cap it off with a poutine, but we were exhausted from our days activities and craving something a bit healthier. We went for butternut squash soup and ham sandwiches. Next time eh?

 

#BellLetsTalk

It is #BellLetsTalk day, a once a year event where Bell donates 5 cents for every text, call, tweet, Instagram, and use of snapchat GeoFilter to mental health initiatives. It is a wonderful day that generates an enormous amount of social media chatter and raises millions of dollars for a very underfunded part of our healthcare system, while simultaneously reducing stigma.

Stigma is only one part of the problem people with mental health issues face. The larger and more difficult problem to face is access to care. Unfortunately, at least in this province, the wait times to access a professional in the public system are astronomical.

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This chart was accessed through the NS government website and displays the maximum wait time 90% of patients waited to access Mental Health Adult Community-Based Services (Data period: July 1- September 30 2016). According to the website: “Wait times are measured from the time the referral is received by the clinical service to the date the patient has their first Choice appointment with a clinician. Wait times do not include patients who choose to wait longer.” Feel free to access this information at:  https://waittimes.novascotia.ca/procedure/mental-health-adult-community-based-services#waittimes-90

To help understand what the numbers mean: The shortest timeframe: 90% of patients accessing care at the Inverness Consolidated Hospital had their first appointment within 39 days of the service being requested. The longest timeframe: 90% of patients accessing care at the Cape Breton Regional had their appointment within 325 days of the service being requested.

Can you imagine deciding to seek help, only to be told it may take up to 325 days to be seen? This is incredibly frustrating for those seeking help, as well as those incredible people who are dedicated to providing help.

My intention is not for this information to create a negative backlash towards our healthcare system. My intention is to draw attention to, and generate a conversation surrounding, the challenges that currently face our mental health care system and those accessing care, and why #BellLetsTalk is so important for generating desperately needed funds.

 

 

Another year gone b’y

Hi Everyone!

9 months.  It has been 9 months since I wrote my post ‘Change.’ I don’t know which emotion is stronger; the disappointment in myself for taking so long to write, or the bewilderment of how much time has passed. Even more astonishing, it has been a year to the day since we arrived back in Canada from our 13-month trip. This anniversary is, of course, the fire under my arse butt to get back to writing.

What, you may ask, have I been up to during this extraordinary writing hiatus?

Nothing.

And everything.

It has taken me an entire year to digest and process what the 13-month backpacking around the world trip really meant. I find it fascinating how the mind processes things. I would be at work doing something completely ordinary, and all of a sudden find my mind back in Nepal watching the sunrise, or standing on the edge of the bridge just before I bungeed.In so many ways, it was like I spent the year re-living the previous year. This may sound like a gigantic waste of time, but it wasn’t even on a conscious level. It was like subconsciously, my mind was still playing catch up. I would all of a sudden think, “This time last year, I was _____________,” and then spend a few minutes reflecting on the memory. This did not happen every day, but frequently enough that it did feel like I was moving through the trip in chronological order as the year went on.

I discussed in my ‘Life Lessons’ post how misguided the romantic notion of travel allowing you to ‘find who you are’ is, but rather the idea that travel makes you question who you are. At the time of writing, I didn’t fully grasp the breadth of what that questioning process meant, and how unknowingly, it had began for me long before I ever stuck pen to paper (or more accurately, fingers to keyboard).

As I subconsciously and consciously reflected on the trip, I in turn reflected on how significantly the trip changed me. I feel like each country we visited taught me something about myself, and pushed me to grow into the best possible version of myself. I won’t claim that this transition and growth was easy. It was anything but easy. But I also sincerely doubt it would have ever happened had Chris and I not dared greatly and followed our inspiration to travel.

So, what else did I do this year? I followed my curiosity. 

I know, I know. ‘Big Magic,’ Liz Gilbert, been there, read that. If you have, you will find it entertaining to know that I just finished the book and had to pick my jaw up off the floor as I felt I could have written the damn thing. The proof, as they say, is in the proverbial pudding.

Where exactly did my curiosity lead me?:

  • New areas of Cape Breton, PEI, and Nova Scotia
  • To appreciate the peacefulness of journaling
  • Back to the gym for the simple pleasure of being active
  • To hard truths
  • To books I overlooked a hundred times previously
  • Newfoundland for the first, but not the last, time
  • To discussions about vulnerability
  • The discovery of podcasts
  • Fiddle lessons (For no reason other than the fact it brought me immense joy as a child)
  • Recycling old furniture and giving the pieces new life with chalk paint
  • To try meditation, realize its not for me, and be okay with that
  • New recipes
  • The realization; I am creative
  • To strengthening old friendships, and developing new ones
  • To continue to dare greatly

2016 was a beautiful year.

But something tells me, 2017 is going to incredible.

 

 

 

 

Change

Hi everyone!

My promise to continue blogging may appear to be going unfulfilled, however I have been intentionally avoiding blogging as I have been somewhat at a loss as to how to detail the two months since arriving back in Canada. With the weather finally beginning to feel like spring, a feeling of fresh beginnings, I decided this would be a perfect time (and theme) for my post.

As foreshadowed in my life lessons post, there has been a major “reality” adjustment upon returning to Canada. I will never forget waking up my first morning back in Canada, freezing my butt off walking to the car, getting to the hairdresser and sitting in the chair for my first real haircut in 13 months (I refuse to define my cuts in Turkey and Singapore as legitimate cuts). I had never met this particular hairdresser before, my beloved hairdresser was unable to fit me into her very busy schedule, and subsequently I was thrust into the throws of hairdresser small talk. The lightening speed of the conversation and the range of topics covered had my head spinning, I felt completely overwhelmed and speechless. I felt like laughing and crying all at the same time, something once so familiar felt totally foreign. She did an absolutely fantastic job, but instead of feeling light and rejevenated, I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I couldn’t help but wonder if I would ever be able to readjust.

I had very little time to ponder this, and the million other questions that rang through my conscious and subconscious brain. Hindsight, ever 20/20, leads me to the conclusion perhaps a week from landing back in Canada to returning to work may have been inadequate for readjustment. At first I believed it would be good to be thrown headfirst back into the “real” world. ‘Baptism by fire,’ as the age old adage goes. There was a fire alright, but not in a positive, productive way. I told myself it was because I had been away from retail for so long, that it was due to me taking a full year off, that once I got back into the swing of things, it would be fine. But, you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you when things just aren’t right? I had that feeling every moment, of every day. If traveling has taught me anything, it is that you never ignore that feeling. So I listened.

In a manner I can only define as serendipitous, I was presented with an opportunity to join an exciting, dynamic team that perfectly suits my ideals and philosophy for a working environment. I am incredibly happy I listened to my gut feeling and made the big, scary decision to change positions. It was a major risk, but nothing in comparison to risking my happiness.

Despite being incredibly satisfied and happy with my new position, I am finding it hard to get back on the “hamster wheel” of life. The “wheel” I am referencing goes a little something like this;

You work hard every day to have money to buy things you don’t need that tie you down and make it impossible to lead any other lifestyle.

That old thing.

It is a very interesting, yet difficult, transitional period in my life. I feel I am in purgatory as I don’t want to be traveling long-term at the moment, but I am also finding it difficult to be fully invested in every day ‘normal’ life. To me, both are equally extreme forms of lifestyles. I am searching for the sweet spot, the happy medium where hopefully I will discover the balance I crave.

I realize this post is [more than a little] disjointed, jumbled, and slightly chaotic. It is an honest and direct reflection of how I feel at this moment in time. And I have realized that is 100% okay. The ending is also untidy, and trailing. That too, is okay.

I am sorry it has taken so long for me to write this. I have tried many times to find the perfect words to describe this tumultuous time. There are no perfect words, only the truth. Blogging is a wonderful way to process things and try and make sense of it all. It is a glimpse into my life and it is part of my commitment to be vulnerable, and bold with how I live it.

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