Nanaimo Weekend

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Gymnastics

When I was one and a half my parents signed me up for a parents n tots gymnastics class, as parents of one and half year olds do. At the time it was probably more about socializing me and trying out a variety of activities and hoping I’d be a well rounded adult with many interests one day than necessarily finding a sport I’d grow to love.

I didn’t even realize how much I really did grow to need it until I reflected back, years after I’d quit. Obviously I loved it the whole way through, but it had a deeper impact on me than even I knew at the time. When I quit at age 18 due to a broken ankle I didn’t think much of it…I’d miss it a hell of a lot but that was the extent of my thoughts on it.

Now when I look back, I realize it was way more than 4 hours a week at the gym. More importantly, it was a sense of security, consistency, escape, strength, empowerment, challenge and accomplishment; it was my own thing, separate from school, friends and family. It was another world I was a part of, complete with its own lingo, routines, goals… I even had a completely different, and much loved set of friends there. For a couple of summers, I spent everyday of every week in gymnastics summer camp with some of my best friends, and when we turned 14, we CITed and eventually became coaches in that separate little world of mine. Growing up in the gym, I took for granted how positively intertwined my life became with it.

Now when I look back, I realize that quitting gymnastics wasn’t just quitting gymnastics, it was leaving behind that sense of security, consistency, escape, strength, empowerment, challenge and accomplishment, let alone all of the amazing girls I’d grown up with- from little kids to big kids, from big kids to teenagers, from teenagers to young adults.

Now when I look back, I realize that losing these things in my life was the beginning of a bit of a downward spiral for me. I’m not blaming the downward spiral on having quit gymnastics. But gymnastics coincidentally represents many of the aspects I was missing in order to be happy: My relationship with my parents was deteriorating. I moved to a brand new house, school and city where I knew almost no one. I was studying in a really tough program that I almost instantly knew I didn’t like. I didn’t vibe with many people in that program. My sister and I weren’t getting along for a while. The relationships I was in at the time were not fulfilling. I was so lonely. I wasn’t passionate about anything anymore. I was pretty depressed and for a long time I didn’t even know it.

I guess they don’t say Hindsight is 20/20! for nothing.

Now when I look back, I realize I’ve really started to turn it around. I went to teachers college. I have the most legit group of friends. I got a job as a teacher (twice!!) I stopped taking the birth control that (I have a hunch) had a huge effect on my happiness (or lack thereof). I moved across the freaking country to live in a place that makes me happy. I see my sister every single week, sometimes, multiple times. And to top it all off: we went to our first adult gymnastics class last week! 

We couldn’t stop smiling.

Roadtrip

What do you get when you live in Ottawa, but you want to live in Vancouver? A roady to beat all roadies, of course!

I was lucky in that a good friend of mine (and future roommate) from Ottawa had recently moved to Vancouver, but had left her car behind. Bam- transportation aquired. This car (a Toyota Yaris) also happens to be great on gas- something to think about if you plan on road tripping across the country like I did!

Something else I had to think about was campgrounds. Because we were going in early May, many sites were not yet open. Because of this I had to kind of plan where we would stay ahead of time because I had to ensure they’d be open.

I left Ottawa on Saturday, April 29th 2017. Yes, in the middle of my whirlwind fairytale of a move across the entire country, my retainer broke, and so I had to make a pit stop in my home town of Kitchener so my dad could work his dentist magic. #Reality just had to step in and give me a quick check. (I took it as a sign that God wanted me to see my parents one last time before I left. Whatever God).

The evening of Sunday the 30th I drove into Toronto to sleep at my cousin’s place so we could leave early in the morning. May 1 we were off! Here is the map of where we went:

May 1: We drove from Toronto through Sudbury, and just past Sault St. Marie. It took 8-9ish hours (this was about a month ago.. my memory is not great.. these details may not be incredibly accurate) including breaks (I had previously traded a bunch of my unwanted belongings for Timmys’ gift cards on Bunz so a lot of our pit stops were at Tims’). We arrived at Blueberry Hill Motel and Campground (~$30) around 5 (after stopping in at Walmart to pick up some supplies and food). Car 2 (two of my best friends, coming in from Ottawa) arrived about an hour later. We enjoyed frozen pizzas and hot dogs cooked over the campfire. The weather was… less than ideal …rainy and low single digits. It was a bit of a chilly night.

The French River Suspension Bridge, just south of Sudbury.

The view of the highway from the bridge.

Blueberry Hill Motel & Campground

Remy has perfected the Asian (or Slav as he calls it) Squat.

Warming up around the fire.

May 2: Up early for another long day! We left Blueberry Hill around 7 for our longest day of the trip- 14-15 hours to Kenora (including breaks, honestly we just wanted to get out of Ontario ASAP). We were nervous after driving through  actual snow, and consequent truck crashes every now and again. We arrived safely at Anicinabe RV Park and Campground (~$25) just after Car 2, before sundown. We were pleasantly greeted with a lack of running water (read: bathrooms). After an unsuccessful quick search of nearby motels (all booked or hella chedda) we settled on toughing it out (read: driving to MacDonalds anytime we needed to use the washroom). It was okay, better than we initially thought it would be- I ate 15 chicken mcnuggets and a medium fry for dinner, for example- could be worse, right? Our site was very picturesquely surrounded by a lake, off of which were a few cute little docks where we went to take some ~*artsy*~ photos. Additionally, the deer were super tame and hung around our site all evening! We thought we out-drove the rain but it did catch up during the night, making for a second wet and chilly night.

What feeling very nervous looks like in the form of a photograph.

More snow at Aaron Provincial Park.

Pulled a U turn to return to this bridge we spotted from the highway.

Pretending to be peacefully looking into the water at Aaron Provincial Park while internally freaking out because I had just accidentally thrown back a family’s dinner worth of fish (I thought it was quite heroic until the man confronted us and I’d realized what I’d done).

Anicinabe RV Park & Campground.

Docks at dawn.

The next morning.

May 3: My cousin and I decided to drive through Winnipeg on our way to Riding Mountain National Park. We grabbed lunch at Forks Market (2-3 hours from Kenora) where a Japanese place caught our eye. I ordered chicken curry while she got the equivalent of chicken katsu (I forget what it was actually called). The stores were your typical tourist boutiques, but I love gift shops. After a 3-4 hour drive out of Winnipeg we arrived in Riding Mountain National Park where Car 2 was awaiting our arrival (they opted out of stopping in Winnipeg). We reserved an O-Tentic (~$90) which is essentially a cross between a tent and a yurt (read: who cares about the weather because it don’t matta!) We spent the evening walking around Clear Lake (which was still semi-frozen despite the warmer temperatures) and into town. For dinner we roasted corn on the cob and sausages, and then showered at the indoor, heated facilities (Sometimes paying a lil extra is worth it!) We talked and played games around the table inside before falling asleep to a raging fire in the wood stove (again…sometimes paying more is worth it!) in one of 3 beds (2 super large queen/ king ish, 1 smaller single/ double ish).

Forks Market, Winnipeg!

Japanese curry.

Checking out the lake at Riding Mountain National Park.

Just a casual pose.

Learning how to skip rocks.

The rock skipping master himself.

Our O-Tentic!

Cooking above and below the grill for maximum efficiency and swag.

Remy serenading us on his cell phone piano.

Debating how to compose a horizon shot. It’s a lose- lose situation honestly.

May 4: We had a leisurely start to the day as we were in no rush. The weather was great (overall it gradually got warmer as we drove west) so we spent the morning walking around the gorgeous lake again, before heading to Regina (Car 2 would stay for another night before meeting us on May 5). The drive was extremely boring, but not too long, about 5 hours with breaks. We reserved an Air BnB (~$70 for a small, single storie house) within walking distance to downtown. Turns out it didn’t matter because Regina, even the downtown core, is the most boring city one could chose to spend their time. Even the mall (which took up a whole 15 minutes) was lacking. The only positives were a full kitchen and bathroom, and an actual bed. We made bacon wrapped chicken with broccoli for dinner, because #health, you know?

#Health in Regina.

May 5: From Regina, we headed to Grasslands National Park. The roads were really rough, as the pavement was torn up (I assume it’s because of the heavy farm machinery?) We were almost there when a big truck sped by us on a small country road, kicked up some gravel and chipped our windhield in 3 places. We were in the middle of nowhere and coming up on a weekend. Boo. After 4ish hours total, we came up on a 22km gravel road which would lead to the campground. 30-45 minutes later we pulled up. Car 2 arrived about an hour later. The campground (less than $20/ night) was super unique- completely flat and grassy, unlike campgrounds in Ontario which are mostly surrounded by forest. This made for an incredibly windy time putting the tent up! There were bison and prairie dogs everywhere, and lots of hiking trails. We soon discovered a super pretty lookout only a 5 minute walk from our site, where we watched the sunset. We sat around the campfire drinking and eating sandwiches and smores before taking some long exposure photos using sparklers! The nice weather continued all night so we got to sleep, sans fly, under the stars. One down side- hella mosquitos.

Bison in the distance!

Prairie Dogs are so cute.Chilling in the Canada 150 red Adirondack​ chairs.

Our campgrounds at Grasslands National Park.Remy and Krista cooking their boss meals (BBQ steak and salmon).

Classic silhouette shot.

A scene from The Lion King.

Long exposure photography + sparklers!3 Cinderellas.

Our initials.

Freaking Remy!

May 6: The morning was another leisurely one- no big rush. We backtracked the 22km of gravel road, with our chipped windshield, and were on our way. Headed to Calgary (while Car 2 stayed behind another night and would meet us later in Vancouver), we were lucky to have family to stay with! After 7ish hours we pulled up and immediately showered and lounged in our REAL bed. It was so great to catch up with 2 (out of 3) of our second cousins, and aunt. She also made the most delicious meal for us, and took us for ice cream for dessert. It was nice exploring an actual city, with interesting things and people (*cough cough* Regina).

Cousin time!

May 7: We slept gloriously but woke up early to get on the road. My aunt took us for breakfast at a local diner before we left around 9. We planned to camp in Golden, BC (between Banff and Glacier National Parks), but instantly decided that driving straight to Vancouver would be better (we were tired of driving, and each other, by this time!) We did stop in the town of Banff (remember- I love gift shops!) and Lake Louise but kept trucking after not too long. Driving through the mountains wasn’t as hard as we had anticipated but it was longish (don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful and I plan to return soon!) We arrived at my sister’s place around 10:30, after 12-13 hours of driving plus breaks (we couldn’t not stop in, even though it was late and a Sunday). After visiting for a second we headed down to Ladner (15-20 minutes south) where we were greeted by my roommate and her boyfriend. Finally I was home!

Banff mountains.

The town of Banff.

Lake Louise.

On the road again!

Choo choooo.

I am home!

The super lucky thing for me was that I was splitting costs with people. The gas money was split 3 ways- between me, my cousin, and the car owner. All accommodations were split at least 2 ways- between me and my cousin- and many were split 4 ways, between us and Car 2. It was also super important for me to split the driving with someone! I get tired very quickly when driving. I would highly recommend travelling with at least 1 friend to make the trip easier (although​ you must chose wisely as you are together for a long period!)

Looking back, my favourite spots were definitely the National Parks, and not just because we had a Parks Pass for Canada150! Both places were beautiful with amazing weather (Grasslands was about 30°C!) and company. Riding Mountain has the most adorable little town along the lake (which will be even more adorable once all the shops are open for the season), and the O-Tentic was awesome too, not to mention the fabulous showers. Grasslands has breathtaking views and wildlife. I’ve never been anywhere like it. Oh! And it doesn’t hurt that both had wifi! Gotta check the ‘Gram you know?

My biggest regret from the trip was not being able to stop longer in Banff/ Jasper/ Glacier/ Yoho National Parks. I desperately wanted to but also knew we’d be arriving pretty late, and didn’t want to stretch that out much longer. I do however live much closer now and plan to go back soon!

I’m not the most adventurous or outdoorsy person by any means at all, but I would hundo p do that all again.

Long Time No See

Elapsed since my last post: 40 days, 3 time zones, 4 provinces and approximately 5000 kilometers!

I apologize for not keeping up to date- I was busy (and am currently, have always been and will continue to be the absolutely laziest).

After a (truly, seriously) whirlwind trip across Canada with my cousin, in a Toyota Yaris no less, I am settling into good old Vancouver (Ladner to be more accurate). It has been ~*literally*~ more than I had even hoped for, honestly. 

The last month in Ottawa consisted of a lot of painting (read: cramped hands/ arms/ neck, blistered fingers, very few showers, and a whole lot of ‘why am I doing this I won’t even be living here in a month?’), sorting/ packing/ disposing of/ donating/ selling/ shipping out all of my belongings, and hella anxiety. In my mind I knew I would be moving, but the piles and piles of things I knew needed to get done, paired with not really knowing what my future held (geographically, house/ car/ friends/ job- wise, etc.) had me in a confused, anxious, not-productive-but-still-trying-to-be-productive mess. In these instances I tend to have a really hard time concentrating on and prioritizing tasks. Essentially there was so much to do I didn’t know where to start, but I knew I needed to, because there was nobody else who was going to pick up my slack. 

Mentally, I was putting everything into this very abstract thing that was supposedly happening, but was it really? This move was so up-to-me that I could have, at any time, just stopped packing, and not moved, and it wouldn’t really have made much of a difference to anyone but myself. I was not answering to anyone else, so I was kind of skeptical about this whole thing (or maybe about my ability to pull it off?) It also didn’t help that in my mind I could see a visual linear timeline of my life up to May 1, 2017 (the day I planned to leave), and after that was pretty much just black. Nothing. I had less than no idea. It was an adventure but also terrifying. 

I was going from a place where I lived for 7ish years (September 2010- April 2017), had a nice place to live, know all my favourite/ essential places, know the bus routes, have tones of people I know and love, and a job. I was comfortable but not in absolute love with Ottawa. I could have easily stayed, but I knew it’d be more beneficial in the long run to uproot myself and be uncomfortable in the short term so that I could rebuild my life in a better place. 

Now, the positives: Everyday that I’ve been here I have found more things to love about Ladner. It is an adorable little city surrounded by mountains and beaches. There are tones of schools close by. The city center is THE cutest, and half a block from my place. Everything (groceries, banking, liquor store, Dollarama, drug store, restaurants, thrift store, Starbucks, bakery, butcher, antique stores) I need is a 3 minute walk down the street. One of my best friends from Ottawa (and now roommate) was there to greet me at our new perfect apartment with cake, champagne and more. I have had a ball shopping around (shouts to CraigsList, which is basically the Kijiji of BC… regarded as much less shady here than it is in Ontario) for used furniture to make my new room and apartment absolutely perfect for me (and us). The other day I walked out of my apartment to find a full on fair set up, complete with rides, food, and music! The big city (Van) is ony a 20 minute drive North, and best of all, my sister is here for me to bug ENDLESSLY! We haven’t lived in the same city for 3 years (& 3 years too long).

I am thankful for my cousin who drove across Canada with me, for two of my favourite people on Earth who motorcaded me, camping and driving alongside my cousin and I the entire way, for my soul sister of a roomie, and for my real soul sister, for making me feel instantly comfortable here, and ensuring I didn’t spend the first night overwhelmed and crying as usual (see: Quebec exchange/ grade 5, Carleton residence/ 1st year, Ottawa/ 2nd year, Uganda/ 4th year, and probably many other instances). The transition has been fairly seamless and I’m pleasantly surprised (and still skeptical…when will this ‘honeymoon’ phase wear off? Where are the overwhelmed tears? Stay tuned hahah)

I will have to do a room tour of sorts sometime soon, as well as a post all about my road trip!

Lo and I with our first purchase as a couple: our Ikea bistro set on our corner balcony

Me at the Stawamus Chief, Squamish

Ally at Deep Cove

Home Style

The other day, I went to Ikea with a friend…for meatballs, of course. I am not trying to load up on furniture before I leave, but I do love a good browse. While discussing all the things we loved and hated, it suddenly hit me: I want decor that is going to make me feel like I am on vacation at all times. Well now I had my whole evening set out in front of me- Pinteresting this new vibe I’ve found myself obsessed with.

A few (many) hours later, and the style gods have led me to Mediterranean modern decor. I have always been a fan of clean lines and minimalist design, but the Mediterranean patterns and colours just spice it up a bit.

Today I went shopping at Home Sense with my cousin and am obsessed with my purchases: 2 ceramic cups ($7.99/ea) which I plan to use for make up brushes, and a patterned rug ($24.99). Drooling.

Camping Hats

Guys, a few days ago, a friend mentioned to me that he was in search of a great camping hat to prepare for our cross country adventure (he is 100% coming with!) That got me to thinking, and a few great decisions later, voila. Look what I have here!

There’s a place in Rideau mall (and many other malls..) called Lids, and they will custom embroider anything on a hat for $12. The selection of hats they carry are more money than I’d like to spend so I hopped over to the H&M (at the suggestion of the Lids guy! Thanks Travis…or Trevor…) and bought 2 for the price of 1 at Lids. They were $12.99 and $15.99 (versus $27.99 at Lids) and honestly if that’s all the money I had left to my name I’d still purchase these hats.

It was kind of awkward because all the guys at Lids are like kind of hardcore and I showed up in a bright pink running top and leggings with these great Kardashian quotes. I was so determined that I pushed through though!


If you’re confused about the references, then a) get it together and b) see below.

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ALSO please don’t mistake my lack of posting for boredom…I have been working my butt off trying to get everything prepped for this move. I can’t even tell you how busy I’ve been.

Moonlight 

Moonlight ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐: Moonlight is a glimpse into a whole other world- one which I am not at all familiar with. The whole film is built up to tear apart stereotypes- stereotypes of masculinity, sexuality, race..

It’s not only a glimpse into another world, but it’s a glimpse into a sensitive, complex mind.

The film is divided into three segments, depicting Chiron first as a child, then as a teenager, and finally a young adult. All three actors are unreal. There are no words to describe how good they are.

It’s like the ‘Boyhood’ of Miami, in a way. In a good way. A very very good way.

Interviews Pt. II

You know how you have that sort of anxious/ nervous/ trying-to-calm-yourself-down feeling just moments before an interview and then you are called in to the room and you basically have an out of body experience where you feel high and sweaty at the same time for the duration of the interview and then you step out and you can’t stop smiling just because it’s over like you don’t even know if you crushed it or bombed it but it’s over and that’s all that matters? #Me #RightNow (I’m quite literally blasting Shania Twain’s Rock This Country if that helps you to visualise.)

I just had a phone interview with a school board in BC, and (like always) I’ve been stressing about it for a couple of days. I get so anxious that I actually find it to be detrimental to the prepping/ interview process. I’m not sure why, as (like I have previously said) the worst thing that can realistically happen is they don’t hire me.

To prep, I looked up commonly asked questions and wrote down point form answers on lined paper. I made sure it was easy to read at a glance by highlighting the question at the top, and underlining important words throughout the answer. Luckily I had done this for past interviews and so I only needed to add on, touch up and review what I had previously prepared. I also thoroughly looked through all social media for the board, as well as the website. I kept it open throughout the interview. I spread out my prep sheets in front of me so I could easily access them. Lastly, MAKE SURE YOUR TIMING IS CORRECT! Because I am three hours off from BC time, I was prepping to have my interview three hours earlier than the time they gave me. My sister (thank god) realised I was going the wrong way and that my interview was actually three hours after the time they have given me.

The interview was about 25 minutes long and they were nice enough to allow me to call in, as I am not yet in BC (I hope this does not work against me.) To start, I always act overly upbeat and outgoing. I also wrote down the name of the interviewer so I could repeat it later on (I feel this is very important and often overlooked.) They asked me some simpler questions to start:

-When are you available to start?
-What will your availability be like once you start?
-Are you open to taking calls for adult education/ night school?

Next they got into the lengthier ones (obviously this is not the exact wording, and I may have forgotten one or two, but the gist is accurate):

-*What made you want to get into teaching?
-She read the vision for the district then asked how I could help achieve it.
-How do you handle difficult students?
-What is your experience with the new curriculum?
-Explain the importance of assessment?
-*What is your most important experience and how has it helped your teaching abilities/ what has it taught you?
-Explain a time you had to alter a plan to better suit the students.
-*Explain a time you felt overwhelmed and how did you handle it?
-How do you work to ensure inclusion of students?
-Any additional questions? (I asked the timeline for hiring, the typical rate of work, and if a debrief would be available should I not be successful.)

The starred questions are the ones for which I did not have a written prep sheet to reference. I struggled more with these questions (especially the last two) but I hope I did an okay enough job. Additionally, for some of these questions she asked for specific examples.

After any interview is done, I write down what I remember of the questions, so I can prep for these next time.

FINGERS CROSSED! (Although I am notorious for telling everyone, “I’m not getting my hopes up! It’s whatever,” while secretly praying I get the position.)

UPDATE: I GOT THE JOB!!!

When Camo Fails

So I’m on my way to Bunz a Greyhound ticket (long, dumb story). I’m on the #1 going down Bank St. We make a scheduled stop at Landsdown station. A police van comes speeding down the road towards us, sirens and everything, and pulls over right in front of the bus. I assume they are going to one of the shops in Landsdown, when I see three police officers at the front doors of the bus. Obviously, the driver lets them on and they quickly comb through our faces, apparently looking for someone in particular. At the back of the bus they spot this guy in camo. They pick him up and escort him off the bus where they arrested him. They looked through his backpack as management from the LCBO look on. They load him into the police van and one of the officers comes back to the bus to let the driver know we are free to go. All in 60 seconds.