Happy Sunday blogging buddies! I was disconnected from all things technology this weekend while camping at the beautiful Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge, BC!
Over the weekend I was nominated for not one, but two Blogger Recognition Awards! Thank you to my blogging friends ihaveabadsenseofhumor and The Learnify for the nomination!
1.Write a post to show your award.
2.Thank the one who nominated you.
3.Briefly describe your journey as a blogger.
4.Give advice to other bloggers.
5.Nominate the deserving ones.
My Journey as a Blogger
I actually started my blog in November, 2014, but I didn’t start consistently posting until about 4 months ago. I’ve always loved writing, and have been an avid journal-er since I can remember. I’ve always loved to write but I always feared sharing it with anyone. I feared I wasn’t very good, I worried what others would think, I didn’t believe in the power of my words. I finally started this blog in 2014 because it dawned on me that if I never get over my fear of making my writing public, it’ll never be anything more than simply a hobby.
I wrote two blog posts in 2014 a couple of weeks apart, but I still holding myself back. I truly didn’t believe in the validity of my words. I didn’t think I was writing anything worth reading.
A few months ago I found myself unhappy in a serving job, and I put my mind to it and got myself out of that industry and into an entry level government job. I finally achieved what I pictured to be a “successful” life for a 24 year old. While my new job provides stability and comfort, it taught me that a title can’t maintain happiness. What makes me happy is doing the things I love, and writing is one of those things. It also taught me of perseverance and determination. I was determined to leave the serving industry and take the next step in my life. If I could successfully do that, why can’t I muster up the courage to share my writing with others? And so it was around this time I began regularly blogging. I won’t lie, I still get nervous with every post, but the nerves lessen each time. I’ve gained far more from my blogging experience than I ever thought possible. I’ve met so many likeminded individuals who also want to share their thoughts and passions with the world. I feel as though I’ve found my community, and nothing makes me happier than that.
My Advice to You
To all bloggers, new and seasoned, write what you are passionate about, not what you think others want to read. The greatest blogs I’ve read don’t fall into one category or one style of writing. I simply love the bloggers who bleed their thoughts onto the page (or screen). They don’t try to fit a mould, they just write what they want to write. Furthermore, don’t let more experienced writers intimidate you and make you feel as though your words aren’t worthy. I promise, there are. Your thoughts and ideas are unique to you. Your authenticity will attract likeminded people, and those people you will cherish and appreciate, even if they’re online friends who you may never meet. Remember Dr. Seuss’s advice, There is no one alive who is Youer than You!
I’d Like to Nominate…
Well, this is the thing I don’t like about blog awards. The nomination part seems a little unfair. That being said, it does give me an opportunity to get to know my fellow bloggers a little better, and I always love reading people’s stories and advice. So, I am nominating a few people who I’ve connected with recently and would like to get to know better!
I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award! Since I’ve posted two Liebster nominations previously (Liebster-1, Liebster-2), I’ve decided just to fulfill the question and answer aspect! I’m inspired by The Learnify, who participated in a Liebster nomination with the same approach! Thank you!
A heartfelt thank you to Avid Travel Foodie for the nomination. He writes of all things travel, food and awesomeness! If you live in Pennsylvania you’ll love his blog, as he posts reviews of local restaurants and travel spots! Definitely check out his page.
And now, to answer his thoughtful questions:
1. What’s has been your biggest challenge when you blog apart from writer’s block?
My biggest challenges with blogging have been sharing my personal, deepest feelings and the fear that others will judge my writing. I am typically very private when it comes to my writing, I used to get nervous handing in essays! I was terrified what people would truly think about my writing. I’ve definitely come a long way, and I really have the blogging community to thank for that. Everyone I’ve connected with so far has been so supportive and uplifting, it’s so encouraging!
2. What is your favorite color?
I just love turquoise and blue.
3. If I were to hand you a 1-way ticket, where would you go?
Right now I’m tempted to say Jamaica. I am really in the mood for relaxation and white sandy beaches. If you asked me tomorrow, my answer would probably be different. I want to go everywhere and anywhere!
4. If you were given $100,000, what would be the focus of your social enterprise?
I’d aim to help the people who lost so much in both Fort McMurray and Orlando.
5. What’s your biggest achievement so far?
Graduating university was huge for me. I think my trip to Vancouver was my ultimate personal achievement. It has been an experience I will never forget and I got to cross a huge experience off my bucket list!
6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Writing for a living- complete independence!
7. What’s your favorite dessert that you can have after every meal for the rest of your life?
I’ve reluctantly succumb to using an eReader due to ease and practicality. I’m an avid book collector, but when you’re hopping from one province to the next, it’s not exactly convenient to pack boxes upon boxes of books. As much as I love the weight, texture, smell and very act of reading an actual book, my eReader holds thousands of stories and perfectly suits my current lifestyle.
I’m saddened by the sight of eyes looking down towards phones that are smarter than us. Remember the days when people looked forwards when walking somewhere? Or sitting on the bus- left to your own thoughts while waiting to arrive at your destination? Maybe, if you were prepared, you packed a book or newspaper to pass the time? Last week I watched a busy looking businessman walk straight into a pole while looking at his phone. I laughed, but I’m not innocent. I’ve blindly walked for blocks staring down into the abyss of cyberspace without so much as a glance upwards.
Even writing- I used to prefer putting pen to paper over fingers to keyboard. Lately when I feel inspired I flip open my laptop>open Google Chrome> type in wordpress.com>click the “create a new post” button. I used to grab the closest piece of paper and writing tool available and frantically write to keep up with my racing thoughts. Now I type faster than I can handwrite.
While these advances make my life easier, they don’t necessarily make it better. Often I feel as though my phone is a burden, simply providing me with information overload. I miss the therapeutic release of writing things on paper.
When I’m exhausted of the digital, I resort once more to analog. I leave my phone and eReader behind, grab a pen and notebook and descend into nature. Rather than getting lost in my news feed I lose myself in the serenity of the trees and mountains. When my mind quiets is when words flow from pen to paper with effortless ease. To simply be without your phone is like a mini vacation. Though it may feel stressful at first, as though you’re cut off from your connection to the outside world, take a moment to be present with your surroundings. No status updates, Instagram posts, celebrity gossip, tragic news reports, vlogs, tweets. It’s just you. When your mind isn’t busy with the lives of others, you will truly find your art, and your self.
Inspired by the Daily Post’s weekly Discover Challenge prompt, Analog.
They are also fantastically durable. Because they are so long lived, atoms really get around. Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. We are each so atomically numerous and so vigorously recycled at death that a significant number of our atoms- up to a billion for each of us, it has been suggested- probably once belonged to Shakespeare. A billion more each came from Buddha and Genghis Khan and Beethoven, and any other historical figure you care to name…
So we are all reincarnations-though short-lived ones. When we die our atoms will disassemble and move off to find new uses elsewhere- as part of a leaf or other human being or drop of dew. (From Bill Bryson’s chapter “The Mighty Atom,” in A Short History of Nearly Everything)
I consider myself a spiritual being, but I have no religious affiliations. When faced with the idea of death, I envy the religious- they have an unwavering belief of what happens when we die. Whether it’s the belief in heaven, nirvana or rebirth, at least there’s comfort in knowing what to expect. I’ve never had such a comfort- until learning (relearning, I’m sure I learned of atoms in high school) of “The Mighty Atom,” to quote Bryson.
When I picked up this book I wasn’t seeking any spiritual revelations (nor expecting such). I’m simply on an ongoing quest to better myself intellectually, as I mentioned in my previous post on learning in adulthood. I never considered the fact that science could provide spiritual comfort, much like religion does for its devotees. To know that my atomic makeup is simply recycled from those who came before me, and that those same atoms will continue to exist after I’m long gone has soothed my fear of death more than I ever thought possible. Furthermore, its provided me an overwhelming feeling of interconnectedness with the world around me, with those before me and those to come after.
There truly is beauty in this world, folks. Even if it’s as minuscule as an atom.
I’m sorry I’ve been MIA this week (although, I’m sure you didn’t lose any sleep over my absence). It’s mainly an apology to myself. I love writing and connecting with the blogging community. It’s just been one of those weeks- do you ever have days or weeks like this? When it feels like a huge feat simply to get out of bed in the morning? I spent all of my energy just to get through the work week. Fortunately, the weekend has finally arrived, meaning I can catch up on what I missed in the blogosphere, and even contribute a little something of my own!
I wanted to conclude my Road to Vancouver series with a final reflection on the entire experience (To get caught up: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4). It’s been over a month since my last post in this series, but I needed to take the time to really reflect on everything. I’m hoping this series will help to educate and even inspire anyone who wishes to embark on a journey across their country, whichever country it may be. Learn from what I did do, and also, learn from what I didn’t do. I want to provide an in depth analysis of this journey: Issues we had prior to the road trip, things we did well, things I would have done differently, and what I have learned since arriving.
When the Signs are Saying, Don’t Go
Leading up to our departure, an uncomfortable amount of events occurred that could have been interpreted as fate’s way of telling us not to embark on this journey across the country.
A month before leaving, our car window was smashed, and luckily only a few replaceable things were stolen.
Soon after, my partner was in a car accident, luckily minor, but it damaged the bumper, hood and rad support of the very car we planned to drive across the country. We were on a very tight budget, every extra dollar being put aside to make this road-trip possible. We feared that car would no longer be in good enough condition to bring us across the country. Luckily, the damages to the car weren’t as bad as we anticipated, and didn’t hinder us financially. We were grateful that my partner arose from the accident unscathed, and the car turned out to be just fine, but the implications were unnerving. We started to second guess ourselves. Was this accident nature’s way of telling us not to go through with our move across the country?
With the rental availability in Vancouver already at an all-time low, and the pet-friendly accommodations even more bleak, it’s not all that surprising that we couldn’t secure a place over the phone prior to our arrival. Any landlord we spoke with insisted on meeting us before they would agree to finalize (and rightfully so). Once we hit the road and left our apartment in Ottawa, we would officially be homeless.
Making matters more trying, a few acquaintances who had previously resided in Vancouver gave us promise of job connections upon our arrival. Much to our disappointment, once the time came, these connections fell through.
On top of everything, we had more naysayers than supporters in our dreams of an old fashioned Canadian road-trip. It seemed that no one could fathom why on earth we wanted to embark on this journey. I faced so much doubt and so many questions that I became numb to them.
Why do you want to move to Vancouver? What will you do once you’re there? What’s your plan? Why drive when you can fly? Why would you leave Ottawa? Move back to Toronto! You know it’s expensive right? It won’t fix your problems. You guys are crazy.
And so on.
Through it all I masked my worry with a courageous smile, what else could I do? These questions and concerns crossed my mind on a daily basis, and it didn’t help that everyone around me was asking them. Of course I was scared. It’s terrifying to leave everything you know on a whim. It’s also exhilarating and by far the biggest adventure I’ve embarked on so far.
Despite all of these “warning” signs, my gut never once told me we shouldn’t go. If we had allowed our doubters to stop us from going, we always would have wondered what could have been. Even if it didn’t work out and we ran back home with our tail between our legs, at least we could say we tried.
To quote a true Canadian, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky.
If I Could Do It All Again…
Due to our sheer lack of organization and planning of this trip, we are extremely happy with how everything fell into place. That being said, there are some things I’d have done differently given the opportunity:
Camping, Camping, Camping
For what was supposed to be a camping trip across Canada, we did very little of it. We were ill prepared and hadn’t planned much in advance. We didn’t have the proper equipment for a successful camping venture; the most we had packed was a tent. We also didn’t think to pre-book campsites, because frankly we didn’t really have an idea of where we would be and when. A tip for anyone camping in Canada in late August: Do not sacrifice warm clothing and sleeping bags. The night we did spend camping in Banff was beautiful but uncomfortably freezing. If we had been more prepared we could have spanned our trip over many more days, taking our time and enjoying the beauty of Canadian wilderness. C’est la vie.
Venture Off the Beaten Path
For the sake of ease, we followed the Trans Canada Highway for the entirety of our trip. If you aren’t aware, the Trans Canada is one of the world’s longest highways, and it connects all 10 provinces in Canada. It is by far the most direct route to take you from one province to the next. The down side of blindly taking the road most travelled is that it limits the experience of a trip across the country greatly. While we were still exposed to so much Canadian beauty, there were also many hours of flat nothingness, especially in the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. It was mostly wheat fields and sky.
Wherever you are in the world, this same rule applies to your travels. Take the road less travelled: it may be bumpier than the paved path, but it’ll be sure to provide unforgettable adventure.
Even When You’re Done Planning, Keep Planning
Plan until the night before you leave. You can never be too prepared for a trip of this nature. Luckily we were able to prepare ourselves financially, and in case of emergency we signed up for CAA (Canadian Automobile Association). Our planning didn’t go much further than this. In hindsight, we winged it. It would have been nice to have compiled a list of landmarks, maybe one per day, to see or experience while passing through each province. Also, it would have made for a much more comfortable trip if we had sold the sedan in exchange for a roomier SUV. Finally, do not underestimate the importance of a food cooler. We would have saved ourselves a chunk of change if we hadn’t had to buy every meal along the way.
What I’ve Learned
I’ve learned more about myself in the past 10 months than I have in the entirety of my life, and it’s all thanks to this trip. It wasn’t simply a drive across the country. It was just as much an outward journey as it was an inward one. There was one very obvious destination, Vancouver, and another that we would stumble upon accidentally, the self. My existence felt as though it screeched to a halt, and it was no one’s fault but my own. Some people are content with taking life as it comes, but it was driving me crazy. I was a university graduate with absolutely no career prospects and thousands of dollars of debt. I hadn’t the slightest direction in life and I was terrified that I would never find my path. My boyfriend was feeling much the same. Even though we actively decided that it was time for change, I didn’t fully understand how necessary this trip was until months afterwards.
I’ve also learned that running away from your problems doesn’t solve them. We still fight the same internal battles as we did back then, only now we’re thousands of miles away from home. It’s human nature to try to run away from our problems, whether it’s quite literally running thousands of miles away, suppressing them with drugs and alcohol, or seeking constant distraction. You can only internalize your battles for so long before they inevitably begin resurfacing. Don’t expect running away, partying or material goods to bring you happiness. It starts from within.
As much as I crave travel and adventure, being this far away from my friends and family has made me realize just how important they are. No matter how much I want to see the world, at the end of the day what I want most is to come home to see the people who mean most to me.
Finally, I believe I’ve truly found myself since being here. In Ottawa, I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I wanted a title. I wanted to be able to call home and tell my family I no longer had to serve tables, and that I had found a “real job”. I wanted this title so badly that I didn’t stop to think what I actually wanted, or what I was passionate about. It was only once I arrived here, and I got this title, this “real job”, that I realized it’s not everything. While I am grateful for the stability and experience, I have come to understand that I mostly wanted it to make my family proud. With this, I now know what I truly want to do with my life, and I feel so at peace with this revelation. I want to be a writer someday. This became truly evident a few months ago when I started blogging more consistently. I’ve wanted to write for years, but it was only when I began blogging that I realized I might actually be able to do it. Previous to this blog, I was terrified to share my words with even my closest friends, let alone strangers. The more I share, the more I come out of my shell. Even if I never monetize it, I’m so happy to have rekindled my love of writing. There is no better therapy than self expression through art.
Final Words of Wisdom
For our entire lives we are taught to listen to our elders as they are wiser and have a lifetime worth of experience. At some point, you have to start listening to yourself. While your elders may be wiser, they don’t know what’s best for you, you do. I urge you to listen to your gut. If you aren’t happy with your circumstances, fight to change them, even if the end goal is uncertain or the road a little bumpy. If you’re craving new surroundings, just go for it, what’s the worst that can happen? If you hate your job, find a way to pursue what you’d rather be doing. Ultimately, take control of your life. Ask yourself, What do I want?Don’t let fear and doubt hold you back. I promise you won’t regret listening to yourself before others.