Category Archives: Uncategorized

Speculating: Life Online after Chris Hyndman’s Death

Today, one of Canada’s most-loved TV personalities has been found dead. A home decor guru and gay role model for over half his life, Chris Hyndman is more loved by Canada than I even realized, and today the internets are a sad place to be.

Police have yet to release a cause of death. They say foul play has not been excluded but are releasing no details.

Speculation so far has drugs/alcohol as the cause, someone else reports his body was found wrapped in a tarp in the alley, and still more speculation has him jumping/falling to his death.

All are just that — guesses, speculation.

All we know is this: He was on vacation, he came home, he was dead by 11pm in an alley. That’s it.

Every time news breaks that has people talking, the speculation runs rampant. People try to pull me in and I keep saying “I won’t speculate” but folks always say they’re thinking out loud or curious.

Chris, on the right, plays with Travel Bunny on Steven's shoulder. From http://travelbunnygetsaround.com/steven-and-chris/.

Chris, on the right, plays with Travel Bunny on Steven’s shoulder. From http://travelbunnygetsaround.com/steven-and-chris/.

My journalism degree won’t let me do that. It’s gotten me in trouble in the past and now I read between the lines. In accredited news reports, there are no references to drugs, alcohol, jumping, murder, or anything else. All the police are saying is that it has yet to be “determined” and it is an open case.

I know most people are just consumed with curiosity and just want to talk about it. It’s as much about coping as it is fascination.

Still, it’s a public death. Police have to investigate. They will have to release some kind of account of his death because it was in the streets.

Probably within hours, or tomorrow, we’ll know what they believe is the direction to pursue matters in.

I guarantee you, most of the early guesses on his cause of death are liable to be false. That’s breaking news for you.

When it comes to news like this, I urge you to slow down as you read the reports. The police are widely quoted saying: “We don’t release information in regards to people who’ve died unless they’re a victim of foul play and that hasn’t been determined yet,” he told the Post. “It’s an open investigation.”

That means everything from a fall to aneurysms to murder and more are all on the table here.

But a fall to his death? A jump? Sorry for the graphic nature of this statement, but that makes a loud noise, and with his body found at 11pm last night, it would have been heard, likely, and we’d have witnesses talking to the news today. It’s likely not that, but who knows, maybe it is indeed the case.

Either way, we’ll find out soon. Speculation is futile. Much speculation can suggest victim-blaming too. I urge everyone to avoid it. Not just today, but well into the future.

The Adventures of Fat-Ass Begins

It is a new day, a start of my final chapter. In 89 days, I’ll be homeless and off to live a life of adventure.

Today, though, I’m a woman who’s stiff, bloated, and sore, who’s gained back 74 of the 85 pounds she lost, and who’s also on the verge of living on a continent without a lot of elevators, where hauling a 40-pound duffel bag along cobblestone streets will be a regular activity.

I’m starting a new plan in hopes of getting a little fitter, more energy, and having less fear about the new chapter. I cycled 8.1km before work, it took me 35 minutes, and was a reality check that I’m not the cyclist I once was.

And that’s okay, because we start somewhere. I remember when it used to take me 1 hour and 14 minutes to cycle 12 kilometres (more than half uphill) to get myself home from work, back in 2008. By the time I was fit just 3–4 months later, that same ride took 37 minutes.

Luckily cycling here is not without its rewards. Dallas Road Sunset last Saturday Night.

Luckily cycling here is not without its rewards. Dallas Road Sunset last Saturday Night.

Taking stock without guilt

I can’t hate myself for the weight I’ve gained back. It’s been 6–7 years since it started coming off. I blew my back out catastrophically in that time not once, not twice, but three times. I had two knee injuries. I rode my bike into a road sign the week I moved to Victoria — stopped myself with my face hitting the metal pole straight-on, screwing up my entire right side for 6 months.

Somehow, I’ve overcome all that, all while earning more money than I could’ve dreamed. By the end of next week, July 10th or so, I will have earned more money so far this year than in any year previous to 2014. In October, I’ll likely become debt-free as I begin travelling the world.

If I’d taken my foot off that work-for-it pedal even a little bit, my trip wouldn’t be happening. If I’d eaten out less, if I’d had more fitness, if I had more friends/social time, I would NOT be leaving for five years of travel.

Every drop of effort I put into my career is resulting in a massive return on my investment.

My fat ass? Part of the price I’ve paid to take my life into a place that most people barely even get the chance to dream about, let alone do.

Today, and I suspect the day I step off that plane, I think I would pay that price again for what I will soon get to live every single day for about 1800 days.

Journey of 1,000 miles starts with 1 step”

But today, I’ve done what I’ve needed to do and now I need to get myself into a position where a travel life can’t hurt me. I need to increase my cardio, improve my energy, take a couple inches off my ass so the plane isn’t unbearable, all while staying focused on my finances and earnings.

I think I can do this now. I hope I can.

Making this choice, though, that’s the easy part. The hard part is getting up every morning and being excited about taking an 8-10km bike ride, eating well, and not giving up. The hard part is saying it’s as important to my day as breathing or putting on pants.

But I know hard. I’ve done hard. I’ve beaten hard. “Hard” ain’t got nothing on me.

Whether I change myself here, or it happens abroad, I guarantee you — a lot more awesomeness, a lot more change, it’s on tap for me in the months ahead.

Because I work for that shit. It is a choice. It’s a choice I have made every single day. Now it’s just a new choice I need to make, that’s all.

And so it begins.


PS: There are healthy “heavy” people out there. I am not one of them. When I am “fat,” I am out of shape and it affects every part of my life. This isn’t fat-shaming of others, it’s accepting that I’ve really done a lot to upend the health and balance of my life, and it’s showing outwardly. That needs to end. I will likely never be a size 6, and I really don’t care about that. I’ll be fine being a plus-size size 14 or 16, as long as I can kick your ass on a bike.

Travelling: The Writer’s Master Class

I wrote this late last Friday night and have only gotten around to editing it now. As of today, the numbers below are right — 90 days until I’m homeless and a world traveller. If you’re not following my travel blog, you should.

It’s hard to find great movies on writers. Funny, that.

But I guess it’s such an internal experience that it’s very hard to relay that visually or in any other way. It’s why a movie like Eat Pray Love can suck so hard while the book is a delight to read.

So it’s with great enjoyment that I’m watching Jane Campion’s biopic on New Zealand author Janet Frame, who I’d never even heard about, despite read. Don’t let my ignorance dissuade you of her import; her list of writing awards spans nearly six decades and would be intimidating to nearly any writer. An Angel At My Table is the name of both the film and the corresponding books.

Frame was unique, to put it lightly, and suffered mental illness in varying (but it turns out manageable) degrees. She was due for a lobotomy when word came that her first book of poems was an award-winning publication, and some wise doctor realized her malaise was also the source of her brilliance.

I’m at the point where she’s coming into her own as a writer but is still troubled by the demons of anxiety and other illnesses, and like any proper writer, she is only her complete self when writing.

 

London, England, by Unsplash on Pixabay. Creative Commons. My first stop in my travels.

London, England, by Unsplash on Pixabay. Creative Commons.

Doing what a writer’s born to do

It makes me think that a writer who isn’t writing is a person who can never be happy. Without writing, we’re haunted. If we can’t do what we are, then what are we to be, if not cursed?

I write. Boy, do I write. I can’t say I don’t write. Know how many words I’ve written since April 1st, about 90 days? Over 70,000. Maybe over 80K. Until this quarter, I never knew how much a writer I am. I set a goal, then I blew way past it, so much so that I’ll be the writer anomaly when I travel, as I’ll be completely debt-free.

Strangely though, with all that production going into paid blogging and other professional endeavours, plus some unpaid personal blogging, I have to tell you… I really wish I had some time to write.

There’s writing for the dollars, then there’s writing for the soul, and there’s very little of the latter I’ve been able to execute, only because I’m so riddled by the chase of the almighty buck that I’m too full of emotional holes to really write what I wanna.

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Creative Commons image from Sobrecroacia.com. Ilica Street, Zagreb, my second stop on my travels, and near where I’ll live for three weeks, except for a short stint in the next town — which is… see the next picture!

 

Stealing back my time

In the movie, Janet Frame has just launched herself on her first international voyage. She’s told, to be a better writer, she needs to travel and expand her horizons.

It calls to mind what I wrote about how my travels are, even if others don’t say it, essentially most writers’ dream life. Go abroad. Travel slow. Soak in the world. Record it. Process it. Love it.

That’s writing for you, it’s a writer’s master class — travel.

I’m 90 days away from that life. Travel. No appointments, no obligations, no friends, no family, nothing but a schedule to meet for work, the ability to be in some exotic place for a month or so, and enough time in the day to write for an hour or two EVERY SINGLE DAY. Maybe more! Tee-hee-hee!

Ask me if I’m more excited about the distraction-free time to chase a writing-first life or the opportunity to see the world for five years, and I would honestly struggle to choose. I love the idea of both so completely that it blows my mind I’m getting both at the same time.

Ljubljana, Slovenia, from PopSugar.com's list of 23 places to visit. And stop number three for me!

Ljubljana, Slovenia, from PopSugar.com’s list of 23 places to visit. And stop number three for me!

Writing is not a “hobby”

I’ve been through a lot in my life. It’s all gone whizzing past in a blur of survival and perseverance. Seldom have I had a chance to percolate and absorb it. I haven’t processed half the emotions I’ve felt over the years.

To some, they might say I need therapy. But the writers, they know. They know I need silence, a phone that doesn’t ring and a door that doesn’t knock. They know I need a window with a view, a desk at a good height, and fingers that won’t weary from a day or a year or a life of pounding out the truth.

It’s better than therapy, writing. It’s more honest, and it’s less selfish, in a way.* Put it down, push it into the world, and watch it resonate with others. When one taps into how fucked up they are, shares it with the world, resulting in a cacophony of voices rising to say how much it resonated with them — that’s the original therapy group session.

Something tells me, though, that landing on the far shores of the Atlantic isn’t going to be when and where I realize what a mess I am — it’ll be where I realize how together I’ve got it.

Motovun, Istria, in Croatia, where I'll be spending 4 weeks this fall -- stop number 4. And this photo's from Sobrecroacia.com.

Motovun, Istria, in Croatia, where I’ll be spending 4 weeks this fall — stop number 4. And this photo’s from Sobrecroacia.com.

Choosing passion

It doesn’t matter how I think I’ll do. My expectations don’t matter either. In about 105 days, after I’ve whirlwinded through Vancouver and London, UK, it’ll be my chance to see exactly how it unfolds. But there are no doubts in my mind about travelling improving me as a writer.

There haven’t been many opportunities in my life to spend 10 or 20 hours a week just writing for myself, let lone more, but the few times I’ve had that, my writing has been top-notch and I’ve been enormously proud of it. It’s a whole ‘nother writing level when you’ve got the time, focus, and dedication to achieve consistency.

This is what I hope to experience again. A chance to become more plugged into words and flow. I want the noise and distraction of life to evaporate, and the cadence of something exciting and new to fuel what I write.

What’s that they say about asking and receiving? 100 days.

*But therapy is awesome if you can afford it. For real.

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The Life I Chose: Thoughts On Manifesting Destiny

I should feel guilty about being a loser and staying inside on a sunny day like today, but I don’t.

I should want to go out and soak in this amazing world, feel gratitude for living here right now, but I don’t.

Instead, I’m 100% tired, dreading my Monday, and knowing that I’ve got to Make It All Happen for another five days. It’s the same feeling I’ve had just about every Sunday night since January, 2013.

Fact is, I’m two years and four months into “working overtime.” When I started this whole journey of Working More, it wasn’t with a dream of seeing the world. Hell, I didn’t even know if I could get enough scratch together to live abroad for a year. All I knew was, I needed to claw out of my unending financial desperation so I could finally do things others took for granted, like maybe get some takeout dinner and buy a $15 wine instead of $9.

But back then, I thought I’d be working so hard so long to get what I want that I’d have to move abroad just so I could pay down my debt. Somehow, I kept finding new gears. I kept working more, finding different clients, trying out different writing jobs.

I valued myself more, I charged more, I earned more, I paid down more.

When the first two weren’t getting me anywhere, I finally doubled down on the third.

Faking It Like a Pro

Somewhere along the way, I started thinking more about Anywhere But Here. What would living abroad mean? How could I do it? What model of nomadic life might be the right fit for me?

Next, I became a classic case of Fake It Till You Make It. In fact, I’ve developed a superhero power for my ability to, no matter what the conversation is about, mention in the first three minutes that I’m on the verge of “selling everything and travelling the world for five years.”

One could easily assume I’m just being a braggart and a jerk, but in reality, I’m still so much in disbelief that THIS is what I’m doing that I’m telling everyone in an attempt to make it more real for me. Sometimes it even works and I believe I’m that girl. I try to tell someone new every day or two.

It’s weird that I can undertake such a massive life-change while being completely unable to tell you when I actually decided to DO IT. The idea just kept evolving.

The more I learned about long-term travel, the more empowered I felt that I, too, could be a nomad. The more I learned about the stuff I owned and the unavoidable emotional pull it all has, the more I started to think minimalism and Owning Nothing might be the best crash-course of psychic healing I could ever get. The more I learned, the less I felt like it was a life for Other People.

wpid-img_139641969635076Choice Happens

Eventually, I decided I was brave enough to say I, Too, Will Travel Like Them. Eventually I thought I was exactly that kind of person, even though I spent my life thinking I wasn’t. So I told other people this was my audacious plan.

Then a funny thing occurred when I started to think about what it would take to do what I’d need to travel: I just started to make it happen.

It’s like I wrote for my friends on Facebook this past week:

It’s real weird when you say, “Self, this is what I need. Now go get it,” and then, like, you DO. You go get it!

Sometimes life is all about making choices. Nobody said what comes after those choices is EASY.

The choice is the easiest part.

But you just gotta choose to pay that price. Then, poof. Sometimes magic happens.”

Every time I’ve gotten more specific about what I need to make happen in order to Leave On A Jet Plane, I’ve gotten exactly what I outlined. Is it just a matter of knowing what’s needed then pursuing it? It is some mystical law-of-attraction aka “The Secret” thing?

Meh, I don’t care, I don’t need to know. It’s kind of like writing. I don’t need to understand what different clauses and phrases are called — all I need to know is how to get it done.

And hey, I’m getting it done.

choice signs

All The Drops Count

With 13 weeks left in Canada, it’s amazing how everything is coming together in the final weeks. Financially, organizationally — it’s all coming together better than I could’ve hoped. So much so that the prospect of leaving the country 100% debt-free is a growing likelihood rather than the faint hope I pegged it as just three months ago.

Leaving debt-free was never part of the dream. It wasn’t. I’d have scoffed if anyone suggested it could be done.

That was then. Now, I’m a believer.

And here’s the thing: If I hadn’t been antisocial and a workaholic, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in. I wouldn’t be leaving in October. I’d have more debt. I’d be less tired, but also unhappier, more worried.

Somehow, all the times I’ve worked longer and gotten takeout instead, every time I’ve turned down plans and rested after a six-day week, each time I spurned the great outdoors in favour of recharging mentally so I can write more — it all conspired to get me right here, right now.

I cannot tell you how important every single drop of water in that bucket is. I kid you not when I say it looks like it will literally come down to the week I leave that I pay my debts off in full.

It will be one of those written-by-the-cosmos storybook endings to about 12 years of struggle — but the last five years had me clawing my way out.  It will all culminate with me handing in my housekeys on my 42nd birthday, and within a week, likely becoming debt-free as I leave to travel the world for five years. I couldn’t have written it better.

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For many, this is true. But I have had depression and I know that is not a “choice.”

Mastering Fate

It’s like the poem “Invictus” says: I am the captain of my fate, I am the master of my soul.

There are days when I think I will regret not being Little Miss Outdoorsy more while I’ve been in Victoria, but then I realize that this place has been exactly what I needed it to be: The place where I fell in love with writing again, rediscovered photography, learned how to deal with my back, and where I finally fixed my finances.

Those were the goals I set for moving to Victoria, and I gave myself five years to accomplish them.

I will be leaving 3 years, 6 months, and 29 days after that clock started ticking, and with a “100% done” stamp on those four goals.

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All I Did Was Choose, Then Keep Choosing

It’s nothing amazing, what I’ve accomplished or set out to do. All I did was make a choice and never stopped being aware that everything I was doing — all the extra work, all the long hours, all the tired days, all the weekends I opted out of — was a choice. It wasn’t punishment or suffering, it was opportunity to take what I wanted. I wasn’t allowed to whine about overwork, because A.) I made a choice and B.) the universe gave me the opportunities I needed in order to make that choice real.

Making a choice is the easiest thing you’ll ever do. The trick is never letting yourself forget that you CHOSE it, and always being willing to pay for it.

Don’t like your life? No one says it’ll be easy to change it. Other people might have it easier than you — God knows folks had it easier than me (and still more have it harder) — but either that holds you back or gets you angry so you move past it.

It’s all still just a choice.

Like me, staying inside today, sleeping until 10, cleaning my apartment, and just being still. You pick your battles and you go where the struggle takes you. That’s what choices are all about.


I’m travelling the world for five years, starting on October 5th. Follow along with my travel blog, The Full Nomad, as those plans come to life.

How Not to be a Douchebag When You Travel

Today, there’s a big story about idiot travellers in Malaysia who summited a peak in Borneo and then stripped naked for photos at the top. Coincidentally, an earthquake later occurred on the peak and 13 folks are dead.

Reports are these idiots could face charges tomorrow. Two of them are Canadians.

Still, I have zero sympathy for whatever punishment is meted out.

Here’s your wake-up call, travellers. It doesn’t matter what your culture or your beliefs are. You’re a guest in a foreign country and you are privileged to visit.

Ours is a gloriously large world with untold cultural differences spanning the globe. From weird superstitions to religions, it’s a delightfully odd mix of contrasts, but dangers also lurk in those differences.

When you pack bags and travel, it is entirely upon you to know what you’re getting yourself into. What does its culture frown upon? What offends them? How strict are their laws? What freedoms fail to exist there? What are ethical grey areas to avoid?

KEEP READING: Visit my travel blog, The Full Nomad, and read it here!

My Other Writing: A Way for You To Support My Travels Without One Penny!

It’s that time again! Coming up on the end of my quarter as a writer for BuildDirect. You can financially support me in my upcoming travels by reading my BuildDirect content and sharing it socially off the blog page.

Look for the social share buttons at the bottom and click the blue “F” to share it on your Facebook, or share it on Twitter or Google Plus. Even commenting on the blogpost itself will pay me money. (But not commenting on this post!)

YouRock1_answer_1_xlargeWhatever you can do, I appreciate! Thank you for all your support and help. It means a lot.

Here’s some of the most popular posts so far this quarter, but you can see all my work going back to April 1 (the start of my bonus period) by clicking HERE.


A Simple Wedding Might Save Your Marriage

Far and away my most popular post this quarter. It shares stats and anecdotes that show how folks getting married with simple weddings are more likely to not divorce! Read it here.

My Childhood Home: The House that Built Me

A simple, personal post about my childhood home and how it’s changed in the years since it was bought by its new family, and how it shaped me in my youth. That’s right here.

How Pork & Cork Are Saving An Entire Ecosystem

A story about how pig farmers and cork plantations are working together to keep an arid ecosystem functioning. Cork oaks can live 600 years and stewardship of these mighty trees is considered a privilege and calling in Portugal and Spain. Read more about this interesting symbiotic relationship. (Seeing this first-hand is a bucket list travel item that will come true in 2016.)

9 Ways to Protect Your Home While On Vacation

This has been popular this week since I guess some of these tips aren’t ones folks have read that much. If you’re going away for a weekend or longer this summer, here’s how to sleep easy knowing you’ve protected your home the best you can. Go here.

How to Stay Sane While Packing for a Move

From fighting dust allergies to protecting your hands and avoiding bugs, I’ve got little-shared moving tips I learned from what was the Move From Hell in 2012. Since then, I’m way smarter, and I pass my Jedi ways to you right here.

The Not-So-Tiny House: Simplifying for Families

My successful realtor friend Matt lives in a 3-bedroom apartment with three kids, and wouldn’t change it for the world. What tiny-living families give up in the home, they get back in an exciting urban lifestyle at their doorstep. Read more here.

Hoarding: Not Just a Bad Habit

Severe clutter can debilitate people and damage their lives and relationships. Why is it so insidious, and what can people look for in identifying whether their friends or family are living in these conditions? How can they help? Read on. 

The Book-Lover’s Guide to Purging Books

I was so sad to get rid of all my books but now that they’re gone, my clutter is reduced, my home is bigger, and my allergies are doing better. Here are ways to help cull the chaos and off-load your books. Click here.

How to Change Your Life by Working from Home

It’s not for everyone, but working from home changed my life. Commuting less, I work for myself more, and I’ve paid off tons of debt and I’m just under 4 months from taking the show on the road and travelling the world for 5 years. Here are ways to make the adjustment to being a work-from-home type, and why it’s such life-changing thing to do. Read on!

How to Be a Good Neighbour in Tough Times

I’m proud this was popular because I think it’s so important that we help each other through difficult times. Whether your neighbour’s lost their job, lost a loved one, or is just really facing a tough illness, I’ve compiled a bunch of ways you can be of help, and even how to offer said help. Learn more here.

How to Hire a Contractor without Getting Conned

People are far too lenient when trusting contractors with their homes. It’s no wonder so many folks face terrible con-jobs and shoddy work as a result. I scoured the web and found all the ways you can do background checks, and why it’s critical, and stuck ‘em all in this handy article.

Should You Rent or Should You Buy?

Buying a home is quickly becoming a less solid idea in some areas, like where I just moved from. What are considerations for you? Have no fear! I’ve done my research and here’s what to know before you make that decision.

A Brief Introduction to Native, Exotic, and Invasive Plants

This is an important read for anyone planting a garden or doing some landscape. Planting the wrong stuff can have terrible consequences to the local ecosystem, and you don’t want that! Learn more right here.

Brewing a Solution: Alternatives to the K-Cup Coffee Conundrum

Coffee courses through my veins. From my cold dead hands will you pry my cup! But here are enviro-friendly alternatives to the biggest commercial issue facing landfills today: Single-serving coffee pods. Get your java knowledge here.


 

And so much more! There are more than 30 other articles I’ve written since April 1st. Have a look right here if you’re wanting to read my stuff (and like it and share it and make me money).

Thank you so much! :)

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