miagordon89

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My Vancouver staycation with JW Marriott

I was torn on what to do for my 30th birthday. From travel to Ontario for Christmas to heading to Whistler for New Years, I was exhausted. So there was nothing better I could think of doing than having a little staycation. 

The one thing I love about moving to Vancouver is the fact that I now live in a place where people vacation. From the ocean to the mountain it is absolutely stunning and so I just wanted to spend some time appreciating the city that I love. 

I also love gabling ( well I love the $5 limit tables). So I decided to put two and two together and decided to throw an Oceans 30 soiree. 

About Parq Vancouver 

All of my closest friends got dressed to the nines and headed down to Parq Vancouver.

Parq Vancouver is a new international entertainment destination located right in the heart of downtown Vancouver. It features two luxury hotels and a casino that will give Vegas a run for its money. 

I love that the tables are lively, the 24 diner serves delicious food, and the band plays some of the best live music I have ever heard. They will have you dancing and singing all night long. 

My experience 

What I was most impressed though was how amazing the JW Marriott treated us and also how amazing their hotel is. 

I was able to stay in one of their ocean view suites for my birthday (the perfect staycation if you ask me). 

When I came up to the room it was absolutely stunning. From the giant bed overlooking the ocean, a bathtub I could literally sleep in, a soft cozy couch to relax on, and the world’s biggest television. 

The icing on the cake though had to be well, the cake. The hotel staff surprised me with the most delicious birthday cake and offered me a complimentary breakfast in their executive lounge as a surprise present. I couldn’t believe how kind their staff was. 

I may have lost all of my money on craps, but I had so much fun dancing the night away and going to bed in the most comfortable bed. I also loved waking up the next morning to the most beautiful sunrise over the ocean. 

I will be back 

I have to say, having a relaxing and fun staycation in the beautiful city of Vancouver with the amazing team at the JW Marriott was the best way to celebrate turning 30. 

If you would like to find out more about Parq Vancouver click the link to head to their website. 

xo 

Mia 

30 Things I have learned by 30

This week I hit the 30 milestone. I must admit, it is weird saying goodbye to your 20’s. I mean they were there for a whole 9 years. During my 20’s I accomplished so much. I graduated university, started my career as a broadcaster, bought my first house, got engaged.

Before turning 30, I hate to say it, but I was a little scared. I was feeling old. Kind of like the best years were behind me. Did I accomplish enough? Did I miss out on opportunities? For the first time in my life I was questioning decisions.

It didn’t last long though. I slapped myself across the face and snapped right out of it. I realized just how blessed I am and how many amazing things I have accomplished. I bought a house with my future hubby, I have my dream career as a national broadcaster, I have an amazing family and friends that support me through thick and thin. The best years are still ahead.

It was during this epiphany that I decided to write down why I am thankful for my 30 previous years and some of the important lessons that I have learned along the way. I find that when it is down on paper I have a better understanding and appreciation. So here goes nothing, 30 things I have learned by 30…

30 Things I have learned by 30 

  1. I guess I should start with I learned that 30 isn’t old: Yes, apparently I am older than half the population of the world but at the same time 30 isn’t old. It is the age where you are hopefully out of debt and figuring out your life. That sounds like the start and not the end to me. 
  2.  You can say no: Throughout my 20’s I felt like I had to please everyone, especially as a freelancer. I felt like I always had to be available for everything and I would constantly feel burned out. I have since learned that people won’t hate you if you decline an offer and trust me you will feel so much healthier and relaxed if you aren’t trying to fit a million things into one day.
  3. Hard work actually does pay off: This was something my mom and dad used to tell me to make sure I did my homework or practiced my tennis serve. During the 20’s I started to doubt this theory. I was struggling to make ends meet working 10 jobs. I was waking up at 5 to go work my TSN radio job and staying up until 3am bartending. I was considering giving up on broadcasting all together. However, I kept working and fighting for what I love and at the end of the day I landed my dream job and couldn’t be happier. 
  4. If you love what you do, it truly doesn’t feel like work: you know the old saying, if you love what you do you won’t work a day in your life. Well by 30, I have realized that while it may still feel like work at times, loving your career  will truly make you a happier person. Since landing my amazing job with the Weather Network work is actually fun and that has changed my attitude towards the rest of my life. It is amazing how your career can really impact your entire outlook on life.
  5. Work and life balance should be top priority: As much as I do love my career (in case you didn’t notice from the previous note) the one thing I really realized this past year is that at the end of the day, you aren’t going to remember a particular day at work but rather a particular moment and experience. Whether it is with friends, family, partners, yourself it is the moments in life that truly matter. It is so important to make yourself, your health, and your happiness a top priority.
  6. Listen to your body: In your college days and throughout your 20’s you feel like you are invincible. Work hard, party hard was the motto and many times I would burn the candle at both ends. As birthdays come and go, I have realized that I don’t gain anything by late nights, and my body loves me so much more when I get eight hours of sleep and it is balanced. 
  7. Not everyone has to love you: Listen, being loved is an amazing feeling, but at the end of the day not everyone is going to have the same opinions as you and that is ok. Working in media, I have a lot of people telling me just how they feel about me through social media. While most of it is amazing and supportive, I do get the odd individual who feels the need to critique me. While I used to let comments hurt me, I have quickly learned not to let the negativity into your life and rather focus on the people that do love you.
  8. Even at 30 you don’t have all the answers: I am pretty lucky with my life. I have a job I love, I am getting married to the man of my dreams, I have an incredible family and friend group supporting me, but during this time I have realized we all have our own path that we reach in our own time and if you aren’t where you want to be in life that is ok, because 30 is the new 20. 
  9. Friends will come and go: At 30 I have realized that everyone who enters your life will leave a mark, but sometimes the physical person doesn’t last in your life forever and that is also ok. As you grow, you find out more about your own values and sometimes they don’t match with everyone in your life. As I turned 30 I realized time is very valuable and it is important to spend it with the people that make you a better person.
  10. Wear sunscreen: At 30 I have realized that wrinkles are indeed real. I also realized that taking care of your body is so important both physically and mentally. It is important to put self care in your daily routine and sunscreen is a must.
  11. Never go to bed angry:  This is something I am still working on every day but every time we do fight I realize how petty and small it is in the grand scheme of things. Life really is too short to be upset over the small things.
  12. Communication is key: As a journalist and report, you think I would of learned this one a long time ago, but no it has indeed taken me a good 30 years. I have quickly realized how misunderstandings can turn into fights for no good reasons so if you have something on your mind figure out how to communicate that, it will be a weight off your shoulder.
  13. Kill them with kindness:  I know this is another cheesy cliche line but in 30 years I have realized just how true this is. Again, not everyone is going to like you, but there is no point in giving them the upper hand. Being kind to both the lovers and the haters is only going to make you a stronger person, and make others look weak.
  14. Collect moments not things:  I wear the same jeans every time I go out and I haven’t worn one of my 20 pairs of heels in years. I couldn’t tell you the last thing I bought, but I could tell you every amazing thing that happened on my last vacation. At the end of the day you won’t remember your favourite dress, you will remember your favourite moments and that is what counts in life.
  15. Don’t compare yourself to others: This is also something I am still working on everyday, especially working in media. However I am constantly reminding myself that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and this is my path in life. Instead of worrying about others success I am learning to be proud of and happy for them.
  16. Your parents are cool cats: I spent my teens and some of my 20’s avoiding my parents like the plague, but as I have grown older I am so much more appreciative of all of the sacrifices they made for me to make sure I had amazing opportunities in life. The older I get the more I want to be surrounded by their love and actually want to be seen with them in public.
  17. Guilty pleasures are ok, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: I wrote this one while watching the Bachelor. At 30 I have realized you don’t have to be sorry for anything you do. Do you and be happy and that is what really matters.
  18. Look ahead not backwards: I constantly find myself getting upset or anxious about things that have happened in the past, but at 30 I am finally starting to realize that what really matters is what is ahead of you not what is behind.
  19. Being afraid will only hold you back: Listen, at the end of the day we are all going to die, but if we are afraid of going after the things we want in life we may never realize our true potential. Sure you will fail and you will fall, but you will never succeed unless you go for it whole heartedly.
  20. You cannot worry about the things you can’t control:  I am a bit of a perfectionist so every time things aren’t perfect I panic. At the age of 30 I am finally starting to learn that some things are out of your control and if you worry about them it is just going to drive you insane.
  21. Change isn’t as scary as you think & necessary to grow: At the age of 28 I made a big life change. I gave up my job  and moved across the country for the man I love. I was petrified of this unfamiliar territory. However everything worked out at the end of the day, and I am in a better place than I have ever been. Sometimes change is necessary and will help you better your life. 
  22. Loving yourself is the best thing you can do: When I was 20 I hated how I looked in pictures, now I look back and loved my strong athletic body. I realized that I am always going to have things to critique about myself, but one day I will look back and regret not enjoying how I looked and felt at a certain age.
  23. Wine is good for you:I don’t know if that is factual but hey I always feel a little better after a glass of pinot gris and I won’t deny myself a glass after a long day or a good day or a fun day.
  24. Competition is good in the right amount: Listen, constantly feeling like you are competing against someone isn’t good, but competing against yourself to better yourself and be the best version of yourself is a good thing if you ask me.
  25. Finding your passion is important: your job is one thing, but finding what your true passion is will make your life really matter. Having something you care about and enjoy (like my blog) will bring more meaning to your life.
  26. It is important to count our blessings: I have been so lucky to travel to some amazing places, but during my travels I have realized how lucky I am in to live in a Canada. We are truly fortunate here and realizing that our problems are so miniature in the grand scheme makes life so much more enjoyable.
  27. Pain is inevitable but necessary and even healing: In my 20’s I suffered plenty of heartbreak both in relationships and with losing loved ones. Yet every heart break taught me more about myself, my values, and my strength and made me realize what I deserve in my life.
  28. Do not settle for anyone or anything: I  dated a few guys in my 20’s that  I knew weren’t the right ones, but I just loved the idea of being in love. Thank God those relationships didn’t work out because it lead me to the right person for me. Whether it is your love life or your career you deserve to have it all, do not settle.
  29. Opening your heart is scary but important: I think I have always had an open heart, but as I turned 30 I realized just how important it is to be willing to let people in to your life to be truly happy. If you are closed off you will never be able to experience true love.
  30. You shouldn’t feel guilty to treat yourself: In my 20’s I would feel guilty for every single penny that I spent. In my 30’s I have realized life is all about balance. I have worked hard for my money and if I want to spend it and spoil myself (in reason) I shouldn’t feel guilty.



These are just a few of the lessons I have learned so far and trust me I know of the biggest lessons is you are always learning so I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years will teach me!

I would love to hear some of the lessons you have learned at this stage in your life. Leave a comment below and let me know!

Here is to growing my friends,

xo

Mia

My G Adventures experience

The view from Victoria Falls

As many of you might have read by now, I went on my recent (and incredible) Africa adventure with a Canadian tour company called G Adventures. While I have shared a lot about the trip overall, I haven’t really talked about the experience with G Adventures and why I decided to travel with them in the first place.

I have actually done group tours in the past. I travelled to Europe with Contiki, Greece with the Yacht Week, and even some more local Canadian Tours. However, for a place that is so special and close to my heart I wanted to make sure I went with a group that would make sure I a special experience.

How I discovered G Adventures 

Like many of you, I have heard the stats, South Africa isn’t necessarily the safest place in the world to travel. Between the crime rates and the fact that I didn’t want to have to drive through the Kruger and run in to lions on my own, were the main factors I wanted to do a group tour in the first place.

After hours and hours of researching “South African Safari Group Tours” (trust me there are endless options) I landed on G Adventures. I had heard of them before, particularly because they were Canadian. But I didn’t actually know too much about their trips.

Endless options 

The first thing that struck me was the variety that they offered. We knew we wanted to travel to South Africa, we didn’t know we would have so many options. We could chose either just a tour of the Kruger, Kruger and Cape Town, Kruger and Zimbabwe, or all three options. We had discussed going to see Victoria Falls so being able to book our dream trip with one tour company was a huge plus for us.

Discovering local communities

The second thing that stood out for me was the opportunity to explore the local culture. So many of the trips I have done with tour groups in the past have either revolved round amazing parties or visiting tourist attractions. Both are amazing don’t get me wrong, but the thing I love most about travel is getting to learn about the different cultures and having a more local experience.

On the tour we chose, there was an opportunity to have dinner with a homestead in Zimbabwe. Flatter welcomed us in to her home, fed us local homemade cuisine from her garden, and told us stories about life in their small town. It was amazing to hear authentic stories from a local and be able to share a traditional meal. 

The belief in responsible tourism

The third part that I loved about traveling with G Adventures is their commitment to responsible tourism. G Adventures believes that we can save the planet through travel. 

Recently they launched the new Ripple Score. The Ripple Score calculates how much money is spent in each designation of the tour and then calculates what percentage goes back to local businesses or services. The more the money stays local, the better the ripple effect. G Adventures actually averages a 92% meaning that the majority of the money spent stays in local communities and helps them strive. 

They also focus on other areas of responsible tourism by donating to wildlife and child care programs as well as their Planettera Foundation. 

When we were on our tour we had someone from the Wild Cat Foundation coming in and give us a talk about the diminishing number of cheetahs in the wild. We had a chance to learn all about these beautiful animals and find out how they are working with G Adventures to make sure we can continue to see cheetahs in their natural habitat. It was truly inspiring. 

Traveling with a local guide makes a difference

The fourth and final reason I loved traveling with G Adventures was the local aspect. On tours I have done in the past, the guides are extremely knowledgable, but none have actually been from the country I was visiting. When we were in South Africa, our guide was local from the area. When we took the flight to Zimbabwe, we met another guide who was from the town of Victoria Falls. 

I loved traveling with local guides because they really knew the area, made me feel safe, and could answer most of the questions I had. They were also able to share stories of growing up in the country and teach us what life is like in that town. It really made the experience unforgettable. 

Traveling with G Adventures was a truly memorable and amazing experience. I was able to create once in a life time memories, make new friends, and learn about the culture and lifestyle of the places I was visiting from the locals. I cannot wait to book my next adventure with the team. 

In the meantime happy exploring my friends, 

xo 
Mia 

The most creative Christmas gifts in Vancouver

One of my favourite parts of the holiday season is finding the perfect gift to put under the tree. As much as I love opening up my own presents, there is something so satisfactory when someone you love opens up a gift that you found especially for them.

One of my least favourite parts of the holiday season is trying to deal with crowded malls, lines, and finding gifts that anyone can purchase. If you are like me, you pride yourself in finding that unique truly special gift.

Unique local gift ideas 

I wanted to share some of my favourite and creative finds in Vancouver  for this holiday season that are sure to impress everyone on your list.

ChopValue

I came across Chopvalue while on a work assignment. I was trying to find creative gifts that were made from recycled goods.

Chopvalue is a Vancouver based company that uses recycled chopsticks to create beautiful furniture and art. The company actually recycles more than 350,000 chopsticks weekly from Vancouver alone.

I was so impressed with the beautiful tables, shelves, and even coasters. I had to pick up a few pieces for myself and my boyfriend.

Price:  Depends on what you are looking for but you can spend between $20-$2000

Pangea Maps

This is actually a gift I received this year and I am absolutely in love with it. Pangea creates custom hand made 3D maps revealing iconic waterscapes.

The custom made map that I received marks where I live in Vancouver now, and where I will be living in Squamish as well as the important lakes, and of course Ocean that outline my home.

Price: from $480

The Liberty Distillery

There is something special about shopping at Granville Island, particularly around the holidays. The lights, the decorations, the spirit, it is all so amazing. I also love that a lot of the gifts here are hand crafted and one of a kind. You can get everything from beautiful ceramics to customized jewelry.

One of my favourite spots at Granville Island is is Liberty Distillery. When you step inside the doors you will automatically be enchanted by the 110 year old antique bar. In the back of the bar is the distillery, where you can see the spirits being made and you can even try samples.

While bringing a bottle of wine for the holiday parties is always a great idea, why not make your gift more unique award winning bottle of whiskey.

Price: $70

Saje Natural Wellness

I have been a huge fan of  the Vancouver company Saje for years now. I love their travel products that really helped me when I am on the road.

This holiday season I received the most amazing gift from Saje, a diffuser. The one I chose is from their partnership with Jillian Harris and I am actually obsessed. I love how amazing my house smells and how calm the natural oils make me feel during even the most stressful work days

Price: approx $90

Ufeast Vancouver 

Sure, gifts are great but experiences last a lifetime. One of my favourite gifts was actually a ufeast dinner. Ufeast is a company that partners with local restaurants to create unique dining experiences. They combine delicious meals and hand crafted cocktails for a fun night out.

Price: around $50

Happy holidays and happy shopping my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

 

 

Mia goes M.I.A. Vlog: South Africa Safari

I have shared some of my South Africa  experience with on the blog. One of the highlights of my two week adventure with G Adventures was several safaris. We had a chance to visit both the Kruger and a private game reserve called Karongwe Portfolio.

I wanted to share the video with you of some of the amazing animals we saw along the way