Just checking in…

Happy April everybody!

I wish I could say April Fools and snap my finger and have everything just go back to normal but unfortunately I can’t do that. Instead I can write this blog and check in on my friends and family and make sure we are all doing ok, and to let you know if you are’t doing ok, well that is ok too.

It has been a weird, uncertain, strange, and scary time to say the least. I think the scariest part for me is the unknown. The unknown elements to the virus, the unknown final statistics and numbers, the unknown if a loved one or family member will test positive, and the unknown timeline of when things will get back to normal or if it even will get back to normal.

As I mentioned, it is ok to not be ok, it is ok to feel emotion, to be scared, to be sad. Sad for missed weddings, for missed birthdays, for missed childbirth, for missed honeymoons. It is ok to be sad that you lost your job, or hours, or interviews. So feel the emotions, be sad, but also be strong because you are not alone, we are all truly in this together from one end of the world to the other.

To be honest, there have been days where I haven’t been ok. Where I have cried, had a panic attack, broke down, screamed at my husband, thought about worst case scenario, read the news and cried some more.

I count my blessings every day though. I am working and staying busy and telling stories that I love and distracting myself, I have an amazing husband to keep me grounded and sane, an amazing dog that gives me an excuse to get some fresh air every day, amazing friends that check in on me, and an amazing family. I realize that not everyone is in the same position and so I want this to be an outlet for you, an opportunity to share your fears, your tears, but also your hope and your courage so that we can all get through this together, and hopefully keep as many of the vulnerable safe.

I also just wanted to share a few things that I have felt helpful to get through this.

Take a moment to breathe and be grateful 

If you know me and have followed this blog, you might know that I suffer from anxiety and so I have been struggling, but I have found comfort in waking up early and doing some breathing exercise ( or trying them throughout the day when I am feeling stressed). I also try and write down three to five things that I am thankful for everyday. It makes me realize how truly lucky I am. I also keep reminding myself the reason that we are doing this and social distancing is to help save as many lives as possible.

Try and get into a routine 

As I mentioned I am pretty lucky because I am still working right now, which definitely keeps me distracted but I felt like I was just pouring all my time and energy into work so I decided to come up with a daily schedule. I make sure to take time to walk my dog and get fresh air and also make sure I work out for an hour or go for a run because that is something that helps me clear my head when I am stressed.

Call your friends and family 

I have actually found myself facetiming and calling my family and long distance friends now more than every. As terrible as this situation is, it makes me realize how special relationships are and that in the busy world we live in, it is important to take the time out for the people we love. I have also found comfort in finding people that I can open up with and share my experiences with.

Let yourself have emotions 

I am the kind of person who tends to hold things inside until I explore, and then the situation is 10 times worse than what it would have been if I just dealt with it in the moment. I have found it has helped by letting myself feel. Sometimes I am angry and sometimes I am sad. I let myself feel the emotions but I always try and and make sure I try and end on a positive feeling (goodnewsmovement has really helped with that)

Try not to read too much 

As a journalist, it is my job to stay informed and so I am always checking the latest information, but once the work day is done I try and shut it off and if you don’t work in the news or health care don’t spend hours reading article after article because here is the thing, the virus is so scary because it is so new and unknown and so no one right now really has the answer and so reading that it will take over a year or we will have to be in lockdown for six months, sure that might be the case but don’t stress yourself out over things that aren’t proven or known yet.

Listen to health officials 

It is so frustrating when I see tweets and pictures of people gathering in groups and having house parties. Listen just because you are young and healthy, it doesn’t mean it won’t spread to family members you care about that aren’t as young and healthy. The sad thing is more and more “young and healthy” people are also finding themselves in the ICU. It is important we all listen to our health care officials and government officials and do the right thing so we can all beat COVID19 together.

Give back when you can 

I honestly feel so helpless in all of this (although the most helpful thing we can do is all stay home) but there are ways we can help. Health care workers need masks, researchers need funds, and food banks need donations. I am giving blood for the first time next month which I am very nervous but also excited to do my part. I have found comfort in being able to do some small things to help out.

So here I am, just checking in and making sure you are all ok, and if you are not ok. I am here for you all, and just know we will all get through this together by staying apart (for now)

Keep your heads high my friends,

xo

Mia

Slowing down isn’t a bad thing

It is a bit of a crazy time across the world right now. The uncertainty of what tomorrow will look like is causing lots of people anxiety, and many have had to start practicing “social distancing”, something that isn’t ingrained in human nature.

Technology has saved us so much time that it is hard to picture why we would want to go back in time to a place where we didn’t have it. So as it stands, modern technology allows us to do much more, all of the time, and stay connected too. And while there are certainly plenty of perks to it, there are drawbacks also. 

It’s time to slow down and reconnect with yourself for a while. 

Slowing down is a choice that you have to make, and will likely have some trouble in the early days. We are very used to hearing our phone notifications, working on a computer, and being connected 24/7/365. 

So if you want to try going slower, but remaining fulfilled, then here are some things for you to try. 

Photo by Sofia Ornelas on Unsplash

Disconnect

Of course, that would be the first thing on the list. You might choose to disconnect while you travel to make the most of it, or you might have set hours in the day that you will be available for. Although many people couldn’t picture leaving their phone at home, it can be helpful to leave it at home while you go for a walk. Disconnecting means, you will have to focus on other things. 

Knowing your phone can go off at any time, can mean we are more likely to be interrupted by ourselves checking if we have been interrupted! It is hard to slow down when you have that small brain space dedicated to checking for messages and emails. Once in a while, disconnect. 

Move Slowly

You probably can’t just start walking slowly everywhere, but you can practice moving slowly around your home. Or do exercises like pilates and yoga. The great thing is you are only going to need pilates mats and some stretchy pants to get started too. If you do get the chance to head out into the wood for a walk, try not to rush back. Nature walks and hiking can be very relaxing and can help you feel very centred too. 

Letting the wind just blow through you a little bit, and take in all of the trees and greenery around you. Do it slowly and breathe deeply. 

Do Less

This one actually might be the most complicated thing on the list. It is hard to slow down when you have so much to do all of the time. Work, home, school, cleaning, cooking, and everything else too. If you can make a conscious choice to do less, then do so. If your schedule is really packed out, then find a space to book yourself in for some serious ‘nothing’. 

Or even a little space between meetings and being busy, those 5 minutes of just nothingness is really good for you. 

When you find that things are getting on top of you a little, or that you have just too much on your plate, take a moment to pause, breathe slowly, and assess the situation more slowly. 

I understand that all of the news, and updates we are seeing can be concerning, but instead of looking at this necessary time out as a bad thing, likes embrace it as an opportunity to slow down and take care of ourselves, and if you do need some socializing in your life, pick up the phone and reach out because we are all in this together

xo,

Mia

8 photos that will inspire you to visit Zion National Park

I am slightly ashamed to admit it, but Zion wasn’t very high on my list. I knew I needed to visit Bryce Canyon, and since we were close I figured we could also check out Zion. The moment we entered the park, I realized I had made a big mistake. This place should of been a MUST see.

What I found very interesting is that Zion is actually Utah’s first national park.

 

Before we even did a hike we took their sightseeing bus tour. It was amazing learning about the history of this place, and how the Virgin River flowing beside us was small yet powerful. In fact, it is because of this River the amazing rock formations were created.

When we made it to the end of the bus tour, we got off at the last stop to do the Riverside Walk. This was a very easy walk along the beautiful river and eventually at the end of the walkway you could actually continue the hike through the water.

Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time in Zion, just enough for one hike and so we decided to do the Observation Point trail.  It is an 8 mile roundtrip with 2,000 feet. Lots of switchbacks through sandstone and along the way you get beautiful panoramic views.

And at the top a beautiful view of the famous Angel’s Landing (my next Utah hike). It really does take your breath away looking out at the endless red rocks. I really loved this hike because it didn’t take too long but with the high elevation you definitely get a great workout

I must say I had the most amazing experience in Utah and a weekend is not enough but if that is all you have I highly suggest doing your research to find the right hikes for you, get out early to beat the crowds ( or go during the off season like we did) and just have fun!

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

Sorry for being so M.I.A. ~ What I learned from a much needed break

Truth talk: I am struggling to write these words right now. It is like all my creativity was sucked up with the turkey and eggnog over the holidays. It is always a little hard to get back to work after a long break and it has been some time ( my last blog post was early December). I am finding it hard to find the words, the time, and the ability to focus.

… And alas I turned to the internet 

Google “why is a break good for you”  the answers I got were typical. It helps productivity, lower stress and better mental health.

Yes that all makes sense, but if I just spewed out what I found on the internet, what would be the point of me sitting here writing and you sitting and reading this blog. So let’s go back a little in time shall we.

Before the holidays I was feeling drained. I hadn’t taken a vacation in quite some time, I was traveling a lot for work, I took on a few freelance projects, I was working on my blog, I got sick, I was tired (all the time), I felt overwhelmed.

This lead to me forgetting things, losing things, and running late for things. And so the cycle would continue, the more I forgot and lost the more stressed I would be and then the more I would forget again.

…It was time for a time out

And as usual, the first thing that was cut from my schedule was this blog. The blog has always been a passion project, a place where I can share my experiences, my enjoyments, my travels, and also a place where I can hear from you but it is not my job, it is not how I make a living, it is not my top priority.

Instead of taking the time to write, I took the time to sleep, to play with my new puppy, to clean my new home. I took time to myself.

And then came the break, a week off for the holidays to relax, recovery, and reconnect with myself (and my blog ) so I hoped but instead friends were in and out staying at our house, instead of writing inside I wanted to be outside skiing at Whistler or hiking on a sunny day. And while it was busy with such a full house, I was able to relax by taking time to myself.

…Fast forward to now 

Break is over it is back to reality, back to work, and finally back to writing, but during that time off I realized something very important, how valuable a break truly is.

Sure, I felt all of those things the internet told me I would feel, less stressed, more productive but something the internet didn’t tell me I would feel. I felt relieved. I realized that even if I do take a time off, weeks, months, or longer without writing or posting here it wasn’t going anywhere.

My blog isn’t about the followers, the readers, the subscribers, it is a place for me to be me and it is important to realize that when “me” needs a break, I can take that break and come back feeling inspired, rejuvenated, and while it might be tough to sometimes find the write words, ready to write.

While I am not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions as they usually include more trips to the gym, eating healthier etc and usually last a month or two into the new year, I decided instead to make some birthday goals ( I mean it is just a day later than New Years).

My goals for myself this year is to not let myself get to a point of exhaustion and recognized when I need a little time out. I am allowing myself to say no if I need to, to be better at scheduling so I am not feeling overwhelmed, and to wake up 10 minutes earlier so I am not constantly rushing out the door.

And so here you have it. Why taking a break for yourself is a good thing, and not just a because google says so.

Did you make any resolutions for this new year or take some time out for yourself over the holidays? Would love to hear your experiences.

Here is to a healthy and happy 2020 my friends,

xo

Mia

What it is like to see a grizzly up close and personal with Adventure Quest

One of the things I love most about BC is the natural beauty and endless wildlife. From the mountains to the ocean you can find whales, seals, elk, black bears, and grizzlies to name a few. While we have some neighbourhood black bears, I have always been a little afraid of grizzlies and never really wanted to get close to them.

That was until my dad (who happens to be a National Geographic photographer) told me about the Grizzly Bear Adventure with Adventure Quest Canada and Homalco Adventure and Wildlife Tours. He described it as a bucket list experience and so I definitely wanted to find out more.

I found out that not only do you get up close and (safely) personal with the bears, you also get to learn about these amazing animals in their natural habitat and learn about the first nation reserve that they live on, and to say the least it is a bucket list experience that I want to share more with you.

 

Getting here

The tour starts in Campbell River on Vancouver Island. I am not going to lie, it is a bit of a treck to get here from Vancouver. You can either fly or take a BC ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and then drive about two hours. I decided to do the later because I always have a great experience with the ferry. It is a  comfortable journey and I can take my car with me so I don’t have to worry about transportation on the other side. Another bonus is they have great food on board, and you never know what you might see. I have spotted whales several times from the ferry deck.

Where to stay

Campbell River is a small town and I absolutely love exploring some of the local spots when visiting a quaint area. I decided to stay at one of the local spots, Painters Lodge. The beautiful lodge is located right on the ocean and I was lucky enough to have a room overlooking the water. The room had a large balcony so I could sit outside with my morning coffee and keep my eye peeled for orcas in the distance (staff told me it is pretty magical when they swim by). I also loved the downstairs restaurant. The food and drinks were delicious, the staff was so friendly, and there were beautiful ocean views. I loved the lodge because it had a very comfortable vibe.

The tour 

The tour started at Discovery Harbour Marina in Campbell River. The tour starts with a two hour boat ride from the Island to the mainland, Bute Inlet. Along the way we saw two humpbacks eating and another three sleeping. It was pretty neat since I have never seen whales sleeping before. We also spotted some stellar sea lions and seals out for a morning swimming.

 

Once we arrived at Bute Inlet and Hamalco First Nations land we met with our guides Tony and Koji from the Homalco First Nations. They greeted us with a traditional welcome and went over some safety tips. Then we were off on our adventure.

There were several different viewing towers that wrapped around two different rivers. The reason this is such a popular spot for the grizzlies is because of the annual salmon run and a lot of the bears are trying to eat as much salmon as possible before they go into hibernation in November.

It didn’t take long for us to spot our first bear. At the first tower we stopped at we came across a big male relaxing in the distance. I was already in awe of these amazing animals.

After driving around for a little longer we came across another fully grown female sleeping by a tree. She was honestly no more than 20 meters from us. She sniffed around (smell is their best sense) and once she realized we were no threat, she continued with her nap. It was amazing to see that the bears weren’t the killers a lot of people make them out to be, and while they are more aggressive than black bears, they will only really attack if they feel threatened.

At the next viewing tower we didn’t come across any bears but we did get to see the bears favourite lunch meal, salmon. Just below our viewing deck were about 10 giant salmon swimming upstream getting ready to spawn. I have honestly never seen such large fish in my life.

Our last stop of the day was the most spectacular. We weren’t in a tower but out in the open and the only thing separating us from the grizzlies was the river. First we saw a female bear eating a salmon. Moments later, she went back into the water and we had a chance to watch her fish for a salmon and take it back to the shore for lunch. You could hear the crunch sounds of the bear chowing down on the fish. It was incredible.

Moments later we noticed another bear heading over, closely followed by an adorable nine month old cub. I couldn’t believe how adorable the fluffy baby was and it was amazing to see how protective the mother was of her cub. She crossed the river to check us out and got really close before going back to her cub and trying to find food for the both of them. I still cannot believe the beauty of the bears and seeing them in their natural habitat was so special.

After two hours with the bears, it was time to head back to the boat and make our way back to Campbell River. Along the way we were lucky enough to be treated to a show from a lone male orca. He breached twice and was doing some flips along the water. I have never seen an orca act like that before.

Alas it was time for the tour to come to an end but I still cannot get over how lucky we were. From spotting humpbacks, to orcas, and then having a chance to get so close to he bears and learning more about them and their habitat was a really amazing and unforgettable experience. You can find out more about the tour and experience here.

I also wanted to share some more pictures with you. All of them were shot on my new Nikon Z.

Happy exploring my friends,

xo

Mia