You matter. Never settle for less.

Four years ago today, I started dating the absolute love of my life.  Never have I felt so happy and free to be who I really, truly am  with no exceptions, restrictions or negativity intertwined into absolutely anything.  It’s a breath of fresh air to be with someone who fully supports your dreams and aspirations, who is patient, and who is unwaveringly loyal.  I know that I’m blessed for having what we share, and believe me when I say that I never will take this feeling for granted.

However, it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. It took me many years to find this person, as well as many downfalls personally and relationship wise.  While I had dated good men in the past, I had also experienced horror stories.  Manipulation, emotional abuse, verbal humiliation –  You name it, I’ve experienced it.  And after my last relationship, I swore to myself that I would never go through that again.  I made a promise to be good to myself both mentally and physically. I told myself that I was worth more than the way that person was treating me, which was a difficult period; mental manipulation can have you fully believing whatever comes out of the abuser’s mouth.  I began to realize my self-worth again in time, as well as what I deserved and who I wanted beside me as a partner to go through life with.  I know they always say, “Good things come when you’re not looking”, and as cliche as that sounds – it’s true in my case.

I’m writing this for those people that have gone through hell and heartbreak, and feel like there’s no one out there for them.  Those people that feel like they’ll never find someone who truly and wholeheartedly accept them for who and what they really are.  I am LIVING PROOF that you can and that you will!  You will find someone some day who thinks that the sun shines out of your ass.  Someone who will make pancakes with you on Sunday mornings and tell you their biggest fears, aspirations, and you will do the same.  You will find this; be patient.  It will come!

The key here is to not settle for less.  Not happy in your relation ship?  Break it off.  Feeling unfulfilled?  Break it off.  Feeling unappreciated, unloved, or unworthy?  BREAK IT OFF.  I cannot stress this enough.  You should never feel these things in your relationship, and life is TOO SHORT!  So many people stay with their partner out of habit; they’ve been together for so long that the next step is to get married and buy a house. Or they’re scared to be without said person, or scared of being alone.  But… are you happy?  I’m talking like, so-happy-your-head-sometimes-feels-like-it’s-going-to-explode-because-you-feel-so-lucky-somedays happy?  If not, you need to have a serious talk with yourself and realize that you deserve that kindness and that love.  You deserve real love, and not mediocre habitual like.

Look, I know that love and relationships are not all glitter, fairytales and cartoon hearts flying out of your heads 24/7.  In fact, it’s far from that.  Yes, fights happen.  Yes, people get in bad moods and get on each other’s nerves.  Bad things happen in life and certain aspects of everyday living can strain relationships, making emotions high and stressful. Sometimes you will take it out on each other, yeah; this comes with the territory of being so close both physically and emotionally.  But, at the end of the day if you’re not able to look at that person and go, “Wow, despite all of this – I know that they would do anything for me.  I know they love me, I know that they make me safe.  I know we are having a rough patch, but damn I love them. And I know they are thinking the same thing right now”  Then, is it worth it?

Life is too short my eccentric, loveable, worth-it friend!  Your person will come, your happiness will come – be patient, never settle, and love yourself first.  The time is now! xoxo

Be kind to your body and soul.

As a species, humans have subjected themselves to harsh criticisms for as long as we can remember.  Societal standards are amongst the many things that we as a society break our backs for,  in a vigorous attempt to “fit the mould” that’s set out by those around us.   Especially at this day in age where the status and “happiness” of others are put on the highest platform for all to see via social media, some days it becomes harder and harder to appreciate what you have; especially when it doesn’t fit neatly into that mould.

And this needs to end.

Personally, I know how hard it is to take everything you see online with a grain of salt; after all, people are prone to post about their best days and stay silent about their worst.  Everybody is so caught up in having their image stamped as a “bright, good-looking achievement” in order to not seem weak or self-conscious.  And by doing so, it’s negatively affecting how we all look at ourselves.

So, be kind to yourself.

Realize that it’s physically impossible to be happy every waking second of every waking day.

Realize that people can’t always look perfect; good lighting, editing, and taking a million pictures to get the “perfect one”… we’ve all done it.  But the reality is, everybody has bad skin days.   Everyone has days when they don’t feel good about themselves, or when they don’t like an attribute about their physical appearance – the point of their nose, the shape of their hips, their stretch marks.  But take a breath,  you’re only human!  Everybody is different, and you don’t have to fit this mould that society has lined out for you.  Simply, be… and know that you are unique and beautiful.

Realize that the key to happiness lies within yourself.  It sounds cliche, but it’s a pivotal point that we all must come to terms with.  You decide your reactions, how you go forward, and ultimately with how you choose to grow from each budding situation.  It’s hard to do; emotions can sometimes run ramped and certain situations can look bleak.  But trust me, it will all be okay in the end – after all, you’ve got you!

So, be kind to yourself.  Our biggest critics are often ourselves; and it’s something that’s hard to challenge and change, let alone accept.  Let love in when you need it, eat that damn chocolate chip cookie if you want it, wear that rockin’ dress you’ve always been too nervous to break out of the back of your closet… because while we’re each our own biggest critics, we also have the ability to each be our own biggest fan.  So break out that styrofoam finger my friend, and be kind to yourself – you deserve that much!

10 Places to Experience in Guelph, Ontario

After living in Guelph, Ontario for four years during my undergrad, it’s definitely nestled itself a place in my heart forever.  That being said, Guelph is exploding with things to do and experience all year ’round both in and outdoors.  I’ve compiled some of my favourite things to do and see in Guelph for you guys, in no particular order.

 Go Kayaking on Speed River.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset
In the summer,  is there really anything better than enjoying picturesque scenery followed by ice cream?  If your answer is no, then I’m sorry but we cannot see each other anymore.  The Boathouse is a cutesy little restaurant and ice cream parlour (in the summer) that offers High Tea and lunch options, as well as kayak or canoe rentals in the summer months.  Super cute for a first date, or a family day activity.

Have high tea at The Boathouse.

Located right on the river.  Perfect for that picturesque lunch date you were thinking of!

Eat at Earth to Table Bread Bar.
11059315_10155888563725245_3993249079230754012_n1
So. Delicious.  You can hit up their menu, here: Earth To Table Bread Bar.

Pick pumpkins and make your way through the enormous corn maze at Strom’s Farm in the fall.
1902892_10154781328770245_8458906664039065029_n
Strom’s is the cutest little farm that offers harvest-festivalesque activities during the fall months.  From pumpkin picking, to their wondrous corn maze and delicious apple cider – Strom’s is always a fun day out with plenty of photo ops.

Experience a UOG Homecoming.
10561630_10154662232030245_7271576655722671313_n

Ah, homecoming.  Every student dreams about this day all year, and has been noted as “student christmas”.  From dressing up, wearing full body paint,  to cheering on your team and heading downtown to Frank’s after; HOCO is always a great time filled with crazy memories you talk about years later.

 Have a beer on the Grad Lounge patio overlooking campus.
13000241_10156885674775245_5172957119904082009_n
Love the vibes of this little spot.  Located at the top of the University of Guelph UC, just take the elevator up and find yourself in this little nook that offers bevvy’s and yummy pub fare.  The patio fills up quick if the weather is nice, so get there early on a nice day if you want a seat outside.
img_1476Get your jump on at AirU.
You know those days when you want to get out of the house and do something, but you don’t know what?  AirU was a blast and definitely fun for all ages.  However, be ready for there to be lots of kiddies on the weekends!

img_3504

 

 

 

 

Take a walk through the UOG Arboretum.

The Arboretum is a truly beautiful place filled with wildlife, trails, gardens, sculptures, fountains and more.  It’s the perfect place for a stressed student (or a stressed out human in general) or someone who’s looking to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.  Click here to see a video on the Arboretum.

Walk around the University of Guelph Campus and have a Bob’s Dog.
12039320_10156130524585245_7887979457991363172_n

Bob is loved by all and YOU NEED TO MEET HIM.

Rub the Gryphon’s beak.
He’s sitting on a book… can he get any cuter?

img_1498

 

 

 

Paint up a storm at Play With Clay.

Super friendly atmosphere with great staff and tunes!  Located in the heart of downtown with lots to choose from.  Definitely makes for a fun afternoon.

Overall, there are so many great spots to choose from in Guelph (clearly, because I couldn’t even settle with only ten!).  Guelph is a great city with so much to offer, and has a friendly, at-home atmosphere fully captured by the picturesque “university town” aura that surrounds it.  Whether you’re there for a day, a weekend, or considering moving to this city – I guarantee that there’s a little something for everybody to enjoy in this location.

5 Quick Tips To Help You Budget For Your Next Trip

Since announcing my next three trips, I’ve been met with this comment endlessly: “How can you afford that?  I wish I could spend that kind of money!”  My answer?  It’s a lot more attainable than you think!  With platforms such as AirBNB, work for travel options, as well as apps such as Hopper and Sky Scanner which can find you cheap flights – the key is to plan in advance (sort of) and be ready to book in a flash.  Here’s a list of steps that I’ve taken to book these trips:

1.  Find out when you can travel, and punch those dates into Hopper & SkyScanner.

This year,  I’ve mapped out when I can take vacation –  whether it be a four day weekend to a 10 day stretch – and  punched those dates in to Hopper and SkyScanner under multiple different destinations.  Why?  Because by doing this with multiple trip locations, I’m notified on when the flights go down and can be quick about purchasing (if the price is right).   The great thing about apps such as Hopper is that they allow you to “watch” your selected flights and they let you know if you should wait, or if you should purchase tickets at that time.   I’ve found it to be very helpful and largely accurate!

Note:  I booked both my Ireland and Greece trips within less than a week of seeing the flight prices go down incredibly.  It’s definitely an impulse-driven strategy, but what’s better than finding cheap flights?!   Not to mention by getting the cheapest flights, you’re able to save some money that you can utilize elsewhere in your trip.

2.  Skip the fancy hotel.

If you’ve read my previous blog post about AirBNB, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of said platform.  If you take the steps I’ve mentioned in this post here, nine times out of ten you will be saving money by not staying in a hotel (and you often have more amenities).  However, this can largely depend on what you are looking for as well as the time of year.  You can definitely find luxury through the site, also – but personally I’ve found the AirBNB’s I’ve stayed in to be cheaper than any decent hotel, as well as comfy and well-maintained.

Another option is work for stay.  I know multiple friends who’ve used and applauded this method for the experiences they received while travelling.  If you’d be okay with doing a little minor work here and there in exchange for a free roof over your head, this would definitely be an option worth considering.

3.  STOP EATING OUT !!!!!

Oh my goodness.  This is one thing that surprisingly enough can be a  HUGE money sucker if you partake in it regularly.  I am a foodie and love going out to eat and trying new restaurants, but if you take a look at your financial statements or online banking at the end of the month the reality of it can be quite unnerving.  Skip the daily morning coffee and take a travel mug, pack a lunch instead of hitting up that new cafe or the drive thru – I know it sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how much this adds up in the long run.

4.  Download a banking app to track your purchases.

Most banks have expanded generously into the technological sphere, so it shouldn’t be too hard to download no matter which bank you’re currently with.  I’m with TD Canada Trust and they offer an app called “TD MySpend” which tracks and allocates all of your spending so that you can see what you’re actually spending your money on.   I’ve set mine to send me notifications for when my spending is “above” or “below” typical, so that I can have a heads up if I’m getting a little ballsy with my cash.

5.  Invest in a piggy bank.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  “A piggy bank?!”  But hear me out for a second.  If you invest in a piggy bank that cannot be broken without physically smashing it – Green Earth carries them, here – you can squirrel away cash without being tempted to dip into it.  I find that with technology being so easily interconnected with banking apps,  it makes it very easy (in fact, too easy)  for me to transfer money from my savings account into my chequings account.  Personally, I’ve found that this can quickly deplete my savings since it’s too simple for me to transfer these funds without second guessing it.  After all, we use debit for almost everything at this day and age; so having my money outside of my bank account and tucked into a piggy bank out of sight helps me to safely accumulate cash without having to worry about it being touched.  After all, out of sight, out of mind – am I right?

Note:  Just make sure you are popping money into that bad boy regularly, or all will be for not!  I usually try and take out cash from each biweekly paycheque to hide away in there.

05d219a28b5e1698bbd4f1adcf07eab6

Overall, saving is a completely individual experience; only you know what strategies will work for you.  But if you put your mind to it, anything is attainable.

Do you have any money saving and budgeting tricks you always go to for your travels?  Share them here!

Why Travelling to Iceland Should Be On Your Bucket List

In my opinion, Iceland is one of the most underrated places to visit at this day in age.  And I must admit that it wasn’t at the top of my travel bucket list either, until I had experienced it myself. However, my opinions changed drastically upon stepping on Icelandic soil.

Iceland is a true hidden gem if you’re looking for unique things to do that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in the world. Despite being called “Iceland” the weather when we attended (Late June to Early July) mirrored that of Canadian Fall weather, and I never needed or utilized my winter jacket once.  Immaculate scenery and views really do capture you right away, and I often felt like I was in the middle of a Lord of The Rings film!  Here are some things that I experienced in Iceland, as well as some that I would like to encounter in the future (because I will DEFINITELY be returning!) to show you why Iceland should definitely make its way onto your travel bucket list.

  1.  Blue Lagoon (natural hot springs).
    * Absolutely beautiful!  Very relaxing and you also have the opportunity to soak your face and body in a mud mask while enjoying a drink (or two).
  2. Hike a mountain.
    * An absolute must.  One of the best experiences I’ve ever had was climbing a mountain for 2 hours, and finally getting to see that magical view from the top!
  3. See a glacier.
  4. Go up to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja.
  5. Experience a geyser in the Golden Circle.
  6. Trot down to Gullfoss & enjoy lamb soup at the cafe afterwards.
    * Rated one of the top places to see in Iceland.  You must walk down a set of stairs to get up close to Gullfoss, but it’s beyond worth it.  Bring a waterproof jacket and shoes/clothing that can get wet!
  7. Sleep in the middle of the mountains.
  8. Experience wild horses.
  9. Shop in the city center of Reykjavik. 
  10. Snap pictures of a volcano, or do a volcano tour.
    * With over 130 active and “extinct” volcanoes, it’s quite easy to locate one!
  11. Witness the beauty of the numerous picturesque waterfalls.
  12. Try the local fare
    * Shark, lamb, and surprisingly – hot dogs!
  13. 24 Hour Daylight (in the summer).
    * Never fear, everywhere we stayed had black out curtains for this exact reason.
  14. Scuba Dive between tectonic plates.
  15. Horseback ride in the country.
  16.  Go whale & puffin watching. 

For any recommendations, insights, or to tell me about your experience – feel free to comment below!

AirBNB: The Beginners Guide To Booking

d615893dba80fa465d5cc8ea1728354b

Ah, AirBNB.  If you haven’t heard of this hot new accommodation trend, you’re probably living in a well sheltered hole at this point.   AirBNB is comprised of a community of renters  all over the world, which can be found with a click of a button.  These accommodations range widely from affordable and cosy to luxurious 5 star vacation homes,  and can be dirt cheap affordable to sell-your-limbs expensive.   That being said, this is a platform I swear by.  As a well-seasoned AirBNBer,  here’s my guide to finding the perfect space on AirBNB for you!

1. Do your research.

What area do you plan on staying in?  What are you planning on doing?  Do you want to be close to the action, or a little out of the way?   These are all things that you should consider before diving head-first into accommodation surfing.  If you want to be close to the beach, the last thing you want to do is accidentally book accommodations that are ways away from said beach.   I usually tend to map out a rough area of where I’d ideally like to be, and then go from there.

Note:  Obviously certain areas are more expensive than others, which can make being a little out of the way worth your while depending on pricing.

2.  Choose a budget.

I usually chose a budget  and set the AirBNB search engine to that amount right away (Just in case I get my heart set on a place I love that’s out of my price range by accident!).

3.  Decide what you’re comfortable with.

AirBNB is unique in a way that it allows both accommodation options within spare rooms of homes that have tenants living there at the same time, or accommodations that include the entire private home/apartment.  Before you look, decide on what you’re comfortable with given your price range.  Would you be okay sharing a space with someone you don’t know and possibly pets?  Or would you rather have your own private space without the roommates?  These are things you need to consider, as they can effect the price tag of your stay.

*Note:  Usually private spare rooms are cheaper due to the fact that others are still living within the home at the same time, while full private homes and apartments are more expensive for obvious reasons.  That being said, my boyfriend and I stayed in someone’s spare room in Toronto (which I originally was quite hesitant of), but it turned out to be a wonderful experience that we still talk about today.

DCIM100GOPRO

Joe and I had an amazing time on our tip to Toronto, and although a little wary of sharing space with the homeowner, it ended up being totally fine and comfortable. Our host Kory was great, and we even hung out with him a bit before heading to a concert! 

4.  Make a list of the top contenders & their specs.

Once I’ve found a few places I like, I’ll usually make a list of said prospects in order to narrow down my search. I write them down according to the area they’re located, pricing, and their amenities.   You’ll find that some places come with breakfast stocked, while others have laundry amenities or early check in options.  Narrow down things that you’re looking for in an accommodation, and that will definitely help you make your choice.

5.  Contact some hosts.

I always feel better contacting the hosts of the AirBNB’s prior to booking, in order to get a “feel” for the property owner.  I also feel more comfortable once I’ve had a conversation or two with the person, and knowing that they took the time to respond is always nice. That, and I genuinely do have questions regarding amenities/dates/check in times.

*Note:  In every AirBNB I’ve experienced, I’ve always made sure that the AirBNB Hosts I’ve gone with have had reviews.  Having a plethora of reviews is not only helpful, but also reassuring since it shows you that this place is real and people have experienced it.  Also, if they’re rated as a “Super Host” I tend to lean towards them, as well.

6.  Book!

After weighing your options, it’s time to make a decision!  Some Hosts will have an “Instant Book” setting where you can book right away,  but some may not.  However, if you’ve partaken in Step 4 above, this shouldn’t be an issue since most hosts “Invite You To Book” (basically, you’re given the “OK”) after you’ve chatted with them.  In those cases, you usually have 24 hours after they’ve given you their OK to book, or the offer expires (don’t panic, it can be renewed easily by the host if you need more time!).  AirBNB will send you a receipt through email, and I usually print it out so that I can bring it along in my bag (if needed).

7. Now, get excited for your trip!!

12919773_10156834674575245_1851903733384132175_n

I stayed in an AirBNB apartment in Montreal, Canada this past April.  It was walking distance to everything we needed (which was awesome).

 

I hope this has been helpful and informative. Please leave me any questions or suggestions below!

(Please note that all opinions I’ve expressed here are my own, as I’m not affiliated with AirBNB).