A Vacation of Firsts

I just arrived home from a vacation months in the making a few days ago. Vacation days were booked in February, and the following months were spent saving up funds and booking travel. After much anticipation and planning, things finally came together for a September 1 departure.

This vacation is my first since 2008, aside from taking a week off to move two years ago. A lot has changed since then: relationships have come and gone, I’ve moved house more than a couple times, I’ve started and left several jobs, and I’ve started over completely from nothing. A proper vacation was long overdue.

My vacation was amazing, and I had the opportunity to have so many experiences over the course of it, thanks to some pretty amazing friends and  family. I don’t know that I will ever be able to express my appreciation for helping to make this vacation possible.

The most amazing part of this vacation was the sheer number of first-time experiences I had. I attempted to keep and make a list, but it just got ridiculous once it hit multiple pages in length. I want to write about as many as logically possible. I will do my best not to make this boring!

Let’s start with the crazy stuff. On the second day of vacation, the first day of our road trip: we stopped in Redding, California, just off the I-5 for dinner, and then the plan was to head for the highway 299 W toward the coast. Minutes after we started to make our way down the 299 W, we discovered it was shut down due to one of the many fires in the area. I scrambled to find us a detour as quickly as possible, and ended up taking us down two regional roads: SR 3 and SR 36. Little did we know we were in for the ride of our lives…and not in a good way. It was the most terrifying experience I have ever had, to my recollection. We were detouring down these unfamiliar back roads full of sharp turns, at times with no lines painted on the roads or reflectors, and definitely no guard rails to be found the entire time we spent travelling those roads. It was made even more frightening by the drivers coming from the opposite direction around the curves driving 55-60 miles per hour, and that we were driving these roads well after midnight. We didn’t have phone service for the majority of the detour either, so we were also travelling blindly. We white-knuckled our way through the entire detour. Never have I been so thankful to arrive at a destination!

Thankfully, the positive first-time experiences outweighed the negative. I traveled into California for the first time and saw the world-renowned Redwoods. We visited two state parks while we were in California: the Redwoods State & National Park, and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. We hiked two trails, totaling just under three miles. I use the term “hiking” lightly as neither of us are hikers. The tree growth in the first park was not as old as the growth in the second park, but it was beautiful, and an amazing thing to see for the first time! Even though we were dealing with wildfire smoke, it did not detract from the experience in the slightest. Seeing the Redwoods is the first thing I can confidently describe as awe-inspiring. And that was just the first park! The second park we visited was an old-growth park, where the vast majority of the trees were over a thousand years old. It has a completely different vibe from the first.  It felt like a truly magical place, and its beauty was almost overwhelming for me. We found a nice little nook just off the trail, and I now describe that nook as one of my “happy places.” It’s pretty amazing though that the Redwoods was just the first of several amazing destinations I experienced for the first time. The next one I was able to experience was seeing and going into the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I saw it for the first time while we were driving up the coast, and smelled it for the first time when we were past the worst of the smoke. The ocean has a very distinct smell, sort of fishy almost but also refreshing! It walked into it the first time when we stopped in Newport, OR where we stayed at the amazing Sylvia Beach Hotel. It was so much colder than I expected! I had a lot of fun and very pink feet by the time we were done and ready to go eat dinner! We visited the ocean again when we were in Pacific City, and had a nice walk on a slightly warmer and sunnier day. The ocean wasn’t much warmer, but it was an enjoyable stroll along the beach. Even with a bunch of people around, it was kind of peaceful. We ended our walk that day with yummy beach coffee. Another first, although much easier to come by! I was really so lucky in that I was able to see so much of nature’s beauty on this vacation. I even got to stick my toes and hands in a real sulfur hot spring while I was in British Columbia!

I can’t forget though, the amazingness that was Powell’s City of Books. I can only describe it as a book lover’s dream. So, basically my dream. We visited twice and I did well in stopping myself from overspending – or spending at all! I can’t wait to go back… I NEED to go back…

Among the many other amazing firsts was the food! I tried so many new foods! I even discovered that I enjoy things I thought I disliked previously. Surprising myself in this way was actually pretty great. It reminds me why I try things at least once. I had my first actual food cart experience in Portland… more than once. It was delicious every time. Absolutely zero regrets. I had the best Thai food I’ve ever had in my life twice from a food cart that came highly recommended, and I also tried a “sushi burrito” twice in two different styles: one spicy and one not. Both were fantastic. Who knew a giant sushi roll could be so satisfying! In keeping with my whole trying foods kick, I tried a new spin on an old staple of mine when we stopped for lunch one day: a salmon Caesar salad! I usually go for chicken, but I remembered that I wanted to try new things on vacation so I changed it up. And boy am I glad I did! It was so flavourful and the salmon melted in my mouth. It complimented the salad much better than I ever expected. One of my favourite new foods I tried was Korean, traditional. Arien’s mom cooked a meal the night before I left and it was excellent. I enjoyed it so much…spice and all. I was rather proud of myself actually! Spicy foods aren’t usually very nice to me. It’s funny though because I was told that she didn’t break out the big guns in terms of spiciness…haha. Baby steps! There was So much good food on vacation too. I will miss it. It’s just not quite the same at home.

This small recap of a few of the MANY firsts I experienced isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. I have so many amazing memories from this vacation that I will remember forever.

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You Know Something’s Wrong When…

The world we are living in is a very difficult one to live in. On one hand we are surrounded by SO MANY great and beautiful things like friends, family, nature, the freedoms we enjoy – but on the other hand we are dogged by some of the ugliest things. Racism and bigotry are very much alive and well. Violence is everywhere we turn. Extremists of all kinds seek to dismantle all that we have worked hard to achieve as a society. This is becoming especially apparent with our southern neighbours, the U.S., based on recent events.

I have been struggling a lot with my depression this summer in and of itself, but watching events unfold around the world, mostly in the U.S. since Donald Trump was elected president, has been profoundly disheartening and has had a negative effect on my mental health overall. It has added to what has felt like a gradual spiral dive turned crash and burn into the ground. My mental health is in the shitter. My anxiety is at a 2-year peak, and my depression is the worst it has been since I went on medication approximately a year ago. I realize part of it is seasonal, part of it has a social aspect, but I feel like a large portion can be attributed to struggling to live in this world we have created for ourselves. I’m not saying I am suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, but it is becoming more and more difficult to go about my day knowing what has been happening elsewhere and thinking about what could potentially happen that day. It’s a very stressful way to live.

The events that took place in Charlottesville this month had a more profound effect on me than I ever could have expected, leading me to examine my own belief system and the way I look at this and similar situations. The fact that neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and white nationalist groups feel like they have a place in society today is scary to me; bordering on terrifying. They shouldn’t have a place anywhere. I thought we as people learned from history, at the conclusion of World War Two, 72 years ago. I was so, so incredibly wrong.

I consider myself a feminist, and my political leanings are quite far left. I am very much against any form of racism, bigotry, or hatred; things that are very easy to say considering my privilege. Sadly, it is all I seem to see when I attempt to read or catch up on the news.

It’s difficult to handle these huge amounts of negativity everywhere when living with depression. I sit here and feel like I should be doing something about it. Single-handedly if I could, as impossible as that is.  I question myself constantly: Do I do enough? Do I allow it to happen? Am I helping to perpetrate racism and bigotry and hatred as a white person? I know there are opportunities out there, but most times I just do not have the energy or the motivation. It’s difficult enough to get out of bed every day and get my self to work, let alone do anything else.

It’s so hard living in this world. It makes me want to rage quit.

A Much Anticipated Purchase

I have been entertaining the idea of purchasing a fountain pen for ages, and for some reason I never bothered to act on the thought until last week. I found a reasonably priced basic fountain pen on Amazon and clicked the “purchase” button. It arrived three days later and I am IN LOVE.


It has a simple, yet elegant design and I am very impressed with it considering I paid less than $30 for it. I have spent a lot of time with it, both seriously writing and just doodling and it is the best pen I have ever used. I simply cannot understand why I didn’t do this sooner!


The pen I purchased is a the silver fountain pen with a fine nib from the Pilot Metropolitan collection. I also purchased some ink cartridge refills for starting out. It did come with a converter, but I think I will leave using it until I have a bit more experience. In the meantime, I’m just going to write like crazy with it. This could be a dangerous purchase for me. I could see myself owning many more in the future and many more colours of ink!

Inspiration

After a quiet holiday long weekend with some minor frustrating occurrences, I think I may have finally found the inspiration to write something of substance. It feels like it has taken years for me to get to this point.

I started it last night. I’m not going to talk about it here until I have something a little more substantial than a few sentences.

I just wanted to share that it may finally be happening after what feels like far too long. Thank you to everyone I talked to this weekend; you helped me to get to this point.

If only I could finally get these exams out of the way already…

100 Things I Love Part 5: 81-100

Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2017. I am feeling a lot of positivity about this coming year and am looking forward to seeing what it brings. In the meantime, I bring you the last installment of my little self-care project. 100 Things I Love, has been really uplifting, and I have found that I have generally been able to keep a more positive attitude versus before. I am calling this self-care project a success!

  1. Watching my friends’ and my sisters’ kids grow up
  2. A freshly tidied space
  3. Scented candles that smell like baked goods
  4. Breakfast
  5. Scarves – I hate having a cold neck!
  6. A nice hot bath
  7. That I can take medication to help manage my depression
  8. Super hero movies
  9. My antique desk
  10. Being able to play PC games again (It’s been years.)
  11. Organizing my clutter
  12. Coming home after time away
  13. Sleeping in my bed after I’ve been away for a night or two – it really feels amazing
  14. Being able to drink tea from a travel mug!
  15. A sense of accomplishment at the end of the work day
  16. Writing when I can; when I feel inspired (however rare it may be)
  17. Curling up in bed right before I fall asleep when I am good and tired
  18. Fresh starts
  19. The amazing friends I have in my life
  20. Coming up with this list

And there you have it. 100 things I love, complete.

2016 was a heck of a year. There were a lot of changes, and a lot of things that stayed the same. I started a new job, and as a result I made an amazing new friend. The new job also resulted in working at the first job I’ve ever felt appreciated and respected. She is truly wonderful. I finally started loving living alone, and that has resulted in being able to focus on things I wasn’t able to before. My best friend moved across the country. I am thankful however, that we are able to keep in touch thanks to Apple! I had a health scare with Tobi, but we weathered it and she is healthy now, aside from the continuous issues she has had to deal with for most of her life.

I have big plans for 2017 though. I plan to travel! I plan to meet people! I will be starting my house savings. I will be improving things around my apartment, a plan for which has already been set in motion. I will be taking better care of myself and my health as well. I have many goals I have set out to accomplish. I am excited for these things, and will of course be sharing what I can.

Happy New Year!

100 Things I Love Part 4: 61-80

I know it’s been a little bit since I last published for this project. Family Christmases got in the way! I have a break from gatherings now, and thought I would continue on.

Welcome to Part 4 of the 100 Things I Love project. Reflecting over Christmas and being away from work made it a bit easier to come up with some additions for the list, which was pretty awesome.

  1. Any kind of cool nerdy coffee mug
  2. My TARDIS collection
  3. Wiggling my toes in new warm grass
  4. Sitting around the table chatting with the family after a big holiday dinner
  5. Sitting on my back patio/landing reading a book in the sun
  6. Finishing the latest project
  7. Wayne’s snickerdoodles – Gluten Free and AMAZING
  8. Quiet days to myself with no expectations
  9. Yummy-smelling candles
  10. When plans go off without a hitch
  11. Feeling prepared (this one is helpful for my anxiety too!)
  12. A glass of ice-cold water
  13. A nice, brisk walk.
  14. Great conversation
  15. Bookstores
  16. Having a library card
  17. Collecting Classics (the books, that is)
  18. Holiday leftovers
  19. Learning to manage my money effectively
  20. Treating myself from time to time (It’s just good self-care.)

I hope you had a great holiday! I did, for the most part. I find it a bit more difficult these days to really get into it as the majority of my family are adults or are nearing adulthood. There is less emphasis on the excitement of gift-giving, and more on just being with family. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really great. It’s one of my favourite parts of the season. It’s just hard to get pumped up and in the “holiday spirit” when that’s the case. I am back to work for the rest of this week, and then we are on to New Year’s Even this weekend. I have plans to go see some friends and spend the night playing board games and eating and drinking lots of wine. I am very much looking forward to it. I hope you have some exciting New Year’s Eve plans as well!

100 Things I Love Part 3: 41-60

Welcome to part three of my self care project. These are items 41-60. This bunch was quite a bit more difficult to come up with. It seems to be more difficult as I get deeper into it. The rest of these are going to be a challenge to come up with!

  1. Dark chocolate
  2. Hand dyed wool
  3. Geeky memorabilia – autographs, pop figures, art, etc.
  4. Leaving work early
  5. Owl-themed décor
  6. Travelling to new places
  7. Sleeping in
  8. Sleeping in general
  9. My comfy green wing chair (It’s vintage!)
  10. Not having to cook if I don’t want to
  11. Adult colouring books
  12. Pen pals – the old-fashioned kind!
  13. Receiving letters and packages in the mail
  14. Candy canes
  15. Wine
  16. Sleepy kid/baby snuggles (while babysitting)
  17. Tabletop game nights with friends
  18. Video gaming with friends (World of Warcraft, Path of Exile)
  19. Wrapping gifts for others at Christmas
  20. My Batman coffee mug

It should also be noted that today is my blog’s anniversary! I have been active on this blog in one way or another for five years. It feels like a real achievement!

100 Things I love Part 2: 21-40

Welcome to part two of my new self care project. These are items 21-40. This next bunch was a bit trickier to come up worth. I think this is going to get more difficult as I continue!

  1. A good movie drama
  2. Teddy bears/stuffed animals
  3. “Character” – as found in old buildings
  4. My family – even if they sometimes drive me crazy from time to time…
  5. My new computer
  6. Tea! (loose leaf)
  7. Helping friends when I can
  8. The people I work with – they are some truly great and kind people
  9. Radiator heat – so warm and cozy!
  10. The first snow of the season
  11. Not owning a car
  12. Being able to live (relatively) comfortably on my income
  13. Comics
  14. Feeling valuable, like my work/effort is appreciated
  15. Being free to do what I want, when I want
  16. Productive days
  17. Sailor Moon
  18. Crochet
  19. Shopping for gifts (mostly for others, but sometimes for myself too)
  20. Cat snuggles

100 Things I Love Part 1: 1-20

Welcome to part one of my new self care project. These are items 1-20. These first few were pretty easy to come up with. I’m not sure if it will stay this easy!

  1. My cat Tobi
  2. My apartment
  3. Living alone
  4. Coffee
  5. Sunshine
  6. Tacos
  7. Cozy blankets
  8. Doctor Who
  9. My blog – even if I don’t post as much as I would like anymore. It’s been a 5-year labour of love so far.
  10. Playing games (both video games and board games)
  11. Books/reading
  12. Pens
  13. Tragic Toys
  14. Feminism
  15. Trying/learning new things
  16. Pizza
  17. The colour grey
  18. Sci-fi TV
  19. Stars
  20. Lilacs
IMG_1689
*sings* These are a few of my favourite things… *sings*

Some Thoughts on Self Care

I’ve been publishing mainly regular life and personal posts and I’ve also been thinking it might be time to change things up a bit. I want to write a bit about self-care.

Self-care is the thing I never knew I needed until I started seeing my therapist in August 2014. With her help I learned that self-care is key to managing mental illness, especially anxiety and depression, as is my case. It’s also something I’m not very good at, or at least feel like I’m not very good at. Self-care can be as simple as taking a nice hot shower after an especially trying day, or curling up with a good book on a weekend afternoon. Simply put, it is taking the time to check-in with and look after yourself.

Some of the things I do for myself are take baths in the evening, read, play World of Warcraft, and have a regularly scheduled weekly movie night with a dear friend of mine. She struggles with her mental health as well, and the movie nights keep us both social even when we are having a hard time getting through the day. It also gives us both someone who is there and supportive. Basically, it helps us to both feel like we’re not alone and going through things on our own. The movie nights have gotten me through some pretty tough times.

The point of this post is something of a self-care exercise in itself – something outside of my ordinary realm of self care. I can across it on Pinterest, in a pin about practicing self care when things are especially tough, and I think it is a beautiful idea. The idea is to compile a list of 99 things you love. I’ve decided I am going to do this… with a slight modification just because of my own idiosyncrasies: 100 things I love.

I am going to create a list of 100 things I love. I wont share them all at once… It might get overwhelming, and it might take me awhile! I will probably share twenty or so at a time as I come up with them. The goal is to remind myself and maybe you as well, that there are great and beautiful things out there to keep us going. For those of us that live with mental illness in our daily lives, it is something important that we shouldn’t forget.

So, stay tuned for it. It will be coming soon:

100 Things I Love