Why You Should Embrace Being An Empath

For a while, I avoided relationships like the plague. I was the queen of not going further than three dates and being totally happy with summer flings or hook ups abroad. It wasn’t a façade, either. For a while, I was genuinely happy living my life this way – and there’s nothing wrong with it.

As I started getting more in tune with myself and who I was, I realized that although there’s nothing wrong with a lifestyle like I was living, it was wrong for me. You see, I’m what they call an empath and it took me years to embrace being an empath.

Dr. Judith Orloff describes empaths as “highly sensitive, finely tuned instruments when it comes to emotions. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme, and are less apt to intellectualize feelings.”

For the longest time, this heightened sensitivity terrified me and I did everything in my power to mute it – to the point of becoming emotionally disconnected in almost any encounter I had with the opposite sex. In my mind, if I went through the motions but didn’t let it hit my heart, I was in control.

Here’s a tip for you readers that connect as being an empath, or just being the person who loves more: teaching yourself to disconnect emotionally is not healthy. It might work for a little while, but over time I realized that I wasn’t experiencing the types of relationships I truly cared about. You need to embrace being an empath, to be proud of it.

I didn’t realize this about myself until very recently, when I came out of a relationship with my heart shattered in a million pieces. It was the second relationship that I actually count as a relationship because I was all in. I didn’t hide the sensitive parts of myself, I didn’t shy away from my feelings and he shared them back. Seven months after our relationship ended, I thought I had moved on until I went back to the place where it all began and I found myself sobbing uncontrollably in a bar.

Since then, I’ve done a lot of soul searching. I’ve written, I’ve meditated, I’ve had tears running down my face in the middle of a yoga class – and I’ve come out stronger. I’ve learned that being the person who loves more in a relationship is okay. Being an empath isn’t a negative disorder, it’s a beautiful part of who you are. In fact, I embrace it. I’m proud of being that person because that person isn’t afraid and she doesn’t hide. She’s real, honest and so open that when you find yourself in a relationship with her, your eyes will be opened to an entirely new experience of love.

Being the person who loves more is terrifying, but it is who I am. It means being the person that despite everything that might tell you otherwise, you believe in good. It means being the person that believes that love will, in fact, conquer all and that love is the best way to respond in all encounters. To deny that is to deny yourself of the relationships that will allow you to grow, discover and heal. So, don’t shy away from being the one who loves more in a relationship. Do some soul searching if you need to, but learn to embrace that part of who you are. Embrace being an empath – It’s an admirable, raw quality, to be heart-centered.

A relationship doesn’t work if you only share pieces of yourself and despite the countless heartaches that might come when being the person who loves more, there is an optimism at the end of it that shines through everything else. There’s the self-confidence and love that you deserve only the person who embraces your whole self – and that makes being the one who loves more worth it every time.


You can find my original post on Elite Daily here.

4 Signs You Need To Quit Your Job And Travel ASAP

quit your job

So, you’ve graduated college and here you are – the real world. It was exciting at first; your very own desk, a work phone, your name on a shiny gold nameplate at the front of your desk. You even had free reign to personalize your office space – you had your seashell collection from around the world in a mason jar, some inspirational quotes, perhaps some flamingos hanging from the ceiling?

If you were going to be spending the majority of your life in this office, it was going to be a place you wanted to be. At the very least, it would remind you of the best moments of your life when you were traveling during those summers between classes. Here you were, an adult with a career, and life was grande. Until you realized that this was what it would be like day in and day out, five days a week, for the rest of your life, and suddenly your 9-5 wasn’t so grande anymore.

If you, like me, have found yourself doing any of these 4 things, then you might as well just admit it: it’s time to quit your job and travel. The 9-5 life might satisfy you someday, but that day is definitely not today. Pull up that flight you’ve been secretly pining over for the last month, quit your job and get out of there while you still can.

Your Office Space Has Turned Into A Shrine Of Your Past Travels And Future Plans

Everywhere you look is something that resembles a trip you’ve taken. You have a string of photos to your right, a giant picture of the ocean to your left. Your wall is one big inspiration board of all of the places you still need to go. Your travel journal? Yeah, it’s perched on top of your work books just in case you need a stroll down memory lane.


You Need To Keep Clearing Your Browser History

Not because of inappropriate video watching on your lunch break, but because for the last hour and a half when you should have been writing case notes, you were browsing the best deals for a one way ticket to anywhere.


You’ve Taken 1 or More Vacations and You Don’t Even Have Vacation Time Yet

The true travelers among us will figure out a way to travel even when they shouldn’t be. You have to wait for a full year of employment to earn a one week vacation? Well, it’s only been 8 months and you’ve already gone on three trips! Unpaid time off is no biggie compared to the loss of your sanity.


Your Bag Is Already Packed

You know, the emergency bag that is tucked beneath your bed with a few changes of clothes, toiletry essentials and a fresh journal. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. You never know when the opportunity for an impromptu adventure might arise – a long weekend might sneak up on you, you might be genuinely ill and are requested to stay home from work (but God forbid you don’t take this as an opportunity from the heavens to go somewhere new), you spontaneously quit your job – you just never know.


If you relate to these 4 signs, or even just one of them, then it’s time to really think about why you haven’t quit your job. If you KNOW that this is not the lifestyle that will keep you satisfied, what are you sticking around for? Maybe you don’t need to travel forever and maybe you do – just do what makes you happy for now.

You have years ahead for working a 9-5 if that’s what you want. You might not have years ahead to travel, so if you have the resources to do it, you have the finances to support you, then quit your job, get out there and see the world. I promise it will be a lot more entertaining than staring at the slide of travel photos on your desktop every day.

Salt Spring Island: Perfect 5 Day Getaway

salt spring island

It was a series of unfortunate events that finally got us to step off of the ferry and onto Salt Spring Island. After missing our early morning flight thanks to my car breaking down on the way to the airport (I just need it to hold out until January), our quick hour and a half journey turned into a nearly five hour trek of planes, taxis and a ferry ride to hop over the Pacific Ocean. At last, we stepped onto land and were greeted with the salty scent of the ocean that sparkled like a million diamonds in the sunshine and tree covered mountains that make Salt Spring Island home.

In case you haven’t heard, Salt Spring Island is Canada’s hidden paradise – despite being the most visited of the Gulf Islands, very few of the friends I spoke with before leaving had even heard of Salt Spring Island. I even had one friend of mine think it was another island in the Caribbean!

I have been holding out on sharing this guide with you because I’ve been working on some big changes for Whirlwind Travel – but I couldn’t hold out any longer. Here is just one of the many ways you can create a perfect getaway in Salt Spring Island.

Day 1 – Arrive on the Island

Salt Spring Island is unique in that it doesn’t hold the many chain name hotels and resorts that most vacation places do. Instead, Salt Spring Island offers an entirely authentic experience for the traveler who wants to escape. My brother and I lucked out in finding a rustic cabin tucked away on a private residence, where we could watch the tide rise and fall in the canal. If you’re not the rustic type, be sure to check out the Salt Spring Accommodation Group for a comprehensive list of alternate options including resorts, hotels, B&B’s or even a campsite for the budget traveler.

Spend your first day soaking in your surroundings. A stroll through Ganges, the main village on the island, will bring you to a number of local, family-owned restaurants, coffee shops and book stores.

Day 2 – Get Your Heart Pumping

A hike is in the works for today and Salt Spring Island is just the place to do it. If you’re looking for an invigorating hike, you can spend the afternoon climbing to the top of Mount Erskine. It’s only 2 km one way, but steep! With a beautiful view from the top and the chance to spot hidden fairy doors in the trees along the way (there are at least six, possibly more that mysteriously pop up!), it’s a magical treat for those who make the climb.

Ruckle Park

 

If you’re looking for a more leisurely hiking experience, go over to Ruckle Provincial Park. The Beaver Point Hall to Yeo Point Trail is filled with gorgeous views from all directions. The five hours I spent hiking this trail was the highlight of my time on the island. To my right, I was met with ocean views, rocky cliffs and hidden pebble beaches to explore along the way. To my left was the rainforest that offered moss cushioning for our running shoes, the tallest trees I’ve ever seen and shade from the sun. Being wrapped up in a world of forest and ocean all mixed together, I was over the moon excited.

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Unwind from today’s hike by grabbing some food and making your way to Vesuvius Bay for a picnic, wine and a sunset that you won’t be able to peel your eyes from.

Day 3 – The Saturday Market

Salt Spring Island is known for it’s Saturday Market, which runs every Saturday at 9-4pm from March 26th to October 29th. The island is filled with creatives from artists to photographers and is a haven for hippies and those seeking a natural lifestyle. The market is the day when all of these people come together to share their art, food and talent with tourists. We managed to pull together a beautiful gift for Mother’s Day including a hand painted wine glass, soap and a blown glass seahorse created by our host’s daughter.

Head to the market early so that you don’t miss out! Once you’ve had your fill, pop on over to The Treehouse Café for lunch in a tree house!

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Day 4 – Take a Paddle

Also known as the Nature Island, Salt Spring Island is a nature lover’s playground. If you’re up early enough, catch the sunrise at Beddis Beach, have a swim, lounge in the sun and then go off for a day of sea kayaking. We went with Salt Spring Adventure Co. and loved every minute of it! Since we were there in low season, we had the entire tour to ourselves and paddled for an hour out to Chocolate Beach – a beach made up entirely of crushed white shells – explored the little island for a bit, and went back onto the water.

kayak

Salt Spring Adventure Co. offer options for any experience level and have a number of tours with different lengths and features. Along the way we spotted brightly colored starfish, a herd of seals and even had one brave fellow pop his head up to say hello not far from my kayak!

Day 5 – Head Home

I hope that by the end of your time on Salt Spring Island you feel just as rejuvenated as I was. I hope that the nature and magic of the island has you heading home with a new sense of connection, a clear mind and renewed energy.

If you’d like me to help you plan your perfect nature escape to Salt Spring Island, I would love to chat with you about creating an authentic travel experience! Contact me to find out more!

Overcoming Post-Travel Depression: Make The Most of Coming Home

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For many people, coming home can be harder than it was to leave. You’ve spent the last little while on the adventure of a lifetime, yet you come back to a place where it feels like time has stood still and you can’t help but shake that post-travel depression feeling. I know that for me, that space between actively traveling feels a lot like a state of limbo, where I’m just not really sure what I’m supposed to be doing in this place that is supposed to feel like home but doesn’t really. Post-travel depression is a reality for many travelers, but you don’t have to be brought down just because you aren’t traveling.

For those of us who crave adventure and can’t shake that overwhelming need to be on the move, the limbo stage can be a difficult one to navigate. My limbo stage is always filled to the brim with work – working towards the moment when I can catapult my life into action again and working to stop myself from thinking about the fact that I’m not still traveling. Here are a few suggestions to help you enjoy your time in limbo and overcome post-travel depression:

  • Be a Tourist – how many times have we heard this one? Be a tourist in your own city. Everyone says it but how many of us actually make an effort to do this? I know I don’t. But being a tourist in your own city can help alleviate the feelings of post-travel depression. Pick an area of interest to you – maybe it’s music, physical activity or awesome vegan food – and make it a priority to visit somewhere in your city that relates to that interest and is new to you. Who knows what hidden gems you’ll discover, even in a city that you’ve grown up in. 
  •  Figure Out Your Why. Your “why” is your power to stay motivated, focused and to keep working towards travel. It’s what got you started in the first place, your big picture. If you remember and keep your why at the forefront of your mind, you can use it to keep your momentum moving forward. WHY are you back home, is it to work hard to get to your next adventure? Is it to visit family and friends before a longer trip? Understanding what you are working so hard for and reminding yourself of that every day is KEY to designing the life you want. Having a purpose and a goal you are working towards can kick depression to the curb. 
  • Stay Connected – to your support system AND to the world of travel. Make plans with the friends and family that you missed while away. Isolation can feed into that low feeling, so fight those post-travel blues and avoid weeks of isolation.If you can’t travel the world, bring the world to you. Be a host to those traveling to your own city, through Couchsurfing or Air BnB – you’ll end up having people from all walks of life in and out of your home, just like that hostel you stayed in. 
  • Pack Your Bags – the best cure for the post-travel blues is to keep moving. Maybe you really don’t belong in that city anymore and this is your sign to pack your bags and make the leap to a big move. It might not be constant travel that you need, but a new place to call home and build a life. Moving not an option? Take weekend trips just outside of your city – do you live near the mountains? A beach? The forest? Make the most of what is around you.

Do you have any tried and true methods for overcoming post-travel depression? Share them with us in the comments!

Ice Castle Adventure: Walking In a Winter Wonderland

Magic has arrived in Edmonton, where Hawrelak Park has been transformed into a scene straight out of Disney’s Frozen. Our very own ice castle has appeared, bringing even the most avid winter hibernators out into the wild. Icicles form an enchanting archway as you step into the castle, welcomed by the instrumental sounds of the Frozen theme song. People eagerly wait for their chance at sliding down the ice slide or to take a seat on the ice throne while the rest of us wander in and out of the paths, tall walls of ice on either side.

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Everywhere you look is another mind blowing display of artistry – hundreds upon hundreds of hand-crafted icicles put together to form the entire castle.

ice castle ice castle ice castle

Don’t forget to dress warm – it is an ice castle after all. Luckily, there’s a little spot for you to warm up your hands.

ice castle ice castle

… before exploring some more!

ice castle ice castleice castle

I am SO happy that I turned around after walking out of the castle or else I might have missed this heart that had been carved into the ice.

If you’re in the area or ever have an opportunity to visit an ice castle, I highly recommend it! In the daytime, the ice, snow and winter sky creates a white on white on white appearance that is beautiful. But when darkness hits, the ice castle is flooded in beautiful lights – so a visit in the evening would be just as magical.