Is anything real anymore? Is anybody being their authentic self? Hellllloooo-ooo-ooooo?
It’s been on my mind so much lately. Maybe because I’m living in an upscale California community where designer lips are the norm. Maybe because our world is oversaturated with Instagram “models” and people selling their souls to the devil. Maybe because I’m tired of going to bed at night with blood shot eyes from staring at a screen all day. I’m negative, I’m jaded, I’m angry.
This kind of thing was in the media awhile back with Instagram “stars” coming forward and admitting that their perfectly filtered lives were unrealistic, untrue, and in fact undesirable. I thought maybe, just maybe, we were at a turning point. But it seems inauthenticity is what we’re all supposed to strive for. It still reigns in the virtual world that screws with the way we exist in the real world. Candid photos have gone from a roll of film that snapped at the wrong time to falsely looking down or away as your friends takes 16 photos. Enjoying a moment has turned into scouring the landscape for a photo backdrop, posing, then flying through the options and barely responding to those you’re with instead of soaking up the rest of the view. Hey I'm just as guilty.
I like to think our age group, the 20-somethings who are nostalgic of a time when we weren’t slaves to our devices, knows better. We got our handy dandy flip phones with a 45 text message limit (per MONTH!) in the 9th grade. Our social brains had largely developed before screens had a true shot at ruining our eyesight forever. We remember a time when you had to look up your crush’s house in the phone book and nervously dial the number, knowing full well their parents would answer. We know that being interested in someone is more than “sliding into their DMs”. Yet I admit, we get sucked into this behaviour… for the thrill, the convenience, the curiosity...name your vice.
Mentally our devices, and the applications we spend so much time on, give us information OVERLOAD… so much so that we think we need to be constantly activated, constantly stimulated and forget that we possess the ability to pass a minute more organically. Our brains need a friggin break. Remember as a kid how you’d stand at the bus stop and kick rocks or talk to the person beside you? Time would pass without playing a game on your tiny screen, without looking at news, and without constantly refreshing the page. I always talk about how lucky we were to have grown up without these “luxuries”. Even TV offered more of a social experience… we watched Young & the Restless every night in my house but in doing so we shared a common bonding experience. Something we talked about, something we shared… one plot line with a couple commercials thrown in. I didn’t have headphones in watching a show on my laptop while Mom played a game on her iPad, Slate sat there texting, and Dad checked emails on his Blackberry. It’s that crazy paradox of being more connected than ever before yet also so. damn. isolated.
I don’t want to leave you thinking I’m old fashioned and can’t embrace change. I got an Apple Watch* for my birthday for heavens sakes! As a consumer of social media, though, I can’t help but think that it all seems to have gotten out of control. We’ve become so obsessed with making our lives come across a certain way we’ve forgotten to live. So obsessed with letting our technology dictate our real life I truly fear we’re one step closer to being robots. This obsession is only exacerbated by platforms that make us compare our lowest moments to everybody else’s highlights. It’s enough to make ya go crazy.
And so my challenge to you: go outside, walk the dog, sit on a park bench, go a day without checking your social media. It’s freeing and you’d be amazed the things you can get accomplished. If it helps, delete the apps off your phone. I’m not challenging you to full on delete your accounts (though I’ve come close I do like to look back on my memories and post from time to time), just remove the apps. You’ll be shocked at the number of times you reach for your phone out of bordom, curiosity or just plain habit.
Because really, what are you going to miss out on? #ootd , #mcm , #baesic #onfleek #kuwtk #instaworthy .. take a seat lame-o hashtags. Be yourselves people, and focus on living authentically. Because we aren’t going to thrive in a world where we’re all clones (aka shitty versions of eachother) who pay no attention to one another and live within the confines of our screens.
*I'm most excited about having my Apple Watch so I no longer have to check my phone and get sucked into the never ending vortex of emails, articles, and 'grams. Now I only look when my wrist vibrates and tells me to.
Disclaimer: I wrote this post in my head earlier today while running my first marathon! I’m proud to share that I completed the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon under 4 hours!
I haven't written a post in a while. I've been busy, busier than I've ever been before. I won't bore you with the details of my crazy hours and never ending work load because the truth is that I'm loving every minute of it. I know part of the reason is because I’m finally pursuing a career I’m passionate about but at the same time I’m convinced running is to thank.
As a lifelong athlete, I've always enjoyed running but during my sophomore year of college that hobby turned into a full on passion when I signed up for my first half marathon. The race took place about 6 weeks after the end of our hockey season so it was a refreshing change to have something new to train for. For a type A organization crazy girl like me, I loved the feeling of following a set plan to accomplish a final goal, race day. As my runs got longer, I was able to explore and find different parts of Plattsburgh and what I quickly realized was how much mental clarity running gave me. I've tried yoga, I've tried meditation, but nothing helps me clear my head, organize my thoughts, and beat stress like running.
I'm competitive. It's the first word I (and most people who know me) would use to describe me. I struggle with the concept of just doing things for fun because to me everything is a chance to win which is why races have always appealed to me. When I retired from competitive hockey, training for a race gave me a purpose to work-out and a chance to beat my favourite person....myself. Unless you're an elite runner, most people don't actually focus on winning a race because of the high number of entrants, different starting places, and the mix of genders and ages. For these reasons, my focus is not on actually winning the race but achieving a specific time to beat my personal record.
I didn't realize the significance of running in my life until I couldn't run. In 2013, I was training for my first full marathon when I injured myself 2 weeks out from race. What I thought was a strained hip flexor ended up being a torn hip labrum. I needed hip surgery and I couldn’t run for an entire year. The timing of my injury couldn’t have been worse. It came at a very difficult time in my life when for the first time I wasn’t playing hockey, I was living in a new city, and I had just started my first Masters program. Needless to say I was lost. And I felt even more lost without my long runs to organize my thoughts. Finally, after a year I was back running and everything started to come together.
Today, three years after my injury, I ran my first full marathon and crossing the finish line was the proudest moment of my life. My training for this race has kept me sane during the first six weeks of my Master of Sport Management degree. During my long runs I was able to plan out my to-do list, think about work issues, and just beat stress. From my personal experience, I believe that running and exercise in general are great ways to improve mental health and that’s why I’m encouraging all of our bronze & gold readers to sign up for a race. Elle Woods may have said it best, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy...” Training for and completing a race, regardless of the distance, is an incredible accomplishment and an amazing feel good moment. For our Ottawa followers, Run for Women is being held on May 7th and consists of both 5k and 10k run/walk events. All pledges and donations will be supporting women’s mental health programs at The Royal. I really think that training for this non-competitive fun run/walk will be a great way to beat the winter blues! I really hope you will all consider participating :)
I’m always here to help with training plans so please don’t hesitate to ask.
But as for right now, I’m ready to enjoy a glass of wine and hot bubble bath!
Lots of love,
Now 23, I’ve lived the charmed life and for that I thank my lucky stars every single day. I’m one of those people who spreads positivity and zest for life...from my shiny, untarnished perspective. This I recognize. For the past couple years, though, my academic life has been immersed in a subject that flipped me on my head. And for that I will be eternally grateful.
For my Masters thesis I conducted focus groups with low-income people and gathered a wealth of information on the barriers they face in having enough food from day to day. But what does that mean? I used a small town food bank and Salvation Army branch to recruit people who have trouble making ends meet from month to month. A few brave and resilient souls agreed to meet with me to share their stories of struggle, humiliation, and survival. In a country like Canada it’s so easy to think this doesn’t exist. It’s easy to think that we all live our kushy middle class lifestyles and everything is great.
The research process has taken quite an emotional toll, I’ll admit. I find myself in constant confrontation with socialized norms and having to check myself over and over again: Why as a society do we take one instance of someone who abuses the social welfare system and generalize it to everybody else? The people I consulted spoke only of wanting to be honest, of wanting to help others, of wanting to be healthy, and wanting to be happy. These are not luxuries. Basic humanity doesn’t teach us to trample everybody else while we find our way. When did this stuff happen? When did we decide it was easier to turn a blind eye to people who were suffering and came by it honestly? Why is it so easy for everyday Canadians to get stuck in the rut of social welfare and face an impossible battle to claw their way out?
As a working girl I understand the feeling of seeing half of your paycheque taken away. I get the feeling of waking up in the morning and wishing you could stay in bed but knowing your life depends on that daily grind so getting up anyway. I get the feelings of anger when you drive through your small town and see the “porch dwellers” sitting on the front step dragging on cigarettes, waiting to collect a cheque that comes from your hard earned tax dollars. I don’t think for one minute those are unjustified emotions. I think this is why my education has been so emotionally taxing on me - the constant pull of understanding both sides of the coin. Which is why I share this with everyone today.
We all love a good heart wrenching story as it shares its way around social media. We can all see the great in giving a homeless man a haircut or a hot meal or paying for the person’s coffee in the line behind us. But what is it that makes us so adamant that certain people are and certain people aren’t deserving of the same quality of life? Or atleast an equal shot at it? And that might just be the key.
Our grandparents came here with nothing and worked their way to the top, you hear that over and over again. But what was different at that time was a sense of community which is largely lost today. At that time people came together, be it through the church or otherwise, to help one another. A new family immigrated from the Netherlands? Someone offered them a job on their farm, someone stepped up to teach them English, someone was always around the corner if they were short a cup of sugar or needed a dime to mail a letter. In today’s world we have no idea who our neighbour is, we lock ourselves inside our air conditioned, technology equipped homes to entertain ourselves in isolation. We sit behind screens and feel a false sense of social cohesion.
But what if tomorrow comes and you lose your job, you get diagnosed with a chronic and debilitating disease, your partner leaves you, or your house burns down? Life is fragile. What if you find yourself on the other side of the fence, because the majority of the people living in poverty today will tell you, it can happen with the flick of a switch. They had “normal” lives before they found themselves using the food bank or going without. Have a little faith in people and know that people don’t want to be lazy. People are inherently good. But more importantly, know how lucky you are each and every morning to wake up with a purpose and the health, ability, and opportunity to go out and earn a proud living.
Just something to think about as we ignore the homeless man, sitting cross legged on the street. What was his life before he wound up there asking you for spare change? Did he simply make poor choices (as we’ve been taught to assume and can sometimes be true) or did he face incredible challenges in his childhood? Maybe he served our country and has now returned with unbearable mental health issues and a lack of support? The problems are so much deeper than the grips of a drug addiction. We are all given a different shot at this game of life - all equipped with different social supports, coping mechanisms, and emotional capacities.
Though I cursed the graduate student life more often than not - putting my own privilege on display - I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to learn from people who were at their most vulnerable. I truly learned the value of a dollar, what it can represent, the value of food so many of us take for granted, and the value of life. It gave me perspective that I will forever carry with me. Compassion. Perspective. Appreciation. And most of all 20-something drive - to spread a message and spark conversation...To ameliorate the lives of not just struggling Canadians but ultimately, all of us.
As 20-something girls, how have we not discussed periods yet? Here it is ladies (and guys who know a lady, love a lady, or were raised by a lady - hint: that's all of you!) Biology gave girls what’s been dubbed a period. Aunt Flo. The Big P. Bloody Mary. Whatever she’s called in your house, you have biology to thank. And from such a young age, most of us revere it. With the pain and inconvenience it causes, rightfully so.
Boys could never handle the realities of a period. Can you for a second imagine how they would react to pulling down their pants and seeing bloody murder in their underwear? Or worse, having to remove a tampon? Girls - education, positions of power, sky high stilettos, impossible social standards aside - are superstars for thriving through one week a month (that’s 12 weeks a year, friends) of something boys just couldn’t handle. And we manage to do it so coyly, with such grace, that most people don’t even know it’s happening. Sure, they try their best to associate a bad mood with your monthly visitor but their accusations are often off which teaches them never to guess again. Why, I ask, have periods always been so taboo, not to be discussed?
With a mindset like that, how could periods ever be made better? Not just in Canada, or in North America, but for women all over the world, including developing countries lacking resources for girls to have what we in North America take for granted every single day in overpriced/taxed tampons and pads.
This is all to preface what it is I wanted to share and that is the inspiring tale of THINX. What I thought was just another ad popping up on my Facebook page (did we or did we not all get suckered into those hammock in a bag blow up chair things?), ended up being an uber inspiring half hour of soaking up (hehe) the entirety of their website. Started by two sisters, their mission was to inflict change through innovation. Enough said, I’m a sucker for that kind of mantra.
You know me, curious and always down for a new experience. Having been a trail blazer and early invester in the Diva Cup way back when, and suffering monthly from the irritation of pads and tampons, I was keen to see if this product was too good to be true. A couple clicks, and a splurge on express shipping, and these babies were all mine.
I anxiously awaited their arrival, knowing it would time perfectly with the ol' girl. My first thought when I saw the package was how small it was. Sure, I’d ordered a size small but I expected them to come in a large box for some reason… maybe I’d assumed they’d be thick and diaper like? I’m not sure. So when I tore into the small bag, out came a silky pair of black lace-band undies. Super cute and super, non-period panty -esque. They were thin, had zero resemblance to a diaper, but admittedly weighed heavier than expected.
When I first put them on I couldn’t believe how nicely they fit. I was a proud Costco underwear girl for a lot of years, before social standards and maturation saw me swap em out for Victoria’s Secret. And let me tell you, my THINX fit better than either… no riding up, no puckering, no tush cush.
The label said the pair I ordered could hold two tampons worth so here we go. I would usually use three or four regular tampons in the course of a day so putting these on around noon should mean they last me the rest of the day with no leaks or surprises. Right?
Noon: my goodness these are comfy. I don’t think I’ll wear pants today, just my THINX. And I’m going to sit on my white duvet cover while I’m at it.
2:12pm: I officially have to pee. The moment of truth… let’s see what we’re dealing with… [pulls pants down].... I was shocked to see how dry the undies were. I even dabbed to see if I just wasn’t seeing anything because they are black fabric. But nope, everything had been absorbed into the technological fabric. I didn’t have a diaper on, I wasn’t sitting in my own glory. When I pulled my pants back up I was dry and comfortable.
3:35pm: Weekly pilgrammage to Wal-Mart, here I come. Taking my new undies for a spin in public wearing light grey sweatpants… Whether sweatpants in public is a faux pas in this upscale California neighbourhood remains to be seen, will update when I return.
4:48pm: I’m home from Wal-Mart where I was the only one in sweatpants. But back off prudes, they’re Lulu sweats and this is a Wal-Mart for god sakes. I digress… The fact I even had time to worry about my sweatpants as a social statement tells me that worrying about a blood stain on the back was not top of mind. Not once did I feel like my THINX were failing me, not once did I feel like I had a bulge of cotton under my hooha.
I get it, you’re reading this and thinking okay, sure. But what about the washing, Mad? It's gotta be gross. As per the instructions, I gave them a rinse as soon as I took them off, hung them in the shower to dry, then tossed them in my laundry bin. Voila, washed them with the rest of my laundry, hung them to dry again, and they were ready to wear. There really was nothing to it.
Seriously, that easy. Not gross. Non-invasive (if you were hesitant to try the Diva Cup because you didn’t wanna get all up in there). And super duper stylish. As a 20-something, not having to worry about your period as you keep up with your busy daily grind is a must. Ain't nobody got time for that.
Intrigued? Check out this video for more of their back story:
Thinx you want a pair of your own? (See what I did there?)
Use our unique Referral Code to get $10 off!
As always, the last week of sweet summer comes with a mix of emotions for me. I love the long nights of summer when it’s warm enough to be out sans jean jacket and the weekly country fairs, cottage weekends, and patio dinners that summer brings. At the same time, I actually really love everything that September brings with it. Maybe it’s because I consider myself a lifelong student but I love how September feels like a fresh start. After a summer of too many meals out, poolside sangrias, and sleep ins, the start of September can be a great way to get back on track for the final third of the year and a second chance to finish 2016 feeling great and on a positive note. This past summer has been especially busy for me. I travelled around Australia, Japan, and Korea and then came home for two weeks filled with get togethers with friends and familys while at the same time trying to pack up to move to Windsor to start a new graduate program later this week. The craziness of the past two weeks (and three months) has made me really want to use to September to focus on my health and organization. First up on my list? Getting my finances back on track.
Mad’s post, “An Opportune Time to Start Saving” from last month was the exact inspiration and perfect reminder I needed to get back to reality financially after 8 months of travel and holidays.
I completely agree that finding balance between cutting expenses as much as possible while still enjoying yourself is key to loving your life. I’ve been living the student life for seven years now and therefore have some excellent ways to be financially savvy and thrive on a student budget.
Disclaimer: I am not a coupon clipper nor do I consider myself a Sally Saver. I’d much rather go to the gym than spend hours browsing flyers for sales. For these reasons, I think my tips are perfectly achievable for 20-somethings trying to juggle a million different things.
Make it automatic- a proud moment for me as a 20-something was setting up automatic withdrawals from my chequing account into a few different savings accounts. It feels so good to know that I am taking a pro-active approach in saving for my future. Most of the time I don’t even realize the money’s been taken out and it’s a guaranteed way to make sure I don’t skimp out on my monthly savings when I do a bit too much retail therapy. As Mad’s post suggests, saving between 15-20% of your income is ideal, but remember that something, no matter how small, is better than nothing. The sooner you start saving, the faster it adds up.
My old roommate, Syd, (check out her guest post here), gave me the suggestion of buying whatever produce is on sale each week. It’s an easy way to save money and also gives you a great variety in your diet. Because of this, I automatically switch up my fruits and veggies every week and never get bored with what I’m eating. Plus I end up trying a lot of new recipes! I’ve taken this one step farther and applied the sale rule to my cosmetic products. I stock up on my shampoo, facewash, and moisturizer whenever they’re on sale and trust me, the savings add up!
Finally, I am very much pro goal-setting. I use lululemon’s goal setting guides and try to update my goals every 6 months. Starting with where I want to be personally, professionally, and financially in 10 years and working down to the upcoming year, helps me put into perspective the things I need to be doing now to get to where I want to be. Acknowledging your financial goals, whether it's a house, car, or holiday, is an excellent motivation to start saving. September also means an excuse to buy a new agenda. Writing my important dates down for the upcoming months in my new ban.do agenda has already helped me get on track with my goals for the remainder of 2016.
Enjoy your last sunny days of summer 2016!
Lots of love,
As much as we hate to admit it, we’re almost halfway through August which means summer is slowly coming to a close. But have no fear! There are still a few weekends left to make sure you end Summer 2016 on a high note. Our best tip? Schedule in a last minute road trip or a girls weekend with your closest friends! Mad and I try to do an annual trip every year and even if it’s just somewhere close by and more of a staycation, we always end up making so many memories. Last summer, we had an unreal weekend at the cottage with our favourite girls and we can’t wait to repeat again next week when we both reunite for the first time this year (stay tuned)!!
For some inspiration to plan a spontaneous getaway, here are some of the highlights from our 2014 and 2015 trips!
New York City- Summer 2014
Cottage- Summer 2015
Lots of love,
It’s a quote seen all over social media in varying ways but always along the lines of “the magic happens when you get outside of your comfort zone” and I could not agree more. I’m the kind of person who’s extremely shy in crowds when I know no one but outgoing when I’m in a group of people I’m comfortable around. And when I’m in a new situation and out of my comfort zone, I can feel really nervous and quite emotional. I was the child who called home in the middle of the night to get picked up from any sleepover I attempted. And I always hated going to summer hockey camps and trying out for new teams. I remember trying to hold the tears back in the locker room and during the drills, because I hated the feeling of being alone. After making it through the first hour, things would start to look up and I always ended up really enjoying myself. I made incredible friendships, was apart of great teams, and developed my hockey skills well enough to be recruited by NCAA universities.
Fast forward 10 years and my parents have just moved me in to my dorm room in Plattsburgh. Unknowingly, we moved in on the Friday while pretty much everyone else moves in on the Saturday of Move-In Weekend. I cried myself to sleep after we said our goodbyes on the first night and for the first half of the next day. I felt lost, alone, and extremely scared. I didn’t even know where to go to get breakfast! I survived the night and the next morning I asked someone how to get to the dining hall. As the day went on and I met the rest of my freshman class and teammates, my nerves gradually disappeared. The first few weeks were filled with unknowns and too many learning experiences to count. Over the next four years, I learned to embrace the unknowns and take every new experience as an opportunity to grow. My years at Plattsburgh State really shaped me into who I am and who I want to be. The memories and friends I made are lifelong. I know now that my university experience would never have been the same had I not taken the risk to go to a university in a different country where I knew no one.
It’s four days after my graduation from Plattsburgh and Mad and I have just checked into our hostel in London after our first meeting with the Contiki crew. We’re about to have an incredible three weeks travelling around Europe and some of the most fun I have ever had but I am feeling so nervous and homesick. Even though I have my best friend with me, it’s still a situation where I have no idea what to expect and barely know anyone in the group. Luckily, I once again survived a scary first night and the next three weeks turned out to be life changing. We both really caught the travel bug and I realized I wanted to see and experience as much of the world as I possibly could. Our contiki tour set the foundation for my current location and everything I’ve experienced during the first seven months of this year. By putting myself in an uncomfortable situation, I allowed myself the opportunity to see new places and try new things and I realized I loved every single minute of it.
When I arrived home from our Contiki trip, I knew I wanted to see more of the world. I eventually decided on a working holiday in Australia after the completion of my Masters. Of course, my fears followed me on my flight to Sydney last December. I was in tears during my connection in the Vancouver airport and completely questioning my decision to take the year off instead of finding a real “big-girl” job. I’m so happy I overcame my fears and took the leap to just do what I wanted to do. This year has been the best year of my life and by stepping outside of my comfort zone, I was able to realize what I want from my life, both personally and professionally. I’m coming home in two weeks with so much clarity that I know I wouldn’t have, had I settled into a job and location where I was comfortable.
I’m the first to admit that it’s scary to do something you’ve never done or to go somewhere you’ve never been. My best piece of advice? Always remember that the hardest part is making it through the first night. Once you do, you’ll realize that the reward and what you stand to gain is always more than worth the risk.
We'd love to hear from you- feel free to share a time when you've gotten out of your comfort zone and tried something new!
Lots of love,
In honour of my last few days in Melbourne, I'm sharing my favourite things and my must dos in this amazing city. My seven months in Australia have been nothing short of amazing and living and working with a local family paired with my Aussie boyfriend gave me the perfect combination. I was really able to experience Melbourne from a local perspective and learned about all the hidden gems that many tourists miss out on. If you're someone with Australia in your upcoming travel plans, I highly recommend you include a stop in Melbourne on your itinerary.
As expected, first up on my list is the food. Checking out new restaurants and bars has to be my favourite thing about visiting a new place. Ant and I take our food seriously and spend just as much time researching what cafe we're going to eat breakfast at as what hotspot we're going to visit that day when we're on holiday. Enjoying local cuisine is one of the best ways to experience a new culture and Melbourne will not disappoint. It really is a food and drink lover of any level's paradise.
Fonda Windsor- Mexican has to be my all time favourite dish and Fonda's relaxed and contemporary spin on authentic Mexican has made it a regular on my local eateries list. Try the Mex-Bim-Bap bowl for a fresh and yummy meal. Want to heat things up? The “F*** You” sauce will leave your mouth burning for the next three hours (I now go for the Jane Fonda sauce to be safe).
Naughty boy- Melbourne takes breakfast to the next level and I've shamelessly gone for brunch pretty much every Saturday and Sunday since I've arrived. Naughty Boy is the first brekky spot Ant took me to and it didn't take long for me to realize why. My "InstaShake" was more than Instagram worthy and my "Eve's Garden" is still the best breakfast I've ever had.
Chin Chin is a South East Asian fusion spot in the city centre based around the concept of sharing dishes. Be prepared to wait for 2 plus hours as they only take one 10 person table reservation a night. It's more than worth the wait though and you can pass the time with a few drinks in the GoGo bar downstairs. Go stress free and just order the "Feed Me" option. You can relax while you're served the restaurant's best and favourite dishes.
The Swan- one of my favourite bars may come as a surprise to the Melboure Locals but I haven't had a bad night at The Swan. I love great cover bands more than concerts and The Dirty Bird (as its referred to by locals) has an awesome one. They play the best singalong throwbacks mixed in with Australian pub songs that I never know the words to but trust they're classics by how loud everyone else is singing them.
If you're in Melbourne between the months of April and September, be prepared for Footy Season. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to the way Canadians live for the NHL Playoffs. Australian Rules Football is played across Australia but the biggest following is in Melbourne. 10 of the 18 professional AFL teams are based here so attending a footy game at the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground is a must. While you're at the game, make sure you enjoy a meat (or vegetarian) pie and a hot jam donut!
The Great Ocean Road is a can't miss spectacular coastal drive and well worth renting a car for if you're just visiting. Make sure you plan to spend about 8 hours cruising along, because between traffic and pulling over to take in the incredible views, you'll need every minute of it! The road pretty much wraps up with the 12 Apostles but I recommend continuing on to Warrnambool or Port Fairy for the night to take in a few extra beautiful coastal views. The inland drive back to Melbourne the next day is only about 3 hours.
**Full disclosure** I am a non-coffee drinker and amongst the very small percentage of people who have made it through a thesis without a cup of coffee. However, I swear Melbourne coffee comes from a different planet. There’s none of the instant or drip coffee that North Americans are accustomed to. It’s all expresso and lattes and coming from someone who doesn’t even like coffee flavoured ice-cream or chocolate, I actually really enjoy my soy lattes at brunch on the weekends.
The Mornington Peninsula is only a bit over an hour drive from Melbourne and well worth the drive. I’ve done four or five day trips to different areas there and still feel like there’s more to see and do. Check out the Peninsula Hot Springs for a relaxing soak, Portsea Pub for a yummy lunch with a view, and Sorrento Back Beach for some incredible running trails. You can also spend the day winery touring around Red Hill. There really is something for everyone!
As we're always saying, our 20s are for exploring, seeing the world, making memories, and enjoying as many different experiences as we can and that’s exactly what I’ve spent the past seven months doing. After taking a mini “time-out” from reality, I really feel as though I’ve found myself here. I’m leaving motivated, inspired, and ready to continue making the most out of every day so that I can build the best life possible for myself. Travel truly is the only thing we can buy that makes us richer and you never know what you may discover about yourself once you’re out of your comfort zone.
Lots of love,
Hannah: the girl with an exuberance like no other, she's been there done that! Mad and Teal have both been involved in so many memories with Hannah there's really no place to start! She can adapt to anything thrown her way and brings only positivity to a group. Hannah inspires us both to travel as much as possible, experience everything we can, and to always be up for an adventure! We were so honoured when she agreed to write a guest post for bronze & gold and we couldn't be more excited to share!
For anyone who knows me, the appropriate question to ask is usually “where are you now?” or “where are you off to next?”. For the majority of my very young adult hood I’ve been on the move…nomadic you might say. I realized recently that I have not lived in once place continuously for more than 8 months in seven years. And baby, did I love it. My resume reads like a weird travel guide, probably titled something along the lines of “ beautiful places, crappy wages and housing that is usually subsidized.”
Here’s something I have come to terms with recently though; staying put, snuggling in, and coming home has become one of the greatest adventures I have ever had. I moved home to Ottawa a little over a year ago; freshly graduated, single, and bored to tears with the thought of living in the capital. Despite my outlook, I knew I was so fortunate to work for a company that allowed me to transfer seamlessly, that a room had become available in my sister’s apartment, and that Friends was finally available on Netflix. My main motivation for moving back after spending 8 months in Vancouver & Whistler was because my sister was getting married and I was a big part of the party.
But let me take a time out and confess, I knew it was time to come home. You know that little voice, that teeny tiny one that always knows exactly what’s right- it had been screaming at me for a while. Because I’ll tell you something, seven years on the go takes its toll. It forces one to buy more clothes hangers than a sane personal can handle. Seriously, it is a pain in the butt to move them and even worse to have to shell out cash for new ones. Ok, I won’t get too hung up on my pet peeve. Suffice it to say, I needed to touch my feet down here for a hot minute.
And guess what, Ottawa is actually awesome. See my hashtag #ottawaisactuallyawesome on instagram for proof. Ottawa and my job here have challenged me to get real uncomfortable with not having an escape plan. I’ve invested in things like a relationship, a job and a city that have helped me grow as a person beyond my wildest dreams. These are things I never put too much stock in while galavanting; it’s easy to ignore the places you need to work on within yourself when you’re constantly viewing the world through a kaleidoscope of fun. Sidebar: please do not get me wrong; I still have all the fun all the time and I do not intend to spend the rest of my waking days in Ottawa. I needed to get real with myself & what I want in life though and a little stability helps that cause.
So here I am, content to be sitting pretty in the capital city for a little while longer. I’ve got goals though, big ones to travel and explore. There’s no way I’ll reach 30 countries until the age of 30 by sitting on my behind. But what I know now is that my future travels will be different. I’m more conscious and aware of why I’m going where I’m going, and not just for the cheap rent. I’m still flying by the seat of my pants but this time with a compass in hand. And I have accepted that it’s ok to sit still for a second. That it’s ok to want to stay if it means where I go next will be rad because I wholeheartedly chose my next adventure. Basically, that it’s ok to be the first one asleep at a sleepover because you never know what kind of sunrise you’re going to wake up early for.
Preface: to set up the way I think, this post is coming from a stereotypical Dutch girl who gets a rush of excitement when she drives in the rain. Why? It’s a free carwash. I like a good bargain.
I first met Lesley-Anne Scorgie when I was in 2nd year university. I was a delegate in the Queen’s Canadian Leadership Conference and she was a keynote speaker. At that point she was the author of two books, Rich by Thirty and Well-Heeled - books geared at helping people make the most of their dollars. I’m sad to report, though, that my immaturity didn’t take advantage of the ideas she presented and I spent the next 4 years of my life continuing to do what I did best…. Spending every penny my parents dished out, taking train trips like they were no big deal, procrasti-perusing Urban Outfitters more often than I should, and treating myself to celebratory Lululemon on the reg.
Looking back, my older and wiser self now sees that blowing all my (albeit minimal) money on these things didn’t make or break my university years, but I’m sure glad I got it out of my system. Fast forward to spring 2016, a Facebook friend of mine booked Lesley-Anne as the keynote for her sweatworking event. While I was unable to attend, my now grownup interest was piqued when I saw her name come across my social media feeds and I followed her instantly. Lesley-Anne was running a promo: ask her a financial question and I could win a copy of her newest book, Modern Couples Money Guide [click to be linked to where to buy].
Money questions, I had plenty. Don’t we all? But what I wondered most as I am about to embark on my journey as a career woman is what percent of my income I should tuck away. I wanted to start from my very first big girl paycheque.
Getting a tweet back from someone famous is a thrill. It’s only happened to me a couple of times and has always had to do with the hockey sportscasters I bother. This time, I not only got a tweet back but my question was the first one chosen and I would now receive my very own copy of Modern Couples which from that moment forward I held closely and referred to as “My Finance Book”. This book and Lesley-Anne’s wisdom came into my life at such an opportune time what with my new employment adventure coming up. Appointments with my RBC Advisor, pre-empted by readings about saving and investing saw me inspired and excited about my frugality. Her response? Smart savers tuck away between 15 and 20% of their income.
A lot of us dream about buying something wild with our first paycheque. Before my brother spoiled me with a fancy shmancy designer bag for my birthday, that had always been my goal. But now I see myself inspired to save from my very first paycheque, knowing what it could turn into and knowing that the old soul in me is after the comfort of a little security.
I’ve already posted about ways to save when it comes to food (read: Chapter 35 - Waste Not Want Not). But there are a number of other things you can do to avoid frivolous spending that really isn’t adding value to you or your life. I’m not talking about being a fun sucker… if going to a concert or buying that pair of jeans will genuinely make you happy then do it! I try my best not to get sucked into the FOMO social media generates. Instead of feeling like I’m missing out by not going to EVERY SINGLE country concert, I choose one a year to treat myself. Last year it was Shania, and this year I’m hoping it will be the Dixie Chicks… two very epic, once in a lifetime experiences. Similarly, when it comes to shopping I’ve learned to do a couple things: there comes a time when we need certain items (a good pair of jeans, a suit for interviews). Other than those times, when it’s something tempting and unnecessary in the grand scheme, I calculate how many hours I have to work for it and then reconsider how badly I really need it.
I’ve also taken advantage of the sharing society we millennials embrace. I drive a lot, as my mom would tell you my car is always tearing one way or another up and down the 401. In a long distance relationship Joey and I quickly learned the benefits of subsidizing our weekend visits by offering rides on Rideshare. In doing this we made our gas money back (usually in full, sometimes with enough of a profit to cover the weekend’s spending money) and we enjoyed meeting new people to chat with for the long ride. Something we’d be doing anyway, but covering the money it costs and having company for the trip.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that as 20-somethings in an image driven culture it seems that getting your hair, nails, waxing, and tanning done is a necessary monthly expense. But me being me, I get my hair cut twice a year. I get more of a thrill of posting up on the side of the tub and doing my own pedicure for free. Tanning… I’m a redhead so that’s virtually out of the question. And waxing, okay here I admit… your eyebrows and your bikini will thank you for dishing out the moola, there are some things you just can’t do yourself!
Again, these are all just things that I’ve evaluated as fitting for what it is I want to achieve financially and what I prioritize. Having just moved to California I’ve embraced the fitness culture by enrolling in a gym that I would have seen as way more than my frugal self wanted to spend. But for where I’m at right now, not knowing anybody and having lots of time to devote to my wellbeing, I put it at the top of my list of priorities and splurged. When it comes to money everybody is different and that is what makes the world go around. I think that is what’s great about Lesley-Anne’s books… they appeal to whatever kind of spender or saver you may be with tips and tricks for everyone. If you’re looking for a kickstart I highly suggest giving one a read because even those of us with engrained-Dutchness can use some updated, tried and true methods for saving yet having what it is you need/want.