That’s the Moment That it all Changed

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“Every person has moments in their life that define who they are. These experiences hold the power to change our lives forever. When you look back on your life, how many times can you say ‘that’s the moment that it all changed’”

I recently had to compose a digital story for one of my English classes and the above sentences were the opening lines. It was inspired by my recent reflections on my life. Lately I’ve been thinking about my life and how it has come to be. I often wonder about the exact moments in my life that led me to where I am today, because every day we make decisions. Tiny, insignificant decisions, but eventually those choices begin to add up, and compile, until we find ourselves at a completely different place than we were a year ago. And I’ve come to realize that every moment has grand significance. I want to be so aware of each moment as they are happening and although it might sound cliche, I want to live every moment as if it were my last. x. 

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How to Pack for Backpacking in Europe, AND Still be Fashionable

Over Christmas Holidays, I got to fulfill one of my lifelong dreams: to go on a backpacking adventure in Europe. I have been fortunate enough to have gone to Europe with my family a couple years prior to this adventure, but this time was different. This time it was just my cousin and I taking on the European world. And all we had were the (small)bags on our backs. Now let me tell you, for someone who is terrible at packing light, fitting everything I wanted into a backpack was no easy feat! Oh and as an added twist, we traveled over winter break which means a lot of bulky items. Plus, I’m older now and my hand-me-down GAP pullover that was a staple when I was 12 was not going to cut it. This time, I wanted to look like I was at least trying to keep up with European fashion as well as staying warm AND packing light. Whew, it’s as if you have to have super human powers for such a task.

There is only a limited amount of space in that backpack, trust me, and you want to make the most out of every outfit. The key is to pack light and practical. Layering is going to be your best friend. Pack clothing that you can mix and match in order to spice up your wardrobe. Because otherwise you’re going to get tired of the same 7 outfits really quickly.

And another fact I can’t stress enough: if you don’t love it when you’re at home you’re not going to love wearing it in Europe. Don’t pack that shirt that looks cute on the hanger in the closet but doesn’t fit right when you put it on. You have to love every  piece of clothing in your backpack, because that’s all you’re going to be wearing for days on end.

I am proud to say I was successful in my packing light endeavors and I managed to sort of keep up with the stylish European fashion that surrounded me all the while staying warm. And I didn’t need super human powers to do so. I’ve decided to compile a list of the clothes I packed in case it is useful to anyone else embarking on a winter European adventure.

Where we traveled:

  • Rouen, France
  • Paris, France
  • Amsterdam, Holland
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Prague, Czech

We traveled during the months of December and January. Though we didn’t experience any snow, it was still quite cold. The number one priority is to stay warm. It’s pretty hard to enjoy every experience to the fullest if you’re shivering the entire time. The weather we experienced was mostly windy and some rain. But for two Canadians, we were prepared for the temperatures!

This was the first time I’ve traveled to Europe during the off-season, but despite the cooler temperatures, it was a wonderful experience. There are less crowds and things are usually cheaper, which everyone is a fan of, right!?

Clothing:

I tired to keep my clothing choices to rather neutral colours. It’s better to have a neutral wardrobe with a few pops of colour if you’re going for a classic look. Plus, I tend to wear a lot of blacks, whites, and browns as it is so it wasn’t hard! As an important note to keep in mind,  leave space in your bag for shopping and souvenirs. You will accumulate a lot of stuff along your travels and you’ll want to have space in your backpack for it! 

2 pairs of jeans – one blue and one black (make sure they are your most comfortable pair of jeans!)

2 pairs of leggings – one black pair and one print pair for those days when I wanted to spice things up

1 skirt – I brought a black high waist skirt to wear with leggings for those days I wanted to be a little fancier

1 dress –  I brought a floral print dress that could be dressed up or dressed down depending on the day!

1 pair of shorts – even though it was winter, I brought along a pair of dark denim high waist shorts just in case. But they can also be paired with tights which is what I did most of the time!

2 pairs of black tights – I wore tights often, plus they look super fashionable!

1 pair of long johns – long underwear, thermal pants, whatever you choose to call them! They came in handy for adding a second layer of clothing underneath to stay warm!

1 fleece zip up – I can’t stress how happy I was with myself for bringing a fleece sweater. I wore it with my jacket every day and it helped keep the heat in. Plus it can be easily taken off when you’re indoors so you can reveal your amazing wardrobe underneath

1 flannel plaid button down shirt – having a button down shirt is a staple because it can be worn on it’s own, or layered with other items of clothing. Also it’s good for adding a bit of colour to your wardrobe

1 jean button down shirt – this was one of my favorite items I packed. It’s perfect for casual days, but can be dressed up if need too (just please promise me you’ll wear it with leggings, don’t do the Canadian tuxedo thing where you wear jean on jean!!)

2 tshirts – I brought one black v-neck and a white scoop neck. These shirts are good for warmer days, but mostly I used them as the base for layering upon

2 tanks – I brought one black tank and a graphic tank (a Harry Potter one just in case you were wondering!) I mostly wore these under my button down shirts

1 nicer shirt – I brought 1 of my nicer shirts for going out. It could be paired with my skirt for extra fancy times.

3 sweaters – keep in mind, it’s winter so sweaters are you’re best friend on this trip! I brought a blue button down sweater (good for taking off if you’re too warm), an “ugly Christmas sweater” for those hipster days and a classic black sweater. I also bought a fourth sweater while I was there. These sweaters were wool and pretty bulky, but they saved me for sure. 

2 long sleeved shirts – the shirts I brought were thin, but could be layered under anything for warmth. I brought a striped shirt, which is a staple to your wardrobe because stripes instantly freshen up any wardrobe, and a grey shirt.

2 bras – 1 black,  and 1 sports bra for travel days where you couldn’t care less about what you were wearing

7 pairs of underwear – one for every day of the week! There are usually laundry facilities at hostels, or a laundromat nearby

7 pairs of socks – I brought four pairs of ankle socks and 3 pairs of wool socks (not only are they warm, but they look cute with boots too!)

1 pair of pj’s – I brought the long pants and long sleeve shirt kind of pj’s. It’s better to bring warm pj’s just in case

Jewelry – I tend to wear a lot of jewelry. For this trip I only brought jewelry that I don’t have to take off so I could sleep with it on and not have to worry about losing it. Also I suggest that you leave your favorite/most valuable pieces at home, you don’t want to lose them

Outerwear

It is important to have warm outerwear that you love, because most of the time this is what you’re going to be seen in. Below is a photo of what I wore pretty much every day when we were outside!

1 Headband – I brought a wool headband to keep my ears warm on those days that I had my hair up in a bun (which was pretty much every day in case you’re wondering)

1 Wool scarf – I wore my wool infinity scarf almost every day. It blocked out wind and kept me extra toasty

1 Warm jacket – in Canada my jacket would have been considered a fall jacket but it was just right for the weather we experienced. No need for your 40 below parkas, however make sure it’s a warm enough jacket that blocks out wind.

1 pair of wool mitts – I wore my mitts almost every day. I was so glad I brought a pair to keep my fingers warm. They could be easily taken off and stored in my bag if needed.

1 leather or jean jacket – though it was winter, there were some milder days and you don’t always want to be walking around in a bulky jacket. I had a leather jacket because it was better for rainy days

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Shoes

Shoes can make or break your trip. Most days are spent walking around and taking all of the sights in and the last thing you want is sore feet! So make sure the shoes you bring are well worn in and comfortable for long days of walking. The shoes I brought had good support in them, but it’s a good idea to think about bringing insoles if you want extra support. Oh and if you’re a shoe person, keep in mind you will be in shoe heaven when you are in Europe and will most likely buy several pairs of shoes!!

1 pair of boots – I brought my favorite pair of boots from Soft Moc. They were so comfortable and warm. Make sure they are also waterproof, because wet feet equal unhappy times

1 pair of black flats – to wear with tights or on a night out

1 pair of sneakers – I am a big converse fan so I brought a pair of my low top chucks. Just make sure that whatever you bring are comfortable!

1 pair of flip flops – you will thank me for this when it comes to showering in the hostels :)

Toiletries

When packing your makeup bag, keep in mind that you don’t need to bring the biggest bottles! I went to the dollar store and bought a variety of small plastic bottles to make my own travel sized things. I packed all of these things beforehand, but you can always replace them during your travels if you run out. Here are some essentials:

Shampoo and conditioner

Dry shampoo 

Toothpaste/toothbrush

Chapstick

Face wash/lotion

Body lotion

Body wash - it’s probably a good idea to smell semi good while you are traveling!

Scented perfume bars or perfume lotion - while we are on the subject of smelling good

Deodorant 

Razor

Brush/comb

Straightener (most hostels come with a hair dryer or you can usually rent one. Check the hostel websites if you are pre-booking to see what they offer)

Hair bands and bobby pins 

Makeup and remover

Medication - Tylenol, Advil, Gravol, Pepto are the basics (and any other medications you may need)

Travel towel/face towel (not all hostels have towels, check online beforehand)

Other

Purse or small backpack – for day use. I made sure the bag I brought was big enough to carry a lot of things.

Camera – it’s better to bring a good quality camera than regret those grainy photos after the trip. That being said, iphones are good for those quick snaps, but I strongly suggest a good camera for the majority of the photos you’ll take.

iphone/ipod – music is the number one saviour for those travel days. Also, if you are gone for a long time, you can talk with your phone provider for getting a special plan while overseas. I switched my phone plan so I could text/call home a few times. It’s also a good idea to have access to a phone for emergencies, just in case!

Earphones – don’t forget to bring these babies!

Chargers – for you phone, camera etc

Converter – buy an electrical converter beforehand in order to plug things in!

Water bottle – I bought a plastic bottle that could easily be folded and stored

Money belt – you can choose to bring one or not. I found the money belt useful for keeping emergency money and my passport close by.

Deck of cards – we made many friends along the way with our deck of cards. They’re good for long train rides and airport days

Journal/pen – even though there seems like there’s no time for journaling, it’s always a good idea to keep a record of your travels. It’s a good keepsake to have when you get home.

Official documents/tickets –  passport, ID, airplane tickets, traveler’s insurance etc.

And don’t forget to send postcards home! It’s always fun to write postcards to everyone back home when you stop for a break at a coffee shop.

I hope this list helped you with your packing endeavors. If you have any questions or stories to share feel free to comment :)  Happy travels all x.

This was inspired by another packing list I came across on the internet. Check it out to get even more ideas for your travels: http://herpackinglist.com/2013/03/fashionista-packing-list-backpacking-europe/

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I Hope When the Morning Comes You’ll Say: I Did It All

I’ve always had contradicting feelings when it comes to the New Year. Sometimes I feel really cynical about the New Year because I feel the holiday gets too much hype. People say “this will be my year” as if the clock turning to midnight this night will be different than any other night. Why do we need a holiday to make a change in our lives? It all just seems a little too cliche for me at times.

But sometimes I think maybe there is something special about the New Year that makes it easier to make a change. Maybe it is easier to change something in your life if you know the whole world will wake up the next morning and do the same.

Either way, the New Year is a time for reflecting on the past year, and this past year has been a big one for me.

In 2013…

~ I found that my passion lies in history and sociology

~ I said goodbye to my friends and professors after two amazing years at university

~ I worked one last summer in my home town and after five years working at the public library I said goodbye to my colleagues who have become my friends

~ I spent the summer blogging, taking pictures, and drinking tea lattes

~ I went on my annual August long road trip with my best friend

~ I made jam for the first time with my mother

~ I moved to the city into my first apartment, with a stranger for a roommate I might add, and we’ve become great friends

~ I started at a new university where I transferred into a Bachelor of Education degree specializing in early childhood. Even though that meant saying goodbye to a lot of people I loved and to put a hold on my formal studies of history and sociology

~ I survived my first practicum of teaching grade 2′s for five weeks (and by survived I mean had the most amazing experience of my life and became way too emotionally attached to my class of 7 year olds)

~ I had my first Christmas away from my family because I spent the holidays on an unforgettable adventure in Europe with my cousin

When it comes down to it, there is something magical about the New Year. It’s a time for reflection and new beginnings. So here’s to a new beginning for us all, bring it 2014!

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I think this picture sums up my year: sweet tea, taking pictures with my best friend, and my not so photogenic face! x.

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Happy Holidays

Christmas is no doubt my favorite season of the entire year. I love the snow, the traditions, the family and friends, the food, the music, the movies, and the magical feeling that comes with the holidays.
This year I’ve strayed from tradition and I’m spending the holidays abroad. My cousin and I have been spreading the Christmas cheer in Europe this year and I couldn’t be happier to spend it in such great company!
What awes me every day on my European Adventure is that I know that as soon as I wake up I will be making memories that will last me for a lifetime. I am so lucky and so blessed to be spending the holidays with my cousin in this way.
I wish everyone happy holidays filled with friends, family, and memories. x

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Tea and Flashcards

Tea and Flashcards

Doesn’t everyone start off their Monday mornings with a pot of blueberry tea (in an epic Harry Potter teapot made by yours truly I might add) and reviewing flashcards? If you don’t, you really should. It’s a really peaceful way to spend the morning. But whatever your Monday may be, I hope you’re having a lovely day! x

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Motivational Mondays

Motivational Mondays

Inspiration is something I am always in search of in my daily life. I find if I have inspiration I have a focus, I have meaning. When I’m inspired by something I see things in a new light, with a different lens. The problem is, inspiration can be hard to come by.

In an ideal situation, we would all have enough time to explore everything we wanted. We would all be able to travel, to journal, to go for long walks on crisp fall days, read every book on our reading lists, spend all day in coffee shops in oversized sweaters. We would have all the time in the world. But we don’t. Life is busy. It’s fast paced. And sometimes I get so caught up in the day to day happenings that We forget to live.

Lately, I’ve been forgetting to take a breath and just be in the moment. It’s stating to get me down, so I’ve found a way to combat this: Motivational Mondays. My goal is to set aside an hour every Monday do something I love. Yes it’s actually written into my calendar. This way I have to take time out of my week to let myself breathe.

This Monday I went for a beautiful fall walk. It is my favorite time of year and I really wanted to spend some time outside in the crisp fall air. I made the perfect playlist and just walked. It was absolutely beautiful and it gave me the clarity I needed to start this week.

I encourage everyone to try and take an hour a week to do something that inspires them, even if you have to pencil it in to your calendar, trust me it will be the best part of your week.

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Strangers Helping Each Other Along This Emotional Roller Coaster That Is Life

 

I wanted to share one of my favorite websites with everyone on my blog: emotionalbaggagecheck.com. Basically this website is a place to dump all of your emotions out into the cyber world for someone to respond to. So you “check” your baggage in and then someone will “pick up” your baggage by responding with kind words and a song. Seriously isn’t that the greatest thing!?

This site is absolutely wonderful for so many reasons:

It’s completely anonymous. You only need to use your email to receive your message, but the person who “picks up” your baggage has no way of seeing your email or contacting you in any way other than the one message of kind words.

It’s a place of harmony. Most people who use this website are there for the same reasons you are, to find a little hope in their day. And it’s such a beautiful thing to connect with complete strangers even if it is for a fleeting moment in time.

It’s secretly a music site. My favorite part of this site is that on top of sending kind words to each other, you send a link to a song that you think will be meaningful to their situation. Music speaks on so many levels and sometimes all you need is a song and a few kind words to get through the day.

On a more personal note, emotional baggage check has helped me through some really tough situations. I discovered this website in my first year of university which was an extremely difficult time in my life. At a time in my life where I felt so completely alone, emotional baggage check was a place where I could find a little hope. It made me feel a little less alone. I’ve saved every message anyone has ever sent me on this site and sometimes I return to these words when I’m having a rough day. It is amazing how a few simple kind words from a complete stranger can have such a huge impact on your life. So if you’re feeling down, or you feel like lending a helping hand, visit this website and join the community of strangers helping each other along this emotional roller coaster that is life.

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It’s Time To Stop

It's Time To Stop

I’ve recently became aware of the “words hurt” campaign which raises awareness on our everyday language and how the words we are using may be hurting others. We’ve become so numb to the words we use and this campaign is a great way to bring this issue to light. “That’s so gay” “That test raped me” “This class is retarded” are just some of the many slurs people use without thinking. The fact is, using these terms in a negative context, even if we don’t mean for them to be negative, is still hurtful to others and it’s time to stop. Join me, and the many others, in eliminating the negative slurs from our everyday language. Be a catalyst for change and stand up to words that hurt.

~The beauty of standing up for your rights is that others will see you standing and stand up as well~

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And the Rest is Still Unwritten

If my life was laid out in the pages a book, this would most definitely be the start of a new chapter.

See, I’ve recently transferred to a new university in order to complete my BEd degree. Previous to this, I lived in a small town and went to a small campus, so city life is a big step for me. To top it off, all of my close friends stayed at my old campus. In short: new school, BIG campus, and virtually no friends. The very definition of daunting. But it is also the definition of a new beginning.

Instead of letting myself be intimidated by these mega changes, I’m taking this new adventure head on. My very motto is everythingintransitt, so why not immerse myself into the city life and live to my greatest potential? In this past week alone I’ve already been faced with many challenges I’ve never met before, but I’m not going to let myself slip into a mental rut. It’s positive attitudes all around for this girl.

I knew that I needed to approach transferring to a new university from a positive perspective if I wanted to enjoy the next two years of my life, but I never knew that I would fall in love with the city or my new campus. At least not this quickly. I was afraid I would regret my decision to continue with my BEd degree, but my reaction could not have been more opposite. I know with everything inside me that this is the place that I need to be right now and I couldn’t be more excited about this fact.

I never knew I needed a new beginning, but here I am at the start of a new chapter and I cannot wait to turn another page.

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And the rest, well it’s still unwritten <3

 

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In The Moment We’re Lost and Found

Today’s soundtrack Sunday is a song by none other than the wonderful Birdy. Lately music from the UK has just been giving me the feels (who am I kidding anything from the UK always gives me the feels!). If you haven’t heard of Birdy I highly suggest checking out her stuff. Wings is the single off of her upcoming album. I hope you enjoy this talented artist as much as I do. And good luck to all those starting school this fall! xo

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