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Life at home

Since being in this job, I’ve spent most of my time on the road. The thing is, though, that when I’m on the road, it’s hard to keep track of office things – I get to spend time in person with my staff, and get to know the communities that my program works in, but then I don’t really spend time at the computer. This month is my busiest work month, so I’d already decided to stay home for a few weeks. I’m really lucky that I get to work from home, but I’ve been working most days for about 9 hours, and all on the computer. The work isn’t hard, and I don’t mind the hours, but it’s fiddly and annoying and makes my head hurt. I can’t wait until next month, when my job is to travel and hang out with kids all summer!


This morning, I was woken up by a phone call at 7, and I stared at a computer screen until 5pm. By the time everything was under control, my first thought was to go to bed, but I was feeling too restless. Based on the state of my kitchen, I knew that I wanted to get pizza for dinner, so I forced myself to get out of the house and go to the beach on the way to the pizza place. That’s right, I had to force myself out of the house. I’ve been inside for five days, and I always feel like the longer I spend time inside, the less I want to do anything.


This is what happens when I bake while I work at home.

Well, I’m happy that I went out – a sunny day and the sound of the waves reset my brain to a more restful place, and I know what I’m doing tomorrow – more beach!

Here are some pictures of the place that I’m lucky to call home. I can’t believe that I forgot how nice it is to get out there.









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San Francisco in pictures, part 8 – Big Sur

We decided to rent a car for a day and drive down Highway 1 to Big Sur, and I’m really happy that we did! I LOVED San Francisco, but nothing says holiday to me more than the ocean, and I was so happy to see the wide open Pacific Ocean. It was a three hour drive south of SF through beautiful scenery, and worth every minute of it. Big Sur itself was a bit confusing – it’s a national park, with hard to access beaches, but we found one and enjoyed ourselves. It was really cold and windy, but so lovely to get out of the city for the day.


Vanessa – No idea… but something saucy!

Vanessa originally didn’t get an intro because I was late for work, and I only just realized that I forgot. If you’re reading this for the first time, of course, you’ll never know the difference. I met Vanessa in my good ol’ bookseller days – we were both cashiers at Chapters, and I just loved her instantly. We’ve reconnected lately over the blogosphere, and it’s been such a pleasure getting to know her better over the interwebs, and through the answers that she wrote below. Make sure to check out her blog – she’s full of great travel advice!

When you finish reading this, make sure to check out the comments. Vanessa’s husband added to the story. 

1. If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?

No idea –and I’m open to ideas! Something saucy, please!

2. Where are you from? How has where you’re from shaped your life?

I was born in a rural area of Cape Breton Island, in a small coastal village. While the majority of in the inhabitants were fishermen, my father worked in forestry. This was just one of a number of subtle differences between me and my classmates. I lived on the gravel back roads, while they lived “in town”. My family’s heritage was part Acadian and part English, descended from “homechildren” orphans, whereas my classmates were 100% Scottish. My parents and I attended the local United Church, whereas 90% of the community was Catholic. I was an only child – everyone else’s parents seemed to breed like rabbits! In a town where fitting in was everything, these differences were enough to make me feel like an outsider. While Cape Breton is renowned for its beauty, hospitality, and music worldwide, I still feel ill at ease when I return home. Oh, I’m also not musical at all.

On the positive side, I have a lasting attachment to the ocean. I seem to seek out water no matter where I am and believe that there are few things that a long walk or sit by the ocean cannot cure.

3. Where do you live? How has where you live shaped your life?

I live in Ottawa now. I’ve been here for 9 years now. It was mean to be just a 6-12 month stop over when I returned from an internship in Africa, try to earn a little money and then move on to the next stop. Unexpectedly, I met a boy and was engaged within 3 months. I never pictured myself as the kind of person that anyone would love, want to build a life with, and so it was very unexpected for me. But it’s worked out nicely

The difficult thing about Ottawa? Career wise, it’s been a challenge. My skills as a unilingual political scientist are a dime a dozen and it turns out I have no skill or confidence at the schmoozing game. Combined with a self-esteem crushing starter job that I stayed in for several years too long, it seems that I’m not where I thought I would be. Trying to focus on new opportunities and pursuing my passions for writing.

4. What is your greatest achievement?

Funnily, I think it’s happening right now. I’ve been chasing my dual passions for travel and writing and have taken a simple wordpress blog into a fully functioning website with thousands of hits a month and I’m starting to get approached for writing editorials in exchange for travel experiences. I feel like this is the start of something great.

5. What is your greatest regret? Or what is your greatest fear?

I’m learning now that one of the hardest things anyone can ever face is making the decision to try harder or walk away. I once tried harder when I KNEW I should have walked away. It was during graduate school and, while everything was good on paper, it just wasn’t a good fit for me. Work wise, socially, academically – it just wasn’t what I expected, it was not taking me in the right direction. I had the option to shorten my program, take an “easier” way out. I didn’t, and pushed forward with harder work that I wasn’t ready for. Relationships disintegrated, I left feeling very unhappy, and – worst of all – it killed my self-confidence and dampened my love of learning. I doubt myself in ways I never did before. And it’s been a decade since I left! And I think my greatest fear is feeling like I’ll never get over it, I’ll never get my old self back.

6. What would you tell a young girl who is struggling with something like her identity, bullying, not fitting in, etc.?

Find an activity where it’s hard to lie to yourself. I can’t lie to myself when I run. It takes too much mental and physical energy to just get one foot in front of the other! And I can’t lie to myself when I’m by the ocean. I think because I’m a water girl at heart, because I feel so much like myself, I can’t pretend to be anyone else. If you need to know who you are, if you need to figure out where you are going, if you need to make a decision or come to terms with something, put yourself in your own “lie-less” situation and there is no other option than to let the truth come to the surface.

7. What’s next?

I’m doing a 3 ½ week trip around the world in November, putting my writing and travel skills to the test. And I can’t wait!

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Ferries are my fave

Ferries have always been, by far, my favorite mode of transportation.


(Although, apart from that time in Tijuana, I’ve never ridden a zebra. That might win) The view, the wind blowing in my face as I play the Titanic song on my iPod, the gift shop.

This morning, I had to go into Vancouver to pick up a new modem for the office. I live on the Sunshine Coast, which is only accessible by ferry. (There’s an ongoing debate, as you would expect, about building a road in down from Squamish.) So! Because I live on an almost-island, I got to take the ferry! Who gets to take a ferry to get to work! (Apart from Derek on Grey’s anatomy…)

This is the first time in a long time that I’ve loved where I live (Pretty much since I lived in Quito) Every day, I look out at the view, and I think “As if I get to live here” All I want is for you all to come visit so you can see this amazing place I get to call home. Seriously – I have a pull out couch. Come on over! You’ll get to take a ferry!