random acts of kindness for christmas

I’ve seen this popping around social media and I thought it was such a great idea. Instead of opening chocolate (which I don’t even like that much anymore anyway – yes I’m weird), why not do something nice for someone, for yourself or the earth up until Christmas?

I searched up a bunch of RAOK’s and put together my own list. You can use mine or create your own. Since it’s December first, I used something I already did yesterday as my Day 1. I may move things around depending on what I’m doing on a certain day/where I am, etc.

Here’s my list:

  • DAY 1: Make a stranger laugh or smile 
  • DAY 2: Skype a friend you haven’t talked to in a while 
  • DAY 3: Give a surprise package to someone who needs a smile 
  • DAY 4: Say nothing but nice things all day 
  • DAY 5: Inspire on social media 
  • DAY 6: Write a thank-you card (or a few) 
  • DAY 7: Leave change in a vending machine 
  • DAY 8: Spend some time picking up litter (since it was snowing.. I have decided I will continuously do this throughout December when I see litter) 
  • DAY 9: Do a chore for someone 
  • DAY 10: Hand out compliments like confetti 
  • DAY 11: Buy someone coffee
  • DAY 12: Do something to care for your body/give some self-love 
  • DAY 13: Donate money to a cause you’re passionate about
  • DAY 14: Bake cookies for others
  • DAY 15: Donate gifts to a children’s hospital 
  • DAY 16: Mail Christmas cards
  • DAY 17: Give to the homeless
  • DAY 18: Leave positive notes in between pages at a bookstore
  • DAY 19: Do as many things as you can to help the Earth
  • DAY 20: Write a letter or message to someone who made a difference in your life
  • DAY 21: Shovel the driveway for someone
  • DAY 22: Spread awareness on a cause you’re passionate about
  • DAY 23: Let someone go ahead of you in line
  • CHRISTMAS EVE: Call a family member who won’t be with you on Christmas
  • CHRISTMAS DAY: Spread joy, spread happiness, spread love!

 

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the thought ladder

I’ve had insomnia for as along as I can remember.

I remember high school nights having trouble sleeping and in university either my drunk state or my melatonin would put me out. I still use melatonin, but whenever I’m empty, a thought one day came to mind. And I’ve tried everything before this idea came.

I’ve tried counting sheep. Actually, I have. It never worked, so I tried simply counting, which also didn’t work. I remember someone told me once to visualize myself sleeping, as if I was having an outer body experience and watching myself sleep. That never worked either (but maybe that idea will for you!)

I’ve also tried to “fake” forcing myself to stay awake. Y’know in your college or uni days how sometimes you’re fighting to keep your eyelids open just to flip through one more page of studying? Sleep is taking over and you’re trying your hardest to stay attentive. Someone also told me this idea one time (and this used to be what I did before I discovered what I’m going to tell you). They told me to visualize the times I’d have to try to stay awake, but couldn’t because I was so tired. I did this and practiced this and basically tricked my mind into getting sleepy. That didn’t last long, though.

I don’t even know when this started, but it was definitely at some point this year. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, I feel like I’m floating. And this is weird, so bare with me. (I’m a little weird, though!) I never really thought about it until I was conscious I was thinking about it one night and I thought, hey I actually visualize this every night!

Here’s how the process goes:

  • first, obviously, find your comfiest position to sleep in
  • close your eyes and take slow breaths, slowing your heart rate (sometimes I even put on an eye mask to keep my eyes from opening)
  • you have to be in a very calm, relaxed state: no tension in your muscles… give away to letting yourself go
  • once you’re relaxed, visualize PART of a ladder, not the whole thing (because you don’t know where it starts or where it ends, you’re simply on the ladder)
  • it can be any ladder: made of wood, steel, rope… as long as your have “steps”
  • now when I’m visualizing this, it reminds me of monkey bars, only we’re going upwards, into the sky, into our dreams, per say
  • keep climbing, one reach after the other, never using your legs, always reaching with your arms for the next “bar” on the ladder ahead
  • sometimes a thought will interrupt my climb and I’ll think about that thought, acknowledge it, and then let it pass. sometimes it goes away on a cloud, other times I watch it fall below… but then I remember I have to sleep and get back to my ladder
  • I can’t tell you what happens after that or how many steps you need to climb, because I’m asleep by the time I’m done climbing my thought ladder
  • be sure you’re only focussing on that one idea: climbing upwards and upwards and really picture yourself grabbing the next bar, right then left, then right, then left…

Usually I’m in the sky when I’m climbing it. In a way, it sort of reminds me of mediation. When a thought comes, acknowledge it, but let it go. Then get back to focussing on what you’re doing. In meditation, it would be your breathing, normally. Maybe you don’t need a ladder, but maybe something similar. In a weird way, I guess this is a form of meditation I use to fall asleep and I highly recommend you try it too if you’re struggling with insomnia.

I can write more about how I came to discover meditation and the benefits of it. But if you don’t want to hear me blabber, there’s great books out there — and awesome apps 🙂 I like “Headspace.” Give it a try… The app, thought ladder, or any other weird way you come up with to meditate.

Sleep well, night owls!

Love & light,

Nadia

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since being back in ontario

I almost titled this “since being back home.” And as I’ve mentioned before, my parent’s house/Brampton doesn’t feel like home. Home, to me now, is where I find love, it’s in someone’s arms, wherever they are. I am homeless, but I have shelter.

Since being back in Ontario, I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster. I was so upset my first day back (my mom’s birthday), I had to lock myself in my room and release the tears before fake being lively and happy for the sake of her birthday. I surprised her and the video was such a success, I had news reporters and Ellen’s workers contacting me all of September. It was a bit chaotic and a bit of a tease — I never ended up on Ellen.

October was meh. It’s usually my favourite month. I think I just felt very alone… I was at a get together with friends on one of the weekends and there were six couples + me. I was the 7th wheel. I didn’t even realize I’d be the only single one there until we were on the road. I didn’t think it would bother me until I noticed the little things throughout the party. The way everyone gravitated toward their significant other. The grab of two hands. The kiss I pretended not to watch. The comfort of another soul being there with you, watching over you, supporting you. I didn’t want to be there anymore. It’s extremely hard now at this age when all of your friends are paired up, marrying and having kids… and you’re the only nomadic friend. It is absolutely wonderful seeing friends I love again since being back, but very painful to watch love being shared all around while I sit and hug myself. The last time I was in Ontario I had arms that were a home, too.

Anyway, that was rough and I apologize for the gloomy tone. So, back to Whistler. I think about that wonderland almost every day. I think about the people I miss the most and I’ve tried (and will continue to try when I reactivate Facebook) to keep in contact with the souls that touched mine. My good friend from Whistler, Yasmin, mailed me a little surprise. It was a deck of these Lululemon “fuel happiness” cards with a little note. It made me so, so happy and it was incredibly thoughtful. She knew I wanted them and we were going to spend a night reading them and doing some of them together but never had the chance. [love you, Yas!] I keep them at my bedside table to inspire me and I’ll write about some of the experiences with the cards. I may share a few ideas with you all to spread some happiness and inspiration!

Before the colder air swept through southern Ontario and I was taking my dog for regular walks, the first thing I noticed was the copious amounts of litter scattered everywhere. I’d often talk aloud to her, “Lola this is so gross, you wouldn’t see this out west.” We had to dodge litter and leftover food everywhere. I was disgusted and I kept complaining to her and I would tell her how much she would love BC with its mountains, starry sky and abundance of nature.

Why is it that in Whistler people can listen and toss litter away in the garbage rather than on the sidewalk and they can’t do it here? I realized after I asked myself, it was a silly question. It’s because of the bears. It was engraved in my mind early on since moving to Whistler: a garbage bear is a dead bear. And nobody wants a dead bear. “Lola, we need to be where the bears are.”

It took me a while to find a job; I’m extremely picky and really, at this point, the only options I had were restaurant or retail. I didn’t want either. But, travel. Travel, travel, travel. It makes me happiest. It’s what I want most out of this life: to see and explore as much of this planet as I can. In order to do that, I’d have to suck it up and get a job I don’t like, so I can do what I like. Hopefully one day I’ll wake up without having to convince myself to go to my job. But I go, (almost) every day, with two things in mind: 1. Do it for travel and 2. Go there and make someone’s day. Money = travel and making someone’s day brighter = making my day brighter.

 

I also promised myself, since I was a little girl actually, that I’d be an author one day. Two years ago, I tried participating in a challenge us writers refer to as “NaNoWriMo” or simply “NaNo.” It’s an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month, which occurs annually every November. Two years ago, though, I wasn’t as motivated and I was more focussed on the relationship I was in. This year, I thought it was perfect timing, everything lined up to have a book start to be written: working part time, being single, more inspiration/motivation came to me after Whistler. I was so amped when I began, I busted out 8,000 words in the first four days. I would FORCE myself to write, anything. I’d let myself simply write to have a story out in words, reminding myself I can worry about turning it into a masterpiece afterwards. I went to Williams to write, I stayed up in the wee hours to write… I was so devoted. Until I got a job and started losing hope.

I haven’t written more of my book in a couple weeks and as I’m writing about this right at this moment, it makes me feel like I let myself down. I let down that little girl inside me down, waiting for her first book to be published.

Though the deadline for the challenge is November 30th, I’ve postponed my own deadline to Christmas Day. A gift to myself, to the world. The world needs my story. It needs to be told and it needs to be told before the new year.

On Saturday, I’ll be creating a vision board with a friend. I’ll have long-term goals, short-term goals, passions listed, jobs that are relevant to my passions, steps I can take to reach these dreams… I’ll have it all laid out and hung in my bedroom. I’ll look at it every morning and I’ll wake up and get going. There is one life. ONE. Please, please don’t waste it away doing things that make you unhappy. Start right now and do what you love doing.

I’ll be back to share more western adventures and tell you about a few wonderful things currently occurring in my life.

Love & light,

Nadia

 

 

ps. hey dad, would ya chill on telling me to get a career? not everyone’s idea of success is the same. 😀 (love you still)

wedgemount hike

On my back was my large Osprey backpack carrying only essential things, but it felt like it weighed as much as it would if I overpacked. All I had with me was my tent, sleeping bag, warm clothes to sleep in, food and water (among little things like bug spray and chapstick).

The beginning of the hike was excruciating. It’s always the beginning, in my opinion, that is the toughest part. You throw your body into this intense workout without any prelude or preparation.

My lungs ached. My heart pounded so powerfully. I felt lightheaded and nauseous and my eyes were stinging because I was so exhausted. My quads had never been worked so vigorously in their lives. Any time my brain raised any doubts in my mind given by my body, I quickly tossed them away. “I can do this. I’m going to make it.”

Every time we passed people heading down we asked how far away we were, only to be given false information. Some would say we were halfway there but then we’d come across another group that told us we weren’t halfway until we reached “the rockslide.” I simply did not want to know any more. I kept pushing and pushing, taking in every bit of the journey and its challenges. After all, it is all about the journey.

The trail itself is very difficult. It’s labelled as difficult on the Whistler Hiatus website but it didn’t worry me when I heard it was tough. I’ve hiked a couple mountains before so I went into it assuming I’d be just fine. Silly of me, because it really, really was treacherous. (I’ve done some hiking prior to this but this was the first high-intensity one I tackled). I know it would have been a lot easier if I wasn’t carrying my huge pack, but I know it still would have been a challenge for me; I’m not exactly the fittest person in the world. Knowing I want to climb more mountains, though, has motivated me to start getting back in shape!

I’m getting off topic thinking about fitness! Back to the hike: The entire trail is steep and the end is even steeper. There are numerous switchbacks, branches and boulders you must navigate around. Streams and little rivers to hop over. You have to concentrate when you’re hiking because one wrong step and you can easily twist your ankle or trip on a rock or branch.

Many times I had to stop and catch my breath, eat some energy bloks (these saved my life) and chug some water. I drank an entire 1L of water halfway through the hike. At first I panicked… how did I drink my entire bladder of water so quickly? How will I carry on? Luckily I had another water bottle, a LifeStraw with me and I was able to refill my camelbak bladder with water from a stream. To help my lightheadedness and to help cool me down, I often poured water on my Buff head wrap and wrapped it around my head just above my forehead. It’s another lifesaver! Three of us were lagging behind, taking breaks, while two of our friends were nowhere in sight as they sped quickly up the mountain. But they also weren’t carrying heavy weight and they were much more fit (at least I think so).

Though the last stretch of the hike is the steepest, it was my favourite part. In fact, I didn’t find it as strenuous as the first two thirds of the trail. I’m giving credit to adrenaline. I knew it was the last stretch. I could feel it. I could almost see the top. With this adrenaline and excitement came a boost of energy that I didn’t know I had in me. I scrambled up the boulders on all fours as quickly as I could, even running a little when the earth plateaued.

I made sure to keep looking back, though. The view was the most stunning sight I’ve ever witnessed. My eyes adjusted to see mountains far off in the distance. They squinted as the sun shifted around the clouds. It was magical. And then I continued on.

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The view during the last stretch of the hike.

After climbing over the top I started jogging again, quicker even, when the view of Wedgemount Lake came into sight. It was breathtaking and I was overwhelmed with excitement and accomplishment. The descending sun painted the rocks a golden hue and the lake was a vivid shade of turquoise green. It didn’t seem real.

***

Three of the group were adamant about camping in the hut that exists at the top. My friend JM planted his tent outside on the planks of wood set up. I wanted to be by the water so I trekked downwards over large rock piles towards a little patch of grass down by the lake’s edge. I was missing the setting sun, but the view was still magnificent from where I was by the lake as I pushed pegs into the dirt.

Once it had set, we all gathered around a little stove and shared ramen noodles. We passed the pot around, each taking turns having a bite. My eyelids were starting to droop and I suddenly realized navigating back and finding my tent in the dark would be tough as the tent was on the furthest side of the lake and there was no trail or path leading that way.

My mind was playing games with my senses as I stumbled over the boulders in the direction of my tent. If I make it to the water’s edge, I can keep following that until I reach grass.

That was my plan. I navigated downwards towards where I heard the subtle movement of water. Plenty of rock piles and structures had been created amoung the entire rocky surface. You usually see rock piles in alpine areas where trails are so you can find your way when your sight is obstructed by intense weather conditions or by lack of light. But there was no path to my tent. Instead, these structures kept looking like people standing in the distance. It creeped me out. I was getting increasingly nervous; I started singing Disney songs to myself to keep the mood light.

So many enormous boulders fooled me into thinking my tent was near. After several disappointments, I finally reached the grassy area. I peed near a rock pile as mice ran around my feet, still having thoughts of people sneaking up on me… and a new thought: a bear watching me.

Inside my tent, which was all mesh (I didn’t want to sleep with the cover on), I tried to calm my nerves by staring up at the stars. I couldn’t rid myself of these eerie thoughts, though. A bear tearing open my tent. A crazy killer knifing open my tent and stealing me away. I then took some melatonin and huddled under my sleeping bag, shivering a little.

***

I can’t remember what woke me up. Either the rattling of my bones, an alarm or discomfort. It was incredibly early and the sun had not risen above the rock wall of the mountain yet. Please rise higher sun, please rise soon. I’m soooo cold. I was waiting and waiting for the sun’s arrival, and while I waited, I sat snuggled up in my cocoon. I was so exhausted. My tent was damp from the morning dew so I also needed the sun, not only for warmth, but to dry out my tent before packing it up.

At the first sight of sunlight on the ground, I ran out and sat on a rock by the water with my journal. The lake was completely still. No movement. It was mirror-like and provided the perfect photo opportunity. The waves slowly started rolling in and it was extremely relaxing. I could have stayed there for hours, writing. I’ll share the reflective lake photo with you because I love the way it looked:

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Good Morning, Wedgemount Lake!

As I wrote in my journal, I let my tent dry out under the rays of the sun, upside down. I didn’t want to be too long because I knew my friends would wake early. I ended my blissful time alone to pack up and head up the boulders towards the hut.

The two who hiked further ahead of us wanted to hike around the end of the lake, where the glacier was. But I had literally just came from there. My tent was pitched on the far end of the lake. I would’ve stayed over there if I knew that was the plan. Instead, I had my heart set on jumping in the beautifully coloured water.

The water was ICE COLD! That was to be expected, though, as it is a glacier-fed lake. There wasn’t really a good spot to jump in; my friend and I had to walk in on some slippery rocks beneath our barefeet. Walking in to frigid water is extremely uncomfortable! But it was so refreshing and so worth it (it was already getting really hot outside).

While we waited for the two to get back from the glacier, I played around on one of the wooden platforms, doing some yoga, while another washed his dishes and my other friend took pictures of inukshuit. Here are a couple photos from the morning before we departed and began our hike back down:

Knowing how difficult the hike up was, I was a little worried about the trek back down. It’s always easier hiking down, yes, but it is really tough on the knees and thighs.

I discovered another challenge soon into the descent.

Though I did eat snacks from my bag, that did not do much to relieve the weight of the pack, and thus, it still remained heavily on top of my back. Putting it on again sent sharp pains around my hips and I knew my hip bones were bruised. I had to ignore that though and push through. The CHALLENGE though, was actually balancing down the steep, bouldered scramble. I felt very wobbly and if I leaned too far forwards, I’d go toppling down and definitely suffer serious injuries. To prevent that, I often leaned backwards. This cause me to fall on my butt but I’d rather that then fall forwards without any control.

It almost involved a bit of strategy as I descended. My head was tilted downward for the majority of the hike to the valley as I continued to keep my weight behind me. The trail is so intricate; one second you look away and your toe could catch a root or a rock. One wrong placement of your foot good easily twist your ankle (which I did, but thankfully no sprain), and you can easily trip and fall if you aren’t watching where and how you place your feet over the trail’s little obstacles.

I ran to catch up to the speedy ones for part of the trail, which was quite intense with my large pack. I often would let the trees below me catch the weight of me falling in towards them. I don’t know how three of our group advanced so quickly ahead and I still don’t even understand why they wanted to get down so fast. When I hike, I like to take my time and enjoy the journey (upwards or downwards). I’m not slow, but I definitely don’t need to race down the mountain. And so I was content falling behind with my friend JM (who also had a very large pack).

We realized we weren’t going to catch up and made the decision to stop a few times to rest our knees.

“Nadia you’ve actually impressed me! I didn’t think you would make it up with that huge backpack on you. It’s bigger than you! I was so worried when I saw you with it but you surprised me.”

It felt amazing hearing that. Knowing that I accomplished something that someone doubted I could complete. It was a wonderful compliment to end the hike…

 

 

 

 

30-day minimalism challenge

One of my best friends, Emma, sent me this and I thought it was such a great idea. I’ll be starting this soon and I’ll blog about each day… in-between trying to blog about the adventures I’ve been on out west. Lots of blog entries to come and lots of hibernating to get these all written! Hermit time.

I encourage you all to take a look at this list and give it a try! ♡

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I live to inspire!

Today I woke up at 4:30pm. My sleeping schedule is all backwards after partying, hiking, travelling, etc. I was extremely behind on sleep and zombified all day today. When I woke up, though, I received this wonderful message from someone I met once back in summer 2011.

This was the message:

Hey Nadia!!! I hope this message is not going to come across as random as i think it is and I know we only met ONE weekend a long time ago at *Katie’s trailer but i have always been drawn to your Facebook page as you always have the craziest and coolest photos of interesting places you have gone and explored

Anyways I came across your post today of the surprise with your Mom today and I thought it was so adorable and sweet but it also led me to your Blog which I never knew you had created and never read any of it until today – where I have spent the last 6 hours at work reading post by post and just falling in love with your blog

I feel I can relate to you on a couple of topics like anxiety and feeling lost and trying to find myself – myself was even thinking of picking up and moving to Whistler as I have a few friends who have gone out there and have had life changing experiences. My own anxiety journey has been a rollercoaster and I just recently invited Yoga and Meditation into my life as well and I just wanted to let you know how inspiring and real your blog is and I appreciated reading the good and bad times as it made me feel not so alone on my own personal life journey. Anyways If you ever want to hang out or anything I know you have lots of friends but I just more or less wanted to reach out and let you know please don’t stop writing your blog because now that I have stumbled across it I will be returning frequently! Stay Strong and Inspirational : )

After reading it all, I was at a loss of words. It brought me tears of joy. I live to inspire and yet another person has reached out to me in regards to things I post on my blog or online. All I ever want to do (especially when it comes to social media), is INSPIRE, MOTIVATE and ENCOURAGE… and even HELP (especially when it comes to topics of mental health and finding your path in life).

I aim to keep my content real and raw. I want people to be able to relate because so many of us are facing similar challenges. I love sharing my adventures but I also love sharing my struggles. Our journey throughout our lifetime… any journey, is the best part. It should be the part we strive to find joy in. Find strength and fun in the journey’s challenge, rather than focussing so much on your destination and being happy only once you reach it. After all, how far away is the destination? We can’t be too sure. Everything is so uncertain.

I feel like I am rambling now. I just want to say now that life is so wonderful but it is also important to accept and respond to any negative feelings: doubt, anxiety, depression, feeling lost, etc. Let it out. It is OKAY to not be okay. Talking always helps. Sharing your story always helps. I’m going to continue to keep this blog both personal and adventurous.

Thank you again to this new reader of my blog! You’ve motivated me to keep on doing what I’m doing and to post entries more often.

much love & light,

Nadia

 

*name changed for confidentiality

I’m still in whistler

Many months ago I published several posts debating whether or not to leave Whistler because it hasn’t been helping me heal or grow. I stayed for my own personal reasons and because I kept hearing “stay for summer, it’s the best!” It’s mid July and I’m still waiting for this “incredible Whistler summer.”

Whistler residents received a little taste of summer in early Spring, elevating happiness levels everywhere and raising our hopes of having an early summer. It quickly disappeared, however, and we’ve been in a never-ending state of gloom. Rainy, cold days after rainy, cold days. It was even snowing in June. Those who are Winter lovers are quite excited because this promises a good winter season. However, for those summer lovers, such as myself, this dampens our mood as we keep waiting and waiting for hot days in the sunshine.

I had so many adventures I wanted to complete this summer before moving on from Whistler. This wait for summer is having me wonder whether or not I’ll even come close to doing all the hikes and activities I had planned. And it’s slightly depressing. I’ve been working extra hours as well, still barely being able to survive. I can’t buy things to “treat myself.” I have no money to eat healthy or to bring myself on all these summer adventures. I can’t make travel plans because I’m so in debt. Whistler is not this incredible summer everybody speaks of. It’s always been a money-sucking, toxic bubble. Maybe it is incredible, but only for those who are rich and are all for #winterallyear.

“Are you staying another season or going back home?” This is asked almost every week and I never know how to answer. I usually respond by saying: “I don’t want to stay in Whistler but I’m not ready to go home. But I also have no money to go anywhere else so I have no idea.”

And that is true. I have no idea. My contract ends when September arrives and I need to be moved out of staff housing October first. I need to seriously start thinking about the next few months, but where do I go when I can’t possibly picture where I belong? When I can’t afford to leave? Why am I still completely lost in life and when will it end?

For now, at least for the “summer”, I’ll be in Whistler. Shocking, I know (to those who’ve kept up with my blog). I’ll be back some day. Keep praying for me. Keep praying that I’ll find my way.

Love & light,

Nadia

ps. On a positive note, I just had a crazy good time at Pemberton Music Festival and I can’t wait to tell you about it!