How Solo Travel Changed My Life

In the begining of my traveling days, I never thought I would turn into a full fledge solo traveler and take the term ‘the world is your oyster’ to such great lengths that it became my lifestyle.

As I write this I am on a solo trip in Spain. Last year I did participate in my first group trip in about 10 years, and then of course in true Petrena fashion, after the group trip, I was off on my solo adventures once again. Previously to all of this, I backpacked all around Central and South America, and completed a solo trip across Africa, from South Africa to Egypt, carrying a portable massage table. As much as I love traveling with people, I also love traveling alone for so many reasons. Solo travel enriched my life in countless ways.

My passion for travel and adventure also has me incredibly excited for this travel event coming up in Calgary on March 19th, 2020, hosted by Nomad Junkies called #Nomadtalks, showcasing and inspiring others like you to travel further, longer.

It got me thinking of the ways solo travel have impacted my life.

1. Pushed Me Into Growth

There is nothing like showing up to a country that you know nothing about, do not speak the language and are not familiar with the culture. It is exciting, nerve wracking, at times mentally exhausting, and the best way to uplevel your mindset in a very short period of time. You are in charge of navigating, communicating, keeping yourself safe and also finding the most epic adventures that the destination has to offer. Your intuition will become sharper and shaper as you continue to use its guidance to get you places. You will be challenged in so many ways, and suddenly the comforts of home are not an option. Through it all you, you will gain massive leadership skills, and I mean leadership of self. Which is priceless, as you can not be a great leader of others if you are not first a great leader of self.

2. Got To Know Myself Very Deeply

The best way to get to know yourself is to actually spend time with just yourself. Put yourself in new and foreign situations and you really start to see what makes you react and also what makes you tic. You have plenty of time to just be in your head and in your thoughts. You begin to discover things about yourself that you never knew, or perhaps forgot about since your early days. Passions new and old will arise. It is almost as if epiphany after epiphany happens. You return far more grounded in yourself, your values and who you are then you could have ever imagined. For this relationship with myself, I am forever grateful to my solo travel experiences.

3. More Connected With People As A Whole

This for me was so amazing. There was countless times where I have been in very remote places, and also very metropolitan places that I do not speak the language, and they also do not speak my language. Yet, through alot of charades, broken languages and at times frusteration as we had so much we wanted to say, we were still able to communicate. I formed deep bonds with people all over the globe not speaking the same language at all. Nowadays things are even easier as we have google translate. Last year when I was solo in Zanzibar, I met another solo female traveler from Russia who didn’t speak a word of English, and my Russian is also non-existent. Thanks to google translate we had the best time and lots of endless laughs. Picture the two of us having a cocktail at the bar and passing a phone back and forth cracking up. My biggest lesson in this respect is that no matter where we are in the world, people are people. We can be very different in values and beliefs, but at the end of the day we are all the same. When you realize that, you can connect with virtually anyone, and that is a beautiful feeling.

4. Greater Appreciation For The World

Unless we get out from our little bubble, we will never see all the endless beautiful and amazing things this world has to discover. Alot of times we can get stuck under the impression that the world is a very scary place, so we play it extra safe and don’t venture off too far. For myself, the further I have gone the further I want to go and the more beauty I find, the more beauty I want to discover. Of course there are dangers, and we must use our wits about things, but we should never let fear take over and stop us from discovering all of lifes splendors.

I have had the pleasure of staying with locals in the townships of South Africa, to rural villages across the continent and likewise in Central and South America. Places where most other travelers won’t go because they are told never to visit there unless you are on a tour. I prefer getting the real experience, so in my solo traveling history I have always made friends with locals and families who invited me to come and stay. When you are there with locals from the community, you are always well taken care of. Many times people endlessly thanked me for coming as that never happens. I have gained such an apprecation for everything this world has to offer. There is so much heart opening beauty.

5. Proved To Me That The Only Cure For The Travel Bug Is To Travel More

Those of you who have gotten biten by it know – the travel bug is relentless. There is no real cure. You can simply put it into hibernation for a bit by giving it a taste of what it loves so much. I feel like I was born with the travel bug, it was engrained in my being. At times it calms down and I settle for awhile, but that never lasts forever as when he doesn’t get his travel fix he begins to awaken from his slumber demanding some adventure. The travel bugs appetite is insatiable. Of course I have also grown to love my travel bug, so I like to be a good host. I mean what else can I do, he seems to be with me for life. Plus, the cure also happens to be what sets my soul on fire. Why work against some things, when it is so much easier to work with them.

Has solo travel been something that you want to discover for yourself as well?

Something I didn’t have when I began my global travel was tools. Tools and knowledge that would have made the whole process even more smooth. I just jumped right in and went for it, which is also great. I love learning as I go, but it is even better to have some mental preperation and also know your options.

If you dream of traveling for 6 months or longer, then knowing your options and how to make it happen, will help immensely. If you are interested in learning more about the nomadic lifestyle then I definetely suggest checking the #Nomadtalks event that will be happening in Calgary. Nomad Junkies will be hosting their first ever event in Western Canada presented by International Experience Canada, and in partnership with Tourisme Alberta on March 19th. I am super excited to also announce that I will be a guest speaker at the event.

Tickets are available here.

I will also be hosting a giveaway on my facebook page, so go give that a follow if you want to be kept upto date on how to win your seats!

The event will consist of three talks, all of them travel related, and all full of amazing tools to get you on your way to treking the globe.

The first talk will be by David Xiao of Trailing Adventures. His talk is ‘Hiking from Mexico to Canada: Everything You Need to Know to Trek the Pacific Crest Trail‘. David is an adventure blogger and has great inspiration to share. This is an amazing trek that I would even love to do one day. I am very excited to learn about this.

The second talk will be by Safia & Emilie from Nomad Junkies. Their talk is ‘Work Your Way Around the World: How to Make the Most of Your Working Holiday Visa‘. Being the founders of Nomad Junkies, these two ladies have done loads of traveling and have a wealth of knowledge about how to work and travel. Working holiday visa’s are amazing. I have had one myself before. It is such a great way to travel further, longer. So if that is what you want, this talk will be for you.

The third talk will be by none other then myself! My talk is ‘ The Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel: Wild Stories from a Woman Who Travelled the World‘. Solo travel is my jam. I have had some insane and also completely magical experiences. I have learnt the right and wrong way to do things, and I am excited to share all the knowledge I have gained on my global adventures.

The MC for the event is Rudy Desjardins of Radio-Canada’s Le Cafe Show.

There is an incredible giveaway too!

You could win a 1 week surf & yoga retreat in El Transito, Nicaragua.

The winner will be randomly picked on stage at the event on March 19th. So get your ticket!!

See you there!

Massive thank you to Nomadjunkies for collaborating on this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I share from personal experience.

Time to pack our bags!

Beating Anxiety, Inflammation And Insomnia With The Best CBD Oil

CBD oil is a hot topic right now. As is anxiety, inflammation, and insomnia. With so many brands popping up in the market, it’s difficult to find a quality one that we can feel confident investing our money in and that gives us the results we are looking for.

Our bodies all contain an endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for creating homeostasis feel within our bodies. When our bodies are relaxed, they are capable of doing what they are made to do – heal themselves, and with more cannabinoids, it can do this at a higher level. We do create our own cannabinoids, however, due to poor diets, stress and toxicities to name a few, we do not create adequate amounts. So by supplementing our bodies with external cannabinoids, we nourish our endocannabinoid system.

Last summer I tried my first bottle of CBD and I totally lucked out with it, it worked fantastically and showed immediate benefits. It for sure helped with my anxiety and gave me an overall relaxed feel, plus it took away the pain and inflammation in my collapsed ankle. I was super excited about it.

Not long after that, the brand I first used was discontinued, and I had to begin a search for a new kind. Little did I know it would be a long and disappointing search. I ended up trying 10 various brands over the course of 8 months and I was not getting the results I expected or that I knew were possible from a quality CBD oil. I was beginning to get very discouraged and so was my wallet.

I had a list of requirements I was looking for, and potentially my standards were high as I had such good results initially. Long behold I came across Calm By Wellness. After I inspected the website, I could see every minute detail about the oil. The company had it all there, very transparent.

Calm CBD oil is organic and full spectrum, which means it has all of the cannabinoids minus the THC cannabinoid which is the psychoactive cannabinoid. Full spectrum is important to me as having all the cannabinoids means that it has further health reach within our bodies. Plus Calm is made in Loveland, Colorado. Colorado has some of the strictest agricultural laws out there, so you know it really is organic and all that it says is in the oil plus how it is made is legit. They also infuse it with love in good ol’ Loveland. It was checking all the boxes.

Calm has two different flavours of drops. The Strawberry Lemonade and the Peppermint.

 

Flavoured with essential oils, sweetened with stevia, infused with organic hemp seed oil and fractioned coconut oil, it was an easy choice as the ingredients were things that I would naturally put in my body. I love the peppermint flavour myself, as minty fresh things always get me.

When I started my first bottle of Calm CBD oil, I did not have high expectations, nor did I want to. It all looked amazing in writing, but I needed to see if it lived up to that. I had been disappointed enough times already.

After the first dose, I immediately felt ‘calm‘. Exactly as the name. I have suffered from insomnia off and on for years as it runs in my family. However when I take a dose of my Calm CBD at night, I am asleep within 30 minutes, and I have an amazingly restful sleep. I have never experienced sleep this good in all of my adult years. My anxiety that was slowly creeping back disappeared and any inflammation is gone as soon as it starts once I take a dose. I have been completely blown away. It is better then I could have ever imagined, and now a part of my everyday lifestyle and my ‘can not leave home without’ stuff.

I also tried the gummies, which not only are delicious, but fantastic after a workout to reduce post-workout inflammation.

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I feel so lucky I found Calm By Wellness it truly has been a CBD game changer, and the best part is, they ship all over the globe! Set’s my little travelling soul at ease knowing I can order some of this no matter where in the world I am. If you are interested in checking it out, I will link it right here.

http://bit.ly/calmbywellness

Health is the best investment we can make. Without high-quality health, we can’t have a high-quality life. Plus I love getting better with age – just like a fine wine.

 

THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.

Waterton National Park – A Southern Alberta Gem

The windiest place in Canada. That is what Waterton National Park is known as being. Having clocked winds of up to 170km an hour. It is also known for its mind-blowing beauty. Prior to this trip, I had no idea of either of those things. How on earth did I not know?! Surely I have been living under a rock.

A short 3 hour drive from Calgary and you will find yourself in the little town of Waterton. The drive itself was beautiful. As you enjoy the country landscape, suddenly you find yourself amongst the wind farms.

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It was the first time in my life I was surrounded by so many wind turbines. So many firsts for me on this trip. It is incredible how majestic these turbines look and feel when you are up close and personal with them. I was in total awe.

As you head into the gates at Waterton National Park your eyes become immediately fixated to the view of the lake engulfed in the mountain range. It doesn’t take long for you to recognize that you are in a very special place.

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The first structure that greets you upon entering the town of just over 100 people is the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel.

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Established in 1927, it has an old world charm to it. It also has the most picturesque view in the whole town. It is as if you don’t want to blink, so you do not miss a moment of the splendour.

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Although sometimes you DO have to close your eyes and feel all the energy surrounding you.

The high tea at the hotel is something not to be missed. An elegant session of pure indulgence, with a view that is equally an indulgence for your eyes.

As you stroll through the quaint little town, the feelings of peace and tranquillity overcome you. My soul was feeling relaxed simply being amongst it all.

I stayed at the Bayshore Inn, which is a hotel that boasts lovely views of the lake. You are short walking distance to all the local restaurants, so it is not a problem to dine.

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Cameron Falls is a short walk from downtown, a beautiful spot where you can enjoy a bit of nature and take some nice photos while on a leisurely stroll.

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The area is known for its fantastic and very accessible hiking. It is amazing to see the aftereffects of the forest fire that nearly wiped out the town in 2017.

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The charred remains with the blanket of regrowth sprouting from the earth show all too well just how big and scary that fire must have been. That being said, the hiking is still incredible. An activity you must partake in when in Waterton National Park.

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Hiking to Bertha Falls is a great 2 hour excursion that is the perfect way to spend a bit of your day. The sights along the way will not dissapoint.

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I happened to be there during the Taste of Waterton food festival and part of their festival includes a pie cruise on the lake. It is exactly what it sounds like, a boat ride with pie. This time was a very special cruise as Country music star Paul Brandt hosted it.

Paul Brandt spoiled us with some music, and we cruised over to the United States side of the lake and back.

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It was anyway exceptional way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Waterton National Park is a very special area. In some ways, I am glad I didn’t know about Waterton prior to this visit as the shock and awe of its beauty went far past what my expectations would have been if I had heard of it. It left my imagination wide open. A bucket list must for all nature enthusiasts.

If you would like to watch my vlog about the visit you can have a peak right here.

Loving My Liver In October

Our livers are so incredibly important. It is the largest solid organ in our body which means it has one of the largest jobs in the body also. It actually has over 500 tasks to carry out in our bodies. Being classified as part of the digestive system it has the job of assisting with detoxification, bile production, protein synthesis, and the chemicals needed to digest food. Just to name a few.

As our health and emotions are very much linked, in Chinese medicine the liver is where we store anger. So if you are feeling overly angry, or if alcohol brings anger out of you, if your feeling lost and bitter, chances are your liver is taxed and is in need of some cleansing support.

When the liver is balanced and healthy we are able to move freely because of the liver’s responsibilities of governing the smooth flow of Qi in the appropriate directions.

The liver is actually the only organ that can regenerate itself.

Possible Symptoms of Liver Stagnation & Imbalance

  • frustration, depression or repressed anger
  • abdominal bloating
  • women – pre-menstrual tension, depression, irritability, distension of the breasts
  • belching, bitter taste in the mouth, sour regurgitation, nausea, vomiting, heartburn
  • diarrhea
  • contraction and/or spasms in the muscles, impaired extension/flexion, numbness of the limbs, muscle cramps, tremors
  • dark, dry or cracked nails
  • blurred vision, a feeling of dryness or grit in the eyes
  • bloodshot, painful or burning sensation in the eyes
  • irritability, outbursts of anger, red face, dizziness, tinnitus, headaches
  • lack of direction in life, feeling of being stuck

Interestingly enough, in the past year, I have been getting dry eyes quite often. I was putting it down to different lighting and possibly just being tired. After I got biofeedback done, it came back telling me my liver was in need of some cleansing. I also had iridology done and my eyes also said the same thing. As our livers flow straight to our eyes, it turns out the dry eyes were a symptom of my liver asking for some extra TLC.

Knowledge is power, and once you know the root cause of your symptoms you can then take inspired action towards healing. Not to mention it is far better to catch things before it is really a thing.

So my liver loving and cleansing regime are as follows

I am eating as alkaline as possible, avoiding – wheat, dairy, sugar, gluten and yeast. Plus making lots of green smoothies, drinking beet juice as this is very cleansing for the liver. I am eating Potassium rich food like sweet potato and banana as well, and eating lots of probiotic-rich foods.

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My supplement regime consists of – 

Milk thistle – it is known as the ‘king’ of detoxifying herbs.

It helps to remove heavy metals, environmental pollutants, prescription medication, and alcohol from the liver. While also promoting cell regeneration.

Hepa Plus – a gentle detox supplement from Usana. Hepa has a small amount of milk thistle, as well as turmeric and other great liver support additions.

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Usana’s products are the highest rated supplements in the world and the only ones in the world that have the cell signalling technology, which means their products have the codes of our cells imprinted in them and when you take them they unlock your cells so the product goes straight in and promotes cell communication and renewal.

Daily Multivitamins – It is important to make sure you are getting all the nutrition your body needs, as when it is properly fueled it will clean itself out more efficiently. I again use Usana’s multivitamin as it is the highest rated in the world for quality and has the cell signalling technology.

Probiotics – As the liver is part of our digestive system it is important to get the good bacteria in our gut, probiotics assist in getting rid of bad bacteria and help boost our immune system.

I am drinking a couple cups of dandelion tea a day as it is chalked full of loads of vitamins and minerals, and it is a natural diuretic so it helps the liver flush and quickly eliminate toxins.

Sipping on bone broth has also been in there. It is rich in the amino acid glycine which helps aid in liver detoxification.

Tumeric is also a staple in my diet in general and especially now to aid in the liver cleanse. There is turmeric in my Hepa plus pills, yet I still add it to food when possible and I love making one of my favourite hot cocoa drinks.

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All you need for this is almond milk(or your milk of choice, I would say stay away from dairy though), cocoa powder, turmeric a bit of pepper and honey or stevia for sweetness. Healthy, healing and delicious!

I have also ordered a coffee enema kit. I have never actually done this, yet I have been reading a lot about it and how amazing it is for cleansing your liver. So I figured why not?! I never thought I would see myself putting coffee anywhere else but in my mouth. Should be interesting! I will keep you posted.

I am just over a week into my liver cleansing, and I am already feeling the benefits. My dry eyes have stopped, my digestion is better, even my cravings have gone down and I am much more clear minded and feeling sharp. I have experienced a bit of acne on my face and back, yet when you are cleaning out your body, things like that are to be expected.

It is a well-known fact that when garbage leaves our body, it can be much worse than when it went in. I know too many people who start a cleanse or detox and start feeling really bad, so they think the cleanse is bad. When really it is your body cleaning out the junk and if you can push through that, the high vibe energy surge and mental clarity that will come afterward will be well worth the little bit of suffering.

With winter and holiday season in full swing, it is extra important to give our livers more love than usual. In addition, the cleaner and healthier we keep out insides, the brighter and younger we look on the outside.

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That is why I am taking this whole month and loving my liver in October. Don’t forget – if you love your body, it will love you back.

A Day At The Derby – Packwood Grand

Derby’s and the idea of a derby just totally exudes class. At least to me, that is. I always see photos of my friends in England attending various derby’s and it has always seemed so appealing to me. The hats(fascinators), the dresses, the bubbly. After all, my blog wouldn’t be ‘Barefoot & High Heeled’ if I never donned some heels every now and then. I do love a reason to dress up!

Here in Calgary, Alberta, there is a yearly derby that began approximately 5 years ago. It is called Packwood Grand and is held at the Century Downs Racetrack & Casino. A classy event such as this in Calgary?! My attention was peaked a few years ago when I first caught wind of it. So, on the radar, it went!

This year as I am in Calgary, the time had come to attend.

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Of course, VIP was the only way to go, and so was taking the coach straight from downtown to the event.

Yes, I can honestly say, that is the first time in my life I have been on a bus that was totally full of people in their classy derby attire.

Upon arrival, it was all about the red carpet. There were a few different backdrops to choose from, and it felt fabulous to get our poses on.

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After the red carpet, we strolled across the track over to the VIP section where it was all about Veuve champagne, horse betting, and appreciating the endless amazing fashion.

The sun was beaming down, yet it did not feel unbearably hot, which was amazing! There would not have been anything worse than having all my hard work melt off of me in the scorching sun. The sweaty, shiny look – super attractive.

It was an afternoon event, from 1 – 6pm and the whole afternoon flew by! It was way too much fun. Mingling, laughing, sipping on classy cocktails and doing a bit of dabbling in some bets while gentlemen in their charming suits smoked cigars. It was as though I was transported to a totally different time and place.

I absolutely have a new found love for attending Derby’s. I was very impressed with Packwood Grand and if I happen to be in Calgary next year, you can bet I will attend this event again.

Spring At Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake, in Yoho National Park, is a classic beauty. Discovered accidentally over 100 years ago by a famous European mountain guide named Tom Wilson, while he was searching for his horses who went astray.

It is a destination that will never cease to impress you with its natural splendours. With spring having arrived, things are beginning to melt and seemingly come to life again. It is always amazing to watch the transformation of nature every year. Especially if you make sure to always take the time to stop and appreciate it all.

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In the summer Emerald lake is so magical, with the sun glistening over the aquamarine water, creating a vibrant iridescent colour that can drop your jaw and ignite your soul.

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The snow and ice-covered lake and mountain peaks, of winter and spring, are equally as picturesque as they come and also known to be some of the most impressive in the Rocky Mountains. With the lakes claim to fame being the stunning emerald colour of the water, one might think that it would be quiet during the off-season months.

However, that is not the case what so ever. As you stroll the paths, taking in the sunshine and spectacular views, there are plenty of other nature enthusiasts paying a visit to this unforgettable spot all throughout the various seasons.

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On this fine spring day, the birds were chirping, and the flies were buzzing around. Two clear indications that summer is on its way. As opposed to what mother nature is making people think when winter seems to be lingering well into spring. Don’t you worry, I am certain, summer is right around the corner.

I do love all of the seasons, I think the only thing that gets a bit hard is the lingering when seasons are supposed to change.

The Emerald Lake Lodge which is situated right beside the lake is actually open all year round, and there are plenty of activities to enjoy in the area during every season. In the winter it is known for its cross-country skiing, and in the summer for its canoeing and hiking.

Let me just say, the thought of a nice cabin style room, with a warm fire blazing in the corner on a chilly spring night, truly seems so appealing.

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Emerald Lake is a breathtaking place, with endless beauty to be appreciated, rain, shine or snow. An absolute must see if you find yourself in the area on a beautiful spring day.

5 tips to simplify your life, live minimally, and feel free

Freedom feels so good. In fact, for myself, it is one of the best feelings in the world. One of the best ways to create more freedom in your life so to simplify your life, and live minimally.

Having and creating more space in your life means you will have more space for new and amazing things to come in. Such as more travel, flexibility to enjoy a little more spontaneity, more money, and peace of mind in general.

Over the years I have downsized more and more. It seems every time I would leave the country to go travelling, I would come home only to downsize even more. Bit by bit my materials became less and less.

Although it is not just about minimizing your materials, it is also about clearing the space in your mind. It all goes hand in hand.  But, by simplifying your life and all the various facets of it, you will free up your whole space, and welcome so much more awesome energy into your life.

By taking actions steps everyday to free up your life, it becomes easier and you naturally become in alignment within yourself. When you are in alignment, life won’t just give you lemons, it will give you the whole lemonade stand and a helper.

Here are 5 tips that have been tried, tested and proven true in my life to simplify and create so much more freedom.

  1. Reduce Clutter – I feel like this is self-explanatory, however, it can be so easy to let things build up, and before you know, there is just stuff all around you. I find that not only does meaningless stuff create stagnant energy in our lives, but it also blocks our creative flow. Anything that is just lying around and taking up space, can go. Unless something it has sentimental value, it is not necessary to keep around. Out the door, it goes for me.
  2. Think Before You Buy – ‘Do I really need this, or do I simply want it?!’ That is the question I so often hear myself saying. We have all done it, seen something shiny and pretty, and decided right on the spot that we had to have it, only to get it and have it accumulate dust. Never to be used, and only to be a space taker. When I come across something I like, that I wasn’t in the market to get, I always have a good think about it first. The majority of the time, I will leave and go think about it for a day or more. If a few days pass and I am still thinking about it, then I will go back and get it, and if it was still there waiting for me, it was meant to be, and if it is gone, then it wasn’t meant to be in my life. That helps keep the clutter down in my life.
  3. Choose Experiences Over Stuff – less stuff means more adventure. I don’t know about you, but I live for adventure and awesome experiences. It is so much more enriching then mass amounts of material stuff. My experiences that I have had around the globe are priceless, and if having less stuff means more of that, then I am in it for the long haul. Plus the less money you spend on stuff the more money you can spend on travel and adventure.
  4. Make A List And Be A Doer – accomplishing things just feels so satisfying. No matter where I am, I love being a doer. When you make a list, it helps you visualize exactly what you want to achieve, and will be a sure way for you not to forget everything, it also pushes you to be a doer. You get things done and don’t let things pile up in life. When you let things pile up, it wears a person down, as you are always in a stress state of having way too much to do. Placing those check marks beside the things you finished, feels so good.
  5. Forgive And Release – emotional clutter is a thing. When we hold on to negative feelings or resentment, it holds us back and stops the flow in our life. A lot of time it’s about forgiving ourselves over others. It is so easy to be hard on ourselves, blaming ourselves for our hardships, putting ourselves down for not being as far along in our pursuits as we would like. Also, when we feel others have wronged us, and purposely did negative things towards us, it is all too easy to point fingers and hang onto anger and resentment towards them. The reality is, these feeling are truly only hurting ourselves. By forgiving and releasing the situation, whether it is towards yourself or someone else, and doing it sincerely and from your heart, you open a massive space for amazing energy to flow into your life. That doesn’t mean you need to keep anyone in your life that is holding you down, but you can still forgive and let it go. Total freedom is what lies on the other side of holding on.

When you create space in your life for more freedom, whether that is time freedom, mental freedom, emotional freedom, financial freedom, and so on – whatever it is that freedom is to you, you open up your energy space to many more wonders of life. When you are not bogged down by clutter in all it’s various forms, you then are standing up tall and reeling in the highest and most fulfilling life you can imagine.

For me, I love having the freedom to pack up at the drop of a hat and go explore the world. I love having the freedom to go and help people when they are in need, and I love to have the mental freedom to enjoy life to the fullest.

Freedom, feels amazing.

Spring Rejuvenation With Some TLC At Inner Balance Spa

Nurturing my body, going the extra mile to promote healing and restoration, particularly after winter, it’s something I don’t falter on. After all, if you love your body, it will love you back. 

Exfoliation and detox play a large part in my daily self-care regime. It is so important to renew our skin, lymphatic system, and promote overall renewal in our bodies as a whole. Plus, it keeps your skin and body youthful and supple for so much longer in life.

I am a massive advocate of dry skin brushing for that exact reason, and I do it on the daily, which I talk about, it, and all it’s benefits here.

Although sometimes, a person needs a little extra pampering and an even deeper exfoliation. Done by someone other than yourself. Especially when spring has sprung! Well according to the calendar. If you look outside mother nature may tell you a different story, as she is a trickster around here.

Lately, my self-care routine has brought on a bit of an infrared sauna addiction.

I wanted to take my spring detox to another level. After doing some research to find a little oasis that had the amenities I was looking for, I came across Inner Balance Spa, which is located in the Kensington area of Calgary.

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Photo Credit -Sarah Ali BFA

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It immediately stuck out to me as it is eco-friendly and all the products they use are derived from natural and organic ingredients.

Anyone who knows me knows that I live a life of natural living and healing as much as possible, so this made Inner Balance Spa an A+ in my books already.

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Photo Credit – Sarah Ali BFA

For those reasons, it was my spa of choice for some rejuvenation.

I found the decor and atmosphere very welcoming.

It is bright, ambient, and immediately brings a wave of relaxation over you when you walk in.

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Photo Credit – Sarah Ali BFA

I was loving the wide variety of organic skin care products, including a fine line of natural make-up, as well as a beautiful line of essential oils, which infuse the room with an incredible healing scent.

 

I pretty much want one of everything on those perfectly laid out displays.

You seriously can not take me anywhere near the top of the line natural skin and beauty products. I am a minimalist in most things, except when it comes to my self-care and the products I use on and in my body.

The infrared sauna room is very warming to the soul and has an extremely therapeutic feeling all in itself.

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Photo Credit – Sarah Ali BFA

 

The sauna also has light therapy built in, and you can change the colours to your specific needs.

There is a print out which tells you what each colour corresponds with healing-wise in your body. It is very enjoyable to switch it up to your individual needs. I was in my happy place.

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With a shower located right in the sauna room, and some of their organic body wash and lotion there for you to test out, the infrared sauna session soon feels like a mini spa day.

It was apparent to me, that all of the staff are highly trained. Their services range from massage, facials, body scrubs, infrared sauna, onward to acupuncture, and even nutritional consulting.

With so many great treatments to choose from, it is hard to narrow down a selection. I did contemplate a package, as they have fabulous packages on offer, as well as a ‘refreshment of the month’ package. Decisions, decisions.

Although, I was just looking to get a nice deep exfoliation to rid my skin of all the winter build up, and renew my body for spring. So, I booked in for their basic body scrub called ‘The Renewal’. The name said it all, and even though I say it is the basic choice, it by no means feels basic.

It is a 45-minute process that includes a body scrub + body polish + a 10-minute steam + an organic apricot oil moisturizing treatment.

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The quaint and cozy steam room is built into the shower that is also located directly in your treatment room, so it provides perfect convenience.

After a detailed scrub down and polish, which feels absolutely incredible, you then step into the steam to help open your pores and take the nourishment in even deeper.

I loved the steam! It not only feels good on the skin, but it feels great on the lungs too. I easily could have stayed in there longer than 10 minutes.

After my steam room session, I was back on the table for the application of the apricot oil moisturizing treatment.

Oh my word, the smell of that oil was absolutely intoxicating, and the feel of my skin was total silk!

I left this treatment feeling divine. My whole energy and being felt lighter and refreshed. Not only is spring in the air, but I felt like I had a spring in my step.

I am a firm believer in body scrubs as part of my self-care now.

I would highly suggest everyone get one. Male or female.

If you want to maintain a silky smooth glow all your year round, I was recommended to receive a body scrub 4 times a year, once with each season.

All the details are covered at Inner Balance Spa. They even have an array of fresh complimentary teas on offer to soothe your soul from the inside.

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Um, yes please!

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Photo Credit – Sarah Ali BFA

I am so happy with my choice to visit Inner Balance Spa, and even more grateful for the great detail they put into their clients and into my own experience there. Total refreshment every time. Having been part of the Calgary community for 15 years, you can see that their articulate detail and above and beyond service is what has made them a mainstay gem.

 

 

 

Winter hiking around Johnston’s Canyon in Banff National Park

So it’s no secret that I am always up for an adventure. Rain or shine, snow or ice, if adventure is the name then partaking is my game.

More often then not, I end up on a spontaneous adventure when I am not really prepared at all.

Finally this time around, I knew I would be doing something awesome, so I made sure to pack all the stuff I thought I would need. Not going to lie, I felt pretty proud of myself for being so prepared.

Being in Banff for a couple days, it was certain that some of the area needed to be explored, and particularly area that was yet undiscovered by Moi.

Johnston’s Canyon is a place that I had heard about many times. It is a hop skip and a jump from Banff, and so it tends to be a popular destination for an easy and very enjoyable hike.

I actually didn’t even know what to expect really, and of course, when you go into something with no expectations, it always ends up being awesome!

Upon embarking on this leisurely little hike, I felt like a boss. I was totally prepared and ready to just have a seamless afternoon adventure. The weather was ideal, the energies high, and I was ready to rock this.

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The paths are well laid out, and the scenery is spectacular!

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I learned very quickly though, that with the number of people that do this hike, the paths become pretty icy, and if you are not wearing the right shoes(which I wasn’t) you are in for a bit of a challenge.

Of course, when I thought I had it all together, some minor yet not so minor detail had to come and knock me off of my high horse.

My shoes were crap.

There is no other way to put it really. Let’s just be honest here. Luckily this isn’t a fashion blog, because if it was, this time around would be a major fail.

I hadn’t even made it to the first lookout point at the Lower falls and I was already struggling. I was actually not just struggling, I was worried about what the way down was going to be like.

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I was thinking right then, that cleats for my shoes would have been a winning idea.

I did manage to make it to the lower falls lookout point, barely, but still with enthusiasm.

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Stunning! Seriously stunning.

From there I made my way to the upper falls.

The frozen falls are so majestic on the cliff side. It’s as though mother nature is singing a song that only your soul can hear.

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Obviously, I couldn’t just stop there, I had to get myself to the higher Upper Falls lookout point to get another angle. Like the upper – upper falls.

The struggle was real!! I was questioning it on my way up as it was even more difficult than getting to the lower falls. Not in an extreme hike sort of way, simply in an extreme icy uphill sort of way.

My inadequate shoes just weren’t cutting it. I will say, that I wasn’t the only one with this problem. I did see others in the exact same situation.

Once the upper -upper viewpoint, it made it all worth it. Another incredible scene to bask in. I love the recharging you energy you get in nature, and it’s truly amazing when you compare and enjoy the contrast of winter to summer.

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I was pretty certain I was going to ride down on my butt. Just when I was on the verge of doing just that, this lovely couple who had asked me to take a photo of them at the lower falls and send it to them as their phones and camera died, came gracefully trotting along in their cleated shoes.

As their cleats were tie on ones and they were so grateful to me for taking their photos for them, they offered to lend me a pair to hike down with.

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LIFESAVERS!! Seriously, it was one of those moments when angels appear.

I was suddenly able to run up and down all the hills. Almost like walking on water.

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Talk about what goes around comes around. Paying it forward is a truly a beautiful thing.

It gave me the opportunity to really take in all of my surroundings on the way down. What a gift.

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Johnston’s Canyon truly is an absolutely wonderful place. A place in which I look forward to returning in the summer to enjoy the contrast.

However that being said, if you decided to visit in the winter, I have one word for you…… CLEATS!

Happy hiking!

Coffee and kitty cuddles at the Regal Cat Cafe

I love animals. Not just cats, but like seriously, all animals. I just think they are all so interesting, and we can always learn so much from each individual species.

I remember when I first started doing volunteer projects deep in the jungles of Central and South America – I was totally enamoured with all of the animals and crazy insects. Let’s remember, when I am talking jungles, I am also talking a crazy amount of living creatures. As well as bugs that are 10 times the size of what one is used to seeing. Everything is amplified in the jungle. The jungle is also an incredible place. Life in the jungle is basic but rich beyond measure.

Then there was Africa. Oh, glorious Africa. Seeing the Big 5 is something that never gets’s old, and also something you will never forget. I remember how majestic it was to watch lions, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and all of the other incredible animals in Africa. It sings to your soul. In fact, just writing about it, is awakening my travel bug(which isn’t hard) and making me want to go back(which also isn’t hard).

Okay, snap me back to reality and into the snowy cold here in Calgary, Alberta. Now unless we go to the Zoo, I won’t be seeing no Big 5 around here. Although a quick adventure outside the city to the mountains, and there is also plenty of Canadian wildlife to appreciate – and when the roads are terrible from the winter conditions, then there is always the little gem known as Regal Cat Cafe right in the heart of Kensington.

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I was totally taken by the concept of this cafe. All of the cats here abandoned and are now rescue cats up for adoption. They have their shots and all health matters in order and get to be in this amazing and loving social environment, while they await their new family.

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Since I wanted a coffee right Meow, it seemed like and easy decision for an afternoon destination.

They absolutely have the cat theme down pat. With everything from clothing, trinkets, onward to kitty macaroons. It makes it fun for the whole family.

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Seriously, who wouldn’t love a kitty macaroon?! I don’t even like to eat very much sugar in my life, and I was all over it!

Down the hatch!

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For $10 you can go in and play with the kitties for 45 min. If it’s not busy then they will not shoo you out the door right at the 45-minute mark. If you’re having too much fun in kitty heaven on a quiet day, then you can stay a bit longer. All the proceeds go to helping maintain the cats and their environment.

I swear every cat I met in there was friendly as heck. So much love in one little room.

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When we arrived the sign said 143 cats were adopted to loving homes, and when we left the sign was at 144. It’s hard not to adopt a little feline friend when you’re in there.

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Nothing like getting my caffeine fix to the soothing sound of purring.

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This was bar far one of the coolest cafe’s I have been to. It’s a win-win sorta place, they do good deeds here, so the energy is high vibe and on point.

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What a purrrfect afternoon.