My week in Paradise

I have just spent the most relaxing week of my life in Paradise, also known as Cuba. If you’ve never been there, please, drop everything and go right now. I’ll wait. ( … ) See what I mean? Amazing, right?

I left with my mom last Thursday for what had to be the longest day of traveling ever for a 4 hour flight. Just to give you an idea, we left home around 9:30 am and got to the hotel around 10:30 pm. But everything went smoothly, so it’s all good.

When we first got there, it was dark and my mom did not want to go to the beach. I think she was afraid of sharks or lizards or axe murderers. We explored the hotel a little and we didn’t really know what to think. There weren’t many people there and it felt like a ghost hotel. Like Hotel California, which, incidentally, played on repeat all week.

The next morning, however, we woke up to this.

The beach was incredible. White sand, clear turquoise water, even a few crabs. It felt like being in a postcard. There were a couple of piers not too far away, so we decided to walk over and check them out. Afterwards, we were so hot we decided to fling ourselves into the ocean, which tastes like pretzels, by the way, and have another drink.

On our second day there (I think) we took a bus into Varadero. My favourite part was all the old cars. They call Cuba a “rolling museum”. We walked around for a while and got our first glipse of Cuban culture. Varadero is mainly a tourist town, but there are flashes of the real deal here and there.

My favourite day of the week was when we went on a catamaran cruise. I had never been on a catamaran before, and it was so much fun! The weather was perfect, there was a bar on the boat and the bartender, Elvis, (seriously) made the trip into something awesome. He asked everyone where they were from and kept bringing us more drinks. He even got everyone dancing and singing.

The boat brought us to a dolphinarium where I got to meet Jessica the dolphin. It was surreal to actually touch a dolphin! Her skin felt like rubber and I was so worried I would scratch her, but apparently she wasn’t worried because she came pretty close! I was standing on the tips of my toes on a platform in the sea, trying to keep my head above water and not get in the dolphin’s way, in case she thought my braids were fish or something. I even got a kiss! Best part of the day, for sure!

We got back onto the boat where I liked to pretend I was a movie star and had my own private catamaran. All the other people were my movie star friends.

After I was done being a movie star (for the moment, not forever) we went snorkeling. In my case it meant putting on the floating belt, the mask and the tube thingy, then going into the water very, very slowly. This was followed by my not letting go of the rope, sticking my face in the water for approximately 48 seconds and seeing some cool fish and ocean floor before I said “ok, I did it. I’m done now.” The whole process lasted under five minutes. but I did it!

The rest of the day was spent eating lunch on the beach, swimming and drinking on the boat. Bliss.

The other days seemed to flow into each other as we did a lot of reading, swimming, talking and eating. The food was not incredible, for some reason everything tasted the same, but I had a wonderful time being there with my mom. We had drinks, but not as many as I thought, because the combination of the strong sun and the strong drinks was quite potent!

I even found a tree to climb! If you look hard enough, you will always find a tree to climb. Even in a lace dress, it’s possible.

I loved being in the water most of all. I’m not a strong swimmer, but I am an excellent floater! Plus, this was saltwater, so floating was even easier. I floated on my back, sitting up, even standing. My feet didn’t touch the bottom, but I could see it, since the water was so clear. I was float-walking around all week.

I tried to do a wheel on the beach, but it didn’t work so well, because my hands were sinking into the sand and the waves were pulling me into the ocean. It was the only yoga I did all week. I had brought my mat with me, but it was just too hot to practice. Also, I was quite busy doing nothing.

Really, the best thing of all was being there with my mom. We both like to talk and we both like to read, so we were perfect traveling companions for the week!

We also went to Havana, but such a colourful, vibrant city deserves it’s own post, so that will have to wait!

The ocean is where I belong

In July, I decided I wanted to take a trip somewhere. Anywhere, really. I went to a travel agency, picked one lucky agent, told her what my budget was and said “Send me somewhere.”

Then, I proceeded to stalk her for days, asking if she had any good deals for me, anywhere exciting to send me. I was hoping for an African safari or a tour of Iceland. My adventurous side was screaming “Egypt!” while my budget was whining “A bus to beach.”

I wanted to leave as soon as possible, but I discovered that the whole “I waited until the last minute to book my trip and I got a great deal!” thing was actually a myth. I decided I needed to be more flexible and added August to my available travel dates. After all, I am off all summer.

I was planning on going by myself, because that’s number 3 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.

After a few days, I realized I had to adjust my expectations when it came to the destination. What I really wanted was a change of scenery and a plane ride. If you fly somewhere, it’s a real trip. (Not always, but this summer, yes.)

My travel agent suggested Cuba. I said “When do I leave?” I was telling my mom about my awesome deal, and asked her if she wanted to come. I did not expect her to say yes, but she did! This is amazing because number 22 on my list is “Take a trip with my mom”. It’s going to be just the two of us!

Here is where we’ll be for the next week.

I’m going to be completely disconected from technology. No phone, no computer, no Internet. I’m really looking forward to that part. I’m bringing a book (ok, 4 books) and I’m going to relax, drink, read and swim in the ocean. I’m going to do whatever I want to.

See you in a week!

We’re more than friends, we’re like a really small gang

I have a lot of friends. Writing that kind of feels like I’m trying to make myself sound really popular, but it’s true. I have work friends, university friends, high school friends, family friends, old friends, new friends. I don’t have the same kind of friendship with all of them, but they all mean a lot to me.

I also have favourite friends.

Julie is one of my favourite friends. We’ve only known each other for a couple of years, but she totally gets me, and I get her. We work together, do yoga together and try new things together. At work, she’s my person. Like Meredith and Cristina. Rachel and Monica. Buffy and Willow.

The thing is, Julie is moving to Abu Dhabi in a few days. That’s on the other side of the world! I’m losing my person and that makes me sad. I’m so happy for Julie and her husband Pete, because they’ve been planning this for a while and they’re going to have so many amazing adventures over there, but who will go out for coffee with me at lunch time?

I realize that this isn’t about me, it’s about Julie being awesome, because that’s just the way she is. I admire her so much for doing this. I don’t know if I could leave for two years to teach in another country. She’s so adventurous and curious, and those are some of the reasons I like being her friend so much.

I would never have done 30 days of yoga without her.

She’s the reason I developped a Booster Juice addiction.

Julie and Pete taught me how to snowboard. Now I love it, but I won’t have my snow buddy with me, she’ll be in the desert.

We’ve tried so many new things together, like hula-hoop dancing, aerial silks, Madonna yoga and hip-hop dancing. We talk about yoga, about boys and about what we want out of life. We take turns talking and really listening. She’s funny, kind and compassionate. I’m going to miss her very much.

I love being Julie’s friend. I know she will be happy wherever she goes, because good things are waiting for her, I just know it. I can’t imagine going back to work without her, but I guess it’s going to happen anyways! I’m not worried about our friendship, because it’s stronger than the distance that will seperate us. We already have plans for me to visit in March anyways, so watch out Abu Dhabi, I’m coming!

Long weekend bliss

In Canada, it’s a long weekend. My friend Julie is getting married in the summer and she asked me to go with her and her bridesmaids to Montreal to look for dresses. Montreal is only two hours away, and it’s a great city, so I said yes! The only thing is that I’m still doing a no-spending challenge, so shopping was out for me. I decided to go easy on myself and spend on restaurants and stuff, otherwise I might as well have stayed home!

The drive there was great. It was nice and sunny, we had lots to talk about and it went by really fast. The first place we went to was a dress warehouse kind of place. I thought this might be my first challenge, but nothing really caught my eye, so it was all good.

Then we went to a grocery store called Adonis to get some food for lunch. That place was crazy! There were so many people and everyone was just pushing around. I felt like I was in another country all together. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough, but we did get some great food. We went to one of Julie’s friend’s place in the city, where we would be staying, to have lunch.

After that, we took the subway downtown for more shopping. Again, not as difficult as I had imagined to control myself. We also took the opportunity to take yoga poses in random places.

Subway warrior.

Funky lamp-shop yoga pose. Be careful where you put those feet. You break it, you buy it.

Not a yoga pose, but a really great picture, also in the funky shop.

We walked around, drank iced drinks, people watched in cafés and enjoyed being away from home. There are no thoughts of all the things you have to do when you get home when you’re not actually going home. We went back to our home base and ate a wonderful meal. Thankfully, we got enough food at the crazy grocery store earlier, so we didn’t have to go back.

After dinner, we felt really stuffed, so we went for a walk and saw the sunset on Laval, the city across the river. We also had chocolate cookies.

Some of the girls hung out by the water a little longer, but Steph and I had discovered a tree that really needed climbing. Did you know it’s quite possible to climb a tree even while wearing white pants? So much fun too.

Tree pose in a tree.

Sloth pose. I highly recommend it.

The other girls joined us and we had a little tree party.

The next day, we went shopping some more. We found the bridesmaids dresses easily enough. In the same boutique, however, I saw it. The perfect dress. The one that had my name written on it. Up until that point, it hadn’t been too difficult not to shop, but this took all the willpower I had. I didn’t buy the dress, which I am very proud of, but after that, I’d had enough shopping.

Three of the girls wanted to keep shopping, but in different parts of the city. One girl wanted to visit a museum and I wanted to do anything that was free. We decided to split up for the afternoon and meet up later. I had a wonderful time walking along the old port and having a beer while listening to street performers.

By the time we all met up, we were tired, sweaty and happy. We were all ready to be heading home. We stopped along the way for some ice cream, but they were out, so that was disappointing, but we did have time for some truck stop yoga.

The trip ended with a Mamma Mia sing along in the car. Good food, good friends, good times and a surprising burst of willpower. Bliss.

101 things to do in 1001 days

In September, my friend Suzanne and I decided to write lists of 101 things to do in 1001 days. We were always saying “We should do this!” or “We should do that!” So, in keeping with the whole, “More action, less talk” theme, I got to it! I started my list on October 1st, 2011, which gives me untill June 28th, 2014 to complete it. I was very motivated as I wrote the list, and I still am, but some things might take more time than I thought! Every time I do something and I cross it off the list, I feel amazing!

Here it is:

1. This one is personnal, so it’s a secret for now!

2. Go running every day for a week.

3. Take a trip by myself.

4. Go to a burlesque dance class.

5. Send in a secret to Postsecret.

6. Read Anna Karenina.

7. Take a trip with Suzanne.

8. Take a pole-dancing class.

9. Go to a yoga retreat.

10. Go back to school to get a certificate in speech therapy.

11. Write a book.

12. Try snowboarding.

Done! February 26th, 2012. Whenever I told people I wanted to try snowboarding, they all told me I would fall a lot. That’s true, I did, but no one said how awesome it would be! I was a lot better at it than I thought, which helped! I went 4 times while we still had snow, and every time was more fun than the time before. I will definitely do this again!

13. Go to Central or South America.

14. Make a quilt.

15. Volunteer for Girl Guides

16. This one is a secret!

17. Do a tarot reading for someone.

18. Do 108 sun salutations.

19. Try to get an educational game published.

20. Watch “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn.

21. Go to the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield.

22. Take a trip with my mom.

23. Go running along the canal.

24. Get a cell phone I can text with. Done! Noverber 26th, 2011. I  got one for my birthday!

25. Run a 10k.

26. Make a cd with my favourite Jewel songs.

27. Watch the X-Men trilogy in one day.

28. See a foreign film in a movie theatre.

29. Bake bread.

30. Visit the National Gallery.

31. Plant sunflowers.

32. Listen to an audio book.

33. Take a spinning class.

34. Go hiking.

Done! October 10th, 2011. I went to the Luskville Falls with my mom and my sister. It was Thanksgiving weekend, and it was so hot, it felt more like summer than fall! I remember feeling quite grumpy when I woke up that morning, but by the end of the day, I was all smiles!

35. Have a beer tasting party.

36. Go to church.

37. Make a dress (working on it!)

38. Eat beets.

Done! November 25th, 2011. I was sure I would have trouble with this one, because I don’t like beets. They taste like dirt. I was going to look for a recipe, try to hide the taste, and make the best of it! I added this to the list because I’m a picky eater and I’m trying to add new things to my diet. I went out to dinner in a fancy restaurant the day before my birthday, and I ordered a salad to start. It had all kinds of flowers  in it and it was delicious! I ate what I thought was a fried flower, loved it, and said “This is amazing!” before I realized it was a fried beet, cut up like a flower! If beets always tasted like that, I would eat them every day!

39. Climb a tree.

40. Learn how to drive standard.

41. Find the perfect little black dress.

42. This one is a secret!

43. Play volleyball.

Done! January 11th, 2012. One of the other teachers at school suggested we play volleyball in the gym after work one day. I hadn’t played volleyball in 15 years or so, and I was a lot better than I remembered! Or maybe it was that the people I was playing with were just nicer about it. Either way, it was fun!

44. Visit a province I have never been to.

45. Get an IMAX teacher movie pass.

Done! January 14th, 2012. For 15$, I can now see all the IMAX movies I want for a whole year. Not bad when you think that one movie is 11$. I also found out that it’s free for teachers to visit the museum, anytime.

46. Go on a road trip.

47. Take a photography class.

48. Give blood.

49. Make soap.

50. Go camping.

51. Read “The catcher in the rye”

52. Watch Sleeping Beauty.

53. Build a snowman.

54. Get a massage.

55. Shoot a gun.

56. Cook with tofu.

57. See or be in a parade.

58. Play Monopoly.

59. See “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

60. Make tiramisu.

61. Try a yoga-dance class.

62. See the sun rise.

63. Try a new kind of tea.

64. Do yoga on the beach.

65. See an opera.

66. Fly a kite.

67. Play hopscotch.

68. Give someone flowers.

69. Have a snowball fight.

70. Go to a concert.

71. Buy a “Dalida” album.

72. Do the hula.

Done! Sort of. January 11th, 2012. When I wrote this, I had the Hawaiian hula in mind, but I ended up trying a hula-hoop dancing class. I didn’t even know that sort of thing existed! I was a lot of fun, and a good workout too! I still want to do the hula, but I’m glad I tried hoop dancing.

73. Get my fortune told.

74. Donate to a good cause.

75. Host a dinner party.

76. For one whole day, give compliments to everyone I talk to.

77. Make a list of the books I read, up 101. (Started. I’m at 30.)

78. Read “Alice in Wonderland”.

79. Send a care package.

80. Go bowling.

81. See a musical.

82. Write a letter.

83. See Cirque du Soleil.

84. Write a list of 101 things that make me happy. (Started)

85. Go rock climbing.

86. Do yoga every day for one week.

87. Write a travel story and submit it to a magazine.

88. Fast for one day during Ramadan.

89. Send someone a card.

90. Not buy any new clothes for one week.

91. Watch the original Strawberry Shortcake.

92. Bake with kids.

93. Finish my chandelier.

94. Be a tourist in my own city.

95. Learn some sign language.

96. Sing with a group or choir. (I wrote this one while watching Glee!)

97. Attend or host a tea party.

98. Ride in a limousine.

Done! December 30th, 2011. it was my friend Caro’s birthday and her boyfriend planned a surprise, with a limo, champagne and dinner. I don’t usually like champagne, but it tasted different in a limo!

99. Run on the beach.

100. Try aerial yoga.

101. Say a rosary.

So there it is. My list. As you can see, it’s got a little bit of everything on it. 1001 days is about 2 1/2 years, so they can’t all be life-changing goals. The point of this list, for me, is to get out there and try new things and to make time for the things I love. If you have any tips or ideas about how I could go about getting some of these done, please let me know! Try writing your own list. You’ll see, the ideas will just some to you! And most of all, have fun with it!