3 Weeks, 3 Plane Tickets

Buying a plane ticket on a whim? Over and over again, that’s what I do. Hell, it’s how I ended up in Belize, Costa Rica, New York and Hawaii.

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve bought 3 plane tickets. Oh me, oh my.

London, UK – December 2013

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I spent about 24 hours debating if I should go to London for Christmas. My bestest of best friends, Melissa, lives there and it’s been about 6 years since we have spent more than a few days in the same city. She wasn’t going home for Christmas this year — and I was in need of a vacation, so… there you go, flight booked. The plan? We don’t have one — and I’m stoked for that. As long as the trip includes wine and each other, I’ll be a happy little girl.

Sydney, Australia – February 2014

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Australia has been on my bucket list since the beginning of time. I’ve struggled with it because I have always thought I would never go for less than a month. I was always expected that on my first trip to Australia, I would tackle the whole beast – yep, all 7,692,024 km. :/ Last weekend, a Norwegian airline, Wideroe, published mistake fares and I hopped on the deal. Vancouver to Australia for $800. Boom. Done. The plan? No idea, other than I will likely spend a week in Sydney and a week in Melbourne. I’ve made a promise to myself that I won’t get stressed out over ‘seeing’ everything. Through my Contiki trip in 2005, working with Team Australia at WorldSkills 2009 and getting to know JCI Australia over the past few years, I’ve met a ton of amazing people down under. Can’t wait to see their friendly faces and soak up the beauty that is Australia.

Stockholm, Sweden – May 2014

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A few years back I met a fab young woman named Cecilia. We met while attending a conference with 7,000 young global leaders in Osaka, Japan. She’s a dynamo and someone I clicked with instantly. We’ve stayed in touch and been following each other’s running {and life} journeys. Last year Cecilia completed the GotesborgsVaret Half Marathon and she sent me a note saying that one day I should come and run it with her. Wideroe’s mistake fares, included Europe, and I just knew I had to book it. :) The only thing I didn’t think through? The race is already sold out ha ha. ;) Need to negotiate my way in through a charity race bib… more to come on that note! The plan? A couple days in Stockholm, the half marathon in Gothenburg and some time with my soul sister soaking up Sweden.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

Last year I started to think about how I wanted to celebrate turning 30 {next June by the way}. I knew I wanted to travel… I thought about taking 3 months off to just roam the world and see where I ended up. Back then, I was consulting and hyper-flexible. My plan was to compress 1 year of work into 9 months and then walk away from work with no worries. Sounds easy eh? ;) Now, I’m working for fast-paced company with an exciting role and I can’t imagine walking away for 3 months — at least not in the next few years. These individual trips will be my gift to myself. An opportunity to relax and recharge. An opportunity to get comfortable with the unfamiliar. An opportunity to put down the map and get wonderfully lost.

Do you have travel tips or must see’s for the UK, Australia or Sweden? Holla at me. I’m keen to live like a local and have the time of my life. xx

Reflecting on 2012

Reflection is always important — but the end of the year continually reminds me that I need to pause, reflect and determine how I want to move forward. The past 12 months have been a whirlwind.  I started the year with this quote:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” – League of their Own

… and my word, it hit home. This past year was tough! One thing I know for sure is that you need to be thankful for the hard times in your life, because those are the times when you grow and learn the most.

This year I learned:

  • People are #1. Throughout the year I ended up being in a number of situations where I didn’t feel like people were being treated fairly. One thing I know for sure is that people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. In both my personal and professional life, I believe in ‘lead with heart.’ As leaders, we need to be human. We need to respect people’s feelings, listen and truly treat people like we want to be treated. Choose your friends, boss, clients — and every relationship in your control, wisely. 
  • Transparency is the new marketing. No one is perfect — and I don’t believe that anyone wants to work with or be friends with people who claim to be. First and foremost, we’re all human. People want to deal with real people — and vulnerability is a strength. Be open; allow people to see who you are. Talk about your learnings — and your failures. Admit fault when you’ve made a mistake.
  • Don’t fight change. I cried a lot in September — more tears than I’ve had in years in fact. During periods of change, the only thing you can control is your reaction. Everything happens for a reason and change is inevitable. Accept it for what it is and figure out how you’re going to move forward.
  • Always have a plan b. When you’re headed into uncertainty, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Enough said.
  • Trust your gut. There is a lot to be said for intuition. When you get a feeling that something shady/wrong/sketch — it probably is. Use your head, but trust your gut. Take in all the information, but always remember to look out for you.
  • You have to take care of yourself first. I’m continually guilty of taking care of everyone else, before I take care of me. I’ve been falling into that trap for years with boyfriends, best friends and random people I have met along the way. This year I learned to be put me first {it’s still such an odd thing}. I stopped attending events I didn’t want to go to. I didn’t return phone calls when I didn’t feel like talking. I refused to be the go-to, because I knew it wasn’t in my best interest. A little wisdom from Paul Coehlo, “When you say yes to others, make sure you’re not saying no to yourself.” Don’t apologize for making yourself a priority.
  • Slow down. Life is meant to be lived.

Despite the ups and downs of the year, a lot of good happened. I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Palm Springs, Whistler, Seattle, New York and Mexico. For the first time in my life, I learned the power of physical strength. I learned to run — completing 15 races — and became a regular at power yoga. I learned the importance of fuelling your body with good and keeping a close eye on your health. I cut out wheat, dairy and now regularly spend time in the kitchen. I truly love cooking and exploring new foods. I met a number of new friends in 2011 and throughout this past year, I focused on developing and strengthening those relationships.

Highlights of the year:

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January

The year started off with a chilly dip in the Pacific Ocean. In 2011, I was blessed to meet a local entrepreneur, Helen. She invited me to the Polar Bear Swim that took place at English Bay. With 2000 people, we charged at the 8 degree ocean. After a few shrieks in the ocean, we were back on the beach shivering and smiling. 1st Polar Bear swim complete!

February

After finding a deal through YVRdeals {and Chris Myden}, I booked a trip to Costa Rica. At the time I had no plan, just needed a little escape. I had met an entrepreneur {all around fabulous woman}, Shannon Ward, a few months earlier — and she would be living in Costa Rica while I was down there. I ended up heading to Santa Teresa and spent 10 days with my her family. The trip was filled with sunshine, surfing and delicious eats. A highlight was taking a raw food cooking course with Joanne at The Healing Cuisine.

March

International Women’s Day took place on March 8th. I was honoured to be included in Networking in Van’s “Women Making a Difference” campaign. On IWD, people all over the world celebrate the achievements of women, inspire other women and reflect on the progress women have made in our communities. There were a number of events that took place in Vancouver and I had the privilege to learn from a few. I’m thankful to have met a ton of female entrepreneurs in Vancouver — and around the world {including Judy, Jill, Heather, Zoe, ChristineKatherine, Erin and more}. Positive role models who are movin’, shakin’ and making a difference in the community.

April

In April, I had the opportunity to speak at 2 events — York University’s ‘Apex Leadership Conference‘ and Simon Fraser University’s ‘Synergy Conference.’ The events were back to back — with one being in Toronto and the other in Surrey. In a matter of 24 hours, I held a workshop and facilitated a panel, flew across the country and held another 2 workshops at Synergy. It was an absolutely exhausting — and totally rewarding weekend. One thing I’ve figured out in the last few years is that education is a core part of who I am. I truly love teaching students and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to facilitate two very engaged groups of students.

photo_1May

May was busy — with a trip to Palm Springs for a me-cation and learning from Richard Branson at a Board of Trade event. A total highlight was my weekend away in Whistler to visit my adopted family, the GossWards. Shannon, Brett and Kaede had moved back to Whistler from Costa Rica — and I wanted to see their lovely faces again. I  had never been to Whistler, so Shannon and Kaede took me up the mountain to do Peak 2 Peak. It was the end of the season, but skiers and boarders were still taking on the remaining snow. Whistler is a beautiful little gem — from taking in the views at Blackcomb to Sushi Village to a little birthday surprise, I feel lucky to have met {and learn from} this wonderful family.

June

On June 2nd, my niece Maddie turned 1 {and I turned 28}! Maddie was born on my birthday in June 2011. Now we’ll be celebrating together forever! On Friday, I had a dinner party at my place {thank you for being the Executive Chef, Dan!} and on Saturday I took the float place over to Salt Spring for a family birthday with Maddie. We had a fun afternoon in the sunshine at Mom’s house — halibut burgers, birthday cake and a very spoiled  1st grandchild!

July

In July, I headed to New York with Marina for the UN Global Partnership Summit. We spent a few days learning from global change makers from the United Nations, Global Poverty Project, ONE Campaign and Pan American Health Organization. A highlight was learning from Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor to the UN Foundation — absolutely inspiring few days determining how young leaders can support the UN Millennium Development Goals and create positive change in the community. In addition to the summit, Marina and I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, shopped in SOHO, dined in Little Italy — and I ended the trip with a run through Central Park.

August

Whether taking a pool day, attending a festival or parade, or running the seawall — the month was a busy one!  On August 10th, I completed my first half marathon {holy moly, eh!}. After an adductor injury mid-year, I was forced to take a DNF for a Seattle half marathon — and then I registered for Lululemon’s Seawheeze half marathon in Vancouver. In retrospect, it was my race. Luon, sunshine and running in the city that I love. Reagan and I ran together; finishing in 2:22 {feeling totally good and injury free!}.

photo_2September

Vancouver is one of the best places to live in the world — and I continually remind myself that I’m blessed to live here. Thanks to the team at Vancouver We Love You, my friend, Kate, had the opportunity to use SUP boards throughout the summer. One day in early September, we headed down to Kits Beach for a SUP sesh at sunset. It was a picture perfect night filled with paddling, laughter and trying not to fall into the ocean.

October

TELUS asked me to blog an international event coming to town, We Day. We Day is a day of celebration, inspiration and an opportunity for youth to take action and create change in their communities. I had an absolutely incredible few days with the team at Free the Children and the We Day youth. From meeting Desmond Tutu to learning from Spencer West to documenting the day — the event was a highlight of the year. It was inspiring to watch 18,000+ youth get excited to positively impact their school and community.

November

Running has hugely changed my life. Throughout my running journey, I was continually asked — How did you start running? How do I start running? Can you help me? … After a bit of brainstorming, I launched Runcouver. The goal is to connect all levels of pavement crushers and trail dominators, into one positive, motivating, goal crushing community. In addition to Runcouver, I launched the #RunCrew. The 2012/2013 pilot consists of 10 young women who are committed to striving high and I’ll be coaching them to their 1st half marathon in Summer 2013.

December

The year came to an end with major job change. After almost 2 years consulting, I decided to go back in-house for an amazing opportunity at a growing company. I am now a HR Generalist at Avigilon. I feel blessed to work on a progressive, entrepreneurial team with a down-t0-earth {and wicked smart} leader. My role supports day-to-day global HR operations, with a focus on employee relations, training and development, benefits and compensation and employee experience.  I’m learning a ton and my days are wild busy — both good problems to have. I’ve officially been there a month and I feel like I couldn’t have landed at a better company. It’s awesome to be surrounded by people who truly love what they do.


“You have to fight through some bad days, to earn the best days of your life.” – Unknown

Officially closing out 2012. To laughter, love and living in 2013.

Smooth Skies with Salt Spring Air

I was born and raised on an island. Yep, an island! Salt Spring Island in particular.

Throughout my childhood this was no big deal. I knew no different. In winter the biggest concern was the rain and summer meant swimming in the ocean or watching a soccer game.

When I was 19, I moved from Salt Spring to Calgary and just last year moved to Vancouver.

Since leaving the island, travel back home has been a pain in the ass. When I lived in Calgary it meant a 90 min flight to Victoria and then a taxi to the ferry and then ferry to the island. If I couldn’t make that work, I’d fly into Vancouver but the commute to the island was way longer. Often planes were delayed which caused me to miss the last ferry of the night and hit up a hotel for the night.

When I moved to Vancouver, I thought that travel home would become simple again.

Not the case.

The most economical way to get to the islands is BC Ferries (less than $20). You can take the sky train from downtown Vancouver to Bridgeport station and then transfer to the bus that takes you to the ferries. The bus usually comes once an hour so you better look up the schedule before you leave. From there you’ve got a 40 min ride to the ferry terminal and then you have 2 options. You can take the 3 hour ferry that takes you from Vancouver to Salt Spring or you can take 90 min ferry that takes you from Vancouver to Victoria and transfer to the ferry that takes you to Salt Spring. The pro of the latter is that there is a ferry every hour or two whereas the former leaves once or twice a day.

I could go on and on about BC Ferries. Many of the large ferries have wi-fi now (yay!) — but it totally sucks. The ferries are archaic and old school, the boats to Salt Spring tend to be the worst. Queen of Nanaimo. Aye. The food? Less than desirable. The rugrats on the ship? In full force.

Anyways the point is… the commute from downtown Vancouver to my mom’s house takes about 5 hours. Yep the same amount of time it takes to fly to Toronto or Miami. The view is beautiful. Being on the water is divine. But the time it takes to make the journey?

Absolutely brutal.

Even though Vancouver is so close to home I dread the commute. Whenever I decide to go home I try and go for as many days as possible to justify the travel time.

For whatever reason I’ve never considered any other modes of travel to the island.

I could swim. But I’d probably die.

I could paddle board. But I’d probably die.

I could buy a boat. But I’d rather spend the money on a visiting a new country or city.

Another option is… the float plane!

I had always ruled our plane travel as I figured that’s what balla’s do and it was hella expensive. So anyways one way from downtown Vancouver to Ganges Harbour is $100ish and it takes about 20 mins. Seems like a lot when you think that WestJet can sometimes get you to Toronto for $99 each way.

Wanna know a secret? It’s a deal.

Since becoming self-employed I’ve learned a lot about the value of my time.

My time is worth a lot. {Pavel would love to hear me say that out loud!}

I had been stalking Salt Spring Air on social media for awhile. They post ‘deals’ on their social media channels from time to time — and I was keen to get myself a deal for Easter weekend. I was thinking that it would never happen. Long weekend and everyone likes to head home for family time. All of a sudden yesterday — BOOM. DEAL.

The customer service was great! Philip over on the social media channels got everything arranged and then a lovely rep called this morning to confirm and get my credit card number. I arrived at the docks 10 mins before we left and my gosh, travelling with 2 others is sure efficient! The pilot wheeled my bag down the dock and we got our bags all sorted. He didn’t drop my Macbook in the ocean so he for sure gets points for that!

One of the other customers asked if I wanted to ride up front and I was like — WHOA. YES. I sat beside lovely Rob {the Pilot!} and he taught me how to drive {?} the plane. Well not really, but I did get to take in the view, listen to the radio and chit chat with him about how his job is sweet. {The last time I was on a small little plane like this one, it was in Costa Rica and everyone was violently ill. Damn winds.}

It was a beautiful day to be in the sky. Gorgeous weather, minimal wind and quite the sight. I love West Coast BC. I love the ocean. Flying through the islands calmed my mind and immediately I was at peace.

For under $50 and in 20 mins I was back home on the island.

YES. HOME. 20 MINUTES. 

Door to door it was probably 55 minutes — so efficient.

I was blessed to be raised on a beautiful island. If you haven’t been to Salt Spring, you must check it out this summer. They have a nice hippie market that takes place on Saturday’s, beaches galore, the blackberries are plentiful and if you are really keen you can run the hills {like I will be doing tomorrow}. Barbs Bakery, Salt Spring Roasting Co and Treehouse Cafe are all must do’s. As long as you don’t mind seaweed, Vesuvius Beach is my favourite.

If you would rather poke yourself in the eye then take BC Ferries again, I’d recommend taking Salt Spring Air. Especially throughout the summer when the skies are divine.

To stay in the loop with their promotions and day to day, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Huge thanks to Philip, Rob and the team at Salt Spring Air for getting me home for Easter. The mother is happy. :)

Looking forward to travelling with you again!

{Note: I wasn’t asked to write this post. I had a positive experience and wanted to share what I learned. And obviously I wanted to highlight my ‘pilot skillz’ so that one day they let me fly the plane. ;)}

Finding Peace in Costa Rica

When I think back to when I bought my plane ticket – I can’t actually remember what month it was, let alone what day. Chris over at http://www.yvrdeals.com highlighted a seat sale and I hopped right on it! There is something about Central America that intrigues me and brings me peace.

In December, I counted down the days.

In January, I continued to count but with a grand feeling of excitement.

Finally all became real on February 5th when I was en route to the airport.

Something I have learned about myself over the past couple of years is that I am very high and low. “Regular” day-to-day life is busy. The focus is on working a lot, helping others as much as I can, volunteering in the community, attending events, pushing myself to learn more, keeping track of my new niece and family, learning to run, catching up with friends — and keeping my head above water.

Sometimes stamina will keep me going a month, but other times it’s a week.

When I get to my brink – all I want to do is lay down in silence. I don’t want to talk or even sleep (…I often say “I’m done talking today”)… I just want to enjoy. I curl up in my duvet for as long as it takes to catch my breath and start again.

Every so often I exchange a little R&R in my bedroom for a trip abroad.

My exposure to international travel began when I spent 5 weeks in Europe in 2005 (10 incredible countries!). Before that I had just been to the US and Mexico — which keeps one fairly sheltered!

  • 2005: England, France, Monaco, Italy, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium
  • 2006: Kelowna, Playa del Carmen
  • 2007: Banff, Puerto Vallarta
  • 2008: Dominican

[Note: In late 2008, I finally ended my travel frustration as I figured out how to manipulate my ‘corporate’ 2 weeks vacation into mega time off. Win. :)]

  • 2009: Las Vegas, Germany, Tunisia
  • 2010: Toronto, Niagara Falls, Hawaii, New York, California (San Francisco and Napa Valley), Montana, Japan
  • 2011: Belize, California (from Laguna Beach to LA), Chicago, Philadelphia, DC, Maryland, Virginia

[Note: No I do not own a home. Yes I have a travel bank account instead of a mortgage savings account (much to my banker’s disagreement).]

So, 2012. After this trip to Costa Rica, the hope/plan is a week in Toronto, girls weekend (and a half marathon) in Seattle, Wanderlust in Whistler, the JCI World Congress in Taiwan and 4 weeks in India teaching entrepreneurship.

Just writing that out gets me so amped for what is next.

My soul comes alive when I travel. It allows me to step outside my life and for whatever reason (the good and the bad) all becomes clear.

Travel pushes me out of my comfort zone and allows me to learn so much about the world. When I was young “travel” meant 5* hotels and all-inclusives. Now it means a backpackers hostel and at least one “I think I might die” moment. [Note: I still love a spa day, massage and duvet every so often. :)]

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I had absolutely no expectations of Costa Rica, and very unlike me, I did absolutely no planning. Mom gave me the Lonely Planet for Christmas and I opened it up on the flight to LAX.

I had one destination – Santa Teresa. I had randomly met a terrific (capital T) woman named Shannon in Whistler late last year. Sure enough we know lots of the same people (…thank you Vancouver!) and I met her biz partner, the fab (capital F) Diana last month. Anyways Shannon and her family [badass (capital B) Brett and too cute Kaede] are living in Costa Rica for 3ish months. Sweet life eh? My “plan” was to head to their beach town and go from there.

My “I think I might die” moment of this trip took place in the first 48 hours (kind of the first day still as I had spent the last 24 hrs traveling and that only kind of counts)… I missed my regional flight as we landed late in Liberia. The next flight they could get me on was 2 days later (not an option). I had no idea until I arrived but Santa Teresa is 5 hours by car from Liberia — in other words, a hell of a long way in a developing world. I was told that most people headed to Santa Teresa fly into San Jose… which is considerably closer… :) I was advised not to take the local bus as it would take 10 hours and was very unsafe compared to local buses in Central America. My only option was a taxi… and it would cost me $300 USD. :-/ My driver did not speak English, the car barely worked and my fingers were crossed I would make it down the Nicoya Peninsula. A local tourist guy at the airport gave me his phone number and told me to text him if I ran into any problems. He reinforced that I need to pay attention to the routes the driver is taking and to not let him stop anywhere. He gave me a map and wished me luck. Great and all but I only had cell service the first 2 hours (of which I panicky texted my sister and a few friends telling them where I was headed and what I was wearing).

It was a very long drive. I was exhausted from my 24 hours of travel and my eyes kept on fading in the last 2 hours. The driver was a nice young guy and (I could tell) he knew I was scared he was going to rape and kill me. He offered many times to stop and I politely declined. The last 3 hours of roads were brutal bad – dirt roads full of pot holes, bumps and not so much fun.

But eventually we made it to Santa Teresa!!

First impression was — Why the hell did I come here? This is not paradise. I arrived at night and the town was a dusty dirty mess. The dirt road creates a lot of dust (it’ll all be washed away when the rain comes in a few months!). If you’re planning a visit (and renting a ATV), bring a bandana or dust mask to cover your nose/mouth. Shannon and I chatted about the nasty road and she made a good point… If the road wasn’t dirt, then Santa Teresa would be LOADED with tourists. The dirt road keeps them away…. Ah, dirt. Love dirt. Love dust.

I could continue to write for days on every detail of the trip but instead, a few of the highlights:

  • Morning runs at Playa Santa Teresa (by the way, running on the beach sucks hardcore)
  • Daily smoothie goodness (banana, guava, soy was my fave!)
  • Learning to surf at Playa Hermosa
  • Ice cream everyday (mainly consumed to-die-for Trits but also loved the choco mint mmmmm)
  • Raw food classes with Joanne
  • Breathtaking views and the infinity pool at XXX < cannot remember what it’s called :)
  • Sunsets, sand castles and tacos with my adoptive family
  • Evening hammock sessions at Casa Zen with the boys
  • Sleeping more than 5 hours… most of the trip I slept 8 hours :)

Santa Teresa is a special place. The beachesand sunsets are absolutely stunning, but the town has some charm too. There ended up being a lot of stress from back home throughout the trip but — still, Santa Teresa calmed me. On the last day, badass Brett told me that I looked more relaxed than when I arrived. Well thank goodness haha.

It’s been years since I bunk bed travelled (I usually opt for the $20 private room over the $8-10 shared dorm). I am someone who loves my space (sorry Casey, Luke, Julie, Jake and Nate). On the second to last day, I was done.


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In order to avoid the 5 hour taxi back to Liberia, I decided to take a regional flight. Sansa Air took me from Tambor to San Jose and then San Jose to Liberia. Breathtaking views on both flights. I’ve been feeling ick the past few days (and also threw up on my 2nd flight)… so when I landed in Liberia I decided to end hostel life early and head to a hotel for the night. I had a hot shower (no more cold!!), room service and slept in a kind sized bed with down duvet. This morning I blow dryed my hair and put on shoes, jeans & mascara! Perfection.

As much as I love travel, I also love home and the routine that comes with day-to-day life. I’m on my flight from Liberia to Miami (then Dallas Fort-Worth) — and honestly so excited to get back to Vancouver. I’m looking forward catching up with my clients, seeing my friends and sleeping in my own bed. I thought I was getting in at 11pm but I actually get in at 8:30pm. Once I get home, I’m heading straight to the grocery store. I can’t wait to put all I learned from Joanne at The Healing Cuisine into action.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be back to work. It’ll be a busy week catching up on client work, plus Forum for Women Entrepreneurs‘ Sparkle Gala, JCI Vancouver’s launch party, Pink Tank Group’s NextGen panel and CKNW’s Pink Shirt Day Ladies Luncheon.

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2 weeks in Costa Rica was just what I needed. It allowed me to breathe [and cough… damn dust. ;)]

I’m very grateful that I am able to see the world and spend time with those who continually expand my mind.

A big thank you to Shannon, Brett and Kaede forthe laughs and love.

PS – Travel Wish List (in no particular order): Panama, Brazil, Spain, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Colorado & New Orleans in the USA. … yep, pretty much everywhere. :)

eat learn move

It takes a lot to wow me… but in a solid minute I’ve just been blown away.

Travel mixed with creativity absolutely melts my heart.

3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage… all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ….into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films…..

= a trip of a lifetime.

Their story:

Love love love.

opportunity

We’re 9 days into the new year… and I haven’t blogged! What is wrong with me?!

The good news? I’ve been having some necessary *me* time. I have been getting sleep, going to yoga, and putting some serious thought into what’s in store for 2011.

I was very happy to close the door on 2010 and start a new chapter with the new year.  During the last week of December, my intentions were to reflect on the year, write my new goals, make my dream board, and start the new year organized. Well… that hasn’t exactly happened.

Life has been full tilt. I was given the opportunity to go on a new project at work and started three days before Christmas. With a new role comes a whole load of learning – and it didn’t help matters that I booked off three weeks of vacation within my first month of work! The good news though? I am doing employee engagement every day, all day – and I absolutely love it.

In addition to starting the new role, I’ve got a bit of my social life back. In December I finished 7 years of university. Yes, SEVEN. I have been going to uni full-time nights and weekends; it took a wicked amount of time away from my friends. I’ve been taking the last few weeks to reconnect with friends and meet some fabulous new people. Immersing myself back in the social environment (which is totally my scene), just showed me how much I missed it.

I have met some excellent HR contacts (and friends) over the past few weeks.  They ooze with passion and dedication towards the profession – and two ladies that I couldn’t be more proud of. I also recently tweeted that I was overwhelmed by web design and how to create a website. Well I was blessed to have a friend of a friend respond to my plea for help and he’s supporting me through the process. Hopefully by late Spring I’ll have a new site up!

I feel as though my life has been disorganized for months, if not the whole past year. I spent this past weekend cleaning my house, organizing my life, and trying to get things sorted. I had a massive stack of unread mail, ridiculous amounts of business cards to look through, textbooks to sell, and laundry up the ying. I have been procrastinating so many tasks for months… putting them at the bottom of the list of priorities. Yet, since completing everything I’ve putting off, I feel at peace. Funny how that works. ;)

This week is going to be busy, but I feel prepared to take it on. In four days I leave for Toronto.  KPMG is flying me out east to meet with the CEO’s and Executives from the “Top Employer” competition this Fall.  On January 18th, I’ll be meeting be the CEO/President’s of Starbucks, GAP Adventures, Steamwhistle Brewery, and KPMG (meeting with Rogers CEO is on January 10th via tele-conference). The other days that I am in Toronto will be spent meeting with various Executives at other companies, people I respect & admire, and catching up with a few friends.  I’ll be running from coffee date to meeting to lunch date to meeting to meeting to dinner date to – hopefully, a glass of wine. :)

I then fly from Toronto to Belize for a little more *me* time.  2010 was honestly a very overwhelming year.  There was absolutely great success and massive achievements, but also a few major rock bottom moments. I want to get 2011 started off on the right track. In order to do that, I need some time with my mind. I will be spending 2 weeks in the sunshine – sunbathing, swimming, reading, and living freely. I am looking forward to the opportunity to both disconnect and reflect.

From a blogging standpoint, stay tuned for:

  • My reflection on 2010
  • 2011 goals & dream board
  • “Top Employer” experience
  • Trip to Belize

I’ll leave you with this…

Someone recently asked me what were my expectations of my trip to Toronto and the “Top Employer” experience. All I said was… “opportunity.” I honestly threw together a video, uploaded it onto the Top Employer site, and never thought for a moment that I would win. Yes, I was confident with my response and stood behind it proudly.  To me though, my opinion on the workplace of today  is the same response I’ve had for years. It wasn’t special, unique, or an idea that I had been brewing for months.

Tomorrow is my first “Top Employer” meeting and guess what? I’m nervous. I think I find it odd that these executives would want to meet me and/or have any interest in what I have to say. I mean… I am pretty cool ;) but seriously – why? [Rhetorical]. :P I’m looking forward to participating in this experience. It is absolutely once in a lifetime, and I’m prepared to learn a massive amount.

I hope that you have had a chance to think about how you want your 2011 to look. Always remember – you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

With all my love. xo

PS – A few questions I have recently been asked….

1) Are you going to wear a suit to the CEO meetings? No.

2) Are you going to ask them for a job? No.

3) Are you going to ask them to give me a job? No.

4) Are you going to ask Starbucks about their new “branding” or Rogers about their cellular service? No.

If you have any other questions about the experience or the meetings just let me know. ;)

quark part 1: meet pinkie & panda

Every once in a while I get this burning desire to be more involved than I already am.  The latest:

‘Pinkie and Panda to Blog their way to the North Pole’

Quark Expeditions is looking for those involved who love to write and travel, with a love for social media to compete in “Blog Your Way to the North Pole.”

The prize is a $54,000 trip on the 20th anniversary expedition to the North Pole in June 2011. Crazy eh?  Throughout the trip the winner will blog, photograph, video, and document the journey with the hopes of educating those around the world!

Many of you already know that I love to travel.  That coupled with communication, social media, and marketing gives me even more love!

VOTE HERE

Here is the application:

In November 2010, Jillian Walker (aka Pinkie) travelled to Vancouver to speak at a conference for young women in business. In the midst of her workshop she met Jeremy Lim (aka Panda). This was no regular handshake or hello my name is… instead Panda was taking photos at light-speed, capturing an animated and excited Pinkie. Soon enough she learned that Panda was not only a photographer, marketer, and musician, but also the king of awesome.

Pinkie arrived back in Calgary and stumbled upon the Quark contest via Twitter. Immediately she knew she must enter, and Panda must be her +1. Why? They are both social media enthusiasts, ridiculously fabulous, and have mad love for travel.

Pinkie has travelled throughout Europe, Africa, Japan, and North America. Highlights include riding a camel named Princess in Tunisia and skydiving in Hawaii. Panda’s travel experience complements Pinkie’s, adding Central America, Hong Kong, and Thailand to their list of travel accomplishments. Panda’s most memorable travel experience was meeting (and making out with) his girlfriend, Coco the stingray, in the Caymans!

In addition to blogging at http://jillianwalker.wordpress.com and http://www.jeremylim.ca, Pinkie and Panda consistently tweet and engage with the masses. Pinkie’s passion is employee engagement and making a difference in this big bad world. Panda is known for his online marketing skills and capturing the big moments of the world, most recently at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

Why should you vote for Pinkie and Panda? Pinkie is highly entertaining; she’s bound to make the shipmates laugh with her ridiculous comments, and likely paint the nails of a polar bear or two. Panda deserves to be her +1 because he will keep Pinkie mentally stable, the ship singing along to the latest tunes, and contribute to blogging to the North Pole and back! Although they have only spent 15 minutes together, a few things are for sure – they both ooze passion, dedication, and a commitment to making Canada proud.

Pinkie and Panda’s extensive travel experience and knack for social media will allow them to take the North Pole by storm. With matching outfits, a camera, and at least a few bottles of pink nail polish – they are bound to have the time of their lives, while taking you along for the ride!

Follow us on Twitter at @jillianwalker and @jeremylim, join our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pinkieandpanda, and vote!

Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Lim - www.jeremylim.ca

I would love your support and vote during this competition.  Every one can only vote ONCE, so it shouldn’t be too taxing on our friends, family, and networks!  I’ll ask if you can please spread this world about the competition. Email your friends, share the link on Facebook, tweet, blog, the works. Jeremy and I would love to place in the top 5 by February 15, 2011 – and we know we can do it with your help.

VOTE HERE

With all my love. ❤

PS – Regular Jill-type blogging to commence during the holidays… I’ve been MIA due to catching up on sleep and enjoying life without university. :)

international travel adventures part 10 – gala

Well seeing as I didn’t get home until 6:30am, today got off to a slow start.  The good thing though?  We only had to be at the Presidential Gala today, which wasn’t until 8pm.  I spent the day lounging… I went to the baths in the hotel (yen – onsen or whatever you call it) and my gosh, fabulous.

Eventually I made it over to the conference centre to get on the bus to the gala. I met up with JCI New Zealand and we headed over together (I had already got JCI Australia to save me a seat so I didn’t have to get there super early!).

The gala was wonderful (the gala last year was a disaster so my hopes were up!)… everything was organized, food was great, and we had champagne!  It was the first time this week I saw real wine, so that kept me happy too!  The gala is the last night of the conference, so the perfect opportunity to connect with all the friends made, think about your learnings, and one last night of fun!

Appetizers at the Gala

The girls: Marta from Poland, Me, Feven from Sweden, Julia from Australia

The Canadian Debating Team Plus the MIA Debater Erik

Gala Night!

AND then we went to an after party… Sam & Dave’s in Shinsaibashi? Something like that… I got home very late. Very late. It was a fun night. :)

Breast Cancer Awareness in Osaka, Japan. <3

And that concludes another JCI World Congress. Stay tuned for an additional post on what I learned while on conference and a few interesting tidbits about Japan!

Thank you to all the delegates – without you, this conference wouldn’t have been the same. <3

international travel adventures part 4 – do gooder

Last you heard from me, I was on the Shinkosen from Toyko to Osaka… well I arrived to Shin-Osaka (my transfer point) fairly seamlessly.  When I got off the train, I was immersed in people… everywhere there was people – rush hour had began at this major Japan Rail (JR) connector line.

I needed to transfer from Shin-Osaka station to Osaka station – which I was told would not be too difficult.  A few escalators and elevators in the wrong direction until I finally landed at the correct platform.  A small wait and a I boarded the Japan Rail Kobe line to Osaka – finally, I’m almost there!

Little did I know... getting to Shin-Osaka was the easiest leg!

Unfortunately I didn’t know what I was in for upon arrival at Osaka station.  Osaka is VERY different from Tokyo… English is limited, access is harder (no elevators), and signage is poor.  I spent a VERY long time wandering the halls of Osaka station looking for the subway lines… The Japan Rail train lines and local subway lines are in two different areas. Finally an hour later I find the subway, cart my massive amount of bags down flights and flights of stairs to learn that the subway I need to take doesn’t leave from this station.  A man tells me that I need to walk to Nishi-Umeda station (5 minutes away) to then get on the blue line to Higobashi station.

I head out of the train station into pitch black and no English translators… I begin my walk – I walk and walk and walk. I finally end up in a pedestrian underpass no idea where I am or how I got there. Many business men are commuting back home and all the maps are in Japanese. After about 20 minutes, a man approaches me and says “hotel?”… of which I respond “APA”… he motions for me to follow him.  I’m thinking he’s pointing me in the right direction of the subway…

Instead…

We walk…

We walk and walk…

And walk some more…

And an hour later I wonder if he is a good person and if I might die…

But then I realize I have no options…

So we walk…

And walk and walk…

Then over 90 minutes later…

We reach a subway!

Yes – Nishi-Umeda!!  I have no idea why it took us that long to get there or what route we took but I am grateful to the middle-aged man. I figure that he will abandon me now, but no – we get on the subway en route to Higobashi station.  At Higobashi he gets off to locate the correct exit for the “APA Higobashi” hotel… Exit 1! He walks me out the exit and into my hotel lobby, then waves goodbye.

I thank him (but secretly want to hug him), because he totally saved me from the dangerous (kidding!) streets of Osaka.

I check into the hotel seamlessly (hotel staff know a bit of English) and off to my room. I’m on the 13th FLOOR… isn’t that crazy… many hotels in North America don’t have 13th floors. The room is cute – trendy but small.  I was absolutely exhausted by the journey, so I was asleep pretty quick, but here are a few pictures of the room:

The Room!

Bathroom (Way Bigger than Tokyo Hotel).

My 1st Paper Crane!

And even though this is from the next day…. a sneak peek on the view!!

The View!

Tomorrow is the official first day of the JCI World Congress.  I will get up in the morning to meet my friend Tobias from JCI Sweden and then head to registration.  I booked reflexology for the afternoon and lastly will be Opening Ceremonies at the Osaka Castle.

Stay tuned! XO

 

 

 

 

international travel adventures part 1 – flying

There has been a lot of excitement building up to today…! Today I am en route to JCI World Congress in Osaka, Japan.  Weeeee!! There has been a lot of build up to today – in fact, I have been thinking about today for the past year.  Last year, I attended the JCI World Congress in Tunisia, Africa.  At the conference, I won the Most Outstanding First Timers Award – apparently I displayed superstar performance for the duration of the conference. :) With the award, I won my registration paid for the 2010 conference in Osaka.  The free registration coupled with funding from JCI Calgary made coming to another congress irresistible!

November 2009 - Awards Ceremony

A few weeks ago I booked the last few details and got all sorted to go – AND now… I am soo excited!! We have 9 members coming from JCI Calgary with a total of 23 members from JCI Canada. 12,000+ people are expected at the conference.  I will be gone for a total of 12 days, spending the majority of my time in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.

My “day” actually started on Thursday morning at 7am.  I had zero sleep last night as I had so much to do with uni, work, packing, and an early 5am departure to the Calgary airport.

 

12 days: 2 full suitcases, a laptop, and a purse

5:15am to 6:45am – This was definitely the most stressful part of my day… I arrived at the United check-in to be greeted by hundreds of people confused over baggage tags.  The staff were less than helpful while everyone scrambled.  Finally someone said “Anyone on the 7am to SFO”… well lookie, we all were!  We were rushed through baggage (without having our bags weighed please note!!) and into the US customs line.  It’s about 6:20am now and the line is 1.5 hours line.  They make us wait in it for 20 mins before pulling us out and moving us to the front of customs.  We get through customs to wait in the security line – of which, we wait, we wait, we wait, and finally at 6:50am, we arrive at our gate.  5 minutes before the plane pushes back.  They advise the whack of us that our bags might not meet us at our destination.

6:55am – My flight left Calgary for San Francisco – and I slept the entire flight… I was upgraded to an “Economy Plus” due to no availability in Economy… shame. :)

9:30am – I arrived in San Francisco for a three hour layover.  I had scheduled lots of time on my layover knowing that 1) I was flying United, and 2) I wanted my bags to arrive in Tokyo.  The morning was spent using Wi-Fi and working on homework.

12:15pm – I relocate over to my gate to wait for the boarding call… AND then…

12:29pm – I received an email from KPMG indicating that I had won their “What Makes a Top Employer” contest!!! As I’m trying not to shriek in the airport, I’m [kind of] delighted to hear that… [separate blog post to come on Top Employer results] ……………

12:30pm – We get the boarding call for the flight to Tokyo… AND we’re delayed! Typhoon Chaba is roaming on the east coast waters of Japan and for now we’re going no where.  We we’re supposed to depart at 1:10pm, and they have delayed us until at least 3:20pm.

It’s now 2:30pm and United has advise that we should be boarding soon.  I am giddy with excitement over winning the contest and completely distracted from working on my “Strategic Transformation” project for Policy & Strategy class.  Once I get on the plane, the journey to Narita Airport in Tokyo takes about 10 hours.  Erik is supposed to be meeting me around 4:30pm Japan Time… but uh now I’m behind.  Hopefully he waits for me!!

Tonight will be exhausting – but Erik & I plan to meet up with Marta for dinner.  Marta is from JCI Poland and an absolutely fabulous gal I met at JCI World Congress last year.  If all goes as planned, we’re all in Tokyo seeing the sights for the next few days, then will relocate to Osaka on Monday for the conference.

Today’s blog post was rather chronological, but I promise posts to come will be very exciting!

With love, XO.

PS – Eeeeeek I WON!!! :D

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