Rolled a Lucky Pair of Dice

It’s hard to believe that a year has past.

12 months ago I was manic with packing my life away, settling things at work and emotionally prepping to live away from all that I knew for an entire year.

And now it’s over.

And I have changed.

I don’t really know where I want to go with this post…I haven’t set time aside for a long time to put the thoughts in my head down on paper…but I feel like my journey deserves recognition.  There is not a lot in my life I’d say I’m proud of myself for…many things I’m extremely happy about but pride never really fits with me.  I think it’s probably because of my quiet personality and my own weird issue that if someone feels proud about themselves its a bit too showy (but I don’t feel that way when others say they are proud of themselves…my own silly issue).  It’s funny because I feel proud for so many of my loved ones but don’t really allow it within myself.

Until 2014.

I took a huge gamble in March of 2013 when I applied for a teaching exchange to Australia and to say it worked out well is an understatement.  I packed up my life, said goodbyes to my family and friends (and my final goodbye to my dog) and sorted out my last few days of work and then shipped myself off to the unknown…granted, I knew a few people in town before going, but it still is quite a daunting adventure.

Everything was new.  New house, new job, new town, and (having to make) new friends.  I’m almost 40…you don’t really make new friends when you’re almost 40!!  And, with being an introvert, this was one of the scariest things I was faced with.

The main reason I wanted to do an exchange was to get out of the funk I was feeling at work.  Teaching, for me, had become too routine.  I needed a bit of a challenge and I know I needed to grow professionally.  In Australia I was thrown into a system I knew nothing about (still aspects of it I don’t totally understand) but instantly fell in love.  My new work colleagues fit nicely into my life and it was just “easy”….the work aspect was hard, and for the first month my head was spinning with all the differences and changes, but in terms of who I was working with…it was eerily easy.

I just fit.

A year later and what I have come away from all of this with, besides saying ‘reckon’, is such a greater sense of self.  In all aspects.  It’s funny because just a few days after my arrival home I ran into a friend at the supermarket and he asked “well did you find yourself?!”…a question I didn’t really think I needed to be focused on during my exchange…but has been, in the end, what it was all about and one of the greatest gifts this journey has given me.

I know now, more than ever, who I am, what’s important to me and where I belong.  I have realised that for the past ten years I have been living a life that is not true to me, my heart or soul…but boy am I excited to start!

And that is something to be proud of.

May you all live a life that is true to your soul.

Happy New Year!!!

~ Hugs and love ~


Bright Lights

A lot has happened since my last post…another Term has finished at school (now almost two full terms!) and I have a few other Aussie adventures under my belt.  However for this post I want to focus on just one of those.

A little background:  Just over three years ago I met the reason why I have fallen in love with Australia so much…now to clarify I have always had a desire to visit Australia (it was a constant #1 on my list even as I got older and my travel wishes changed) but I was given an actual opportunity to visit after a chance meeting in March 2011.  I was in Vegas and met a couple of Aussie blokes…now as the saying goes (“what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”) I won’t go into detail but the end result was that I kept in contact and eventually made my way over to visit the land down under and was fortunate to see it less as a tourist and more as a true Aussie.

I actually visited a couple of times from July to August 2011 and eventually living here for a trial period in 2012…but my first trip out was the most memorable for so many reasons.  One of these reasons being the first little town I visited…the little alpine town of Bright, in the state of Victoria…

I instantly fell in love.  It was winter so it was cold (pfft..cold) but the sun was out and the town was cozy.  We stayed in a fantastically cool accommodation called The Odd Frog which gave us a beautiful view of the country side…in a split second I felt like I was home…not the Australia I had always thought of (beaches and surfing…).  This was true Victorian country and it was beautiful.

To celebrate an anniversary of sorts, SG and I booked in again three years to the date of our first visit.  We stayed in the same Studio and enjoyed exploring the town I fell in love with (and yes, it was cold…much colder than the last time we visited…minus three in the mornings!!)

Anyway…here are some pictures of that adventure!

Who knows…maybe three years from now we will be able to celebrate again…

Thanks for reading!

~ Hugs and Love ~

Our backyard friends
Our backyard friends
View from our balcony
View from our balcony


Mirror Mirror On The Wall

I hate my body.

I have always hated my body.

Maybe it’s because when I was in Primary school I heard echoes of “Debbie, Debbie, 2×4, can’t fit through the bathroom door” while in class and on the playground.


Maybe it’s because I tipped the scales at over 200 pounds when I was in Grade 8.


Maybe it’s the fact that the genetics gods thought it would be an excellent idea to make my skin resemble that of an orange peel (or, more accurately, like the skin of an over ripe passionfruit)


I am loved, regardless of the size of my clothes, by so many amazing people.  I am also incredibly blessed to have someone in my life who looks me in the eyes and tells me I’m beautiful even when I am at my most vulnerable…


I still cannot find peace in my body.


I know it’s ridiculous…I have run four half marathons, completed multiple triathlons, I can kick ass in any spinning class, can flip tires, do jump squats (although begrudgingly) and sling huge, heavy ropes…yet, instead of seeing the strength I carry, all I see is soft and all I feel is doughy.


I know I’m not alone.  I have stunningly beautiful friends who all struggle with body image…who complain, find fault and allow their unhappiness with certain aspects of their body to control their emotions…

Which leads me to ask…why is it so hard to think about all the positives of our bodies?  They carry us, grow babies, give nourishment and hold and give warmth to those we love.  Why is it so hard to switch the negative thoughts we hear in our heads to encouraging, positive thoughts?

Well, I’m going to try.

Little by little, starting in the month of June, for every negative thought that creeps into my head I’m going to silence it with two positive thoughts, said out loud..from me, to me…all while looking myself in the eyes.

If you’re like me and the first word that creeps into your mind when you look at yourself in the mirror is “disgusting” I challenge you to join me on a journey to positive thought and love.

~ Giving you strength and love ~

If Everybody Had An Ocean

I love surfers.

I love everything about them and their culture and sport.  My trip to Western Australia brought me back to my teenage years when all I wanted was to live by the beach and be in the water everyday….who am I kidding…I still want that.

I have a thing for surfing.  Which is weird because I’m from Canada…not the coast where there is a potential for surfing, but from Ontario…the part of Canada no where close to an ocean, or even to waves remotely surf-able.  I think my love for it all came from my summers being spent at Sauble Beach….closest thing to an ocean Ontario would get.  I had pictures of surfers, beaches and the ocean on my walls of my bedroom at my cottage and imagined having little blonde surfer babies when I grew up.

It’s amazing how some hopes and dreams get bogged down as you get older and how it only takes one moment for all of those past dreams to come flooding back.

The first round of holidays here in Australia have just come and gone and during them I took a trip to Western Australia…in particular to Perth with a few day trips centred from there.  We took a trip down to Margaret River and as soon as arriving in the little town I knew I would love it.  We explored around a little bit and the eventually found our “resort”…which was actually a little surfers hostel just across the road from the beach.  As it turns out Margaret River was hosting a surfing competition for the week/weekend that we were there…unfortunately there was no surfing going on the day we arrived but we could still walk around the venue…and there were a few surfers out in the water.  I spent a good amount of time snapping pictures and just enjoying the peace that a beach and ocean give me.

After Margaret River (and a bout of Gastro that Simon had to endure) we drove back to the city and I explored while Simon recovered.  The next day we took a ferry to Rottnest Island and explored by bike and rented some snorkel gear.  We also signed up for a trip out on a boat to find some off island snorkelling areas.  When we got to the destination our guide mentioned that there was an Australian Sea Lion sighted and that we might have a chance to see him in the water…well my animal loving eyes found him straight away and off we went into the water to play and swim with him.  Seriously one of the most amazing moments of my life…I could have reached out and touched him, that’s how close I was.  Unbelievable.

After our adventure across the island it was back to Perth on the ferry and my turn for Gastro.  Awesome.  My last day on vacation in Western Australia was spent in our hotel room bed, not being able to move.  Oh well…Simon got to explore and he took some pictures to share with me.

All in all it was an amazing trip, regardless of all the vomiting, and I would highly recommend to anyone to take a trip to Western Oz.

~ Hugs and Love ~


I’ve Got Two Tickets To Iron Maiden, Baby


I hated being one and then decided to spend my life teaching them and being surrounded by them on a daily basis…a LOT of people ask ‘why’?!

It’s difficult to explain, and I don’t know what it says about me, but, I just get them.  Yes they can be gross.  Yes they can be rude.  But what a lot of people don’t see is that most of them are amazing.  I’ve had my run in with some very unpleasant, rude, mean spirited and sly teens (and I’m positive I have had dealings with their future grown up selves) but when you look deep inside, and really get to know them, teenagers are inspiring.  They are dealing with an incredible amount of pressure and are still trying to develop emotionally…it is the time in their lives where their adult coping skills are being developed while at the same time having to deal with their still present internal little kid. I have the greatest respect for the struggle they face on a daily basis.

Just over a month ago, I had the pleasure of joining my homeroom year 9 group on their camp.  (In Australia each year group goes on a camp for a few days during the year…I LOVE this idea and wish we did this at home but due to numbers it’s near impossible).  It was an intense week (16km canoe, 20km hike and a 50km bike ride) and there was whinging and some not-so-shining-stars…but I came away completely inspired by my group of eighteen 14 year olds.  They were challenged both physically and mentally but they came together as a group and made it through…and as an outcome, a much stronger group because of it.

I am so incredibly happy that I got to experience Australian camp and even more so because I got to experience it with so many outstanding human beings.

~ Hugs and love ~

Catching Up

Wow it’s been way too long and so much has happened!

I am currently on my first round of school holidays and have some time to sit down at my computer and share some of the adventures I have been on.  Way too many for one post so I will post a few times this week to space them out!

Rewind in time to over a month ago and that’s where I’ll begin.  It was Labour Day weekend here in Australia and I had a long weekend ahead so Simon and I planned a little road trip to a place I wanted to get to the first time around but never got there:  Philip Island.

We packed up and hit the road after work on Friday (March 7th) and drove down to the Island.  We pulled into the little town of Cowes around 10pm and headed to his family’s holiday house where we would be staying the weekend.  It had been a long day so we made it an early night to bed and planned for our exploration to take place the next morning.

I was up just before the sun and headed down to the beach for a little solitary explore and as soon as I stepped outside it felt like I was back home…that it was the middle of July and I was walking down to the beach at Sauble to chill out.  It was eerily familiar…I don’t think I have ever felt so much at home in an unknown town during all of my travels….that feeling will never leave me.

Saturday:  woke up, went for a walk, explored the island, went out to The Nobbies, got tickets to see the little Penguins later that night, ticket entrance to Churchill Island Farm, explored around there for sometime, also picked up tickets to a koala conservation and saw some sleepy Koalas…headed back to town, changed, went to a very cool art/food festival and had something to eat then headed back out to watch the Penguin Parade.  At the Penguin Parade you are not allowed to take any photographs and I was such a good girl so I sadly have no personal record (except in my brain) of what I saw, but let me tell you this…it was freakin’ super cute! These little foot high penguins come out of the ocean, on to the beach in little groups and wait for a few more, then a few more, until they feel confident enough to walk up from the shore to their little nesting grounds in the hills of the conservation area…was I silently running a commentary of their little conversations to each other while getting out of the water, getting washed back in to the water and during their climb??  uh…YA (also it may not have been so silent…)  Since I couldn’t take any pictures here is a little video about the Parade:  Penguin Parade

Sunday:  up early again, walk, trip into town for some shopping, trip to the beach close to us…saw some (100’s) of crabs come up from under the sand, had lunch, went to a surfing beach…tried to bodysurf in a bathing suit not made for body surfing…while catching a wave I got caught up in it and it grabbed (yes, the wave had hands and grabbed me) my feet and proceeded to pull them up backwards, over my back, then head, forcing me into an underwater backwards somersault manoeuvre …a boob may have popped out…I was finished with body-surfing.  Back to the house, dinner out and back to chill.

Monday: early wake up, walk, packed, clean the house, visited with family, headed off with one last stop to see Pelicans being fed.  Pretty cool and got to see a sting ray in the water afterwards as well!

It was a wonderful weekend away and the perfect start to what turned out to be one incredibly busy month ahead!!!

Next stop:  A special birthday dinner and a week with eighteen 14 year olds!

~ Hugs and Love ~


On Friday I returned home from what had been one of the best weeks of my life.  I was so excited to sit down and share my experiences on my blog.  Upon waking Saturday morning I contacted my mom who was anxious to hear all about it.  After telling her all the amazing things that I had been blessed with the past week, she gave me the saddest news I have received in the the past ten years.

On Wednesday, March 19th the world lost an incredibly sweet, furry soul.  Blackjack was a stubborn old man and I believe lasted as long as he did because of all the love that was given to him and also because of the love he still had to give. Although we were apart in his final days he was never alone and never far from honest love and the warmest hugs and pats.  Even though I was prepared for him not to be there when I returned home, the loss is still incredibly hard…my heart is broken and the grief is, at times, too much to bear.  What will get me through are the reminders that he had such a good, happy life and that he finished his years off exactly where he belonged.

For those who do not know, here is Blackjack’s story:

I met Blackjack in the winter of 2001.  I had gone back to University to study Kinesiology and in one of my classes I met Jeff, a very cute boy, who I was put together with to work on an assignment.  He invited me to his house to get to work and when I arrived I was excited to learn he had a dog.  A young, adorable, crazy, black and white Lab/Border Collie cross; Blackjack.  I gave him a “hello”, and I’m sure quite a few pats, and then sat down at the dining table to get to work.  And then something crazy happened…Blackjack came up to me while I was sitting in my chair, climbed up on my lap, and with two paws on one leg and his other two on my other leg he just stood on me…right up, not sitting or curled up on my lap but stood on me…as if to say “I like you, I claim you”.  He gave me a few kisses and then jumped down after some instruction.  Jeff had never seen him do that before and in all my years of being surrounded by dogs I had never seen that either.

As time moved forward, Jeff and I progressed to a relationship.  We were together for a few years so Blackjack became a huge part of my life.  A big change saw us moving away and sadly where we were going we couldn’t take Blackjack with us. It was a difficult day saying goodbye, a bit more so for Jeff because Blackjack was his after all, but he was going to a good home so we took comfort in that.  After a little more than a year away, my relationship with Jeff ended and I found myself back in my hometown.  Not long after, my brother asked me if wanted Blackjack back.  His friend, who had taken him in, had moved to a tiny apartment in Toronto and felt it was unfair to keep him in such a small space (Blackjack, though not a big dog, had a medium build and LOVED to run).  I immediately said yes, and, after convincing my mom it was a good idea, I was off to pick him up in Toronto.

It was an emotional reunion and a pretty quiet ride back to my place but it didn’t take long for Blackjack and I to find our rhythm.  After my breakup with Jeff I was almost 30 and was not in the best of health.  Blackjack rescued me from a very dark place and he quickly became my world.  He fell in step with my family and friends and was always willing to become part of a good story.  For the past ten years he has been where he was meant to be.  He was so incredibly loved that I know, without a doubt, it is not only my heart that is breaking because of his passing, but countless others as well.

He had his trying moments:  peeing on peoples legs, killing and eating bunnies, humping any dog that came into the house, very VERY selective hearing and of course his “old man” gas…but for all his inappropriate behaviours there were many more delightful ones: he loved anyone who took the time to say hello to him, he was fiercely loyal to me and his family, he loved unconditionally, he knew when you weren’t feeling well and would do whatever he could (in doggy ways) to make you feel better, he was kind, incredibly gentle and extremely patient.

My life will not be the same without my crazy man beside me and I will forever be left with a Blackjack shaped hole in my heart.

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.  You are his life, his love, his leader.  He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.  You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion”


“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds, my other ears that hear above the winds.  He is the part of me that can reach into the sea.  Has has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being: by the way he rests against my leg, by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile, by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him.  When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.  When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.  When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.  When I am a fool, he ignores it.  When I succeed, he brags.  Without him, I am only another man.  With him, I am all-powerful.  He is loyalty itself.  He has taught me the meaning of devotion.  With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.  He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.  His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.  His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things.  He has promised to wait for me…whenever…wherever – in case I need him.  And I expect I will – as I always have.  He is just my dog” ~ Gene Hill

kisses hat


bolgdog~ Hugs and love ~