Remote Beach Clean-Ups

I love when travel works its way into your everyday life. For me one of those distinctive times was when my volunteer work with the Surfrider Foundation lead me to being sent to Ucluelet/Tofino to hike into a remote beach to clean up debris from a cargo ship spill.

Protecting the environment has become something that is deeply important to my heart. In these last few years the extent of my knowledge and personal growth for making changes to my daily life to help reduce my impact has been huge. Realizing the deep impact travel can have on the environment I have since altered the way I travel to be more eco-friendly.

(If you want to learn more on how to reduce your impact feel free to join my free Facebook group for Women to network and talk about how to reduce our impacts)

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The trip started off with an early 5:30 am start. Anyone who knows me well knows I don’t do early mornings unless it involves travel or adventure. My alarm went off and I woke up to darkness. As I walked along the sleeping city streets of Vancouver I smiled at the familiar sound of suitcase wheels rolling along the pavement.

It had been too long since hearing that lovely sound and knowing I was headed toward something new. I realized it was a sound so closely related with joy that I had missed dearly. Walking past the few commuters and street cleaners I remembered what it was like to see a city before it was awake.

The trip itself was out of my comfort zone. Being an avid and almost exclusively solo traveller I knew I would be pushed on this trip. Despite that I was excited for the adventures to come and relinquished control. I was looking forward to returning to such a beautiful area of British Columbia.


After a typical Pacific Northwest rainy and overcast drive through the mountains we came to settle in a wood cabin which backed onto a marsh area. Hammocks laid tucked away in the trees and an overgrown trail led to little hide aways for bonfires and a spot to sit with candles that was overrun with wax accumulated, I am sure, from many memories.

I explored the area while I could before the familiar coastal downpour of rain descended. I retired into the common area, relaxing into a seat to drink tea while admiring the lush greens through the water covered window. Eventually the rain cleared and the sun peaked out from the clouds just in time for an outdoor movie night hosted by the local area’s Surfrider Chapter.


The night’s events were held at the local botanical gardens which gave way to some post dinner beauty. We settled into our chairs bundled under heaters, holding warm drinks. There were many short films all filled with love and devotion to the ocean from all over the world (as well as some made by locals). It was a contrast of love and loss for our natural world.

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We met early the next morning to set off on our cleaning expedition. 13 volunteers (including me) headed off down back service roads to a location we were asked to keep secret. We hiked down paths and through bushes and down to the rocky rugged Pacific Rim coast and broke off into different sections to tackle as much debris as possible.


We balanced over the rocks as we headed to where we would clean. We watched the time knowing the path we had just crossed would be swallowed by the rising tide if we didn’t return in time. As we rounded the corner to our designated section of beach we were greeted by a cargo container on the shores torn apart. Styrofoam littered the beach reaching up into the forest line where the tide had pushed it.

We all broke off individually to different areas of the beach and started filling garbage bags. I worked along the side of the beach against a rock face and then into the forest area where the water line ended. I discovered a trove of plastic bottles and styrofoam debris. Eventually moving further down the beach knowing that any log you moved would reveal more.


This wreck was one they had been working to clean for quite awhile. It was a big undertaking that required a lot of effort and by far wasn’t the only remote beach or area littered with debris along the coast. We were told stories of different things they would find from their many clean ups through the years, including wreckage from the tsunami that happened in Japan 8 years earlier.

The 13 of us ended up filling 7 tonnes worth of debris into super sacs. Everyone worked together to manoeuvre what we had found into each sac. Once we had fit all of the debris into the bags we roped them all together to be picked up by helicopter and dropped to the proper sorting facility.


It was a successful clean up done by a lot of hard working individuals. Despite the continued hard work of the locals and our additional help for this clean up the area was still filled with micro plastic of the broken styrofoam that would require more cleaning in the future.

(If you want to learn more of the dangers of plastic and especially micro plastic to the ocean and animals watch the documentary A Plastic Ocean)

TofinoTrip-45After our hard work we all enjoyed a lunch together at a local favourite: Ukee Dogs. We ended our combined time and headed back to our accommodations to relax before our next adventures.

A failed hiking plan lead to us accompanying one of our group members as she went to go surfing before the sunset. The wicked waves splashed onto shore and against the ragged coastline rocks while surfers and kite surfers alike took advantage of the swell.

I myself opted to explore the shores and take photographs. I wandered along the coast line and noticed a light house in the distance. My wonder for light houses and the low tide lead me to a rock island. A few secluded homes laid atop the rocks and I explored it’s surface to catch a better glimpse of what may lay beyond.


As I headed back toward my group a rainbow was laying over the beach and view of the landmass in front of me. By the time I returned to where we had left our gear the setting sun gave some stunning photographic opportunities. Our friend returned from her work out on the waves and we watched as the last light of the day coloured the sky with subtle pastel purples.


We briefly sat for hot chocolate and popcorn at the beachside home of the local chapter’s leader discussing what we all did beyond our volunteer work. As our visit ended we thought that our night was at an end as well until we received a message from fellow Surfriders we had met earlier. We were invited to one of the many beaches for a bonfire. Luckily because we are all outdoors lovers we had our packs and our headlamps ready to walk down the dark trail to the beach.


We followed the distant light of the fire and found familiar faces. Our eyes eventually adjusted to the dark and we stayed warm with the burning fire. The night was spent chatting and laughing. But being the artist I am I was more mesmerized by the stunning night sky, the sound of the crashing waves, and the rotating light from the light house in the distance.

I spent more time taking photographs than I did interacting. As I continued to take night shots (using the logs as my makeshift tripod) others from the group became curious to see my creations. I had asked a friend to help me so I could light paint and it ended up being a hilarious party trick I never knew I had. Once the others realized the end result of someone running around with a flashlight everyone wanted a chance to try.


We laughed hysterically as we yelled letters out and guided the painters to get the picture right. After a lot of tries I finally got the perfect shot I wanted showing the lights of the city in the distance and the city name painted above the beach. We left the beach that night having had great conversations and having gained some new local friends.


I woke up early the next morning knowing I didn’t have much time to enjoy the beauty of the area since I was on someone else’s schedule. I decided to head out again to the marsh area behind our accommodations and was greeted with the beautiful natural world already underway.

Steam rose from the ground as the frost was thawed by the rising sun. Birds chirped and flew over head while a heron stood on the waters edge looking for food. I followed the almost non-existent stream toward the open water and admired the sleeping boats and their mirror images. I felt so much joy experiencing the natural beauty and grabbing some beautiful shots.

While we didn’t do much extra exploring we did make one stop on our way to the ferry and that was to an amazing area that still holds some of the oldest trees in British Columbia. Some of these big beauties are bigger than the tower of Pisa and over 800 years old. It is one of the few areas with giant trees that thankfully remain untouched from the logging industry.


It was my second time there and I was glad to be able to appreciate the magnificence of these huge beauties again. It is so humbling feeling so small compared to their size and history. It’s a place despite being packed with tourists still feels relaxing and a place I was happy to return to.


We caught a later ferry and while some of the girls relaxed and tried to nap I was too captivated by the setting sun. I ran all over the upper deck of the ship to capture the lands edge and the colours painting the sky. While I am often afraid of boats I find most of my journeys on them are the most memorable and packed full of stunning photo opportunities.

I returned home with some amazing photographs, having made some new connections, and having learned a lot more than what I had known before. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to gain the experience of participating in a remote beach clean up. It definitely won’t be my last.


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To see more you can watch a video created from our journey from a fellow Surfrider and content creator Crystal Chan:

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I have absolutely loved the volunteer work I have done and through doing so I have gained great value in my life. My knowledge has grown so much, I’ve met like-minded people, I’ve gotten to be connected with more organizations I love, and have grown my resume significantly. I truly recommend volunteering within areas you’re passionate in.

Use of this image without permission is against the law.

Taking Care Of Myself

Self care can sometimes be taking a step that may not seem rational like quitting your job, walking away from friendships and relationships, or literally standing up and walking away from a situation whether it be an event, a conversation, or a space you don’t feel safe in. Self care can be realizing the stressors in your life and doing a mass removal of them. That is what I have been focusing on lately.

I’ve been choosing myself and my well being over everything else. I’ve walked away from people and things that bring negativity and stress in my life and instead started putting myself first again. I’ve gone to yoga class instead of obligations because it was what I needed more for my health. I’ve spent a weekend saying goodbye to things that weighed me down and spent my days going out in nature and taking photos and videos for the joy of the art.

IMG_0642I made a decision I had had enough of the toxic atmosphere I was in, of the ridicule there. So I stood up and walked out, turned my phone off and felt the weight of the stress melt off my shoulders with the warm sun. I had forgot how much I missed the sun and I went out to trails I use to know well. I watched the sun stream across the open fields of grass and smiled as I approached a trail marker and realized it was part of the Trans Canada Trail – something that is on my bucket list.

I didn’t spend long here but it put me into a state of existential contemplation. I thought of all the things on my bucket list and what they would look like. I thought of how my life is bigger than these stressful times. I thought of future adventures but I also wondered what these places would look like twenty years from now. I wondered how much of our Earth will still be this wild and beautiful and how much of it will be gone.

I finished my night of breaking away from negativity at a hot yoga class. Standing in tree pose (Vrikshasana) looking out the window at the mountains in the distance and the hue of pink blanketing the landscape with the setting sun. I knew 100% that I had made the right decision even if it meant consistent money wasn’t coming into my bank account anymore.

It was breaking away from that atmosphere that inspired me to go out and enjoy my freedom. When I woke up I was graced with another great sunny day and set out to new trails I had never been to before with my cameras. I wanted to go out and enjoy nature while also just taking photographs for me again, for the love of the art, not for anything else. It brought back that childlike joy of discovering a new place, exploring, and being in awe of the beauty.


I watched the rapids of a waterfall mesmerized by the patterns and continued along the trail to see what awaited me. I found a perfect juxtaposition between peaceful green trails and thrills as I stood beside three waterfalls all interconnecting. There were many different waterfalls I got to capture that day. I later sat at the top of one and as the water fell I looked down the canyon in front of me wondering how I could get down there to get photographs. It inspired a future adventure I knew I could accomplish to come up river into the canyon to get the photographs of the waterfalls from the perspective of the water below.

I haven’t had that much fun in a long time. As I walked back to my car I thought to myself how wonderful it felt to just go out with no time constraints, no expectations, not knowing what I would find but just enjoying it all. It’s what I miss most about travelling solo consistently – zero compromise. But it also reminded me the joy of discovering new things and just exploring for however long I wanted to so I could discover the area.

The next day I had to compromise to attend an event I didn’t want to be at. But it was a celebration because it was the last event volunteering for an NGO who had lost it’s way and gave me no appreciation for my huge contributions and dedication. As soon as the event finished I felt that same sense of freedom I had two days earlier with the weight of stress lifting off my shoulders. I was free from another constraint and knew that it opened me up to be able to seek out greater environmental opportunities.

kanaka-3I brought all that I needed to explore the area after the event if I still had energy. And luckily I not only had energy but the sun was still shining so I set off again out onto the trail to chase waterfalls. I rediscovered an area I hadn’t seen in 5 years and I worked hard to get the angles I wanted of the waterfalls despite fences or tourists everywhere. Despite the obstruction it was because of the fences that I was lead to a beach below where the water was so clear and beautiful I knew I had to come back on the next sunny day to swim. I looked out from the beach and saw rocks in the area that would be perfect for self portraits and I knew I had to return to capture the vision I had in my head (the feature photograph for this article is one of those).


I didn’t want to retire from my adventures completely so I spent my last bit of daylight sitting in the forest with my watercolours. It was the first time in a long time I have remembered to bring them with me on an adventure to capture my inspiration with my words and paints instead of just my camera. I forgot how much fun it was to plein air paint. Eventually the mosquitos came out so I headed home to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in a relaxed way with my mom.

me lynn canyon-5I did my research, checked out the weather and knew that I only really had one day where it was guaranteed sun to return back to the same spot for my swim and photographs. So a few days later I set off to get the portraits I had imagined in my head and to have my second polar swim of the year. I decided to again try to integrate video into my adventure, offering me the opportunity to experiment with a different artistic medium. It gave me so much joy creating something new and sharing my adventures with others from my days of freedom.

While drying off in the sun from my swim and packing up my gear I met someone from Spain visiting the area. I didn’t know at the time but he later told me that he was walking on the trail above while I swam and a guy made a comment to him about how crazy it was someone was swimming down there. He told me he had to come down to meet someone who would dare to swim in those waters.

This lead to one of my last adventures in my domino series of outdoor discovery. The next day was his last day in Vancouver and he had asked if I would meet him. While it wasn’t what I had planned I thought back to all the times I’ve been in a new city and a new friend I had met offered to take me on an adventure. It’s those spontaneous trips and memories that are the best I’ve had so I knew I wanted to pay it forward. I gave him a list of adventure ideas and he chose to do his first winter hike with me.

Despite a cloudy day we persevered out into the snow filled back country for a small hike hoping for the chance to catch a view through the clouds. Although that didn’t happen I still got to show him how to interact with the wild birds on their terms. I laughed to myself thinking “what a Canadian experience – in the snowy mountains having Canada’s national birds land on your hand”. As we headed down from the mountain we even had a deer cross the road near us. I was happy despite the lack of view it was a rich experience in wildlife.

It had been a great way to celebrate the Spring Equinox and as we returned to the city so did the sun. I got to enjoy the last little bit of sun we would have for awhile by the sea, excited to see blossoms in bloom on the trees. It was a great segue from winter to spring and into the next chapter of adventures to come.

It was because of that break out moment that I returned to the things that feel most rewarding in my life and bring me joy. I haven’t felt more inspired and free and joyous in a long time. Standing up for myself against people that don’t appreciate me and putting my mental health and joy first created a huge ripple effect through my life. It has significantly changed my level of happiness and creativity and productivity. I have created more in those 5 days than I have in months.

Never forget the power of putting what is best for you first. Never forget the power of walking away from things that are negative and no longer serve you (and knowing you don’t need to explain yourself if it’s going to fall on lost ears). Never forget the power of going after what you love and bringing joy into your days. I was grateful for the much needed reminder I ended up giving myself.

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The Cost Of Freedom

I’ve realized a prevailing trend in my life to seek out freedom and to break out against constraints put on me. It may be why I can procrastinate paying bills or doing something I know is necessary, simply because I don’t like being told when or how to do things. I’ve never really followed the way society is suppose to flow and have craved a way out.

My ideal life would be me on an island living by myself; thriving off the land, enjoying nature, and living in a more simple way. It’s why being a lighthouse keeper is on my bucket list. It’s also why doing the Trans Canada Trail (24,000 km across Canada by foot/bike) as well as a year long road trip across Canada living out of my car is part of that list. I want freedom to explore, freedom to follow my hearts joy, the freedom to ask myself “what do you want to do today?” and to go do that.

I was once told my idea of being able to live a life with joy and doing what I love for work was idealistic and not actually achievable by someone from an older generation. I laughed because it is entirely achievable because I have done it. A big barrier in living a life with joy every day? Money. It is only when you have a way to pay your bills and extra to follow your adventures, or relinquish bills from your life, that you can stop being so worried about making ends meet and staying in work you dislike.

You see the many times I’ve been sitting hating my life in a job I didn’t enjoy just to pay the bills I would always think, “There’s got to be more than this. Life can’t be just following the motions and hating our days until we die”. I’ve never been convinced or even persuaded I need to work for the majority of my life just to get 15 years of “peace” at the end (on the contingent I am healthy enough or still alive) when I’m too old and unable to do half the things I want to achieve anyway. I’ve never believed in the American dream people are sold because it resigns you to a miserable life.

Like so many other free spirits and wild souls I crave to follow my heart, to venture after what makes me come alive, and to strike out on my own path set entirely and only by me. “Normal” people view it as unstable while the rest of us free spirits know it is the exact opposite – it is more stable because we are doing what we love and choosing exactly what we want versus doing what other people tell us to do. We aren’t sheep following a set out life plan. We are out creating our life to be exactly what we want it to be. It is a fulfilling and exciting lifestyle and one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

If I were to die today I would feel that I lived an amazing life because I sought out adventure. Are there more things I want to do? Absolutely, there always will be, someone like me doesn’t ever become complacent or fully settled. But that’s my ambition to constantly learn and discover new things. But despite the ever growing bucket list I know I have lived life to the fullest and continuously accomplished my dreams along the way. I began living a life with joy the moment I stopped living for anyone or anything else.

I always tell my friends that if I die on the mountains or out there pulling one of my crazy adventures, to know that I died happy because I died doing what I love. To me no cliff side, no body of water, no adventure could ever be more terrifying than the thought of leading a life I hate on the bet I’ll be able to do all that I want later in life.

We aren’t guaranteed more time. We are guaranteed right here and right now and what we choose to do with it determines our lives. It’s why I say how I feel, it’s why I do what I want in the moment, it’s why I ask myself “what can I do today to make tomorrow better?” because you never know if you’ll be getting a tomorrow but you do have today.

I want my days to involve things I’m passionate about. I want my days to feel fulfilling. I want to feel good about what I am doing and what I am putting out into the world. It’s why I don’t compromise and I certainly won’t walk away from my morals or beliefs for money or fame or superficial things. Does it make things tough and more complicated? Definitely. But it guarantees the work that I am doing is contributing to my happiness and putting good out into the world. It means I can sleep at the end of the night proud of who I am and the life I lead.

While having no debt is the key to the type of freedom I crave I have learned it’s not worth compromising my happiness to get out of that hole. In time, in the right way, doing what I love, I will be able to find a freedom where I can up and leave on any adventure at any time. Until then I still struggle against those constraints, but I find my own way to make it work for me.

I know that you can’t outrun your problems with travel or by buying things. I know that money can buy comfort, can buy a better lifestyle, can buy a fake look of business profitability but materialistic things don’t give long lasting sustaining happiness. It’s why I don’t seek huge monetary wealth, I don’t seek being wealthy or popular. I simply seek comfort to follow my dreams and that is all I want for my life because in my mind I am already rich – I am rich in my unconditional friendships, I am rich with my courage, I am rich with opportunities.

I know that I will achieve what I want to. I know I will find ways to get to those dreams that seem far off because I continually cross dreams off my bucket list every year. I don’t just dream I make those dreams a reality and I am confident that no matter how long it takes I will cross those things off my list. For now I am finding my way to chase what I love while also allowing myself financial freedom. Will I retire with a huge amount of money? No. Will I be an old lady with laugh lines and a lot of wicked stories to tell, still adventuring in my 70’s because living a life I loved contributed to good health? Absolutely.


Boating Around The Adriatic

I woke up early and headed out onto the barren early morning streets of Hvar – a stark contrast to the bustling crowded market streets later in the day and the partying streets by night. I had been told by a Scottish friend I met a few days earlier that I had to do “the blue and green cave tour”. Upon googling I found one that I thought would be great and a full 8 hours of adventures boating around the Adriatic and the islands of Vis and Biševo.

I boarded a little speed boat and made new friends with three other girls from North America. Even the view of Hvar as we left was stunning (the feature photo on the article). I knew the day would provide quite an amazing adventure and some beautiful photos. Despite the packed itinerary I really had no idea then just how amazing it would be. It ended up being one of the best days of my life and the happiest.


As we got further out from the harbour we came upon our first stop which was actually an unplanned surprise. We were greeted by a family of dolphins which our skipper told us were often around. It was the second time in my life seeing dolphins so close. They stayed around for awhile and we all sat and admired them. Once they had gone we sped off to Vis to see the Green Cave.



The Green Cave seemed like a popular spot.DCIM101GOPROG0741892. Despite it being earlier in the morning there were still quite a few boats around waiting their turn to head inside. Once we got into the cave we learned more about it and got the chance to jump in and explore. Our skipper offered some goggles but I definitely recommend bringing your own snorkelling gear to be able to really see these caves for all of their beauty without worrying to wait your turn.

We were a bit early for the full green cave glow – which happens from the sun hitting the bottom of the cave and illuminating the colour of the ocean floor below. But as you can see from the picture here it would be quite a sight to behold when it’s fully lit up.

The task of getting back into the boat itself was hilarious and provided many laughs for the group itself. At times the skipper had to help lift people back in. Putting one leg and the opposite arm on the side of the boat we had to try to lift our body weight up and in. After a few tries of it you start to get the handle of it.

We all got back in safely and headed on our way to our next stop. We weaved our way through many different geologically fascinating places while being told the history of the area. He pointed out holes in the mountain side which were from World War II and told us about the intricate tunnel system that was created through the island. We learned about the local vegetation that thrives in the area and about the Croatian culture on the islands we were experiencing.


Our education part of our tour led us to our second stop at the edge of a cliff where we were shown sun pools. If you’ve never seen these or heard of them they are little naturally occurring round pool spots where the ocean waves wash up into them. When the tide is low it gives the sun time to warm them up. When we stopped here we were given the time to explore and relax in the pools or we could also do some small cliff jumping. I love cliff jumping and although this wasn’t anything huge I thought it was a great addition. It is a safe jump and one that is easier and more welcoming for a beginner.

After we had our fun in the sun we went into our second cave of the day which was a giant vertical slit in the side of the island. It was a dark one, with light only streaming in from the opening. It offered a huge contrast to the rest of the caves we would get to experience that day. Not just from the lighting and the shape but also because of the experience inside. It was easy to notice how the temperature changed much cooler in it’s dark depths. This was just one example of the many caves that lay along the islands on the coast and are waiting to be explored responsibily.

Next we were taken out to a piece of rock that comes so close to the surface that you can take pictures as if you’re walking on water. For mine I didn’t get exactly onto the spot

adriatic-7closest to the surface. But if you do it looks like your feet are standing on the surface of water. This was an awesome unexpected addition to the day. It was great to be able to be in what looks like the middle of the ocean and to be standing like you’re on the shore. This part was slippery and provided entertainment for everyone as we watched people try to catch their balance. Many of us, including me fell over a few times trying to stand up. Water shoes would definitely help you with this one as it definitely was tricky.adriatic-8 You also have to dodge the sea urchins (as you’ll become aware swimming anywhere along the Croatian coast). These are black spiky sea creatures and I was forewarned by an Aussie friend that it hurts a lot to step on one.

Surprisingly as little effort as the adventures seemed, when it was announced we were headed for lunch I was excited and starving! Our skipper told us we were going to Biševo, an island with a population of 8 people, with a small local restaurant on its shores. I was so excited to experience this small communities way of connecting with those wanting to visit their beautiful shores. It was fascinating to imagine what life is like for the local people running the restaurant. And I am sure they meet many amazing people with interesting travel stories stopping in for a bite to eat while off on their explorations.

I smiled as we docked the boat and walked along the path toward the little wooden “Restoran” sign. Me and my new friends took a seat to relax at the restaurant. I ended up ordering their special for the day which was calamari. I had been so use to the deep fried cut up pieces at home I was slightly surprised when two full squids were on the plate in front of me. But I am always up for experiencing different things and it ended up being delicious.

I enjoyed my wine and meal, with some chats with my new friends, and then I went off to admire the beach and to see the surrounding area. This beach was the clearest water I had seen anywhere and I spent quite awhile admiring it. I also spent some time taking in the small community they had built in this part of the island. I day dreamed about hiking to different areas of the island and wondered what it looked like beyond the hills. I have to admit I could have relaxed there all day. When I return to Croatia I would love to come back here with a book and just relax in the sun or go hiking on the island.


It was one of those places where although there were lots of tourists it didn’t feel packed or overwhelming. Everyone was off doing their own thing. Some were enjoying their meals with a view and others were out in the water or on it’s shores. The stop helped to recuperate at just the right time. I think we were all feeling we needed it because it gave us the energy boost for our next stop – the main event which I think most people book the tour for: the Blue Cave.

IMG_3906This stop took up a chunk of time because we had to dock, line up and get tickets, and board another boat that was with a specific cave tour (I don’t believe they allow outside boats inside). This cave was spectacular and unlike anything I had ever seen before but the boat went through it so fast you didn’t really get time to enjoy it.

If you go to this particular one (yes there are more than one of these caves in the world), remember that it goes by quickly so forget about taking photos – your phone or camera won’t focus properly anyway. Sit and enjoy the amazing natural feature of the deep blue glow in the pitch black cave.

To be honest, as amazing as the Blue Cave was, it was probably my least favourite of all the stops. It took out a big chunk of the day due to switching boats that could have been better used elsewhere and I think it would have been more spectacular to swim within it versus doing a quick float through. That being said our skipper did get us there at a quiet time so there were no line ups. But I personally would have rather have just taken a boat to see the cave on a different day or saved the experience for another one of these caves in the world where I could swim.

Afterward we continued on and got shown some more interesting geological features of the type of rock style in the surrounding area. While this type of thing may be boring for some people it was immensely fascinating to me. I think even people with no interest would find it unlike anything they’ve seen before. The whole coastal scenery was stunning. He educated us on the natural processes at play and got us to interact by guessing what we thought was natural or manmade.


Our next stop was getting to see the harbour city of Komiža on the island of Vis. Just like Hvar, I was blown away by it’s beauty as we came in. A little church stood out from all of it sitting higher up from the rest of the buildings on the side of the island. I could have sworn I took pictures of this but when I looked back I couldn’t find any which shows me that it was so beautiful I was too busy admiring it to remember to pick up my camera.


We only had 45 minutes here which I felt wasn’t enough time. It was a small community but there was still so much that I wanted to explore and I would have loved to go see the small church at the top of the hill. Most of us used this as a rest stop because of the shorter span of time. Per the skippers recommendation I went to a restaurant and tried their local island wine called “Vugava”. I loved that the day contained so many opportunities to experience island culture. And before getting back on the boat we cooled off with some gelato.

After departing this beautiful small community we headed off to see our last cave of the day which we were told was one that no other tour does as they don’t know where it is. Sure enough there were no other boats in sight and we had this awesome place to ourselves. Our skipper took our boat close to the island rock face and most of us were confused as to where the cave was. He then explained that to get into the cave we need to swim under the water, through an opening subtly hidden by the height of the water. When he told us this all my adventure senses were tingling.

I didn’t have goggles with me and others were using the few the boat had to offer. So with one hand plugging my nose and the other hand above me to feel the top of the cave opening I closed my eyes, dunked down, and swam fast. When I no longer felt rock on my hand I popped into this beautiful little cave which I feel was the true “green cave” of the trip.



I think this little cave stop was a overall favourite of the day – which is hard to say since it was all so much fun. There is so much I love about Croatia and it’s coastal scenery. These experiences were unparalleled to anything else in my life. Even just being able to swim in such clear and beautiful water was an experience I cherished. The adventurer and earth science nerd in me absolutely adored what we got to see and experience.

When we left the cave all of us swam around in the ocean for a little while just enjoying the beautiful area and trading off goggles so we could all take a look around. But even without them the water is so clear you can see pretty well anyway. This area would be a divers paradise.

After this we were exhausted despite the time we got to rest while visiting Komiža. We knew we only had one stop left which was Stiniva Beach; voted the best beach in the world for 2016. It’s exclusivity is what brings a draw. No motored boats are allowed in past that rocky edges protecting this beach. You’re only option is to anchor and swim (or paddle a smaller boat) in or to hike from the other side. Those of us who wanted to decided to swim in. I would love to return some day to hike into it as the pictures looking down to the beach are stunning.


The beach was a great end to the adventures for the day. I didn’t check out the cafe there on the beach but I think if you were to hike in it would be a great area to relax for the day. We just sat on the shores, took pictures, and chatted with our skipper. We ended up learning that he learned how to speak English (which was very well spoken) simply from watching shows and movies in English until he knew the language. It is quite amazing story to hear and all of us were extremely impressed. Once the sun no longer touched the area we swam or were paddled back in a little boat.

We headed back on the speed boat to Hvar exhausted in the best way possible. We were all silent admiring the beauty and I knew that it was one of the most epic days of my life. There was so much packed into those 8 hours that were unbelievable and just trying to explain the day doesn’t do it justice. The tour itself was an amazing combination of information, rest spots, and adventure and all of it was optional whether you got off the boat or simply enjoyed the views. I usually don’t like to take tours but as tours go this is by far my favourite that I’ve done and so well worth the cheap price! (And this isn’t sponsored – I am saying this because I was genuinely given one of the best days)

Since this visit and my time spent on the coast the Adriatic Sea is now my favourite body of water in the world and Croatia is my favourite country. Spending the day jetting around the Dalmatian Coast, experiencing Vis and Biševo, was such an amazing gift. Something spontaneous that I happened upon but which became of the best days of my life. I am so glad that my friend had recommended it and that I had chosen the specific tour that I did. I will absolutely never forget this day. It was the perfect mix of everything I love and the experiences I had were ones I would have never had the chance to do otherwise.

I know that I will be back to experience some of the same places in a different way in the future. Some of it will be spending a day on the shores relaxing, to fully exploring Komiža and hiking into Stiniva. I also can’t wait to explore more of the islands along Croatia’s coast. It’s called the Dalmatian Coast for a reason because of the spots created by the various islands. I would recommend Croatia to anyone because of the enormously friendly people, the amazing natural and architectural beauty, and the safety!

Bonus Travel Tips

Want to do this same tour? Support this local Croatian company (which you can find near the main market in Hvar if you’d rather book in person).

• You can also do the same tour from Split – just plan for a longer day. And it looks like they offer many other island tours as well. It’s totally worth giving yourself a few days in Hvar which is a cheap ferry ride away from Split and you save yourself some time while also getting to experience another amazing place in Croatia.

• If you’ve got any sort of back issues I highly recommend boarding the boat first and sitting in the very back. The back has a full bench to sit on where as the other seats need to be straddled like riding a horse which can be painful on the lower back when you’re doing it for a full day.

• I highly recommend bringing snorkel gear. You can buy this anywhere at the little market stands in Hvar (as I am sure you can also do so in Split). It’s cheap and well worth it to be able to really see the ocean floor and sea life! After this trip I learned my lesson and got myself a pair of goggles.

• Swimming shoes are also a great option to help yourself grip climbing up the rocky sides and also to protect your feet from sea urchins.

• Almost all of these stops require cash! Although most travellers don’t like to carry cash Croatia is one of those places (especially in the smaller communities) where cash comes in handy!


Building A Better Tomorrow

Have you ever done a whole overhaul of your life? I feel like I’ve been in this stage for awhile and 2017 was just laying the ground work. It is hard when a whole year is meant to be small steps leading to the bigger picture. But now that I have things in place I am starting to have a foundation on which to step forward. I am able to finally be able to find a place where I can implement the dreams that have been living inside my head.

There is a quote that says “rock bottom can also be a great foundation on which to build and on which to grow” and I whole heartedly believe that. Sometimes it can take us being in a space of discontent to know we need to make changes or take a deeper look at areas where you want growth. Although I welcome change and know it is a necessary part of life, I found the space I was in at the time was difficult for implementing the right changes to move forward in a more positive place.

It has been reiterated in my life these last few months just how important it is to incorporate what brings us joy into every day life. It is something I base my life on and that I tell others often but it’s something that became inherently difficult for me with the winter storms, lack of adequate transportation, and financial strain. The more my stress raised the further my health fell, creating a vicious cycle. Any time I was able to take one step forward life would hand me cards that made me go two or three steps back.

It was actually prescribed to me by a doctor to do more of what I love. She asked me what makes me feel most secure and fulfilled in who I am. I said being in nature and more importantly hiking. She told me I needed to do more of that and if possible to do that three times a week. So I started making lists of places in nature I could go that were new and exciting, I got back into my routines of practicing gratitude and reimplemented more self loving patterns, and I started taking step towards new projects I really wanted to create.

But as I was doing the personal work life was giving me some hard lessons. I attended two events that I thought were going to be empowering and transformative. I thought I would be surrounded by people with similar beliefs and values as me. And both times I was not only disappointed but shown a different face behind these massive movements that were ugly and inhumane and uncompassionate. It made me feel more disconnected and it made me extremely concerned for humanity and my country.

So while I was trying to improve my health and remove stressors, life was putting me into a place of existential crisis. While in that place I’ve come to reevaluate my involvement with NGOs and it has made me realize how much further we are than I thought from an aware and accepting world. Two months of the year so far and each of them served me two big lessons a week apart. Both came to me in a time in my life where I wasn’t adequately prepared to handle them. But within those struggles it again brought back the reminder of how important the little joys in life can be.

I stood after the second lesson on the ferry ride home and I was completely overwhelmed with a terrible feeling I couldn’t shake. I couldn’t listen to more chatter of what the day had held so I went up on that back deck to watch as the sun descended. I stood with the winter wind rushing through my hair and the sun warming my skin, the smell of ocean in the air. I thought to myself how much I had missed the ocean and the sun. Such simple things but things I clearly hadn’t gotten enough of. Right there I promised myself to do better about chasing my joys again and about listening to what I need in the moment.

These last few weeks have been about getting to better ground. About deconstructing those lessons and asking myself some big questions and working toward a place where I feel okay again. I’ve slowly but surely gotten rid of specific places of stress in my life and have set up my plans to conquer others. This last week has created some great steps forward where I am walking toward what I truly want. And I know when the new life of spring flowers rise from the soil, I too will be coming anew in life. Standing in a place where I am stronger and where I can chase my joy and dreams without the burden of depression and stress by my side.


My Polar Bear Swim 2018

My polar bear swims are always something really sacred to me. I don’t always complete it on the first of January but for me it is always the true beginning/start to my year. It started as something random that I thought I would try and has since then become a big tradition in my life. During my first polar swim I made a promise myself that as long as I was near water it would be my start to the year.

It is so much more than the rush of running into cold water as a shock into the new year (although that is a deep love of mine – shout out to my other adrenaline junkies). For me it is a physical representation of washing away all the old of the past year, letting go of it all, and moving forward fresh and renewed. It is as much a mental process as a physical one. From the moment I enter that water I vow to accept the past year for what it was and let it go and to move forward excited for what is to come.

Every year I choose a new location that is different than where I have gone before. Each location is special to me and has given me amazing memories. Every year it is a different experience and every year I am so grateful for the tradition. Some years I do it alone, other years I have some help. But regardless I always have a great time and come out of that water feeling refreshed and renewed.

Cold water and polar swims aren’t for everyone. Most people can’t stand cold water and the thought of a polar swim is “crazy”. But I’ve always been the one to chase after those experiences people call “crazy” because I know they are the ones that will be the most rewarding. I have been lucky in having a disposition for being able to withstand cold water conditions. Because of that and my love for water/the ocean I swim at any time of the year. It’s never a one time thing, you can catch me swimming at all times of the year. Just like hiking it is a way for me to reconnect with nature and myself.

I began documenting my polar swims ever since the beginning. The first year it was really just a simple photograph to show I had done it. But it evolved as I changed my direction within my photography. I started to take more self portraits which helped birth a new idea of having self portraits for every polar swim. This year I decided to experiment with video, a sister industry to the one I love so much. It is just me messing around with my camera but it is a new creative adventure for me to go on. My goal was to help others come with me on an experience that is so sacred to me. I had fun creating it and I enjoy sharing it with others. But for the coming years I think I will stick to self portraits instead.


Never Apologize For Who You Are

It took me getting away from the people and places I had grown up with to truly know who I am and to truly learn how to love myself. It was within exploring more of the globe that I came to know who I really was and came to know life with joy and passion and love that wasn’t ridiculed or judged or conditional. When I’ve had to return back to where I grew up I climb mountains and swim in oceans or lakes to find that same type of freedom from their never ending plight to conform me.

I’ve come to see we all play roles in each others lives. We each come into one another lives, whether short or long, whether doing good or bad to serve a purpose that affects our personal growth process. We are each teachers and we are each learners. You can never really control who you will be for someone else. Some people come into your life to teach you either with love or with hurt, or at times both. Other times you enter people’s lives to do the same.

I have been the teacher to many and I have been taught by many. There are times when I’ve had to play the role of “bad guy” to others (especially in my younger years) and I’ve had others play that role for me. Most of my life was learning lessons the hard way through hard love, hurt, loss and trauma. It wasn’t until recent years that I’ve been given the gifts of learning lessons through love and kindness and compassion and I learned to give my wisdom in the same way.

It was my first experience with learning a lesson through the caring of someone else that I began to understand the roles we play. At the time I said something that was beyond what I consciously knew or understood. I told a person that despite our disagreement and odd timing in each others lives that something in my soul was telling me not to lose them. I said that just like that same gut instinct that told me to move half way across the world alone, it was telling me that they were suppose to be something big in my life or I was meant to be something big to them. I told them that I didn’t understand how but I knew that either I was suppose to teach them something or they were suppose to teach me something or we would both learn from each other but no matter what it was it was important. And in the end I was right – they became one of the most influential people in my life.

Since then I’ve become better at being able to tell the role I will play in other’s lives. I can have people reach out to me and I can tell I am meant to be the teacher. There are other times I can think to myself “I am meant to learn a lot here” and I make sure to listen as much as possible. And there are times that still surprise me. But there is a kind of relationship or bond where you both benefit from one another. It is the best kind of combination you can hope for.

It’s the people with whom you mutually teach and learn together, with respect and unconditional love, that become your tribe. They are the people where you each add value to one another’s lives, where you each meet with a respect for one another, where you walk away from any conversation and experience with them feeling better within life. These are the people who you feel eternally grateful for no matter how long or short they’re in your life. They are the people you know (even if you drift apart) you will always wish them the very best in life. I’ve been blessed to have had a handful of these people and if you find people like this know that they are your tribe. Mutual respect, understanding, and unconditional love are rare. Make sure you tell these people what they mean to you and fight to keep them in your life.

That being said, sometimes these people aren’t meant to stay for a long time but are meant to make a huge impact. It will be painful to lose such a meaningful connection in your life but the loss doesn’t change how important it was and it doesn’t change the lessons you learned or the impact you made along the way. We want these connections to last a life time but sometimes your lives don’t land on the same page, not because of anything bad, but because living your best lives takes you to different places. It is important to recognize that and to let them go when you know it’s time. It is important to thinking of them with happiness but not with nostalgia.

I wanted to talk about how special those people are because more often than most there will be people that come into your life who say they love and care for you, who say they support you, but who in turn judge you, who hold things against you, and who tell you that you’re too much of something. I’ve come to realize those aren’t the right people for you and shouldn’t be given time or space in your life. A lot of the people I grew up with were these people. Constantly hiding their manipulation, judgements, and ridicule behind the statements “I care about you”, “I love you”, “I want the best for you” when really all they wanted was for me to conform to who they wanted me to be.

When I started to practice self love and rip these people’s grasps from my mind and liquidate their space from my life I learned the valuable lesson; anyone who doesn’t accept you for who you are doesn’t deserve space in your life (and certainly not your mind). Really anyone who tells you to change who you are isn’t worth your time. If you grow up with these people from a young age it’s even harder to realize that the actions behind their words aren’t caring at all. It is important to differentiate the people in your life who say they want the best for you when really they only want what is best and easiest for them. Even if these people are kind to your face it’s important to understand that if they tell you that you need to change that isn’t “caring” that is in fact the opposite.

I realized a long time ago to not allow people into my life who don’t accept me entirely for who I am. I spent years ridding myself of these people. But sometimes it is the people we are most comfortable with or the people from our past that can slip through our perceived “true friend” gate. Recently I spent two days feeling the worst I have about myself in an extremely long time. I was taken aback as to where it came from because I am proud of who I am even if I am working on myself and constantly wanting to grow and evolve. Because it was so unlike me, after a few days I realized that a person from my past manipulated me and gaslighted me into believing the worst of myself due to unhealed hurt I caused them from the past.

My growth and inner work was strong enough that I was capable of knowing something wasn’t right and realizing my thoughts weren’t my own, my thoughts were manipulated there by someone who resents me while telling me they love and care for me. I have such a strong sense of self that I knew that how I felt about myself in those moments didn’t place right. I took time for self reflection and came back knowing that I am not sorry for a second about who I am, knowing that I am a good person and shouldn’t be held to who I was in the past who was a lonely depressed traumatized girl looking for love and belonging. The experience was a good reminder for me of something I live by and something I whole heartedly tell others to live by – never apologize for who you are.

Thank goodness I have my tribe and those people reminded me that how this person viewed me was far from the truth. They made it easy for me to snap out of someone else’s manipulation and walk away from it. I encourage you to find your tribe in a world that is so ready to judge (if you haven’t already) and to look at and understand that your roles in people’s lives will be different, just as they will be to you, but your past does not define you. Who you are today, in this moment, this is who you are. And every day you get to make the choice of the type of people you keep in your life, of what you do with your days, the kind of life you want to lead, and how you want to see yourself. So everyday I hope that you choose to keep people in your life who love and accept you unconditionally, I hope you fill your days with what brings you joy, I hope you choose kindness and compassion, and I hope that you choose to love yourself. And remember at the end of the day never apologize for who you are.


Drink Up As Much Life As You Can

As nomads we are pros at the statement “if you love something let it go, if it’s meant for you it will come back to you”. We can’t ask someone to stay when we know we wouldn’t want to be asked either. It’s the truest form of unconditional caring when you allow someone to go after their dreams even if it means you’re left behind, even if it means the end of a good thing.

I learned a really important lesson in my early twenties that has been a crucial part to understanding and coping with life. It was the simple statement of “this too shall pass”. And of course that helps to get through the tough times but I didn’t learn it in that way. I learned it in the positive way of making the most out of your days and enjoying the ride because nothing will last forever. But our memories are a collection of our lifetime, so we should create the best ones we can by really making the most out of life.

I’ve come to learn that even if you know something will end eventually that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it full force and make the most out of it. If we take the opportunities life gives us and make the damn most out of them there is no room for regret.

I’m still trying to master the art of letting go. But I do know that a key factor to being able to let go is to have lived it to the fullest so much that when it ends you can feel happy about it versus destroyed. You will feel grateful for the experience and the memories, sad to say goodbye, but you will know that you still have happiness ahead of you. Of course you will feel sad over the ending of something but not so much that it will destroy you, hold you back, or stop you from living in the present.

Some of my best memories and the best people in my life came from moments I knew wouldn’t last but I made the most out of it regardless (isn’t that the essence of what travelling is?). I’ve been more graceful at letting go of some people and places, others took me a long time to learn how to move forward because of their depth of meaning to me and the way they changed my life.

I think there will always be places and people I’ll be willing to welcome with open arms for all my life because of how deeply I’ve cared for them and they’ve cared for me. They are the people and places that I view highly, that have given me the best memories, and have changed me in the most positive ways.

Life has an interesting way of working itself out. I know this well. And because of it I have faith that sometimes what seems like an ending is only temporary and even if it isn’t, as cliché as it sounds, every ending is a new beginning. But you can’t hold on to that hoping and waiting. You’ve got to move on, you’ve got to live your life, and if those amazing things come full circle it’s an amazing experience. If they don’t you’ll most likely have made new amazing experiences and will continue to regardless.

Moving forward in the present is something which, if mastered, can free you from attachment and possession. It is easy to look at the past as better than it was and because of that, when our life’s aren’t to our satisfaction, we fall down the dark well of nostalgia. Nostalgia can be a friend or it can be a foe. It is when we get lost in wishing our life isn’t what it was that we lose ourselves in that well of despair. But if we are grateful for where we are (even if it may not be where we want to be), and look at the past with gratitude for helping to grow us, we then have a positive nostalgia.

We can also get trapped in the daunting fear of what is to come. The “should’s”, the “what if’s”, the list of all possible things that could go wrong in the future, so much so that it stops us from following our dreams or things that could make us happy. And when we get trapped by those mind games with ourselves, we lose sight of what is in front of us. And ironically, what is in front of us is what will determine our future. Our moments, our memories, our days, right here and right now, what we fill them with will determine the outcome of our lives.

I invite you to live in the present moment and know that your time is the most precious thing you have. We are given moments, we aren’t given more time. How you spend your minutes is how you spend your life. So you better make the damn most of it. You better honor how precious your time is and only offer it to those who also honor your presence in their life.

I hope you use your days to go after your dreams, to follow your joy. I hope that you get the blessing to meet people, or places, or situations that make you want more time or to make time stand still because you wish you could continue making those memories forever.

I hope that your time is filled with people and things that make you laugh, that keep you smiling, and help you to feel grateful for the life that you lead. Make sure you make the most of these moments, make the most out of your days and drink up as much of life as you can.