Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Sober Blog

You know what really sucks about cutting out alcohol completely? When you have the urge, for the first time since the birth of your blog, to write a drunken post and you just can't. You know the kind I'm talking about - the one where you rant and ramble on and say things you would never think of writing in a sober state, and yet the words, the sentence, seem to flow from your fingers effortlessly.

You have an imaginary conversation with someone that you will probably never have in real life and even if you did, it would most certainly be a private affair. Yet it all seems to make sense in you fuzzy wine-induced state - this blogging what's on your mind and in your heart. You wax philisophical about everything from the importance of daily flossing to questions of our existence. And then you relate a story of such hilarity that you literally fall off your chair in fits of laughter as you are writing it.

Mind you, I can only imagine this scenario because this is indeed the first time I've ever desired to write such a post. And yet I can't, because I am sober and will be for the forseeable future. So instead I will write a blog post in my current stat, which is, sadly 'very tired and smelling of campfire smoke'.

This is where I am right now - I love life. I love the universe. I love love. Good things are happening and I'm excited. This whole 'follow your heart' philosophy, it really works - and I'm not just talking about one area of life here, I'm talking about the whole gambit. If you feel a tug, don't ignore it. It's your soul speaking to you. Don't let your own thoughts inhibit you. It's like the multiple choice tests - 90% of the time, your first gut reaction/intuition is the 'best' answer. Think about it too much and you might make the 'not so great' choice. I say best and not best, because this is an analogy and while tests have right and wrong answers, in life things are never quite that black and white.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Help Exchange - Jump On Board!

While I was in Australia I went 'backpacking' around the country for 110 days. I couldn't afford to do this even as a budget traveller staying at hostels and eating McDonald's (shudder), and, to be honest, I couldn't bear the thought of spending three and a half months moving from bunk bed to bunk bed, sharing a room with strangers every night and, very likely, some hungry bed bugs. I had a choice to make - I could cut my travel days down to about 35 and give it a go on the ol hostel scene, which I'd already done in Europe OR I could find a way to stretch my budget, a way to get through 80 of those 110 days without spending any money.

A quick Google search led me to the answer I'd been seeking:, also known as Help ExChange.

'Help Exchange is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&B, inns, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation (board and lodging).'

The primary purpose of the exchange is a cultural one, with travellers having the chance to meet locals and gain experience, while the hosts have a chance to learn about other cultures while also recieving help in their daily activities.

I stayed at 8 different places while I travelled around Australia and I can't even begin to explain how invaluable it was. The work was fair and I did some fun things like milking a cow, making preserves, cooking dinners, and looking after horses. I was also put up in some lovely homes and fed some delicious meals...and made a few myself, BUT by far, the greatest value of this exchange was in meeting some absolutely brilliant people whose wisdom and knowledge have had a resounding impact on me.

For the hosts, as well, I believe the exchanges are beneficial. Helpers that come to visit are often, themselves, full of knowledge and insights they can pass on to their hosts. Some have special skills, such as carpentry or horse care, which can be really useful to the host. In any case, from what I gathered, Help Exchanges are mutually beneficial, which is, I suppose, why they are still happenning!

Right, so here I am back in Canada and thinking to myself - I wish more people in North America knew about this network. The site does provide networks for both Canada and the States, but there aren't many hosts listed. I can think of some reasons why this is the case, but I still think there is huge potential for this network to expand in Canada and the States.

For those concerned about their security or safety, well there is a 'reviews' section, in which helpers can post their reviewsof hosts and vice versa. I rarely found any negative reviews, but when I did I took them seriously. All said and done, the world is full of good people and the chances of finding yourself in an unsafe situation are extremely small - common sense speaks volumes when you're travelling in any case!

You don't have to be a farmer to host a helper - the majority of places I stayed were just homes where the family needed a bit of help doing this or that. I spent four hours a day cleaning walls and countertops at one place, I made crepes for dinner at another and hauled tree branches from one yard to another in yet another place.

So, I suppose what I am saying is: check this site out! Maybe you would like to have some helpers come to you, maybe you know someone else who needs help, maybe you are travelling yourself soon.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hmmm. I'm Drawing a Blank Here ____________

Some VERY Random Thoughts of the Day:

So here I am back 'home' on PEI . Somehow I forgot how beautiful this island is during the summer months. I have to say, even after living in Europe and Australia, this little island on the East Coast of Canada still gives me the goosebump. My dad and I were driving down through Stanley Bridge this afternoon and I commented on how gorgeous it was. He seemed surprised, asking if I thought so even after all the travelling I've done. Well, the answer is an emphatic YES. And there's more to this Island than its beauty, there's a certain character to it that I can't find the words to describe, but which is both invigorating and calming at the same time.

I suppose sometimes we don't or can't appreciate the true brillance of something until we are in its absence. Luckily, we always have the opportunity to return.


At the moment my mind is churning around a lot. I have so many things to think about and do - find employment, explore entrepreneurial ventures, focus on my health/nutrition, catch up with friends, start looking for a place to live in Ch'town, figure out where I am going and why, look at my finances, etc.

And yet I find my mind wandering. A lot. It wanders in one direction only. At least I am a consistent wanderer.

I need it to stop wandering - it is consuming too much of my time and energy. I blame my heart. My heart blames my head. It's all very circular and uninteresting to the rest of you, so I digress.


There are so many new things in Charlottetown since I left. Oooh a new intersection and a Boston Pizza. We are moving up in the world. There are also a few new bars and restaurants in town that might actually be worth checking out....once I am in Stage 3 of my Lifewise plan, where I can eat more than just chicken, fish and tofu.

I am genuinely excited to go to Blues night at the Maple Grille. PEI entertainment in the summer rocks. I was on Victoria Row Saturday night and was pleasantly surprised when a jazz band started up just as the sun was starting to fall. It would have been very romantic aside from that fact that I was with Schemida. But at least I was in good company.


I have four weddings to attend next summer. Hopefully no funerals. I refer to the film,in case you think I am just being morbid. Anyways, so my big sis is tying the knot with Mr. Thunder and they are having and Island wedding. Three of my friends are also getting marrie in various locations and to men/women with last names that are not nearly as interesting as Rowan Thunder's, but who are brilliant people nonetheless.


I miss my Australia friends. I think they should all come visit me on PEI. Or we could meet halfway - say in Hawaii.


I want to work out at the gym but I can't afford a gym membership yet. Instead I am jogging 4 k a day, doing step for half an hour and lifting weights for another 30 minutes. That's about 90 minutes of my day dedicated to feeling better, being healthier and looking more like I did before I left Canada.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Home At Last

I took the ferry to PEI for the first time since the bridge opened back in '97. It was a brilliant way to come home - waves lapping gently against the boat, the white sunlight streaking its way through the heavily hung gray clouds and, of course, the ruddy red cliffs greeting us with open arms. It was a sweet way to return to my roots.

Originally I was planning to take the shuttle back to the Island, but Patrick saved me from that horrible fate by deciding to head to Halifax for a weekend of couchsurfing & partying. He had the company of two travellers - Sebastian, from Romania and hitchiker Dave, from the UK. Hitchiker Dave made it from Calgary to PEI in a mere four days. That is impressive.

Friday afternoon the guys rocked up at my sister's place and after a brief visit, we hightailed it to Halifax for a couchsurfing shindig, picking up Natasha on the way. I was soooo happy to see both Patrick and Natasha, as they are both fellow wanderlusts who haven't fallen into the whole 'hatch, match & dispatch' mentality that seems so prevalent on PEI. After the couchsurfing shindig, Tash & I retired to her place on the navy base, intending to have an early night, but I had already indulged in too much alcohol and at around midnight insisted that we hit a pub in town so we went to a brilliant Irish place on Barrington and I kicked up my heels like I haven't for ages. It felt great! Eventually, the DJ handed the reins over to The Boys Next Door, whom I've been trying to see for ages. Yay! But seriously, why do people keep telling me I look like Betty Boop?

On Saturday Sahra, Tash, Schemida and I headed to the farmer's market, which would have been thoroughly enjoyable if I'd had more sleep and less wine the night before. Well, in any case we then made our way to the Greek Fest, where we enjoyed some delicious souvlaki and pastries, and watched little Greek kids dance in a circle.

Eventually Sahra, Schemida and I made our way to the public gardens. It ended up being prom day, so there were loads of high school kids decked out to the nines getting their pictures taken. Some of the dresses were breathtakingly beautiful - I think Sahra might have gotten a few ideas for her wedding dress. I, meanwhile, found myself admiring one or two of the men who were wearing forties style hats. So very nice.

My heart is tugging. I need some distractions. It's a good thing I am back home - job-hunting, apartment-hunting, working out and catching up with friends/family should provide almost enough in this regard.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Stranger Than Shannon

It's 11.39 a.m, I just woke up to find myself snuggled up on my sister's couch with two black cats perched upon the living room furniture (one enjoying the softness of my bath towel), watching my every move as I groggily made my way to the bathroom.

That's when I finally woke up.

I am back in Canada. The Australian chapter of my life is closed. My interlude in Michigan has come and gone. I'm 26 years old. I have a backpack and a suitcase full of clothes, an ancient Toshiba laptop and some random furniture packed away at my parents' place from university days. I'm unemployed and basically homeless. My bank account is fast dwindling, thanks to student loans and credit cards used to finance my explorations of Europe and Australia.

It would seem that I have nothing, and yet I feel as though I have everything.

I've decided to hang up my travelling shoes for a couple of years, but it feels like I am about to embark on the greatest adventure of my life so far. There is nothing tying me to one place or another, to a particular job or way of living. It's like I'm at the Universe's buffet table and I just have to pick and choose what I want from the endless options available.

I'm excited. Life is beautiful.

A long time ago I promised myself I wouldn't let fear guide me through life. This resulted in me booking one-way flights to countries far from home, throwing myself into the unknown before I could think rationally about what I had done. A lot of people have labelled me as brave because I've lived abroad, not knowing a single soul in the country I landed. The truth is, I wasn't brave, I booked my tickets on impulse, painting myself into a corner that I couldn't get out of without a significant financial loss.

And you know what? Things always worked out some way or another. Life has a way of doing that, if you just let it.

Everything happens for a reason. You just have to have faith. Australia and Michigan taught me that.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Job? On PEI? Anybody????

So yah. I'm heading back to PEI next week. YAY!!!! Finally, a summer in PEI !!! I am stoked - really and truly I am. It's just that, well, I need a job. And fast. If anyone knows of any position that requires more than the ability to operate a cash register or serve food, please please let me know. I will soon become desperate . . . and I really don't want to know what would happen then....