Sticking to My Truth

Wow… It has been a long time since I wrote on here.

Yes, I have been busy but my blogging absence has mainly been due to a realization that my words might travel farther and mean more than I had originally thought. When I first started this blog, I was doing it for myself. I never really expected for anyone to read it or for anyone to take anything from my words. Back in September one of my posts was shared on a weekly inspiration round up targeted to women. Believe me, I was shocked but honoured. It meant people were obviously getting something out of my words. At 20 years old, when I am still trying to figure so much out, this seemed crazy to me. As time went on, anytime I tried to start writing I stopped because I wanted to make sure whatever I was writing had an impact. However, I originally “inspired” just writing from the heart and just letting my thoughts flow. After all… the name of this blog is Honestly Alexis.

Today, most people my age are looking for some form of media attention. We dress ourselves up just for a photo and go places just to tag the location on Instagram to gain followers and likes. That’s not ever what I wanted this blog to be. I wanted it to be real and honest and reflect my feelings and values. I don’t want to write what will get approval from others, I want to write what reflects my truth.

Therefore, I learned how important it is to stay true to yourself, when the world is constantly morphing to fit the mold of perfection. Now, if that’s not a little inspiring, I don’t know what is.

I see a lot more posts in my future; maybe inspiring ones, maybe lame ones, but one’s that I am proud of.

Adjusting Into A Long Distance Relationship

When I started connecting with my boyfriend he lived away in Burnaby. Only a two hour ferry ride and a bit of driving separated us. For the longest time, we were only accustomed to the long distance ways. However, he then came back home for the Summer. We took advantage of that time and spent every second possible together. Although you make tons of memories, the down fall is when they have to leave again. This time, he was not only leaving off the island to the mainland, he was moving a whole province away. Now this might not seem like a big deal because only a quick flight and an uber separates us now. This is true… but many other factors make seeing each other much more difficult. Our schedules are a complete mess. We are both full time students and I work on top of it. Not to mention the financial constraints of being students. When flights are $400 round trip, a quick weekend visit makes you rethink things.

The adjustment to him leaving has been anything but easy. I’ve felt lonely, spent sleepless night and no matter how much long distance love I was getting, it just wasn’t filling the void of having him here.

I overall wasn’t feeling like myself. For a while I wished that he had never come home at all because I wouldn’t be feeling this way if he hadn’t. It wasn’t until I started going through all my photos,  remembering all the memories we made and how much closer we became in those three months of being together full time, that I accepted the new distance between us.

Here is a couple of the little tricks we use to make the time apart easier:

Communication: We live in a lucky world where we have so many resources to bridge the geographical gaps between our loved ones. All I can say is use these resources to KEEP THE COMMUNICATION GOING! Even something as simple as a good morning text message can make all the difference. We like to use FaceTime, even if we study while on it together, or having nightly talks.

Know your phone plan. Don’t get stuck with hefty phone bills. Know what your plan includes and work with it. Many plans, like mine, have unlimited calling after 6pm and weekends, which can be a huge saviour for those long chats.

The Future: As scary as it may seem at first, talking about the future makes long distance easier. It lets you know that the distance is temporary and gives you both goals to work towards. Stay within your comfort zone of what kind of topics to touch on that relate to the future but don’t feel like you shouldn’t talk about it at all.

Time Gap: We are lucky because we only have a one hour time gap. That being said, scheduling things can sometime be a pain. “Did he want to FaceTime at 9 my time or his?”. Remember to clarify this and set aside reasonable amounts of time that work for both of you to chat.

Be Sensitive: Just because you are feeling secure and happy with how the long distance relationship is working, doesn’t mean your partner is. Check in with them and be there if they aren’t feeling great. Highs and lows happen and they are going to need your help along the way.

When its you feeling a little off, don’t be afraid to say something. Voice how you feel and if the relationship is strong and mature enough, you will be able to talk threw it and solve any issues.

Trust: People constantly ask about how trust plays into long distance. My answer has always been if you don’t trust them you shouldn’t be with them. If you find yourself social media stalking them or keeping yourself up at night thinking about what they may be doing and who they are doing it with, that relationship needs some work. Be with someone who you are confident in and who you trust will do the right thing.

Remember The Little Things: Those “how was your day?”, “I love you” and “I appreciate you” statements go so far. They are small but meaningful.

 

 

Knocking Out Back To School Nerves!

“Are you ready for back to school?” said everyone of my customers and co-worker.

Good question.

As some may know, I have anxiety. It is anxiety that is very livable, but this is because I really focus on what I need in order to be the most successful version of myself. Going back to school is one of those times that is a little more challenging. Lots of expenses accumulate, your schedule does a complete 360, and it means more brain work rather than physical work. Now, going into my third year of university, I think I have a smooth transition almost figured out.

Here are a couple of my little tricks:

-Get prepared well in advance. After August long weekend, start thinking about what you need to get done and write yourself a list. I try to knock one thing off this list every day.

-Set yourself a realistic budget for how much back to school will cost you.

-Start looking for textbooks for sale well in advance, you can get great deals on used books and save loads of money.

-Start posting about your used textbooks to receive some money back.

-Get yourself and agenda and consistently update it. Seriously, put your life into this book.

-Cut the liquor, cut the bad foods, increase the water in take and get thinking about your exercise routine and how it can be improved.

-Clean up your life! Clean the house, car, purse and anything else you frequently use or spend time in.

-Try giving meal prepping a go. The more prepared you are in the morning, the more time you’ll have to sleep in.

-Speaking of sleep, strive to get at least an 8 hour sleep. It makes a world of difference when you are well rested.

-Find a solid support system to help push you through the hard times.

Getting back to school is a hectic time. Learn what works for you in terms of beating the stress! Everyone is different, but I guarantee that getting a head start will lead to greater success.

Let me know the things you do to kick stress and anxiety’s butt by commenting below!

 

 

What’s Trending?: Hammocking

On Vancouver Island the trend of hammocking has exploded. People come in large groups and will hang hammocks off anything, anywhere, at anytime. These hammocks are very reasonably priced and easy to find. The best part about it, you get to hang with friends, relax and get outdoors. What could be better?

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I recently got a hammock for my birthday and had to go try it out. A friend and I set our hammocks up over top of one another at Nanaimo’s Neck point Park. The area over looking bay in the back of the park is a hot spot for hammockers. Within half an hour of being there, we had three other people join us in their hammocks.

Most trends are not all they are cracked up to be… but let me tell ya… after about five minutes I was so relaxed I was about to fall asleep (as you can see, I was ready to fall asleep in that picture).

I loved this evening activity so much that I bought a double hammock for my boyfriend’s birthday. This hammock was large enough that we could hang in it together, and this time, we really did nap. We chose an afternoon on Parksville’s Little Mountain to hang. If you bring a few snacks and a drink, it is the perfect little date. Not to mention, these hammocks are super light transportable and can be brought along on any adventure, whether it’s camping, hiking or a road trip.

Our Double Hammock: Amazon Double Hammock

Tip: Spend the extra money and get a hammock with the loop tree straps. This makes set up much faster and convenient.

 

VI’s Century Sam Lake

By far, one of the most memorable moments of the 2017 Summer, was my hike up to Century Sam Lake.

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Yes… the water really  is THAT blue!

This gem is located in Strathcona Provincial Park, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Although it is completely worth it to attempt this hike, it is not the easiest hike to get to. The trail head is located on the Comox Main logging road, which is owned by Timberwest Forest Corporation. The area is open to the public on weekends only; however, with the rising fire hazards in British Columbia, the gate can be closed at anytime. I recommend visiting the Timberwest Facebook page to check on the status of gates before attempting the trip.

Once you pass the gate hurdle, you go down the logging road until you hit a bridge which will be followed by signage for Cruickshank Main. Turn right onto this main. Follow the road until you come across a fork in the road. Then turn left onto the road that is signed “East Fork Main”. After about 5 minutes of driving, there will be small signs for the Comox Glacier trailhead. Comox Glacier and Century Sam Lake have the same trailhead so continue to follow these signs. Our truck began to struggle about 2km from the trail head, as the logging road is full of deactivation ditches. We parked 2km away from the trail head and walked the road. The trail head is very noticeable and well marked. You will cross over the river and come across 2 signs. One sign points to the Century Sam Lake Trail and one points to the Comox Glacier Trail. Once on the trail, the path is beaten and easy to follow. The trail is not maintained like the rest of Strathcona Provincial Park.  The trail is full of roots and requires some bush whacking. Watch your step on the trail and be prepared.

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The hike is about 8km from the trailhead and took about 2 hours each way. Leave lots of time to spend at the Lake!

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If you can manage to find a way to cross over the river flowing from the lake, go check out the rock cairn and snow caves on the other side.

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The water was still high in mid July, so in order to cross the river, we removed our hiking boots and walked through the water. The water is so cold that my water obsessed Spring Spaniel didn’t even go for a swim.

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Just look at her unimpressed face…

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REMINDER: Please be respectful of the wildlife and ecosystems. Pack out everything you packed in and take nothing but memories!

Strathcona Provincial Park: Kwai Lake

Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is jaw-dropping beautiful. This Summer I have done two trips out to the park, one to Forbidden Plateau and one out to the Battle Lake Area. The Kwai Lake Loop is is located in the Forbidden Plateau and is moderate day hike spanning approximately 15-16km. The hike takes roughly 5 hours depending on speed and the number of breaks taken. The lake has a number of campsites surrounding it that give incredible views to mountains like Mount Albert Edward.

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The hike starts from the Mount Washington Access of Strathcona Provincial park and trails through Paradise Meadows, a very touristy section of the park, which consists of flat and boarded walkways.

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Moving past paradise meadows, the Battleship Lake Loop will take you up to Lake Helen Mackenzie. Instead of following the rest of the Battle Lake Loop, continue onto Kwai Lake.

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This is the Forbidden Plateau Ranger Station ft. my little springer spaniel, Gypsy. The Ranger Station is a neat place to stop for a quick snack.

fullsizeoutput_1170The Frobidden Plateau Ranger station from the trail.

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Parts of the trail in early July still had snow on the ground. I was not prepared to go up to Kwai Lake as I thought I was only doing the Battleship Lake Loop. Runners were not the best choice of footwear, my feet were very wet and muddy by the end. Be prepared!

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Taa-daa! Kwai Lake! Look at that back drop!

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Gowland Tod Provinical Park: Jocelyn Hill

Calling all VI’ers!! This moderate hike is beautiful. From McKenzie Bight in Gowland Tod Provincial Park, it is about a 5 hour trip spanning 14km. Not only is there one AMAZING view at the end but there are several views along the way, which deserve a “runner up” title.

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Directions: The trail is very well marked. All you need to worry about is getting to the trail head. The trail head and parking lot are located on Ross-Durance Road in Victoria, BC. Approximately 200 meters down the road is a big parking lot with washrooms and maps. Continue 300 meters, by foot, down the road and you will come across a yellow gate. This is the trail head. From there, everything is very straight forward and signed. You are mainly looking to stay on the Timberman Trail.

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Use common sense, follow Markers, and avoid paths that are intentionally blocked off by logs and you will make it to your destination without a hitch.

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TIP: Stop at the Squally Ridge viewpoint which is on the way to Jocelyn hill and about 30 seconds off the track. Make sure to pack water, snacks and a first aid kit. We had a tumble down a hill when our foot was caught in a root.

Note: Please be respectful of the wildlife and ecosystems. Pack out everything you packed in and take nothing but memories!

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Throwing A Baby Shower

Throwing a baby shower was probably one of the most exhausting, memorable and rewarding experiences of my life. I could have just put out food and a cleaned the house but I don’t do anything half ass. Of course, I had to pick a theme and follow that theme through, with everything.

To all those who entertain on a regular basis, you deserve a round of applause. It’s A LOT of planning and work.

So, when my friend found out she was having a baby boy, I immediately started filling up the Pinterest boards with ideas. I settled on a rustic teddy bear theme, as I assumed I could follow through with that theme on a budget, which I did. I frequented dollars stores on a regular basis and DIY’d pretty much everything.

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One of my first duties was grabbing anything rustic from the dollar store. I found cheap twine, chalkboard everything, burlap everything and lots of blue ribbon.

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One of the hits was my popcorn bags! I hole punched a about a cm apart on the top of the bag and ran twine back and forth through the holes, finally tying a knot when the two ends met in the front. Then I made twine figure 8’s and glued them on to look like a bow. I topped it off with two salt and pepper shakers full of popcorn seasoning and labelled them.

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I topped the popcorn off with one of the burlap chalkboard signs I found at the dollar store that I added buttons too. These were perfect for labelling food and went well with the theme.

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What’s a baby shower without a Pinterest fail? These teddy graham cupcakes were my nightmare. Never ask me to decorate a cake, the result is scary. However, to incorporate the cupcake platter, I added a bow on the base with a button in the centre.

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On a separate table, I had what I called “Honey Bear ‘Mom’osas”. This was a mom friendly drink, just made of lemonade and club soda that I put in a fancy dispenser, and again decorated it with a bow. The sign was one of my spruced up dollar store specials and the coffee cups were a white cup that I hot glued with a burlap strip and a straw bow.

DSC_0923The teddy bear cake was such a cute addition to the party. I know what you are thinking… No, I did NOT make this cake. Shout out to Country Grocer’s bakery team. They were amazing to deal with, the cake looked amazing and was delicious and you can’t beat a $24.00 price tag!

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I also had the napkins fit the theme by folding them into a bow tie shape. The bows were secured by wrapping the blue ribbon around it and attaching the ends in the back with a drop of hot glue. The teddy bears in the back where ordered off Amazon and I just added a bow to them.

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Now for food, I created a little teddy bear cheese platter using Borsin cheese that I moulded into a semi Circle. I stuck two olives into the cheese to represent eyes and one for the nose. Ritz crackers were used for the ears and then I sliced up meats and cheeses to go around it. Assorted crackers were stacked in the back bowl to go along with it.

I also had chopped up fruit to go with a chocolate fountain, which I must say, was a bit of a fail. The machine did not work like it should, but chocolate is chocolate and it went over fine anyways.

Remember dunkaroos? I made my own version. I had birthday cake icing and teddy grahams for dipping. Had I done this again, I would have made my own icing.

Lastly, I had a standard veggie platter from Costco that I just moved into a different dish for looks.

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If there is one thing I can stress, It’s games games and more GAMES! Keep the people entertained. “Guess the size of mom’s belly” was a common one on Pinterest. I just got a little tin from Walmart to put the yarn in and attached a chalk board stick-on to the front, where I wrote on the self explanatory name. The yarn was, of course, blue and I had little tags to write the guessers name on. Once everyone had guessed I just measured them around mom’s waste and the winner got a prize.

DSC_0947I also found these great chalkboard calendars at the dollar store and turned them into a guessing game of when the baby would come. This was a super cute idea, although no one wins right away.

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Ah, the bottle drinking game. All you need is a few cheap bottles and some form of a drink. Everyone then races to finish the bottle first. NOTE: I would avoid anything acidic. Lemonade truly hurt the tongue after a while of drinking.

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The prize table had a few note books and candle/ diffuser sets to give out. I also put out a little can to collect any cards in. The white paper looking contraption, was a frame for people to take photos in. It was a cute idea but needed more structure to work well.

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Some of the little touches are the best touches. I Somehow managed to whip this ribbon up. Don’t ask me how… It was a late night after a long attempt at crafts. It contains a circular chalk board stick-on, some cardboard, twine, burlap, ribbon and about 7839 hot glue sticks.

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I am a sucker for flowers but I am also a starving student. These two things don’t go together very well. I opted for baby’s breath and daisies cause they are delicate and cheap. I made homemade vases using mason jars and a variety of ribbon, twine, burlap and such to make each vase unique but theme fitted.

So there you have it.

Throwing a themed baby shower is WORK and MONEY. However, if I could do it all over again, I would. It is a very satisfying feeling when all is said and done. Just remember, start early, plan within your means, and think reasonable about what themed items will be easy to find. Rustic themes are super easy and affordable and provide lots of opportunity for DIY projects.

 

Why I keep a “Box of Memories”

Some might call me crazy or perhaps, even a hoarder but I am I constantly adding to my “box of memories”. I started this box after sitting down with one of my friend’s grandmas and going through her endless scrapbooks and keep sakes. She told me to hold onto everything, even the things that hurt me to look at now because, one day, I would want to remember it all; the good the bad and the ugly. These moments would all shape the person I become and determine the path I take.

As we flipped through the books together, she laughed at her old pictures and smiled at old love letters. I was taken back, as a girl who had recently gone through a breakup, I thought there was no reason to keep anything like that. She looked at me and said “why get rid of it? That was a part of your life where you learned, loved and created memories”. She couldn’t have been more right. After that conversation I began to collect everything from old cards, event tickets, photos, knick knacks to preserved flowers that had been given to me.

Now, when I’ve had a rough week, I will pull out the box and look over everything. I will see the kind words that had been written to me in cards and old love letters and I look at the pictures from all the amazing experiences I’ve had. Yes, some things still hurt to read or look at but as time goes on feelings change and the negative feeling behind those memories with an ex boyfriend or ex friend fade.

I hope that one day when I am retired and my grandkids come to visit I can pull out this box, which at this rate will be closer to tubs full of memories, and show them how my life unfolded. Where I too, will convince them to create and keep their memories.

Combatting Anxiety With Nature

If there’s something I have never been shy about, it’s my struggle with anxiety. For years I sat there, letting my anxiety eat me alive. As time went on, I found little ways to cope with the constant panic and stress of dealing every imperfection I faced. I obsessed over cleaning, my physical imperfections, and every single grade I got within school. Unless it was perfect, I wasn’t happy. Since not much in life is perfect, happiness was becoming less and less common. It wasn’t until I spent time discovering myself and dove into different passions, that I began to feel secure in my own skin and surroundings. One of my coping tactics was getting out and experiencing different trails, attractions and beaches outdoors. These didn’t have to be things that were far off the beaten path, but just things that let me escape for just a little while. My mind would be more captured by my senses than by my racing anxious thoughts. Now, I try once a week to pick one new place in the outdoors to experience, and usually I go accompanied by someone in my amazing support system. I can’t even begin to explain how much happiness this addition to my life has brought me. I now have something to look forward to and amazing memories to look back on.

Now don’t let me fool you, things still aren’t perfect. Everyone has bad days. However, anyone who is struggling with anxiety has so many options available. The key is experimenting with positive coping tactics and finding what works for you. There is no harm in reaching out for help and putting a little faith in your support systems to guide you in the right directions.