Anti-Lifestyle: Staying True to Yourself vs. Staying True to Your Brand 

I knew from the get go that moving to Ottawa would be great for my brand. I kept reminding myself that the market here is less saturated so there’s more room to stand out. I knew that I would generate great content by adjusting to a new city and I knew you guys would love the realness associated with big changes. I even went as far as writing myself a list months ago about all the topics I could write about once arriving here.

I also knew that doing something because it would be good for my brand, even though it was against my truest wishes was very against brand for me. I found myself torn, I knew that I would have great opportunities to work on my passion if I stayed in Ottawa, the kind that I can’t get in such a big city like Vancouver. There are blogger events and companies that want to work with someone my size in Ottawa. That’s not the case in Vancouver.

It has become clear to me though, that if I stay in Ottawa to grow my network, I would have to put on an act, and lie about how I was adjusting. I would have to go back to being the girl who advertised her perfect lifestyle when some things didn’t feel perfect. I could recreate the narrative of falling aimlessly through space and time. I could tell you that it feels like flying rather than feels like spiraling out of control. I could tell you that I’m finding myself in the new hustle and that I finally found a place to land.

That is very strongly against my brand. My brand is staying true to me and being an advocate for honesty and reality. I’m not here to sell you a lifestyle that isn’t real, raw and full of passionate joy and passionate pain. At the end of the day, I have to stay aligned with my beliefs not because it’s my brand, but because it’s myself.

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The Art of Settling In

I’m not talking about settling, or settling down because I’m absolutely not doing either of those. What I am talking about is settling in, adjusting to changes. This period of my life has been full of changes, from moving to not moving and back and forth I have been making adjustment after adjustment until landing exactly where I am. I’m not settling into Ottawa, I’m settling into the idea of what my life is now. My life is in Ottawa, and my life is in Vancouver. I’m settling into the idea of my life not going perfectly according to a certain plan.

I’ve always taken a while to settle in. When I moved to Victoria my heart was in Vernon, when I moved to Vancouver my heart was in Victoria and it hurt me so much to settle into a new life. This time I’m in Ottawa, but my heart’s in Vancouver and I’ve decided I don’t want to settle into a new life. I’m happy with where I am, and I’m happy to settle into my new normal but in my old home.

Settling in is about accepting where you are, and adjusting to the changes, big or small. Settling in is finding your routine amongst all the moving parts and finding where your heart sings the most. It just so happens for me, my heart sings in Vancouver, and I’m happy to settle in there. Not settling, and not quite settling down – which is what I would be doing if decided to move. I’m settling into a life, where for the first time, I put myself first.

Taking my Hands off the Wheel 

I’m a planner, I’ve always been a planner. I like everything in my life to be laid out and organized in just a certain way. I like knowing what’s next and having a timeline for everything. Over the past month, I have not been able to have control over every any aspect of my life. I have fully taken my hands off the wheel lately for the first time in my life.

Everyone said it would feel freeing, and that I would enjoy the aspect of uncertainty. That I wouldn’t be able to go back to being in control of everything. This was a bold faced lie. I hate not being in control, and I feel terrified and uncomfortable with everything that comes my way. I need a plan.

That all being said, not having a plan has given me opportunities over the past month that I never would have had otherwise. I never would have ended up at the most beautiful B&B in the world, I never would have seen as much of PEI as I did and I probably wouldn’t be here right now. I wouldn’t have driven all the way across Canada for Canada 150 and I wouldn’t have met the amazing people I’ve met so far.

I’m over it though. As wonderful as this experience has been, it’s very clearly not for me. Please bear with me as I embark on the journey of planning the next phase of my life.

I Wished Away my Entire Summer

Summer started late this year in Vancouver – I feel like it didn’t warm up and stop raining until around June. I spent the first two weeks of June wishing it was the 16th so that I could finally go to England.

When we got back from England, it was almost July. July came with a whole new set of challenges and wishing away. The first two weeks of July I kept wishing for August so I could finally leave Vancouver. The second two weeks I wished for August so the packing would be finished.

In August, I wished for July. I wished for more time at home, more time with the people I loved and more time in our perfect apartment.

In August I also wished for September. I wished for a sense of home, a sense of routine. I wished for my independence and I wished for pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters.

Now that it’s September, I wish for June, July and August. I wish I didn’t wish away the whole summer.

My Gluten-Free Travel Guide to Prince Edward Island

As my three weeks in this beautiful province comes to a close I wanted to recap my summer experience on the island. We’re hopping on a plane in Moncton early tomorrow morning to head back to Ottawa in time for Seb’s schooling.

I hope you guys enjoy this format of a travel blog as I’m still trying to find my footing and figure out the best way to sum up my trips.

What I Did

1. Beaches, beaches and more beaches

PEI is known across the country for its beautiful beaches, and it did not disappoint. We probably went to the beach half a dozen times and never the same one twice. I was lucky enough to have some amazing tour guides to take me to the most secluded beaches. From white, singing sand to the famous red sand I was in love with every single seashore adventure we were on.

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2. Point Prim Lighthouse

I’ve always been fascinated with lighthouses, but rarely got to see one in real life. Point Prim is not only accessible to get up close and personal with, you can actually go inside and climb all the way up to the top. An experience I won’t soon forget.

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3. Cows Factory Tour

Cows ice cream is nothing to scoff at – it’s divine and everyone knows that. Their factory tour on the other hand, albeit free, was absolutely something we should have skipped. Self-guided tours are fine, but walking down a short hallway to look into empty rooms with no explanation was not worth the trip. Luckily we got ice cream at the end and it was all worth it.

Aside from ice cream, Cows has some awesome snacks. We indulged in some healthy servings of Cow Chips (chocolate covered potato chips) and Lucky Fox’s PEI Mix which consists of caramel corn and potato chips. The caramel was made with Cows Creamery butter – amazing.

4. Downtown Charlottetown and Peakes Quay

I have never met a quay I didn’t like, and Peakes Quay was no exception. It was disgustingly tourist geared which allowed me to find the perfect set of lobster earrings. I also got to pose with a man-sized lobster and wear a lobster hat. Aside from all the tackiness which I obviously embraced, there were very cool local shops throughout downtown and the quay that I really enjoyed. It was a lovely day of exploring a new city.

5. Charlottetown Farmers Market

The farmers market here runs Saturdays and Wednesdays during the summer. It’s partly indoor and partly outdoor and it all local artisans. The dumpling lady has THE BEST sticky rice I’ve had in over a decade. Yes, better than sticky rice in Richmond. Unfortunately I didn’t get the names of any of the businesses in there, but there was also an amazing cheese stand where we got mustard and black pepper infused Gouda. Yes, it was amazing.

Where I Ate

1. Cedars Eatery

This is a well-established Lebanese spot in Charlottetown. They had quite a few gluten free options clearly labelled on the menu here. I did not feel like I was an inconvenience when I ordered. We shared the Kafta and the House Chicken. The Kafta was SO GOOD, I would recommend this to literally everyone.

2. PEI Preserve Company

This place was probably almost definitely a tourist trap in New Glasgow – I’m not mad at all about it though. They had SO MANY gluten free options, and the prices were completely reasonable. They have a shop of locally made goodies in the front while you wait, and there was a bit of a wait when we went. The buzzer they gave me for our table was a small plastic lobster that vibrated and flashed red when our table was ready. My opinion may be totally biased based on the light up lobster alone – but I think the food was excellent too.

I had a potato pie (obviously) which was essentially cheesy scalloped potatoes in a crust made of bacon. I don’t know what else you need to know – it was amazing. I also got the corner piece which meant more bacon, so I’m now a believer. They also had probably half a dozen gluten free dessert options. From daily gluten free cake specials, to tiramisu, to what I ordered – a Baileys chocolate cheesecake. I’m in love.

3. Famous Peppers

I don’t actually have anything valuable to say about the service here or anything like that, as I didn’t order it or pick it up. When we first arrived on the island, Seb’s mom had already picked it up and had it waiting for us (bless her heart). She ordered two gluten free pizzas, again, I don’t know what they were. One had chicken on it and it was good, the other was LOADED with bacon and ground beef and it was SPECTACULAR. Up there with Oggi’s and The Parlour’s gluten free pizzas in my books.

4. Churchill Arms

This spot does not have a designated gluten free menu, and they do not guarantee anything. They have curries and salads that they say are the only things they would consider gluten free on the menu. The things is, I always gamble on fries – they’re just worth it for me. I had the curry chips (with cheese) twice here – I didn’t notice a reaction aside from what any normal person would feel after eating curry and cheese smothered on french fries. It was amazingly gross.

5. Ta-Ke Sushi

This place was bomb. I didn’t expect anything phenomenal ahead of time, but I was pleasantly surprised by its authenticity. We made the mistake of not telling them that I was Celiac before ordering an entire party platter, and panicked once they started drizzling sauces all over the rolls. The staff was lovely enough to make me a separate box of strictly gluten free rolls, and didn’t even charge us for it. It was absolutely our fault, but they went above and beyond to accommodate me. No tamari here though, so bring your own.

6. Fishbones Oyster Bar & Grill

I seriously debated even writing about this place as I don’t like saying negative things about places on the internet, but it’s not all bad. Fishbones did have a great gluten free selection on their menu, and I got so excited that we opted for 3 gluten free appies rather than an entree. We had the potato nachos, fried chicken and seafood chowder. All of which were gluten free. Personally, I loved the fried chicken, but it was a very, very small amount of chicken over a lot of fries. The seafood chowder was really good (and cream based), but even after specifying it was a gluten allergy, it still arrived with bread on it. They removed the bread, and offered to re-plate it but I felt like I would be a huge inconvenience if I asked for a new serving all together. I chanced it, and just avoided that side of the bowl as the chowder was thick, I got lucky this time – but I would have hoped they would be more cautious. Lastly, the potato nachos were fine, but they were covered in a cheez-whiz like sauce and lacking in real cheese. All in all this restaurant was fine and had a really diverse gluten free selection. I would just caution celiacs to be firm in stating their allergy here.

What I Drank

1. No Boats on Sunday

There’s not a lot of Ciders on the east coast, especially not local ones but I discovered the No Boats on Sunday cider from Nova Scotia and that’s been essentially what I’ve been drinking exclusively since being here.

2. Canada 150 Fizz

I also discovered this cocktail called the Canada 150 Fizz while out at the Point Prim Chowder House. It’s sparkling wine and Rossignol Cassiz from right here on PEI. It’s not too sweet and it’s so so good.

Homesick for a Reality That’s No Longer Mine 

We all know this feeling, it’s like nostalgia but more overwhelming at times.

“Nothing changes if nothing changes” – Ed Panar

Almost a month ago, Seb and I packed up our lives and sent them to a couple different places. I have stuff in Ottawa, stuff here with me in PEI and stuff in Vancouver, I have so much stuff and no where to put it. Last night I stayed up late and looked through old photos. Photos from when Seb and I first moved in to our one bedroom, photos of my friends and I in Victoria and in the early Vancouver days.

I miss my friends and I miss my family, but I also know they haven’t gone anywhere and I can see them again soon. What I’m homesick for the most though is my apartment. An apartment that isn’t mine anymore, someone else lives there now. I’m not just homesick for the walls, and the way the sunlight danced throughout the entire space, I’m homesick for being there, listening to Foy Vance on vinyl with Seb. I’m homesick for having my routine in my safe space, with Seb, my friends and family.

Simply put, I’m homesick for a life that will never exist again. I can stay in Ottawa and have a home with Seb, or I can go to Vancouver and have a home with friends and family – but no matter where I go, I can’t have it all. I’m homesick for May. I’m homesick for June. I’m homesick for July. I’m homesick for when I had it all.

I suppose all I have left to do now, is create a life I will be homesick for the next time the tides change.

Being my Own Best Friend

I absolutely adore my friends, as an only child, I have tended to foster friendships that are deep and loving in a sense that my friends are the siblings I didn’t have growing up.

That being said, growing up I spent a lot of time by myself. I had to learn how to play alone, and how to keep myself entertained. I was limited to an hour of “screen time” a day, that included television, MSN and my GameBoy. I spent probably close to 2 hours on the phone with my best friends when I was younger, or boys I had crushes on, but other than that I was by myself in my room creating things. I would build tiny cardboard houses and write poetry.

Throughout it all I began to discover a true friendship with myself. I became introspective and worked through major life changes alone, and learned I could rely on myself to get through all life threw at me. This hurt me a few times, and I had to learn how to reach out to loved ones and ask for help and to allow myself to depend on my network.

I found through this change I was worrying I was losing my independence and that I was losing the relationship I had with myself. Lately, over the past 2 or so years, I’ve found that friendship again with myself. I crave me time, and I love allowing myself to continue to nurture my relationship with myself. I remember to love myself, and to take care of myself because that’s what you do for your best friend.

It’s Not Always as Great as it Seems

Don’t get me wrong, I have an amazing life, I feel so blessed for it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

For both my long time, and recent followers  I have lived a very charmed life. I have been whisked away on many amazing adventures and I’ve been very lucky for everything I’ve experienced. I have an entire blog about moving to Norway at the age of 16 as well as this one which has covered every move, change and accomplishment I’ve made. I feel so privileged to have been given these opportunities and been able to follow my heart time after time. I am not minimizing my wealth of blessings thus far.

I can see why someone looking at my life from the outside would be jealous, I can see why it may seem unfair to people that I can just uproot time and time again and follow my heart. What people haven’t seen until recently is the sacrifice and true turmoil of the decisions leading to these amazing experiences. Not all of them were tough decisions, don’t get me wrong. Going to England in June was an easy one, but that has not been the norm.

I sit here in limbo, in a beautiful place because I listened to my heart. I’m lucky right now, but I soon have to start making some decisions. I had what I thought was a done-deal opportunity in Ottawa, and I was wrong.

I’ve been open about what I’ve struggled with in the past, so I don’t need to go back into detail about that, but it goes to show my life hasn’t all been one incredible trip to Europe separated by stints of normal life in Canada.

I believe in love, and I have chosen time and time again to risk it all for that. It hasn’t worked out multiple times, but that won’t change anything for me. I will continue to take chances on love, but I am also learning that love includes self-love. I missed my graduation year of high school because I chose to move to Norway. I then made a decision to stay in Canada after that because I was awarded a large scholarship and ultimately ended that love story. This is why I am afraid to make any decision this time around.

Both of those decisions were hard, they both involved sacrificing comfort. Comfort of home and comfort of what I thought at the time was the love of my life. I then moved to Victoria where I had the most ups and downs of my life, I struggled with mental illness and self medication for years before ultimately deciding to move to Vancouver. That decision came at the cost of sacrificing the comfort of friends, and the only lifestyle I knew as an independent adult.

Now I must decide between the comfort of being close to Sebastian or the comfort of being close to my family and support network. Both of which are two things I feel I can’t live without. That being said, time after time I have proven that I can thrive without the things I swore I couldn’t imagine missing.

At the end of the day though, I am living my best life and I’m so thrilled to be on Prince Edward Island with the man I love and I still believe that love will conquer all.

 

What is Anti-Lifestyle?

You may have noticed a recent change in my branding, where I have redefined myself from a lifestyle blogger to an anti-lifestyle blogger. You may wonder why I made that decision, and what it means.

I decided to make this change mainly for my mental health, but also in an attempt to be more human and more relatable. For most of us, myself included, we do not eat perfect meals every day, we don’t have marble counter tops and we don’t have the budget to live a perfect life. I found it was exhausting to keep up that facade as I mentioned recently.

For me, anti-lifestyle is an attempt to allow myself to be just that – myself. To not have to arrange everything in my life perfectly for a post. Anti-lifestyle is not eating a smoothie bowl for breakfast every day, and sometimes wearing sweatpants outside the house. It is not going to the gym, sometimes watching YouTube until 2 AM and living off cold pizza and coffee some days. It’s that I’m not a perfect planner, and sometimes things don’t work out. I don’t do cool things every day, and I don’t think I’d even want to. I’m just an average girl living my best life, doing some really mundane things but finding joy in the madness.

In a nutshell, anti-lifestyle is imperfect, honest and real.

So here I am.

Yours Truly,
Your friendly neighbourhood anti-lifestyle blogger.