twister

For a seed to achieve it's greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, it's insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction. ~ Cynthia Occelli

Our stuff was finally all packed up and loaded - destination east. It was pure chaos and it looked like a tornado hit our yard with our rental home in the middle of renovations - siding and windows and nails and shingles scattered all over - with the movers haphazardly loading our most prized possessions on the truck parked crooked in the middle of the street. In true typical Manitoba fashion, it was super cold, and super windy, and in a strange way I think it was Manitoba's way of blowing us a kiss goodbye, a little bone chilling moment to remember her. I was exhausted. I knew this could very likely be the last time I ever stepped foot in this small village sandwiched between southern and northern Manitoba. My husband and I stood in the middle of our empty garage, just trying to catch our breath and to steal a moment of peace. I burst into tears. I couldn't help it. I had come undone. It was such a messed up moment emotionally speaking. I was happy to leave, I was ready to go. I wanted to move to New Brunswick. But at the same time everything was changing and it all happened so fast, and for a planner like myself it was truly overwhelming. New province, new car, new home, new jobs, new friends, new routines, a new reality. 

Many of my various acquaintances over the last few years have remarked how "put together" I am with change, how I handle things so positively and upbeat. They couldn't be farther from the truth. Maybe I'm too good at hiding it, perhaps a way to try and convince myself that I have my sh*t together. The reality is even though I'm a person who craves change and excitement, I'm not the best with dealing with the outcome and it takes me a while to settle. Acquaintances may see a pretty duck gracefully resting upon the lake, but my close friends and family know I'm paddling like hell to stay afloat, constantly working.

This past year has been one of my most challenging. I've often felt like I'm playing a sick game of Twister - with my left foot still stuck in Manitoba, my left hand in New Brunswick, my right hand in Nova Scotia, and my right foot in la la land with my head in the clouds, so to speak. I've been trying desperately to stay in the game juggling my feelings for all these places while I figure out my new normal. The good news is I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I found a quote on Pinterest by Christopher Poindexter that says "The thing about chaos, is that while it disturbs us, it too, forces our hearts to roar in a way we secretly find magnificent". It rings true to my heart. There is nothing like a bunch of chaos to conjure up some great writing and experiences, and my brain is now overflowing with so many wonderful New Brunswick adventures soon to be on the horizon. I can't wait to share them with you here on my blog as I transition from my old Manitoba life to my new New Brunswick life. So buckle up and join me as I begin my love affair with New Brunswick. It's gonna be a great ride! 


farewell to manitoba

You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. ~ Unknown

I was standing in the middle of our kitchen in my pajamas when my husband came running through the door. I could tell from the way his eyes danced that he had a sense of bewilderment bursting to come out. His eyes were sparkling in anticipation of a new adventure and his upper lip quivered ever so slightly with pure shock and trepidation. He whispered to me "Do you want to move to New Brunswick?". I hugged him with all my might and we shared a moment of surprise, happiness, and slight fear for the unknown. As we embraced, I thought about one of those inspirational quotes you see on Pinterest - "If we were meant to stay in one place we’d have roots instead of feet". And just like that we decided to accept this gift of a transfer and take on this new experience.

We moved to Manitoba 7.5 years ago and knew nothing about this province. We knew no one. We had never stepped foot in Manitoba until we packed up our belongings, got in our car, and drove here in the middle of March 2007. Like many east coasters, our main purpose for moving west was for secure, long term employment that would grant us the freedom to live the lifestyle we dreamed of, but what we discovered was so much more. Manitoba taught us that we are one unit, we can work together through difficult times and take on big scary life changing situations head on. Manitoba taught us that we love exploring and adventures and granted us so many unique amazing Manitoba opportunities, many of which I have shared on this blog. Manitoba provided us with some of the best, most loving friendships we have ever experienced, friends that we will have for life no matter where life takes us. We bought our first home in Manitoba. We got engaged and married while being Manitobans. I changed careers while living in Manitoba. We paid off our student loans while living in Manitoba. Manitoba has been very, very, very good to us, and I will forever be grateful and consider Manitoba to be part of me, and part of my identity. In the words of Winnie the Pooh (who was named after the great city of Winnipeg!), "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard".

So now as I sit here on the brink of changing my life again and moving to yet another province, I am full of emotions. It’s a mixed bag of sadness to leave behind all these wonderful Manitoba memories, a happiness to be closer to family in Nova Scotia, and a curiosity to begin exploring our soon-to-be new province of New Brunswick. I came to Manitoba not knowing what to expect, and now I am leaving a huge piece of my heart and my life, and some of the best years I‘ve ever experienced. Manitoba will forever hold a special spot in my soul. My heart is chocked full of good memories and love. I am so glad that I lived here, and I am proud to call myself a Manitoban. Even though I am mournful to leave Manitoba behind, I am reminded of yet another inspirational Pinterest quote - “Inside us all, patiently waiting, sits a tiny little adventurous bird”. I know in my heart it is time for this little gray bird to spread her wings and fly on to new, exciting adventures. Thank you Manitoba, for everything.  I will always love you.

template.jpg

rise & shine

If you're going to rise, you might as well shine. ~ Unknown

I thought summer was over in Manitoba. I turned on the heat, I put away my shorts. I dug out my warm quilts and stocked up on my favourite autumn teas. I had accepted the fact that the cooler weather was here to stay. Then out of the blue the temperature soared, the sun shined, and Manitoba was granted a glorious gift of one more summery weekend. What a magnificent weekend it was!

My husband and I made plans to head to Winnipeg to stroll through one of our favourite Winnipeg attractions, Assiniboine Park. With bellies full of delicious Stella’s breakfast, we spent the morning wandering through the various gardens, basking in the sun, enjoying the fall colours. There is something very soothing about how the light reflects off the calm park scenery in the warm fall air. I felt compelled to capture it the best I could as we meandered through the park, with the intention to revisit these photos this winter when I need a pick-me-up. So when I complain about the cold, ice, and darkness of challenging Manitoba winters in the new year, please remind me to think about this remarkable walk in the park to help inject a little bit of sunshine and warmth back into my heart and soul.

For more information on Assiniboine Park, please click here.

IMG_7126.JPG
IMG_7098.JPG
IMG_7114.JPG
IMG_7107.JPG
IMG_7075.JPG
IMG_7113.JPG
IMG_7146.JPG
IMG_7109.JPG
IMG_7095.JPG
IMG_7125.JPG
IMG_7110.JPG
IMG_7152.JPG

valley girl

As much as I love Manitoba and sharing my prairie experiences with the world, sometimes you've just got to mix things up. When I am craving adventure elsewhere, my heart always turns to my first home, my valley, my roots.

I grew up nestled amongst the north and south mountains close to the Bay of Fundy, in a small community in the heart of the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. Fishermen, fruit and vegetable farmers, air force personnel and their families from 14 Wing Greenwood, and a variety of small towns filled with lovely longtime and devoted residents all intertwined to form the backbone that helped shape my childhood experiences. It is in the Annapolis Valley where I feel the most at peace, the most accepted in life, and it is where I return to my innocence.

John Mellencamp's song Small Town with the lyrics "No I cannot forget where it is that I come from, I cannot forget the people who love me. I can be myself here in this small town, and people let me be just want I want to be" always rings out in my head as I drive down Highway 101 and see those beautiful cliffs of Blomidon, which act as a sign from above that I can now relax, I have returned to my beloved valley, I am home.

The Annapolis Valley will always be my most treasured corner of the world. It is with this spirit and pride that I share with you a few photos from my recent trip to my valley, my special place, and my heart. You can take the girl out of the valley, but you can't take the valley out of the girl.

048 delhaven wharf.JPG

The view from Delhaven Wharf, Nova Scotia

046 delhaven wharf.JPG

Delhaven Wharf, Nova Scotia

039 port pub.JPG

Blueberry shortcake at The Port Pub, Port Wiliams, Nova Scotia

041 snowbirds.JPG

Snowbirds at Armed Forces Day at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia

09 Harbourville.JPG

Let It Ride, Harbourville, Nova Scotia

020 Lookoff.JPG

The Look-Off, Nova Scotia

027 Grand Pre.JPG

Grand Pre Historic Site, Grand Pre, Nova Scotia

029 Grand Pre.JPG

Evangeline, Grand Pre Historic Site, Grand Pre, Nova Scotia

043 blomidon prov park.JPG

Hiking at Blomidon Provincial Park, Nova Scotia

012 Black Rock.JPG

Caution! Sea Monsters Ahead! Black Rock, Nova Scotia

037 blomidon estate winery.JPG

Blomidon Estate Winery, Canning, Nova Scotia

02 Blue Beach.JPG

Blue Beach, near Hantsport, Nova Scotia

017 Halls Harbour.JPG

Lobster traps, Halls Harbour, Nova Scotia

024 Evangeline Beach.JPG

Evangeline Beach, Grand Pre, Nova Scotia

018 Halls Harbour.JPG

Skipping rocks on the edge of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia

032 Grand Pre.JPG

Dyke view, Grand Pre Historic Site, Grand Pre, Nova Scotia

033 Domaine de Grand Pre.JPG

Fish Cakes and Reisling, Domaine de Grand Pre, Grand Pre, Nova Scotia

015 Halls Harbour.JPG

High Tide, Halls Harbour, Nova Scotia

The Annapolis Valley is a perfect destination for families, honeymooners, and anyone who wants to experience picturesque communities living harmoniously with the land. With an abundance of locally grown foods from a variety of farms, markets, wineries, and artisan vendors, it is the perfect choice for foodies. Combine that with quaint villages where you can experience the highest tides in the world, and small towns boasting history and oozing charm, it is a fantastic choice for relaxation, beauty, and reconnection. For more information on the Annapolis Valley, please visit http://www.valleytourism.ca/ and http://www.novascotia.com/.

Thanks to all my family and friends for helping to make my most recent Nova Scotia vacation so wonderful. I miss you all, and I miss Nova Scotia. You are always close to my heart.

solid as a rock

I love attending concerts and festivals. Particularly ones involving rock music. Manitoba is home to some great music festivals, and one that piqued my interest over the seven years I have been in Manitoba is Rockin’ The Fields of Minnedosa. This festival is organized and run completely by volunteers and takes place every August long weekend in the lovely community of Minnedosa, which is known as Manitoba’s valley paradise.

10303440_719166228130012_8193734243569189078_n.jpg

When Travel Manitoba invited me to be part of their #ExploreMB Like A Local campaign and asked if I would like to visit Minnedosa and attend Rockin’ The Fields it was a no-brainer. Of course I wanted to attend, in fact I was ecstatic and absolutely thrilled! When the August long weekend rolled around one of my best friends and I road tripped to Minnedosa. We spent the day exploring local attractions (see my recent blog post for some great Minnedosa getaway ideas), and that evening we headed out to the Minnedosa Rodeo (lots of fun!) and then on to the Rockin' The Fields of Minnedosa festival.

What an awesome set up for a festival! First off, you are surrounded by rolling hills and stunning views, which makes it such a beautiful creative space for musicians and concert attendees. Add to that easy access to Minnedosa Beach and a variety of amenities and attractions in the Town of Minnedosa and you've got the perfect spot for the August long weekend.

Rockin' The Fields combines rock music with camping, with many attendees choosing to camp adjacent to the stage grounds, but the Town of Minnedosa also boasts some hotels and B&Bs if camping is not your thing. There are two stages for music - the main stage and the second stage - and each stage hosts a variety of rock bands on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons there is also a jam under the big tent. Overall the weekend boasts around 20 different bands, and this year the headliners were The Sheepdogs, Honeymoon Suite, Bret Michaels from Poison, and Three Days Grace. Perfect for people who love to rock and roll.

IMG_6184.JPG
IMG_6195.JPG

There are also a variety of other options if you don't want to spend the entire weekend listening to music. This year Rockin' The Fields also hosted a car show, volleyball tournament, poker tournament, scavenger hunt, and you can also visit Minnedosa Beach, walking trails, golf course, and local businesses. The Minnedosa Rodeo is held the same August long weekend as Rockin' The Fields so you can spend the day at the rodeo and then rock out at night. There are food and merchandise vendors onsite at Rockin’ The Fields too, making everything within easy access. Lots of options to keep busy and to make your August long weekend one to remember in the Town of Minnedosa.

fries.jpg

What can I say about the music? To sum it up with one simple word, awesome! There is lots of room to spread out and seating is available on the hill if that is your preference to view the bands, but many choose to sit in the grass picnic style or rock out next to the stage. We managed to catch Honeymoon Suite who totally killed it, showing they still definitely know how to rock. Up next was Bret Michaels from the band Poison. He was the highlight of the evening belting out his big hits such as Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Something To Believe In, Unskinny Bop, and Talk Dirty To Me. The crowds were pumped, the music was rockin', and I had a fantastic time. Thank you the Town of Minnedosa, Rockin' The Fields volunteers, and all others who made my first ever Rockin' The Fields of Minnedosa experience memorable.

IMG_6375.JPG
IMG_6418.JPG

For more information on Rockin' The Fields of Minnedosa please visit http://www.rockinthefields.ca/.

For more information on the Town of Minnedosa please visit http://www.discoverminnedosa.com/.

For more ideas on a Minnedosa getaway please see my recent blog post highlighting a variety of Minnedosa activities and events by clicking here.

Thank you to Travel Manitoba and the Town of Minnedosa for inviting me to discover Manitoba’s valley paradise and for sponsoring this blog post. The opinions expressed are my own.