Where is she now.

Well the rumours are true, Phoenix has once again tugged on my heart strings and nudged at my spirit to make the trip South. I had originally booked a flight way in advance for January 8th 2019, thinking I would have my life together at this point and be able to travel freely, fully confident in all aspects of my life.

However, this came to be not true at all. I had my biggest breakdown in a while, right on New Years Eve. Of all the times I could have a breakdown right? It was my rock bottom, it was a low, dark, scary place where my mind was screaming at me from every angle, where I felt numb but also in excruciating pain in my gut from the place I was in. I was unhappy with my relationship to self, I was feely depleted in my relationship, I felt completely alone in what I was going through and felt as though I was a complete burden to my poor family who welcomed in a sobbing, cold energy from the Winnipeg night minutes before the clock struck midnight. This was my story. This was my past. But I choose to release it. I choose to rewrite my story. To create a life where I feel aligned, balanced and healthy so that my spirit doesn’t fall into that self-dug hole anymore.

The next day I took it upon myself to face my confrontations, to face my fears of those confrontations and to do the responsible thing. To talk it out, feel it out and make goals on how to better improve myself for next time. While all of this was happening I was also going through a huge move, emotionally un-attaching from so many material items like my bed, a lot of clothes, plants I’ve grown for the past 2 years, artwork, etc. You name it, I sorted through it, donated most of my things, saw them be gifted to new homes and mentally and emotionally felt so drained from seeing my nest, my comfort zone, slowly break a part, bit by bit, right before my eyes. As the days passed, I tried to readjust to my new living situation in a community home. I found myself sleeping in, my spirit and energy still so low and feeling overwhelmed by the change in my lifestyle and also physically aggravated by my cat allergy. It came to a point where I had to make the decision whether to keep my flight the same, even though I was broke, in a low place, had no connections and was feeling completely fearful and unsure of the length of the trip or to change my flight and get myself sorted first in Winnipeg, get financially stable and then head to the sunny desert.

After, many many hours of deep reflection, I came to my decision. I would board the plane within 24 hours and make it work. I craved the raw energy of the sun, to feel the warmth on my skin once again, to be in a brand new environment where no one knew who I was, to smell the desert air, to be free to make my own choices and live by my own rules. To prioritize, soothe and look after me, myself and I. So I did just that. I packed my things again all into one backpack along with my hoop bag and boarded my 7AM flight.

As the plane took off and I peered out my window, the sun was just rising over tiny Winnipeg and a warm beautiful energy took over my heart and spirit and lit me up from the inside and I knew in that moment that I made the right decision.

So here I am, raw, authentic, just little ol’ me in the heart of Arizona. Planning hikes, meet-ups with inspiring people, training sessions for the hoop contest and spending a lot of time meditating, journaling and reflecting on what ignites my spirit. I am here until the 11th of February and have already been making a great turn around within my inner self. There are times where I feel lonely and I miss my comfort of being back home around my family, my partner and those who I feel safe with but my spirit craves growth. It’s at its peak where it wants to heal from the past, from family lineages, from my stories, from my mind and from societal norms. It wants to break free and break open to bring in more self-compassion, more compassion for others and ultimately more compassion for the globe and all that is intertwined within it.

Through yoga and meditation, I am learning how to distance myself from my thoughts, to observe my mind and to let go of its stories that it creates. And let me tell ya, my mind is one active phenomenon. But slowly, as the days pass, It’s starting to get more and more silent, it’s starting to get the hang of stillness, it’s starting to relax and flow and let go. Which is huge for someone like me, who has only known for as long as she could remember, having an overactive, anxious, unbalanced mind where the smallest thing could set it off.

I haven’t been out exploring too much yet, I’ve just been settling in my peaceful AirBNB, nourishing my body with organic foods form a local farmers market, meditating each day, training each day and working on my business and working on my inner self. It’s been a great process so far and I’m so incredibly grateful to those who have been supporting me on this trip thus far, those who are encouraging me to keep on. How beautiful. When you feel completely alone, you really aren’t. It’s usually just a story your mind is creating and that thought is a scary thought because it can snowball so huge, to the point of no return. It’s extremely important to re-write, re-wire that story as soon as possible and to realize that abundance is all around us, that we are connected to all of it, to our own source, we are our own universe, the universe is all around us and we are truly blessed to be in this moment, just as we are, right now.

I don’t know what the future holds, I can’t predict what the future will bring and I don’t plan on dwelling on it for too long. I’m too busy making this present moment count, I’m listening to my breath, I’m feeling my body, I’m feeling my emotions and I’m listening as closely as I can to my spirit.

I wish you all well in where your journey is at this point in this lifetime. If any of these words have resonated with you and you would like to chat, please do not hesitate to send me a message, I would love to connect with you so that we can learn from each other. Stay tuned for future posts, subscribe so you don’t miss a post and also consider checking out and subscribing to the Youtube channel where I also share my story through visual art.

Love you all,
– Shan

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2019 MANIFESTATIONS

Well 2018’s Winter Solstice has come and gone and now the concept of a new calendar year has also passed. In these times, I often go through an “end of year” reflection and set intentions and manifestations for moving forward.

Instead of setting resolutions, I write out all that I would love to manifest in that year and set daily or weekly action plans to get me closer to those goals. This year I thought I would try something different and write down all of my intentions and manifestations in the present tense, as if I already have all of it. As if it is already reality. For these are powerful ways we can manifest the dreams we desire, these are powerful mantras that will help in attracting the vibrations that will aid us in the process of magically bringing our manifestations to life!

I challenge all of you who are reading this, to write down your new years intentions and things you would love to manifest but write them down in the present tense. For example, if you want to be more fit, write down, “I am the healthiest, strongest and most flexible I’ve ever been”.

I will share mine below and I hope to create a video around this as well over on my youtube channel. it’s also important that we continue to say these out loud as often as we can, or to revisit and read them over as often as we can. Let’s make this a year of self revolution and self compassion and manifest a global community, a global shift toward healing and love. Good luck to you all in your manifestation journey’s!

✺ I have a beautiful 6 figure business which brings together community, empowerment, impactful change and all lead by love.

✺ I make space for things that bring me joy.

✺ I am financially stable and abundant with the flexibility to move and travel freely.

✺ I love myself.

✺ I am confident in myself in all aspects of mind, body, emotions and spirit.

✺ I have beautiful, strong, long nails.

✺ I have a dancing regalia which makes me feel like a badass gorgeous queen.

✺ I know my limits and I know my boundaries.

✺ I travel often with deep, meaningful, authentic experiences.

✺ I have healed, clear, glowing skin.

✺ I have a successful blog/website which attracts a large audience. I also have an abundance of dedicated subscribers on Youtube.

✺ I significantly reduced my waste and impact on the planet.

✺ I am healthy, the strongest I’ve ever been, glowing, the most flexible I’ve ever been and have found a balance in my diet that sustains me in all that I do.

✺ I have close, inspiring, powerful friends. I am surrounded by utmost support.

✺ I attract great vibes and only exciting opportunities, people and circumstances in my life.

✺ I am able to effectively and courageously sound my voice, stand by my decisions and know what I want and communicate all of this.

✺ I am letting go.

✺ My path is clear, I am level headed and focused.

✺ I have a base, a foundation which I can come back to and ground.

A Reflective Flow in Honour of Winter Solstice

The silence and stillness of early morning enchanting in all its glory in the winter air. The crisp snow, beneath my feet, crunching as I stride forward, letting the piercing wind kiss my skin. Allowing my mind to drift, the calmness of the rising sun, melting beautiful space within my mind, a clear head, a love for that peculiar moment. An acceptance of this state within my own journey. Feeling a pulsating creative energy move through my body, teasing my mind, lighting up my heart.

As the end of another calendar year creeps closer. Reflecting on magical adventures, past love and heartache, the lows and the highs, the tides and the floods. The lessons learned, the intuition followed, the passions that guided me, the prayers that kept me safe. The shifts in my thinking, the impacts and ripples sent out through intentional love. It’s amazing how much you can actually experience within 365 days. It’s amazing to discover and uncover the truth of manifestation and law of attraction. To discover that magic and power within you. To feel that universe residing within deep on a soul level, to look around and realize the connectedness of it all, the aliveness of it all, the magic within it all.

Growing up, I’ve always strived with one mission; to help people. I was always occupied on helping the other like mothering my baby brother, nursing injured butterflies, gifting beautiful humans with things even if I didn’t have much myself. It’s been a great year, as I began to shift my awareness to also creating that space to help myself. To truly embrace an impactful adventure of self-love and self-compassion. To truly accept and become aware of the negative self-sabotage, the negative self-image or patterns of covering my emotions. I learned how to breathe, I learned how to not be ashamed of my tears but to celebrate them, I learned how to move my body in ways that distinguished negativity and instead invited positivity in. I learned how to look myself in the eyes with pure love, I learned how to feel my own energy and move it toward my visions. I learned how to say no, I learned how to master manifestation. I learned how to dance with my demons.

Now, that’s not to say that that I’m perfect. In fact, I’m very imperfectly perfect. There were days that I felt so low, that I wanted to give up on all my ambitions and ideas, there were days that I would find myself in that low pit of negative self-sabotage again and struggle to dig myself back out, there were days where I didn’t want to get out bed, there were days where I cried so loud and allowed myself to feel that pain. We’re human. Days like this will happen, it’s all a part of the healing process, it’s all teaching us something, it’s catapulting us toward the life we want to create. It’s all showing us our power.

As the shifts in the season and the moon make themselves apparent, I too cannot help but to embrace those shifts within. To revisit my passions, ideas and goals to make sure I am moving toward a life where I feel most aligned. In this new calendar year, I hope to create bigger and better strides to the higher self I imagine. A higher self that continues to make space to listen to her heart, to create safe spaces where I can fall silent and invite the stillness in. To create a community of like-minded people, to find more creative soul mates and friends. To go on more epic adventures and to build a life full of magic, abundance, love, flexibility, creativity, alignment, empowerment and all of the other beautiful compassionate adjectives that get me excited.

If any of what I have wrote, resonated with you. Please consider joining me side-by-side on the blog, the youtube channel and even Instagram. Also please feel free to send me a message if you so feel called to share anything with me, I would love to connect with you. In fact, I would be honoured. Also, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for coming announcement of exciting endeavours and ideas that I have planned for the new year.

Love you,

– Shan

Which adventure am I embarking on next and why?

Tanisi,
Aniin,
Greetings
my fellow relatives,

The eve of a new adventure is upon us.

I have physically manifested one of my life long dreams of travelling to and exploring the magical lands of New Zealand. It’s been on the top of my list since I was very young and now it’s actually happening!

 

In this current time in my life I am learning about the importance of setting intentions and being intuitive in all that you do. So my intentions for this trip are as follows; do not take any experience or moment for granted, live it to its fullest, connect with new friends, learn about the traditional Indigenous peoples, follow and trust my heart and push past fears.

The main reason I have been granted this amazing opportunity is due to the fact that I have been a part of a beautiful youth group called, “Empowering Indigenous Youth in Governance and Leadership” or “EIYGL” for short. Each year, we volunteer our time at the World Indigenous Business Forum in return for a sponsorship to get there. Each year it’s in a different host country and this year fortunately enough the Maori have decided to host us in Rotorua, New Zealand!

3 – 4 days will be mostly focused on the forum, taking notes of the key speakers, helping out at registration, working with set up and take down and networking amongst all of the inspiring Indigenous grassroots peoples who have so much to share with all of us.

The themes for this year’s forum aligns with all that i’ve been interested in lately as well and they are important Indigenous topics and discussions that will carry all of our communities forward with strength, confidence and empowerment. This year’s themes include:

◆ APOPO – Imagining Indigenous Economic Futures

◆ MANA MAHINE – Indigenous Global Women in Business

◆ WHANGAI TE AO – Indigenous Business Feeding the World

◆ HANGARAU – Technology in Indigenous Business

◆ NGA URI O MAUI – Indigenous Entrepreneurship

◆ KAITIAKI TAIAO – Indigenous Business Responsibility and the Environment

◆ HAPAI TE HAPORI – Building Communities Through Business

◆ KOTAHITANGA – Indigenous Collaboration

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After the forum, there is a small group of us who will be renting a car and exploring more of the northern island including Tauranga, Waitomo, Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga. We have filled our itinerary with the top things on our New Zealand bucket list and let me tell you, they will be epic!

Then once they leave on the 16th, I will continue the adventure solo! In this time, I hope to connect with more grassroots Maori culture, learn about the connections to the land and the sustainable projects they have going on, explore parts of the South Island and engage in things that will benefit self-growth and fulfill my wanderlust desires.

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I will be documenting the entire trip and will most likely break it up into a series, instead of trying to fit a whole month long trip into one video. Please head on over to my video hub over on youtube to keep updated with my travel adventures. Also feel free to subscribe to the blog where you won’t miss out on any future posts. I love writing, photography, art, visual arts and  sharing my experiences with the world in hopes that it may help someone, become an influential voice or just spread a little bit of love.

Take care for now folks,

What dream travel destination is on your bucket list?

Through the language we can bring healing to our people.

 

Through the Language we can bring healing to our people.

Tansi/Kwe,

As a First Nation, Inuit, and/or Metis individual, what priorities would you bring to the forefront of Turtle Island in order to bring healing, renewed relationships, positive action and revitalization of our diverse cultures?

This question was at the heart, spirit and intent of over 26 First Nations, Inuit and Metis Nations as I travelled Far East to “Unama’ki – Land of the Fog” and “People of the Dawn” in Membertou First Nation, Nova Scotia. Knowledge keepers, youth, elders, women, men, two spirited and all sovereign passionate souls gathered here on Mi’kmaq territory to collaborate, discuss, network, share stories and record ideas toward this question and plausible solutions.

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Jeff Ward (a member of Membertou First Nation) confidently stated that, “through the language we can bring healing to our people.” I have heard this time and time again from elders back home on the plains as well. That our languages and cultures go hand in hand and that it’s vital to keep our languages alive in order to also keep our cultures alive.

Jeff Ward also mentioned that, “We have a gift of Indigenous language, we need to think about that and honour that. Think of this gathering here in the east as a new beginning”.

A woman from the Native Women’s Association of Canada proclaimed that “Indigenous women are keepers of the language” and that only 5% of First Nation children learn an Indigenous language.

Many of these knowledge keepers, with passion in their words, their eyes pleading and searching for change, their hearts pouring out to a sea of Indigeniety sparked a flame inside my being. It had always been there but had not been inflamed to that capacity.

Being a young Nihithaw and Anishinaabe woman, who was born and raised in the urban inner city, far from any Indigenous language other than the “official” colonial construct of English and French. I am now learning so much more about the loss of our culture and languages and how its such an incredibly important time right now to strengthen our heritage, revitalize and reclaim who we are as Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. I must return back to my roots, visit and learn from the source, from my Cree (Nihithaw) territory in Northern Manitoba. I must return back and fully immerse myself in the language in order to fully become fluent.

Some nations have only a few fluent speakers of the language left and most of them are beginning to approach their final years in this physical realm. This is very painful to hear and ignites my spirit to want to create concrete action in order to reverse this. To create new generations of speakers.

Some tips to achieve this include:

  1. Record and document elders
  2. Teach children in public school system
  3. Begin immersion with on-reserve schools
  4. Create new generation of adult speakers committing to 2000 hours of meaningful exposure to the language.
  5. Language camps
  6. Elder socials
  7. utilization of media (TV, movies, cartoons, books, social media, etc.)

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With that, us as Indigenous, First Nations, Inuit, Metis peoples need to ask ourselves how bad do we want it? What are the commitments we are willing to make right now in this moment? What sacrifices do we want to make for our languages and culture? We need to feed the passion. We need to accept our role, its all within us.

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A group of passionate youth rose up and spoke out. They exclaimed straight from spirit that “before asking the people for their hand, we must ask for their heart”. They also said that language revitalization is about healing, reconciliation and belonging. We need to ask what re-learning our languages would mean for those “lost generations” to the residential school survivors. To bring life back to their beings and spirits. We must infiltrate and enforce our leadership, lead by example, use language whenever we can, adopt traditional roles and have hands on learning.

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Its time for us to come together and collectively heal. I believe in us.

Honesty.

12/21/17

 

Shift of season. Changes and growth,
In perspectives, way of thought and way of life.
Winter Solstice.
Authentic, raw beauty.
The real soul weeding its way through the implemented stories and strategies for survival.
A code decoded.

I’ve always been better with words down on paper. The mess of my mind allotting space for my thoughts to organize themselves out and create structured sentences that makes a little more sense then the jabber in the mind. Creating space anywhere in society, to be read or not. The beauty of my words floating through cyberspace, without an unknown destination or gaze of an individual’s eye. Strangers, friends, my mom, who knows?

As I sit perplexed on weeks on end, bashing myself for not coming up with blog ideas, always thinking of the other. What would THEY want to read? What would THEY like and love? What will get THEM to share, comment and engage in my content? Who’s THEY and THEM? And why are they so important? Instead I actually enjoy the unknowingness of this process. To send out art and words, to release the torments of my mind out into the universe, just for little old me. If it inspires people, great! If not, that’s fine too. I want to share what I want when I want and not fear a response or a lack of response. I want to be authentic and raw and real. I want to share my experience just for the sake of sharing it. I want to release that pressure, that fear and let it go. That’s the beauty of art right? To find solace in the creations that derived from a deep space in your being. The exposé of the soul. This New Year will bring forward more real life stories, rawness and beauty.

So Shanley, how are you? How is your spirit? Well honestly, not well but I’m working on it. The winter months, the darker, shorter days getting to my spirit. The floating stage of my life swallowing me whole. I’m a graduate with no job, with dreams of beginning my own business but I have no idea where to start. People say I’ve already started? Perhaps that’s true. Dancing for audiences worldwide, being the token to be glorified for organizations, etc. But is it really my spirits passion? Maybe. Sometimes it feels good. The energy keeps me sane. The love that is spread makes me feel whole for a little while. But then I always sink back down into the abyss of lostness. I’m healing, I’m learning what this darkness is and what those sparks of light are and how to align and balance those both for longer periods of time instead of one or the other maximized. I’m sure it will be a life long process. Right now, I’m learning what makes my spirit happy like painting, playing, laughing, dancing, writing, drinking an overpriced Chai Latte, seeing my plant babies grow, baby animals, spending time with my family, loving my twin flame and seeing the world.

I’m also trying new things like morning guided meditations meant to clear negative energy and fill it with positive energy, guided by a man trying way to hard to speak relaxingly and stoic. Telling me to imagine a single white cloud drifting through a blue sky. Okay I see it, but I feel the same. Is it supposed to make me feel something? I’m also trying to stretch out my muscles and my body, even if I can only make it to my thighs and not all the way down to my toes. I’ll get there right? If I keep practicing? I’m trying to uphold the responsibility as an Indigenous identified young woman. Because my ancestors fought for me right? I must live up to their expectations and carry on the fight. I’m trying to nourish my body with conscious eats like weird looking veggie meat. It actually tastes pretty good! And little sponges of tofu, I swear I actually like it though! Oh and Soy milk that goes bad in like 5 days after opening.

Anyway, I’m getting off track.
Let’s just say I’m going through things, just like everyone else and I’m not afraid to hide it anymore. I mean I probably will be sometimes. But the fact is I don’t WANT to be afraid and hide it anymore. I feel as though I’ve gotten a lot of praise for some of the work that I do and I know that some youth may look up to me and I don’t want to become one of those role models who’s life seems perfect and wonderful and happy. For that simply isn’t true and just a projection or an illusion created by me. But I want to change that. I want to share my more authentic moments and experiences. To let the soul within this physical body express itself without borders or barriers. So cheers to a new year and the hopes I doing so.

Dear fellow traveller.

02/12/2017

 

Wonderfully lost within tangles of thoughts with such great depths.

The seeds nourished and lovingly planted.

The soul embracing its nest,

the sun, providing life, energy, growth.

Young sakastew Iskwew.

The world ever-expanding.

Continuation of opening her mind.

Expanding it, paving the way for lost and found treasures.

Moments frozen in time, memories locked away,

her divine inner energy connecting with the sacred mother

from the humbling still depths of the waters

to the blue hue sky full of a universe too vast to comprehend.

Full of stars and stardust being wished upon from us tiny beings,

held down by only gravitational forces and a luck of balance

and life-sustaining chance from the greater unknown energies.

How magnificent it is,

on our one tiny speck of life lies so many diverse moments, minds, thoughts, beings.

On one tiny speck there are grand landscapes

plunging down into rocky untouched valleys,

long forgotten roads,

each leading to a new adventure, a new story.

We create a profound love,

so strong that it must be connected to that universe above or those greater energies so unknown to us.

We create hate, war, violence all connected back to those diverse sets of minds, bodies, spirits.

All cohabitating on this one speck.

Wandering,

wondering,

forever searching for ultimate happiness and for all of the answers.

My mind constantly shifts, like the clouds.

It constantly moves forward like that jetplane smoothly flying high in the dark blue sky.

My mind constantly growing,

even in the toughest and unimaginable terrain,

just like those cacti, standing proudly amongst dry red sand and unearthly rocks.

My heart is constantly reminded of the love so deeply embedded in my being.

For this chance to live, to see, to hear, to breathe, to be a part of something so grand, a part of such a beautiful world.

My spirit is constantly being guided to just where I need to be,

where I’m meant to be.

My eyes cannot unsee what I’ve seen,

my eardrums cannot unhear what I’ve been told,

what I’ve been taught,

my spirit will forever cherish and hold on to that feeling of connectedness,

the feeling of freedom and the utmost amount of feeling whole.

This my dear, are the reasons I love to wander,

the reasons I love seeing this world in its entirety.

The reasons I love travel as a whole.

With its ups and downs, complexities, learned lessons and moments of true bliss and discovery.

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Liebster Award

 

Liebster

 

Hello everyone! I’ve got a very special post for you all today, I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by two lovely gals and fellow bloggers Miri (blissfulmiri) and Leila (leilaspassport)! I am incredibly grateful to have been recognized and I’m excited to answer all of the wonderful questions and nominate new bloggers! The Liebster Award is special because it is fellow bloggers recognizing and connecting with other new up and coming bloggers and it becomes a network and community of friends. I now nominate two inspiring blogs, Peter from www.peterwchadwick.com and Debbie from www.yoursdeeply.com I will message you your questions! 🙂

I will answer the questions below but first of all, here are the rules after you have received a nomination and accept taking on the award:

  • Thank and link to the blogger who nominated you
  • Create a post on your blog, displaying the Liebster Award logo
  • Answer the questions designated by the blogger who nominated you
  • Nominate new favourite bloggers for the Liebster Award
  • Come up with a list of new questions for your nominee
  • Notify the nominee

Leila’s questions:

  1. What’s the most obscure thing you’ve seen abroad?
    To be honest, I haven’t been to many places abroad but I do remember snorkelling in Mexico and seeing some very obscure and strange ocean creatures swimming about. Almost gave me a panic attack in the water!
  2. Why do you travel?
    I travel for so many different reasons. To see the world, change my perspectives, experience new cultures, create myself and wholeheartedly live my life the way I think it should be lived. I wrote a whole blog post on this that lists all of those different reasons of why I love travel. If you’d like to check it out, here’s a shortcut!
  3. What is one international food dish you love to make or want to learn to make?
    I would love to learn how to make a stir fry or stew with grown and hand picked fresh vegetables and experience that entire process of making food from living off the land.
  4. Tell us about one of your BEST travel days.
    One day that comes to mind is when I was in Cancun, Mexico because it was a sunny and beautiful day with moments on the beach, shopping in the local markets and parasailing over the ocean. I remember being high up in the air, looking down on the shores of Mexico and just thinking to myself, “I will never forget this”. That was a day that I proved to myself that I can overcome my anxieties, try new things and really truly enjoy moments like that.
  5. What can ruin a great travel experience?
    I think if you are travelling with a group of people with different interests or values than you it can deplete a potentially great personal travel experience, that’s why its so important to find those people and those friends with similar travel interests.
  6. What was one of the most unusual experiences you’ve encountered?
    I don’t mean to offend anyone but I remember being in an isolated Indigenous community and a church organization from oversees had flown in and put on this dramatic play for the community about drugs, alcohol and violence and preaching about the importance of christianity. Everything was over the top and the children in the room were sitting there wide eyed. The group I was with including myself felt so uncomfortable with the whole situation. We have nothing against other religions or faiths but the way it was presented to this isolated Indigenous community was very unusual and seemed to be very aggressive and unnecessarily confrontational.
  7. Where’s your hometown and what’s the best thing about it?
    I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. The best thing about it would probably be our diversity and the ongoing dialogue around inclusion and progressive ways forward. We have a beautiful, resilient group of innovators and youth becoming more and more active across the city.
  8. What is one of the best travel lessons you’ve learned so far?
    When travelling solo to Cuba I learned the most lessons the hard way which in turn created a positive because I was able to overcome those challenges on my own and prove to myself that I have the strength to overcome obstacles. Best lessons I learned was that we all have the power within to shift our perspectives and moods and we don’t have to rely on anyone else other than ourselves. We CAN be our own best friend! I also learned that its incredibly important to learn the local language of a place before going there in order to truly have an authentic, cultural experience amongst locals.
  9. Why did you start blogging?
    I was a natural writer ever since I was a young one and expressing myself through writing was what I knew best so it just made sense. I also had many exciting experiences and perspectives that I wanted to share with my friends, family and other audiences with similar interests. I was also very inspired by other travel and lifestyle bloggers so I decided to create one and start. 🙂
  10. What’s your next travel destination?
    Next travel destination is Santiago De Chile! I’ll be going there for the World Indigenous Business Forum and straight after a group of us will be heading over to trek up to Machu Picchu! I’m overwhelmingly ecstatic that I have the opportunity to be part of such an incredible experience. Stay tuned for posts on it too!
  11. What is your favourite quote?“Let thy faith be greater than thy fear”

Miri’s Questions:

  1. Why did you decide to join the blogging universe?
    I decided to become a part of the glorious blogging community and universe because I loved the idea of writing my experiences and thoughts down into susceptible sentences that can then be reached to potential audiences with similar interests. The pool of finding, creating and sharing inspiration also tickled my fancy. So far so good!
  2. What’s your favourite holiday?
    Christmas all the way! Because my family gets together and everything around gets cozy, merry, bright and magical.
  3. If you would go on a trip, name 5 things you need to take with you.
    5 essentials would be my camera to take snapshots of memories, a journal or notebook to jot down thoughts, poems or doodles, a bathing suit in case there is a swimming pool in my hostel, hotel or airbnb or even if there is a body of water near by and great weather! I would also make sure to take a warm cozy sweater and my cellphone in order to stay connected to back home.
  4. Which sport do you like the most?
    Hmm..good question. I’ve dabbled in many sports when I was younger but nowadays I’m not very into any of them. I suppose soccer or tennis would be a few of my favourites to play recreational with family or friends on the odd occasion.
  5. Do you prefer fish or meat?
    Neither, but if I had to absolutely choose it would be meat and only certain meats like bison or chicken.
  6. Are you a planner or are you spontaneous?
    I’m definitely a planner. I appreciate plans, itineraries and lists and sticking to them. Whenever plans change or if things become too spontaneous I begin to experience a little anxiety. However, I’m learning how to overcome that and embrace my spontaneous side including others because I think a good trip is a wonderful balance of both planning but also spontaneity.
  7. What’s your favourite perfume scent?
    I admire a good sandlewood cologne smell or a not too powerful vanilla bean scent.
  8. Who’s your favourite artist or band?
    Favourite band at the moment is “Young the Giant”.
  9. Do you prefer a sandy beach or a snowy mountain?
    Oh my goodness. So hard to choose. I love both equally and if they are in the same place then thats a bonus!
  10. If sky’s the limit what would you do next?
    Wonderful question. If the sky was the limit I would pack up my essentials, sublet my apartment, kiss my family farewell and backpack the world for a year or two with my partner or on my own, working from the road, sharing my experiences and learning so much more deeply about travel, myself and the world.

 

My questions for the new nominee’s are as follows! 

  1. What inspired you to start blogging?
  2. If you knew you had one last day here in the physical world, what would you do?
  3. What is your biggest goal/dream and why?
  4. Why do you travel?
  5. If money was non-existent, what would you do?
  6. What do you stand for?
  7. What is one of your passions you hold close to your heart?
  8. Any advice for newbie bloggers?
  9.  What is your favourite “Life” Quote
  10. What’s the funniest lesson you’ve learned in your life?

Naicatchewenin First Nation

As the open road warmly embraces three generations of dancers, Treaty 3 territory smiles right back as we whisk our vehicle through curvy roads bordered with lakes, treetops and far open lands. Headed to the beautiful little community of Naicatchewenin First Nation for their 40th annual Powwow celebrations.

Just a month prior I was in the same location, presenting to the youth of Naicatchewenin First Nation and surrounding communities at the same newly built wooden arbor. After that presentation, two members of the powwow committee approached me with tobacco and asked in a respectful way if I would come back to represent as head lady dancer for their powwow. Honoured, I accepted. I had never been a head dancer in the many years I’ve danced so the new experience and opportunity excited me.

The day finally approached. As we left, the sun was just sitting overhead, ready for our 4-hour journey into their beautiful territory. We set up camp atop of one of the hills overlooking the powwow grounds close to some friends from Winnipeg who had also travelled over for the celebration.

The next few days were fulfilling and good for the soul. Late nights spent by the fire at our camp, watching the flames dance in the summer breeze, listening to the nightly creatures roam around the land, looking high into the sky at the brightest stars and Milky Way twinkling. Thinking deeply about this life and all experiences and opportunities that lead me to that very moment. Getting lost amongst constellations and wishing upon shooting stars. Sharing laughs with my mother and grandmother, as we lay snuggled in our tent.

The community was amazing. They were very hospitable and generous. Each morning we were greeted by smiling faces that cooked up massive delicious feasts for breakfast at the community gym. We were also served grand feasts for dinner; Tender fresh fish fry, moose meat, handmade wild rice, potatoes, bannock and vegetables. We were also offered a beautiful cabin just a few kilometres outside of the community but I had decided to stay within the community and camp amongst the locals and stay close to the powwow grounds.

The community and powwow committee also allotted me space and time to host a dance special! I raised enough funds to put together an “Empowering Our Youth” special for kids ages 12 and under. The four places were granted to those youth who danced hard for the people with high energy and smiles. They were then granted a set of their own hoops and some prize money for them and their families. The drum group, “Little Foot”, then honoured them with an honour song. I also made sure that every youth didn’t walk away without anything so I put together consolation honorariums and put together a handmade motivating gift for each young one. I felt this special was important, as the committee members had mentioned most of the people in the community haven’t seen hoop dancing and many are dealing with healing journeys of their own through intergenerational traumas. So in order to empower the young ones to keep dancing and carry on these traditions I held this special.

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Almost over 70 youth filled the circle, dancing hard for the smiling elders under the hot summer sun. Their beaded and sewn regalia sparkling in the sunshine, their fringes and ribbons whipping all around to become a beautiful wonderful blur of colours and resiliency. I was in awe. I felt proud of all of them and their families cheering them on from the sides. It was incredibly difficult to choose only four dancers to receive the hoops but with the help of my mother, grandmother and the headman dancer, we put our minds together and decided on four who’s spirits lit up when they danced.

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It was a memorable experience that I will cherish and I hope to see these young ones grow with their hoops or still see dancing as we all grow through the years still following that red road and powwow trail.

On some time off, my family and I explored the beach where the locals swim and we shared stories and laughs with some new families we met there. Being a head dancer we had many roles. Each and every grand entry and retreat we were there, dancing behind the honoured flag carriers, elders and dignitaries. We judged dance competitions, supported all honour songs, spot dances and traditional sacred whistles that were blown and above all we just danced. Danced for our communities, for the community of Naicatchewenin, for the youth and elders. We danced to pray and to heal and to represent Indigenous country with our heads held high, with our feet and moccasins connected to our mother the earth, praying with each step of light for that water just a few meters over. Praying for the continuation of healing nationwide for our people and that renewal and reclamation of our identities.

It was a beautiful time spent with family, community, outside on the land and opening our minds to connect, experience and grow.

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My Solo Travel Experience to Cuba

Who embarked on an 8-day journey into the unknown, foreign, Caribbean Island of Cuba all on her own? This gal. But why? “You’re crazy!” The common phrase I’d get from those I told.

Well, It all started many moons ago when a dream sprouted from the depths of my inspired and determined mind. Squeezing my eyes shut wishing to be in a completely different part of the world to celebrate my birthday, with or without people by my side. So, this particular year of 2017 with extra travel adventure funds saved I scoured flight deals and came across a round-trip airfare to Varadero, Cuba for only $500 and a bonus, it overlapped on my 25th birthday! With my heart racing, a grin on my face and my eyes lit with fire, I booked it. 8 days in a Caribbean paradise. I proceeded to ask my closest friends and partner if they were interested in hopping on this opportunity as well but fully prepared myself that this may just be my first solo adventure! Then the universe made it so and deep in my heart I knew it was meant to be this way.

The journey began with my first lesson learned the hard way. Always call to make sure your bookings went through. I had a 12-hour layover in Toronto and decided to book a room last minute on bookings.com. I get there just after 11pm to only be told that my card wasn’t accepted and that they gave my room away and that they were sold out. Long story short, I called every single hotel in the area and they were all sold out so I had my first experience of sleeping in an airport; you never truly realize how loud airports can be until you need to sleep in one. The next morning I was fueled by excitement and adrenaline to arrive in Cuba.

I had booked a Casa Particular through Airbnb in a humble home in a suburb just outside of Varadero called “Santa Marta”. My taxi drove through long crumbling highways, passing people in horse carriages, locals selling fresh produce and fruit off of wheeled carts, random dogs, chickens and hens running around and families and children enjoying the sunshine. Then we pulled up to a large yellow metal gate with the words “Casa Yolanda” spray painted on it, we knocked and we were quickly greeted by a young Spanish lady nicknamed “Tata”. Second major lesson learned starts here. Learn the language before travelling to another country or at least bring a book with words and basic phrases because I didn’t commit myself to learning the least amount of Spanish and that set a huge barrier between myself and with a lot of people who I met on this trip, including those who’s house I stayed in. This young woman didn’t know any English either so when we arrived it was awkward and difficult, as she was trying to tell me things and I couldn’t understand any of it. I was culture shocked. An entirely different world surrounded by people who had no idea what I was saying or who I was and the challenge of not understanding them either.

I got to my room and was happy to know that it was the room that I booked. This first arrival day proceeded with a nap, cold shower, contemplation of going out to explore, renting a bicycle, confronting that fear to go out and explore, rode around the area and found a nice little restaurant to have dinner which had an English menu and an English speaking waitress – bonus!

The second day I rented the bicycle again and followed a family of locals who looked like they were dressed for the beach and that’s how I found my way to Varadero! The ride was fun, watching the transformation from local Cuban lifestyle to the grand illusion and world of tourists. I rode my bike down the peninsula, bought some handmade crafts in the markets, did some writing on the beach, found some tasty vegetarian food then spent the majority of my day swimming, bathing in the sun and laying by the water. It was also my birthday so I stayed out and watched the sunset. Something I haven’t done in so long. In that moment and throughout the day I reflected a lot on my own self. Reflected on the moments of solitude that I was presented with, acknowledged those feelings of loneliness and vulnerability but also found beauty in that because it was teaching me to become my own best friend; to pick myself up without having to rely on anyone and truly listening to my inner self. Then I came back to my room to have a private self-dance party and watch movies until I drifted off to sleep.

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Day 3 brought a lot more challenges. At this point I was very overwhelmed with not being able to speak or understand those who I was staying with or with those who were around me in the streets of Santa Marta and Varadero. This resulted in a multiple breakdowns in front of them, which also caused more embarrassment on my behalf. They were super nice though, giving me hugs, rubbing my back and even making me some beautiful Cuban coffee. This particular day I had found an ETESCA Internet café and bought a ticket for 8CUC for one hour. During this hour I chatted with my loved ones and did some research on the area and on basic Spanish words. I feel this made my homesickness even worse or catapulted it, because for the rest of the day that’s all I could think about, was my loved ones back home in Manitoba. I went to the beach again to swim only to be greeted by a creepy Chinese man who really badly wanted to swim with me or teach me to swim. He tried to hold me up in the water and kept grabbing my arm to follow him deeper into the water. I managed to back away and motion that I was uncomfortable and decided to leave the situation all together and move to a different area of the beach. I then tried to book tours through “Havantur” only to be greeted by a grumpy old woman who told me to come back tomorrow. All the goals I had set out to do were defeated, so in a homesick, anxious, hot mess I gave into comfort food of pizza at an Italian touristy restaurant and went back to my room early and had a very good cry. It was only day 3 and I was ready to go home. SIGH…what a day lol. Life is a rollercoaster full of ups and downs but it’s what you do with those highs and lows that create outcomes and steps forward.

Once I cleared out every tear in my body (I’m so dramatic eh? Lol) I reminded myself of the reasons I was there in that situation and also realized my state. I was comfortable in an air conditioned safe place, I was alive and breathing and nothing seriously detrimental had affected me in any way, things could be way worse. So through this, along with the supportive and comforting words of my mother and partner over text I quickly shifted my perspective and attitude and found the strength to overcome my feelings, work through them and past them.

I awoke the next morning feeling determined and motivated to carry on, to not take any moment for granted and to find the beauty in the new day. This positive outlook brought a brighter day. I took a ride on the double decker Varadero bus tour that was only 5 CUC for the whole day. I sat on the top, uncovered windy level with my hair whipping in the breeze as I took in all the touristy sites and sounds of Varadero, only thinking to myself…this is all an illusion. People from all over the world travelling to Cuba thinking that this is “real” Cuba when really they are completely isolated in grand state run hotels deep down in the corners of the peninsula. A golf course platted across sacred Caribbean lands, an American plaza full of consumerism and direct materialization and marketing toward those with money, a dolphin pool completely far removed from the dolphin’s natural habitat and tacky pineapple pina coladas on every street corner. (Sorry if this brings any offence) I was truly discovering an eye opening experience. Travelling from my Casa to Varadero everyday, it was interesting to see the differences. On this day I was also able to book myself excursions to Cayo Blanco and Habana and found fellow Canadians from Quebec who I delightfully had a short conversation with.

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The next day I awoke bright and early to bike on over to the hotel where my shuttle bus would be picking me up to take me to the Marina where I’d experience a gorgeous catamaran ride to a small touristy island called, “Cayo Blanco”. Gliding upon open blue waters, under gorgeous blue skies, the sun warm on my skin, surrounded by smiles and relaxed bodies, as we approached the island. It looked like something out of a painting. I was in awe of the pristine waters that surrounded this tiny tropical Caribbean island. I proceeded to walk along the shore to explore, swim, eat some lunch and relax on the plentiful lounge chairs. Relaxed a little too much though as I drifted into a beautiful calm slumber to the sounds of the waves, the breeze though the palm tress overhead and the glorious perfect temperature I found in shade.

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I slept and totally missed my boat. In a panic I ran to the boat launch and truly discovered it to be gone. So I ended up asking a leader there if it would come back, he assured me it would but it didn’t so I approached another boat, similar to the one I came on and they let me aboard in order to get back to Varadero. I was supposed to swim with dolphins in a well cared area at an island across from Cayo Blanco and I assumed I missed the opportunity. But then the most epic thing happened. The boat dropped me off at the dolphin place; I swam with them totally alone with the 3 Cuban workers and watched my original boat pull up to the dolphin place to pick me up. When I hopped back on the boat everyone applauded. It was such a silly situation and even though I felt very bad and embarrassed for causing so much chaos among the workers and fellow travellers I also felt lucky and joyous of the play out of events.

When I got back to Varadero I unfortunately discovered that the bike I had rented was stolen – completely gone – even though I locked it up and everything! I’ll let you imagine the emotions I felt and how I had to break it to those at my Casa. I laugh about it now at my misfortune that day but at the time I was definitely feeling low.

The next day was my grand one-day adventure to Habana! With no bike I walked to the same hotel to be picked up again by a shuttle bus where we proceeded on our 2-hour road trip through Cuba. On this trip I met a very kind family from Slovakia and my tour guide and bus driver who were local Cubans themselves but spoke decent English. It was a beautiful day full of deep conversation and roaming the streets of Habana and learning some of the history of the area and about the residents of the country.

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This day I also met a young man who was a local from “real” Habana. He worked as a cyclist for the tourists every other day and offered me a free short ride and a conversation that I’ll never forget. We discussed our interests; education and lifestyles and then I asked him about the people in Cuba, how he felt about the touristy set up and how the relationship was between the people and their government. He proceeded to tell me that all of what was surrounding us was an illusion and only for the tourists, that it wasn’t “real” Cuba. He continued exclaiming that the Cuban people are oppressed and live in fear every day. They look happy on the outside but really they are sad and fearful on the inside. He said that if he was caught talking to me about all of this that he would probably be put in jail and that a lot of what the government does, doesn’t inquire with the people first. After this conversation my perspective shifted, I saw everything that was around me in a different way. I felt so appreciative to have found that space, that moment in time where the world continued around us but we were in our own world truly having a deep soulful, human conversation.

The next few remaining days I saw Cuba through a lens that I felt many people who had travelled there probably didn’t see. I was also extremely appreciative and accepting of all the lessons I had learned, all the mistakes that humbled me and also the small growths and strengths I acquired through my own mindfulness, self-compassion and moments of human connection. My last moments in Cuba were full of swimming in the turquoise salty waters, watching more sunsets, dancing salsa on the beach, in the sand, with another local as we hummed our own music, trying different restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner along the peninsula, confronting my fear of the dark and walking back to my Casa after the sun had set and having magical little moments with the people at my Casa. Magical moments including the magnificent breakfast they made for me twice including a bountiful array of ham and cheese slices, scrambled eggs, toast with jam and peanut butter, fresh cut mangoes and pineapple, freshly pressed juices and coffee with warm milk and sugar. It was delicious. I also left one of the ladies a gift before I left and she discovered it and her whole being lit up, she smiled and hugged me and kissed my cheeks with many gracias’. I proceeded to take a taxi back to the airport and also had a nice conversation with the driver who spoke wonderful English so I ranted a bit to him about what I had experienced the past week and he offered some advice and consoling. It was a wonderful conversation before I boarded my flight back home to those I love.

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Now that I’m home, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what I had learned and what I had experienced on my first solo trip. Although I feel like I went through very challenging times, I am still very thankful for those times because it taught me a lot – mostly in the hard way – but it was definitely an awakening of what a travel lifestyle can bring. It can bring those moments of overwhelming situations, homesickness, loneliness and challenges but through those you learn how to problem solve, remain calm, be present and live an entirely different way than you have your entire life. It forces you out of your comfort zone to confront fears and challenge your mind to keep a positive attitude and perspective on what is presented to you. It makes you appreciate the little things in life like a simple smile or conversation with a fellow human being or the sun setting putting on a magnificent show of a hue of colours in contrast with the landscapes that surround you. I truly believe this trip was a beginning and awakening to truly listening to my inner voice and to the practice of self-compassion and mindfulness. I feel a greater sense of my own capabilities and sense of self. It’s amazing and I will keep these moments of learning and growth deep in my memory as I walk forward in this life. If I choose to return to Cuba I will definitely travel with family, friends or my partner and I will definitely learn at least some basic Spanish and I will strive to discover the “real” Cuba that I had only had a small taste of on my travels.

With all of this being said, I hope a majority of you made it to the end. If so, thank you so much from the depths of my heart. I’m ready for the next adventure. Are you?