Twenty Seventeen in Review

Monday, January 15


As I've mentioned in the past, this is my favourite post to write. I love looking back over the year to see what has happened in my life and what I've learned. If you're interested in seeing past years, I have a year in review for both 2016 and 2015.




I spent most of the first 7 months working full time so there are some months that I don't have much to remember because I spent so much time working. When I wasn't working I was typically spending time with Noah. Keeping that in mind, here is Twenty Seventeen:

January
January was the first month of many spent working. I left my retail job to move towards working full time between two sister companies that I had been working part time with at the end of 2016. January was spent finding a balance between working and spending time with Noah and friends. One the weekends we would play board games with friends or have a few drinks and weekdays was back to work.

February
Similar to January, I spent most of February working. However, a couple neat things did happen in February that I want to remember:

For starters, I donated roughly 10 inches of hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I chose this organization because the hair goes towards making wigs for the Canadian Cancer Society who give the wigs to women for free. This was one of the items on my 30 before 30 list, so I was very happy when I was able to cross it off!



My sister's birthday is also in the beginning of February, and she usually asks for a tattoo as her gift. This year she decided that she wanted us to get matching tattoos. Now I am very particular about the tattoos that I put on my body. I need to think long and hard about what to get, and if I'll be okay with it for the rest of my life. So when she told me she wanted to get matching ones I really had to think about what I would be okay with getting. She was fine with me pitching the tattoo idea, as she is more accepting of tattoo ideas than I am. 
In the end I decided that matching A's would be a good idea. Since my name is Amanda and my sister's is Ashley, the matching A's seemed like a good fit for us. I will say that this placement hurt much more than I anticipated and I don't see myself getting another one around that area again, although I do love this one.





March
Noah's birthday is the 2nd of March, so naturally the month always starts out with some celebrations. This year for his birthday I got him two tickets to see Billy Talent in Halifax. We decided to make it a trip and book a hotel so that we could do a couple other things in the city rather than drive home late in the evening.
We left early the morning of the concert and spent the day in the city shopping and sight seeing. We booked an escape room for the early evening, which was one of the most fun dates we've had, and had a nice dinner at a restaurant before the concert. The next day we packed up our things and took our time heading back home. This was a great birthday trip.



St. Patrick's day was also a highlight of March. Usually I am the designated driver for nights out, but this time I decided that I wanted to be part of the fun. We went out to a local pub and had drinks and played games. It was a really fun night! We taxied home after having some late night pizza. A great night! 



April
Another month spent working. I was doing a lot of training up until April to be able to cover for the receptionist at work while she was on Vacation during the first week of April. Easter was a holiday filled with family time and eating chocolate. Noah's family always have an egg hunt where each person has to find certain coloured eggs and it's usually really difficult to find them all, but it's one of my favourite parts of easter!


May
The beginning of the month held another great concert. City and Colour decided to perform more local shows around Canada and we were lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the Wolfville, Nova Scotia venue. This is the third time that Noah and I have seen City and Colour, and it seems like every time gets better. The atmosphere was so different from any other concert I've attended, even the other two City and Colour performances. It was small and more personal and the songs that were performed were the more laid back and calm songs. It was wonderful and one of my most favourite concert's we've attended.



My car finally crapped the bed in May which meant that we needed to find a new one. After roughly a month of looking we finally settled on one! It was an interesting experience looking for a new car. There's a lot of test driving to see if the car is a good fit for you and making sure that both individuals are happy with the choice of vehicle. We didn't bicker about cars which was really nice and we decided on a car pretty easily after looking at some options. 
While this was a great day picking up our new (to us) vehicle it is also the same day that I found out I was accepted to school in Ontario. We had just spent all our savings, assuming that I had not been accepted, and were feeling a little bit stressed out about how we would afford moving to a new province. It was an odd day, but a memory nonetheless.




June
My sister graduated high school in June, which meant prom and graduation! I was so excited to be able to take lots of photos of her in her gorgeous dress. Prom is my favourite season, I love looking at all the beautiful dresses so it was extra special to see them all in person rather than stalking photos on Facebook and Instagram! 




July
More working this month, trying to save as much money as possible to move to Ontario. We did have a staff party for a few of us employees who were leaving in the next month and it was really nice to see everyone and say some goodbyes.


August
Ahh the moving month. Noah and I both stopped working in the beginning of August to prepare for our move. We decided, after crunching the numbers, that we would be better off packing up the car with what we needed and buying furniture there than shipping our current furniture up to Ontario. So we spent the month seeing friends and family and packing our most needed items. Then at the end of the month we left on our four day journey of sight seeing before making our way to our new home.

The day we left home was horrible to be completely blunt. Emotions were off the charts and we spent the first couple of hours crying. Noah was handling it a little better than I was (which was good since he was driving) but we were both feeling down. We spent most of that day driving (I think it was around 10 or 11 hours) and we were ready to get out of the car and into a bed by the time we arrived at our hotel in Levis, Quebec. We stayed here two nights because Noah wanted to spend a day in Quebec City, which is a ferry's ride away from Levis. I had never been this far away from home before, so I was excited to see all the new things, and Quebec City did not disappoint. It is one of my favourite places that we visited. I loved the old architecture and the feel of the City.

(This was after we had wiped our tears - about 3 hours into the journey)

Breakfast in Quebec City



We packed up our things from our hotel room the next day and headed towards our next stop - Montreal, but not before heading to a nearby aquarium! As seen in the selfie below, there were some polar bears, which were one of the highlights (they did tricks!) but my absolute favourite part of the place were the rays. You got to pet them, which was by far the coolest thing I have ever done. I still smile when I think about it!




Montreal was the next stop on our journey. Noah had never been there before (and I had never been anywhere before this trip) so he was excited to see a new city. 
I have a family member who lives there so he kindly let us stay with him while we were traveling. He showed us around some of the places, took us to a small taco restaurant where they had some really nice steak and cactus tacos and took us to get bagels from a famous bagel shop (which were delicious). It was really nice catching up with him and staying with family rather than in a hotel. 


After our stop in Montreal we headed onward to our last stop before we got to our new home - Ottawa. 
We did some sight seeing: the parliament building and byward market and I got to try a bubble cone ice cream! I had seen them all over Instagram and I had wanted to try one for so long! It was very yummy. 
We were also lucky enough that one of our close friends was staying in Ottawa for work and we were able to have dinner with him during our trip. It was really nice seeing another friendly face in a city that was very unknown. 




September
Ahh September. The month that everything went sideways. Without going into too much detail, things did not work out in Ontario. We spent most of our time in our 'home' being unhappy. There was no particular reason, and no one was to blame. The two of us just were not meant to be so far away from home and it made us both so very unhappy. We took a long hard look at things and made the decision that our mental health was worth more than anything else that would come our way in Ontario. We did have tickets to see one of Noah's favourite bands in Toronto and so we took that opportunity to pack our bags and head home, since Toronto was on the way home.

Toronto was an eye opener that city life is not for me. I don't like the hustle and bustle, or large crowds. I don't like the noise, or the tall buildings. I can appreciate it for a weekend, or a few days, but I would not want to live there.
We walked by the CN tower, so that I could say that I saw it and all it's glory but the lines were too long to go up into it. We then ate dinner at a restaurant that Noah had been really interested in - one of the creators of the restaurant was a chef that Noah likes a lot. The food was good (the dessert especially but we ate it to fast to take a picture)






The concert was absolutely brilliant. It was one of those surreal moments when you realize that you are in the same vicinity as one of your favourite artists and seeing that happen for Noah was an amazing moment. They played songs that we could dance and sing along to and played a few of Noah's favourites and even my favourite song (which Noah said he was surprised that they played as its not a popular one). 




The next day we headed to the Toronto Zoo. There isn't much to say about it place, it was similar to many other zoos that I have been to in the past, but with more animals that I had never seen in person.  The panda cubs were a big attraction and they were really cute, but they were also all sleeping. I also got to see a giraffe in person for the first time which was a real highlight, but they didn't have a ray petting station like the aquarium I mentioned earlier so it was a little disappointing in my opinion.


It was after the zoo that reality settled in. We were on the way home. Real home, not some place where we didn't know anyone or weren't happy. We made another stop in Montreal, and thank goodness for my family, who let us stay another night on our way home. The drive back from Montreal is roughly 12 hours so we headed to bed around 9pm as we were going to get up around 4:30-5am to start the journey. We were both awake at 3am, so by 3:30am we had packed up our things and left. We were dead tired and in for a long drive, but driving through Montreal in the middle of the night was amazing. The lights lit up the city beautifully and there were no other cars on the road. The city of Montreal on as we were leaving on the bridge was a sight that I don't want to forget. 

That drive was one of the roughest ones I have ever endured. I don't sleep in vehicles well, so I didn't get much sleep while Noah drove. About 8 or 9 hours in Noah was feeling pretty awful so we switched seats and he tried to get a couple hours of sleep in before we got back home. 

I took this picture when we packed ourselves up in the car in Montreal at 3:30am


It was an interesting few weeks that we experienced. Sometimes when I look back I feel like it was pointless and stupid and that we should have never left in the first place, but then I think about how much I learned over that time frame and how much I was able to experience. I learned that I don't want to be far away from home, and that no matter how stressed out, sad or upset we are, Noah and I are each other's rocks and we stand together no matter what. I learned that while education is important, mental health is more important (and education can be achieved anywhere if you look hard enough). There are still times when I think about the end of August and beginning of September I feel stupid and discouraged about the whole thing but I keep reminding myself that it was a life lesson that I never would have gained without going and trying. 

After getting back home I purchased my GRE practice problems to start studying. I knew I wanted and needed to go back to school, so it was a matter of figuring out how and where that would be. In order to go back to school I knew I would need to write this test, so studying was the first priority. 




October
My birthday falls in the beginning of the month. I was excited to be back home, as one of the restaurants there has one of my favourite things - pork wontons. To my sadness, we found out that they no longer sold them. If anyone has a recipe for fried pork wontons that they want to share with me, please do!!
I decided to try a chicken and waffle sandwich instead. It was good, but I was still a little sad about the wontons. Noah's mum baked me my favourite carrot cake and we celebrated entering my 24th year of life.


I spent October studying. Relearning math that I hadn't picked up since high school and going over vocabulary and essay writing and the whole nine yards. It was a lot of information to digest over the month. 
Noah and I went to our local corn maze in October. I needed a break from studying and he had a day off of work. It was a nice little date. 
The end of October was a bit stressful for me.  I booked my GRE test for the beginning of November so I was studying like crazy trying to make sure that I knew all the material that I needed to for test day. I didn't want to have to write it twice because it's not a cheap test, so I was really trying hard to make sure I knew the content. 



November
I spent the first five days of November studying my arse off as my test was booked for the 6th. I asked Noah if he would take the day off and drive to the city with me for moral support (the test centre is only in Halifax). I am so grateful that he took the day off to come with me and makes sure that I was calm before I went in to write the test. It was raining on the way up and I saw a rainbow on the drive so I took that as a good luck sign.
When I came back out of the test after about two and a half hours and I got into the passenger seat of our car he had picked me up my favourite jelly beans and a sweet card saying that he was proud of me. I've sure got myself a keeper.


The rest of November was spent looking for a job (to no avail) working on my school applications and waiting/checking everyday until I got my test results back to see if I would need to write the bugger again. To my relief, it was passable! 
Noah and I also went out to see if I could take some photography shots and we took this cute one together. 




December
More looking for work (again to no avail) and preparing for Christmas was really all that December held. Noah and I went to see Nutcracker for what may be the last time (his family member may no longer be involved, starting university and what not next year) and I've loved it every year. The story always stays the same but I love the music and dancing so much that I don't mind that I remember every single part of the story. It truly is magical.
For Christmas Eve we spent the afternoon at my grandparents house and we had a nice dinner before heading off for an evening at Noah's grandmother's house with his family and more delicious food.

Christmas Eve with my love 

Christmas morning I stayed at my place and opened presents with my family before heading over to Noah's (the weather wasn't great and I didn't want to be stuck anywhere) to exchange presents with him and his mum. It was really a very lovely morning with the people that I love most. We then spent some time in the afternoon back at my house, nibbling on some snacks before heading to Noah's aunt's house for a delicious evening of good food and great company. 

Finally, New Years Eve was spent with Noah's cousins playing games, laughing and enjoying each other's company: A great end to the year. 



All in all, twenty seventeen was a year to reflect on. I worked a lot, had some great memories with friends and family, traveled to five new cities, and learned a lot about myself and where I see myself in the future: close to those I love. 

The main thing that I want to take away from this year is that sometimes things don't work out but that's okay. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep going, which is just what I'll be doing in twenty eighteen. 



Autumn Photography

Thursday, November 9

It's been too long since I've been able to post anything on here. I've just written the GRE (I've mentioned this in previous posts) and hopefully my scores are high enough that I won't need to write it again (fingers are crossed!) 
Meanwhile I've been able to snap a few autumn shots in between my studying sessions over the last two months. I wanted to write a quick post sharing some of my favourites! 
Hopefully I'll be back into the swing of things soon! Until then, here are some photos! 












Cheers to Twenty-Four

Wednesday, October 11


Now that all of the birthday festivities have ended, I've had some time to think about my twenty-third year of life. How I ended up where I am, and what I hope to achieve in the coming years. Have I matured? Am I a better person? What am I doing with my life?

Not quite a quarter life crisis (not just yet, anyway), more of a reflection. I thought I would take a little bit of time to write about things so that when I look back, I can remember how twenty-three felt. 

birthday


Life inevitably tossed me around. I was on what I thought was a kiddy ride but soon turned out to be one of those thrill-seeker rollercoasters where you think you'll manage okay but as soon as the ride starts you pass out.

Needless to say, I was unprepared. Unprepared but so grateful for the experience.

I started my twenty third year out without a job, a recently graduated university student with nowhere to go. That soon turned into three part time jobs before Christmas and a plan to apply to a university far away. After the Christmas holidays I left one of the part time jobs to work full time hours between the other two positions I held. Life was full of work and hoping I would get accepted to university.

Spring was exciting,  I had a phone interview to the university I applied to, and Noah and I bought our first car. The day that the car was officially ours, I also found out I had been accepted. We had just spent our savings on this vehicle and now we had to start all over again for the move (that should have been our first red flag, but nonetheless, I'm glad we went through with it). 

I was excited when we moved away that I would be able to finally cross some things off of my 30 before 30 bucket list. There was both moving out of my parents home and moving to a new place as well as continuing my education, all of which would have all been crossed off the list should we have stayed.

I also would have been miserable.  

There comes a time in life where you have to make choices that aren't easy decisions. I could have stayed in Ontario and completed the degree living in a terrible mental state, or I could move back home, reevaluate my choices (and inevitably feel like a failure for the first little while) and be mentally stable.
Ultimately my mental health was just not worth jeopardizing.

I've always been a strong advocate for looking after your mental health. It is very important to make sure you are taking really good care of it, because you will experience a lot more negative things in life if you have poor mental health.

In this particular instance, I needed to make sure that I was also being an advocate for my own mental health, and that is something that I found really difficult to come to terms with. That feeling of failure really loomed over me for a while. Luckily, that has passed and I am forever grateful for the support that I have received from those around me. I was really worried that my decision to move back home would be met with disappointment and misunderstanding. Not one of my family members showed that response. All were glad I was happy and safe, and interested to hear what my next step in life would be. I was so glad I got to spend my birthday with my family, with the ones who mean the most to me. 

October is my favourite month of the year. Yes, it harbours my birthday at the beginning, and one of my favourite holidays at the end (any other 'Halloweenies' out there?!) but there is something about the autumn season that makes my heart swell with happiness. It's this time of the year that really gets me inspired. I love all the vibrant colours (burgundy is my favourite colour), the chilly temperature (sweater weather), and the activities that happen throughout this season (pumpkin picking and carving, corn mazes, thanksgiving). I can't help but be reenergized during this time of the year, and I really think that is helping me to understand that everything happens for a reason and I am meant to be here. To be home.

As of my first week being twenty-four I have mostly been studying for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination - an entrance exam to many universities). I hope to do well on the test in a month and be able to apply to universities for the 2018-2019 school year. We shall see in the coming weeks how things will settle out. My test date and the deadlines are quite close together so I am trying to stay optimistic that I'll be properly prepared. Should things not go to plan, I am prepared to wait a year. I have learned that success isn't measured through one life decision, or one wrong choice, and I can keep trying. Life won't end with one bad test result.

Life happens. Life goes on.

Twenty three was a year of trying new things and learning that it's okay if things don't turn out the way you planned.  I hope that twenty four will treat me just as well.

So cheers twenty-three, thanks for the life lessons, and also to twenty-four. May the year be filled with new experiences, ideas, and lessons, and endless love and support.



Failure | Motivational Monday

Monday, September 18

It's been a while since I've written a motivational Monday post. It feels good to bring this back. Writing these posts are very calming for me and help me see things in a different light. Also, I feel like I need to write this, not only for myself, but for others who may be feeling the same way. 

I was originally planning on writing something about moving and how to adjust to being far away from home. However, sometimes things don't work out, and thats ok. 

To make a long and complicated story short, I withdrew from the program that I was attending, Noah and I packed up our bags and moved back home. There were many underlying reasons for our decision, but ultimately we were unhappy being so far away from home. 

While we are both feeling better now, and know we made the right choice to come home, the feeling that we failed is still there. It took me a while to really understand and come to terms with the fact that it was not a failure, but an attempt that did not work - and that the two are not equal. 


Just because this life choice didn't work does not mean that I won't keep trying. I will continue with my education in the future. I have just learned that I should look for a program closer to home. Half way across the country will not work, I am too much of a homebody. I will keep trying. Even if the next time doesn't work either, I won't give up.  

I wanted to write about this topic because it has been on my mind lately. I don't want to forget that sometimes things go wrong, and that's okay. Don't give up and keep your head high. Sometimes we think that giving up, or failing, or even retracing our steps are bad things, but they aren't. That is how life works. There are highs and there are lows, and you need to take them as they come. Trust your gut feelings. Your intuition will help you make the right decisions when times are tough. 

It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or says, because it isn't their decision. You have one life to live, and you shouldn't waste your time thinking every attempt is a failure. 

You are just learning the ways that don't work. 



Visiting Quebec City

Saturday, September 16

2017 was the first time in my almost twenty-four years of life that I have visited Quebec City. We stayed in Levis, Quebec and took the ferry across the river so that I could see just how beautiful the city was from the other side of the river. It did not disappoint. As soon as we got off the ferry and started walking through the streets I was in love. There were cobblestone walkways and brick buildings with art covering the whole side (I have included a picture down below of one of the buildings). There were cute little boutique shops and restaurants and decorations and string lights everywhere. It was like an old little European town had found its way to Canada. 



We walked around exploring for the whole day taking in the views, shops, and general atmosphere. We ate breakfast at a restaurant near Le Ch√Ęteau Frontenac, the giant hotel that you can see coming across on the ferry. We had gorgeous weather that day and we were able to eat outside and enjoy the beautiful views. Everything was just so pretty. I could have taken a picture at every turn but that would have taken up all the room on my camera, and it would have taken up all of Noah's patience with me - and he needed those for all the hills we had to walk up, I complained a lot.

This is one of my favourite places that I've explored. I love the small town feel; it reminds me Beauty and the Beast when Belle is walking down her village and singing with her head stuck in her favourite book - at a one point I was hoping there would be a fountain with some sheep nearby just for my own satisfaction, but alas that did not happen. Maybe someday when I return to Quebec City I will bring along a Belle costume. 
Until then, here are some photos that I took of beautiful Quebec City: 































Have you ever been to Quebec City? What is your favourite part or what would you like to do there?