Choose Adventure!

Since launching the new “brand” I’ve had a few people ask why I am so adventurous all of a sudden when I didn’t seem to be before? Why it seems I all of a sudden enjoy hiking and the outdoors, and why before I never seemed to embrace doing these things? Why this “risk going too far” attitude never came through before? I understand! It has definitely been a newer part of my life recently,  I even doubted using adventurous as part of my branding a few times because of how popular it is right now amongst photographers and other forms of media. But I assure you it’s always been a part of who I am.

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The honest truth is I am happiest when I choose adventure. My birthday is the perfect example of this. It was a gray, wet and chilly day. Trust me, that couch was calling to me LOUDLY. The idea of cuddling up with Marco on the couch and binge watching Netflix with coffee and chocolate all day was so much more appealing at 7am than doing a hike outside with a forecast of heavy rain! A thousand excuses to not go were going through my head. “It’s supposed to rain.” “Maybe we could go next week when the weather will be nicer?” “What if we waited and went in the summer when we could add in a swim?” “What if we aren’t back in time?” or the best one “think of how amazing an entire kid free day on the couch would be?! Cuddling! Catching up on our TV shows?! Let’s do that instead! pleeeeeeeaaaase?”

The excuses filled my head to the point where I almost voiced them. I am so glad I bit my tongue and kept them in….because that was one of my favourite days of the year so far. It was the most fun I’ve had with Marco in awhile! It was one of my best birthdays, and I gained memories that I wouldn’t have gotten from spending the entire day on the couch.

I realized something profound over the last few months, happiness isn’t something that just happens. It’s not something that just hits you upside the head when you least expect it. It’s something you have to CHOOSE everyday. It’s something you have to actively pursue. (Remember the movie!?) It’s something that sometimes goes against what you actually want to do, but you still do it anyways because you know it will make you happy. It seems backwards, doing something you don’t really want to do at the time, but you do it anyway because it WILL bring happiness.

To me that’s living an active lifestyle that has me outdoors lots, exploring new places and trying new things. It’s choosing adventure, it’s risking going too far, it’s making the decision to go do something other than just staying home. It is freakin hard some most days, and somedays the couch does win, and I am learning that’s also okay! It’s glorious on those days when I am tired and grumpy. But that can’t be my life….and it slowly was becoming my life. The stay at home, never doing anything, giving into my excuses of “let’s do it another day” and then unhappiness DID hit me upside the head and I realized the ONLY way to get out of it was to change, to make better decisions, to make harder decisions, and to do the things that I didn’t really want to do.

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It is still a struggle every single day to choose to do what I know will make me happy, over what’s easiest, what’s most convenient. (#thestruggleisreal ;) But I believe through and through that happiness is worth it. I believe that I am worth having the life I dream of and I want to live in such a way that will inspire my kids to grow up knowing they can do the same.

I know I have many days where the couch wins and where I let the excuses be voiced, but my goal is to make those days fewer and further between and to embrace them when they do happen! There is only so much adventuring one can have before brain, and body need a rest.  It’s all part of living life fully….the mentality that wherever you are, you’re ALL THERE.

Kevin and Alicia: Langley BC Wedding Photographer

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She was so happy she was bouncing as she waited in the back room ready to walk down the aisle. There was a giddy smile that wouldn’t leave her face, and I have never seen her this pumped about anything before, even a volleyball game! Her Dad came in to see her, and the look of pride on his face had me a little teary! Her Mom was bustling around the church making sure all the last minute details were in place and her brothers were hovering in a protective way around their older sister.

As Alicia came out of the back room of the church the entire church silenced, she was STUNNING! For those of us who played college sports with her knew her as Volleyball player, Rower, and now Cyclist. We rarely saw her out of anything but athletic gear, she’s an athlete to the core. To get to see her like this, and absolutely GLOWING at the same time was the best.

I first met Alicia at UFV. She went from being a Basketball player, to a Volleyball player to a member of the rowing team while I knew her. She is passionate about whatever her current interest, or hobby is and not only does she experience it fully, she strives to be the best…and most often she succeeds! She follows her heart, no matter where it takes her, has a deep, and unwavering faith in God and His plan for her life, and she has always been one of those people that hasn’t feared away from boldly being herself. I’ve always admired her!

We got together for drinks a few days after Christmas, and she announced to us all that she was wanting to finally plan her wedding. We literally picked a date that night, and she planned her entire day in just over a month!

One of the many highlights of her day, was her younger brother and “bridesmans” speech to her. It summed her up perfectly and thankfully one of the girls got most of it on tape!

“When people ask if I have siblings, I get super excited to tell them.  I have a sister….she’s super old….and a crazy athlete. People always ask “what does she do?” and I would explain her as this. If my life were a sitcom, she would be the crazy sister who had a different persona every episode. One week she’s a volleyball player, next she’s travelling to China, or doing her hair in cornrows, next she’s in Mexico building houses for single mothers, or playing basketball, rowing, or going to Haiti. Next she’s an avid churchgoer. After each persona, she would learn a valuable lesson and get a little bit closer to the final Alicia – the series finale of the show. 

One day she started cycling and working at a bike shop. I’ve seen the pattern. “Oh great, I give it less than a year and she’ll be kickboxing.” 

I was wrong. She met a guy named Kevin at this bike shop. She hasn’t stopped cycling since. Today I believe it’s finally time for her teenage sitcom to have it’s season finale. She has learned many things, travelled many places and has many talents. From today on, when someone asks me what does your sister do I can say, “She cycles and she has a husband and she loves them both.”

 

 (A few photos of one of our memorable annual trips to 70 Mile in college!)

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Congratulations Alicia!!! I absolutely loved getting to see you walk down the aisle and see you and Kevin so happy!!!

 

Love their photos?!?! Let them know by “Liking” below!! :)

I’m afraid of the dark.

Confession time.  I am afraid of the dark. But a very specific kind of dark. The 5pm, middle of winter dark is totally fine. It’s safe…cozy even. But the 2am, home alone kinda dark?! Scared shitless. So much so that last week when Marco went out of town for work overnight, I packed up both kids and slept over at my parents house. At 30 years old, I still had to go sleep at my parents house because if I am left home alone, I don’t sleep. Every noise is a murderer trying to get in. Every creek is a robber in our house. I check 5x to make sure I turned off the stove. I check 10x to make sure all the doors are locked. I worry I won’t wake up if there’s an emergency (I’m the worlds deepest sleeper!)

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Marco usually laughs it off as a silly quirk of mine, but this time he finally asked, “what is it about the dark that scares you so much?”  I didn’t have an answer ready for him. Every answer I could give him, there was a situation I could name where I wasn’t afraid. The dark can be fun in large groups while camping. The dark makes Trick or Treating much more fun! It also makes sparkler photos at weddings so amazing!

BUUUT when you’re alone, at home, or camping (oh gosh especially in the woods!) there are murderers and cougars waiting around every single corner, or tree waiting. They know my fear, and they know I am finally alone and they’re waiting. Trust me, I know how full on ridiculous this sounds. The logical part of my brain constantly goes “what the heck is wrong with you?!”, but the non-logical part of my brain is TERRIFIED, and therefore fully dominates the entire thought process.

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Probably the most ridiculous and unreasonable part? Those murderers? They only try to get me when I try to go to sleep. If I were to stay up and watch movies all night I’m pretty much fine. The noises and creeks still make me nervous but nowhere close to the same degree that they do if I’m trying to go to sleep alone.

And don’t get me started on the forest at night. I LOVE camping. The week we go with my family is one of the highlights of my entire year! And honestly, I love it when it starts to get dark. The stars up there are AMAZING, the campfire is the best part of the day, and the kids go to bed! haha we all get a chance to wind down, have some wine, and relax while the kids sleep!

But once it’s time to go to bed. Even with Marco there it freaks me out a bit. I have to do a big long slow flashlight sweep of the forest surrounding the campsite to make sure there’s no cougars hiding and waiting for us to go to sleep. Once I’m snuggled inside the tent, safe I am fine. UNLESS….the dreaded 2am pee break happens. That’s the worst. I actually used to wakeup Marco so he would be awake and ready should I be attacked, but now I realize this is insane, and I suffer alone.

The campground we go to has a indoor, plumbed toilet literally less than 200m from our campsite, but there isn’t enough money in the world to get me to walk up there alone, at 2am. Forget it. I will get mauled by a cougar for sure. Or die of a panic attack from the fear haha. So I have learned to pee in the forest. Literally feet away from our tent to make sure that I can make a quick return should I need. And before I start to go, I always do the same slow sweep of the forest, just knowing one of these times there’s going to be a pair of eyes staring back at me.

Although I fully acknowledge how crazy, and hilarious this fear is I am convinced I am not alone in having a healthy, strong fear of something. I have seen how my brother in law reacts when a spider gets even in the same room as him, I have seen my sister react to watching a horror movie at a sleep over, and I have many many times seen my Dad’s reaction when you sneak up on him and jump out at him. So please, help me feel even more normal by sharing your deepest, most embarrassing fears!!

** because so many people have asked previously, I am not scared of bears at all for some reason. For two previous jobs I attended bear aware programs and training, and feel somewhat confident in how to react should I come across a bear. It’s never happened though where a bear has been dangerously close though so when the time comes, bears probably will be added to the cougar and murderers list haha ;)

 

Dirty Thirty

 

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I’m not an easy person to surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being surprised. I just am not the easiest person to surprise. I like to make plans…I like to know what’s going on. Not all the tiny details, I just like when my calendar is full of fun things and I like to throw out ideas, and help plan what we’re doing! I also am very close with my sisters, and my Mom. We talk everyday. Same with my close friends. We talk almost daily. It’s hard to surprise me because we are so used to not having secrets it’s easy to let something slip.

So when Marco said “Block off Friday the 28th of February” I was intent on keeping it secret. I didn’t want to know what was happening until right before. He not only succeeded, he blew me away! With the help of my family and friends he pulled off the most amazing birthday surprise EVER.

He started by having the BEST birthday day with me, I think to throw me off….making me think that what he had planned for Friday wasn’t going to be a big deal after all. He also kept throwing out hints, weird hints, ones that didn’t add up and had me SO confused. To top it off, when I told my sister that Marco had “plans” for me for Friday, she got kinda mad. Saying whatever it was she hadn’t been invited and she was going to be some pissed if he planned something and didn’t invite her. My best friend Jessica knew what the plans were, because Marco had planned the date around when she could come work wise, and all she told me was that we were going sky diving…which we all know would never EVER happen. haha (Read WHY here)

Well Friday morning I woke up, and I was told to dress like I was going to do something physically active. We hopped in the car and headed back out to Chilliwack and Marco told me we were just going to explore. Drive up forest service roads, get out and hike whenever we got as far as the car could take us, and try to finally accomplish my goal of getting a good photo of the Border Peaks. Somewhere along Chilliwack Lake Road there was a forest service road that FINALLY had the gate open, so we ventured down it, praying the entire time the gate wasn’t currently being closed, locking us in! We made it in as far as the demolition site for the military. I wanted to get out and walk in further, but the “WARNING LIVE BOMBS” signs had Marco forbidding me to step foot out of the car haha. To give him some credit, I am glad he didn’t….the guy came to close the gate just a few minutes after we drove through it!

We drove a bit more and ended up at the end of the road. Holding hands we walked down to Chilliwack Lake and while he found rocks to skip, I took my usual amount of photos, and pretty much just stared at the mountains. Marco rolled his eyes when I insisted on selfies, and I pretended to push him in the water. (I really should have haha)

Later that afternoon, my only instructions were to get ready by 5:00 and “maybe you should wear a dress.” It was a bit amusing to see Marco running around like crazy trying to get everything ready having no idea what he was getting ready for! The kids surprised me by dressing up too, Luca was quite proud of the gel in his hair :)

Luca picked the first part of the evening, and he truly is my son. We had dessert first! We went to the coffee shop I used to work at and shared two pieces of cheesecake. Soph kept licking the whip cream off the plate! We piled back in the car, and went for a family drive as the sunset (one of my favourite things!) and Marco kept turning into different driveways of restaurants or different roads to throw me off. haha he thought it was hilarious watching me get excited and then tell me “just kidding!” We FINALLY turned into the driveway of one of my ALL time favourite restaurants, Restaurant 62. We went there for our first Valentine’s together so it’s always been one of our favourites for special occasions!

I walked in and in the back of the restaurant Marco had rented out the entire room and it was full of my entire family and all my closest friends!! Literally all my favourite people in one room and I made sure to give each and every one of them the biggest hug ever!

Dinner was amazing! Seriously nothing makes me happier than big dinners. There’s something about spending time with your favourite people, sharing stories over wine and food that is so special! Looking around and seeing everyone laughing, and smiling makes my heart so happy! After dinner, it was hugs all around again (What can I say, I like warm hugs ;) and we stayed until everyone else was gone, making sure to kiss Marco whenever I could to say thank you!

We pulled into the driveway at home and something seemed off. Different lights were on than we normally leave on. Marco said “uhhh by the way the birthday surprises aren’t over!” I walked into our house that had been ENTIRELY decorated by my amazing sisters and friends while we were out getting dessert. There was a MASSIVE 30 balloon, white lights, a tea bar from David’s Tea, a wine bar, photos from the last 30 years of my life in the shape of a 30 on the window, cupcakes and everyone from the restaurant was back there waiting! I had NO CLUE!

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It was so fun! We drank many many glasses of wine and threw on an epic 90’s playlist. Marco literally filled my day with my all time favourite activities and my favourite things. I have never felt so loved and so fortunate to have these people in my life! I was definitely spoiled!! Marco set the bar VERY high for his 30th next year!

A HUGE HUGE thank you to everyone who made last week SO incredibly amazing! It was better than I ever imagined and I love all of you so much!!

 

Day one as a 30 year old!

Day one as a 30 year old was pretty fan-freakin-tastic!! I woke up to bacon and pancakes with strawberries on top, french press coffee and handmade cards by my son!

After we dropped the kids off at school/daycare, me and Marco headed up Chilliwack Lake Road to hike to Lindeman Lake! I had been this past Fall with my Dad and fallen in love with it and was so excited to spend the morning of my birthday showing Marco how gorgeous it is!

The weather was PERFECT! Nice and cool. Cloudy, but not cloudy enough that it socked in the mountains. The park is technically closed over the winter but all that means is the gates are closed to the parking lot and the bathrooms didn’t have toilet paper! The good part is there was only 2 other cars there! We practically had the entire hike and lake to ourselves!

I could have spent all day there! We made plans to head back sometime this summer for an over night date and camp! Imagine waking up and having coffee to this view!! I would hang our hammock right over the water and read….or have a glass of wine! ;)

We explored the lake, and then reluctantly headed back! Marco laughed at how many photos I took, and I reminded him how much worse it will be when we do Banff this May!

After we heated back up in the car, and had lunch at Chopped Leaf (the greatest lunch spot ever!!) we picked up the kiddos! Luca took me on a date to Starbucks, and bought me tulips!

We came home to the BEST surprise ever! One of my closest friends had sent me flowers! I haven’t had flowers delivered since my wedding day!! It was the best surprise!! Then came homemade dinner while I loaded this mornings photos, and my Dad dropped off dessert for me :) (my AMAZING Mom is sick and she still sent over a homemade cake on my birthday!) 

After dessert was Volleyball!!! Marco and I coach a U-18 team with one of my other close friends! The other assistant coach (who is also a close friend and fellow UFV alumni) surprised me with balloons and cupcakes!! We came fully dressed to play and it was SO MUCH FUN!! I haven’t played volleyball in almost two years!! I think I kept up with the youngins ;) 

It was the perfect ending to an amazing day!! Feeling so loved and so grateful for everyone in my life! 

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