Local POV: Experience Vancouver in Two Days

Lately, a lot of people has been asking me for tips for their weekend vacation to Vancouver, BC. I moved to Beautiful British Columbia when I was four and basically lived in one of the top ten most livable cities for all 23 years of my life. Like every native to their homeland, all the beautiful and breathtaking sights became the norm for me.

Some days, I’ll catch myself looking at the picturesque mountains and taking in the fresh smell of pine and fir trees. On other days, I’ll be up in the mountains after a day of snowboarding, then realize that I could literally crash the beach on the same day, half an hour later.

We Vancouverites, are pretty darn lucky and we forget … just like how take our parents, close friends, or significant others for granted after the shininess of a new things fade away.

There are a ton of reasons why people come to Vancouver of course. To see the wonderful snowcapped mountains, hike the trails, experience the multicultural aspects of the city, and of course there’s things like trying the typical Canadian ‘delicacies’ like maple syrup and poutine. Although Michelin did not make it’s way up to Canada, we have the most delicious asian cuisine, like ramen, sushi, pho and dim sum.

If you want an all around experience that excites all of your senses, you’ve come to the right spot.

Scenic Drive in BC
Joffre Lake, BC

MUST SEE DESTINATIONS

If you only have two days to spare, you don’t have time to hit all of the spots, but here are the spots that you MUST VISIT. I will explain it in a order  that I believe works the best for your planning.

Day 1
  1. Start off early in Gastown, walk around and explore the small shops in town. You’ll find little boutiques and tourist specialty stores, but best of all, you’ll find the most delicious coffee bars. I recommend just picking up a Spanish Coffee from Buro Coffee and Peanut Butter Cookie to go.
  2. Coffee in hand, walk over to look at the Steam Clock and snap a photo.
  3. Stroll to Canada Place, where you can take a picture with the famous Five Sails near the Convention Centers. There is also a gigantic Earth shaped model.
  4. Make your way over to the Jack Poole Plaza where you can take a picture with the Olympic Cauldron.
  5. After this, you must try the best gelato in town at the Fairmont: Bella Gelateria.
  6. If you have a car, drive up to North Vancouver, where you can spend two hours at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can spend three more hours at the Grouse Mountain Gondola and doing activities at the mountain top. You’ll be able to see a beautiful view of Vancouver and experience nature firsthand. However, if you have a smaller budget, you can also consider going to Lynn Canyon Park instead which will allow you to experience nature and experience another suspension bridge that is less touristy.
  7. This should take you to around 6:00pm if you started early enough. At this time, relax and head to Yaletown to get dinner. There is a wide selection of restaurants, so you can choose to eat whatever your heart desires. Yaletown is also a great place to grab some evening cocktails, such as at the Hello Goodbye Bar.
  8. At around 9:00pm, you can head to Olympic Village. Olympic Village is the best spot for you to take pictures with Science World, our signature soccer ball architectural building that defines our landscape. You can also see Roger’s Arena and Stadium here, so you’ll kill two birds with one stone.
    Olympic Village Bike Ride
Day 2
  1. Get up early like usual. This time, make your way to Granville Island. You can grab brunch at Edible Canada if you want to sit down and order their famous fries or you can head over to the public market where you can sample a famous puff pastry soup from A La Mode or get a custom bagel from Siegel’s bagel shop. There are also a lot of live performances at around lunch time and lots of crafty shops if you want some unique souvenirs to bring home. If you come during the evening, you can also catch an improv show or two.
  2. Next, make your way to Stanley Park where you can rent a bike on Denman St. and ride around the seawall, making stops at the beaches and viewpoints a long the way. You can even see the Lions Gate bridge from here. Spend 2-3 hours here.
  3. When you’re done, hang out along Denman and Robson St. to find Santouka Ramen or Kintaro Ramen. If you’re not a fan of ramen, there are also a ton of other types of cuisine clustered in that area.
  4. At this point, there are a few things you can do:
    • You can make your way down to Steveston Fisherman’s Wharf to look at sea lions and walk around the area. The Steveston Seafood House also offers a popular dessert that is a chocolate balm with a cream filling. In Richmond City Centre, there is also a wide selection of Chinese Restaurants that serve dim sum and until late. There is also an outlet near the airport called McArthurGlen Outlets if you are looking for some good deals.
    • If you feel like relaxing, you can make your way to Kitsilano Beach for beach bumming and then enjoy live jazz music at a bar called Blue Martini.
    • If you are feeling like shopping, you can drive to Metrotown, which is the second largest mall in all of Canada, though realistically, aside from the shopping there is nothing to see.
    • If you are feeling artsy, you can spend some time at the Vancouver Art Gallery and Robson Square to look at the latest exhibitions.
  5. Finally, wrap up the evening by spending some time shopping on Main Street, looking at boutiques and eating at our extremely hipster restaurants and maybe grab a beer or two at our local breweries.
  6. End the evening by going to Queen Elizabeth Park for dessert and a class of wine and at the same time at Seasons in the Park, enjoy a night view of all of Vancouver from the top of the hill. If you choose to do this in the day time, you can also visit the Bloedel Conservatory too.
Got a few more extra days?

Consider visiting….Whistler and Squamish. Take the Sea to Sky Highway to for scenic stops and hikes that takes you to breathtaking glacier lakes and waterfalls.

Visit Deep Cove for kayaking and a short hike to see Stanley Park and Vancouver.

Take a detour to Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver

Cleveland Dam

Take the ferry to North Vancouver Lonsdale Quay 

Go to Canada Place and experience Flyover Canada

PLACES TO EAT

These things should keep you busy for two days, but if you’re an extreme foodie, you can also consider going to the following places:

  • Toshi Sushi
  • Savio Volpe (Reservations Required)
  • Kishimoto Japanese Kitchen
  • Narrow Lounge
  • Bao Bei Brasserie
    Bao Bei Dumplings, Chinatown
  • Medina Cafe (Lavender Latte is amazing here)
  • Lin’s (For Xiao Long Bao Buns)
  • Cartem’s Doughnut
  • Small Victory Bakery (Cruffin = Croissant + Muffin)

More to be added…

Nanaimo & Cowichan Valley, BC: With People, Anything is Possible

I’m sitting on my couch, listening to Barbra Streisand’s People.

 

 

No more hunger and thirst
But first be a person who needs people
People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world

I embarked on another solo adventure over the Easter long weekend. I didn’t have that many days, but still wanted a short getaway. I wanted to experience that rush of adventure and excitement that I get every time I conquered a new destination on my won.

I was independent and free. At least that’s how I wanted to feel. 

The trip didn’t turn out as expected, however. First, my Greyhound tickets actually didn’t take me on to the BC Ferries, and the Fishing Tour and Winery Tour I booked for Cowichan Valley wine tasting had been cancelled in the morning, as I was the only person who had signed up.

When I got to Departure Bay, the ferry’s connecting point between Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, I was met with another piece of bad news: the public buses were not running that day.

I was extremely disappointed, but I still forged ahead because I was determined to make my weekend a wonderful experience, regardless of the circumstance.

That’s how Barbara Streisand’s song lyrics tied into this trip.  

I needed people. I am open to people. Being independent didn’t mean being closed off, you still had to be open to new experiences and people around you.

View from Coast Bastion

I asked around and wondered how I was going to get myself into Downtown Nanaimo where my Airbnb was located. While making calls at the bus stop, I bumped into a kind man, Wayne, who had offered to drop me off.

Kind Encounter #1

Wayne’s son-in-law had offered to pick him up at the terminal and was going to be headed downtown. We looked at his map (not Google maps), and determined where my Airbnb was located. Then, as we sat on a bench overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the sunshine, he told me his story. He shared with me how he lived on the east coast, then moved all the way here to Port Alberni. I shared with him how I traveled Europe last year, and he then confided in me his drive down the west coast, all the way to the Mexican border in his younger years with his wife and children.

For those 30 minutes, we shared our lives with each other, freely and willingly. It was one of the most purest connections I’ve made in a while.

Then his son-in-law arrived, and they both made sure I got dropped off right at the door.

Those were the kindest strangers, I’ve ever met.

I think Netflix’s The Kindess Diaries is really onto something. There are really kind people, everywhere you go.

I made it to my Airbnb, and I met with my host Mary. I had grabbed a map from her and was set on wandering the city before dusk. I had heard about Nanaimo Bar Trail, which is a scavenger hunt that takes you on a search for the different types of Nanaimo Bars that the city had to offer. After all, that was what the city is known for.

If you’re ever in the city, their most popular spots are the seawall, Bastion, and Old Quarters, where I stayed. They have a tiny section of streets that had some hipster boutiques and shops. But, spending a weekend in the city is overkill. Make sure you book your excursions to make your time worth it.

Deep-fried Nanaimo Bar

My first stop was Pirate Chips which makes a really delicious Deep-fried Nanaimo Bar. The fish and chips were so-so, but it comes in huge portions.

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake

By then, I was already tired and bored from the shops being closed, so I made one last attempt to revitalize my day by visiting Coast Bastion’s Minnoz Restaurant. They had a Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake Dessert, that was delicious…especially with a Malbec wine pairing.

Kind Encounter #2

While at the restaurant, I was seated next to a table with a couple, their child, and their cousin from Los Angeles. I had offered to take a photo for them, and to my surprise, we had struck up a conversation.

They had also come to Nanaimo on a whim and had nothing planned. I had emailed them my itinerary and options and mentioned to them about my winery tour and excursion plans that failed because there weren’t enough people.

Jay, out of the blue, had offered to have her family join me. Over that conversation, we had become friends. That evening, my new Los Angeles friend (Pete) joined me for a night of bar hopping and clubbing.

Despite the lack of people at the club (there were only 10 people), we still had a wonderful time. The drinks are cheap and local artists brought in a lively club at the bars.

Pete and I got a few drinks at The Nanaimo Bar which served up an amazing Nanaimo Bar Martini which was my last and final Nanaimo Bar stop for the trip.

The next day, the winery tour company Cheers Cowichan had gotten back to me. Pete drove us to Cowichan which was around 40kms away in the Cowichan Valley region, and we went on a mini road trip. The Cowichan Valley is ranked second to Okanagan in terms of BC’s wine producing regions.

Hudson’s On First

Along the way, we stumbled upon Hudson’s on First in Duncan, a restaurant we had randomly Google searched which turned out to be the best dining experience I’ve had on the trip. The restaurant is award winning, the chef was a Top Chef Canada contestant, and the restaurant made it’s own sausages, pasta, and served the most delicious omelettes made with locally grown produce.

We then hopped on the bus to try local wines produced by three different wineries. Averill Creek Vineyard, Blue Grouse, and Venturi Schulze were our stops. By the way, Susan did a wonderful job, explaining how all the wines were produced and taking us to the wineries of her choice.

Averill Creek

I loved Venturi Schulze, and ended up buying a bottle of Brandeburg No. 3 which is a sweet fortified wine and Island’s version of Champagne, called Charme De L’ile, from Averill Creek… a light body, sparking wine that was perfect for a summer day. Venturi Schulze also does Balsamic Vinegar tastings and the vintner, was very knowledgeable, funny, and explained wine in such a unique way. According to him, grape varietals has personalities.

Grilled Calamari

At the end of the day, we made our way back to Nanaimo Old Quarters, and tried the top-rated restaurant in the area, called Asteras, a Greek restaurant, where we got tasty Grilled Calamari and Roasted Lamb. That evening, I was invited to have dinner with the family and we made a pact that we will meet over coffee one day.

And of course, Pete had also offered to show me around the city when I am in LA and Orange County.

It turned out to be a wonderful experience, because of the people I encountered. Though I traveled alone, I was not alone. Unexpectedly, I had gained a family and more friends from around the world. Because of their kindness and our openness, what was once cancelled and seemed impossible became possible.

It turns out, “Anything is Possible” mentality doesn’t just live in New York City. It is a mentality that is carried with the person.

Sometimes, just go with the flow, and see where life takes you. Things have a way of working out.

It’s magical, isn’t it?

Be open to people, need people. You’ll be one of the luckiest person in the world. 

 

How Buro Coffee’s Spanish Latte Helped Me Find My Self Identity

One may ask, what does Spanish Latte have to do with finding your self identity?

Spanish Latte is a strange delicacy that I have never, ever tried before. Not while I was in Spain, and certainly never before in my lifetime because not very many coffee shops make it. Spanish Latte is espresso served with steamed/foamed condensed milk and absolutely delicious because it is rich and frothy, the exact type of coffee I adore.

How do I know? Because my gut says so. My mouth salivates and I feel a sense of giddiness that I only feel when I am looking forward to something.

Self identity and knowing yourself is exactly that. Know what makes you tick, and what doesn’t sit well with you.

Before I launch into a whole spiel of how this all came about, if you ever want to give Spanish Latte a shot in Vancouver, or try really high quality artisan coffee, head over to Buro Coffee in Vancouver Gastown, and please, please, please order yourself a pastry to go with that. They have gluten-free options and the most delicious house made peanut butter coffee and chocolate roll.

Coffee shops are a strange place. It’s a place that is conducive to idea sex a.k.a. the exchange of ideas, in a relaxed environment. So many great ideas and conversations are born in coffee shops.

Over a Spanish Latte, I met Rae. Rae and I had been messaging each other through Levo, a network for millennials to help them navigate the workplace and their careers. We are both on a mission: to help reinvigorate the Vancouver Chapter of Levo. It’s funny how a common goal or mission can bring two people together.

That aside, our conversation eventually continued on at a local Japanese restaurant called Mirai Sushi Restaurant near Chinatown, which by the way, has the best assorted Tempura.

Rae moved to Vancouver at 18 and has a lot of wisdom for a 25-year-old. We have similar personalities, but ultimately what connected us is we both want who we are tomorrow to be better than who we are today, and who we are today to be better than who we were yesterday. We are always hungry for improvement, and look forward to connecting to people because new perspectives help us grow.

Rae radiated confidence and when I asked, “Do you know exactly who you are?” Rae chuckled, and said with sheer firmness and calmness that communicated to me that there was no truth bending in any shape or form, “Of course! I knew who I was since many years ago.” 

That piqued my interest, as I am still seaching for my self identity, “But, how do you know?”

These are the key nuggets of information that Rae imparted on me:

5 Keys To Finding Your Self Identity

  1. It’s gauging your reaction and feelings. Listen and make observations on how you react to an event, someone, or something in your life. Does it make you excited? Does it make you feel sad? Chances are, it either works for you or it doesn’t because you have a certain set of preferences and values. Make decisions based on logic because emotions are also fleeting. So, pay attention to your emotions, interpret, and then be confident in your decisions! The feedback loop will reveal a certain pattern in your behaviour, which ultimate teaches you your values.
  2. Knowing when to pursue something, when to stick to it, and when to let go. One lesson that Rae shared with me is that in life, we must be willing to take action. There’s always something you can do, and if there isn’t then don’t worry about it! Know what you want, and sometimes, we must have patience to get to where we want to go. We are always in control and chose to be in the moment that we are living. You either choose to move forward, hang on because you know the reward will be worth it, or let go. The only reason why you should stay in a situation, is because you are still learning, still benefiting. Time is precious, my friend.
  3. Friends impact your identity. The above reasoning applies to people too. Think of friends as anchors in your life and you have to be willing to let go so you can move forward. Rae illustrated this reasoning in this way: Friends are anchors. Friends are people you should learn from, and although they may have played an important role in your life at one point, there are times when they are no longer on the same page. Say, friend A is 60 ft. below surface and at one point you were comfortable being at 60 ft. but you realize one day, that you need to get to surface so you can get air. If you don’t, you really will suffocate! If friend A wants to move forward with you, that’s great, but you can’t wait forever. So, you say bye, and you move to friend B, the anchor that is 30 ft. below surface, and suddenly, you are closer, but you know that one day, you will need to get to the surface…that is, towards your goal. You can’t let anyone hold you back. In the same way, you may have to be the anchor to let go of someone you are holding back one day. Be comfortable with moving upwards and onwards, as that is the essence of life. Choose friends who are diverse and will teach you a new perspective.
  4. Accept your emotions and know your values. Self identity is sometimes about accepting that you will feel a certain way and then learning how to deal with it. Being confident about your self identity is learning from one situation and then when that situation recurs, knowing how to deal with it. With every situation, if you accept it instead of pushing it away, you become more calm and eventually, you become more level-headed, confident, and reassured about small things that used to bug you and make you frazzled. So next time you are sad, cry! It’s okay to do so.
  5. Take everything with a grain of salt. When you meet someone new who shares with you new perspectives and insight, know what resonates with you then take everything else and let it go. Don’t let absolutely everything and everyone you encounter influence how you think or feel, because you will forever be pointed in whatever which way and caught in an eternal state of confusion. Everyone is different; know that what works for one person may not work for you. Know what’s negative and what’s positive. Heck, be open to learning, because meeting someone, anyone, for even one brief moment can shape your identity.

One thought remains true when the evening came to an end. Rae and I both agreed on this: that life is a journey. No one is completely sure about where they are (even that COO or CEO who looks like they have everything together) and life is wondrous and mysterious. We have to be comfortable with the unknown and live life with patience because one day, we will stumble upon our passion or purpose, we don’t have to be in a rush to look for it. Know that we are always in control and have the power to change. 

Oh sweet, Spanish Latte. Who would’ve thought one cup of coffee could inspire me and help me to find a new friend who certainly made an impact on my journey of self-discovery.

Next time, when you go out for a cup of coffee, think about how you feel about it. Maybe it will help you discover something new.

Year in Review: One Year of Doing Me, Personal Development & Italy

When you focus on yourself, good things happen.

That picture was taken in Frascati, Italy during my solo travels in Europe. I was on a mission to visit some Italian wineries while I was in Europe. I had just taken a train from Rome to this little town, Frascati, I had Googled. When I got there, I realized all the train stations were closed that day because it was a Sunday, but I trudged along to the outskirts anyway because there’s no way I am giving up after making it this far.

It started to rain. Hard. I was holding onto a flimsy little umbrella in the middle of nowhere.

Thankfully, a kind stranger drove by and after some assessment and hesitation I hopped into a stranger’s car who kindly saved me from a rainstorm. May I remind you, this was after a 3 mile trek into the countryside with no pedestrian sidewalks.

It turned out to be an amazing day of adventures.

Emanuele was his name, and he drove me, volunteered to my personal tour guide around town, and drove me back to Rome after this chance encounter.

Through all of this, HE DID NOT SPEAK A WORD OF ENGLISH and I DID NOT SPEAK A WORD OF ITALIAN. We relied on Google Translate the entire time and it was a wonderful evening that unfolded serendipitously with wine and learning about Italian culture from a local. Emanuele even bought me a rose and a bracelet to remember him by.

The next day, I went back to the little town, having stumbled upon a Winery Tour and phone number while I got lost in the countryside the other day. I had finally scheduled a winery tour called the Old Frascati Tour on my last day in Italy. Heck, I was in awe when it hit me that I was able to share a meal with people from different parts of the world in all sorts of professions. Doctors, nurses, teachers and environmentalists. At that one moment in time, we all chose to be at the same place, same time, for the same purpose.

That’s when I snapped the photo, on the property of one of the wineries in Frascati.

So what is the point of this story, you may ask?

Right after that, when I got back to Vancouver, I got a tattoo. After contemplating for years, of the word I’d like to have permanently inked onto my body, I knew it had to be the word Serendipity.

In the one year of personal development, the most important lesson I learned is Serendipity, to just enjoy life and focus on doing things YOU ENJOY. I still struggle with it today, but I know the wonderful things that could happen if you just followed this path.

Now, back to the other lessons that eventually led me to the path

13 THINGS I LEARNED IN ONE YEAR OF SELF IMPROVEMENT

If anyone has gone through the process of adulting, you’d understand how hard it is to focus on yourself when you’ve always had relationships and had to take into consideration the opinions, expectations, and plans of others. It is hard enough in your early formative years to even know what YOU, YOURSELF want to do with our own life, let alone deal with what others want from you.

So, after my break up last April, I decided to do me…improve myself, do everything in my power to become the best version of me. Date and meet people, and just let things come naturally…and I’ve had my small doses of intoxicating romances in that timeframe like the one above.

At first, it was externally motivated. I thought that if I became the best version of myself, my ex would feel like he missed out, and maybe he would come back. But, that thought quickly faded out into the background and it really was about me, improving, and discovering myself and my personal limitations because it was thrilling to see myself go from point A to point B, and to achieve things that I never would have imagined myself doing.

When I realized, I could do a lot of things I put my mind to, I became an addict to self improvement.

So, what happened in that year of self improvement? A LOT, more than I’ve ever imagined I could discover about myself. But, I’ll tell you in short form.

  1. Be curious. I discovered one thing that I’ve always taken for granted, which is my curiosity. That curiosity took me to places and is an extremely positive trait. I got to meet lots of interesting people, collect a lot of interesting pieces of information, hear a lot of perspectives from people in different walks of life. My curiosity allowed me to challenge my comfort zone and be open to new and exciting experiences. HECK I EVEN SKYDIVED AND JUMPED OUT OF A HELICOPTER IN SWITZERLAND. That is not a Lesley thing to do typically, but I was curious and nothing was going to stop me from finding out how it feels when you’re free falling. Curiosity will enrich your life and fill it with rich experiences.
  2. Bravery, adaptability, and the ability to trust my own gut are things I could all do on my own. There are times when I’ve gotten into difficult situations, but I’ve always managed to find a way to come out unscathed. I’ve learned and I’ve grown from them.
  3. Spirituality. I was never a spiritual person, but I believe in ‘The One’. But let me tell you, during that year of travels and meeting others, I’ve been inspired more than once that sometimes, THINGS HAPPEN FOR A REASON. Life just does its own thing and help you unravel the most confusing situations. It’s hard to do, and there are times as an over-thinker, I would stop letting things unfold. There are ups and there are downs, and I’ve experienced both all in one year, but now I am more capable of handling those ‘down’ moments, because I know the most amazing moments are just waiting around the corner, regardless of how long it takes to get there.
  4. Be open to opportunities. I was always a ‘Yes’ woman. But, being open to new ideas, people, situations was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because I was open, I met a ton of friends from around the world, met some pretty amazing business leaders just by talking to random people at a speakeasy in Seattle or on the plane heading to New York. There’s nothing better than just listening to someone’s story (which is also something I discovered I love) and then truly connecting with their soul.
  5. Putting my plans into actions, but I know, once I’ve set a thought into motion, I will achieve it. Whether it was running a half marathon when a year ago I could barely do a 10k run, snowboarding on the blue run on my third try, traveling Europe by myself when I used to rely on others for even a simple task of driving to another city that is a few miles away, or asking for things I want when I was afraid of the consequences, I’ve trained myself to be mentally strong when I need to be. This year alone, I’ve run 6 races, and signed up for Tough Mudder and the BMO Half Marathon. I’ve traveled to over 10 different countries alone. Made friends and chose who I could trust, and now I’m in the process of moving out of the comfort of my own home. Will I regret it? Nope, none of it.
  6. Be passionate. I am a romantic at heart and I am proud of it. I know I love falling in love and passionate moments. I used to think something is wrong with me, and that I am just being irrational and naive. But, passionate moments and sweet moments are what fuels me and keeps my life worth living because it is magical and gives the mundanity of life a little spice. Those moments (trip to Napa Valley, wild evenings of unexpected kisses and heart to heart conversations, adventures into Boston, being shown around Italy with people I meet randomly in a foreign location), even if in the long term, are not going to last, are what I will look back to and smile at.
  7. I am more self aware. I learned all the little things I love, that make me happy. Lemongrass, Chai Tea, Lavender, Books, Candles, Digital Marketing, Running, Wine Tasting, Cooking, Hawaiian and Japanese Fusion Food. All of the above are little things that put a smile on my face. I know I love being in the sun, being outdoors, being surrounded by nature. Those little things, are what I discovered when I truly listened to myself and became self-aware. Being self-aware is a gift because when you listen to your feelings and do what you love, you are better at avoiding situations that no longer serve you and surrounding yourself with positive energy.
  8. I formed better relationships. When you go through something tough, you know that those who matter are your friends and family. In this year, I was able to improve my relationship with my parents who I always had difficulty opening myself up to. I got closer to my friends who would be next to me in a heart beat. It was no longer about focusing my attention on that one person I am romantically involved with. Although tough, I also learned to walk away from people who no longer align themselves with who I am.
  9. I discovered and started to appreciate and accept all of the qualities in myself, but I have more to learn. I am an adventurer, curious, a person who can be a perfect bum and completely laid back, but also be sophisticated. There are many sides to myself. I like that part about me, but also things I’d like to work on. I used to stubbornly believe that people should accept my flaws, that I AM ME and I didn’t have to change. Now, I am open to constructive criticism and know that I am flawed and have the drive to work on those flaws to become the best version of myself. But I am also less of a critic to myself, because I can accept that everyone makes mistakes, even myself.
  10. I am more clear than ever what I want in a partner. I discovered through dating, what the red flags are for me, what kind of people I liked and want to spend time with. I know not to convince myself to accept someone in my life although there is a nagging feeling that they aren’t the best fit for me. I wrote down a list of things I liked in a partner, and I was able to find this person. I know now, not to settle and now know what it feels like to have my opinions respected and my attributes admired. I know that a level-headed rational relationships exists. Prior to MOOSE, I’ve never had a proper relationship with someone mature who could communicate and accepted me for me. I also learned, when I am not ready for a relationship and I am not a COMPLETE ME, it would also not work. A relationship takes TWO PEOPLE who are ready and committed, right timing, and right place. It is hard work.
  11. I am more focused and disciplined, an important step towards adulting. I learned good habits such as making my bed daily, being on time, being dedicated to what I have committed myself to. I also learned that I can’t do everything at once and to prioritize things that truly matter to me. I used to cram all sorts of things into my schedule. But, I am in the process of paring down my schedule so I am only investing time on things that make me happy. Hey, TIME IS PRECIOUS. I am even taking a step towards moving out for the first time, so I can learn how to be independent from my parents and managing my own finances.
  12. I learned to start letting go of the past. I love collections (I own a Hello Kitty and Snow Globe collection) and memories. They are little baubles of stories that form my past. But, there is such thing as holding on to too much, whether that is in your mind or people who longer serves me. I was able to remove half of my possessions from my room that are no longer part of me or reflect the current version of me. I held on to those items because they remind me of past memories (good or bad). I also held on to things because I feel guilty. You know what? When I let go of those things, I am no longer reminded of sad memories or feelings of guilt when I see a shirt that I’ve only worn a few times. I was able to let go of reminders of bad decisions I’ve made and stay more focused on what I had to achieve NOW. I am also able to make room for the things that I love as the current version of me.
  13. I still overthink a lot, but I am more capable of going with the flow and just letting life take the reigns. That’s what’s exciting about life and that’s the energy that will attract positive people into your life. Hey, that’s why I booked the trip to PERU on a whim, because it speaks to me. Your heart knows what it wants. 

So, I highly recommend taking some time to JUST DO YOU. I never thought I would be where I am now and who I am today. It is very rewarding...lonely at times because of the choice of stepping away from the distracting dating scene.

But, what the heck! Life is surprising. Set your destination and goal, and as my friend advised, “As long as you’re moving towards it, you’re making progress and life will lead you there.” It’s true. 

It may not be one straight path, but everything I had wished for has come true in one form or another. It may take longer than expected and you may encounter other obstacles along the way, but you’ll get there. Trust me, and enjoy the journey.

 

Solo trip to Europe in 5 days & Crackle Creme in Chinatown, Vancouver

So in 5 days, I’ll be heading to Europe on a solo adventure! I came across this the other day while on my first ever 40km bike ride and eating Creme brûlée at Crackle Creme in Chinatown, and I thought to myself “how befitting!” All my life, I’ve lived with the influence of expectations from others, whether it is school, family, friends, or significant others.

Anyway, on the topic of food, please order the VIETNAMESE COFFEE CREME BRULEE at Crackle Creme. There was also Earl Gray and a few other flavours, but the Vietnamese Coffee version is my favourite.

They basically have the mixture prepared in a container, and they torch the sugar on top of it when you order, so it is fresh and ready to go.

But THIS IS MY LIFE.
I am in control of it now, and it’s never felt so exciting and frightening before, heading off to the world of unknown with no one to rely on but myself. Some may have traveled plenty of times alone and think it is no biggie, but this Eurotrip is definitely what I needed to signify this immense growth I’ve been experiencing in the last half year of just overcoming internal challenges, one after the other. I’ve come to realize that the only barrier to success and accomplishment is myself. The situation is never to blame, it’s your mindset that makes all the difference.

Can’t wait to put my new learnings to the test in 5 days… Counting down!

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