Changing It Up

“Change is the only constant in life.”-Heraclitus
3C2B87C4-3884-4B5A-BCC9-378AD1F9C618 2Today happens to be the last day of one of my co-workers who has worked at the studio for nearly two decades. She is the first instructor I ever took Pilates with at that very same studio, that I now work at as well. Luckily for me, she has become not only a mentor to me but also a friend. It is the end of an era. But change is a constant and as humans we need change to let us grow, challenge us and propel us into opportunities we wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Change can be good, albeit difficult at times.
This change comes just over a month after another co-worker/client/friend unexpectedly passed away. That change was the awful kind, that shakes you up inside and makes you examine your own life a bit more, your health and that of your family. Looking for clues and answers where there are none. He was a genuine, kind and passionate person who gave is all to his friends, family, partner and students and his absence is felt. Last weekend a few co-workers and I, along with hundreds of others, went to his celebration of life. His family, friends and students rallied together to put on performances showing their love. It was incredible to witness this tribute and his presence was felt in each and every moment.
His passing and my other co-worker leaving her position are very different on the spectrum of loss and change but both are impacting in their own ways. Change is inevitable, but all the more reason to cherish each moment, to celebrate, to hug, to laugh, to encourage, to remember.
Sometimes we have to take a step back to appreciate what we have and sometimes to see what we are missing. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my work/life balance and what I want out of my career over the last year (see my recent post here). These recent changes have both affected me in different ways and even more so, I want to take some time this summer to enjoy my life and my family more. Career is important absolutely and I want to feel successful and proud of my work. I still have plans to grow and expand my business and that is important, to continue to be fulfilled in your career path. But taking the time to enjoy your friends, family and time by yourself is equally important. This last month has reinforced that concept to me. I already knew it but sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and forget that time is fleeting.
Just a reminder.
xo Shawn
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Santorini #selfie

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It’s hard to believe I have yet to post anything about Santorini, Greece! While stunningly beautiful, I actually had a rather unpleasant experience with my hotel owner. It was the end of the season and in (what I saw) as a last attempt to make extra money, I was taken advantage of and overcharged. It put a bad taste in my mouth but it did not define the whole of Santorini. I ended up meeting a lovely couple from London who took me under their wing and a very sweet taxi driver. Over all I ended up having a lovely time. What made Santorini a must visit for me was when I heard they had a black sand beach! I stayed in Perivolos which is on the south-east side of the island. Santorini actually has red sand and white sand beaches as well; the differences are due to volcanic eruptions. The black sand was absolutely spectacular to see in person. Like always I spent as much time as possible on the beach and since it was nearly off season, the beach was almost empty. It was on this beach that I took this self portrait. This is probably my favourite picture of myself, ever. To me it has a sort of haunting quality and if you look closely I look happy, but from a far it’s questionable. I love the composition of this photo as well, the placement of my hand in the foreground and the blurred effect. This blog is just as much about photography as it is about travel and I really loved this shot.

September 22-24, 2013

Barcelona Happiness

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This picture was chosen strictly for it’s ability to make me smile. Today I looked through hundreds of pictures trying to find inspiration for this weeks post, but my brain just couldn’t focus. Work and schooling are becoming more stressful and are taking up all my time. Scrolling past this photo made me crack a smile and when I passed it for a second time I smiled just the same. Then I began remembering how happy I was in Barcelona. It was such a milestone visit on my trip and a huge reason I even went back to Europe. Yes, I miss it terribly; I’m also blessed to have experienced such a journey. This picture brought me happiness today, just as Barcelona brought me happiness then. That’s why pictures are so important, because even when your brain forgets, they are with you forever. And, if your really lucky, those photos will bring a smile to your face too.

September 9-12, 2013

Montreux: Deux

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Some weeks are more difficult to choose my blog topic than others; this was one such week. Looking through my pictures often helps me when I’m feeling particularly stuck. Today my inspiration came from a video I stumbled upon from a boat tour I took in Montreux, Switzerland. Avid readers of my blog will know I’ve already done a post on this city, but I couldn’t help myself again. This is truly one of the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever been! These photos are all taken at dawn, which is when I both arrived and departed Montreux. It’s so peaceful that early, with just the odd person out jogging or walking their dog. The colours of the scenery beginning to come to life as the sun rises into the sky is utterly breathtaking. I’ve included the quintessential Freddie Mercury statue photography in this post as well (how could I not?). Below is also the aforementioned boat tour video, which clearly shows the twinkling turquoise waters of Lake Geneva. That particular shade of water, I have yet to see anywhere else. Montreux has an unparalleled beauty that must be seen to be understood.

June 20-22, 2013

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Bilbao, Spain

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Here’s another one for the dream come true category! The Guggenheim was another building I had studied for school and I desperately wanted to see it on that trip back in 2010. Unfortunately, Bilbao was too far out of the way so we were only able to do Barcelona. This time around, I made sure to get there! It was actually difficult to fit in because there were only 2 trains to Madrid per day, and my connecting flight out to Malta was set due to price. I ended up arriving at 10:00pm in Bilbao and had to walk 1km to my hostel. I also had to use my data to download a map because nothing was open and I had forgotten when I had WIFI, which cost me about $60 back home! Note to self: never again. EEK! I was probably asleep by midnight that night and was up the next day, dressed, packed and out the door, by 7:30am. I was so tired but excitement took over. I’m so happy I was so early though, because I got fantastic shots (like the one above) without any people in them. I really took my time and saw all the exhibits and art possible, including the outside. By the time I left, the whole place was buzzing and the sun had come out. It was so neat to see how the building changed and shimmered in the sunlight. It’s really an architectural masterpiece; it was amazing to see and to learn more about the construction. Afterwards, I found a delicious restaurant to have lunch that was an all you can eat salad bar, but with hot food and dessert too (sorry I forget the name, but if anyone knows it, please comment). I then city mapped nearby sites and found an adorable little park and courtyard, which I strolled around for awhile. I wish I could have stayed longer because I know Bilbao has so much more to offer. I’m content though; I set out to see the Guggenheim in Bilbao and I did. My train left at 5:00pm that evening and I spent the night in Madrid, so to say it was a whirlwind is accurate. The travelling probably caught up to me because I came down with a horrible cold that same night, but that’s a story for my Malta post.

September 12-13, 2013

Giverny, France

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I happen to really like this photo. It was taken at Monet’s house in Giverny, France. This is one of the places I had always wanted to go, so while in Paris I made a side trip. Turns out it is not the easiest place to get to from Paris, with regards to train timetables and connections. I had only half a day so I went very early in order to make the first bus connection to the house, ended up meeting a girl from Korea and sat for close to 3 hours in a little cafe. There is a market on Saturday morning I wanted to go to but ended up not for fear I’d get lost (something I am good at). All hopped up on cappuccinos, we caught the bus and took it all of 10 minutes to Monet’s house. It’s a bit of a walk from the bus drop off and people boogie to be first. The line up was long but luckily I had pre-purchased my ticket and went right in. I only had about an hour and a half at this point before for my train back to Paris so I did rush a bit but I got to see it all. His house is quaint and pretty inside (no pictures allowed) with gorgeous views of the garden. That garden was so special; I’ll probably do another post just on flowers in it. La piece de résistance, for me, would be the pond with its water lilies, weeping willows and bridges (yes I took a picture on one). His home inspired so many of his materpieces, it’s surreal to witness the beauty in real life. I was blessed with a perfect, sunny day to see the historic home of such a gifted artist and I feel special to have been there. Now, the story of my adventure to get back to Paris… I left with the intention of taking a taxi back to the train station; however I did not know to call before I left Monet’s. So after getting to the bus area and seeing no taxis, I opted to try and walk. That brilliant plan lasted 5 minutes as debris filled my shoes while I struggled down the side of a dirt road. I tried to get a hotel to call me a taxi but no one was around. About 10 minutes later, I stumble upon a restaurant with a bus outside; but again no one is around and it’s closed. Now I am panicking, convinced I will miss the train. Then a car pulls up. Inside is a woman, who happens to be the owners’ wife and her two daughters, I ask if she can call me a taxi and she offers to drive me. This is the only time in my life I ever hitchhiked (if you’d call it that). She owns a B&B in a neighbouring town and was so friendly and sweet. They saved the day because I made my train and got back to Paris in time. I am so grateful to her. On a side note, the nearest station is Vernon; that happens to be the inspiration of some of Monet’s paintings. One such painting my dad had hanging in our dining room since I can remember, and even though it looks nothing like that now, it was neat to be there in person.

June 15, 2013