My Thoughts on Racism and #Blacklivesmatter

Untitled design-3Obviously, racism is a widely debated and complex conversation. I am white and I am privileged. I do not encounter racism, ever. I am not discriminated against for the colour of my skin. I am however, a woman, and because of that I am discriminated against and treated differently in certain situations. I am fearful of men in certain situations and I look for ways to protect myself, that men do not have to consider or deal with. In that example, men are privileged. So, I’m going to address some common comments used to “rebuttal” #blacklivesmatter and racism in general and I’m going to come at it from the perspective of woman’s rights. Why? Because hopefully coming at it from a different angle will get through to someone who couldn’t hear it before. I truly believe this is a time for education and learning, not for bullying or attacking. I’m disheartened by people trying to justify or make themselves feel better. I’m also disheartened by people assuming others are “jumping on the bandwagon” or “ignorant” or “racist” because of a comment they made, rather than taking it as an opportunity to teach that person WHY what they said was wrong. Of course, some people really are thick-headed and no amount of teaching with undo their racist values and beliefs. But for those you can teach, try. That is the only way to move forward and see real change. Unfortunately, it takes public murders and riots to make people take notice and it takes people “jumping on the bandwagon” for it to become mainstream and for change to happen.

I was listening to a podcast today about a completely unrelated topic, involving someone trying to teach people about the universe and astrology, etc. and how he believed people weren’t aware of the truth. His beliefs are completely beside the point but what he did say, that I feel applies to the topic at hand (among others) was; “It is easy to accept what you have been taught since childhood and what is wrong. It is difficult when you are an adult to understand that you have been taught wrongly, since you suspected that you were correct.”

  1. ALL LIVES MATTER

I’ve addressed this on my Facebook as well and I’ll share that post here, as I feel it perfectly explains why this statement is problematic. “All lives matter is offensive. Although I’m sure that if you are saying it, you’re not trying to be offensive, you’re trying to be inclusive. I get it. But it’s offensive. All lives are not discriminated against daily. If you’ve never had to think about someone being racist to you, then you are privileged. I am privileged. That is why #blacklivesmatter is important. Just as “me too” has its spotlight, as “gay pride” has its spotlight, let’s take this opportunity to spotlight #blacklivesmatter instead of making it about inclusion because, obviously, it should not be about that.”

To explain this is relation to my above example. If we look at this from woman rights, it would be like if a woman was brutally raped in public and there was public outcry and the hashtag womenslivesmatter was plastered everywhere but then people started referencing men being raped and saying hashtag menslivesmattertoo or alllivesmatter. Yes, it is true and of course all lives matter, no one says they don’t. But it is not the topic at hand and by saying it, you are diminishing the issue at the forefront. I’ll repeat that last part, because I think it is the most important take away “let’s take this opportunity to spotlight #blacklivesmatter instead of making it about inclusion because, obviously, it should not be about that.”

  1. THE RIOTS ARE HURTING THE CAUSE

While destruction of property, businesses and harming of innocent people is obviously horrible and I do not support it. The need to march and riot is crucial to making change. It should also be pointed out that many who are looting, setting fire and destroying properties are not the protestors themselves but people who instigate in order to perpetuate violence and turn the attention away from the issue at hand. This is pretty self-explanatory, I feel, but let’s look at this from the woman’s right view again. This would be like the marches that took place from the suffragists group beginning the 1870’s in Canada to fight for a woman’s right to vote. Marches, rallies, riots, parades; these are all necessary means to fight for rights. We should instead ask why there needs to be riots at all? Why in 2020 people STILL need to fight for their rights and their lives? The outrage at the riots is misdirected in my opinion. Outrage should be at those using the riots to tarnish the message and the need for a riot in the first place.

Going back to the women’s vote example again, let’s now look at how racism impacted that same movement.  White women had the right to vote in the 1921 elections. But those in some minority groups — including Asian and Indigenous women — were excluded from being able to vote in elections across Canada.

Minorities were not given the right to vote until 29 years later, in 1948. And it took until 1960 for Indigenous women to be granted the right to vote in national elections.”

In the U.S. black men were not granted the vote until after the American Civil War in 1870 and black woman were not granted the right to vote until 1965. It took 44 years from when a white woman could vote in Canada, to when a black woman could vote in the U.S. and NEVER did a white male have to fight for his right to vote.

  1. IMMIGRANTS/ P.O.C. ARE COMING IN AND STEALING OUR JOBS

Feel free to alter this statement to fit any racist comment you’ve encountered, because let’s be real, there is A LOT!

Hear me out. Yes, occasionally, a less qualified male person of colour is given a job instead of a white male in order to “meet a quota”. Same is true for a woman being hired to fill another quota. The issue is not the person of colour or woman being hired, it is that the quota had to be instituted in the first place. I hate this because it opens up the possibility of someone being hired (or awarded an Oscar, etc.) to make right an injustice, rather than simply knowing that person was superior; even when it is glaringly obvious that they were a better fit. It allows for questioning and excuses, thereby negating their achievements. In a perfect world, the best person for a job would be hired and no one would question it, regardless of sex or race. Unfortunately, we do not live in that society.

  1. NOT ALL COPS ARE BAD COPS

Obviously. But let’s go back to my women’s right example again. As a woman, I grew up being taught to be aware of my surroundings, to not get myself into certain situations, to watch what I wore, to not look like you are asking for it. This is taught through stories of murderers and sexual violence (Paul Bernardo), school educators (no tank tops or midriffs showing in school), my mother’s warning and other women’s stories and encounters, as well as my own. This is engrained in the fibers of my being, so much so that I do it instinctively. I don’t listen to my headphones while walking in the dark (even early in the evening), I watch my drink while out at the bar, I cross the street if a male is walking towards me at night, I lock my car doors when I get in and there is probably even more I do subconsciously. No, not all men will attack me, but why would I take the risk? Why would I willing put myself in a situation where I could be harmed, just to prove that not all men are rapists?

More importantly, you wouldn’t ask me to. So no, not all cops are bad cops. But when it is engrained in your upbringing, how can you not be afraid?

  1. WHITE PRIVILEGE

Oh my… this is a hotly debated topic. The thing is, no one wants to be told they are privileged. Especially, when you don’t perceive any “privilege” in your life. No one wants to feel put down or accused, our defenses go up. I’ll admit, initially my defenses went up, the term felt offensive. I wasn’t racist, so how could you come at me like that? But guess what? That was my privilege. I touched on this in my first section and on my Facebook posts too. If you never had to think about being discriminated based on the colour of your skin, then you are privileged. Let’s look again at my women’s rights example, just to really send this point home. I travelled alone for four months all through Europe, I was cautious and careful of my surroundings. I made a couple dumb mistakes but thankfully was unharmed. I did not hesitate to go on the trip, but I was nervous, vigilant and aware. My privilege was not also having to look up racism in those countries I visited and not having to be worried my skin colour would further impact my safety or experience. Privilege is not a word to attack you, it is to make you aware. The human ego is a fragile thing, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it time and time again. Stop trying to justify, correct, explain and just listen. You are not a bad person, you didn’t understand and you didn’t know…

But now you do.

#blacklivesmatter

 

*note: I did not include other hashtags during my examples as to not distract from the #blacklivesmatter hashtag and movement.

**note: I tried to be clear and explain without putting anyone down. This is hopefully taken in the way it was intended, as a learning opportunity.

***note: My example of women’s rights could be a number of different issues and is not to say women’s right and #blm are the same thing, of course they are separate topics. It is simply a way for me to further explain why these above #blm statements should be reconsidered and how they are coming across for those that didn’t understand.

*** note: It should go without saying that #blm is not more important than any other race or group. BUT this is their time to have the spotlight and to make a much needed change and we as the human race should support their efforts!

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

“And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
-Dr. Suess
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On this day last year, I was in California. I had just driven down from San Fransisco to Los Angeles and spent my first couple of days exploring the quintessential LA sites, such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and took a bus tour of Beverly Hills, Mulholland drive and various “celebrity” homes. This particular morning, I woke early and made my way to Beverly Hills again, but this time with visions of living out my Pretty Woman fantasy (minus the escort/wealthy businessman part, of course). After taking some photos of the quiet streets and classic signage, I found an adorable little restaurant for breakfast. I had a mimosa type brunch cocktail aptly called “Pretty Woman” and sat there, munching on my enormous omelette, feeling bewildered that this was currently my life. I was sitting on Rodeo Drive, sipping a cocktail and anticipating a (very small) shopping spree on the three-block landmark I’d only ever seen on TV. Who was I? In five short days I’d be living out my bucket list Coachella experience in Indio, California, but not before galavanting around the infamous Venice Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica Pier and Palm Springs.
Is this real life?
Today, I’m sitting at home, typing on my laptop and looking through old photos. I love taking tons of photos and sometimes have to remind myself to live in the moment. But today I’m grateful for my shutterbug qualities and reminisce on the memories; closing my eyes to get a glimpse of the sun on my face and the salt air around me. Today is exactly one month of my new reality-quarantine. Thanks to the COVID-19 virus there is literally a global pandemic occurring. Starting in China and expanding all over the world, entire countries enter lockdown. Thankfully in Canada, we haven’t gotten to that stage, yet. Everyone stockpiled toilet paper, hand sanitizer and cleaning products and I’m nervous to leave my apartment even to walk my dog. The studios I teach Pilates at have been closed to curb the spread of the virus, as have most stores and restaurants deemed non-essential. Other cities, such as New York, are in crisis mode, flying doctors and nurses in as a desperate attempt to save lives and continue the fight. Front line workers are in a seemingly losing battle against illness, fatigue and dwindling medical supplies.
Is this real life?
Life is a wild, unpredictable ride; it’s what happens when you’re busy making plans. There are heartache and despair, death and sorrow, joy and happiness. It’s all intertwined and inevitable. Next year will bring more challenges and more successes. Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
“So be sure when you step. Step with great care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.”
-Dr. Suess

Have You Heard?

My colleague and I are planning our first Pilates and Yoga retreat to Costa Rica from February 9-15th, 2020! The final date to reserve your spot is coming up on November 1st, 2019.
If you missed my previous announcements or posts, here is some information on what to expect. Full details and photos available at www.thesleepypineapple.com 
COSTA RICA YOGilates Retreat 2020-6
Details |
7 days and 6 nights
nutritious breakfast and dinner included daily
luxury villa with infinity pool
steps to pristine beaches
daily Yoga and Pilates
private and shared room options
concierge services
group zip-lining excursion included
additional excursions or massage treatments available
one hour private yoga or Pilates session included
includes transfer to and from the airport
This retreat was designed with both relaxation and adventure in mind. This unique approach to our wellness retreat allows you to customize your experience and create the retreat of your dreams.
Included in your package are breakfast and dinner daily, two Pilates or yoga group classes daily, a one-hour private session and a group excursion to nearby Rio Perdido for zip lining, thermal river and hot springs.
Transfer to and from Liberia International Airport is also included. Airfare is not included.
Additional excursions, day trips, private sessions or spa services are available at an additional charge.
What a typical day looks like at the retreat | example
7 am
morning yoga flow to prepare you for your day
8:30 am
a healthy and delicious breakfast is served
9:30 am
A guided run along the beach (optional)
11 am to 5 pm
Forest zip lining excursion with lunch of local delicacies (optional)
6:30 pm
Restorative Pilates class to wind down from your day
7:30 pm
Group dinner with our travel community
We want to encourage you to bond with the group, ask questions to the instructors, start discussions about health or fitness with others or take time out for yourself if needed. This is more than a retreat, this is a self-care experience. Embrace your wellbeing.
Pricing |
Oceanview King Room with balcony and ensuite (double occupancy)                    $2650
Shared twin room with ensuite                $1950
Shared queen room with ensuite             $2150
Prices are per person in CDN dollars. Taxes extra (13%). Shared rooms have two beds per room. Maximum 10 guests in the villa.
Please inquire for single occupancy pricing.
Room options are available on a first-come-first-served basis and are subject to availability.
Airfare is not included and is the responsibility of the guest to arrange. Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia is just 25 minutes to the property.
Excursions and massage services are available at an additional cost and can be arranged prior to the retreat. Should you wish to wait until you arrive or organize a last-minute excursion, there will be booking options available from the concierge and are subject to availability.
Please inquire for available options.
Individual or semi-private Pilates or Yoga sessions are available at an additional cost of $80 (cdn) per session for up to 3 people. This is a great option if you are unfamiliar with these modalities or if you want personalized clarifications, adjustments or modifications.
For bookings or more information please contact Shawn Marie by email at hello@thesleepypineapple.com or by submitting your inquiry below. 
To reserve your space a 50% non-refundable payment is required. The remaining 50% payment is due by November 1st, 2019 and is non-refundable.
We understand that there are circumstances out of our control but unfortunately, due to the nature of the retreat, all payments must be non-refundable.

Resting Beach Face

F19A2E61-B953-4A9C-99FA-61CE94DA0A53Something happened this past week that has just amplified an issue I’ve had for some time. I went to the beach on Wednesday to relax and spend some time by myself. I really needed this day to just shut my brain off for a bit because for the last while I’ve been so go-go-go, I haven’t felt relaxed in quite awhile. I was sitting on my towel, under my umbrella, reading a book when I noticed a few texts and emails from work. This annoyed me slightly and reminded me why a Wednesday as a day off was too difficult to be able to turn off, as most other people are working still. During this 30 second interaction with my phone, I happened to look up and notice a family with 2 small children were beginning to set up camp in front of me. Now, admittedly this is not my favourite sight as children tend to be louder in general (but so do teenager groups) and as I’m on a public beach I’m not upset by this development, just simply noticed and then proceed to contemplate my work situation again. A few moments later I was pulled from my thoughts by the father of this family, who proceeded to question me if I had just rolled my eyes at his family. I was so caught off guard it took me a moment to realize he was even talking to me and then I held up my phone and politely said “no, sir. I’m thinking about the work situation.” That was not good enough, he became aggressive and raised his voice, continuing to berate me in front of the whole beach, claiming to have seen me “roll my eyes” even though I was wearing sunglasses that you cannot see my eyes through (part of why I bought them). I kept repeating I was just sitting here, that it was a work message and that it was not directed at him until finally, he uttered the infamous sentence “well, you have a resting bitch face then” before he finally moved off down the beach with his family. Now, why did this experience bother me so much? Not for the reasons you might think.
1. His family did not appear to be upset over this interaction. His wife merely started gathering up their belongings as it started and the children just stood there. No one cried or reacted or tried to approach him to calm him down. Which tells me they are used to his temper and that really made me sad for them. I also felt sad that his children would grow up thinking that was appropriate behaviour.
2. No one said anything until after he left. People all around witnessed the interaction and how he was acting and no one said anything. Granted most are with their families and don’t want that anger directed at them but had someone simply said “Hey man, there are kids here, just walk away” it would have shown him (even slightly) that his behaviour was not okay and to yell at a stranger like that was not how to handle the problem. Even if I was upset by them sitting in front of me (which I truly wasn’t) or had “rolled my eyes”, did that really affect them? If I were sitting there huffing audibly or commented to them directly about it, then sure his response would have been more valid but an eye roll should not warrant a public shaming.
3. I don’t like to be accused of doing something I didn’t do. Like most people my ego was hurt a bit by him publicly claiming I was being rude to a family with small children. The one family beside me said after they couldn’t believe how he acted and they knew I didn’t do it but still… did they or were they just trying to get out of more awkwardness? What about the other people around? Then I had to remind myself that I know the true me and so what if others believe me or not, I know my truth. I also reminded myself that I cannot control others or their perceptions of me. This has been a constant battle my whole life and a lesson I need to remind myself of over and over. I’ve always been a people pleaser and wanted to be well-liked and often have tried too hard because of it. Thankfully as I’ve grown, I’ve become aware of this and have made steps to become more self-assured and care less about what people think of me. Travelling has helped a great deal!
4. Finally, the thing that bothered me the most and is probably the most problematic is the comment “resting bitch face”. Since my server days I have been plagued by that sentence in varying forms, because when I am thinking (like counting change for instance) I have a “look” on my face that either made my bosses think I was stressed out or overwhelmed by my section or customers claim I was rude or giving bad service. It actually took me years to realize it was my face doing something “wrong” and I had to work hard to try and relax it and appear nicer. My job made the instances more frequent but it was not restricted to work, I was often getting comments simply walking down the street or out at a club or bar with friends. The worst part is that I am not alone, women constantly have random men saying things like “Why aren’t you smiling?”, “What, are you upset?”, “Bad mood today?” if they aren’t smiling, acting how they except or (the most appalling) aren’t interested in flirting with them. I’ve heard it many times over the years but since this incident, I’ve had more woman say how it happens to them all the time! This should not be a regular occurrence and I am frustrated that it unfortunately is. I am also upset that as women we feel we need to justify our face, our feelings or our “bitchiness”. Some women actually own it saying things like “Ya, so what, I am a bitch”. Yes, sometimes I am rude, mean, annoyed, frustrated but I’m also happy, sad, joyful, angry and everything in between because I am HUMAN. I will own it if I am in a bad mood or if I’m deliberately being rude to someone but I am not defined by my mood or by my perceived mood. We have to stop commenting to women for not being what we expect them to be. We have to stop expecting women to be a certain way in general. We have to stop making it okay to say things like “smile” to a woman because you wouldn’t say that to a man walking down the street. We need it to be okay for a woman to be mad or upset. We need to stop justifying our feelings. Period.
I know this happens to men in other ways too, but for the sake of this article, I’m only talking about women.
Let’s start a discussion below. Has this happened to you? What are your thoughts? Do you think I’m overreacting?
xo Shawn

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

Travelling- Then & Now

Firstly, 2013 was not that long ago; a mere 6 years and yet when referencing travelling internationally and how much data and mobile usage have changed in that time, it might as well be a lifetime!
IMG_4742_editedMy first major experience of travelling internationally was in 2010 and we used hostel computers to send emails back home. The idea of mobile data was still a foreign concept to me, as I still had a basic flip phone and therefore, not having data access was not at all out of the ordinary for me. Flash forward to 2013 and my first iPhone (yes, I waited until the 5 to get onboard from my Blackberry) was practically glued to me at all times. The novelty of a smartphone had just been experienced and I was hooked. This new found freedom to Google wherever and whenever and download app after app to play addictive games to waste hours upon hours was such a new experience for me. Which is what made my 2013 trip that much more difficult to get through without the easy access I was now accustomed to. At the time, Rogers who is my service provider, had 3 package options while travelling. I can’t remember the specifics but each one came with talk and text plans but no data whatsoever. I easily blew through my plans each month I was away (4 in total) and would have to get another and sometimes another still. If you used one plan up, you had to wait until your next billing cycle to get that same plan again, which meant I’d have to get the increasingly less talk and text plans as the month went on. Calling cards worked too but they can be a hassle to purchase and dial in a rush, so out of convenience I’d use my cell phone. My biggest reasons for using the talk and text up was of course due to travelling alone, I’d call my mother or a friend to chat or tell them about some amazing thing I saw that day. But often, I’d also use up my plans to call my mother for help finding a place or a phone number I needed if lost. I had written out loads of directions to my hostels, etc. before leaving and yet, inevitably, I’d end up lost or confused and need help. Asking strangers for directions in a place you can’t speak the language, sometimes very early in the morning or late in the night, is not the best of ideas as a female travelling alone. About halfway through my trip I was introduced to City Maps which is an offline GPS mapping app that allows you to search for addresses or places, gives directions and shows you which direction you are walking. The issue was you had to download the maps while using Wifi so if you forgot (like I did in Bilbao at 11pm) then you were screwed and would have to use your data to download or find a traditional map. I had used maps prior to learning about the app but sometimes the map wouldn’t show enough of the city and would be essentially useless for me to find my hostel. Also, nothing screams #tourist more than a giant map. That evening in Bilbao nothing was even open to find a map, so I opted to download the map and was hit with a $65 charge at home for the 2 mins it took to download. It’s also worrisome until you get your updated usage to know if you’ve properly turned off all the data roaming and mobile data so you would not be accidentally charged. The whole experience was a dance of plans and phone calls and map downloading and timing it all as best as I could and there was much room for error. In total, I spent upwards of $1500 in extra charges and plan fees during that trip and remember I had no data usage except that one charge either.
A while ago Rogers announced a “roam like home” feature which essentially allows you to use your current plan to travel to the US and Europe for an additional charge per day. For the US it is $7 /day and to Europe, it is $12/ day up to a maximum charge of 15 days per billing cycle. After 15 days, you do not pay more and keep using your current plan as normal! That means in comparison my trip to Europe now would result in a bill of only $720 with data usage for 4 months. I only just got to use this new option as I hadn’t been away in some time and so I was a bit nervous and apprehensive that I’d somehow come home to a crazy bill again. I read and re-read the description and small print to verify I didn’t have to turn off anything while travelling or that I’d have a hidden limit. I still nervously checked my account during the first 24 hours for any extra charges but I was completely safe and was able to search, Google, use my phones GPS, hire Lyft rides and call my mom all for a fraction of the price it was in 2013. My mind was blown!
Now, if you do not have a large data or talk plan then you still might need calling cards, maps and Wifi or if you are travelling somewhere not covered by this feature. I also cannot comment on other service providers and their travel options but I was pleasantly surprised by Rogers on this one. I only wish this was around in 2013! #rogersroamlikehome
This blog was not written to promote Rogers as a service provider, as I’m sure other companies offer similar travel options (or they should), but only to acknowledge how technology has changed in the last decade in one particular way (as it’s changed in many other ways too).
I hope this post helps you in your travels and if you don’t have data options, then I highly recommend City Maps to easily get around and not stand out like an obvious tourist.
Of course, if you are like me and take a hundred photos a day, you still might stand out! #sorrynotsorry
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Comment below if you’ve had similar experiences or any tips you have for getting around in other countries, I’d love to hear about it!
xo Shawn

The Day and Age of the Side Hustle

Almost everyone I know has some sort of side hustle from their primary job. Sometimes it’s a second or even third job, driving for Uber, writing a book, websites, blogs, Instagram, acting, freelance contracts, podcasts, the list goes on and on and the possibilities are endless. These side hustles can be great for generating extra income, breaking up the monotony of your day job or even provide you with the chance to make your side hustle your full-time career one day (travel blogger anyone?). But side hustles and the age of social media, in particular, have also created a culture of constantly working and burnout.
IMG_1C8D61D63457-1
1. My Side Hustles.
If you haven’t already guessed from my website and social media, my primary career is that of a Pilates Instructor. I also graduated and became a Registered Holistic Nutritionist last year which, apart from my website, blog posts and some workshops, I have not really focused my energy towards. Obviously, I also have my website and a separate travel blog that I write content for, but I also write articles for Nucleo Fitness’s website and have been looking into more freelance opportunities as of late. Earlier this year my colleagues and I launched our first retreat in the city and we have plans to do another one in Costa Rica in the winter (stay tuned!). My YouTube channel was a focus for some time, but I’ve started pulling away from that over the last couple of years. I did enjoy making videos but it was very time consuming to edit while in school and I just haven’t gotten back into it since. I do have plans to use it in conjunction with my website for recipes and exercise content in the future though. My eBook endeavour a few years ago was another way I tried to bring in extra income, but the video content made the book file too large to download and while I have hundreds of recipes and ideas, I have not created a new one yet. Let’s not forget my tote bags either! My Etsy shop does still exist and randomly gets purchases even now, but sales have definitely dwindled over the last year. Finally, I have been attempting to start a career in voice acting for the past year and a bit. I began workshops, lessons and creating demos about two and a half years ago, maybe longer, and then officially got an agent last April. Since then, I have been auditioning fairly consistently but have not yet booked any jobs. I’ve also attempted some random side hustles, such as selling Arbonne (did not continue with it) and driving for Uber Eats (still do on occasion for extra spending money).
2. The Downfall.
The biggest downfall to having all these ideas and side hustle options is that I’m not currently making much (if anything) from most of these endeavours, yet they take up more time and effort than my primary job. The lack of focus also means that not one of these options is getting my full attention. By not devoting the required time to grow any one idea I have not fully succeeded in any of them. Now, it is okay to have hobbies and to want to do a multitude of activities, but focus and consistency is the key to building your career. Time and effort must be given to an idea in order for it to flourish properly before adding new growth opportunities. I tried to do everything and I ended up not growing anything. I became so overwhelmed by what I thought I should be doing that most days I just curled up on the couch doing absolutely nothing, but still stressing about what I wasn’t doing. It was a vicious cycle.
3. The Burnout.
The other problem with many different endeavours on the go at the same time and working as a one-person operation is that you begin to burn out mentally and physically. The main reason this burnout happens is that you never have downtime. Especially in this age of social media, you never fully turn off, even on vacation or “days off”. I’m old enough to remember living without social media and finishing work or school and just watching T.V. or listening to music. Now even while watching T.V. my phone is beside me and I’m periodically using Google to look up something about the show I’m watching or going on Instagram during commercial breaks. Many millennials comment on this trend and how their side hustles make them feel like they are always on and always working. My job as a Pilates instructor means I work most mornings and then most evenings with a large gap during the afternoon. Even if I’m resting I’m always thinking about the next thing I “should” work on or planning out the following day. Physically I cannot work solidly from 6am to 10pm and breaks are necessary but my brain has a horrible time shutting off, even for a couple of hours.
4. The Solution.
These are my personal opinions and experiences and what I’m doing to combat the burnout. Firstly, I make lists sorting out what I have to do for the entire day including everything from working out to eating lunch. By physically checking off each task, it makes me more organized and productive throughout the day. I’ve also seriously taken the time to think about what is important to me and to set realistic goals and expectations for myself. Focusing my energy allows me to be more productive and more detailed with how I want to grow my career. I’m also able to be more consistent with the few projects I have on-the-go, rather than weeks (or months and years) between blog posts or product launches. It sounds simple but it is still a battle to learn how to turn off and how to prioritize my goals. I’ve also still got to earn an income, so sometimes what I want to work on and what I have to work on will vary. Some days I will be productive and some days I will fail. This is a process and anything worth having requires work, so I am prepared to give it my all but I need to be smart about it. The biggest change I have made is allowing my days off to be days off! I’ve asked work not to text on the days I am not there, emails only (unless an emergency) and I try to limit my time on my phone on these days overall. It’s not foolproof and often I’ll still think about the next day but I’m working on it. Doing things I enjoy helps to clear my mind on my off-time like going for a run, taking an exercise class, watching a movie or getting lost in my kitchen with YouTube playing in the background.
Let me know if you have any side hustles and if you are experiencing any of these issues too.
What do you do to unwind from work stress?
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xo Shawn

 

Hostels 101

I’ve just recently come back from a trip to California (see my Coachella post here) and since I was travelling alone for most of it, I opted to once again stay in hostels. Obviously, when I went backpacking in Europe I also stayed in hostels, as it is a much cheaper option but also more conducive to travelling alone. I have met some of the best people at hostels and had some of my favourite stories come out of those nights. My trips in the last few years have been with my boyfriend and so we’ve been staying in hotels or AirBNB’s since that is often cheaper than hostels for couples. As such, it’s been about 6 years since I have stayed in a hostel and now approaching my mid-thirties I wondered if I’d feel the same as I did in my 20’s. The verdict? It was just as I remembered it and just as memorable and fun. I also got some great stories out of it and a few new friends! Here are my tips to navigating hostels.

1. Do your research.

Don’t just pick any old hostel off of any old site. There are a few platforms that offer loads of reviews, photographs, ratings and pricing options. My favourite is Hostelworld as I find it the most user-friendly. Nowadays you can also book with the peace of mind knowing you can change or cancel your reservation with ease due to their improved cancellation policies. Some hostels include this in their prices and others charge a small fee for the service but it is a useful addition, especially if you aren’t sure of your dates. They also offer many details in the description of the hostels for getting to and from the airport, parking, lockers, public transportation, wifi and amenities. These sites are also useful for comparing hostels to see which might be the right fit for you. Finally, be aware of check-in and check-out times, especially if you are depending on changing in your room upon arrival. All hostels should store your luggage in a secure place if you’re not able to check-in or if you have time between check-out and your flight. But it can be annoying to change, organize your luggage and re-pack if you are just arriving and want to change before heading out. Being aware just allows you to pack accordingly and anticipate not being able to get into your room right away.

2. Choose your dorm wisely.

Yes, the cost is usually a factor in picking a hostel in the first place, so choosing the cheapest dorm might be the best option for you, but it’s not always. Depending on the hostel rooms can vary from 4 person dorms up to 16 persons or more. Obviously, with more people, it can be much noisier, so if you are a light sleeper this can be an issue. That said, it often depends just on who your roommates are and even 4 person dorms can be noisy if you get people that snore or just are inconsiderate. As a female travelling alone, I often choose female only dorms when given the opportunity because of safety concerns and overall comfort. My best tip for choosing your dorm is to look at the bathroom facilities, private on-suites seem like a good idea but upwards of 4 people can be very difficult for everyone to use when getting ready in the morning or for bed. It’s also more difficult if you have a nervous bladder or issues with IBS, etc. because of the close proximity. I actually prefer floor washrooms, as long as you choose a place that is clean and well maintained. I also prefer beds that have curtains to block light from your eyes when sleeping. Not everyone arrives during daylight hours or goes to bed early and lights can often be more disturbing than noise. If unavailable definitely get yourself a sleep mask!

3. Choose a hostel with a bar or restaurant.

Firstly, this is helpful for travelling alone if you don’t feel like eating out or making something. Often you can take-out something to your room or common area and just relax a bit while eating. Why I always try to choose a place that has a bar though is for the friend factor. It is the absolute easiest thing to simply ask your roommates “Hey, you want to go get a drink?”. Boom, instant ice-breaker! On top of that, if you’re like me and you don’t want to be out by yourself too late, then it also gives you a place to be social but close to your room, so you’re not trying to get home in a strange city all alone.

4. Make sure there are lockers and bring two locks.

Lockers are your best friend. This is where any personal belongings you want to keep safe are locked up. Obviously, passports and bank cards, etc. should not be left out of your possession, keep these things with you in a safe place. But things like, shoes, bags, jackets, jewellery can all go in the locker and be kept safer. Some hostels have large spacious lockers while others can be very tiny and only for essentials. Decide what’s important to you and try to plan accordingly. Some photos can be deceiving so if you need clarification, email the hostel and they should be very helpful at giving you dimensions or size comparisons. Make sure to bring 2 locks with you as your luggage will often not fit in the locker and need to be left out, so one luggage lock and one for the locker. If you forget or don’t have a second, the hostel will usually have some for sale at the reception desk.

5. Be open to the experience.

It’s not just for the broke backpackers. Hostels are the perfect place for solo travellers to meet new people and feel safer when alone in a new place. Be open to meeting people, ask them questions, make friends and go with the flow. Obviously, it is your trip and you should do all the things you want to do but some of my best times have been going to a tourist site with my new friends. Not everyone will be a lifelong friend and some people can be weird for sure (trust your gut on that), but it can be very worth it to talk to someone new and make connections. We are all different but have so many similarities and it’s in meeting new people from different cultures, that you really start to experience the joys of travelling.

 

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xo Shawn

 

Why You Should Travel Alone​

“Travel far enough to meet yourself.” -David Mitchell
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As some of you may know, I just returned from an incredible trip to California! I have some more blog posts coming soon telling you about my favourite parts and sites worth seeing, but first I wanted to delve a little deeper and explain why I think it is so important to travel alone. Now, I don’t mean that you have to travel every single time alone, but travelling alone at some point in your life is necessary.
This was not the first time I have travelled alone out of the country, back in 2013 I backpacked through Europe for 4 months all by myself. At that time, I was using it as an escape and as a way to deal with my grief over losing my father. It taught me more than I can put into words. Travelling and seeing those spectacular places, sites and sceneries brought back a sense of joy into my life again. But travelling alone brought me back my sense of self, my independence, my inner strength and the ability to appreciate my life again. That trip put me back together emotionally, helping me to grow and heal. I was 28 during that trip. Returning home, I felt like I could do anything, I felt invincible.
This time around, at 34, something shifted and a new piece of myself appeared. It’s hard to explain but basically, I stopped caring what other people thought of me. I used to care a lot what others thought of me or if they liked me, etc. and was picked on and teased a lot during my formative years which only increased those feelings. As I have grown older, those feelings have diminished over the years and I’m now well aware that I can’t please everyone, nor do I want to anymore. However, like most, I’ve still had moments of embarrassment, self-doubt, people pleasing and unsureness. On this trip, those feelings all but disappeared. If I did have a moment of hesitation I was quick to shake it off and move on. Some of us are built to worry and question ourselves and others have an innate ability to be completely self-assured and confident. For me, travelling alone is where I’ve been able to grow and become a more confident version of myself and at 34, I can honestly say I’ve never been more self-assured. Travelling alone is where I see how capable I truly am. I can rent a car and drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I can speak up and let the front desk know when my roommate is freaking me out. I can go to a restaurant and have a meal by myself. I can avoid being hit (or spit on) by a crazed homeless man. I can trip and fall on a curb, take care of myself and not have it ruin my day. I can make new friends. I met two amazing women on this trip, both in their 30’s travelling alone also. As women, there is more concern for us travelling by ourselves and worry about our safety. It made me so happy to see these women just out there, living their lives, seeing the world and not letting fear stop them! Returning home from this trip, I am actively trying to keep that confidence, to not let thoughts of self-doubt creep back in. Like my cousin said (she joined me for Coachella!)- “nothing will ever be the same again”. Travelling changes you.
Seeing the world is important and I wish everyone could travel, widen their perspectives and expand their minds. My hope from this post is that even if you can’t backpack for 4 months or travel out of the country, you could at least go to a meal, a movie, a weekend getaway alone. Become okay with being alone sometimes and learn who you really are.
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”- Freya Stark
April 12- 23, 2019

Chile?

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Sorry, this post won’t be filled with stories or adventures from my past travels. It’s a very hectic week for me on the work front. So, I’ve decided to instead reach out to my fellow travellers and followers and ask you some questions. Planning has begun on my next trip and I am looking at heading to Chile. I plan on going sometime next year between January and March, ideally for 2- 3 weeks. Does anyone have any advice or tips? Maybe you’ve been before, maybe you know someone who has. If your not sure about Chile, tell me what your top place to visit would be and why!
I look forward to some responses!

Shawn