Our Wedding

Starting this post off with a disclaimer: I am not writing to offend anyone, this is a personal reflection of wedding planning using my experiences in both planning and attending. If you are seeing yourself in anything I’ve written, that’s on you my friend, but please know that I only come from a place of humor, perseverance and love. These are honest hurtles and I’ve chosen to expose myself here, so click the little ‘x’ in the top right corner if you start to get all vain and judgey. Thanks.

Neal and I have been married for almost a full year! I have yet to upload our wedding pictures, I haven’t written anything about our big day (until now), and I guess I’ve needed almost a year to decompress and live our life so that it doesn’t revolve around THE BIG DAY! With a new season of weddings coming for 2017, I am sooooo thankful to be a guest, not the one planning the circ…I mean wedding….

Our wedding day was jam-packed with more love and support than I ever could have imagined. We were so blessed to have had so many people come out to show their love and well-wishes for the commitment of partnership that Neal and I were embarking on.

I’m not going to offer anyone advice on what to do or not do when planning or attending a wedding. Mainly because any piece of advice will be lost among the rest, but also because there are so many issues that arise, and had for us, that it might just make your head explode. I guess my goal is to air out a few of my experiences so that maybe my anxieties that replay in my mind can finally be put to rest, and maybe you’ll find an insightful, perhaps helpful, little nugget of info that may help you or someone you know one day.

How about some history…

Neal and I met in Ontario. We both now live in BC. His family is here. Mine is there. We decided to make travel “easier for the majority of our guests” and get married in Ontario. Looking back, I’m glad we did get married there as it allowed for many more people that we cared about be able to attend. However, this is where we have our lives now, in Vancouver – it’s our present day – and maybe it would have been nice to celebrate in our new ‘together’ hometown. I also took for granted just how difficult {insert: expensive} it is to plan a wedding on the other side of the country.

Neal and I worked VERY hard to be financially responsible for our wedding day. We could own a house in Vancouver with the money we spent on our wedding. Let that sink in for a second. We were very proud of ourselves and actually owned every decision we made. We hustled SO hard to make our wedding day special to us both. I am also incredibly proud to say that my husband was so hands-on. There were many times over the year and eight-month planning process that I suggested eloping in Vegas or City Hall. To my delight, it was Neal who reminded me how special our wedding day was going to be and how much we’d regret not giving it our all. He too, wanted the once-in-a-lifetime celebration to look back on so he made a lot of decisions, put in a lot of sweat and even a few tears. I’m proud to say that it wasn’t just the bride’s day in our case, it was both of ours, so we made all the decisions together as a team – ya know, like an actual marriage?!

The absolute crushing part of the planning was when people couldn’t get on board with our choices. The choices and decisions during the wedding planning are endless. Literally, they could go on forever… so when you set on something and make those sometimes difficult or even painful decisions, the absolute hell for me was when people couldn’t support them. HELL. When people would tell me “it’s your day, have it however you’d like” or “if people don’t like it, too bad, it’s your day” or “you’re the BRIDE! Do whatever you want!”, I thought BULLSHIT! LIAR! FALSE! Those statements could not be more misleading and what they really mean is, “make your decision but no matter which way you look at it, someone will be unhappy”. How encouraging is that!? Now I know, “you can’t please everyone” but holy hell, I was not prepared for people being so upset about things that I deemed as reasonable. I never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings at any point, at all, ever, like never – but I ended up feeling guilty and heartbroken for feeling like I’ve failed the people I was asking to support us on our special day. The fact is, people will always have opinions about everything. They likely don’t always fall in line with your own – that’s kinda what makes the world go ’round. I love a good challenge, but wedding planning is a sensitive time so I will suggest some advice (the only piece I want to offer) for future wedding attendees that I’d like to share. Things you should ask a future bride and groom before attending their wedding: “Where”, “when”, and if you really like them, “how can I help?”. That’s it, no more. Please, no more.

After almost two years of wedding planning, I learned to let go of a lot. I actually got so tired of making decisions that I stopped. I was burnt out. My absolute meltdown moment (absolute doesn’t mean worst, biggest or only, it was just when I knew I was done) happened in a greenhouse. I left the flowers to the very end because I just didn’t care about which types of flowers we had, just a general colour theme for the wedding. I did not care about arrangements or bouquets, just knew that I needed them, so I figured I’d scoop some up from a few stores and be done with it. I went to a greenhouse to check things out and get some ideas and the lovely salesladies started asking me questions to find out what I needed. I know they meant well, but they asked a lot of questions and suggested that I place an order ASAP since I was about a week out from the wedding (I traveled to Ontario two weeks early sans fiance to finish things up). Their panic got me panicked so I thought, shit, I better get on this or else I’ll be left with nothing. OMG NO FLOWERS?! So I asked where to start and they led me to a fridge and told me that I could start by selecting my greenery. I stood in the fridge staring at at least 25 different types of leaves and felt the tears welling. I knew what was coming so I literally had to flea to the car where I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Done. I was done making decisions, especially about things that weren’t important to me. You tend to do things that you like first and procrastinate on things you don’t. This was true for me in this case but I felt like I SHOULD care about having the perfect flowers but I couldn’t possibly muster up enough care for this one.

When you think about your dream wedding, it could include so many different things – you can literally do or have anything you want because it’s all available to you in the wedding planning world. The reality of finances and practicality does not always mean that you can have everything you want – such is life. We ended up scratching a lot of wants off our list and we had to be okay with that. We had to let go of the things we simply could not have. More importantly, we had to be okay with it and move on from it without having regrets. I wanted a few things that simply were not in the budget. We had to compromise and know that it wasn’t a sacrifice. I think that really hit home from the beginning when I contacted a wedding planner and she replied that she didn’t think our budget fit her cost. Then I learned what her cost was and realized that it was either her or a two-week honeymoon in Hawaii and I was more than happy to make that compromise.

I hated my hair and makeup. I cringe when I see our photos and video. I didn’t do a trial since I was in Vancouver. I’m not scrounging for compliments here, I truly did not feel ‘bride’ in terms of my hairstyle and my makeup (or maybe too ‘bride’ and not enough ‘Alanna’). I’m very picky in this area and I know I can be demanding so this was a decision I should have spent more time on. I’m a huge dork and would never claim myself to be ‘sexy’ but I felt truly uncomfortable. I loved my dress, I felt great. I HATED my makeup and should’ve been more demanding at the time and that’s a big regret. On the other side of that experience, I didn’t want to spend any more time in the makeup chair than necessary. I was too anxious and nervous to sit and be fussed about over some stupid bang.

I also wish I had been more serious about the photography and the videography. It felt soooo weird and unnatural for me to be giving sexy face while leaning up against a wall with my back oddly hunched so I made jokes about it. By being the cornball jester that I am, we now have a plethora of wedding photos where I’m rolling my eyes or squishing my face. I was trying so hard to take the attention off myself with my witty banter and self-loathing that my sweet bride side didn’t really come through as much as it probably should have for it being my wedding and all.

Our wedding day was definitely surreal and I can’t describe how I was feeling in any other way than that I was vibrating. I felt jittery, excited, anxious, calm, bursting – vibrating. It’s not natural for me to have so much attention and it felt weird. I’m an introvert to agonizing proportions at times, so it was a lot to take in. Also why I spent most of the night on the dance-floor with a bottle of wine. I was in awe that the day was in full swing, excited to be around my favourite people and married to my number one for life, but I was also glad it was over. Bittersweet, really. I loved our day, but I also love my normal, no-fuss life with my partner in our little corner of the world.

I loved our wedding day even though it was perfectly imperfect. We forgot a few things, we broke a few things, we lost a few things, but it was still the best day ever. Even when the barn door drapes came crashing down on our head table, people thought I’d go bridezilla, but I smiled and moved on. My mother had taken my sister and I to a psychic reading about a week before the wedding (I know, VERY odd thing to do before you commit yourself to someone for life) and she had told me that my nanny would let her presence on that day be known (she’s a pushy broad, that’s one of the things I loved about her). Those poles and drapes came down hard and thankfully, but not coincidentally, we were not seated at the time or else we would have been pretty injured. To me, it was nanny letting me know she was with us, so I wasn’t angry but it definitely made my smile. Needless to say, nothing is perfect, no matter how hard you try to make it so. Things will come up, plans will change, you don’t always get what you want, so when that happens, you grab another bottle and dance the night away.

I will be forever grateful for the things I learned about myself and my husband during this experience. I’m happy about how we got through it and how it was a true testament of the kind of partnership we have and want to have for the rest of our lives. I love the fact that now I get to attend weddings as a guest. I love love and love witnessing it but now I can do so with a bit more compassion and understanding.

People will surprise you – even those you think you know like the back of your hand – will surprise you. Some will surprise you in the worst of ways; some in the best of ways. People will give you their opinions and judge your choices. It’s them, not you. Those are the kinds of people who are judgmental through and through – your special day didn’t spark a new revelation in which they are suddenly forced into a judgemental lifestyle – they’ve already got one.

You must always know that you are not alone in your wedding day struggles and I’m sure every single one of you previous brides (and grooms) have horror stories that’ll blow others minds. I’m still learning to forgive and let go. I’m hoping this helps me get there, but at least I can laugh about it – my bachelorette has given me enough stored laughs to last me a lifetime. I am truly blessed.

Thanks to everyone who had my back, showed up, enriched our day and gave us something to cherish forever. I’m going to end off with this lovely quote from good old mama T.



Do’s and Don’t’s of Market Shopping

As I sit enjoying some very strong and boozy coffee on this Monday morning, I’m taking some time to reflect on life as a business owner and the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Kerf has wrapped up another great weekend of market selling, our first of three for the holiday season. I love being a part of the markets because I love talking about our great products. I love meeting new people, chatting up new and old customers, and the satisfaction I get from putting all of our hard work on display. Probably top of the list of favourites in market selling is meeting artists. We have met a lot of amazing people, and now friends and partners, through these wonderful shows. It’s great to see other people killin’ it and sharing their creativity with our city.

We have two years of business under our Kerf belts, and we’re about to ramp up for Christmas selling, which of course means more markets to participate in! I’ve composed a small list of suggestions for how to compose yourself at this years markets. This list is composed from personal and non-personal experience, not limited to any particular market, ones we have both participated in and attended. Please attend all and any market you possible can, not only to witness some of these market faux-pas for yourself, but to purchase some really cool shit!

*rules are in no particular order*

  1. Don’t Squish Your Face and Roll Your Eyes

You’ve come across a table that sells something that puzzles you. You don’t understand what it is or why this person standing behind a decorated table with this good for sale.  Cool! Ask questions or keep moving, but please wipe that look of disgust off your face. I’ve seen an entire booth devoted to red onesies. Red Onesis, that’s all, only in red. I may not be in the market for a red onesie, someone else could be. Great! I know a really cool guy that’ll sell ya one…

2. Don’t Verbalize Your Dissatisfaction About Anything Until You Leave the Building

Now you might be thinking, “I can say what I want, when I want”, but hear me out because this is really important! Markets are usually busy places with hundreds, if not thousands of people in attendance. I’ve heard countless “I would NEVER use/get/buy that!” etc. and I feel so shitty for those hardworking artists and creators that have put so much of their time and love into their products. My husband almost got into an altercation with this punk loser who felt it was necessary to tell a woman selling lip balm that her goods were not worth their price in earshot of many visitors and potential customers. This type of behavior is unnecessary and makes everyone uncomfortable so just shut the hell up if you’re not interested and, again, move along.

  3. Don’t Make It Social

Again, you’re entitled to your opinion and free to share it, just don’t do it negatively on social media. Don’t like the venue? Not enough parking? Didn’t find anything you liked? Too busy and you don’t like crowds? (see rule 4) That’s cool, but there is absolutely no need to put it on the event Facebook page etc. Find the event organizer and share your thoughts with them! There will always be something that could have made YOUR experience better, but that’s YOUR experience. No one else, especially the artists, should suffer because of the lack of lighting. If you are truly concerned and want to help make next years’ event better, share it with the organizers, not even the volunteers, just the organizers.

4. It’s Good to be Busy!

I’ve seriously read a comment about how one person was planning on attending a market but chose not to because they “don’t like crowds”. If you think that markets shouldn’t be busy you’re an idiot. It’s such a good thing when markets are busy! This means people are spending money on locally made goods and contributing to our Canadian economy in SUCH a positive way! Yea, it’ll take a bit longer to see some cool shit, it’ll be hotter and harder to get in and out, and take a bit of time to get auntie Bessie that engraved handmade glass-blown mini ship-in-a-bottle necklace that you’ve never seen before but thought she’d love,  so what?! It’s worth it. Still not convinced? Go to the mall instead. On a Saturday. Nearing Christmastime. Good luck….so dumb…

  5. Handmade Means Made by Hands

Like, literally, made by hands, probably the exact ones you see in front of you while you’re standing at a leather goods booth. How cool is it that you can meet the maker of your sick new belt?! Unless you’re flying to China on the reg, that experience probably doesn’t happen for you very often. Cherish and respect that!

 6. Rule 5 Might Be a Fib!

Not all goods are handmade from start to finish. A lot of items are ‘designed’ in one area of the world and actually ‘made’ in another. You are entitled to ask the specifics. Be a proactive shopper and ask the questions that are important to you, you have the right to know.

7. Understand Value

This is also a very big rule! If you want a handmade Canadian item, it’s likely you won’t be getting a ‘deal’. In Canada, we have a Canadian cost of living. We also have Canadian wages. Many consumers have been duped with bargains and deals. It’s mainly a lie. Watch The True Cost for information on the lie. If you bought a shirt for $5 at H&M, (please don’t) no wonder you’re shocked when you see a shirt at a market priced at $35! Please take this into consideration the next time you try to price compare and don’t dare to balk at the price of an original handmade piece of work unless the ‘artist’ is purchasing items in bulk overseas and branding it as though it’s made by said company. It happens a lot, just be informed. And don’t even get me started on the cost of shipping!!! Or do…THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS FREE SHIPPING!

  8. Handle with Care, Pt 1 & Pt2


We have witnessed children literally wipe out full product displays. Markets are typically child-friendly, but if your kid breaks anything or attempts to do so by picking up items that they shouldn’t, this makes us market-gypsies dream of shoving your child to the ground. This doesn’t make us bad people, it makes you a bad parent. If you have taught your child that you look with your eyes, not with your hands, gold star! Unless it’s a plush octopus toy they’re reaching for, they probably shouldn’t be, so STOP them! It’s not cute when your kid gets grabby. Best to ask if it’s cool. Which brings me to Part 2…


Grabby children turn into grabby grown-ups. You see me adjusting my products into a nice display, then decide that’s when you want to grab said item, try it out and then throw it in a mess on the other side of the display as though it’s your dirty underwear? Not cool! I get a little touchy-touch at times too, but my absolute favourite types of people, the epitome of sweetness (ST I’m talking about you!), are those adults who ask if it’s okay to touch the items…ahhhh I love you!

9. Don’t Take a Card Unless You Will Actually Use It!

And I don’t mean as a bookmark! (People still read books right…?) Those little things cost money, especially if you want nice ones to rep yourself, so please, only take a business card if you have the intention of following through with using it.

  10. Go to Many, Go Often

Have such a good time cruising markets whenever you can! We are very fortunate that Vancouver has many many markets to look forward to and a community that supports them. Our city is filled with so many talented people doing truly talented and amazing things, it’s worth encouraging and providing them with a platform to share their goodness. It’s so cool to see people doing their own cool thing and loving it!


And there ya have it! I’m sure I’ll have many more rules to add after the Christmas market season ends but hopefully after reading this, your visit to a market won’t become a rule of how not to behave. Be happy, be encouraging and Merry Christmas!


Daddy’s Girl

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I have been working on this blog post for a few years now. I’ve been waiting for ‘the right time’ to hit ‘Publish’. I thought a birthday would be special, or even Father’s Day- instead, I’m choosing tonight, as I lie awake with my stomach sick and my head spinning with the thoughts of what I’m about to share. It is so emotionally wrenching that I have never been able to complete this entry, until now. It might be ‘too much’, but in some ways, it’s my plea, my truth, my confession. I feel compelled because I am a grown woman, I make my own choices, without placing blame on those who have caused me harm or disappointment. I do not seek anything but my own will to move forward.


One of the most important relationships between two people is the one between a father and his daughter. I agree with the studies that show the opposite-sex parent has a great impact on future relationships for children. I believe that the one relationship in my life of many, that has affected who I am the most, is the one I have with my father.


My dad, Marijus, was raised in a European family. I didn’t know my grandfather well, but I took notice how my dad would work so hard to receive praise from him. Their relationship seemed all work, no play, little laughter and absolutely zero affection. As a daughter, since a very young age, I have always been aware of these things- this spastic heightened sensitivity to observing feelings- that these transactions were difficult for me to comprehend. It wasn’t in the cards for me to inherit this non-emotional way of living, and I’m sure it terrified my father. In a way, it helped me accept the fact that I wasn’t ever going to receive the abundance of love and affection myself and, I too, would spend my life yearning for the exact things he missed out on. I felt so sad for him. I was sad that he would never have the chance to hug his dad again, or tell him that he loved him.

Growing up, my father was never the warm and fuzzy cuddly kind of guy. He has always maintained a roughness, in looks and attitude, with such a prominent mustache, I wouldn’t comprehend its absence. He’s the reason I love motorcycles (not sport bikes), listen to Led Zepplin and CCR, can drink Gold Schlager…


Our time together turned me into a tom-boy…I know how to build a proper campfire, I’ve gotten steal splinters, I don’t own band-aids (according to him, smear grease on a cut and you’re good), he’d wake me up before dawn to go snow plow with him and push the snow so high so I could build forts, and he gave me my first tool box (and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve helped move his that’s 100x heavier than mine, just saying). His method of teaching me how to drive standard was to bring me to a hill during rush hour and said, “drive!!!” He’s direct, to the point and can’t be bothered with any canoodling or soft delicate speak.

It makes me sad that he hasn’t seen much further into the world than his own backyard. He has worked so hard all of his life, that part of his growth has been stunted, in my eyes, because he puts such a greater importance on excelling in hard work- however, I know that’s where I got my drive to succeed. Every time I want to complain about anything really, I think about my dad who has always worked as hard as he physically could, no matter the reward (or lack of it). If there is one person that deserves to put his feet up and relax for the rest of their life, it’s him (even though he’d go and build something in that time no doubt).

There are so so many things that I admire…


He moved in with my grandma when her cancer worsened. He took good care of her. He was there with her when she woke up in the middle of the night. He was there with her when the chemo made her sick. It’s an entirely different experience when all that you think you know of your parent is challenged by real life. He became someone I’d never seen before, but knew in my heart, was there all along – that sensitive, humble soul.

It has been very difficult for me to see glimpses of this sensitive, unconditionally loving, affectionate person towards others with very little left for me. When I said that I had to come to terms with the fact that my father was never going to boast, praise or show affection, I didn’t realize just how mentally taxing it was going to be.

We have been through so much together. We have seen the very worst of each other. I have always been loyal and held him on the highest pedestal. I have been very patient, just as he was with his father, for some sort of reciprocation. I find myself making excuses for his lack of effort to be the type of father I’ve needed him to be. I have always accepted what he did and who he was, loved him anyways and moved on, even if my best interests weren’t considered. I have been such a good daughter. I could have been so many other things, but I’ve always been good, kind, sensitive, loving, loyal, determined- I’ve realized that I’ve always been so in hopes of affirmation and praise from the one guy I could barely get any from.

I am at a stage in my life where I am not far from having a family of my very own and I am trying to navigate through what is and what will never be- what to let go of and what to cling to with white knuckles. I will have the chance to love the way I needed as a little girl. I will make it right and be okay. There are many many factors that define the way we view ourselves and our relationships and I am more confident in who I am than ever before. Life is too short to be angry, not to show love, to be bitter, not to hug, to go without. Maybe I do have ‘Daddy issues’ after all, but they will never ever prevent me from being ‘Daddy’s Girl’. And he will not die without knowing that.

How dare you, dare me

I recently had a very disheartening conversation with someone. I had reconnected with someone who has not been a part of my life for the past decade, at least.

For those who have, they know that I never turn down an opportunity for new conversation, perspective, brain-picking, enlightenment…

I believe in the continuum of shedding new emotional skin, evolvement and spiritual growth. I live for conversation that I can really submerge my brain into. Another big part of life is disappointment, which brings me back to that particular conversation I had with someone who I discovered did not share the same…well, anything as I. I shook off the immediate offence that I could have, and probably should have, taken from that conversation but I would be lying to say that it didn’t make me doubt myself for the first time in a long time.

I have grown into quite a confident person in regards to the choices that I make and the life I chose for myself. It has taken years to develop, but I am proud of how well I’ve gotten to know myself and trust what shape my life needs to take in order for it to be great. I would be lying if I were to say that I never even slightly doubt myself but I’m pretty resilient and have a great ability at keeping the bigger picture at the forefront of my brain.

The said conversation was one that unexpectedly turned basically into a “what I don’t like about you” checklist directed at me. It continued to be a stab at my beliefs, my choices, my lifestyle…and downward from there. I have a pretty tough emotional brick wall encased by sarcasm that helps me in such situations so I clearly survived this engagement. However, the more I analyzed the bullet points of all that is wrong with my life choices, I felt myself start to shrink. Could the criticisms that I was receiving be truth but have I become so self convincing that I saw my life with thick idyllic rose-coloured glasses on?

If I was a vain, materialistic, status-conscious person, the answer would more than likely be ‘yes’. But since I’m not, I was able to quickly withdraw myself from that glimpse of self-doubt and count my lucky stars that I am not feeble enough to let someone convince me, and have me believing, that everything that I have achieved and sacrificed was in vain. I could try to justify myself and my choices of job/living/future choices, but I am confident that they are all the right ones for me. I thought about writing in description about each of them in greater detail and explain why, but then I thought, “why?”. So for the next person who wants to challenge me on the why’s of where and how I currently live, my job choice, my decision not to own possessions that you feel mark your status in the world, go ahead. But please, don’t judge what you do not have the capacity to understand. Find yourself first. Then look at me, but only with inquisitive eyes.

What it is and why it is


Here is the latest addition of body art!

After my first tattoo, I thought I would never get another. Not because I regretted it, but I because I didn’t want to get hooked on it and have a body full of symbols, pictures, phrases etc. that mean a lot to me. Eleven years later and here it is.

“here comes the sun”

I appreciate that a lot of Beatles songs are popular for tattooing but here’s what this particular one means to me…

Not only is it done in my favourite colour (coral), the colour of a sunrise, and in my own hand-writing, I’ve always gone back to that particular song when times got challenging. It reminds me of a moment where I felt completely happy and at ease with my life.

I was on a run and came across a playground. I decided to jump on the swings for a while and did some reflecting. I had a swing set as a kid and I spent a lot of happy times on it. I instantly got that feeling of innocence and bliss at the exact moment that song came on my iPod. From that moment on, when I hear that song, or sing it to myself, I am reminded that no matter how tough things are, they will always get better or maybe they’re just not as bad as I make them out to be.

I am very fortunate to have a life with abundant love and happiness and I am thankful for every single challenge that has brought me to exactly where I am today. Now, I have a physical reminder of the divine evolution of my life thus far.


December 1st

I’m a little emotional today because today is the day that I would be decorating my house for Christmas. It’s a bittersweet sacrifice because it was something that I truly loved doing. Now that all of my decorations are packed away, perhaps it’s the entire tradition that I’ve created for myself that is getting me choked up. 

I would also be planning my annual Christmas party. I always had so much fun preparing for the night where I could catch up with friends to share a drink and/or a laugh. This is another tradition that I will be skipping this year.

My recent thoughts of nostalgia for the holidays brings me to the idea of family.

I have a very broad definition of family. It may be too broad for some to understand or to adapt for themselves, but I am truly proud of it. It is very hard to explain but I will break it down here…

I am the only biological child of my parents. Both of my parents have been married prior to each other. However, my sister and my brother with whom I share a mother with, have always been my sister and my brother – NOT “half”.

My brother and sisters father and his wife are like a second set of parents to me. Their daughter is like another sister to me. They are so much a part of my life that, to others bewilderment and confusion, there is nothing odd about my going to their house for a Thanksgiving dinner. I see this relationship as completely normal but I guess that from the outside looking in, it is rather quite unusual. All three of them have been a big part of my life and I only see those relationships as a bonus amount of love in my life, not an oddity. 

My father had a son, before I was born, who was adopted by another man. He reconnected with us and chose to disconnect himself again. One of the greatest days of my life was to meet my brother. Although it’s been over ten years since I saw him last, and as much as I know it breaks my dads heart that he’s not around, I will never consider him a “half” brother, he will always be whole.

My dad has remarried to a woman with two children of her own. They may not have asked for a sister, they may not need one, but I will always consider them a sister and a brother. Her parents are my grandparents; her sister, my aunt, and so on. 

My point is, I feel as though adding “step” or “half” or “in-law” to someone diminishes their meaning.

I grew up knowing people with a lot of “steps” in their lives and it always seemed that their respect and faithfulness to those people were less than what they would give of the “non-step” people in their lives. I do not think it is fair to do that to anybody and being a “step” is one of the hardest roles in life. 

The same rules apply with “in-law”. My brother in-law is my brother and my sister in-law is my sister. Plain and simple. The day that they become a part of my family, it is my promise to love them unconditionally – just as I would do for every other member. 

As for my “half” sister and brother – I guess that’s where it all started for me. I came into their lives when they were nine and ten and I am so grateful to them for never, not for a single second, making me feel like a “half”.

Some may think my view is naive or hokey, but I truly believe that the more love you have in your life, the better life you’ll have. Because I have never categorized those relationships, I have had an abundance of love and happiness as a result. I will faithfully stand by the people I love to the bitter end. I will fight for them, I will sacrifice for them. I will do whatever it takes to always make them feel whole.

Confessions of a Relationship-aholic

This may be one of the most revealing blog post that I’ve made. I usually shy away from writing about the more sensitive and painful topics because I’m somewhat of an avoider in that sense. However, I am a deeply emotional person so for those who know me very well, they are surprised by that fact.

I am 28 years old and single. I am not married and do not see marriage in my near future. I’ve often made jokes about how I would love to have a wedding but not a marriage. I’ve pretty much made it a personal goal of mine to be the last of my friends and family to walk down the isle (although that hasn’t always been entirely by my choosing). I don’t believe in soul mates or love at first sight but I am a strong believer in true love. I know people that you can tell were supposed to be together but I think it’s a very rare but special occurrence. I have never felt that knock-your-socks-off-shout-from-the-rooftop-write-it-in-the-sky kind of love. Part of me knows that that’s exactly the kind of love I deserve, part of me doubts that exists in real life. 

I’m writing this because I have clarity that I never want to forget, and if it helps someone to finally let go of a relationship they know in their heart isn’t working, or to remind other single women of who they are and what their purpose really is, then I’m happy.

I’ve been in a lot of relationships over the years. Some were long, some short. Some were easier to let go of than others. Some have made me sick to my stomach, not eat for days and even make me feel like I was worthless. And I’m glad they did. I have learned, little by little, what I deserve and what I don’t in a relationship. I’ve made some of the same mistakes repeatedly. I’ve hurt good people. But I still get into these relationships with a rather delusional expectation and sacrifice pieces of myself in hopes for that whirlwind romance bologna.

I’m not very good at the whole trust thing. I don’t believe in offering a clean slate of trust to everyone that comes into my life as I am more of a sceptic. It takes a long time for my bullet-proof wall to crack open, but when it does, the other side (if you make it) can be filled with roses, rainbows and idyllic sunshine. 

Here’s a brief background as to why I may be considered jaded: My parents marriage ended because of a long long long-standing affair. I’ve witnessed first hand some serious manipulation resulting in some serious pain. I’m not one who agrees with making excuses for behaviour because of hiccups in parent/child relations and in no way feel victimized or stinted in any way. However, that being said, overall trust for me is a challenge.

Another thing that seems to get me into relationship trouble is that, as a lot of women tend to do, I make a lot of sacrifices and settle to make someone else happy. I have so many goals, aspirations, dreams and ideas that I am in love with. There are so many things I want to do and see that I could be content for the rest of my life fulfilling each and every single one (like finishing the book I started writing…stay tuned!). But, as I enter a relationship, those things become the number two priority. That is the biggest mistake! To settle with someone else’s dreams rather than your own is the biggest disservice you could possibly do to yourself.

Now that I am single again, I am more excited to continue with my own plans than I am to meet any parents. I don’t believe that I am being too picky or too selfish by not settling for anything less than my kind of perfect. I will hold out for another 28 years if I have to in order to find that person who respects my independence, sees my imperfections merely as minor hurdles and will love me to the moon and back anyways.  



C + M + L = <3

I would like to introduce you to just a few of the great people that I spent the majority of my time with while living in Berlin.



Claire is my brothers’ wife and the mother of my nephew Maxim.

The first time I met Claire was upon my arrival in Germany a few months ago, even though most of my immediate family had already met her years ago. I had emailed and spoken to her on the phone and heard so much about my brothers’ beautiful wife, but never physically met her myself.

I cleared my mind of others meetings and relationships with Claire and met her with an open mind and heart. I assumed that since my family is so close and my sibling relationships are the most important to me, this would be an easy sisterhood to develop. What I didn’t take into account was the fact that her upbringing was very different from the ultra-blended, dramatically unique family that I was brought up in.

Claire had taken a lot of chances, moving to Germany to create a life for her and her new family. I can’t imagine all of the overwhelming changes that she had to endure all the while being a great wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. I may not have understood her at all times, I may have been disillusioned when she didn’t instinctively understand me, but I love her all the same – like there are no differences at all – like family.

My brother calls his wife his “Clarity”. I got to see beyond the cute nickname and understand why she has deserved such a regard. Claire is the definition of clarity. She is obviously super model-beautiful but her depth is also crystal-clear. She is intelligent and practical. She has great expectations that are unquestionably justified. Claire is also protective and private and may hate that I am going into detail about her, but I do so anyways because maybe if she reads this, she will understand just how much I love her…for exactly who she is.



Maxim is my newest nephew! I arrived in Germany when he was nearly three months old. It had been quite some time since there had been a baby born into my family so it’s easy to forget what it’s like to have one around. It’s amazing and surreal when your siblings turn into parents so it was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss, even though he lived so far away. My meeting Max was definitely a huge motivation for my trip. I had his picture as my cell phone screen-saver for months leading up to it, and every time I was faced with a challenge or a road-block in my plans, I would look at his picture and be reassured that nothing would stop me from getting to him. Every minute that I was able to spend with him, once I arrived, reassured me that every sacrifice that I made was worth it, just to see him smile.

In the three months I was reminded just how challenging caring for a baby is. It doesn’t matter if you are happy or sad or distracted by any other emotional or physical demand or crisis, it all has to be set aside when that baby needs you. I was reminded of all the credit and respect that a mother deserves and may not always receive.

Max is a pure gem. He filled my heart with so much love and joy and I just about burst every time he greeted me with a big smile and a giggle (which he did nearly every single time he saw me) and my heart melts with every thought of him still. 

There were so many picture-perfect moments with Max but I felt that instead of grabbing my camera each and every time, I would take a mental picture and really capture the tender moments with my heart. I know that he will not remember my visit or the many phases he has already gone through in his young life, but I am so blessed that I will. I would sometimes stare at him and wish that he never forgets that every single day of his life, from before his very first day in the world, beyond his capacity to even remember, he is loved. Imagine if we all could remember, and never take for granted for even a day, that there has always been at least one person that has loved us, wished nothing but the best for us, each and every single day of our existence. His young life has reminded me that I am capable of being and doing so much more than I even comprehend and to never take a single second for granted. My little bubba is already making an impact on the world and he doesn’t even know it yet!

As I said goodbye to him, leaning over his crib, he was the typical Max that I love so much. As my heart was breaking, he sent me off with the image of his perfect little smile, his squinting blue eyes, and the sound of his gut-busting giggle embedded in my memory for life.



Lucas is my brother. He is nine years my senior so it goes without saying that our lives went through different phases at vastly different times. Growing up, I never really knew him. I say that, not because we didn’t see each other or didn’t talk, but because in order for me to feel like I truly know someone, I need to have those intimate, meaningful, personal, soul-baring and fulfilling conversations (I’m very emotional but have a hard shell so…it is what it is). He left home and started his travelling adventure very young, which made me even younger. The extent of my brother-sister quality time was during short visits between stints living in B.C., Thailand, Australia, Ireland, Paris…and on and on and on…needless to say, those intimate conversations rarely happened.

Since he has settled in Germany with a family of his own, I knew it was time to ambush him and get to know who he really is. I could never have anticipated all that I ended up learning about him.

My brother is the definition of the phrase, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. I have never witnessed someone to be as hard-working (since my dad of course), as determined, as positive and as ambitious – all at once – in my life – like I have with my brother. I guess I took for granted the knowledge, confidence and personable skills he has gained over the years immersing in other cultures. Who moves to a new country, not knowing anyone or even the language, to start a business, for the thrill of the challenge? My brother is the kind of person to do exactly that. He works hard to play hard, sometimes to a fault, but always with a laugh.

I happened to be in Germany during a family crisis taking place back home. I got to experience how difficult it is to be so far away from family during tough times, knowing there is nothing you can do to immediately help the situation. My brother has missed a lot of both good and bad times while he has been living his life around the world. While I thought he had it so easy, off living the good life, I came to understand that there are some heart-breaking challenges and sacrifices he has to deal with as well, while creating a life far away from family. It turns out that our coping mechanisms were aligned in this particular situation but I observed his reactions with more thoughtfulness and admiration than I would have had I not been by his side. It takes a kind of strength beyond my imagination to be able to rely on your own self to pull up your socks and get on with life as you’ve created it.

I got the opportunity to observe him run a restaurant, be a boss, a chef, a dad, a husband, a friend, be the nice guy, the funny guy, the charming guy, the personable guy, the sociable guy…and a brother, and that’s the role that I am luckiest to have a part of my life. My life is forever changed because of all of those brother-sister memories that were created over those three months. Luke has a lifetime worth of really cool and fascinating stories that would impress anybody. Cool stories aside, I am so honoured that I had the chance to get to know my brother. He has taught me that great things can happen in life, even if you have to make some tough sacrifices along the way.


And there you have it…

Thanks to those three very special people, I have a heart full of great memories to look back on with an abundance of gratitude. I will miss them everyday but will be forever grateful for every single hug, laugh, tear (and sangria) that I got to share with them. I will follow them to the ends of the earth, if need be, to get my fix again real soon!

Sweet Sweet Stephanie

I am dedicating this post on my blog to my sister Stephanie. It’s a measly gesture, compared to everything that she has given me throughout my life. It’s all that I can offer, as I sit here in Germany, wishing she was by my side. It has been hard without her here. It has been tough, not being able to call her or see her whenever and just talk. There are so many things that I’ve experienced in my time away from “home” and I know that she has been going through things back “home” that I have been absent for as well. 

The thing that I’ve come to realize mostly, is that I don’t give her enough hugs or tell her that I love her as much as I should, rather, as much as she deserves. (It’s not really an area that I pick up on or am sensitive to but that’s something I can work on).

When I was packing my suitcases, heading off for the few month, she slipped a few notes in the various pockets which I discovered at random. The first couple of weeks in Berlin, which I was the most home sick, I would find a note from my sister and I would curl up with it in bed, read it and cry. But those notes appeared exactly when I needed them the most. It may sound pathetic but if you could possibly understand what this woman means to me, it wouldn’t seem so nuts.

She’s ten years my senior. She’s from an entirely different decade. But she is my best friend.

I idolized her as a young girl. She would take me to meet her friends, I was a novelty with my white-blonde wavy hair. I would go to her dance recitals in awe. She actually had me convinced that she was Janet Jackson in one of the music videos and I believed her because she was that good of a dancer. She would force my legs into a pretzel and teaching me to point my toes like her. I swear she thought I was a toy born specifically for her to play with. And I loved every second of it.

When she had Trent, my nephew, it was as though little changed. She was still the fun-loving, light-hearted person I always knew her to be. I spent so much time just hanging out with her and Trent. She had become a mom, a single one at that, and she always remained the strong, positive, genuine, thoughtful sister that I had before.

I had lived with her through college. I broke up with a boyfriend and moved out of the place that we shared and there was no question as to where I would move to afterwards. She would make sure that I had a home no matter where/how/when. That is how I ended up living with her again for a couple of weeks before my trek to Berlin. If there is anywhere I feel at home, it’s wherever she is. Whether she is offering me her pajamas, sharing a glass of Amaretto, sitting with me for dinner – my sister is my home. 

Steph has always been on my side. Through relationships, school, work, family drama, hard times and good; she has always been in my cheering section. I know that there is at least one person out there in this world who has my back unconditionally. She has seen me through my worst, ugliest, meanest days and is still able to love me on my kindest, happiest, prettiest days. She is my anchor. She keeps me grounded, reminds me who I am when I have trouble remembering and she never thinks that she is too good to do so.

There you have it: my ode to my sister Stephanie. (Even though I could go on for days…)

Thank you Steph, for being exactly who you are. Be strong, carry on. See you soon, loving you and missing you everyday.  



Die Expectations

(The Expectations)


I’ve reached the halfway mark of my trip. I have learned a lot about myself in the month-and-a-half that I have been away from “home”. I have learned a lot about who I am, about the kind of person I want to be, about other people in general and have a clearer idea of what I want for my future. 

A lot learned, you might say, in such a short time. Yes…and no. 

I will admit I had a lot of expectations leading up to and in the beginning of my trip to Germany. I had expected that I would instantly become the person that I view myself to be, but for those attributes to be more apparent to others; that I would fit right in; that I would become this ultra-extroverted person who is fearless in taking the world by storm. 

Until, of course, I learned that having expectations killed almost every single experience I had and was about to embark upon. I found myself playing out every encounter; every engagement; every moment with a pre-existing idea of the way things would turn out. Not only did it make things less fun and spontaneous, it literally made things suck!

I have seen some very random, yet unbelievable things here in Berlin. I have allowed myself to let go of reservations and be a part of the society and culture in any given moment. But I have learned that the moment I place an expectation on any given circumstance, the Gods would put me in line and remind me to let go and just go with it. Honestly, I have had more fun doing so. 

It has sunk in; I get it; message received – I must let go of any expectations and let things happen exactly the way that they were meant to happen. I have given myself the permission to stress less and enjoy anything that is bound to come my way and I could not be happier. It may seem like a mediocre relegation at best, but for someone who is high-anxiety, it is a breath of fresh air. 

I have no expectations for the remainder of my trip, but I can say with complete confidence that I will enjoy every single day and be open to whatever it is that lay before me. 


Love and light from Berlin.

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