Secrets to tackling winter in Banff

Well, I definitely didn’t mentally prepare for winter in Banff. This place blew my mind and froze my face off! If you haven’t heard of it, you have to go there.

fullsizerender-6

Banff was way colder I realized it would be and far more beautiful than I could actually pictured in my head. A few friends warned me about the temperatures, but you have to feel -10 degrees Fahrenheit to actually understand what that means. I’m not a pansy in weather either! So in order for you to rightfully prep yourself and have the most incredible experience possible, here are some travel tips:

1. Rent a car

There are shuttles that take you from Calgary International Airport to Banff, but if you want to capture the most beautiful photography at Lake Louise, Abraham Lake or in Jasper, you’ll need a car with all wheel drive. I can’t tell you how many front wheel drive cars we saw on the side of the road, stuck deep in about 5 feet of snow and ice. Make sure you get insurance for your vehicle to avoid that mess. I think its about $30 a day (Canadian). The best rental service as far as speed, affordability and availability was Alamo, located right in the Calgary Airport. We went to all the services trying to get the best rate and they beat out all the other companies. You can’t really walk very far in the winter, as it’s way too cold, so a car is definitely a must.

2. Clothing

sharefrombeautyplus-1

You can’t mess around when packing for Banff. Pack a ton of layers, long johns, hand
warmers, hats, high quality gloves/mittens, face mask for skiing, a fleece, snow jacket, multiple thick winter ski socks, Sorel boots (or similar), waterproof snow pants, all camera equipment (including a tripod), hats, long insulated snow jacket and a GPS. There’s spotty service in the mountains!

3. Skiing/snowboarding

The first thing the locals told us was, “Make sure you have a face mask and goggles.” We didn’t prepare for it to be -15F at the peak of the slopes, so we had to buy those when we got there. My hands were throbbing and completely red with two layers of gloves on, so hand-warmers were completely necessary. You have to cover every tiny area of skin on your body with layers of clothing in order to feel comfortable in that kind of weather. Pack snacks and make sure you get to the slopes in the morning if you want to be on the mountain all day. For instance, Sunshine Village closed at 4:30pm, which felt somewhat early.

Rankings for ski resorts: 

1st Sunshine Village – best variety of blues, greens and blacks, 25 minutes from the town of Banff

2nd Lake Louise – great option if you’re staying close to Lake Louise

3rd Mount Norquay – mostly blacks

4. Find the good food

If you’re going to stay in the town of Banff, make sure you take a walk through the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. It was built in the early 1900s, is definitely haunted, has a secret Gold Floor, boasts a beautiful outdoor heated pool in the snow and has some of the best restaurants in the area. Samurai, located on the first floor, has really great sushi. It’s not super cheap but worth it! (And I’m a sushi snob.) The town of Banff has mostly pubs and your average Canadian comfort food so we kept choosing the Fairmont restaurants time and time again. There are 12 dining options to choose from there!

image1-2

5. Be adventurous

Make sure you don’t simply go wherever the top spots to visit are. Lake Louise, of course isn’t something you want to miss, but get out there and drive a ways out of town to find remote places that you can make your own. We took a long walk into the woods, not knowing where we were going and it was a blast. There was a wolf warning (a first for us) at the time, so we were careful, but other than that it was perfectly peaceful.

Spots not to miss:

Lake Louise

Johnson Canyon (there are two waterfall locations, both beautifully frozen in winter. Prepare for a 30-minute hike to the lowest point and a bit longer if heading to the upper waterfall. Can be icy, be careful!

Jasper

Lake Minnewanka 

Banff Upper Hot Springs

Fairmont Banff Springs

Finally,

Leaving Banff can be hectic during the wintertime because airports and flights often get cancelled due to weather conditions. Our flight was cancelled and rescheduled for the next day. It might be safe to save a day after your trip for potential flight issues!

T.

 

5 steps to boosting creativity

img_4337Have you ever been caught in a creative lull? Perhaps you’ve been sucked into a negative spiral and can’t seem find your inspiration. Or – maybe you’re usually bustling with creative energy, yet it’s been weeks and you can’t seem to hold onto a good idea? We’ve all been there.

Some days are going to be better than others and we all get that. So how to you jump back on track? Well, it’s certainly different for everyone, but here’s a list to help you find your spark again.

1. Find your spot
I know when I need something to get my mind going, I search tirelessly for the most creative space I can find. Sometimes it’s a park, a library or a wine bar. Most of the time though, it’s a coffee shop with really, really good coffee. Sorry, no Starbucks for me. Getting myself out of my house or office, where I can people watch, daydream, sketch, and simply watch the world from a different perspective, helps fuel my artistic side. It’s the honest truth that I never blog while sitting on my couch; it just doesn’t happen. So find that place in your city or town that exudes good energy, often all you need is just some new vibes.

2. Break the routine

You have a specific routine. Everyone does. So when you desperately need to shift your stale mind, you must think differently and DO something different. What I mean by this is, when you have a go-to for inspiring yourself or a particular thought like,

“Oh, I’ll go read this one book and I know I’ll be inspired.”

Change it up. Rather than doing the expected, go ahead and have a glass of wine and relax. It takes opening our minds to get ideas flowing. You won’t get new ideas by doing the same thing over and over again. So go someplace new, text an old friend and meet up just to talk, or go to an art gallery and observe someone else’s creativity. Trust me, the next time you sit down to start working, you’ll have new images in your mind to work with.

3. Get away from your phone

Our phones are fun and all but our creativity shuts down when we mindlessly flip through other people’s amazing pictures. Not only that, but we tend to feel less confident afterward. You have to get outside and put your phone away to see color again. What I mean by color is the trees, landscape and beauty around you. I know vast landscapes always make me feel unstoppable. That, and a spontaneous road trip.

4. Use your contacts

TALK TO PEOPLE. Don’t be afraid to ask others to bounce ideas around with you. Even if you don’t tell them you’re seeking inspiration, just chat with someone who makes you happy. Matter of fact, find your most hilarious friend. When you laugh, you tend to be the most creative, unless you’re one of those genius melancholy artists who can always bust out something amazing.

5. Music choices

Music is everything for me when I’m working. Whether it be jazz, rap, acoustic, country or something else, each genre creates a different emotion within me, thus inducing completely varying reactions. Sometimes I throw on the Beatles in the car and I’ll have such a strong reaction that I’ll find myself daydreaming about traveling abroad and how I can get there. Then I’ll end up going. When it’s jazz, I feel more mellow and romantic. So think about it next time you throw on some tunes. Be intentional!

I hope this helps you brainstorm a few ways you can bring that fire back into your creative space. If you’re still struggling, this quote always helps me:

“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” — Albert Camus

T.

 

 

 

Staying healthy during the holidays

577938_10151857769824941_200072730_n-2

The holidays are almost here! As much as we garner joy from this time of year, we also find ourselves dreading some of the hidden habits that we take on from October 31st to January 1st (or 2nd depending on how hungover you are.)

So how do we stay on track? Is it simply impossible? Should we just accept that we’ll fall off the bandwagon and deal with it later?

One of the most important aspects of staying healthy and lean is to not give yourself the option to dive off the deep end. I know that whenever I’m home with family, I’ll crave baking a pie or cooking with as much butter as I can get my hands on. But before I give myself the option to consider opening up that old school cookbook my mom’s had for 30 years, I remember that if the food is there, I’m going to eat it. I can’t handle the temptation. So how do we still enjoy this time of year without quitting our favorites cold turkey? I have one word for you:

SUBSTITUTIONS. 

Substitutions definitely work but take more thoughtfulness. Nowadays, there are so many foods that can help to stop your cravings and make you feel satisfied without having to indulge.

This is what I mean:

Craving sugar? Pie? Cookies? = chia pudding with almond milk, cinnamon, honey, shaved almonds, fruit or a cup of tea sweetened with honey or Stevia. Many times your sugar cravings kick in when you’re dehydrated. Take a minute to down a few glasses of water, wait 10 minutes and see if you still have the craving. I bet you don’t!

Want a big ol’ juicy steak? = often times we crave a burger or steak because we’re low on iron or protein. Our minds are wired to go there because the flavors are most abundant. But, there are so many vegetable dishes that end up satisfying us just like a burger would. I know that sounds crazy and you might be rolling your eyes right now, but give it a try. Here are some decadent vegetable recipes that will help curve that craving while satisfying you on all levels: Dig-in!

Need a buzz? = GO FOR WINE. Don’t slap the bag or chug it at dinner, but wine often helps with digestion. Still, don’t go crazy. Try having a glass of red rather than sugary, syrupy, goopy, Cinnamon Bailey’s, Egg Nog over-the-top holiday craziness.

Overeating = overeating is a common side-effect of the holidays. Everything is just so yummy so why not fill your entire plate twice because it’s so welcoming? Because you’ll die from the expanding digestive tract inside you. THAT’S WHY. Think about this: the day before everyone arrives for Thanksgiving and Christmas, drink as much water as you can. Drink water like it’s your job. The more water you drink, the less pain you’ll feel after the meal. You’ll be slightly full before the meal so you’ll eat less.

So while that turkey looks beautiful and indulging, think about preparing for the massive amounts of food and set yourself up for success. You’ve worked so hard to eat consciously, now keep yourself on track!

T.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 ways to feed your soul (and jump start your metabolism)

Do you ever experience that ridiculously full feeling after a meal? We’ve been told so many things about our diet and how it relates directly to digestion. Drink more water, eat more fiber, eat more of that, eat less of that, bla bla bla. It’s all so confusing and seems to change every five minutes. So rather than changing anything that we eat, here are 5 tips to boost your metabolism and make you feel better after a meal:

1. Eat slowly

This is my #1 rule. Eating slowly is so hard to do sometimes. Unless, you’re one of those people with the magic ability to NOT stuff your face. (That’s not me.) Eating slowly allows you time to enjoy your food. Our bodies digest food slower than we eat it and you’d be shocked how much less you eat when you take the time to put the fork down in between bites. Plus, the meal lasts so much longer, so the bliss continues!

2. Savor your food – feed your soul

One of the hardest parts of being a hard worker is that we tend to eat on the move. While eating in between meetings is alright once in awhile, try to remember to stop, sit and enjoy your meal. Don’t eat food that you don’t thoroughly enjoy, because sometimes you’ll forget how amazing flavor and texture can truly be. Take one bite, chew it slowly and think about what flavors stick out to you. Think about what you love about each ingredient. Maybe next time you’ll realize how good that sandwich was rather than cringe at how full you feel.

3. Invite friends to join you

Most of us eat alone these days. Especially in America, we work ourselves into the ground and end up eating alone on our couch with a glass of wine while watching our favorite show. Eating is a cultural, physiological practice, which is meant to be enjoyed with others. When you eat with a group of friends or your family, you tend to find more joy and comfort from your meal. So next time you’re driving home thinking of ordering Grubhub or Postmates alone, call up your mom or your best friend and invite them over. Have a party!

4. Carry around healthy snacks  – so you don’t go into starvation mode

I know for me, whenever I don’t bring snacks with me to work, I get hangry and rush off to the closest taco stand. Instead of ordering 2 tacos, I order 4 and I eat them as if I’ve never eaten in my entire life. I let myself get far too hungry which simply becomes a stomach ache and instant regret. Yes those tacos were great, but I could barely taste them since it was apparently a race to inhale as much shrimp, salsa and guacamole as humanly possible. So don’t be me at lunch next time. Bring nuts, peanut butter, apples and maybe a raw protein bar to hold you over. We aren’t neanderthals!

5. Cook…all the time.

Cooking is not only one of the most enjoyable pastimes for many, but it is a way to understand what goes in to creating the meals we love so much. Humans began their existence by hunting, gathering, preparing and sharing their food in a slow, drawn out manner. Some cultures understand the social connection we are meant to have with food, but for some reason Americans tend to purchase and stuff, rather than cook every meal. When we cook, we have more control over the calories we consume, we can reduce stress and perhaps build relationships if we cook with friends. So pop open that recipe book!

Special thanks to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. 

Tips for traveling alone

What if we love travel,  but we wouldn’t dare to leave home by ourselves? It can be daunting to even think of going somewhere you’ve never been without a friend or family member with you. All I ever read in travel blogs are ‘must-dos’ before you settle down, and they often include a bullet for traveling alone. So why is that no one seems to do it?

Here are five tips to build up the courage to travel alone and to make it worth while.

1. Start your adventure in your own town.

Be a tourist in your hometown for a day. Take yourself on a date, don’t go to your typical spots and walk around without looking at your phone. See your hometown as if you’ve never been there before. Remember though, don’t look at your phone while you walk… take a look around and see how it feels to wander by yourself.

2. Find a place you’ve wanted to go for a long time.

There’s got to be somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Pick out a place that you would feel safe if you were there alone. For some, it’s Charleston, South Carolina, for others it’s Dubai. Don’t put limits on yourself!

3. Plan specific places to go.

Once you’ve chosen a destination, find some of the best spots to hit while you’re there. Whether it be certain beaches, museums, restaurants or hikes, find them and write them down. Don’t stop there though, investigate and document all the intricate ways to get there. Keep the directions in a journal so you can take it with you. (Use pictures and maps as well!)

4. Plan for problems.

Bringing extra money with you while you travel alone will help you relax in tense situations. If you lose your train ticket, you need a late night bite in a decent area, or you want to upgrade to a better hotel room to feel comfortable, allow yourself that luxury. Traveling alone can be stressful enough, so keep yourself packed with financial support. (Not with cash, but money in credit cards.)

5. Don’t be afraid to make friends when you get there.

Yes, being safe when meeting strangers is imperative. But there are so many incredible people who embrace lone travelers as if they were family. Find a cafe that matches your style, bring your laptop and get some work done. I’ve found that working in a bustling place encourages new friends to inquire about what you do. From there, you’re able to share who you really are with them and potentially create new relationships that could last a lifetime. Or – perhaps sit at a wine bar before the dinner crowd arrives and befriend the bartender. Bartenders seem to know all the ins and outs of a town. Start there!

Traveling alone is definitely for the brave. Luckily, you’re brave… so don’t wait for someone else to find interest in places you’ve always wanted to visit. Get out there and make life what you want it to be.

Preparation meets opportunity

“Success is when preparation meets opportunity.”

This was what my mom used to tell me growing up. I always believed her, but I couldn’t rely on luck, so I chose to pave my own path anyway. I spent my childhood fighting to be the most well-rounded kid I could be. I was athletic; I was a dedicated theater performer; I was passionate about my education; I nurtured my relationships; I ate healthily; I learned lessons the first time; I tried to always make my family proud. Each day, I set an intention to remain happy, patient and always respect myself. This was how I was going to make my life exactly what I wanted it to be.

Despite my efforts, there were times when I would question my specific decisions, when I thought I needed to have more fun and stop trying so hard. People would often tell me not to take life so seriously. It wasn’t until others commented about it that I thought I was living a heavy, high-pressure lifestyle. It made me worry that I was wasn’t focused on the right elements of life. Watching all those other kids have a blast and not worry about their futures made me nervous that I was watching my life pass by.

But today is different. I spoke to my mom this morning about how each step I’ve taken up until today has led to this minute. I knew I had big dreams, HUGE dreams when I was young, but to think I’d actually accomplish them rarely crossed my mind. My focus
was on the path to getting there and enjoying that first… then maybe if that luck rolled around I’d catch my dream job. Well…sitting here today, thinking back on all of the frustrating piano lessons, dense theater classes, long study nights, impossible exams and tough moments of defeat, I can now say that everything was worth it. I can’t believe I get to say that! I get to say it because a few weeks ago, I landed got my dream job. I get to pack up everything I own, jump on a plane, hurl myself into the unknown with a really great friend of mine and get paid to do it!

My dream job is quite different than what most people picture. I hoped to blend everything I love into one particular position. But I was told that job doesn’t exist, so I was about to settle for second best. What is unexpected, is that this new job was carefully crafted to work out. Everything I did in my life up until today has led to it. The position isn’t even a job, it is an adventure. I couldn’t have created a job more perfectly aligned with who I am. A job that involves health, wellness, travel, cooking, meeting other people and television is all wrapped up into a perfect bow. Luck? Sure. But most importantly: preparation.

All the questions I lived with for so many years, about whether or not I’m doing the right things, have been answered. I am so grateful!

-T.

Yoga Journal Gaia TV

Stop, and turn around

It’s been quite awhile since I last wrote. Maybe because I’ve not felt as inspired or maybe because I’m nervous that what I have to say isn’t interesting enough to share with the world.

But today, I feel like sharing.

I’ve noticed a lot of my friends merge into careers that they maybe wanted, maybe didn’t want…but nonetheless, they seem to be fine. Generally, we go from college to post-grad thinking that we are going to slowly, consistently move upward. Sure, we might get a job that we are using as a stepping stone, that we don’t enjoy immensely but can tolerate… and then a two years go by. So really… we are just falling into the normal routine that is the American tradition…and why is it that I’m having a really hard time being okay with that?

My career path has been unexpectedly different.  It’s taken a rough push backward, a few confusing circles and some small steps to the left and right. I got my dream job right when I graduated. My favorite media company that made a true difference in the world hired ME. Interestingly enough, my dream job wasn’t what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the position but when I decided it was my dream job to work there, I didn’t know that step one was generic 9 to 5. Probably because I always expect fireworks, bursts of color, magic and inspiration in everything around me. Including my jobs.

I think when we get to a certain age, our “dream job” isn’t actually what we had in mind. This is a cliché however… this is something cynical people have told us over the years, that our dream jobs are going to shift and soon enough we will be driving home at 7pm on a terribly average Thursday to a cold empty house where we’ll have about 3 hours to make dinner alone, (something that tastes mediocre and blends two or three types of ethnic foods from Trader Joe’s) watch two or three episodes of something on Netflix, brush our teeth and go to sleep.

This is what we are supposed to accept? Constantly, people who are secure and in a steady place in life will tell me,

“Well, real life is hard. It’s always going to be hard. You’re going to have to put your time in and do something you don’t enjoy for a couple of years until you have that break into the position you’ve been hoping to get.”

All I hear, is:

“Go give away X amount of years of your life in order for it to be good later.”

Sorry, but I don’t accept that and I don’t have to. That was 1985. 1985 was the 9 to 5 desk jobs concept that our parents created and accepted. Computers brought people into a gigantic space with no color on anything. If I don’t see color I don’t see anything and I just get uncomfortable.

There’s article I stumbled upon a few weeks ago about the most common regret people have on their death beds. It was,

“I didn’t do exactly what I wanted to do. I did what I thought I was supposed to do.” 

This was the first time I’d heard the notion, because I was swept up in the current with everyone else and didn’t think I could do what I wanted to do. I’ve mentioned this to my parents, mentors, peers, but for some reason they’re responses are always, “well that’s really hard to do and doesn’t pay the bills.” Instantly I sink into another heap of disappointment.

Now, I’ve tried to see this concept differently. by understanding that there is a way to balance doing what you want to do and putting in the hard work. There will be late nights that you don’t get paid overtime for, or people you meet who try to put out your light. But I honestly believe that living your life takes more courage than they tell us. If you want to work in a flower shop and not climb the corporate ladder, then work in a flower shop and don’t climb the corporate ladder. We don’t have to do the most impressive things. Impressive things are not the same things as those that make us happy. We don’t have to work at a big company, we don’t have to chase money, we don’t have to work in an office, we don’t have to fatten our resume just to impress other people, we don’t have to accept that paying the bills trumps every dream we ever wanted. Thats not naive, that’s just changing the conversation. We can pay the bills doing anything… look at YouTube stars, look at bloggers, look at people inventing apps, look at those kids choosing to not do what they were told is the only thing they can do to succeed. There isn’t an ONLY WAY. You just have to remind yourself, that no matter what job you choose to do, no matter what career path you give up, or what job you turn down in order to do something less impressive, that you are the type of person that succeeds at anything and everything you do. If you believe that, then those risks you took along the way will pay off, regardless.

So, do exactly what you want to do and don’t apologize. No matter how bold it might seem.

T.