road trip nova scotia RV

Two Week Road Trip Exploring Nova Scotia

Last year, we lived our road tripping dreams. We spent two weeks in a 24 foot RV on a road trip exploring Nova Scotia. At the heart of the maritimes in Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia has more than 13,000 kms of coastline. A popular selling point is that you’re never more than 67 kms from the ocean anywhere in the province. It’s also home to more than 150 lighthouses, and hauls some 50,000 pounds of lobster from its waters every year. But it’s not all seafood and scenery.

Nova Scotia is home to some of the most unique experiences in the world. We got to take part in so many of them last summer. We packed up our RV and hit the open road for two weeks of sun, fun and east coast adventure.

We’re starting our journey from Truro, where we live. You could begin your road trip exploring Nova Scotia at the border from New Brunswick, coming off the ferry in Sydney, or flying into the Halifax airport.

*Disclaimer: there is SO much to do in Nova Scotia that this suggested itinerary barely scratches the surface. This is a recap of what we did, and what we liked. In no way are these the only things there are to see and do in these areas.

A. Tatamagouche & the North Shore

The North Shore of Nova Scotia is one of Nova Scotia’s hidden gems! Tatamagouche is a beautiful village located 45 mins from Truro. It’s bursting with businesses that are creating one-of-a-kind products using local ingredients! If you’re like us and travelling with your own kitchen, you can stock up on local produce, baked goods and other unique groceries at Jamieson’s General Store located in historic Creamery Square. Be sure to check out their freezer section for stews, pot pies and dips!

Tatamagouche Buggy north shore nova scotia butter trail trans canada trail
Buggy Rental from Remember Rentals in Tatamagouche

Next, get yourself some exercise with a buggy bike rental from Remember Adventures Rentals and explore the Butter Trail. This 25 km trail is a part of the Trans Atlantic Trail system. It gives you views of the Tatamagouche Bay, and some beautiful bridge crossings.

After working up an appetite, grab lunch at the Chowder House before heading to Tatamagouche Brewery for a flight of their extensive lineup of award-winning local brews. For dessert, you’ll want to walk a few steps to Tatamagouche Ice Creamery where their hand crafted ice creams are unmatched in flavour. Don’t forget to stop in to Appleton Chocolates for some hand rolled artisanal truffles featuring a maple fondant centre with flavours that include blueberry, walnut and cranberry.

Check out Secret Nova Scotia for tours and fun on the North Shore!

B. Cape Breton

No road trip to Nova Scotia is complete without a visit to the island of Cape Breton. You’ll want to give yourself a few days here as the island is quite spread out and requires a fair amount of driving to cover. We began with the Highlands National Park where the majority of the hikes we wanted to take in were located.

There are several campgrounds to choose from depending on what you’re looking for. We stayed at the Broad Cove Campground. We hiked Broad Cove look off, Franey Mountain and drove along the Cabot Trail to reach the Skyline Trail. While there is a lot of focus on doing the Cabot trail in the fall for the changing leaves, we visited in early June and everything was SO green and lush. It was like being in the rainforest! Cape Breton is also home to many scenic waterfall sites. If that’s something you’re interested in, definitely check where you can find those hiking trails. You should also check out Salty Rose’s & the Periwinkle Cafe. They are open for breakfast and lunch, but check out their pop up Bite House dinner events!

Franey Mountain hiking Cape Breton Highlands
At the top of Franey Mountain in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

From here we came down through Baddeck and stayed a night at the Baddeck Cabot Trail Campground. We then made our way to Sydney. We explored the waterfront which has beautiful sculptures, grabbed dinner and gave the Sydney scavenger hunt a whirl! It’s a great way to see the city and learn about it at the same time.

If you’re into museums, there are some great ones to visit in Cape Breton. We visited the Orangedale Railway Museum in Orangedale, the Alexander Graham Bell museum in Baddeck, the Miner’s Museum in Glace Bay and the Membertou Heritage Park Centre in Membertou.

Trailer Tips: A lot of places in Nova Scotia have small cable ferries to take you to other parts of the island. If you’re driving an RV or towing a camper, just be wary if you have a larger vehicle that it may not fit aboard these tiny vessels!

C. Lawrencetown, Mahone Bay & Lunenburg

While there’s lots to see on the Eastern Shore, we opted to head straight down to the HRM and Lunenburg County. You can easily spend a few days in Mahone Bay and Lunenburg. We did day trips during our road trip touring around Nova Scotia.

Just 30 minutes outside of Halifax is Lawrencetown Beach. This is one of the best places to surf, with several established surf schools in the area. They teach and rent to everyone from beginners to advanced. We had NO surfing (or water sport) experience, but the East Coast Surf School had us covered. They provide wetsuits, boards and instructors. Our instructor gave us a great run down on the beach of what to expect, and stayed with us the whole time in the water. Neither of us managed to actually get to standing on our boards but the experience of trying was priceless.

If you’re not too tired from surfing the salty waves, it’s a little more than an hour to Mahone Bay. Mahone Bay is like a scenic town from a movie. It’s filled with bustling activity and cute little shops as well as places to stop for delicious local food. We had a beautiful and delicious lunch at Mateus Bistro on the main street, and did some shopping at local staple establishments – Mahone Bay Trading Company and Amos Pewter. We actually got to see how their pewter products are created, from wax carving to finished product!

seafood lunenburg mussels south shore
Picking up seafood from Dory Mate’s in Lunenburg

A 12 minute drive will have you in scenic and historic Lunenburg; the home of the iconic Bluenose sailing ship you can see on the Canadian dime. Lunenburg is a seafood lover’s delight. We had supper at the South Shore Fish Shack where we dined on their patio that overlooks the harbour. We also picked up a bag of local mussels to take back to our campsite to cook from Dory Mate’s Seafood Market. There are lots of unique local shops here as well, with plenty of historical stops like the Ironworks Distillery – a forge building from 1893 that worked on the original Bluenose which was converted to a distillery.

Nova Scotia’s history is steeped in the fisheries, and no museum captures that history better than the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. We learned about the Grand Banks and fishing in Nova Scotia dating back to the first peoples. There’s also an impressive exhibit in memorial to all the lives lost at sea from the Lunenburg port.

D. The Ovens & La Have

Continuing along the south shore another 25 minutes and you will come to Oven’s Natural Park. This beautiful park has campsites for RVs, trailers and tent camping right along the ocean facing the sunrise. Its the home to both natural and man made sea caves, as well as the opportunity to pan for gold! You can bring your own prospecting supplies or rent from them. The trails to the sea caves are not a hard walk, but they do have stairs and are not accessibility friendly. There is also a restaurant on site if you’d like a break from camp cooking!

the ovens nova scotia sunrise rv camping
The view from our campsite at the Oven’s Natural Park

Continuing on our road trip of Nova Scotia, a thirty minute drive from the natural park will get you to La Have – a small community I hadn’t heard about until I was researching for this trip. For faster access, take the La Have cable ferry across. The La Have Bakery is not to be missed! Allow time to visit as there would most likely be a line up. The building it’s in itself was beautiful and it was chock full of delicious treats of all kinds. We grabbed a cappuccino and one of almost everything they had in the show case. We then browsed their grocery store before moving over to the unique market of handmade goods next door. You could easily spend an afternoon exploring La Have.

We moseyed on down to the Fort Point museum where we learned all about the history of the area, including the ferry – which used to take carts and horses across the water. I also scored a recipe for chocolate sauerkraut cake.

E. Shelburne, Barrington & the South Shore

barrington nova scotia lumberjack wild axe experience
At the Wild Axe Lumberjack Experience in Barrington

Continuing down the South Shore, we stop in Shelburne – the site of the largest free black loyalist settlement in North America. It’s also the site of many film productions such as The Scarlet Letter and Book of Negroes (check out IMDB for a full list of films that have been shot here). A visit to the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre and Birchtown is a must when visiting this area of the province.

We also visited the Dory Shop Museum which still makes – by hand – these small and versatile flat bottom boats that have been used in the fishery since the late 1800’s. Visiting this town was really an eye opening history lesson every Canadian should have.

Another half hour down the shore brings you to beautiful Barrington with its silver sandy beaches, and famous for its lobster rolls! Here we had a truly unique experience. The Wild Axe Lumberjack experience that is. Darren Hudson’s created quite the destination for those looking for a truly Canadian activity. What’s basically a lumberjack playground, the Wild Axe experience features log rolling, cross cut sawing and of course, axe throwing. We had an amazing afternoon here. Spoiler alert – I’m a terrible lumberjack, but you’ll have to try for yourself to see how you measure up!

F. Yarmouth, Bear River & Digby

In all the years I’ve lived in Nova Scotia, this was the first time I’ve made it to Yarmouth. I had always heard there’s nothing down there but it was a beautiful spot! We timed our visit with the annual Seafest. It had events like Mackerel Tossing (yes we did this), and kite flying, which we also did. Spoiler alert – we weren’t great at either, but it was a ton of fun!

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Cape Forchu at sunset

We stayed at the Ellenwood campground which was a beautiful spot. Each campsite was nicely spaced apart so it felt private. There was a great Farmer’s market, delicious restaurants and scenic parks to explore.

No trip to this part of the province is complete without checking out Cape Forchu and its very unique lighthouse. You’re going to want to book the tour to go up in this one for the incredible panoramic views. Be warned though – this tour isn’t for people who are nervous of confined spaces or heights. You also want to check the footwear guidelines for going up in the lighthouse before you get there. This is also the site of the movie “The Lighthouse” which starred Willam Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.

While heading out of Yarmouth towards Digby, keep your eyes peeled for the small community of Bear River. Blink and you’ll miss this ‘tidal village on stilts’ as it’s known! We stopped for lunch at TacOcat for authentic Mexican cuisine with an impressive collection of hot sauces ( try and go for their taco eating competition). We stopped for a coffee at Sissyboo Coffee Roasters, then took in the beautiful grounds and wines of Bear River Vineyards. You can easily spend an afternoon in this scenic village.

G. Annapolis Valley

Annapolis Valley is one of the more popular regions of Nova Scotia, but it has so much more than the wineries it’s famous for. We began in Grand Pré, which was once the epicentre of Acadian culture. I knew very little about the Acadian culture so that’s what we dove in to on our trip to the valley. We started at the Grand Pre National Historic Site. Here you can browse the exhibits within the centre or book a guided tour. We booked the guide and we would highly recommend this option. We explored the dykes, the site of Memorial Church, Harvest Moon Trail, and of course, the statue of Evangeline. You can now actually stay in this UNESCO historic site in the o’TenTiks that were built on the grounds.

wolfville winery grand pre la caveau nova scotia
Lunch at La Caveau at Grand Pré Winery

After a morning of touring, we stopped at the Grand Pré winery to have lunch at their restaurant, La Caveau. The food was phenomenal as was the wine and atmosphere. We highly recommend the wine tasting if you have time. You’ll also want to allow yourself time to tour the grounds as you can walk through the vines and find chairs that overlook the Bay of Fundy.

We didn’t book a campsite here, but instead parked for the night in the apple orchards of Hennigars Farm Market thanks to Harvest Hosts. It was an incredibly beautiful atmosphere with stunning sunset views and privacy amongst the trees. I’d never been to their market before but I’ve been back several times since! Their baked goods are mouth watering. They’re known for their donuts but it was the sweet potato biscuits that had me salivating. They also have an ice cream counter, impressive variety of fudge, and make their own alcoholic cider in partnership with Wayfarer’s Ale Society You might also want to take in a few rounds of Farmer’s Golf. Don’t know what this is? I don’t want to ruin the surprise but the fun we had playing it was priceless! We highly recommend you check out this activity.

If wine tours is what you’re after, there’s plenty to choose from, but our favourite is the Magic Winery Bus Tour. It has a few different options depending on the length of time you’d like to go or amount of wineries you’d like to visit. If homemade pasta is your thing, venture a little out of Wolfville to Port William and check out the Noodle Guy. The food is incredible, but this popular spot is often quite busy.

H. Parrsborro & Joggins

This area of the province is a great stop for the history buffs or fossil enthusiasts in your life, but it’s not limited to that by any means. Parrsborro is home to the iconic Ships Company Theatre which is housed in an impressive building you can’t miss on Main Street. If you get the chance, take in a show while you’re in the area. Get yourself a delicious lunch or dinner at the Black Rock Bistro before taking in the sites.

There are some great museums here, like the Ottawa House and Fundy Geological Museum. Just a 36 minute drive to Springhill and you can visit the Springhill Miner’s Museum. Although we’d already been to a mining museum back in Cape Breton, it was interesting to hear about the mining and history in this area. We had a young tour guide of just 16 years (Thanks Ben!) but his old soul came from growing up with with his family having worked in the mines.

joggins beach fossil cliffs unesco nova scotia
Heading to the beaches of Joggins Fossil Cliffs

Keeping up with learning about the history of Nova Scotia, another 37 minutes will take you to the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. This UNESCO site tells its visitors a 300 million year old story. After visiting the museum’s interactive displays, we opted to book a guided beach tour which was truly incredible. You could see how the seams of coal come up through the beach and in to the cliffs, examples of fossilized insects and plants, as well as a petrified tree! This was an incredible and unique experience I would definitely take in again. I want to take my niece back with me, who loves her rock and gem samples.

I. Five Islands

We then looped back to the Five Islands Provincial Park which is one hour from Joggins. The drive along the coast is beautiful, and the park has sites that are in the trees or with water views as well as access to some great hiking trails.

My favourite place to visit in this area is the That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm. In the middle of Economy is this hidden gem that makes *the* best gouda I’ve ever had, and so many varieties of it! Not only is this family business making these delectable cheeses in house, but they also have a dutch gift shop full of confectionaries like liquorice and strooptwafle. After you’ve sampled some of their many varieties of gouda (I suggest the old growler), you have to check out the Animal and Nature Park that not too many people know about. Be sure to grab your feed before leaving the cheese store, and pocket a few extra quarters for the donkey feed on the trail (they can’t eat the corn mix you get at the shop).

This park takes about an hour to walk, and is fairly easy terrain, so long as you don’t go down the longer steeper path to the highland cattle. But if you can make that trip, it’s worth it to see these shaggy majestic creatures. The park is home to everything from emus and potbelly pigs to water fowl, sheep and so much more. The real show stealers are the goats – grab your map and make sure you don’t miss those guys. They are NOT shy!

Check out Secret Nova Scotia for tours that take you to this area!

A donkey from the Animal and Nature Park in Economy

Once you’ve finished up here, the road back to Truro will take you by the Five Islands Lighthouse park where you can picnic, swing in a hammock on site or just enjoy the beautiful view of the area’s namesake. It’s a 50 minute drive from here back to Truro, but you can also make stops at Dianne’s or Granny’s for their famous fried clams. That delicacy brings tourists from all over the province. If you enjoy antique hunting, the road home will also take you through Great Village which is bursting with antique shops curated by the best antique collectors on the north shore.

As you make your way back to the Hub of Nova Scotia, you might also want to stop by Masstown Market, which has been around for more than 50 years. Their bakery section draws people from all over (if you see their donuts in stock, be sure to grab yourself a dozen), as well as their gift shop and garden center. There’s truly something for everyone here.

And back again..

So there you have it – highlights of an RV road trip exploring Nova Scotia. Whether you have an RV or trailer to tow, you like to camp, or want to check in to one of the many experiential accommodations around, there are so many options to tailor your perfect Nova Scotia road trip. There are so many options for food, breweries and distilleries, hiking and other unique adventures, you could do this trip 5 times over and not see it all!

Have questions about any of these stops, routes or rv living? Drop me a line here! Happy Trails!

road trip RV nova scotia sunset
Sunset at Hennigar’s Farm Market in Wolfville.

The Ins and Outs of All Inclusive

It’s that time of year where your social feeds are clogged with people going down south for vacations. You’re either green with envy or not interested in this style of getaway. I’ve been booking all inclusive vacations religiously for the last 18 years. It’s literally my idea of a perfect vacation, but I get how it’s not for everyone. If you’ve ever considered booking one but haven’t pulled the trigger, here are the Ins and Outs of All Inclusive vacations.

What is an All Inclusive Resort

Wikipedia defines an all inclusive resort as: “a holiday resort that includes at a minimum lodging, three meals daily, soft drinks, most alcoholic drinks, gratuities, and possibly other services in the price. Many also offer sports and non-motorized water-sports and other activities that are included in the price as well. They are often located in warmer regions of the world, particularly in Mexico and the Caribbean”.

When you book an all inclusive vacation, everything you need is included in the sum you pay upon booking. Of course, like every experience, there are always extras you can tack on if you want more.

What kind of traveller are you

People have different needs and expectations for their time off. Some people want to relax and unwind while other’s want adventure and to explore. Before booking a vacation, it’s important to consider what you want out of it. For me, when I’m booking an all inclusive vacation, its because i’m looking for a relaxing getaway. Maybe you need a change of scenery or just a change in climate. Some travellers really want to experience the culture of the country they’re visiting and immerse themselves in it. You can satisfy both types of travellers with an all inclusive vacation, but the explorer will likely pay more money.

“I don’t want to just lay around for a week”. You don’t have to. There are gym facilities and often sports like tennis and volleyball which you can book time with. There are dance classes, yoga, and scuba diving lessons. You can also take advantage of amenities like kayaking and snorkelling. You can use an unlimited amount of times during your stay (subject to availability).

What do you want to spend

The all inclusive vacation experience can range in price depending on the type of experience you want. There are base level accommodations, which is still luxurious and includes all the amenities you want in an all inclusive. You can upgrade your room to things like suites, swim up rooms, or private butler service. There are also adult only sections, and VIP. You can also book off-resort excursions, that can be adventure activities or cultural exploration. These can be either half day and full day trips. They include all kinds of activities such as catamaran tours with snorkelling, dune buggy rentals, and safaris. For the cultural explorers, you can visit local industries depending on the country. Learn how to roll cigars in Cuba, or visit a sugar cane or coffee plantation in the Dominican Republic.

What I like about the all inclusive vacation is that almost everything is taken care in one payment before you go. I say almost because you have to consider the controversial topic of tipping while on resort. It says gratuities are included in your price, but tipping is a common practice you will see once there. This can be a hot topic: do you tip all the wait staff while you’re there? The bartenders for preferential treatment? Do you tip housekeeping as well? Really, the choice to do so is yours.

Most resorts offer their pricing and accept US dollars. I would recommend exchanging your own currency (if necessary) at your bank before you go. Most airports and resorts do offer a money exchange on site for a fee. There are also shopping areas on resort and in local towns which vary from market stalls to full shopping centres.

To stay on, or leave resort – that is the question

This is also a controversial topic when it comes to booking all inclusive vacations. Do you stay on the resort the whole time you’re there, or do you venture in to the nearest town? Is it safe to leave the resort? That answer will vary for the country you are visiting and the city you’re closest to. Check travel advisories from the Canada government website before booking. You can also check reviews on travel sites for people’s experiences.

Drinking water is still a concern in many of these destinations when you leave the resort. On resort, the water is treated but they also provide bottled water in rooms for drinking, coffee making or even brushing your teeth if you desire. Anything you drink off resort that’s not in a sealed bottle can be a concern, including ice cubes.

Lots of places will have local tour guides on site selling off resort experiences. They range from excursions to tours, to shows at local nightclubs. Excursions you book through the resort will include transportation, generally by bus, but there are also local cab services available. I believe you can rent cars in most places as well but this is not something I’ve ever looked in to.

What to eat

The first time I took an all inclusive vacation was to Cuba and I was 22. I didn’t know what to expect, but I know the food was not the main feature. Since then over the years, I find a lot of people will ask ‘What was the food like?’ when deciding which country to travel to. It’s a popular opinion that the food in Cuba isn’t great, while the Dominican is not bad, and its better in Jamaica and Mexico. Believe me when I say this all depends on the resort and the taste of the person you’re talking to.

All resorts have buffets you can eat all your meals at, but that’s usually your only option at breakfast and lunch. There’s usually also a 24 snack bar for in between meal times. I enjoy the buffets myself because no matter what I’m in the mood for, they have it, not to mention an entire dessert buffet which I never neglect.

In addition, all inclusive resorts offer á la carte restaurants which require a reservation made with guest services. These have a dress code of long pants and no beachwear. The food here is substantially better, and you can choose your courses from a menu. I always prefer dinner at the á la carte restaurants myself but it really depends on personal preference!

Pros and cons


  • Its so easy to book online or with a travel agent
  • All planning is done for you – flights, transportation, accommodations, meals, etc.
  • You can literally eat all you want any time you want
  • Lots of space and availability at the pool or beach
  • Everything is pretty close – food, rooms, pool, bar
  • It can be as lazy or busy as you want it to be.


  • a 5 star resort in the Caribbean is not the same rating as it is in Canada
  • There are often people on the beach or by the pool trying to sell you everything from excursions to trinkets. This can be a LOT if you’re not interested and just want to be left alone.
  • Breakfast and lunch are always buffet style. A la Carte restaurants are only for dinner reservations.

The post pandemic experience

The masking rule was dropped in Canada just before we went on our most recent trip to the Dominican Republic. While all the staff on our resort had masks, rarely were those masks covering their nose and mouth. Most buildings are open air but there are definitely areas of congestion, like the buffets, where this could be a concern for some.

In the past, most resorts I’d visited pre-pandemic had a hostess with sanitizer at every restaurant that greeted people upon entry and ensured they used it. I was surprised that this was not the case on this trip. We had brought our own bottles of sanitizer just out of habit, but we were very glad we did. There was always sanitizer at the gym, but there were no cleaners or cloths to wipe down equipment after use. Otherwise there were no real precautions at this point, but restrictions had already been lifted in most countries.

All in all, you have to find the right vacation that fits what you’re looking for. All inclusive vacations get pigeon-holed in to one experience- laying around all day and not leaving the resort. That doesn’t have to be the case. If you choose to read reviews on travel sites, you need to take them with a grain of salt. People will complain about anything. I find if you look at where those complainers are geographically, you will also notice a pattern. Travel agents are a great asset as they have been to many places themselves. They also gain valuable insider feedback from the clients they send as well. Whether you’re traveling on a budget and you want to shop deals online, or you’re celebrating a momentous occasion and want to spring for a little extra, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your very own getaway.

The world is an amazing place! Get out there and see it! Happy traveling!


The Other ‘F’ Word

Let’s talk about the other ‘F’ word we don’t like to say in public – forty! Us 80’s babies grew up believing this was the end of our ‘fun’ lives. Forty was an unfathomable milestone where we were thinking more about retirement then recreation – our fun loving youthful lives would be over!

Still a single digit age

The first hurdle to major adulthood is 30, but it feels like there’s still some hope to cling to there doesn’t it? Like the clock is ticking away the seconds of your youthful and carefree life on some imaginary timeline, but you still have time to ‘get your shit together’ – whatever that means. Like there’s a checklist of goals you have to meet before you turn 40. After that, well who knows.

Even at that time, forty felt so far away, but doesn’t it seem like decades are getting shorter? Now it’s my turn to advance to this previously dreaded decade, but first I want to take some time to talk about my experience turning forty in this post-pandemic – social media – ‘living your best life’ age of being. Strap in and pour yourself a drink as we look back at the decades that got me here.

My 20s

One of many nights on George Street in my early 20s

My 20s were like a lot of peoples’ – messy, fun, then.. messy again. Here’s the cliff notes version: I moved from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia for university at 18, which was my first time living away from home. I actually spent a lot of that first year depressed, and didn’t think I was going to make it through the school year. Spoiler alert – I did, but I definitely looked in to other options. I worked hard in school, made new friends, tested my boundaries with lack of sleep, alcohol and just how cheaply you could survive. I pulled all-nighters to finish projects. I pulled all-nighters that were drunken adventures. I dated. I went to Italy with my university which was my first trip to Europe. I graduated, and questioned what the hell you do when you’re not going to back to school in September.

After university, I moved back to Newfoundland and got married. Bought my first house, and changed careers. I got divorced, and tried to figure out what you do when the tried and true life plan fails. I dated again. I gave myself my first orgasm without a partner (look, i was a late bloomer). Is that a weird thing to write? Honestly – I feel like it’s a big deal that it took me that long. It’s something I laugh about a lot because most people do that in their teens. Like I said – I was a late bloomer, and honestly I had body and self confidence issues that really held me back.

By the end of my 20s, I was in my dream job as a tattooer, but I was STILL wondering what the hell I was doing with my life, just like I was at the start of this decade.

My 30s

I honestly don’t feel like I figured myself out at all until I was in my early 30s; that’s when I started to feel truly happy with who I was becoming as a person. Who the hell started the idea that you had to have life figured out before you were 30?! What does that even mean?

In my mid 30s in Paris

My 30s is when I became comfortable in my own skin, and in my clothes or even really caring about clothes at all. This is when I started to feel comfortable experimenting with makeup, and not hating what I saw in the mirror. I don’t think some people realize how many adults struggle with their own appearance or where they’re at in their lives versus where society has lead us to believe they should be.

In the beginning of this decade, I sold my first house and bought another. I had been tattooing for a few years, and loving what I was doing. I dated more. Hell, I got married again, and divorced…again. (insert face palm here – this could be an entire blog on its own).

For me this was the most important decade. This was where I hit rock bottom. Crying on the floor as my marriage died -again, facing being divorced for a second time, and believing I could not have both a successful professional life and personal life as well. I dated again. None of my friends or family were divorced or had any experience dating in their 30s. My professional life was soaring as I opened my own business and then another, but my personal life was a raging dumpster fire. I feel like I took the reins to my own life, but still wasn’t sure what to do with them.

“Enjoy yourself; that’s what your 20s are for. Your 30s are to learn the lessons. Your 40s are to pay for the drinks.”

Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

As I entered my late 30s, I was ending yet another relationship, in counselling trying to figure out why I was a magnet for said terrible relationships, and trying to accept that I couldn’t have a career and a happy home life. Then something profound happened to me at 37 – I let go of the expectations of where I was supposed to be for my age. Regardless of where popular culture said I should be at this point in my life, I would rather be alone then try and make myself smaller so a relationship would work, which is essentially what I had been doing since my 20s.

I realized it was time to love myself first, and the life I had, rather than be sad for what I didn’t, but this was something I couldn’t do until now, until this point. I needed all those experiences in those decades to get to this place of learning to let go of where society told me I should be.

This will be the best year.

I don’t mean that in a generic ‘this will be the best year ever!’, trying-to-accept-my-age kind of way. I literally mean, with where my life is going (and where I’ve been), this will actually be the best year of my life so far, I have no doubt. Some people figured it out early. They met their spouse in high school or shortly thereafter, stayed in the same career field they started in, and generally followed a fairly straightforward life path. I cannot say the same, but I’m not sad about it. Not now anyway.

Weeks before my 40th birthday in the Dominican Republic.

Does the younger generation still believe 40 is ‘old’? Has society shifted enough to realize that we have so much more life to live than is defined by an outdated ideal? How we ever got brainwashed in to believing that we had to figure our lives out in our 20s, I’m not sure, but I hope the teens of today can see our generation and be encouraged instead of stifled. Hell, I hope people at any age will read this and be brought some form of comfort if they feel like they still haven’t figured it out.

It’s hard to summarize three decades of life experience into an easily readable format, but I hope this suffices to say that every day of this life really is a gift, as cliché as that is. The bad days, as well as the good serve a purpose in our lives. It’s more than a glossy highlight reel of the best times, and it’s never too late to do anything: to start a new job, to make a move, to believe in yourself.

Forty ain’t so bad. I’m happy where I’m at in life, and it took me every day of these forty years to be able to say that. I hope in another decade I’m adding another paragraph of life adventures to this synopsis – one that is full of experiences, and looking forward to yet another decade, and another ‘f’ word.

The Power of a Day

Today, March 8, 2022, is International Women’s Day. What is the power of a day- of one day celebrating women? I’ve been struggling to put in to words what this day means to me because one day is not enough to support the strong women of the world. It’s not enough to show our girls growing up what they can be in this life. One day is not enough to keep propelling women forward in a world still holding so many of us back.

So, why is this day important to me? It’s not just because I’m a woman. Is it because of all that I have? A university degree, a home owner, and a small business owner? There are parts of the world where that’s not allowed to happen for women, and I can’t even fathom what that’s like; to be denied simply because of the body parts I was born with, or I should say, without. I can’t imagine someone looking at me and saying ‘You can’t’ just because I’m a woman, but thats because I grew up with extreme privilege. I’m a straight white woman born in Canada, who am I to talk about the struggles of women at all.

We all have or have had women in our lives: Mothers. Sisters. Cousins. Friends. Co workers. Mentors. Heroes. Would you ever want to hear or see someone talk badly to any of them? To tell them they can’t, or call them names for asserting themselves? What would your response be? That is what fuels my passion for this day. For those who haven’t been as fortunate as I have, we need International Women’s Day to go beyond a single day.

The world doesn’t need more humble women.

What can we do to keep the momentum from this day going? Maybe it starts within us – with the language we use, or changing behaviours we grew up with that are actually damaging to all of us. I’m just as guilty for it. To be a strong woman does not mean you are: intimidating, bossy, or aggressive. It doesn’t mean you’re a bitch because you know what you want, and you work hard for it. We, as women, have to stop tearing each other down and resorting to using these terms. We need to stop feeling threatened by powerful or successful women. Study them. Learn from them. Don’t tear them down. The world is doing that enough already.

I felt uneasy about posting an article I’d been interviewed for on social media, until someone sent me a video stating: ‘The world doesn’t need more humble women’, and I realized that’s true. It needs them to be loud about what they’re doing – to celebrate their successes publicly. To let other women know they can do it too. Why do we fear sharing our success? Is it because we’re afraid it will look like bragging?

I spent the last half of my 20s and the first half of my 30s thinking I couldn’t have love and success – it just wasn’t possible.

Another article I was asked to be a part of scared the shit out of me just with the title: Power Women: Alicia Simms of Truro Buzz Media and Promotions On How To Successfully Navigate Work, Love and Life As A Powerful Woman. ‘I can’t call myself a powerful woman,’ was my immediate thought. How arrogant would that be? That was followed by ‘Who the hell am I to talk about navigating work, love and life – I’m divorced with a string of failed relationships.’ While my professional life was thriving, my personal life was a raging dumpster fire. I spent the last half of my 20s and the first half of my 30s thinking I couldn’t have love and success – it just wasn’t possible. I either had to make myself smaller to fit in to a relationship, or accept that I would never be able to have love and a successful career.

To me, this day means we have come so far, but we still have a long way to go. Women need to be able to walk down a street at night and not fear for their safety. We need to be able to dress how we want to dress without fear of being told ‘we’re asking for it’. I know women who are afraid to work late in an office alone, and that should just never be.

Maybe I am an aggressive woman. I have a fire inside me; a passion for life that I cannot quantify, and nothing, absolutely NOTHING is going to keep me from going after anything I set my mind too – certainly not my genitals. I will never stop celebrating International Women’s Day, and sharing the words of powerful women everywhere, and doing my part to create a world where we can #BreakTheBias. That’s the power in a day.

Begin with the End in Mind

Many of us spend a lot of time, too much time, thinking about how others perceive us, but mostly on a day to day basis instead of after we’ve left this world. Do you think about what impression you’ll leave on the people in your life? What impression you’ll leave on the world? We don’t generally begin with the end in mind, but here’s a look at why you should.

I’m currently reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, and one of the points he highlights is to begin with the end in mind. I take this to mean you visualize where you want to be, whether it’s a goal, a job, or the way you want to live your life. Visualizing what that end is will help you create the road map on how to get there from where you are now. 

One of the exercises he asks you to do is to visualize your own funeral (pg 96 if you are interested). Sounds morbid I know, but stay with me. He encourages you to imagine who’s there, and then who will be speaking. What will those speakers say about you? What would you want them to say? I really sat with this and thought, ‘what DO I hope people would say about me when I’m gone?’  Here’s what I came up with: 

I want people to remember me as someone who was kind and loving. Someone who loved to make people laugh and thrived on that joy. I want to be remembered as someone who worked hard for herself and for others. I’d like to be thought of as a good leader; one who cared about people and worked as a team instead of a boss. I would like to think I inspired people to be kind to others in their day to day life; to make people laugh, to believe in themselves. I hope I helped someone see they have the power to change their own lives, and create the life they want to live. 

Once I really reflected on that question, it was that simple. For me, there was something so clear and attainable about this. I can easily work towards this every day, and be happy doing it. It’s not easy to fill in the steps between where you are now and where you want to be, but having the end goal in mind will definitely create a starting point. This would work towards any goal: take where you are now and where you want to be – now what are the steps you fill in the steps in-between to achieve it?

After writing it out, I felt pretty encouraged, and clear headed, like ‘I can achieve this’. It’s very empowering. I felt like if this is what I want the end to be, I know how to apply this to my every day life to achieve it. By defining the end goal, you’re giving yourself a guideline on what you should implement in your daily life! Sure, I can dream about adding Nobel prize winner, maybe a New York Times Bestseller title, or a million dollar donation to charity, but ultimately, I hope I brought joy to people. If remembering me can bring a smile to someone’s face when I’m gone, then I lead a life worth living.