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2015 Year End Annual Review

behind the scenes, business, life

Every year in December I write a review of my year. They’re long, and they’re personal.  I take a look at the highs and lows, successes and failures, projects launched, and lessons learned. (You can read my 2014 and 2013 here). From last year’s intentions: 2015 will be the year of: connection, flow + ease. I spent so much of 2014 really focusing on business and marketing tactics; this next year is really about leveraging what I’ve already created, and finding more flow and ease within my business. I will let go of and stop doing: rush work, favour work, working on weekends + evenings (unless it’s my own work of course!), scope creep and unnecessary stress. I will feel: joyful, connected, loving, creative, energized, free, “in my element.” This year I will achieve more balance with my work and free time. I will continue to evolve Digital Strategy School, and will reinvent how I work with clients by scaling up my impact and offerings. I will create with ruthless intentionality, and nurture strategic and supportive collaborations. I will help as many people as I can grow their businesses strategically, and do work they love. Yep. I would say 90% of that was achieved. To describe 2015 in a nutshell… I’d compare it to leaping off a cliff with a big gust of wind keeping me soaring. I took some major risks, pushed through some major fears, and played a way bigger “role” (aka, majorly came out of my shell). It was an all around epic year. I had my first speaking gig, successfully launched my signature program, and Ben and I are close to launching the first beta of our web application Doki! This year’s review is a little less structured than in the past, and focuses on what happened each quarter, with some key learnings and take-aways. TL;DR Highlights:   (In mostly chronological order) Launching Digital Strategy School Visiting Portland with Amanda Working with Tanya Geisler, Leadership Coach That blog post going viral Traveling to Mexico for a wedding  ...

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Twitterpated: A Twitter Love Story

business, life, social media

Revised. Originally posted June 2013.   June 2nd 2016 marks my four year anniversary with my partner Ben, and I thought, what better time than now to write a post about why I use Twitter. Wait— what? You can probably guess how this ties in to the title of this post… yes, we met via Twitter. I’ll explain later. No, I’m not saying you should be using Twitter as a means to meet a significant other, although I’m not discouraging that either. A lot of people, including friends and clients, have asked me why they should use Twitter. They hesitate, and wonder if it’s really worth the effort when they already have a solid Facebook following, or wonder if anyone cares what they ate for breakfast that day. Not to mention… aren’t we already over-saturated with email, facebook, push notifications, etc? There is already so much to read, so many blogs… how do you keep on top of it all?? While I do think it is important to selectively schedule time for your social media in an attempt to avoid continuous partial attention, I am going to explain why I think tweeting should be an important part of (almost) every business owners social media strategy. Reach people that are “unreachable” Back in 2010, I learned about Marie Forleo through a client of mine. Marie had sent out a tweet asking for some recommendations on vacations spots in a particular city, and my client responded with a few suggestions. Soon after, my client mentioned to me that Marie Forleo’s team had checked out her site, and told her “by the way, our team LOVES your website!” This was encouraging; Marie Forleo had a large following (40,000+ at the time), and had quite possibly checked out my website, since it was a credit in the footer of my clients’ website. What did I do? I sent out a strategic tweet. Within seconds I got a reply: <a href="https://twitter.com/mariepoulin">mariepoulin</a>...

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Stop trying to do it all by yourself

business, life

Over the last few years of running my business I’ve really come to terms with how crucial it is to have the right people on your team. And I don’t necessarily mean employees or contractors either (of which I have neither other than an occasional Virtual Assistant, who is the best kept secret btw…). I mean on your side. Who do you go to if you’re stuck, or need a fresh perspective? Who challenges you to think bigger? To see yourself differently than your imposter-complex brain wants to see you? Who can you be completely vulnerable with? There’s a fantastic interview on Chase Jarvis Live with Brene Brown (what an amazing human) where she suggests listing the people whose opinions actually matter to you on a tiny piece of paper. These people love you not despite your imperfections, but because of them. You shouldn’t have a very big list; I know mine is probably 5-6 people. Do you know off the top of your head who these people are for you? She also talks about the power of creative circles and communities, and that the most dangerous thing you can assume is that people have reached their success on their own. This resonated so deeply with me, because I know I spent the first few years of running my business trying to do everything on my own. I thought that if I put my head down and hustled enough, I would eventually succeed. That whole “it takes a village to raise a child” thing — it applies to business too. I am so grateful that I’ve had such incredible supportive forces in my life, especially over the last few years of running my business. If I could go back in time and give a small piece of advice to young Marie, it would probably be: Don’t try to do it all alone. Oh, and hire a business coach. Don’t be stubborn. Assemble your...

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Proposals, products, process, and workflow: Interview at Nusii.com

life, productivity, systems

“If ever there was an example of a design entrepreneur, then Marie Poulin is that example. She’s already enjoyed a successful freelance career, working with clients that most would give parts of their anatomy to collaborate with. But now Marie is embarking on a different path, the lesser traveled road of products. Marie recently took the time to tell us all about it. Grab a coffee and enjoy the interview. You’ve gone from freelance designer to multi-product entrepreneur. What prompted the change and what have been some of the biggest challenges?” Read the full interview over at: http://nusii.com/blog/marie-poulin...

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2014 Year End Annual Review

behind the scenes, business, life

Wow, 2014. What an amazing year it’s been. It was so interesting to look back at my 2013 review to see where I had actually followed through (or not) on my goals. It’s really amazing how much can change in a year, and I’m excited to go through this process each year in December. (Partly inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review) This is from last year’s post: In creating a Limitless 2014, my theme for the year will be: Abundance + Opportunity. I want to let go of and stop doing: rush work, favour work, working on weekends + evenings, and scope creep. I want to feel: bold, limitless, abundant, joyful, free, energized. I want to achieve: more balance with my work and free time. I want to produce my first digital product, and start phasing out client work for personal projects in an attempt to scale up my impact and offerings. I’d have to say all of that was pretty bang on, and I’ll reflect in more detail below: Business + Career Recapping 2013 Business Goals: Create my first digital product and build recurring and passive revenue streams. ✓ Reduce my time working on client projects ✓ Incorporate a new company with my partner ✓ Participate in a mastermind, and at least one guest speaking or mentoring opportunity ✓ Well, I totally nailed each of those! What went well: Oki Doki This year was just incredible on so many levels. I incorporated a new company (Oki Doki) with my partner in life and business, Ben. Together we are working on an application called Doki which helps entrepreneurs teach and market courses online. It has been incredibly rewarding to be able to work with Ben on a big undertaking that is not only really enjoyable to work on, but can help so many people. The response to our progress updates has been so exciting, and we really appreciate the encouragement and support! We’ll be doing...

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Reflections on The World Domination Summit 2014 #WDS2014

business, life, travel

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind week in Portland for the World Domination Summit 2014. This was my second year (I wrote about last year here) attending the conference, and I was really grateful to get a chance to meet a lot of people in person who I’ve only known in an online capacity. If you’ve never heard of The World Domination Summit (when you’re at the border, just tell the border guards that you’re going to a conference for “entrepreneurs”– it’s easier…) it was founded and led by Chris Guillebeau in the spirit of this question: How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world? It was founded on the principles of Community, Service and Adventure. Never will you find such an energetic, open, and inspirational group of people in one place. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. It’s an absurd amount of value for a conference ($500), and it’s in the fabulous city of Portland. The connections I made last year do not even compare to the ticket cost… Anyway, the roadtrip began from Vancouver, BC, with friends Amanda Farough and Margaret Reffell. With a number of stops along the way, it was pretty amazing to be able to spend a full day in a car with these ladies without going crazy 😉 We discussed everything from relationships to clients, to feminism and beyond. The best question of the trip: “How old were you when you realized that sexism was a ‘thing’?”   I had no idea when I took this photo of the Tiny House Hotel that there would be a speaker session by Dee Williams who spoke about her own process of creating a Tiny House! Every time I visit Portland, I fall in love and want to live here. It’s like the grungier, weirder, cheaper version of Vancouver! Of course I had to try the infamous Salt & Straw ice cream (which was incredible of course). Next door was an...

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Are you booking your clients too far in advance?

business, life, productivity

I’m pretty grateful in that since the very first few days of running my business (back in 2009), I’ve had a steady stream of work inquiries in my email inbox. Not all of them are a good match or my ideal client, but I have been lucky to have options. There were many times over the last few years where I was receiving an average of one new job request per day. It felt like a good chunk of my days were being spent on customizing my “sorry I’m not available,” or “please tell me more!” emails. It was getting overwhelming, and I realized: I was undercharging and/or undervaluing my services (market demand is high… I shouldn’t be getting every single job I quote on!) I was not communicating my value or prices effectively (too many tire kickers; my services shouldn’t be appealing to everyone in a range of $500 – $20,000) I was wasting way too much time rejecting/accepting proposals (I didn’t have a system/templates!) Given that most of the time, I had to either turn down the work, or schedule them later, I started to find myself booked up for 4, 5, sometimes 6 months in advance! You would think this is a good thing, right? I know where my income is coming from over the next few months. Work is booked, bills are paid, everyone is happy. Right? Wrong. Here’s what happens, and I’ll give you a real life scenario from my own business. Project #1 begins in May, project #2 begins in July, and project #3 begins in september. There is some overlap scheduled within the projects, since I’m not working full-time on each project (there are 2-3 ongoing at any one time). As I begin approaching the middle of project #1, the strategy evolves, and a decision is made to add an online course component to the site. This obviously adds more design and...

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Do it because it scares you

life

I recently decided to join the East Van Pillow Fight Club. Yes, seriously, it is a real club that exists, and yes, I am actually a pillow fighter.   Why on earth did I join the club? Those of you that know me well know that I generally do not seek attention, and certainly would never consider myself comfortable in front of crowds. This has slowly gotten easier over the years with lots and LOTS of work! I realized that if I wanted to have more impact on the world via my business and life, I would need to be free of the fear of being in front of other people, whether it be speaking, writing, or heck, even performing. I saw the East Van Pillow Fight Club perform as one of the acts at the comedy/talent show Talent Time, and it was one of the strangest, craziest things I’d ever seen. Not only that, but it looked like a crazy amount of fun! Each of the girls was “in character” and fought 1 on 1, wrestler-style, but with pillows. It also looked absolutely terrifying. It turns out this was just a small version of their full performance that happens at the Astoria every 2 months or so. Turns out the club actually fights to raise money for a women’s rape relief shelter. How awesome!! A crazy thought popped into my head. I am athletic, and love getting physical; I already climb 3 days per week, and in the summer I play Gaelic football another 2 days per week. Maaaaybe this could be a crazy way to practice getting more comfortable in front of crowds..? I was simultaneous intrigued and terrified. I knew I had to do it. A few days after the show, I emailed the club and asked about becoming a fighter. Two days later I attended an audition, which basically involved a short work-out with the girls, going over the rules,...

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2013 Annual Review: Looking back

business, life

It has been an incredible year. It felt like it was the year of kicking it up a notch on every level: personal development (as always!), relationships, business, finances, systems, etc. Here’s a look back at the things that went well in 2013, and the things that could be improved in the new year, organized by category: Business  + Career What went well: I got to work with an incredible client roster. My clients are the most amazing people; they inspire me and I absolutely adore working with them. This year I worked with Natalie MacNeil of She Takes on The World, and became a mentor for her Conquer Club. It was a kick ass project, and it’s already helping change women’s businesses and lives! I also got to work with the Wake Up Project, Wei of Chocolate, Kim Anami, Hot Flash Diaries, A New Possibility, Mira Dx, Lemon Drop Clothing, and several others. All amazing people doing amazing things for this world! I went to the World Domination Summit in July 2013, which involved breaking a word record for longest floating human chain on the Willamette River! The whole conference and experience was a major kickstart for me in terms of taking action within my own business. It’s also where I met a good friend and mentor, Cristina Donadio, who has been a wonderful influence on me throughout the rest of 2013. I invested heavily in my own business and education — conferences, courses, programs, streamlining my business processes — and it paid off big-time, with both personal and professional skills, as well as a huge revenue increase.  Instead of always being in a reactive mode, I’ve finally started to put solid systems in place to make new projects run smoother and more efficiently. “Optimize, Automate and Outsource”, as I learned from Ari’s Creative Live session, The Art of Less Doing. I really took my business to the next level this...

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Today is the day I forgive myself for being a night owl.

business, life, productivity

The last few weeks, or so it seems, I’ve had an incredibly difficult time waking up in the morning. I’ve found myself sleeping until 10am, 11am or sometimes noon. This morning I set my alarm for 8:45am, and hit snooze until about 9:45am. Perhaps it’s the change in season; not enough sunshine, not enough vitamin D… Ok maybe part of it is going to bed at 1am… UPDATE: I Finally rearranged my blinds so the windows now let in much more light, and hey, I’ve actually been able to wake up much earlier than usual! Either way, I found myself getting increasingly frustrated, as though my inability to wake up early in the morning was symbolic of laziness or un-productivity. I suddenly felt guilty, angry at myself and restless. My partner was quick to remind me: “You DID just launch your new website in 3 days last week, built 2 client website prototypes, went rock-climbing, did an interview, spent the weekend outside…” I laughed a little. He was right. When I look at what I had accomplished in the last 2 weeks, I was proud! Why was I giving myself such a hard time? Maybe I’ve read one too many books on productivity and efficiency. In Manage Your Day to Day, one chapter recommends not checking your email first thing in the morning, and instead, doing your best, most creative work first. This way you don’t spend the morning wasting energy on the drudgery of email and administrative tasks, leaving yourself feeling drained in the afternoon. The problem with this, however, is that I can safely say that nothing about my brain is creative first thing in the morning. That’s not to say that I am not open to the possibility of this, but for as long as I can remember, waking up in the morning has been a struggle. Picture 3 alarm clocks at various places around the...

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Reflections on The World Domination Summit 2013

business, life

I am sitting now on a bus** from Seattle to Vancouver after an incredible few weeks that ended withThe World Domination Summit in Portland. For those of you that have never heard of The World Domination Summit (WDS), it is essentially a conference for people that want to live a remarkable life in a conventional world. This is WDS’s third year, and brought together 3,000 attendees from around the world. It brings together bloggers, writers, entrepreneurs, and people from all ages and backgrounds in the spirit of community, adventure and service. **SIDENOTE: I just noticed a WDS conference bag on the bus seat in front of me, and decided to say hello! I ended up meeting 2 really interesting gents from WDS, one of whom shared his travel hacking secrets with me. I was wondering why the heck he was flying from Vancouver to Boston — isn’t it cheaper to fly US from within the US? Usually, he said, but this was the only flight he could get for free 😉 I have followed its founder, Chris Guillebeau for several years, and had heard of the conference, but had never been able to attend in the past. This year, one of my incredible clients, The Wake Up Project, gifted me the ticket as thanks for the extra time I had been putting into their project. (They’re an organization that promotes kindness and mindful living… how appropriate!) One of the pre-conference activities was actually a Guinness World Record attempt on the friday morning for the longest human floating chain (previously held by Viareggio, Italy with 542). We beat the world record with 620 people floating in inner tubes in the Willamette river! What an epic way to start a conference weekend. That being said, I was never so happy to be warm and dry afterward… photo: Armosa Studios Later that evening was the registration and opening ceremony at the Oregon Zoo. Yes, WDS rented out the entire zoo for...

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Why I switched to a standing desk

life

I spend a good % of my day in front of my computer, as do many of you, I’m sure! When I finally got a place of my own in Vancouver, I was already thinking about ergonomic chairs even before I had purchased a desk. I was ready to make the investment, I thought. I asked my Facebook friends what they recommended for ergonomic chairs. I ended up with a few friends posting articles about the dangers of sitting for such a long portion of the day. At first I was skeptical. After all, I consider myself very athletic, with 2-3 days/week of gaelic football training and/or practices, and 2-3 days/week of bouldering and/or rock-climbing. Surely any damage I do by sitting all day could be offset by my dietary habits and physical activity? Apparently not. Do a quick Google search and it is not difficult to find evidence showing that sitting all day is terrible for your health. Are you sitting down? — Mashable You can even find countless websites with standing desk hacks, in order to build a cheaper solution than something like The Geek Desk, which is an intelligently designed height adjustable desk ($1000+). In the end, I opted to buy a tall dining table I saw at CB2 (pictured at the top of this post). While it is not height-adjustable, the height is right for me! I use a gardening pad to stand on, which feels lovely on my feet. I am still searching for the right ergonomic stool-height chair to complement it, but so far I’ve been splitting my time 50/50 between my laptop at my kitchen table and standing at my standing desk, while I transition slowly into standing for the majority of the day. It does take some time to get used to, but overall, I actually think I am more efficient when I am standing. I am less inclined to waste any time surfing needlessly. I...

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The year of couch-surfing

life

Wow. It’s been almost a year since I returned from my 3-month trip to Bali, Indonesia where I lived and worked for 3 months. It was a totally exhilarating year, full of lots of growth, change and uncertainty. It would seem appropriate to look back on the last year, and summarize some of the things I learned in my year of living light and going with the flow. First of all, I want to say a huge thank you to all of my friends that supported me along the way. I could not have done it without you! Thank you for your kindness in offering me your couches and beds, storing my things, and encouraging me to follow me dreams. When I returned from Bali in late April 2012, things felt disjointed for me. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do next! I barely had any belongings other than my clothing, computer, and a few boxes tucked away in storage. I had experienced life in a way that I never had before. There were no real rules, and it was up to me to make decisions that would impact me from day to day. I lived with very minimal stress, and felt like I had opened up my mind to whole new possibilities. At one point I had actually considered cancelling my return trip home. A few people have asked me why I chose to go from nomadic to planting roots again in Vancouver. The answer is not entirely cut and dry… What I realized was that Bali was a bit of an escape from my previous reality, which I had not been happy with. I had gone through so many life changes at one time, and leaving the country was an easy way to make that reality disappear into distant memory. My soul needed that journey in a big way, there is no question about that....

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Why I did Tough Mudder

life

On Saturday September 29, I completed the Tough Mudder event in Seattle. If you haven’t heard of Tough Mudder, it is described as follows on the website: “Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” Many people have asked why the heck would I sign up for something like that, and believe me, I asked myself the same question many times. I’d heard about Tough Mudder, and knew some people who had done it. I received a text from a good friend of mine (Jodi) while I was in Seattle, asking me if I would like to join her for the Tough Mudder in Seattle. I asked my beau jokingly if he would be interested, and he said “yeah, sure!” So we agreed to join. This wasn’t Jodi’s first Tough Mudder, and I figured, if Jodie can do it, we (probably) could too! Right? 😀 Those of you that know me well likely know that I’ve been on a fear-kicking journey over the last year or so (maybe longer?). I like doing things that scare me (to an extent); it makes me feel alive, and makes me feel as though I’m making the most of my short time on this planet. I asked a few other friends if they’d like to join us, to which they responded with “you’re going to get hurt! do you know they electrocute you?? you’re insane!” Oh boy. I starting reading a bit about the obstacles and began to get nervous. I decided that I was not going to read anymore about it. I had signed up, and I was going to do it, whatever that looked like. Yes, I was mildly terrified, but I took great comfort in the fact that Jodi— and other ladies that I knew— had done it before, and they had all...

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Exploring a nomadic business and lifestyle

life

Check out my recent article for TXP mag: Exploring a nomadic business and lifestyle which discusses some of the challenges of a mobile business.

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Settling into Ubud, the arts & culture centre of Bali

life, travel

Well, my first month of exploring a work-travel lifestyle has already flown by! It’s been a really interesting ride so far. I spent my first couple of weeks exploring Bali, decompressing, and getting adjusted to everything from the bug bites, to the food and everything in between. Life is slower here, and I will admit, it is difficult to feel “stressed.” I am currently living in a little bungalow in the Rice Fields not far from the center of Ubud, a small town in the center of Bali, well known for its arts and culture (as well as its spectacular postcard-worthy rice field views). There are dingy bungalows and 5 star resorts, backpackers and wealthy travellers alike. It is a sleepy artist town with a lot of magic tucked away just beyond what you see at first glance. It is not near the beaches, and the nightlife is minimal, so it is a far cry from the drunken touristy scene you’ll find in Kuta. I chose Ubud for several reasons, mostly though because it continued to come up in conversation with anyone who I talked to about Bali. It seemed to me like it might be a bit further away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy cities, and provide a good atmosphere for me to be able to focus on work, but also be able to relax and enjoy my stay here. I can’t exactly say that I have a routine mastered by any means, but a typical “work” day looks something like this: I wake up sometime between 8:30am-10am. I get dressed and bring my Macbook Air out onto my patio area which has a few chairs, a coffee table, and a working desk that I brought out onto the patio from my room. I make myself a Bali Kopi (Bali style coffee). Every morning there is a fresh thermos of hot water, a jar...

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The many offices of Ubud, Bali

life, productivity, travel

I have had the pleasure of working in some very interesting offices during my time here in Bali. I made it my mission to find some of the best workable cafes/bars/restaurants/guesthouses. My main requirements were 1. Fast internet access 2. Comfortable/ergonomic seating & tables 3. Good food Below are some of my favourite spots I’ve worked at during my time in Bali, in order of preference Tutmak Tutmak is definitely one of the best places in Ubud to sit down and focus. I have spent many work days here (I’m on a first name basis with most of the waitresses). Food and drinks are excellent (try the wheatgrass shot, or the apple/carrot/beet juice), the wifi is by far the fastest and most reliable I’ve experienced, and the tables are upstairs, away from most of the other patrons. Tutmak seems like a bit of a hidden gem. Not a lot of people seem to know about it, so more often than not, I have the entire upstairs area to myself, which makes it easier to be productive. Clear Cafe Clear Cafe is definitely my favourite restaurant in all of Bali. The food is outstanding (though a bit pricier than most restaurants, but well worth it), their wifi is fast and reliable, and they recently renovated to include a very comfortable and quiet upstairs area that is perfect for getting a few hours of work done. I highly recommend the Magestic Mushrooms and the Vanilla Bean Latte (with cashew milk). For mains, you pretty much can’t go wrong… try the Hint of India, or the Chicano Burrito. Seniman A recent discovery, Seniman is an artisanal coffee shop. You can tell that they put a lot of time into their process/methods, and have very much perfected the art of coffee. Work tables are ideal, the wifi is very fast, and the food/coffee are fantastic (try the brie/cashew panini). The music is also...

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The magic of Gili Air, Lombok

life, travel

After spending my first week in Ubud, I made arrangements to meet up with some Couchsurfers on Gili Air in Lombok to get our diving certification. The Gili Islands are reputable for their snorkeling, surfing, and partying (depending on which of the 3 Gili Islands you go to). Never in a million years did I ever think I would be getting my diving certification! I should probably explain that up until a few years ago I was… ahem… “very reluctant” to get into open natural water. I avoided it at all costs, and to be perfectly honest, it was even difficult to get me into a swimming pool (you’d have to trick me or throw me in). I’d had a number of negative experiences growing up with murky Ontario waters, that I stopped trusting water and the creatures living in it! Beaver lice larva one year, leaches, seaweed… I began to associate water with creepy crawlies, and it just generally gave me the shivers. My fear of water was finally eased when I went to Hawaii in 2008. The water was as warm as bathwater, and it was crystal clear. I could see where I was stepping, and it wasn’t so scary after all. I rented some snorkel gear, and I think that’s when everything changed for me. I saw all of the beautiful (and hideous) creatures that live under the water, and got real close and personal with them! I saw sea turtles, eels, and fish every colour of the rainbow. I literally felt like I was in Finding Nemo – I had to remind myself to breathe, I was in such AWE! Fish have always been a little “freaky” to me, so I will admit that a few times I found my breath racing as some of the fish got very very close… and we stared at each other with equal curiosity. Sometimes they would take little...

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A last minute visa run in Cambodia

life, travel

You can only stay in Indonesia for 60 days at a time with a Visa on Arrival, and then you need to leave the country if you want to return again. I was thinking about maybe doing a small side trip to Thailand (rock climbing in Railay? visit Cody McKibben…), and then a university friend (Steve) informed me that he would be heading to Cambodia at the end of March. This aligned perfectly with my schedule, so with about 5 days notice, I booked tickets to Cambodia with a stopover in Malaysia! I didn’t have time to do any research on Cambodia… All i knew were the rave reviews that I had heard from many other travellers in Bali. I had no idea what to expect, and I will say that Cambodia truly blew my mind. The plan was to meet up with Steve at Monkey Republic Bar in Sihanoukville, in the south of Cambodia on March 27th. I had no way to reach Steve other than via occasional facebook messages. Neither of us would have a phone that we could use, so my fingers were crossed that everything would pan out as planned. If he wasn’t at Monkey Republic, I was to look for him at the Blue Mean Leap guest house. I get to the Airport in Pnomh Penh, Cambodia, and take a tuk tuk to the bus station where I’ll need to catch a 4 hr bus ride to Sihanoukville. Well, it just so happens the last bus of the day has already left. My options are to stay a night in Phnomh Penh, and catch a bus in the morning, or pay $45US to take a 3hr taxi ride there. I foolishly opted for the taxi ride, thinking it would be way too difficult to coordinate with Steve if I had to come the next day. At the time, I felt very intimated about being...

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Welcome to Bali!

life, travel

Well, I landed safely in Denpasar, Bali at midnight on February 8th. I had nothing but an iphone with cellular data turned off to avoid roaming charges, and instructions to take a taxi to the Pepito Supermarket to meet my Airbnb host. I exited the airport with my fingers crossed, as I was not provided a specific address. Am I mad? I am going to meet a stranger named Marco late at night in a parking lot in a city I’ve never been, and get on his motorbike with my backpack and laptop bag. This is irresponsible, right? I exit the doors, and within minutes I hear my name. Marco decided to come right to the airport because he thought it might be too tricky to coordinate at the supermarket. Fantastic! Marco has a thick Italian accent, and is covered in tattoos. I hop on the back of his motorbike, and within 20 minutes or so I am at my new accommodations just south of Kuta Beach. Marco offers to take me into town in the morning and make sure that I know where I am going and how to get there. I stayed at my accommodations for 2 nights while I got used to Kuta, and found my way around. I decided to get a place closer to the town/beach for the next few days/nights. I met some locals on the beach, did some surfing, and danced the night away with the locals and some Swedes at Surfer Bar. I will say that I think being open to meeting and talking to the locals really shaped my experience in Kuta. Once you get to know the locals, they no longer, ahem, “harass” you to get massages, buy beer, or get surf lessons. Once they see you a few times, and see you talking to the other locals, they treat you like a local, and welcome you into their...

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