5 Years Later. 

Prelude: I finished writing this post in October 2017. I cannot recall why I hadn’t posted it then. Perhaps I was shy, perhaps I was too lazy to find the right photos… maybe I’ll add a few one day. In the meantime, I hope this inspires you to reflect on your own accomplishments and remember how awesome you are.

2012 was a big year for me. If you know me, there’s a likely chance that I’ve mentioned something to you about that year.

January – I started the year with a major concussion. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would do some serious damage. Relationships, education, work – it affected every aspect of my life. And ruined my dreams of becoming a pro snowboarder. Jokes aside, effects from that confusion still linger from time to time.

It was an eventful year, my benchmark year. I have compared every year since to that year! Somehow, I continue to surprise myself how much can actually be accomplished in 365 days.

I’ll break out 2012 as simply as I can:

Jan/Feb – internship and trip to Dallas, Houston and San Diego. Met some pretty cool folks that I’m regularly impressed with.

Mar/Apr – finished off college, managed to swing a trip back to NB, continued reserve life on Wednesday’s

May – the trip of all trips. 3 weeks, 9 countries, a beautiful group of new friends, and a Slovenian men’s choir serenading Nicole and I at the hostel. Absolutely unreal.

June – solo ride West. My 2002 Sonata didn’t know what happened to it. I learned creative ways to prop a camera up without a tripod – I recommend investing in a tripod.

July/August – Vancouver Island. All summer. Beach volleyball at 4:30 everyday, just because. Sliders on Fridays (you can look up what that means in the military). I thought I was going to stay forever.

Nope. I found out my next posting was going to be in Halifax.

Me: “Nicole, want to go on a roadtrip?”

Nicole: “Sure! When?”

Me: “Next week”

Nicole literally dropped everything to make that trip work. It was truly the first time I’d ever experience a situation where someone valued life experiences over career opportunities. That moment, that singular moment, has inspired me ever since.

September – USA roadtrip. We were unstoppable. Drove from Victoria to San Francisco in a day (shout out to Mike for the extra help driving), slept in hotel parking lots, did Vegas properly, horseback riding in Nashville, surfed the golden coast. Late nights, early morning, and the stamina of two 22 year old girls. I think we nailed that adventure – one could say it was a Total Eclipse of the Heart. Just when I thought my year couldn’t get any better.

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October – I thought it would be cool to become a navy diver. Well – 6 weeks of ass-kicking later, I got my official pin. Looking back, it’s continues to be one of the proudest accomplishments of my life.

November – I was torn between a position at Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic or a career outside of the navy, at the Saint John Port Authority. The Port job was only a 6 month contract, so I figured I’d do that then head back to Halifax or Victoria as a diver. I never went back.

As time has come and gone and I look back on my “marquis” year, I’m really glad I made the decisions I did. Every penny spent, every kilometre covered; the forks in the road and the unexpected u-turns have led me to where I am today.

One of my biggest weaknesses is that I rarely take the time to look back and properly evaluate how certain experiences have changed me – for better and for worse.

Today, when I look back on 2012, I see a curious and passionate young woman who truly didn’t understand what the heck she was doing. Every opportunity was a chance to learn something new and hopefully meet some interesting people along the way.

2012 set the stage for me. Restless, adventurous and ready to overcome any obstacle in front of me. I know there are limits out there, but I’m not ready to face them yet.

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Train Wreck Trail

Sometimes you push yourself too hard and end up falling flat on your face, but over time, something beautiful happens. 🚞

In 1956, a CP Rail train derailed after taking a corner too fast on its way south from Lillooet. A local logging company was hired to remove the boxcars that had been wedged into a narrow canyon. They were later rolled into the forest where they remain today.

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Over the years, locals have taken it upon themselves to transform the wreckage into a public display of art. The boxcars have been covered with vibrant colours and eclectic visual stories. Rumour has it that in the 1970s, the Train Wreck was featured in an Aussie travel guide as a cheap place to stay in Whistler.

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Recently the site has undergone some renovations to make it more accessible to the public, including a suspension bridge over the Cheakamus River connecting to the Sea to Sky Trail. The site is a playground for photographers, bikers, trail runners, and graffiti artists – both tourists and locals alike.

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My favourite part: on one of the boxcars the old Canadian Pacific Railway logo remains untouched.

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Find the trail

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Ophelia

Ophelia. ♠

You were playing in my ears while I strolled through Toronto. New York. Victoria. Vancouver. London. Fort Myers. Charlottetown. Edinburgh. St. John’s. Reykjavik. Washington. Saint John.

1 song. 11 cities. 6 time zones. 5 countries.

There is comfort in having some staple tunes when you’re traveling. This song has seen me through the last 18 months and I can’t imagine my morning exploratory runs, afternoon coffee breaks or evening bar hoping without it.

Thanks Lumineers. You make life more enjoyable.

What North America can learn from Iceland

Emily! Do you want to go to Iceland? Those were the first words out of Nicole’s mouth when I answered the phone in the middle of the winter last year. Flights: booked.

Not long afterwards, we picked up another travel partner, Hilary.

After months of postponing planning, we decided on two things: 1. rent a car and 2. figure it out on the fly.  Three girls, an SUV, a must-see list and a draft outline drawn on a map is all we had planned for our week-long trip in July.

There are a lot of great things to see and do in Iceland – glacier hikes, waterfalls, volcanos, helicopter rides, off-roading, scuba diving, luxury spas, culinary experiences, and Reykjavik, the nation’s capital, is a blend of history, business and culture.

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We decided to drive both the Golden Circle (short circuit just outside Reykjavik) and the Ring Road (main highway all around the island). Here’s what I discovered about Iceland and what we, as North Americans, should take away from this country.

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Iceland hasn’t always been so lucky. It suffered a lot from the 2008 financial crisis and the major volcanic eruption in 2010. The value of the krona collapsed and the prices of goods remained expensive – it’s not easy transporting items to a remote island in the North after all. For a tourist, the cost of food and goods is still quite expensive so it’s worth spending your time and money on adventures.
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Some say their tourism spike is thanks to agreements with major airlines that use Iceland as a stopover from North America to Europe, some say that it’s because the millennial generation is looking for that picture perfect background – either way, Iceland’s getting back on their feet… In a sustainable way.
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Locals pay very close attention to the ecosystem and the environment. There are no forests in Iceland – certainly not like you’d see here on the East Coast of Canada. Moss – basic green moss – can take upwards to 5-10 years to grow. Needless to say, when we stayed in a bubble in the middle of the “woods” we were sheltered by a few skinny trees that provided barely enough privacy for us to run to the outhouse in the middle of the night!
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Icelanders will not put up with your North American bullshit – they don’t have time for it and they want to have an environment to go back to once this tourism boom starts to downturn. Play by their rules or stay away. It’s a very fragile environment so be sure to respect the boundaries set out by the tourism bureaus, park officials, the governments and the locals – otherwise you will be ridiculed… a lot and by everyone.
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The majority of Iceland’s power is fuelled by renewable energy such as hydroelectric and geothermal. Iceland is full of volcanic activity that makes geothermal energy easy to access – essentially, they don’t have to dig too deep to find it. In fact, they love geothermal energy so much that they built one of the nicest spas in Iceland directly beside the plant. Tourists are literally bathing in the by-product from the plant – and it’s awesome. Silica and sulfur are so good for your skin that companies have started to bottle the product in hopes to make a profit.
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Hydroelectric = waterfalls. There are so many waterfalls in Iceland, I’m pretty sure we saw a different one every day! Hilary was on this photographic kick where she tried to capture the perfect milky waterfall – so we spent a lot of time visiting them…. and saw them from many different angles. It was totally worth it. There’s something soothing about watching waterfalls. Especially knowing that the governments and business leaders of the day were smart enough to realize that the force from the water could power the majority of the country’s energy requirements. (Gee – I wonder how much 160 billion tonnes of water twice a day could power *hint hint* Bay of Fundy…)
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One more thing that I learned about Iceland: they have a very unique breed of horses. Icelandic horses are said to have been preserved by isolation – there has been no cross-contamination between these horses and other horses from around the world. I really don’t know much about horses, but I can say I literally fell in love with a short, shaggy haired Icelandic horse named Dorri. I seriously think this horse either had some cognitive issues or he was just simply just a klutz – whatever it was that made Dorri special, we were meant to ride together.  While Nicole and Hilary looked oh so graceful on their horses, Dorri and I bumbled along like YouTube compilation of “People walking into things”.
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All in all – Iceland is absolutely worth visiting. My advice: rent a camper or SUV and travel around. We stayed in some pretty cool spots along the way, but there are many different ways to travel this beautiful country – budget conscious to top-of-the-line luxury*.
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 *Side note: we had a brief moment of luxury when we pulled into a swanky hotel/restaurant for dinner with our new American friends. I had a nut burger – most delicious thing ever. If I didn’t like meat so much, this would have definitely convinced me to try vegetarianism.
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With shared content from Nicole Rowan and Hilary Brown

What You Need to Know About Traveling for Work – When You Return

You’ll meet a lot of people when you travel. As mentioned in my last post, the best way to jog your memory is to jot down a few notes on their business card. Now it’s time to use that info! 

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Reconnecting with your contacts 

LinkedIn is how I personally prefer to keep in touch with professional connections. It’s like having a summarized CV of your connections and it gives you more credibility by having your CV available. 

When adding contacts to LinkedIn, try personalizing your intro message own using the notes from the business cards:

  • If they mentioned they were taking a vacation, wish them a great trip. 
  • If they mentioned they were expecting a new grandchild, send your best wishes.
  • If they mentioned that they were looking to do business in your area, offer them a coffee next time they are in town. 
  • If they had a lot to say about something, reference it in your message. This way they will know that you were actively listening and had a genuine interest in the conversation.

You get the gist of it. Remember to add contacts that you ACTUALLY met; don’t just blindly add people – it’s both annoying and unprofessional.

Send follow up messages

If you were traveling for meetings, remember to send a quick message when you return home thanking the people you met with for their time. If there were any action items from the meeting, this is a great opportunity to remind yourself and others of their responsibilities.

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Take a moment to reflect. 

I can’t stress this enough. Too often when you’re traveling for work you forget to take time to look back on how the trip went. Some things to keep in mind:

  • meetings: were there any action items (things you need to do)?
  • hotels / restaurants: how was the service? would you go back? Is it somewhere you could recommend to someone who might be travelling there?
  • new thoughts: what did you learn? Was there anything new that you discovered that can be applied to your career?
  • goals: what was the main purpose of your travel? Did you achieve your goals? Did you discover something that you should remember for a future opportunity?

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Meet with your supervisor

If you were traveling on behalf of an organization, setup a time to meet with your supervisor to discuss the outcomes of your trip. This is where you can have an open conversation about what went well and what could be improved for the next trip. If you found that the travel was somewhat unnecessary, as in the trip didn’t provide as much value as originally thought, speak up. Your supervisor will appreciate your honesty and you can use this conversation as an opportunity to explore other more suitable options.

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The people you meet when you travel – whether for work or for pleasure – can open doors, provide insights, and help influence your career path in many different ways.  It’s important to foster a connection because you never know when you might be crossing paths later in life. These are connections that you can’t find at home, because what makes them special is that they are from a different part of the world. And as for the experiences you shared together … well… everyone loves a good story.

What You Need to Know About Traveling for Work – When You Arrive

When You Arrive

Killing it at networking events.


Pay Attention – opportunities are everywhere at a conference. Be sure to keep your head up and your eyes open when you’re at an event. You never know who you might be caught in a conversation with. Last year when I was at a cruise conference, I struck up a conversation with Mickey Arison while standing at the bar. It was a simple “Beautiful evening to be on a patio, eh?” Which triggered a 10 minute conversation about how I “must be from Canada”, the weather in Toronto and what it’s like to travel north. Oh, and my boss couldn’t believe how I just casually started a discussion with one of the biggest players in the cruise industry.

Read Body Language – if someone wants to talk to you, you’ll know. Eye contact is key here. If they keep glancing around the room, they are looking for an “exit”. Its good to know when a conversation is over and let them go. They’ll appreciate it and likely remember it for the future.

Raise Your Voice – A strong animated voice implies confidence, so be sure to speak loud enough that the person you’re speaking with can clearly understand you. Be careful not to be so loud that the entire room can hear you.


Easy on the Topics – no politics at these events. Trust me, people are more interested in talking about the weather than digging into the latest political scandal. A short jab here and there might be okay if you’re further along in the conversation but keep it light.

Dress the Part

Fashion Tip – keep it a bit conservative. A structured dress with a longer hemline and a higher neckline make women seem more approachable, while suits with a crisp white shirt are generally a safe bet for men, ties optional. Scruffiness is a gamble – keep yourself groomed. I should also mention that a woman in a tailored tuxedo is also a pretty fantastic sight.

Remember to dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Keep on top of the conference

Keeping Track – You’re going to receive a lot of business cards. Make notes when you return to your room (what they look like, what you talked about, etc) You’ll see why later.

Attend the Sessions – when you want to skip out on the sessions, remember that your employer is paying you to be there absorbing what you can so you can become a better employee. Better yet – you don’t know everything so sit your butt down and take it all in. You’ll be sure to take something away that you can bring back to the office or use as a topic of conversation at the networking events.

 

Choose Wisely – your time is valuable and your spare time is sparse. Use it wisely and take some time for yourself. It’s important to recharge those batteries so if it’s between 20 mins reading emails or 20 mins to go for a walk around town, opt for the walk. The fresh air will help clear your lungs from the stale convention centre air and boost your energy.

Avoid the Afternoon Coffee – your adrenaline is going to be pumping all day. If you think you need a pick me up, try a bottle of water instead. It’s important to stay hydrated and it will help you sleep better at night (not that you’ll be sleeping much)

Manage Your Expenses – carrying around the company card is nice, but don’t go crazy. If your workplace allows alcohol on the dinner tab, limit it to 1-2. The rest is on you, unless you receive permission from your supervisor. Be sure to set the ground rules about hospitality and hosting clients before you leave – excessive drinking on company time is not something you want to face in a performance review.

 

What You Need to Know About Traveling for Work – Before You Go

Work travel is a great opportunity to network and be immersed in the culture of a given industry. You’ll quickly learn who’s who in the industry after you’ve spent a few concentrated days at meetings and events. Here are a few things you should consider when travelling for work.

Before you go


Plan Your Outfits – you likely won’t have a lot of time to pull yourself together in the morning. Plan ahead so your outfits are coordinated and thought-out.


Pack Light – there’s a good chance your going to need to bring some extra promotional materials, gifts and meeting kits with you so make sure you leave space in your bag. Don’t worry, you’ll be returning with many gifts and materials from your trip.


Workout Clothes – one set is enough. I don’t care if you wear the same shirt 2-3 runs in a row and neither will anyone else. If you’re really put-off by it, invest in dry fit so you can wash it in the sink and it will be ready for your next run.

Create an Itinerary – there’s going to be a lot going on during your trip having an itinerary with addresses and phone numbers will help a lot. Plus it gives you a chance to plan personal time and stick to it.


Check In With Your Boss – this is your number one priority. Your boss is sending you on this trip for a purpose. Clearly identify and make note of expectations, target clients, key messaging and other important information. Don’t assume you know everything your boss is expecting.