A (temporary?) goodbye note.

19 Mar

Yep, the title of this post just about sums it up. While I’ve loved dedicating my time to this little corner of the internet for almost two years now (wow! didn’t even realize it had been that long), I’ve come to realize that the purpose for this blog – documenting my world wide travels – no longer exists. While I seriously doubt my nomadic lifestyle has ended completely, Toronto has my heart for now. With that said, blogging about my day-to-day life just doesn’t get me fired up like blogging about wandering through Central America/ Europe/ Canada/ The U.S/ and Africa did. Thus, I have decided to stop blogging…

…whether the stop is temporary or permanent I’m not sure. If it’s temporary, you guys will definitely know about it because I’ll be back in full force ;). In the meantime, there’s a lot of good in my life that I’ll be focusing on, such as:

  1. Donating $700 to Ethiopia Health Aid. Thank you to everyone who donated. I was just informed that this money will be used toward buying new equipment for the school’s chemistry lab.
  2. FINALLY running my first marathon. I’ve signed up for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon – again. While I had signed up for this marathon last year, I was unable to run it due to my move to Ethiopia. Unless a different continent calls my name, I’ll be there in 2014.
  3. Following my gut and pursuing entrepreneurship. I recently jumped ship and left the corporate world in pursuit of my goal of self-employment. Long story short, I decided why not now?! and did it. That’s another reason why Culturecopia is being put on hold – I am focusing on my new blog, which offers content related to my business interests.
  4. Waiting on an acceptance letter (fingers crossed!) for  a Master’s program at the University of Toronto.

With all that being said, I’d like to thank everyone for reading my blog all these years. It was truly a blast to write about my travels while getting to “know” so many of my readers. If life leads me back abroad (and chances are it will), I’ll be back ;).

-Emma

P.S. I’m still active on Twitter & Instagram (emmaharris121) if you care to follow!

Changing my attitude: Gratefulness

23 Feb

Another great weekend in the books, including a double date at a bowling alley and, oh yeah, another GOLD MEDAL for Canadian hockey!

hockeyIt’s no wonder the  11 am church service was packed this morning…

photo (15)Been best friends with this gal since grade two!

So as another Monday draws near, I’ve decided to try and adjust my attitude this week. While our cold climate makes for the best hockey players in the world, the grey skies, the cold weather, and the piles of snow/slush don’t always make me the happiest of campers.

However, the weather is out of my control. I can only adjust what’s inside of my control, so if it comes down to my attitude or the weather, it’s clear where my focus needs to lie. I also choose to live here – I’m not still in Africa – and that’s because life here, despite the cold, grey skies, has much more to offer me. Friends. Family. Boyfriend. Well-paying job. A social life. So much to be grateful for!

Speaking of gratefulness, a grateful attitude is linked with happiness, and don’t we all want to be happy?! So that’s my mission this week. To be grateful for all the aforementioned blessings (and many more) that currently exist in my everyday life. Of all people, I definitely shouldn’t be taking the little things for granted considering the social injustice I just lived amongst and witnessed firsthand while in Ethiopia.

This little video of the link between gratefulness and happiness is pretty neat – you should check it out:

What mentality are you embracing this week?

What are you grateful for?

Hope your Monday gets off to a great start, friends!

-Emma

Get me out of here

18 Feb

I try and be a person who looks at the silver lining, so let’s start with the positive: this three-day weekend was awesome. Americans have President’s Day, Canadians (in Ontario at least) have Family Day. And while I didn’t get to spend time with my family (we were spread all over), an extra day of sleeping past six, spending too much time in my pajamas, and eating dinner with friends were all welcomed activities that don’t normally fall on a Monday.

And then Tuesday came, and yet again we were dumped with piles and piles of snow. I know I’m not alone. I know many areas of both Canada & the U.S. have called this winter a “snowpocalypse”. But I am tired. of. it.

commuteMy commute to work this morning

I can’t remember a winter this bad, even while living in London for my undergrad (and London is notorious for its snow). The first few snowstorms are fun to watch and admire; I’m sure we can all admit that snow is beautiful. But after the 15th storm it’s kind of like… snow, gtfo and bring me some heat.

I do think I’ve tried to make the best of it. Only x more days until spring! is a constant thought of mine. And when it’s not -30 degrees, I’m all for getting outside to ski or skate. But… I’m done – and I didn’t even have to deal with a gloomy November and cold December since I didn’t return from Africa until the end of December. Hmmm, maybe I’m just being whiny ;).

I’m sure many people can relate to my lack of enthusiasm for this winter that never ends, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say it’s begun to affect my motivation as well. I’m not sure how it happened, but I found myself on Groupon looking at travel deals today (don’t worry mum, that’t not realistically in the cards right now), but a girl can dream…

Spring, get here faster!!!!

How do you feel about this winter?

-Emma

P.S. This post has proven to be less than important, but I guess I had to get it out anyway ;)

Valentines Day Weekend

16 Feb

Valentine’s Day… I feel like people either love it or hate it. I’ve always fallen into the former category, and single or not, have always enjoyed it. One year in particular definitely stands out for me. Two of my great girl friends and I, all in university at the time, enjoyed a steak dinner followed by an old-fashioned slumber party, and it was so, so, so much fun.

I think that what’s great about this day. You can celebrate it with anyone you want to. Your boyfriend; girlfriends; mum; cat… whomever! There’s no doubt that this day is a bit loaded with expectations though… single people may mellow in their singleness and taken people may freak out over living up to expectations. But if you’re like me, you might be the default valentine for your mother, who always loads me up with chocolate hearts every year (oh, and my brother, sister, and dad).

While I still received chocolate hearts from my mum this year, I was also spoiled all weekend by my boyfriend. Yes, all weekend.

photo (12)Nigel’s card to me was a lot sweeter than mine was to his… aaaand we’ll just leave it at that.

While I do think the commercialization of the day is over-the-top, I also think it serves as a good reminder to celebrate your “person”. We wanted to celebrate what’s become of our relationship, so Nigel offered to cook dinner. My work schedule doesn’t exactly let me get home by a normal dinner time however, so we decided to celebrate on Saturday instead.

So it’s funny how we found ourselves out for dinner and a movie anyway on Friday. We saw Endless Love, so needless to say it was my pick. I’m pretty sure Nigel liked it more than I did, though ;).

Saturday morning started with breakfast at Cora’s. I’m not sure whether Cora’s exists outside of Canada (does anyone know??), but if it does, every non-Canadian should go. It truly is delicious. They’re known for their crepes, which is a French Canadian specialty.

photo (13)The “April 89″, also known as a mountain of fruit over top of french toast and crepes 

A few hours later we hit up the grocery store. and a few hours after that I found tortellini, salad, and garlic bread in front of me. The food was delicious, and the company wasn’t too shabby either.

photo (14)

It was the perfect way for us to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Low-key, inexpensive, and crowd-free. I was also surprised with black coffee (the way I always take my coffee… I’m weird like that) from our local coffee shop this morning. Yup, I’m pretty thankful to call such a thoughtful man my boyfriend!

This weekend was also a nice balance from last weekend. As opposed to fast-paced and adventurous family time in Halifax last weekend,this weekend was slow and filled with boyfriend & friend time.

So happy Valentines Day! I hope you enjoyed it, no matter who you enjoyed it with.

If you celebrate Valentines Day, how did you celebrate? 

-Emma

A weekend on the east coast.

10 Feb

I hope everyone had a great start to their week today! Monday’s are not always the most exciting (unless you are my parents… who flew to Florida), but it is always nice to respond with a resounding “yes!” to the typical“did you have a nice weekend?”‘ question that floats around the workplace.

I flew to Halifax on Saturday morning. My parents were on a different flight at a different airport, so Nigel drove me at six in the morning. It was certainly an early flight, but we definitely wanted to make the most of our 24-hour stay. And flying to Canada’s east coast takes about three hours from Toronto!

The reason for our family reunion was my brother’s 21st birthday. So happy birthday, Patrick!

After a quick pit stop for lunch, the touring began. Both of my siblings live out east right now, and my parents have been many times, but this was actually my first time in this part of Canada.

003Family reunion

We made it to Point Pleasant Park (the area in the photo above) before deciding to warm up back in the hotel. It was sunny but freezing! Or maybe I’m still wishing I was enjoying the Ethiopian weather…

Cake and presents….

cake1

…followed by a really nice dinner. We dropped the kids off (just kidding, they’re 21 and 18!!) at their respective student homes and my parents and I crashed early while Patrick hosted a 100-person house party. Oh… the undergrad days ;)

The next morning was slow since both of my siblings were recovering from the previous night’s events. We managed one more family brunch though before it was time to take back our rental car and fly to Florida home. Luckily I had a dinner waiting for me, so no complaints there ;).

I loved my little taste of Halifax. It’s a cute city, and while a lot smaller than Toronto, I think it has a lot to offer. I’m hoping to go back and stay a while in the summer!

photo (11)The views aren’t bad either (that’s an unedited iPhone photo!)

And since it’s now almost midnight I’m off to bed! See you guys soon!

How was your weekend??? Tell me one fun thing you did.

What city is on your “to-see” list??

-Emma

WE DID IT!!!

7 Feb

Remember a while back when I shared Berque’s story?? (PS if you didn’t read it, I would highly suggest taking a look – she is amazing).

Well, WE DID IT! $1,000 has been raised for Ethiopia Health Aid’s Muyo Bati Educational Fund for Girls - WAHOO!!

Upon receiving a cheque in the mail a few days ago, I realized I have surpassed my goal. So THANK YOU to all the blog readers, friends, and family who donated to this wonderful cause.

If you are unfamiliar with the Muyo Bati Fund, it basically strives to provide education to women and girls living in rural Ethiopia. Less than 30% of this demographic ever make it to high school, and as such, are prevented from reaching their full potential. Education is a right and should be accessible everywhere, but sadly this is not the case. Many of us in the western world don’t even realize how much we take for granted.

I will be sending the donation to Ethiopia Health Aid in the next few weeks, so if you’d like to make a last minute donation, feel free to do so here. Any amount really can make a difference, so thank you in advance!

To those of you who have already donated, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! Because of you, another girl will be able to go to school.

… in other news, this week has really perked up. In fact, I am off to Halifax tomorrow to visit my brother on his 21st birthday! I will be back Monday, so have a great weekend, everyone!

-Emma

The best thing you can do.

4 Feb

Sooo did anyone watch the Super Bowl? I am not a big football fan, but somehow ended up hosting a small party for a bunch of wonderful people (mayyy have something to do with the boyfriend being obsessed)! Melissa did 99% of the cooking, and the menu included football-shaped cookies, homemade pizzas, nachos, wings… basically a selection of all the best football foods.

photo (5)The chef and one of her creations

photo (2)Football cookies

IMG_2158The spread – everything homemade except the chips ;)

photo (1)Pretty awesome group of people :)

Backing up a bit, I went out for lunch with some colleagues on Friday and snapped a photo of my veggie sandwich (no longer eating red meat, ps) and side salad. Apparently the National Post (one of Canada’s national newspapers) creeps Instagram, because they picked up the photo for one of their projects! I am basically famous now ;).

photo (7)

Friday night was a date night. We went bowling, and while he may be a skilled bowler, I certainly am not. Hence the desire to capture proof of my strike:

photo (3)X marks the strike ;) PS I didn’t win… I actually lost miserably…

I was speaking working downtown on Saturday, but managed to catch That Awkward Moment with Zac Efron. I had zero expectations going in, which is probably why I found it so funny.

photo (10)Pretending to be a keynote speaker…

This week has been a rough one so far, but I’m lucky to have friends like her to lean on:

photo (9)

She also sends me quotes like these to read… this one definitely hit home:

quote1So, so, so true

Actually, I am going to find and follow that blog right now.

I feel like I am bombarding you with photos and details of my entire life from the past week. If this is annoying, I am sorry (and if you don’t care, then awesome! :D). Fortunately, however, I have good news to share and less life posts coming your way (unless you enjoy life posts… in that case, they’ll be back soon).

Take care of yourselves!

-Emma

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