A whirlwind trip to Iceland

A few years ago Zoe and I talked about taking a trip together after she graduated high school, perhaps to Asia where I had not been since I was in my 20s. Unfortunately Covid got in the way of the best laid plans, and we did not start discussing it again until this spring. By that point I had already booked my vacation time for only the last two weeks of the summer, during which time we also had a wedding to attend and Zoe had to get back to university…so we had very little time to travel. We really wanted to go somewhere different and get out of North America, so we did our research. We landed on Iceland because it is a six hour flight, and I would finally get to Europe! We left on the 20th but due to the time change got there early in the morning of the 21st, and left the evening of the 24th! We were only there for four days, two of them flying days! It certainly was a whirlwind vacation!

Our first day we arrived at 9 AM, and went to the blue lagoon around 1130 as part of our transfer to our hotel. It was actually perfect since check in was later. By the time we got to the hotel we were relaxed and ready to check in, and then explore Reykjavik for dinner and a walk. Our hotel was Hotel Island Spa and Wellness. It was about a 20 minute walk from downtown which was fine for us but I would not recommend it if you have mobility issues. The Hopp electric scooters helped when we were in a rush (and were so fun!). The hotel was modern and clean, staff were nice. Nothing special but perfectly fine. We did not eat there. There were a few close restaurants, a supermarket, and a drugstore close by.

Our second day we were planning to do the live volcano hike but we cancelled it because it was no longer active (as of the day before we arrived!). Instead we spent the day exploring Reykjavik and doing some grocery shopping (The world’s biggest vegan grocery store was a 15 minute walk from our hotel…which we did not find out until we were there! This was not by design!) so we had food for breakfast and lunch every day. Although it’s a small city, we love walking and exploring hidden spots and found every area. We thoroughly enjoyed it! We really loved the Hallgrimskirkja Church which was beautiful inside and out, and has a high tower that we were able to visit and had beautiful views! The waterfount and Harpa concert hall were also stunning. We went to the Kattakaffihúsið cat café twice, it was perfect for us since we are huge cat lovers and vegan! Although we loved having a full day in the city, had we planned better we probably would’ve booked some sort of half day tour or activity.

Day 3 we did a south coast tour, and visited the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, Sólheimajökull glacier (as hard as we tried our pictures did not do it justice, it is one of the most majestic things I have ever seen!), Vik, and Reynisfjara Black sand beach (where we were lucky enough to see puffins this late in summer, however they are very fast and we’re flying high above us, so I could not get a picture). We loved it. We did a sky lagoon add on at the end that was lovely, and we got to see the sunset from there.

Our last day we slept in, checked out, went downtown for lunch and ice cream, and explore some other areas we had not seen.

Although it was not a long trip we had a wonderful time, and were very glad we went! If we could’ve I would’ve added on one more day to do a golden circle tour. 

Book books books

I’ve read some great books lately, and wanted to share some mini reviews! The last four bucks I read have all been winners that sucked me in!

The People We Keep, by Alison Larkin

I loved this book so much! It tells the story of a young woman, named April, from the time she is a teenager left to fend for herself in her father’s motorhome. She leaves her home with almost nothing, and makes her way across America with a guitar, finding and leaving people along the way. Beautifully written, heartbreaking, hopeful…just a really really great book. Somewhat reminiscent of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things or Where the Crawdads sing…with a little bit less brutality.

Why Can’t I Be You by Ali Larkin

After reading TPWK, I looked at other books by the same author and this one caught my attention. It tells the story of a young professional, Jennifer, who is dumped by her fiancé on her way to a business trip/vacation. On the trip she bumps into somebody who thinks that she is their long lost friend from high school, and reinvents herself as this person, insinuating herself into their friendships and memories. Much lighter than the people we keep, but still with some depth, and a really quick easy and interesting read!

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

This book was recommended to me because it takes place in Iceland, where I am going for a short grad trip with my daughter at the end of summer. Although I’m not sure it did much preparing me for my trip since it takes place in the 1800s, it did explain the landscape beautifully. The writing was wonderful and I will definitely look for more books by this Australian author.

It is about a maid, Agnes, convicted of killing her employer. She was forced to stay at a farmhouse awaiting her execution, the last one in Iceland. We got to know Agnes, the family she is staying with, her spiritual advisor, and her story! Weaves together so many different characters and does so seamlessly.

When We Lost Our Heads, by Heather O’Neill

I feel like Heather O’Neills books are those that people either love, or don’t. They are hard to read, with a lot of brutality, and do not hold back from bodily functions either! Personally, I love them!

This is the story of two young girls that met in Montreal In 1873, and grow together, and apart, and together, and apart…through love, loss, tragedy, privilege, and poverty. Very well written.

It’s summertime, what am I wearing?

I’ve been spending a lot more time outside, and at the office, and dressing for the occasion! I still tend to fitted outfits in dark colors, but I’m trying to wear more colour, and looser silhouettes.

Looking at this collage of some of my recent favourite outfits, it looks like I’m loving yellow! And I do love yellow, but I’m definitely going to work to get some more colour in over the next few months.

Although I think my style is pretty boring and I am always looking, not very effectively, to elevate… I do get compliments. Here is a link to my Pinterest look book board, where I post my favourite outfits. I do this more for myself so that when I’m going out I can scroll through and see what I liked, but some readers might appreciate it!

Chase or be chased

Forgive me while I muse for a while…because this is my space and I am sure people can relate, whether they say it or not.

I think one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn throughout my life, is that I am a chaser.

Throughout my entire life, I have always known that I’m a little bit on the outside. I’m a little bit too loud. A little bit too opinionated. A little bit too honest. I am also kind, loyal, funny, and would do anything for a friend…so I can make friends, and I can keep them; I have had incredible no-drama friends for years and years! However I have never, ever, as an adult been somebody’s go-to friend. Somebody that just knew they would be included. I’ve never been somebody’s first choice. I’ve never been the one that people are chasing to get together with, instead of chasing people. Except for some very intense unhealthy relationships, or hot and cold relationships that are also obviously unhealthy (I am somebody’s best friend ever, and suddenly they forget I exist until they are bored or lonely or need support…and suddenly I’m the best thing ever again until they decide somebody else is…lather, rinse, repeat).

A while ago I went through a hard time and some big feelings that hit my confidence, and I emotionally couldn’t ask anybody to make plans. I had no plans for five weekends in a row! Even though I have almost 500 Facebook friends, and my text messages are always pinging, nobody had any interest in asking me/us to get together on a weekend. Eventually, I started asking asking, and my calendar filled up.

It was hard, to see that nobody was interested enough in hanging out with me (especially on weekends) to ask. It was also helpful, to know that when I reached out to people to make plans, everybody was more than willing!

I’ve been trying to fix this in myself for so many years-to be who I need to be or find my people that want time with me as much as I do with them. It’s never happening. I will always be the chaser. Although that can be hurtful and makes me wonder what’s wrong with me, it has also built my confidence and capacity to reach out to people, be vulnerable, and risk rejection (all things I struggle with after a childhood full of being bullied). Being willing to chase the people I value has maintained and nurtured some relationships that are important to me…and I think are important to them even if they don’t chase me!

How about my readers? Are you chasers? Do you get chased? Do you have some kind of balance?

The watch I didn’t know I wanted

So a few months ago, I mumbled something about replacing my Fitbit watch with an Apple Watch when it dies. I wasn’t really thinking much about it, I had no deep desire for an Apple Watch, it was just a fleeting thought that came out of my mouth.

Lo and behold, Mother’s Day comes, and my gift is an Apple Watch! I’m going to be super honest and say at first I was a little bit disappointed. I know that sounds awful but Apple watches are not cheap, and honestly for that price I probably would’ve preferred jewellery or a Handbag! Also, my Fitbit Versa was still working perfectly well.

However, I did not want to to be ungrateful, so after exchanging the watch for a colour I liked more… I mean I have no idea why it was navy… I put it on and started to use it.

The first day was extremely frustrating, I could not figure out anything, and I was really regretting it!

However, since then, I have to say I just love it! Here’s why

1. Not only can I read my text messages, I can start them or respond to them. I tend to mostly dictate, and I can do that on my watch as well which is great because typing on that thing would be impossible!

2. The Apple Watch has no step goal. It does monitor my steps, but the goals are not based on it. The goals are based on how much time I spend standing, how many calories I burn with activity, and how much time I spend exercising. I love that! As I’ve discussed here many times I have brought my step goal down on my Fitbit to encourage myself to do other kinds of exercise that are very important for me. However, it’s always felt awkward to me that I don’t have a step goal of 10,000 or more, I’m not sure why it matters, but it does! I love that the Apple Watch monitors the things that are really important to me! I no longer feel like I have to choose to go for a run instead of spin, or dancing instead of HIIT. (Ideally I’m getting in the workouts I want and lots of movement, but that’s not the reality of my life every day! To be honest because I like to go for an outdoor walk most days, I usually do get 8000 to 10,000 steps or more, but I don’t feel like I have to especially if I’m getting in some good workouts!).

3. I can answer my phone on it. I’ve never actually done it, but I love that I can. My Fitbit would tell me when my phone was ringing but I couldn’t do anything about it except run around the house frantically looking for my phone! It’s nice to know that if my phone rings and it’s an important call and my phone is not in my hand, I can still answer.

4. The camera app. It is not actually take pictures, however you can use it to take pictures with your phone camera. That’s great for taking outfit of the day pictures, which I often do for Pinterest or a group I am in! I can set up the camera, pose how I want, and snap the picture as often as I need without going back to my phone to click it again and again!

That’s about it for now. I’m sure as I use it longer and get more accustomed to it, I will discover other things I love about it. But for now, I am really enjoying my new watch.

The only place I would say Fitbit is preferable is that the battery lasts a lot longer, 2 to 3 days. I need to charge the battery on my Apple Watch at least once a day. Not a big deal to me because my habit is always to do so when I am showerin, but it would just be nice to know that if I didn’t charge it would still last a bit longer. Also, the watch I have is the 45 mm. I think I would’ve preferred a bit smaller, but it is nice to have everything so big and clear especially for my aging eyes lol