I have been absolutely awe-struck by the natural beauty in New Zealand. One of my favourite scenes is either the sunrise or the sunset. Both are just miraculous. Amazing that it happens every single day, and that each day it is breathtaking! The sunrise is the hardest to see as it requires being out of bed and out of the house before 6am. However, I was feeling very ambitious and somehow that rubbed off on Luke and yesterday we set our alarms for 5am! It's helpful that in our current home we are simply steps away from the beach, so we took advantage of that. With our beach blanket in hand and sleepy, groggy faces on, we flippy floppied over to the beach and settled in. Wow... was it ever worth it! I was simply flabbergasted! (that one's for you Dad, heehee). Enjoy the photos Luke took!
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Walking to the beach
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The amazing sky
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Just unbelievable
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Here comes the sunshine! Look at that reflection!
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The most amazing golden yellow
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A truly blissful moment
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I wanted to play!
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Breathtaking
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Mezmerizing!
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Just a sunrise beach walk...how romantic
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W.O.W

xoxo
Sweet Dea

 
 
Capture The Colour is a travel blogging contest hosted by Travel Supermarket encouraging travel bloggers to showcase their beautiful photos in five colour categories; Blue, Yellow, Red, Green and White. I love this idea! Thank you to Bobbi at Heels and Wheels for nominating me for this competition. Enjoy the photos!

Blue.

If there is one thing that my eyes have been absolutely enthralled with since stepping foot on New Zealand soil, it is the sky! The way the clouds dance around the sun and each other, creating so many beautiful and colourful scenes is amazing! When those jaw-dropping skies are combined with sun rays sparkling down and glistening on the ocean water... absolutely inspiring! 
This moment brings back such blissful memories of being relaxed, rested and revelling in the beginning leg of our trip. Sitting by the ocean in the tiny laid-back surfer town of Raglan, feeling absolutely blessed to be able to witness such natural beauty and capture it on film...perfection.

Yellow.

Witnessing a sunrise is a beautiful experience at any time... but after hiking up to the summit of a mountain in the pitch black early morning and listening to the birds awake the world before the sun graces you with its presence...that feels like a miracle made only for you. This photo represents the struggle I faced to get my partner out of bed in the wee dark hours of the morning, throw on some runners, grab the camera and hike 45 minutes to the top of Mount Pukawhakataratara on the Coromandel Peninsula in the dark. As we reached the summit I could only think to myself "he's going to hate me" as there were so many clouds I didn't think it was possible that we would see anything rising, let alone the sun. As the world does, it surprised me! As the sun rose above the mountains and shone its golden glow on the valley below, we learned that a misty, cloud-filled valley is the perfect canvas for a morning worthy of gold. 

Red.

Love For Daniel. A year ago a wonderful young man with a zest for adventure and an ear for beautifully played music was brutally killed in Victoria, Canada. Daniel was a good friend of ours. He was 20 years old. Many individuals sport this bracelet that says "Love For Daniel" to show ongoing support for what an incredible young man Daniel was. Luke and I brought him along with us on our New Zealand trip. This photo was taken during a blissful hike in the Coromandel Peninsula. It had rained all morning and this was the first glimpse of sun we saw all day. We like to think it was Daniel showing his appreciation for the hike.  

Green.

Our number one concern in Taupo was finding a free place to sleep...what we didn't account for was this miraculous scenery being our backyard. Reids Farm Free Campsite is home to this technicolour of natural visions. With my jaw-dropped, I continuously asked myself, "how can one river look so refreshing, so clean, so peaceful and so multi-toned?". I chose this photo as it amazes me that so much natural green can be found in the usually so crystal clear blue water.  

White.

As a true west-coast Canadian, when the weather turns rainy, windy and stormy, the Canadians turn to their rain jackets, hot coffee in a thermos and the closest point to the massive, crashing waves. We ventured out to Moturiki Island in Mount Maunganui and hiked all the way out to the closest point to the waves. The raging white caps and white foam flowing all the way in to our toes was breath-taking and exhilarating. A beautiful moment during a so-called bad weather storm. :o)

I would like to thank Bobbi from Heels and Wheels for the nomination. I myself nominate the following travel bloggers:

xoxo
Sweet Dea

 
 
While browsing around on the internet in an attempt to avoid spending money I came across an interesting article. It's focus is the reasons that most people are unhappy. The best part about the article is that under each reason is a "quick fix" - tips and tricks to counteract each reason and hopefully pull yourself out of the slump. I thought I would broadcast my favourite "quick fixes" for your contemplation.

To read the whole article, please click here
There is no benefit whatsoever to worrying. If there is no solution, worrying about it won’t help you. If there is a solution, you should be using your energy to implement it. 
Empower yourself by taking responsibility for everything that is happening in your life. You always have the choice for the decisions in your life
Anytime you hold a grudge, the only person that is affected is YOU. Your target usually has no idea what hateful thoughts you’re throwing at him or what horrible fate awaits him/her in your imagination. Meanwhile, in the real world, you’re unhappy, angry and frustrated and it’s affecting every aspect of your life in a negative way. What are you really gaining
Understand that your set of rules is just that, your rules. No one else has to live by them. Accept that your standards are not other people’s standards and you’ll notice many things that used to bother you won’t anymore. 
If you must compare, compare with yourself. Were you better than you were yesterday.  
Happiness and success is what you make it.  Life is too short to be spending time on activities you don’t enjoy. 
It’s really tough to be happy when you’re only aware of negative things happening to you. Look on the bright side. Be optimistic and always look for a silver lining. 
Happiness Matters!
 
 
I have felt a sudden energy change among my network of wonderful friends and family.. even from afar. There is more talk of low spirits and less energy. Each reason is unique to the individual, but I often find that low spirits do come in waves; like a social phenomenon. If you have a few friends who are down, they're telling you about it, describing why their down, or what is bringing them down, and then maybe you start to think about those things and realize that they bring you down as well. Then suddenly, everyone is having a pity party jam-packed with ice cream, cookies, a little extra wine and reality tv shows...(or maybe that's just my cure)

It's got me thinking.. what do I do when I'm feeling down in order to bring myself back up? 

These are some of my favourite things to do when I feel down.  Maybe you'll try some.. maybe you won't.. but I wanted to share them just incase they make at least one person smile. 

Allow myself to wallow - sometimes all I need is a good wallow in self pity.. sure my life isn't that hard, I have a LOT of privileges, but sometimes I just need to let go of every single responsibility, stop smiling and have a down moment. These are the times that Luke says "you have absolutely zero expression on your face" and my response - "I'm replenishing!"

Endorphins!! - Exercise makes me feel wonderful, and yet I often find it very hard to commit to actually doing the deed. When I haven't done anything physical in awhile, and I'm feeling down, I know there is a correlation. If I'm so down I can't find the motivation to go to the gym because I know I will simply stare at the machines.. I go to a high-intensity class!! This way no thinking is involved, there's a set time that I have to make it there by and if I skip out halfway through.. people will see!!

The Library! - Being over here in New Zealand and only working a few hours a week means I don't have a lot of expendable funds. My new favourite way to combat the money blues.. stroll down to the library. I allow myself to feel like a millionaire in there! When I look through the aisles, I know that I am allowed to leave with any item I choose! And not only that.. I can choose 3, 4, 5, 10 items!! Suuuure I don't read every single item I take home.. but I feel good not having to limit myself! (and I've recently learned I can take out my trashy magazines...FOR FREE!! major score when their price tags are around the $5 mark!)

Write a letter!! This is one of my all time favourite activities to do when I am feeling a bit low or secluded or unsure of myself. Sending love to a friend means you will be putting a smile on their face when they check their mailbox. And as I begin writing, I find I'd rather find anything/everything positive in my life to write about as I wouldn't want them to open up a letter just to hear me bitch and complain. And suddenly, I am focusing on the positive pieces of my life instead of those silly little pieces that were bringing me down before. Instant smile.

Empty the closet!  - Don't feel like facing the world? Then don't. Stay in. Sometimes that is exactly what I need.. goes with the lack of expression on my face. Sometimes I need to wear sweats, have greasy hair and stare off into space in silence. This is when I usually go through my closet, my drawers, my cupboard, anything, and just take stock on the many "things" I have in my life. Most things I don't need, in any way, whatsoever. So those get filtered out and passed over to a second-hand store. And sometimes I can't part with any item. Those days I just re-organize, make everything clean, tidy and create a mental checklist. Life gets cluttered, why should my home be the same?

My New Zealand Favourite Mood Booster - Walk the 4 blocks to the beauuutiful beach here at the Mount. I always take my camera, even though I'm sure I have every unique photo possible already, as I am simply stunned and amazed at the natural beauty, that requires zero human interaction to be so beautiful. I stand there thinking, "I have done absolutely nothing to create this, this has zero to do with me, and yet, here it is, allowing me to appreciate it". 
I find it very humbling, energizing and inspiring!! It's amazing how close nature can be when you need it.. its just a matter of finding your way to it. Its usually closer than you think and less effort to get there than you imagined in your mind. 

xoxo
Sweet Dea

"Just the simple process of letting go of negative thoughts will allow your natural state of healthy to emerge within you. And your body will heal itself." - Rhonda Byrne, The Secret

"Experiencing what you don't want helps you work out what you do want." - Mia Freedman, Mamamia

"You are aware of where you want to go, but you honour and give your fullest attention to the step that you are taking at this moment"  - Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now 

Photo Inspiration

 
 
I am walking away with a well-fed stomach and a well-fed soul. I didn't come here to experience a "personal retreat", but that is exactly what I got. There are stories that suggest the land that Mana Retreat Centre is on has healing powers. True or not, one real, concrete fact that I know is true is Mana has space! Space for your thoughts, your emotions, space to play and run and jump and laugh. Space to work and space sit 
quietly.  Space to be social and space to be reclusive. Space to heal old wounds and space to think. This place is an all-encompassing sanctuary. It is your choice while here to do anything from challenge yourself mentally, physically or spiritually to do ab-so-lute-ly nothing! No thinking, no feeling, just being. I came to Mana in search of a basket. I found that basket, and I am now leaving with it full of goodies! 

As a wwoofer at Mana you are treated as a family. The longer you stay, the stronger the family becomes. The work is not hard, and you feel good doing it, because you know that the guests who will benefit from your work, are the type of people who will appreciate it. They are coming here to better themselves, and you are aiding them in this process. There is a calmness that comes with finding a respectful environment, and that's exactly what Mana is. While traveling, sometimes it is hard to anticipate the environment you will soon be in. Mana is like a safe and comforting home to protect yourself in. Whatever your beliefs or your lifestyle, if you bring respect to Mana, it will be returned ten-fold. A wise friend named Cyril once said, "I came to Mana to feed my soul," and that is exactly what has happened to me in the two weeks I have been here. The natural scenery - from the ocean to the mountain, the never-ending hikes and trails, the jaw-dropping and inspiring views, the incredible people with amazing knowledge and compassion and the work-worth-doing are all reasons that I will be returning to Mana. It takes a very strong vision to create a space that welcomes such a large variety of people and lifestyles and does so with complete respect and compassion. I can truly say that my eyes have been opened to a fresher, more real way of living my life. I think the name Mana in Maori means "seeing the beauty within". That is exactly what you will find when you wwoof here. 

The Secret


 
 

Love From New Zealand


An insightful poem for you to ponder while listening to some beautiful music. Both of these two things helped me through a very challenging day today. 

At the end of the poem lays a surprise for you! 

Enjoy :-)

"Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become.

You never know who these people may be–a roommate, a neighbor, a professor, a friend, a lover, or even a complete stranger–but when you lock eyes with them, you know at that very moment they will affect your life in some profound way.

Sometimes things happen to you that may seem horrible, painful and unfair at first, but in reflection you find that without overcoming those obstacles, you would have never realized your potential, strength, willpower, or heart.

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens by chance or by means of good luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, whatever they may be, life would be like a smoothly paved straight flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless.

The people you meet who affect your life, and the success and downfalls you experience, help to create who you are and who you become. Even the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are sometimes the most important ones.

If someone loves you, give love back to them in whatever way you can. Not only because they love you, but because in a way, they are teaching you to love and how to open your heart and eyes to things.

If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart, forgive them, for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart to.

Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything that you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk to people that you have never talked to before, and actually listen to what they have to say.

Let yourself fall in love, break free and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don't believe in yourself, it will be hard for others to believe in you.

You can make of your life anything you wish. Create your own life and then go out and live it with absolutely no regrets. Most importantly, if you love someone tell him or her, for you never know what tomorrow will have in store. You learn a lesson in life each day you live. Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday."
— Unknown 
thank you to a very wonderful friend for sending me this quote when I needed it! <3


Your Surprise!!

 
 
I guess it's time to dive into how, why, when, where and who Sweet Dea and Dukey are. 
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Showing Luke my University on our road trip up for Thanksgiving 2011
In August of 2009, I packed up my life in Prince George where I had been living and playing for 4+ years studying at UNBC and took a leap of faith! Joined by my good friend Lyndsey, we set out to create a new life for ourselves on the little island that could.. Vancouver Island. The City of Victoria had always been a bit of a haven for me as I used to visit my aunt on a regular basis as a child, and it was always my space of freedom. Not in the sense that my aunt let me do anything I wanted.. in the sense that, she allowed me to be exactly who I was. It excited me that I could go to the store in my pajamas.. and not run into a single person that I know! And that I could talk to my aunt about any and everything that was running through my mind, and she never treated me as a child. She treated my problems and concerns as though they truly were just that, legit problems and concerns. As a kid, this feels pretty good! 

So as Lyndsey and I packed up everything we owned, packed up the vehicles, packed up the memories, and we set off for our new home and our new lifestyle. We both had family living on the island, which was definitely a nice reassuring feeling when moving to a brand new city where you basically don't know a soul. 

Lucky for me I had Kate. Kate and I had been friends since our fun days of being volunteer co-councillors at Camp Potlatch when we were 15. She was attending UVic at the time and as it turns out, we ended up living in the same neighbourhood, within walking distance from each other! Woohoo!!   
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Luke, Tyler and Kate in the early years
Also lucky for me, Kate lived with two boys, both of whom I'd never met.. and both of whom were quite easy on the eyes.. bonus! This is how I met Luke. He was one of the hunky roommates. We all spent many nights playing board games and drinking beers together, just being ridiculous and enjoying life. From day one there was chemistry between Luke and I, we had a lot of fun together and our relationship basically consisted of sharing a love of laughter. We kept it to just friends for quite some time and built a strong base foundation for our friendship. We sure had seen all sides of each other in that time. Which I think is the key to us having a healthy relationship now.  

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campfire non-stop laughter
Fast forward to today, we are one of those ridiculously supportive couples that talk to each other all day long about how our days are going and even though I know nothing about electrical, and he knows nothing about whatever it is that I do, we support each other! This is my favourite part. And we laugh. I lied.. that's my favourite part! 

A while ago when I was single and enjoying life on my own in Victoria, I contemplated what it was that I needed from a man to make me happy.. Of course every woman has her list; hunky, dreamy, active, loving, blah blah blah (okay maybe most lists don't include the terms "hunky" or "dreamy", but mine sure does!) But my number one, the one thing that if it wasn't there, it would never last, and I'd never be truly happy, regardless of all the other pieces... is laughter. If you can't make me laugh.. I'm not interested. 

Lucky for me, there have been countless nights when I genuinely have been in an absolute fit of laughter with Luke.. over absolutely nothing.. just him.. being him.. and I love it! so much! it's perfect.  

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roadtrippin' eats