Life Is Messy: & Coping with Grief/Trauma/Loss

Life is messy. Life is hard.

Over the past few months I feel like every conversation I have had has been about the messy parts of life that people are going through:

  • Divorce, loss of relationship, heat break
  • Loss of a dream, or a goal, or where you ‘thought you’d be in life”
  • Illness & disease
  • Death and grief and loss
  • Lack of clarity about the future
  • Job loss and job change
  • Injury
  • etc.

I myself recently experienced a massive heartbreak, and since then I feel like this blog has been writing itself inside of me, for me to share.

Emotional resilience and coping skills were not something that came naturally to me. I was really good at making my emotions “wrong”, numbing them out via booze, TV, shopping, exercise, being a workaholic, throwing myself into more projects, throwing myself at unhealthy relationships, overeating, caffeine, etc. I would make myself wrong for feeling sad or hurt, and compare myself to others who seemed to have ‘everything together’. I would worry that I was ‘too sad’, or there was something wrong with me for having such a strong reaction to an experience or situation. I’ve come to be able to realize that I am simply a human. I am simply a human, having a human experience. Since I started to become more ‘ok’ with my emotions, I have since had to learn how to deal with them. No more numbing, running, or hiding, it’s time to face them straight on. From this I have developed some strategies and coping skills for the times of extreme anguish in my life.

I want to provide you with a list of 13 things I have found to help me deal with heartbreak, grief, loss, and the tough times. I am in no way claiming to have all the answers, or to replace your psychologist, nor am I saying that these tools are right or wrong. What I do know is they have worked for me- and they might work for you too.

#1: Let it be OK! Honestly. This is one I struggled with so badly, and I think many of us do. Your sadness, your hurt, your anger, your fear, your deepest darkest hit the floor with your knees moments are all OK! There is nothing wrong with you. We often feel we aren’t ok because noone talks about those gut wrenchingly painful moments. It’s not often we vocalize the intensity of this pain with each other, and therefore it can be very isolating. I constantly had to remind myself that I wasn’t abnormal, that I was not ‘not coping properly’, and that I wasn’t ‘depressed’, I was freaking sad and hurt and I was justified in staying up all night crying. I gave up pretending I was ok, and instead told people the truth. I went to the darkest places of sadness, those places where you feel like you can’t breathe because you are crying so hard, or you never want to get out of bed, yet the whole time I knew “this is horrible now, and I know I will be ok in the future”. A friend who experienced a traumatic loss in her life told me that one of the things that got her through the acute time period after the loss was telling herself “In one year I won’t feel as shitty as I do today”. I found that a hopeful mantra for me to hang on to. I also realized that if I spent most of the day trying not to feel shitty, then I would end up feeling shitty for the entire day! If instead I went deep into how sad I was, I realized that surrendering to it meant I most likely was able to see the other side by the end of the day.

*Caveat: Don’t try to make yourself feel better right away. When you go through something traumatic, it’s important not to start trying to make things better immediately. If you need to cry 24/7 for a few weeks and eat ice cream sandwiches for 3 meals a day, then go for it. I did, and it helped 🙂

#2: Write shit down. Write down every single thing running through your mind. Get it out of your head and onto paper, or speak to a therapist or a friend about it. The simple process of writing out what’s going on with you is such a cleansing way to just get it out of your system. I find that each day when I write, whatever I am sad or stressing about that day seems to clear itself up after I finish writing. It doesn’t make it go away, but it does diminish that ‘monkey mind’ of thoughts that is causing so much suffering. I also found writing letters specifically to people to be very healing. That might be your ex husband, or your dying father, or the disease growing inside of you! After writing a big long letter and getting all of my thoughts out I found a much greater sense of peace and calm around the whole situation.

#3: SUPPORT! Feelings like anger, shame, guilt, fear, sadness, are afraid of connection (To quote Brene Brown J). When we vocalize and tell a trusting friend, or therapist what is truly going on in our mind it’s almost like a sense of relief is lifted off our shoulders. That emotion no longer has the tight grip on your heart strings. Talk, talk, and talk some more. Choose the people who you know you can trust to empathize, not judge, and who will be there to listen to you anytime. Tell them what you need from them (“I just need you to listen”, “I don’t need you to try and fix my situation”). Also, make sure you talk to a therapist, especially if you are worried about yourself, or don’t think you are doing ok. A psychologist has been one of my greatest tools that I’ve used over the past 3 years.

#4: Read 🙂 One of the most healing strategies I have used is to read books on these topics. Not necessarily books on the exact situation you are experiencing, but I have found books on topics that focus on love, and kindness, and connection, and not judging yourself to be very helpful. I can’t articulate why reading is so helpful for me, but I do know it’s just another way of moving through a challenging time. I have found reading to bring me a tremendous amount of peace in my time of heart break. Some of my ‘go to’ books over the years have been:

  • all 4 books by Brene Brown- but I would suggest starting with “the gifts of imperfection”
  • If you have a spiritual or religious side at all- I found Marianne Williamsons “A return to love” to be a life changing book for me to read.
  • A friend has recommended Tosha Silver’s book to me, and the excerpts she has provided me so far have been very helpful.
  • The audio version of books: podcasts ! These have also been helpful. I recommend Tara Brach’s podcast. She has various talks, as well as guided meditations, which have always been a tremendous help for me. A good list of audiobooks and podcasts that you can plug into temporarily to get out of your own grief can be very helpful- especially when there are things we ‘need’ to get done (homework, work, chores etc.).
  • I’d love to hear if you have any book recommendations.

#5: Faith and Trust. Faith can mean so many things for so many people. Whether it’s a religious term for you, a spiritual term, or just more of a “trusting the universe” kind of idea, it can really bring a person through a rough time. On my darkest days sometimes the only thing I had to cling to was the trust that “this is all for a reason, and in the end it will all work out ok”. Often times we struggle with the concept of trying to control situations, and are very uneasy around the feeling of the unknown. By finding some ‘bigger concept’ to trust outside of yourself it can bring a tremendous amount of hope into a situation.

#6: Music. Create playlists! I’ve got my 90’s hip hop playlist for going on jogs, my linkin park playlist for when I’m super pissed and I’ve got to lift some heavy weights to get through it, I’ve got my hilltop hoods playlist for when I feel like I can’t get through the day, I’ve got my Charlotte Cardin playlist when I want to stop worrying so much. I’ve got my evanescence playlist when I want to feel hurt and sad and shitty. I’ve even busted into the country genre on occasion!!! Music is an artists expression of their creativity and emotion. When we listen, or watch them perform we can relate to their pain. Music can have an instant shift in our mood. The lyrics can bring us through tough times.  As a bonus- I started playing the piano again, and if you are into learning an instrument I would highly recommend it as an emotional release, and an opportunity to focus your mind on something mindless and meditative.

#7: Using the Internet productively.   Nowadays there is a forum or blog for everything.   In the early days of my heart break I really turned to blogs and forums on the topic. It allowed me to see that I wasn’t alone, and it also gave me some perspective in that there were many more people in the world that were having a way shittier time than me! I know we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but I was able to have compassion for others experiences, which allowed me to have compassion for myself. I also used Instagram daily. I follow accounts that uplift my spirits, and post daily quotes that motivate me. I save those quotes as graphics on my phone. When I am really feeling overwhelmed I flip through all the saved graphics on my phone. This allows me to regain my perspective and reestablish some peace. Also- you might want to be careful with social media, especially if it’s a trigger for you. It’s important to recognize whether facebook is helpful for you- or whether it’s just a trigger, and a way for you to tell yourself negative stories. I’ve found that without facebook (for now) I am able to focus on my own experience, rather than getting caught up in the lives of everyone else!

#8: Ask yourself what you NEED. Do you need to cut back on your work hours? Have more time to yourself? Spend a bit of money on yourself rather than saving it for a few months? Go on a trip? It’s important to recognize what parts of your life are causing anxiety and overwhelm, and what you need to cut back on. I had to remind myself that these things didn’t have to be permanent. If I cut back on my hours temporarily for a few months to support healing my soul up a little bit, I can always get back on track down the line. Give yourself what you need, not to solve the problems or take the pain away, but to keep yourself grounded and focused on maintaining peace and perspective.

#9: Use this time to reevaluate what is important in your life. Depending on what type of grief/loss you are experiencing this might look differently for you. I have found this to be a great time to really look curiously at my life. Am I spending my time doing what I want to do, with the people I want to do it with? Am I working towards the things I want in my life? Am I living in line with my morals and values? Am I doing things that light me up and bring me joy regularly?

#10: Understand the role that you have played in your situation. If it’s a loss of some sort of relationship that you are experience, take responsibility for why it didn’t work, but don’t beat yourself up. It wasn’t just you! And it’s not because you are a bad person that it didn’t work out. This is a great time to evaluate how you would do things differently in the future, and at the same time recognize what you deserve and how you want to be treated.

#11: Try a gratitude journal. The purpose of this is not to erase your pain, but each day give yourself a moment to realize that not everything in life is awful. I use the 5 minute journal- which is a structured gratitude journal you can buy, but you could also just do your own thing. Write down 5 things throughout the day that you are grateful for. Sometimes that might just look like “The tea I had at starbucks”, or “the friend who texted to check in on me”.   Doing this every day will help you to gain perspective and not fall all the way down into that dark spiral of negative thoughts.

#12: Exercise, especially walking and other rhythmical movements. I think I’ve walked over 15 000 steps every day over the past 6 weeks. There is something about the movement of walking that is so physically and mentally clearing. It’s when we process our thoughts, enjoy nature, and gain a clearer perspective. I have been so fortunate to have adopted a dog in September. 3 times a day the pup needs to go out and off I go. Even on days where I’ve got my hat pulled down to cover up my teary eyes, we head out on a walk. Some days I even cried for the whole hour we were walking! And that was ok. I’ve also found dancing, jogging, a heavy intense weight lifting sessions to help.

#13: Focus on someone or something outside of yourself. Having to care and love a dog has been tremendously helpful for me. It made it so this process wasn’t all about me! There was another being that needed my love and attention and support. Also, by really listening to other people and trying to be there for them, it has helped to ease my pain a bit. If you don’t have a dog, or your friends aren’t going through much right now you could try volunteering somewhere, or offering your services. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, handing out sandwhiches on the downtown eastside, walking dogs at the humane society, collecting blankets to give to the homeless, or finding your favourite charities to donate money to. Also- every night I say a little ‘prayer’ before bed to all the people in my life that I want to send love, kindness, and support to. This doesn’t have to be a religious thing, just sending your positive thoughts their way. This can help to get out of your own pain temporarily.

With so much talk about positive psychology nowadays, and the idea that we need to ‘look on the bright side’ I encourage you to almost do the opposite! Don’t force yourself to stare into the sun if there are tons of clouds in the way! Be cloudy, be messy, just make sure you don’t lose hope of that little ray of sunshine peering in.

Mental health is a serious issue in our society. Every day we hear about the high rates of suicide, addiction issues, and the use of drugs and substances to try to take our pain away. As Brene Brown says “If you numb the bad emotions, you numb the good ones too”.

I hope something I wrote here for you is helpful. I’d also be more than happy if you shared what has worked for you!

Thanks for reading,

  •  Katherine

PS-  If you feel overwhelmed reading this blog and thinking about everything you should be doing to make yourself better, take a step back.  You might not be ready, just let yourself be sad for a bit first 🙂  This process might take weeks, months, or years.





Upcoming Programs- Fall 2017

Don’t miss out on the great seminars and programs I will be offering this fall at the YWCA Health and Fitness Centre.  Topics include:  Women’s weight training groups, small group training classes focussing on high intensity intervals for maximum calorie burn, and 3 hour seminars on back care!

For any questions please contact me at

To sign up for any program please contact member services at the YWCA at 604-895-5777.  All workshops and classes are open to members and non members.

1 Hour workshop:


Weight training can improve your balance, stability, posture, endurance and functionality. It can also boosts your confidence and mood as well as supports brain function and slows down the aging process. In this lecture Katherine will explain how weight training supports us in achieving an overall lean, functional, healthy body. She will explain how to get started on a basic routine and how to tailor your weight training to your goals. If you have wanted to start weight training, but need some added motivation- this talk is for you!

Thursday, September 14
5:30 – 6:30 pm, 4th fl
Instructor: Katherine Taylor


6 Week Group Programs:


This program is designed for women who want to build confidence in using the machines, free weights, and cable systems to properly lift weights and build strength. Each week you will be guided through a full body workout, and provided with an Ebook to follow along with training in between sessions. The focus of the class will be on form, technique, and preparing you to create a program based on your goals. Group size is limited to 8 participants.

Tuesdays, 6:00 – 7:00 pm, Women’s Only Area
Sep 19 – Oct 24 (6 classes)
Member $156 / Non-member $192
Instructor: Katherine Taylor


A 45 minute workout is like no other! Using the treadmills for high intensity interval training, combined with body weight and resistance training exercises you are going to feel the burn, and blast calories like never before. This program is designed to take your fitness to the next level over the 6 week program, while keeping you injury free. You will receive a nutritional guideline and lifestyle recommendations to help you reach your goals. This program is not for beginners. Be prepared to sweat! Group size is limited to 4 participants.

Fridays, 1:15 – 2:00 pm, Cardio Room
Sep 22 – Oct 27 (6 classes)
Nov 3 – Dec 8 (6 classess)
Member $150 / Non-member $186
Instructor: Katherine Taylor


3 Hour Workshop:


Do you often have a sore back throughout your day or after exercise? The science shows that sit ups and other flexion motions are detrimental to the spine and can lead to injuries like disc bulges. It is important to work your core muscles in their true intended function – as stabilizing units during movement. Come learn about proper spine mechanics, Katherine’s top 5 favourite core exercises for super strength in the mid section and other strategies to manage your back pain and decrease your risk for injury!

Saturday, October 28, 10:00 – 1:00 pm
Member $50 / Non-member $56
Instructor: Katherine Taylor

A Walking Adventure on Pender Island


Welcome to Pender Island!   (Said this little guy, poking from behind a tree as I made my way from the ferry terminal to the campsite).

Walking is one of my favourite activities.  I find the repetitive motion meditative, and love blasting through podcasts, while I hike around beautiful places.  It is refreshing, rejuvenating, and I get most of my best ideas and inspiration from a good long walk.

This was one of the reasons why I decided to go on a walking tour of Pender Island a few weeks back.  Pender Island is one of the Southern Gulf Islands between Victoria and Vancouver.  Although larger than Saturna Island (my previous posting), it is smaller and less populated than Saltspring Island, making it a great place to get away from a relaxing weekend.

If you are:

  •  In love with super long walks.
  • Want to camp on the beach, and hike around lakes all day.
  • Ok with having deer camp out beside your tent.
  • Into watching otters play and fish all morning while you make your breakfast.
  • Looking for an island with a great vibe, full of friendly people.

…Then you should check out Pender 🙂

Here is the story, and details, on my long weekend adventure to Pender Island.

I took off to Pender on the 2:45 pm ferry on the Friday afternoon of the long weekend.  You catch the ferry to the Otter Bay Ferry Terminal on Peder Island from the Tswwassen Ferry Terminal in Vancouver.


All the essential weekend gear!

The walk to the campsite from the ferry terminal took me about 1 hour and 15 minutes, at a relaxed pace.  Alliteratively, it would have been very easy to hitch a ride for part of the way.  The walk is simple, with only a few right turns needed.  There was a decent enough shoulder to be walking on, and cars were respectively of me walking on the side of the road.

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I stayed at Shingle Bay Campground, which is a reservable backcountry campground.  Be warned- there was a super steep hill you have to trek down to get to the campground (and then up again each day!!).


The view from my campsite.


Looking out from the campsite during low tide.  During low tide you can walk out to the mini chunk of land.  During high tide this is mostly covered in water.

The campground was beautiful, and after settling in I was looking forward to a relaxing evening.  Unfortunately my neighbours had another idea for their long weekend adventure.   After asking them to shut down their party numerous times up until 1 am I decided to start scouting spots further away to move my tent.  The bad news was I lost my beautiful ocean front campsite, with a nice tent pad.  The good news was I couldn’t hear them from the other side of the campground, and was quite comfortable camping in the ‘overflow’ tent area for the weekend.

Day #2

On Day 2 my plan was to trek to 3 different lakes that were located within a reasonable walking distance of the campground: Roe Lake, Buck Lake, and Magic Lake.  Roe Lake is very close to the campground, and to get there you simply walk straight up the hill out of the campground, and once you’ve walked up the road just a couple minutes you reach a sign that directs you to head right, into the woods, towards the lake.

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Once you are on the trail, stay right at the first diversion, and then a quick left will bring you to a look out point where you can enjoy the view, go for a dip, or fill up your water bottle for boiling water later (more on that in a bit though, not really a good idea!).


Roe lake is full of vegetation


Typical for the Gulf Islands- no one else in sight for miles!

Past Roe Lake you continue along the trail, before reaching another diversion where you head straight downhill.  I found this path to be very tricky as it was loose gravel, and I felt like I did more of a controlled slide for 10 minutes rather than a downhill hike!  Eventually you reach the bottom and make a sharp left, heading towards the road.

At this point you will come across one of my favourite places of the whole weekend, a beautiful long grassy field, with a view.  This park was called Shingle Bay Park, and it made a perfect napping and reading stop 🙂20170805_124904

Just past the park, on the opposite side of the road, past Crowsnest Drive, you will find the start of a trail heading up into the woods.  Take this trail, called the Masthead Trail, up towards Masthead Road (about 10 minute walk).  You might find this map helpful for navigating the mazes of roads and trails around Pender Island.  Once you reach Masthead road, take a right and you will reach Galleon Way.

Now here’s where things in my weekend went wrong!  I accidentally turned right on Galleon Way, as you will see by the map Galleon Way is a twisting, turning round, and I sure did get turned around.  So instead of ending up near Magic Lake, I basically did a 360 and ended up back at the Shingle Bay Park!  Feeling defeated, and tired form walking about 10 km’s, I decided to pull up on the beach and cook some lunch.


You can see all the smoke in the background from the horrible wildfires the ripped through BC all summer.

So here I was, enjoying my time on the beach when all of a sudden some VERY GIANT WAVES started rushing up on shore, coming dangerously close to my cook stove.  I had to grab all my scattered belongings and run up to higher ground.  Be careful on the Gulf Islands because when large ferries go by the delayed waves rush up onto shore.  Whoops!

After my lunch I decided to boil up that water that i collected from Roe Lake.  I boiled it all, and treated it with a water filtration tablet.  Just before taking my first sip I noticed there were TINY LITTLE SHRIMP LIKE BUGS still in the water.  Gross!  I ended up throwing it all out, which meant my next step was a 7 km walk to the grocery store, rather than getting to Magic Lake or Buck Lake.

Advised:  Bring a lot of water to your campsite on the first day, to avoid trekking to the grocery store.   There is no potable water at the campsite, and my idea to drink from the lakes didn’t work out too well.

So I was off, a 7 km walk through roads and small trails that connect roads across the island.  People were incredibly helpful with directions, and also with offering rides.  I was enjoying the walk, so didn’t take them often.

Along the walk I did end up walking by Buck Lake.  There didn’t appear to be beach access, but it was enjoyable checking out the beautiful lake front homes. 


Some visitors to the lakefront homes.

Needless to say, after trekking back to the campsite, I enjoyed a night of reading in the tent 🙂  Also to my surprise, the campsite was quiet :):) 

Day #2

On Day #2 I decided that I was going to make it to Magic Lake, and this time I knew where to go!

To get to magic lake, I started the day the same as yesterday- up to Roe Lake, then up the Masthead Trail, but this time I turned right onto Galleon Way, and meandered along Galleon Way before turning into the disc golf park, and walking through the park to meet the road on the other side.  This road was called Schooner Way and just a little ways down the road (turning right off the disc golf trail) you reach a small picnic area along Magic Lake.  



This was a perfect stop for some reading, and cooking lunch!

After my stop here I decided I wanted to charge my phone, and was desperate for an earl grey tea, so I walked a few Km’s up Schooner Way and found a lively cafe.  There was also a liquor store, grocery store and pizza joint there!

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The cafe was probably one of my favourite parts of the weekend.  I was there around 2 pm on a Sunday and there was a group of 10 men in the back, jamming away on their musical instruments and signing to their hearts content!  I sat and watched for more than an hour.  They were very talented and enjoying themselves, it was such a pleasure to get to sip my tea and watch their free entertainment.  

After the stop here,  I headed just down the road a further couple of minutes before reaching Medicine Beach.  This was a beautiful area.



The smoky atmosphere doesn’t do it any justice!

Now for the real fun, I decided I was way too tired to make the big trek back, and instead I was going to attempt to use one of the “Car Stops” on Pender island.  


It is very common to hitch hike on the gulf islands, so I felt very safe.  And after only a few cars passing by a nice couple picked me up and dropped me off right back at the trailhead and I made it back to my campsite quickly!  

After lounging in the tent for a few hours I headed up to the washroom, only to return to my tent to find 3 young deer standing right out front of my tent!  We stared each other down for a few minutes, both of us in awe!  Finally, they allowed me to unzip my tent and crawl in, and they went on their way to pick apples from the trees I was camping under.  

Day #3:

On my final day on the island I had a very relaxing morning, where I took my camp stove down to the water and cooked breakfast overlooking the ocean.  While I was cooking I watched 2 otters play around in the water, catching fish, and chomping away on their well deserved meal.  It was such a pleasure to watch!  (You can check out my instagram page for a video clip!).

I made time on the walk back to the ferry to stop at a beautiful area called Roesland, which was just along Otter Bay road.  This area was one of the most beautiful spots on the island.


I highly recommend taking a stop here, and hiking around to the small semi-attached island (as long as it’s low tide).  Also, this is the site of a museum (which wasn’t open when I was there), but had some fantastic old farming machinery to take a look at outside!

On the final lap to the ferry I was shocked by the number of cars that pulled over to offer me a ride!  I was really enjoying my walk, and didn’t want a ride, but it just goes to show how friendly people are over there.  

Also- don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers 🙂

And one more thing…

You MUST have lunch at The Shack before boarding your ferry.  This was hands down the best salmon burger and fries I have ever had.  They are located right beside the ferry terminal.  Funny story– I had been thinking all morning how delicious the meal was going to taste, and how nice it was going to be after eating camp food all weekend.  When I arrived to the The Shack I saw huge “Cash Only” signs up.  I was horrified!  I had built up how delicious this meal was going to taste in my mind, and had no access to an ATM or other food.  Luckily the owners offer to let me pay by E-TRANSFER!  Haha!  I actually paid at a  restaurant via an electronic money transfer.  You know you are desperate when !!


I hope you enjoy Pender as much as I did.  Let me know if you have any questions about getting around!

Saturna Island- Biking/Camping Adventure

Saturna island is a tiny island, just 12 square miles in size, located between Vancouver and Victoria and is one of the 5 main southern gulf islands.  Although it is the closest to Vancouver it is by far the least populated with year round residents and gets the least amount of visitors, which was evident by the lack of people everywhere I went on my weekend trip a few weeks past!


All geared up and ready to go!


One of my favourite shots of this beautiful destination!

I spent a weekend biking and camping on the island, and I have shared my tips and tricks with you here, so you can enjoy a great weekend too!  
This is a perfect trip for you if:
–  you want a weekend cycling trip that involves manageable biking (still very hilly though)
–  you want to experience nature up close.  Saturna is definitely wild!
–  you are looking for a quiet weekend away from civilization.
–  you enjoy biking from beach to beach reading a book all day.
–  you are a solo traveller that want a safe location to travel to(no bears or wild cats to worry about)
–  you don’t have a car and are looking for somewhere to travel to on the weekend.
Here is a great map I used when touring around:
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Take a look at what I got up to and let me know if you have questions for planning your own itinerary! 
Day #1
To get to tsawwassen  by bike I took the skytrain from Vancouver out to Bridgeport station.  From there you take bus 620 to the ferry terminal.  You simply put your bike on the front of the bus, and you also bring it right into the skytrain section specifically for bikes.  I understand there is a biking route to get out the ferry terminal, I haven’t looked into it as in this case I was rushing to catch the ferry after work.
The ferry ride is about 3 hours and involved a stop on Mayne island to transfer ferries.
I ended up arriving in Saturna at 10 pm, which is not a good idea now that I look back on it.  I ended up having to bike 10 kms across the island to my campsite on an island i’d never visited before, at night!  I felt safe with the number of good lights I brought, but the freaky part was how uninhabited Saturna is.  Because the island is mostly forest I realized if I ran into trouble there were no cars passing by, and very few houses on the stretch to the campground.  I would advise arriving during the day 🙂
My campground was called Naveaz Bay.  I reserved my site in advance from the parks Canada reservation system.  It is only 5 dollars a night for back country camping sites across BC.  When I arrived in my site a group of girls had set up, and I had to kick them out!  Reservations are new for many of the parks campgrounds in BC.  While setting up my tent I was greeted by an owl and right away I felt the calm feeling of being on the gulf islands.  The bike in was a pretty crazy ride on a rough/semi gravel road, followed by a 1km downhill hike to the campsite, let’s just say, I was happy to be resting in my tent!
Here is a shot from the campsite:
Day 2
When I opened up my tent on my first morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that my site was directly facing the ocean!  I hadn’t noticed because I arrived at night.  It was a beautiful surprise.


After having some breakfast I took a walk to Echo Bay, located right near  the campsite.  The water was incredibly blue and it was a stunning site.
From there I headed back up the hill to where I had parked my bike and took the 10 km ride back into town (just for reference this ride took me between 30 and 45 minutes depending on how much gear I was carrying, and I was riding a heavy hybrid bike).
Just before hitting the ferry terminal is the one general store on the island.  I was there on a Saturday which meant there was a market happening.  The general store is pretty fully stocked and on Saturdays the adjoining cafe is open for sandwiches etc.  It was a great spot to stop for a tea, charge my cell phone, and they also let me fill my water bottles up there each day.
After a rest I decided to bike down to Thompson beach, without realizing how massive the hills are on this stretch.  I was wondering why I saw no-one else biking or walking on this road.  I definitely had to walk a few of the hills, especially on the way back up which included a 20 percent grade hill that stretched on for at least a km.
Instead of biking I would suggest leaving your bike locked at the general store and walking down- this would avoid pushing your bike up some of the massive hills!
Thompson beach was breath taking and picturesque, and just like everywhere on Saturna there were only about 5 visitors down there for the 2 hours I spent lounging on the beach.  There are some hiking trails to do here, but knowing I still had to trudge back up the hill I decided to forgo this hike.  Here is a list of the few short hikes on Saturna.
After the massive trek back up the hill and back to the campground I was pooped and ready to relax and call it a night.
Around 12 am I awoke out of a deep sleep because I heard something scratching at my tent wall.  Every time I heard it scratch I would jostle the tent to scare it away.  After 10 separate times like this I decided I had to turn on my light and see what was happening.  As the light flickered on a little mouse popped his head over my back pack at the end of my tent!  Wow!   What a surprise- what was he doing in there?
The next 30 minutes were pretty comical with me trying to get him out of there.  First I tried chasing him out, but he just kept hiding in my clothes and camp gear!  I ended up having to take every single thing out of my tent to get him out of there.  Quite the process for the middle of the night.  I realized he got through a hole in the tent and had to do some late night patch work.  So this is your warning:  don’t keep any food in your tent, and patch even the smallest hole in your tent.
Day 3
For my final day on the island I packed my gear up and hiked back up the hill to my bike.  I dropped my gear off and then walked the short trek out to Monarch head to get a beautiful view of the surrounding gulf islands.  I had just stashed my gear behind a  tree in the woods, but honestly the gulf islands are so safe there is really no need to worry about stolen gear.
The trail to Monarch head is short and including taking plenty of pictures and chatting with locals I completed it in less than an hour.
Next I biked back into town for a water fill up and a tea and then took the road down to Winter Cove, another beautiful ocean front area, perfect for a picnic.  There is also a short 1 km walk through a marshy like area (with board walks) out to an area called the Boat Pass, where boats enter through a narrow opening in the rocks to enter the cove.  Very beautiful views out here, especially of Mount Washington.  Winter cove is also a great spot for a swim.
My trip ended with a pretty tough 5.5 km tide back to the ferry from winter cove.  I was definitely cursing not yet investing in some light weight camping gear on this ride.
The one area I didn’t make it to was East point, where the lighthouse is located and whales are often spotted.  I decided to save this for the next trip!  Also apparently there is a campground called Breezy Bay located just near the ferry.  I think this will be a good option for the next trip as it is more centrally located and wouldn’t involve the 10 km bike ride from Naveaz bay back to town to start each day.
Overall Saturna is a stunning small island that will get you feeling connected back to yourself and nature.  It’s also a great spot for a workout and adventure.
If you head there, be sure to leave a comment about your trip!

Bike, Hike, and Camp Whistler

Over the July long weekend, Kyle and I headed up to Whistler for some biking, hiking and exploring!  We were completely blown away by how extensive and beautiful Whistler was, compared to the small glimpses we had before while spending most of our time in the village.  Whistler is home to numerous lakes, full of beach goers on a warm day, extensive trail networks for biking, walking, and hiking (not including heading up the mountain), and plenty of photo stops to capture the various mountain ranges in the background.

If you are looking for a weekend trip that is:

  •  Family friendly
  • Cost effective (we spent $270 on food, gas, and lodging, the spa was extra though!)
  • Physically pretty easy (doesn’t involve major extensive hikes), as long as you are generally active you will enjoy this trip.
  • A perfect mix of roughing it, and luxury (spa day!)

Then this trip might be for you.

Our itinerary included:

  1.  One day spent biking the Whistler Valley Trail
  2. One walk to Lost Lake for a picnic dinner
  3. Short hike to the Whistler Train Wreck.
  4. Hike from One Mile Lake to Nairn Falls.
  5. Day a the Spa Scandinave.
  6. 3 nights spent ‘free’ camping.

Day #1:  Drive from Vancouver to Whistler.

We were hesitant about making this drive on a long weekend, but luckily ran in to virtually no stalled traffic.  The roads were heavy with cars, but we still made it in 2.5 hours to Whistler!  There are numerous paid campgrounds located in and around the Whistler area, everything from tent sites, to RV sites, to sleeping in yurts!  It’s much more of an affordable option then spending 100-300 a night on a hotel in Whistler.  We choose to go with the free option, because we have a self contained unit.  We often park on logging roads, and forest service roads, and find free campsites online.  We set up shop, pulled out our propane campfire, and enjoyed the evening.


Day #2:  Bike 30-40 km on the Whistler Valley Trail.

The Whistler valley trail is a relatively flat, mostly paved and hard packed gravel trail that connects Whistler Village to many of the surrounding lakes in the area.  You can take a look at this map that I used from the official Whistler website for an idea of how extensive the trail networks are:  whistler-hiking-biking-map.  The Website also lists shorter treks you can take on the trail, if you aren’t interested in doing the whole loop like we did.  If you are interested in seeing the exact route we took, check out the red markings I have made on the map here:  bike route marked (the drawn in red markings is our route).

The trail is off the main roads for the most part, so you don’t have to worry about cars and traffic.

Before we started the trail we headed into Whistler, grabbed a Starbucks and took in the sights and set up for the Canada celebrations.  Everyone was decked out in their red and white to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday!

20170701_094058.jpgWe started the bike ride from the main day parking lots (there are 5 huge lots located in the middle of the village- $5 a day for parking in lot 4).  Heading out the back of lot 5 we connected onto the trail and started the trek on the lost lake path.  From here you follow along lost lake before diverting to the left, rather than continuing around the whole lake.  Following the trail a little further we made our first photo stop- Green Lake. 20170701_105857


I thought Green lake was the most beautiful stop on our ride.


After Green Lake we rode along, while taking a few more pictures, until we came to a great snack stop at Meadow Park.  It was such a beautiful setting with families flying kites, dogs running around and jumping into the river, and people paddling their canoes down the river.


Riding along Green Lake


Green Lake with the mountains in the background.



Geared up for Canada Day!


Coming into Meadow Park:


Beyond Meadow Park we followed the trail for about 10 minutes of quick riding before coming upon some beautiful ‘wildlife viewing platforms’, which made for some good photo taking.


Soon after we reached Rainbow Park, the first major beach area that we had come across on the bike ride.  It was loaded with families having picnics, and young adults blowing up their rafts and mattresses, piling on the cases of beer and chips, and getting ready for a river float.  This was a great stop for lunch, AND there was even a man selling Gelato- what a find 🙂


Rainbow Park

Past rainbow park you head uphill for a bit, before turning left and riding on the road for a short period of time before connecting with the trail again.  From there you ride along and circle around 2 of Whistler’s smaller surrounding lakes:  Nita Lake and Alpha lake.  Both of these lakes were also filled with people sunbathing, and enjoying a day off work for Canada day.  To finish off the ride we circled the lakes, and rode back to the vehicles and grabbed our dinner gear to head down to Lost Lake for a picnic.  Make sure you have some energy left, because it’s about a 30 minute walk from the parking lot to the lake.  It was well worth it though, to cook a delicious Indian dinner and enjoy the views.

We topped off our night by watching a free outdoor public concert put on by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, a special performance by Canada Day.

Day #3:  Whistler Train Wreck Hike and Spa Scandinave

The Whistler Train Wreck hike is a short, easy hike, perfect for all fitness levels, and especially kids.  The train derailed in 1953 and the train cars were never removed from the forest.  As a result people have come down and painted art and graffiti on the cars.  For full details on how to get to the hike, check out the trail description HERE .  The trail is short, maybe a 30 minute walk from the vehicle, but involves a beautiful crossing over a raging river on a suspensions bridge, as well as you get to check out the 7 art covered train cars (2 are hidden a little further down).




Disclaimer:  Don’t climb up here 🙂  

Now for the best part of the trip!  We spent the rest of the day at the Spa Scandinave!  For $70 you can spend as many hours as you like following their hydrotherapy circuit, this means spending 15 minutes in a hot environment (sauna, steam room, hot tub), followed by 10-30 seconds in a cold pool, followed by 15 minutes of relaxation in front of one of their fireplaces, in a hammock, on one of the beds indoors, or on a comfortable reclining bed/chair.  The place is completely silent, and is heavenly.  I began to feel every little cell in my body relax as we enjoyed our day here.  It is well worth the $70.  For more details on the spa, check out their website here:  Website.

Day # 4:  Hiking from One Mile Lake to Nairn Falls and back.

Our 3rd night we had spent camping north of Pemberton on a friends piece of land.  We enjoyed the morning with them, and only had a few hours to do a hike on our way back.  With so many beautiful hikes around Pemberton, we ended up choosing one just off the highway for convenience.  We pulled over at one mile lake- which is the lake just outside of Pemberton on the Sea to Sky highway.  From here you can follow the trail network all the way to the Nairn Falls campground, and then complete the 1.5 km from the campground to the Falls.  The whole trek was about 8 km’s total.  You get some good undulation with the trail, but nothing too strenuous.  The trail is very well marked from the lake, simply follow the signs for the Nairn Falls Connector.  Alternatively, you could also add a 1 mile walk around the “One Mile Lake”, which we chose to forgo and take a dip instead!



The waterfall is huge!  Very hard to capture it’s power.


And that was the end of our weekend!  We made our way home, stopping along the way to take a few more photos of the mountains (which I can’t get enough of).



The “chief”

I hope this blog was helpful to spark some ideas for you for a short, active, enjoyable, and relaxing weekend up in Whistler.

Get outdoors, and explore 🙂



Daily routine for “Healthy Knees”. Perfect for runners, cyclists, and hikers!

  • Do you love to run, cycle, or hike, but often get sore knees afterwards?
  • Do you get pain when going up and down stairs in your knees?
  • Is it hard for you to get up and down from the floor because you feel too stiff, or your knees are hurting?
  • Do you find it hard to get into a deep squat position because your hips are too tight?

This is a perfect routine for you to do daily!

Today I bring you the exact stretching and rolling routine I do almost daily to promote healthy knees!  Tight quads and hips are my nemesis, and it means I work on these stretches daily, as well as before and after physical activity to prevent my knees from getting sore or swelling up.

The Routine

To Start:  Start out by giving some of your major muscle groups a nice roll out using yoga-tune-up-therapy-ball-plus-w-toteyour Yoga Tune up Ball.  Yoga Tune up Balls  are by far the one and only ball I recommend for effective self myofascial release.  The balls were designed for this purpose, unlike a tennis or lacrosse ball which were designed for sports!  The yoga balls are the perfect density to create a deep and effective release to the muscles, as well as they grip and move the skin around nicely, promoting further effects that you don’t get with a tennis ball.  If you need to buy a pair I recommend starting with the Therapy Ball Plus set in a tote:  Follow this LINK to order them from my referral site with Yoga Tune up.  The therapy ball plus set is the perfect size to get into both big and small muscle groups.  The alpha ball is the one you will see me using in the videos, as I prefer this one for use on my larger lower body muscle groups.  The smallest size yoga balls are good for release neck, chest, and upper back muscles, as well as feet.

  •  I know the Electra Health Floor on Burrard in Vancouver sells the smallest size, yet this is the only location I know in Vancouver that sells this specific brand.

Next- It’s time to roll 🙂 

To start the stretching and rolling routine, I prefer to start with the fascia release, to get my body ready for a good stretch.

I like to apply a 7/10 pressure onto each muscle, this way I am not at risk of damaging anything, but I know I am applying enough pressure to actually create a change in the fascia tissue.

Quad Rolling:

Video Link: Watch the video, then read the text, then try the rolling.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.40.21 AM.png

When we refer to the ‘quad’ we are talking about the Vastus Laterialis (blue), Rectus Femoris (yellow), Vastus Medialis (red), and the Vastus Intermedius (not shown as it is deep to the other muscles).  quadrices  The various techniques I show in the video are much more effective then simply rolling up and down along the muscle (which is done most traditionally in gyms), and will ensure we loosen up all aspects, and all muscles, of the quadriceps.

Start with:

  1.  Putting the ball up near the top of the Vastus Lateralis (close to the hip, and more towards the outside of the leg) and allowing your full body weight to sink down and over the ball (it’s not moving though).  Try to let all the tension leave your leg.  Take 5 deep breaths here.  Slowly choose about 8-10 different spots along the width and length of the leg to relax and breathe into.  By choosing 8 spots you should hit up the full length of the Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, and Vastus Medialis.
  2. Next, drag the ball side to side along the quad muscle, and slowly make your way up and down the leg.  The slower you move the better.  Try and stay relaxed (which can be hard when the you can feel the ball travelling across your leg muscles, and sometimes they feel like tight ropes!).
  3. Next, drag the ball up and down the length of the quad muscle.  Start with the outside of the leg (Vastus Lateralis) and slowly go all the way from the hip to the knee.  Do the same for the inside (Rectus Femoris) and the middle (Vastus Medialis).  You will see me propping myself up on my other side on a bent knee, this is taking some of the pressure off the rolling leg.

After about 5-10 minutes on each leg your legs should feel wonderful!

Glute Rolling:

Video Link:  Watch the video, then read the text, then try the rolling exercises.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.40.42 AM.png

  1. gluteuscls Start by rolling the ball around in circles around the Gluteus Maximus  X 10 rolls
  2. Next, spend some time rolling into the side glute muscles (Piriformis and Glute Minimus)- if these are too tight you can do this up against a wall.
    side hip.jpg
  3. Finally, lay on your side and roll side to side over your side hip.  Remember- stay off the bone!  You will be rolling just below your hip bone, and will be hitting the Glute Medius, the top part of your IT band, and as you come into the front you will start to hit your Tensor Fascia Latae.




Calf Rolling

As you can see below, there are MANY muscles the make up the lower leg.  The primary muscles we will aim to target are the Gastrocnemius (middle photo, they have cut off the muscle, but just have shown where the muscle atttaches), as well as the Soleus, which is deep to the Gastroc.  The Gastrocnemius is your main calf muscle that is visible from the back of the leg.  We will also be working on the front of the lower leg, and the main muscle we will be releasing is the Tibialis Anterior.calves.jpg

Video Link:  You might want to watch the video first, then read the text, then come back again to the video and try it yourself

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.40.56 AM.png


  1. First ensure that the lower leg you are rolling is placed fully on the floor in a perpendicular position to your body (the knee should not be lifted off), as shown in the video.  The inside of your lower leg is the part of your leg facing up, and the part we will dig into first.
  2. Then begin to draw the ball up and down along the line where your shin bone meets the muscle, you are working on the medial aspect of your Solues here.  You will know you have hit the right spot because you will feel it!
  3. Also spend some time in the ‘meaty’ part of the muscle belly, near the top of the lower leg.  This is part of your gastroc.  You see me doing this in the video after rolling up and down along the shin bone.
  4. Then, Drag the ball all the way down close to the ankle, and spend some time digging around down here, close to the achilles.
  5. Finally- you can come up onto all fours and drag the ball along your Tibialis Anterior and Peroneous muscles, by dragging the ball along the lateral aspect of your shin bone.  I spend a lot of time here in the video, especially up close to the knee as this is a tender spot for me!


Now onto the Stretches!

#1:  This is my number one stretch for getting the major hip flexors & Rectus Femoris on one leg, while stretching out the glutes of the other leg.  I am using my couch to do the stretch today, but I often use the bench at the gym.

quad and glute stretch

Start by setting up with one knee on a soft surface, and bring your other leg up onto the couch.

quad and glute stretch 2

This is what that stretch looks like from the top.

Next, to make the stretch deeper:

#1:  Reach back and grab the ankle of your back leg.

#2:  Gently squeeze your glutes and press them forward towards the couch.


The final stretch is the #1 stretch I recommend, especially for runners!:  

A stretch for the outside hip/IT band/outer hamstring and lateral aspect of the lower leg.

First- watch the video, then read the text, then try it:

Video link:

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 10.45.02 AM.png


  1.  Start with your leg straight up in the air, slight bend in your knee.  Use any strap you have handy to hold your leg up there.
  2. After about 10 deep breaths here start to draw your leg across your body.  It should only move a few inches, and your hip bones should stay evenly weighted on the floor.  10 breaths here.
  3. Next- Drop that leg all the way across your body, trying to keep it as straight as you can, and open your other arm into a torso twist.
  4. This is a major stretch for me, and super effective!


In Conclusion:

  1.  Do these as a warm up and cool down after your running, cycling, and hiking to prevent hip and knee issues.
  2.  Do these daily to work on your hip mobility to prevent knee, and lower back problems.
  3.  Ensure you are breathing and relaxing into each stretch and rolling position.
  4. Most of all- Enjoy!  I hope it all feels great afterwards.




  •  Katherine



Summer Hike Ideas: Mount Strachan

Now that we have finally been graced with some nice weather in Vancouver, it’s time to hit the trails!

Mount Strachan is a beautiful and challenging hike on Cypress Mountain, and one I recommend if you are into:

  •  Circle route hikes (it’s not an out and back trek)- lots of variation in scenery
  • Good views on a nice day
  • Big uphill scrambly portion “Christmas Gully”
  • Site of a plane crash & wreckage
  • Easy to access from cypress mountain.
  • Beautiful views of the Howe sound and Garibaldi mountains on a clear day

Mount Strachan is:

  • 10.5 KM’S
  • 550 M Elevation gain
  • Not an easy hike, good amount of rocky portions to navigate.  I would rate this hike as intermediate.
  • Best done between July and October once the snow has melted (the scrambly portions are pretty dangerous if still wet and slippery).

The trail starts from the Cypress Ski Mountain resort.  For complete directions please refer to this website.

The first part of the trail meanders through the woods alongside Yew Lake.

Keep an eye out for beautiful birds:


And beautiful huge trees!


After reaching a few junctions and crossing a few bridges you reach the Bowen Lookout, overlooking the Howe sound with a beautiful view of Bowen Island.  This is a side trek trail- and worth checking out:


After trekking through the forest you will reach a wooden map board, and then two wooden bridges.  This is where you enter Strachan Meadows and are about to start the climb up the gully to the top of the hike.  There aren’t many marker points through here, but just stay left of the gully and follow the rocks, and the eventual trail path to make it to the top.  It’s a bit of a slog, and scramble, but have fun with it 🙂

Once you get to the top, there is an option to head right or left, head left first for the first viewpoint.  You will go right later before you start your descent over the other side of the mountain.

You get a really great view of the Lions (middle photo), another very popular hike here in Vancouver.


Once you’ve rested up it’s time to head over the second lookout.  You walk back towards where you came up from Christmas Gully and then head straight across to the second lookout.  It’s very easy to navigate.

Once you’ve had a good look at the second lookout it’s time to start heading over the back of the mountain heading in the opposite direction that you came up Christmas Gully. Walk along the rocky surface at the top of the mountain a little ways down along the ski lift, aiming to find two orange markers that will get you on the descending trail back in the forest.  It took us a bit of time to find these.  We saw other people coming up different routes, so be sure you find the trail markers and forested path or else you will miss the plane crash!

Within 30 minutes of descending you come across a plane crash from 1963!  This was a T-33 Navy jet on a training mission.  It took several days to locate the crash site, and much of the site is still preserved- as you can see!

After the plane crash we found the route not to be very well marked, and in some cases we were worried we had got on the wrong trail.  Ensure you have these directions with you!  The downhill portion seemed to take a very long time, which is why we had thought we had gone the wrong way.  It also seemed like we were heading in the wrong direction, but the trail eventually veers back towards Cypress mountain.

As we were finishing the hike we came upon a plethora of “BEAR IN AREA” signs!!  I was happy to have seen these all at the end, so I didn’t have to be too freaked out while we hiked 🙂


I hope you get out and enjoy Cypress Mountain and the Mount Strachan Hike.  Let me know if you make it out.  If you get a nicer day then we did I would love to see your photos.

  •  Katherine