Friday, August 18, 2017

Honest Hour ♥


Honest Hour ♥
I've been feeling stuck lately... I had a good reminder last night as someone came up to me and said "I want your life, what do you even do?"The inside view may look alot different then the outside. Reminding you all that wherever you are today, it gets better. We are on our own individual journey. The beauty of this journey .... No two are the same.  Go easy on yourself, have fun + enjoy the ride.💋

Monday, July 24, 2017

An Ode to My Younger Self


“The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.” 
~Ralph Blum

      It' true that I hadn't had much human connection until I chose to let go of those I wasn't connecting too.
In my lifetime (until now) I have had little support from those around me. I had constant doubt thrown my way, I had people who never believed I would amount to anything and I had a never ending battle of wanting to believe I was good enough and never feeling like I was.

     I was abandoned by my father at a young age and have yet to reconcile with it. I have never been close to any of my family and because of this I have always been alone. I always had no choice but to be independant, to not give up, to work hard and to make smart decisions because at the end of the day I had no one to lean on but myself.  I do not share my story because I am a victim. In fact I have never victimized myself and will not allow myself to become a victim to my circumstances. Living the life I do has only forced me to work harder, to do better and to become stronger.
        
      I can honestly say that I am living a life I love.  You may wonder why I am choosing to share this now?  because for the first time in my life I don't feel like I owe anything to anyone, I don't feel like I have to be "good enough" because I know my worth and I choose not to hold on to those who show me less value then I deserve. This summer marks 10 years being gone from my hometown and I can honestly say i have exceeded any expectations I ever had of myself. I have redefined me as a person ...and I have LIVED... oh 1000x I have lived.
      
      For any of you who may be in a tough spot or may not think you are good enough please don't limit yourself. Thoughts become things and the universe is ready to take you on a wild ride. 

And at the end of the day just be you... you are more then enough.
 ( 🔝 No filters, no fillers, no makeup, no prep... just me raw + real) 🍎 - Michelle Apples

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Shanghai Day 6: Silk Factories, Jin Mao Tower, The Bund, Yu Yuan Markets and Gardens & The French Concession






Today is our last full tour day of the trip as tomorrow we have a free day. We started the day with a tour of the silk factory. China and specifically Shanghai is known for its silk and Suzhou is most famous place for silk producing. We learned the entire lifespan of the silkworm followed by watching them make silk products. 










 After the silk factory we arrived at The Jin Mao Tower which is 420.5 m high, with altogether 88 stories and total construction area of 290,000 square meters. It is a perfect combination between the Chinese Traditional Architecture Style and the advanced technologies of the world. Some of us decided to try the Sky Walk - which is an adrenaline rush walking on the outside of this tower on the 88th floor attached to a bungee rope. Here you hang off the tower (don’t look down) 

After exploring the views at The Jin Mao Tower we arrived at The Bund which we had seen on the boat tour the evening before, but it was a beautiful day walking, exploring and seeing that it is boulevard lined with impressive neo-classical buildings. 

    The Bund is the classic image of Shanghai and the city’s main attraction. Sweeping along the western side of the Huangpu River, the majestic building dates back to Shanghai’s grandest days.Many banks and financial companies built impressive offices here in the early 20th century when Shanghai was the financial capital of Asia.

  After The Bund we decided to head to what they call the “Shanghai Bazaar”  which is the Yu Yuan Markets, it was packed as it just so happens to be a National holiday in China called Labour Day”, Here we were able to purchase a mish-mash of items including traditional Chinese arts and crafts and souvenirs, ornate chopsticks, Chinese medicine, walking sticks, fans, silk umbrellas, bamboo and rattan furniture, goldfish, pottery and much much more.

 We did some shopping, had lunch on our own and then met up with everyone to go check out the Yu Yuan Gardens which was a stunning lay out of  beautiful pavilions, miniature lakes, bridges and rock formations. 



 After exploring the Yu Yuan Gardens we had time left over so our tour guide’s brought us to what is called The Shanghai French Concession.  The French Concession is the area of Shanghai once designated for the French, consisting of today's Luwan and Xuhui Districts. Luwan's Huaihai Road is a busy shopping street and is also home to both Xintiandi and Tian Zi Fang, extremely popular shopping and dining spots for tourists. Xuhui is also ever popular for tourists and is home to Shanghai Stadium. The tree-lined avenues and their many Tudor mansions in the area still retain an air of the "Paris of the East”. This place was a little bit of home to us as it had classic western food, draft beer and a lot of people spoke english. 



  It was bitter sweet arriving at dinner that night knowing it was the last dinner together as the little family we had created. 

- xxx an apple a day 

Shanghai Day 7: Brunch, Markets, Art Museums & The Final Dinner at The French Concession


Today is our last day in Shanghai and it couldn’t be more bitter sweet. The friendships created, the memories made, and the laughter would be something that would last a lifetime. 

 The last day in Shanghai I ventured to go meet up with a friend from high-school that has been living in Shanghai for the past 5 years with her husband. We went to a place called Bread Etc and ate food that finally felt a little bit like home. There was 8 of us at brunch and it was great to be able to sit with people who live in the city and have a different insight then tourists. 

After brunch we went to these beautiful hidden little markets that were tucked away on an off street. It was fairly busy as it was a national holiday called Labours Day in China. 
After the markets we ventured to the Art Museum in Shanghai which was this beautiful 5 storey building that resembled an upside down pyramid. 

After the museum I went back to the hotel for a bit of down time before dinner that night. That evening we went to this french restaurant called Va Bene located in the French Concession that we had seen the day before. We ate the most delicious french cuisine, drank some wine & reminisced over the past week of our China adventure. 

Although there is things I won’t miss such as squatty potties, smog, language barriers and having to pay for water everywhere I go. (some of the luxuries we have living in the US and Canada) it will be very difficult to say goodbye to this amazing group of people, this incredible cultural experience and the beauty that I have discovered over the last 7 days. 

Well China… until next time 

-xx an apple a day 





Xian Day 4; Terra Cotta Warriors, Wild Goose Pagoda, Xian City Wall and Tang Dynasty Show


It’s Day 4 in China and our first full day in Xian. We have a jam packed agenda as we leave tomorrow for Shanghai. We started our day at the Terra Cotta Workshop where they actually  create the warriors. They use clay and mould the statues, they then put them in a kiln and bake them, then let them bake for up to a few days depending on the size of the statue. Next they let them cool and hand paint them. We also got saw the statues in the different steps of creation. After the workshop we were able to purchase our own warrior statues. 




 

Once we had finished at the workshops, we ventured to the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum which is actually known as an 8th world wonder. Founded in 1974 when villagers chanced upon what is known as one of the world’s most astonishing archaeological findings- an 8,000 man army in battle ready formation, each warrior a life size figure made over 2,200 years ago. When the warriors were found the people actually thought it was a bad omen from the earth god and that a curse was coming. 

We explored three different pits each showcasing a different size, style and form of statues and grabbed lunch at a local restaurant nearby.

  After lunch we arrived at The Big Wild Goose Pagoda which was built in 652 AD and is filled with many buddha shrines, gardens, and courtyards and is known as a place of prayer. In the middle of the entrance there is a huge incense pot which filled the whole courtyard with an incense type smokey smell. 
 We quickly went to explore the Xian City wall as we had about a half hour to kill before our show & dinner. The Xian wall runs 12 kms in length and features imposing guard towers, it also features a lamp post with red drapery and a small dragon that outlines the city wall. You will find a mixture of old and new china architecture along the view point of the wall. 
 After the show we were treated to a Dumpling Ceremony right in the theatre.  Chinese Dumplings are among one of the most famous dishes in Xian Each dumpling is hand wrapped and stuffed with freshly prepared stuffing. Sweet, savoury, vegetarian, meat filled, fruit filled and many other flavours are available, each with it’s own design. 



 At The Pagoda there was also many shops that were filled with things like buddha statues, books, jewellery,  incense and much more. The whole courtyard smelled of incense with a huge pot containing all the incense sticks in the middle.

We arrived at our nightly show which was tonight was The The Tang Dynasty show. The Tang Dynasty is distinguished as the most progressive and prosperous era in the history of China. The dances were traditional Chinese dances which gave thanks to prosperous seasons and weather. The Costumes are the performances were stunning.


  Tomorrow we fly to Shanghai and I am so excited to see what is in store once we arrive. 

-xxx an apple a day 





Shanghai Day 5: Huangpu River Cruise


Today we were finally able to have a bit of a lay in before our afternoon flight to Shanghai. The tour days are long and packed so it was nice to be able to relax at the hotel or visit local spots. 

  Upon arriving to Shanghai we met our local tour guide Allen who was extremely knowledgable about the city of Shanghai and gave us so much information on the way to our hotel.

 The first evening in Shanghai was a dream. Our tour guides gave us the option to go on a HuangPu river cruise which majority of us decided to go check out. We were placed in the VIP section which allowed us to not have to fight for good photo’s of the Shanghai skyline. 

A little bit about the HuangPu River:

    “Huangpu River, a symbol of Shanghai originates Dianshan Lake and empties into the Yangtze River at Wusongkou. It is 71 miles long and 437 yards wide. It is ice-free year round. The river divides Shanghai into east and west. It is a silent eyewitness to Shanghai's history and its development. 

A spectacular sight is that the two suspension bridges, Nanpu Bridge and Yangpu Bridge that appear to arch over the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, resembling 'Two dragons playing with a ball'.

The west bank of the Huangpu River is the cultural, residential and entertainment center of Shanghai. The Bund, Monument to the People's Heroes, Waibaidu Bridge and the oldest park in Shanghai - Huangpu Park, are located on the west bank. In addition, many historical buildings left over from Shanghai's colonial days have been preserved. The east bank of the river (Pudong) is the newer district of Shanghai and its financial and commercial hub. Steel and glass structures are abundant here. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Jin Mao Tower, skyscraper hotels, offices and malls of the Lujiazui Financial Zone are located on this side of the river.


The busy wharfs and the 'three-layer waters' (or three-color waters) at Wusongkou are also within sight. The 'three-layer waters' is formed by the convergence of Huangpu River (gray white), Yangtze River (yellow) and the East Sea (green) during high tide.

When the sun sets, the river is veiled in the glittery neon lights. 
Cruising on the Huangpu River has become a must for most visitors to Shanghai. Cruise ships vary in size, decoration and amenities, with the most luxurious offering air conditioning, conference room, banquet hall, bar and television”

This has got to be one of the most breathtaking sights I have ever seen. 

-xx an apple a day 

Beijing & Xian Day 3: Panda's, Rickshaw Tour's, Visiting local families & flights to Xian

Today we started the day with a trip to the Beijing Zoo and we got to see Panda’s!! Among many other animals such as hyena’s, monkeys, wolves and many more. After the zoo we took an hour rickshaw tour to a 250 acre village of the Shichahai area which is the most renowned historical and cultural quarter in Beijing. The ancient imperial mansions, celebrities former residences, and the trendy boutiques and bars along the narrow alleys showcased both ancient and modern glamour of beijing.

   We experienced the local resident’s daily life by tracing the age old hutongs and courtyards.

When we got there we went to visit a local family. At this local families home we soon found out that the man of the house was actually an artist who has travelled to 35 countries showcasing his art. They told us about the village, told us some family history and showcased some of the art work. We were then able to purchase signed artwork from the home studio itself. 

   After the rickshaw tour we had to quickly go to the airport as we had an afternoon flight to our next destination Xian. 

Upon arrival in Xian we met our local tour guide Francis who led us on a knowledgeable tour of Xian as we were transported to our dinner venue & hotel.  (Did I mention it was all you can eat & drink) 

 It was a short day for us as it was a travel day & a free night to recuperate. 

-xx an apple a day 







Friday, April 28, 2017

Beijing Day 2: The Temple of Heaven, Tian'anmen Square, Forbidden City & Kung Fu Show



Today we started off the day heading to The Temple of Heaven which is ranked among the most famous structures in China.  

The temple was used several times annually when the emperor, bearing the hopes and sins of the Chinese people, humbled himself before heaven and performed rituals calculated to insure good harvests.  

It is a very popular place for retired Chinese folk to hang out, exercise and to play games such as hackey sack or cards.

From there we went to The Pearl exhibition centre were we learned the pearl life, how to tell the difference between a fake and a real pearl and the different colours and sizes of pearls. 

We had lunch at a local restaurant and then went to The Tian’anmen Square which covers 44 hectares and is the largest public square in the world.

 In the centre of the square are the Monument to the People’s Heroes and the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall where Mao Tse Tung’s embalmed body lies in state. The most recognizable feature of the Rostrum is Mao’s portrait; a required backdrop for any photo visitors may take of themselves. Often people go here to protest by lighting themselves on fire and you will find guards here standing by fire extinguishers. 

 Crossing Changan Avenue and directly behind the Rostrum is the entry to the Forbidden City, so called because it was off limits to commoners throughout the history of Imperial China. Commoners caught in the palace during this period were executed.

The current construction was originally built between 1406 and 1420 by 100,000 artisans and a million labourers as a palace for the Ming and Qing Emperors; it lies on more than 178 acres and has more than 9,999 rooms. (9 is a lucky number in China).

 After the Forbidden City we went to The Academy of Chinese Medicine to get reflexology massages which was much needed after the hike up The Great Wall yesterday. Both Stephen Harper (previous Prime Minister of Canada) and Obama have been treated at this academy. 

 We finished our evening at a Kung Fu Show with acrobats, kung fu masters and a story of a boy who grew up to be a Kung Fu master. 


Can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store. xxx- an apple a day 




Beijing Day 1: The Sacred Way, Jade Factory, Tea Ceremony's and The Great Wall of China

It’s Day 1 here exploring in Beijing and it was not short of incredible. It was a jam packed day full of adventure, laughter and a lot of memories made. 

  Our first stop of the day was The Sacred Way (which means the road travelled to heaven) of the Ming Tombs, Our tour guide Frank was not short of information as he explained the meaning and significance of all the many things we would see upon arrival. The pathway starts with a huge stone memorial archway lying at the front of the area. It was constructed in 1540, during the Ming Dynasty, this archway is the earliest and biggest stone archway existing in China.

The pathway is lined with stone statues which are important decorations of the mausoleum. These statues are usually 12 human figures (including the general, civil officials and meritorious officials) and 24 animals which are lion, camel, elephant, xiezhi (a mythological unicorn), qilin (one of the four "divine animals, the other three are dragon, phoenix and tortoise), and horse. There are 4 of each of these animals: two standing and two squatting with different meanings.


      We learned that the Lion symbolizes awesome solemnity because of their ferocity. The Camel’s and elephant’s are meant to suggest the vastness of the territory controlled by the court, because they are dependable transport in desert and tropics. Xiezhi was put there to keep evil spirits away, because it was believed to possess the sixth sense to tell right and wrong. Horse, as the emperor's mount, is absolutely indispensable. It is said that these animals is supposed to change guard at midnight.
 Following the Jade Factory we went to a Chinese Tea Factory in which they brew the most delicious loose leaf tea’s. Followed by dinner and an acrobatic show. 



After exploring The Sacred Way we arrived at The Jade Factory. This factory was actually home to making the 2008 Olympic Medals using white jades. We learned about the different textures and colors of Jade and how each figure has it’s own meaning such as the Psu statue made from Jade will actually bring more money into the household. The male statue represents bringing the money and the female represents keeping the money. 

After The Jade Factory we stopped for lunch before heading onto The Great Wall of China which was a dream. I can honestly say I never thought I would have ever made it to one of the seven wonders of the world. We hiked up to the top which was so beautiful (and also very windy).


It feels as if we have been here for a week instead of a day and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week will bring. 

xxx - an apple a day 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Choose Happiness Above All.


The way I see it.. 

You have two choices 

A.) Choosing to be the victim 
or 
B.) Choosing not to 

We all choose the life that we live at this very moment. Yes, we may all come from different backgrounds or different situations and yes sometimes in life we may in fact be the victim, but you can choose to say no. To say no to playing the part + to say yes to rising above. 

You have a choice to quit that shitty job, to get out of that awful relationship, to hold on to that stuff from the past and you also have a choice to not play the victim in your own life. 

Use gratitude to appreciate everything you have, others may not be so fortunate. Rise above the people that didn't treat you right and choose happiness above all. 

"Love Everyone. Trust Few. Paddle Your Own Canoe." 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Learning Digital Skills at Brainstation

Growth hacking, Dark Social, SEM, SEO, Email Marketing, Social Sharing ... just a few of the terms I have learned in the past 11 weeks with my time spent at Brainstation Vancouver.

Over the last 11 weeks I have been taught by highly skilled professionals in the digital marketing field such as Conner Galway (Founder of Junction Creative), Laura Anderson (Partner Marketing for Hootsuite), Derek Jory (Writer for the Canucks) & Christie Horsman (Email Marketing at HootSuite)

All of these teachers were extremely knowledgable and resourceful to the field.

In groups we were asked to prepare a case study on a local brand to be presented in front of said company, which was a great way to really understand digital marketing from a real perspective in a real life situation.

I believe tech is the way of the future! With new tech companies coming into Vancouver left, right and centre it is prime time to be in the tech field.


So why did I take classes at Brainstation? I wanted to learn to utilize the digital marketing world.  I was born to make a difference, I was born to share my life experiences with the world, to be able to utilize my hardships, my experiences, the opportunities that I have had to help others, and using digital marketing to be able to share socially has only helped me grow and develop myself and my brand. I have always had an entrepreneur brain and to be able to learn how to grow and develop a bigger audience is a skill I can utilize in almost any career I decide to go into.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Always Speak With Truth & Love


If you are someone I care about, I will never tell you what you want to hear just to be “nice”. 

I will not tip toe around the truth, and I will refuse to walk on eggshells around you. If you are too sensitive to handle this then I doubt we will ever be more then an on the surface type friendship or an acquaintance. 

I will say this though: I do promise you that I will never speak the truth out of hate, judgment or spite, but will always speak it out of love. 

I REFUSE to have people that I hold close who will only tell you what they think they should, they will always speak poorly behind your back, but never to your face. 

I REFUSE to have these on the surface people who say they are your true friend, but are never there to listen in the situations that truly matter.

Why? 

Because everyday I want to be vulnerable, I want to grow as a person and I want to build and develop those friendships that aren’t based around insecurity. I will continue to develop into my best possible self, but I cannot do that without walking on solid ground. 

I want to listen to the people who will be genuinely honest, who will speak out of love and tell me when I am in the wrong, or being silly or over reacting. 

Be true, genuine and real,because why would you want to be a made up version of yourself?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spring Cleaning


I have to be honest lately my patience has been tested ALOT. Maybe I am changing & developing and no longer fit some of the people in my life and that's a decision I don't take lightly but I also feel like being irritable, frustrated, snappy, and impatient are not characteristics I want to have going forward. Changes are scary, but also necessary for growth. 

Time for some spring cleaning.
I came across this which inspired me to make some changes in my life;

"It Is better to be alone, than in the wrong company.

Tell me who your best friends are,
 and I will tell you who you are. If you run with wolves, 
you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles,
 you will learn how to soar to great heights.

Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people.  As you grow, your associates will change. 

Some of your friends will not want you to go on. 
They will want you to stay where they are. 
Friends that don't help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don't increase you will eventually decrease you.

Consider this:
Never receive counsel from unproductive people. 
Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who ever succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. 
Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person.
 Don't follow anyone who's not going anywhere.
With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it. 
Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life. 
Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships.

"A mirror reflects a man's face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses."

The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad.

Note: Be not mistaken. This is applicable to family as well as friends. Yes...do love, appreciate and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what. 

Just know that they are human first and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above."In Prosperity Our Friends Know Us. In Adversity We Know Our friends.""Never make someone a priority when you are only an option for them.""If you are going to achieve excellence in big things,you develop the habit in little matters.Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.."..” ― Colin Powell

"The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve.


Teach People How To Treat You
















One phrase that I consistently revert back to is "you teach people how to treat you". I will forever live by this motto.


Regardless of if you are referring to a relationship, a job, a client, or a peer you teach them how to treat you.
I have never invited disrespect in my life and I never will. I value myself so therefore I surround myself with people who also see my value.
I have lost jobs, boyfriends, friends and family over this mind set, but if you have haters in your life then it means that at one point you stood up for something.
Self love & self respect is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Place value in your time, your presence, your mindset, & your morals because if you don't then nobody else will.
📸 Photo by Mikaella Photography