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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my friends and family this year! I hope you're all having a safe and wonderful holiday season, whether you're celebrating with loved ones, fur babies, or by yourself.


Amanda and Callie


These beautiful photos are courtesy of my friend Devan Rawn.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bald Eagle Viewing

Last week I was treated to a visit from my friend Devan, who had made his way across Alberta and British Columbia to catch up with friends. Devan has recently started exploring wildlife photography with his new mirrorless camera system and had taken amazing shots of bison, caribou, and deer out in rural Alberta. The Pacific Northwest is in the midst of a dreary winter, so I was unsure whether there would be a good opportunity to take pictures.

Luckily Devan had been recommended a trip to Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park to view the overwintering bald eagles. I still can't believe I've never heard anyone talk about this park! Access to the park itself in closed in the winter, but wildlife can be viewed from across the stream in Brackendale's Eagle Run Park, just outside of Squamish. I've never seen so many eagles in one place before. Peak wintering-season starts in mid-December, but we still managed to see at least 40-50 eagles along the shore and treeline. We were also treated to a spectacular view of the mountains and several curious harbor seals floating along in the stream. I'll definitely be spending more time in this area.

Photographing eagles at this distance pushed my bridge camera to its limits, but I'm glad to share what I can from this amazing day trip.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Giving Thanks

This past weekend was Thanksgiving long-weekend here in Canada. To me, it marks yet another family meal spent away from home (although "home" is beginning to lose it's meaning since reaching 3 years here on the Pacific Coast).

There's one thing that I'm thankful for this year above all else: my precious cat Callie. Little did I know how much love and happiness I was in for when I adopted this terminally ill cat. Having her makes my stuffy apartment feel so much more like home.

I hope everyone in Canada had a great Thanksgiving, and I wish all my other readers well wherever they are in the world.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

My Life As Of Late

Life with a cat. She's the energy this place needed to finally start feeling like a home. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Callie the Cone Cat

Poor Callie finally had her dental extraction to remove her chipped canine tooth. It turned out to be quite an ordeal for her; first, her sutures ripped and had to be restitched a week after surgery, and then she was given an uncomfortable cone to recover in.

 Cats don't do as well as dogs with cones. I suspect it's because cats take themselves too seriously to be able to endure awkwardly bumping into everything. The poor dear wasn't allowed any playtime for a week after getting stitches and she ended up developing some bad bathroom habits out of the frustration (unfortunately, her favorite new location was my bed!).

After a week, she was finally allowed to play and release all her tension and energy. I decided to capture the fun on video.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Meet My Newest Love...

Her name is Callie and I'm so excited for the day I can say she's officially mine. I apologize for the absence on my blog, but the last few months have been a period of adjustment all thanks to this little one.

As an animal lover, I would regularly browse animal shelter websites with thoughts like "one day...". I always desired the companionship of a dog, but I've realized recently that I won't be in a position to get a dog for a few more years. Instead, this March I promised myself that once I graduate I would get a cat. I had thought this would be a good form of motivation, but my boyfriend pointed out that I was creating an unnecessary carrot for myself that would inevitably delay my happiness.

This was a revelation for me; I had never stopped and realized how much I punished myself by needing to justify the things that would make me happy. So starting in March, I started shopping in local shelters for a rescue cat. For real this time.

When I first met Callie, she was a few days away from coming off stray hold. She had been brought to the shelter by someone who had been feeding her in his backyard for several weeks. She was snuggled inside a cardboard box, sleepy but vocal. The moment I gave her a scratch she melted in my hands and started purring and kneading. I immediately signed an application to adopt her once she was released to the shelter.

A few restless days later, I found out I was approved to adopt her, but she would first need some medical work done. I was allowed to foster her in my home in the meantime. So on the 31st of March, I took Callie to my apartment where she immediately claimed the space. The road to adopting Callie has tugged on my heartstrings. After being seen by the vet, it was discovered that Callie had hyperthyroidism; her symptoms of constant hunger and thinness were previously thought to be a result of homelessness. With this diagnosis, she's most likely to around 8 or 9 years old, the beginning of her senior years.

Despite the medical issues and being presented with the option to opt out of the adoption, I decided to keep her. I am convinced I have found myself one of the loveliest and friendliest cats out there. I'm honored to give her a place she can be comfortable, healthy and loved.

So here she is. I can't wait to share our future life with you guys.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Baby T-Rex Pinata

I got to create another creative pinata for the annual Mexican potluck hosted by my friends. Apologies for the poor lighting in these pictures; the sun was creating shadows of my balcony railings. Once again, everyone loved the final product.

A work-in-progress of this pinata will be posted soon.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Cherry Blossoms

Spring came early to Vancouver again this year, and my neighbourhood is pink with cherry blossoms. There's nothing quite like spring to make you feel alive after a dreary, coastal winter.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Happy Holi

Over the Easter long-weekend, B and I were invited to celebrate Holi with our "Vancouver family". I'd never had the opportunity to celebrate Holi before, but I had heard a lot about it from my Indian friends. It was exciting enough already, but the kids made it extra competitive. We all had a fun time teaming up against B.

The photos from the festivities  do the excitement and chaos justice.

Happy springtime everyone!  

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Shit Doctors Told Me When I Asked for Anti-Depressants

I'm no stranger to depression; I was first diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 17. At the time, I was prescribed Trazadone, which only worsened my symptoms and led me to tackle the illness on my own after frustrations with the medical system. I did well for awhile, but I've become dependent on forms of self-soothing such as hair pulling.

The past few years I've struggled a great deal with depression, anxiety and trichotillomania. After attempting counselling for a year without significant improvement, I decided I wanted to add medication to my treatment. I wasn't prepared for the amount of resistance I'd face from multiple doctors, who were unwilling to put me on anything but Trazadone again.

"Well you seem to be aware of your issues and anxieties, just keep wearing that hat."

"It's too bad Trazadone didn't work for you. I had a lot of success with it, personally."

"You know...a lot of these anti-depressants are really just placebos. I'm convinced the reason Trazadone didn't work for you was due to you preconceived notion that it wouldn't work."

"I don't feel like I know you well enough to prescribe you anything other than Trazadone or a sleep aid."

"You're already seeing a counsellor? Good. You're on the right track. Keep seeing them and maybe wait it out a little longer. Try to get more sleep and exercise and things should improve."

"Your anxiety and depression can't be that bad. Your head is covered in beautiful hair, you clearly don't have a problem with pulling it out."

"I suggest you make another appointment with us in a few weeks and then we can consider filling out a mental health evaluation. And remember Amanda, it does get better."

This story does have a silver lining: an old physician of mine returned to the clinic and was willing to put me on medication. A quick 20-minute mental health evaluation revealed high scores for depression and anxiety.  

To anyone out there who has become frustrated from fighting for their wellbeing, keep pushing. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Hello friends!

I hope everyone has had a good start to 2016. I had meant to write my "year in review" post earlier, but to be honest, 2015 was so awful I just couldn't bring myself to revisit it. I think I'm finally ready now to reflect on the year.

2015 was another challenging year for me. There were several academic issues throughout the early part of the year that left me feeling overwhelmed and drained. My knee injury also had huge repercussions for me, since it postponed my research and kept me from going on a field course to the Great Bear Rainforest. Not surprisingly, I didn't do too well on my New Years Resolutions.

2015 Resolutions:
✓ Work on developing a balanced life
✗ Garner self-love and provide self-care
✓ Continue working on overcoming my trichotillomania compulsions
✗ At least one creative session (sketch, painting) a week
✗ Progress not perfection
✗ More adventures

However, there were some good things that came out of 2015. I was lucky enough to meet a new person who's added a lot of balance and energy to my life.

Meet B, my boyfriend of the past 9 months. We met playing ultimate frisbee, and he was with me on the day I dislocated my patella. It was our second date. Since then, B has been one of the most caring and supportive people I know. He also understands the anxieties of academia and has pushed me to improve my work-life balance and to get the support I need for my mental health.

B was the man behind the camera while we waited for the ambulance after I dislocated my kneecap.

My relationship with B is bound to be bittersweet. We both have different career goals and outlooks that are going to take us to very different places. Until then, I'm blessed to have him in my life. We're both very supportive of each other's dreams and goals. He's definitely set the bar in terms of what I'm willing to accept in a relationship.

I'm also proud to report that I've been hard at work this year on managing my trichotillomania as well as my overall mental health. It's been difficult and I relapse with my trich quite often. I think it comes down to the bad environment I'm in as a grad student. I feel stressed over the future, finances, and my workload, all while feeling unmotivated and eager to live normally again. This year things will likely get better since all of these stresses will dissolve once I finish my research and defend my thesis.

For 2016, I'm not going to set high expectations or unrealistic resolutions. I'm just going to aim to do what I think it'll take to get my life closer to where I want it to be.


  • Progress not perfect
  • Self-care and self-love
  • Rebuild and strengthen left leg
  • Finish thesis
  • Spend more time in nature

Wishing everyone a wonderful 2016!