Wild Women: Stormy Ray

Stormy is my very best friend. She is my second daughters namesake. She is the owner of the brightest smile I’ve ever seen. We’ve known each other our entire lives, and her father and my mother were room mates/best friends long before we came along. We’ve grown up together, and she’s one of the best people I know. She’s adventurous, brave, artistic and so so loving. She has incredible ideas, she wants the best for everyone and she is beautiful inside and out. I could actually go on about her forever, but instead I’ll let you read our interview:

Find Stormy on Instagram here.
Read her blog here.

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You’ve traveled all over, what’s your favourite thing about travelling?
My all time favourite thing about travelling is meeting new people. I like how when you’re travelling everything seems to be amplified. You meet so many genuine souls and develop friendships over a few days but sometimes those friendships last forever. I find that I meet these people in towns where there are lots of travellers, even if I’m not specifically travelling overseas. I’ve met some gems while living at Big White Ski Resort and in Whistler. In environments like this people seem so much more open and willing to meet new people. I guess it’s because lots of people are constantly moving to those areas looking for the same experiences.

I mean, I love seeing all the different scenery but it’s really the people, when I think about my South East Asia Trip, I remember the people of those countries being some of the happiest people i’ve met despite having so much less than we have up here. Same with the people in Colombia, everyone was so friendly! I’m kicking myself for not knowing Spanish. I love to learn about the area but my all time favourite thing is learning about people’s individual histories.

Ohh and I love how everything is always changing. The people, the culture, the landscape and the things you do!  One day you can be hiking, the next day you can be chilling on the beach, the next day horseback riding by day and flying to a city for some good ol cocktails and bar hopping by night! I’m not a planner so I just go with the flow and it’s nice this way. What better way to grow than wake up and see or do something new everyday!

It can be scary for females to travel alone. Any advice for other women who want to get into travelling around the world?
To be honest, I haven’t really traveled alone. I mean, I did an exchange semester over in Australia but that was different, because I had pre-arranged a place to live and knew i’d meet other students. However, that being said I’ve travelled to some third world countries with a friend and I would say it’s definitely possible to go on your own. The key is to stay in a popular hostel in the beginning, because once you’re in there, you’ll meet other people just like you looking for travel partners. I say popular because if you go during the less busy season there is a chance if you choose a less popular hostel you might end up being the only one at it. This happened to me and my friend in Southeast Asia and then again to me and another friend in Colombia. Anyway after the first few days in the hostel you will meet friends and you won’t have to travel alone unless you decide you want to. When me and my friend went to South America, we made friends with two girls on separate occasions who were travelling alone so they just joined along with us when we met!

If this seems too scary still, I’d recommend doing something my little sister did. She applied to work as a volunteer abroad. This way when you arrive you will meet a bunch of other like-minded people who will most likely be up to travelling around with you after your volunteering stint ends. Plus your accommodation will already be organized.  This is how my sister met her now boyfriend -they’ve been together for two years now :).

If you’re going someplace where English isn’t the first language, I’d highly recommend learning the basics of the most popular language there. I’d also recommend carrying around one of those Lonely Planet Phrase books for the area you are in, having a translator on your phone, and downloading a map. Get better at reading directions. Also, depending on what country you are in, picking up a pre-paid SIM card from the area is always handy and you’ll feel much safer having access to a phone and data.

If volunteering isn’t your thing and you like a little bit more of a set plan, I’d consider doing a Contiki tour. Contiki’s are a little on the pricier side but then you know ahead of time what the plan is and everything is figured out for you. You just have to show up! My friend did this and found people to travel around Europe with once the Contiki was over. It’s a good place to start! They do Contiki tours all over the world!

Ohhhh and if you have dietary requirements like I did, I heard of the smartest thing to do for it. This girl when arriving in Thailand got her food allergies written on her forearm in henna. My life would have been so much easier if I had done this when I was in South America. My Spanish pronunciation is very bad, I struggled trying to tell them that I was vegan and gluten-free. No meat, no cheese, no milk, no flour from wheat….sometimes they looked at me like I was a lunatic.

Whats one of the best things you’ve done in a different country?
Oooooooo I think one of my favourite things was doing this three day trek in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We stumbled upon it randomly. Our hostel owner put it on through his hostel so it was not one of the heavily advertised tours in the area. We ended up at that hostel because someone ushered us off the street telling us to stay there. They set us up with packs for the three days and we set off. I was extremely unfit at this time as well as my friend, we were always at the back, and we were chugging back Redbulls like no other, apparently they are stronger over there. Anyway we trekked up to this shelter that the village people from the area use to sleep in while they work in the rice patties. These rice patties/villages are literally in what feels like the middle of nowhere in the jungle. The village is super small, it only consists of a few families and their farm animals that roam free and a lot of little dogs. Throughout the trek we learned about the plants and spiders in the area. I faced my spider fear and held my first spider, from that moment I became way less afraid of spiders,but the little ones I still find icky. We helped gather food from the forest to make dinner.  We made our own sling shots, I think I still have mine! We camped our first night in this little shelter and ate our dinner scavenged from the forest along with a couple things that our guide had brought. We drank beers which the village people brought into the jungle specifically to sell to us tourists and headed to sleep on these mats on the floor in the shelters. Ohhhhh and we set out rat traps. My dad told me if I ate a rat he’d give me like $500 so I was really hoping that one of us would catch one, unfortunately no one did- I really could have used that $500. This was before my vegan days! Ohhh and I ate a snake, that my friend caught in the bush. I also learned how to knock rice out of the rice plant – it’s hard work, I don’t know how they do it all day long. Yet again, I was supremely out of shape. The next day we trekked into the village and had dinner with the family that lived there, they were the cutest happiest old people ever. There was no electricity or hot water, just cold bucket showers and they slept on the floor on these little mats. I kid you not, they were the happiest smiliest people i’ve ever met. There’s something to be said for living that simple life.

We had beers and a campfire with the group, there were about 10 of us. Our hostel owner only lets us go in small groups. It was a stellar night full of chit chat, sing-a-longs and smiles. The next day we trekked our way out of the village, yet another struggle especially for me and my slow friend.

Our guide was amazing. She grew up in one of these kinds of villages and moved into the city to explore and make money. She spoke english really well. She’s had a taste of both lifestyles and she seemed to miss the simple life sometimes, but she gets a nice balance of it with the tours. She definitely made the trip- I still have her on facebook 🙂

So this is one of those things we never would have done if we had planned our trip out. We just heard about it from our random hostel and hopped on board. If you let it, the universe will often lead you somewhere awesome.

If you could only recommend one place to others for travel, where would it be?
Mmmm this is a tough one, but quite honestly I’d say Canada. Canada is a good place for all ages and English is the first language so it’s easy to get around.  I’m talking about BC and Alberta more specifically as I haven’t been further so I cannot comment much but I feel that Montreal and the East Coast would be unreal places to visit as well. If you’re sight seeing there’s plenty of beautiful landscapes to see. If you like exploring little towns they are everywhere. If you like nightlife, you can stop in Vancouver,  Whistler or Calgary, or even hit up a little local pub in one of those tiny towns or ski resorts on a weekend night. If you like hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, there’s plenty of places to go. If surfing is your thing, Vancouver Island has you covered. If you like camping in remote areas you can strap on your backpack and hike out into the wilderness. If you like camping but prefer to be in the closeness of others there’s plenty of popular campsites where you’ll feel at ease. Every little town has its own little community culture and I always look forward to meeting locals in the area and checking out all the little local shops. It’s a neat way to see what the community is into.

Think of all the waterfalls, hot springs, and glorious views you can see. All you need is a car, a road trip buddy and a little bit of camping gear.

What are your greatest strengths? What’s your biggest weakness?
Ohhh this is a hard one. I’d’ say my biggest strength in life is that I am good at vibing with other people. It’s rare that I don’t’ get on well with others. I have a keen eye for understanding other people’s personalities and how to interact with them. I’m also pretty outgoing but I wasn’t always this way. Back in highschool and even up to third year of uni, I’d consider myself a little bit shy until I was in a more intimate setting. I rarely spoke to people I hadn’t already become good friends with and in a group setting I’d just sit back and listen. My face blushed feverishly anytime a boy or someone new or someone (boy or girl) unexpectedly spoke to me. This slowly changed as I traveled, had a stint as a telemarketer and briefly became one of those people in the mall that tries to sell you something when you walk by. As much as I hated the latter two, they helped me be really outgoing. Now I have no problems striking up conversations with people at the traffic light, in the grocery store line, and beyond. I suppose the last few years i’ve spent working as a waitress have improved this as well.

I feel I have two equally as big weaknesses. I have a really hard time articulating myself and a really hard time staying on topic which makes me come off as entertaining but also makes it hard to grasp what the hell i’m talking about at any given time. I have a tendency to learn something new and memorize the point of it but I never can remember the supporting facts so when I try to tell someone about it or explain it, I don’t know how to, all I know is that I read something and this is what I know now. I also jump from topic to topic in conversation and in life, which makes it hard for others to follow me along in a conversation. It also makes it hard for me to get anything done, I start something, it reminds me of something else, I move on to something else, and then back and then something else again. Like I can’t even get through brushing my teeth, I’ll be making a cup of tea or trying to get dressed at the same time. Why can’t I just spend the extra 30 seconds and finish brushing my teeth, multitasking while brushing your teeth is not ever productive.
Note from Paige: Can I just say that Stormy described ADHD so well within the weaknesses part of this question?! I need to copy and paste this to everyone I know.

Is there anything in life you regret?
Mmmmmmm yes. I regret not pursuing something more artsy outside of highschool – like graphic design. Only now, looking back on me in highschool do I realize that I should have pursed something in the creative realm. My counsellor told me to do arts or science if I didn’t know what I wanted to do in university. I didn’t realize that arts was more than just English because my high school was so tiny we didn’t’ have sociology or anthropology or even psychology classes for that matter. Academically I did well in every class so I just picked science. One year into science I realized I didn’t know what I’d do for a job in science so I transfered into Business, it just seemed more practical, everything relates to business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I have my degree and the university lifestyle was a great experience but I wish I would have learned how to design stuff on the side, or painted photos, or just made some general time to do something creative instead of spending all time working, socializing or studying. It would have been nice to know about college courses or BCIT for graphic design but I just thought the next logical step was university- I needed more guidance. My all time favourite thing about high school was creating the year book and art class. Ohh and also french class projects because we always had to create something visual so I’d go all out with artistic flare. Arts and crafts were my go to activity in my youth as well- i’m lucky to have a ‘crafty dad’ who always had us making fun things.I also loved putting on events that brought about school spirit. I didn’t know all my options though, I wish someone could have provided with me more insight, but it’s hard in a smaller town especially when you don’t have older siblings or friends with older siblings to share their experience with you. It’s hard to even know what’s out there when you’ve been living your little sheltered life. I recommend taking a year off, travelling, meeting new people, you’ll learn tons about other jobs, and about yourself, and come back with a new perspective on what you want to do in your future.

Although I do regret not pursuing some sort of art the last 8 years, It’s okay, I realized it’s never too late to start again, I’m making time to be creative now. It’s never too late to start.

What are you passionate about?
I would say I am most passionate about being happy and I think one of the main contributors to happiness is constantly working towards having good health which can be a battle. Having good health I believe has a lot to do with what you eat and thus I guess I am really passionate about food.  Having good health makes you-feel good, and once you’re not dealing with fatigue, stomach problems and general lethargy then you’re able to focus on all other things that make you happy. Changing my diet has changed my life immensely, and now I can focus on adding other things to life that make me happy and healthy, like making art, coming up with new ideas, spending time outdoors and engaging conversations with good people (instead of struggling to keep my eyes open mid convo) and my all time favourite….creating delicious meals to eat. Hopefully I’ll make time for meditative time too.

What made you decide to go vegan?
Mmm, I like to call myself plant-based instead of vegan  because I ended up this way because of three things, my food intolerance, the fact that I’ve never really enjoyed eating meat and my best friend Tamsin. I don’t believe I know enough on the animal rights point of view to call myself vegan. I just tend to use this term because few people know what you’re on about if you say plant-based.

On my health journey, I realized that apart from being lactose intolerant, I had an egg intolerance, and my stomach would get upset from eating red meat, and later I realized this happened with chicken too. I never enjoyed eating meat growing up with the exception of pulled pork and fish. I never really knew any vegans until I met Tamsin though. I became plant-based at home for the first year, cheating on the occasion for scoops of ice cream, a bite of someones pizza or some fish. A few months after I moved in with Tamsin, I was like, I might as well try to go 100% and for some reason it stuck. Before meeting her, the idea kind of seemed unfathomable. I didn’t realize you could be healthy while eating plant-based and my naturopaths had put me on a paleo diet (paleos eat lots of meat). I remember trying to choke down all the pieces of my organic chicken when I was on that diet and being almost in tears, the pieces were so slimy and weird.  I feel way better eating this way and it’s stopped me from eating a lot of junk food just because it’s in front of me – like donuts, and cakes, and chocolate peanut m&ms. I don’t even like chocolate peanut m&ms but I use to down them if they were there…and suffer later. I also quit gluten when I went vegan, I was gluten intolerant, but it was easier to give up eating that cookie because it had animal products in it and gluten then simply because I was allergic. Maybe it’s the subconscious feeling that you’re helping the greater good that allowed me to stay away?

What’s the best part of being vegan? What’s the worst part?
The best part of being vegan is making my own food. I make so much more food now, it’s just easier that way and it’s so colorful. Like imagine the colors of my salad yesterday- green spring mix, shredded carrots, shredded beets, tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, red cabbage, it’s like eating the rainbow ! It makes me so excited !  Smoothie bowls are my jam. I’m about to make one right after this. I get so excited to eat, and the best part is not having a belly ache afterwards and not thinking about how 5 chickens died for that plate of 20 wings. Yuck. Also, becoming plant-based has built up my will power immensely. You get a sense of accomplishment when you can successfully avoid something and it has made me feel like I can conquer so many things my previous indulgent patterns have stopped me from before.

Ohhh and I love sharing food with other people and how excited they get that it tastes good and it’s vegan (and generally gluten free if it’s coming from me).

The worst part is the annoying comments people make about you being plant-based. Or the need to point out their meaty food or how you must eat chicken for protein. I don’t want to look at your meaty food, it no longer looks like food to me. A bit dramatic, but I just think about it as flesh sitting around in my intestines struggling to get digested.   

What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten?
Mmm there are way to many things. I’ve tried soo many delicious meals out in the last few months while travelling. This is the best smoothie bowl I had though- Raw Salted Caramel flavour with caramelized buckinis and lots of other goodies. Ohh and the best vegan pizza i’ve had is at Virtuous Pie in Vancouver. They actually have so many types of vegan cheese.

What makes you feel safe?
I’ve never really thought about this. I haven’t felt unsafe in a long time. It generally only happens to me when I’m walking or running down a quiet neighbourhood in a regular city or town but I haven’t been living in situations like this. For some reason when you live in ski towns you have this sense that you are safe because there’s a bunch of people in your age range up and about all the time. Even if you don’t see them on  your walk home, you know this, you don’t feel like there are malicious people out there. The overall town vibe just seems happy- at least in my head. So I guess being in these environments make me feel safe. I wouldn’t feel safe if I was walking through a regular town at dark for the same distance. Sometimes I even panic when I’m on a run in regular cities and towns in the daytime. Every time someone slows for a stop sign, I think oh no what if they’re kidnapping me. It’s weird, I don’t know where I got that habit. I think it’s starting to go away though. At least I hope so because I no longer live in a ski resort.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Are you headed in that direction?
I just want to be me, and I want to make the world a better place. I want to make people be healthier and feel healthier. I want the generations below us to know what we are learning now about how what we put in our bodies affects us, I want them to learn about self-care and about how materialism doesn’t provide you much happiness but how helping others can be so fulfilling….. I wish I had known these things when I was younger but at least if we’re all learning this now, we can pass it onto our kids and hope it won’t be lost.  I used to want to be a top shot business women or an actress so I’d have all the dollars and all the things. I then traveled abroad and came back wanting to use my money for experiences. I stopped spending all my dollars on clothes, and started saving for travel. I’ve traveled a bit now, and I feel I’m at a place where I’m okay with staying stationary and trying to figure out what I’m going to do when I grow up. I’ve ditched the shared rooms and hostel style living for the quiet comfort of my own room with a desk. Having a desk is literally the best. So i’m getting there, I’m figuring out, I have some business ideas with a vegan friend of mine, but they are only just ideas. We’ve got to take the risk, buckle down, and start our planning.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it?
Oooooo the last book I read was actually a fictional book called Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey. It’s an Australian independent novel. I wanted to treat myself, I generally read non-fiction but they take me longer to read. I just wanted to have a story I could dive into and feel like I was watching a movie. Fictional books are really movies playing out in your head. I would recommend it, it’s about three teenagers, and a girl that dies. It’s told from the perspective of one of the teenagers, it’s kind of about him growing up and realizing the world isn’t what he thought it to be- it introduces him to the lies, stereotypes and racism issues that bubble under the surface of his little Australian town. It reminded me of when I was in my early teens and I’d watch movies where people cheat, lie and steal. I was like surely they make this all up for the movies….then I got older and was like oh my god this is actually like the world we live in….humanity inspired the movies.

What is your ultimate goal, personally and professionally?
My ultimate goal personally is to have a lovely little home in a neighbourhood surrounded by many of my closest friends but to have a spare room or guest home so I can always have visitors. I want to live somewhere where vibes are good and the outdoors are easy to access and  I want a little garden to feed my friends and family. I want to be a more balanced human and get things done instead of talking about things I want to do. I feel myself getting there, it’s just taking longer than I’d like.

Professionally, I’d like to start many small businesses. I want to say I want to own one business that helps create a healthier community and brings about a space for creativity. However I know that I’ll always want to start more businesses or have little side projects as time goes on! My brain doesn’t stick well to only one thing. So professionally, I’d like to work for myself, but I’d like my work to be meaningful. Not just a means to a paycheck but a means to a better place.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#interview #wildwomenseries #wildwomen #womensupportwomen #women #realwomen #yyc #yycliving #calgary #calgaryblogger #canadianblogger #travelblogger #travel blog #stormingalong #stormyray #adventureblog #adventure #blogseries #bloginterview #canada #bestfriend #supportlocal #bloglife #photography #lifeadvice #advice #travel #gettoknow #meetingnewpeople

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