LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
SEALS SAVED MY LIFE THIS YEAR.
OK, that might be stretching the truth a bit, but let’s just say these adorable sea creatures were definitely there for me in my time of need. See, I’m not the most active or ~outdoorsy~ person, but when I was on holidays in Vancouver, Canada, I was convinced by my far more adventurous boyfriend Julien to go bike riding. Since I hadn’t ridden a bicycle in, like, 15 years, this was a much bigger deal than it sounds. After a few hours of riding around the Stanley Park seawall, my butt was killing me and I was well and truly over it. ‘How do I go on?’ I thought dramatically as my tired legs struggled to pedal. Then I saw it: a little seal suddenly popped his head up out of the water right near where I had stopped for my millionth break. He stayed there, bobbing on the surface for a while, before swimming off. He was so cute that my eyes started to water and I had the biggest grin on my face. It sounds stupid, but seeing him really cheered me up and gave me the kick in the pants I needed to keep going. A few weeks later, I was once again forced into the great outdoors and found myself hiking the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, Hawaii. It is one of the most difficult and dangerous hikes in the world, so it was no great surprise that I was crying just 400 metres into this expedition (did I mention I am the world’s biggest baby?). “I can’t do this!” I wailed to the extremely patient Julien, who probably used every ounce of his self-control to not chuck me off the cliff. I agreed to a compromise: hike up to the 800-metre point and see how I felt. It was a steep, rocky and sweaty ascent, and as I gazed down the cliffs at the clearest blue water I have ever seen, I was still debating whether to keep going or not – we still had more than six kilometres to go! And then I saw something in the ocean. Was it a person swimming? No – too big and too far out from the shore. Was it a shark? No – this thing was way too chill. Then I realised it was an enormous seal! I like to think his Canadian mate had told him to find me at my lowest point and encourage me to go on, which I did. I completed the seven kilometre round trip to Hanakapiai Beach, I didn’t cry again and also I did not fall over *holds for applause*. My special seal pals got me thinking about spirit animals, so I did some research. According to Native American folklore, seals bring protection from danger (which I needed on that trail) and also encourage us to tap into our creativity and imagination (which I do at DOLLY HQ every day). When I told our features and entertainment writer Matt – or, as we like to call him, Mystic Matt – my holiday tales, he became inspired to write about spirit animals for DOLLY Destiny in this issue. Head to page 38 to figure out which creature has your back. And if you ever happen to lose your cool on a bike or hike, I hope your spirit animal is there for you too.