Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Spread Optimism, Not Cynicism...

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton

I was listening to the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean the other day.  At the end of the show he gave a commencement speech to the students graduating this year.  He had a lot of words of wisdom and as always it was a good show.  But there was one statement that really stood out for me and still does.  He said 'Spread optimism, not cynicism.'  This was good advice to kids about to embark on the start of the adult lives, but I think it is also a great statement, and reminder, for adults.

Every day we are bombarded with negativism.  The news is filled with stories of people betraying or being betrayed, hurting people, hurting animals and hurting the environment.  It can be overwhelming.  I am finding the older I get the more aware I am of what is going on the world and it can be hard to maintain optimism.

But I think we, as a global community, have to maintain and spread optimism.  It isn't easy.  Shit happens and it happens often.  But sometimes having it happen, although it seems really crappy at the moment, can turn out to be a good thing.  I speak from experience on that one.  Plus, if we didn't have bad times in life, or hear about bad things, then we couldn't and wouldn't appreciate the good stuff.

So how about we try out what Stuart McLean said and spread optimism.  And let's follow the late great Jack Layton's advice of being loving, hopeful and optimistic.  After all, what do we have to lose by doing so?

Peace out my loving, hopeful, optimistic friends!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Mother Nature's Healing Ways...

"I like living. I have sometimes been widely, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~ Agatha Christie

It has been building up for a while now...the grief.  Although more truthfully it is always there, it just ebbs and flows.  Right now we are in a flow cycle.  Saturday will mark the one year anniversary of the death, from cancer, of a good friend of mine - Lance (as we nicknamed him in university).   I have been through this before.  I lost my friend Tigger five years ago to cancer.  Unlike some things, loss definitely doesn't get easier the more times it happens.

I am trying not to be sad, and not to get upset, but apparently my subconscious rules the roost around here.   I have noticed as the date comes closer that my chest feels tight often, and there is a lump in my throat that doesn't want to go away.  I realized I feel the same way in April when the date of Tiggers death comes near, and in November when my Granny's birthday would take place.  She and I were super close and she also passed away five years ago.

I know that none of these folks would want me to be sad, that instead they would rather I savour every moment that life has to offer, be it good or bad or in-between.  Some days it is hard to shake the sad feeling though.

I had a day off work, so I decided I would go for a hike in the beautiful rain forest I live in.  I was hoping this would accomplish two things, one was to get rid of some of the sad energy that was gurgling around inside of me and two, to be outdoors in nature as a way to honour my friends love of being active.

This hike is about 3 km long and there is an elevation gain of about 850 meters.  If this didn't burn off some of that energy, nothing would.  At the start of the hike I was just focussed on catching my breathe.  Thoughts of Lance came fluttering in.  I thought about how much he loved being outside and how he had been in great shape.  And I thought about how he teased me about being 'old'.  I was eight years older than him, so he was like a little brother to me in university and after.   I was really feeling old today at the start of the hike and knew exactly what he would say to me, which made me smile.

Midway up the mountain the grief started to squeeze the air out of my lungs.  I was thinking to myself if this is how much it hurts for me, a friend, then what must his family and partner be going through now?  Those thoughts hit me hard. I could barely breathe and was trying not to cry.  I stopped and looked around me.  I was trying to find a way to acknowledge how I was feeling, but also to try and get a grip.  I don't want to be sad. I want to celebrate his life and to carry his spirit in a joyful manner.   Eventually I started walking again.

Up and up I went.  The higher I got the easier it got to breathe and the less sad I felt.  I was thinking of more joyful times and not focussing on the loss.  I thought of some funny things we had talked about or that had happened, and for some of the hike I just focussed on the hike itself.  I listened to the birds chirping and gave a chipmunk some room to scoot across the trail and up a tree.  I smiled as he squeaked sharply at me, likely telling me to shove off as I was in his territory.   I inhaled deeply when I hit spots that smelled like sweet cedar.  I gave thanks for the opportunity to be able to hike this mountain and to feel truly alive.

The grief is still there of course, but I do feel better.  Mother Nature wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big hug today.  For that I am grateful.

Peace out my beautiful friends...

Monday, 16 June 2014

Hup! Hup! Holland!!

"Soccer is a magical game." ~ David Beckham

Every couple of years the world comes together to celebrate a sport - soccer.  Or football as it is known more commonly known outside of North America.

My first experience with soccer was not a pleasant one.  It was in the gym at Mohawk Public School while I was in Grade 2.  Someone kicked the ball hard and it hit me square on in the face.  Since that time I have avoided soccer like the plague.  Except every two years when big events happen, like the FIFA World Cup then my inner orange comes out and I suddenly get excited about the sport.

I travelling through Germany and Holland when Euro 2012 was going on and it was a hoot.  In our house we cheer for Germany and Holland, which is our heritage, so travelling there when this event was going on was awesome...well, until Holland lost!

Despite my not attending games, never playing the game, or watching games during the normal season, I like to stay informed when these events are on. I bought my Hup! Hup! Holland! scarf while in Germany that year we visited.  The vendor kept saying I was buying the wrong one.  Too funny.  So now I wear it with pride when I see that a big event is happening and I love that everyone else does as well.  There are huge Italian flags hanging from windows, people driving by with England and Germany flags waving from their car windows and the other day I saw a girl draped in a flag walking down the street.

I respect that there are a lot of folks out there who are very involved in the sport and love it for more than just a few games every two years.  But as a once in a while spectator I must say I love how every one comes together to celebrate the sport.  Indeed, soccer must be a magical game as Mr. Beckham says...

Peace out my lovelies!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Garden Conversation...

"Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace."  ~ Albert Schweitzer

Conversation in the garden whilst planting marigolds and pansies...

Me: Oh! Hello there...are you a snail?  No, you don't have a shell...must be a slug.  You are a baby slug! I've never seen a baby slug before.

Baby Slug: ....

Me: Welcome to your new area - you must be a bit confused as just a while ago you were at the garden shop, which would be your nirvana.  That said, I am afraid you can't stay here.  You might eat the leaves.

Baby Slug: ...

Me:  Right then, let's get you settled elsewhere, there is a whole forest in the backyard on the other side of the fence that you can live gleefully in and munch away at all the leaves.  You do eat leaves don't you?  Or is there another reason people don't like you?

Baby Slug: ...

Me: Okay, here we go, please stay on that side of the fence.  Mind the racoons and bears, I am sure they won't bother you but you don't want to get under their feet and all.  Take care! 

Baby Slug: ....

Peace out my glorious friends.

Saturday, 11 January 2014


"People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours.  Live your truth and don't EVER stop!" ~ Steve Maraboli

I was reading my friend Jen's book this morning, "WTF to OMG, The frazzled female's guide to creating a life you love", and got to a section on clarity.  Clarity - am I leading the life I want and if not, how do I get clear on exactly what I want?

The good thing is that I am leading the life I want right now.  Are there tweaks to make, sure, but on the whole all is well.  But it wasn't always that way.  Unfortunately, when I was ready for some change, I didn't have Jen's book.  What I did have though was a fantastic role model, Leslie, that appeared at exactly the right time to teach me what I wanted to know just by living her life.  Funny how that works once your are open to it!

It wasn't just Jen's book that got me thinking about where I am and whether or not I have everything I want.  It is also because my friends birthday is coming up.  It will be the first birthday since he died last year.

Death, especially the death of someone young, can be an excellent catalyst to re-evaluate where you are in life.  Last summer was a bit of a rough ride.  Within a couple of months I lost three people to cancer.  One was a mentor to me when I came to work in Calgary, the other a family friend, and then there was my good friend Andrew.  

Andrew and I were roomies in university.  He was eight years younger than me and became like the little brother I never had, seeing as I am an only kid.  Once we were out of school we moved to different provinces but we were always in touch.  First it was by email, then chatting online, and once texting became all the rage, we would text on an almost daily basis. Even when we were in the same province it was our daily texts that kept us in touch, and the odd phone call.  He was an incredible person and he made a difference in my life.  Although he was younger, he was a good role model of how to live your life the way you want to.  I take comfort in knowing that although he was only 35 years old when he died, he did a lot in his life!

He wasn't the first close friend I have lost to cancer and who was far too young.  My friend "Tigger" was only 46 years old.  She too had also achieved many dreams and her death was a kick in my pants to get going on some things, like moving back to my home province.

So as I read Jen's book and thought about Andrews upcoming birthday, I thought to myself is there anything I want to work on?  Where am I and where do I want to be?

Thankfully I am in a good place.  Like I said though, I have been working on getting here for a while.  About nine years now that I think about it.  Wow, time flies!

I just recently tweaked where I was in my career.  I spent several years working as an engineer.  As much as I love the science behind engineering, my jobs did not make my heart sing.  I used to get really frustrated by that and as I changed jobs looking for that spark, I would think, 'How come I can't get to where I want??'

Last summer I was back in that place of not liking my job.  Sure, I liked the peeps I worked with but the job itself was one I didn't leap out of bed for.  Finally I took the time to sit and think, okay, what gives me energy, and what takes it away?  I made a mental list and I visualized it.  I didn't have a job in mind, but I took the time to clarify on the characteristics of the job.  Soon after, a job posting came up and I thought, hmmm, this might tick a few boxes!  I called a friend who worked in the department and started asking questions.   The more I learned about the job, the more I wanted it and felt it would be a good fit.

The long and short of it is, I got the job.  But not without a lot of work!  See, getting clarity is only the first step, then you have to be prepared to work for it.  I studied for a month to prepare for the written test I would have to take.  Every single day I went through a reference book that related to the job and I gained knowledge in the areas that I needed to.  I reinforced the information I knew, but hadn't used in a long time.  This also provided me with an opportunity to make sure this was truly the path I wanted to take.  Sometimes we forget that when things take a little longer, it can because it is giving you time to focus in on your true goals and really making sure you want this.  It's not to discourage you from achieving that goal.

I am still in training for the job, classroom and field, but my field experience has shown me that I am on the right path. I have also given thanks for all the jobs I had that didn't light my fire.  The skills I learned in those jobs got me to where I am today and helped me get the job.

After I got my new job I thought of a conversation I had with a senior person in my organization a couple of years prior.  I remember telling her that I would love to do this particular job in my region.  Her response was very swift and admittedly took the wind out of me. (Amazing what words can physically do.)  She said I was not qualified and couldn't get the job. Bam, just like that, end of story.  It's a good thing I no longer believe people when they tell me I can't do something.  In fact, I had forgotten about the conversation until I was actually in the new job!  Then I thought, well now, I guess I AM qualified!

This is just one example of several that have happened to me over the years.  I am still working on gaining skills that will allow me to make my new job exactly what I want.  I used to be impatient to learn everything, but now I savour the process.   I have learned to do this in all areas of my life too - my health, wellness, family, friends etc.

I have realized who I want to be and have become that person, no apologies. Tigger and Andrew were great examples of people who were like that and I am so thankful that they were in my life even if it wasn't for as long as I would have liked.  Jen and Leslie continue to be wonderful examples as well.

I think it's good to take the time to look at your life and see what areas need clarity.  Even if you are where you want to be, is there anything else you want to move towards?  Jens book and Andrews upcoming birthday were good reminders to me to take a moment to reflect on where I am...

Peace out my lovelies...maybe take a moment today to get clarity about where you want to be in life and what your goals are.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A Shift In Thinking...

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but your thoughts about it." ~ Eckhart Tolle

Ever have one of those moments, or several, where you have learned something new and are so excited about it that you think everyone else should do what you are doing?  Think about when you first started running and felt amazing.  You thought, 'Everyone should be doing this to feel amazing!'. Thing is...not everyone likes to run.  Some will never like running even if they give it a try.

For many years I struggled with GI issues.  Since I was a kid actually.  I tried various different things to get relief and eventually I found it by following a whole food plant based (WFPB) way of eating.  It's not a good idea to just throw oneself into a PB diet.  For one, like anyway of eating, you want to make sure you are getting all your vitamins and minerals etc.  So I did some research.  The more I researched, the more I decided that this was the way all folks should be eating!  Not only because of the animal rights issue, but also for environmental and health reasons.  I won't go into the nitty gritty reasoning behind each reason because that would take forever.

Suffice it to say, it's for those three reasons that I have maintained this way of eating.

As I read that statement it makes it sound like it's not a fun way to eat and I am forced to do this, but that's not the case.  I eat a lot of yummy food and the foods I don't eat, donuts, chips, etc, I don't miss in the least.

Right, so I have established that I love the way I eat, that I get excited when I read information about it and like most, I want to share that info.  Here's the thing though...when it comes to food, one has to be very careful about standing on a soapbox and saying 'MY WAY IS BEST!'.   No matter what they think.

As much as I would love if the world switched it's way of eating, for the three reasons listed above, I know that I don't want to be told how to eat, so I don't tell anyone else.

That doesn't mean I don't think it though...

When I see friends getting sick over and over again with colds and flus I think, 'You know, if you switched how you ate you wouldn't get sick...I never get sick.'

I know, I know...thinking that way is almost as bad as saying it!  It's judging and I despise judgment!  I didn't realize I was doing it though until last week when I got sick!  In the midst of my feverish delirium I recognized that even if you eat a WFPB diet, you can still get sick.  MY IMMUNE SYSTEM WAS NOT BOMBPROOF!  Sigh...  As I sat propped up on the couch I let that thought sink in.  It was then I realized just how much I would look at folks and think 'If only you...' and I felt horrible.

But sometimes we need to feel horrible to make a shift in thinking.  I do think that I stay relatively healthy because I choose to put good nutrition into my body.  It's like the computer acronym 'GIGO' - garbage in, garbage out.  However, it doesn't give me the right to judge or think that others should do exactly what I am doing no matter what.

So see, sometimes it's good to get sick.  It gives you time to reflect on some of the ideas you have and determine if you still want to proceed with them, or if you want to make a shift in that thinking.

Peace out my lovelies!

Saturday, 4 January 2014


"Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up." ~ Dean Karnazes

To say I was a wreck this past week would be an understatement.  I was out Sunday afternoon and could feel a 'tickle' in my lungs and a headache hovering within my entire skull.  Hmmm...  I take pride in the fact that I listen to my body and knew my body was telling me something.  I had fought off cold symptoms most of the Christmas break, but this was something different.

I used to boast 'I don't get colds or flus' and really, I don't.  Or didn't...

I went home and took it easy.  I figured this would be like everything else, I would just get a few mild symptoms that I could sleep off and all would be well.   That evening I was tossing and turning so badly I decided to go out to the couch so I didn't wake my sweet M.

Brr, I thought.  Why can't I warm up.  I had the serious chills.  So I wrapped my head in a fleece blanket, put another blanket around my shoulders and piled blankets on the rest of my body.  This in addition to my wearing fleece pi's.  And I was still shaking.

This was not a good sign.

I didn't sleep well.  After my sweet M woke up to go to work, I slithered into our bed.  Ugh...I hurt.  Everything hurt.  No, not ached.  Everything ached and it was really really hot.  I was starting to worry that I would be a victim of spontaneous internal combustion!  At some point my body's defence kicked in and I passed out, thankfully.  When I woke up I went online and did a search on cold vs flu symptoms.

Aches - check
Fever - check
Cough - check
Runny nose - check

It was official.  I had the flu.

Things, of course, only got worse as then tend to do in the midst of fighting a virus.  I will spare you the details as I am sure they are the same details many who have fought the flu this season are aware of and don't want to relive.  Let's just say though that changing your pi's three times in one night because you have sweat through them when doing absolutely nothing is really quite icky.

Aside from a trip to the doctor to make sure I didn't have bronchitis or pneumonia settling in too, I kept myself inside and away from people for five days.  In addition to not wanting to spread anything, I was worried my formerly robust, yet now wimpy, immune system might pick up some other horrid virus.  I don't do 'sick' well and wanted to get better asap.

This morning I decided it was time to sneak in a little exercise.  To not exercise for five days straight is bizarre to me.  I thrive on working out and I live for my runs through the woods.  Today I NEEDED to get outside and into my happy place.  It was time.

I started to coach myself as I got ready...

Okay Sus, no going crazy out there.  You just spent the better part of a week either in bed or on the couch in a state of delirium.  You still have a bit of a cough and have asthma, so you don't want to do something that would compromise how good you are finally feeling. You have nothing to prove. You don't have to go out there and run your normal route or at the same speed.  In fact, you should walk.  Just walk.  Even though you are putting on your running gear, don't run.  Well, maybe toss in a few running steps just for the heck of it.  But whatever you do, don't run...

Those of you who know me know where this is going...

I went outside and took a hesitantly deep breath.  There was a tickle, but I didn't cough.  This is good.   I started walking.  Geez it was a bit cooler out then I thought.  I then gave thanks that I don't live anywhere that it's minus a billion right now!  I thought of running.  But I didn't.  I had a decent pace going.  I walked around my neighbourhood on the same route I usually run.  But I didn't run.

Up the hill I went and turned right.  Here we go...the trailhead.  I could feel my spirits soar.  Once in the trees I thought, 'Maybe I will just run easy on the downhill...'  So I started to run.  Huh, that doesn't feel too bad.

A huge dog came by to say hello.  I gave him a good scratch behind the ears and said hello to its owner and kept going.  I got to an uphill.  Well, maybe I will just chi run up it...

It's quite a long hill, but my breathing wasn't out of control so I figured I would run until the suspension bridge then turn around.   I got to the suspension bridge then thought, 'It's so beautiful in here, maybe I will just run to 30ft pool...but not the stairs!'  So I ran...

I got to the stairs and thought, 'Well, I should just do the loop.  It's not that much farther and I can walk slowly up the stairs...'  So up I went.  200 + stairs.  They went much quicker than normal for some reason.

And I kept going that way through the trails.  You know what?  It was GLORIOUS!  My spirit needed to be out there and I needed to run.  I made my way home, running the whole darn way.  What was supposed to have been a walk with some teeny tiny spurts of running was a five minute walk and 55 minute run.  Ooops.

I make no apologies.  I am a runner and I love being in the trees.  Once in their I throw all caution to the wind and become a long haired leaping gnome!  It's like I can't help it!  (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)

Thankfully I still feel well and I promise to rest the remainder of the day.  Honest...

Peace out my lovelies...