Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Midsummer Night's Dream

'It's been awhile...'. I swear I write a post every year that begins with this sentiment. True to form, here I am again this year returning from a rather lengthy blogging hiatus. I'm starting to realize that certain seasons of the year are busier for me than others and I'm wondering whether this may also be a reflection of the larger 'seasons' of life. Every year, summer is a write-off, with endless visits from friends that have moved 'away',  sun-stained patio nights, staycation adventures and weddings. And now that I'm well into the summer of life, I feel equally short on time to squeeze in everything I want from these wondrous months and years.

As I write this I am sprawled out on a couch in  condominium of a couple I have never met.  It's a gorgeous spot, smack dab in the heart of Kitlslano Beach, Vancouver, British Columbia. I am here for the wedding of my dear friend, Andrew. I met his bride-to-be only last week and in my very humble opinion he has chosen wisely.  The wedding is set for Friday, but the parties have already begun. Being an 'out-of-town' guest has its perks, as I've been invited to the rehearsal dinner and also get to help out with pre-wedding decorations (this is genuinely fun for me!).

While I've been on the West Coast I've also had the chance to catch-up with some other very dear friends. I made the trek to Victoria for the weekend and stayed with my very wonderful, adventurous friend, Natasha.  Sometimes I feel like she's my younger sister, other times the closest confidante a gal could wish for.  My friend, Chris, whom I met way back in 2002 while doing my first co-op work term in Ottawa, also lives in Victoria with  his wife of 8 years, Wendy. They just had a little boy, Paul, who is legitimately as super-cute baby (come on, we all know they're not ALL cute when they're babies. so let's just admit it!).  It was an extremely enjoyable and rewarding trip, complete with farmers' markets and a mountain hike that made me feel better about all the sangria I drank to celebrate my birthday.

Returning to Vancouver after the weekend, I met up with my friend, Christine, who is truly an indomitable spirit with a ferocious talent for making food taste divine (she's a Red Seal Chef). She is getting married in a few weeks to an equally impressive man.  I'm pretty sure they're super heroes by night. 

On Tuesday night I had the great fortune of meeting up with my kindred spirit, Donna. Donna and I met back in 2011 at a rural tourism conference in the interior of BC. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea why my employer bothered to send me across the country for a conference that was clearly province-based, but I am so glad he did. Donna ended up being  my 'roomie' in the chalet I had booked and we hit it off immediately. I am so grateful for my intuition, which allows me to pick up on compatible energies really quickly. Well, we had limited time in rural BC to truly cement a friendship, but kindred spirits cannot be kept apart, so when I messaged Donna that I was coming to Vancouver, where she now lives, she made a point of planning a special evening and inviting me to be part of it. I had a most fantastic time with her and two of her four daughters, as well as her daughter's friend, at Theatre Under the Stars in Stanley Park. TUTS, as it is known, featured a Broadway musical adaptation of the movie Shrek; it was spectacular and hilarious!!

Me being me, I am always searching for the deeper meaning and messages from my experiences in life and this trip to the West Coast has provided much by way of reflection on life and relationships. I've been gifted with slices of time in the lives of some beautiful people. I've observed snippets of their existence and had conversations, big and small, with them. All of the moments I've spent with them have been illuminating. Everyone is at a differing stages of life in their relationships - from newly single to almost married to LT married with a new baby. They're also at different stages in their careers- from the friend that finally has a job she absolutely loves to the friend that's suffering through a fifth year at a job s/he hates, to the friend contemplating a career change to the one that's on the search for a job aligned with their beliefs.

What I was reminded of through these interactions is that life is an exciting, never-ending series of experiences. Some will be more challenging and stressful than others. Some will feel more stable and safe, others will feel more like a roller-coaster ride.  Ultimately, however, each and every one of these experiences will morph into  anew experience with the passage of time. The newly weds will be old pros at the marriage thing, the single gals will more likely than not find themselves in the throes of another relationship, the parents of the new baby will soon be sending their little guy off to school. Some may leave their current jobs for more fulfilling careers, others may move into new positions at beloved workplaces. 
 We do not often make the time to take stock of the grand experiences that life has offered us. We are so focused on what is coming down the pipeline we forget to stand in gratitude of all the experiences we have been gifted with so far.  Sometimes it takes a vacation to a place far from home and a peak into the lives of others to make us realize how wondrous each stage in life is, and how very unique our journeys through this world truly are.

We don't really know what the future holds, but with each new day the future transforms itself into the present and there we are, moving through it and dealing with all that it has to offer us, both the challenges and the rewards. This year has been an epic one for me in terms of experiences and change. I feel that I am in the midst of a phenomenal shift in the trajectory of my life and I am nothing short o ecstatic about the current relationships and opportunities for growth that life has presented me with. 

I stand in gratitude for the friends who have invited me into their worlds, I am inspired by each and every one of you.  Thank you for reminding me that life is an accumulation of experiences that are best shared with those that you choose to love and that choose to love you.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

From A Land Down Under

Changing it up a little with this post by sharing a wee snippet of nostalgia and creative writing from a time and place that still remain vividly imprinted in my memory.

It's been 7 years since I last adventured off this continent to Oz. It was my home for 10 months, but in that short period of time the entire trajectory of my life shifted. When I returned to Canada, I was compelled to write and I found myself writing almost exclusively about my time in the Land Down Under. Here is one piece of writing in a series I simply titled 'Australian Vignettes'.   

Saving Wales

A kookaburra laughs at me incessantly. Clutching my mobile phone, my eyes sweep the caked-dry dirt path in front of me as I quicken my pace, the muted browns and yellows of the drought-laden landscape threatening to strike out at my exposed ankles. Tara and Jake bound ahead, their floppy ears batting away the horseflies, their pink tongues sponging up the dry, dusty air of the Australian outback they frenetically chase the promise of adventure, oblivious to the fear paralyzing their human companion.

Gravity-fed by a dam that is as parched as the straw grass that pock marks the barren valley, the water pump has gone again. I am charged with fixing it or calling a plumber. Trotting lightly along the path Jo and Jason have carved out with the Ranger, I curse self-determination.  Gritting my teeth, I push my bejewelled mauve sunglasses up the sweaty bridge of my nose and replay the practice session in my head.  Some twenty pairs of brown eyes take in my frantic trotting. A herd of curious, thirsty Welsh ponies follow along the fence line. The soft, rhythmic beat of their hooves against the hard clay is reassuring, a warning to any slithery outback creatures to stay away.

There it sits under a swaggering eucalyptus, canopied from the harsh heat of a January sun, remarkably white, its enamel smooth and its claws perfectly manicured. For one long heart beat I am tempted by the unspoken invitation to strip off my sweaty mucking-out clothes and skinny dip in the Outback’s bathtub-turned-water-trough. Self-consciously, I look back over my shoulder for unwanted voyeurs. They are still, standing in headstrong formation, waiting for their water goddess to save Wales.

Instructions on How to Save Wales:

Turn the orange valve clockwise as far as it will go. Ditto for the valve in the ground too. Slide down to the water’s edge of the neighbour’s dam. Turn the water pump’s motor switch to ‘on’ and then yank the cord hard until the motor starts. Then the black hose has to fill with water. You can tell when it does, it’ll be heavy. Be patient, watch for snakes while you wait.  Then turn everything off, close the valves and go back to the house. If the toilet flushes, the pump’s working and you've saved Wales. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gettin' My Food On

Tonight I thought I permanently misplaced one of my cats. Thankfully, I was wrong and therefore have a few spare moments to do something other than freak out and traipse around Charlottetown trying to find a black and white feline. I decided to take these spare moments to do some writing, including a wee blog post (ta da!) and something other yet-to-be-determined prose (I'm going to pull out Julia Cameron's 'The Artist's Way' and try diving in the deep end of the creative writing pool again. Sadly, there is no pool bar because I forgot to stock up on wine, so sobriety it shall be).

It's the middle of April and, thankfully, the snow finally appears to be melting. Today was a superbly warm and sunny day, so I took the opportunity to go for my first outdoor jog of the year. Sunday was the first BBQ of the year and my first ever scooter ride (so much fun that I immediately decided I must visit Greece and become a scooter aficionado).  I have to say, getting some Vitamin D via the sunshine really does add an extra shot of energy to the system. 

The past month has been rather crazy busy and I'm just now catching my breath and having a chance to relax a little.  On April 3rd the MEAL team hosted A Heritage MEAL at the PEI Farm Centre and it appears to have been a smashing success, based on attendance, feedback and the massive amount of food prepared and consumed. There were some bumps in the lead up to the event, namely due to the insane number of storms/blizzards PEI experienced, but we pulled it off in the end. We had some amazing speakers talking about everything from garlic growing to promoting local food through social media to volunteer opportunities with the PEI Food Exchange.  I had to suppress a laugh any time someone raved about the oatcakes or gingersnaps, because I was in charge of baking them and totally screwed up the measurement of butter. Apparently butter makes everything better, just like bacon!

So, another successful MEAL under our belts and already there is talk of 'the next MEAL'. Every time I hear those words, I am equal parts excited and terrified. Organizing such an event is so inspiring, I absolutely loved meeting and working with so many awesome people, and I'm moved by the outpouring of support and engagement that the MEALs have garnered. On the other hand, it is a heck of a lot of work and stress. Granted, wine consumption helps with both of those issues. Stay tuned (probably for a long time) to find out if another MEAL is in the works.

Tomorrow I am co-hosting a Lunch N' Learn called 'Taking Charge of Your Health'. My very wonderful friend and mentor, Robert Paterson, is the other host and has been taking charge of his health with great success for a number of years. I, on the other hand, represent the 'struggle' that most of us experience when trying to make better health choices.  I feel like I've had many milestones on my 'journey', but this last one (eliminating sugar) has been the game-changer in so many ways. So, tomorrow I will talk about how I managed to finally break the sugar addiction and we will invite attendees to speak about their own experiences, challenges and successes. Both Rob and I feel that it's really important to have a community of support when working towards better eating and living.

Burger Love is back. This year there are 54 restaurants participating. Personally, I think it's a bit much when a pizzeria and an Italian restaurant are serving up burgers, but that's just my opinion. I didn't intend to actually eat any burgers this year, but it seems that every social rendezvous must centre around burger consumption, so I've actually had 4 burgers, but ate twice at the same restaurant, so have only had three different burgers. I highly recommend both The Olympian at the Downtown Deli and M-2 at Mavor's. I was not so enamoured with the one at St. James' Gate, which is, ironically, the one I ate twice. It was OK, but not mind-blowing.

And that concludes another random blog post by moi. It is now too late to start creative writing, so instead I will give kitty cats some snuggles and then go to bed.

Friday, March 21, 2014

One Year Later...

It's been one year since I left the 'comfort' of my 9-5 job at UPEI and hurled myself into the world of unemployment. Well, maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic, but it's never easy to leave something lucrative and secure for something that is neither of those things. Still, once I'd made my mind up about leaving and hammered out my exit plan, I didn't have any second thoughts about whether it was the 'right' decision.  I intuitively knew I had to leave in order to remain aligned with my heart's desires. The 9-5 had afforded me the ability to move back to PEI, build some savings and start developing a network during my off-work hours.

And now, here I am a year later. The world has opened its arms to me and there seem to be a litany of opportunities within my grasp. I've started my own consulting business and have already had clients (blink), I'm working with an awesome start-up, and I'm continuing to expand my social and professional networks and meeting amazing people in the process.  Most importantly, I wake up every day with a sense of purpose and excitement. I always knew I wasn't cut out for regular employment, but I didn't realize that I'd actually be so fond of self employment. Mind you, I do realize it's early days and maybe at some point the appeal will dull a bit (likely when I'm relegated to buying discount Mr. Noodles due to a dry spell of contracts). Until then, however, I'm going to ride this wave and enjoy it.

So, you know, life is hunky dory.

Well, except for one wee, nagging little thing that I have to figure out...

Flashback to October 2011: Shannon enrolls in the Natural Nutrition Program with the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition with the intent of getting her Registered Holistic Nutrition designation within two years.

Flash forward to March 2014: Shannon has paid for the nutrition program in full ($3,500) and paid a small extension fee, which will allow her until Oct. 2014 to complete the program requirements. She's spent countless hours studying and completed 75% of the coursework/assignments.

Seems like a no-brainer right? I'm at the tail end of the program, I'm fully committed money-wise and I've got til October to finish up.

The thing is, I'm just not convinced that I have it in me to do the consulting gig AND finish my program. By stretching out my studies, I think my retention of the topics I've studied thusfar has been minimal and the biggest hurdles of the program are the ones that remain: Bio-Chemistry course, 10 Nutritional Case Studies (these are a helluva a lot of work) and the final exam (gulp).

I know it can  be done, but taking on ALL the things might just burn me out. I've come to the conclusion that there's a threshold for the amount of work I can take on and after I pass that threshold, I'm really no fun to be around and all of my work suffers. Basically. I implode.  Not good.  So, I'm a little uncertain of what to do. I know I'll figure it out and writing this blog post is part of the process of figuring it out. Even as I am writing this, I find myself leaning towards trying to finish the program at an even-keeled pace.  I'm going to see if my intuition gives me any further direction over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wearing Food and Other Tales from the Table of Life

A few months back I ran out of my usual drugstore moisturizer and apparently was too lazy to replace the bottle. Also, I think I was having an increasingly difficult time justifying  spending $14 for a little bottle of a product that's main ingredient is water. But, yeah, mostly I was just lazy/forgetful.  I've been going sans moisturizer for awhile now and have seen no ill effects. Shockingly, my face hasn't shriveled up into a prune. Still, there are benefits to hydration of the skin, so a little voice in the back of my head's been telling me I've got to get back on the moisturizing bandwagon.   I knew I didn't want to go back to the bottle o' moisturizer, but didn't know what I 'should' be using. 

Enter Meghan Telpner, Toronto-based nutritionist and authorof  UnDiet, a book that is unlike any other diet/health books I've come across, in terms of both content and accessibility. In a nutshell, she makes healthy eating and living sound so freakin' fun! Thanks to Raeanne for telling me about Meghan.

There are many things I love about Meghan's book, but until this past week I'd mainly focused my attention on the food related chapters and skimmed over the 'natural beauty' chapter. Admittedly, I wasn't too sure about the chocolate avocado mask that she had a recipe for...I 'may' have been concerned I'd just be licking my face off. In any case, while cleaning out the kitchen cupboards this past weekend I came across an unopened jar of coconut oil and it occurred to me that there might be some alternative uses for this oil, besides cooking.  Lo and behold, it turns out that coconut oil is well known (in some circles anyways) as an excellent body/beauty product that can replace everything from hair products to shaving cream guessed it...a moisturizer!

So I've been smearing coconut oil on my face for the past few days and that's been kind of fun.  Yes, that's the end of my coconut oil story....for now. Stay tuned for the sequel when I shave my legs.

In other news, the crazy-busyness of February has passed, but it's been replaced with an equally cray-busy March. I think I'm just going to have to face the fact that my life is probably going to be fairly busy from hereon out. I have a knack for taking on too many things at once, but I guess I must like it or I would stop doing that right?

In any case, amongst the several things that will keep me busy this month is my co-coordinating (volunteer) gig with A Heritage MEAL.  Yes, we're at it again, planning another celebration of local food and food producers in the hopes that we can raise awareness/educate the public while having a fun, delicious time!

This time there are new faces on the team and some from the past MEALs are missing (and missed), but the enthusiasm and awesomeness of the group remains invigorating.  Currently we are working to get food donations and, as with the last two MEALs, I've been blown away by the generosity of the food producers we've approached - everyone wants to donate!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I'm also getting excited by the line-up of speakers we're going to have at the MEAL. We've got four speakers confirmed already, including an organic farmer (Matt Dykerman), a junior high school student (Cameron Ralph), a professor and expert in seaplants (Dr. Irene Novaczek), and a high-energy Chef (Sarah Bennetto O'Brien) with a vision to bring fresh, local takeout to Borden (you should totally check out her Kickstarter campaign).

Hells yeah, it's going to be a time!!

Warning: the rest of this post is even more rambly than the portion above. Just sayin'

This past weekend, after working crazy 10 to 12 hour days for most of the two weeks that preceded, I promised myself I'd take a day off and do nothing. Well, nothing except go to the gym and market.  My plan to do nothing else lasted for approximately 1 hour, after which I called up a friend and asked if she wanted to meet at Timothy's to do work. Then the next day I spent 10 hours cleaning my apartment from top to bottom. It was exhausting, but I really needed to make this space feel like mine and a good clean was in order.  Wow, yeah, I can't seem to stop doing things. Even now, instead of just vegging, I'm writing a blog post.  This is what happens when you do a marathon of House of Cards, then your ex-boyfriend takes the Playstation when he moves out and you can't watch Netflix on the TV anymore.

Also, it appears I'm down several lbs and it's true what they say, you will lose it in places you wish you didn't have to lose it. Sigh, goodbye chest, it's been a slice.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


It seems like blogging is the first thing to get tossed from my to-do list when life gets super busy, as it has been for the past month.  So, tonight with a few minutes left before bedtime, I'll attempt to share in extreme conciseness what the last month has brought about in my life.

In a nutshell, it has brought me freedom (as per the title post).  Career-wise, I've never felt more in control of my future and more excited to greet every day. I launched my own consulting business in early February and whilst not even advertising this fact, I've  been inundated with opportunities to put my skills to great use. Communications and research are the main skills on offer,  with a focus on food/agricultural projects (surprise, surprise). I've been working like a madwoman on a research study that I hope will lead to some amazing, tangible opportunities for PEI food producers. I've also been working for GetGifted, a start-up marketing company here in PEI that has seen phenomenal growth over the past year, and have a few other 'jobs' on the ledger. I'm not going to lie, I've worked more in the past month than I probably did over several months at my last job, but I am loving it!!! I guess I need more than the promise of a paycheque to enjoy a day's work.

Freedom has also found its way to my personal life. After several months co-habitating with my ex we finally parted ways this past weekend. To say it was a relief would be an understatement. Don't get me wrong, I still think he's a great guy and I do think we'll be friends after we've had some space from each other for a wee bit, but I am SO glad to have a space to myself again. It is liberating and, finally, it feels like I'm ready for the next chapter of my life to be written.

I'm still on my sugar detox and that represents another avenue to freedom that I'd not even considered for most of my life. I didn't realize what a grip sugar had on my daily existence until I decided to let it go. Every other time I've given up sugar it's been a real struggle and I've had a hard time saying no to candy, chocolate and desserts. This time is different somehow. I don't know why, but I don't even find myself tempted to eat sugar and there have been plenty of opportunities to do so over the past couple of months, trust me. I'm so very grateful I've been able to reach a point where sugar doesn't have a grip on me and I've no inclination to go back to my candy-aholic ways.

And now it's time for bed. Or maybe a little more folk music, because it seems like a good night to listen to some Leonhard Cohen. 

Sunday, February 09, 2014

4 Weeks Without 'It' and I Feel Fine

Back when I was in university doing my business degree one of my friends dubbed me with the name 'candy whore' because, as she put it, I'd do anything for candy. While that was a slight exaggeration, it is certainly true that I had an addiction to candy that was a little unusually for someone over the age of 13.

I recall one time, during the Hallowe'en season, I was at the grocery store and eyed a bin full of big bags with those delicious rockets (you know, the little pill-sized candies). I was trying to 'be good',  but couldn't resist at least taking a sniff. I held the bag up to my nose and at that very moment a cute guy with a grocery basket walked by. I set the back down with an abashed look on my face and hurried off. A week later I was back at the grocery store and saw that same damn bin of rockets and, again, couldn't resist picking it up and giving it a good long smell. That was when the SAME guy walked by with a basket of groceries again! To say I was embarrassed is quite the understatement. I also realized at some point that the dude was one of those 'plain clothes' security guys that patrols stores with a basket in hand.

My sugar addiction goes way back to infancy. Apparently my mother would sometimes try to hide that she was eating a chocolate bar when toddler Shannon was nearby, but I'd somehow sniff it out and demand some.   Suffice to say. it's been a lifelong relationship. Until 4 weeks ago, that is.

It all started at a Lebanese restaurant back in December of 2013. My good friend, Mathieu, and I were slurping down hot chocolates and talking about everything under the sun. Eventually we landed on the topic of our health. One thing led to another and we ended up committing to doing a sugar detox when he came back from holidays in early January.

Well, in the between early December and Mathieu's return from Montreal holidays, I plum forgot about our plan. In fact, I was stocking up on post-Christmas discounted chocolate and enjoying a nightly hot chocolate.

Then, BAM. Mathieu and his endless enthusiasm landed back on PEI! He was still up for the sugar detox so I begrudgingly agreed to start  with him on Monday, January 13th. We made some agreements as to what was allowed (a little honey or maple syrup for our tea/smoothies, natural sugars in fruits and alcohol, stevia) and what wasn't allowed (anything with refined sugar in it, HFCS, aspartame/sucralose), and we were off and running!!

We didn't set a timeline, we just agreed we'd do it for as long as we could/wanted to. I recall Mathieu, always the cheerleader and optimist saying 'This could be forever.' and me being quick to remind him that we'd both tried sugar detoxes before and had clearly ended them at some point.

Well, it's now been four weeks of sugar free life and the truth is, i feel fine! In fact, I feel more than fine, I feel GREAT! I don't find myself craving sugar or missing it. I've also lost a noticeable amount of weight (possibly also due to cutting down on food intake in general) and I feel more in control of my diet. I've been able to navigate 3-course set menus at restaurants simply by asking if I could replace the dessert option with an appetizer option. Every restaurant has been accommodating and I've truly enjoyed chowing down on a gourmet salad while sitting next to someone gorging on a Chocolate Bombe!

My biggest challenge with respect to not 'caving' was actually when I was sick. I find when I am sick, I want comfort food and, of course, for me sugar is comfort food. I managed to keep myself off the sugars by making smoothies (unsweetened almond milk as the base).

I think that this sugar detox has been easier than other ones I've done because I haven't eliminated anything else from my diet and I also haven't set a timeframe for this detox. Sometimes, perhaps, less pressure and fewer constraints are better. One of the other things I've noticed about this particular sugar detox, is that I've not been inclined to replace the sugar with something equally addictive and unhealthy, such as chips or crackers. I've also not increased my intake of other foods, rather I've been decreasing it. Feeling great and seeing visible results when I look in the mirror is now a better treat than a piece of chocolate.

 We'll see what the future holds, but for now I'm lovin' the no-sugar life. I also have to give HUGE props to Mathieu for sticking to his detox even while he is in Sochi for this month as a member of the Mission team for our Canadian athletes! Yay Mathieu!

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I came down with a fever yesterday, it was not fun. Woke up feeling pretty good and did some productive things, but now fever and aches have returned.  A measure of how sick I am - I didn't eat anything after noon yesterday, until my stomach told me it needed something and I gave it a banana at 1 am. Today, I had a smoothie. Just prepared some bacon and eggs with salad for dinner, but could only finish half of it and even then was forcing myself

Being sick sucks.  I have no doubt that sickness is partially due to stress that I'm currently experiencing.  On the plus side, I just had the best two hours of Chewy cuddles ever. The little guy spooned with me on the couch and I stole all his kitty cat warmth. Oh dear god, am I turning into a cat lady?

Good things that happened this past week: awesome meeting for next Meet Eat and Learn (aka A Hertiage MEAL) with some fab peeps, submitted my business plan to SelfEmploy PEI (finally!), and hung out with awesome peeps on Friday night.

For me, this is  a short blog post.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It Goes On

My father gave me a calendar for Christmas, with inspirational quotes for each month.  The first one reads as follows:

'In three words I can sum up everything I know about life: it goes on.'

There are many ways to interpret this message.  In the context of my own life right now, these words are a gentle reminder that the current circumstances of my life are merely that: current. Life will go on, the circumstances will change and what seems all-consuming and challenging right now will be but a faded memory.

It's also a beautiful way to be reminded that every day and every moment is an opportunity to embrace the present moment and let go of the past.

In case it's not evident, the past week has been a rough one for me for various reasons I care not to divulge. I realize we all have our rough days or weeks and I'm totally OK with that. Usually I can just let myself drift through it until my 'groove' reappears.  This week, however, was a little different. Rather than just being 'off', I felt like I was tumbling.  It was not a good feeling. Every night I would go to bed, hoping for a good night's rest and to awaken with gratitude for life, and every night I would toss and turn and wake up feeling more anxious and unenthusiastic than the day before.  I'm not sure it helped that I'd decided to start a sugar detox on Monday (still going strong on that front!).

This week was also different because I had an interview for a job.  To put this into context, the last 'official-like' interview I had for a job was approximately 3.5 years ago when I interviewed for the Tourism Research Centre.  This time the interview was for an Events Coordinator position with the PEI Farm Centre Association. Unfortunately, due to my physical exhaustion, lack of enthusiasm, and mental fogginess, I did not interview well at all. I'm not normally great at interviews anyways, but I can usually express a decent degree of enthusiasm and provide some coherent thoughts. Alas,  this was not the case in this instance.  Sometimes having an off day or an off week has a much bigger impact on one's life than at other times.

Life goes on.

Yesterday was the first day I woke up feeling closer to normal. That was nice.  I'm still suffering from restless sleeps and suspect that until I get back into a decent sleep pattern, I'll continue to feel a little off my game.  The plan for this coming week, therefore, is to give myself lots of 'down time' in the evenings and go to bed early.

I've also found that the company of good friends is a great pick-me-up. It's hard to feel blue when you are surrounded by amazing people. So, more friend dates is another plan to get my game back. Any other 'game-reviving' tips are welcome.

For now, I'm going to try to take it easy and be kind to myself.

Life is going on.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Goals, Goals and More Goals

I always underestimate how busy January will be.  While the holidays tend to be crazy-busy they also invite a suspension of time and productivity. For days on end one might do nothing but eat, drink and be merry with friends. Then January hits and BAM - back to life, back to reality.

As per the past three or four years, I've added to the insanity of post-holiday life by setting out numerous goals for this coming year.  It's been proven by science (woot!) that people are something like 90 percent more likely to accomplish something if they set a measurable goal and then write it out.  So I identified the major areas of my life that I wanted to set goals for, such as Career, Financial, Personal Development, Health, Relationships, etc.  and then went about the task of identifying measurable accomplishments I'd like to reach by the end of the year with respect to each goal.  My process from there will be to break these goals down into more attainable mini-goals that I want to accomplish in two month intervals. Finally, after I've identified my goals for the 2-month period that is coming up, I'll set out weekly goals and schedule time to make sure I can accomplish it. That's the theory anyways. I'm fully aware that sometimes 'life' gets in the way, and goals change or are delayed, but even if I only accomplish 50 or 70 percent of the goals I've outlined, it's likely more than I would if I hadn't written them down in the first place.

So what are these goals I speak of? Well, I've not the inclination to share them all because 1) there are too many and you're likely to get bored (if you haven't already) 2) some of them are too personal, but here are three that I am especially excited about and/or are related to food:

Rediscover the Writer Within - Growing up I was a voracious reader and dreamed of becoming a writer (amongst other childhood career dreams that included 'being a millionaire'). During my undergrad in Business Administration, I took as many electives in Creative Writing as possible. In fact, I believe I took the same course twice and justified it because the instructor was different. I loved writing, but always faced two problems: 1) it was an ongoing challenge to get words on paper that were satisfactory to my high standards 2) I could rarely finish a story or piece of writing; instead I'd start anew on another story. It was frustrating by times, but the classes helped push me to at least write some words, even if they weren't perfect.

After university my main outlet for writing became this very blog, which I originally set up in 2004 as a means of documenting my life in Scotland (this was before Facebook and status updates existed). I've never considered my blog to be a reflection of my creative writing, rather it tends to be a collection of random thoughts and activities that have marked the passage of time in my life. I continued to blog throughout my time in Scotland, during my short stint back on PEI after Scotland and then while I was living in Australia in 2006/2007, but didn't pursue any more creative writing.

When I returned from Australia,  I cocooned myself away for the winter in PEI and began reading Julia Cameron's book 'The Artist's Way', which is really a self-directed course in rediscovering your creative self.  My time in Australia had been a gift, an opportunity to begin listening to what my soul truly wanted in this lifetime and I opened myself to the gift, even though I would not realize it until years later. In those winter months after returning from Oz, I wrote more and I wrote better than I ever had before.  It was raw writing, teeming with emotions and experiences that I'd inhaled during my time in the Land Down Under. And then, as winter turned to spring and my life took a new direction, I began to neglect my writing again. Such is life and from 2008 until this past week, I gave only passing thought to the creative writer within me.

As life would have it, the heavy snow and freezing rain that wreaked havoc over the holidays this year and saw me stuck in the apartment during the first weekend of this year was what led to my realization that I have been neglecting the writer within me.  I had been perusing my Facebook page and saw a post from one of the women that  I'd met while in Australia, Jo. She and her family were the first ones to welcome me into their home when I decided to leave Sydney and do Help Exchange, where I would offer my help to with housework or farmwork to hosts in exchange for room and board.  I stayed on Jo's farm for a month. It was a turning point in my life, but I didn't know it then. In any case, seeing her name pop up on my FB feed reminded me of the writing I'd done upon returning to PEI. I searched my laptop and was grateful to find my writing was still filed away under 'Old Laptop Backup'.  Normally when I look back at writing I've done in the past, I am fairly critical of it, but this time I was struck by how well I had cast scenes and characters. 

I decided to take this as my soul's way of saying it wants me to start writing creatively again. And so I have set a goal of immersing myself in creative writing again. To jumpstart my forays back into creative writing, I've decided to take a Creative Writing course through the local community school. Apparently some wires got crossed between the instructor and the school organizers, because our teacher thought she was providing a novel-writing course. So, over the next 10 weeks I'll either be attempting to write my first  novel or delving back into memoirs and short story writing.

Eating Well and Trying New Recipes

Yes, I do try to eat well, but it never hurts to reinforce an on-going goal by writing it down! To add some pizazz to the goal, I've included the additional challenge of trying new recipes.  More specifically, my goal is to try out one new recipe per week in my kitchen.

In an effort to make eating good food an easy and fun experience, I will be trying to prep food in advance and cook up batches of deliciousness, so that I can freeze and reheat when time doesn't allow for scratch-cooking. Earlier this evening, I prepared my meal plan for the week. Breakfast will always be a smoothie of some variation, while lunch will tend to be leftovers from dinner along with a fresh salad.  To make dinners easy, I've set aside three nights where I will prep food for dinners, lunches and the freezer. Tonight I prepared Pad Thai and a yummy Sweet Potato-Orange-Ginger Soup. Tomorrow night I'll make quinoa or bean-veggie burgers and Wednesday night I'll prep a greek inspired quiche (feta and olives = yum!). I've got loads of organic greens and organic tomatoes to complement every meal as well.

It's really easy to fall off the 'eating well' wagon, but the trick is to get right back on the wagon, because the body needs and deserves good nutrition to function properly and prevent disease.

Fall More In Love with Myself

OK, so maybe this one is pretty personal, but I'm OK with sharing this goal. I think this is THE goal that one must always be striving towards if any of the other goals or accomplishments in one's life are to have any substance. What I mean is that I believe I must be madly in love with who I am. Only then can I be completely confident that everything I choose to do is aligned with my true purpose and heart's desires. This sounds a little hokey, I know. That's probably because it is, but I don't care. Not everything in life worth pursuing is tangible; in fact I'd say most things worth pursuing are intangible.  It's about waking up with a feeling of gratitude, love and excitement. It's about being able to take leaps of faith because you are attuned to your heart's desires. It's about believing in yourself and loving all the bits and pieces that make up your being.

So how does one transform this into actionable mini-goals? Well, I'm not saying I have the surefire formula, I'm just working with what has helped me get to where I am on this journey thusfar - setting aside time for daily meditation; journalling; taking solitary walks in the forests and on beaches; spending time with like-minded people; being present in the moment; recording that which you are grateful for (about yourself and about life); getting enough sleep; saying 'yes' out loud whenever your gut says it inside, and taking time to simply be alone and still in nature. 

Those, my friends, are just a few of the many goals I've set for myself this year. In case it's not obvious, another goal is to blog at least once per week.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2014 - The Year of Me

It's been awhile. I make no apologies, life happens and sometimes you have to put things like blogging on the back burner. For those of you that want the Coles Notes version of life from August 2013 - Dec 2013, here it is:  Went South of the border. Became single again. Totally procrastinated on nutrition studies. Started doing some new stuff that I can't disclose (get your mind out of the gutter, not THAT kind of stuff). Gained 7 lbs during the fall, lost 8 lbs during December.  Lamented the end of CSA season. Mourned the loss of an amazing man and farmer. Began to discover the beauty in letting go of security.  That's 4 months in a nutshell.

And now it's 2014. For once, the transitions in my life seem to be generally in sync with the changing of the calendar year. This is a first and I'm going to embrace it by making this year about me. Self-absorbent?   Maybe.   Invigorating? Definitely.

This past year ended up being all about making changes, some easy and some more difficult, to get to a position where I could begin the next big chapter in creating a life that I am truly passionate about living.  I let myself be free from the shackles of a 9-5 job. I parted ways with a man whom I loved, but whom I could not envision living my authentic life with. I began to re-discover the magic of saying 'yes' to new experiences and opportunities. I let myself be OK with where I am on my journey.

Now, as this new year unfolds, it is my intention to take bigger, bolder steps into the unknown and undiscovered. Who knows, maybe I'll even be ready to take leaps and bounds. I hope you will wish me well on my journey, as I will wish you well on yours, whatever it may be. Let us make the most of the moments before us, and let those that have passed us by serve as lessons to learn from rather than to lament.