Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

I am sitting in my bed at Mom & Jim's house in Long Creek. It is 1.11 a.m of 01/01/2009.  
The snow started to fall about three hours ago - prelude to a blizzard that is going to thump the Maritimes tomorrow.   This seems as fitting a scene as any to do a little reflecting on the year that has passed and the year that is to come.  

 - Many hours later - 

So my attempt to write an insightful blog post at an ungodly early hour in the morning did not pan out.  It is now 9.04 Pm of 01/010/2009 and I am sitting by the fireplace in the living room with laptop, quite appropriately, in lap and the blizzard still blazing its way through Long Creek.

These last few weeks on PEI have given me much by way of food for thought, as well as food for my belly!  No, but really, there's something to be said for the therapeutic nature of 'coming home'. It is in this familiar place and space that I am able to find myself again and again.  Funny how one needs both to venture into the unknown and then return to the known in order to truly realize what has come to pass in the journey. At least, that's  been my experience.  

So how does one measure one's journey through a year, or through another chapter in their journey?  I'm not so sure there's a generic formula - I reckon there's a different measuring stick that each of us uses. For me, I think that measuring stick considers three things:  my relationship with myself, my relationships with others, and my progression towards inner happiness.  

And for me, it's all a measure of relativity - how much better did I do in this chapter than I did in my last chapter?  I can't measure against any other standard and I hope that no one tries to do such a thing. You are on your own journey, so find your own guiding light and don't let yourself be measured against other people's expectations of you, or those imposed by society.  

Sometimes coming home is hard. There are more intersections with one's past than they might care to encounter. For me, this is the case.  It is hard not to be reminded of what who you used to be in the company of people who knew you  at different intervals of the past. And while, thankfully, most of those people - family and truly wonderful friends - allow you to grow and stick with you on your journey, there are others that remain inevitable reminders that you've not always been a great friend or wonderful daughter.

The temptation in these instances is to wallow in self-pity or punish yourself for your past errors. But what good is that?  This year when I was confronted with a reminder of a past iteration of me that I've worked very hard to improve, I was tempted by anger (at myself and at those who haven't the inclination to engage the present iteration of me) and let it take hold briefly - for the length of a 4 kilometer jog to be precise.  At some time during that jog I decided I needed a little help from my friends to get through this one and found myself grateful because I had two wonderful, insightful friends - old friends - that listened and loved.  

In the end, these little intersections with the past serve as reminders not of what we once were, but of how far we've come from there.  In my case, this particular intersection also served to remind me that I am blessed with some truly outstanding friends.

So in measuring the latest chapter of my life, I have to say I'm pretty happy. Over the past year (and beyond), I've put a lot of energy into ME.  And I can not only see the progress, I can feel it.  I am happier with who I am than I've ever been before. I'm a work in progress - a woman in progress I suppose, and 2008 was a productive year in this regard.

 And in regards to my relationships with others - well, I know I'm not perfect by any means in this arena, but I know I'm getting better. I know because I find myself smiling more, hugging more and loving more.  An amazing domino affect of being happier with yourself is that you find more positive energy to give to your relationships with others.  

I am getting better. Every year since the close of 2005, I've seen marked progress. Maybe there is something to this whole 'getting older' thing (besides the reduced car rental rates that kick in at 25).  

Progress - it has positive connotations whilst still suggesting that there is more to be done, that there is some final point at which we must arrive. I'm not convinced yet.  For now, I'm quite content to be a woman in progress - to acknowledge that change is necessary and good, that it must be actively pursued by one's self, to accept that setbacks might occur, and to forgive the occasional error of judgement or mistake.  

And that, for now, is all I shall write.   

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

For all those whom I didn't reach with a Christmas card, I wish you wonderful moments for today and all the days to follow. Here is my Christmas letter for 2008:

As I sit down to pen this Christmas letter, I find myself unsure of where to begin. It’s tempting to give the typical chronological summary of the wonderful experiences and people this year has brought me. I am, however, reluctant to fall into temptation’s arms, because while ‘tis the season to reminisce, reflect and make resolutions for the future, ‘tis also the season to breathe in the moments that are unfolding now.  

So what is there to say about the moments that make up today?  It seems the economists, politicians, and media have plenty to say about what’s going on in the world today. Let’s face it, there’s an awful lot of doom and gloom being reported to us at every turn - war, economic downturn, environmental destruction. It’s not much of a leap to expect that we are going to find ourselves buying into what we’re hearing, which seems, at first and second glance, to be a rather somber, sobering and reasonable take on our present reality.                                

And while I can’t deny that there may be a tiny sliver of credence to be taken from their words, I also find myself wondering whether we might be better off, both individually and collectively, if we listened to ourselves. No, no I don’t mean that little voice in your head that says ‘Oh, I should have …..’, or ‘Oh, I wish I hadn’t done that’  or ‘They’re to blame, and there’s nothing I can do.’ . Why, that voice is just as destructive as those of the ‘experts’ we rely on for a daily dose of reality.   No, I’m not speaking of a voice per se, but rather of the innate power each of us possesses direct our thoughts, emotions and, ultimately, actions. (Stay with me here, I promise I’m not vying to replace Dr. Phil). 

This morning I was reminded of just how pervasive and easy it is to harness our own power - to create the moments that lay before us.  A family member relayed to me the good feeling he experiences each year when he donates a turkey to the local food drive, so that a less fortunate family can have food on the table at Christmas.  He had thought about making a donation, the idea made him feel good, and so he put it into action by buying a turkey and dropping it off at the CBC radio station. The result is that a local family will feed on a locally grown turkey provided to them by a neighbor they’ve never met. 

When he first told me of the good feeling that he gets from donating a turkey, I was inclined to take the cynical view that his generosity was, in part, motivated by self-gratification.  Then, when I sat down to write this letter, I started thinking about that conversation and I realized I was completely off the mark; he wasn’t motivated by self-gratification, he was motivated by love.   Yes, it is just that simple.  Each of us has this amazing power to act on our thoughts and the related emotions. And if you feel good about a thought that crosses your mind, and then decide to act on that thought, well, you’ve just put love into action. And I don’t care what they taught us in Grade 8 health class – love truly does make the world turn round.

I could write about the power of love, about our ability to overcome challenges and fears by seeking direction from our hearts and trusting our emotions to direct our actions, at any time of the year. It seems, however, that the Christmas season invites us to listen to our hearts more than at any other time. There’s something magical about the Christmas season that gives us pause for thought about our own fortunes and those of our fellow humans, that makes us smile at strangers on the sidewalk, that allows us to let our guard down so that we might, for nary a second, let the infinite power and warmth of love take hold. 

 While I’ll be the first to admit that my understanding of Christianity as a religion is limited, I think I’d find little argument that LOVE is the essence of Christmas.  Without fail, each of us, in one way or another, acts on the love that their heart is constantly generating.  Christmas is a mirror of our potential – reflecting back on us what we are capable of individually and collectively.  With love directing us, we leap across the chasm – from fear to hope, from desperation to inspiration.We let our guard down and open our hearts, and it is there that we realize what matters most and what matters not at all.  

My wish, for myself, for those I know and love, for those I don’t know but still love is this:  That we will spend more time tuning into what our heart is telling us, that we will act upon our thoughts and create goodness in this world, and that we will recall, throughout the year, the infinite potential for beauty and love that humanity rediscovers with each Christmas that passes.  

Love and hope are ours to give and ours to embrace.  That is what I write this letter with. I know it’s a bit heavy and lacking the wit and humor that I often attempt to infuse my letters with, but I cannot apologize for this. It was written purely from the heart, my fingers simply typed what I am feeling and it is impossible to limit what the heart wants to express. 

I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season and a truly unforgettable year ahead. Next year, I promise, I’ll write a Christmas letter so full of wit you won’t know what hit you           

Merry Christmas with Love and Hop 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

All Systems Down

You know in Star Trek when suddenly you all the lights on the Enterprise have gone out, the ship is shaking violently and there's a red alert. Yeah, that's us right now. And by us I mean Planet Earth.  Unfortunately there's no script that tells us things are going to be resolved in the 45 minutes by some stroke of technical genius (Data) or brilliant leadership (Captain Piccard). I'm not sure why I'm using a Star Trek analogy..I haven't watched that show in at least 12 years. But, well, we have been boldly going where no man has gone before in the past hundred years and, as it turns out while we may have gone boldly, even brazenly, we've not gone wisely.  And so, all the systems that have kept our ship going are failing. Each one so dependent on the next that they seem to be in a crumbling competition.   Every where I turn I see another system with red alert lights flashing - Wall Street, Maple Leaf Foods/centralized food system, educational institutions (no one fails and no one thinks critically), ecosystems, healthcare systems (superbugs).....oh dear me.   What are we to do? NOTHING that any leader is proposing as a solution to any one of these problems addresses the root of all these system shutdowns which is that they were never built properly in the first place.  These systems we've constructed, they are the problem and so long as we try to save the day by plugging solutions into this system, we might as well start counting down.   

I could rant much more poetically and coherently but I'm tired and need rest.  I'll get back to this when I have time...maybe over Christmas.....


Monday, November 03, 2008

Great Expectations

I've discovered I have an expectations.  Oh how I cringe at the idea of living up to someone else's expectations. Heck, I have a hard enough time living up to my OWN expectations. Well, it turns out that in deciding to go to grad school I've opted to let myself be subject to others' expectations. I can't count the number of times I've been reminded that I'm a grad student - and occasionally that I'm a grad student at Queen's. Apparently that has merit, apparently they don't accept just anyone. Sigh. I'm not saying this to toot a horn of any kind, I'm saying it because it freaks me out. I don't want to be subject to expectations regarding my ability to perform to standards set by others, and particularly those set by an academic institution with particular views of what merits worthiness and what doesn't. Eek.  I decided to embark on this journey because I had a passion that wasn't being nurtured, but now I am getting a bit stressed because it turns out, as a grad student, people expect certain things of me - namely that  I can think critically and produce higher quality work than I did in my undergrad.  
And I don't doubt my abilities. I'd just prefer not to have the pressure to demonstrate them all the time. Can I not have an off year in my ability to think critically? Seriously.  I have completely neglected my creative writing since the  craziness of summer began and now with school in full swing, my dedication to myself seems only to be with attending to my physical well-being. That is to say, I am still going to the gym every day and doing WW, but not sitting at the computer, writing creative stuff. Nor am I checking out indie films or reading anything besides food literature and environmental assessment articles. Gah.  

OK, moan over. I am going to go back to writing my SSHRC application b/c apparently I have to seek out scholarships. Fun!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Weight A Minute Mr. Postman

So I've not been vigilant with my writing as of late. Truth be told, I've not been particularly vigilant about a lot of things as of late. I'm not going to list the excuses, nor make apologies. I'm not sure what the point would be, and I'm quite sure no one but me would be interested in considering the reasons for my lack of vigilance in writing, eating, studying, etc.  Luckily for me (and for all of us), the past is past and life is a process of creation. This means every morning brings with it a chance to start anew.

Maybe I should be sharing with you what I've been up to for the last month. Or perhaps I should use this space to rant about the election results. Or maybe should I be telling you all that I have learned thusfar in graduate studies.  But I'm not going to. Instead I am going to rant, possibly rave and maybe say something worth thinking about, but that's a big maybe considering the late hour and the fact that I'm suffering from both back and head aches.

So today I paid $63 to have my willpower managed by a large corporate entity that makes Billions of dollars repackaging the Canadian Food Guide and selling it to people who want to lose weight, and want support in doing so. Yes folks, that's right, I joined Weight Watchers.

Now, you might think me rather cynical based on the tone above, but I'm not. I simply find it fascinating that we are willing to fork over $15 a week to step on a scale and let someone else see the number that appears! And we're quite happy to take the time to Point our foods so we don't eat in excess, but actually going to the local farmer's market to buy decent food (i.e. the kind of food that if eaten in proper portions would ensure weight was never an issue) is not worth the time or money. 

What gives? Why are we spending so much money and time on a system that is available to us at no cost via the Canadian Government's food guide? Or heck, if you don't trust the government, simply follow the tenants of Michael Pollan's book 'In Defense of Food'. This book truly is the prescription to a healthy diet: eat food (and Pollan's definition of food excludes all imitation foods such as margarine, hydrogenated thingies, low-fat/no-fat substitutes, etc.),  eat mostly leafs (yay spinach!), and don't eat too much. 

Oh, but let's face it, it's not that simple. We've surely gotten ourselves into a wee mess of a diet and lifestyle here in the Western world. How did we manage to get rid of basically everything good in our diet, while simultaneously replacing it with basically everything bad for our body? Not to mention our physical activity..or lack thereof. Well, in any case it seems we've forgotten something that, to every other species on the planet, is purely intuitive. We forgot how to eat.  

And now we are bombarded with messages every day telling us how to eat, telling us that we can eat whatever we want and lose weight, telling us it's the Omega 3s or the antioxidants that matter. Right.  When did food get so complicated? Or, more precisely, when did we decide to make food so complicated?  I daresay it was right around the same time we, as a society, decided to make everything else in our lives complicated by embracing economies of scale and the miracles of laboratory science. 

Last week I was at a conference (this is what they make us do at grad school !), and the focus was on 'Functional food and Natural Health Products'. So I listened to the speakers (most of them corporate reps or researchers) talk about soybeans, GMOs, the whole gambit. And all I could think was how amazingly effective we've become at repackaging and marketing nature's goods at premium prices.  Hmmm. The two things that bothered me the most (and trust me, there is a long list) were the following comments by speakers: 

1. 'We have to become more efficient at growing food because the population is increasing'.

THis from the the GMO advocate. OK, fair enough, the population on planet Earth is growing. But the question to ask is: why is the population growing? The very simple answer - because we are feeding it.  Yes, that's right, an amazing concept: feeding life begets more life.  And if you look at a graph of human population over the centuries you'll notice a remarkable thing - the population never reached more than  1 billion....until the last agricultural revolution. You know, the one where we became more efficient at growing food.  So yes, our efficiency has resulted in a population explosion. Some would argue there is nothing wrong with this as growth begets growth (of human innovation and evolution). But then you've got a wee problem called the ecosystem, upon which our survival as a species is totally dependent. ANd this ecosystem is built to accommodate species that follow a normal peak-ebb in population numbers. The ecosystem is NOT built for sustained growth of ANY species, particularly the one at the top of the food chain.  The more of us there are, the fewer there are of everything else on this planet and eventually...that will translate into fewer of us.  My point being this: we don't need more food production. 

2. 'FOr the first time in recorded history of ten thousand years our children will not outlive us. They will die at a younger age than their parents due to the health issues that they are experiencing - heart disease, diabetes, child obesity'.

What? Really? Has it really only taken two generations for the Western diet and lifestyle to wreak havoc on a generation of children born in 'times of plenty'? What does this mean for the health care system? What about the future of our workforce? What about China, India and all the other fast-developing countries that are adopting western diets and ways of life? What kind of legacy are we passing on to these nations that are steeped in eons of traditional culture and richly unique diets?  How did this happen and what can we do about it?  Who's to blame? And who's responsible for addressing this problem? 

OK, enough for now. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I'm Cheating..Kind Of

Well, I promised to write more often now that I'm settled in Kingston and apparently have loads of time to watch TLC's What Not to Wear, and discover the delights of indpendent shops in Kingston such as Cooke's Fine Foods, which provides a much appreciated venue for alleviating ALL withdrawal symptoms experienced since leaving Scotland. So, yes, I should have time to write a blog post, but as I'm sitting in front of a computer at the university, I feel inclined to actually do some know....for my degree. So, instead of repeating what I wrote in an email to some of the folks back home, I thought I'd just copy and paste, then maybe add a few more here's what I wrote:

Well, here I am settled into Kingston and my new life as a grad student and an entire month has already passed by! I do apologise for not writing sooner, although I will blame it partially on Toshiba as they decided to build a lemon of a laptop and I was the unlucky purchaser. Well, I'm very happy now, having upgraded from my Lemon to a wonderful Apple I like to call Mac.

One month into life as a Masters student at Queens and I am loving it! I haven't for one moment regretted or second guessed my decision although, admittedly, I have of occasionally questioned my ability to return to studious ways. I have classes twice a week - Monday afternoon and Friday morning. Ha. I'm taking two courses (we only have to take four during the entire program): Ecological Assessment and my core course - Methodologies and Concepts blah blah blah. The name of that course does not do it justice - it's actually bee quite fun to date - the central theme for this year is Wind Energy, because it just happens that there's a HUGE wind farm being built on Wolfe Island, which is only a short ferry ride away. So we went on a field trip in a bona fide orange school bus. I thought those days were long gone. We even had to sign a safety waiver (one of hte profs had actually been run over on the ferry a couple of years ago!).

Righto - so of course I'm here to do research right? OK, so I learn during my first week that my supervisor is leaving the university to head up some interesting project at Dal, but I've secured a new one and everyone seems very excited about the prospect of working in collaboration with a faculty member from the School of Business - I'm happy to be the guinea pig. Anyways, I've been spending some time trying to figure out exactly what it is I want to research and it looks like I'll be doing a compare & contrast of alternative/local food networks at varying stages of development. Right now, my thoughts are to study Prince Edward Island, Prince Edward County (an area just south of Kingston where they've revitalized the rural economy with a focus on local food and wineries) and either some place in Europe or Cuba. We'll see.

As for life in Kingston - I love it. It's a beautiful town, with quite a bit of history so if I drink enough whisky in a pub downtown I can pretend I'm back in Scotland. There are plenty of fun, independent shops to explore and a vibrant farmer's market. My house is great, as are my roommates and making friends has not been difficult in the least. I've joined the International Food Appreciation Team and am planning to take Swing Dance lessons. Being in a 'university town' definitely makes for a big change from Charlottetown. I now find myself surrounded now by 'young things', and am now on the OTHER side of the median age. It's strange - I meet PhD students that are younger than me!

Now Mollie, I know what you're wondering.....and maybe others are too. Well, just a note on that - I'm here to get my MES (Masters in Env. Studies), but I'm not opposed to seeking my MRS as well (but planning on making it a PhD length endeavour) and have been scouting prospects :) Anyways, that's all from Kingston for now. I'll be home in December and will hopefully have a chance to see everyone then. I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the fall colours! Always love to hear news from PEI/UPEI, so please send some my way.

And that's what I wrote last night. Additional notes that may be of interest:

I refer to Prince Edward County above - this is a gorgeous, rural area South-West of Kingston about an hour. One of the main towns is a very quaint place called Picton. Last weekend, myself and three friends went to a Taste Celebration at the town's Crystal Palace. This was an all-day sampling event where local wineries, restaurants and purveyors of fine food offered up delectable and delicious tastes of the best they had to offer. Mmmmmm.. It was DELICIOUS. Amongst the most memorable tastes were Ice Cider, Apple Fritters, Elk Burger, Chocolate Bark, and Artisan Cheeses. We also sat in on a wine seminar and had a taste of 7 different kinds of Chardonnay (why could it not be Riesling?).

I'm headed to Ottawa this weekend - quite looking forward to seeing some friends and also doing some shopping. I miss Ottawa on occassion, such great memories from when I lived there, although I daresay that was due namely to the company kept at the Blair House. Well, in any case, I'm looking forward to the Market and Oh So Good.....

Ooh - I've got a canine friend named Kopka - she's a Canadian Eskimo/Husky cross and a retired sled dog. She belongs to my friend, Anna. Last week I took her for a jog (Kopka, not Anna!), and had a blast - dog-jogging rules!

Hmmm... my fellow classmates are a great group of very diverse people. I've joined the social committee and we've been planning up activities for the fall. Of course, I'm all for the idea that they should be focussed around food :)

OK, I have to get back to research.

Monday, September 15, 2008


This summer I neglected the person who needs me the most: me. Somehow, amidst the endless summer engagements, my manic workload, and the whole 'wrap up one life, begin another one' saga, I forgot to look after myself. And, as I found out the hard way, there are all sorts of repurcussions to getting caught up in everything that's going on 'outside' and ignoring what's going on 'inside'.

So here I am, settled into my new home in Kingston, Ontario and just starting to get comfortable with the idea of being a 'student' again. There is change, and then there is Change. This, I daresay, is a Change for me. Even more so than traipsing off to live in another country, this is me - turning the page on my future. Everything about the next page is so exciting. I have discovered I have a love affair with the unknown.

And while I'm turning pages, I've decided it's also time to return to myself, to start taking care of me again. Writing is like giving my soul a massage. I search for the parts that are knotted and stressed out. Then I knead it out, alternating between gentle rubs and deep digs. It's in the words I type onto a page, that I find blissful release.

Watch this space for more regular and much longer massages in the days, weeks and months to come.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I can't believe it's been almost two months since I posted. I need only look at the last date of my posting to determine the approximate time when life went from being busy to being ridiculous. Seriously, I feel like I've not had a spare moment to breathe in the last 6 weeks. Both my body and my mind are in disrepair due to the lack of care I have been showing them. Well, what can I say? Between the weddings, memorial, random visitors, trip to Ottawa/Kingston/MOntreal, stagette, bridal showers, work events, and general summertime fun there's been little time to chill and even less time to find my will...power.

I would write more, but it's 12.33 and I just finished watching three hours of the Olympic opening ceremonies...perhaps I'm not as busy as I'd like to believe?

AM going to try on bridesmaid dress now and cross my fingers it still fits....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tip to Tip - More Than Half Way to Somewhere

Saturday night I have the luxury of sleeping in my own bed. I took my bike on the bus back to Charlottetown as a precaution. Just in case I get no sleep, I want the option of taking the short trip on Sunday. It strikes me that my propensity to commit to something is entirely dependent on the circumstances and, perhaps, amount of alcohol I’ve consumed. It took me about two seconds to commit entirely to the idea of doing the Tip to Tip, but making up my mind about 40 kilometres of the trip seems a much more daunting decision. That being said, I knew even as I put my bike on the bus, that I would be doing the long haul on Sunday.

Sleep does not come easily in my own bed. I curse myself for thinking too much when I clearly needed sleep. Hurrah. I finally doze off and manage a good FOUR hours. The next morning, back at the Rodd we all pile onto the coach and made our way back to Emerald Junction. I plan to ride with Jen, but my impatience gets the better of me and so off I go on my own. I’m not alone for long though, as I fid myself in the company of Bob and a couple of other bikers. It’s an overcast morning, but the sun looks like it’s promising to make a breakthrough and the trail is kindly sloping down. Bob and I bike side by side, keeping a good pace until we hit the first snack break in Hunter River. Oh my goodness – I have discovered the second best cinnamon rolls on PEI - Kudos to the bakery in Hunter River, the name of which escapes me right now. Only Mary’s Bakery in Cornwall serves up comparable cinnamon rolls!

And then Bob & I are off again, climbing the hills of Hunter River en route to our lunch break in Winsloe. Bob is kitted out with an odometer and we clock varying speeds, depending on the grade. We hit 28 kph at one point, but then, at other points we are averaging about 18 kph. Oh, this is so much more fun than going nowhere on a treadmill at the gym!! We make it to the Winsloe United Church about twenty minutes after the service has begun. There are a couple of bikers already in the church, but most of the pack is behind us. We decide, after indulging in extra cinnamon rolls that appear in the back of the support vehicle, that we won’t be hungry at 11.30, when church gets out and the food is served. So Bob and I take off for the next pit stop, which is in Morrell. The sun is shining brightly now and we just want to keep moving along. It’s forty kilometres to Mount Stewart, where we plan to nip off the trail for a quick bite. The going is good, although I find the last few kilometres tough because my stomach is screaming out for food and I am rather dehydrated. Oh to have a camelback!

We stop at Josie’s Diner for lunch. It’s so typically a small town diner, with mediocre fare on offer and a church crowd leaving just as we come in, all sweaty and spandexy. About an hour later, with tummies filled up, Bob and I make our way to the trail to discover that some of the front riders have caught up with us. We ride as five, sporadically pulling. For anyone who is wondering – the trek from Mount Stewart to Morrell is kind of tough, thanks to a softer trail

We hit up the snack break in Morrell. A crowd of people is starting to gather – these are Adam’s friends and family. We are all headed up the trail a few kilometres to the most beautiful stretch of the trail, where a short ceremony will be held in honour of Adam Mermyus, a young man who rode the Tip to Tip and passed away in April of 2007 from an aggressive cancer. I think of Patrick, who counted Adam amongst his closest friends, and who is now in Korea teaching English. Patrick’s always had a love for living life to its fullest and that, I think, is the best way we can honour those who pass before their time – by realizing our dreams and giving every moment our fullest devotion.

That evening we eat well - a lobster dinner in St. Peter’s Bay Community Centre, followed by some great music by Chas Guy and friends. Extra entertainment provided by some of the Nova Scotia guys, most notably Ian whose dance moves rival those of the contestants on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’

Finally, finally, after a long day and fun-filled evening, we hit the sack. And I sleep a full 6 hours. It’s wonderful.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tip to Tip - A Spirited Adventure of Spandex and Generosity


I cannot sleep. For the love of me, I cannot sleep. I spend the majority of the night tossing and turning, sneaking peeks at the bedside clock. At one point I even pull my sheets off the bed and try out the floor. Sleeping is normally not a problem for me – I’m good to go once I’ve put my earplugs in and turned the light out. Fred’s company also helps, but there wasn’t room for him in my suitcase. Sigh. This is not good. Eventually, I give up trying to get a full night’s sleep and promise myself I will make it through whatever the next day brings. I finally fall to sleep somewhere around 4.00 a.m.

The next morning brings more grey clouds and cool temperatures – the silver lining is that the winds are light. I wish I drank coffee. I really do. I sit down to breakfast with Derek Lawther, one of the veterans on the trip, who has taken it upon himself to share the ‘Top Ten Things You Really Didn’t Want to Know About Me’ with the group during the weekend. Last night we learned he has only had one cup of coffee in his life. Yes, yes us non-coffee drinkers secretly like to think we are superior in our abstinence of a caffeine-induced morning pick-me-up. Except on those mornings after a night of no sleep, then we just curse and grumble a lot and search for a vending machine that sells chocolate bars.

Jen and I are the last of the group to head off from Mill River. This, surprisingly, is not because I am sluggish. Truth be told, after a few chocolate almonds, I feel mighty and strong – ready to conquer the trails. If only Jen could crawl out of bed...a morning person she is not. So we head off at 8.10, with our shepherd, Bruce, and Geoff, the bike mechanic with the pink bunny horn and T-shirt that reads ‘Bicycles Can Save The Planet’. Early into our ride Jen stops to take horse pictures, and my impatience sets in. I want to get to lunch! So off I go alone. Along the way I encounter a hare on the trail and chat with other riders. I’m surprised when I catch up with other bikers, I didn’t think we’d see any of them until lunch, but Bruce did say we were doing a good pace when we left the hotel. Eventually Jen catches up to me and we ride into our lunch stop together. Brrrr. Everyone is freezing and the warm chicken fricot served up at the Wellington Community Centre is a godsend to the starving, shivering group of bikers that descend upon it. Yummy biscuits and plates of delectable sweets complete the deal. Based on what we’ve been fed so far, I determine I will not be losing any weight during this trip. (Insert lame attempt at foreshadowing - little do I know then what devastation the scales will bring me on completion of the four-day trip…)

I want to be closer to the front of the pack – more specifically I want to be at the Boxcar Lounge in Emerald Junction before it starts raining, preferably with a beer in my hand. I head out with some of the first in the group, it’s 39 kilometres to our next break – the Frosty Treat in Kensington. I find myself biking with Jeff and Ryan. We draft most of the stretch to Summerside, with Jeff doing the lion’s share of the pulling. I am smitten with this thing called drafting, it makes pedalling so much easier (up to 30% apparently). We take an unscheduled break at the Cows in Summerside, where Cynthia and Derek are enjoying ice cream cones at staff prices. We indulge as well, and then head back out on the trail. That’s when we discover what headwinds are really made of and the going gets a bit rough. The trek from Summerside to Kensington is all grind, grind, grind. It’s unrelenting, there is no shelter from the wind and as we crisscross over Route 2, I fantasize about getting on the highway and going the quick and easy way. Thank goodness Jeff is there to keep me in line and pull me along.

I have been waiting for fatigue to hit all morning and afternoon, but it does not come. I am filled with gratitude to my body for giving me all it has and to my mind for sticking with the program on only three hours of rest. I am keeping the promise I made to myself in the wee hours of my sleepless night – I will get through whatever today brings.

A short break in Kensington, then Jeff and I are off again, trying to beat the dark storm clouds to the Boxcar Lounge. 19 kilometres later we are ordering up drinks and warming up beside the propane fireplace. The cheers grow louder with each cyclist that comes through the doors. And then it starts raining and we hear that someone has been injured. Kim braked really quickly and flew over her handlebars. She’s OK, a bit bruised and battered, but nothing broken, thankfully. Finally, everyone comes in from the rain and we climb on the bus to Charlottetown, where warm showers and a banquet evening await us.

Mom and Jim join me for the banquet dinner. It’s so nice to see their smiling faces at the halfway point. Some familiarity in the midst of unfamiliarity is reassuring to say the least. Dinner is followed by an auction of South African goods generously donated by Don Wagner, a professor at the School of Business who has been on sabbatical in South Africa working with micro-financing groups for the last year. I watch tables filled with people who were strangers 36 hours ago, laughing together and bidding each other up on items made halfway around the world and purchased by a former Tip-to-Tipper and PEI resident. I amreminded that there are no boundaries in this world, except the ones we set. Friendships can be forged on bike trails, and neighbours can help neighbours half a world away. We need only open our minds and our hearts to the idea of living in a world without boundaries and we will find ourselves richly rewarded. So give it a try, I dare you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tip to Tip – A Spirited Adventure of Spandex and Generosity


The Night Before

I decided to give the gym a miss for the second day in a row, temporarily relinquishing my ‘gym rat’ tendencies. I had pushed myself far too hard earlier in the week, with two workouts per day on both Monday and Tuesday. I was still might sore in the legs and arms for ‘Mean’ Gineen’s bootcamp class and early morning PT session and figured I should be kind to the body that would be carrying me from North Cape to East Point over the next four days.

Just to be sure my body knew how much I appreciated it, I gave it a few samples of the yummy Bulk Barn treats I’d bought for trailside energy boosts. It responded by asking for more of the same and, of course, I obliged. Then, with my belly full of licorice allsorts and chocolate-covered pretzels, I set about the simple task of packing lightly for a four-day bike ride. Three hours later, I was almost there. In the end, I decided I didn’t need to bring my black boots and one jacket would suffice. I also ditched about half the trailside snacks I’d purchased and sampled a few more, just to lighten my backpack. Woohoo – I was packed and ready to take on the four-day odyssey ahead: 320 kilometres, 28 riders, 4 days, 3 nights, 2 legs and one way to the finish line.

Sleep did not come easily that night – nothing like a bit of anxiety to keep one awake into the wee hours. But I finally fell asleep and woke to a misty, gray Friday morning, May 16th – Day One.


A Breakdown and Blast Off

The first thing I did was turn the radio on to listen to the weather report. I’d not been so obsessed with the weather since my last flight out of PEI in the dead of winter. 100.3 promised sunshine and temperatures in the mid-teens by the afternoon, which was when we’d start biking. Yay!

Jen picked me and my gear up and we drove to the pick-up spot in the Smitty’s parking lot. The Trius bus was there and a bunch of well kitted-out cyclists were milling around and loading their bikes on the trailer. I still hadn’t asked myself the obvious question ‘What did I get myself into’? Instead I concerned myself with more important matters like whether the spandex pants I’d borrowed from Rob were flattering or WAY too revealing. No matter, I’d already deduced this was most certainly not going to be a sexy weekend.

We hopped on the bus and sat down. I saw only two other familiar faces – Cynthia Dunsford and my friend, Ryan, who showed up with Rob Paterson (my unofficial guardian angel and an all-round brilliant person). It seemed Jen and I were skewing the average age down just a bit. I reckon that most of the riders were between 35 and 55. After roll call we were off, headed west to North Cape. As we left Charlottetown, the organizers, Max and Andrea started making announcements and handing out necessities including a handy map of the Confederation Trail. When I unfolded the map, I almost laughed at the absurdity of having volunteered to bike across this Island I grew up on. And to do it on the old rail line, which essentially goes through EVERY little village that had sprung up during the rail era. No, we most certainly weren’t cycling the shortest distance from tip to tip.

We had our first (and only) breakdown about 30 minutes into our bus ride. The coach stopped alongside the Lotus Garden restaurant in Kensington, which just happens to be the town that I grew up in. We had an air leak, so we pulled in to wait for a new coach. While we waited, I visited the Petro-Can to say hi to a high school friend. Some of us also took a tour of the liquor store and some suitcases got heavier while waiting in transit.

Finally, we were on our way again and by the time we got to North Cape, it was about quarter past twelve. The gray clouds were still clinging to the skies above, but there was little wind, which was unusual since North Cape is home to a wind farm. We were told we would ride the first fifteen kilometers together into Tignish on the road. Once we hit the Confederation Trail we could set our own pace. Total kilometer count for the day was 63 and dinner would be served at the Mill River Resort at 6.30. There was no way I was missing dinner. I set my iPod to shuffle, did a few stretches and headed off with the pack. I quickly found myself near the front, without intending to be and Cynthia invited me to draft her. Well, sure, why not? My first taste of drafting was sweet and easy. I didn’t know it then, but drafting would become the saving grace of my ride over the next few days and the means by which I made friends with virtual strangers while riding behind and in front of them on the trail. Nothing like a bit of butt-viewing to cement the bonds of friendship.

And then I found myself alone, caught between the racers ahead and the leisure pacers behind. That’s how I spent most of my first day – alone on the trail, chewing on peppermint gum and thanking myself for the foresight to add songs to my iPod before the trip. It was only in the last ten kilometers that I found myself joined by Bruce, one of the ‘trail shepherds’ that was on the trip to make sure we were all safe, happy and not lost. It was so reassuring to have these guys with their yellow vests and vast amount of experience in patrolling ski hills and bike trails on the trail with us – they were our safety nets and we would need them throughout the weekend.

Finally, I found myself on Route 143, taking the turnoff to Mill River Resort, where beds, showers, food and the bar awaited us. I was surprised to find that I was the sixth biker to arrive at the hotel. I biked in around ten to four, and calculated that, not including my short break, it had taken me about 3 hours and fifteen minutes to bike 63 kms. Not bad. Even more impressively - I was able to walk, my legs were in fine shape and I had only a slight pain in my lower back.

Come Together

A couple of pints of Keiths later and I had met a few of my fellow cyclists. I sensed immediately that I was amongst a friendly, welcoming group of people. And while we were diverse group in terms of our ages, occupations, hometowns and cycling abilities, it became clear that we were all on the ride to challenge ourselves and enjoy a good ol’ bike ride.

During a pasta buffet dinner, Martha, the founder of the Tip to Tip for Africa also spoke to us about the reason we were on this trip – to raise funds for people in South African townships that needed micro-loans to start-up or expand their small business. We learned that the banks in South Africa do not want to lend money to their citizens, especially not to women, so it’s virtually impossible for most South Africans to raise the equity needed to start a business through the normal channels an entrepreneur in the westernized world would employ. And that’s where the Townships Project comes in. We had raised money to provide South Africans with the equity to start their own businesses, to become self-sufficient for the foreseeable future. And we were told that most of the loans were $50. Each loan had a positive influence on 5 people. Wow. That’s mind-blowing when you think of it. That’s about the same amount one of us might spend at Tim’s in a month, or the cost of a pair of jeans that we might buy and wear once before deciding they aren’t flattering on the behind. Martha told us that 98% of the micro-loans that had been given out, had been paid back (or were in the process of being paid back). Hopefully, banks would start to realise that making loans to South Africans was not a risky business, but rather the most important means by which to stimulate the struggling economy. Because there's no question that self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship are the backbone of any thriving economy.

And so it was that we were all here. 28 strangers from the East Coast of Canada had come together to bike four days across a red island, in hopes that we could make a difference in the lives of many more in Africa, the only continent on the face of the Earth that is getting poorer with each day that passes.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Gearing Up, Getting Down

It hurts to move from a standing position to a sitting one. Seriously. I daresay, I have certainly been putting my body to the test as of late, especially the legs! I can't believe the Tip to Tip is less than two weeks away. I feel like I've not had enough practice rides on the bike, although I have certainly been doing tonnes of cardio and strength training at the gym, where rain and wind are avoidable. I did manage to get in a longish bike ride on Saturday - Jen and I hit the trails and did approximately 40 kms. It was a lovely day and I found once we got into the rhythm the going was pretty easy. I am just going to pray to the weather gods that we have sunshine, no rain and, most importantly, nothing more than a gentle breeze. For four whole a row...on the Island that has wind test sites at either tip. Yes, I am a wishful thinker!

In addition to my long bike ride this weekend, I also did an 8 km jog Sunday morning, a pretty intense strength training session (focus on legs and abs) and then a 1.5 hour walk in the evening. Tonight I am going to a boot camp workout class, followed by a PT session. Yay! I shall look forward to more pain :)

OK, so now that I've done a practice bike of a decent length, I am a bit more confident I can pull of this whole 'biking 400 kilometers' thing. So now I turn my attention to gearing up for the ride. At this point in time, I am severely lacking in appropriate gear for the trip. I have two necessities - a bike and a bike helmet. Aside from that, I have nothing. I don't have a spare tube, or a bike repair kit, or even the appropriate clothing. I don't think I've EVER owned a windbreaker, so getting one for just four days seems kind of silly. And I have a great little rack on the back of my bike, but I don't have a saddlebag to put there.

I think I need to get this sorted soon. I've been procrastinating because I can't really afford to spend more money on this trip, and because I don't have a car to bounce around town in hopes of finding all the gear I definitely can't do without. Yes, yes, of course I could use my bike, and I will, but a car would be handy. I've been biking a lot as a mode of transport lately, it's all fine and dandy when the weather's great, but I'm still not a fan of riding in the rain.

Afterthought - they DO list trail snacks on the 'what to pack' list, so I will have to force myself to go to the Bulk Barn and load up. Oh the sacrifice!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Tomorrow is officially the last day we can fundraise the minimum $600 required by each participant in the Tip to Tip for Africa. That's not to say we can't keep fundraising, but we have to make sure we have $600 by May 1st as that is the minimum we committed to raising.

So....I'm sure the burning question you all have (aside from 'Is the Frosty Treat in Kensington going to be open on Victoria Day weekend?) is - have I succeeded in raising the $600 minimum?

And the answer is a very excited 'YES!!!' I have been absolutely blown away by the responsiveness and generosity of family, friends, work colleagues and strangers as I set about on this fundraising campaign. Honestly, from the get-go I've been overwhelmed by how quickly people have said 'I'll sponsor you!'. I really can't say 'thank-you' enough to everyone for their show of support and enthusiasm. I truly do believe that the Tip-to-Tip for Africa is a meaningful fundraiser - this money will go directly to Africans who want to start or expand their small businesses. A hundred dollars could mean a lifetime of income and success for someone in another part of the world. That's pretty amazing when you think about it. I'm a big believer in self-sufficiency, but an even bigger believer in helping people move towards their dreams. And it's inspiring to find so many like-minded people in the various circles of my life.

Jen & I did embark on one team fundraising event - we held a bake sale at UPEI. This wasn't an ordinary bake sale though - we had a Mobile Bake Sale Unit. People didn't even have to leave their office, the bake sale came to them along with two big smiles and a lovely assortment of sweets and treats. I'm happy to report we sold out after one hour! Unfortunately we were forced to sample all of the treats before we actually started our sale and there were a few 'seconds' that couldn't be sold.

So that's the short and sweet of my fundraising to date - I am fortunate to have the support of so many wonderful and generous people. It was a great reminder of how rich I am in great friends, family and work colleagues. Who knew fundraising could be so easy and rewarding?! Keep the surprises coming!

Monday, April 21, 2008

So Far, Yet So Good

So with less than four weeks until the Tip to Tip takes off from North Cape, here's where things stand with my training:


Phew. I am exhausted. And sore. And it feels great!

Before I even committed to the Tip to Tip I was mentally preparing myself for some major change-ups in my exercise routine, and this challenge certainly provided an incentive to put those plans into action. While I spent the winter doing the same ole' cardio routine on the machines at the gym, I am now mixing it up big time in an effort to prepare all body parts for this cycling trip and, potentially, bikini season on PEI (which generally lasts two -three weeks!).

Here's what I am doing now for cardio:

BIKING - Yes, yes, kind of a no-brainer, but it's only been the past couple of weeks that I've finally been out riding around in the decently spring-like weather. A friend of mine, Rob Paterson, has very, very generously lent me an excellent, comfortable bike for training and the Tip to Tip. I've been getting used to it, especially my bum.

I've decided that if I'm going to cycle, I might as well pretend to be a cyclist, so took the bike in to a shop for a 'tune-up', and bought myself some great biking shorts with padded bum and crotch. Soooo fun to wear around the house, I highly recommend the investment, if not for the sheer amusement of built in padding!

Have been biking some days as a mode of transport, and other days in training or for leisure. On Saturday, finally got on the Confederation Trail for a longish bike ride. Jen and I did about 26 kilometres in about 1.5 hours. We were taking it pretty easy, given that the wind was blowing in THREE directions at once (only on PEI!), but more notably because there were spots on the trail that were still covered in SNOW! And I had to get off my bike and walk these stretches. Anyways, was not winded or tired after this long bike (actually went for 1/2 hour jog right after then more biking) so am a bit more confident that I may be able to pull off this whole 400 km thing. Because, you know, 26 km is a whole 5% of the trip :)

BOXING - Have started going to women-only boxing classes at Holland College.If you think a women's only class means it's going to be easy, think again. An hour of circuit work that is basically a full-body workout has lead me to discover muscles I didn't know I had. In addition to lots of bag work, we do skipping, ab workouts, majorly difficult leapfrog jumping and ring work where we get to do combinations with one of the instructors - loving it.!

JOGGING & MACHINES - Yes, I am still doing cardio machines quite a bit because the weather still isn't perfect and I can really push myself on the machines without as much impact on the body (i.e. elliptical is easier on the joints). Also randomly jogging when the weather suits. I have to recommend jogging or speed walking to anyone who is not keen on going to the gym or pushing their body beyond it's real comfort zone. It's great exercise, it's stress relieving, it's free and you can do it anywhere, anytime.

I've also revamped my strength training. I cannot emphasis enough how important it is to do strength training - this includes lifting weights, doing body resistance moves like pushups, and general toning moves like squats and lunges. if there's one thing women don't give enough attention to, it is strength training. They either think they'll get really big muscles or they care more about burning calories with cardio. Trust me, if you add strength training you will see enviable results within a few weeks...and increase your metabolism, thereby burning calories more quickly!

So my strength training:

PERSONAL TRAINER - yes, I have hired a personal trainer to help me revamp my strength training routine and I keep telling her to push me hard at our sessions. She's given me two great new routines - one for my upper body, one for my lower body/abs. I do strength training four times per week and I really love it. As an added bonus, you don't get nearly as sweaty and yucky as you do with cardio workouts. Sometimes I sneak my workout in at lunchtime.

EATING - OK, so clearly training and getting in shape is easier and more effective when you are feeding your body with good fuel. I've been focussing on eating well and portioning properly over the past few weeks. There have been a few times when unplanned events kind of threw me off my game, but overall I am doing very well! I am no longer a candy addict, but have to admit I have become a bit of a pineapple and spinach addict... Is this bad? Is this sad?

My personal trainer tells me I shouldn't eat too late at night, but I always like to have a little snack before I head to bed, normally pineapple, but she tells me this raises blood sugar and encourages the body to store fat while I am sleeping. Oh dear. I am going to try drinking green tea as a bedtime ritual instead. Apparently it helps increase metabolism as well.

I eat six times a day. This is not a bad thing, it's actually good because you maintain blood sugar levels by eating smaller meals more often.

I've been experimenting with more recipes lately. Made a yummy bean salad this weekend and a light chicken quesadilla recipe. Mmmmmm. If anyone wants some easy , healthy recipes I am always happy to share. I have an especially well-known one for salmon loaf ! Other sources of good, healthy recipes would be on the Internet at sites such as Weight Watchers, Chatelaine, Health Canada, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Diabetes Canada, etc.

And that is all she writes for now. An update on fundraising to follow soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In the Beginning . . .

Every journey has a beginning, but we often miss the first steps of our own journey to an unknown destination.

We don't realise that we are moving away from the familiar, towards something that will revive and redefine who we are. There are baby steps in the beginning. A thought that sneaks up from some unknown place in our subconscious or a dream that we can't shake the next morning. Maybe a comment by a friend that strikes a nerve, or a piece of music that speaks to something deep within. We
don't catch sight of it yet, it still hasn't surfaced.

But if we are ready, then the synchronicities begin to emerge. It's only chance that four people have mentioned that author's book to me this week. Maybe I'll check it out and see what it's all about. Then there's that writing workshop that's coming up. I keep seeing notices for it everywhere, and then my old professor asked me if I was interested in going. How strange is that? Well, I have been dedicating a lot of time to my writing lately and I am looking for some guidance. I guess it couldn't hurt to check out what a workshop is all about... We call them coincidences and flukes because it makes it easier for us to dismiss them OR accept them.

And then there's a moment where everything shifts, where you realise that you have crossed the line between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Your heart began the journey awhile back and your head has just caught on to the fact. And when that happens, you are fillled with such overwhelmingly contrasting emotions - fear and giddiness, anticipation and doubt, pride and shame. Then there's the choice that your mind imposes - retreat or forge ahead. Ah, but if your heart has already begun the journey, there is nothing to be done but forge on. The heart will ALWAYS triumph over the logical mind in matters that involve the self's evolution.

And so it is, that I have crossed over the line.

I have crossed the line before, most often my journeys have been leaps of faith that literally involved journeying to far off destinations. I think perhaps my first journey was when I moved to Ireland in 2003, but really that journey began a year and a half before I found the courage to get on a plane and move to another country where I knew not a single soul. That journey really began with me ending a relationship that was holding me back from my draems of travelling the globe. Oh how the world opens up wide to embrace you when you choose to follow your dreams.

Now I am doing it again. I have set myself a challenge to bike 400 kilometres, from the Western tip of PEI to the Eastern tip of PEI. To my mind it seems a daunting challenge. I know there are athletes that would see it as a breeze, but I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination. And while I have been steadfastly dedicated to working out and eating well for quite a while now, this is still very much a leap for me.

Biking is not my forte. I am full of fears, mostly that I will injure myself, or my eyes will water constantly as they sometimes do at the most inopportune times. I worry that I will be last, that someone will have to keep coming to the back of the pack to make sure I'm still actually on my bike. I stress that my bike will give out on me and I'll be stranded because my mechnical abilities have been absent since the day I was born. I worry that I won't be able to sit or walk for days after the 4-day adventure.

But I am excited too. Almost giddy with anticipation. I LOVE a challenge. I thrive on setting a goal and reaching it. I decided, just ten days ago, that I would do the Tip to Tip for Africa, committing to not only completing the 400 kilometres, but also to raising at least $600 for the Townships Project.
This is what is driving me - if I am raising money for a worthy cause and people are so willing to support me, then I WILL complete my end of the bargain or injure myself trying (not planning on that, just trying to get a point across!).

Already, I have devised game plans for both fundraising and training, and things are happening. Call them coincidences or flukes, but I know they are synchronocities..opportunities and occassions that are presenting themselves because I AM ready for this journey.

And on that note, I will sign off. More to come re: my training and fundraising.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April Showers...

Wow, so it's been a month since I posted a blog. I daresay I'm becoming a rather lazy blogger. This is not, however, to suggest that I am being lazy in life. Quite the contrary, life has been ridiculously busy/fun/crazy/exhausting as of late. I shall do a brief recap of the past month's main highlights (not including Jen Mac's orange hair, which was certainly a fabulous highlight!)

Florida/NYC Vacation
- Yay. Mid-March meant an much needed escape for the island of snow and wind! I headed to Halifax where I spent a couple of very enjoyable days with Sister Sahra and Rowan Thunder. After a fudge-making session gone wrong (i.e. I ate half the pan in a night!), I was off to Orlando for five nights and four full days of wonderful magicalness!

I met Sheena down there and we spent the first two days wandering around, getting splashy at Typhoon Lagoon and fobbing ourselves off as a married couple (to each other) so we could go to a timeshare presentation and then get really cheap tickets to Busch Gardens. We even had wedding rings which, if they were real, would have set us back about $30,000! I'm not sure we fooled anyone with our charade, but it was hilarious! Sheena got really into telling the story, while I just barely managed to stifle my laughter. On a related note - NEVER EVER agree to go on a timeshare presentation, no matter WHAT incentives they offer you. It is the biggest waste of time and they are so aggressive you can bet your bottom dollar they are aggressive.

Jen joined us mid-week and we enjoyed drinks/food at Bahama Breeeze, delicious drinks at Blue Martinis (plus I danced my butt off, which is always fun!), and had a fantabulous time at Busch Gardens. An amusement park, a zoo AND free beer! Could there be anything better in the world? Well, aside from a giant candy factory with free samples... Anyways, we went on a super scary rollercoaster, plus some average-scary rollercoasters, downed a lot of beer and went ot beer school where we learned that pretty much everyone pours beer into a glass the wrong way. You do not tilt the glass and pour into the side. You set the glass down and pour directly into the middle.

NYC was AWESOME! I left FLorida on Friday and headed to the big apple, where I met up with my friend, Kelly, who is goind a RTW trip. The first night we went out for dinner and started chatting with an older couple sitting beside us - they poured us Saki and gave us all sorts of tips on where to go in the city. Then when we left the restaurant, we were greeted by four people our age who ended up taking us to the subway and one of them stayed out and showed us around Greenwich Village. The next day we just soaked up the city - went on the Staten Island ferry, Ground Zero, 5th Avenue, Empire State Building (but not up it!) and tried to do some shopping, but it was madness. I did mange to buy a knock-off Prada purse from a dude selling them on the street - literally. In the evening Danielle arrived from Montreal and us three single gals hit the town in style. We went to a DJ show (Digitalism) then to a random bar called Hi-Fi, where we enjoyed many beverages and the company of some decent blokes. Sunday was kind of a write-off on account of Saturday night. KElly and I eventually made our way to Central Park, then in the evening all three of us went to a comedy show down near Times Square. Monday was more touring - we went to Soho, where we had the BEST rice pudding at a place called Rice to Riches, then we wandered down through Chinatown to the seaport for lunch. Sadly I had to call it a day and get on my bus to the airport. Boooo. I will definitely go back to NYC. I would love to see more of it, and perhaps in a different season.

Grad School

So about a week into March I rec'd word that my application to Queen's Masters in Enviro Studies program had been accepted. Upon returning from my holiday, I decided to accept the offer. looks like I will be moving to Kingston, Ontario in September and calling it home for the next two years. It hasn't really sunk in yet. I am such a commitment phobe and this is a significant commitment of time and place, as well as money. Luckily the financial burden will be significantly reduced by funding offered through the university. Still, time is so precious to me! Anyways - I'm excited about being in academia again, in an arena that I find interesting and important.

Tip to Tip

Last Friday I decided, under the influence of several glasses of wine and a few shots of whiskey, that I would register for the Tip to Tip For Africa event. This is an annual event held on PEI, which requires participants to raise funds and then bike from the Western tip of the Island to the Eastern tip over a four day period. The total trip is about 400 kilometres! I have to pay $ for my accommodations and food, then I have to raise $600 for the Townships Project, which supports South African women entrepreneurs through micro-financing so they can start or expand their business.

An excellent investment of funds in my opinion. As for the question of my survival - we shall see. I have just started training, so it should be quite an interesting five weeks leading up to the actual cycle, which takes place May 16 - May 19. If anyone is interested in learning more about the project and/or sponsoring me check out the website:

If you want to donate just click on the donate button and use your PayPal account or credit card. be sure to include my name in the NOTES link which will appear when you are reviewing your donation!

On that note I shall end this blog post with a promise to post on a more regular basis in the upcoming weeks, perhaps with some notes re: the progress of my training. As it stands now, I am quite simply SORE all OVER!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dumping Allan

So tonight, after very little thought, I dumped Allan. I know many of you probably weren't even aware I had a boyfriend. Fair enough, I haven't blogged in awhile and it was, in any case, a very short-lived, destructive relationship. I really didn't tell anyone about ti while it was going on, because I was ashamed of myself for getting into a relationship with him in the first place. I guess I saw this coming, I should never have gotten involved with him, but damn he was such a sweet package that he was impossible to resist.

Seriously, I never really thought of myself as a gal that goes for 'tall, dark and handsome', but I fell hard for him. I didn't even TRY to pretend I wasn't interested. I just dove right into the relationship without a second thought. I told myself I could handle any temptations he threw my way, but I was just a fool in love. I became addicted to him, I'm not going to lie about that. I loved nibbling on his ears and caressing his derrier in excited anticipation. And while it's true I always initiated things, he was always there just waiting for me to pop by for a visit. Never once did he turn me away. Ah, but who am I kidding? I was using him to satisfy my own selfish desires and it wasn't fair to him or me. I've worked too hard at resisting temptations to let some American boyfriend screw with my head or my hips.

And then tonight, I finally realised I'm too good for him, I've outgrown my taste for mediocre. He wasn't really that tasty of a morsel, he was more about quantity and less about quality. I decided that if I'm going to have a boyfriend that encourages sinful behaviour, he'd better be of the right pedigree. And we all know that American Allans have nothing on their Swiss, German or even British counterparts.

Yes, I daresay, if I ever pick up another chocolate bunny boyfriend, I'm going to shell out the big bucks for the creamiest version available on the shelf. Lindt anyone?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Things are Happening..

Sooo..yeah, it's been awhile. I'd say I'm embarassed I haven't blogged in ages, but I'm not. I've been writing more in the past month then in the past year. It's merely that what I've been writing is not for public consumption. You see, I started this book called The Artist's Way - a definitive 12-week course-based book on recovering your creative self. Really, it's a book about discovering yourself, about being kind to yourself and letting creativity flow through you. In any case, I am now writing half hour every morning and also every night, along with numerous other 'tasks', which are really not painful tasks at all. I don't know that I can articulate what has transpired through doing this course, I just know that things are happening, changes are taking place internally and externally as a result of this book and my rather newly found dedication to setting goals. Yes, I daresay these two indulgences in leading life as I want to lead it have been extremely effective and rather therapeutic. I could write more on this, but I'm not going to.

Other news to relay: My 'secret' stopped working around the same time I wrote my last blog post. I am now back to Lifewise Stage 1 regimen - no red meat, eggs, cheese, sweets, etc. I'm going with the 80/20 on this though, because I've found being kind to myself is just as important as seeing the numbers go down. I am applying to grad schools, looking into teaching English in Korea and trying not to be too frustrated about the politics that played into a recent decision regarding a scholarship application that I worked many many hours on. January was a somewhat difficult month - nothing I want to communicate on this blog, but it was certainly full of emotive events. February, thusfar, has been v. interesting, as I'm working on many transformations and, in tandem with this, find myself in a new position at the School of Business. REally excited about the chance to do some more challenging and autonomous work!

OK, well I have't done my prescribed writing for the day, so I must get on that! I'll try to write something interesting next time I blog...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Secret

It's the new year. I can't believe it. I never can, that's the absurd part. You'd think after 27 years it'd come as no big surprise that every 365 days we say another rotation of the earth around the sun has taken place. I'm going to skip the whole year in review - my Christmas leter will suffice and I might very well find myself on Facebook doing one of those ridiculous, but addictive notes re: 2007. Stay tuned for all the excitingness. Seriously, has anyone noticed that Facebook has basically turned each and every one of us into the star of our very own reality TV show. You can judge whether you'd be on Fox, ABC or TLC based on the number of audience members you have...erm, I mean friends. Right. I might just have to put my show on hiatus.

In any case, in lieu of rambling on about what 2007 brought me, I thought I'd talk about a secret. No, no not THE Secret that everyone rolls their eyes at or clutches their heart when they hear it referenced. THAT Secret is one we all find in our own way and our own time. No, mine is a secret about weight.

You see, since I returned from Australia in June I've lost a rather significant amount of weight. I like to say I was fat when I came home, but most people say I was chubby at most. Whatever. I was the heaviest I have ever been and it was bearing down on my self-esteem with dire consequences. OK, I exagerrate with regards to the 'dire' adjective, but trust me, it was distressing me to no end.

So it seems that nowI have lost enough weight that people are regularly noticing it and commenting. IT's to the point now where I have people asking me what my secret is. Ha. Normally I tel them the HALF truth, which is that I workout 8 times a week and follow a healthy eating plan developed by my nutritionist. But if I were to tell them the WHOLE truth it'd be more like: Go on a year long trip to another Westernized country, enjoy the food, drink lots of booze and have fun. Trust me, you're bound to gain weight. Then just come home, et back into your normal routine, eat well, exercise and..ta da! You'll be shrinking in no time.

Ah, but here's the rub - the real secret I've been keeping (except from people who regularly watch me eat)...I eat chocolate and/or candy on a daily basis. Seriously. I started eating it about a month after getting back home, promising myself that I'd stop the minute the scales started recognizing my weakness. They still haven't. That being said, I don't eat carbs with lunch or dinner and I have a lot more muscle mass than I ever did before. Maybe these things make a difference. Whatever, I don't care. I am just happy that I can eat a little chocolate every day and still lose weight :)

There, that's my really deep and very engaging post for the day. Truth be told, I am in the midst of a transition right now, one that I've imposed upon myself and which I know will result in big changes over the next year. Exciting stuff, but I can't write about it now.