Friday, November 11, 2011

Pieces of the Past

Lately I've been writing a lot. I know what you're thinking, so let me qualify that. Lately I've been writing a my head. Every day, I have tonnes of absolutely amazing thoughts running through my mind. Often they are even in the form of coherent, interesting sentences. Unfortunately, two things seem to present rather large hurdles when it comes to getting my writing onto paper (and by paper I mean computer screen because, let's face it, it's 2011 and paper is so 1999). The first hurdle is that these thoughts come to me at rather inopportune times, like when I'm at work or in the shower or playing dodge ball, and even when they come to me while I'm sitting around in my apartment or sweeping the floor, I just can't seem to bring myself to open up Word or Blogger and 'get 'er done' as they say. Which brings me to the second hurdle and, most likely, the reason I don't make much of an effort to get myself to a screen when wondrously amazing thoughts are streaming through my consciousness - because it seems a blank page acts as a very powerful repellent to these thoughts. Words dancing and swirling around in my head suddenly do a disappearing act the minute I sit down to write a blog. It's kind of like those mornings when you wake up after a night of intense, vivid dreams that you know were mind-bending, but can't recall the slightest detail. All you are left with is this fleeting sense that you were on the brink of something that would change everything.

As a result of the above, recurring experience, I have approximately a gazillion (give or take a few zillion) partly drafted blog posts that I've abandoned because I didn't feel they were inspired, or because I got tired and went to bed, or some other lame excuse. And now I'm thinking that this whole 'not good enough' attitude that the vast majority of us have of the things we think, write, create, do, say, etc. is rather ridiculous. And I really don't think I need to elaborate on that much. It's ridiculous to strive for perfection and reject anything that you don't deem as 'perfect'. So, in an effort to purge myself of 'imperfect' blog posts and, perhaps, share some musings that make me feel rather vulnerable and exposed, I've copied and pasted a good chunk of excerpts from posts that never got published - all the way back to 2004 and up to 2011 (in no particular order). Most, surprisingly, aren't about food!


on this occasion, whilst I'm well lubricated with red wine, dark chocolate and classic vino movies, I shall attempt to be clear...chardonnay clear: I have come to the conclusion that I have been severely limiting myself in most facets of life due to a lack of confidence in my own abilities and a parallel fear of failure. I know I am not alone in experiencing such limitations, but I feel like I am straddling a chasm right now.


I am no stranger to change, having taken many leaps into the unknown during my twenties, with faith that I'd land on my two feet (and I always did). It wasn't always easy or comfortable, but in the end I was always amply rewarded by the universe for being willing to let go of the familiar and embrace the unknown. And each time I took a leap of faith, it got easier. I had more confidence in myself, I knew I'd be able to handle the lows and highs, the fears and challenges, and eventually I'd find my way to the rich rewards (sidenote: Read The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo).

But there is a difference between change that you choose to undergo and change that is thrust upon you suddenly and without any say in the matter. That's when one's resiliency is really tested. There's no time to take an extra big gulp of oxygen, no time to relax the mind, no time to reassure one's self that everything's going to be alright. And so the task of dealing with this disturbance falls squarely on your unsuspecting shoulders, or perhaps it's your heart. And how you handle that disturbance is a reflection of how resilient you are. And how resilient an individual is, in my opinion, comes down to their capacity to deal with fear of the unknown and to adapt to change.


At our first session Allison asked me if I wanted to go on the normal weight loss plan I'd been on previously or lose the weight faster. Clearly I wanted to lose the weight faster. So she put me on a high-protein, low carb plan - I was eating two eggs every morning, 6 oz of meat/fish at every meal, lots of veggies and a sparing amount of select low-sugar fruit. No starchy carbs for me, no sugar, no tropical fruits (boo). Well, after 5 weeks on that meal plan I'd managed to lose a WHOPPING 1 pound. Mind you, after we did an ELG to determine my body composition, it seems I'd lost 5.5 pounds of fat and gained 4.5 pounds of muscle. So that was a bit better, but still, the scale wasn't giving me the results I wanted and Allison was a bit perplexed. Mind you, she also observed that I wasn't sticking to the 'no tropical fruit' rule (I can't help it, I love pineapple and grapes...which are not actually tropical but kind of high in sugar). It struck me that this plan she had me eating on was very similar to the Primal Blueprint that I'd been trying out while in Kingston during the winter. That hadn't gone so well either.

So two weeks ago, Allison decided to put me back on my old, normal plan - one where I could eat certain cereals for breakfast (Kashi Go Lean, Oatmeal, Fibre 1), rice, potatoes, pasta, tortillsa, etc., as well as tropical fruits (yay!) and smaller portions of protein. Lo and behold after one week, I FINALLY saw a two pound loss on the scale!! Woot! Allison told me I was one of the 'lucky few' that needs carbs in order to metabolize proteins... Um, OK. I'm completely thrown off to be honest. I was almost 100% sold on the Primal lifestyle as being legit, albeit difficult to adhere to. And now, here I am feeling just healthy and fine and eating starchy carbs and losing weight. I really don't know what to believe any more. Nutrition is a mystery. What I know, without a doubt, is that nature provides food the way food should be eaten. Eating as close and clean (i.e. organic) to the source as possible, eating in moderation, and listening to your body will never lead you astray.


Am feeling more like travel agent than high-flying data entry career woman as of late. Have been booking flights, trying to find cheap deals and considering how long I can endure Scottish ‘winter’ before hightailing it to sunny locale where I can sip margaritas and work on my never-present-tan. Have had some luck with cheap flights in Europe so am all booked to go to Dublin & London in the upcoming months. Have had no luck finding cheap flight home at Christmas…in fact, cheapest flight I could find was with Continental, flying thru NY to Halifax for $1000 return. Not bad I suppose, but nothing compared to the $140 direct flight I got coming over….


A friend of mine emailed me last week and asked me, in perhaps the most succinct and direct email he has ever written in his life, whether it is possible to love someone even if you don’t respect their decision(s). Now, before I go off on a linked tangent about whether it is or is not possible, I need to make note of something – I have been asked for advice on love matters a number of occasions over the last few years.

I’m not talking those simple questions like ‘do you think he likes me? I mean he did text me to ask what’s up?’ OK, I do get those questions , but come on girls can’t help but analyse and overanalyse every little thing that may, but most likely does not, have some deep, hidden message. I’ve been asked and asked those type questions countless times.

But these other questions about love, the more serious and substantial ones, come to me just when my own life has been thrown out kilter by something to do with the L-word.
For example, just two days after I had ended my first serious relationship, my friend/roommate comes to me for advice about what action/inaction he should take with regards to his love life. I mean, he’d never even broached such discussion with me before. What was up? Was I wearing some sort of sign that said ‘I Have All The Answers Despite Just Having Broken Up with Long-term Boyfriend'? I mean seriously – I’m the one people came to when they wanted ‘help’ with their homework (or just to copy mine). Never would I have considered myself qualified in any shape or form to give advice on the course of action someone should take with regards to their love life.

And yet I have done so a number of times over the last few years. Know what I’ve discovered ? It’s a hell of a lot easier giving advice than it is taking it. And it’s a lot easier to see things clearly when you are outside the situation then when you are completely immersed in it. That is what makes it utterly frustrating - when you are on the inside and contending with logic versus those much less understood things called emotions.

Oh, how tricky the heart & head can be. Why must they be at odds so often? Your heart telling you one thing, your head (and all your family, friends, acquaintances, etc.) telling you something else? This particular scenario, in case ye hadn’t guessed, is my current debacle.

The simple answer to above query, I believe, is this: If your head and heart are not in sync, then the particular dish of love you are currently consuming (or debating the consumption of) is, ultimately, going to cause you a great deal of pain.


So I'm sitting here (still on the farm) and it's kind of late. The wind outside is ferocious - the farm sits in a valley, which acts like a wind tunnel. Everything bangs around outside and, that coupled with the dogs barking and the cat thumping around on the roof, sometimes gets me a bit antsy. Speaking of ants, this place happens to have a lot of them. The house sits on stumps (in Australia no one has basements) and the cracks between the floorboards are basically an invitation to any creature that can fit to come on in and fend for themselves. Plenty of food, water and shelter to go around.

But really, it's not the wind or the ants or the domesticated animals that are keeping me up. It's my thoughts. I've been thinking a lot about my thoughts lately - how much power they hold and how little we choose to wield this power for our own happiness.

Fear and doubt- the most crippling emotions we can let ourselves experience and, yet, we are so conditioned to doubt ourselves, to fear failure and rejection that we subconsciously bring about that which we are so afraid of.


A truly free market will, by its very nature, seek to be as efficient as possible, which is to say it will produce as little waste as possible because waste is inefficient and expensive. And what are pollutants if not waste? Already many multinational companies are adopting more energy-conscious and less-polluting practices and technologies and are reducing their costs of business dramatically. IKEA was a pioneer in this regard, adopting The Natural Step framework to effectively reduce its ecological footprint.

There still exists this engrained idea that the economy and environment will always be at odds - that for one to be robust, the other must suffer. This has often been the backbone of arguments against instituing policy changes that are favorable to the environment. This is, of course,a false premise and, in fact,the opposite is much closer to the truth - there is money and jobs to be made/saved by reducing waste and harnessing the powers of nature. Positive changes in business will not come about because companies suddenly to decide to be altruistic, they will come about because they make the most business sense.

That being said then one could argue that if a free market economy will naturally lead to waste reduction, gov't should not have to introduce any policies that induce change because companies will naturally adopt whatever practices are in the best interest of their bottom line. Of course, that argument presupposes that a free market exists and, of course, it doesn't. Perhaps if govt's were only to cut off all the subsidies and incentives that support the oil businesses and allow for a free market to reign then we could make some real progress without gov't involvement. Because, really, change will only come when there is a collective agreement within the global community that it is time to pull the red carpet out from under the oil companies and cartels that govt's will react to public outcry for their own short-term survival. They may not listen to one or two voices singing, but they will not be able to ignore an entire choir of voices singing in harmony. That global community is made up wholly of 'yous' and 'mes'. We can effect change, we have that power within our grasp, so start singing.


As it happens, there's not a whole lot to write about on ol' personal life. Being a student is exhausting at times and I've spent the majority of the past three months doing the following things: working out at the gym, making meals, sleeping, reading academic journals, trying to write academic papers, getting frustrated by failed attempts to write academic papers, procrastinating on finishing academic papers, stressing about meeting deadlines for academic papers, going to Thursday night trivia instead of finishing schoolwork, and, well, I think you get the idea. There have been a few highlights over the last few months - most obviously the highlights in my hair which have been red, purple and now...a shade of red again. Other less literal highlights have included a trip to a maple sugar bush, where I learned how maple sap becomes maple syrup and then indulged in some pancakes drenched in maple syrup. (I've skipped February events because they are basically a blur at this point, but I can't recall any standouts in any case). I also booked plane tickets for May - I'll be heading west to Vancouver/Victoria and then East to Pittsburgh/State College, Pennsylvania.


So, what have been the upsides of being single for big chunks of time in my twenties? Well, I'll admit, it made leaving Canada and traipsing around the world a heck of a lot easier. Come to think of it, this might have been one of the reasons I broke up with my only L-T boyfriend - he was not supportive of my need for independence and passport stamps!

Another upside, related to traveling, is that I have gotten to know myself very well, and I've been working, endlessly, at improving and evolving. I know who I am far better than I did when I was 21, and I'm not sure that all of the discoveries I've made about myself would have happened if I'd been wrapped up in a relationship and working a 9-5 job somewhere in Canada. Traveling has, admittedly, been my significant other for a good chunk of my 20's.

Another bonus of being single is that I can make decisions (day-to-day and big ones), based solely on what I think is best for me. This might sound selfish, but caring about what's best for one's self is not a bad thing. Neither is compromising when one is in a relationship, but too often one person ends up doing the majority of the compromising.. You can get lost in another person's journey.

Having an amazing group of fabulous friends is also something I am not sure I would have if I were not single. Oh, I'd have friends, but would we be as close and have as many shared memories if we both had significant others?? I see it already - when people pair off, friends start to become secondary. It's not intentional and it's not malicious, it's just the natural course of beginning to forge a family of one's own, to which friends often become peripheral.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the magnitude of the untapped potential that lies dormant in human beings, about the amount of energy and time we waste both individually and collectively on utterly trivial matters. It bothers me a lot. I feel like we are simultaneously creating an Orwellian 1984 and A Brave New World. Most people seem to be living a life of complacency and struggle, quite unaware of their own power to determine their destiny and create a better future for themselves and the children of this Earth. Hedonism seems to have become the temporary band-aid solution for the empty feeling one experiences when they are not living the life they were meant to. It seems like most people are 'living for the weekend' and trying to find ways to make sure they are comfortable and surrounded by things or pleasurable experiences. Others use their energies to hate, hold grudges, and generally be angry and vengeful.

I know none of this is new to the world, that humanity has a history steeped in hatred, struggle, and hedonism, but I'm not a fatalist nor do I think that humanity's history is quite that one-sided. Surely there is also a history of empathy, compassion, and comraderie.


Americans expend <%10 on food and over %17 on medical bills. We are what we eat!

It boggles my mind that adults actually eat at fast food restaurants and are willing to sit down to a dinner that's from a box and has been cooked in under two minutes in another box called the microwave. Do people not have taste buds? Do people not cherish their own bodies enough to at least allow themselves to spend more than %10 of their income on food? In the long run, of course, they pay the extra price via medical bills, prescription drugs, diet potions, surgery (in some cases) and, most importantly, a lower quality of life.

It seems to me that by spending just a giving a bit more thought and spending a bit more money on good, REAL food, eaters can reverse this lose-lose situation into a win-win one. They can go from eating tasteless, unhealthy food while watching tv/driving around suburbia AND then
becoming overweight and unable to fully enjoy life (b/c, let's face it, it's hard being heavy) and potentially being diagnosed with Early Onset Diabetes, high blood pressure, or myriad of other


One of the most brilliant things about life, perhaps even THE most, is that the future need never be a reflection of the past. Each moment that presents itself to us offers an opportunity for a new thought, a new feeling, a new action. This is a simple yet powerful truth that many of us forget or maybe never came to know in the first place. Instead we seem, for the most part, to live as if we are character in a short film that's spinning round and round on a spool, the same things happening, again and again. We make the mistake of thinking our current experiences are somehow an unchangeable reality when, in fact, they are simply a result of our past thinking. If we realise this and change our thoughts, redirect them towards the experiences we want, rather than the ones we are currently experiencing, and believe enough in our new thoughts to take action on them, then we begin to change the film. Instead of being in a short film, that is infinitely repeating the same story, we find ourselves in a seemingly never-ending story, filled with challenges and triumphs

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