I believe we can be anyone

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you like everybody else is to fight the hardest battle you can fight--but never stop fighting! E.E. Cummings

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 2: Weiner and Bun

When I arrived late Saturday night, I was more than ready to unpack, settle in and go to bed early.  John's brother Rob and his friend, Tracy were staying for the weekend as well.  They decided to go downtown to check out some bands, but I just wanted to relax and so I did.
At first, I felt a little nervous for a couple of reasons.  First, I hadn't seen John in 18 years. And second, I'm now staying at his place with his brother and someone I only just met.  As open as I am to meeting new people, I was still out of my comfort zone.  Having said that, Rob and Tracy were very nice and gracious, as was John.
Sunday morning, we went out for breakfast.  Of course, with my limiting food choices, this proved to be a challenge, but I worked around it the best I could.
Downtown Kelowna on the weekend is a busy place with various activities:  the craft market, people walking around the boulevard along the lake, shopping, having coffee or lunch, riding their bikes, doing tourist activities or laying on the beach.  Summer is always busy, but particularly in the Okanagan.  It is THE Mexico or Florida of Canada.  Everyone wants to go to the Okanagan and it's no wonder why. 

"Graffitti" painted on the side of this building close to the lake.
The old Willow Inn that stood here behind me for 81 years is now a parking lot.  http://www.castanet.net/news/Kelowna/45203/Lights-out-for-the-Willow-Inn 
Many fine memories there.  All things come to an end eventually though.
 Along the Okanagan Lakeshore.

As Rob and Tracy took off to meet with another friend, John and I spent some time on the beach.  It was a little too busy for me with traffic and people, but still nice. 

In front of the "Sails" sculpture. 

City Park and the craft market which happens on the weekends generally.

John called another friend of ours, Weiner (no that's not his real name, it's actually Wayne) to see if he was out on his boat.  By chance, he just happened to be going out on the lake.  Next thing we know, within a half an hour, we're on a boat on the lake on a hot summer day!  Sweet!

 Weiner and me on his boat.  It's another picture perfect day.

The condo on the lake Weiner used to own.

Later that night, we end up going for dinner at the Golf Club with Rob, Tracy and John's parents Ben and Joyce Lee.  Ben used to be a City Councillor for the Rutland area of Kelowna.  He was affectionately known as the "Mayor of Rutland" and has a park named after him.  Pretty cool.   Check out his page here.  http://www.kelowna.ca/CM/page491.aspx  They are quite lovely people and still live in the same house they have lived in for years.  As people get older, this isn't always the case. 

The evening came to a fairly early close which was fine by me.  I was about to embark on a workshop over the next two days and didn't need to do anything too crazy, yet.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 1: The Drive

I decided to take a road trip to Kelowna to a:  take a workshop and b:  to reconnect with a place I used to live at for 2 years over 18 years ago.  Kelowna has changed and grown a LOT!!  It is now a mini metropolis and it was quite a culture shock driving into this city that was now somewhat unrecognizable to me, albeit at first.
The longer I stayed, the more comfortable it began to feel again; the old familar places became recognizable to me once more.  I visited more new places and tourist attractions on this trip of 11 days than I did when I lived there.  It's funny how life and work stopped me from exploring the tremendous beauty around me.  Sure I did see some of it, but I needed to be a tourist in the city I used to live in to see so much more of what Kelowna has to offer. 
It was a tremendously fun trip.  The only regret is my partner Rick wasn't able to get time off of work to go with me.  So, off I went on an adventure of my own.
In Kelowna, I reconnected with a friend named John that I hadn't seen in 18 years.  I had the pleasure of his sight seeing hospitality.  I was also lucky enough to stay in the spare room of his condo in downtown Kelowna.  He guided me to places in Kelowna I wasn't aware of.  I had a list of other things and places I wanted to do and see as well.   Funny enough, I also showed him things in Kelowna he wasn't aware of.  It was a win win situation for both of us.
I spent some time with John, met some new people and also took time for myself to explore, play and have fun.  The weather was picture perfect.  It was 28 to 35 farenheit every day that I was there.  Now THAT'S summer.  I love the sun and the heat.
I plan on sharing my journey with you over the next few blog posts as I took so many photos that one blog post would never cover it.  I am a bit of an amateur photographer and I enjoy sharing the beauty of how I see the world through my eyes.  Enjoy!

On the road again.  It's been a LONG time since I have been on a LONG road trip.  Driving for 8 hours certainly can have its challenges physically.  I'm not in my 20s anymore.  This shot is just past Lake Louise on the highway.

A photo of me by the side of the highway for a quick rest.
  A bear!  A bear!  I was wondering why all of those cars stopped by the side of the road!
I stopped in Golden when this woman and her son walked by with this cute little guy!    He was quite relaxed as you can see and didn't mind me taking a photo.  Unfortunately, I don't remember what breed this is but I HAD to get a shot of him.  He's SO adorable!
A popular rest stop by Mara Lake.  I love the drive along this lake even with the amount of curves that it has.
Just a half an hour or so from Kelowna now.  I thought this scenery was pretty.  I'm almost there now!  Whoopee!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Story of Stuff

As I met with my Bodacious Women's Circle a couple of weeks ago, once again I was amazed at the power of sharing and stories in a group.  I find myself becoming more and more grateful for getting to know these women.  I realize that "their issue" is also mine to some degree.  We are all connected and we are all humans struggling to overcome what blocks us and what keeps us stuck.

For example, our last meeting a woman shared about her "stuff", her actual physical belongings that were in a box.  She had accumulated some clutter, as we all do from time to time.  She couldn't face dealing with the contents in this box.  As she kept eluding to the contents in the box, I finally asked her "What is in this box?"  She shared with us that there were some personal things in it that she was avoiding dealing with. 


All of us deal with clutter and accumulating, it at some point in our lives.   And clutter can come in many forms and faces; either physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually.  Clutter anchors us to the past and can sometimes keep us stuck.  It can be difficult to move forward toward future goals if we aren't willing to let go of things that are not in support of us moving forward.  We need to let go of the "old" to bring in the "new" things into our lives.

It's funny how I sometimes go through resistance going to this monthly meeting because  a) logistically it's sometimes a nightmare to get to the meeting because I'm taking transit (well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little here, but sometimes it is a pain not owning a car) and  b) on some soul and unconscious level I know there will be some issue or issues coming up in the group that we can all relate to and that we will need to face and heal potentially, if we choose to of course. 

That's partly what the group is about; being able to share where we are at and overcome our blocks and challenges with the support of others. It's hard to do everything on my own and I imagine it's hard for others too.  Asking for support from others can be one of the most challenging and risk taking things we do in our lives.

Why is it that most of us believe we need to do everything on our own without help from anyone?  It's just not possible.  Successful people and businesses have great support systems and a team of people to help them run things.  They realize they can't do everything on their own and nor do they want to.  It's about becoming clear of our strengths and enhancing those strengths.  I don't feel it's always necessary to build on our weaknesses because there will be someone else better suited.  Why do things that aren't our innate and natural gifts?

Why do so many of us, and in particular women, think we need to do everything on our own?  When are we going to say enough is enough and reach out for support?  It's too hard trying to be SuperWoman.  I'm learning more and more that it's okay to collaborate, brainstorm and support one another.  We all have different strengths that we can bring to the table.  It's just impossible to think that we can or need to know everything!  Let me share a personal story with you.

For the last few years, I have decided to take care of the household bookkeeping.  I have never taken a bookkeeping class.  I have fumbled my way through, learning as much as I could from the few books that I have read.  Every month I would spend 5 to 7 hours calculating income and expenses, keeping necessary receipts, throwing some away, and then on top of it, dreading and cursing every moment.

For the last few years I proudly kept on top of things every month, up until last year when life got busy and the bookkeeping fell to the wayside.  Not that I looked forward to doing it anyhow. And so, it was easy to procrastinate.  But then 1 month led to 2, then 2 months to 3 and so on and so on.  Well, you know how that goes!  By 2013, I was not only behind 8 months in 2012, but also 4 months behind in 2013.  This is not how I like to start the year off, being behind.

Now I needed to get caught up because tax season was coming.  Good grief!  I remembered being in that place a few years ago where my pattern was leaving everything to the last minute and then spending hours and hours trying to play "catch up" and being completely stressed out and just getting our tax stuff in on time.  Can anyone relate to this??

As I spent hours over the last few months slowly getting caught up, this year I realized that I couldn't keep doing things the same way any longer.  I was miserable and I was complaining about how many hours I was spending doing this (to the dismay of my partner).  I realized the reason I was procrastinating was because I was dreading the bookkeeping every month.

I knew I needed to do things differently, but how?  I needed help.  But who and where?  I started speaking with my friend Destiny about my conundrum.  I was using Excel but in a very limited capacity as I haven't been trained in it.  Well, as it turns out, she's an Excel whiz!  She promptly emailed me a copy of a spreadsheet that she was using.  I looked it over and told her I was interested.  She agreed to come over to work with me on creating a new bookkeeping system. 

I, in the meantime, streamlined the expense categories (although there were still too many categories in Destiny's mind).   After reading "Your Money or Your Life" a couple years ago and rereading it again this year, I was reminded of why I had so many categories to begin with.  To her dismay, she gave in.  She and I both realized that it was me dealing with it in the end and if I was okay with it, that's all that mattered.  Besides, I could already tell that this new system would be WAY easier for me, even with all the categories.

As we spent time together setting things up and with her teaching me, I started to see how this new system would completely simplify things.  I also realized that we needed to simplify things in the way of NOT using credit cards (we have 3) plus our joint chequing account for paying all our expenses.  Dealing with 4 different accounts was in and of itself already challenging and I realized it just took too much time and energy to deal with it all.
After speaking with Destiny some more, I realized that this too was causing me extra stress.  It was hard to keep track of 4 different accounts and then doing the bookkeeping on top of this. For me, this was the last straw.  Things needed to change this year.
I decided to speak with my partner about just using our chequing account for all the expenses. We both came to a mutual agreement of paying off the credit cards completely by the end of April. 

With a fairly generous tax refund we were able to pay off the 1.  We then took some our savings and paid off the other 2.  By the end of April we were completely debt free and on a "cash only" basis like we were a few years ago. 

I can't tell you how much of a relief it is to be debt free.  There is something to be said for the feeling of freedom that comes with it; to say to ourselves "enough is enough" and to become more conscious and aware of our spending habits. 

Because we have been tracking our expenses for the last number of years, this new system worked with budget amounts for expense categories as well.  I was somewhat opposed to budgeting because it felt limiting to me.  But then I realized it's okay because it tracks any potential overspending in any one category.  It's not about "sacrificing, but about keeping track so we can reach any goals we have that we would like to achieve.  To be able to track expenses with this wonderful new system is exhilarating. 

Actually, I am now excited to do the bookkeeping and I look forward to it because of this simplicity. All thanks to my friend and thanks to me too for being willing to ask for support and being willing to change.  That's where it all starts and big changes can happen that way.

I realize that debt is not free money.  There is a high price to pay for it and so much energy is tied into it.  There was a huge shift in my physical energy this last month.  I finally realized how much of my energy was tied into this old exhausting system and also into our debt.

It's not that I think credit is bad.  In this day and age it's difficult to not get by without it.  We can't always pay for things with debit online.  But I have decided that as soon as that purchase is made on the credit card, the money needs to come out of the chequing account to pay for it.  If there isn't any money for that purchase, then it shouldn't be purchased to begin with.

It's simple and yet, not always an easy action to implement.  It does take commitment, determination, patience and persistence.  I can still get caught up in the spending madness and it takes a conscious effort to not get caught up in it.  With books like "Your Money or Your Life" and "The Soul of Money", I realize that I need to become in touch with who I am and what is important to me so that I don't continue these unconscious and unsupportive spending habits.

Ask yourself:  Is how I make my money in alignment with my values and who I am?  Is how I spend my money in alignment with my values and who I am?  Am I achieving the goals I say I want to achieve?  These are the deep questions we need to ask ourselves in order to heal our relationship with money and to get out of the consumer rat race of spending ourselves into consumption prison.

For years I have said I wanted to travel.  And yet, for some reason, I haven't travelled as much as I would like.  Why is this?  Is it because I'm just a big fat liar?  No.  This is the tragedy of unconscious spending and not having goals.  Our behaviours and actions speak much louder than our words ever can, ALWAYS. 

This is why I am on a mission to become empowered with my relationship with money.  This is why I realize that I can't do everything on my own and sometimes I need help and support. There is no shame in this.  Shame, on the other hand, is a whole other discussion to get into for another time because sometimes shame stops us for asking for help.  This too, is something that needs to be healed.

Thank you to (I will call her Bodacious Woman "P" to honour her privacy) for being vulnerable, open and willing to share your struggles about your "stuff" in our group.  You are not alone, we are not alone, we are all in this together.  I am grateful to all the teachers in my life.  Thank you and I look forward to sharing and learning more.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring 2013 Altar!

Spring has sprung!  Or has it?  Looking outside, you wouldn't think so as it's snowing again in Calgary.  We're honestly considering that we move to Mexico in the next few years.  Then, when it's winter here for 6 months of the year (or more sometimes it feels!), I will be in my bikini lying by the ocean on the beach creating art or something other than needing to put on my bloody winter boots and coat in April! 
Don't get me wrong.  I still want to live in Canada, but only when it's actually nice and warm here.  I'm finding it more and more difficult to tolerate the long and cold winters.
Anyhow, to celebrate spring (And, hopefully to bring it in full gear.  I can dream, can't I?), I finally got around on April 7th to putting up my spring altar.
For those of you that have been keeping track and following my posts over the years, you will know that every season I put together a new altar in honour of the change of the seasons.  This one came fairly easily to me.
PINK "screamed" out at me (Well, maybe not screamed but whispered in my ear.  I cannot whatsoever wear pink as it looks hideous on me.) but I love the color regardless in flowers and in decor.  There's something vibrant and alive when I see pink. 
Bright green was the obvious match for me as I searched for cards and items that could go together.  With a mix of old and some new items, the altar came together quite nicely and easily.  I love when things flow like that.
Hope you enjoy!  Happy spring everyone!
I found these 2 Ikea frames at a garage sale for $5 each a couple of years ago.  They are awesome because they perfectly hold these beautiful greeting cards.  It's a wonderful way to display artful cards as ART!  Not everyone can afford to buy a $2000 painting or even a $200 painting.  But at $5 to $10 a card, you have inexpensive art that you can change up anytime you like.
Spring altar 2013 in full view!
I've had this pink vase and silk flowers forever.  The little white bird I purchased at a decorating store for $3 or so and the pink candleholder/vase/glass I just found at Chapters this year for $8.  I decided to use it as a candleholder.  Colored glass is definitely in and it's pretty.  You can also find colored glass items at used stores or places like Value Village.

This crystal bowl on the left I have had for over 20 years now.  I decided to fill it with sparkly Easter eggs I found at Winners in colors of pink and silver.  The hot pink bird I found at a decor shop.  The silver frame with rhinestones I found at Winners for $7.  Greeting cards are too large for this frame so I took a pretty paper napkin and cut it to size to fit inside the frame.  The hot pink candleholder on the right is from a garden shop, Golden Acres.

This beautiful fairy was found at a lovely store that no longer exists in Calgary called Kalidescope.  The pictures beside her are greeting cards I taped to the wall with similar color themes.

This dresser is under the Ikea frames.  I usually have another mini altar here too.  I use more earthy colors here to match the red on the walls in the hallway.


Saturday, April 06, 2013

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup, YUM!!!!

I have been on a journey of healing my body through food for quite a while now.  Letting go of things like dairy, various forms of meat products including chicken etc., wheat, gluten and too much sugar.  Although I have to say I still have quite a sweet tooth and need to keep that in check. 
I still choose to indulge in sweets and instead, choose quality over quantity and cheap pricing.  I choose things like raw chocolate and make a lot of my own stuff now.  At least that way I know exactly the ingredients I have put in.  I'm so picky about where I go to eat now and there are only a few restaurants I like to go.  One of which is The Coup http://www.thecoup.ca/  in Calgary, Alberta.  Never had a bad meal there and the service is always good.
Below is a recipe I just made today.  I found a vegetarian cream of mushroom soup on the web and tweaked a few ingredients to make it vegan.  I'm curious and think that using different types of mushrooms combined might be interesting too.  It's the best dairy and gluten free cream of mushroom soup I have EVER had including The Coup's version. You will never want any less than excellence again!!  And it's not difficult to make at all.  Enjoy!!
Serves 8-10
1 lb sliced white mushrooms and crimini mushrooms combined plus 2 portobello mushrooms also sliced
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup chopped leek or onions
2-3 garlic cloves minced
4 fresh thyme sprigs or 3 pinches of dried thyme
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
4 cups water
4 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 can coconut milk
Salt and Pepper
1.  Melt coconut oil in pot and add garlic, leeks, thyme and 1 tsp salt.
2.  Add 1/4 cup water, cover and stew for 4-5 minutes.
3.  Add mushrooms and cook 4-5 minutes.
4.  Add nutritional yeast and cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently.
5.  Add bouillon and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
6.  Puree in blender until smooth.
7.  Add coconut milk and stir.  Season to taste with pepper and extra salt if needed.
8.  Garnish with sliced green onions, fried mushrooms and/or white truffle oil if desired.

Chapter 6: I Didn't Pee My Pants!!

The interviewer asked me if I would do this again.  Honestly, at the time, it was too soon to tell.  It felt like this whole process and experience was so perfectly aligned with the stars that I don’t think and I know, that it wouldn’t or couldn’t happen like this again.  It was perfect the way it was and I’m not sure if I’m meant to do it again.  If it’s meant to be and it feels right, I’m sure I will know and I need to trust that.  Maybe I will volunteer instead next year.  Who knows??  Or, maybe there will be another adventure.

As my friends left, we headed home to change for the reception.  At the reception, I felt myself crashing and it continued for the following three days after.  The combination of all the excitement building to the event, the fundraising, plus my whole body being sore because of the physicality of rappelling (it was more physically challenging than I imagined) and the fact that I was unconsciously tensing my whole body in anticipation and fear, caused a tremendous amount of exhaustion for me.  Afterwards, I was in “hibernation” mode for a while.

This experience has been a long time coming and now that I have accomplished this, I have been in a “Now what?” place ever since.  It’s been strange because as I said, I felt like I fell “off the map” for a while after the event.  I was posting on Facebook every day, and then, once in a while and then nothing.  I have been processing all that has happened and then some since then.

Since this event, I do know and feel that my fear of heights has definitely lessened.  I feel like I could rappel down the seven stories at Crux Climbing no problem now.  I think it would be a piece of cake compared to rappelling down a 30 storey building!  Although I have to say, at the time, the seven stories did freak me out.
Crux Climbing Center training session

I look forward to going to Crux sometime and doing that again. Although rappelling down 30 stories was extremely difficult, the training certainly did help with my confidence prior to the event.  I can see why it's mandatory to do the training along with learning about safety precautions.  Prior to that, the highest I rappelled down was 3 stories.  I definitely found that taking baby steps building from 3 to 7 to 30 stories helped to build up my confidence.  Although I have to say, nothing really prepares you when you are standing on the roof of a 30 storey building.  It's not like you can practice climbing down a building beforehand!

 was blessed to have two friends and a professional photographer (who was there taking photos of her daughter at the event) take amazing photos of my journey.  This photographer said that she was touched and inspired by my journey and just gifted the photos to me.  I ordered photos from the professional photographers at the event  as well (albeit a bit pricey), but they turned out great and how could I not get some? 
It has certainly been an inspirational journey for me in so many ways; not just because of what I learnt along the way, but also seeing other people go on their journeys down the building and overcoming their fears.  Wow!   People can be so amazing!

THANKS SO MUCH to all those volunteers at Easter Seals http://www.easterseals.ab.ca/Site/index.aspx and Crux Climbing http://thecruxclimbing.com/web/ for taking the time and care to make this experience one I will never forget.  Thanks for making it safe for everyone year after year.  Thanks for your encouragement, because without you, it wouldn’t be possible.  You are truly a special group of people. 

And last but not least, thanks again to everyone (You know who you are!  There are too many to list here!) who donated financially and also energetically with your words of support, encouragement and enthusiasm.  I am truly grateful!!
So, in the end, do I recommend this experience?  Of course I do.  But, this isn't necessarily for everyone and there isn't just one "right" way that we can evolve and grow our spirits and who we are.  We all take different journeys and roads to get to the same place which is moving towards the light of who we are and becoming the best that we can be.  As long as we keep moving forward, it doesn't necessarily matter how or what we do, it will take us there regardless if we are open and willing to do so.
All I can say is if there is a voice inside of you that calls you to do something in your life, no matter what it is, pay attention to it and to the signs along the way.  What I have learnt is I have manifested this experience in my life several years ago.  And even though it was several years later that it came up again, I knew in that moment that it was meant to be and that the timing felt right.  This experience was a super strong "YES!" for me.  Because of that, it was one of the easiest flowing experiences I have had.  Everything happens for a reason and in good time. 
Pay attention, take a chance, step out of your comfort zone and you will be surprised at what you can can be, do and have.  Pay attention to the strong YES's in your life and by saying YES, you will be surprised with possibilities.