Thursday, January 31, 2008

Call it a lack of understanding...

I generally have a positive outlook on Life. I don't really get riled up too easily and, most of the time, I just accept that "it is what it is". However, there are a few things that I will never quite understand - and I've encountered several in the last couple of days. I guess you could call these my "pet peeves".

For the record, I will never understand:
  • why people toss aside their lit cigarette butts... You never can tell where they will fall; for goodness sake, step on 'em at least!
  • why people feel the need to launch a wicked gob of spit onto the sidewalk... Guys (as I suspect this is mostly a guy thing), contrary to what you might think, it's really not cool.
  • why people are so obsessed with Britney Spears... Yowza! Leave her alone! If no one pays attention, maybe she'll just go away and be free to fix her life.
  • why so many short people haven't figured out that, if you're using an umbrella on a crowded sidewalk, you need to lift and/or tilt when you meet someone coming in the opposite direction... My eyes may be weak, but I'd still like to keep them, thank you.
  • why people stand in front of the door on the bus when it's not their stop - especially when there is an empty seat nearby... Get out of my way please!
  • white sweat socks with black dress shoes OR black nylons with white pumps... need I say more?!
These are a few of my favourite things. Not!

What about you? What things will you never quite understand?!

Pace e bene,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Teachings from an unexpected source...

Teachers come in all shapes 'n sizes. Yesterday, she arrived packaged as a blind immigrant woman who needed help.

I was standing in line to get on the bus and a woman wearing dark glasses and using a cane stepped off. She then stood on the corner announcing to passersby: "I need help! I need help!" People looked, but no one stopped. I went up to her and asked where she needed to go. Turns out she needed to connect to another bus and the stop was a block away; she would also need to cross two streets to get there. "Take my arm. I'll walk you there," I said.

As we walked, she talked. Loudly. She told me of the eye infection that temporarily robbed her of her sight - even showing me her clouded eyeballs. She showed me the drops she needed to take. She told me that she lived with her father and that all they had was his old age pension cheque to live on. They received about $1000/month. Their rent was $973. They were immigrants, probably Haitian judging from her accent. She said sometimes people helped them. Sometimes not. "Here in Canada, about half the people are good. The other half are not-so-good. You, you are a good samaritan," she told me.

I got her onto her bus and asked the bus driver to help her out. Then I turned and walked away. Just like that. I hope she was able to reach her destination.

Later in the day, I was reflecting on this encounter. Here is what I learned from this small, blind, loud Teacher:
  • Getting help can be as easy as asking for it, clearly and without hesitation. I've been procrastinating on a task for weeks because, quite honestly, I don't know how to go about doing it. The logical thing would be to ask for help. If I nudge pride & ego out of the way, I can do that.
  • I need to look at the roots of my financial insecurity, which has been plaguing me lately. Compared to so many, I am rich beyond their imagination. There is so much for me to be grateful for.
I am grateful for this short episode in my day, and I pray that I may always remain teachable... Our Teachers walk among us; have you met one lately? I'd love to hear about it!

Pace e bene,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

To eat... or not to eat...

In my last post, I listed all the main food/beverages that I have to say No Thanks! to for the next 10 - 14 days. Now it's time to celebrate what I can - and most likely will - eat in the days to come:

  • YES to veggies (limitless) - broccoli, squash, cauliflower, peppers, celery, spinach, sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, just to name a few...
  • YES to meat 'n fish - mostly chicken, wild salmon, tilapia...
  • YES to legumes - bean salads, lentil soup...
  • YES to grains - yeast-free kamut bread (I love this stuff!), quinoa, whole grain rice, whole wheat/kamut/spelt pasta (is that a grain?!), whole wheat tortilla wraps...
  • YES to fruit 'n berries - although I should limit fruit to one or two pieces a day, due to their high natural sugar content...
  • YES to nuts 'n seeds - almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds...
  • YES to eggs - mostly of the hard-boiled genre...
I've never been one to plan menus ahead of time, so I'm making an effort to keep primarily the YES foods around and create meals from those ingredients. Last evening, for example, I made a hearty lentil & vegetable soup and froze the left-overs; that'll give me at least two lunches. Then there's the beef stew, frozen from a couple of weeks ago. This morning's breakfast, as demonstrated in my photo above, was a delight in so many ways! FYI: Instead of using butter, I drizzle flax seed oil on my toast and sprinkle with cinnamon. Yum. "And what about that milk?" say you?! It's almond milk. Double Yum.

In case you're wondering what is behind all this effort, while on an extended sick leave in January 2006, an environmental allergist & homeopath helped me discover that I likely had an over-abundance of yeast in my body. After a strict dietary change and time to let my body detox, I began to experience good health in a way that I couldn't have imagined! Now, I keep watch of what I eat and every six months or so, I allow myself a nutritional detox process that also involves homeopathic remedy - just to give my liver a rest. And in the day-to-day, as much as possible, I avoid sugar, anything fermented as well as all things fungal (ie. mushrooms, old cheeses...), for these all encourage the growth of yeast in our bodies.

Interestingly, I experienced a vivid reminder of how my body can no longer tolerate concentrated amounts of sugar last week. Hubby & I tried out a new restaurant; the food was great and the desserts, well, irresistable. Knowing full well that it was a major cheat, I ordered a piece of homemade gingerbread cake soaked in maple-rum sauce. Exquisite! Within an hour, I had a headache that made me want to disappear into a quiet, dark space. I thought my head was caught in a vice. Quite the reminder! Garbage in; garbage out.

And that, my friends, brings our episode of jag's adventures in nutritional health to an end for today. Join us again next week as we... ah, never mind. :-)

Pace e bene,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Givin' the liver a rest...

· no yeast
· no dairy
· no sugar, honey, maple syrup
· no vinegars or fermented products (eg. soy sauce)
· no mushrooms
· no junk food (Good-bye Mr. Chips!)
· no processed (ie. canned, boxed, enveloped) food
· no coffee (incl. de-caf) or tea
· no alcohol

(... and for the next 10 - 14 "todays"!)

This is me, attempting the whole "accountability" thing. If I share my intention here, it'll be harder for me to cheat when I get there.

Pace e bene,

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Beloved Chatters

“The happiest people are those who think the most interesting thoughts. Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good company, good conversation, are the happiest people in the world. And they are not only happy in themselves, they are the cause of happiness in others.” - William Lyon Phelps

I'm heading off to bed, but I just have to share that I am feeling very blessed and grateful. I just got back from a soul nurturing evening with my friends, the Mad Chatters. I love them all... for their humour, for their courage, for their brilliance, for their willingness to show up 'n chat.

This evening, we shared on the books/films/people/experiences that have influenced us the most in 2007. It evolved into a conversation about defining moments... Nothing less than a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring conversation!

Thanks Chatters - you guys rock! My life is fuller because of your presence in it...

Pace e bene,

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nobody's Mother...

“I am not childless by choice, although many of my choices have contributed to my being childless. I live with this as regret and blessing both, a point of chaos in my ordered life.” - Mary Jane Copps in Nobody’s Mother: Life Without Kids.

The fact that I do not have children is not something I talk about very often. It’s not even something I think about most of the time. Last year, a book review in the local paper caught my eye: Nobody’s Mother: Life Without Kids. I tore out the article, planning to look at it later and, as waywards bits of paper tend to do in my home, it eventually migrated to the office upstairs. A couple of weeks ago, it reappeared at the top of the heap as if to say: “Now would be a good time to read this.” I ordered it from the public library (I’m still on my self-imposed book buying moratorium) and read it over the past week.

Nobody’s Mother presents a series of essays from women who, for a myriad of reasons, have never borne children. They write with honesty, courage, humour and grace. In their words, I was able to find comfort and affirmation – things I didn’t even know I was needing. I was even able to find words that described the paradoxical feelings I have about being nobody’s mother. (See quote above by Mary Jane Copps.)

The reasons for my not having children are far to complex too post here; I’m not even sure I could describe the twists and turns that brought me to this point. The fact is: here I am. The beauty and strength of this book lie in its simple acceptance that reasons differ and – in the end – are quite irrelevant. It’s about accepting and celebrating the reality that is, and the fullness of a woman without kids of her own. This I can relate to!

Here are a few more quotes that resonated with me:

“Not every woman has to have children, you know.” – Lorna Crozier (comment from her mother)

“Physiologically, I am constructed so that I may incubate a fetus, or even a whole string of them, if I so choose. I will die one day, never having carried out the biological impetus of my being.” – Adrienne Munro (this thought – or some variation of it – crosses my mind about once a month! :-))

“If I am a vessel, I am full to overflowing with love and strength and the milk of human kindness. I have not borne a child, but I am a universal parent; in a hundred little ways my love can change the world.” – Adrienne Munro

“I am 42 years old. I have no children. I am very happy.” – Katherine Gordon

I make no judgement of friends and family members who have chosen - consciously or not - to have children... and I hope they make none of me. As I have mentioned here before, the important thing, I believe, is to live fully... to love wastefully... and to be courageously - one day at a time.
Pace e bene,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A milestone to light the way...

In October 2005, I told you that change IS within reach... Since then, I have posted several times about the phenomenal progress of Project Porchlight. Well, today marked another milestone: 1,000,000 energy efficient bulbs delivered! And they're not stopping there...

If ever you wonder whether one person, or one idea, can make a difference, you just have to look towards Porchlight for inspiration. The co-founder and Executive Director, and my friend, Stuart Hickox, pondered over a bottle of beer. "So, how hard can it be to get everyone in Canada to change one lightbulb?!" Little did he know at the time that his quest... his passion... his energy... and the support of his family & friends... would bring him to this point. Congrats Stuart! To you, Suzy, and to the thousands of people who made 1,000,000 bulbs delivered, a reality.

Pace e bene,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Random News Bytes

1) Hubby got back from Disney last evening, and I am now the proud owner of a pair of black sequined Minnie Mouse ears! How cool is that?! :-) I was wearing them at breakfast this morning. Hubby looked at me and just shook his head.

2) I was waiting in line at the coffee shop today. The guy in front of me asked for a "tall dark Mexican", paused, then chuckled. I started laughing along with him. The girl behind the counter didn't even crack a smile as she explained that they didn't sell "tall" sizes. He changed his order: "OK, I'll take a medium Mexican please... or at least his phone number." :-D

3) I've added a new "list" to my blog. Take a look on the right and you'll find Recently Played on my iPod. If you know of an artist, band or podcast that I really should listen to, lest my life remain incomplete, let me know!

Pace e bene,

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mondo Beyondo...

I've been making good use of my solo time by going to my favourite local coffee shop. Last evening, I spent close to two hours there, reflecting & writing. My sister is a strong believer in the power of writing things down in order to help make them happen. She's done it many times and it seems to work for her more often than not. I, on the other hand, have avoided clearly articulating what I want. Too scary. Too disappointing when it doesn't happen. Too limited in my imagination.

In comes Mondo Beyondo... Superhero style. Manifesting the experiences I want to experience... Dreaming the things I'm almost afraid of dreaming... Asking the Universe for the impossible...

I decided to give it a try. What have I to lose?! A couple of hours doodling in my notebook at the most. What have I to gain? Possibly, my wildest dreams.

Here goes, for the whole world to see... (well, OK, for the few people reading my blog to see... :-)), in no particular order:

>> Return to Italy for 1 - 3 months... learn the language!
>> Be debt-free (line of credit & credit card)
>> Be in a job-sharing situation, working for pay only 2-3 days a week
>> Girls' Disney Extravaganza with Sis, my Mom and my Mum-in-Law
>> Cross-Canada Road Trip with Hubby in our Mini Cooper
>> Hiking in the Scottish Highlands
>> Driving anywhere I damn well want to - no fear!
>> Having a house by the ocean

Believe it or not, I found this exercise very difficult. I found myself judging my own list: "Yawners! Have you no imagination?!" It was like opening a door that had rusted shut. But I gotta start somewhere and I cracked it open... and I can only hope that it'll get easier from here!

What would your Mondo Beyondo list look like?!
Pace e bene,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Disney on the run...

"I'm sorry, all of our cast members are busy making magical memories, please hold."

I just got off the phone with Hubby in Florida. As it turns out, their first two nights are at a different Disney property than expected, a couple of hours from Orlando. Poor guy, he's forced to stay at Disney's Vero Beach Resort located right on the ocean. Apparently he got a bit too much sun by the pool today. Ask me if I feel sorry for him. :-)

Tomorrow, they head to Orlando - staying at another Disney property not too far from the race location. Then early on Saturday, he runs the Disney Half-Marathon, from Epcot Center to the Magical Kingdom and back again. How cool is that?! I've never been to Disney World, but I remember the music and the images from all those Wonderful World of Disney episodes on TV. You remember, don't you? Can you hear it...? Maybe this will help!

Although certainly less exotic, I had a great run on the treadmill today. I think I've found the perfect running companion: Stuart McLean at the Vinyl Café. I now subscribe to the podcasts and found it was the perfect distraction from the tediousness of running on the treadmill. Who knew?!

Pace e bene,

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Film Frenzy...

The wind has picked up... and the temperature has dropped. After 3 days of fog and rain, we may actually get to experience winter again. Hooray! It's January afterall... it's supposed to be snowy and cold. Of course, as I write this, Hubby is probably already wearing shorts and enjoying warm weather. He was offered an opportunity to go to Orlando, Florida and run in Saturday's Disney Half-Marathon. How could he say no?! Wouldn't it be great to be fit enough to run a half-marathon on a week's notice... :-) Have fun Babe - miss you already!!

While Hubby's away, I will likely continue to catch up on movies. I really enjoy going to the movie theatre and we're very fortunate here in Ottawa to have our own repertory cinema... great films for a great price!

Last weekend, I saw two films, both of them so different and both of them brilliant... On Saturday, we went to see Juno. There's a lot of buzz surrounding this film, and deservedly so. The dialogue is the quick & clever and the casting is inspired. Gotta give props to the high Canadian content in this film too: filmed in Vancouver, directed by Jason Reitman and starring Michael Cera and newcomer Ellen Page - Canadians all.

Then on Sunday, my favourite movie buddy, Ted, & I went to see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Great film telling the incredible true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a French magazine editor who suffered a debilitating stroke at the age of 42. The diving bell refers to his locked-in body, completely paralyzed except for his left eyelid. The butterfly represents his imagination - fully intact, active and able to carry him wherever he wants. He went on to dictate a best-selling book using only his eye. Incroyable! I was especially moved by back-to-back scenes of fathers & sons in reversed roles: sons becoming parent to the fathers. It immediately reminded me of a very personal image from the past: my husband feeding his father who was dying of cancer. (He died seven years ago today, in fact.) Needless to say, the tears were streaming down my cheeks...

Sooo, I'm flying solo for a few days and will likely focus on creating space for my 2008 intentions to take flight: creativity, connection, celebration.

Pace e bene,

Sunday, January 06, 2008

On Being Human...

As I was cleaning out a small box of loose papers, I found a little card with this:

THE RULES FOR BEING HUMAN (source unknown)

1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period this time around.

2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called Life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.

3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error known as experimentation. The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately "works".

4. A lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson.

5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

6. "There" is no better than "here". When your "there" has become a "here", you will simply obtain another "there" that will again look better than "here".

7. Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.

8. What you make of yours is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours. It is permissible and encouraged to ask for help.

9. Your answers lie inside you. The answers to Life's questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

10. You will forget all this.

11. You can remember it whenever you want.

Considered it remembered, for today at least... :-)
Pace e bene,

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Inspiring discoveries...

I was planning to go to bed early... honest, I was! But I decided to go surfing and see where I'd end up... (all part of making space to nurture my creativity :-)). Here are a few of the things that inspired me along the way:

The mobile phone salesman from South Wales

Low-tech web site - be sure to click on arrow at bottom right of screen

The Last Lecture

Superhero and her camera

What happened to the mobile phone salesman from South Wales

Time to call it a night... who knows what tomorrow will bring!

Pace e bene,

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere... Signs

Yesterday's post on setting "goals" must have sent out a not-so-silent plea to the Universe for increased clarity! The number of "signposts" I have come across in the last 24 hours is astounding.

I started my work day with a visit to The Daily Motivator web site - today's focus was on failure. "Seek not to create failure, nor to avoid failure. Seek instead to allow failure, when it comes, to keep you moving on the path to greater success." Here, I was also reminded that "Comfort is a good state in which to find rest, renewal and refuge for a while. It is a dreary and dismal place to take up permanent residence." That really resonated with me...

Then, I tapped into a friend's online Musings. She compared starting the new year to the experience of cracking open a brand new book or - my favourite - to the memories of getting those brand new school supplies... empty and waiting to be filled and shaped.

THEN, I popped over to The Ripple Effect and was asked whether I was ready to embrace Life with arms wide open... Life will happen, with or without my cooperation. How do I want to receive it?

By this time, I was starting to gain clarity on three specific areas on which I'd like to focus in the coming year (beyond Living Fully... Loving Wastefully... and Being Courageously). I had lunch with a good friend and bounced my ideas off of him - my intial foray into accountability. The final kicker came in a coaching e-newsletter that I receive at work in the afternoon. I was invited to take a look at 5.75 Questions You've Been Avoiding by Michael Bungay Stanier at Box of Crayons. They confirmed what was beginning to take shape in my mind, especially Questions #1, #3 and #5. And so, in a bold act of accountability, I'm putting it out there - to you and to the Universe.

In 2008, I will focus on:
  • Creativity
  • Connection
  • Celebration
I'm sure I'll be given guidance on more specific ways of nurturing each of these areas. All I need to do is Keep an Open Mind and Trust the Universe. I haven't been disappointed yet!

Pace e bene,

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The best of intentions...

I'm feeling ill-equipped to start the new year on the right track. I had the best of intentions for things to do in the last two weeks, and I didn't do them... so what makes me think anything I write today will hold through the next year?!

I've been reflecting a bit on why I'm so adverse to setting goals, even small, simple ones. Here's how I see it today: if I set a goal, I become accountable - sometimes to others & always to myself. Then, if/when I don't accomplish my goal, I feel I have failed. In my weird mind, that translates to "I am a failure. I am a fraud." I am constantly setting myself up to do things, and then not doing them. The feeling of being a fraud can be quite strong sometimes. Isn't this a little harsh, you might ask? Of course! But how else am I supposed to maintain the illusion of competence and perfection that I have spent a lifetime creating?!! :-)

The level of awareness of how this all plays out in my life has been growing in the past couple of years. Recently, the arrogance of it all is also becoming clear to me. Who do I think I am that there is any expectation from others of perfection or competence in all things? The only person who expects that... is me. Luckily, "me" is also the only person I can change if I feel I really want to. I could also choose to simply accept the way I am - and work with that.

So, back to the goals. My sister shared that language is important to her, and that she avoids the word "goal". I've often admired how she's able to set intentions for herself... or areas of focus. This seems to be a gentler language, because it doesn't imply a task that must be completed. I like that. Seems like a kinder, softer way of directing energy towards a specific area of my life - which is basically the same thing as "setting a goal", non?

Although his approach is certainly more action-oriented, Steve at The Ripple Effect also gives me food for thought in his post on New Year's Resolution... He suggests limiting the number I set for myself, as well as making accoutability work for me (instead of against me, as in the judge-and-jury scenario I am most familiar with).

Funny thing just happened... as I'm writing this, I am reminded of an intention that I had set for myself several years ago, sort of a personal mission. It was inspired by something I read in Why Christianity Must Change or Die, but John Shelby Spong. I had "decided" that my life purpose was to: Live fully... Love wastefully... Be courageously... I haven't thought about that in a while. Might this be a good start for determining the areas where I want to focus my energy?

Live fully: Practice acceptance, gratitude and balance...
Love wastefully: Err on the side of Love. Love people, even when I'm not sure they "deserve" it. Put myself on the top of that list...
Be courageously: Be in the moment, even when I'd rather be somewhere else. Make room for Faith, for Faith is stronger than Fear.

There you have it, something for me to think about - one day at a time...

Here's wishing you much Love and Peace as this new year begins. Know that, although I don't always take the time to say it, you are important to me and I treasure your presence in my life. You know who you are. (Yes, it's you... :-))

Pace e bene,