Soul Journal: A Framework of Growth

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My body is rejecting salt, oil, and caffeine. That’s a strange thing to write, it sounds a bit hocus-pocus to me. How would you know what your body is rejecting?

I get high blood pressure when I eat foods with those things in them. I also get high blood pressure when I listen to loud music or think stressful thoughts or fantasize things—exciting things like meeting a celebrity or going to Mallorca or some other dream. I’m 26 years old, about 125 lbs and otherwise healthy. There is no reason to experience this, really, and it’s only been happening recently.

So instead of going to a doctor and having them prescribe me a short-term course of blood pressure medication, I’m choosing to honour what my body is telling me by committing to a course of clean eating, no exciting music and lots of things that help.

Non-high intensity aerobic exercise like walking helps, yin yoga helps, apple cider vinegar helps, mantras help, and guided meditations help sometimes.

I didn’t have to look any of this up… I’m connected with my body and its signals, thanks in part to the curse/blessing of being considered a slightly anxious person. It’s the other way around, actually. Some anxious people like me are more in tune with their bodies and tend to feel panic when they misinterpret totally normal occurrences in their bodies that other people wouldn’t even pay attention to.

There are different ways to see the same thing.

And while I’m presenting this as two paths, where I am choosing to take the one that is right for me, I admit that ultimately I see this as a meaningful part of my journey, not just a blip. My body is asking me to allow it to accommodate more. More emotions, more situations. It’s asking me to adapt my environment so that it can do more for me by being more adaptable to changes.

I know because this is how it’s reacting to the whirlwind of changes happening now.

And I want all that. I want to be able to live in the now, without the security of the future, a fantasy that  isn’t happening now, the fake excitement of a Spotify playlist that takes me somewhere other than here, and the emotion-numbing allure of salty, oily foods and caffeine—or alcohol. I want to be able to live free from of all of those things and to live here.

While I am being forced to make a change, this is also a change I want with all of my being. I’m lucky this is happening to me. And I am so grateful, too.

Quinoa Three Ways

If you hate the texture! 

Even though I learned about the benefits of quinoa years ago, I really couldn’t bring myself to eat it until recently. Unlike rice and other grains I like, quinoa seeds would—annoyingly—slip beneath my teeth as I tried to chew. I just can’t stand the texture of plain quinoa, and I don’t imagine I’m the only one.

Quinoa is one of the few plant foods that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a plant-based form of a complete protein. According to the BBC Good Food website, a magazine I love (and trust), quinoa is high in fibre and a good source of iron, magnesium and manganese. As well, research shows that quinoa is high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. You can click to see where I have found this information and more, here.

In conclusion, quinoa is a good thing (better than most grains, it seems)! So I didn’t want to just give up on it because of a texture problem. And it turned out to be a pretty easy one to circumvent, anyway. I just have to mix it with other things.

Here are my three favourite ways to eat quinoa recently. It’s gone from bearable to being a constant in my diet.

  1. Mix equal parts quinoa and brown rice! This is the least expensive and simplest way to eat quinoa for me. It involves simply mixing a cup of each in a pot and cooking. Brown rice tends to cook quite a bit slower than quinoa, so I add that first, and toss in the quinoa about 15–20 minutes before the rice is done. Make sure the pot is filled with enough water!
  2. Quinoa and veggies! This was on a salad I ate at a restaurant, but I’ve since recreated it at home. It’s a similar concept to above, but a bit more nutritious, and it keeps in the fridge for up to four days. You can add it to bowls or salads or pour a little pasta sauce over it and enjoy. I cook tricolour (or any) quinoa and add one or two cups of frozen carrot chunks and peas. There’s really no recipe and quantities depend on your preference.

    I should add that I do find tricolour quinoa is less “slippery” in general, but I realize it’s not available everywhere.

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  3. Put it in an intricate salad! The internet is littered with really complex salads that contain a cup of quinoa here and there. These can be a little hit and miss in my experience, but when they are good can be a really great way to incorporate quinoa. This Mexican salad was a favourite and it can contain up to two cups of quinoa (it’s also vegan, made with Daiya cheese).

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Soul Journal: Letting a Good Thing Go

Two weeks ago, on a Monday, I took the plunge and pressed print on my resignation letter from a job that has brought so much growth to my life.

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A year ago in March, I began working in the highly competitive field of book publishing, doing something that gave me a hand in the creation of real books that real people read and enjoy and think worth their dime to buy! I was a new proofreader, proofreading and  lightly copyediting manuscripts every single day. (Yes, I got to read stories for a living.)

While I loved the job at first and came to work with a feeling of pride, endeavouring to do my best on every single page, eventually that feeling faded. I was gripped with a feeling of complete isolation that overshadowed my positive feelings about the role. While the department had more than a dozen people—almost all of which I liked—the job itself turned out to be too solitary to bear.

I tried keeping myself busy with social outings after work, with friends and with new people that I met through meetup.com, trying a variety of activities. While the social stimulation was very helpful, it left me with no time to carry on other important aspects of my life. I spent nearly two hours in solitary transit, eight hours at work, and the few more I had left, I was using to socialize.

Eventually I began to experience sleep troubles and felt I was on the verge of more worrisome/deeper emotional disarray. I knew that I was living by hanging on to the wall of a cliff, and that no matter how strong I made myself to be, I’d eventually slip and fall. So I made the decision to instead reach for that just-too-high edge while I still have strength left in me.

I can’t describe how good it feels to take a huge risk that somehow feels right (and that all things considered actually is right). It feels much safer than a routine that works against me. I’m following my bliss, and I feel ecstatic and excited.

I let a good thing go because it stopped working for me. And I feel so alive…

 

 

Ueli Steck <3

On April 30th, Ueli Steck fell 1,000 metres off the side of a mountain in the Nepalese Himalaya and died. A mountain climber, he was supposedly climbing Mount Nuptse to acclimatize to the altitude before attempting an Everest ascent nearby.  I’m writing about it because I have something to say about this sentence he’s quoted as having said in several tribute articles and obituaries: “Failure for me would be to die and not come home.” I guess it’s attractive because of this tragic sort of irony.

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But it’s also the complete opposite of what Steck represents to me. 

I know about him from his Annapurna I ascent. I’m not a mountaineer or even a big fan of the sport, but some mountains have a certain magic about them and Annapurna is one of those. It’s dangerous, over 8,000 metres high, unforgiving, with a south face wall of ice supplemented with snowstorms and avalanches. It’s just terrible, but breathtaking and beautiful too.

While there are people that climb it through the “beaten” track of sherpas and oxygen (and an astounding percentage of them doesn’t make it back), Steck did it the way mountaineers and non (hello!) alike would only dream to do. He set out for the ascent himself, solo, unassisted, summited and got back down in just over a day.

I can’t imagine the thrill, but that’s really not why I googled him today and found out of his passing or why he’s stayed with me. I like Steck because to me he represents someone who follows his dreams relentlessly and without judgement.

About his quote, I wish I could tell him that it’s nothing but honourable to die in service to the dreams that choose us. That while not going home would have been a failure to climb Everest (or another mountain), staying home would be a failure to live. Somehow, I’m sure he knew that…

He remains an inspiration to me, not to climb mountains, but to live fearlessly, go full throttle, and risk it all for the things—the dreams, paths, and adventures—that call our souls.

Soul Journal: Non-Harm Begins With Ourselves

I have been transitioning to a plant-based diet for the last few months. I have been making an effort to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and pulses, and so far, I haven’t encountered too many obstacles. One of the (many) reasons I have made this change is to inflict less harm on the other creatures I share this planet with.

I have seen the videos of slaughterhouses, and while I am aware there are people in this world who suffer too, this is a type of suffering I can actually stop just by putting different food on my plate. But there’s another type of suffering that I can put an end to that I hadn’t considered in past years of vegetarianism and making compassionate choices: non-harm towards me!

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Maybe it has to do with the life stage that I am in, the overt nature of the ways I could hurt myself—with things like cosmetic procedures. I’ve become enlightened to the unnecessary harm perpetrated by the chemicals in my daily life; everything from household cleaners to self-care and beauty products. So while the more extreme forms of harm are what called my attention to this issue, I now feel that if a chemical is not nourishing my body, I would rather not smear myself in it in the name of beauty.

I think “beauty” (in terms of makeup) for me resonates more with the idea of fun and play, but it hasn’t been that for a long time for me. It’s been mostly about looking a certain way, instead. Self-care is about self-love and honouring myself and being with myself. And if I can get all this with products that are as little removed from nature as possible, then that is what I would like to do.

This all started with an inner scream of sorts. I don’t know how to describe it better… I’d made an appointment with a plastic surgeon for Botox and as the appointment inched closer, I knew I’d be taking a really big step and compromising yet another part of myself. I have made the decision to have cosmetic procedures in the past, and each one felt like a betrayal of myself—to my imperfection and to my humanity.

So I come from a place of knowing what it’s like to hurt yourself because on some level you feel an improvement is necessary, and I want to keep myself away from that place if I can help it. I don’t know if this resonates with you, and if it doesn’t, I invite you even more strongly to really consider what you are putting on the beautiful body that moves heaven and earth for you every single day, that puts up with all sorts of situations and fights for you to live each moment.

Needless to say, I did not go to the appointment and I have cancelled other cosmetic procedures, such as filling in the gap between my teeth or getting yet another round of braces and a tooth whitening (literally bleaching) treatment from my dentist. My teeth may be slightly crooked but they are perfectly healthy and functioning and abusing them is essentially a crime against myself that I don’t want to view as inconsequential and unimportant.

I know this post is heavy and I’m not sure whether the true love and happiness I feel for having taken what feels like a divergent path are coming across. I am excited about this. I still struggle… I wonder about future regret. For the most part, though, I feel free, like a now worry-free child who’s been told they’re allowed to run free and play in the sandbox however feels right to them. Before, unbeknownst to me, part of my focus was on reaching an ideal, of playing a game of winners and losers dictated by industry and others, where I just couldn’t win without unreasonably hurting myself.

I stopped and, if you want to, I think you can, too. 🙂

I learned at an early age that it’s better to invent your own game; then you can always be a winner. – Yvon Chouinard

26 Things I’ve Learned in my 26 Years—

This is a steal from Klossy, Karlie Kloss’s Youtube channel. She posted a video last year that featured 23 things she had learned in 23 years. Well, today, still December 29 as I write, was my birthday. And I turned 26.

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My birthday just a few years ago :p

Though it seems like I barely had enough time to get used to saying I am 25 (and now I am 26? Already? What?) this is a hugely exciting day. It’s truly a celebration for me and it’s a time for reflection, as well. This year of all the years in my life, I have taken some of the biggest steps and I’ve learned and relearned some really important lessons!

I took notes at lunch. Here they are:

  1. Life is what you make it
  2. It’s a balance of pleasure and pain
  3. It’s good to stay connected to the past but not to live in it
  4. Education and skills are very important
  5. Being on time matters
  6. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Do the best you can where you are!
  7. Get outside and adventure to new places.
  8. Don’t spend time with people that don’t enrich your life.
  9. Social media is great for staying in touch, if you make the effort
  10. Planning saves the day, almost every time
  11. Spend money on experiences and things that enrich your life
  12. Not everyone is going to like you… Let them, in peace
  13. Podcasts might be the best thing about the new millennium—listen to them.20161230_002636_001-1-1
  14. Netflix is overrated.
  15. Kindness wins—
  16. When your neighbours are making too much noise, just turn on the fan
  17. Vintage jewelry and clothes will always have a place in my heart.
  18. Love yourself but some flaws are easy to fix…
  19. Motivation takes pushing but inspiration pulls you. You can only push so hard…so take the time to get inspired
  20. Instagram is not real life.
  21. Back up your photos and your files!
  22. Get help, you’ll live through it
  23. Sleep is essential
  24. A mug of tea, a blanket, and your favourite movie can make everything better
  25. But sometimes you need a glass of wine.
  26. Age is just a number… Growing up is hard work!
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Cousins. I’m the little one.