Life · Uncategorized

living free. (online dating.)

We live in such a wonderful age of possibilities, of new connections with like-minded others at the tips of our fingertips, one swipe away. I have downloaded an online dating app, and I have been exploring the world of virtually meeting others—before meeting them in “real life.”

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It has been an illuminating experience. Tucked into the comfort of my favourite nook in front of the television, or picking up my phone on a break from projects through the day, I have been surprised to find how energetically affected I can be by coming into contact with just photos of others on a small screen.

Mindful online swiping has become nothing less than essential. Here are a few things I try to keep in mind before opening my app… I strongly encourage you to consider these points. They can make all the difference.

  1. Feeling happy and self-validated: It’s easy to turn to external sources of validation, and what is both immediate and “fulfilling” in that sense other than an online dating app? Yet seeking this type of validation can quickly become a drain on our inner source of strength and diminish our ability to self-validate and take stock of ourselves for who we truly are in the context of our alignments and experiences. It is for this reason that I make it a priority to only turn on my dating app when I feel good and happy within myself.
  2. Five swipe rule: With what seems like countless “options” all available in successive swipes, an online dating app can turn into a black hole. Yet, as the app user, that facet is completely in my control! I have made it a point to not “swipe” more than five people at any given time, and I usually don’t turn my dating app on more than once or twice a day. This keeps me from spending precious time during my day distracting myself, instead of focusing on what brings me joy, and it also stops me from treating other beautiful humans as commodities available for consumption at the touch of a button on my screen (more on this).
  3. Other people’s beauty: Online dating has brought me virtually face-to-face with people from all walks of life. I have been gifted with glimpses of some of these strangers’ best memories (photos) and bits of their lives, favourites lists, etc. It can be tempting to want to judge someone before pressing x (or swiping left for a no). But prodding into my mind, I’ve found that this need to justify comes from a sense of guilt… And yet, there is supposed to be no rhyme or reason for why we’re attracted to some people and not to others. Love is not a set of cold, emotionless mathematical equations, so don’t feel pressured to judge those who simply don’t inspire an aspect of you… This is just part of being human. There is still a 100% chance you are both looking for love, fulfillment, happiness, safety, and healing, and have more in common with each other than the minutes in a single lifetime would allow you to share. Forgive yourself for not wanting to love everyone romantically and never forget the humanity of the other people on the screen.
  4.  Your own value: Just as you let yourself like who you will, let others like who they will, too, without judgment towards them or yourself. It’s very likely that the true reflection of who you are cannot be glimpsed in five pictures and twenty-five words in addition to your job title, but if it was, remember that not being someone’s cup of tea romantically is not a judgment towards you or your value as a person, or even as a partner. We are all ever-changing, magical beings in different stages of self-realization, some of us better at manifesting the pure truth that lies within all of us than others. None of that is a reflection of how good we are or who we are. If you find yourself delving into self-judgment, put your app to sleep and turn on your newest favourite song, turn to a creator that inspires you, close your eyes and breathe, do five minutes of yoga…whatever it is that puts the magic back into your heart.

This human experience is so temporary and there will literally never be a point where your outside experience matches all that you are and feel inside, for you will always be more than it is. And that is okay; it’s part of the deal! You are an infinite being on a blip of a beautiful human journey. Take the quirks but never let them suck a single ounce of joy from your beautiful heart.

 

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Life · Uncategorized

Things That Make Me Happy

A few weeks ago, I stopped my job hunt and decided to settle into a routine with my remote work and to take on a larger course load with school. Having spent so many months in limbo, often overexcited or worried about one interview or the next, and feeling as though my entire life routine and even place/city of residence could suddenly change, I didn’t take a lot of time to just enjoy life. Now that I know that for the next year or so, this will be my life, and I will not need to look for another job, I can just settle into this and focus on everything good.

I can’t describe what a relief this realization has been; I feel like I can stop waiting to live and just live now. And this post is a list/celebration of the simple, accessible things that bring me joy.

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— A good hike with friends. I stipulate “with friends” because I recently had an awkward experience with a member from a Meetup hiking group—generally things were fine with them, though, so this is not meant to reflect badly on the website. I love hiking and getting out in nature. Depending on the season, the same trails can look completely different, and the Bruce Trail in Ontario has over 880 Km, so exploring new sections is a favourite hobby. Winter hiking is an especially satisfying experience. I feel twice as adventurous going out when it’s snowing outside (though if you plan to do the same, please read about safety and don’t go alone).

— Writing dates with myself! I’m genuinely surprised I like this one so much, but it’s true. I feel so, so good going to a coffee shop and working on my creative writing project. I am working on a story outline, but it’s been getting pushed back because it seems like there’s always something else to do. Home is just not a place where I can leverage my focus when it comes to things I don’t have to do, unlike studying or work. Well, it turns out that going to a coffee shop does the trick; it’s just so official, and once I’m there, I can focus on my project with abandon, without feeling like there’s something else I should look up or do. It feels like I’m taking time for myself, even though it’s productive time, and finishing this project would be a win professionally and personally.

—Meditating after a Tone it Up workout (and the Tone it Up workout). Hear me out! I don’t have a gym membership, and no fancy exercise equipment (I own a Weslo bike I bought two years ago for $120 CAD and some dumbbells and a yoga mat). The Tone it Up app subscription runs at about $12 CAD per month, and it offers so much. There are daily workouts that are 20–30 minutes long, and daily and weekly schedules. In addition to that, there are guided meditations available. Sometimes I’ll go a few days without working out with my TIU trainers, and I forget how amazing I feel after one of their workouts. The combination of the vocal encouragement and the exercise moves leaves me feeling like I’ve taken a plunge into a pool of endorphins and drank it all. To turn on one of their 10-minute guided meditations after that and enhance that feeling is amazing. It’s definitely the type of thing that can turn the day around for me; the hardest part is convincing myself to actually go for the workout on those days (they’re not always easy!).

—Salads and protein smoothies because they represent the purest, truest form of self-care to me. It’s true that positive/constructive self-talk and a good attitude are realistically even more important to me, but I feel a nagging sense of pride eating a salad. And as someone who eats a lot of salads and drinks a lot of smoothies, it’s weird that I STILL get this feeling every single time. But it’s been years, and the magic is still alive. That probably has something to do with why I keep going back to my super green, super “earthy” tasting smoothies. I feel like I’ve won a competition when I eat well, and that’s a positive feeling of joy that nothing else other than winning an actual competition can give me.

—Mindful Youtube or Netflix watching. That little adjective at the beginning of this is SO important. Here’s a little tid-bit on me: left to my own devices, I fluctuate between over-control and eventually, after a crash and exhaustion, under-control. So it’s important that I intentionally create balance between work and “life,” times when I put in concentrated, hard work and times where I can take it easier and live more slowly. One way I genuinely enjoy taking it slowly is watching TV shows or my favourite videos. But that can easily turn into a binge if I’m not careful, and not only is that potential lost time that should have been dedicated to other things, but it also makes me feel really guilty. So instead, I like to plan exactly what I’m going to watch before I do: is it two episodes of Lucifer? Five Youtube videos I can chuck into a playlist? Whatever it is, I make a plan for when to stop and what to do after. And then after that,  I grab a blanket and a mug of tea and rid myself of every distraction and just relax. This can be so therapeutic if done with intention and mindfulness!

I’d love to know what everyday parts of your life you find joy in. I think sometimes it takes looking over our day and finding out where we can make space to do the things we already do a little more intentionally that can make the difference between a meaningless routine and a space/time of joy. Would you agree?

 

hiking · Uncategorized

Saturday Hike: 22 KM (Photos)

Today I wanted to share some photos from my long hike yesterday (Saturday). Even when it’s cold outside, you can brave the elements by dressing a little warmer.

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I’ve found that days spent breathing in fresh air are invigorating and rejuvenating. So even when I really, really don’t feel like going (like yesterday) I join a hike anyway and haven’t regretted it yet.

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The temperature fluctuated between -2 and 5 degrees celsius and it was sunny throughout the entire hike (which lasted about six hours). Even though I didn’t take any gloves, even my fingers warmed up once we set a reasonable pace and kept moving.

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This photo is from the end. Just a couple months ago, it would have been dark at 5:40 p.m. but it was still completely sunny by the time we made it back to our cars.

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Most of the hike was in ravines and woods, like this. The trees and bushes are all bare in winter, so it’s not the greatest scenery. Except the rainbows! I spotted so many in my photos, but I have to admit I either missed all of them in person or they were ones you could not see with the naked eye. Is that possible?

Also, behind the rainbow, the white, is a waterfall. Beautiful.

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Another of the many waterfalls we passed. How gorgeous is this?

There were steep drops towards most of the waterfalls, but looking down we could spot a few daredevils who’d ignored common sense and sometimes explicit signage and who’d climbed down into the ravines. Not something I would do.

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This little pond was completely frozen when we first passed by it (pictured). We test-threw a few rocks that bounced off its icy surface.

On the way back, it was almost completely thawed with the warming air and all that sunlight!

Awesome day overall.

You can find a hiking group in your city by Googling hiking groups, finding one on Meetup.com, or dragging a few reluctant family members and friends and you might be surprised by how quickly you all turn into avid enjoyers of the outdoors. We’re born nature lovers… So it doesn’t take much.

food · Uncategorized

Healthy Easy Vegan Lunch: Tofu Avocado Toast With Stubb’s BBQ Marinade

Today was a study day, so I didn’t fuss or spend much time in the kitchen. I decided to make some easy healthy vegan food.

I wanted to make a quick but still healthy lunch, and something that would hold me over until dinner. Et voila: I made avocado toast.

Of course, there’s a very high chance you’re already sick of avocado toast (I mostly am; it’s a pretty lazy content idea, let’s be honest). BUT this is a twist on avocado toast! (Anyway, that’s what I’m telling myself.) Read on.

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I toasted two slices of Glutino’s gluten free toast, which is so easy to digest. This is especially important on days where I need all of my wits about me and have absolutely no time for that heavy food feeling.

On top of my two slices of toast, I mashed one whole small avocado and added some sauteed cubed extra firm sprouted organic tofu (the whole brick costs $2—it just sounds fancy) marinated for a few minutes (but leave it more longer if you have time) in Stubb’s Texas Steakhouse marinade.

Et finit! Qu’est-ce que c’est? Easy healthy vegan food.

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I haven’t seen this idea before, even though it’s so simple. The toast is good for carbs, the avocado for fats, and the tofu for protein. It’s especially important for plant-based diet adherents to make sure they ingest enough omega-3 fats and whole proteins (tofu* is one).

This meal is adjustable: you can make more or less of any of the ingredients without adding a significant amount of time, and with carrot or cucumber sticks, it would pass for a complete meal in my books.

Hope you try it!

*Disclaimer: I do limit my tofu intake to prevent any potential hormonal effects, whether with sex hormones (estrogen) or thyroid hormones.

p.s. Check out my easy vegan burrito lunch post.

For more easy healthy vegan food ideas, I personally love the vegan recipes on Budget Bytes. They are cheap and (relatively) easy recipes. My favourite of Beth’s recipes (the recipe developer and blogger behind Budget Bytes) is the Pressure Cooker Split Pea Soup.

food · Uncategorized

Healthy Vegan Dinner in a Pinch With Amy’s Kitchen

Amy’s Kitchen is a company that offers vegetarian, organic and non-GMO convenience foods. The company was started by Andy and Rachel Berliner in California in 1987, and it was named after their daughter, Amy. Their canned and boxed soups, frozen entrees, and frozen wraps are widely available at supermarket chains in Canada.

What I like about Amy’s Kitchen is that they use real, healthy ingredients, many of of which are organic, and their products are priced reasonably. Today I want to share how to create a healthy lunch or dinner with my favourite Amy’s wrap.

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You will need:

1 gluten-free Amy’s Kitchen frozen bean and rice burrito ($3.99)
1/4 cup Daiya cheddar cheese
1/4 cup mild salsa

For the salad:
Two cups washed and cut lettuce
Handful of baby spinach
1/2 ripe avocado
5–10 grape tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

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Toss salad ingredients and set aside (outside or in fridge depending on how you cook the burrito). Unwrap Amy’s Kitchen burrito and warm up according to instructions, either by microwave oven or conventional/toaster oven. Take out before it’s ready ( 25–30 seconds with the microwave, and 15 minutes with the conventional oven).

Flatten the top side of the burrito by gently pressing down with a fork. Then arrange most of the cheese on top. Place in the oven for 10 minutes or microwave for 15–20 seconds. Take out and flatten with a fork again. Place mild salsa and the rest of the cheese overtop. Place in the oven for another 5 minutes or microwave another 10–15 seconds.

You will love this. 🙂

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