November 9, 2014

Spectacle of Colours

We're already at that point in the fall season where the leaves have almost completely fallen of the trees, the temperatures keep dropping and we keep bringing out the cold weather essentials one by one: thick scarves, fur collar jackets, and boots. On the weather channel, there's mention of the first snowfall getting to us any day.

It's not the greatest feeling knowing that another few months of even colder and darker weather awaits us, but I'm trying not to think of it too much yet. Instead, I'm just happy and thankful that the fall we had this year - the beautiful part, with colorful trees everywhere you look, fallen leaves crunching at your feet everywhere you go, and just a little crisp in the air - has been much longer than the quick two weeks we were consistently getting for the past few years.

For anyone interested, I loved the way this photo turned out so much that I have made it (along with a few other ones) available for sale as an art print!

I feel like this year, despite the crazy schedule I have had, I was able to really take in all those beautiful parts. I noticed all the shades of orange, yellow, red and brown, and I really enjoyed seeing the progression from week to week; for instance, the colorful branches from our backyard that I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago were practically empty just a week later!

October 30, 2014

My Two Sweethearts

 It's already been more than a year and a half since these two boundless personalities have joined our family. I've been meaning to write more about them - more than just a quick mention here and there - for equally as long. But somehow, putting my love and feelings for them into words seems like such a daunting task. I don't know if I have the writing skills to do them justice. But, I am ready to try and I will do my best.

These past two years have been some of the toughest of my life so far - filled with long struggles and hard falls as well as, if I allow myself a bit of dramatic exposition, gut-wrenching heartbreaks and some personal tragedies too. Through it all, so many times, these two sweet souls have been the bright light in my life, the reason to keep going and sometimes even smile at the end of a tough, long day, week, or month. The amount of love that I can feel now has grown into proportions I never knew existed.

I could spend this entire post in clich├ęs, and I actually might because now I understand how true they are. Even though I don't have any kids of my own just yet, I feel like this whole experience of adding Toby and Mikka into my life has been so much like what I've heard, read, or witnessed new mothers experience with their babies.

I knew I was in trouble the first week we brought each of them home. Since I was still job-hunting back then, I was the one spending the entire day with them, mostly by myself. They knew from the very beginning - don't all kids?! - how to drive me crazy with unlimited amounts of energy and a sense of curiosity that knows no boundaries, only to make me forget about it in a second when they fell asleep and cuddled next to me in the most adorable ways. I will never forget how crazy good it felt when Toby would fall asleep with his head on my feet after a marathon session of being a little menace, or that time Mikka laid next to me, in my bed, with her head resting on my arm and we took the most glorious 2-hour morning nap together before really waking up for the day. I don't have pictures of any of these instances, but they are so well-imprinted in my memory that it almost makes them even more special.

Now that I am working, I also feel like I am starting to grasp what the "mom guilt" is all about when I have to leave them for the entire day, especially knowing how long it will be before I come back home again. It breaks my heart a little every morning when Toby tries to grab my hand as I walk down the stairs to the front door, or when Mikka gives a long look to our car backing out of the driveway, perched on top of the living room or bedroom window. And it doesn't help when at night, once I am finally home again, I don't have enough energy left to play with them or give them the attention they need and so deserve after being the best pets and doing nothing but napping all day.

And the worst thing about it all, the one that I hear all mothers lament about?! It's without a doubt the feeling that, in what feels like the blink of an eye, they've turned from two tiny little furballs that I could cuddle with all day, into the full-sized and much more independent cat and dog they are now. I get a little sad just looking at the few pictures I managed to get when they were little and I wish I could still squeeze those tiny, wide-eyed bodies now. But then I squeeze their much larger bodies, and play with them and laugh at all their antics. And then it's all ok because I know that even in their old age, many years from now, to me they'll still be the same two little furballs who've changed my life for the better - the so-much-better, to be precise.

This is all just to say how grateful I am for my darling Toby and Mikka, and how happy I am with the choice my family and I made back in March 2013 to bring them both into our lives.

October 26, 2014

Right Now

These days, and these past couple of weeks especially, I've been doing a lot of the following:

experimenting with pumpkin recipes for the very first time; crustless pumpkin pie and pumpkin cashew cream to be more specific, both of which were spectacular successes;

knitting my very first raglan sweater - a cardigan! - on my commute to and from work as often as I can (read: whenever I can stay awake) and getting so excited to see it come together (and planning on writing a bit more about the process soon over on Ravelry);

figuring out my target market for the health coaching practice I am (very slowly) building as a result of my IIN training; if I'm completely honest, I might be a bit overly excited about this;

cuddling my sweet munchkins, Toby and Mikka, every chance I get;

dreaming of, planning and little by little building a thrilling vision of an entrepreneurial future;

wishing for more time to myself so I can work on all those passion projects that are brewing in my mind.

Disclaimer: the IIN link used in this post is part of the Ambassador program, which means I get some compensation if a sign-up results from it.

September 28, 2014

Lucky Girl

Last week, I watched the first episode of Red Band Society, one of the new fall shows. Though it's not the type of show that this borderline hypochondriac generally watches, I thought it was an interesting beginning. Beyond the storyline and the characters, there was one thing, one line, that really stuck with me. Even now, more than a week later, it still pops in my mind on multiple occasions every day, and it seems to gain more meaning each time I give it more thought.

It's easy to become aware of our luck when something good happens, but so often, it's much more important to realize that we're lucky during the tougher times. Every bad day that we leave behind, every challenge and every struggle - however big or small - that we're faced with and overcome, they're all examples of the luck we're blessed to have. It's in these moments that we forget to remember how lucky we are, but it's in these moments that we need to the most. I know because that's what I've been doing for the past couple of years.

To say that this period, this transition into adulthood and everything that came with it, has been a struggle and a challenge at times would be a big understatement. And so often, I've been guilty of forgetting, or at the very least overlooking, just how lucky I actually am and how good life actually is. Having this quote on repeat in my mind (and my notebook!) is a great reminder.

September 2, 2014

That Time of Year

Today felt like all the students in the city returned to class. I know in some schools classes started last week and in some others they'll start next week, but today really felt like the first day back to school. The subway was filled with students of all ages carrying their backpacks and heading to their first class of the new year, and so were the streets all over.

To me, there is, and always has been, a special kind of energy on this day - a mix of nerves, excitement and anticipation; a new season and at the same time a feeling of coming home in some way. This is the second year in a row when September doesn't bring me back to class like all those other students I saw this morning on my commute to work, and I'm feeling a bit conflicted about it. There's a slight knot in my stomach and it still doesn't feel real. It still feels like a sort of extended vacation and, when I think about it, my brain can't wrap itself around the idea that that part of my life is over - the part where most of my time is spent going to class, doing homework, reading textbooks, putting together presentations, going to team project meetings and taking tests every few months or so.

School was my safe place. Being in a classroom facing the teacher was my safe place. Sinking my nose into those textbooks - whether in time for tests or not - was my safe place. Spending countless hours doing research online and off for projects was my safe place. Being a student was my safe place. Two years later, life still feels odd without it all at times, and never more than in the beginning of September.

Over the last two years I've been in a lot of new, nerve-wracking and challenging situations and I've missed that feeling of safety. I know that every September from now on there will be something tugging at my heart strings, and I'm not sure what my future will look like, but I hope that the word "school" will make its way inside it again in some way or another.

Until then, to all the students going back there today, no matter how much or how little you like being in school right now, take your time and savour it. Work will be there for many long decades afterwards.

August 7, 2014

Mikka In The Garden

I was looking through iPhoto this week and I found these photos that I took about a month ago of Mikka hanging out in the garden beds among our vegetable plants. While the rest of my family was doing a little bit of work in the garden - tying tomato plants to poles for support, pruning said tomatoes and checking out the progress with the rest of the plants - I took a few minutes to follow my sweet girl around and capture her sense of curiosity.

The garden is on the far side of the backyard from the balcony where she usually hangs out when she goes outside and it took a little convincing to get her to stay with us (she's a homebody this one, never too far away from a quick run to the safety of indoors!) but as soon as she had her paws in the mulch, she started exploring and was having a good time.

August 4, 2014

Repeat Lunch

I had this exact lunch two days in a row on my week off from work last month. I practically never eat the exact same lunch two days in a row - I like variety so at least part of the meal changes. I would have had this lunch a third day in a row (and fourth, and fifth) if I hadn't run out of brown rice (and if I hadn't been too lazy that day to make more).

The idea for this combination came from a mix of laziness - trying to put together a decent lunch without having to cook anything - and cravings. I knew there was brown rice in the fridge cooked the day before. I wanted a raw vegetable along with it for added vitamins and I remembered reading about raw carrots being great for balancing hormones - something that I'm all about these days - just a couple of days before. I also remembered the kimchi in the fridge, which usually comes to mind only when I finish eating. A few sprinkles of basil from the herb pots on our balcony felt like an obligatory finishing touch. So there it is, brown rice with raw carrot rounds, fresh basil and kimchi was served for lunch. My mom even joined me for the same meal both days - and if I'm being honest, the addition of the basil was her idea.

This is the kind of dish that brings back my enthusiasm for healthy eating when I'm struggling with the occasional unhealthy craving; because whole grains + raw veggies + fermented foods + fresh herbs = not only a nutritious but also a delicious (and quick!) meal.
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