March 13, 2014

A Student Again

This week is the fifth one in a new adventure for me. At the beginning of the year, an idea sparked inside my mind, and by mid-January I was ready to act on it by enrolling back into school, so right now I am completing my fifth week of being a student again. After what was the longest break from school that I've had since I started first grade all those years ago, it feels good to be back at it. For those 13 months of not being a student, life felt really odd. Sure, part of it was adjusting to a new life as an adult and a working girl, but on some level I knew that I wasn't done with school yet. I don't know if I will ever feel like I am completely done with school, because being a student has been such a big part of my identity. But right now, I'm not thinking that far ahead, I'm just happy to fully delve into the subject of my course. Especially since this time, for the first time in a very long time, I'm studying something that I'm so very passionate about.

To end an unnecessarily long introduction, for five weeks now, I've been a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. At its core, it is indeed a nutrition school, but in effect it is so much more than that, because the word "nutrition" refers to more than just the food we eat; it includes other important things that feed us in different ways, things like social life, spirituality and career pursuits, and most impressively, it deals with all of them in a neutral way, so that the students can choose their own path. Like it was pointed out in one of the lectures I was just listening to today, they don't teach us what to think, they teach us how to think.

I've known about IIN for maybe 2 or 3 years now, and never really had an interest in becoming a health coach. Sure I've been really enthusiastic about eating and living healthy for a while, but I figured that my introversion, shyness and youth means that health coaching might not be a wise career choice for me. After this last year of work experience though, I've realized that there are many things about this career that I would enjoy, and along the way I could learn to work through all my weaknesses too. Something inside of me told me that I just had to enroll this year. So I did - and I'm really happy about it. During these past five weeks, I've absorbed so much information. I'm learning and growing every day, and I can't wait to see what the next 11 months will bring and how this one choice will shape my future, but I'd love to share my journey in this space as well.

Here's to new beginnings and a bright future ahead! I'm so looking forward to all of it.

February 20, 2014

Thankful January

Last year was a really tough one, with many challenges and heartbreaks along the way. It managed to get the best of me and put me in a negative frame of mind most of the time. While I know that I couldn't have done anything to change what happened throughout the year, I sometimes wish that I would have done something to change the way I reacted to what happened, that I could have seen more of the positives even when the negatives seemed to outweigh them.

But that is the past now, and this year is a new beginning in which I want to focus on the positive as much as possible. So, to serve as a constant reminder of my intention, I had an idea of doing a year-long project in which I would express my thankfulness for something in my life for every day of 2014. I don't usually do this kind of projects because I'm generally not very good at following through until the end, but so far I'm really enjoying it - while at the same time not putting any pressure on myself to be completely perfect. 

I made it into a Twitter/Instagram project, and I've been using the hashtags #thankful2014 and #yearofthankfulness to keep track, and it has been very interesting so far - most days a lot of fun, some days a bit of a struggle, but so far a learning experience about myself, thankfulness, and long-term projects like this. 

These are the things I was thankful for in January:

  • a sunny start to the year
  • our weekly organic produce box, especially now in the middle of winter
  • the simple things, like a yummy home-cooked meal
  • a quiet evening curled up on the recliner with my newest knitting project on the needles
  • one last day of blissful rest & relaxation before work started again
  • our cozy sofa, especially when compared to my desk chair at work
  • my pillow where I can rest my head and recharge after an exhausting day
  • the wonderful people and things that blogging has shown me over the years
  • beautiful music getting stuck in my head and lifting my spirits
  • the weekend after a long week back at work
  • family movie night
  • a patch of blue sky and sunshine among all the darkness
  • the milder weather that allowed me to wear a skirt for the first time in a very long time
  • potential new opportunities on the horizon
  • a break in the routine and a glimpse at what used to be and what might be again soon
  • a walk on an almost spring-like day, mild and sunny day, that made my heart happy again
  • an easy and calm end to the week
  • my acupuncture sessions
  • a relaxing day that involved sleeping in and lots of time spent on the couch
  • having great things to dream about, work towards and look forward to
  • school and education in general
  • the warmth and comfort of home, after being out in the -20 some degree weather
  • finding a way to get organized that seems to work well for me
  • my mittens, like never before
  • weekend days with late mornings, late nights, and no agenda in between
  • technology
  • books and their infinite wisdom and wonder
  • quiet moments of daydreaming
  • a cozy bed
  • a productive evening in which I checked off almost all of my to-do's
  • the whole month; it was a pretty good one.

January 22, 2014

just this.

I'm not one to make resolutions at the beginning of each year. I get the idea behind it; there's something special that comes with a new year: the opportunity to turn a new leaf and get a new wave of motivation, to put behind whatever was and look forward to something that will surely be better.

Last year was the first time that I actually wrote down a set of resolutions. I made progress in each of them - some more, others less. But at the same time though, they weren't at the top of my mind, and with everything that happened throughout the year, most of the time they were completely out of my mind. So, I'm not sure resolutions are the way to go for me.

Instead, for this year, I've been thinking of something different. I'm not making specific - or even vague - goals for all the rest of the year; this year, I'm setting just one intention:

this year, I just want to be happy.

As silly as it may sound, all throughout December and this month, I've been listening to my iPod playlist on repeat, and some songs have just stuck out to me. One of them is "Happy" by Leona Lewis, so I'm stealing the line that gives the song's title for my intention, because as simple as it may sound, it's just what I need. I think that songs can take on different meanings in different periods of life, and something about this particular song - and this particular line - really resonates with me right now.

Unlike the past few years before, starting this year and seeing "January 1" on my calendar felt like such a heavy weight being lifted of my shoulders. 2014 feels like a new time, a time when good wins over bad, when dreams (at least some of them) come true, a time for smiles, kindness, and lightheartedness.

Because this year I just want to be happy.

"Someone once told me 
That you have to choose 
What you win or lose 
You can't have everything
Don't you take chances
You might feel the pain
I can't stand by the side
And watch this life pass me by
So unhappy 
But safe as could be
So what if this world just throws me off the edge
My feet run out of ground
I gotta find my place
I wanna hear my sound
Cause I'm just trying to be happy

I just wanna be happy"

January 16, 2014

Brilliant Style

Fashion has been on my mind a lot lately for a few reasons, but mostly because when the temperatures outside are far below zero, I can only think and dream about beautiful clothes. The ones that I actually put on are far less so, and generally in layers upon layers of whatever will keep me the warmest possible.

This post-holidays period is the time of the year when I've had enough of winter yet I know spring is still far away, so my sartorial dreams have been filled with looks that fit within a fine balance of warm and comfortable but also ladylike and in either light or bright colours - to compensate for the dark days that refuse to let us see the sun too often.

The people at Brilliant Earth contacted me recently to ask whether I'd like to participate in their Personality Style Challenge and, after giving it some thought, doing a bit of research and falling head over heels with both their jewelry pieces and their sustainable ethos, I realized that I would really enjoy to take part in it. I was already aware of the company, but didn't know much about it other than the fact that they are the experts when it comes to ethically-sourced engagement rings and diamonds. Now I've loved learning more about them and, as a business school graduate, I can appreciate a great mission statement, so their mission to "transform the jewelry industry one diamond at a time...through sustainability, transparency and compassion" honestly sends chills down my spine.

At first, I wasn't sure what personality I would fall under, so I looked through some of my favourite Earth-conscious online shops  - the one thing that I did know was that I wanted this outfit to be entirely eco-friendly. Picking items that caught my eye here and there, I was hoping that something would come together naturally and, funny enough, that is exactly what happened with this look: the drop waist silhouette of the dress, the classic plaid coat and the rib knit cardigan were all details that I really loved and I thought they matched perfectly with the vintage-dress-and-thrift-store-shopping kind of girl described in the challenge.

Disclaimer: I was contacted by Brilliant Earth to be a part of the Personality Style Challenge. However, I am not being compensated for this post, and all creative freedom and opinions are my own.

January 2, 2014

Fresh New Beginning

After what felt, and I'm quite sure was, the most difficult year of my life so far, it felt wonderful to have a couple of weeks off from work to relax and decompress, to spend time with my family and my two sweethearts, Toby & Mikka, and to actually enjoy the moment.

It was a quiet holiday season at home, and it was exactly what I needed to let 2013 go and welcome 2014. It is my deepest wish for this new year to be truly wonderful, kind, and light-hearted.

Happy 2014!

This is my favourite picture of this time for obvious reasons, and despite what her expression might indicate, she actually enjoyed being there for a good couple minutes!

November 24, 2013

A Slower Pace

Being home on Friday reminded me what it feels like to slow down a little bit from the go-go-go pace that I've learned comes with a full-time job and long commute every day. It was nice to be able to enjoy the little moments again and take the time to just watch after my two sweeties, Toby & Mikka, to notice the vivid green of the cat grass we have planted and the dusty purple of a bouquet of flowers, and to admire the work and attention that my mom has already put into our first handmade decorations for the holidays so far. This is the way that I want to live my life, and I'm making it to my purpose to turn it into reality one day soon.

November 22, 2013

Long Weekend in Toronto

I had a day off from work today, and in the course of relaxing and taking it easy around the house - read: being lazy and doing practically nothing - I spent a little time going through photos from the last few months. Not surprisingly, I haven't taken many of them , so I quickly found myself all the way back to July, to the Toronto and Niagara trip I took with my brother. I realized I never did share about the big city part of our quick getaway, although I really like how some of the shots came out. So I'm going by the rule of 'it's never too late' and once again taking a look back.

A picture perfect spot to enjoy our last breakfast in the city, in the courtyard of the hotel.

It was the kind of trip that came together on a whim - with no time for planning beforehand - and went by just as quickly, so I'm not sure that, being our first time there, we had a chance to truly get a feel for the city. However, in between dealing with the fatigue accumulated from a long work week and no time for rest before embarking on a day-long roadtrip, and trying to figure out what to do as we went, there were a few good moments. Of course, many of them came towards the end of the weekend, and they were the kind that makes you want to stay for just a little while longer even though you know you can't, so I'm really looking forward to going again in the future.

For this trip - and probably the next few ones too - I wasn't too curious about stepping onto the glass floor of the CN Tower, I was actually perfectly content with just admiring it from the inside of the car.

Before heading home, we stopped to take a long walk along the edge of the Ontario lake, to bask in the beautiful weather and admire the city view from across the lake.

One of my favourite parts about this trip - that sadly went undocumented - was having dinner with a dear friend at Fresh (my goodness, that beach fresh bowl on soba noodles was delicious! ) and catching up after two years of not seeing each other; one of my least favourite parts was realizing the moment I stepped back into the hotel room that I didn't take even one picture of our time together. I'm still kicking myself for it, but I guess that is just more reason to return sooner rather than later.

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