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.

July 31, 2014

IIN: The Halfway Point

Not long ago I passed the halfway mark of my IIN experience. I decided it was time to write about it all, but I've been sitting here trying to come up with the right words and I'm not sure that I could sum it all up in just a few of them.

20 weeks is a long time: it's 20 modules of learning material, hundreds of hours of audio, video and written content, so many new (to me) and important faces and voices to remember from the health community and just as many opinions about the right way of eating.

With almost every speaker that I listen to, he or she becomes my new favourite and I want to remember every detail of what they said. I feel my mind expanding every week and with every speech, and I get so much pride in knowing that I am a (minuscule) part of this inspiring worldwide community.

As wonderful as it has been, I can't say that it's been an easy experience - after all, Mr. Rosenthal, the founder of the school, advises us to treat it like medical school! My beliefs and points of view on nutrition have been challenged on more than a few occasions. At times, I even felt the need to take a break so I can wrap my head around what I had just learned and figure out how it fits into my own views on nutrition. In those moments, I'm reminded of one of the main principles of this school, the principle of bio-individuality, which says that one person's medicine can be another person's poison, which I know for myself to be true, and that is how I gain perspective once again.

But this school has been about so much more than nutrition, and it's been that part of it that I think has been and will continue to be the biggest learning point for me. My shy and introverted self has been encouraged and nudged to connect with peers, to learn how to communicate in meaningful ways with future clients and with people in general (which, surprisingly enough, has more to do with proper listening than actual talking) as well as how (and why!) not to push my own views and preferences on them. Thankfully, many of these things are included in the graduation requirements. I say thankfully because if they weren't required, I would have likely found a way to skip them. I know that this is the part of the school that is challenging me the most and that I have to work on the most, but I also know that it is what will help me grow the most - personally, professionally and any other way possible.

I'm looking forward to whatever the second half of this program will bring.

July 11, 2014

Homegrown Flowers // Spring & Early Summer 2014

Until three years ago, I was a city girl raised in apartments for as long as I knew. Three years ago, I became a city girl raised in apartments who would start calling a house in the suburbs home. Needless to say, it's been a complete change of scenery, and the adjustment process for me hasn't been quite as smooth as I had hoped for. Sure, some of it has to do with more than just the location and type of house I live in now, but so far I have not - and I'm not sure I ever will - turned into a suburb-loving girl.

I have to admit though, that like everything else in life, the challenging parts of living in the suburbs come along with a few good ones too; one of them, that I've been enjoying every year since I moved here with my family, is the fact that we get to adorn our house, inside AND outside with as many green and flowering plants as our hearts desire. After long Canadian winters, it's honestly been one of the most enjoyable parts of living in this house. Each year, we've added a little more colour and variety to our garden and there's so much pride we get in seeing everything bloom and thrive for the entire warm season.

June 14, 2014

Little Lady

Sitting pretty and wide-eyed with legs and arms crossed in front of you...

...or lazying around, in a "can't even keep my head up I'm so tired" kind of way?

Well, if you ask Mikka, there's no need to choose and you can actually do both, in a matter of just minutes.

Seriously though, this little lady and her canine brother Toby give me so much joy every day that I never knew was possible before having them. Even on a really bad day, they're the only ones that could make me crack a smile. How could I not when I get to experience this sort of shenanigans on a regular basis in real time?!

The two of them are what I'm most thankful for - along with my family and health - since they've come into my life, and so often I think how lucky I am to have them next to me to ease some of life's tensions. I've wanted to write more about them for about a year now, but each time I'm about to do it, there are so many feelings and emotions and things I want to say, that it gets overwhelming. I'll have to work on that.
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