Monday, December 31, 2018

THINGS I'VE LEARNED IN 2018



A LIST OF THINGS I'VE LEARNED IN 2018

A shift in perspective can have a massive impact. I have been choosing to feel joy and happiness and make it the root of every decision I make. This small shift has turned obligations into acts of love; Must do’s in to glad to’s.

The best thing we can do for the world, especially when feeling overwhelmed or paralyzed with the sadness and despair happening all around us, is to commit to small actions with great love in our own community. Family, friends, neighbours- Making small changes in our own backyard ripples outward to all the bigger things we can't control.

Giving things away fills you up SO MUCH MORE than buying more stuff ever will.

Food is love. Never again will I feel guilt for indulging in beautiful flavours, tastes, experiences, and shared, cherished moment with people I love.

Making your bed holds enough power to shift your entire mood for the day.

Writing a letter to your MP or MLA is wildly cathartic.

Words have meaning and are deeply powerful. If someone expresses feeling hurt or upset by specific words or phrases, we need to stop saying them.

Less is more. Less clothing, smaller houses, fewer possessions and obligations. Scale it all back and breathe.

The only exception to the above ‘less is more’ rule is: books, kisses, and photographs. And maybe delicious treats.

Loving other people's kids like your own is the most fulfilling way to heal a broken heart AND add so much meaning to life in the process.

Kindness and empathy are radical acts.

The heartache and tribulations I have experienced in this lifetime have given me SO MUCH. Clearer perspectives, deeper and wider-reaching empathy, an unwavering voice for things I am passionate about, reclaimed and recalibrated priorities, and boundless hope - Each a transformative gift.

No one that loves you is judging your messy bathroom.

A LIST OF THINGS I HOPE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT IN 2019

Being more impeccable with my thoughts and words.

Giving love freely and abundantly with no expectation of reciprocation or acknowledgment.

Listening more deeply and reigning in unsolicited advice giving. Allowing quieter, underrepresented voices to take the mic and blaze a new path for all of us to follow.

Allyship. Activism.

Sharing joy and success freely without feeling as though I’m bragging.

Sharing fear and worry freely without feeling as though I’m being negative.

Coexisting with anxiety.

Using less words to say important things. Editing back to the root of what's most important and impactful.

Prioritizing experiences over things, and sharing that love with Finn.

Further reaching into minimalism.

Zero-waste.

Painting.

Multiplying Joy.

What I want to be when I grow up.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

MORE MUSIC NEW YEAR

earlier in the week, one of my favourite bloggers, elsie larson, shared about how they wanted to give their daughter a more musical childhood, so they decided they will learn about and listen to a different band or musician  each week throughout 2019.

jeff and i quickly took this idea and ran with it. our plan is to draw a name from our music jar each sunday, spending a bit of time reading about the history of the musician(s), followed by listening to a few of their songs during sunday dinner. from there, we will spend the rest of the week listening to various albums, watching music videos, and discussing what we like about them.

we compiled a list of a few more than 52 bands - one for each sunday in 2019 - and we are all eager to get started next weekend.


this is by no means a radically diverse list, though we did try to consciously include a wide range of musical styles, paying attention to ensure the voices of women and people of colour were included. that said, there is always room for more. it is not lost on me that the majority of these bands and musicians are white men, despite our best efforts for that not to be the case. my hope is for diversity and inclusion to be the underlying theme of our sunday discussions, adding to and learning more as we go along.

below is the list of groups/ artists we picked
(it's worth keeping in mind that we let finn add a few names to the list ;) )

A Tribe Called Red Neil Young
Arcade Fire Neko Case
Bad Religion Nirvana
Beastie Boys Queen
Beyonce Ramones
Bob Dylan Run-D.M.C.
Bright Eyes Simon & Garfunkel
Broken Social Scene Sonic Youth
Bruce Springsteen Stevie Wonder
David Bowie Stompin' Tom Connors
Death Cab for Cutie Taylor Swift
Dinosaur Jr. The Beach Boys
Feist The Beatles
Green Day The Carpenters
Jawbreaker The Clash
Jay-Z The Cure
Jimi Hendrix The Get Up Kids
Joel Plaskett The Rolling Stones
Johnny Cash The Talking Heads
Joni Mitchell The Tragically Hip + Gord Downie
Joy Division + New Order                         The Weakerthans
Julie Doiron The White Stripes
Kendrick Lamar Thelonious Monk
Leonard Cohen Tupac Shakur
M.I.A. Weezer
Michael Jackson Wolf Parade
Miles Davis Wu-Tang Clan



Sunday, December 9, 2018

2018

A couple Christmases ago, my beautiful friend Maria sent out a Christmas letter. It must be stated that Maria has a magical gift for words - a way of expressing emotion, love, and tenderness in the most sincere way. I have held on to and reread every card, note, and letter Maria has gifted me over the years, and this particular Christmas letter is no exception - It planted itself firmly in the back of my mind, a place it has been thought about and looked back on many times since. Five beautifully crafted questions that allow for pause and reflection on the 365 days behind them.

This year I have opted to borrow Maria's thought-filled questions, and although my attempt at answering them will not be nearly as elegantly written, the sentiment is there.

Thank you, Maria.

What are we grateful for? What in this year did we appreciate?
So much! Amazing friends (near and far), a hugely supportive and unconditionally loving family, adventures (we've had many!) health, happiness, a roof over our head, food in our bellies, and a little bit left over to share at the end of the day. I've appreciated the experience of being able to work out of the house and, in return, shift our finances a little bit. Also, having flexibility in our work to be able take the summer to visit our family all over the country is a gift I will never take for granted.

What do we struggle with and what are we learning from these experiences? 
The distance from our families continues to be hard- our time in Vancouver has had many ups and downs, and the downs are particularly challenging to navigate when parents and siblings are never near enough. Missing family gatherings, dinners, nieces and nephews growing up, and the ordinary ins and outs of everyone's day to day never gets easier. That said, the distance reinforces for us how lucky we are to have so many truly incredible people in our lives- family we long for a miss terribly, and friends that feel like family to help fill a bit of the void felt in their absence.

What do we appreciate in each other? 
Jeff is such a considerate partner. His love language is absolutely gifts of service, and this past year, while I have mostly been working full-time, he has picked up SO MUCH slack without ever being asked. Cooking meals, shuttling Finn to and from school, dishes, laundry, and so much more- He manages it all on top of his already full schedule. I deeply appreciate his thoughtfulness in making our life run smoothly. I also value his view of the world- his thoughtful words and compassion for people beyond our bubble. For his patience in listening to me ramble about all the crusades I must take on- always joining and supporting me through the ones I deem most important. I also appreciate celery juice and coffee made for me every single morning.

Finn is full of so much light - he's thoughtful and kind and beginning to find his voice in this world. Right now, that shows itself in sarcasm and quick wit, which is *almost* always appreciated. Like the true Aries that he is, he is headstrong - dedicated, passionate, loyal, and opinionated- traits that will serve him well throughout his lifetime. I appreciate how he has become a natural leader this year, keen to participate in every school activity that presents itself and eager to be the first to take on any project that needs a volunteer. He continues to grow deeper in his love of music (piano) and performing, which has been fun to watch unfold. I also appreciate his ever-growing compassion toward animals and enthusiasm for vegetarianism.

What do we appreciate in ourselves? 
I think my biggest area of growth has been finding more balance in my commitments. Where I have been known to run myself ragged over-committing, never ever saying no in an effort to do it all, I have slowly started to allow myself the kindness and grace to not feel bad when I am simply unable to commit to or take on everything that comes up. 

What is something we dread and/or anticipate in 2019 (as joys multiply and fears diminish when shared.)
Right now, we are struggling to decide where we will lay roots. We've spent the last 6 years living in Vancouver, and we absolutely love it here, but it has always felt temporary. Because of the cost of housing, we have never been fully settled or comfortable in the idea that our life her long term is sustainable. The time has come to do some deep soul-searching and make some hard choices. We intend to move at the end June, but are still unsure where. Uprooting our lives this way of course comes with its fair share of dread, stress, and worry, but the possibilities on the other side are also really exciting. We will be sure to let you all know when our decision is made.


 

Friday, December 7, 2018

CHAI SPICED APPLE SAUCE

apple sauce is one small step away from apple pie in my world. it's sweet and comforting and a handy way to use up a bag of apples about to turn. even better is the fact that apple sauce is quite possibly the easiest recipe ever (the hardest step being the actual peeling of the apple skins) and it makes your whole house smell like heaven while it simmers away on the stove.

i made a bit of an impromptu decision while making apple sauce this afternoon - i had a bottle of chai baking spice in the front row of my spice cupboard and opted to use a generous sprinkling of it in place of plain cinnamon. the result was a DELICIOUS, ever so slightly spicy, beautifully aromatic, and flavorfully complex apple sauce worth sharing with the world.

i got my chai spice baking blend from the silk road spice merchant in calgary (thank you kristen and david for introducing this magical mix into my life...) it's a combination of cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, fennel, rose petals, and mint - a combo you could definitely try to replicate with spices in your cabinet. Another great option would be pumpkin pie spice (readily available at most grocery stores) - either way, you will surely end up with an extra delicious apple sauce.


chai spiced apple sauce
:: ingredients ::
5 red apples
3 green apples
1 cup of water
1/3 cup sugar*
1 generous tsp chai baking spice OR equal parts ground cardamom, ginger, ground cloves, and cinnamon.

*depending on your desired level of sweetness, you can decrease the amount of sugar or leave it out completely, or swap maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of refined sugar.

:: directions ::
peel, core, and slice apples. 
in a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and spice mix. 
cover, and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, or until apples are soft. 
allow to cool, then mash with a potato masher or blend smooth with an immersion blender. 
bottle up and keep in the fridge. 

i highly recommend serving this apple sauce warmed up, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream (coconut cream if you want to keep it vegan). you can also use it to top your morning oats, or as a delicious syrup substitution for pancakes. YUM! it's also the perfect jar of goodness to deliver to neighbours or friends in advance of the holidays.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

SIMPLIFYING THE HOLIDAYS | guest post for room to breathe

Earlier this week, I wrote a guest blog post for my friend Indi at Room to Breathe Home Organizing - speaking about gift giving and consumption this time of year. When you consciously choose to live small, the influx of new stuff around the holidays can be difficult to deal with. But also - the flip side of this - that so many of our family and friends have so much already, and the idea of spending SO much money on more things that none of us needs, is emotionally draining (for both sides) and unnecessary


I've shared many times abou my love for New Dream and their Simplifying the Holidays Guide - It's FULL of brilliant ideas for alternative, meaningful, and zero-waste gifts ideas, refocusing on presence over presents.

There are, of course, people in our lives that we want to do something special for, and cutting out gifts cold-turkey is probably not the way to go. This guide offers a million unique and deeply meaningful ideas to share with the ones we love most, but perhaps most importantly, this shift will leave you feeling more engaged, joyful, and increase everyone's personal fulfillment during this holiday season.

A few of my favorite alternative gift guide ideas:
  • Give away the last great book you bought and enjoyed to someone with similar taste.
  • Make and package up homemade green cleaning products.
  • Put together a booklet of cherished family recipes.
  • Display a special heirloom - frame a recipe of your grandmothers in her handwriting, find a unique display box for a handmade piece of lace or knitting, or turn a pair of baby booties or a baby rattle into a tree ornament.
  • Food! Make freezer meals, soup, bread, homemade granola bars, or provide gift certificates for groceries or dinner out as a family. 
  • Re-gift a cookbook you no longer use. Highlight or flag a few great recipes.
  • Have family home videos converted to DVD, or make a slideshow of old family photographs.
  • Purchase gift cards/ credit towards car or bike share programs or ride share apps
  • Vow to send a letter or postcard each month for the entire year to friend or family member in a different city (this is especially great for kids and grandparents!)
  • Buy a gift card to an organization like canada helps or kiva and let the recipient decide where to best allocate charitable funds.
Check out more ideas on Room to Breathe's blog post (and get in touch if you are in Calgary or Edmonton and you could use a a little help getting your external space to echo the calm simplicity that your internal space is craving...) OR download the Simplifying the Holiday Guide HERE.