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Owner, "MAP Wellness" - a culinary nutrition and wellness company. Writer. Passionate cook, raw food chef, reiki practitioner, yoga teacher, and LIVE WELL educator. ​do yoga. enjoy good food. run. plant food. cook. savour wine. read books. buy good food. love. grow your energy. find peace. enjoy food. have passion. skip. eat food. do yoga. listen to jazz. have presence. be present. bike. read. see. hear. be. live. love.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Loss

Today I am reminded about the impermanence of things.  Of life, of ideas, of the present.

We all have those certain reference points in our lives that are constant - unchanging, solid.  People, places and things that we assume will be with us for always, comforts in our minds, safe places in our memories, infinite signs of our foundation and roots.

For me, some of those things consist of the farm I grew up on, my faith in God, my love of peanut butter, the seasons, my scars, the clouds in the sky, sarcasm.  My family.

Well, the house I grew up in has long been sold, my faith in the Catholic religion long questioned, but the rest remain firm - mostly. 

I think it is pretty safe to say that taking for granted our families just may be the common thread sewn throughout all of humanity.  At some point in our lives, I think we all function on the assumption that even if left unattended, our brood will be there when we need them, ready to welcome with open arms, our absent selves.  We may nurture our outside-of-the-family affiliations with more attention, knowing that our house is firmly in place and in wait.   I fully admit that my relations with my close and immediate nuclear clan has been less than stellar at times.  And I have beaten myself up for it time and time again ever since my father's passing in May 2011.  In a recent conversation, I explained to a colleague about my family's history - that I had never met my Grandpa Alec Pearson, as he died young of a heart attack before my birth.  The Pearson clan also lost a member in the 1990's, when my Uncle Jim was killed in a car accident on his way to teach at a University in Montreal.  Even after all this, I still have this unfounded sense that family will always be there. 

Growing up, I remember royal blue carpets, root beer floats, potato chips, and golden yellow Imperial Margarine.  I recall carpet burns from too much playing in the upstairs hallway, "The Never-ending Story" on video cassette, and jello salad.  I remember $20 bills at Christmas and Birthdays, too soggy Kraft Dinner, and shopping at Masonville Mall in London Ontario.  That was childhood according to me and my visits to Grandmas.  Simple.  Delicious.  Real.

Growing up I didn't see my extended family much more that two, three, four times a year.  But when I did, we were all there, all accounted for, all present.  But things change.  And we have loss.  And the present is all that is guaranteed. 

Edna Pearson, the matriarch of the Pearson clan made it to 94 years of age.  Her mother, my Great Grandma McWilliam lived longer than a century.  I had always assumed that it was in our blood line to live forever.  So imagine my shock when my dear dad became so ill at 62 and never made it to 64.  And now, as I grapple with the fact that my Grams has met her time, it still manages to shake me to my core.  It is my roots, my history, my genes that are disappearing. 

So today, I recognize the impermanence of everything.  The good and the bad.  I realize that we must appreciate, love, accept and move past from all that we have in the moment, as that is really all we ever have.  Nothing is forever, but memories come pretty darn close. 

I love you Grandma P, you led an inspired life.  We will miss you here on earth.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Huffington Post: My New Home Away From Home?




Hello my friends! I have been sowing and growing my seeds of intention...

Things have been firing off fast and feverishly in my world as of late - so much has been happening that I have again been neglectful in my visits here.  I do hope that you might forgive me when I tell you of a few exciting new developments....

1.  I officially have 2 paying clients for my new business venture MAP Wellness.  Yup!  and YAY!  I have been trying to figure out my new schedule as it serves both them and myself, and have been toiling with the less fun aspects of running a small business: proper budgets, overhead, and legalities!

2. I am also one of the newest contributors for Huffington Post Canada's Living site!!  YES!  This is something that has just come into fruition over the course of the last week and a half, and I am so, so, so excited about it and all that it will allow me to explore in this new world of mine. 

Add to this the fact that I am still playing "catch-up" on many dinner dates and social calls, trying to spend as many minutes as I can poolside here at my home base, and that I can not get enough time outdoors on my bicyle, and life just seems like a blur of wonderful, whimsical happenings!

Oh - so if you missed it, I am blogging recipes for Huffington Post.  

Here is the link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/meghan-pearson/raw-food-recipe_b_1720789.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-living

Love, love, love, love.  



Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stuff & Things

Sunday!  The start of another new week full of potential.  I have written about my love of Sunday mornings in the past (see here), and today I woke up feeling even more inspired than usual.  For many, many reasons.  First?  This:

Booth Stars » 08 Scorpio

Scorpio- Sunday, July 15, 2012

Whatever is wrong now will soon be put right. Your quest for a recovery from a harsh turn of events will be achieved. Your prayers will be answered. There is no turning back from where you are going. So, take it all the way. An exciting chapter in your life is now being written.


I mean, come on!  Does it GET any better than that?  All that is wrong will be made right.  Cool.  Quest for recovery from a harsh turn of events?  Hello, harsh 2009 through to 2011.  Prayers?  Oh I have been praying alright.  Exciting chapter?  Oh I got this.

Yup, today I am feeling mighty fine.  I was up with the dawn for a humid run, and have puttered away in my kitchen til now.  Breakfast on my balcony amongst my lush green tropical plants, with coffee, my laptop and my neighbourhood birds singing is a delightful way to really kick off the day.  Later on I am off to meet with the fellow that I have been working with behind the scenes in the design of my new business's logo and colour scheme - all part of my soon-to-launch wellness company, MAP Wellness.  This past week I secured my very first client, and have the promise for two more to sign on in the coming week!  These pre-launch customers will provide valuable "rehearsal" time to get me into the small biz head space, and hopefully will support my goals via some valuable testimonials and the opportunity for some biz-model troubleshooting.

I also have a few meetings set up in the coming weeks - and not to give too much away, but I may have found a niche market to kick off my culinary workshop circuit, and I may also have found my first real (local!) restaurant to do some recipe development for!  Such excitement.


New recipe creation: Carrot Chia Muffins

As for the rest of things - well, let's just say I am feeling quite amorous right now, with a light flutter of butterfly wings twittering away deep in my belly. 

And it is NOT because I am on book #2 of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy.*blush*

I am in the midst of planning a girls' bicycle tour of Niagara-On-The-Lake here in Ontario (knocking yet another item off of my "To Live List!"), and to that end I am excited to be having lunch this week with the charming "Wine Sisters".  They are a delightful duo with mad skills regarding all things vino - hopefully our meeting will help map my route and perhaps net me some insider tips!

I have also signed on for another month of Booty Camp - this time challenging myself with their brand-spanking new "Booty Fit Express" - based on the ever popular HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) notion.  Did I mention these group classes take place in a park?  Like, outdoors?  And they are only 30 minutes long!  Sweetness. 

And now just for a couple of shout-outs to some ladies I love.  If you have a moment, surf on over and check these darling gals out:

Christa is a positive, inspiring, food-loving blogger from Western Canada.  She has only just begun her journey into the bloggersphere, but it's a real treat!  Her blog: http://ediblebalance.wordpress.com/

Sonnet is a holistic health coach based out of Seattle Washington.  I have been reading her whimsical, witty and wonderful food musings for a while now and she never disappoints.  Here recipes, humour and honesty make me smile every time I load up her page in my browser.  Get the goods at http://www.fortheloveoffoodblog.com/p/about.html
  
Well folks that is all for today.  I am grateful for all of you that are reading!

XO


UPDATE:  Check out MONDAY'S 'scope:

Scorpio- Monday, July 16, 2012
Posted: 15 Jul 2012 09:00 PM PDT
Uranus is awakening the innovator within you. An established way of doing things has had its day. The status quo is refusing to loosen its grip, but it cannot hold on to its position for much longer against the winds of change that are now blowing so fiercely. The opportunity you have been looking for to re-write the rulebook is before you.


I mean, really.  LOVE.

Friday, July 6, 2012

6 hours of YOGA

Hello all!  Just an update here:  I have decided NOT to continue on my social media free month after all.  Yes, I only lasted 6 days.  But I am choosing to go back online because I can. I am a consenting adult and have the power to make that decision.  After writing the below posting about yoga and extremes, I realized that I was again acting out in my particular way - with my all or nothing mentality - and it had gotten the better of me.  So I have concluded that I need not withdrawal completely online to prove to myself that I can tame my addiction there; all I need to do is cope differently.  So that is what I plan to do.  Limits, time frames, checkpoints and all.  So there.

When you think yoga, you don't usually associate it with the word challenge. At least I don't - anymore.  There was a time that yes, I truly fought against myself on the mat, pushed myself too far, drove my limbs to do things that they sometimes just didn't want to do.  I went so far as to injure my knee so badly that I had to take a break not only from class, but also from my daily run.  That is serious. Granted, even though I was putting my body under a ton of undue stress, it still was very healing for me in many ways.  I turned to Bikram yoga at a time in my life that I needed not only a distraction, but also an avenue to exert excess stresses, work out my body, and have some time just for me.  And I am grateful for all it gave me then.  It was only when I found myself becoming obsessive about those 26 postures; when I was starting to go beyond the parameters of regular practice; did I realize that I needed to ease off of my 43 degree "torture chamber" (Bikram's words, not mine) addiction.  And so I did.  Now, I feel much more at peace with my practice, and choose more variety in my yogic classes to include everything from standard hatha, to restorative, Yin, Vinyasa, and the odd hot one.

This is why, when I discovered that the ALS society was developing its first annual ALS Yoga Challenge, I was a tad hesitant to sign up.  But after reading the websites introductory sentence yet again, I had to put my name on the roster:

Most people diagnosed with ALS lose the ability to use their arms and legs in the first two years of the disease. What would you do, while you still could?

So I am doing it.  On August 18, 2012 myself and hundreds of others will attend a fun-filled day of yoga as we move our bodies for those who no longer can.

I am doing it for my father, an athlete who was active in sport into his late fifties and early sixties; slow-pitch, volleyball, golf and hockey his activities of choice.  He was a runner, a biker, and a dancer, with a regular bedside routine of push-ups and crunches every morning.  He revelled in his body's strength, honoured all his muscles could do for him, and never took advantage.

Go figure it would be a debilitating disease like ALS that would eventually steal his life, after quickly rendering many of his muscles virtually useless.  Had it not been for my fathers paralleling fight with FTD (frontotemporal dementia) I am sure he would have been frustratingly distraught over his quickly atrophying limbs.  The transition from him walking, to walker, to wheelchair happened in a blink of an eye.

And so I will bend and sway in memory of him, to show my love for him, and in the hope that one day there may be a cure for the disease that took my daddy away far too soon. 






If you would like to sponsor me in my day of yoga, you can do so here:

ALS yoga Challenge!

Namaste.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Canada Day Weekend: In Pictures

Reminder:  I am not on my social media websites for the month of July!  Why?  Find out here.  In the meantime, check out my new "Contact Me" tab if you'd like to get a hold of me pre-August!

Ah, summer-time long weekends.  A chance to get away from the city, breathe clean air, and unwind with the warm breeze, backyard BBQs, and family. 

This past Friday, after an extraordinarily busy week at work, I welcomed my 2 hour bus ride that would whisk me off from Toronto to London, the nearest transit terminal to my hometown in South Western Ontario.  With backpack, snacks, and book in hand, I travelled the long stretch of highway 401 with the anticipation of a child, eager to settle in for some real, sweet, chill-time.

Us Pearson's have many a tradition when it comes to Canada Day celebrations, and it was bitter sweet to replay many of them this year with the entire family...minus one. 

Here, a glimpse into the goings on...(taken with my Android phone; apologies for the lack-luster image quality!)

 Shady fun away from the sun...

Scenes from my morning run - very different from the views and routes I get in Toronto!  That pretty home there, is my old farmhouse...the place I grew up.  Six and a half acres in the country, and I even got to see my old horse Kokomo grazing in the hayfield! (We sold him with the land when mom & dad moved into town)

  More amazing sights discovered on my 5K dash - flowers, fields, and fresh country air!

All decked out in red! My brother-in-law, niece and nephews all ready for the firemens' pancake breakfast!

 
Mom, myself & sister B.  Post-bite, it was outside to explore the antique car displays.  Dad used to LOVE this annual event!

  Balloon swords & glow necklaces - does it get ANY better? 


And one more - me at the park in my patriotic colours.  Thanks to big sis S for instagram-ming!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bye, Bye, Profiles...


I'm going "offline".  For one month.  By "offline", I do of course mean that I am ditching my beloved Twitter and Facebook accounts in favor of simpler living.


Why am I pursuing this brief trip into a life less-connected?  Many reasons, but my main inspiration came from two places. One: My recent stay at Shanti Retreat, a yoga oasis in Eastern Ontario.  The second?  A recent blog post by my sisters dear friend Kathryn that documented when she too, challenged herself to go Facebook-free back in 2009 in an effort to raise money for FTD research (Frontotemporal Dementia was my father's primary diagnosis when he became ill).

During my stay at Shanti, I was in awe of the residents' blissful ignorance when it came to current events, pop culture, and news.  On the day that I arrived there, Nik Wallenda was set to be making his world famous jaunt across Niagara Falls on a tightrope - a news story that had been splashed across every paper's front page, news stations broadcast, and social media forum for weeks, even months.  My hosts at Shanti had no idea who he was.

So fast forward to now;  I have been feeling like a slave to the web, and I do not like it.  There have been far too many hours sucked away by the vacuum that is the Twitter-sphere, far too many minutes lost to Face-crook.  I hate - okay too strong a word- I am disturbed by my constant desire to know all that goes on within my online communities whether it be the grand group of nutritionistas (thanks Meghan Telpner for that word!) I've come to know via tweeting, or the massive amalgamation of media mavens I connect with via Facebook.  It bugs me that after a long, busy day away from my "screens", I feel the need to catch up, and as a result spend countless hours scrolling through my feeds, "nourishing" my mind with all the juicy details of the days' events.

It's an addiction.  Another obsession that I feel I need to break away from a while, even just to prove to myself that I can.  




Granted, I do realize that there are remarkable positive aspects to these daily feeds, and that my being able to build such internet intimacies does not come without benefit.  I am grateful for all of the real-life friendships and personal connections I have made with like-minded folk I have been united with online.  That I can not deny.  I treasure the connectivity that these worlds make possible, and I realize the potent capabilities that they will provide for the growth and development of my forthcoming wellness business.

For now though, I want quiet.  I wish to relax that sector of my psyche that thinks I must be in-tune with every little detail, every action, every event that is going on in my www.world.

I want to stop and smell the roses, the lilacs, the freshly cut grass.  Hear the birds sing and feel the warm sun on my face and smooth summer breeze against my back.

This July, I plan to read much (I have an extensive reading list of yoga philosophy books for my upcoming teacher training as well as some summer smut; hello Fifty Shades trilogy).  I will cook much, and rest much, and also hope to schedule in some long overdue face-time with friends and family that I haven't been able to commit a lot of time to with my recently overloaded calendar and course regime.  Presumably, I will be able to allot more time to my writing as well, and thus plan to blog here more often, and will also continue to putter away at my novel.

I have a sinking feeling that this month will feel like a detox in every sense of the word, withdrawals and all, so I plan to prepare and cope accordingly.  As suggested by Ms. Kathryn in her facebook-free blog post, I will, by end of day today,log-out and/or suspend both my Twitter and Facebook profiles and remove my internet shortcuts for both.  I will delete the applications from my smart phone as well, thus hopefully, removing all easily accessible temptations.

And so, on this final day of updates (I know, talk about drama-queen here, huh?), I ask that you all have patience with me, as I can bet that during this month long mission, I will miss a birthday or two, skip out on an event or three, and I may be tardy in my replies via my now only methods of communication - phone and email.

If anyone wants to chat, please feel free to connect with me here on the blog via my shiny new "Contact Me" tab in the upper left corner of the page.  If you already have my personal information, then email me!  Text me!  Or *gasp* call me!  I'd love to see you face-to-face.


I look forward to my quiet, real, and present time away.


Until August... 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Culinary Nutrition Expert!! That's Me!

Phew.  June has marked the official end of my three month in-depth journey of food for health with Meghan Telpner, finding my way through her kitchen, out of the processed food box, and into my own culinary cuisine philosophy. 

In the last few weeks, I have handed in my final essay assignment, completed my apprenticeship hours, and mailed off all of the necessary paperwork.  Complete.  This comprehensive, in-depth Culinary Nutrition Expert Course designed by Meghan, is unique, inspiring, and a real commitment, but man-oh-man is it also super life-changing and SO worth it.  I feel so blessed to have been able to enroll and be one of the 12 fabulous ladies to take away all the brilliant information acquired and now embark on an entirely new journey of my own.  I can do this armed with an expansive arsenal of skills and experience, and feel super-charged to get the ball rolling!

Since early March, myself and a group of like-minded women from all different walks of life congregated in Ms. Telpner's cooking studio to learn the tricks of her trade.  This flock of fabulousness came from a wide range of age groups; from twenty-something’s to retirees, and included a Naturopathic Doctor, Fitness Company CEO, health food suppliers and distributers, PR folk, myself, and many moms.  A group that may not have otherwise crossed paths, but was brought together with one common goal; to learn all that we could about healing our bodies with clean, real, whole food. 

And learn we did.  Meghan is a ball of bravado, with personal experience to back up all of her nutritional beliefs.  Having healed herself of Crohn's disease through diet just five years ago, she has the goods that make her an expert in her field.  Not only does Meghan teach the biological and nutritional reasons why certain foods are great for you, but she also focuses on how to make that same food taste sublime.  Flavour is never forgotten, in fact it is always at the forefront of every recipe she creates.  In class, we had the opportunity to not only taste these creations, but got to try our own hands at whipping them up from scratch as part of the cooking class portion of the program.  And we ate like Queens!

To that end, if I were to say that the research and theory portion of the course was merely adequate, I would be making a massive understatement.  It was in fact, quite expansive, and I learned a truckload.  At the same time though, I was pleasantly surprised by how much nutrition information I already knew!  I guess my years exploring various cuisines, reading countless cookbooks and foodie websites, and flipping through magazine after magazine about health and wellness have really paid off.  I went into Meghan's classes with a strong foundation, but left with the real deal – the ability to build solid recipes and meal plans for health, with integrity. 

Mmm! A few of the tantalizing tasty plates from class, plus me teaching!  

Upon completetion of the course, teacher extraordinaire Meghan Telpner created the below beautiful video.  It is a great inside look at what goes on in her kitchen, and a superb testimonial to the great work that she does and the lives that she changes: 

For her full write-up & reflection on the course, check out her blog entry here:

So what do I plan on doing now?  Now that I am certified?  Well, in addition to my new role as CNE, I have also recently certified as raw food chef via Alissa Cohen's "Living on Live Foods" course. I am a level 2 chef under her guidelines, which means that I am now trained to teach and train others about the lifestyle and foods that are an integral part of this healing way of eating.  My decision to nab these additional qualifications sort of came on whim, but since my first introduction into the raw food way of life back in 2009, I have always held a special interest in the distinct flavour and complexity of living food recipes.  As I follow an entirely plant based diet myself, it was only fitting that I acquire the credentials to share the food I love to make with others, and perhaps turn a few everyday meat eaters into raw food lovers along the way! 


And now what?  Well, I have a few things in the works that include furthering my skills as raw chef in my very own kitchen, and have begun to develop some great new recipes of my own (I’m thumbing my way through Doug McNish’s recipe book “Eat Raw, Eat Well" for inspiration!).  I am also drumming up a few more workshop ideas to pitch around town, and am in the midst of designing a new fancy-pants company logo and kick-ass website to match.

In this moment, I am really looking forward to some down time over the summer and will spend much time cooking, un-cooking, reading and relaxing.  But believe you me, I plan to kick it into high-gear again in the fall when I will officially be launching MAP Wellness, my new company, my new baby.

Until then, stay tuned for the launch of my new URL, and keep coming back here for updates people!

Love, love, love.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cuba then..where now?


Exactly one year ago right now, I was in Cuba. Those are my feet.

It had been almost a month since my father had passed away, and I was up one tattoo, down one job, and feeling pretty lost.  During dad's final weeks with us, I had been employed with a kids show that had me travelleing all across Canada for the month of May, and therefore I was not able to spend that period by his side.  Not that we knew it was going to be the last days we'd have with him, but all the same, had I been in the province, I would have been able to visit a few more times, and more importantly, it would have allowed my being present at the hospital during the last few days that he was conscious.  Regrettably, once I was able to get away from show production, it was too late, and the last time I would see my father smile was to be the Easter prior. How did I get to say good-bye to him in the last ten hours he was here on earth?  One moment of eye contact.  And then he was gone.  

Upon my return to work with said show post-funeral, it was clear that I could not continue with the company - it did not work for me anymore, for many, many reasons.  I quit.  

And the next week I booked a trip to Cuba.

I needed to get away, to sort out all the thoughts swirling in my mind; the guilt, the regret, the grief.  Mostly I just wanted to detach.  I would definitely label myself as an introvert-extrovert, and as unhealthy as I know it sometimes may be, I do like to deal with my emotions in a quiet, personal way.  And seeking solitude is a tried and true method for doing it.

So I spent a week down South, running on the beach in the mornings, reading by the pool in the afternoons, and dancing at the disco after sunset.  I did manage to keep mostly to myself, but did also make a few resort pals while I was at it.  When I wanted company I could have it, if I needed quiet, I simply searched out a secluded sandy retreat all my own.  Did I figure anything out on this voyage?  Nah, but I did manage to release a lot of tears and pent up rage, and also got some much needed sleep; one thing I had been seeking desperately for months.

Upon return to Toronto, I was pretty undeterred by my lack of a job, and quickly managed to score a few great freelance gigs with various TV stations for the remainder of the summer.  Come fall I started my current full-time role with the morning show. Life has a way of working it self out when you need it to, huh?

Relaxing, eating, exploring.  And hey, no body issues anymore (I would never have posted the above pic a few years ago!) 

Well, a lot has certainly changed since last June.  A LOT.  I still haven't gotten through my guilt issues surrounding my relationship with my father, but I am slowly peeling away the layers of self-deprecation, and learning to forgive.  And I am continuing to live my life, as my pops would have wanted me to.

Enter my "To-Live List". 

This is my current, yet always evolving grouping of motivation, created earlier this year.  So where do things stand as of now?  Well...

My To LIVE list (in no particular order)
1.
Learn Spanish
I have the at home CD kit and have put lesson one on my iPod!
2.
Complete my "Culinary Nutrition Expert” course
DONE and DONE!  Certified, baby!
3. Travel: Italy, Brazil, Bali, Egypt, Greece, Manchu Picchu

4. Complete my Yoga Teacher Certification
 
I am booked in to start this in September 2012!
5. Visit NYC at Christmastime

6. Start my own company in the health & wellness industry
 
In progress!  You should SEE the logo and graphic look we are working on!  SEXY!
7. Open a "Nourishment Centre"- with a focus on eating disorder recovery

8. Snorkel

9. Learn to Salsa dance

10. Get published
 
I started my novel last month!
11. Tour the Niagara On the Lake wineries via bicycle
 
Myself and a group of gals from my CNE course are booked to do this in July!
12. Stay at a yoga ashram (long term, and short term)

13. Learn to sail a boat

14. Run a 1/2 marathon

15. Knit socks, mittens and eventually a sweater

16. Mail 20 love letters
 
1 sent so far, from the heart.
17. Complete a Hot Yoga "30 Day Challenge" 
I may do this in July

Also exciting - I have completed my level 1 "Living on Live Foods" raw food chef certification and am scheduled to do my Level 2 this coming week.  I have also completed my Reiki level one certifiction and level 2 is booked for August.

Yup, life does have a funny way of working itself out indeed.  And as I sit on my cozy, comfy balcony writing this, I have joy in my heart, less pain on my chest, and fewer burdens weighing me down.  Do I think I will ever need another "Cuba trip"?  I hope not. I hope to never have to experience and then move on from what my family has been put through over the course of the last two years ever again.  But, at the same time, I do believe that from now on, when life throws me a curve ball and knocks me off my game, that I will be strong enough, brave enough, and present enough to face it head-on.  And be all that much better for it in the end.  

Yesssss. 

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Om Shanti

This past weekend I had the fortunate pleasure of taking a breathe, and taking the trek up to paradise, by way of Kingston and Wolfe Island.  Shanti Retreat is a yogi's dream destination, right here in Ontario that evokes all the inspiration, love and blissful thoughts and experiences you might expect at the same type of community abroad.

My hosts, Wendy & Darin are a delight through and through, and after spending time studying in Thailand and elsewhere, living, breathing, and being yoga, the two decided to create this beautiful sanctuary along the St. Lawrence River and open their doors to people just like me. 
 
My "retreat" was a little different than most, as I was up there as part of my Culinary Nutrition Expert course (quick - there is still room to cook with Meghan Telpner for the fall semester!).  As part of the curriculum, we are required to complete a certain number of apprentice/co-op hours in a foodie environment, and I was lucky enough to land placement in Shanti's kitchen with veggie-cook superstar chef Robinette.   So off I went, to the tropics of Canada, to find peace, fabulous food, and unexpectedly, a deeper sense of me.


Here, my weekend in photos:

 

 

Upon reflection of my joyous time at Shanti, it is clear that I belong in the yoga community.  Later this week I will be signing the papers to enroll myself in a 250 hour Yoga Teacher Certification course that begins this fall.  With all the serendipitous events that have been unfolding in my world these days, I know this is the right path for me, and I know I will sometime soon reside again (perhaps much more long term) in the karma way...and really live the way my life was meant to be lived.

Namaste


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How I live

I just hopped online to check out my weekly life's happenings prediction via a fave astrology site, and wow is it bang on.  Ever checked out Free Will Astrology?  I have been watching it ever since an ex introduced me.  I find it entertaining, insightful, and quite on target...mostly.  At times I can't make sense of a single breath of the authors whimsical musings, but when he strikes the bulls-eye, he does so with panache!

Scorpio Horoscope for week of June 14, 2012
Verticle Oracle card Scorpio (October 23-November 21)
Twenty-four-year-old actress Annalynne McCord has risen up in rebellion against what she calls "Hollywood's perfection requirement." Lately she has been brazenly appearing in public without any make-up on. She has even encouraged paparazzi to snap photos of her in her natural state. "I'm not perfect," she says, "and that's okay with me." I nominate her to be your role model in the coming weeks, Scorpio. You will be able to stir up useful blessings for yourself by being loyal to the raw truth. You can gain power by not hiding anything. (And yes, I realize that last statement is in conflict with the core Scorpionic philosophy.) Here's my guarantee: It'll be fun to be free of unrealistic images and showy deceptions.


I'm just saying...that as of late, I have been, plan to, and will be doing just this.  For the rest of my glorious life.  This blog is a testament to that. I hide nothing.  I welcome greatness.  I have no shame.

Feels pretty good.  Why don't we all act like Scorpios this week, and see how it makes us feel?!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A little reading...

A couple of weeks ago at work I got the wonderful opportunity to meet author Augustine Burroughs.  You might know the name as he was the mind behind the novel behind the great movie "Running with Scissors".  He has a new book out right now entitled...

This Is How: Help for the Self.  Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.

He was a gentle man to meet, his presence calming, even as he sported a citrus-orange leather jacket, even as his list of brilliant works and writings hovered over us, a daunting presence, as I brought him into the studio...

Here, a quote from the new novel that really spoke to me:

Love doesn't use a fist.  

Love never calls you fat or lazy or ugly.  
Love doesn't laugh at you in front of your friends...
Love does not maintain a list of your flaws and weaknesses.  
Love believes you.

Yes.  Truth. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One Year later

Today is the day.  One year ago, the universe decided that it was time.  Whatever, whoever,  this higher power is that reigns over us declared May 29, 2011 as my fathers last day to be here in his body, on Earth.  
This deciding entity had moved to have him be ill, suffer, and have disease long before that (or not really all that long at all actually, as he was only diagnosed 15 months prior to his passing), as the ALS and FTD that took over his body had decisive plans. 

This day changed the course of reality.  For him, for our family, for every person and life that my father touched while here, and those he hadn't yet had the chance to.  I still hate everything about this situation.  I am angry, frustrated, sickened, heart broken and sad.  I am forever changed.  My life is forever different.  

And God dammit it is hard.

Every. Single. Day. 


I don't see that changing any time soon.  The constant reminders will always be around; fathers are everywhere, after all, and each time I witness a tender interaction between dad and daughter, a hug shared between son and his senior...I get the "pang".

The pang of pain in my heart that I won't ever get those opportunities again.  The pang of guilt that I hadn't cherished ALL OF THEM, when I had the chance.  

The pangs of regret for not saying what I felt, acting how I wanted too, spending the time that I should have...

What does get me by is memory.  Recalling all the greatness that my father was, the happy moments, the puns, the stern yet loving manner in which he raised us girls.  For the first few months after his passing, it was hard to remember "healthy dad".  He had been ill with the dementia and ALS for only a short time, but those were the recollections that were in the forefront of my mind; both the good and the bad; the goofy smile he always had on his face, the clumsy way he went about daily tasks, the tender look in his eye when I knew he was non-verbally thanking my mother for all she did for him...

Now I try to remember my father the way he would have wanted me to.  I recall the strong, determined, athletic man that he was, with quick as a whip wit.  I remember the softball coach in him, the teacher, the hobby farmer, the traveler, the western movie fan in him.  The grandfather, the daddy, the husband, friend, and son in him.  I remember him as him.

A year is a long time, and not a long time.  A lot has changed, a lot has stayed the same.  Only my dad and I know what has really gone on in my world...as I know he is an angel, with me all the time, my conscience, my motivation, my source of strength.  At his funeral there were many folk who told me of how proud my father had always been of me.  I hope he would continue to say the same now and in the future, as I work to better myself, my life, our world.

One year.  And it still hurts so bad.  

I love you dad, I miss you dad. XOXO Forever. 




Sunday, May 27, 2012

Universal Energy & Other Sharing

Summer is here! The scents, signs and sweetness have been felt in here in Ontario over the past couple of weeks.  If you didn't know any better, you'd think Spring was playing hookie, only to have her older, more mature sister take the reigns prematurely!  And I am a-okay with that - Summer, you can drop early anytime.

I recently made a trip back to my hometown to spend some quality time with my mother.  That woman is a rock.  Just this morning, as I was out for my sunrise run, I got to thinking about her. I can not recall the exact reason why she ended up the focus of my running meditation, but she did nonetheless.  Perhaps it is because in the back of my mind I know that in two days we mark the exact one year anniversary since the death of my father.  Perhaps it is because my mother has been an outstanding image of strength, courage and complete inspiration over the course of the past 363 days.  I am in awe of her ability to learn and grow in such a way that she has; taking over every little life detail that my dad once resided over.  She has filled her new-normal life with an abundance of fulfilling activities; seeing theatre shows weekly, volunteering at the local playhouse gift shop, becoming an active member of countless organizations, and also still taking the time to attend many ALS and FTD related groups as a supportive "knower".  My mom has weekly card game days with her girlfriends, and sings in the church choir.  She gives her time to the local rummage and penny sales, and if you have a knitting question, you can be sure you can count on her to help. Now that the warm season is here, she whiles away her free time (if she has any?!) in her backyard, caring for her perennials and annuals alike, and tending to her fruitful vegetable garden, a treat for us all come harvest. 

My mother lives an abundant and thriving life, with a youthful glow unlike any other woman her age I know.   My mother is who she is even after being dealt an alarming amount of misfortune in her years.  You see, my mother lost two sisters and a pregnancy in 1979 (less than a year before I was conceived).  She lost both her Dutch parents and a sister and brother in-law in the 90's.  My mother lost her best friend, lover, partner and husband, my father, in 2011. 

But she is still smiling.  God, I only wish I had half of her strength.  And am I so damn proud to call her my mom.  Love you!!



Mom, as we shopped for gorgeousness last weekend at home

Okay, so as mentioned, I spent some time in Exeter recently.  My mother is many wonderful things, but one thing she is not, is vegan.  However, there is always lots to eat in my mom's kitchen, and I am happy to say that I was able to make do with what we had, and improvise plenty of yummy, balanced, and creative meals to enjoy in the comfort of home.  To that end, when mom picked me up from the bus station that visit, we opted to make only a couple of pit-stops before heading home to bask in the backyard sunshine, neither of which included the grocery store.  Stop number one as a country nursery for flowers, stop number two was the LCBO.  :) Perfect. 

Improvised vegan burgers on the grill, PLUS fresh asparagus from mom's garden!

Recipe success: vegan cashew waffles


Stop number three was Canadian Tire, where mom wanted to pick up a new water filter.  Yay!  Not so yay?  Seeing "Roundup" pesticide displayed under lock and key.  WHAT IS IN THAT STUFF THAT THEY FEEL THE NEED TO LOCK IT UP??  Frightening.


The following Saturday morning, we hopped in mom's brand new car (she finally bid adieu to Dad's convertible and her older model SUV in favour of one shiny new set of wheels), and were off to visit my Grandma Pearson.  My Grams is 94 years old.  She lost her husband, my Grandad long before I was brought into the world, and raised 8 kids all on her own.  Talk about another pillar of strength, huh?  Her health has been deteriorating over the last couple of years, worse since my father died.  She had already buried my uncle Jim, and now dad.  Not really fair for one mother, but she is still trucking along, laughing at jokes, worrying about what outfit she has on, the shape of her manicure, and whether or not I am safe living in the big bad city of Toronto.  She may be completely blind, slightly hard of hearing, and confined to her high end wheelchair, but I think Grams is here for a long while yet.  Her mom, my Great-Grandma lived to be 103 years old, after all.  Resilience is in the family DNA. 

Perhaps I should serve my grams with some Reiki next time I visit....

Reiki means universal energy (Rei = universal, ki = energy)
 
I am now officially a Level 1 Reiki practitioner!  Yup, that's right, I even have a diploma to prove it.  A few weeks ago, on the sunniest of Sundays, I chose to spend 9.5 hours indoors at a lovely Davisville integrative health centre, learning and attaining the "attunement" I needed to share the healing power of Reiki.  

So, you ask, HOW DOES REIKI WORK?

Reiki is one of the more widely known forms of energy healing. Energy healing involves direct application of Ki for the purpose of strengthening the client’s energy system (aura). Ki (in Japanese) or Chi (in Chinese) is the term used by the Chinese mystics and martial artists for the underlying force the Universe is made of.  After being initiated by a Reiki Master, the practitioners’ (that's me!) energy aura is modified in such a way that the hands are now capable of sending (channeling) Reiki energy in a spontaneous way, continuously, without effort. This capacity or ability to heal others and oneself will not be lost or changed (raise or shrink) during the practitioner’s entire life. 
*source: http://www.naturesintentionsnaturopathy.com/reiki/reiki-energy.htm

I am doing my "Reiki of 7 levels" certification, hoping to move onto level 2 in late June.  For now though, I need to get practice in.  I plan on offering up my services to friends to gain the hours and confidence I need and hope to do treatments out of my flat very soon. Once again I have been blessed by the serendipity goodness of life, and upon mentioning my need for a "practice" table, my dear friend Mary from my culinary course offered up her folding massage unit for my use!  

Amazing.  

Anyone feeling out of sorts?  I might be able to help cure what ails ya.  :)

So that is what is going on here.  I will have another follow up post soon, as well as an update on my first ever Culinary Nutrition Workshop that I taught last weekend; super fun!  For now, here is just a teaser - me = teacher:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Green Recovery

Life happens.

I was feeling neglectful today; having not posted here for weeks.  I do have a few ideas for a nice lengthy post to do over the weekend, but for now, I will simply share a little something that feels like a real milestone.  I have been less than private about many things that have happened and are happening in my life up until now, as this blog really is my medium to face, accept, and move on from hardships, heartbreak, and herculean hiccups.  This blog is, after all, my place of hope, healing and happiness. 

A couple of weeks ago, I took a leap outside of my comfy site, and shared my struggle with bulimia via an outside source, a wonderful website called "Choosing Raw".  Gena Hamshaw is the creator, and she is also the brilliant creature behind the "Green Recovery Series" - stories written by and about folks that have found freedom from their eating disorders by adopting a vegan lifestyle.  After reading a few entries there, I knew I wanted to share my story.  So I did.  And she did.  And I got my very own special category of "recovery-in-progress", as I do believe that my recovery will be a life long project.

It felt GREAT to speak out.  And I feel so blessed to have received so many honest, touching, and inspired comments on the piece.  On behalf of all of us Green Recover-ers, and all that fight disordered eating, thank you Gena.  

Here it is:

http://www.choosingraw.com/recovery-in-progress-meghans-story/ 




Saturday, May 12, 2012

NYC!

New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothin' you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let's hear it for New York, New York,
New York

Love that song.  I felt it, and played it over and over in my head whilst whiling away the time on my recent solo adventure into Manhattan, a certain affair to remember.

I am blessed to have been able to make this trip happen, as I am definitely not flush with money these days, with my various class and course fees  draining my back account.  But as luck would have it, I booked just earlier enough to snag a crazy good deal on round trip bus fare, and I was able to arrange superior accommodations in Washington Heights with a friend.  More on that later...

I left late on a Thursday, via the overnight Greyhound, beet and carrot juice in hand.  After a slick and quick trip across the border (yay, no illegal travelers on board!), I managed to squeeze in a few hours of solid shut-eye before awakening at 6:15am, just as the sun was rising over the Manhattan skyline, and and we were soon to enter the tunnel to the island.  Wow, what a view.  I knew at that instant, that this was going to be a weekend to remember. 

After our on-time arrival at the Port Authority terminal, it was only a quick jaunt up to Columbus circle followed by a short walk to ABC studios, where I had a VIP ticket to see "Live with Kelly".  Thanks to Kieran, one of the stellar producers at my TV show for hooking a sister up!  A perfect way to kick of my adventure.


Maggie Q with Kelly and co-host & hubster Mark

So how did I spend the rest of my trip, you ask?  Really? Well if you really do want  scoop, then keep on reading, friends!


First stop post-Live with Kelly: "Organic Avenue"- the BEST veggie juice joint in the city!


Lunch was the Aztec salad at Candle Cafe: Upper West Side.  Impeccable service, great atmosphere, outstanding food!  Funnily enough, as I jotted down notes in my scratchpad, glanced around the room engagingly, and just really "took it all in", I became pretty convinced the staff thought I was a food critic.  Half way through the meal, I had far more servers attend to me than necessary (with gushingly kind treatment), and my every move was observed until they pretty much followed out the door upon my exit!  Super fun; new career perhaps??


That evening, I was lucky enough to have scored complimentary admission to hear one of my inspirations speak live at "Spirit Junkie Church".  Okay, so it was actually Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village, but the huge crowd that assembled to hear Gabrielle Bernstein lecture on the topic of "Manifesting Desires", sure appeared a faithful following.  I love hearing her speak, and each time I do, I feel immense passion about all she inspires, and I always leave fueled for positive change.  She is a true sweetheart to meet, and a real smart cookie. 

My religious experience ended shortly after 9pm, and good thing too, as I had a hot date at "Pure Food & Wine" for 9:30pm with my long lost (cue the violins - no don't) cousin, Grace.  Grace is my father's-cousins-daughter, whom I met previously way back when I was in grade ten.  We had immediately bonded on that visit, getting all boozed up on rum and cokes on a boat in the neighbouring town (you'll recall, I had a very intimate relationship with alcohol at very young age).  I had not seen Grace since that time, but she was gracious enough to offer up her living room to me as my home away from home for the entire time I was in NYC.  So grateful. 

Hen of the Woods Tacos al Pastor - smoked guacamole, hearts of palm, chayote squash, guajillo crema fresca, pickled onions

Sweet Corn and Cashew Tamales with Chili Spiced Portabella - salsa verde, cashew coconut sour cream, avocado, raw cacao mole

Saturday morn!  What a glorious morning it was!  What better way to start off the day, than with a brisk ride into the Heights to hit up the local farmer's market!

Grace, with her hot tamales in hand.


That afternoon, I ventured out solo, and walked...and walked...and walked.  Here, just a few yummy moments from my day:





Lunch: Angelica's Kitchen, East Village
 

Mid-day, I met up with a fellow Torontonian and media professional, that I have known for, what, maybe ten years?  She and I met ages ago at CityTV, but have never had the chance to get together one on one while at home.  So what better time to meet up for drinks then when we both just so happen to be chilling in NYC?  Natalie was in town on business, but was able to free up a few (4) hours to meet for a therapeutic glass (or several) of bubbly at the Central Park Boathouse, the sight of my now irrelevant engagement proposal two years ago.  It was divine and full of wine, and a gorgeous day to enjoy the sunshine on the packed and pretty patio! 


Prettiness at Bryant park...



Last stop on Saturday, was my much anticipated dinner at "Candle 79", the grand-daddy home of vegan cuisines.  This comfy, cozy, classy resto is located in the Upper East side and was everything I had imagined.    I enjoyed a table for one in the upper level of the dining room, sandwiched in between two lovey-dovey couples.  That was just fine by me, as I had my city, my dress, and my glass of wine as my date, and was feeling just sublime.  I decided on an entree of their LIVE lasagna, a plate that served far superior to my delish version of the raw "pasta" dish from home.  I savoured this plate for well over 40 minutes, absorbing all the brilliant flavours and textures, eating every morsel with gratitude.  By 10pm I was ready for dessert, another glass of wine, and then I was off.  

A long walk towards home via Central Park, passing the classic carriage ride circle at the foot of the green-space, and I was ready to call it a night.  A weekend.  A milestone.  

That was my New York after all, a whole new round of memories, each one my own, each one a gift.  

It was a hot date indeed, and I am already planning my next rendezvous with my American lover come July.