Getting myself into the kitchen…

So I’ve really been enjoying my quest to find all kinds of things I’m passionate about over the past year and a half! Throughout this journey, I’ve really tried to incorporate activities that are not only super fun, and where I can meet new people, but also where I can learn or develop some kind of life skill. I had mentioned in a previous post “Synchronicity for the Win” that I had taken some private cooking classes with my amazing friend Allie (check her services out here, she’s a life-changer!), but I haven’t written about how I’ve been keeping my kitchen skills primed by taking tons of amazing group cooking classes with her over the past few months!

There are so many things I love about what I’ve been learning in the kitchen! Allie focus on plant-based nutrition, which just happens to be one of the best ways for someone with an auto-immune disease to eat. I think the idea of not eating meat really freaks people out, but it’s truly incredible to see some of the dishes that come out of the kitchen in class, because they taste 100 times better then simply chowing down on a steak and baked potato! We’ve made cold rolls, pho soup, spring rolls, cauliflower pakoras, buckwheat pancakes, Buddha bowls, chia pudding, smoothie bowls, homemade granola, falafels, almond hummus, and the list goes on and on! I’m not even kidding you guys, I feel like I’ve been eating like a queen for the past three months, and it’s got me so excited to keep cooking up a storm! The best part!? Cooking for one has never been something I’m great at, so doing these classes has taught me how to work a Sunday night meal prep and have lunches and dinners all week long…yesssssssssss!!!!

So this past weekend I did a vegan Indian cooking class with Allie and 5 other eager chefs-in-training, and while I was there it dawned on me just how much taking these classes has improved my life. And of course, I had to write about it! My health has improved significantly because of taking the time to prepare proper meals, and eliminate meat at home (I’m not going to lie, I’m still guilty of eating a little bacon or chicken when I’m out at a restaurant or eating at my parents’ place!), and my pain is so much more manageable because I’m paying attention to what’s going into my body and I’m making conscious choices about food for (probably) the first time in my life.  I’ve also met SO many incredible new friends from all different walks of life, and that’s helped me expand my community of local like-minded people – like I said, it’s been a TOTAL game changer 🙂

Food is truly one of the easiest ways (in my opinion) to manage many diseases and ailments, and the fact that I can remain medication-free but still feel one million percent better than I did just 2 short years ago, really is a testament to that! I would totally recommend finding a fun class like the ones Allie runs, and getting out of your comfort zone (food or otherwise!) to try something fun, and interesting, and new! You really never know when a small decision will change your life forever ❤ XO

Don’t take your tomorrow for granted…

On January 17, 2004 I got a phone call that would change my life forever. I had just gotten back to my parents’ place after a trip to Walmart with my sister where we had picked up some Valentine’s Day goodies for our fellas, and the board game Clue. We immediately cracked open our new (old) game, and headed up to my bedroom to settle in for an epic battle between Mr. Green, Professor Plum and Mrs. White (all the usual suspects). It was then that my phone rang. On the other end, all I could make out at first were guttural sounds, what sounded like an animal, or maybe…was it a human? It was, it was my fiance (at the time) calling to give me the most devastating news I would ever receive by telephone. Two of my friends had just been killed in a car accident.

I remember trying to breath, I remember staring at my sister and hyperventilating while I tried to regurgitate the most horrible words I had ever heard. I remember her starting to panic because I couldn’t get the words out and she didn’t know what was wrong. I remember her screaming for my parents to come help…I remember so much of that night, so vividly, it’s crazy. I still remember it with more clarity than I can remember what I wore yesterday – seriously. It’s amazing how our brains can hold onto the memory of trauma and at the same time, erase the memory of the pain that accompanies it. I suppose it’s how we protect ourselves from remembering just how very painful it is to have your heart ripped out of your body.

We never know what our tomorrow will look like. We all woke up that morning with very few cares in the world, and could never have guessed what the next 24 hours would bring. My friends left band practice that evening to head home for a rest (we had thrown a HUGE birthday party for one of them and my fiance just the night before), and we had plans to head out to a movie together later that night. Then there was an accident, a horrible, tragic accident, one that could happen to anyone at anytime. And with it, everything changed forever.

I write this post today to honour my friends who lost their lives thirteen years ago, at the tender age of 24. I also write it to remind myself how important it is to wake up each day and live life to the very fullest. To have fun, to love hard, to make mistakes, to go on adventures, to say what you’re thinking, to try something new, to get mad, to be sad, to do anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to do, because there will always be someone who has lost their chance to do those very things. The friends I lost were amazing. They LIVED. They LOVED. They were awesome guys, and I still miss them terribly. But as someone who is still here, still blessed with the opportunity to live a BIG life, I owe it to them to make sure I do just that – LIVE BIG. So much love and thanks to my favourite guardian angels – hope you are enjoying the big party in the sky ❤ XO

live-big

Do good whenever you can…

Today was a pretty amazing day for me! I traveled into Toronto to see my eye surgeon after another 6 week healing period, and the little stitch that was holding my implant in place was FINALLY removed – YAY!! Not only does my eye look great (according to my doc), but aside from some pain from the actual stitch removal, the incessant irritation I’ve been feeling from that little bugger is GONE – hallelujah!! It feels so, so good to be ‘back to normal’ and to have all the fears I’ve had about my peepers over the past 3 months dissipate. All that’s left now is a final appointment in April, and I’m in the clear! I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been a part of the study that allowed me to have this very expensive surgery for free, and will continue giving gratitude for this roller coaster experience for a long (long) time to come.

About a month ago my sister forwarded me an article about a young boy who was diagnosed with the same disease as me (keratoconus for anyone who’s just catching up on my blog now), but sadly he was struggling in a very different way than I had. His case was more serious than mine, and his eyes were deteriorating rapidly. Unfortunately, his parents could not cover the $10,000 surgical fee, and they had gone to the press to spread the word about how procedures like cross-linking are not covered by OHIP yet. Reading this article was eye-opening for me, because before doing so I really didn’t understand just how hard it is to be accepted into a study can be, and here was someone half my age who was going blind and couldn’t get help. This realization jolted me back to reality, after I’d spent more time than I care to admit feeling a bit sorry for myself and some of the complications I’d be struggling through post-op. His ordeal did not make the discomfort or fear I’d been living with any less valid, but it nudged me back into the right frame of mind aka feeling incredibly grateful that I was selected for this amazing study, and that I live in a country where people will fight for our rights to receive free medical care.

While I couldn’t do anything to personally help this boy (I can only hope that the Globe & Mail exposure got him his surgery!), it reminded me that there are plenty of people out there that I COULD help! And so with the assistance of my friends at Soul Sessions, I was able to run a warm clothing drive for a local and very deserving women and children’s shelter in my neighbourhood throughout the month of December! Today was not only stitch removal day, but it also happened to be the day that this charity came to pick up all the donations we were able to collect through the studio’s amazing members! Hundreds of pieces of warm clothing, including bags of gloves, scarves and hats with tags still on them! This kind of generosity never ceases to amaze me, and my heart has been soaring all day knowing that so many people came out to support such a wonderful cause ❤

To come around full circle here, I really just wanted to write this post because I feel like we all have the capacity to make a difference in someone else’s life every day, through even the smallest gestures. Whether it’s giving the homeless person you meet on the street a few dollars, donating $5 to a gofundme campaign you believe in, helping your friend move into her new place, volunteering at an old age home, paying for the person behind you at the drive-thru, heck just smiling at someone can seriously make a world of difference to their day! To always remind myself that I’ve had a great day in spite of any hardships, I’ve picked back up a practice I started last year, and each night I take the calendar page from that day’s You are a Badass calendar and write down all the things I am grateful for. It’s pretty easy to give gratitude for all the good things we’ve experienced, but giving gratitude for things that have been challenging isn’t always as easy. Having said that, it is an incredible way to remind ourselves that there is good fortune hiding in every hardship we face, but that sometimes it just takes a little extra digging to see it 🙂 I’m so excited to continue doing what I can, where I can throughout the coming year, and can’t wait to hear what you’ve all been doing to make a difference in your own worlds too! Here’s to making 2017 our most charitable and gratitude-filled year yet! XO

gratitude-calendarthank-you-growhard-times

Take the 2017 pressure off yourself…

So I haven’t written a post in 11 days, and it has been STRESSING me OUT! I had this idea that I needed to write some crazy epic ‘welcome to 2017’ blog post, heck I even started one on December 30th, but for some reason I just wasn’t feeling it this year. I’ve realized I want to roll into the New Year with the same quiet confidence that I intend to soar through the rest of 2017 with, and that means laying out my intentions for the year in the broadest, biggest way and not creating resolutions for myself.

There are so many ways to ring in the New Year…intentions, resolutions, choosing a word of the year, rebelling and doing nothing new at all – take your pick!  I chose setting intentions this year, because I appreciate the fluidity of the word, which is defined as “a thing intended, an aim or plan”. I’ve read in so many amazing books lately that we cannot attach to the outcome of a specific dream or goal – we need to set broad goals for happiness, health, love, career and release and surrender to the path we’re guided down. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow our dreams and shoot for the stars, it just means that we need to have faith that if our big, huge, crazy goals are meant to be accomplished, the Universe will make it happen, and if something even bigger and better is out there waiting, it’ll find its way to us too 🙂

A resolution on the other hand, is much more concrete and unmalleable. A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something” – this feels so confining to me right now, so pressure-filled and heavy. Of course New Years resolutions have worked for millions (okay, maybe not THAT many lol) people over the course of time, but I say there’s always room for improvement, and always room to try something new. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into a resolution that doesn’t feel right, create an intention around it and take some pressure off yourself! It’s a New Year, a great time for a fresh start, fresh ideas and dreams that completely take your breath away, but it can also be a challenging time of transition and change, so don’t beat yourself up too much if you’re off to a bit of a rocky start (like me!).

So as the band Trooper states (in one of my fave Canadian songs of all time), we’re here for a good time, not a long time, so give yourself a break and reboot your 2017 with some amazing intentions if you already feel like you’ve fallen behind, because you haven’t, I promise!! XO

Good Time.jpg

Intention Deepak.jpg

brand-new-ending