She Asked for Wings

Title: She Asked for Wings
Medium: acrylic on canvas
Size: 24″ X 18″
 
Quite a few months ago, I started this painting. I really loved what I did in the body and neck area. However when I did her face, I messed it up. I painted over the face and put it aside. Truthfully, I was too intimidated to go back to it. I really didn’t want to mess it up again. So she stayed in the closet for months. She moved when we moved and resided in another closet for a few more months. 
 
I haven’t put my paintings up in our new place yet eventhough we have been in this place for almost 4 months.  Last week, I finally decided to go through my paintings to see what I could display around our place. Much of what I have are not a good fit for our new place. I did took a few paintings out of the closet anyway.
While doing this, I came across this unfinished painting. I decided to see if I could bring it to completion. I wish I had taken a picture of it then, but I didn’t. It would have been great to see the transformation. I worked on it for five days in a row and enjoyed every minute of it. Well, almost every minute. I’m not very good at doing faces. I need to practice more. So the face was a tad stressful to do. It was still fun though and it was great to have a project to work on. It had been a long time since I lost myself into a painting project.  I’m quite happy with how it turned out. The face is far from perfect but I’m happy with it. I’m happy with the whole composition. And the colours,, oh the colours! The colours are so rich and vibrant!
When I was trying to figure out what to paint on her right side, the thought that she wanted wings came to me. So… SHE got wings! 

 

Project 200 – December 2017

Thank you to all of you who have left me messages of support and friendship yesterday. I feel very grateful for each one of you and each one of your words.

As I mentionned yesterday, today I want to share my Project 200 goals for this month with you. I also wrote that I would share about where I am physically. I realized that I have done this already on September 2nd when I first started this blog. If you have not read this post and are interested see the post titled X Marks the Spot, by clicking Here.

Project 200 has 5 components: Food, Exercise, Mindet, Self-Compassion and Accountability. Every month, I will set a goal for each one of these components.

My goals for December are: 

  • FOOD: Reduce night eating by at least 50% – Most evening after dinner, I eat and this is whether I’m hungry or not. This is when my compulsion to binge is at its strongest. For me, watching stuff on my iPad and eating go hand in hand. One of my goals this month is to significantly reduce the number of times I eat in the evening. I will keep a watch on my hunger level and do the best I can to not eat when I’m not hungry. If this means putting my iPad away in the evening, then I will do that.
  • EXERCISE:  Add a minimum of 15 minutes of exercising 4 times a week – I’m highly resistant to exercise. I. Don’t. Like. It! It has become a bit tricky now that my knees and hips joints are in such bad shape. I don’t want to speed up their deterioration. Yet I know that I have to exercise. I need to exercise. This month, I will ensure that I do exercise 4 times a week for at least15 minutes ensuring that I do not place an unnecessary burden on my joints. 
  • MINDSET, SELF-COMPASSION and ACCOUNTABILITY: Keep a daily journal – I will take time daily to write about what is going on within myself and do my best to re-frame any negative mindset and bring more self-compassion to myself. This will help with keeping me mindful and at the same time will help with accountability. I will also share, on the 1st of January how things have gone for me in regard to these.

I will return on January 1st to share the first month of the Project 200 journey with you all.

Project 200 LAUNCH!

I’ve been looking forward to today because I’m quite excited about what I’m about to share with you all. I’m actually excited about this!

Today, friends, I’m launching Project 200 and I thought it would be fabulous if you were to accompany me on this journey in whichever way you choose to.  Support and accountability are important components of this project. I invite you to be part of my support team on this project. I hope you will accept my invitation.


What is Project 200?

 

Project 200, in a nutshell, is about me getting serious about my health, my body and my weight. It is about my goal of reaching 200 lbs. It is about releasing 142.2 lbs as of today’s weigh in. It is about dropping the pounds one by one, lightening my body in the process and giving my joints a much needed respite from being overburdened for so many years. It is about giving myself the gift of an increase in the quality of my life. All this without a specific date in mind but with the intent of mindfully and compassionately making choices day after day that is moving me forward on this journey.


How will I bring Project 200 to a successful completion? 

 

I will do this by addressing the following: food, exercise, mindset, self-compassion and accountability.

  • FOOD  I will be mindful as often as I can of what I eat and drink and when I eat and drink, letting my body guide me.
  • EXERCISE: I will be mindful of moving my body in some fashion most days with the intent of making my body stronger, specifically my knees and hips joints and my core.
  • MINDSET: I will be mindful of what is going on in my thoughts and do the best I can to shift any thought patterns that are not aligned with bringing this project to a successful conclusion.
  • SELF-COMPASSION: I will be mindful to bring compassion to myself as I journey this project. I will remind myself that I don’t need to do this perfectly or that it is ok to fall sometimes. I’m human. I have some deeply rooted patterns that have led me where I am in my body today. I will be compassionate with myself and love myself through the imperfection and the falls.
  • ACCOUNTABILITY: I will share my progress here on this blog with you on the 1st of every month. I will share my successes, challenges and failures; tools and strategies I may be using; and anything else I might feel like sharing.

I will do this, also, by setting MONTHLY GOALS in the form of very small achievable steps in areas that I want to focus on. I will share these goals and my progress with these with you.


As I wrote at the beginning of the post, I’m quite excited to launch Project 200. I wouldn’t be fully honest though if I didn’t tell you that it does also bring about its fair share of trepidation. I have a very poor track record when it comes to losing weight and in truth, my self-trust is quite thin in this regard. HOWEVER, I refuse to give up on my body! So there! Ready, set, GO!

PROJECT 200 is now officially LAUNCHED! 

Since this post is quite long as it is, I will wait until tomorrow to share my monthly goal with you. Since I think it will be interesting to track the changes that inevitably will take place in my body as I journey through this project, I will also share where I am physically. If I’m courageous enough, I’m might even share pictures. Gulp!

We are so much stronger when others stand with us. I would love for you to support me as I journey through this project if you are so inclined. And if you are interested in embarking on your own health project, whatever it might be, I will definitely be there standing beside you with my support. It would be a joy for me to do so.

Here’s to OUR health! Here’s to MY health!

In the Right Direction

On August 18th of this year, I stepped into ‘retirement’. That was a bit more than three months ago. Three months have gone by! How time flies! So far it’s been an interesting experience.

At my retirement party, I was asked about what was next for me. My response was a true Ginette response, of course! I tend to be quite an open book, maybe a tad too much at times. My response went somewhat like this… “First I want to put my energy into re-building myself, my self-confidence. I’ve done quite a number on myself in the past few years and I want to change this. Once I’ve done this, I’ll see what comes next.”. I said more than this but that is the gist of it. It’s been more than three months now. How is this re-building job going?

As I contemplate this question, I realize that perhaps ‘re-building myself’ are not exactly the right words and maybe not even the right intent. Firstly, these words are heavy with judgments. Secondly, they eradicate any forward movement I might have done in the past few years. And finally, these words are telling me that I’m not good enough as I am right now and that until I have achieved this ideal goal of re-building myself and my confidence I cannot enjoy being at peace with myself. What if increasing being at peace with myself was the ideal goal? Wouldn’t the rest naturally follow?

In the past 3 months, the necessity of accepting myself as I am has become very evident. This is the first step. It makes no sense to want to change things about myself if I haven’t yet accepted myself as I am now, today. Interestingly, this is something that is happening naturally within myself, bit by bit. I’m surrendering more and more to what is. I’m aware that this is happening on a very small scale and that I have a long way to fully accepting myself as I am. However, I am moving in the right direction and I choose to celebrate this. That in itself brings me peace of mind. In this now moment.

Letting Go of Control

Do you observe yourself? I mean as if you are a separated entity from who you are in your day to day activity, without judgments, just observing yourself do what you do and think what you think? I do that! I didn’t always do that but I find myself do this quite regularly now. There’s so much information I can gather about myself when I do observe myself without judgments. It is usually information that can help me, if I so choose, in navigating my inner and outer life better.

One of the things I’ve observed about myself lately is a need to loosen up in my art practice. I realized that there is something holding me back. Back from what, I’m not sure. But I do know that I’m not putting ‘myself’ on my art journal pages. Art journaling can be a powerfully therapeutic practice. I know this but I have yet to reach that in my own practice. There’s a definite struggle taking place there.

The need to let go of control comes to mind.

Then I think of another ongoing struggle that permeates a great part of my life: the food addiction, health issues related to body weight, wanting to lose weight and never reaching that goal, and the resulting reduction in mobility and consequently the quality of my life. It occurred to me yesterday that I was putting a whole lot of pressure on my self in the way that I judge myself and in the way that I burden myself with unrealistic expectations. I’m relentless with myself. In my mind.

And again, the need to let go of control comes to mind.

The truth is the more I try to control something, the less control I actually have. This is not news to me. I’ve known this for a long time. Or did I? As Laozi said long ago: “To know and not to do is not yet to know.”

Art… Life… What is the link? There is a link there for sure! Letting go of control. Loosening up the grip on my art and on my life. What does that mean? How do I do this? How do I learn to trust myself to the point of surrender? That’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? To trust ourselves to the point of surrender? TRUST, then, IS the answer. Indeed, it is!

Who We Truly Are

We do not become healers. We came as healers. We are! Some of us are still catching up to what we are. We do not become storytellers. We came as carriers of the stories we and our ancestors actually lived. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are. We do not become artists. We came as artists. We are. Some of us are still catching up to what we are. We do not become writers, dancers, musicians, helpers, peacemakers. We came as such. We are! Some of us are still catching up to what we are. We do not learn to Love in this sense. We came as Love. We are Love! Some of us are still catching up to who we truly are.

~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Women Who Run With Wolves


I’m definitely still catching up to who I am. It has been a journey and the journey is still fully in gear. Over the years, bit by bit, I have let go of some of my limiting beliefs and perceptions. I have removed some of the layers of lies that were told to me about me. I have accepted some of my imperfections. I have forgiven myself in part for some of the things I have done that were hurtful to others and myself. I have learned to love myself to some extent. The journey is far from over. There is so much I still have to let go of, to accept, to forgive, to learn and to love about myself. I’m catching up though and I like what I’m catching up to.

What about you? Are you still catching up to who you truly are? Or have you caught up? Care to share?

Ah! For the love of food!

I will be talking about food again today. Why not! Food takes so much space in our lives. We have to buy it. We have to prepare it. We have to eat it. And we have to clean the mess that is left from preparing it and eating it. Food can be a chore or can be a joy. When I apply the art and practice of mindfulness to preparing and eating food, it becomes a joy. Without mindfulness, it can be a real drag and definitely a chore.

I’m hosting a small dinner at our place on Sunday. It was my brother’s birthday this week and Monday is our Canadian Thanksgiving. My brother, my son and his partner, my husband and I will be enjoying a nice dinner together. I love having people over for dinner, but I don’t know what it is with me but it is so hard to come up with a menu plan for my dinners. It doesn’t matter whether I’m aiming for a simple dinner or a more festive and elaborate dinner. It’s frustrating! Part of it, I think, is that I really enjoy variety. I don’t like making the same thing over and over again. I like trying new things, whether it is in preparing it or eating it. The other part is that I don’t like spending a huge amount of time in food preparation and I don’t like recipes that have mile-long ingredient lists. Anyway, it is what it is! I’m learning to relax more about this.

Over a year or so ago, my son and his girlfriend came back from a long trip. For a month, they stayed with my husband and me. Julie, my son’s girlfriend, was fresh off the plane and is originally from Nice, France. It was great having her living with us and getting to know her. It could have been a bad situation since we live in a two-bedroom apartment. But it wasn’t. In fact, it was really, really nice! I cooked. She cooked. My husband cooked. My son cooked. But mostly, Julie and I cooked. It was interesting to watch her whip up things so effortlessly. For a month, we were treated to some really nice French fare. Through this experience, I decided to up my game a bit when it comes to food preparation especially when I have guests. I’m still a million miles away from being a gourmet chef but I’m not too shabby of a cook.

For this meal, I wanted to do everything from scratch. I feel it is such a nurturing and caring thing to do for my guests, especially for the guest of honour in this case. I always prefer doing things from scratch anyway. It is much healthier than processed foods. So on the menu, I have:

  • Garlic Prime Rib – I have never made prime rib before. It is an expensive piece of meat usually but it was on special at almost half of the usual price. I really want this to taste great. So I even bought an instant-read thermometer with probe. I read recently that overcooking beef can toughen up the meat. So this thermometer will help me stick to the recipe. Who said, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

  • Au Jus – What is beef without gravy or au jus? And it is so great on mashed potatoes or to dip fresh bread.

  • Garlic mashed potatoes – No recipe for this. I’ll just wing it. I hope my brother doesn’t have a date after dinner. Garlic! Garlic! Garlic! Yum!

  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts – What is Thanksgiving without Brussel sprouts? I know this isn’t a favourite for some people. I will have a few vegetable options and I believe everyone at the table does like these. I haven’t figured out how I will roast these in the over with my prime rib in there. I might have to do these ahead of time and warm them up at the last minute.

  • Candied Carrots – The green of Brussel sprouts combine with the orange of carrots dresses up a plate of food beautifully. The visual can be as important as taste. At least, it is to me.

  • Marinated Mushrooms – I had a recipe for this but I can’t find it. I was going to say that I will do if from memory but my memory isn’t that great. I will make it with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and herbs. I’ll be doing this today so that it sit in the fridge for a couple of days. It will allow the flavours to mingle.

  • Sauerkraut – I will serve this as a condiment. Just because I have to show up my fermenting skills. Of course!

  • No Knead Dutch Oven Crusty Bread – I think this menu does call for bread. Don’t you think? And there is nothing better than fresh homemade bread! In fact, I think I bought about 5 loaves of bread from the store, top, in the past 2-3 years. For a while, we did the regular bread with oil and sugar and all the kneading. My husband would knead and I would do the rest. We have now switched to no-knead bread which has no oil and sugar. We much prefer this in taste. And for course, much less work! This is thanks to Julie for introducing us to this kind of bread.

And… and… AND… the pièce de résistance. It is a birthday dinner after all!

  • Extreme Chocolate Cake – This is where I’m really stretching myself. It is so much easier to buy an already made cake from the bakery counter at the nearest grocery supermarket. Yes for sure! In fact, Superstore has a really good chocolate cake. I had it once and would love to have it again. BUT, isn’t making a cake from scratch for somebody’s birthday so much better? and I mean really from scratch, not using a packaged cake starter? I don’t know but to me, this some of the ways that I can tell my brother that I love and care about him. There’s such a joy in that for me. And oh! Doesn’t that cake looks absolutely delish?!?!!

I think that will be a really good dinner! However, as I told my husband, I cannot be faulted for not giving it my best. Isn’t that the most we can do at any given time? In the end, what really matters is to be with those I love. And these are definitely my favourite people!

Happy birthday, bro! I love you!

To my Canadian neighbours, what is on your dinner menu for Thanksgiving? Care to share?

 

Food Fermentation

About a month ago, after doing some research, I started my foray into food fermentation.  I have known about this for a while but it is only recently that I got interested in exploring this for myself. It seems to be the latest food trend these days. Fermented food is supposed to be good for us. Probiotics and all that jazz, you know!

This is what convinced me to explore the art of fermentation: Sandor Katz and the Art of Fermentation. Listen at your own risk. You might find yourself running to the nearest grocery store to get a head of cabbage after listening to this Food Program by BBC! Sandor Katz, also known as Sandorkraut is a self-proclaimed fermentation revivalist. Fermentation is his passion and has been since the first sauerkraut he made over 2 decades ago. His mission is “to encourage home fermentation experimentalists and propel more live-culture foods out into our culture”. You can find out more about Sandorkraut, HERE.

So What is Fermentation?

The Marriam-Webster dictionary defines fermentation as:

  1. a chemical change with effervescence
  2. an enzymatically controlled anaerobic breakdown of an energy-rich compound (such as a carbohydrate to carbon dioxide and alcohol or to an organic acid); broadly: an enzymatically controlled transformation of an organic compound.

In the words of the Wellness Mama:

Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

Why Did I Start Food Fermention?

I love making things from scratch and I love the idea of foods that are nutritious and benefits my body. I have digestive issues and I’m hoping that the addition of fermented food into my daily diet will help with restoring my body to its optimum functioning. Moreover, my husband loves it. I can’t be certain that eating fermented food is as beneficial as it is proclaimed to be. I tend to be skeptical about the newest research reports and discoveries and prefer to trust my own body when it comes to what is beneficial to it or not. So the jury is out on this one. I think this is something I will know over time.

For now, I really enjoy doing it and will continue doing so.

My First Two Batches of Fermented Food

The first batch I did was sauerkraut made with cabbage with ginger and garlic. To 2/3 of it, I added chili pepper flakes as my husband really enjoy spicy food. I didn’t follow a recipe I ended up with 3 1-litre jars. I let this batch ferment for 3 days. Although quite good, this batch had a bit of a bitter aftertaste. My husband loved it. For me, I would have preferred it without the bitter taste. I now know that this was a result of adding the ginger. As you can tell in the picture above, two or the jars have chili pepper flakes. In all honesty, I wasn’t so sure I would like this so I made more of the spicy one as I knew that my husband would like it possibly more than I would. It took us about 2 weeks to go through these 2 jars.

My second batch just completed its fermentation time. My husband and I tasted it after 3 days and we both felt that it needed a bit more time. This could be because I’m now using 1.9-litre jars instead of the initial 2-litre jars or it could be because I packed the jar more. So I let it ferment for another 3 days. This time, I didn’t add ginger and garlic to the sauerkraut. I did add chili pepper flakes to one of the jar and to the other, I added caraway seeds. Yummm! I really like this one! Both are really good. Although the spicy one is too spicy for me. This time I ventured into trying carrots. To the carrots, I added ginger and turmeric. This one is good but has that little bitter taste I didn’t like in the first batch. So obviously, it is the ginger. I also did a fourth jar which ended up in the garbage as I wasn’t sure about it. This one had carrots, apples, ginger and allspice. The top layer of apples had a greyish colour and both my husband and I weren’t sure about the smell. So we decided not to take our chance with that one.

What’s Next?

There are a few more things I would like to try. I would like to make Kimchi. My son loves this stuff and it would be a nice surprise for him. I also want to ferment fruits. However, I will use a recipe next time I do this to make sure that I do it properly. I’m not a big fan of throwing food away. I also would like to do fermented chutney. Here’s a list of some of the recipes I have set aside to try:

  • Fermented honey garlic
  • Fermented salsa
  • Lacto-fermented Crazy Raisin Chutney
  • Lacto-fermented Pineapple Salsa
  • Fermented Apple Salsa

Doesn’t that all sound so good?

If I have peaked your interest and you might be thinking of venturing into making your own fermented food, a good starting point is any videos by Sandor Katz. You will see how easy it really is. YouTube has quite a few videos you can watch. Check them out HERE!

 

A Cause for Celebration!

“Life is about using the whole box of crayons.” – RuPaul

I just came across this quote. Instantly I loved it!. I’m an artist and I absolutely love colours. So there is resonance there for me. Then I stopped and wondered… Do I use all the crayons in the box?  I do use quite a few, certainly. I love the oranges, the reds, the blues and greens and purples and violets and yellows. In all honesty, there are some that I avoid though such as the darker hues of greens and blues and most definitely the browns and greys. This is true of when I’m doing an art project but I can see that it is also true of how I live my life. Or more appropriately, how I accept the intricacies of being a human being as well as my life experiences.

It is much easier to accept and celebrate the good things about myself and the good choices I make. These are the oranges, reds, yellows, greens, blues and purples of my life. I reach for these and slather them all over the place. At least in my mind, I do.  What happens with all of the things I reject about myself, about the choices I make and beat myself about? What about the greys and browns and the darker hues? Don’t they need to be expressed as well? to be accepted and even celebrated?

Do you remember receiving the gift of a brand new box of crayons when you were a child? Do you remember how excited you felt? A full box filled with all those wonderful colours! You accepted this gift with open arms and a huge smile on your smile, I’m guessing.  I know I did! It didn’t matter what colours were in the box. They were all a welcome gift, ALL of them! What if we were to open our arms wide and welcome life with all of its hues; whether these are light or dark, bright or drab; as excitedly as we welcome that brand new box of crayons we received as a child? How would our life feel like then?

We are the box of crayons and whether we like it or not, all of the colours are part of who we are including the sum of our choices and experiences. I say… That’s a cause for celebration!

What crayons gets your attention and are more likely to use? Which ones do you push aside? Care to share?

Have You Made Your Bed Today?

Some of you might have seen the video posted on The Winning Edge Facebook page of a very uplifting speech delivered by a retiring Admiral and Navy Seal trainer on mental fortitude. You can see this video here.This message much resonated with me.

This Admiral starts his speech as follows:

If you want to change the world, start up with making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.

A couple of months ago, I came across another video posted by one of the FlyLady representatives or maybe it was from the FlyLady herself, I can’t recall exactly. This person shared about the importance of dressing up all the way to shoes in the morning. Again this message resonated with me.

Now that I’m retired, I fully appreciate and understand the importance of these two messages. I know that the way I start my day greatly impacts the rest of my day. I can start my day in such a way that gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment or I can start my day in a way that gives me feelings of lethargy and unfulfillment. These are feelings that I carry throughout the day and if repeated day after day, can lead to a well-rounded life rooted in happiness or a fragmented life rooted in depression. I’ve experienced both of these choices and I definitely much preferred how I feel about myself when I make choices that are supporting feelings of pride and accomplishment as opposed to feelings of lethargy and unfulfillment. It would be easy for me to get-up whenever, stay in my pajamas all day, have a shower whenever and basically do things if and when I feel like doing them. Now, don’t get me wrong! The occasional pajamas day is a very self-nurturing thing to do. But if I do this day after day, I end up hating myself and that isn’t good. Not at all! 

There are 3 things that I do first thing in the morning, as I wake up.

  • I shower and get dressed
  • I eat breakfast
  • I meditate – 15-30 minutes

And yes, doing these 3 things gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment and it kickstarts my day beautifully! I feel better about myself and make better choices for myself for the rest of the day. On the days that I don’t do these 3 things, I can see a significant difference in the way I feel about myself.

And NO, I don’t make my bed! By the time I come out of the shower, the bed has been made. I have a bed marking fairy at home. His name is Evan and I have the extreme pleasure of being married to him.

Have you made your bed today? I would love to read about how your kickstart your day. Care to share?