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?

September/October 2017: Achievements, Learnings and Intentions

October 2nd, 2017… the second day of a brand new month! I love new beginnings and a new month can certainly be looked at as a new beginning.

I remember when I was a child being all excited at the beginning of the school year. I had brand new notebooks with not a crease or a mark in them. Every year I was so intent on keeping these notebooks looking new all year round. So I would make sure that my writing was tidy and clean. I would apply myself so intently. Days would go by and my resolve would diminish and in no time, my notebooks were a mess. At least to my eyes. Then I would hate these ‘messy and dirty’ notebooks. I wanted new ones. Sometimes I did but mostly I didn’t of course.

Many, many, many years later, I still feel this way about new beginnings. I have such great intentions about things. Things like losing weight, exercising, art projects, classes, etc. Then I mess it up, or so I judge it as such. Then I want to start over again. Therefore my love for new beginnings.

Life isn’t a do-over though. We progress through our lives, growing, learning, becoming more of who we really are. Life isn’t like a ‘messy’ notebook that we get to throw away when it is no longer to our liking and then replaced with a new one. Life is more like a beloved journal that we carry with us at all time, with its well-worn pages and creases, filled with pen scratches and smears of days past; a journal that has become more and more cherished as days accumulates within its spine and our soul is laid bare within its pages; a journal, which the very thought of losing, bring deep sorrow to our heart. No, life is definitely not a do-over. Nor would I want it to be!

So instead of hoping for a do-over on this month I thought of doing a bit of review for September and look at what I would like to accomplish during this new month.  The intention behind this exercise is to cultivate an attitude of celebrating and learning from my experiences and to set some gentle guidance for the upcoming month.

SEPTEMBER achievements and learnings

  • I have settled a bit more into retirement. This has been my first full month as a retiree. Hoot! Hoot! I love it! I love that my time is mostly my own now to do with as I pleased. I find that I have to give myself more structure and this calls for discipline which isn’t exactly my strong suit.
  • I have experienced the benefits of meditation. I knew, intellectually, that meditation had great benefits. However, I had not had the experience of that. Now I do. I have meditated maybe 20 mornings this last month from 14 minutes to 30 minutes at a time. It is very clear to me that it really calms my anxiety down. This is an amazing awareness as anxiety is what drives my bouts of self-destructive behaviour.
  • I birthed Emergessence and started blogging regularly. I joined Blog Along with Effy which was very helpful in getting me to blog. I didn’t blog everyday but I blogged more than I ever did. So that is a success!
  • I have learned about food fermentation and have my second batch fermenting right now and we’ll get to taste it later today. I’ll be sharing more about this in a future post.
  • I have returned to an old love of mine: website design. I’m currently re-designing a website for a friend and have two other upcoming designs. I’m learning new skills as the tools I used in the past have been replaced with new tools.
  • I have binged ate probably less than what I can count on one hand. This is quite an achievement since I had been binge eating most nights for quite a while. Consequently, I have lost 2.6 lbs.
  • I’ve had art and lunch dates with friends and had some friends over a couple of times for dinner at our place. I tend to really like being on my own, and hubby too, so I’m doing my bit in ensuring that I fill my/our social well.

OCTOBER: Intentions

  • I intend to lose a minimum of 5 lbs. I really want to lose weight so that I can get around more freely when Spring rolls around. This means that I have to pay attention to the quality and amount of food I eat.
  • I intend to blog everyday this month. This is quite a stretch for me but I think I can do this. I’ll certainly give it my best shot!
  • I intend on meditating every day for a minimum of 15 minutes each day.
  • I intend on moving my body more. I tend to be quite sedentary and that isn’t good for my health.
  • I intend to get back to a regular arting practice. I have not made this a priority and it needs to be as it is part of my overall wellbeing.
  • I intend of furthering my web design and development skills.

To new beginnings and beloved well-worn journals!

New Month: New Blogging Challenge!

Last month, thanks to Blog Along with Effy, I blogged more than I ever did over the years I have blogged. I didn’t write a blog post a day but in 30 days, I blogged 17 times. Now to me, that is a success! Thank you, Effy Wild! You are always an inspiration to me!

To keep the momentum going and to give myself an extra push, I have joined the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The Ultimate Blog Challenge is hosted by Paul B. Taubman, II and Danni Ackerman, two entrepreneurs and bloggers who help others become successful. This is a free challenge and it isn’t too late to join in the fun! Click on the image below to be taken to this challenge.

I aim to post 31 times in October. That’s a big challenge for sure. There are days when I don’t have a clue what to write about. I’m thinking that if I get in the habit of sitting down daily to write, that perhaps the writing will flow. I certainly plan on giving it my best. One thing is sure. Blogging feels good! It’s a nurturing practice for me.

I hope you will cheer me on as the month go by and beyond. I love reading your comments and I always do my best to reply to each one of them. So keep them coming!

Life in All Its Bits and Pieces

A few years ago, around 2008, I took on a side business of creating websites for small business owners. At the time, I was working full-time. So it ended up to be too much for me. So I stopped offering my services as a website designer. From the few clients I worked with at that time, two remained clients to this day. Over the years, the programs that I used to design graphics and websites became obsolete and no longer were upgraded. It came a time when I could no longer maintain these websites. So I ended up redoing these two clients’ website using WordPress. Actually, it is a total of four clients if I count my husband and myself. You are welcome to visit these websites if you are so inclined. Just click on the pictures below.

Here’s a bit of trivia. Did you know that WordPress is “The largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.”? It is estimated that 18.9 % of all websites are WordPress sites. This means about 74,652,825 sites. Isn’t that quite something? That does impress me! So WordPress is a very good choice when it comes to creating websites and it is easy to maintain and update. Its blog function is invaluable as well. This blog/website is a WordPress site.

Now that I’m retired, getting back to website design is one of the options opened to me. It seems that life is leading me in that direction again. A bit over a week ago, a friend contacted me asking if I would be interested in working on a website for her.  Then a couple of days later, I was talking to another friend and I offer to help her with her website. This is what I have been working on for the past week. Once this website is complete, I’ll be sure to share it here.

I’ve also started to upgrade my skills in terms of graphics and website design. Things have changed a lot since 2008. I mean a LOT! I have kept abreast of some of the changes but there is so much I don’t know. My goal is to learn to do websites from scratch. This is so that I can fully customize my designs. I think it could also be fun (yes, I did write fun!) to design my own WordPress theme and sell them. But I’m getting ahead of myself. One thing at a time.

It’s been interesting observing myself as I’ve returned to doing websites. I’m definitely learning things about myself. One thing about me is that I tend to go at a task till it is done. Things, like eating, going to the washroom, etc., are interruptions I can do without. In fact, I sometimes resent those interruptions very much so! This isn’t so bad if the task is a small one, that might take an hour or two or half a day, When the task is huge, though, as it is with doing a website design, it becomes unhealthy for me and those around me. Many of times, in the past, I have snapped at my husband for disturbing me with life’s necessities. This week, although I have not snapped at my husband, I have found myself obsessing about this website doing very little else. And you know what? That does not feel good! It feels very unbalanced in fact. Life goes on and all of its bits and pieces are worth living, not just some parts of it. So hmmm… I’m listening. Life in all its bits and pieces is a gift. It is all the bits and pieces that make life worth living. It is in making space and time for all these bits and pieces that I feel grounded and balanced. When I obsess over one of those bits and resent all the other bits for interrupting this obsession, I feel disconnected from life and from myself. This is so important for me to know this about myself. It’s empowering. It gives me the opportunity to tweak things. This is a very good thing.

I’m happy to have resumed my love affair with website design. I absolutely love the aesthetic of website design: the colours, the textures, all of it! The artist in me is over the moon with that. It is now up to me to see how I can incorporate this in my life in a way that is healthy and nurturing. I’m pretty sure I can figure this out!

Home is Just a Breath Away

Stillness, the way HOME. There is no greater gift I can give myself that time to just be, to experience the nothingness of all there is. There is no place like this space within myself, within my soul. To allow myself time to visit there is like a taking the freshest of deep breath, to dive into the clearest and bluest of water. This is the only way I can experience the now moment. It allows me to get off the hamster wheel, physically and mentally. It allows me to experience the true gift of this now and it is a gift, always! To be home at last… there is no better destination to reach! Home is just a breath away.

The Call to Slumber

I have not written for four days. Hmmm… What is this about? I felt I had nothing to say. Nothing to say that had an inspiring note at least. I kept thinking about it but couldn’t get anything juicy enough. On the surface, that looks like a legitimate reason for not writing. It is true that what I want to share here has to be inspiring, to have a positive message. It’s important for me to be real about what is going on with me, in my life, but at the same time, I don’t want this blog to be a dumping ground for my crap. So yes, on the surface, I had a legitimate reason for not writing.

Something hasn’t been sitting right though. So I decided to get curious about what that’s about and how the past four days have been for me. This leads me to realize that I have slipped back into patterns that are not healthy for my wellbeing, for my mental health. Once again, I’ve succumbed to the ‘call to slumber’.

The call to slumber is so enticing! Slumber is comfortable in the moment and muffles everything around me and most importantly, it numbs me. Slumber comes to me in many forms, although compulsive/binge eating is definitely my sleeping drug of choice, it also comes in the form of too much Facebooking, game playing, online shopping and Netflix watching. Slumber to me is anytime I am not consciously living my life from day to day, hours to hours, minutes to minutes. It is anytime I’m letting precious time be sucked in by activities that are hurting me whether physically, emotionally, psychologically and/or spiritually. This is not to say that these activities are bad. However, when these activities are out of balance, it is being hurtful to me in some ways. The way it is hurting me the most is in the way that it is sucking my time, leaving me with very little to no time for activities that really nurture and feed me physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually such as movement/exercise, time to prepare nutritious meals/foods, quiet time to centre myself/meditation, quality time with my husband and with family and friends and last but not least, time for creativity. All these activities make my whole person soar to great heights and the bottom line is that I do deserve nothing less.

So once again, I gently shake myself awake. I remind myself that life requires my attendance. I smile … Ah yes! Right away! I’m on it!