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Showing posts from 2013

Happy New Year!

As the sun sets on this year and dawn ushers in anew, I wish you and yours all the best of the New Year.

Neighbourhood friends

I’ve lived a stone’s throw from the Humane Society since May and though I’ve thought to visit on several occasions, I still hadn’t gotten around to it. So, when my boyfriend suggested it on a whim, I took him up on it with enthusiasm.

Sharing the warm and fuzzies

The news can often be doom and gloom, but at this time of year I always look forward to the attention that’s paid to the phenomenon of giving…who to give to, where to buy, what to give, even the motivations and the benefits of giving.
I read an article in the Globe & Mail explaining that altruism has long since been considered the ‘noblest of human impulses’ but also states that we can be motivated by selfish reasons. Who can deny how good they feel when they’ve done good for others?

Giving outside the box

The holiday season is in full swing with all that it brings – photos with Santa, late night soirees, company parties, and so much more. With the fun, there is undeniably stress associated with all that needs to get done at this time of year. With that, I got to thinking about ways to minimize this stress.

Things we should say more often

If you can’t think of anything nice to say then you’re not thinking hard enough.– Kid President

A video by Kid President called “20 things we should say more often” has been making the social media rounds of recent and caught my attention. I couldn't agree more with most, if not all, of his suggestions, especially his tip to sometimes say nothing at all.

People are good

If you live in Toronto or have been following news of Mayor Ford, each day for what seems like months has brought a new surprise. As a resident of Toronto, I have felt personally saddened and embarrassed by the words and actions of our supposed "leader". So instead of focusing on the negative, and remembering that this is a blog about making a difference and living mindfully, I wanted to share a video that brought me to tears...in a good way.
Not everyone is a bully. People are good. They support each other. They are happy for one another.
Just take a look.

Brutality

Travel is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and lose sight of the familiar comforts of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky. – Cesare Pavese This quote got me thinking. I had never really viewed travel quite in this way. And though I wouldn’t characterize it as a “brutality” per se, there is no question that it can be very uncomfortable – be it on an emotional level being away from loved ones or, on a physical level, because of what it can impose – early mornings, changes in diet, jet lag, living out of a backpack, and so much more.

A whale, a beach and a massage

Any day you see a whale, eat breakfast on the beach and have a massage is undeniably a great day. Having recently experienced a day just like that while on vacation, I was reminded of how much inspiration can flow from new experiences and a clear mind.

Speaking without words

When communication is easy, like anything, we tend to take it for granted.  Often when I've set off on my travels, I've been asked how I communicate in counties where English is not spoken. Tricky are those encounters where we must rely on basic vocabulary, sign language or even pictures to convey our ideas. Awesome are those moments when you creatively overcome communication barriers and make a connection despite the obvious obstacles.

The difference a year makes

A birthday is a common time to reflect on the year that’s passed. I recently celebrated a birthday and found myself doing just that.  What was striking to me was how much has happened in really what amounts to be a rather short time. What a difference a year makes.

Be like Water

Life has been busier than usual of recent and it has kept me away from this blog longer than I would like. I mentioned this to my boyfriend the other day. He matter-of-factly reminded me that there is no schedule to which I must adhere. That there are no specific rules to follow, only those I set for myself.
He reminded me that it’s okay to take a break when time or inspiration may be lacking. And that lack of inspiration is not a permanent state.

Love or in Love?

When we meet someone we really like, our instinct is to spend as much time with them as we possibly can. The magic of falling “in love” takes us over. Time stands still when you’re together, yet passes too quickly at the same time. And when you’re apart you look forward to the next time you’ll be together again.
There is little in this life more joyful than that feeling of falling head over heels and being in love -- matched only by being loved too.

Do Something Different

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different result. That puts a lot of people in the nutty category, including me.

My Anti-Bucket List

The other day I shared some of my bucket-list items. In creating that list I got to thinking about some things I won’t be doing in this life. After all, what's good for one is not good for all.

My Bucket List

I was doing a Google search the other day and came across an inspirational person doing very interesting things. Danny Dover. A few years ago, Danny crafted a long list of things he’d like to accomplish not only in this life, but specifically by May 25, 2017. In so doing he took control of his life, and gave it purpose. Talk about mindful living.

Hello?

Most everyone nowadays has a smartphone they carry with them at all times. It’s become like a lifeline to the universe; an ongoing and instant connection to friends and family who aren’t present.
People compulsively check their phone for incoming texts or mail. Sometimes on early morning subway rides I’m entertained watching everyone in silence with eyes transfixed on their phones….that is, when I am not doing the same.

The school of life

I have been fortunate to have been well educated. That is schooled both in life and through the more formal teaching systems we move through as we grow to adulthood. I am thankful for both as they have made me a citizen of the universe, aware of the world and each of our lives as something bigger, greater, inter connected.

What a Twit: Part V

Latest Twitter favourites to put a smile on your face or give you pause for thought:
LinkedIn has turned into my parents. Sends me job posts even after I tell it I'm employed. I might be a photog, but I get by.
Best thing about a bike ride? Simplicity. Pedal hard, go fast. Pedal soft, go slower. No excuses. Thank goodness.

Quote of the Day: In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. - Robert Frost

I don't know. Even with all the evidence I find it hard to believe that Rob Ford would ever be a mayor.

Seeds of wonder

When I was a kid my mom tells me I used to stare up at the trees for hours. At the risk of dating myself, this was back in the day when you could leave your kid outside alone in a playpen without worry. Or at least that’s what my mother did. Whatever.
Anyway, strangely enough I have memories of the wonder I felt daydreaming into the trees in our yard. Sometimes I would even imagine that the sky was the ground and that somehow the world had turned upside down.

Off the wagon

So I have fallen off the proverbial wagon. That is the wagon filled with creative inspiration that keeps the ideas and words flowing and fill this blog.

Sidewalk Sales

A major motivator for me to travel is to learn – learn about a new culture, customs, politics, history and if it is an especially challenging environment, then learn about myself too. Imagine that what people live daily contributes significantly to who they are, and that what they believe could be quite, if not completely foreign, to many of us unless we either read about it and/or visit. 
Having said that, I have a particular interest in developing countries - probably because they are different in so many fundamental ways to life in Toronto.Having been to South America only once before, my choice to go to Bolivia fit the bill nicely.

What I didn't buy in Bolivia

More often than not, when I travel I don’t take away anything bigger than something that can fit in my pocket. Usually this means a piece of jewelry, or a piece of dirt (Seriously. Well, more like a rock or some such artefact.)

Spotlight On: RecoveryPark

“We need to change the stories we tell ourselves. Reframe the conversation. Look at vacancy as open space – don’t look at what was here but what could be here. Don’t focus on the past but the possibilities for the future.” – Gary Wozniak, President and Founder
Recently I learned about an incredible  community development initiative aimed at creating accessible jobs for those facing barriers to employment called RecoveryPark. Based in Detroit, it is a massive collaboration between private business and non-for-profits that envisions the city along multiple components including: education, agriculture/urban farming, community development, food production, commercial and housing development and more. Not only does it promise to revitalize Detroit, but it represents hope and opportunity for struggling and marginalized citizens struggling to make ends meet.

When too much is too much

We’ve all done it. Bought a coffee for $1.50 and sat for endless hours in a coffee shop nursing it. This seems to be a growing trend. With the rise of independent workers there has come a similar increase in the use of the coffee house as an office – otherwise affectionately referred to as the “coffice”.
This is an attractive option for the freelancer who can choose a new coffice as often as they like, and at far less expense than what would be paid to rent office space.

Reading the Signs Early

Sometimes when our relationship with a significant other is faltering, we hold on in hopes that it will get better with more time, more effort, more patience. While this can certainly be the case when two people want it to work, other times there are clear warning signals that they're "just not that into you" and you’re probably best to move on sooner than later.
Here are some telltale signs that there is probably no long term future together and you should probably pack it in...

The Weight of Words

Moving is a great time to take stock of how much stuff we have; the legacy we carry with us in boxes of all sizes, emerging from corners and cupboards until they mount beyond what you ever imagined you owned.
I've always been proud of the fact that I don’t hold onto much.Every time I rid myself of clothes I don’t wear I pat myself on the back feeling not only lighter, but generous too. Ha.
Until I moved.

Selfless for a City

Last week I watched BURN, a documentary about the Detroit firefighters who put their life on the line daily in the interest of keeping their city from completely burning down. Having been to Detroit last Fall, I witnessed the immediacy of the problem poverty stricken residents face seeing arson as their only way out.It is not hidden. Arsoned homes and board ups line street after street, often beside well maintained homes living on a prayer.

Skateboards, Ice Cream and Hoolahoops

These are some of the things I have seen in recent days.More than the sun, I consider these a sure sign of Spring.
There is something so special about those first days of warm weather. The feeling of the sun on your skin. The sound of the birds settling into their song. Gardens in bloom...

On the Move

So I moved last week. I had been looking for a new place since the Fall so when I finally found a place I could see myself living, not only was my agent relieved, but I was really ready to turn the page on this new chapter of my life. 

Don’t get me wrong. I loved my place and being a short 10-minute walk to work was pretty sweet. But as with most things in life, with time I aspired to more. After all, it had been five years since my last move. So with a pretty specific wish list, area(s) and budget in mind, I set on the task of finding my new home. 

A "Better" Life

I recently became involved with a new cause. I wasn’t really looking for a new opportunity per se, but it came to me via my work as an organization my company has been supporting for years. The organization is called TRIEC – Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council – and is dedicated to integrating immigrants into the Toronto labour market.

Spotlight On: PeopleForBikes

As an avid cyclist, I am always interested in organizations and people promoting and supporting bikes. PeopleForBikes is an initiative of Bikes Belong, dedicated to improving the future of bicycling in the United States and with the express “goal of gathering a million names of support, to speak with one, powerful voice—to make bicycling safer, more convenient and appealing for everyone.” I recently spoke with Tim Blumenthal, President of Bikes Belong, about this wonderful movement and his thoughts on mindful living.


Fill your Glass

We all know them. People who are never happy no matter what. They complain come rain or shine, good fortune or otherwise. I recently overheard someone say: "For you the glass isn't half full. The glass has a hole in it and all the water has drained out!" It’s at times like those that you realize how much of happiness is attitude and not circumstance. Of course we all have our ‘off’ days, but the more we can stay in a positive space, the better. So with a view to that, here are some tips we can all keep in mind to reset our positive vibe!

Giving without Money

You routinely hear people say that they would help others if only they had money. Having overheard this recently I thought I would take the opportunity to share some ideas as to how we can help even when money is tight.

What is your Best?

We have heard it a thousand times and have even said it ourselves. “I did my best.” There is something about this adage that has always rubbed me the wrong way. Inevitably this is bandied when things don’t turn out quite as we had hoped. We console ourselves with the claim, believing that there is nothing more we could have done, or done differently, since “we’ve done our best”. So, what more could there be?

Touching Hearts Far Away

We get caught up in our everyday and carve out time here and there as we can for our hobbies and time away. For those who love to travel, like me, we make sure that any significant time away from work is spent somewhere far from home. But how and where we spend that time is entirely personal. 
For many, many years I backpacked my way from country to country, often on my own, making new friends along the way. Many of my fondest memories have been spent in very distant lands doing things I will likely never do again.

What a Twit: Part IV

I am an avid Tweeter and take to sharing my favourite tweets with my blog followers every three or four months. This year started off with a bang and I have more tweets than usual...lots of them funny, some inspirational, and others informative. Enjoy!

@TheLoveStories Never regret something that once made you smile.
@TravelBloggr Dear Twitter spell check, Pancetta is not "pancreas." Just thought you should know. Learn some foodie Italian please.

A True Role Model

“I've gotten people who have said I've gotten them to run more, to exercise more, to do their first marathon, to volunteer more. That all feels incredibly odd. But today, someone commented today that I inspire them to love more which may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.” – Iram Leon
I love hearing stories about incredible people. About the amazing things that they do. They give us hope. They inspire us. They show us that happiness is a choice. That optimism is a way of life.

Suffering can be an Opportunity

Last week I attended a professional event called Speaker’s Spotlight – a showcase of speakers for marketing and event planning folk. When I first learned about it I was thrilled to learn that David Usher would be there to speak about creativity. As a long time fan, I was looking forward to seeing him within a different setting beyond the many concerts I’ve attended.
But aside from being focused on David, I had no specific expectations of the event. What a surprise it was. That morning not only did I coo, but I laughed out loud and even shed a tear. From learning more about social media (in some cases gone wrong), to laughing with the Levity Effect, and then Amanda Lindhout’s heartfelt story of being kidnapped in Somalia for 15 months, it was an unexpected roller coaster ride of emotions.

What's the Weather Like?

As Canadians we spend a lot of time talking about the weather. Like sports for many men, the weather is a topic that unites us. We celebrate it, comment on it, predict it and by this time of year, it’s most common that we curse it.
When I lived in Montreal, the winters were harsh and long. Because of that, as soon as Spring knocks on the door of any Montrealer, they flood the streets to soak up the life and excitement that inevitably takes over the city. I remember actually feeling guilty being indoors when it was beautiful out. It was as though every last minute needed to be lived outside to compensate for the self-imposed hibernation of months on end.

Agreeing to Disagree

Have you ever been in a discussion and felt your point of view was not being heard? Or have you been so firm in your convictions that your sole goal was to convince others of how right you are?
Often while people talk, we're so busy formulating our own answers and thinking about what we're going to say –  even interrupting the other person in the process – that we lose an opportunity to learn.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Relationships are wonderful, rewarding, beautiful, exhilarating, frustrating, tough and everything in between. They can bring out the best and the worst in us. They change over time, for better or for worse.
But when faced with difficulty, how do we know when to try harder, and when to part ways? I have asked myself this question numerous times over the years and it has never been clear cut. As some can attest, I am by no means a relationship expert, but I do know what hasn’t worked.

Spotlight On: Second Harvest

Second Harvest is a Toronto based not-for-profit dedicated to "helping feed hungry people by picking up and preparing excess fresh food and delivering it daily to social service agencies." Built upon respect and service to the community, Second Harvest has rescued and delivered more than 80 million pounds of food and prevented over 40 million pounds of greenhouse gas equivalents from entering the atmosphere since its founding in 1985. I recently interviewed Executive Director Jo-Anne Sobie about the organization and her views on mindful living.

Not for the Faint of Heart

Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.-Jim Morrison
We talk about the value of pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone yet simultaneously fight change tooth and nail. We hold onto relationships that are not fulfilling when we know we should move on. We stay in jobs that make us unhappy and complain. We dream of the life we want but don’t take the steps required to make it possible. Why do we cling to situations despite that they may not be in our best interest?

Getting over a Creative Rut

I started this blog over a year ago and with that was a commitment to sharing my thoughts and ideas with you on a regular basis.But as any writer will attest, sometimes the words just flow and other times, well…it’s everything you can do to get any inspiration at all.

In Good News: The Kindness of Strangers

Sometimes it’s hard to read or listen to the news without thinking that the world is all doom and gloom. It’s far less usual that good news make the media pages. But when it does, it goes a long way to warming the heart and restoring our faith.

25 Ways to Uncomplicate your Life

Do you ever feel that life has become more complicated? Perhaps too complicated? Ever wish you could turn back the clock to what seems was a simpler time, perhaps when you were younger, or had fewer responsibilities?
I have sometimes thought about how much of life’s “complications” are self-created despite those adult demands and expectations. And if they are, then some are within our control to change.

Spotlight On: Animal Care in Egypt

"In life we often see things that we would like to change, but to get the opportunity to totally change your life around and put your ideas into action is rare." - Kim Taylor

When I was in Egypt last October, I visited Animal Care in Egypt (ACE), a not-for-profit dedicated to "easing and preventing the suffering of animals through the provision of sustainable veterinary treatment and education programmes for local people." Impacted by the condition of the animals they saw while on vacation in Luxor, Brits Kim Taylor and Julie Wartenberg decided to establish ACE and take tangible steps toward making a difference in the way that animals are cared for in Egypt. I spoke with Kim about this endeavour and this is what she said...

You are Anyone

When we hear about challenging situations, we readily say that these things can happen to anyone, but I wonder how much we really believe it can happen to us. It’s like we live within invisible sheet of armor, confounded when touched by hard times, despite logically knowing that everything is part of life.

The Happiness Puzzle

There has been a ton of research conducted worldwide to determine the tenets of happiness. Though I'm not a professional researcher and can only speak from my humble experience, I firmly believe there are several critical components to what seems to be an elusive puzzle. These are to: Appreciate what you have Think beyond yourself “Keep it simple”, in other words, as I have said here before, less is more. A TED Talk by Graham Hill reinforces a similar notion.

Truth at the Highest Cost

I was a huge Lance Armstrong fan. In all the years I’ve been cycling – 15 to be exact – he has been the epitome of strength and determination to me. As everyone knows, however, he has been dogged by rumours of doping year in and year out. Throughout it all, my desire to “believe in miracles” (his words) remained unwavering. After all, how not to be enamoured by his superhuman ability, hard work, and defiance of the odds?

Above all...Smile

Answers are Closer than You Think

The best source of advice: to ask, 'What would I tell someone like me, if I didn't happen to be me'? - Alain de Botton
A friend recently confided in me about a difficult situation she's in. Conflicted as to how to proceed, she was seeking my unbiased, objective opinion. I listened attentively, and as she spoke it was very clear to me what she should do.

Keeping it Real

I recently spent a few days up north, reconnecting with the outdoors in the company of a good friend who appreciates many of the same activities and adventures. Let it be said that as much as I love urban living, it is really important for me to get away periodically to truly relax.