Sunday, December 27, 2015

Highlights from 2015

Well I don't know about you but 2015 kind of just flew by. Like seriously, one minute it was New Years 2015 and then I blinked and now we are almost at New Year's 2016. So WTF happened in 2015, let's refresh:

Apparently I went out in public and hung around other humans for New Years 2015...that was different. Not sure I will be doing that again this year. Actually pretty sure I will stay home, curled up on my couch and end up watching some sort of movie on Netflix (only because I have marathoned all my shows already, in all fairness there wasn't that many to begin with).

Ran my first marathon in May and it was soon after that I decided to take a different approach to my running. Yes, now I'm trying this whole balance thing. That is listening to my body (not my run coach) and taking rest when I need it, not pushing myself to the brink of exhaustion just so I can say I completed such and such race. So, yes, now that I've ditched my coach and listen to myself I don't get sick nearly as often as I did before when I listened to other people tell me how I should be feeling...sounds ridiculously obvious when i write that out here.

on route to marathon land selfie
My dad had cancer and underwent chemotherapy over the summer this year. Not the most enjoyable experience (obvs). Interestingly enough, me having a meltdown in the hospital over this, brought about an event that totally changed my perspective on Christianity/Jesus/God stuff. Up until that point I never understood the whole Jesus as a positive influence in any one's life, mostly because of my past Church trauma and the whole media focus on crazy Christian fundamentalists as opposed to regular Christians who are just really sweet people. This goes for all religions BTW. The media just likes to focus on the crazies.

Anyways, back to me, way more interesting than religious fundamentalists of any kind. So I'm having my meltdown in the hospital and needing some privacy, so I head off to the hospital Chapel (my logic being, religion isn't cool anymore so no one will be there and if someone is there they probably are in worse shape than me). When I get to the Chapel, no one is there (as predicted) and I sit down in a pew and just surrender. I cry and cry and cry and experience such an amazing sense of relief, I all of a sudden get it: this is what religion is suppose to be for people. This surrender to Jesus and he will heal and save you, this is it. In that moment I finally got it. Took me so long to get there because everything before that moment was anything but peaceful but the good news was, I could be peaceful, as I was experiencing that peace at that moment. It gave me a bit of hope.

Apparently I took a lot of selfies, and some possibly were taken at very inappropriate times...did a lot of that in 2015.
Emergency Room selfie
I learned much in the art of patience this year...still learning but someone actually called me a "patient person" (and no it was not said ironically!), so apparently I have grown a lot as a person.

I traveled to the town known as Langford this year for Thanksgiving. I even took a bus to get out there and didn't have my head chopped off. An accomplishment indeed.

I tried going on dates again, as apparently I like to remind myself that there really are no options for me out there. Yes, talking to people for 5 minutes usually solidifies this truth for me but I was running low on blog content for a few weeks there, so I had to make some sacrifices for my art.

Rihanna came out with an offensive video this year, which is rare for her I hear, and even rarer is that I watched it and wrote a blog on it. Click here to read the masterpiece.

I went back to school this year for holistic nutrition. I guess having two degrees was just not enough for me. So I wrote a lot about kale this year. For example, my 4th most popular blog post this year was about me eating vegetables...what was number 1? Me dating and eating BBQ. Apparently food and sex go very well together.

I got some hate mail from Alaska this year.

I found out my garden patio gnomes are actually pot-smoking cannibals who kidnapped some Kazakhstanians. Thankfully, I found out before the BBQ got fired up and was able to return the Kazakhstanians unharmed and without causing another international incident (as if Alaska wasn't bad enough!).

Still from the ransom video

I pitched a romantic comedy on my blog about food and dating. I also pitched a sister bonding movie. I was very creative this year. Even wrote a poem, which depending on how literal you are, it was either the most depressing thing you had ever read or it was the most beautiful. I like to go with the latter.

Looking back on it, it was a pretty busy wonder I haven't left my couch since Christmas Day. Hoping next year is not nearly as exhausting... :)

Christmas morning selfie...I've changed my clothes since then.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Why so serious? A meditation on cannibalism.

I’m ¾ of the way through season 3 of my marathon of Hannibal and I’m feeling kind of peckish. Actually to be more specific, I’m craving meat, the type of meat so rare that when you bite into it you can taste the blood flow between your molars. I pause briefly to contemplate my recent culinary craving.

And the OTT conversation with myself goes something like this:

OMG! All my joking about cannibalism isn’t a joke after all, I really do want to eat people!! This is all because when I was 13 I wasn’t allowed to watch Silence of the Lambs, so I read the book instead and Hannibal Lector was so fucking cool to my naïve child brain, so naturally I became infatuated with him and now I want to be him!

I feel like I probably hyperventilate for a bit at this point, then calmed myself down enough to rationalize:

Ok, obviously you are calorie deprived because that last thought made little sense, I mean you are like 95% vegan and the only time you ate red meat in the last 10 years was when you were training for a marathon and that was because you were iron deficient. Right now you are bleeding (read: haemorrhaging), you are low iron and so obviously you are going to crave red meat. You are not craving meat because you are want to be Hannibal Lector and eat people!

So I go into the kitchen, listen to some Ellie Goulding (read: sing some Ellie Goulding off key) and make some food. I sit down to eat my creation on my living room couch and I stare off to the left, where there is a window, leading to the outside world, with real people in it.

And I wonder, did I leave the house today? Maybe I need to go for a walk or something and interact with real live humans. Perhaps if I do this more often it will prevent me from thinking such strange thoughts like I’m a closet cannibal.

I laugh, because how could me interacting with humans actually benefit me in any serious way. No, what I really need to do is just set up a reminder on my iPhone so I will remember to eat because apparently I can’t do that on my own and I read somewhere that ingesting food at regular intervals helps with cognition.

As I set up the reminders on my iPhone, I think to the last session I had with my meditation coach where she told me she wanted me to lighten up.

At first, when she made this suggestion to me, I was offended…naturally. I mean, I’m so easy going, how could I possibly get any more laid back over here?! But I know better, if I’m getting all offended by the mere suggestion of lightening up, chances are, I do need to lighten up. Yes, apparently I take myself way too seriously, which is not really surprising given the nature of this blog post…

But alas, I write to tell you these stories where my uptight, anal retentive qualities get the better of me to make us laugh. After all, would a serious person be able to laugh at themselves?!

It is also possible I totally misunderstood what my meditation coach was trying to tell me…the good news is, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to eat people…unless it was a zombie apocalypse and there was no other food source…#justsaying 

hiding out at home #selfie

Sunday, December 13, 2015

4 easy ways to combat exhaustion

I don't know about you but I'm exhausted! It's the time of year for sure, we are almost at the shortest day of the year (December 22nd for us Northern folk) and my energy is pretty much at an all time low.

Just to be clear, not depressed, just tired...

So when times like this are upon me I must remember self care is my number one priority! Without self-care, depression is sure to follow.

So here are my fav go-to self-care techniques:

Sleep! You're tired, do not have another coffee, just go back to bed. Sure this is hard when we all have stuff to do but if your sleep is being sacrificed because you have too many commitments this is a good time to find out what is necessary to your survival and what is nice to have. Take a break from the nice to haves and go back to bed already! Trust me, unless someone is going to die because you didn't keep your commitment, just go back to bed. Or you can keep doing things because you said so and be crabby while you do it, because everyone loves spending time with assholes!

Food! when I say food I mean the good nourishing types of food not the garbage McDonald's sells. It is tempting to want to cut corners on food when you are tired, so I encourage you to instead find yourself a Be Love and have someone else make your yummy nourishing food for you if you are too tired to do it yourself. If you are not fortunate enough to have access to restaurants that don't serve sludge disguised as food you need to make extra food when you aren't tired and freeze it to be used when you are too tired to make food.

Be Active! I know it feels impossible to move when you are tired, so don't go for a 10k run like you normally do but instead get up and walk across the street to grab a coffee at your fav local cafe. It's really not much but when it comes to exercise one step is really better than nothing. And steps are always better taken when they end with coffee :)

Get Inspired! Now I know you are thinking, wtf!? if i'm too tired i'm sleeping all the time how the fuck am I supposed to have energy to get inspired?! I'm now of the opinion that the best forms of inspiration come to us when we are most open, which means when we are tired and our defences are weakened. So all you need is someone else to bring you the message of inspiration....and this is why we surround ourselves with awesome friends who send us links to stuff.

Here is my latest inspirational find, Marianne Williamson, a spiritual adviser the whole world seems to know (except the people who live under giving an inspiring talk on the spiritual purpose of relationships. Enjoy, maybe after watching you will feel inspired to have a shower and start your day :)

A selfie to help inspire you :)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Another year behind me and another year ahead

This past Friday was my birthday and my latest and greatest tradition for this day (courtesy of my lovely friend Anna) is to reflect on my past year and plan for the future and of course to also fill the day with things I love. After all, it is a day to celebrate me, it should be filled with love.

So how did this all go down this year? Here is a handy list of what I did on my birthday and how that will reflect my plans for the upcoming year:

1. Running

Well it really should come as no surprise that I started my day with a run. A run with lots of hills. I still love running but now the love has transformed into something more nurturing rather than what it previously was for me, obsessive. Plan on continuing this balanced approach to running for the coming year. So unlikely to be doing any training for myself but may end up helping some other people with their training.

Post b-day-run with @TheCesspit

2. Food

This previous year I went back to school to learn more about holistic nutrition. This will continue on into next year with me taking more courses. I've already signed up for Introduction to Herbal Medicine. For my birthday I celebrated my love of good food by going to my favourite eateries that specialize in local, organic, vegan and vegetarian foods: which were Picnic Too, Be Love and Rebar.

Since I will not be training for any marathons this coming year, I can return more fully to my vegetarian diet. Looking forward to having a more happy digestive system.

3. People

I'm feeling very thankful for the people I have in my life at this present moment. The last few months have been pretty trying for me, and my friends and family have been incredibly supportive, loving and kind. Every opportunity I get I thank them for being in my life. I do not want to wait until it's too late to tell people how much they mean to me. So this birthday I got the chance to spend some time with some of my nearest and dearest over food, the phone, text or email. It is nice to be surrounded in the warmth of love and not have to get drunk or high to achieve that feeling. For the upcoming year, I plan on continuing this trend.

4. Knowledge

Everyone knows my favourite activity is curling up with a good book or blog! There is nothing I enjoy more than the pursuit of knowledge and lifelong learning and growth. This past year, I've been involved in learning more about a variety of topics, everything from pattern making, holistic nutrition, health care systems, health policy, primary care, patient portals, meditation, Buddhism, Yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I visited my favourite bookstore on my birthday (Russell's used books) and surprisingly showed restraint by only spending 30$ on three books! What did I get:

1. The End of Your World - a book on what comes next after a spiritual awakening (basically some advice on how to avoid the pitfalls of having your ego cooping your spiritual awakening by making you become some self-righteous asshole with a superiority complex)

2. The art of forgiveness, lovingkindness, and peace - meditations and wise words to help me on my journey of becoming a more compassionate and loving human being.

3. Adapt: why success always starts in failure - hoping this will give me some good ammo for promoting the model of the adaptable organization

I always find it kind of fascinating where I'm drawn to in a particular moment. And these books seem to reflect my current state of mind and where I'm hoping 2016 will go.

5. Creativity

Designing clothes and jewelry, wearing make-up, styling my hair and my clothing, coloring and writing. These are just some of the things I've been using as a creative outlet. Most of you are aware of the writing (hello, best blog ever!) but there are so many things that can be used to express creativity. Personally one of my favourites is my style, nothing says Andrea is feeling creative when she gets the make up and the curling wand out! Top that off with the cute and adorable punk rock look I got going sometimes...sigh, it just feels good to express myself.  This birthday I went to my favourite store that specializes in gemstones and jewelry making, and designed myself a piece, which they constructed for me on the spot. Love those ladies at Skanda :)

Not sure what will be the focus for next year; however, I do know that I have to have my creativity time.

the latest creation

6. Hope

My day ended with dinner with a new friend of mine, whom I will refer to as Buffy (after our favourite strong kick ass female tv character). Buffy and I ate yummy food and had an inspiring discussion about plans for the future. I shared with her my desire to create a more compassionate, supportive environment around me that will touch all my spheres of existence. How I want to help others see their full potential and support them on that path. I want to create and promote a culture of collaboration and put an end to our hateful competition with each other. I want to love, when it feels like everything around us is full of hate. I want to give others hope. Buffy shares these same goals and nothing says happy birthday than talking with a like minded individual.  So the plan is to find more Buffys and to keep fostering a compassionate and collaborative environment around me for the coming year.

Overall probably one of the best birthdays I've ever had. Thank you everyone :)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

From the archives – where movies come from

Every now and then, those big Hollywood producers dry out their writers and run out of ideas. You know when this is happening because it will seem like all the movies coming out are remakes of previous movies that weren’t that great to begin with. When this happens, as it so often does, these producers decide to get inventive and put a call out for story ideas to the general public.  The call is not advertised in a big blown up way (like their movie premiers) but instead is done subtly to ensure authenticity of the idea they are trying to procure. The logic being you will get better ideas if people don’t know who they are pitching their idea to. Some people support this strategy because they think it gives the little guy a chance at the big times (who are these people?!) In the industry they refer to this strategy as “raping the sludge off the toxic waste dump called society”.  Regardless of your feelings on the approach for new movie ideas, here is how they do it. 

The Hollywood producers usually place these calls in the classified sections of popular writing magazines (e.g., Writer’s Digest, The Paris Review, American Drunkard). The calls are written for the obtuse and hidden somewhere between the advertisements for writer’s retreats in Costa Rica and the get rich quick schemes advertisements. The calls are usually worded like “get paid for your story ideas!” – send us your ideas and we will pay up to $10,000! Basically these ads are the types of ads everyone tells you not to answer and may help explain why there still seems to be a slew of lacklustre movies getting pumped out by the Hollywood machine. 

How this relates to me and my life? Well one day, like one of my Andrea version 1.0 days, I was flipping through my latest issue of my American Drunkard magazine and I came across one of these calls for ideas. Likely due to a mix of unexpressed creativity and drunkenness, I decided to respond to the ad. I called the number they provided and talked to a representative who told me they were looking for a sister bonding type movie, an idea that breaks the traditional sister movie motif of weddings, babies and finding husbands.
Seemed doable. Still drunk, I called my sister, who lived somewhere in the world at least 4 time zones away from me, to run my idea by her. 

The conversation went something like this: 

A: Ok, before you speak, just listen. So there are two sisters, one who is a dictator of a kingdom and is losing power over her people (apparently she is kind of controlling or whatever) and the other sister who ends up saving her by stopping the uprising of the people. 

Sister: Dude, it’s 4 in the morning here…what are the sister’s names?

A: Elsa and Anna. Elsa is the dictator and Anna saves her!

S: How does Anna save Elsa exactly?

A: Well that’s complicated. See Anna is in exile so she needs to get back to the kingdom, make some friends along the way and then lead an army and save Elsa.

S: Are there any guys in this story?

A: Not really but we could throw some in for Elsa and Anna to have sex with.

S: Ok, so this story is kind of like the Cuban revolution but makes way less sense?

A: Yes! Instead of Fidel and Che we have Elsa and Anna!

S: Great. So why are you telling me this story at 4 in the morning?

A: I’m pitching the idea and I need some backstory for the sisters. 

S: Alright. Answer me this, where do Elsa and Anna come from, what makes them who they are, and why is Anna in exile?

A: Oh that’s easy. You see, Anna spent the formative years of her life much like the good dictator Elsa. Growing up in Winnipeg with summers in the Hamptons, life truly was idyllic. Then they moved to Hamilton. The move to Hamilton impacted both sisters tremendously as life then cascaded into a haze of steel town pollution, skeezed out fashion victims, and of course humanoids of limited mental capacity (that may be a universal statement spreading much further than Hamilton, like to Scarborough).

The large difference in the outcome of the glorious Elsa and troublesome Anna was in 2003 when Elsa moved to a small country in the Caribbean and became their dictator. And Anna decided to take up with a gang of strung out speed freak strippers. Despite this divergence in paths, Anna finished medical school the following year with excellent marks (after all she is related to Elsa) and with numerous pornographic films under her belt (see ).

After Anna’s medical school graduation she decided to travel the world by motorcycle and things got exceedingly worse. Stints in a Thai prison for drug trafficking and prostitution, a torrid affair with a married political leader (BTW not the one Elsa slept with), and an incident with elephant semen and offshore engineers which is best untold. 

After all of this traveling around, Anna missed her sister and decided to surprise visit her by crashing the 2006 world trade summit Elsa was hosting on her island kingdom. At first, the summit went alright. Anna was helpful in aiding Elsa in making some strategic connections with some key Asian business leaders and then refreshments were served. 

Anna and Elsa had a reputation for enjoying their tasty beverages, which is just another way of saying when Anna and Elsa drank together trouble inevitably followed. From Anna spontaneous vomiting Texas Tang Doritos onto anyone within a 5 foot radius of her, to drinking so much absinthe she passes out on a dance floor only to wake up and try to start a fight with everyone she sees, including her unsuspecting sister tucked snugly in her hotel room bed (wait actually that last part was Elsa, and the first too).

Regardless of Elsa’s previous indiscretions, which are many, one thing was constant among all of them, the presence of Anna. The point is, at this business summit craziness will ensue, that Elsa will have no one to blame for except her misguided although loving sister Anna. Hence why Anna is exiled.

S: Right…is there anything you want to talk about?

A: No! I'm pitching a story, I just want to know what you think.

S: (laughs) simmer down drunkard. Ok, so what specifically does Anna do at this summit to get exiled?

A: Several of the business leaders end up in jail and need to be bailed out for indecent exposure and/or security men penis groping (see these are patented Anna activities that she blames on others). Anna also starts a fire in the palace kitchen when she tries to make grilled cheese sandwiches. And sure it was only a small and manageable fire it still caused quite a nuisance that a small fire extinguisher needed to be used in order to put it out. Anna will also continuously bum smokes off others (she never buys her own!) and she will constantly demand drinks from other summit attendees, who will easily be able to tell her they bought her a drink already because Anna will show up to the summit already drunk and drugged out. Oh! And Anna will encourage overdrinking in other guests because she will insist on singing that annoying LMFAO shots song at the top of her lungs throughout the whole summit.

S: Sounds like you really thought this through. 

My sister was impressed and told me to pitch the idea, so I did. Looking back on this moment, I’m pretty sure my sister just gave me that encouragement so I would hang up the phone and let her go back to sleep. 

Needless to say, the Hollywood producer did not purchase my idea because they were looking for something a little more family friendly. So Elsa and Anna never did make it to the big screen, at least not in the way I had drunkenly envisioned them.

Another movie with Elsa and Anna characters...very popular I hear.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A letter of love for you to read in times of pain

Dear you,

There are moments you will experience in life where there really are no words to describe the devastation you will feel. These are the moments where it feels like a bomb has been dropped on you, blown up and obliterated everything you thought you knew about the world. The type of moments that leave you shell shocked, make you question your belief system, the very core of your being.

We have all been there. All of us. It is important to remember this because the experiences of grief and loss are not unique to ourselves. These experiences touch us all.

When I'm faced with difficult moments like these I default into protective mode, I shut down emotionally and remove the focus from my feelings onto others. It is easier for me to think about others in times like these because if I think of myself, I have to acknowledge the incredible sense of loss I am faced with. The utter disappointment with life. And if I acknowledge it, I have to accept it. And in these moments that is last thing I want to do.

Typically when faced with these moments, I'm not alone and am surrounded by other people. They too will be experiencing the moment, maybe not in the same way as me but they will feel hurt, and bewildered and will need someone to lean on. In moments like those, I would rather be that person for them. I want to be the person to protect them, to hold them and tell them everything is going to be ok.

Truth be told, I need that person in my life too, I need that person to love and hold me and tell me everything is going to be ok. But in those moments I'm that person for others because other people generally need that person to be tangible. To be real. I cannot bare to watch others suffer.

For me, the person who supports me, loves me and tells me everything is going to be ok is me. My true self, my inner self, my soul. In moments like these I sit in silence and just be with myself. This is meditation for me. This is what brings me peace.

It's not like I just meditate and everything is better. It is a process. There is the moment of devastation, the fall out, the shut down emotionally, the giving of myself to others and then eventually I go to be with myself and sit. The meditation. I listen to myself. I express the hurt, i feel the pain, I sit with it, I let it have its 15 minutes. And then I let it go. It has had its say, it has made its point, I've heard what it has to say to me but I don't have to listen or take its advice. Instead, I will keep moving forward the way I know best. To thine own self be true.

Life is full of challenges and some of these will be easier than others, and some will make you feel like your life is falling apart and that the only way you will get peace is to give up. I implore you with all my heart and knowledge of a life full of these challenges, you will make it through this moment. The only way to survive is to go through it. When you make it through these moments, you will feel like your soul has been stripped away from you. And in a way it has, but you need to sometimes be destroyed in order to be reborn a stronger and more awesome version of your previous self.

This is life. This is how we live. Continuous cycles of being reborn bigger and better versions of our previous selves. To stagnate and not live is to not experience pain, grief, loss. Which might sound alright at first, but you can't stop feeling the bad stuff and only feel the good. Artificially we can always feel the good (it's called getting drunk, hello!?) but to really experience joy, happiness, bliss, well you need to go through the pain. When you feel real bliss, the kind that comes from within not external to you, you can never go back to the artificial means. This means you can only drink alcohol for the taste not to merely get drunk and drink away your pain. You will notice  you will save lots of money and lose weight if drinking is how you used to deal with pain.

How do you find this true bliss? You work through your pain, you experience it, you stop hiding from it. You live your life and all its messed up experiences it throws at you and you live knowing that you were made for this. We all were. We are all meant to break, to crack open, to fall apart because that is how the light gets in. When we let the light in, the love, the love of our true selves, that is when we experience true bliss. You must always remember that in order to feel the bliss you must feel the pain because without pain you can't break open and you cannot grow into the beautiful awesome lovely amazing person you are meant to.

So please keep working on your self, on your pain. And remember I am always here for you, to support you, love you and tell you everything is going to be ok because I too am working through my own pain. I'm right there with you, same as you only in my own unique Andrea way. And I know that you are meant to experience your bliss, the love of your true self. How am I so sure? Because I've experienced my bliss, the love of my true self. And I see your true self, your beautiful and lovely soul and if you do the work, you too will see yourself the way I see you.

Love. Love. Love.



When the shit hits the fan...

Take a selfie!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

How to love when you feel that the world is full of hate

I'm feeling conflicted this week with today's blog post, part of me would love to write something random and ridiculous, something completely irrelevant to anything going on in the world around me and the other part of me feels like writing something that will likely make most of my readers uncomfortable.

And I've decided to go with're shocked I know!

So, Friday I was at work, trying my best to be mindful and "in the moment", as it was shaping up to be a day where I couldn't help but naturally slump into a low grade depressive state. I was feeling uninspired and really just wanted to go home, crawl into bed and go to sleep. Then I remembered I had previously committed to going out for dinner that night with a friend, which the mere thought of me being social made me want to curl up into the fetal position and die.  A tad dramatic I know, but it's me, so...typical.

As I was in the midst of trying to cancel plans with my friend, she asked me if I wanted to go to the ballet with her that night. Now, if anything was going to make me want to poke out my eyes with a rusty fork, it was me going to the ballet. My logic being, if I poked out my eye, I would probably have to go to the ER and get that fixed, thus missing out on the boring ass ballet.

Now I have to say, my friend who invited me (let's call her Yolanda), is like one of my favorite humans to hang out with. Me and her have an energy that just plays well together. Hanging out with Yolanda is like hanging out with me, except she is way more connected to the outside world than me and she is my grounding nurturing yin to my unbridled passionate displays of expression yang. So the fact that I wanted to cancel on her was my first sign I wasn't feeling to hot, ballet invitation aside.

My meditation coach is always telling me to turn towards what I fear most. Or turn towards the thing I'm trying to turn away from. Basically, my meditation coach is telling me to acknowledge the things I don't want to acknowledge. Why? Because this is how we grow. By being uncomfortable, and getting outside of our comfort zones, we have to change. We can't stay uncomfortable forever. And 99% of the time, this uncomfortable feeling is just that, a feeling. It is an impression of an event/person/thing that is fleeting and unsubstantiated by anything objective about said thing that makes you feel uncomfortable. Once you examine the feeling of being uncomfortable and the thing that elicits said response, it changes, and usually it disappears. So for example, my impression of ballet being boring ass feels to be true, so much so I would rather gouge out my eyeball than attend a performance. That's pretty intense. But what is that really based on? Sure it is probably based on an experience I had from childhood but I'm 38 now, so it is quite possible ballet and my said feelings about the dance form may have changed, if only I would give it another shot.

Maybe it is because I marathoned all my favourite shows on Netflix already and didn't feel like trying to get into something new that night or maybe I was totally embracing what my meditation coach had taught me (when I tell my coach the story, it will be the latter) but I decided to take Yolanda up on her offer. I was going to go to the ballet (for reals!)

So we decided to meet up for dinner before the show at Chorizo & Co, this Spanish eatery on Fort Street, for 6pm. I head straight from work all pumped to be open to new experiences and shit and Yolanda arrives late and greets me with: "Did you hear what is going on in Paris?!"

Doubtful, seeing as I live under a rock and I've had my head in COPD guidelines all afternoon, also I don't get news alerts to my desktop and certainly do not get news alerts about a place that is on the other side of the planet from me. And let's point out that I also didn't even know that Dance BC was having their 30th birthday performance that night at the Royal theater that is located quite literally a 5 minute walk from my house, so no I probably have no idea what is going on in the rest of the world. Please tell me more.

Yolanda proceeds to tell me about the terrorist attacks in Paris, although she didn't have much to say because she just heard about it on the radio on the car ride over to dinner. So I pull out my iPhone and get on my Twitter news feed and see what's happening.

So I read Yolanda the Al Jazeera headlines and 5 minutes later we feel satisfied that we know just as much as we are going to at that moment and we order food. After all, we have a 7:30 performance to attend, and we don't want to be late.

I want to get into the food and how amazing it all tasted but I will leave that to @TheCesspit (which is actually @VicInPerson)- after all, his reviews generally leave out the bits about terrorist attacks. The food was quite delicious enough to make me forget that Paris was in a state of emergency so I guess that means the food was quite good or I'm really good at living in my bubble.

Seriously though, I'm not one for pretending things are fine but I'm getting better at compartmentalizing. No need to dwell on atrocities when there is nothing good that come out of me dwelling on them at that particular moment. So food was enjoyed and off we went to the ballet.

The Royal Theater is stunning in terms of architecture and ambiance. It is the perfect setting to be moved emotionally. And as I waited for the show to begin, I took in the buzz of anticipatory energy emanating from the patrons around me, and my thoughts went to Paris and one of the attacks at a theater. Knowing nothing really about the details, all I can do is imagine a night like tonight, hanging out with my good friend, about to experience some culture surrounded by the blissfully unaware people around me and in an instant that all changes. You either are killed by terror or get to watch it unfold in front of you in excruciating prolonged detail.

And that becomes your new narrative. You don't go back to blissfully unaware after that. It reminds me of how I felt after hearing about the bombings at the Boston Marathon and how since that day, I can't go to a race and pass the finish line without my thoughts going to that of bombs going off and lives and limbs being lost.

When I heard about Boston, I was angry and it effected me because I'm a runner and it felt personal. It also made zero sense to me but then again why should it make sense? With Paris, a city I've always held dear to me for the profound effect it had on me in shaping how I live my life, the effect feels different. There is no anger. There is no shock, like I felt after Boston or even 9-11, something else sits there inside me. Something I'm not even sure how to describe. But I think it may be compassion. A type of love and kindness, that I didn't really understand could exist in the aftermath of such tragedy. But now I understand that love, kindness and compassion are always there. These feelings have nothing to do with the events that unfold around us and it might be because they aren't just feelings but the energy we surround ourselves in.

And although, a younger Andrea would have been angry, I also know my anger doesn't get me anywhere. Doesn't mean I won't feel it (uh because I do!) I just don't want to feed it. I want to take that energy I would have given to anger and give it to love. And it sounds completely ridiculous to say all this but all I know is that when I love I feel better and I'm certain the people around me and who interact with me daily feel better too. Also, no one likes an asshole.

So I'm sending my love to Paris.
Source: lonely planet

As for the ballet...turns out it moved me, so much so, I cried during the 2nd performance. It was quite magnificent and I would definitely go again. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

#12 Andrea's Frankenstein Breakfast Apple Bread

So this week #12 of the list of 20 things to try for 2015 is to consume breakfast daily. Now, I thought about posting a huge rant on how important breakfast is blah blah but I thought my readers know this, do they really need me to tell them what they already know?!

So instead I decided to share a recipe I created (which is really just a bastardization of a bunch of other stuff I found on the Internet). Yup, this Frankenstein recipe is for Apple Bread, which is the best breakfast ever. And it will help reinforce how important breakfast is, every time you bite into this yummy bread. Also, I have included a special bonus for all of you! I will share with you a tip I learned about how to interact more effectively (read: appropriately) with other humans.

First off, what is the best way to never skip breakfast?! Make something so delicious you will never skip it!

Andrea feeling frazzled after being up all night creating her Frankenstein
My new favourite is Apple Bread.

Apples are such a great fall food, or so all my recipe apps tell me, and seeing as we are in the season of fall I should probably start eating like it.

So this week I finally made the transition to fall - vegetarian chili with squash (yum!) and apple bread!!

So the important thing about the apple bread I should mention is, it's vegan and has no refined sugar in it. So basically it is like super healthy, so you don't have to feel guilty if you eat an entire loaf of it (#justsaying).

So here is the recipe (adapted from - my changes are in parentheses
Apple Bread makes a great side to watching Master of None

Andrea's ADHD Apple Bread Recipe (good luck following along!)

Part 1
3 cups all purpose flour (3 cups spelt flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Part 2
3 eggs (chia seed egg substitute = i didn't bother grinding up the chia seeds, i just put them in a bowl with the required water and left it in the fridge for over 15 minutes - I'm kind of lazy like that)
1 cup sugar (1 cup mashed bananas)
2/3 cup vegetable oil (coconut oil melted)
1 tsp vanilla

Part 3
1 cup sugar (1 cup of pureed dates ~ 16 medjool dates pitted)
1/2-1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamon

Part 4
2 granny smith apples chopped

The steps to awesomeness:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Take 3 loaf tins and grease using coconut oil and dust with flour
Take ingredients of part 1 and mix in a bowl together
Take ingredients of part 2 and blend together until puree is made
Add part 2 to part 1 and mix together (this becomes the base of your bread)
Take ingredients of part 3 (save water) and blend together, add as much water as needed to make into a puree
Add 1/4 of part 3 puree to the base and mix together (this now becomes what I call the base)
Layer one: the base

Add half of the base to each of the three loaf tins
Add a layer of part 4, equally distributing between all the tins
Add remainder of part 3 to the loaf tins, equally distributing so just to cover the apple layer
Layer 3: part 3 added to apples and base

Add remainder of base to top of loaf tins, equally distributing among all three tins

bake for 45-55 minutes. I baked mine for 50, then turned of heat and let sit in over for an additional 5 minutes

 wait 30 minute then you can eat it.

Now that we sorted out what to eat for breakfast, here is:

Weekly tip to avoid awkward moments

When you ask your friend to go to the movies with you, and said friend happens to be of the opposite sex, you really do not need to promise them that you will not try to make out with them during the movie.

Turns out it is unnecessary information to share. Truth be told, no one needs a reminder about how you are not going to make out with them, because everyone is well aware of your whole celibacy thing. And then there is that part where you carry hand sanitizer with you everywhere. SO even if people were thinking of making out with you (of course they are! you're hot) they know that you are unlikely to do so because they would have to not break any of the weird rules you follow, and in the unlikely event that somehow they didn't break these rules, you most definitely would not make out with said person in a place where your feet stick to the ground.

So really, not only is it unnecessary it is likely to make the other person uncomfortable. And yes even though you think you are hilarious, not everyone shares that sense of humour, especially if the punchline is them not getting sexy time with you.

So this week I gave you a recipe for breakfast loveliness and a tips for avoiding awkward moments. You're welcome!

What the recipe doesn't call for? Your dog's rotten teeth!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

#11 How to survive a winter Andrea style

The list of 20 things to try for 2015 is now at number 11...and you are correct, that #11 is nowhere near as exciting as what is happening anywhere else in the world...

And speaking of something more exciting, how about last week's blog post?! Tips to survive a weekend with Andrea, so continuing on with that theme let's talk about Andrea's tips to survive winter!

But first, the mundane, #11:

Get. More. Sleep.

I believe the punctuation used in this recommendation means we should take it seriously. Like we are all seriously sleep deprived and just need more of it.

Unfortunately like all things in life, it is a little more complicated than that. See you can get all the sleep you want but if it's shit quality, like Nestle chocolate, it isn't going to do much for you. Sure it feels good at first but then you are just left feeling like garbage afterwards...Nope you want your sleep to be rich and creamy, dark and fine Belgium chocolate, the kind of sleep that makes you forget what time zone you are in or what day it is. Basically, you want your sleep to be like chocolate that's so good you forget that you miss mind blowing sex.

Not sure where that analogy came from, other than the obvious, I'm ADHD and yesterday was Halloween, and chocolate is typically consumed on that holiday and I'm pretty sure I was home studying, not eating chocolate or having mind blowing sex but I think at one point I thought about walking over to my favourite upscale vegan restaurant (Be Love) to grab some vegan cheesecake but decided against it because it was Halloween and no doubt I would have to see adults dressed up like children and I just didn't feel like I could deal with that, so I didn't bother to leave my house. Why doesn't Be Love deliver?!

Sometimes I reframe my inability to leave my house and deal with the world as a positive, like I have some amazing restraint and self-control to not eat vegan cheesecake every day of the week. Yeah, that's it, I'm very disciplined.

Truth be told, I don't generally do well in winter. And no that doesn't mean I'm going to fall apart and kill myself at any moment, it means, I'm a bit more down than usual is all. It is winter, and I believe this is generally a time of year that is good for rest and relaxation. And if we look to Chinese Medicine (yes that is the course I'm currently studying for!), winter is ruled by the Kidneys. And kidney represent your essence. Essence is kind of like your life force. When it's gone you are dead.  So if you want to support your Kidneys, your essence, you do that in the winter. How do we support the kidneys? Don't deplete your essence.

How do we not deplete our essence?
1. Don't ejaculate (check! I'm a woman, not a problem)
2. Don't have babies (check! I'm a woman who is more than the sum of the lifeforms I choose not to push out of my uterus)
3. Don't overwork yourself or endure long periods of stress (I'm trying not to do that)
4. Don't get old (I'm doing that but that's kind of what happens when you are alive)

So, out of those 4 activities there is really only two that apply. One is controllable and the other is not. You are right, we can totally control whether or not we over work ourselves or put ourselves through long periods of stress. So we focus on that one. Or you can be a totally inefficient and ineffective person and focus on not getting old...good luck with that.

Guess what is a good way to combat overwork and stress? Probably lots of things, but I'm going to share with you what I do.

1. Meditate - yes, I know you think you can't do it blah blah but seriously figure out how to do it and don't stop trying to learn until you actually do it daily.

Meditating isn't like a little break it is a lifestyle. It is becoming mindful of everything. Once you accomplish mindfulness, everything becomes way easier. Mostly because you move into the realm of doing rather than thinking and obsessing over doing things you haven't done yet. And I don't know if you ever noticed, but when you stop making excuses/putting off the things you need to do, you realize how easy it was to actually do them once you started doing them. It is true we waste a lot of time complaining about having to do things, time that if we just spent doing the things we need to do, we would be done with them all ready and on to the next thing.

2. Focus on building a foundation of good sleep, eating, and exercising.  Once those three things are accomplished, you can pretty much tackle anything. Problem usually lies in achieving that balanced foundation. Everyone is different and as such has different needs when it comes to those three things. So you need to experiment quite a bit before you find the right fit. And then of course that will change, like how the seasons change. For example, it is winter, and I'm going to need to sleep more than I do in the summer. Just the way it is. So instead of me taking a bunch of stimulants to fight nature and stay awake all year round and be super productive, I can listen to my body and do what it needs and because I'm living in harmony with my body and my environment I become super productive and much healthier doing so.

3. Time management - organize yourself the way you need to be organized in order to function. Maybe you are super organized by nature (who are these people?) or maybe you have an assistant who organizes you, or maybe you are me and have an iPhone and set up reminders in your calendar for every little thing? Still to this day, have no idea how I functioned before the iPhone! Whatever works for you, find it and do it and for the love of god stop wasting everyone's time with your poorly organized self.

So those are the main things I try to do to combat stress and overwork. Kind of high level wasn't it? And not really clearly connected to surviving winter...

So I will summarize:

Best way to survive winter is to know, accept and respect yourself.  And yes that is pretty much how you will survive anything but in terms of winter I can tell you this, I'm more low energy, I need more sleep. Instead of fighting that, as I historically have been known to do, I will instead respect it. I will sleep more, I will take on less activities, I will look after myself, I will rest and recover and prepare myself for when my energy comes back again.

And until then, I will go study!

My kidney is so going to kick winter's ass!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Top 5 tips to survive a weekend with Andrea

Note: The best way to survive a weekend with me is to not go away with me in the first place; however, that obviousness aside, I do have a blog post to write (apparently @TheCesspit still thinks he can win this competition!) and seeing as I just spent the weekend away with someone who really didn’t have a choice but to spend time with me (unless she wanted to quit her job?!), I was able to do some real life research for this post (as opposed to my other posts which are entirely made up).

So this past weekend I headed over to the mainland for a work thing. It was a highly productive weekend, not only on the work front but on the blogging front as well. I was able to have the unique experience of seeing how people cope with having me in their space for a whole entire weekend and after interrogating my colleague about how she was feeling about me this weekend she finally agreed to provide me content for my blog if I would agree to stop asking her questions about “our relationship” and agree to have quiet time for the ENTIRE car ride home. It was a large request for the girl who never shuts the hell up but I was feeling at a loss for something to write about this week so I thought I would give it a shot.

And here we go!

Top 5 tips to survive a weekend with Andrea

1.     Get two hotel rooms – Apparently this cannot be stressed enough! Thankfully work standards of conduct require us to have separate rooms but if for some reason you aren’t lucky enough to work for a company that follows basic employment standards (or god forbid you hang out with me on purpose for the weekend), do spend the extra money and get your own room. Unless of course you enjoy the following:
a.     starting your morning with me singing along to the same song on repeat on my iPod (possibly off key and definitely with made up lyrics);
b.     watching me rearrange the order of my clothes hanging in the closet every 5 minutes;
c.      having me drink all the complimentary coffee in the room;
d.     not allowing any sort of interaction with the strange black box in the room (apparently this box is referred to as a “television”); and
e.     having me figure out where the best lighting is in the room so I can take selfies.
2.     Get a stick for walking – no, I don’t mean a walking stick. I mean a stick to nudge me in the correct direction while walking. Why will you need a stick? Because I will insist on walking ahead of you, despite the fact I have no sense of direction or idea where I am going, it will be easier than yelling at me all the time telling me which way to go when you can just save your voice and nudge me in the correct direction with a stick.
3.     Suggest shopping as an activity – even though I don’t really enjoy shopping, I do seem to enjoy shopping at stores that do no have locations in Victoria. My most recent obsession is Victoria’s Secret, which is odd because I don’t buy “sexy” underwear, unless you consider baggy workout gear, sports bras and oversized t-shirt pyjamas “sexy” but I love this store. I will be lost in that store for a good 2 hours and then I will be so tuckered out I will need a nap after. It is really the best way for you to get some alone time from me for a few hours.
4.     Embrace my morning persona – this one is totally unexpected, seeing as I’m notoriously known for not being able to get out of bed in the morning or being functional before 10am but for some reason work events that require me to talk to other humans at insanely early times in the morning brings out the social, chatty, happy morning Andrea in me. I think these work events are the equivalent of letting the dog out of the cage for the day. I coop myself up the majority of the time, these events are like my one chance to be social and network regarding work projects, so I get a bit excited and talkative. If you aren’t a morning person it works well for you, you get the chance to ease into the day while I run around like a 3 year old in need of Ritalin.
5.     Take me drinking with you – I know I don’t drink but I will hang out with you while you drink and join in the fun by drinking over-priced sugary mocktails with you. This works well for the following reasons:
a.     You get to drink in a non-judgemental environment (it’s me after all, I’ve perfected the functioning alcoholic for many parts of my life, who am I to say what is right or wrong?!);
b.     You get a buzz that will automatically make me more fun to be around (my hilarity has a strong correlation with the number of drinks consumed by those around me);
c.      It’s pretty funny to watch me get high on sugar-I talk faster and am more likely to say something inappropriately hilarious and then I crash and leave at a reasonable time to let you enjoy the rest of your evening; and
d.     You will appreciate my specific type of weird, especially when a drunk American wearing a Detroit Redwings jersey who insists on trying to get your attention despite all your best efforts to ignore him replaces me at the bar.

So there you have it! Tips to survive a weekend with me. Don’t say I never warned you.