Summer of Revelations

I have learned a lot this summer. About myself and life in general. I’d say that I am sad that summer is coming to a close but that would be a lie. I am elated at the prospect of change. Change of the season to Autumn, change of daily routine, and change in temperature. I respond well to change, I think. It keeps me on my toes and makes everything  fresh!

 

 

I never thought of myself as a Being of Summer. Boy, how things have changed. The heat and humidity are not high on the fun-factor scale for me but I can deal with it which I never used to be able to. This summer I have developed the look I always sought when younger but could never accomplish; hair bleached by the sun, tanned limbs and absorbing vitamin D in the form of sunshine like nobody’s business! This really hit home when my Grannie said to me a week or so ago, “You are definitely an outdoor girl.”  I used to be the girl who hid from the sun to keep my  pale skin from freckling and turning the shade of a cooked lobster. Now I work in the sunshine daily and am trying to be smart about precautions while maintaining reality. I certainly don’t spend my days off laying in the sun!

 

 

“I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things…

I play with leaves.

I skip down the street

and run against the wind.”

– Leo Buscaglia

Yesterday, I realized something quite extraordinary – I am only twelve pounds away from the weight I was throughout high school! Mind you, after having two children, the joy of passing time, and working a very physically-demanding job my body shape has changed significantly (for the better, I think). So, I plan on saying goodbye to those clinging twelve pounds before the end of this work season and accomplishing a task I had never thought was all that important until now since I am so very close to accomplishing it. Weight in terms of the scale is not all that important to me but how my body responds to exertion through work and play is paramount. I have become strong and more defined muscle-wise over the past two work seasons and am liking how I feel! I intend to keep getting better in terms of health and strength. My lazy and uninspired days are behind me.

The other day something occurred to me when I was listening to an acquaintance talking. This individual had mentioned how difficult and time-consuming it was to be environmentally friendly. WHAT? This came as a shock to me as it was in that moment I suddenly realized that I basically run on autopilot when it comes to issues of environmental responsibility. Sure, I’m not perfect and I sometimes make poor decisions but overall I feel responsible for my actions and have integrated this thinking into the every day so it is the norm in my world. It seems so archaic and offensive not to care about the planet we all share and its inhabitants. I seriously don’t understand the unconcerned mindset.

 

 

One of the biggest revelations this summer has been that sometimes, there is no going back home. Recently I went back to my hometown to visit family and friends. I quickly realized that this may be their home but it is no longer mine; I am merely a visitor. At first this thought made me uncomfortable so I dug a bit deeper to understand the reason for my discomfort. I think part of the parcel is that my parents are aging (as we all are) and I have moved in a different direction as offspring are supposed to do. When I first moved away from home at the age of 19 to St. Catharines, I knew no one here. It was not only an adventure but it was sometimes lonely and scary until I made friends and connected with others. Luckily, this was only a matter of days that I wound up in the company of good people. This city has become my home over the years and has replaced my hometown as the place I identify with. I no longer consider myself a Peterborough girl  and this puts a bit of a lump in my throat. Honestly though, the Niagara Region has opened its arms wide with welcome and I am now enfolded in its embrace. I love living here!

 

 

This summer has also shown me more of the incredible natural beauty that surrounds us here in the Niagara Region. We have such a diverse landscape that is teaming with incredible natural wonders. The Niagara Region is tucked between two of the Great Lakes – Lake Ontario (I live on the south shore) and Lake Erie. There are over 200 walking, hiking and cycling trails to be enjoyed and shared with incredible flora and fauna at every step. The Region has created many naturalized sites to encourage wildlife to do its thing and give a safe haven for many species. One of my favorite hikes/walks is up the escarpment by Niagara College. It has a feeling of such intense history to be with these particular trees and rocks and gives an all-encompassing feeling of being a part of Nature not just an outsider looking in. These photos were taken in the late Fall a couple years ago but the escarpment is beautiful in every season.

 

 

 

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

One of my favorite walking trails on the Niagara Escarpment

Ericsson 2012 343

 

 

 

Within a short walking distance from my home is the Welland Canal. Even though I’ve lived in St. Catharines half of my life I still find the Canal interesting. It is fascinating that these huge freighters and  sea-going ships make their way through a system of locks up the Niagara Escarpment. For a brief description of the Welland Canal see this link. When my kids were itty-bitty, they used to love to go sit at the locks with me and watch as the ships went through. They were thrilled to bits when the workers on the massive ships would wave to them. Recently I have visited the Canal again a few times and realized that it doesn’t matter how old or young you are or where you come from the Welland Canal is an incredible feat of engineering.

 

 

I’m sure I need not dwell on the prominence of wineries in this region but seriously, they are worth a visit and the trip along the wine route. Wineries play a huge supporting role in the area’s mindset and activities. Good food and great wine are the specialties of an area filled with orchards, farms and vineyards. It’s easy to eat well here.

 

 

Another huge revelation for me and I think the most important of all – I need to live the life I envision for myself. We all have dreams, desires and are called deep from within our Soul to certain places, people and actions. Respecting someone else’s dream is essential to living our own.

 

 

Learning to love the Life we have and moving forward instead of stagnating or going backward is on my mind. I see movement in my future…I strive for joy each and every day through learning new Truths…to treat myself and others with kindness…to appreciate all that is on offer.

 

 

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open

where there were only walls.”

– Joseph Campbell

 

 

 

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Beginning My Clean Food Journey

photo: agricultureresource.com

An incredible woman who is a dear friend of mine decided it was time for her to go further on her quest for great health through clean eating. She put it out there to the Universe, and her Facebook friends, that she was hoping that someone would take the journey of the Whole30 plan with her. In support of my friend, I offered to join her. I am so glad I did. I wasn’t the only one though that decided to rise to the challenge as a great group of people joined together to support each other and share ideas and experiences along our one month challenge. My friend started up a group page on Facebook called The Whole 30 Clean Month Poutine Detox. What a perfectly fitting title since poutine had become a bit  like a magnet for me (and her too by the sound of things) over the summer. I hadn’t had poutine in years since  it is prepared using gravy (which = animal product) and I am vegetarian. I decided to make my own poutine so my kids could taste this delicious Canadian treat. A poutine monster was reborn. Lo-and-behold a new poutinerie opened in my city which makes vegetarian gravy for their mouth-watering poutine and an addiction of sorts was formed. I am normally pretty careful about what I choose to eat but for some unknown reason when it came to poutine it was like I went into a hypnotic state and my will to resist vanished. I didn’t like this new addition to my thought (and eating) pattern. And here is where the Poutine Detox comes in! I must say this challenge could not have come at a better time. I was ready for positive change.

Each of us in this support-type group are dealing with our own food demons or lifestyle choices that could have been better surrounding food. We all start at different levels in our dietary choices with the same goal – to be healthier. Who doesn’t want better health? So it is the Whole30 plan that is the base to our month-long clean food poutine detox. It is interesting to hear how others are doing on their journey. My journey feels a bit unique as I think I am the only vegetarian in the group. If I’m misinformed, feel free to tell me. I have had to make my own plan due to the fact that the real Whole30 is basically a paleo-type eating style. I will not under any circumstances consume another Being. Unless of course I am ever lost in the wilderness with nothing else to eat or I would starve to death. Hopefully I will never experience this. So, instead of consuming meat I have included legumes and beans which I eat a lot of normally with no ill effects. I have also discovered a love for nut butters and tofu as alternatives to meat.

A few things I have learned along my journey thus far:

  • I no longer gag involuntarily at the thought of tofu.
  • Eggs are not my friend.
  • Sugar is nasty stuff that can control your mind until you break free of the cycle. I no longer crave anything sweeter than a fresh piece of fruit.
  • Processed food is not our friend. I knew this going into this journey but the past couple of weeks has really amplified this point.
  • The detox process (Day 2 and 3) were like having the flu. I seriously hate that feeling.
  • Exercise is not evil but fun! Yup, I said exercise is fun. Strange but true. Although I draw the line at certain forms of exercise.
  • The clothes in my closet are quickly becoming baggy. I don’t like saggy-bummed jeans. They are not at all attractive.
  • I don’t feel gnawing hunger like I did a month ago come mid-afternoon. I feel great when I eat small snacks throughout  the day that are fresh and wholesome.
  • I am losing my taste for coffee! I’m not so thrilled about this one. I always filled my mug about 1/3 of the way with soy milk and now I’m drinking it black. It is tasty but I don’t feel the need for cup after cup all day long.
  • My energy levels are pretty stable unlike they used to be. I would feel up and down in my energy all day prior to eating clean, whole foods only.
  • Eliminating wheat has been a God-send. I wish I had done this years ago! It is ridiculous how many things our society eats that are centered around wheat. It was a difficult process to break the habit of wheat-based meals such as sandwiches or bagels with cream cheese. I feel so much healthier not eating wheat.
  • Not eating dairy has been the easiest adjustment for me since I didn’t eat a lot of dairy anyway. Organic hormone-free dairy is a budget-buster for a family and I have no interest in the alternative of  funding the corruption of factory-farmed business and the propaganda of the dairy board. I love to support farmers and what they do but ethics trump all else on this issue for me.
  • I enjoy having curves, not jiggly bits. Being comfortable in my own skin is a great bonus to eating “clean”.

So I must give a big thank you to my wonderful friend over at Change My Body, Change My Life. Without her little push I would still be scarfing down poutine and pastries without a thought to how it affected the way I feel over the long-term. I found this approach of  “cold-turkey” elimination of offending foods easier than removing one thing at a time. This isn’t for everyone. Removing something as simple as one soda per day or the sugar in your morning coffee will make a difference to your overall health. I would like to clarify something. This lifestyle choice to eat whole clean food is NOT a crash diet. It is not all about losing weight or being brainwashed. I think it is just the opposite. Eating food in its original whole form is the origins of nurturing or bodies and feeding our need for sustenance. Our body will adjust accordingly and will find its true weight. We have all been brainwashed to believe that convenient non-food items are good nutrition. That because a package states that the product inside has less fat or sodium than it used to makes it a healthy choice. Our taste buds have been primed to want things taste a certain way; saltier, sweeter, or just more of whatever we happen to be consuming.  If we just stop to think a moment about the rates of obesity and illnesses that are diet-related it would become very clear that real food is superior to fake food.

“Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork.” ~ English Proverb