My love for hotels is endless

Kevin sometimes complains because everywhere we go, I want to stay in a hotel. As soon as we get outside do the Lower Mainland, I’m game to set up camp for the night. There have even been times when I’ve suggested staying in hotels IN Vancouver.

Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler
To me, hotels are wonderlands. Some of my amazement stems from childhood when we almost never traveled or stayed in hotels (opting instead for cabins and cottages.) My folks would return from their annual weekend at Hotel Vancouver and dole out all the miniature sized goodies that they pilfered from the room. My brother and I would take turns choosing what we wanted and never without great consideration. Sewing kit for me, shoe shine towel for him…

My romanticized idea about hotels had me staying in them as soon as I met the criteria for check in. I’ve sampled the gamut since, luxuriating from posh palaces to road-tripping in tournament motels. I’ve noticed that no matter how fancy, it always feels like a treat.

Aria Resort & Casino, Las Vegas
Back in November, I spent a week in a pretty swanky resort room in Las Vegas for work. I arrived with one suitcase and an overstuffed laptop bag and left with pretty much the same. Throughout the conference, I stocked my room with some fresh fruit and bought very little else. Our days were busy and left very little room for amusement, but in the few minutes I had, I sat perched on the bed, either knitting or working online.

The Arctic Club Club, Seattle
The one thing that became so clear during that week was that in that room, from that single suitcase, I had everything that I needed. It wasn’t even just for a day or two, but it was for a whole week! I couldn’t help but wonder, if I could live out of a suitcase for one week, could I do it for two? A month? Six months? The sensible side of me knows that’s pushing it, but for the first time in my life, it exemplified the idea that we really don’t need all that stuff that we feel the need to pad our homes with.

I packed those thoughts away at pretty much the same time as when I zipped up that suitcase to come home. Last night, when we checked into this run of the mill Holiday Inn in Washington State, all that freedom from stuff came flooding back. (I’m noticing a theme this year. It involves stuff.) We’re spending the weekend here and even with my weekender suitcase and shoulder bag, I’ve got way more than I’ll ever need. Now, why can’t I translate that to home life? Well, I’m trying!

Holiday Inn, Everett

So, yes, hotel stays are awesome and I’m set to enjoy mine, crappy single serving coffee, bland artwork, unsteady wifi and all. I don’t even mind that there’s a J-Lo movie on right now. That’s saying something!

nourish

sometimes something very teeny tiny appears to be the greatest gift of all. while, in this case, it’s something as simple as a tweeted link, it shows thoughtfulness, caring and an interest in sharing.

it wasn’t much, but it meant a lot to me. while he may have got it wrong with my height, he got it right with this link. and knowing that no matter how my style it is, it’s totally not nathan’s makes it even more touching that he’d pass it on.

ali edwards talks about her one little word for 2012

to make a long story short: choose a word for the new year.

as i read through her post, even before i was prompted to think about my own word, it had already popped in my head. interestingly, it isn’t a word i use often or much, but this was the second time it had risen to the surface before my eyes.

nourish

for 2012, i envision a life in which i can nourish all parts of me. this includes the part that is a girlfriend and the part that is a friend; the part daughter and part sister; the worker, the blogger, the knitter and the yogi; the cook, the cleaner and the crafter. the cyclist, too!

nourish, to me, means to feed, the care for and to nurture. this is the opposite of rigid schedules, drastic mandates and stringent rules. it’s slowing down, taking things as they come and letting it all play out. it’s also a major change to how i live and will provide a big challenge. i will nourish with good and healthy food, sleep, books, films and other entertainment, using my hands to make things i love and my body to move me in beautiful ways. i will finally learn to not take everything so darn seriously and to find the joy in every moment.

this summer wasn’t easy. when we needed people, some really disappointed us. others stepped forward and gave us the care and support we needed. for two of the latter, two who came forward in a way we never expected, i felt the desire to do something special this christmas. this is where my word for 2012 first made its appearance.

i’ve written about my love for kristen, my naturopath. i am so thankful to have that kind of treatment at all, and i am especially blessed to have the brand of care that only she can give. for her role in our experience this summer, she is my angel.

carol is a friend from work with whom i think i always shared a special bond, but i honestly didn’t expect that she’d be a person i confided in, but when the situation arose, it just felt far more right than it did with many others. i spilled and she did an amazing job of mopping up around me and making me feel understood.

if i can be half as strong, caring and beautiful as each of these women were to me, then i will walk the earth very proud. i’m not sure how i’d have survived without them.

as a token of my affection and appreciation, i made them each a bowl. one is seen in the photo above, the other is very similar. upon opening, tears sprung in the eyes of each of us because there was just so much more than the gift in the room. these two, among others, taught me nourishment this summer and i am determined to continue that growth through 2012.

*.*.*

a friend joining me on this journey knew her word before she finished reading the post as well. kevin picked his word quite quickly after i outlined the exercise. my mom is currently in deliberation on hers.

what will be your one little word for 2012?

one in a million

like a million kids around the globe, i was lucky to find a shiny red bike under the tree yesterday. i’ve been thrilled with it since the moment i laid eyes on it. it’s funky and cool and is bound to be the centerpiece for some super fun times in the future. i already have a million adventures and riding dates planned. i also have a few little details such as how to get it from my folks’ to my place (kevin clearly needs a new car…or just a bike rack, i suppose) and how/where to store it in my building. minor stuff. we also need to get his back healed up and get him one of his own.

kevin really knocked one out of the park this christmas. i feel so special and so blessed to not only be in a relationship with the most amazing man i’ve ever known, but to be absolutely spoiled by him, too. i hadn’t asked for a bike, but i have to give him props for coming up with such a great gift idea and finding one that is absolutely perfect for me. i hadn’t been on a bike in well over a decade – not one that moves at least! – but i got the chance to ride it around last night on the street where i first learned to ride and around the cul-de-sac where we played chips as kids. turns out there’s a reason they say it’s like riding a bike. it’s easy!

now i can ride my bike to the store to pick up a few groceries or take it across town to yoga class. and the basket would be perfect for a little dog. 😉

the gift came complete with basket, bell, helmet, lights and a new seat

the only thing missing is one of those miniature license plates with my name on it. my birthday is in a few days so anyone who’d like to step in here is welcome…the more exotic the license plate the better. think you can find one for me?

i have a little ache in my essence

i was in a rather chatty mood at my appointment with my naturopath yesterday. you should know that i looooooooove my naturopath. as i lay there on the table, needles stuck in toes to knee, wrists and belly, i tossed random comments and questions out to the room. what do you think of eliminating wheat? and i’ve noticed i’ve been really thirsty lately. then, this exchange:

qc: what about the dark circles under my eyes?
super awesome naturopath, looking up from her notemaking: well, carly, are you getting enough sleep?
qc: well, kristen, why don’t you mind your own beeswax?

ask a stupid question, they say… i deserved that. this is, however, also the woman who asks for my buy-in on taking pills with names like “women’s precious” and answers my deneedled questions about a little achy spot in the middle of my back with a giddy declaration of “that’s your essence!”


jing

there are so many reasons i love seeing a naturopath.

  1. she knows me. when we have a conversation, it’s like we’re friends. she remembers what i’ve done and what i’ve been through. i never have to remind her that i don’t consume animal products or about my latest exercise regime. when we talk, she doesn’t have to check my file to know how much sleep i get in an average night, which supplements i am taking or about the frequency of my bowel movements. okay, that’s a little friend excessive, but whatevs. point being: she knows me.
  2. alternative treatments. i don’t buy that there is a pill for everything and i don’t believe in treating symptoms instead of roots. yes, drugs exist because they can be helpful and they can cure disease *however* most of the time consideration should be given to lifestyle over prescription. naturopathy and i gel on this.
  3. time and care. we spend a minimum of sixty minutes together at every visit. sixty. six zero. one hour. every visit.
  4. commitment. healing is a long road, but the right naturopath will travel it with you. i saw my first naturopath for years and we worked through a lengthy list of treatment options: acupuncture, homeopathics, injections, tinctures, supplements and probably some other stuff i am forgetting. and, yes. we were successful. it was a far cry from the “just go on the pill and you’ll probably (always probably) be okay down the road when you go off it” attitude i got from multiple mds and ob/gyns i saw. until i ran into naturopathic medicine, i thought nobody would ever want to help me instead of just shutting me up. sometimes when i’m ready to throw in the towel, all i need is a chat with kristen to remind me of why i was doing all this in the first place.
  5. investment. as i mentioned above, when my body starts making changes or when i report back some progress in our plan, kristen gets just as excited as i do. she expresses this by jumping up and down, squealing with delight and sometimes even hugging me. i generally never have any acute health problems, but i do have things i want to work on and goals to attain. having someone to celebrate the baby steps with is gratifying. outside of her office, nobody really understands how significant even the tiniest of movements can be.
  6. self-awareness. a good portion of every appointment is spent discussing my body. i have learned so much about anatomy, biology, nutrition and healthy habits over the years. you can’t put a price on that.

to follow-up on my jing (aka my achy essence,) it’s all good. as she verified and then confirmed the exact area where i was feeling it, that was one of those moments when kristen got all excited and gushed about what that meant in light of everything we’ve been doing. in short: success!

for those of you who are local and willing to give it a shot, i strongly recommend starting at the boucher institute of naturopathic medicine. their teaching clinic is run year round and provides an opportunity to consult on your health with students supervised by licensed professionals. thought still covered by many medical plans, the cost for visits to the clinic are greatly reduced from what you’d spend if you started by meeting with someone in a private practice. the boucher clinic is where i started and it truly changed my life.

a man and his crayons

somewhere around one year ago, i was deep in my bliss, writing and sending my christmas cards when, in a play to expand the gratification, i sent out a tweet asking something along the lines of “who wants one?” i had a few take me up on my offer, the most surprising of all was @hillie33. yes, that hillie, the man of my dreams.

at the time, i didn’t know it. until then we’d had very limited interaction, the majority of it surrounding the existence of his shiny gold flip phone and its inability to tweet accurately and efficiently. a man stepping forward requesting a christmas card seemed strange enough, but with the outright insistence on an exchange, not just getting one, but also sending one back, seemed unbelievable.

for days he swore he was putting crayon to paper and crafting the ultimate christmas card made especially for me. he tweeted teaser photos that he attempted to trick me into seeing, but i never gave in. though mutual friends did check them out and reported it really cute through all stages, i wasn’t going to ruin the surprise.

until it slipped through my mail slot, i’m not sure i believed it would actually ever come. sure enough, a few days before christmas (i think it may have been the day he left town for the holidays) there it was. and it was adorable.

when i think back to that time, to when i knew of him, but we hadn’t actually met, i remember that i always knew there was some kind of connection between us. we didn’t flirt, we just tweeted. and only publicly. still. i could feel it in every part of me…this guy gave me butterflies and made me tongue-tied and i had never even set eyes on him.

timing is everything and it just wasn’t right then. not until the new year will we see the anniversary of the first time we exchanged dms and, shortly after, text messages. for now, just the celebration of a sweet, sweet card from a virtual stranger.

the irony of this story is that, as doubtful as i was about his follow through, the card i sent him (the one to which i even added a drawing of my own,) never ever arrived at his address, nor was it returned to me. i am undoubtedly opening myself up for a repeat of the barrage of accusations that the card never existed and i probably won’t hear the end of it for a while. *i* know that i sent it and that is all that matters.

maybe santa didn’t bring me the mann cup that kevin wished my way, but he did leave a trail of breadcrumbs leading me to the most amazing man i’ve ever known.

the greatest holiday tradition

my mom is so super talented!
no photo will do justice to this five panel accordian or any other card she has made

this will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, but i’ll say it anyway: as far as i am concerned, the greatest holiday tradition of all? the art of sending christmas cards. to some, it seems an antiquated idea in the day and age of instant, electronic message delivery. others can’t see any reason to bother. for me and for as long as i can remember, it’s always been the most exciting activity of all (aside from santa’s visits, of course.) i love every step: the choosing of cards, adornments and postage, the writing of the cards, the stamping and addressing of the envelopes, dumping the lot of them into the mailbox. the only thing more thrilling is finding the floor of the apartment littered with a splash of festive little red and green envelopes full of sentiments and photos, news and best wishes. opening each one as carefully as a beautifully wrapped present then choosing the perfect spot to display it makes the season more enjoyable. i regret that fewer and fewer people are partaking in the tradition, but i have no choice other than to accept it. it’s december 2nd and, sadly, a christmas card has yet to cross the threshold of this apartment. either my popularity has dropped severely or the card writing habits of some of my friends and family have dropped off. shame, really.

this hand drawn and coloured card courtesy of my incredibly talented friend, howie woo

i’ve made the declaration in the past and i stick to it wholeheartedly. no circumstance, no philosophy, no reasoning will ever prevent me form sending out holiday cards. my dedication to work this year prevented me from creating as many as i’d liked, but i do have a handful of homemade cards to share with my dearest of friends. (no spoiler photos today since i think all of them read my posts. remind me to post some later in the month.) tonight i will relish the opportunity to sit quiet, pen in hand, carols filling the room and devote a moment to some of the people who have made this year another great one and this life something to celebrate.

i am totally feeling the holiday love. xoxo everyone! <3

how do i look?

last year, in an effort at career development, i took a course in presenting. as an exercise, the instructor chose a student and proceeded to ask us questions to which she asked we respond based on our perceptions of him. is he married? (yes) does he own a home? (yes) where was he born? (no, not india. he was born in canada.) that kind of thing. the questions kept coming and it was remarkable how easy it was for us to not only have an opinion on whether he plays sports (badminton, so…sort of? :P) but also a consensus. (we said no) the message the instructor was trying to deliver was that no matter how much we want to give lip service to the contrary, a person’s presentation does affect our opinion of them. (the lesson was to always present well in every sense of the word.) i cursed that instructor for not choosing me because, boy, did i wish that i could’ve heard what kind of impression i give off.

though we’ve never met in person, nathan and i have known each other online for long enough that i’d genuinely call him a friend. we converse on various topics (the internet, the philosophy of optimism, site design and, most recently, he’s filled the role of meat coach) via several methods (email, twitter, facebook, pen & paper, words with friends.) we’ve viewed any number of photos of one another, but still it’s not the real deal, as i’m sure anyone who has done any online dating can attest to. interestingly, the other day and through a series of tweets also involving my bestie, nathan laid out his belief that i am short. evidently, somewhere along the way, i gave the impression of being “a little spitfire.” he also ‘fessed to thinking amy the tall one. in reality, i tower five whole inches over her measly 5’6″. i teased that i was offended at being thought so much smaller than i am (well, only slightly. it did rattle me a little and until then i’d never realized how attached to my height i am.)

nathan’s belief was, in essence, an extension of the exercise we’d done in that class.

i’ve often marvel at the mystery of looking at my reflection in the mirror. i am very aware of how i look to me, but i spend a lot of time wondering the ways in which i am perceived differently by others. just as my relationship with another person colours how they look in my eyes, so our visions of ourselves are tinted. in much the same way as people react to hearing their recorded voices, that’s how i look at photos. when i see myself in a still, it enables me to separate from all the attachment i have to how i look and get a glimpse of the person i am to other people. i’m not sure how other people see me and i’m not particularly concerned about it. curious would be a much more apt term to use. i’m just curious.

lightened up protein power goddess bowl
it was certainly divine (heh. goddess. divine. get it?)

i don’t know if it’s obvious, but the kitchen and i have got a love-hate kinda thing goin’ on. i like the end product of having something healthy to eat and taking care of the people i love. i find it pretty fun to try new stuff and feel accomplished when a new recipe turns out well or i hear kevin tell me i’m an amazing cook. yes, i enjoy cooking, but i also kind of hate the time it consumes. that was evidenced by the mini-meltdown i had yesterday midway through creating my tomato soup. i looked at the clock and realized that since i’d been home from work, i’d spent nearly every minute standing there in front of the stove. it was nearly 8pm and all the time that i could’ve spent doing my version of fun stuff had expired. hmph. fortunately, i had kevin around to laugh in the face of my despair. literally.

today’s his gym day so i knew i was on my own for dinner, but my obsessive recipe seeking was not taking a rest. while in the midst of it, i had the most brilliant idea: i would plan (and make!) tomorrow’s meal so that i could not only visit the market again with a co-worker (second week in a row!) but also spend some time actually hanging out at home for once. mission accomplished. i now have zero food related responsibilities before our trip this weekend. (but knowing me, i’ll probably create some.)

just a note: that goddess bowl was phenomenal. i ate way too much of it as a result. lentils, quinoa, spinach and other goodies with a lemony tahini sauce. i’m still full, but even that isn’t stopping me from imagining another bowl!

coconut water: the magic elixir

of a million refreshing twitter discoveries, sweet potato chronicles is just one. while it isn’t always content that is right up my alley (more kid- and/or meat-focused than i am) i have walked away from this site with several fantastic recipes and ceri marsh is definitely worth the follow.

today’s spc topic: coconut water. i’m a big fan. it’s refreshing and the hint of flavour that it offers is nice – not too sweet or coconut-ty.

image

let me share with you, however, a little lesson that i learned on the weekend. i’d bought some blue monkey coconut water last week. when faced, for the first time in a coconut water purchase, with the decision of regular or with pulp, i decided on a split. i’ve always thought the mere existence of juices without pulp weird and wondered who buys that stuff. let me assure you that coconut water is an exception. i have been humbled. after a few sips, i actually had to run my beverage through a strainer in order to remove the chunks of coconut that were featured inside. they were the consistency of the chopped up nuts you get on a sundae. extremely uncomfortable to swallow. i’m just really not into chewing my drinks. are you feelin’ me?

do run out and try some, though. as quoted from the spc post:

“Really, they are marketing coconut water as a an all natural replacement to Gatorade and that’s something I can buy into.”

Succulent spending

I never delete a design*sponge digest email. While the home decor stuff rarely interests me, I dig the arts and crafts, the pretty pictures and the decadent recipes and never want to miss out on an interesting post. After seeing the write up on heat proof flowers this week, I tweeted “succulent shopping may have just appeared on this long weekend’s agenda.” Not one who likes to go back on her word, I engaged the assistance of the most avid gardener I know (my mom) and headed out to the place that is reportedly the authourity on succulents in these here parts, Western Independent Greenhouses. There, I found row upon row of gorgeous plants that could potentially come home with me.

My observations combined with a little reading on their site and some research online prove that I am doing the plants a huge disservice by referring to them all as succulents. My photos include an array of echeverias and aeoniums as well. Unfortunately, while I know I saw all types, i’m not knowledgeable enough to identify which is which.

Because these plants have adjusted to life in dry and arid climates, they’ve developed various ways of storing water into their leaves, stems and roots and they appear more fleshy than most other plants. This makes them easier to care for and great indoor plants for which there is no concern when summer heat hits. Provided they are supported with good drainage and less frequent watering, they can dress up a home in a different way than the usual green, leafy houseplant style.

While some varieties will grow big, tall and hardy, my greater interest is in the rock garden type planters that are more commonly found at flower shops. Instead of purchasing one of the gorgeous ready made groupings that were available (for very reasonable prices) today, the intention for my visit was to select the plants that appeal to me and to put together my own creation later this week.

The shades of most plants don’t stray far from greens and reds or greys and yellows, but it’s fairly easy to combine them to produce complimentary and attractive pieces with a lovely desert feel to them. some variations even offer shoot up flowers in pinks and purples to add some spikes of colour.

We had a pretty good time exploring all the different options available and collecting the ones I liked the best. After all was said and done, I have all the makings of a killer succulent garden of my own and can’t wait to put it together.

the day to follow your heart

“today is the day to follow your heart.” so said my normally dry and pragmatic capricorn horoscope this morning. isn’t that the intention for every day? or shouldn’t it be?

lately i’ve been swimming in a sea of hopes and dreams; desires to do, be and practice different things are the currents moving me. i’m often the dreamy type, fantasizing about change and new beginnings. i tally up new skills in my mind as every day passes and become a more diverse and productive person. unfortunately, my imagination doesn’t often reconcile with the time i have to devote to this new life. that said…..i’ve been learning! last week i celebrated the turning of a new leaf as i took my want to do list, meshed it with my need to do list and prioritized. to name off a couple of the several easy lessons i took away: making healthy meals pays back when, later in the week, i don’t have to worry about spending time in the kitchen, but have delicious meals at my fingertips for dinner or to pack for lunch; it’s amazing how alive and invigorated it makes me feel (for the whole day!) when i make a run the first thing on my agenda. both tasks require effort and planning, but prove so valuable in the benefits. while happy adjustments have had to be made to that schedule this week, i am learning again to incorporate the actions i want to take into a different set of distractions and make life happen the way that i want it to. most importantly, i’m making the choices that i need to feel happy, healthy and on the road down which my heart leads.

i think often about the kind of person i want to be vs. my reality. i am honest enough to recognize that i am easily drawn down a path of negativity that i am not particularly fond of. i also know that i get stuck in my head far more often than i should and that i let it get me in trouble by adding my imagination to the mix. i am not perfect at letting things happen and i dwell far too much on what others may be doing, thinking or saying. i don’t have it all together and, in fact, a large motivation behind this opportunity and space for expression is to dress down my desire to get everything lined up in neat little rows. that just isn’t the way the world works and to try to make it so just ends in frustration and wasted energy.

i imagine this space filled with light, free and adventurous beauty that slowly allows me to let loose my firm grip on the ground and to float a little more effortlessly through life. for me, this is not just about a blog, but it’s a springboard for a life change. happy is a place i want to be and i believe that learning to surrender and to follow my heart is the only direct route there.