Painting my nails in a clean kind of way

I’ve become very mindful of what I put in or on my body in the past year, much more so than I have in years past.

I’m not big on long fingernails, but I do like the idea of painting up my practical shorties. I like deep and rich funky colours, but I so rarely spend any time making up or painting on. I have one friend who is regularly posting pictures of her latest nail masterpiece. Me, I’m lucky if I can find any polish in my house. I like nail polish, really, I do.

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About a year ago, I went on a pedicure date with an acquaintance. For the first time in my life, I found myself in a nail bar as opposed to a salon or spa. You know the kind, where you’re lined up with your back against a wall, one of 10 people being run through the process as quickly as possible to get the next person’s ass into the vibrating chair. I’ve looked in through the window plenty of times, but I’ve never crossed the threshold. I’d read countless pieces about the risks of these kinds of pedicure factories and their tiny metal skin shavers. Ewwwwww!

On the day I found myself in one, I rolled with it. I hadn’t really thought too much about the location, though the acquaintance’s selling price point (“only $25!”) may have tipped a more aware person off. I went in, I sat down, I had my feet primped and toes painted and the end result was better than what I had going in. The whole time I sat there listening to the woman I was with chatter away and the technicians who were working on us speak only to one another, all I could think about was the fact that we were all just letting them put who knows what chemicals onto our bodies and nobody was even asking what chemicals they might be. That and the fact that they were SHAVING THE SKIN OFF MY FEET. Ewwwwww! Because, hey, it’s cheap so who cares. Wait, WHAT??

From that point on, I was pretty certain that I’d never step foot in another nail bar. I haven’t yet and I feel pretty confident I’ll stick to my guns on this one. I’m not sure what happened that Saturday afternoon, but it was the turning point for me. I’m by no means 100% natural, but I am much more aware of my options and I definitely spend more time investigating what goes into the things I put on/in my body. Our skin is our biggest organ and the simplest way for chemicals to enter the body is through it. When we slather chemically based lotions and soaps on, we make it drastically easier.

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So, at some point after that, I found myself wanting some safer, not to mention vegan nail polish. There were a few bottles at my local vegan store, but no colours that I liked. A few quick Google searches and I found Scotch Naturals. I make regular window shopping visits to that site and have abandoned countless shopping baskets there. One of the reasons I’m hesitant to shop there is a common Canadian problem: shipping costs. To get the products across the border costs significantly more than it does to ship them within the US. Evey helped me out with my first order and brought it to me when we all met for a Seahawks game in Seattle. I had two bottles of polish sent to her in Portland and avoided the increased cost of importing it.

With my first order, I cheaped out. I ignored the recommendation of purchasing base and top coats and only bought lacquer and remover. I chose Seething Jealousy and Balmoral Punch, a very unintentionally Christmasy combination. I loved both colours, but what I didn’t love is that it started to chip and wear away within the first day. Let’s just say I learned my lesson quickly. Scotch Naturals lacquers are what nail polish pros call paint and peel. In order to maintain it, you need something to protect it. The recommendation of base and top isn’t just a cash grab, it’s a requirement.

With our trip to Arizona on the horizon, I decided to take advantage of being able to ship to our destination and this time, I went with a full on Detox Package which includes one lacquer, a fortifying base coat and a deluxe top coat. Buying the package also gives you the bonus of getting 10% off other polish or remover. This time, I went with Queen of Scots, something vibrant for spring, and Smokey Martini because I thought grey would be a nice neutral and, okay, partly because of this guy.

SmokeyIf Smokey could, he would totally drink martinis.

As it turns out, they were right. When you take the recommendation and use the trio of products, the colour is much more durable. For someone like me who isn’t into spending a lot of time on painting my nails, this is a game changer, but I’m happy enough with the product that I don’t think it will be a deal breaker. Each coat (one base, two colour, two top) goes on smoothly and dries in a minute or two. When all is said and done, you’re left with a bright and shiny set of nails that are non-toxic and vegan, cruelty free and all that good stuff. Added bonus: none of the products stink! That includes the soy-based remover.

photo 2There are a lot of things I love about Scotch Naturals. As with most of my favourite brands, they have a strong social program. The price tag on their products is higher than regular drugstore brands, but the laundry list of trade-offs is well worth it to me. Being an occasional nail polish wearer, I want something that is going to last when I put it on and a range of colours that appeal to me. Scotch Naturals provides both.

It’s vacation and I’m reading!

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My #100HappyDays moment came early today while I spent the morning in bed and by the pool with a real book in my hand. I used to be an avid reader, but over the past few years, I’ve lost that. I used to go cover to cover with at least one book a week, but now I’m lucky if I get through one per quarter!

Right now, I’ve got two books on the go, one fictional, one not. Vacation is a perfect time to sit down and spend some time with some literature.

A Tale for the Time Being came on my radar when it made the shortlist for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. Some of my favourite books have been set in Japan (Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the WorldThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) which is no reason to want to read a book, but it was good enough for me. Besides, the synopsis spoke to melancholic preferences.

In a small cafe in Tokyo, 16-year-old Nao Yasutani is navigating the challenges thrown up by modern life. In the face of cyberbullying, the mysteries of a 104-year-old Buddhist nun and great-grandmother, and the joy and heartbreak of family, Nao is trying to find her own place – and voice – through a diary she hopes will find a reader and friend who finally understands her.

Far more controversial is my non-fiction selection. Sheryl Sandberg is the COO at Facebook and wrote Lean In as a guidebook for developing leaders from young professional women. I’ve always had an appetite for feminist writings and feel pretty open to some empowerment, I dove in and really enjoyed what I read. (I’m only about halfway done so I can’t give a complete review.)

Sandberg has been criticized at length for her book. Yesterday, I read this great article that explains how one reader came around to some of Sandberg’s ideas. There’s been a lot of backlash. Some of it I can sympathize with, some of it is just a big old waste of time. (As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t like it, move on.)

Is Sandberg’s line of thinking new to me? No. Is it groundbreaking? Nuh-uh. Has it changed my life? Not really. What is it good for? It’s made me more aware of my experiences as a woman in the workplace, particularly, as a woman in a male-dominated workplace.

When I discuss this book, most people aren’t very interested and even act a bit defensive. Based on a number of conversations, the impression I get is that we are all waiting for our older male coworkers to leave the workplace and then everything is going to change. Well. Read on. This is one of the most impactful (to me) facts included in the book so far.

In 2003, Columbia Business School professor Frank Flynn and New York University professor Cameron Anderson ran an experiment to test perceptions of men and women in the workplace. They started with a Harvard Business School case study about a real-life entrepreneur named Heidi Roizen. The case described how Roizen became a successful venture capitalist by using her “outgoing personality…and a vast personal and professional network that included many of the most powerful business leaders in the technology sector.” Flynn and Anderson assigned half of the students to read Heidi’s story and gave the other half the same story with just one difference – they changed the name “Heidi” to “Howard.”

I think you know where this is going, but read on…

Professors Flynn and Anderson then polled the students about their impressions of Heidi or Howard. The students rated Heidi and Howard as equally competent, which made sense since “their” accomplishments were completely identical. Yet, while students respected both Heidi and Howard, Howard came across as a more appealing colleague. Heidi, on the other hand, was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.” The same data with a single difference – gender – created vastly different impressions.

These aren’t people who are on the verge of retirement. These aren’t people who entered the workplace in a different era. These are students, some of whom have yet to even enter the workplace. To simplify it, we all like successful men, but we like successful women less and to blame the old-timers for that isn’t fair. I don’t like the fact, but it doesn’t surprise me. My office view provides plenty of examples of inequality, but this book has given me fuel to make at least a little change in my environment for myself, for my few female coworkers and for the ones who will come after us.

I don’t know the answer to changing our perception of successful women. I didn’t find it in the book either. If you’re interested in the role gender plays at work, Lean In is a pretty interesting read. It’s packed with anecdotes which help shape the authour’s points and her lengthy (and impressive) resume provide a great deal of material to refer back to.

On a lighter note, if you’re in the mood for a new hobby, find one here.

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Me, I need to get back to the pool. Splish splash! 🙂

Cheerleading, spreading love & sunscreen

Since I started my #100HappyDays last Sunday, I’ve been trying to practice more awareness and gratitude. That was the whole point, of course, but the real good news story here is that it’s working!

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 3.06.45 PMFollow along with my #100HappyDays (and join in!) on Instagram!

I’m pretty blissed out right now. This morning, we relocated from dreary Vancouver, BC to shiny El Mirage, Arizona. By 2pm, we’d kicked off our five day stay with more than an hour in the pool, a delicious barbecued lunch outside and a nap, all without wearing long pants or even shoes!

A friend once commented that I am a real cheerleader. At the time, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I liked being acknowledged for that. I know a lot of incredible people and I’m always curious to learn more about them and to meet others. I like to share the amazing lives, stories and accomplishments I see and hear with the world. When I see things that I love (and I love a lot of things) and that make me feel proud of the human race, I want to share those, too. I largely try to focus on the positive things that life has to offer. Trust me, I won’t shy away from the icky stuff, but I try to never ever give it more time in the spotlight than is necessary.

I keep seeing these great posts where writers compile all their favourite things for the week, online or in life offline. Since I enjoy reading them so much, it only made sense for me to start getting into the habit myself. Here are a couple of the beautiful things that made me happy this week, my sunshine and lollipop experiences.

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Our dear friends Chris and Evey had some very exciting news to share about a very special arrival coming later this year. Watch the video to see their announcement. At long last, they just debuted it this week.

Isn’t that ADORABLE?!? Congratulations, guys! xo

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In preparation for our trip and in light of my relatively recent bout of melanoma (which I swear I am going to wrote about someday,) sunscreen has been on my mind lately. Now that summer is just around the corner, it’s easy to find on any drugstore’s feature aisle. Problem is, mix vegan into your list of requirements and your choices narrow drastically. For the second time this year, I put the call out on Twitter looking for some advice and recommendations. No dice. What I did get was a response from a company called Goddess Garden. They specialize in “healthy sunscreen.” They have a friendly, helpful Twitter presence, steering me to Well.ca to buy their products online. I opted for the spray which is really just the everyday lotion in a spray bottle.

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I’m not a big fan of light lotions, especially when it comes to sun protection. Goddess Garden isn’t too thick, but it’s not oily either and is rated SPF30. It doesn’t carry much of a scent and absorbs easily into my skin. I love that I can identify (not to mention pronounce) every single ingredient in the bottle!

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This weekend, I’m all poolside and sunglasses and desert hikes and sporting events. Okay, I’m also obsessively sending iMessages to my mom who is staying with our cats, too. Good friends, good food, good fun. It’s the weekend. Get yourself some.

100 Happy Days

In general, I think of myself as a pretty happy person. I’ve been slagged and unfollowed because friends didn’t like my “sunny, happy, rah rah all the time” so I think that makes it official. But, here’s my belief about happy – there is always room for more.

100 happy days

 

Maybe it’s the place where I am in life, maybe it’s age, but nearly every day, I find myself contemplating what is important to me, what I want to prioritize (not to be confused with what I should prioritize) and how I can slooooooooow down. Part of all of that involves becoming more and more aware of what puts a smile on my face and makes my heart sing.

#100HappyDays challenges participants to share something that makes them happy every day for 100 days. Seems simple, but according to their website, 71% of people who start, don’t finish. Here’s the kicker: most of them quit because they don’t have time…to be happy? What?

Someone made a comment to me last week, “I wish I had his life,” then asked “do you think anybody ever wishes he had my life?” We laughed, sure, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that, yeah, there are plenty of people who could reasonably wish they had his life. Decent job, steady paycheque, good health, loving family, enjoyable hobbies. That’s just the tip of the iceberg on all the things he (and I and maybe you) have to be thankful for. Sometimes we get so caught up in our long lists of to-dos and obligations that we forget count the little things.

I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to not seeing the forest for the trees. I’m going to use #100HappyDays to remind myself of the many amazing things that happen in my life every single day. Want to join me?

Here are a couple of really happy things that happened already this weekend. I’m all set for sharing more today!

A new baby in the family! Welcome Sadie! <3

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Seeing a friend hoist a championship cup after playing a fabulous game. Congratulations, Fish & the Niagara Lock Monsters!

photo (35)An invitation to the a VIP – Very Important Party!

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What do YOU to be happy about today?

 

All things green

I bounded out of bed this morning (yes, bounded – I’m not kidding when I say sleep is the key!) when I woke up to the sounds of Kevin showering and the knowledge that he would soon be on his way out the door. I was downstairs in the kitchen when he walked out of the bathroom and asked, “are you about to get on your motorcycle?”

I got a Vitamix for Christmas (I know, right!?!) and I’m sorry, but you have every reason to feel as jealous as you do. It’s AMAZING. It’s maybe the best thing I’ve ever owned. It’s an absolute game changer. Every morning since shortly after we got back from our week long tour of the Great Lakes region, I’ve woken up and thrown some combination of fruits and veggies into the Vitamix and made magic. Kevin calls it my motorcycle because of the sounds it makes when it switches between speeds. 🙂

This week, I’ve been working on a strawberry rhubarb green smoothie recipe partly because strawberry rhubarb is Kevin’s favourite and partly because both are good sources of vitamin C and I’ve been battling illness. The recipe isn’t quite there yet, but it’s coming along…

My reason for bounding out of bed this morning was because I knew Kevin was leaving to run errands for the day and that when he got home we’d be entertaining friends for the evening. I knew we wouldn’t be eating well later in the day so I wanted to get started with something super healthy and cleansing.

I’m not one for using supplements when cooking. I prefer to use a combination of whole foods to get where I want to go. For that reason, I take a lot of guidance from Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows. Her recipes are clean, mostly gluten-free and oh so healthy. I used this one for inspiration this morning.

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Local kale that I’d frozen over the summer, apple, celery, cucumber, lemon, ginger, coconut oil and coconut water. Since I skip the sweeteners and this smoothie can be quite savoury, I decided to add a little zest and use some of the coconut water with Thai chili extract that I picked up last night.

IMG_00000761With these ingredients, there’s no concern for adding a lot of liquid. I used about .5 cup of coconut water and that was it. The apple and cucumber lend themselves well to making for a smoother final product.

IMG_00000764Seriously delicious.

I made sure that all of the coconut water wasn’t eaten up by the smoothie and saved the rest to try on its own.

IMG_00000747Last night, I was expecting a new best friend, this morning happiness in a bottle. These products are making some big promises!

The coconut water definitely had a zing to it, but it isn’t spicy like you might expect. The chili flavour isn’t strong enough to have been detectable in the smoothie, but it was nice on its own. It’s as refreshing as any coconut water, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it after a workout.

IMG_00000766If you like coconut water, give it a shot!

When Jay Triano was my teacher

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I just found out today that Jay Triano is now the assistant coach with the Portland Trailblazers. Twenty-six years ago, he was my student teacher and basketball coach. He was older, drove (what we considered) a flashy car and to a bunch of young girls, he was pretty darn dreamy.

Now, I’m not going to say that I was his favourite, but he liked me a lot. Back then, he was still a student at SFU (though not playing basketball there anymore) and as a little bonus, he took us up to the school for a Clansmen game one night. As I spent $1 of the money that my folks had given for the trip on a program. All the programs sold had a number and if your number was drawn, you’d get a chance to shoot a basket from centre. Mr. Triano, because that’s what we called him, took me aside and said, “if your number gets drawn, give it to me and I’ll take the shot from centre.” If you made it, you’d take home $2500 which was sort of like a million dollars to my eleven-year old mind.

Wouldn’t you know it, my number was the number called: 110. Mr. Triano swooped in like my hero and took over. He lined up at centre and rocketed the ball to the basket. I swear this is no word of a lie, but the ball headed straight towards the target and in slow-motion time, it made contact with the rim, bounced around a couple of times and…fell out the other side.

Honestly, the excitement was prize enough. My little girl heart was elated, with or without a fistful of money.

Why did I tell this story today? Because of this retweet from Jen:

Holy. Cow. #blastfromthepast RT @VIAwesome Super Socco is coming back. The end. http://t.co/HrM4ukmkGS … — Jen (@JenLynnEh) November 12, 2013

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My consolation prize from the free throw contest? A case of Super Socco. The white one. My favourite. And Mr. Triano let me keep that all for myself.

Oil pulling, coconuts & Diwali

As I sat across from my naturopath a few weeks ago, I finally remembered to ask, “what do you know about oil pulling?” Her honest reply? “You know, that’s the second time in two weeks that I’ve heard of it and I know very little about it.” We agreed that she’d get Kayleigh (her student, my part-time caregiver) to look into it and report back to us both.

Imagine putting a tablespoon or so of oil in your mouth and swishing it around for a quarter of an hour or so. That’s oil pulling and I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now.

Diwali oilPhoto found here
Oil is, most definitely, NOT on fire for pulling –
I’ll get to the burning oil later in the post

Oil pulling finds its roots in Ayurvedic medicine and dates back centuries. The Ayurvedic belief is that oil will draw toxins out, cleansing us of the impurities we’re exposed to in our daily lives and purifying our bodies. If you’ve ever had an Ayurvedic massage, you know the drill. The only time I had one, I came out of the appointment and into the winter night air with oil positively dripping off my head.

While the type of oil used can vary, I’ve stuck to coconut from the start. I’m loyal to the coconut, but it also adds an extra challenge. If you keep coconut oil around your kitchen, you’ll know that when the days get colder, as they have started to here in BC, the oil in the jar hardens. Using coconut oil for pulling requires the extra step of chewing through the oil before it melts to a consistency that can be swished.

CoconutOil-660x443-456x423Photo (and excellent source for purchasing
extra-virgin coconut oil here

There are two camps when it comes to supporting oil pulling. In one, campers say that the oil actually purifies the blood and provides benefits that reach much farther than just the mouth (think headaches, hormones and skin.) The more skeptical camp says that pulling can and will improve oral health, but won’t extend beyond there.

For a complete step by step guide to your first time pulling (because it’s so simple that once you’ve done it once, you’ll never need to read the instructions again,) check out this link to WellnessMama.com. Katie breaks it down and backs it up with references to support the data.

Me, I usually only pull on weekdays (I forget on weekends.) I’ve noticed that I feel extra thirsty in the hour that follows pulling. My mouth definitely feels cleaner and more fresh. It’s a nice ritual to start the day – especially the fifteen or so minutes of silence. 🙂

Beach coconutPhoto source here

Coconuts seem to be suffering a wane in the their culinary heyday. Rewind just a year and everywhere you’d go: coconut. Coconut water is lauded for its rehydrating effects and high potassium contents. Coconut sugar lands on the low glycemic index and rates high for potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron and B vitamins. Coconut flour is gluten-free, high in fibre and the by-product of coconut milk production. Coconut milk can be subbed in for regular dairy and acts as the star of the show in Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss desserts. Heck, I even attended a quick course on making vegan cheese out of nuts and coconuts were a key ingredient! In wet or dry form, as a major player in a recipe or simply as a garnish, I can get behind the coconut craze. And don’t forget to slather it over all parts of your body – skin and hair love it equally.

This year, I learned that drinking coconut water directly out of a freshly opened young coconut is a real treat. Maybe someday I’ll teach you how to open one. 😉

Today marks the day when the country of India and its people celebrate Diwali. I have WLA Commissioner Casey Cook to thank for knowing anything about it after he tweeted his good wishes this morning.

Diwali is celebrated as a national holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji and is also known as the festival of lights. According to Wikipedia, “Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil.” (There’s that cleansing oil again!)

Diwali celebrates, among others, Ram, the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu. Ram returned to his people after fourteen years in exile and defeated the demon king, Ravana. Diwali lights represent the triumph of good over evil.

Lakshmi, the goddess of happiness and prosperity, also features highly in Diwali celebrations. In addition to the celebration of Ram, the lights are meant to lure Lakshmi into homes, since she is said to be roaming the earth in search of purity and cleanliness.

DivaliFrom Boston.com: here

Though communities celebrate the festival differently depending on where in the world they may be, the common theme and celebration is the awareness of the inner light.

Wherever you are, may you take some time today to celebrate your inner light. Don your silks and your jewels, light your home and your world and dance in celebration of that light which is within us all.

Diwali ki Shubhkamnayein
दिवाली की शुभकामनाएं
Happy Diwali!

05-golden-temple-diwaliThis and more gorgeous Diwali photos here

Team Karma Police

First we suffered shock that it was already March then amazement set in when we realized that the fundraiser we’d built our team to attend was happening this past weekend.

IMG_5131Two thirds of Team Karma Police

As I’ve mentioned countless times to every social media connection, Power of Movement is a yoga fundraiser that took place on Sunday at thirteen different locations across Canada. The beneficiary of the event is the Arthritis Research Foundation and in turn, those who suffer from arthritis and other autoimmune conditions are the people who really win.

This was the second time that my mom and I took part and this year we brought a special friend with us. According to her most recent diagnosis, Renee suffers from something vague that combines the terms Undifferentiated Autoimmune Condition and Lupus. There’s some connector in there, but I can’t remember what it is. She’s spent years with doctors, rheumatologists and naturopaths trying to balance treatments, medications and lifestyle to get back to her former, healthy life. Renee is a perfect example of how one day everything can just go really wrong. It came on out of the blue and hasn’t completely rectified itself since then. Over the past few years, it’s cost her time with her young son, her husband, her family and friends. Thankfully, she has a great support system that is no doubt responsible for getting her back on the mend.

Though we’d participated in my grandmother’s name in the past, adding Renee to our team brought it even closer to home.

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Honestly, even as a yoga lover, I can’t remember the last time I showed up and laid down my mat at a class. My mom’s only yoga experience was last year’s Power of Movement awesome dance off version and Renee was a Bikram girl back before things went sideways with her health. Our Sunday class was a pretty traditional Hatha class and we all, side by side by side, enjoyed every minute. It challenged us, it pushed us to grow and we stretched until we couldn’t stretch any more.

The greatest reward was in being part of the event, sharing a room and spirit with determined and community minded people. At the end of the day, we were also kind of paid in…

IMG_5147Luna bars – bags and bags of them!

A million heartfelt thank yous to my most thoughtful friends who made donations and supported our campaign! We’ll be back next year (with t-shirts!) and we’d love for you to join us! xo

Fat Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Fastnacht.

…or as it was always called in our house, Pancake Day. Based on that, you can tell that we weren’t a very religious clan so this day’s only significance was my British-born mother’s insistence that her family observe the long-standing tradition of eating breakfast for dinner. According to Wikipedia, it’s a Newfoundland tradition for children to treasure tokens cooked inside their pancakes, but I can verify that coins were often found on the west coast as well.

To others, Fat/Shrove/Pancake Tuesday symbolizes a last hurrah before Lent – forty days of abstention and self-denial. (The pancakes entered the picture as an efficient way of using stores of rich foods such as eggs and dairy before the six weeks without.) As kids, my mom would ask what we were giving up for Lent, but we had no idea what she was talking about so the answers were quickly forgotten and had no meaning in the first place.

I’m a pleasure delayer, I practice self-denial all the time and by choice. It’s probably what makes me a firm believer that a little sacrifice never did anyone any harm.

Last year, I sacrificed up social media. When my mom first asked what I was giving up for Lent, she and Kevin both had a good laugh when that was my tentative, of the top of my head response. Their amusement became my stern resolve. The fact that they didn’t think I could (my mom may have even offered a snide, “good luck”) was the final nail in the six-week coffin for Twitter/Facebook/Foursquare, etc. I stuck to it and it actually changed my habits as a user quite significantly. My notifications are vastly different and, in fact, some never did get turned back on. It reorganized my priorities and where social media fell within the list and it impacted my approach to my online voice as well.

Fast forward a year and, though I’d thought of a repeat, social media is now paying the bills so abandonment isn’t really an option. When I realized on the weekend that Lent was staring me in the face, I had to come up with something new. It took but a split second before SUGAR popped into my head. (Truth be told, sleep is actually my number one priority at the moment, but giving it up is the opposite of my intention and there is really no other way to spin it appropriately.) As I told a friend the other day, “I’m pretty uncomfortable with how hooked on sugar I truly am.” Cakes and pies, I can take them or leave them; chocolate I could quite frankly live without, but give me some pure stuff – a Wonka brand rock – and I’m out of control. Just ask the two mega boxes of SweetTarts we imported from the states on Saturday…if you can find the empty cardboard in the recycling, that is.

Do even the slightest bit of reading or research into sugar and you’ll see that we are largely a hooked society. It is so bad for us, but we just can’t give it up! I even suspect that in the days when I first go without sugar, I get a headache like that of someone kicking caffeine – and I don’t even eat a lot of the stuff! I abstained for about a week in the summer when we traveled to Alberta to work on the Presidents’ Cup and I felt awesome, but as soon as one touch of the stuff hit my lips, I was completely out of control. Besides that, sugar is in everything so this is no soft challenge I’m signing on for. I’d ask you to wish me luck, but I somehow think Kevin is going to need it more!

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For now….PANCAKES!

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!