Today's Thoughts

There's something about going away to really put your current life situation into perspective. I recently had the pleasure of going to Panama for a dear friends wedding. It was exactly what I needed. After losing Hazel so abruptly and working pretty intensely over the course of the last 5 months

Leaving on a jet plane✈️

Leaving on a jet plane✈️

I needed a little restart. A refresh if you will. And while it definetly worked for about a week, the affects of my vacation has started to fade and I feel myself sinking back into this sense of blah, hum drum and awkward complacency.  In other words, I need to get my shit in order and start focusing on me again. 

I started this blog/website just over 4 months ago. I remember that time well. I was filled with a sense of excitement for all the things I was going to create. All the inspirational blogs I was going to pen. All the new followers I was going to incur. And while I do believe I have written a few great blogs and the site is off to a great start, I come back to that..hmmm, not quite satisfied feeling again. Wtf, I say to myself. Back to the proverbial drawing board.  

I've always been hard on myself.  I've also (truth be told) been a bit of a procrastinator. Not exactly the best combo. First, you just don't do what you keep saying you're going to do and then proceed to beat yourself up for it.. I've gotten better over the last 4 years. Sobriety was a game changer but habits formed over a lifetime are very hard to break. 

So here I am feeling like I haven't completed enough, written enough, created or taught enough and decided to put this blog out to share my feelings of inadequacy and garner some sense of relief by producing a piece but the TRUTH is, is that I'm doing EXACTLY what I need to be doing. In the past month I have secured 2 classes a week at IAM yoga. My very own classes and they are going great. I'm on the sub list at my home studio and  I am starting a teacher training on anatomy which I'm super stoked about to further my yoga education. I'm working at the restaurant 3 nights a week, intragramming like its my job and practicing everyday sometimes twice a day. I'm a tad bit busy and loving every minute of it. So why in the world am I feeling like this? Is it because I wasted so much of my life drinking and drugging? Do I feel like I'm too late in the game to be an inspirational teacher with a voice? I guess the answers remain in the journey. I guess I will need to keep asking the questions to keep peeling back the plethora of layers I am still discovering. It's all a process and it's all good. I'm grateful for it all. 

Panama

So here I am in Panama. First all inclusive experience since 2004 and def the first one since getting sober. My sponsor is getting married and when asked the obvious answer was yes. Middle of January in Toronto isn't the friendliest of weather and I'd never been to Panama so, here I am. A couple of days before the trip I started to have doubts. I mean it's an all-inclusive so that means booze everywhere and lots of it. I started to feel trepidation around not knowing anyone but the bride and wether I was going to have proper food, no yoga... Blah, blah, blah. All fear based excuses to why I was obviously having doubts to this vacation. Well, day 1 is pretty much in the can and I can tell you I'm incredibly glad I said yes to this trip. The food is pretty limited and yes of course the booze flows like water and there's no yoga classes but hell I'm a bloody teacher so I can teach my own damn class☺️ Fact is it's been great. I have met some amazing women (and men) whom I know I will be friends with after this week. One woman in particular who amazingly enough doesn't even drink. How awesome is that? I will be leading us through a class on one of the most beautiful beaches I've been on. The sand is back, grey, white and everything mixed into one. The volcanic sand is just gorgeous. The ocean is stunning and the sun is exactly what this little yogi needs. I'm so glad I said yes. Saying yes to life is what makes life worth living. Having the courage to say yes even if you are nervous with the outcome. Life is too short to say no to amazing experiences. Life is just too damn short period. Say yes... 

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What Yoga Means To Me

 Natarajasana in Krabi, Thailand  

 Natarajasana in Krabi, Thailand  

I have been asked many times how long I've been practicing yoga. Truth is that's a bit of a long answer. I started practicing yoga back in 1997 in my final year of theatre school. My movement teacher incorporated an hour and a half of Bikram yoga every Friday morning. It was my first experience with asana and I fell in love right away. I continued to practice after college. I found a Bikram studio downtown and practiced regularily. I also started to branch out. I started practicing at Downward Dog with Diane Bruni and tried to get to class at least twice a week but something else was brewing in me. Something that at the time I thought was relatively normal. I mean, everyone was partying. Drinking and drugging were part of my social life life like tea and cookies go together. I was a waitress in a fast paced supper club where everyone was drinking and drugging. Cocaine, ecstasy, weed and copious amounts of booze.. It was everywhere and accepted as par for the course. What does this have to do with yoga you might ask? Well for me, it pretty much has everything to do with it. 

As my alcoholism took hold of me my yoga practice dwindled. I thought about it often and the odd time I dragged my hungover ass to a class I spent half the time wondering where I would have "lunch" after class. "Lunch" being code word for: where is there a decent LISCENCED place as close to the studio that I can get a glass of wine with food. Not exactly the thoughts that should be coursing through a yogi's mind while in savasana. But it was what it was. I think I even went to class a few times half in the bag. I mean, who doesn't have a couple glasses of wine after work and go to yoga. I was a smoker at the time too. I seriously apologize to anyone who practiced beside me back then. Who doesn't just love a stale wine and ciggy reeking practitioner? Seriously, I am sorry. 

Needless to say my practice fell into the background of my life. I thought of it often but alcohol and drugs had me in its clutches. Cunning, baffling and powerful. I honestly didn't see it coming and then it was too late. All of a sudden 10years passed and I was full blown. I was a desperate, depressed barely functioning drunk with a very bleak outlook on my future. I knew I needed help. I desperately wanted to stop but I didn't know how. I couldn't see my life without the wine glass in my hand. I had built an identity around wine and as much as I knew I was an alcoholic, I kept thinking that if I REALLY wanted it badly enough that I would be able to stop. But I couldn't. The insanity and obsession was so embedded in me that there was only 1 way out. I had to quit. There wasn't any other way.

I was very fortunate to have met a few alcoholics in the restaurant industry. As you can well imagine there's a few of us in the business and with the help and guidance of one particular friend I found my way to a detox centre and AA. I made a commitment the day I walked through the door of the Glendale House at St Joseph's Hospital. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I couldn't take the stress, the shame and the embarrassment any longer. I was ready to quit and get on with my life. I just had no idea what that looked like or how I was going to get there but the important thing was, that I was ready. 

3 months into my sobriety I decided to give myself a gift. I had been wanting desperately to go on a yoga retreat that my friend Grace Van Berkum was holding out of Nicaragua. I thought, what a better way to kick start the "living" part of my sobriety than getting healthy and start doing yoga again! I went on that retreat and to say it changed the course of my life would be a massive understatement. It changed everything... 

I came back from that trip with a different spring in my step. My body started to change. After all the years of abusing my body with alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and poor eating habits, my body, skin and hair started to reflect what was happening to my insides. After that trip, I started to feel stronger and people started to notice weight was falling off of me. My skin started to look brighter, my eyes were clearer. I joined a yoga studio called Kula in the Annex and practiced everyday. I went to the studio with as much fervour as I did when I had done my 90 meetings in 90 days. I couldn't miss a day. Some might say that I became addicted to yoga. In hindsight I would have to agree. But in my opinion, becoming addicted to yoga, health and wellness was a whole hell of a lot better than the alternative. Having an addictive personality like mine, you have to be careful about everything but I truly believe that my crazy attachment to yoga back in the early stages of my sobriety helped catapult me into where I am today. I know that for sure. 

Last year I decided to take my love of yoga to the next level. I had been practicing religiously in between running a restaurant and had come to a point where I wanted more from my practice. I wanted to be a teacher. I was terrified of taking the plunge,  but nobody ever achieved greatness by playing it safe so I did it. I applied to the Yandara Yoga Institute in Baja, Mexico and after being accepted, started to plan a journey of a lifetime. I decided to take my journey beyond the training to Bali, Thailand, India and London England. A little Eat, Pray, Love if you will. It was amazing. A solo journey that took 5 1/2 months to complete. It was scary, exhilarating, lonely, satisfying and exactly what I needed to put my life into perspective. 

4 months back and I am teaching at IAM Yoga, subbing at Kula and saying yes to as many teaching opportunities as I can. Yoga opened up a world to me I never thought existed or if I did, I didn't think I would be privy to it. I know now that I can do anything I want or set my mind to. I am a strong, beautiful, talented, compassionate woman who has been to hell and back through the world of addiction. Yoga and sobriety has given me a life I only thought other people were allowed to have. I'm excited for my future with all of the unknown possibilities. My head is clear and my heart is open. 

Yoga means the world to me. It saved me during a very dark time. It provided light and breath when I needed it most. I love the fact that I get to share this ancient practice with those that are open to its potential. I believe I have a calling to give back to my AA community by bringing yoga to people who were just like me. I know I am supposed to be on this path. I know God has a plan for me. I am a very grateful sober yogi today. That is what yoga means to me. 

I turn 4 today

Today marks my 4 year birthday. 4 years ago today I decided to take my life back and quit drinking. So much has changed in these 4 years. Physically, mentally and emotionally. I am much stronger than I ever gave myself credit for, that I know for sure. In this past week I also had my actual birthday as well. I turned 41 and while having Christmas, birthday, New Years and my sobriety bday all in one week might seem like a lot (which it actually is-really, it's a lot..), I'm actually grateful for it too. I get it all done in one fell swoop. 

I remember what brought me to my knees as clear as day. I remember the feeling in my stomach. Butterflies with razor wings. I remember the shame, anger and frustration coursing through my veins like a hot toxic liquid. I wanted a different life. A life filled with happiness, clarity and positivity. I wanted to stop the insanity in my brain. I desperately wanted to quit drinking but I truly didn't think I could. At least not on my own.. Turns out, I didn't have to do it on my own. I put myself into rehab for 4 days upon the recommendation of a fellow alcoholic. It was the only way. I needed to be away from the temptation of the liquor store up the street and the bars close to my house. I needed an opportunity to go cold turkey. I had struggled for years with the knowledge I was a full-blown alcoholic. A blackout drinker who obsessed with it every minute of everyday. Even tho the rehab stint was only a matter of days it was exactly what I needed to get me started. I didn't really have any other choice you see. I didn't have the money to go away for a month. I had to work in order to pay my bills and rent. Going away for 28 days wasn't an option so I did what I could. The amount of gratitude I have for those 4 days at that detox centre is beyond words. I know in my guts that had I not gone there that day on January 2nd 2012 I would still be an active drunk today. 

So today is a good day. A great day. An absolutely, positively flipping amazing day. Even tho I'm battling a demon of a head cold I am sober. I am healthy (ish😉), happy and fit. I am writing this as I sit at IAM yoga where I am a teacher and one of the managers. I am so excited for 2016.. So much good is going to happen. I know that for sure too....  

December Madness

I have been stressed a lot this week. I made a mistake at my restaurant job and it threw me into a tizzy that just didn't seem normal.  I am trying to get to the bottom of what is really bothering me. I have been maintaining my routine everyday. Waking up, drinking my lemon water, saying my thank you's, meditating and saying my prayers. So that's not it. December is always a crazy month. I always work more than I should and this year it's different because I have 3 other jobs to add to the list. Firstly, the yoga studio is new. I am managing a couple of nights a week and while you wouldn't think working at a yoga studio would be stressful, it actually is. Teaching is new. I haven't found a regular class that is totally mine as of yet but I have been subbing unexpectedly over the past two weeks, which is also stressing me out cause I feel like I should be teaching regularily by now and I'm not. And finally,  trying to maintain a presence on my new blog/website is also new. It's a lot. I know this and as I type I now realize why my emotions have been getting the better of me. I'm tired. I am very tired. I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and saw huge bags under my eyes. I have officially bitten off more than I can chew. 

Why do we do this to ourselves? 

I have done a lot of work personally over the course of the past 4 years not including the therapy I did over 10 years ago. I know my triggers. But 1 thing that I still haven't figured out is that feeling of butterflies with razor wings in my belly. It comes when I get a text from my bosses, or colleagues. It comes when someone doesn't respond right away to a text or message. I know we all have it. We may call it different things but we all get it. I'm still working through my issues. Still wading through the years of crap that I covered up with drugs and alcohol. It's refreshing actually. Knowing that I still have work to do. So many layers to peel back. I'm grateful for it but it sucks ass all the same.  

Back to December... I know what I have to do. First, I have to breathe deeply whenever that feeling comes up. Acknowledge its existence and breathe through it. Secondly, give myself a damn break. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Almost anything is fixable and not as nearly bad as it seems. If anyone out there that is reading this feels any thing like this please know you are not alone. Breathe it out. The universe has got your back and know that this too shall pass. 

 

Meatless Mondays (I'm always meatless but love the hashtag😜)

 curried sweet potato, chickpea, tomato & spinach soup

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 large sweet potato cubef
  • 1 tsp turmeric  
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 fistfuls baby spinach
  • 1 can diced tomato (28 fl oz) 
  • 1 can chickpeas (rinsed) 
  • 1/2 cup red lentils (rinsed) 
  • sea salt & gr. pepper
  • 4 cups water  
  • olive oil to finish
  • nutritional yeast (optional) 

instrctions

  1. saute onions and garlic until becomes translucent 
  2. add carrots and celery. Cook for a couple minutes, then add sweet potato
  3. add spices. Stir to incorporate  
  4. after about 5 minutes add can of tomatoes. Add salt and pepper. Let cook for 3-5 min then add water and red lentils. 
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer until vegetables are almost cooked through. Approx 20 min. 
  6. Add rinsed chickpeas and spinach. Check for seasoning. 
  7. Serve up in bowls and finish with olive oil and nutritional yeast. ENJOY!! 
On Mondays I make soup ❤️ 

On Mondays I make soup ❤️ 

Thank you

I woke up this morning and like every morning I said thank you. First. Before putting my feet on the floor. Before checking my phone or drinking lemon water. THANK YOU. Some mornings are easier to get into the groove than others. So many variables to consider but one thing I know for sure is that what you put out you are sure to get back. With the spirit of gratitude I set down to meditate. My affirmation this morning went something like this.. I align my will with the Devine and move forward with confidence and clarity.  I  am very grateful for my spiritual practice. I don't know where I'd be without it. I am still learning, still putting my words and thoughts into action. But it's working!  Everyday is different but One thing will remain the same. I will continue on this spiritual journey and share about my experience as often as possible. Namaste friends🙏🏼

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Listen In

I think I'm finally getting it.  How to listen to myself that is. I've been on this road of recovery, health and wellness for just under 4 years now. I can tell you one thing for sure, I am nautical miles ahead of where I was then. I started on this journey incredibly unhealthy. From the top down everything was in need of repair, and little by little as time has gone on I've been able to bring myself back to this new and improved self.  I could write 2000 words on how my body has changed but I'll save that one for another post. This is about listening and turning inward and that my friends has been and will be a journey of a lifetime. 

About 3 1/2 years ago I nose dived into yoga. I had been practicing since 1997 and for a while I had been very serious about it. Then my alcoholism took hold and yoga took such a back seat that it wasn't even in the same car😁. 3 months into my sobriety I decided to take myself on a healthy vacation. I decided to go on a yoga retreat. It changed my life. Quite literally. I couldn't get enough of it!! After the retreat I joined Kula Yoga in Toronto and practiced as often as I could. I stopped going to my AA meetings because I now had yoga. It was a new type of healing. But because of my addictive tendencies I got addicted to yoga as well. I over did it and ended up injuring myself. I hadn't realized that I had torn my hamstring. I just kept practicing over it because I didn't have the language or body awareness. I wasn't listening to my body. I was just feeding another addiction... 

3 years has passed since that injury and I'm STILL dealing with it. I see an RMT once a week cause I have to. If I want to keep practicing as much I do I must take care of my body. I MUST LISTEN. I have grown a great deal in 3   1/2 years but I still have a long way to go and God willing I'll be on This journey of listening, learning & self-realization for many years to come.  Now, I understand my body. I have the language and the awareness. I still practice every day but now I know what to look for. I know how to modify and listen. This my friends, is my yoga. I listen loud and clear because my body is my best teacher and I know what happens when I don't pay attention.. 

Morning Meditations

This morning I woke up to a grey and rainy day. Perfect for sleeping but Hazel the cat had other plans for me. Silly kitty.. I padded around my house, drank my lemn water and grabbed my stones. Ever since my magical time in Bali I have been gravitating toward crystals. I had an amazing experience with a beautiful woman in Ubud who not only collected crystals but does readings with them too. She believes they speak to her and after my reading I became a believer too. This morning I picked up two of the crystals I've been working with and got to meditating. Inhaling and exhaling, breathing in and breathing out. Meditation doesn't have to be complicated. It all starts with the breath. People ask me all the time how I "do it"? And the simplest answer to that is just breathe. You don't have to try to clear your mind because all of our minds wander. We all have thoughts that come to us when we meditate. She practice is acknowledging them and letting them go. Coming back to the breath. It's really that simple. Start with 5 minutes and work from there. It truly has changed my life. Life still gets messy, complicated and tough but when you have your meditation practice to turn too life's curveballs become easier to manage. It's not that life changes, but how you react to it does. Take 5 minutes or whatever you can allow. Just breathe🙏🏼

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Things that go with coffee☕️

It was just over a year ago when I met this beam of light at the restaurant I manage. She came in all quiet like for a bite at the bar. She wanted something vegetarian and obviously that peaked my interest, as I too am a veggie, and that kinda got our friendship rolling. I believe in my heart that people come into your life for a reason. I know for sure she certainly did. We had more in common than I thought. We touched on many topics. I asked her if she was on Instagram and she shyly said yes. I went on it and saw she had over 2400 followers and I was like WHAT??? YA you're on Instagram (she's doubled that since then but who's counting😜)! But it was our chat about recovery that really connected us. I knew God had sent her to me. And I'm very grateful for it. 

About 4 months after our first encounter I went on a major life trip. I went to become a certified yoga teacher and traveled Bali, Thailand, India and London England. We stayed in touch on social media and upon my return connected in real time. I taught a yoga class at the MaRS building and invited her to come along. 

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I had made some superfood power balls for all the practitioners after class as a treat. And according to my dear friend (@thelittleblackcoffeecup) that's where the idea was born for this collaboration.  She emailed me and proposed the idea... #thingsthatgowithcoffee being the tag she was working on.  

Grammin

Grammin

She came over with a fantastic bag of coffee, a hand grinder and her camera and we got to work. 

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter

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Getting messy  

Getting messy  

Rolling

Rolling

As she snapped away I got messy making balls. It was such a lovely afternoon. Please go follow her amazing Instagram account @thelittleblackcoffeecup and go to her website to read her version of that day's events☺️ 

Superfood Energy Balls

*makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Rolled Oats (I used Bob's Red Mill's gf)
  • 1/3 cup Maple Syrup
  • 2/3 cup Unsweetened Desiccated coconut (plus extra for topping)
  • 2 tbsp. Hemp seeds (plus extra for topping!)
  • 1 tbsp. Chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup Carob Chips
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Pure Vanilla
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup Ground Flax
  • Handful of Pumpkin Seeds
  • Handful of Sunflower Seeds

Method:

  1.  Stir to mix.  Use your hands!!  Roll into balls.
  2. Balls should be sticky.  Roll into topping of choice (hemp, cacao, chia...)
  3. Store your Superfood Energy Balls in the freezer!
  4. Enjoy!!
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Why all my smoothies are green💚

I've been making smoothies now for quite some time. Ever since the purchase of my beloved blender (blendtec all the way😜!) it's become a daily routine. It's the perfect meal after yoga as I can get all the nutrients I need packed into 1 mighty glass🌱. All my smoothies start the same way... GREEN!! I have a particular recipe that varies slightly but the base basically remains the same. Starting from the bottom up, filtered water, any dairy free milk that is on hand (I've started making all my milks homemade. The BEST!), ginger, cucumber, celery, spinach or kale (more on that in a minute), blueberries, frozen banana, spirulina, hempseeds or chia (most of the time both but not necessary). That pretty much does it. The variety comes with whether I can get gorgeous sunflower sprouts which are PACKED with enzymes that gives life back to our bodies, whatever dark leafy greens look good that day.  "They say" it's good to switch up the greens so I do it periodically so my body doesn't get bored. Dandelion, Swiss Chard, any leftover mesclun mix. Whatever..as long as it's green. Fruits that are in season like persimmon (current obsession😜) strawberries, papaya. 

Persimmons! 

Persimmons! 

You get the drift. I can't seem to get away from the green colour and I've made peace with that. The greener the better I always say! After years of treating my body like a garbage can I am proud of what I now choose. 

I mean, just look at this beauty👆🏼? Cheers all!!! 

I mean, just look at this beauty👆🏼? Cheers all!!! 

introduction

What do "they" always say?  Third times the charm?  I have been working on this first blog post since November 11th.  I had it done yesterday.  I re-read it and with a press of a button it was gone.  100% intentional.  This morning was the same thing.  I just wasn't happy with how I was presenting myself for the first time so here I go again.  With my belly full of this gorgeous bowl of oats I will tell you why I have decided to start this blog.

In the past 4 years I have been working on giving my life a major overhaul from the INSIDE OUT.  It started with staying sober, but it has morphed into so much more.  It has been a gradual transformation but a formidable one.  I have been asked several times in the past couple of years if I had a food blog but never had the time.  Well, I have recently re-arranged my life to focus more on me.  So here it is.  MY blog will be a daily/weekly showing of what is happening in my life and in my kitchen.  I hope to inspire people to make positive changes in there lives.  If I can do it, anyone can.  I hope you enjoy the read and all the pictures.  Stay tuned!!