Refuse to be Passive

Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Pushing Through

In Life in General on February 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Some days it’s just about pushing forward, pushing through. I moved through today, one task flowing into another. I was in the kitchen in some form or another from 9:30 to 6:30. It’s hard to believe that it is only 9 hours and that soon I will call that a standard workday. The day is a bit of a haze. School is rather clearn—duck confit, recipe development for pork and apple pie bites—but the streetcar ride home is a haze, and I barely remember eating at dinner. Motions become mechanical.  I’m ready for bed, even though it’s only 8:30. I know that there’s still homework to be done though. Typing up recipes and methods before the things I learned today fly out my head. I overcooked the duck breast. I’m really horrible at gauging the doneness of meat. I always seem to overcook the most beautiful cuts of meat. That being said, the recipe we followed had a marinade that made the meat overly salty, so at least I’m not wholly to blame. That being said, it was rather delicious. After all, confit really means poached in fat.

Tomorrow I once again go in to school early, as I’ll be doing for the rest of the week. Recipe development is a time sapping endeavour. Which reminds me, I need to pick up frozen currents to come up with a sauce, gastrique, or chutney to put with the pork and pear bites, as they’re a little on the dry side. Then, once school is done I’ve got my first of two free training sessions with a personal trainer.

My fitness assessment was done yesterday, and I rated  a 2/5 across the board for fitness level. The hour and a half I had in my fitness assessment taught me many things, including the fact that I was never taught how to do a proper push-up, squat, or plank. And here I thought those were things I had down pat. Thankfully, Sven, the built black man doing my assessment, never made me feel uncomfortable or like a failure. He was constantly encouraging and an all-around lovely guy. He’s the type of trainer who makes you think that maybe the gym doesn’t have to be a daunting place. Sadly, he was only assigned to my fitness assessment and tomorrow I will be getting a different trainer. Hopefully she’s lovely as well. She was described to me as “a ball of sunshine.” As long as she’s not so perky that she’s annoying.  After my session I’ll undoubtedly spend a good bit of time in the steam room. It’s a lovely room, and both times I’ve used it thus far, I’ve had it all to myself.

Once I leave the gym, I’ll be heading to home church—my small group. I missed church both this week and last week due to an inability to make myself leave the house. But, things are getting a bit better, and while I may have missed the sermon, I don’t want to miss the Bible study. Goodness knows that I’m in a back slide as far as my spiritual life goes. Just the thought of reading my Bible makes me want to sleep. I also don’t have any good commentaries or reflections to read on faith. The last book I read on faith I didn’t finish, but it was….darn, I can’t even remember the name of it. It was by John Piper and I only got through chapter three before having to return it. I wish I could rediscover Kathleen Norris for the first time. I really did love reading her reflections on faith.

And then I’ll head home on the streetcar, hit the hay,  and then the next day, push through again.

A Craptastic Weekend– kinda

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2012 at 9:17 am

If you are looking for uplifiting words of wisdom on this day, stop reading now. While this may not be a bitter diatribe, it will certainly not be a post filled with joy. Consider yourself warned.

The sun shines brightly through the window, making clear the streaks on the glass, forcing a comment from a flatmate that we really should clean that window. Yes, it’s a thought, and it will probably remain merely that for weeks or months to come. The brilliant red Amaryllis in the window is nearing the end of its cycle for another year. In a week, the blooms will be gone, we’ll cut back the green, and place the bulb into hibernation until next winter. The tiny potted African Violet sitting next to it is drooping, ignored and dejected next to the brilliance of it’s flowering counterpart, and also probably from a lack of water. As I gaze at the African Violet, pathetic and wilting, I can’t help but see it as a reflection of myself in my current state.

This weekend has seen more tears than the past year. A couple of months of mild depression, combined with a cumulation of stress that has finally ceased has allowed my body the opportunity to crash. I have a headache, start crying at random, and drown my sorrows in cake mix and all other manner of unhealthy sugar laden foods. My weight has been going up since prior to Christmas, and I’m now officially over my lifetime goal weight with Weight Watchers which also causes stress. But my diet probably isn’t helping either. Large amounts of refined carbohydrates, artifical sugars, and caffeine all effect the ability of the brain to  provide proper neurotransmitters and cause fatigue. So, really, there’s a lesson to be learned in all this, and it’s one I already knew, “Eat healthy, feel healthy.” So why is it so hard to do? Well, I think that’s another blog post all on it’s own. Funnily enough, when I get depressed, all the things I shouldn’t eat become what I crave. How frustrating life can be. How frustrating. There are other aspects of life that are also causing stress and probably aren’t helping with the crash, but to be honest, writing about them only helps to a certain extent and then it starts to make things worse. So for now I sign off. A good day to you all.

Food: Friend or Foe?

In Life in General on February 19, 2012 at 9:34 pm

I hate food almost as much as I love it. Tonight has been evening of senseless, thoughtless overeating. There has got to be some direct correlation to night time eating and triggers. What are my triggers? Well, food is often a procrastination tactic for me. Whenever I don’t want to do something, I go grab a snack. Such is the case tonight where I don’t want to do my homework. Any other procrastination tactic would make me feel guilty, but for some reason I have deemed eating justifiable. Sad? Yes. True? Yes. The thing is, even while I’m doing It, I know I don’t need to eat. I know I’m not hungry. I do it in spite of myself and that niggling reminder that later I will feel guilty about the copious amounts of food I’ve eaten. Sometimes, that just pushes me to eat more. After all, if I’m going to feel guilty about something, I might as well give myself a real reason to feel guilty. Sometimes I feel like I’m flogging a dead horse. I go back and repeat destructive patterns again and again, entrenching them deeper into my subconscious and increasing the seemingly inevitable odds that I will at some point do it again.  And now, It’s 10:30pm, and my homework still hasn’t been started. The only thing that procrastination by eating has succeeded in doing is making me feel slightly ill. Oie. When will I learn?

In Uncategorized on February 12, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Whining has got to be a pet peeve of mine. Go figure I wind up living in a house with more than it’s fair share.

The best laid plans…

In Life in General on February 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I walked up the street to the streetcar stop. I did the streetcar check, dashing out into the road once making sure there was no oncoming traffic, to see if the trolly was rambling down the tracks toward me. It was nowhere to be seen, so I decided I’d keep going two blocks further north and see if I couldn’t catch the streetcar at Queen. As I covered those two blocks the air bit at my cheeks and the metal in my earrings began to get so cold that I could feel them burning my ears. My vanity kept me from flipping on my parka hood, as it was Sunday morning and I didn’t want my curly hair flattened when I arrived at church. At Queen I did the streetcar check again. No luck on this block either. Thankfully, my local coffee shop– a hipster place with excellent coffee, called Capital Espresso– was open. I ducked inside and ordered myself an Americano to go. It was my strategy for waiting out of the cold and having a well pulled espresso drink at the same time. The staff were friendly as always, but the shop was rather quiet. I guess that was due to it being Sunday morning at 9:10. 

Ten minutes later the streetcar showed up and I gave thanks for Capital Espresso and warmth once more before dashing from the building. I nursed my Americano as the car clacked its way down Queen St. It was a moment of sheer contentment, as I gazed out at the snowy world. That moment of contentment was quickly followed up by a moment of mental insanity. A thought popped into my head that I can truly say I never expected. I sipped the scalding black liquid and thought, “Maybe I should stay in Toronto once school is finished.” I stopped mid sip and slowly lowered the cup from my mouth. It was all I could do to not verbally say, “Excuse me? Care to say that again?” But if I would have said that out loud, everyone on the tram would think me one of the mentally unstable people who often frequent public transit. I started reflecting on what that had meant. Did I mean permanently? Did I mean an extra month? An extra year? What had even brought this foreign thought to mind? Up until that very moment I had a definitive plan to return to Alberta, and probably back to Edmonton. With only two and a half months left, I was nearly counting the days.  So what had happened?

The past few weeks I’ve been increasingly social– within my community and outside of it. I’ve finally found some friends at church, and my social calendar is starting to fill up in a way that it hasn’t since I moved out here. Monday– drop in volleyball, Tuesday– Anti-Valentine’s Christian Mingle, Wednesday– Home Church (at church today I was also invited for dinner that evening). Around the house I’ve been taking more time to chat with Dough and Jodie, and Sunday evenings are turning into a TV night with my friend Kim. I had Kim and Amy over on Saturday to watch a movie. And when I couldn’t get the movie to work, we turned on the Wii and had a blast. So socially, things seem to be on the up and up. I’ve also been getting back into swimming on a semi-regular basis.Oh, and I can’t forget Winterlicious this week at The Chef’s Table with people from church. On a side note, I’ve definitely become a harsher critic now that I’m in culinary school. Sigh.

Then there is the weather. I don’t miss the bitter cold. This winter the lowest temperature we’ve had so far is -16. That’s nothing compared to the -43 they had in Edmonton about a month ago!

What else? I got offered a part-time gig handling social media marketing at school for the rest of my semester. This will likely include updating the Facebook page, starting a Twitter account, and starting a food blog. My career as a food writer is about to begin, and I’ve always enjoyed the marketing bit.

There are two food competitions that I’ll be entering shortly, which I’m looking forward to. And beyond school, I’m finding more and more things in Toronto that I have yet to experience and discover, such as Snakes and Lattes, and Sam James coffee.

As far as I can tell that’s probably most of the reasons that a concept such as that popped into my head. Once the idea of staying in Toronto came to me I immediately sent up a prayer, “Funny. Very funny.” That’s about what it consisted of. I’ve always said not to make plans about where you’re going next because God has a way of taking them and sending you somewhere else– often somewhere you don’t necessarily think you want to be. So, as such, I was making tentative plans, but maintaining that nothing was set in stone. Apparently God likes to twist around tentative plans as well. Now, I’m not saying that I am staying, but it is a wee cause for concern for me at this time. Well, let go and let God right? And now, time to stop procrastinating! The hard drive on my laptop died and now I have the thrilling task of redoing my term project. Goodie.

Ditching the Laptop — Unintentionally, of course

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

After making the post about longing for a simpler life, something rather amazing and disturbing happened to me. The hard drive on my laptop died. It went kaput. And while the repair person is hopeful the information can be saved, between getting the hard drive replaced, getting a new AC adapter cable, and replacing the battery, I might as well get myself a new laptop. But then I start to wonder something truly disturbing:

Do I even want a new laptop?

That’s right. Those very words ran through my head, and not only did they run through my head, they seem to be stuck on repeat. Do I want a new laptop? Do I really want a new laptop? What would life look like without a laptop or desktop computer? I’ve held off on getting an iPhone or a Blackberry. I’ve still got my old Samsung flip phone. I used to have a phone with a keyboard, but it died and so I switched over to my flip phone backup. Now I almost never text, and I don’t miss it. Would that happen with my laptop as well? Would my lack of a laptop eventually become the norm? Would I cease to miss it as I got used to frequenting the library and spending time at the local internet cafe? These thoughts keep surfacing in my brain.

What would change without a laptop? No downloaded or streamed TV programs. No way to check my e-mail at home. No way to do my online banking at home. No way to waste time on Facebook at home. No way to blog at home. My journaling would cease to be typed and I’d be forced to pick up a pen and write in cursive. My journal entries would be more insightful and less verbal mess. Strangely enough, none of these concepts scare me. In fact, many of them sound downright attractive, such as a lack of ability to stream TV episodes and to have only intentional access to Facebook. But then there is that one niggling concern that just won’t go away. What will I do without being able to access recipes online!? I’ll have to go back to cookbooks, with no user ratings or comments to guarantee a quality product the first time! It would be a culinary disaster! Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but maybe not. It would be the equivalent of the fall of the Roman Empire and the lapse into the Dark Ages. Easy access to digital recipes would be replaced by words written on a page. I’d have to test and tweak myself. Oh goodness. Not that I don’t do that anyway, but now I’d have to do truly substantial tweaking. And what if my theme is Jamaican and I don’t have access to any Jamaican recipes? Oh wait, then I walk up to the library and print some off.

One thing is for certain, lacking a laptop would create yet another need to live life more intentionally. To slow down and think things through. I’m still not sure how I feel about this, so for now I’ll keep mulling it over.

Longing for a Simpler Life

In Life in General on February 5, 2012 at 9:25 am

Sometimes I long for a different pace of life—a simpler life. I long for a life in which TV doesn’t exist and an evening still consists of a family gathering together to read poetry out loud or to tell fairytales to children. I long for a life where there are no video games to sap our time, and where there is no yelling in the house for children to clean up or for children to be quiet. I long for a place where children can spend time outside without needing to be under direct supervision for fear or bullying or abductions. I long for a time and place in which life is sweet in it’s simplicity—where the beauty of a sunny day and the song of birds in the bush can bring a smile to one’s face. Life in the big city is not so.

Small pleasures in life are punted aside by distractions. I confess that while I say I’ve given up TV, this weekend I lapsed and watched copious amounts of episodes online between Friday night and Saturday. And you know what? It’s been a bit of a crappy weekend. The weekends I enjoy most are those with no TV, no video games, no movies. The weekends I enjoy most consist of a warm cup of coffee and a crossword; a warm cup of tea and a letter written to my grandparents; the couch drenched in a stream of sunlight and me curled up with my latest book; playing around in the kitchen working on recipe development; going for a walk outside and enjoying the weather; an evening of board games with friends; or time spent at the local museum learning something new. Small pleasures.

Part of me would love to run a boarding house. To take in students at the local university, provide them with a hot breakfast in the morning, a warm meal in the evening, and a clean, safe environment in which to live. I long to live in a community when Christ’s call to respect one another is heeded and not punted aside by cares of the day, a place where a clean home is a happy home and where relationships are cultivated in a healthy way. I would love a home with a bit of land that allows for summer games of bocce and outdoor barbecues.

But that is not my life. My life is lived in a messy house. My roommates can’t seem to keep the place clean if their lives depended on it. Their kids are constantly wining and complaining, and the parents whine and complain in return. There is the occasional bout of yelling or crying. The kitchen, like the rest of the house is a perpetual mess and I often hide out in my room. Yesterday, one of my housemates commented that I had three months to go in school, and what would it take me to stay after the fact? I could have laughed. I don’t know that anything could make me stay at this point—at least not in this house. This home is not a haven. I wouldn’t mind remaining part of the community, but I certainly couldn’t live in any of the communal houses we currently have. They’re all a chaotic mess all the time, both literally and figuratively. No, I would need a place on my own, or maybe with one or two others who share my love of a healthy environment in a mental, spiritual, and physical sense. I suspect though that my remaining time in this community will be limited to three months. I suspect that after that time I will return out west, although there is a certain temptation to go south across the lake or east into the maritimes. But regardless of where I go, I plan on cultivating that simplistic life. I may even go back to having a home without internet. That would force me to frequent local coffee shops to get on the internet and help me develop relationships within my neighbourhood. And isn’t that what we’re called to as Christians? To get out of our bubble and embrace those living around us? To get to know and become and integral part of our neighbourhoods? To take a vested interest in people as a complete form, not just their souls? Thoughts continue to arise in my mind this Sunday morning. It gives me hope for the week ahead after a rather crappy weekend. It also reminds me that I need to finish that dishcloth I’m knitting. Right. I’m off to live the simple life! Hopefully I don’t get suckered into the TV episodes that I so frequently get tempted to download onto my computer! Maybe I’ll go for a walk by the lake. Considering how close it is, I don’t take advantage of it often enough.

Content with Mediocrity

In Life in General on February 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Some people are perfectly content with mediocrity. They’re happy going through their lives never amounting to much. They’re neither the best nor worst at anything. They are neither hot nor cold, happy nor sad, neither obscure or influential. They are the people who we see day in and day out, but don’t really notice until they’re gone.

 

I live with a few such people. They are not medicore in all aspects of their lives, but there are definite areas in which they are content with doing less than their best. One such individual was making soup tonight, and as she finished up the soup she said, “It’s really not a very good soup.”  I tried the soup, and while it was simple, it was barely passable– certainly nothing memorable. I encouraged her saying, “If you’re not happy with it, let’s fix it.” I thought she might want to tweak it a bit so she could present a meal she was proud of to her family. Rather than being gung-ho on the idea, she simply said, “No. I think we’ll leave it like it is.” Really? Leave it like it is when you’re not even happy with it? Does anyone else see an odd form of inconsistency there? I tried to push it a bit, suggesting adding spices or a dash of white wine vinegar to really bring out the flavours the soup already contained. When I suggested the white wine vinegar, her husband protested. I looked at him and said, “You like my soups. I always add some form of wine vinegar at the end. It helps provide depth and bring out the natural flavours.” But I respected his wishes and did not add it to their soup. His wife then made some random comment about me needing to respect the nature of potatoes (it was potato soup), and while she was joking I detected and underlying note of seriousness. Really? Respect the potato? Isn’t it showing food the most respect when you work with it in such a way to enhance it’s natural flavours and really make it shine? Is making a medicore soup a way to respect your soup? No! You want it to be the best it can be. Anytime you respect something you do your best to give a good presentation of it– whether it’s in food or other aspects of life.

 

Are you content with mediocrity? Are you tempted to say “good enough” when with a bit of tweaking or a different presentation it could be something truly great? I know that I have areas in my life like that. What are yours?