Monday, July 8, 2013

Most Common Mistakes Vegans Make... I've Made 'Em All, Part 1

I have become a little lazy with blogging lately. I noticed that I am spending way too much time on facebook, LinkedIn, and the internet in general. These procrastinatory habits, along with receiving my very first rejection from a publisher letter and my incessant journal-keeping, have all led me to feel like a real writer. Finally! Yet, I think I have stated this before. Why, oh why, do I need to have these rites of passage to feel like a real writer? Well, I think it is because society does not always look highly on writers. I mean, isn't everyone writing a book? Doesn't every celebrity have a children's book or a cookbook? Aren't there a billion blogs out there? Who am I, then? Writer, shmiter. By the way, I am beginning to not like blogger/blogpost (the site in which my blog lives). The formatting over the last year sucks. I can't get the layout right and they keep updating and improving blogger until the features are unrecognizable. On another note... Recently, I have come across a few websites that are talking about common mistakes that vegans make. I found these articles helpful and wish I saw them at about the time I became vegan two years ago. Here are a few examples... These mistakes were written by Jenné Claiborne, a vegan chef, cooking instructor, and health coach from the website Amanda Rose Wellness. Here top 3 mistakes are: Mistake #1. You've unconsciously become a Bread-a-tarian I have totally been there and done that. I have toast each morning and often this is the safe go-to option when I am in a restaurant with no vegan options. Bread and salad (without creamy dressing) to be exact. (Often this is what the sympathetic waiter actually offers me as a meal with maybe... just maybe some plain rice. This is the typical scenario which led me to re-introducing cheese in such scenarios. Sniff. You made me eat... cheese.) The salad is not so bad since it may be packed with ingredients but it is hard to get that "full" feeling on leafy greens. This is where the bread comes in. It is very filling and you can dress it up with ump-teen toppings. Mistake #2: You’re not eating enough Okay, this was the case for me two years ago when I first became vegan. Oh my God. It was the first week of being vegan. The headaches, the fatigue, the bitchiness, the crankiness, the light-headed about-to-faint feeling, the I'm-still-hungry-every-hour feeling... did I mention the light-headedness. (My husband asked me if this was "de-toxing". It felt more like withdrawal from some mind-altering substance... not that I have any idea what that is about.) If you're going through this phase of veganism, get out of it REAL FAST. What did I do? Well, I said to myself, "Der gots to be a better way." I went on the internet and found the vegan food pyramid. Ta da! This Vegan Food Pyramid saved my life. I began to follow it and eat all of the servings suggested. When I did this, bought a few vegan cookbooks, and tried these meals, I not only felt full all the time, I felt GOOD. Keep in mind, while I was becoming vegan, I was also recovering from the removal of my whole thyroid, adjusting to the doses of Cytomel and then later Synthroid (the synthetic hormone to replace natural thyroid), and preparing for "going hypo" (I guess I do know about mind-altering withdrawal after all) and then radiation. Given all of this, with lots of adjustments, going vegan was do-able. Mistake #3: Being unprepared As I mentioned, in my early years of vegan-dom, I was totally unprepared. I did not have any makings of a vegan meal in my house other than a half bag of kidney beans and some rice. After I got the vegan pyramid and my cookbooks, I loaded up on such vegan staples as nutritional yeast (still don't know what that is), extra firm tofu, and almond milk. I learned to cook everything from great stews to casseroles to rice dishes to vegan pie and even Jamaican beef patties. (Please see my Vegan Photo Albums for proof.) I have also learned to travel vegan and be not so the pesky houseguest. I buy my own vegan eatables and also make plans ahead for wherever I may be staying. I go to sites like Happy Cow to find out the vegan restaurants in whichever city or community I will be in. But being unprepared is something that still happens to me. The school I teach at just so happens to be beside a Dairy Queen and a gas station. Uh oh... you can guess what happens when Blue Butterfly is at the school and has had an especially busy, hectic, noisy, hot (the portable and classrooms I teach in have no air-conditioning), long day and she is leaving the school at 6pm or 7pm? C'mon. I'm sure you can take a guess. Let me add that I did not bring any 3pm snacks and I'm also famished and I have a sweet tooth... I buy $2.00 bag of mixed-nuts... $2.00 for 75 grams of something that I can make at home for a lot cheaper and did you see the fat content? 28 grams of fat for a 75 gram bag of trail mix! Half the content of this bag is fat. OR... it gets worse. I tiptoe into Dairy Queen and I check out their flavour of the month blizzard but then I don't buy their flavour of the month blizzard. Instead, I by a mini or small Dairy Queen Turtle Blizzard with cookie dough. This is what I'm eating, people! These foods are not even vegan! Plus, if you look like on my list "Why Did I Get Thyroid Cancer?", milk is on that list. Oh... the horror! Okay, well I know the first step in recovery is to acknowledge that there is a problem. The second is to take the first step in fixing it by stocking up on vegan snacks in my classroom (a nice collection of seeds since nuts are not allowed due to the peanut allergy, dried fruit, soynut butter sandwiches, fruit, soya or coconut yogurt, a mini-fridge in my classroom to store it all) and getting my ass out of the school at a decent hour. (C'mon! Everyone knows teachers finish working at 3 o'clock. Duh!) But I shouldn't be so hard on myself. At least, I try to live a vegan existence in this meat-a-tarian world or at least this side of the world is. If I lived in many rural parts of the world and/or my fish allergy was non-existent, my diet would consist of very little meat. So at least, I am giving myself a pat on the back for making the effort. But still... they made me eat cheese.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

98 year old Vegan

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dreams Can Come True

I realize that my dreams are slowly becoming reality or at least in the process of happening. I feel like they are happening now. Dreams help me keep going. Each day is a step closer to my dreams. Each day my dreams become clearer and clearer to me. I am excited about the possibilities.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How Do I Hustle?

I went to the 4th Annual How She Hustles Brunch on May 25, 2013. I should also say that I was lucky (when opportunity meets timing) to get a ticket because it sold out within 24 hours. This event was organized by the beautiful and talented Emily Mills and her team of enterprising women. I was quite impressed with this event. I have known Emily for about ten years now through my networking thanks to my festival ICED IN BLACK. Emily has been present to support me at two particular important events in my life-- my ICanSurvive picnic and my at-home wedding ceremony last fall. Emily is positive, vivacious, and knows how to hustle as a media-savvy, newly wed, and new mom-preneur. One of her hustles is freelance photography (I have seen her buzzing around various events). Another is working in the field of media production and communications at two of Canada's major television outlets. Lastly, Emily is creating quite a name for herself as an organizer of this major event, HOW SHE HUSTLES. This year, it was essential that I make it to this event no matter what. Even if it meant taking an overnight megabus from New York City (for a relatives funeral) which ran almost two hours late, running home for a quick shower, so I could make it to HOW SHE HUSTLES almost two hours late. Regardless, I felt that I needed to be there first, to support Emily in this wonderful endeavour and second, to be inspired by 100 women who also share positive visions, dreams, and wisdom. I met women who had their own successful businesses and enterprises, women who were balancing motherhood, relationships, family, and career. I met women who like me were venturing into other directions. The overall experience was a positive one and I so glad that I got my sleep-deprived self "all dolled up" to attend this event. It is possible! I will post more photos soon.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dreamers Afraid to Dream

This morning, I woke up with a long list of things TO DO. I wonder if it is realistic or even possible however it is what I set out to do. I believe in writing down my goals. I believe in looking at them OFTEN. I also believe in breaking them down into manageable bite-sized pieces. One way I do this is by having my list of 90 day goals. For February 24 to May 24, I had a list of 16 goals. (It's hard to stay at 10.) I accomplished all but 4. The reasons were out of my control. For example, #1 Sell my car and #7 Train for a 10km in May were thwarted due to my car accident that totalled my vehicle and also required me to change my training schedule since I needed to rest my back. Otherwise, I am fiercely proud of what I have been able to accomplish. The 21-day challenge is another story. What I have learned is not that I cannot do my list of goals in 21 days is that there is a difference between a habit and a goal. The 21-day challenge is designed to formulate new habits. In addition, I can only work on one new habit at a time. So, as I get closer to the end of May, I am realizing that my original New Year's resolution of blogging once a week is attainable. This month, I have been able to many times. This is my 16th post which says to me that this goal is totally attainable. I think my new 21-day habit in June will be being at least 15 minutes early to my appointments and places I need to go. Speaking of goals, I also think of dreams. After all, a goal is a dream with a deadline. I have achieved some of my dreams and I continue to dream. One of my dreams is to get my children's stories published. I am one step closer. I submitted a manuscript of a children's book to a publisher who has taken a look at it, likes it, and offered a lot of feedback. I was/am thrilled and terrified. When I saw the letter, I did not want to look at it out of fear. Fear of what? I don't know. Fear of my own success? Fear of the fact that this was actually happening? I was at work and then when I got home, I decided to read the letter again. I was scared to look at it. Then, I read it again and I was also scared to look at the comments on the manuscript. Was I scared of criticism? OMG. Anyway, I saw on trey anthony's blog today a post by Tyler Perry which I could relate to. I felt like I was reading my journal. Well except the part about the Oprah Winfrey Network of course. Here it is: THIS IS FOR FRUSTRATED DREAMERS I was driving in to work this morning and I started thinking about all the days I dreaded going to work. I was so sick of it… the job, my boss, the people I worked with, the traffic… I would wake up angry every morning. I didn’t want to deal with the crap of the job, but I was forced to go. I had been homeless, I was broke, living paycheck to hopefully the next paycheck. I couldn’t take a day off for fear I would get fired. I was just frustrated. I thought I hated my life and the job. It was so aggravating because God had placed all these dreams and hopes in my soul and mind and I had no idea how they were going to come to pass. To have a dream of being something better and living better than the way I was at that moment and to not see a way of getting there felt like death to me. I thought, “Dear God, why would you give me so much hope and not make a way?” But what I learned through prayer was, with no path in front of you and no road map… this is where true faith begins. With faith I realized that I wasn’t frustrated with my life or the job, I was frustrated because I was a person who had dreams for myself, a person who had visions for my life and I wasn’t living it. Have you ever been there, where you felt so strongly that there was more to this life than what you see in front of you? One of the most difficult things about being a dreamer is the fear that the dream will never happen. I’m here as a living witness to tell you your dreams can come true. You can’t give up. And I am here to let you know that everything can work together for your good. The time that you are spending on that job that you think is a dead end is not. You’re being prepared just like I was. I was a shoeshine boy, I worked as a bill collector, a used car salesman, in housekeeping in a hotel, and they all were preparation for where I am now. What do these things have to do with where I am now? I’m glad you asked. I am able to use skills that I learned. I shined shoes, so I know how to shine my shoes if I need them to look nice. Selling used cars was a great way to learn how to close a deal. Bill collecting taught me great negotiation skills. Working at that 5-star hotel taught me a lot about travel. Every experience in your life is here to teach you something. Today, while you’re at work, don’t be frustrated. Look around you and ask God what are you there to learn and how will it be a part of your future dream. Honor that job, do the best you can at it, because God will bless you for honoring something that belongs to another. I hope this inspires you today. If you need a little more inspiration then watch my first sit-down interview in years with Oprah on Oprah's Next Chapter. It airs this Sunday on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network at 9/8c. I talk a little about not giving up. I know it will move you. Here’s a prayer for today: “God help me hold on, help me to get to what I dream of, help me to honor where I am today so that I can appreciate where I will be tomorrow. In Jesus' name.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

For today's artist I admire, I have chosen Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I learned about Chimamanda quite by accident while visiting the TEDTalks website a few weeks ago. I was amazed with her talk called: The Danger of a Single Story. Chimamanda is a fiction writer born and raised in Nigeria, currently living in the United States. Her name means: "My God will never fail". In addition to writing some really successful, award-winning novels, she is also a lecturer and speaker. She grew up in a university town in Nigeria called Nsukka. Her father was a professor and her mother a university administrator. Part of her childhood was spent living in the house where renowned Nigerian novelist, Chinhua Achebe, lived. His work, When Things Fall Apart, is part of the canon post-colonial literature circles. I saw all this to say, the story of this woman's life is remarkable. First of all, she's gorgeous, dark-skinned, and poised. She is an amazing speaker in interviews and before an audience. She is another great example of the many intellectual, confident, intelligent Black women who lives in Africa and the world. At the age of 31, in 2008, Chimamanda was awarded the McArthur Fellowship valued at $ 500, 000. Her first novel Purple Hibiscus was published in 2003 and widely received. In total, she she has written four books. Although, I have not read them yet, she gives me a larger sense of what I can do with my life and aspire to be. She reminds me of why I write, continue write, and the way I wish for my audience to engage with my work. She is inspired to write books about characters like herself. Growing up in Nigeria, she talks about reading a lot of books, which I also did. All of these books were from England and the United States, the character eating apples and playing in the snow-- activities which she did not experience in Africa. She mentioned how much her world changed when she read African books, books with characters she could identify with and recognize. This changed her and her perception. I had a similar experience. Although, I did have access to books with characters who looked like me, they tended to be mostly African-American. It was not until I read a book called Harriet's Daughter by m. nourbese phillip, I had not read a book about a Black girl like me living in Toronto. I quickly fell in love and tried to find more books featuring characters of a Caribbean-background. One night last year, I had trouble falling asleep with the thought, "Who will write our stories?" Like Chimamanda, I wish to tell stories from different perspectives and stories that are unique. I like that she listened to her heart when she realized she was not happy about what she was doing. Chimamanda came to the United States to attend medical school however she was not satisfied. As a result, she decided to follow her heart and pursue her love of writing. She completed a Master's degree in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University and another Master's degree in African Studies from Yale University. Today, she is a successful writer, lecturer, and leader in her field. (D'uh! She gave a TEDTalk.) She even presents writing workshops in Nigeria to help people tell their own stories. I look forward to reading some of Chimamanda's books this summer.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Following My Fear: Tribute to Artists and Shameless Maya

I have decided to devote the next few posts on this blog to people who admire in the arts. This will be somewhat of a study, portfolio, cache, whatever you may call it of artists who I admire and who are putting their stuff out there. I need to do this right now especially since I consider myself an artist... I am. I feel like it has always been a struggle to affirm and give space for this side of myself to exist but I am getting tired of fighting it. I wish to do art, create, write, sing, ALL THE TIME. All the voices in my head are speaking quite loudly right now with ideas, concepts, and visions of stuff. At times, I get emotional because I wonder how I might do things differently in my life to make my art whether it be my writing, my music, my illustrations, all three support me. I am seeing people around me do it and I am seeing creative artists do it and I wish to pick their brain a bit. I wish to find out how they support themselves as artists, how they carry out their visions, what are their habits, etc. I started off by talking about the work of Che Kothari. I will post a number of other folks I admire. The goal is to encourage myself to pursue my dreams and goals, to take them out of my head and my journal, into the world. Speaking of gutsy artists, I just learned about Shameless Maya today. (Thanks, Denise.) Maya Washington was born and raised in Toronto. She is Filipina and African-American. On her website she describes herself as: "I refer to myself as an artist. When I’m not storying telling with photographs or my voice I’m designing, revamping, producing, directing, or story telling with the many other creative outlets." She went to college for Classical Theatre and was kicked out after her second year. Now she lives in New York City and works as a photographer and a "shameless" self-promoter. I admire her "go-getterness" and the fact that she turned her rejected reality into something new and awesome. It reminds me of the spunk I had when I dared to organize and found a nationally touring film festival. I wish I still had some of that blind optimism and boldness. The truth is... I DO. I know it's here somewhere. Let me look for it. Anyway, something truly caught my eye on facebook the other day. FOLLOW YOUR FEAR DAY When I saw this and the fact that it falls on August 24, my birthday, I knew I had to do it. I am so doing this and I already have two "fears" in mind which I plan to face. I can't wait to get started. In the meantime, Ms. Shameless herself had some very wise words about how to view your art. This goes out to all "the starving artists, not all artists, just the starving ones". For me, it means seeing the value in your art and in how much "I believe in myself" and "believe in my work". I've got to stop feeling guilty about being "self-indulgent". So I am all for it. This is for me and all of the "starving artists" around me.

Blame It On My Thyroid (Or Lack There Of)

I just came back from a run of 7 kilometres this morning. I am training for the Toronto Thyroid Cancer Awareness 10KM Run. At points during my run, I felt lethargic and my pace was just slightly quicker than a walk. I felt tired and I gave myself every excuse in the book that I could continue at that pace. Until I passed people that is. Whenever I did, I quickened my pace and found this new energy and then I would slow down again thinking about my aching legs... how tired I was... and I began to blame it on my thyroid. Unfortunately, I don't have a thyroid so I could blame it on the lack of a thyroid. With my thyroid absent, I have no metabolism regulation, protein regulation, etc. But I don't have that excuse either since I take Synthroid (replacement thyroid hormones) so that should take care of it. I think it's just easier to make excuses sometimes for the things I don't necessarily want to do OR find too hard to do. And it's damn difficult to run 7 kilometre. But I know I can do it. And I have done it before. Whenever I get to be focussed on excuses, my Eric Thomas voice gets in my head and says: STOP WITH THE EXCUSES!!!!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Living Your Art

I watched this video today, inspired by the work and words of Che Kothari. I was reminded of my artist self, my need to create and be creative, and I was saddened. I mourned this "artist" self. I wonder at times, where has it gone? Or if I am honouring this part of myself? I read up about Che and I admire that he is quite an accomplished photographer in his own right. However, in addition to being a remarkable artist, Che is an arts activist and visionary. He founded the Manifesto Festival in addition to a number of initiatives to promote the youth arts and culture and hip hop. I amazed that he not only took his art to help found a movement but his art has been supportive in a number of ways. Often, I think about being an artist and honouring this artist self in my every day life. Sometimes, I wonder, "What if I did things differently?" What if I pursued my art with a fervour as I did my career? What if my art was my career? It is a tension that is a very real one and informs me each day. If we have artistic talents and skills, then should we not be able to economically support ourselves with it?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Year's Resolutions: The Halfway Mark

I saw this video shared on my facebook and it caused me to reflect on my own New Year's Resolutions for 2013. This year, I started off with 10 resolutions/goals and then every 90 days, I have a set of about 10 or so goals that help me to break down the major ones. Here I go: 1. Meditate daily-- morning and night. 2. Train for a half-marathon. 3. Complete my Early Childhood Music Education coursework and learn guitar. 4. Write down lesson plans and units properly. 5. Join a writing group. 6. Start a writing mentorship. 7. Pay off all credit cards. 8. Blog once a week for each blog. 9. Take more care of my appearance. 10. Apply to an overseas international project, mentorship, and PhD. As I look at these goals, I am pleased to say that I am well on my way to achieving them like #2. I have also now begun doing #8 yet I decided to modify this goal-- do one blog, not two and daily, not weekly. Some I had to break down into bite-sized pieces like #2 training for a 10km event before training for the half-marathon (21km). Others, I have begun to pursue but are not realistic to complete in one year like #3 Complete my Early Childhood Music Education courses. I am working on one currently and hope to get two more done by the end of this year however this will mean that I still have three left to complete in 2014. Some goals I may modify because they are dependent on my financial situation. However, I believe that where there is a will, there is a way. Some goals like #5 will start today or later on in the year like #10. I am well on my way!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Vegan athletes solve the 'protein problem'

One of the most frequent questions I get asked as a vegan is where does my protein come from. This clip is proof that you can still be an active and athletic while vegan. Great news as I prepare for my second running event as a vegan-- my 10km.

How to Start Listening to Your Body

As I scanned through my facebook page this morning, I saw a post about this Deepak Chopra article on Oprah's website. It caught my eye especially since my husband and I had a chat this morning regarding stress, overcommitment, and health. I realize that I demand a lot from my body on a regular basis. Whether it is running 7.14 kilometres then doing a show yesterday OR starting my day at 5am to teach all day and then go to my course until 8:30 at night, I am as busy as ever. Being diagnosed with cancer, I immediately slowed down my schedule, my body, and my life. On the flipside, just two and a half years after my diagnosis, I have become clearer about my career objectives, my dreams and goals, as well as aware of the brevity of life. I admit that I am once again pursuing my life at full-speed. Sometimes, it takes an article like this that causes me to pause and listen... listen to my body. In order to do that, one must truly pause. It is not an instant quick fix yet it requires one to truly listen carefully. It requires one to STOP. To get to body awareness, Chopra says that there are "three practical things you can do today". He goes on to write: "To get on the path to increased awareness, say the following to yourself and then carry your words into action: 1. I will make choices to maximize the energy in my body. My body is my connection to the infinite supply of energy in the universe. If am feeling lack of energy in any way, it means that I am resisting the flow of this infinite supply. I will ask my body what it needs and will sincerely follow its advice. The ideal state is to experience such lightness that I do not feel bounded by my body. It and the world are one. 2. Before I act on any emotion, I will consult my heart. My heart is a reliable guide when I trust it. It monitors the emotions of others around me. This helps me experience empathy, compassion and love. The heart is the seat of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence allows me to get in touch with my deepest self. It nurtures all relationships by reminding me to see myself in the other. 3. Lightness of being in my body will be my indicator of happiness. If I feel heavy or dull in my body, I will pay attention because these feelings are signs that I am inertia and the dreariness of habit over the potential that every moment has for freshness and new life (NOTE: does this mean sense? he is the dreariness of habit?). The best way to replenish my body is to give it what it needs most, whether it's sleep, rest, life-giving nourishment, the joy of movement or communion with nature." Read more:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Raising the Standard

On May 1, I made some goals that I would do for 21 days. Looking now at my past week, I have not been consistent with all of them. In fact, out of the five or six or so I decided to pursue, I have only been consistent with two so far-- blogging daily and running. I haven't done yoga or practiced my instruments for the amount of time that I wanted to. I feel like a bit of a failure however, I realize now that I need to re-assess the situation. First of all, according to ET the Hip Hop Preacher, the Power of 21 does not mean you try to start a number of goals. You focus on one for 21 days and then add the others. So I have decided to modify my goals a bit. This month, or for the next 21 days, I will continue to focus on blogging daily and maintaining my running schedule. I will add the others in the next 21 days and the next and the next. Below, I have posted some video of Anthony Robbins, another motivational speaker, who insists that in order for a goal to be reached, it has to go from a want or a should to a must. Raising your standards creates changes in one's life.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Toughest Thing,,,

I've trained for and ran a half marathon... endured racial discrimination school experiences... other-mothered my youngest sister... been a latch-key child... been stood up in Montreal... had surgery and treatment for thyroid cancer... founded and organized a touring film festival across Canada (still my greatest achievement)... funded my own graduate studies (my third degree)... worked full-time while attending class four nights a week, but I still think the toughest thing that I have ever done in my life to date is teach. This year, I learned that my seniority level is ten years. Ten years? I was shocked to learn that I hit this milestone. I was impressed with my persistence and endurance. I was amazed that I lasted this long in the profession. There were so many times when I wanted to quit, could have quit, did quit, however something keeps pulling me back into the classroom something magical, creative, and heartfelt. Something has me devoting my spending on courses, workshops, and materials for my classroom, staying up all night, seeing the possibilities in my students, bureaucracy, mandatory and new initiatives and reforms, the political climate, the parents, the administration, the children... creating and re-creating and innovating and changing. It's not that I did not consider other careers or fields, well into my adulthood years. I considered everything from journalism to medicine to public relations to music therapy to social work to holistic health to naturopathic medecine to acting to policing to counselling to psychology. And no matter how many "information interviews", job shadowing, and volunteer experiences I have had, I keep coming back to teaching and education. I experience an inexplicable joy when I teach and it works. The possibility of successes helps me to overlook the difficult stuff. In teaching, I can be artistic and creative, help people, and share what I am passionate about. So yesterday was National Teacher's Day in the United States and the day before, it was National Teacher's Day on May 6. (In Canada, we celebrate this day on October 5.) I recently watched a TED Talk by educator and veteran Rita Pierson who has taught for forty years. Dr. Pierson is vibrant and funny and speaks on the importance of a caring adult for a child. It is a reminder to me of the importance and value of what I do.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lacing Up for the Toronto Thyroid Cancer Awareness Run

I'm lacing up again. I have been wanting to do another running event for the longest time. The last time I did a running event was in 2011 when I did the Scotiabank Waterfront 5k. At the time, I raised $ 300 for Wellspring, a supportive community for people impacted by cancer. The run was fun and manageable. The event was also to do my Funky Sexy Manifesto #25 Raise Money for Cancer. The event was a lot of fun as well.

Also, I had run a half marathon in 2009. So my goal essentially this year was (and is) to run another half marathon. Given that I have trained for one in the past, I know how important it is to be prepared to run a half marathon and that training is essential. Rushing into training, increasing one's pace too quickly, and not taking a lot of things into account can cause injuries. Training for my half marathon in 2009 was a stop and re-start affair due to the fact that I kept getting injuries like: black toe, shin splints, and hip bursitis. None of those injuries was a walk in the park. As a result, I am in no rush to run the half marathon again. I know it's not the kind of event I can just start training for whenever the desire hits me. My experiences have been very painful lessons that have caused me to adopt certain practices which I will share in a future post. On top of it, I was in a car accident in February 2013, so stressing my body with hours of running each week for the half marathon I set my eyes on in May was not in the question. If I did the training to fast, I would have felt it. So instead, I changed my goal. I will run a series of shorter events in preparation for the half marathon this fall. After my accident, I stopped running for a month and I was concerned that I would not have enough training to run the 5km event in May either. But when one door closes, another one opens and for me this came in the result of an event of The Toronto Thyroid Cancer Awareness Run on Saturday, June 8, 2013 in High Park. Click here if you would like to find out more about Thyroid Cancer and the organizers Thyroid Cancer Canada. I will be running 10 kilometres in this event and I am so excited and pumped. I have re-started my training in April and I am well on my way of meeting my running goal. Please support me in this endeavour by either joining the run or donating today.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Food for thought

I am really blessed. I get daily inspiration through a variety of sources and it helps me immensely to read good stuff. Two blogs that I am enjoying right now are: Truth According to Trey and The Diary of A Personal Development Fanatic. Each blog has provided me with valuable insight to help me achieve my own goals. I happen to know and admire the work of both bloggers-- Lennox Cadore and Trey Anthony. Having a taken an unofficial hiatus from writing this blog, it has allowed me to peruse and read the blogs of others. I am learning valuable lessons about success, how to achieve, and improve myself. Trey Anthony is: Creator, writer, producer, and actor of the hitplay/show 'da Kink in my hair. Currently I'm a work in progress. Trying to be a better person each day. Madly obsessed with Oprah. I want to be on her network, so I'm just putting it out there to the Universe! Loves to observe life. A writer, a daughter, a sister, a lover, a business womyn. I love call display so I can avoid answering people's calls! I love curling up with a good book! Dig passionate conversation with smart, passionate, inspiring people. Secretly eats chocolate brownie ice-cream whenever depressed or happy. I write my best "stuff" when I'm angry. I snoop on people's pictures on facebook even though i have no idea who they are! Trying to always poop and scoop when out with my dog, but I definitely do when others are watching. I have natural hair but sometimes have weave envy. Really seriously thinking about creating a family, love kidz!.... A lover of books and life! (as posted on her blog) She posts social commentary about particular issues and events as well as goals she is working on. She also discusses ways she is trying to improve herself. I think beyond being a wonderful inspiration in the media and arts world, trey's greatest other achievement is inspiring others. Here is her ted talk: Then there is Lennox Cadore who created his blog to: this blog is dedicated to helping people to attain their ideal body through a healthy fitness lifestyle. Lennox Cadore is striving to attain his own physical fitness as well and hopes to inspire others to do the same. Inspiring others is one of Lennox' gifts and I had experienced that when he helped me to develop a nationally touring film festival. I think these two individuals are doing great work. When you're in the business of inspiring others to make positive changes in their lives, improve the quality of their lives, to live healthy lives, you know that you're on to something. This has to be one of the achievements that supersedes everything. Congratulations to both fellow bloggers.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Back On My Regiment

Going to the gym or doing any form of exercise for that matter, it is quite an everyday struggle. I need to renew my commitment daily. I am happy with my fitness level but I only wish for it to get better. Yesterday, I went shopping for the first time in months and I was so happy to find clothes that actually fit me properly instead of lamenting the ones at home that fit me tightly. On my quest for motivation this morning, I found this music video by of dead prez. Now here is some music that I can work out too and be motivate by (and groove to). Gettin' my workout on... My yoga on... My vegan on...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Music Issue of VegNews

I am loving the latest issue of VegNews magazine. It's called The Music Issue and it's so long overdue. In addition to punk and pop articles, there is a whole section on hiphop icons who have gone vegan. Artists like Erykah Badu, MC Lyte, Russell Simmons, and dead prez. By the way, of dead prez is the husband of Vegan Soulfood Guide to the Galaxy cookbook author/holistic health counsellor/master crochet-er Afiya Ibomu. Then there are a whole host of artists that I have never heard of. They even gave a shout out to Canadian hip hop artist k-os who I have met on a few occasions. Although he has stood me up twice for failing to honour his commitment to appear at events I organized, I will let it go on account that he is vegan. In fact, here is a video that he did talking about his veganism for PETA. Then there are folks I'd like to read more about like most of the members of the Roots and WuTang Seeing this kind of stuff connects my heart and my soul (and my ears) to the reason why I've become vegan in the first place. Well, I am technically a vegan who eats ovo-/lacto-desserts. I am not fully okay with that either. I think it is contradictory however this is something I am trying to work on. However I am prouder than ever to be veg. Pick up your copy of VegNews today.

I Love Being On the Stage

One day of making my resolution about blogging for 21 days, I broke it. So one of the things I do as a result is: 1) Re-start the 21 days or 2) Do twice as much the next day. (No use in condemning and criticizing myself, the world does enough of that sometimes. I am only human.) So today, I will write two separate posts. Also, during the 21 days, I am breaking the rule a bit by adding other resolutions. The others are: 1) Practicing my recorder for 10 minutes each day check 2) Practicing the guitar for 15 minutes each day (I am mostly teaching myself and it's been a lifelong dream to learn. My hubby bought me a lovely Fender blonde acoustic guitar.) check 3) Either run or do yoga each day. started yesterday And the others, well, let's just put it this way. They're a bit more challenging including: 1) Getting to work 15 minutes earlier 2) Meditating twice daily And I know when life gets especially busy, the "extra" ones are tougher to commit to. Eric Thomas suggests focusing on one of these habits each month and then adding another. While Les Brown suggests completing a list of 7 daily habits which help one get closer to their goal. What's my overall goal here? Is there method to my madness? Well, part of my goal just dawned on me very clearly yesterday. I am in love with performing. I love to be onstage. I really do. I guess it's something that I've known all along but I think I have forgotten how important it is to have performance in my life. It's the kind of thing when it is not there, I feel it. But when it is there, it feels quite unimaginably amazing and I walk on a cloud for weeks. In some sense, I feel like i am not your typical performer. I have a "day job" as a teacher-- a career which involves a lot of performance in its own right. I am also an introvert and am not the "life of the party"-type. However, put me on a stage and you'll something totally opposite. I'm not quite a Michael Jackson (who was painfully shy but an amazing performer.) Yet, I think back and the most amazing thing about being in high school for me was the countless opportunities to perform in skits, choirs, vocal ensembles I formed with other students, presentations, and bands. Outside of school, I performed at piano and jazz recitals as well as competitions (which always had my tummy turning upside down). Take my most recent performance last Sunday, April 28th with the Heritage Singers which I absolutely loved. I got to perform and embody Jamaican folk music-- religious songs, spirituals, mento, hymns,... It is quite a soulful experience. (Here's an article about last year's show.) The amazing thing is the costumes, the songs, the movement... everything. At one of our recent shows, a women of Scottish heritage who used to perform Scottish Gaelic songs and dance shared with me, "There's something about performing a song that is three hundred years old." I agree. There is something about a song that is so old, also a tradition that is so old. I love being a part of it. I feel it. So what does this mean now for me as I turn 36? I am no spring chicken. I am not 12 years old or some 18 year old hungry for success who decides to move to Los Angeles or Atlanta (sorry Janelle Monae). No, I don't think I'm running off to any place. Instead, what this could mean is the necessity of putting a lot more performance opportunities back into my life. Everything from piano recitals to performing with Heritage Singers to storytelling outside of my classroom (my newest venture but I get to practice on my students) to giving workshops and presentations. Part of my resistance to doing these things in the first place is the fear of not being good enough but the truth is, I am right. I am never good enough meaning there will always be room for practice and improvement so since I have now released myself from that, I can go with it. I can surrender it. I am not perfect. I also share this love of performance with my students as I give them opportunities to perform by preparing songs and routines. My French and music students have already done several performances this past school year. The first few performances were a little rough but it keeps on getting better and better. I am developing other projects as well thanks to community partners-- a primary and a junior/intermediate choirs, as well as steel pan program. Performance has given many of my students an opportunity to shine. They love performing (to a fault). The level of focus and attentiveness I seen from many when performance is the goal supersedes the work they produce in class. I spoke with my husband about and he totally knows what I am talking about. He agrees. He lives it as a musician. So my dreams and goals include performance. In addition to writing books for children and young adults, as well as you my adult audience, I will continue to be a performer musically. In fact, I dream of being a children's entertainer/performer and put together shows, programs, that entertain, educate, and inspire. And how do I know I'm on to something? I think it's because it doesn't feel like work to me. No matter how exhausted, bone-aching tired I am in the real world, I can always muster enough energy to perform and write. Now let's get on with the show.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Power of 21

I realized over the last couple of days that it is May, the fifth month of the year. I realized that all of the resolutions I set for myself this year were not going to happen by themselves. In fact, it dawned on me that there was nothing really stopping me from achieving them. I could hold them to myself, keep them to myself, not share the secrets with anyone else so no one would expect anything from me, not hold me accountable just in case I failed to reach these goals... but in the end, the only person who loses out in the end, without any of the goals attempted or accomplished, is me. One reason for my shift in thinking is listening to motivational speakers regularly. Call it self-brainwashing but these messages came at a time when they were absolutely necessary for me, my happiness, and my growth. I have been listening to and watching over the last few months these motivational speakers. Thank you to Trey Anthony for her post and introducing me to two speakers who have been influential in my transformation. Les Brown and Eric Thomas also known as ET The Hip Hop Preacher One concept Eric Thomas talked about is the Power of 21 which I realize is not a new concept or his concept for that matter. However ET's presentation of this subject as well as a host of others through his "tough love" motivational speaking-style (he talks rather yells like Jah Rule) is very unique. So he says that to establish new habits, you must continue doing them for at least 21 days. One of the things I have an issue with that ET talks about is "starting" and "stopping", constantly. This explains me to a tee whether it is training for a running event, writing a book, or learning the guitar, "starting and stopping" has been the story of my life. I also know that Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and Blink, writes about working 10, 000 hours at something in order to master it. So I am doing my best to re-write the script and build some new habits. These ideas have shifted the way I look at goal-setting. I need to do whatever I can now and through persistent, small steps, I will reach my goals. So my life, "post cancer", is pretty intense as I pursue, no, run after my goals. One of my goals this month is to blog at least once a week. For the next 21 days, I decided to pursue certain goals-- one of which is blog daily. It could be a photo, a music video, or even on my other blog, anything that inspires me and helps me to live my best life. And hopefully, as I pursue this goal, I can inspire others as well. I have my own list of what exactly I will focus on for the next 21 days and I will be choosing how I will share these. Essentially, this Blue Butterfly blog was started about my cancer journey but there is so much more that I have been getting out of life after cancer. Each day, I feel like I am getting closer to reaching my goals and making my dreams a reality. It's a great feeling.