...when our hearts are full we need much less

  • Why the Hope?

    The defining moment in my life that shifted the way I was thinking...and brought me to ubuntu.

  • Who am I?

    Great question. Tough to answer.

  • What I do

    In the sense of living and breathing and working and playing.

  • March 08, 2014

    On this lovely day after International Women's Day, I felt compelled to find another way to express my gratitude for the women in my life. Of course, Rumi hits yet another chord in my heart with this quote.

    I have spent the weekend with some glorious women. The sunshine came out on Friday in time for me to have special one-on-one bbq time with a friend whom will be leaving soon to move onto another grand adventure into love. I got to enjoy the seed swap, veggie growing workshop, and a planning session at an adorable cafe with another lovely lady. I am just heading to the Women's Shelter booth for a couple of hours to chat International Women's Day with lovely women. And tomorrow I'm off in the sunshine to snowshoe with a great friend and her lovely parents. And perhaps the most delightful Women's Day surprise - I was able to catch a soul friend of mine on Skype at her hostel in Mexico, whose face I haven't seen in over a year.

    In all of the coming together of creative, beautiful women in my life, I see that there are so many ways we tend to express our love and gratitude to each other. It's a change from teenager life, when you simply commented the outside, "I love your haircut!" "Your shoes are amaze," and, "your boyfriend is like, soo cute." Now, as women, we tend to express our love from the inside out. We remember each others favourite foods and plan parties to celebrate love. We admire each other's internal strength - and tell each other often. We inspire each other with creative pursuits. We create special groups on social media avenues to keep updated (hey, time is tight and it can be hard to keep up with everyone!) We have phone calls and Skype and snail mail packages full of inspiration.

    But mainly, the thing that always gives me the most gratitude for the women in my life at this age, is that we really talk. We talk about life and love and how we are really feeling about it all. We ask each other challenging questions and hear what is underneath regular tones. We worry about each other and try to nurture one another when someone is feeling blue. My relationships with the incredible women in my life are simply vital to my existence. So vital, in fact, that I feel like weekly wine dates or lunches are enough to get me through simply anything. We will fall and we'll pick each other up. It's no secret that these are relationships to treat like gardens....to water and watch them flower and sometimes they go through seasons (like not seeing one of your best friends faces for a year), but they are steadfast and always there when you need them to nourish you.

    I know that expressing gratitude for those women in my life is vital to my heart and yet, because the women I love are all over this globe, it's not always easy.  I get to see some of my friends and family only periodically, but when I do, it's like absolutely nothing changes. And all this technology makes it a bit easier to feel like we are engaged in each other's lives...however nothing beats sitting down with a glass of wine or a pot of tea. I've found that there are literally hundreds of thousands of ways let my heart speak to them. To continue to show the gratitude.

    So, that is what I will continue to strive for. Women in my world, please know your value to me and to the world. Let's empower each other to grow and learn and be leaders in our communities and businesses and on a global scale. That's what International Women's Day is really about and (excuse the feminist plug) we have come a long way, haven't we?

    If you don't know how to thank the women in your life for just being there, look to the heart. Or the chocolate. Or the wine. Somewhere in there, you will find a way. Or hundreds of thousands.

    Love to you glorious goddesses today! 

    March 02, 2014

    This quote has been rolling around in my head for the past couple of weeks. A beautiful friend of mine created the above art herself. Lately I have had a ton of activities come into my life that have taken me from wishing there were certain things I could do to creating the life I have always wanted to have. I feel more alive, vibrant, and passionate now than ever. And these words "there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground" showed up in my life at the perfect time. They humble me and arouse much emotion.

    In them, there is a message for me that holds a piece to the puzzle of life.

    I'm currently young and wild and free in all kinds of ways. I know this freedom doesn't exist everywhere because I have seen it first hand. I also know that this freedom brings a responsibility to do something big with my life. And therefore, the questions that continue to come are, "What am I doing here?" Am I doing enough? What am I meant to do?" I have a lot of friends whom are at all kinds of different stages in life. I know that this (somewhat peaceful / somewhat crazy) time that I have, right now, is not going to be forever. So the "what are we doing here?" questions can build up in me to the point where I can drive myself crazy.

    I have also been on the road for work for two months. From Swift Current to Saskatoon to Brandon to Edmonton to Winnipeg to Lethbridge and home the weekends in between. I have said it before, but that can play with your mind a bit. You're in this hotel and that airport and this restaurant and that tradeshow. I love this part of my job because it gives me a chance to interact with all types of farmers and my "work family". Each advisor and province have unique things about them that make seeing it all in two months a truly awesome journey. But it also brings a sense of unrest and imbalance as I fall behind on emails and personal relationships and the simple daily activities that bring routine to my life.

    So while all of these questions fly through my mind and I feel a bit off balance, I realize, in the midst of it all, "there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground" every single day. I just started a new book that is changing my world (Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. Read it. You won't regret it.) In the moments that I take for myself to read, with a hot cup of tea or green juice by my side, I stop and marvel at how content that moment can feel. That is kneeling and kissing the ground. That got me thinking about the other parts of my life that are indications that I'm finally stopping to really appreciate love and the life around me. I finally started drumming, and my djembe is bringing out much emotion in me. I bought a yoga pass at a new studio and dedicated myself to the mat. I signed up for a three day wildcrafting workshop. I got out to the hill and tried my best to stay upright on this silly thing called a snowboard. And my lovely friends and I have become somewhat enthralled with "activitieees." Painting nights. Canvas. Wood crafts. This is the year of creating. And creating is such a powerful way to stop, kneel, and kiss the ground.

    Overall, I am extremely in love with life. I've counted my blessings on this blog before, but between my family, friends from all walks of life and my job (the big three I guess?) I am lucky. And through all of the questions and craziness that life brings, we can only try to have gratitude, plain and simple.

    The puzzle isn't so hard if we can only remember to let the beauty of what we love be what we do, in every moment. Be here now, wherever here may be. 

    January 01, 2014

    Be here now
    No other place to be 
    All the doubts that linger
    Just set them free 
    And let good things happen 
    And let the future come 
    Into each moment 
    Like a rising sun
     - Mason Jennings

    It has been awhile since I've written. But I've been journaling and living and laughing and loving and it's been difficult to get all of my emotions down into a concise blog post. So excuse me if I jump around here.

    I wanted to blog today because one of my hopes for 2014 is to write and write and write. I find out new things about myself every time I write.

    Let's start with saying that I had one of the best New Years Eve of my life last night. It started with probably the best Christmas I can remember in years. All of my siblings together, my three nephews who feel like my babies, and my parents in one house = loud noisy chaos and love. As the baby, everyone seems to tease me about a lot in my life. For example, like my not wanting to kill crickets in the basement, but instead release them outside (Gandhi said we're judged by how we treat the tiniest creature; my brothers tell me that it dies once it hits the freezing outdoors anyways...who is to say which is more cruel???)  Once my brothers departed for home, my sister and I spent a few days productively working. We spent evenings working on upcoming projects, talking and talking, working out, pushing each other, cuddling my nephews and then really getting into what we wanted to do for this next year. The new chapter in front of us spread out like a blank canvas. So last night I got to have dinner with my parents, my sister and my bro-in-laws friends. We created "vision boards" for 2014, drank champagne and went to bed. Perfect. My vision board is below.

    There are many goals I have for the New Year and I tried to include them, to keep me accountable. Among them there is "start a business", "start my own non-profit", "enrol in Nutrition school", "join a djembe drum circle", "grow community around me", "grow love gardens", "hike, bike, swim, do yoga, meditate or sweat everyday", "volunteer more", and "travel and explore BC".

    That seems like a lot. But I feel like we have to be OUTRAGEOUS in goal setting, because if they don't scare you, your dreams aren't big enough.

    I also decided that there are two overarching themes for my New Year. One is to do all things with love, kindness and grace - to remain open. I remind myself of that daily.

    Another, and my favourite mantra that's even posted above my bed, is to be here now. In every moment.

    Let me explain why that is so important to me.

    I recently moved into a new area of Kelowna called the Lower Mission. It's adorable. I live in a four bedroom house that is a short walk away from cafes and shops and beaches. I am living with a new "brother and sister" that I love to pieces and I'm back into making a house a home. It's been awhile since I've had a place to call my own and I have to say that I'm enjoying the home-making. There's space for my garden in the coming months, room for our yoga mats downstairs and a small, cozy office space. I have a friend who lives a bike ride away that I will garden with this year. I have another friend who works in the area and we can meet for weekly lunches. I bought a bike and enjoy not having to start my car for days at a time. I really feel like I have created a community of support and love in Kelowna whom I consider a family of sorts.

    But then, my life in the winter is odd. I spend much of it on the road with Ag tradeshows. I am going to go from Swift to Saskatoon to Kelowna to Brandon to Kelowna to Edmonton to Kelowna in the next three weeks. I have four trips planned to Winnipeg in the next few months. So on one side, this is the most amazing thing - it means I can see my old friends and my actual family. It also gives me time to spend with my work family (and I love them a lot; they feel like family too). This is gold. But it also leaves me feeling disconnected from both my new and old life. It leaves me somewhere in between.

    Last year during this season I was hectic thinking where do I belong? Should I move back? But I love the life I'm building there. Where would I even move back to? And on and on and on...

    Somehow on this trip it all shifted. I realized that in fact I'm luckier than being left in the middle. I might just be the luckiest person ever. I have an abundance of people in my life that I love and that love me and whether that means I'm here or there or anywhere, I get to be around these magical people in my life. If only I could stop worrying and start truly being present in those moments. Gah. Game changer. I feel so much peace being where I am right now (which is currently parked on the recliner at my parents watching the Rose Bowl. This weekend it might be back at my sisters, next weekend my brothers in Saskatoon and then this hotel - that airport - this friends house, etc.).

    The most important thing from now on is to BE. HERE. NOW. Meaning that anywhere I am, I want to be fully there in that moment. I have to be present with each individual soul that I am lucky enough to be around. And that's my main goal for the year.

    Be. Here. Now. Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

    Happy New Years incredible people in my life. I am so looking forward to spending time with each of you in 2014. 

    December 14, 2013

    This piece, written by one of my favourite authors / poets / psychoanalysts / storyteller Clarissa Pinkola Estes, sums up everything I have felt since becoming awakened to the larger world outside of me and to my duty to participate in it.

    I have felt compelled to act, so inspired from moments in my life, and taken great action, only to feel completely blundered and lost about what to do with the lessons learned and my emotions from seeing certain things that are burnt into my mind and heart. I then have taken periods of great rest from doing anything good. I have leapt into life transforming situations, and then cowered away and cried. I have burst into tears, feeling the pressure of the world on my shoulders. Our shoulders. I have surrendered and prayed to the Universe to show me the way and then I have numbed myself from my sorrows in not hearing the answer. I am sure others have felt this call and not known what the heck to do with it. And in her "We Were Made for These Times", Clarissa sums it up. Here is a short excerpt with a link to the real thing. You must...you must read this.

    "Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

    What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

    One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

    Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

    There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate."

    Read the rest here: http://theunboundedspirit.com/we-were-made-for-these-times/

    Showing my soul is all that I am able to maintain through all the trying and failing and doing and not doing. So. Get outta here despair. More trying is on the way.

    November 26, 2013

    This year I have done some work with the Kelowna Women's Shelter on an exciting new fundraising campaign. The more I have become involved with the Shelter, the more the staggering statistics have jumped out at me. There are over 4700 women that are locally affected by abuse - and these are just those who finally have left and came to stay at the shelter. Thinking in holiday terms, that is a lot of displaced women and children during the holiday season. I can only imagine how terribly scary that would be for a child. Questions like "Will Santa find us? Where is our Christmas tree?" etc. are sure to be heard over and over.

    So we developed a text-to-donate campaign. You can easily change a life by donating $10. Think of it like securing a Christmas dinner for a family that is in transit during this rough time.

    If you have $10 to give, text SHELTER to 20222.

    You can also donate gift cards, materials, or via credit card or cheque here. 

    Let's make sure everyone gets a safe & happy holiday season this year.

    November 20, 2013

    We all want to know that what we do in this life remains beyond our short time here. We want to know that the love that we have can live on. Or that the work we do will be seen and appreciated by future generations.

    Books, music, the arts, children - they all inspire us because they result in something that keeps. on. going. We all want to keep on going.

    However, having read my share of Buddhist ideologies, I also see the importance of unattachment. Of releasing expectations, control, and our death-like grip on outcomes. I am an everyday practitioner of letting go.

    You can see why I often struggle with which side to give in to.

    In this short video Jason Silva makes us feel okay about our passion to ache for life and all of the beauty we want to hold on to. I am a big believer in epiphanies and in being passionate about anything and everything, even if it means that we build giant dreams and crash into giant obstacles. Life, to me, is about putting everything into it, and riding the waves of hurt, laughter, tears, and, most importantly, LOVE that may come from it.

    Jason, you do this properly. My great appreciation to you.

    November 03, 2013

    I am taking an International Development program through UBC and I am in love with it. It's amazing how when you start taking courses in something you are head over heels for it doesn't feel like school.

    My latest course is Dimensions of Development. And in our readings today, we had to read this keynote speech by Jeffrey Sachs to the Carnagie Council. I read a bit of his book awhile ago, but this was a great reminder of what he's done.

    In re-reading this, I realized a few things.
    • a. I'm SO EXCITED to see someone with (what they feel is) a solution! I've done a lot of reading in these courses and it can be grey skies full of dreary uncertainty and not a lot of answers. But, here is someone who at least is trying to have a concrete solution. And it's a simple one. 
    • b. I'm more passionate than ever about agriculture being my main cause and a personal mission of mine to encourage and enhance food security projects around the world. It's about teaching farmers there to grow their own food. Giving them tools, resources and knowledge to do so. I am excited to participate in that in some way over the coming years.  
    • c. I am sad that so few people know the state of poverty around the world and/or if we do, that we don't spend more time on plans to eradicate it and encourage the betterment of individual lives. (In my last paper I read that 55% of Canadians have no idea what our foreign aid dollars are spent on, where it goes, or who spends it even. We are altogether ignorant as a population because of the lack of this in mainstream media and our own choices to watch other programs instead of educating ourselves).
    • d. I was surprised by his response to microfinance as I considered this such an important tool for the poorest of the poor, but I feel like his response is credible and I love it when something shifts my perspective like that did.
    • e. that I am head over heels for International Development and am grateful for the chance to take some formal schooling in it
    • f. that I need more friends to talk to about this with (haha) any takers? 
    • g. that there is still hope. There's always hope.

    "I believe our country has a great choice in front of it, but first it has to understand the choice."

    Please, let's educate ourselves and help to eradicate extreme and unnecessary suffering in doing so.

    October 14, 2013

    "All else you may ever ask for, during the rest of your entire life and beyond, will still be far less than what you already have." - The Universe

    What an incredible thought.

    A fresh seafood feast, hikes to a waterfall, a kayak with my sis, sitting cross legged on the lake shore with my family throwing rocks, crazy little nephew dance parties, and a Riders game with my dad. What could I be thankful for?

    This week my family came out to see me and we stayed at a cabin at Fintry Park overlooking the lake, with the hills rising in the distance. It's been pretty easy to be thankful...and so then I got thinking of life in general. What am I grateful for in my everyday? A word of caution, I've had this building in me all week and I tend to be radically grateful, so it's a long one.

    Recently, a good friend of mine has begun to email me daily with five things she is grateful for. Because she lives in the Prairies, I get this email each morning before I get out of bed. I wake up and as I turn off my alarm, I'm able to read her five things. It positions me in a purely positive light for the rest of my day. How can you start on a bad foot when you're reading someone else making the best of their day? So for this gift that's been given to me, thank you. I am grateful for your commitment and accountability to ensuring you treat life as a beautiful adventure, every single day.

    So that brings me to the first thing that I am thankful for.

    To the amazing women in my life whom I'm lucky enough to call friends / soul sisters / makamaka / partners in crime. From my friends in the prairies, to the east coast, to Central America and overseas....each woman I've encountered and whom has remained in my life, through wine nights and travel, skype dates and snail mail, you have all played a special role for me. Whether we were childhood friends or volleyball teammates, college friends or colleagues, you have all helped me to see joy in life that can only come from sisterhood connections. Bonding, tears, laughter and incredible support.

    Moving to Kelowna has been a huge adventure in remembering all of my friends with such nostalgia. Often, as I'm going about making a life here, their jokes, their voices and their advice will spring into my head. As Kahlil says, "For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain." I am so grateful for all of the sisterhood I've received in my life and look forward to each and every moment that I get to reunite with all the different ladies in my life. And I'm incredibly grateful for the new ladies I've met here, that have embraced me as if we grew up together. What would I do without you guys?!

    It goes without saying that sometimes I am slightly bizarre and over the top, yet these women accept me for who I am and support me - even if my steps are scattered and my pattern is random. What I know for sure is that each of you leading your own incredible lives empowers me to blaze my own trail. So for my soul sisters, I am thankful.

    Now, for the male friends and brothers and dad and uncles in my life. What would life be without them? They're my football friends and accountants. My go to guys for chilled out life talks. My business friends. My Mario kart and Call of Duty partners. And of course my "Yeah, buts" (I always joke that when I have an overactive idea, my dad will simply say, "yeah Tamara, but you have to remember this", or "Yeah, buuuut maybe that would work better like this." He is my "yeah, but" and he keeps me grounded.)

    Whenever I get tunnel vision and/or emotional and passionate about certain things, these rational-minded men help to bring me back to see both sides, minus the over exaggeration or emotions. They make life more simple and pleasant, and my life wouldn't be the same without them. So for the amazing men in my life, I am thankful.

    I also have to say that I'm utterly grateful for the husbands / fiances / boyfriends of all of the women I hold dear. I keep seeing real life love matches happen over and over within my circle of friends and I couldn't be more grateful to these men that are making my friends and sisters happy. Who are good men and stand by them. And who put up with me when I invade their space for dinners and sleepovers without a complaint. So for these guys, I am thankful.

    Now, to my job. Thank you for challenging me in many facets of my life. Thank you for allowing me to work from Kelowna, but travel home often to see my family and friends and work colleagues, whom I have become so close too. I'm lucky to have found such a great company to work for and for them to allow me to travel so much, which is a goal at the root of all I do. For my job, I am super thankful.

    For my new and old passions. I'm utterly astounded that I have the means to do most of things I want to try in life. After having seen many countries where this freedom isn't there, I have to scream at the top of my lungs (metaphorically of course) that I feel SHOCKED, LIBERATED & AMAZED that I get to try so many things that I love (and some that I don't love). I have been fortunate to travel around the world and this year held many important trips for me - to Guelph, Chicago, Halifax, Arizona, Vancouver, Whistler and San Fran. I now have a garden, skills in juicing, fermenting and brewing, a place to cook, to golf, to swim, to snowboard, and a kayak to get out on the water in. I am in the midst of starting my next International Development course and I am planning to study holistic nutrition next year and that's something I can't ever show more thanks for. Not only that, but I've been able to meet and create an ongoing volunteer relationship with I.W.E.N., Hope for the Nations and the Kelowna Women's Shelter. This freedom and ability to pursue my passions shocks me to my core and I hope I never lose that. All I can strive to do is make each moment that I'm in this life meaningful for someone else. To use this incredible blessing for the greater good. My eye is still on the ultimate goal. And although I take a step off the path every now and again, I'm committed to creating a well rounded life and social enterprise that incorporates a healthy holistic lifestyle and gives back outrageously. It is in progress...

    Now, for the Kelowna community. I moved here not knowing what it was like and having some people tell me on my trip out that it was full of biker gangs, rattlesnakes and WASPS (and not the flying kind. "The least cultural city in Canada" was actually a term someone said to me.) Well. I have found this to be the farthest thing from the truth. I have taken Spanish classes and volunteered for organizations that are doing amazing things around the world. I have seen local ambition for helping in organizations like the women's shelter and Inn from the Cold. There is tons of culture here and people care. Just like people everywhere care. You just have to seek it and you shall find big hearts that reside everywhere. And, for the hills to hike and the waters to kayak, for the vineyards, cheese farms and farmers markets, I'm thankful to be a part of this unique Kelowna community.

    Ooo, things are getting really deep now. I am utterly thankful (I guess to myself?) for my commitment to cultivating relationships on soul levels. One thing I value most about meeting new people and having old friends in my life is that I try to nourish these relationships way beneath the surface. To be cliché and quote Oriah Mountain Dreamer, "I don't care what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for." This is the truth of the matter. I want to have conversations about how you're really feeling or about things that matter in your life or about what is going on in the world, and I find as I get older that I need that as a quality in friendship. Life is short, but can be an incredible adventure if we focus on meaningful interactions and passionate and positive people. So I guess I'm thankful that I dig deep and that others around me do too.

    The challenges. Oh am I ever grateful for the challenges. I have had many, but nothing compared to what others have gone through. I remind myself daily of that. Yet for the challenging situations I have met - and the challenging people that I have in my life - I am thankful because everyday they are making me learn. As my mom read me this week from Leonard Cohen, "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Yes, yes and YES! This (as many things) always brings me back to ubuntu. We are all human, we're all connected, and we're all in this together. So instead of seeing challenges as challenges, I like to think that everything is just a small detail of our own adventure. If we can see the forest and not just the trees, we will hopefully be able to sit back, take the lesson, and be grateful, even when the people and times of our lives get tough.

    And, of course, my family. I AM SO THANKFUL FOR MY FAMILY. My mom, dad, sister, brothers, brother in law, nephews and all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. We are a clan of crazy, passionate, emotional and supportive people. As this week in Fintry reminded me, we are just like any other family. We argue and joke and cry and laugh. Because I'm the youngest, I get teased incessantly. But I don't have to doubt that they encourage and support me, even if not all of them quite understand me. I realize I'm a tricky person on a meandering path. But they see my light and remind me of it. They challenge me to think outside my own heart and head. And if it all falls apart, which it has before, they won't say "I told you so." Although the idea of "home" for me is ultimately fragmented, I do know that wherever they are is home. For my family, I'm utterly and overly thankful.

    Finally, to the tripod. My mom, older sister and I email each other everyday and call them tripod emails. We group text and group skype. When we are together, there is sure to be laughing and sure to be crying. We are sure to dig right deep down into our souls and come out with an epiphany. These are the two women who know my every move from when I was an infant up to now. They know my heart and seem to know where I am going, even when I don't. I am over-the-moon-words-could-never-be-enough thankful for the silliness and support.

    And duuuh, life just wouldn't be complete without the following: cheese, wine, chocolate, waterfalls, bookstores, delicious smelling books, fireplaces, cabins, wood-anything, incense, cozy lamps, cozy sweaters, the blues, jazz, folk, edward sharpe and the magnetic zeros, sam cooke, dance parties, garlic, lemons, gardens, movies, minions, board games, greeting cards, tall boots, cozy soups, plaid everything, harmonicas, bamboo, cozy blankets, fall, flowers, tin can phones, green juice, beet juice, and, of course, sauerkraut.

    I hope this special day finds you all as cozy as possible and that the fall colours are as bright as ever. Thanksgiving, to me, is about being radically kind and over-the-top grateful for all the blessings in our lives. So love it up today people! Listen to music, dance, relax and be cozy! LOVE.