...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 21, 2016

    [This blog talks about digging deep to find our personal cause, choosing a charity, and reminds us that where we shop matters too.]

    Last week we talked about the fact that one person can make a big difference in this wild world of ours. Today we are here to talk about how one can do so.

    As a person who has various passions and a lot of heart and soul, I know how challenging it can be to just choose one charity. One charity! Out of all the amazing work that’s being done out there?! Seems impossible.

    It’s not. But it requires some work, self-awareness, and mindfulness.

    Here is my brand new, broken down mindfulness model of how to choose a charity.

    Step 1: Finding what makes you tick

    (skip this step if you are already sure of your #1 cause)

    People in my life ask me how I seem so sure about where I want to help. For me, it came down to exposure - when I saw things that I couldn’t unsee in areas of the world like Africa and India.

    I have two causes that are extremely important to me. One is food security. Food is a basic human right. I have travelled and seen the detrimental cases where our food systems are being manipulated. I want to ensure that every family has access to natural food systems for years to come. Another cause I care about more than anything is education and literacy for women and girls. I grew up as a total bookworm and I know it was the doorway to my life of freedom, gratitude and abundance. Every girl deserves that chance.

    So let’s dig deep and find your cause.

    Get out a sheet of paper or a journal. Grab a pen and close the door to your office / study. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Clear your mind of noise and chatter. Don’t attach yourself to the thoughts in your head, but rather let them float by like clouds. Imagine yourself below them, watching them float by if they arise. Bring yourself back to your breath every time you get taken away somewhere - take a big breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.

    Once you have cleared your mind and moved past daily thoughts, you can begin to think and feel more deeply about life in general. Observe what images tend to come up in this space. Do you see animals? Or children? Try to recall a moment in your life that moved you to tears. Did it involve reading? War and refugees? The environment or nature? Almost always, if you set an intention at the beginning to really let something that matters to you come up, it will. Maybe you even just see your family and want to help other families in need. Or do work with infectious diseases and health related causes. Allow yourself to think freely of any cause that comes up.

    After sitting for 5-10 minutes, slowly open your eyes and begin to write. Write about what you feel matters to you or how you would like to see your world improve. It doesn’t have to be international. It could be as simple as seeing your daughters’ school improve communication. Or seeing your neighbourhood plant a community garden. Just allow yourself space to write for 5 minutes about what matters to you and reflect on what came up in your mindfulness moment.

    There are so many causes out there, but I believe if you begin to do this practice, perhaps a number of times over a week or even a month, it will start to become really clear to you what you would like to help with.

    Step 2: Research Research Research

    Congrats! You’ve done the tough work of digging soul deep to find what cause resonates with you. Now is the time to get involved with this cause.

    It’s always easy to start with a Google search in your local community by simply using your city/town name and the cause i.e. “animal safety Chicago”. Within moments you can have the names of any local NGOs or charities doing work in that area. Read their websites and see if any resonate with you. Make a list in your journal of the ones you’d like to reach out too to learn more.

    I do believe wholeheartedly it’s great to start local. But sometimes we don’t find exactly what we’re looking for and in this case, let’s search on a more national or international scale. This could simply be revamping your Google search with “animal safety America” or “animal safety NGOs worldwide”. You’re going to have a much broader list, but take special note of any that seem to jump out at you.

    Alternatively, a great way to seek out organizations that are doing good work in your area of interest is to become more involved in the community. Often, cities have websites devoted to local volunteer opportunities. Find one that mildly interests you and get involved. I swear, the more people you get to know in the industry, the quicker you will find YOUR organization to help with. So just get out there - volunteer an hour or two each week - and ask questions. You’ll find so much knowledge by simply listening.

    We are actually pretty lucky in that we live in a time that makes it so easy for us to find others that are doing good. My advice is to start now, and give what you can (volunteer time especially at this phase) and you’ll eventually find your path to the organization you really want to work with. Next week, we’ll discuss different ways to incorporate giving into your life once you know what and who you want to support.

    Finally, let’s not forget that how you purchase items can relate back to your cause as well. So many companies now are supporting various causes and it’s worth a moment to research the companies you buy from on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to see if there are alternatives whom are supporting worthwhile causes. Conscious consumerism is a whole new blog that we’ll dig into on another day, but it’s important!

    Happy searching!

    March 14, 2016

    The world today can be overwhelming at times, especially to one with a so-called "bleeding heart". There are wars and famines, droughts and oppression. But there's also kindness and love, courage and wisdom.

    All over the world there are people working to make a difference. At the company I work for, FineLine Solutions, we see it in our daily lives. And we know there are a lot of donors out there who would like to know how to support these people to achieve their missions.

    So today starts a three part series on how to incorporate philanthropy in your daily life.

    First, let's talk about how an individual life can make a difference. Maybe you have heard about this story:

    "Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean everyday. He had a habit of walking on the beach each morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. 

    Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

    The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

    The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

    The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “Sure made a difference to that one!” -- adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley

    This story still makes me cry.

    It really does go to show you the significance that is made with just one soul in this world. Every time you decide that you want to help an animal, either by taking it for a simple walk or donating leftover dog food, that animal's world changes. Have you sponsored a child through an organization? That has given one life the chance for a fair education where they may not have received this chance before you. Did you purchase a t-shirt from a company that plants trees with every purchase? Those trees have provided oxygen for a whole world of people and animals. And think, if you volunteer with an organization, even just a few hours a week or month, you create space for the employees to be even more productive in their daily jobs. Your smile at the homeless person you just served dinner too might shift his whole attitude. You made a difference.

    If you woke up today thinking your actions are too small, let go of that thought. You impact much more than you know. There are so many ripples to every action you make, today alone, but also with your entire life. Take it from me:

    You. Make. A. Difference.

    Stay tuned next week for Ideas on How to Give in your Daily Life

    March 07, 2015

    “Words are things, I am convinced. You must be careful, careful about the words you use. Or the
    words you allow to be used in your house.

    You must be careful
    Careful about calling people out of their names

    Using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives
    And all that ignorance
    Don’t do that

    Someday we’ll be able to measure the power of words

    I think they are things
    I think they get on the walls, they get in your wallpaper, they get in your rugs
    In your upholstery, in your clothes and finally…
    Into you.”        - Maya Angelou

    The other night I attended an International Women's Day event at the Okanagan Heritage Museum. There was a panel of five, who discussed a number of varying topics from indigenous rights to gender equality to marketing to men to colonization and the list goes on. They were an array of activists and rather smart cookies, and towards the end the panelist host asked, "Sometimes it's just all too much. The problems are too big. How can we even help?"

    Welcome to my heart. This is how I feel every day. Sometimes I want to conquer the shit out of the world and other days I start to hyperventilate thinking of everything that is broken out there. It seems daunting and oh so overwhelming.

    So, I was very interested to hear the replies. And they were oh so surprisingly helpful:

    • Teach your children about human rights.
      Pass values down from generation to generation. They are the future. Teach them to stand up for their rights and others. Teach them to respect everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity. This is a no-brainer, but it's HUGE! It will be what changes the world. 
    • Rejoice in the little celebrations
      Sometimes the movies or pop culture can make it seem like movements can take place in a day, week, month or year. Perhaps a couple years. But in reality, most movements are going to take a lifetime or more. Everyone is waiting for the BIG celebration - the day gay marriage is legal everywhere, the day that indigenous rights are fully restored, the day that gender equality is legitimate around the world. But the truth is, those things might not happen in our lifetime. It did not take a year to abolish slavery or to get the women's right to vote. But every step forward is advancing to that point and each moment counts. Therefore, we have to rejoice in the little things - the days when you hear children in your community caring for someone who has been bullied. The day you hear headlines like "Fredericton High School students hold dress code protest" - amazing. The day you realize that Jian Ghomeshi made the front news for weeks because he treated women wrongly and that finally it deserves a spotlight in the media because it's NOT okay. Let's celebrate these small moments, for they make the movement. 
    • Organize an action of your own
      This is a great one and one I've never done solely on my own. I love taking a part in any kind of movement; however, and so last night I thought - well why couldn't myself and a couple of friends host that? We had an in depth conversation about this afterwards. Perhaps this is something that will come to fruition for me soon. 
    • Self educate
      Big one. So important. There are so many times that people want to do something and they just don't know what. So start somewhere - read about it, go to lectures on it, attend webinars or seminars, volunteer with an organization close to the cause, and the list goes on. You can get involved by merely picking up a book (to start). It's easier than you think! 
    • Speak up against injustice anytime you see it
      If you are in line at the grocery store and someone is being treated wrongly, say it. Say it out loud. So often we hear injustices and pass them with a blind glance. Everyone thinks, "someone else will say something." But what if it could be you? What if someone else was you? 
    • Listen to every single story
      One of my favourite parts of last night was a woman who said, "When we connect and listen to each other's stories, we are already fighting the large forces of oppression." Listening is a radical force in itself. Really listen to other people's stories. Take a moment to figuratively walk around in their shoes. That in itself is so loving and so nourishing.
    • Deconstruct harmful thoughts and beliefs in everyday life
      I think this is exactly what Maya Angelou is talking about up above. One of the panelists was a young man who works in marketing and studies marketing for men. He said often when a client is describing something to him they will simply say, "It looks too masculine." When he asks what masculine means to them, specifically, they start deconstructing it - it's too bold, too dark, too many harsh, straight lines, basically it's too foreboding. So he takes that opportunity to ask why that necessarily means masculine to them and starts a conversation that may shift their perspective. It really is a radical thought that you can start taking away negatives in any daily conversation. 
    Ultimately, it comes down to one thing.

    You must be careful about the words you allow in your house. And by changing your daily interactions, you can change the world. 

    March 06, 2015

    Well my lovely friend, it's been awhile.

    The third last time I wrote was (you guessed it) International Women's Day last year.

    That's okay, I have been busy. Moving out to the woods and switching jobs and MCing weddings and sitting in meditation retreats and hiking the forest of my backyard and learning about International Development and social change and travelling to Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, Halifax, Arizona, going home and spending time with my nephews and niece and well, just living.

    But I'm back. For a very simple, yet significant, reason. It's time to celebrate women again.

    Tonight I spent a couple of hours learning from a variety of women (and men) with different backgrounds, ethnicities and academic views, about what International Women's Day means to them. I then sat at a cozy bar drinking red wine with two amazing women friends of my own, debating the life and times of being a woman and what International Women's Day should really be about (in our minds).

    There are sooooo many different trains of thoughts about what this day could mean (if, might I mention, you have ever even heard of this day. Sad to hear that so many people apparently have not. It's March 8th by the way, and has been around since 1908.) To some people, it could be a day to dissect and stand up for indigenous rights, LGBT rights, men's rights, civil rights, or gender equality. It could mean debating the difference between men and women and why don't men have a day? It could mean dissecting the various segments of being a woman - transgender, gay, bisexual or feminist.

    But, after much reflection, I strongly believe it all boils down to this:

    International Women's Day is a day of celebration for all of us.

    It's a day of solidarity.

    It's a day to rejoice on the advancements we have made over time, as a full-on-doesn't-matter-what-race-culture-age you are. It's a day to rejoice about the general species of: women.

    A quick google search will show you about twenty sites that have these sad stats about being a woman:
    • Women perform 66% of the world’s work and produce 50% of the food. However, they earn just 10% of incomes and own 1% of the property globally
    • Out of 197 countries, only 22 of them have women currently serving as heads of state — just 11.2%
    • In business, the gender gap remains wide. In the United States, for example, only 21 of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women.
    • In nearly every country, women work longer hours than men and are paid less*

    But what I'm looking for are these kinds of facts:
    • There are currently 17 countries with women as heads of government, heads of state, or both; this, according to the UN, is more than double what it was in 2005 (yes, this site said 17 instead of 22. It was written earlier than the one above, so look, we have five more in that stat above! More progress!)
    • Generally considered to be the world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji was written in Japan around AD 1000 by Murasaki Shikibu—a woman.
    • The two highest IQs ever recorded on a standard test both belong to women.
    • Mary Queen of Scots has been attributed to creating the world’s first golf course.**
    (Yes, the above seem like random facts, but I googled over and over "positive facts about women's rights" and "positive International Women's Day facts" and yet these were, quite literally, the best I could find. Hmmm. Next blog - more celebratory women websites).

    In all seriousness, this week I have thought long and hard about what it means to be a woman. In my short life I have traveled to nations that are the poorest in the world. I've sat with women in oppressed regions: in the slums of India, in the dust and dirt of El Salvador. I have seen them laugh. I have seen them rise up against domestic violence. I have seen them plant food and cook feasts, nurture their children, and show more kindness than I knew possible. I have seen ingenuity. And brilliance. And passion. 

    I have also sat in elite boardrooms with some of the most intelligent women to walk the planet here in Canada. I have seen those who have the most incredible outward (and inward) beauty - the best clothes that money can buy, the best make-up, the best hair, the nicest houses, the whole damn white picket fence. 

    I have loved and admired both sets of women alike. And I've seen so many similarities. I have seen hard work and determination and grit in each and every single one of them. I have seen wisdom, grace, and nurturing spirits. It doesn't matter which set it's coming from, there is something seriously special about being a female. 

    So what does being a woman mean, universally? 

    It means loving with all of your heart. Taking risks and being vulnerable and opening yourself up to heartache on the behalf of others. It means spending long nights cooking and cleaning for people so that they will be pleased, happy, and nourished. It means not worrying about getting credit for the love that you bestow constantly - the light that you shine, because seeing others happiness is enough. It means loving from afar and letting go and holding tightly and not wanting to let go. Being a woman means being a life force. Literally. It means passing on the eternal breath of nature. It brings about motherhood, which I have not stepped into yet, but experienced through so many of my very closest loved ones and my own (possibly the best woman alive) my mother. This, to me, is everything in life. This has given every single one of you reading this LIFE. That is no small feat. That is no mistake by nature. That is something that needs celebrating.  

    Being a woman means creating connections with girlfriends that only sisterhood can understood. It means that when a friend comes over after a heartbreak, you get the chocolate cake ready. It means when a friend is really going through tough times, you get the spare room ready, no questions asked. It might mean planting a garden, doing eight loads of laundry, settling thirty disputes, changing five diapers, cooking dinner for the family, and planning the next grocery list - all in eight hours. It might mean traveling all day for work and listening to eight co-workers concerns and making them feel special and forgetting to do your own yoga practice because other people need you and calling your girlfriend at 11 p.m. when you're meant to go to bed because she needs to know what to wear tomorrow. 

    Being a woman means that you truly care.

    It means being a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandma. 

    It's something that you cannot describe in so many words.

    It means so much. 

    My biggest wish is that everyone, on Sunday, March 8th, will spend the day just rejoicing in the womanhood around the world. Thank the woman next to you, or the one that gave life to you. Let's forget all the other segments it can break into and for one day - let's just celebrate womanhood.

    * Source: http://www.theglobalist.com/10-facts-international-womens-day/
    ** Source: http://www.levo.com/articles/news/facts-about-women-international-womens-day

    October 14, 2014

    1.  of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.
    synonyms: considerable, substantial, significant, appreciable, special, serious;

    I didn't write my annual Thanksgiving blog this year, as I realized last night, due to a number of reasons. I've been busy with life of course, but also I think I am getting more grateful everyday. I am oh so grateful for the beautiful earth we live on, the extraordinary people in my life, the projects that keep coming, the laughs, the tears, the love from every angle, the sometimes tough (but always important) lessons that each experience has brought me too, and for the words that continue to show up when I need them most.

    Like when we have to say goodbye to an incredible man that my brother-in-law's father was. Is. Wherever he is now. John made everyone around him incredibly comfortable. He had a smile you could see coming from a mile away and (since I saw him around his grandsons a lot) he always had a twinkle in his eye to tease them with. He was always curious about my life and was a great listener.

    Today I am hurting that I can't be in Saskatchewan with my family, to stand beside my brother in law, my sister and their entire family. Sometimes the words just don't come to express or make sense of a loss like this. And so I have to turn to the only words that gave me solace recently when we experienced the loss of another great, great individual.

    When Great Trees Fall
    ~Maya Angelou

    "When great trees fall,
    rocks on distant hills shudder,
    lions hunker down
    in tall grasses,
    and even elephants
    lumber after safety.

    When great trees fall
    in forests,
    small things recoil into silence,
    their senses
    eroded beyond fear.

    When great souls die,
    the air around us becomes
    light, rare, sterile.
    We breathe, briefly.
    Our eyes, briefly,
    see with
    a hurtful clarity.
    Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
    gnaws on kind words
    promised walks
    never taken.

    Great souls die and
    our reality, bound to
    them, takes leave of us.
    Our souls,
    dependent upon their
    now shrink, wizened.
    Our minds, formed
    and informed by their
    fall away.
    We are not so much maddened
    as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
    of dark, cold

    And when great souls die,
    after a period peace blooms,
    slowly and always
    irregularly.  Spaces fill
    with a kind of
    soothing electric vibration.
    Our senses, restored, never
    to be the same, whisper to us.
    They existed.  They existed.
    We can be.  Be and be
    better.  For they existed."

    And to my cousin Don, whom the world lost as well, you will be missed. I never got a chance to know you well and it's an unfortunate part of living in this great big world. But I know your family and all of you are in my thoughts. Let us seize life every single moment that we have. Let our hearts be big enough to connect and love each other dearly in the time we have and to remember fondly, forever and always.

    June 24, 2014

    [wild-craft-ing] v.
    the harvesting of herb, root, flower or inspiration from the wilds

    [stew·ard·ship] noun
    the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something
    an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources

    I spent the last three days at the Wildcraft Forest just outside of Lumby. I connected with  Don (the lovely man who is a steward of the land there) last year through finding his website. We were meant to meet earlier and things didn't turn out. So I jumped at the chance to attend the second ever Wildcrafting Basics course, that leads one to the Wildcrafting Bioregional Studies Certificate (WBSC). Last week we were assigned homework to do a report on three plants - two that are native to the interior of BC and one that is "invasive"(what a terrible term). We were also tasked with looking back, like faaaar back into our ancestry, to 5000 years ago. To imagine the life we would have lead back then. Due to how busy I've been lately, I was a tad stressed. I guess I am a bit of a perfectionist in some ways and wanted to be fully prepared.

    Nothing could have prepared me for the weekend (and yet everything in my life up to this point has been preparing me).  More on that later.

    So from the beginning. My friend Lisa and I packed up her camper and took off, with no expectations of who or what this course would be like. We are both drawn to the woods, to sustainability, to philosophical conversations about what life really is about. It just felt right. We knew all of the above would happen. We arrived and immediately met two lovely women around our age, of the same like-minded ideas. It was an instant bond. As other class members arrived, it was apparent that we were indeed a clan of sorts. There was instantaneous connection and an awe and wonder for the Earth and all that her majesty has to offer us (and more, about what we can offer back).

    After delightful conversation (where I actually exclaimed, "I love you," to Pam - one of the attendees there. Too soon? Haha) we dove right into spiral harvesting (over foraging) of wild strawberries and wild mint. Don was harvesting the leaves these for his wild teas, so we got to eat a few of the delightful miniature berries. Delicious. Until the roosters on the property came along and helped themselves to the whole field. Fair enough, these roosters (called Lord Voldemort and Panama) well they need to eat too. We also met Wizard, the spiritual dog and faithful companion of Don's. He became a constant for the weekend, as wherever we went, Wizard would follow.

    We then learned about the ancient art of dowsing and were able to create our own dowsing sticks. Dowsing is a type of divination used to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites, and many other objects and materials, without the use of scientific apparatus. It is an ancient art and incredibly interesting. It lends itself to the idea of an ancient muscle memory. I won't spend too much time on this as it's something more to be experienced than explained. Following our first foray into the woods, we came back to camp and used Don's pendulum to ask a few questions. We got some interesting answers later that evening around the fire...
    Hwy 6 -  if you ever get a chance,
    drop in to this magical place
    Spiral harvesting. No clear cutting / foraging.
    Home for three days:
    Fire pit.
    Medicine wheel.
    Teepee being wrapped in wood.
    All the essentials.
    The wise eyes of Wizard.
    Learning the ancient art of dowsing.
    Later Friday night, we had a smudging ceremony, and had rich conversation about the reasons why we came around the medicine wheel and the Four Directions. This consisted sitting around a stone monument that's a symbol in North American indigenous culture. Where you sat mattered, as the Four Directions have symbolism in each. There is the deer to the west (gentle spirit), the coyote to the south (trickster), the bear to the west (leader) and the eagle/owl to the north (visionary). Without knowing, I sat between the bear and the eagle. During this ceremony, I had a major moment. I was sharing my story of what led me to that exact moment and as I gazed out over the Sleeping Coyote mountain in front of me, with the sun setting, and heart enriching conversation, something whispered to me that my leap of faith that had me pack up my belongings into a car and move to Kelowna without knowing a soul, was right. That my steps to move towards an agricultural based company was right. That my friendship with Lisa wasn't a coincidence. These were all steps on my journey to this place.

    I struggled finding the words to describe this moment of the weekend, so I found this description of a medicine wheel and thought it too perfect to not include:

    "a Medicine Wheel can best be described as a mirror within, which everything about the human condition is reflected back. It requires courage to look into the mirror and really see what is being reflected back about an individual's life. It helps us with our creative "Vision", to see exactly where we are in life and which areas we need to work on and develop in order to realize our full potential. It is a tool to be used for the upliftment and betterment of humankind, healing and connecting to the Infinite."

    After all of this activity, we still had two days left. So we built a beautiful fire and shared further stories about lucid dreaming, pioneering ideas, about what life really means, about the broken system we find ourselves in. I fell asleep so utterly content and slept for eight hours for the first time in a long time.

    Saturday started with enriching conversation based around terroir. Terroir can be loosely translated as "a sense of place," which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product. This includes the soil, the geography, the climate, and best of all, the story of a product. Imagine the wine in France, where terroir comes from. It tells the story of the place where the grapes are grown and why that wine is so special. This lent itself to being a more business-minded conversation about becoming an artisan, or a product designer, and about how to contribute to the economy and tell the story of your products to the marketplace. This isn't all "hippie" stuff people! It's business that comes with a high level of spiritual ethics.

    From there it seemed natural that we would jump to the career side of wildcrafting. The categories are loosely divided into six paths:

    • Designers (product design, community planning)
    • Healers (making medicine, plant knowledge, ancient arts, healing memory)
    • Alchemists (transformation of dyes, fibers, medicines and plants into food)
    • Guides (communicators, counselors, dreamwork, pilgrimage)
    • Teachers (learning, sharing, mentoring, media, broadcasting, storytelling, communicating)
    • Navigators (leadership, biosemiotics, negotiating, advocacy)
    The vision that Don holds for wildcrafting is truly original and incredible. One of my favourite chats we had from the weekend was this:

    "Wildcrafting is what the environmental movement should have become. It's not about going to lawmakers and petitioning them to make change for us. It's about making change in ourselves and the environment we are living in. If we each take that responsibility unto ourselves, we can create a movement bigger than anything that a law or government in it's current state could do."

    It's about our obligation as dwellers on the earth, to take care of what we have for future generations. And, as you can see above, there is a way for this to be done, and to make a living from it. It's a new kind of economy, ruled by the nurturing Gaia. And he believes this will be a movement. That every health food store, or grocery store for that matter will need a wildcrafting practitioner. Every restaurant and hospital. It really will become the wave that drives the human race forward in a way that the earth can support.

    We spoke this weekend about true permaculture and bioregionalism. About creating a design system which aims to create sustainable human habitats by following nature's patterns. And about creating ecological, political and cultural systems around naturally defined areas. What an inspirational time to be living here in the interior of BC.

    The piece that came out of Saturday's morning conversations for me was the Aha moment of why I've spent the past ten years in marketing and communications. I'm here to tell a story. The world is a web of stories. The more we can find people to tell the right ones, the better off we will be.

    Then we were off on a field trip to the Shuswap River.
    The beautiful Shuswap River
    Identifying horsetail & wild gooseberries
    Known to keep away evil spirits...
    Ferns! With markings underneath! Is it Bracken or Lady Fern?  
    The oh so glorious and important forest underlayer
    Learning about culturally modified trees. 
    The Queen's Cup:
     - used as an eye medicine and to stop bleeding
     - berries used for a blue dye 
    The very versatile Thimbleberry
     - berries eaten fresh with other wild berries
    - young shoots can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked
    - large, maple like leaves to be used as temporary containers
    - the leaves can even be used as toilet tissue for hikers
    Can't go into a forest and not sit
    on a log & have a quick ponder can you? 
    And once the enlightening field trip (where we also discovered beauts like the cottonwood trees, oregon grape, birch trees, streambank buttercup and wild ginger) it was time to head back to camp and collect items for dinner.
    Gathering an oh so beautiful salad 
    Puffball mushrooms! This was about the size of a soccer ball
    and felt like a kneaded piece of dough.
    Finding dinner in the sunshine.
    And coming across a meadow of oxeye daisies.
    Let's add those petals to our salad...
    Pam & Jaime creating a delicious paste for the salmon.
    Prepping for the burdock root pancakes
    The aromatic woods. Nowhere I'd rather be.
    Burdock root broth with chives & mint 
    Campfire cooking...
    and ever present stimulating conversation
    And our final product, with sun tea
    (and black currant wine for the girls) 
    With full bellies and happy bodies, we then did our plant presentations over a crackling fire. With nine of us, it was amazing that there was not one overlapping plant that we chose. It was truly incredible learning about the characteristics, spiritual and medicinal values of over twenty different wild plants. To name a few, we had wild mint, skunk cabbage (a light shining in the swampy dark), mugwort (a great plant for women to get to know), wild honeysuckle, heart-leafed arnica and tall bluebells (all related to my favourite thing - LOVE), pine pollen (a testosterone booster for men), giant hogweed (instilling fear in parents everywhere), the tiger lily (to add a little pepper), and Japanese nutweed (the plant that doesn't seem to have much wrong with it - other than minor architectural issues - this guy will grow through walls...but that is so healing that it's perhaps natures way of forcing us to listen). There was great mullein plant (an aphrodisiac), the red columbine (a good luck charm), and skull cap (beware of giddiness and happiness).  What. an. education.

    After a rich after-fire discussion of boycotts, the book of Enoch and our raison d'être, we retired to bed for another restful slumber.

    Upon rising, I realized it was the last day. This created a stir of emotions. I was overwhelmed with information and needed to digest it. I was faced with aha moments of my own skills and talents that I need to share with the world. I was terribly sad to leave the no-cell-service-oh-so-peaceful woods and the clan that we created. But I was ready to face our last day, to soak in what I could, and to come home with a sense of purpose.

    And then Robert MacDonald came to speak to us. Robert has a rich past, full of marketing (for great things like the Grateful Dead and household items like the decorated Kleenex box), publishing (worked for Random House - hello hero!) and consulting, all the while keeping his spiritual values and morals in tact. It quickly became clear to me that I am meant to study further under this man whose background has slight similarities to my own that I'm starting. However, the one story that Robert told struck me as something that needed to be told, and it is this:

    When he was working for a typography company, he learned the story of the building he worked in. It was built by construction workers that were far ahead of their time. It was a huge, intricate building, built in stone and other sturdy materials. However, there were certain parts that needed the flexibility of wood. So the builders knew that this would have to be replaced about 300 years from then and built the wood in such a way that it would be easy to extract and replace. Then they took things a step further. They planted an oak tree forest surrounding the building, that would grow for 300 years, mature, and then the wood that was needed was right on site.

    Do you see the sustainability in that?

    Do you realize that that's how we need to be thinking - 300 years out?

    We all want to leave a legacy. What can we do, that will be a story, that will inspire future generations, and that will leave them better off?

    That's what we need to be thinking about.

    I was captivated by his message and am starting to understand that I have to shift my thinking to this way. Not only this, but it's storytelling that will continue that message along. It's the story of Ogopogo (to potentially protect boaters from methane eruptions?) It's the story that we have heard from our parents about who we are and where we come from that shapes our lives.

    We have to think about our story. Every generation and culture needs a story. And we have a moral and ethical obligation to set it up right now for 300 years from now.

    Sunday afternoon we talked to a man named Matthew Stephens who studied permaculture from the grandfather of permaculture himself: Bill Mollison. Matt is now designing a food forest and community garden in inner city Chicago. He is a guerrilla gardener that is changing lives. These kinds of visionaries are who we need to step forward and blaze the path. We also got into a very animated conversation about the naysayers. Those who may need to see certification in this path in order for it to be credible. Or those that simply look at us and say that we're "hippies." But I ask you this:

    And what if my buisness background allows me to understand the economy - and not to simply "check out" of society like many hippies are accused of doing. I think there's a true path that we can follow that takes that which we need to do and makes it accessible to all, still allowing lives of comfort (maybe not luxury like there is now, but comfort nonetheless) and rich conversations and rich spirits and delicious foods? It creates a world of community and rights some of the wrongs that are so clearly, blatantly happening right now around the world.

    Deep deep down, somewhere, you must hear the whisper.

    And there's tangible things that you can do. Grow your own food or support those that grow yours. Create community with multi-levels of skills that can build an intertwined group that compliments each other rather than berate each other. Choose a piece of land and become a true steward of it. Read about the resources we have at our fingertips. Learn. Act.

    Our final assignment of the course was an ancestral mapping. To understand where our blood lines originated. And then to tell a story of what we could imagine of that life. I found this extremely enriching and was surprised to find so many synchronicities of what my life could have been like then and my life now. I found traits of what I believe to have been my indigenous diet that I am partial too today (German diet of dough, breads, cheeses, butters). I found ancient thought patterns like ahimsa (non violence to all living things) that popped up in my studies. I told a story of who I believe I was and it came out to sound exactly like the life that I am currently living.

    I believe everyone should try digging back into their ancestry. Uncover the stories. Taste the foods. Who knows what you may find out about yourself.

    It's funny, when you start to study a forest. You see how all of the layers and species of it work together to ensure a high-functioning ecosystem. Humans can really become connected like that and mimic nature.

    Ultimately, I believe it all comes down to this:

    "Do you believe in the good of many over the good of one, or the good of one over the good of many?"

    If it's the former, I think we will be okay. If we include the earth as one of the many, we will learn to live within it. And often, if you look at communities, women are the community oriented nurturers. A new need for feminine leadership is happening. Women can blaze this path and right things, if we support each other and let the story of family and community be told through them. This is a very special time in history.

    Let's make sure that our time here tells a story from our intertwined hearts.

    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.