the little things

Local Gifts I Love to Give

It’s no secret that I love local & love a good story. Inspired by Matt Corker’s list of 10 gifts he loves to give, here are a few local companies & entrepreneurs that make my go-to gift goodies.

disclosure: many of these wonderful people I also call good friends. I suspect once you meet them, so will you…

A dive into designing your most desired life.

the goodie: The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte.

Going through this beautiful book and exercise will not only open you up to a space of inspiration and joy, but also help answer the question of “how do you want to feel today?”, and then design your life around that.

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Treat your taste buds.

the goodie: Vancouver Farmer’s Market tokens

I LOVE food. It’s my language of love, my creative outlet. Hosting dinner parties makes my heart happy. When I can source all the food from local, organic farmers, I am even happier. The Winter market is going on now at Nat Bailey Stadium. Head on over, treat yourself to a delicious food truck lunch, and grab some tokens to gift (they work basically as cash/gift cards). Some of my fav vendors:

  • Forstbauer Farm Organic- I work here every Saturday so I am a bit biased (come say hi!), but their organic, biodynamic veggies + frozen blueberries + grass-fed/finished beef will rock your world
  • For your glutenous needs: A Bread Affair (their organic burger buns are unreal) + Purebread (this Whistler bakery will blow your socks off. My man drools over their outrageous choco brownies)
  • Pasta Famiglia is the best handmade pasta this side of Italy. Make sure you ask Peter to share a recipe or two with you.
  • Gelderman Farm- bacon.
  • Klippers Organic- sister farm to Forstbauers, their apples & tomatoes are packed with amazing flavah.
  • The Farm House Natural Cheese: CHEESE! And buttermilk.
  • Poplar Grove Organic Hazelnuts will make you forget all about Nutella.
  • Harvey’s Orchards dried organic cherries are an explosion of goodness.
  • Sawmill Bay’s mussels are so fresh & meaty.
  • Sleeping Mountain’s organic ground turkey makes meatballs like no other.

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The gift of beauty.

  • Hume Atelier: not only is their handmade jewelry absolutely beautiful, they also use FairTrade, FairMined gold, in addition to 100% post-consumer recycled gold and platinum. They spent have of their time working with international organizations on changing the way mining is done in the world, and work solely with ethically sourced diamonds and gemstones. (my beautiful engagement ring made by Hume Atelier pictured below)
  • Nicole Bridger: ethical materials + beautiful comfortable clothing = a win.
  • Zoe Pawlak: art art art that brings zen to your life.
  • Litchfield: because a life well lived is a legacy.

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To quench your thirst.

  • Teaja Tea: the finest quality organic loose leaf tea. I have too many favourites to name, stop by their Yaletown location to explore & indulge.
  • Fat Tug IPA from Driftwood Brewery. The best. The brewery is on the island but you can buy at most local liquor stores.
  • Domaine de Chaberton winery- I like a deep glass of red, however their whites also blow me away, particularly the Reserve Siegerrebe. If you’re going over, you might as well stay for dinner, it’s a great treat.
  • Almost Chocolate & The Green from The Juice Truck hit the spot. A wellness shot is just what this cold weather calls for.

Growing Pains

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In the past 2 weeks I have had a few challenging conversations. Some of them left me feeling free and light, and some of them left me felling icky and wanting nothing more than to to curl up into the fetal position on my couch.

Each of these conversations circled around a common theme: growth. The evolution & growth of an organization, the changing base & growth of a friendship, and the definition & growth of my own values and beliefs.

This past year has been pushing me to grow, and I know many of my friends are going through similar times. I now compare this experience to our growing experiences we face as youth. In our teenage and childhood years, we went through physical growing pains as our bodies transformed to become a “grown-up”.

Now, in my mid-twenties, I feel like I am going through another period of growing pains: this time, emotional and spiritual, from deeper within. We are going through internal growing pains as our hearts and minds transform and “grow up”.

For anyone else that feels like this, let me offer up a gift that was shared with me last night: you are exactly where you need to be. Everyone’s path along this is unique to them and kudos to you for continuing to endure in it. You are exactly where you need to be and when you arrive at the other side, you will feel strong and proud of yourself.

[and for those icky-curl-up-in-a-fetal-ball moments, read this]

Thank you Nicole for our chat that led us to understand our growing pains & Humaira for the beautiful reading on a kind sadness.

And sometimes… you just cry.

“Are you ok?”

“Hmm?”

“You are crying- are you ok?”

Woah. I had not realized I was crying. Openly. In a coffee shop, with my laptop open in front of, hot soup untouched, notebooks open. I had just posted a photo on instagram of my work setup and got caught in a moment of just sitting and observing what was around me when… the tears just started rolling.

If you haven’t been, the Lost + Found Café is a beautiful café + nook in Gastown. The owners are wonderful couple and they are building a community around their social enterprise Dirty Wall Project Foundation.

It is also an extra special place for me as for a number of months over 2012/2013,my dear friend + co-founder  Humaira Hamid, and I, spent many hours discovering, creating, building, and growing. We were each on our own vulnerable journey (are were so blessed to have found each other on it!) of exploring and at some point down the road, created .theplay(ground).

We ran a number of cohorts, built an incredible community, and engaged in conversations that continue until today.

In May of this year, we both consciously chose to honor where we were at and chose to join two phenomenal organizations- H rocks events at Arts Umbrella, I build community with CYBF. We shifted our energy and took a summer hiatus to honour these choices, as well as big events for each of us: H moved out to create her own new home, I celebrated my relationship with my partner through a marriage ceremony.

With all of this, today I was hit with a wave of emotion. An emotion that felt both magical, electrifying, nostalgic, and… a bit like grief. While we’re both so proud of the choices we made and are embarking on conversations of the next stage of .theplay(ground), we closed a certain door (even if just for the time-being) earlier this year, and I had not given myself the space to transition my energy fully out and to grieve that change.

I guess today was the day for it. Despite the tears rolling down my face still, I smile. I smile that I have this story to share, I smile that I now feel comfortable sharing it, I smile knowing there is still so much more to come from it, and I smile because these intentional choices along the way have taught me more than I could have ever imagined.

Two Questions That Have Changed Me

I am a Pitta, which according to Ayurvedic doshas, means I am fiery, easily excitable, my energy fluctuates and small things can set me off. 

I am also a Saggitatrius, which according to the stars, means I am spontaneous, adventure-seeking, restless and moody, prone to stubbornness. 

And I am Paulina, which according to my kind, and tactfully smart husband, means I am extremely passionate and full of energy, and, to quote him: “passion & energy swing both ways”. 

At times, I love my energy. I love being ON and feeling like few things can stop me. I love getting in the zone and following my gut into the wild unknown winds. I love that I have a strong sense of intuition and when I allow myself to follow my intuition, good things happen. 

At times though, my passion ignites the opposite in me- I tend to be emotionally reactive, guarded, aggressive, overbearing and possessive. I react without thinking and my reaction is based from a place below the line- it is driven by lacking, by past hurt, by wanting to shut out vulnerability so that I can appear stronger & more important in someone else’s eyes.  

I can go days being in the “good energy” zone and then a small incident or just a night of bad sleep and disconnecting from me, can cause a mudslide of emotional reactions. Over the years, I have learned to take notice when this happens. 

For a while- I put myself down for it. I thought I was weak, thought I was too childish in my reactions & wanted to control them. 

What I have since learned is that my emotions, in all their strength & intensity, are an incredible gift. They mean I am alive, that I feel, that I care, and that in my core, I am intuitively connected to me. 

Now, instead of wanting to control my emotions, I seek to first understand them, acknowledge them, and then ask:

"If I was my best self right now, how would I act?"

"If I was acting out of love right now, how would I act?"

This practice has let me still feel (my often wildly strong) emotions and honour them, while helping me be the person I know I am deep down. These questions allow me to take a step back, take a breath, and understand what is driving my reaction. They let me re-ground myself in my values and learn a bit more about what’s going on within me. They also let me emphasize with myself on days where I’m just not my best self and recognize, acknowledge, sympathize, forgive & celebrate me for being… Me. 

Grandfather.

Do one thing a day scares you. Today that is sharing a poem I wrote many years ago. 

Grandfather. 
He smiled
whenever I entered the room
that stank of piss and sweat, and
I would kiss him on the cheek,
ignore the yellow walls, 
the liquid in the bag 
attached to him.

He smiled 
whenever he asked about his wife,
dead for twenty-five years.
He listened as I tried to explain it,
tell him the story of his life.

He smiled
whenever I cut his meat, 
as though for a baby
who could not handle more.
My fingers touched his lips
as I fed him,
and he shuddered 
under the warmth.

He smiled 
whenever I shaved his face, 
working my way around the
years and experiences that brought him here.

He smiled
whenever I helped him
into his red plastic chair,
placed his feet in grey slippers,
which he threw forward, 
out of place.

He smiled
whenever I put on my coat,
tied the scarf around my neck, the
mascara streaks behind my glasses, and
shut the door behind me
and walked away.

How to make decisions that feel GOOD.

“Am I making the right decision?”

“I just can’t seem to make any decision. I feel paralyzed.”

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had many conversations about evaluating and making decisions. I believe we each have it within us to make decisions that feel great and feel right, if we only re-frame the way we approach them.

 

My first question for anyone struggling with a decision is:

what filters are you applying to make your decision?

I often get a blank stare. Here’s what I mean.

When making decisions, we force our heads to think through a lot of options, scenarios and forecasts. We try to predict, we try to keep everyone and everything in mind. What we often lose in the process is… ourselves.

 

If you’re struggling to make a decision or want your decisions to feel stronger, here’s what has worked for me. 

1. Identify your core values. If you haven’t already, the quickest way to do this: go through this list of values, pick your top 20; then narrow it down to 15, then 10, and then 5; sit on those 5 for a few days to check that they really do resonate.

2. Write out your definition for each of your top 5 values. We all define and view words a bit differently, and it’s important for you to get clear for yourself, to know what you really mean.

As an example, one of my core values is intimacy. Many associate intimacy with only a romantic act or relationship. To me, intimacy means deeply meaningful, intentional, and attentive relationships with everyone in my life, not just my romantic partner.

3. From your core values, build 3 guiding filters. These can be worded the same way, or in a different way, whatever works best for you. These will be the filters you use to evaluate every decision against. 

For example, mine are:

- learning & challenge

- contribution & meaning

- resources earned (time & money)

4. When you’re faced with a decision, evaluate it based on your 3 filters. Here’s the key: most decisions won’t meet all 3 criteria and… that is OK! Choices and trade-offs are what rock our world and as long as you’re conscious of acknowledging what those are, you’re on the right track.

5. If 2/3 filters are met- great! Consider how else in your life you can fulfill your 3rd filter- after all, your top 3 are must-haves and if your decision around work/volunteering/play isn’t meeting all 3, you will want to work on incorporating it into your life through a different avenue.

6. What does this choice ENABLE you to do? We often consider what doors will close when we make a certain decision, but we don’t consider what making that decision would enable us to do.

Would it free up some time that we could spend with family/friends/important projects instead? Would it remove some stress, worry, heaviness and allow our creativity to flow? Would it allow us to save away to fulfill a big hairy audacious goal? Would it enliven us? Would it allow us to come from a place of abundance? Would it enable choice and freedom?

Trade-offs are hard to make, but when we look at the whole picture, when we look at what we could get, just as much as what we would be giving up, we’ll make fuller, long-term focused choices.

7. Do a gut check. Does this feel good? Is it a #heckyes feeling? What is your heart saying? If you’re struggling to hear your gut, try committing to a decision to yourself on someone else, and seeing how you feel in the morning.

8. Commit. Decision-making is great, but taking the next stop and DOING is where the magic happens.

 

You got this.

I choose a full life.

"Hey, how’s it going?"

"Good, how are you?"

"Good. You know, just busy."

"Ya. Me too."

Sound familiar? Sounds all too familiar. For a while now, I’ve heard lots of conversations around me on the topic of “being busy”: we all agree that, technically, we are all “busy”, yet we are tired of hearing it, we don’t want to glorify it, and we certainly don’t want to fall into “the busy trap”.

I could go off on how we could all do with a whole lot less business, less meetings, less running around, less tasks to fill our minutes and hours with, and instead fill them with activities that align with our values, that move us forward, that are more conscious. 

Instead today, I’d like to propose we start by changing our wording, and by changing our wording, that we bring a little more awareness to what we really mean and let that trickle into the choices that we make.

I have stopped saying “I am busy” for quite some time now, and when someone comments “oh, you are so busy”, or “I don’t want to take up more of your time, I know you are so busy”, I lovingly correct them and say “No, I am not busy. Yes, my life is full, but I choose to make the time.” 

Why full and not busy? Because I choose a full life- I don’t let a busy life choose me.

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the other side

Since I left the corporate world some months ago, I have been re-defining what happiness and success is for me. The journey has been challenging and rewarding, at times euphoric, and at times heart-breaking. 

Some of the most incredible moments have been the vulnerable conversations I’ve been able to have with new & old friends around the choices we make, the values we hold, and the important things in life. One common thread has been how once you open your own vulnerability door, you allow others to feel more comfortable with sharing their own journey with you.

There’s much more I’d like to post about this, and I’m finally coming to a point where I feel strong enough to be able to. Today I just wanted to share a first short message that would hopefully open up a glimpse into the other side of exploring “freedom”. We often compare our insides with everyone else’s outsides (thanks, social media!) and make assumptions and judgements about their days and lives based on it. I’ve had many people comment on how incredible my life looks, how I appear to always be so busy and doing so many things, how cool it is that I’ve been doing my own thing.

And some days, it really, really, really IS- and I am SO grateful for them and fully acknowledge how lucky I am for every one of them.

But the days that don’t get shared or talked about enough, are the days when they really, really aren’t that great.

The days, like today, when I wake up feeling very heavy emotionally. When the word failure circles my mind. When I have more questions than I think I can handle. When I wonder what I can possibly learn from all of this. 

These days usually truly come out of nowhere, which makes it sometimes hard to brace, or prepare, for them. I’ve learned to breathe through the doubting and nagging thoughts, to start will small tasks that will reward me slowly, to text or call a friend and name the feelings out loud. And some days… well, some days me and my couch and the fetal position get super tight.

My hope for you is that when you have days like that, you feel encouraged in knowing it’s not just you, to trust that it is part of the journey, and to be kind to yourself through it. Don’t compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides. And know that by opening up that dark vulnerable spot, you’re letting healing light shine in.

Thank you to Dave for reading & editing (and supporting me through this today & every day), Humaira, Marica & Joce for always being there to receive my texts, and to Josh & Carissa for an incredible event last night that opened up a window of strength in me to get these thoughts down on paper by inspiring more open vulnerability. 

On saying yes to random moments & strangers

I love strangers & the randomness of life. Was just walking down Robson St in between meetings and had a guy around my age walk up to me and ask if he could walk with me for a block or two. 

I said sure.

He first told me I looked absolutely beautiful and asked how my day is going. Then he told me that he is an entrepreneur who just started a relationship-advice business and across the street is one of his clients, a good-looking, positive, 35-year old fitness trainer, who is terrified of approaching women in non-traditional settings (ie a bar/club), but really believes that he wants to meet someone in a setting that’s not about cheap drinks & pickups. He wants a relationship. 

So today he was taking his client out and teaching in the best way possible: by example, and hoping to make someone’s day just a little bit brighter in the process. He then asked if I would at all be interested in a further conversation, at which point I told him I so LOVED the random conversation and the genuine compliment, and thanked him for it, but declined, saying I had already found my love.

Lessons learned:
- a smile & hug from a stranger can really, really turn around even a hard day like today was [read: we should all do this a little more]
- the guy, the relationship-advice entrepreneur, wasn’t particularly smooth or exceptionally talented, but he just DID it, was honest and transparent, and had genuine intentions [read: risk-taking is hard, but you can do it, and you don’t have to wait till you’re perfect or have it all figured out]
- there is someone out there for you, you may have just not bumped into them yet [read: live your life to the fullest babe, your love will be there when you are ready for them or ready to see them]
- saying “yes” may mean an awesome pick me up + hug [read: say yes more often, especially if you have no idea where it will take you]
- aren’t you glad you already put a ring on it David Cameron? ;) ;) ♥

Run baby, run!

Do you run?” - a friend

Run? Haha… nooooo, no. I am SO not a runner. Hate it. Never been my thing. My body’s just not meant for it, ya know? I’m a great swimmer, I’m a great walker, but ya, no… not a runner”- me.

I’ve spent the past 6 months going on a wild self-inquisitive, life-exploring adventure and one of the many things I questioned was the constrictions and restrictions I, or society, or perceived society, placed upon myself.

"I’m not a yogi" was one I broke down with my 60 day yoga challenge, and I recently realized, during the above conversation that happened last week, that the other box I was placing myself in was the non-runner box. I’d never given it a fair enough shot (I KNOW I can do better than my half-hour super sporadic runs) and I didn’t like that I was just placing myself in this box.

So for 2013, I’ve set a big running goal. This year I will run my FIRST 5K, my FIRST 10K (nope- I’ve never done the Vancouver SunRun- always said I hated running in crowds…), and my FIRST half-marathon. 

Terrified? Yes.

Excited? Yes.

Ready? Yes- I know my yoga & self-journey has prepared me for the mental challenge ahead.

Calling bullshit on myself and proud of it? You bet!! 

I’ll be continuing regular yoga practice to complement the running. After the half-marathon, I’ll be happy about the shot I gave running and will let myself either continue with it, if I love it, or enjoy a sporadic run once in a while, if it doesn’t groove with me. This time though, it’ll be a well-educated decision. 

2013 running schedule:

March 16th | 5K | BMO St. Patrick’s Day 5K

April 21st | 10K | Vancouver Sun Run

August 10th | half-marathon | lululemon’s SeaWheeze

2013 training regime:

- for running, I’ll be starting off using a modified version of Vancouver SunRun’s 10K training schedule, which will have me running 3-4 times a week

- still looking/creating a great half-marathon schedule after it

- yoga 2-3 times a week

- a weekly swim 

- walking meetings (been doing this for a good while now and it really is the best)

- continue to feed my body with great nutrition 

- all my current daily rituals will feed into staying mentally strong & soul-full

#BOOM.