My Idol

I’m a little sister and the only daughter in my family. My big brother is my idol. We have the sort of relationship that is mocked for being too movie-family cliche. The only fight we’ve ever had involved me punching him in the stomach, me running wildly away, me locking myself in a room, some door banging and the anti-climatic finale of us using a poster to hide the foot size hole in the door, that very much resembled my own 7.5 shoe size. He’s never been that overly protective type who chases guys away, but with friends like his, I never totally dodged that bullet anyways.

But I’m fiercely protective. Ian is the more strong silent type of the two of us. He’s kind and unbelievably smart and hogged all the hereditary good looks of our gene pool. Yet, when we were in grade school, his confidence wavered and I will never forget the immense pain I felt at the idea that he was hurting in any way. I was that little sister that unabashedly told my brother’s first crush that he liked her because I knew how great of a catch he was, despite his own blindness. I’d do anything in my power to make my brother safe and happy.

Now, in our twenties, (him shockingly close to the big 3.0.), I don’t need to worry about him. He recently bought his first condo with his girlfriend of 9 years, has a job that suits him better than I could ever have dream for him and he’s still casting an unavoidable shadow on his little sister – One I’ve never resented or been embarrassed of. I’m so proud of Ian.

I’m always going to be that little sister that worships her big brother. He doesn’t know the extent at which I care for him or the height of the esteem I hold him to. He is a best friend that I have the solidity of blood to be tied with. He’s the older sibling that I can look up to every day of my life and aspire to be. He has been, and always will be the immovable rock that founds all my own strength. It’s through Ian that I’ve developed my strongest attributes and with him that I’ve grown. My hardest moments will forever be softened in memory by his never waning presence and I owe him more than I could ever word.

As part of this years commitments, I’m learning to appreciate and recognize with no subtly the amazing people and things in my life. I can gush, I can brag, and I can let myself just smile. Smile at the fortune I’ve acquired in people that make my life greater than I deserve.

So grateful. So happy.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Fear

We spend an inordinate amount of time rejecting, denying, avoiding and skirting our fears. We’ll down-play them to people around us to seem bigger, or we take the other route and hype them up to attempt to dissuade being subjected to them – our seriousness potentially saving us from the risk of a prank, for example. Fear pricks our resolution and buries our resolve.

The metallic taste lingers on our tongues, betraying our better judgments. Fear of failure, of rejection, of death. Lives are lived in the shadow of what could harm us or abuse our prides. Embarrassment alone can ruin us at times.

We need the fear though. We need the goosebumps, the anxiety and the cold that grips the pit of our stomachs. It pushes us, and accompanies us on our greatest achievements. It’s the nagging teacher that forces you up to the black board in front of the class. A silent promise of living in learning.

I hold my fears close. I respect them. I adore them. Each blunder, accomplishment and possibility has been tinged with fear. Sometimes I’m drenched in it, and sometimes I can sit quietly and let it seep through me with indifference. A companion that challenges me; sometimes with malice, but more often with content. I embrace them because they are a part of me that can promise the best of who I am.

I hold my fears close. I respect them. I adore them.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Smart Eats

Toronto is a city that rocks an eccentric look like none other. Farmers markets shaded by skyscrapers, hiking trails and ravines that snake through central neighbourhoods into the core of the city, and an overwhelming amount of restaurants and bars to explore. Multiculturalism spills out of neighbourhoods such as Chinatown or Little Italy. Religious foodies, coffee fanatics, tree huggers, hipsters, professionals and everyone in between call Toronto their home with pride.

The freedom to support local agriculture and eat organic is a luxury that all Torontonians have at their fingertips but rarely monopolize on. I know over the years my excuse was centred around my living-at-home accommodations – my parents ruled the menu and swam in the habits of routine shopping trips to the nearby Metro. Now as the dining responsibilities land neatly on my shoulders, I have the opportunity to pursue more environmentally supportive food choices.

My new neighbourhood is flanked by Wychwood Farmer’s market to the west, Brickworks to the east and little AppleTree market just north. With some operating all year round I have no excuse to skimp on local purchases and have come to look forward to my weekly or biweekly trips to the busy, fresh scented kiosks. The aroma of fresh brewed coffee and earthy vegetation welcomes you in on Saturday mornings and the surrounding charms of the areas that house these markets offer scenic walking trails and new ways to live Torontonian.

Eating healthy is a trend that our city happily invites and these markets brilliantly portray our potential for smart foodie relationships. I’ve committed to being more environmentally friendly and healthier in general this year and I intend to excel in both areas. This isn’t unrealistic at all, thanks to where I live.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Dr. Clark?

I got accepted into Vet school.

Over ten months ago.

I didn’t tell anyone, and deferred for a year in private.

For months prior I poured over MCAT study guides that made dictionaries look like child’s play and accumulated a insensible amount of knowledge. I worked painstakingly hard to prepare myself for the test that could determine my future, and when I finally wrote it and received my score, I was more satisfied than proud.

Scoring in the top 97 percentile was a milestone that left me more fulfilled than my actual acceptance to the doctorate program. I took that as a sign and decided to keep my acceptance letter and orientation package a personal achievement as I explored the opportunities that were being offered to me.

Do I want to commit to years of intensive schooling again? Am I ready to revisit student life? Is this a career I want to dedicate myself to? Is this really what I want?

These questions demanded months of my time and in secret I debated, weighed and strongly considered each answer. Without the influence or pressure of those around me, (including my parents and Sam), I came to the slow realization that I wasn’t going to become a vet. I love working with animals. I love the idea of helping the ones in need. But, I’m not a doctor. I’m not passionate about the medical aspect of biology and I can’t justify fulfilling a position in a program that I’m not nearly as winded about as others. There is someone out there what has wanted this every day for their whole lives…and my casual acceptance would be an insult to them.

This is not my path to walk.

I am committed to furthering my career and being the best of me, but I’m more committed to being true to myself. That trumps the potential pay raise in the end of the day. I need to follow my heart, and trust.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Non-Baker, Baking

I’m not much of a baker. Elaborate minion shaped cakes dressed in colourful fondant is very much out of my reach. Dreams of one day being a celebrated boulanger have long ago ended and I’ve come to enjoy my small baking accomplishments.

One such accomplishment comes in the success of memorizing and mastering my own take on buttermilk tea biscuits. On days when fresh baked goods are only a few dry ingredients away, it’s best to give in and preheat the oven. This is my simplest recipe for days like those.

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl. Slice the butter into chunks and add to the flour mixture. (I used my hands to coarsely blend the butter and dry ingredients). Pour buttermilk into bowl. If the dough mixture is still very dry, add a touch more buttermilk. Sprinkle your prep surface with flour and turn the dough out of the bowl. Using your hands, gently pat the dough to about 1/2″ thickness and knead it, folding the dough onto itself a few times. A round cutter or the lip of a glass cup will act as a stencil to cut the round biscuits from the dough. Bake on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes, until biscuits are a golden brown. If you like softer edges to your biscuits, pack them closely together on the sheet, otherwise an inch or so apart will let them get a little crispier. And last but not least, cool them off a tad, maybe split one open for some melted butter tastiness, and enjoy!

How To Lose Friends. Part 2

Here is what I believe to be the list of the top 5 biggest friendship faux pas, based off true life experience and stolen from my personal archive:

1. The friend that doesn’t want you till they need you.
Always a favourite and one sure to make you go ‘mhmm, yes…’. After months of little to no reciprocated contact, I’m rung up with an audible plea of desperation to provide the comfort and support that the friend needs. No matter the prior situation, you can NEVER turn your back on that friend, and I don’t resent that. It’s just one of the sad loops you can get caught in. You’re losing a friend here because that lack of contact and friendship before the problem, doesn’t do unnoticed and forgotten. Despite the ease of giving friendship in those rough times, the damage is done.

2. The friend that can’t deal with your happiness.
There’s that one person who not-so-subtly questions the good things that happen in your life and makes the congratulations seem a bit masked.
‘The interview went amazing! I got offered the job on the spot!’
Friend- ‘Wow… You’re so lucky you’re pretty.’
If that’s not some double-sided compliment, than I don’t know what is! Probably unnecessary to explain the path to loss here.

3. The friend with the sex priority.
Really? Do I even need to explain this one either? It can go hand in hand with my previous post as well. This friend screws up by screwing. (Heh).

4. The friend who can’t be a bro.
A touchy one in most circles because it’s almost too taboo to really discuss. This is the friend that fell for you. Whether your a guy or girl, this particular friend is the one that holds you to a higher regard. Love complicates this friendship and puts you in a rough spot. Despite warnings of not being able to return those same feelings, hearts will inevitably break and friendships will painfully come to a close. This lose is the worst in my opinion.

5. The friend that breaks your trust.
This one has done irreparable damage. Whether they’ve stolen your boyfriend, insulted your family or complicated your life with lies and rumours, they are now nothing to you. They’ve crossed a line somewhere and you’re hurting in ways you didn’t know you could hurt. Your stomach twists, you cry tears for emotions you can’t even set straight and you let go with no hesitation. This is as lost as a friend can get.

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This is what not to commit to being. Each day that I can avoid acting as any of these is a day well deserved. I’d like to think that it’s been smooth sailing thus far.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

Dear Sketchers, I Missed You. Love, Liz

With the air no longer stinging of ice and our sun forgiving the harshness of winter, I’ve been able to start running outside again. This is huge news! We live in Canada! You have any idea how hard it is to run in the winter months? Ice, suffocating wind and treacherous slush and snow bank obstacles make it almost a death wish – well, death for your poor lungs, ankles and knees mostly. I’ve been cooped up and antsy, despite my absorption into yoga and treadmill runs. I can act the part of yogi well enough, but it’s just not me. Bare feet and mats have nothing on solid earth and my sketchers.

Running is where I belong. This is my niche. It began years ago when I was a broke student suffering through a harmful relationship. Running was cheaper than therapy or booze. I ran to escape. I ran to feel. It became a life raft.

Today, I laced up, threw on a sweater and set off. I don’t listen to music while I run. I don’t carry my phone.
I am alone. I am strength. I am only me.

For years I’ve tentatively spoken of training and running in a half marathon or even just a 10km fundraiser but shied away with petty excuses as my only defence. As a new and sorely overdue commitment for this year, I’m going to ignore my aversions. By the end of this year I want to say that I’ve ran with purpose.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

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Chilling, unforgiving and dark, this book leaves you under its trance for weeks after you’ve read the last pages. It took me two tries to completely get through this masterpiece, simple because of its hard-hitting, emotionally draining content. You’re faced with characters that are confusing, dark and cynical, yet somehow loving. There are few books that can make an avid reader feel the need to step back and ‘take a break’, yet this one did it.


We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver is the shockingly monochromatic narrative of the mother of the teen that goes on a methodical killing spree in his high school gym. It is not an easy read in both terms of language and content. Directed as a letter to her husband, the reader is faced with opinions and assumptions both difficult and confusing. It’s a book that takes one America’s greatest fears and stares, glaringly, at what we all ask…’where were the parents?’

 

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5 Steps To Comfort

1. Pants off.
First and foremost, you strip it all off. Kick those jeans off. Discard the maybes, ifs, ands, or buts of the day with them and go bare. You’ve got to trade in the pants that suck and tuck and embrace the baggy tracks or skin-bearing booty shorts. It’s about leaving the easy discomforts, like pants, aside.

2. Claim the corner seat.
Even if you’re a bona-fide extrovert, your outgoing tendency could take a back seat right now. Being alone with your own mind, stealing that never free corner couch spot and lazing solo is good for you once in awhile. It alleviates the stress of your pressing social life and refreshes your own opinions.

3. Do a you thing.
Whether you’re lacing up your running shoes and hitting up your favourite running route, or curling up into that corner seat to read, you’ve got to do it all for yourself. Whatever takes your mind to the best places is where you want to be.

4. Eat right.
I’m not talking about carrots and veggie platters, unless that’s your preferred comfort food. I love springrolls or ritz crackers with nutella. To each their own. The key here is to embrace guilt free pleasure, and the simplest path to that in my opinion, is through food.

5. Love the moment.
The final and ultimate step to true comfort and relaxation is to embrace and appreciate the moment for what it is. It’s all about you and what makes you happy.

Bonus: Wine helps.

Hope you enjoyed my guide to comfort. Never become shy in the face of your comfort commitment. There’s nothing more refreshing than being you in a moment that’s just yours. More secrets and tips to come.

Cheers to a year of keeping track.

The Hazards of Commitment

#3. Committing to a job, but aren’t passionate about the work.

#2. Committing to a relationship, but not enjoying the other person.

#1. Committing to yourself, but overlooking the love of others.

Beneath the commitments that rule our lives is an importance that is easily forgotten. It’s simple to remove passion from work when you are blinded by the almighty dollar. We work to appease a lifestyle, we work to earn a living and we sometimes dread Monday mornings with a terrible ferocity. Being passionate about work can be a challenge but it’s worth every bit of effort. Even when the passion is kept in our work ethic, or the happiness that we can bring to coworkers, it doesn’t need to be solely about a job title. When you love someone, you can overlook the beauty of just enjoying them. All the charms that built the relationship are ignored at later dates just because we’ve become complacent and indifferent to them. Love is blind in more than one way. Being able to sink into the comfort and playful antics of the ‘honeymoon phase’ is important no matter the duration of a relationship. And finally, while we commit to building ourselves and bettering who we are we sometimes neglect those around us that have been there silently shaping and encouraging all those improvements from the beginning. Friends and family that want nothing but the best for us fall to the wayside in our private strive for self fulfillment.

Commitments have the potential to make us happier, healthier and genuinely better people. Finding a balance and always remembering why these commitments are made is as important as keeping them.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
-L.M. Montgomery

Cheers to a year of keeping track.