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Matters of the Heart in Story Format – Tales of a Vancouver Girl

A Hand-knit Sweater: A Romantic Symbol of Dedication in a Life Transition

I gave Nathan his Valentine’s Day present early this year. Hand-knit sweaters can be very romantic. I practically cried when I gave it to him.  It’s more than just an effort of love.  I stayed up until 4am ripping apart and re-knitting the collar until I was satisfied. Then I woke up early because I still wasn’t satisfied and did the same thing. My eyes bloodshot. My body weary. To me, it was about commitment. I wasn’t about to give up on getting that shaping right. I am just as persistent in putting in the work for marriage.

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You can see my baby bump in the corner (in pink).  It’s an Elizabeth Zimmerman sweater and if you are familiar, that means that it is seamless, and very little instructions are given.

With a baby on the way, this sweater is a symbol of dedication in a life transition.

When I learned that I was expecting, I was very aware of the dangers of how everything could end up being about the baby…that I could easily lose touch with Nathan and be on a completely different wavelength. Sure, some of my life will be about the baby. For instance, what I actually eat. But quite honestly, this whole thing is about becoming a family which involves more than just the kid.

This sweater is a symbol that we are committed to each other and that raising a child is something we do together. We are still our own individual beings.

So now, when I am working on a pair of socks for myself, or a sweater for Nathan and am asked, “Shouldn’t you be knitting for the baby?” I can say, “Yes I am.” My commitment to Nathan (and myself) through the extension of knitting is a symbol of us becoming a family. It’s about giving our best to each other to give the best to our child.

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Broken Mala – Embodying the Lesson of Impermanence

I was sitting there at my desk at work, typing away at my computer, when suddenly, I hear the sound of pitter-patter and rolling. I look over to my left wrist, and my mala had broke and the beads were making a break for it.

I hadn’t snagged it on anything. The knot by the lotus had inexplicably unravelled, and now beads were rolling away from me, bouncing off my desk, and hiding behind boxes and cabinets.

Broken Mala.

Broken Mala. Sad and freeing.

I was flood with emotion. First, I felt sad. Then, I felt free. Then, I felt a mixture of all that with happiness. My trusty meditation tool embodies the lesson of impermanence.

I looked over at Teegan (who sits a few feet away), and announced, “My mala broke!” She looked concerned, “Oh NO!” Then she gauged the look on my face for the emotions that I may be feeling and asks, “Wait, are you even sad?” “I suppose? No. I guess I am not.”

A month before this event, I had meditated and communicated my wish to bring another into this world but that this should only happen if it were for the right reasons. I gave my reasons and braced myself.

Weeks after, I meditated and asked for signs: signs that my life will soon transition into another period and that I’d be bringing another into this world. My mala breaking was just one of the many signs the universe had given me.

Later on, I took the more scientific approach and bought a home pregnancy test. It confirmed what I already knew, spiritually-speaking.

My broken mala: a sign of my transition.

I have been missing in action on this blog, but I have been going through a huge transition. So to bring you up to speed…

Nathan and I are expecting in March!! 

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I am nesting and knitting lots. Baby mitts!

I have been wrapped up in nesting activities like sewing couch cushion covers, knitting, renovating, etc. However, expect more blog posts soon. I am missing that reflection piece in my life. 🙂

New Westminster Pier Park – Blur of Childhood and Adulthood

Nathan and I hit up New Westminster Pier Park this past week just to poke around and to rollerblade. The park is beautifully landscaped and has a basketball court, playground, and even lounger chairs.

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Nathan flipping one of the chairs on its pivot to face the river. I think it’s a great concept that you can choose where you want the lounger to face!

It’s a park right by the Fraser River. This river has quite the presence in my life. Whenever I’m by the river, I am always hit with feelings of nostalgia. I remember being a child, and looking out from the balcony of the house and seeing this river. Although I’ve grown up, gotten married, and now live in a house of my own, I can still see this river although being in an entirely different neighbourhood. Walks by the Fraser River is something I’ve enjoyed as a child and can also enjoy as an adult.

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Enjoying the beautiful scenery, and watching tugboats.

There is also a marketplace by the pier park. You’ll know you’re near it when you see the world’s tallest tin soldier. A few year’s back, he needed a paint job. I’m really glad they gave him one.

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There are a number of eateries in the marketplace. One of my faves is the crepe stand. It’s operated by a true Frenchman. He’s a super duper friendly guy. Nathan got a Spinach and Cheese crepe. I got ONE bite…maybe two before I turned around and had realized it had disappeared into thin air (and into Nathan’s stomach).

If you live in the area and have not checked out New Westminster Pier Park, definitely make a trip down there. It really is a beautiful spot!

Detaching from detachment

I’ve been meditating more recently. Not just everyday, but multiple times a day. Sometimes in the middle of the work day, when I feel frenzied, I’ll sneak into the First Aid room, sit on the floor with my mala beads and count my breaths.

Trying not to grow attached to these mala beads is difficult.

Trying not to grow attached to these mala beads is difficult.

What’s really funny is that there is no light switch in the First Aid room. The light switch is actually in an adjacent room, the supply room. Long story as to why this is, but that’s how it is. This one time, I was sitting there meditating, and I guess someone went into the supply room to get something and flipped the switch. The light went on in the First Aid room, and I chuckled to myself, “Whaaa? Am I enlightened now?”

I’m typically very ritualistic when I meditate at home. I prefer to meditate at night, in the dark by the light of a single tea candle in the corner. The first thing I typically do is light  incense.

The only kind that doesn't smoke me out of the room is from Nippon Kodo. The entire stick is incense, there is no wood stick in the middle so it burns more cleanly.

The only kind that doesn’t smoke me out of the room is from Nippon Kodo. The entire stick is incense, there is no wood stick in the middle so it burns more cleanly.

Next, I ring the singing bowl, clap the tingshaws, or hit the gong. It depends on how I feel that day.

Sometimes I can hear my singing bowl when I'm no where near it.

Sometimes I can hear my singing bowl when I’m no where near it.

Then, I sit and meditate. Sometimes I can get deeply into it. Sometimes I stay on the surface. I try not to control where it goes. Then I end my meditation session with the singing bowl, tingshaw, or gong (it depends on what I started with).

These tingshaws produce a clear crisp sound.

These tingshaws produce a clear crisp sound.

The most recent thing I’ve noticed about myself in meditation is that I have trouble letting go. Just before I head into that space where I am detached, I feel myself get anxious, unwilling to go. I feel myself fight it. The feeling of anxiety bubbles up into my chest. I wonder if being so ritualistic is related to this inability to let go. I’m sure the reason will reveal itself with time.

Growing my hair to give up vanity – A Spiritual Journey

Long hair is often associated with vanity, and I’m not sure why. It confuses me because I am a short-haired girl and am thinking that short hair in itself might be a reason for my own gleaming moments of vanity.

long hair vanity

Strangers, friends, and family are known to comment about how great my chopped locks are and how it really suits me. It suits my lifestyle too. I can’t be bothered to blowdry,or have it in my face while I’m running or yoga’ing.

I have only had long hair three times in my entire life before I promptly chopped it all off. If you’re wondering how short I typically go, I am known to bring photos of Halle Berry, Michelle Williams, Ginnifer Goodwin to my stylist.

How short? This short.

How short? This short.

I’ve tried a few times to grow it long, but I couldn’t stand the awkward in-between stage and promptly had it cut back to pixie short.

Well, I’m on the road again to growing it long. It will be a commitment of two years at least given how short my hair is. The reason? I want to donate it.

Also, I want to travel that difficult road and commit to growing it long and going through very awkward hair stages and give up vanity and convenience for awhile.

This idea came about from meditation and focusing on my inner versus my outer. Don’t worry, I won’t stop bathing. I still believe in cleanliness.

So here I am, putting it out there that this is something I’m doing. I am committed and am determined to not cut it off at first signs of hair awkwardness. Funny: spiritual lessons in material world.

The Top Three Things I’ve Learned from Changing my Diet and Counting Calories

I mentioned before that I’m counting calories as a means to reset my diet after my San Fran trip. However, it has turned into a lifestyle change and I have learned so much about good eating habits, of what works for me and my body, and of eating balanced meals.

ONE: I NEED MY PROTEIN AND FATS IN THE MORNING

I’ve had breakfasts of fruit and oatmeal, muesli and hemp milk, smoothies, fresh pressed juice and yes, it all does feed me, and I am full for the moment. However, I feel unsatiated during my other three to four meals that happen later in the day.

I am mostly vegetarian and I have found that if I eat my day’s portion of protein (and maybe fats) in the morning, I’m pretty much not hungry when I have my other meals (although, I eat anyways).

So what do I eat? Well, a single egg along with whatever else I’m eating. Alternatively, I make an egg sandwich.

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Baked Egg with Vegetarian Ham, Cheddar and Spinach with a side of cherry tomato’s and red bell peppers. yum.

I was actually baking my eggs with some spinach in a muffin tin…but then that proved to be a mess to clean. So then I switched to silicone muffin liners which turned out to be a pain in the tooshie to clean also. I may just hard boil the eggs from now on. I make my egg-spinach sandwich with vegetarian ham, and cheddar cheese on a Weight Watchers Multigrain Flat Roll. I also have veggies with my brekky sandwich. This breakfast is usually 350 to 400 calories (a little more if I throw in a piece of fruit).

TWO: VEGETABLES ARE CENTRAL TO MAKING THIS ALL WORK

They say adult females should eat 7 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. That is actually a LOT of bulk. As a result, it keeps me quite full. I am counting calories so the best bang for my calories-buck is to eat veggies. Specifically veggies and not fruit so that I do not go over what is acceptable for daily sugar intake.

I’ve also found that the more raw vegetables I eat, the less I crave things like chips, chocolate, candy, and grease. If I eat more fruits than veggies, I crave sugar again later in the day like a crazy person.

My favourite veggies to eat are sugar snap peas, carrots, cauliflower, red radishes, bell peppers, and broccoli. Bean saw my Ziploc container of veggies and said that what I had was enough veggies for a week. I was actually kinda scared that it wasn’t enough for the day. Carnivores have a funny perspective.

THREE: COUNTING CALORIES HAS HELPED ME FIND INTERESTING THINGS TO EAT

With an allotment of calories per day and a mostly vegetarian diet, I needed to find ways to get my nutrients. Basically, I have to be smart about what I eat.

I found this awesome recipe for black bean quinoa patties from Runner’s World. Yes, it has Black Beans, and Quinoa, which are good foods to eat for iron and protein. However, this recipe also calls for Nutritional Yeast, which is high in Vitamin B12 (typically found in meat and soy products).

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homemade black bean quinoa patties

If you’re wondering whether or not they’re tasty, Nathan ate three of the four patties (not at once). I only got to eat one.

Another thing I like to eat is chia-seed pudding. I take two tablespoons of chia seeds (yay for Omega-3) in 5 tablespoons of chocolate almond milk (yay vitamin D, vitamin E, and calcium) and leave it in the fridge over night. I top it off with fruit in the morning.

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Chia Seed “Pudding”

CHALLENGES

There are challenges to changing my diet. For one, I am not getting enough sodium. Sodium gets a bad rep, but our body does need the appropriate amount of sodium to function properly.

Another challenge is to plan my meals out the night before. Sometimes earlier if I need to hit up the grocery store. This task does get easier with experience though.

RESULTS

I feel fantastic, and am performing better athletically-speaking. My scale hasn’t budged much, but I am less bloated, and my tummy is looking a bit more toned.

I enjoy what I eat now over what I used to eat. Now when I go out to eat, everything tastes too salty, sweet, or overdone. I find that I prefer the natural sweetness of plain raw carrots, the texture and light taste of cauliflower, etc. I still let myself cheat though. Even when I cheat, I still plan for it. It’s rarely spontaneous. I still want to get close to my daily nutritional needs even if I cheat; thus, I do plan.

Knowing how great I’ve been feeling the past month, I say don’t wait to start eating for the better if you’re considering it.

A boy named Su and the Bruno that keeps him

While in San Francisco, I stayed with Jay and Kat who have two cats, Su and Bruno.  Su and Bruno provided Nathan and me with hours of entertainment. They are wonderfully quirky…as are Jay and Kat. <quote=”Pastafarian”>Samey = Samey. </quote>

This is Su. He’s under the blankets…sitting on my stomach…in my face…while I’m trying to watch Cheers. This after 5 days of him running away from me…and then suddenly, he wanted to be my buddy.

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A boy named Su

I’ve also walked into the bathroom to find him sitting in the tub. His brother, Bruno, watching him from the side of the tub either quizzically, amused, or both.

This is Su with his “purrr” face. He’s in his favorite spot in the sun.

Su rolling around in the sun

Su rolling around in the sun

He also loves himself some paper bags.

Cat in the bag!

Cat in the bag!

However, when he’s in there, his brother, Bruno, likes to bat at him and walk on the bag. It’s pretty hilarious. Here’s a pic of Bruno, who stopped smacking his brother when I pulled out my camera.

Bruno stopped taking a smack at his brother when I snapped the pic

Bruno stopped taking a smack at his brother when I snapped the pic

Speaking of Bruno, he’s just as adorable. He likes to smell things…including cameras. I tried to snap this pic of him, but he closed in on me and was all up in my grill.

What you smellin'?

What you smellin’?

When you walk into the house, the first thing he’ll do is smell you all over. It’s his way of asking and saying, “Where’ve ya been? What cha been doing? What have you eaten? Will you pet me? But don’t actually pet me. Okay. Thanks!” He then proceeds to walk away.

Sometimes in the middle of the night, you can hear Bruno “mrowwwww”ing quite loudly with a stuffed toy in his mouth. He struts about in the dark quite proudly with his latest capture.

Bruno in a playful mood

Bruno in a playful mood

Crazy cat love!

Flash mobs, bubbles, photo booths and sparkles – Ingredients for a Wedding

I have been swept up in a sea of life and am having a difficult time balancing. My beautiful friend, Allu got married this past weekend. Allu had a Sikh wedding, and I kid you not, it was a week long with plenty of festivities.

Allu and Kit (her now hubs) were so glam throughout the whole thing. Being a part of their celebration was like being in a Bollywood movie. I’ve seen Allu in several outfits that past week, and she was breathtaking in every single outfit. Allu wasn’t the only one looking good; Kit was very handsome in his garbs. Model couple much?

Some time prior to the wedding, some of the ladies got Mendhi done. Me included.

The Mendhi on my hands

The Mendhi on my hands

Allu had the most beautiful mendhi I had ever seen. She had peacocks on her legs, and beautiful paisley on her hands and forearms.

At the reception, there was a flash mob that Nathan and I were a part of. Allu and Kit’s first dance was interrupted, and we jumped in with a routine…sounding more and more like a Bollywood movie to me. Random dancing? Hellz to the ya!

With bubbles, a photobooth, flash mob, food galore (with plenty vegetarian options), it doesn’t surprise me how much fun I had. It also doesn’t surprise me of how well-planned it was given  Allu’s experience in the area of events planning. I had a blast!

Nathan had a blast too! He got so wild on the dance floor, he accidentally flung one of our friends into the crowd. Too.much.fun. Oh, dear.

Congratulations to Allu and Kit on their nuptials!!

My Newest Fitness Finds

It is HOT in Vancouver. I went out for a run today and nearly melted. I was very good though and slathered myself up in sunscreen. I’m sure if anyone tried to hug me, I’d shoot up in the air ten feet from being so greased up.

SUNSCREEN!

Speaking of which! I found the most awesome sunscreen today: Coppertone Oil-free Mousse in SPF 60.

spf 60

 

YES. MOUSSE! It was so easy to spread around on my skin and the greatest part is that it will protect your skin for 80 minutes of sweaty activity. Just thought I’d share in case anyone was looking for sunscreen.

JUMP ROPING

In other news, I’ve taken up jump roping. I was sucking the first time I tried it with 30 repetitions at most. But now I’m doing sets of 100, which sounds more impressive than it really is.  Essentially, my upper body is very still, and I jump very low to the ground.

jumprope

This guy explains it well: http://www.builtlean.com/2010/08/06/learn-how-to-jump-rope-like-a-pro-7-tips/

The jumping has tighten up my calves, hip, and inner thighs. It made me absolutely crazy in yoga, but it has given me so much power in my running. Tradeoff.

FITNESS APP

After eating my way through San Francisco, I returned home and started counting calories. I’m doing this to reset and remind my body what it’s like to eat like a healthy person. I don’t go about it in a way where I think, “I need to consume less calories!” In fact, my approach with it is, “I hope I’m getting enough of everything I need.” With this mindset, I’ve been making really good choices and have been eating a LOT of vegetables. I also make sure I eat my fats… the good kind like avocado’s and nuts. It’s been two weeks of this, and I feel AWESOME.

I’m using the My Fitness Pal app on my iPhone, however, they also have a website where you can track your activity. Best of all, it’s FREE! I like free stuff!

myfitnesspal

 

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