Friday, October 20, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Selfish

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Selfish

Words you're speaking
Leave me screaming-
Silent screaming in my head.
All the nonsense
That you polish-
Empty promises you give.

It's the "you" show,
Bask in your glow-
Everything's about the lift,
About the spotlight,
Make you feel right-
It's a game that no one wins.

Time consuming,
All your ruining-
Overcomplicated thoughts.
Data lacking,
Opinion packing-
Crash and burn again, again.

Complications,
More frustration-
You're the worst, the worst of it.
Attention seeking,
Me, me, me-ing-
Wake up or you'll lose it all.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Mantra: Ask Me No Questions, I'll Tell You No Lies

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.


Monday Mantra: The truth is sometimes a fine, thin line
Society6
Imperfectionist
I was talking with my friend today about the frailty of truth, of fact, of proof. Of how, even with the greatest advancements of technology and science, there is still so much speculation and so many conflicting data points in play that finding that one piece of evidence that proves something is one way or another beyond a shadow of a doubt is difficult. Sometimes, impossible.

This can be applied to many things: climate change, religion, politics, vaccines. Even forensic science, with the huge advancements it's made, is still quite frail in determining whether or not someone is guilty of a crime.

Part 1: The disparity between factual data.

My favorite example of this is GMOs. I've long been an advocate for the labeling of food products that have been, especially in the last decade or so, genetically modified. My reason list is long, but to sum it up: what you don't know can kill you, especially when it's in your food.

GMOs of today are not the GMOs of yesteryear. It's no longer seedless watermelons or hybrid pluots we're dealing with. It is very seriously altered chemical makeups of plants that contain DNA structures unnatural to them normally and, most importantly, with unknown (lengthy) scientific data to back up possible outcomes.

I argue this point a lot and people who don't see my overarching point argue that there's data (or Bill Nye) that show GMOs are safe.

Yep. There sure is! But there's also plenty of data that shows they aren't safe.

We're both right.

Confusing as heck, huh? How can the facts point two different ways?

Consider what we do know, what is a fact: Scientific data changes on the regular.

Here's a great example of what I'm talking about: Eggs, which have been made out as the villain, only to be redeemed as the all nutritious life saver of the food world. This happens time and time again and it's just one of many foods (and things, in general) that this has happened to.

One decade to the next what we're told to eat/do/believe and why we're told to do these things changes. And it changes dramatically. All because of new research and new data, all of which conflicts with other research and data because research is a finicky bitch. If you don't know what I mean, take a business research class. What it essentially comes down to is that the control groups and how things are handled must be perfect- and perfect doesn't exist. What works today in this group of people might not work tomorrow in that group of people, all because the sun was warmer or their DNA had a special defect or they ate one extra meal that they forgot to record. Everything is fragile.

(It's important to note that, sadly, many times research is not done by an independent party, which means collusion and money bribing often come into play. But we'll get to that next).

This is why we're constantly told conflicting things. This is why people argue to the bitter end. You will always find what you're looking for, whether you are for or against something. It's the world we live in.

The ultimate fact of all of this is that we won't know the finite truth until many years down the road, in most cases. It will not be until enough time has passed and enough proof has surfaced that something was either right or wrong. Sometimes that means, in the process of waiting, a lot of people can end up being hurt. I'm looking at you, Lysol ads from the 50's. And you, Agent Orange, that is affecting people decades later who weren't even in the war. If you don't know what I'm talking about, research these items. It is sad and true and awful. It is the exact thing I'm saying: We usually don't know the effects of something until decades have passed and it's too late.

In this instance, with GMOs, it means if I'm wrong, no harm. Literally- no harm. But if I'm right, and the data I look at is right, then lots of harm. Lots and lots.

My first point on this piece, in general, is that next time you argue with someone, please consider how many conflicting pieces of data their are in the world. Everyone can have their opinions, but there's no reason to be an asshole. Be open minded. Realize why one person feels one way and the other feels another.

My second point is this: When you're looking at something that is potentially harmful in any way, shape, or form, to you or someone else, consider erring on the side of caution. Consider how many things have been proven wrong in the past, years and years and years too late. Consider that if only someone had made one teeny tiny change from a cautious perspective a much better outcome could have occurred. Think about it. All I'm asking is for you to just think about it.

Then there's the flip side of how honest the world has really been with us. The almost overwhelming sense that for some things there must already be hard, cold, exact proof that A leads to Z. What usually happens in these case is that, once again, years and years and years later the truth does come out and yes, A led to Z like everyone thought all along.

What do I mean?

Part 2: Some truths are hidden on purpose.

One of the things that bothers me the most in this world are truths that are hidden, or altered, for the wrong reasons. Facts that are changed so that we are led to believe something that is, actually, quite false and quite dangerous.

There is information we, the people of this country, this world, are not privy to. For reasons of safety, for reasons of concern in uprising, for reasons of profit, success, greed. For reasons that are just and good and right, but also for reasons that are treacherous and terrible and wrong.

What we are told today might very well not be the truth tomorrow, and we might only come to discover that after it's too late.

Consider each of these scenarios that we now know far more about. Things that, at one time or another, were only speculation, rumor, or unknowns.
 - Argo: A finely kept secret for years. A good secret, one in which lives were quite literally saved because of the lies fabricated in order to successfully pull off the task at hand. Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but doesn't it make you wonder how many other things exist within our government that we know nothing about? 
 - The Catholic Church's issues with molestation, rape, and pedophilia. To be clear, I'm not beating up the beliefs of Catholicism. On many occasions in this blog I've been clear that I support a wide range of beliefs. This is not what I'm talking about. The point being here is that there is so much proof (SO MUCH PROOF!!!) that countless people have been abused and that the church has hidden it for years, and why? That's the question you must ask. Is it a reputation thing? Is is the fear of loss in faith? Or is it the fear in loss of power and money? Regardless, why are any of those fears more important than the lives the church is damaging by not admitting the truth and fixing this once and for all?
 - The Space Shuttle Challenger was a focus point in one of my human resource classes. There is an excellent film on the events that led to this disaster, but to sum it up, while we know the issue was with the O-rings, the disaster that occurred could have been avoided if the people in charge had been more concerned about safety and less concerned about the reputation of their space program and the potential loss of money due to not launching.  
 - PG&E. I'm sure you've seen the movie and/or heard about what happened, so we'll sum it up like this. PG&E was an asshole and basically said, "Let's just dump all our toxic chemicals in the ground because it's cheaper and then lie to everyone about what's in their water." People got insanely sick. More lies. Erin Brockovich uncovers something, then kicks a whole lotta ass and brings some justice to the people affected.
 - Enron. I'll just leave it at that since we all know how effed up that story is. 
We are lied to: all the time, about all kinds of things, for all kinds of reasons. Unless we hold ourselves accountable to the truth and a high moral code, unless we hold our governments and leaders to this same accountability, and unless we question what needs to be questioned, this will never stop happening.

Part 3: What does it all mean?

Pay attention.

You can't ignore the influence of money and power. In absolutely every scenario I've written about there is a certain level of both of these being at stake. Money and power are constantly being used, being leveraged, being threatened. And because of those two items, those two things that aren't supposed to be the driving force of humanity, humanity ends up suffering.

It makes you wonder, doesn't it? If a GMO company is filthy rich and has far too much power, what is it willing to do to keep it? What is it willing to do to lead you away from the truth? Why is cancer such a money making business? Why is illness more profitable than health, in general? And how in the hell does child sex trafficking exist in a day and age when absolutely everything everyone does is monitored?

Somewhere, someone knows the answers to these questions. Someone knows the finite truths. And if they don't now, one day they will. Let's hope we all find out the truth when it's discovered and let's hope our world starts caring more about integrity and less about profitability.

Life is a dancing act between double edged swords. One way or another, you're going to get cut.


Friday, October 13, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: The Addiction Race

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Society6
The morning of the sale, everyone was out there
Waiting for the doors to open.
They all wanted what they'd
Seen in those pictures.

The Addiction Race

How does it feel to have your wings crushed down by stone?
How does it feel to want the meat but find the bone?
What is it like to know your life is ending fast?
What would you do if you knew today was your last?

How?
Why?
When?
Where?

Why are you rushing everywhere?

Who would you go to if all you had had turned to dust?
Who would you turn to with your life, who would you trust?
Where are you going in this hurry that you take?
Who are you blaming, placing others lives at stake?

Who?
What?
When?
Why?

It seems like you're in a race to die.

It seems like you don't know what's coming for you.
Why are you in a rush for your life to be through?



Monday, October 9, 2017

I'm With You. I'm Here.

Society6
Lofty Softy
With all of the things that have happened this year, that keep on happening, I feel like I'm running out of words. There are only so many ways you can say, "I'm sorry. This is terrible. We need to fix this. What will it take?"

We have earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, and volcanos, to name just a few things Mother Nature has been throwing at us. We have people with weapons they should never have had the opportunity to purchase. We have people in power doing nothing to stop stoppable things, making matters worse, wasting our time day in and day out on nonsense. We have people in charge of far too important things who value money over humanity far too much. We have fear and violence and issues popping up left and right that should have been put to bed decades ago.

There are no suitable excuses. There shouldn't be any excuses, period.

I was fed up a long time ago. I don't know what this feeling is called now; furious frustration with a mix of disbelief and sadness.

Last night I lay in bed thinking, thinking, thinking. When a mad man goes on a killing rampage it makes you wonder about all kinds of things, like where next where next where next? That was just one thought that kept running on repeat.

Whoever you are, wherever you are reading this:

I'm with you.

I see you.

I hear you.

I'm here.

We can do better than this. We should expect better than this. We need to fight for better than this.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: When You Left

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Society6

When You Left

Through the woods and through the trees,
When shadows came upon my eaves,
The sky was overcast by you
In shades of purple, gray and blue.

Through the darkness and the pain,
Through emotions I can't name,
Swallowed whole, engulfed, submerged
In the depths of your last words.

My breath quiet, shallow, thin
Until I felt a stir within.
All I knew is what I'd lost
The day you made my heartbeats stop.

Every smile, every moment,
Everything that made me someone,
All my joy was bound in you
So when you left, you took that too.


Monday, October 2, 2017

You Need These Recipes In Your Life: PB Banana Bars and Sensational Cauliflower

First batch. The second batch came out even better.

GF (and Vegan) Peanut Butter Banana Bars Dipped in Chocolate


First up, this insanely good recipe for peanut butter banana bars dipped in chocolate. I've now made these multiple times to the appreciation and joy of my friends and family.

Instead of typing out the whole doggone thing on here, I'm just going to direct you to the link because A) I didn't have to edit/alter anything to make these gluten free and B) the recipe is actually really easy to follow and finally C) this lady is a genius for creating these babies and y'all should check out her site.

Tip #1: Follow her directions. She's telling you not to omit things for a good reason. Also, give yourself time to make these. It's a process, but if I can make them look pretty, anyone can. I will also say if you're not a professional chocolate dipper (as I am not) add more chocolate chips. I went with the amount instructed on the first round, but found I needed more because my chocolate coating skills needed a little help. The second batch was gorgeous simply because I had made sure I had extra chocolate to dip into.

Tip #2: Consider making the bars smaller. These babies have a fine line between too hard and too soft to eat once taken out of the freezer and left to defrost a tad. I've decided making them smaller, square bite sized pieces will do a world of good.

Sensational Cauliflower 


I've been seeing a lot of cauliflower recipes around, so I took a few (like the one below) and combined them together to make the seasoning for this recipe. The hubs isn't even a fan of cauliflower, but after this, he's in love. We've gone cauliflower crazy over here!

Here's my take on the cauliflower:
- One large head of cauliflower
- 4 to 5 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 TSP salt
- 1/2 TSP black pepper
- 1/2 TSP garlic powder
- 1 TSP paprika
- 2 strips of cooked bacon diced up (optional, although let's be honest, bacon makes everything better)
- Fresh thyme

1. Slice the cauliflower like you would bread and place all pieces on a non-stick bake pan.

2. In a medium sized bowl, combine: olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika. Mix together.

3. Coat the cauliflower slices, front and back, with the mix of seasonings by brushing it on each piece.

4. Bake on 425 degrees for 35 minutes. At the halfway mark flip over the cauliflower so each side gets a nice toasty look going on. You don't want it burned, but you want it good and brown at the tips and edges. (If you're adding the bacon, start cooking it during this process so it's ready to go once the cauliflower is done.)

5. Then, chop up some fresh thyme and sprinkle it all over the cauliflower when done. (If you're going the bacon route, dice it up now and add it to the cauliflower.)

6. Finally, have those delicious PB bars for dessert. *wink wink*

We also tried out a pork chops and bacon recipe, with cauliflower of course, which was pretty darn good. As for the pork chops and bacon, you can just follow the directions exactly outlined here. Depending on the size of your pork chops, you may want to cook the cauliflower separately. I say this because some of it got burned just waiting for the pork chops to finish up. While you want your cauliflower good and baked, you don't want it turned to char. (Also, don't buy gigantic pork chops if you want the bacon to actually wrap around it. LOL *facepalm*)





Friday, September 29, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Never

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Never

You're not me.
You'll never find your way,
Not looking through remains of all the things I've thrown away.

You're not me.
You'll never have my dreams,
Not searching in the cobwebs of the things you choose to see.

You're not me.
You'll never have my life.
You're searching in the wrong place for the peace that you desire.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday Mantra: The Search for Answers

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.


Monday Mantra: One of these days the sky's going to break, and everything will escape and I'll know. - Civil Twilight

I have always wanted to know. Everything. All of it. Every single detail. I've been seeking answers to the unanswerable since I was a child.

At first, my questions were about God. I wanted to know what heaven looked like, why we couldn't visit the dead, why God could apparently hear all of our prayers but we could never have a real conversation with Him. I wanted to know if the streets were actually paved in gold, if everyone who was up there recognized each other, if we all died one age but arrived in heaven another. I wanted to know if every day was exactly the same, if people got bored, how it would feel to be happy for the rest of time, for the infinity I was told heaven was all about.

I wanted to know if, once we were dead, we were somehow able to still visit earth and see all the places. All of them. Every inch of this planet. If we could float in the sky, if we could swim in the oceans, if we could do all of this without fear, without worry, without the limitations of being human. I wanted to know if death was some kind of a magic wand that granted us the ability to be super human, super wise, super everything.

As I've grown older, I've added more questions to my list: The List of Unanswerable Questions.

My views on God and heaven and religion have changed. Now, I want to know if we only live one life or many, if there are parallel universes with parallel versions of us, if there is absolutely nothing after we shut our eyes for the last time.

I want to know why we don't use 100% of our brains and what it would really mean if we could.

I want to know what the future holds and I want to be able to see events from the past, to see how things really happened.

I want abilities that do not exist. I want answers to limitations.

When I was very, very little I would keep a mental list of all of my questions. Each night I would repeat them to myself in my head, over and over again, as a way to remember them for the future- the future I believed in where, one day, all of my questions would be answered.

I still believe that future exists. I don't know where or how or when, but I believe one day, somehow, all of the answers will escape and I'll finally get to know.

Things like why we have such a hard time being kind to one another.

Why we live in a world that tolerates hate.

Why things that are so clearly unacceptable haven't changed and why we've ever had to deal with them in the first place.

I am trying to love the questions, even the hardest of the hard, the most painful, the most urgent.

My list has grown longer and my patience shorter, but I wait. I wait for all of us to somehow, someway, live our way into the answers.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Brother Wind

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Brother Wind

Brother wind, I need you now- the pain is almost here,
Whisk away my haunted feelings, take away my tired tears.
Flitter through my stirring mind and rustle all my heavy doubts,
Lift them high and make them vanish deep within the mighty clouds.
Stir up all my darker moments; mix in sunshine, warm and bright,
Blow away my empty aching, whistle to me in the night.
Take my weary hidden smile- lift it up and keep it strong,
Guide my soul through seasons changing, never let me feel alone.
All the while I will sit here, watching all your gust and might-
Brother Wind, I need your courage- blow away the fears inside.



Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Mantra: When Enough is Enough

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.


Monday Mantra: Don't lose yourself in the pursuit of perfection
Society6
Nicholeashton

I'm tired, you guys. Mentally, physically, metaphorically. I am just so tired of The Perfection.

I'm tired of the fake, the always happy, the "nothing's ever wrong" when everything is clearly wrong. I'm tired of the masks, the acts, the carefully curated lives that don't reflect reality.

I'm tired of the striving, the chasing, the fruitlessness of nets being swung in the air over and over again as people try to catch Perfect. As they try to trap it, contain it, devour and absorb it in the hopes that Perfect will make them beautiful, handsome, interesting, successful, and famous when what they really want is to be worthy, enough, appreciated, loved. When all they've ever wanted is to belong.

Perfect is a poison that eats away at who you really are, leaving nothing but an illusion. It is a mirage, a trick of the eye. It's alluring, tempting, and appealing, but it is not real.

When you chase Perfection, you chase a ghost.

And sometimes, you chase away people who would have accepted you wholeheartedly exactly the way you are.


Friday, September 15, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Barren

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Barren

You, the taker,
The indulger,
The enthusiast of more-

Why do you remain?

You drank from my well of goodness and kindness-
Now it's run dry.

You ate the wheat of my fields, the fruit of my gardens
Leaving nothing for me but starvation.

No lush leaves shall adorn my rose bushes.
Only thorns remain,
Dried and dangerously sharp due to years of drought
And constant expectation.

No aroma of lilies shall tint the air for dust is all that settles here,
And stirs in the ever-changing winds of your choices.

The hot demanding sun continues to rise,
Yet I know the clouds of compassion and virtue hover in some far off sky
Somewhere else, with someone else, more deserving than I.

You, the destroyer of hope,
You have overseeded my soil, once healthy and rewarding
Now, with no life left to offer.

You, the betrayer of promise,
Have set fire to my plains,
Torching what little I had left to give.

You, who does not know the meaning of moderation,
Of gratitude,
Of hard work and effort-
You have made me barren.

Nothing shall grow here again.


Monday, September 11, 2017

All Around the World: Vancouver (and a Little Bit of Whistler)

Vancouver, BC

Why go to Vancouver? Because Canaduh!

(Probably shouldn't be a comedian, right gang? OK. Moving along...)

Canada is probably the place Mother Nature herself would go for a vacation. The food, the forests, the people, the forests...you get the idea. We were there for a short time - sadly, during the terrible fires that have been going on - and got to experience just a tad of it's spectacularness. Here's a run down of some not-to-miss things in Vancity and Whistler.

Things To Do


Damn, guys. I don't even know where to start. While we were there multiple events were going on. There was an anime convention, the pride parade, the Celebration of Lights, and the mural festival. That, plus just the normal stuff to do, meant we had our hands full in the best way possible.

We stayed downtown right by the convention center, which was basically the perfect spot for walking to and from everywhere, plus getting shuttles to further away sights. Keep that in mind if you're feeling extra adventurous.

Stanley Park is a must. Rent a bike and ride all around the park. You will not be disappointed. We did a wee bit of hiking in the park to find something I'd read about called the godhead; a piece of art carved out of a tree. You know how you feel when you find something you've lost? That's how I felt when I found the godhead (or half a godhead, if we're being accurate). But how to get there?

It's easy:
  • Go to Second Beach. Look for the concession stand and from there head right up Bridle Path. It will take you deeper into the trees and not too far in you'll swing a left onto Rawlings Trail. 
  • Go 200 feet or so. On the right hand side you will see a very large and distinct clearing. Go in the clearing and before you know it, bam: the beautiful Two Spirits/godhead tree. (There are technically other clearings near by, but there's really no missing this one. If you can't find it, you've gone too far down Rawlings Trail.)




Every website I visited on "things to do in Vancouver" told me Gastown was not to be missed. Which I agree with, but with caveats. First, the steam clock is definitely worth checking out. There's only a handful of them left in the world, so seeing its little puffs of steam and hearing its little tunes is actually that cool. There are also plenty of stores to check out and endless options for dining. Not to mention how cool and funky this little part of town is in general. However, there is a down side (because I like to keep it real).

Gastown
Gastown was a little...unnerving from a safety perspective. We were there during the day and at night and honestly, both times we saw some unsavory characters. It could've been that, due to all the events going on, there was just a lot of people coming out of the woodwork- I don't know. All I can tell you is there were syringes on the sidewalks, people openly doing drugs in large groups, and really, really scary looking individuals hanging out. I'm talking one guy who was flailing his body around as he walked down the sidewalk, another man hunched up in the corner of a restaurant eyeing everyone like he wanted to kill somebody while talking to himself, and then there was the lady who walked up to people and just stared them in the face looking as deranged as someone can possibly look. This is just some of what we saw.

Steam clock
After looking at more recent articles on the area, I discovered that other people had encountered much of what we had. I talked to a friend of mine who lives there and she said there is a specific drug (can't remember the name) that is out of control right now in Canada. That, plus a not-so-great part of town in general is right around the corner, so what you're seeing is overspill into Gastown.

I definitely don't want to put people down who need help or speak negatively of the good that Gastown has to offer, but I've been to a lot of places all over the world and I rarely feel unsafe. So - go check it out if you want, but be careful. Don't go alone and definitely don't go alone at night, that's what I was told. It's always better to be safe.

On to other things...

If you hop on the SkyTrain and head to the science world stop, you can check out main street,  which is lined with amazing murals. Some are on the main drag, some are just off to the side down some of the alleys. If you love graffiti at all, you need to do this.






Granville Island is a must. Had I realized how cool it was, I would've planned more time there- it's that awesome. Shopping, sight seeing, food, and more graffiti art. What's not to love? Make sure you check out Devil May Wear for some of the coolest jewelry ever made by a local artist. Definitely do not miss Granville Island Soap Gallery. They have some of the most exotic bath salts I've ever seen, and I'm kind of a bath salt snob, guys. You need this in your life, trust me.


Capilano Suspension Park is pretty neat too. If you don't have a lot of time, I would honestly say you can skip this, but if you have plenty of time, go. It's not a very large park and there are only so many things you can look at before you're done. I was there 90 minutes, and at least 30 of those was me just browsing their store. It's just not that big. The free shuttle to the park is very helpful, so make sure you look into using it before you go.
The Cliffwalk
Tree top bridges
Suspension bridge


Gluten Free Dining


It's pretty easy to dine GF in Vancouver. In fact, it's downright simple. Here are some of the spots you can (and should) check out.

Cartems Donutiere
 - Donuts that are basically cake in the shape of donuts. You can't go wrong with this plan.

Steamworks Brewery
 - Very hip location with quite the selection of GF items. (The kale salad was ah-maze-ing!)

The Fish Counter
 - About a 10-15 min walk past where the murals end you'll find The Fish Counter. I almost never find GF fish and chips so I was hella excited to discover this place. Super delish.

L'abattoir
 - While they don't specifically call out GF items on their menu, many items already are GF or can be adjusted with some slight changes.

SMAK
 - Finding a place like SMAK that has all GF everything when you're starving is like finding gold at the end of a rainbow.

Before: Eyes bigger than stomach
After...reality set in
The Fish Counter

Lost Lake

Whistler, BC

Oh-my-holy-wow.

Whistler really is as beautiful as everyone says. Even with the smoke, it was gorgeous. Every turn had something new. Light turquoise water, various shades of green, sunlight and shadows and so much vibrancy and variation!

How To Get There


Since we had a few days in Vancouver and didn't want to rent a car, we booked round trip tickets through Epic Rides. The drive to Whistler is just as pretty as Whistler itself. There are at least five different spots I wish the bus had stopped at so I could take pictures. For real, guys. The photographer inside of me slowly died a little every single time we passed yet another beautiful, picture worthy stop. *sigh*

Things To Do


Nature. DO NATURE. Hike, bike, walk, swim- you have endless options. We spent the morning hiking around Lost Lake. It was stunning. The plants, the lake, the everything! Serenity at it's finest and most beautiful. We almost rented bikes to get around, but I'm honestly glad we didn't. I would have hated to zoom past all the pretty without really taking it in. And again, Whistler just isn't that big. If you're planning a day anything like ours, save your money. Bikes are unnecessary.

After the awesomeness that was our hike, we explored all three villages, taking in the sights, getting some delicious and refreshing tea at David's Tea, and shopping at some of the stores. The Wanderlust Festival also happened to be going on this day, which was also pretty cool to check out.








Gluten Free Dining

Mogul's Coffee House
- Mogul's, hands down, has the best GF banana pecan muffins and chai tea I've ever had. Ever. And I've had chai tea in India, gang. I've thought about the muffin at least once every day since going there. Why, oh why, didn't I buy more of them?! I'm seriously debating calling them and trying to get some shipped to me. We're not that far away, are we?

Bar Oso
- We went here for lunch and it was legit one of the best things I did with my life that day. I had the shrimp sandwich with their special Cool Change drink and my taste buds were in heaven. One of the best sandwiches I've ever had for sure. I don't know what they're putting in the food up there in Whistler (Pixie dust? Love? Crack?) but it is excellent.



Pictures from the trip will be loaded to my Society6 page soon!

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: We'll All Go Down Together

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
We'll All Go Down Together

Kill the plants and kill the trees,
Smell the toxins in the breeze,
Believe the life you live is clean -
We'll all go down together.

Buy the plastic, skip the glass,
Blame it on a life that's fast,
Realize that the world won't last-
We'll all go down together.

One day we will live upon
A plastic island in the sun,
It's all because of what we've done-
We'll all go down together.

I'm no better; you're no worse,
This modern life may be a curse,
Too bad we didn't think that first-
We'll all go down together.
_

I posted this on the blog a while ago, but given the new death spiral we're headed towards thanks to "fake news" and "sad" people, I thought it was appropriate to bring it back.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Desires, Concepts, and Casualties

Society6
Veronika Weroni Vajdova
When there are too many thoughts in my head, I like to write like this. It's a little bit therapeutic, a little bit soul soothing.

It's chaos in order.

1. Desires
a. The husband and I have been talking about having kids. We vary in our opinions of when, and even how. I've always wanted to adopt at least one child and, before he met me, that idea never crossed his mind. 
b. I understand the desire of having your own children. Little mini-me's. Something that is of your own flesh and blood. Something that, in some ways, you have more control over as far as knowing what you're getting into from a family genetics perspective. 
None of that has ever mattered to me.  
c. My husband says I am a passionate person; that I become impassioned easily. That once I feel a certain way about something, it's full steam ahead. It's true.
The idea of adoption has been with me for as long as I can remember. Initially, I couldn't explain why. It was just a feeling. Now, while it still remains an urging and a desire, there is more. There is the understanding of how many children already exist in this world with nothing. No family, no safety or security. No idea of what belonging means.  
Children that do not know what it feels like to be loved.
d. I can't foretell how my life will play out. Adoption is not for everyone, which I understand. All I know is that in my bones I feel that someday, in some way, I will have a child that is not of my own creating.  
2. Concepts
a. As I grow to better understand the world, I also grow with more questions. I feel both certain and uncertain about aspects of how things are or how things should be, could be, might need to be. 
For instance, some say the world is overpopulated by the human race. If you look at the amount of humans that inhabit this precious planet, if you look at cities where people are crammed in together, if you consider the amount of resources needed (food, shelter, clean water) for the current population and predicted increases in population, it's hard to disagree. There are already masses of people who do not have their basic needs being met.
b. Thinking about that brings me back to procreation.  
Is it selfish to bring a child into a world knowing the capacity of our planet and knowing there are hundred of thousands (if not more) of familyless children already?  
c. Years ago, if someone could not conceive a child, they would either not have children at all or adopt. Now, with the advancements we've made, it's possible to have children even when your body isn't able to naturally. 
I know this is a sensitive subject, and I can greatly understand the desire to try at all costs. I have no negative feelings towards this, none whatsoever. But allow me a moment to play the devil's advocate.  
Nature has a way of controlling things. It's obvious when you look at animals, at insects, at flora and fauna. At how these things evolve, change, increase or decrease based on what needs to happen. When you really examine this, when you really consider the magnitude of what nature knows without the help of graphs or data, science or solutions, it's remarkable.  
The same applies to us. 
What if, for those who cannot have children, it's nature's way of helping us control the population? And not just control it, but help it. If you can't conceive on your own, you adopt. One less child without a family, one less family without a child. A simple mathematical equation. 
Nature is, according to research, stepping in in other ways as well.  
A friend of mine (who is gay) posted an article about an idea of why homosexuality might exist. The concept evolved entirely around population control. The idea was that when a species is overpopulated, our bodies make adjustments to help control the population in other ways. Homosexuality being one of them. Since a homosexual couple cannot conceive on their own, they don't add to the population and, in most cases, they help keep it in control by adopting. 
(Side Note: I don't need a reason for why homosexuality exists. I support LGBTQ people regardless. I just find this to be interesting.)
d. For over three decades, couples in China were only allowed one child. Now, they can have two. For obvious reasons, many people believe this is a violation of basic human rights. How dare a government tell people what to do with their own bodies!
But what if it comes down to that one day, in the future, because there are simply too many of us and not enough of everything else? Because we have bypassed nature with scientific advancements?  
And how does all of this tie into the never ending fight between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice? I won't even try to go into that here because it's just too big a topic.
I will broach the subject of genetic testing, though. Prior to this, parents had no way of knowing if their child would be born in perfect health or with some kind of illness or genetic disorder. Now, it's almost unheard of not to find out in advance. Often, when parents do, they are given the option of terminating the pregnancy. They are given the option of life or death with some degree of knowledge about what their life, and their child's, could look like given the test results.  
What does this say about our humaneness? 
Are we more kind by not wanting a small soul to suffer? Or are we less by not giving them a chance to prove us all wrong? 
This brings me to the next thought process.
3. Casualties
a. I dare you to name someone you know that doesn't have some sort of a disease or genetic disorder. Even the healthiest people have something wrong with them, no matter how small, which is why we're always looking for cures. We love our people and we want them with us for as long as possible. We want them healthy, well, able to enjoy the life they've been given.  
b. We also want them safe. We don't want to worry about car accidents or murderers. Natural disasters, like the terrible things that are happening in Texas. We want security in knowing the people we love are protected. This is why we have laws, governing agencies, seat belts, warnings.  
I understand all of this. I want all of this. 
c. I also understand, too much, that there is a balance and why it has to exist. Why we can never be free of disease, of accidents, of tragedy. What it would mean if we were; how many more of us would exist, how fewer resources we would have. How weird it is to realize why we have limits, but how accurate it is that we do. There is only so much of everything to go around. 
Imagine if everyone lived to a ripe old age- everyone. It's a beautiful idea, a lovely thought. It's what we strive for with research and science and testing, testing, testing.  
But would it ultimately ruin us in other ways? 
A lion must have prey to survive, the prey must have plants to survive, and each and every living thing must die in its own way. Is it fair to say that all these deaths are both tragic and necessary?
I don't know.  These are questions that may never be answered in my lifetime, or ever. 
Food for thought, all of this. Things to ponder.


Friday, September 1, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Better There

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Better There

I suffered,
We suffered,
We lived a different life.

You suffered,
I'm certain,
Until the day you died.

How selfish,
How thoughtless,
For me to wish your fate.

My vision
Was blurry,
But now I'm wide awake.

I suffered,
We suffered,
We lived a different life.

You suffered,
Unending,
Until the day you died.

I'm sorry,
It won't help,
Time passed and so have you.

It's better,
Much better,
Life's better there for you.

-

Never before had I truly seen
Your misery and silent screams,
You lied so still and numb each day-
Each long and empty frozen day.

I wish I could have set you free.

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Six Years Later


Dear Gramma,

Time has passed and you've gone with it. Six years ago this month. It simultaneously seems like a lot and a little, depending on how you look at it. Depending on how much my heart misses you on any given day. Depending on whether or not I'm thinking about you, remembering you, missing you.

The missing- it never ends. It subsides, it lessens. It doesn't linger the way it used to. If I'm not careful, if I'm not on guard, thoughts of you will sneak in and the pain of missing you will roar its ugly head and make its presence known, so loudly and so clearly that I have no choice but to break down in a heap of tears.

But it never ends.

Things have changed.

Like your house. It is now green and white on the outside, blue and gray on the inside. It is calm and quiet. It is bright and light and beautiful, like you.

There are hummingbirds that still visit, but instead of stopping by the feeder that would hang outside the dining room window, they have made a teeny tiny nest on the porch swing. We do not use the swing anymore as we wish not to disturb them. It's more than that, though. You're not there to swing with. That was something reserved to you and grandpa, and now it too isn't the same.

I just got out the old Rummikub set. The legs to one of the boards are still missing. I have been through every inch of your house and still I could not find them. I know how much you loved that game. I wish I had played it with you more often. I try not to think about things like this, all the things I should've done. It is too much to bear, and I know better than to waste wishes on the past.

Mom and I still go for walks around the park. The trees are bigger and everything looks greener, but for me it still remains the park you and I would visit the last few years of your life, when I would take you out in your wheel chair for some fresh air.

Christmas is spent at my house now, but I kept your old Christmas tree. I keep it in the closet, where it's always been. I keep it for the future. I imagine future Christmas' at your house, with hot cocoa on snowy nights, when I have little ones gathered around the tree. I want them to have the same experience I did, all the while knowing it could never be the same because you won't be there.

When I go back and visit, I make tea you would have had with me- and think of you. I hand wash the dishes at the sink you stood at for years- and think of you. I play the CD's I burned for you, I take Samson for a walk around your neighborhood, I stare at your window plant shelves, now void of plants- and think of you.

I pull out the old photo albums I put together for you and look back over the years. I just made a new one with all the photos of my wedding. I am the only one that will most likely ever see it or even know that it's there, but somehow it felt wrong not to make you one. I wish you had been there. I wish you were in the pictures with me, contained within that book. You would have loved the wedding. You would love him. His favorite color is blue, just like yours.

Death is selfish, and I am selfish for wishing it undone.

This is yet another wasted wish.

I miss you.

I will never stop missing you.


P.S.

Thanks for always posing in pictures like this with me. You are the reason for so many of my happy moments.


Friday, August 25, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Broken Never

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Broken Never

We are one in the same, you just had more to gain.
I just had more to lose; I must live with this shame.
I must live with the knowledge that your blood seeps with pain.
I must live with the truth that your tongue was a flame.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Mantra: Nothing Satisfies Hate

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.


Monday Mantra: Nothing in the world will satisfy hate. It is designed to want more, more, more...
Society6
Mehersgoel

The unbelievable acts that took place recently in Charlottesville, VA got me thinking: What is the purpose of hate?

We grow up learning that "hate" is a bad word. As children, we're taught not to use it because we don't fully understand the implications of what it means. However, as adults, it appears some of us have forgotten that lesson. Maybe some of us never learned it in the first place.

We direct hate freely, in any and all ways we see fit. We don't just say we hate this or we hate that, we feel it. We let it permeate our beings, make a home in our bones. We let it control, we let it devour. We let it be a weapon in the war against others because, for some of us, it feels good.

What happens is destruction of the soul caused by a single, powerful, all consuming emotion.

This is the purpose of hate.

It's only when we grow out of the feeling of hatred, when we grow with and into love, that we see how childish of a feeling hate really is. How foolish, how lacking. How it demands we worship it, follow it, do its bidding. How we become prisoners of what it wants, what it will always want: more.

Let's play the devil's advocate for a moment. Let's pretend that everyone involved in the acts in Charlottesville eventually get what they want- utopia. A perfect world of only white people who look like them, share the same views they do and, obviously, aren't jews. Then what? Are we to assume this is their happily ever after? That by quenching their thirst for hate they will be satisfied once and for all?

Hitler orchestrated the murder of millions. Do you think he ever felt satisfied? Do you think he ever thought it was enough?

No.

The answer will always be no. There is no such thing as satisfaction when it comes to hate. If this utopia existed, if they got exactly what they wanted, they'd eventually find something new to hate. They'd bicker among themselves, they'd find imperfections, and a new kind of enemy would be formed. A new era of problems, of people that are unworthy, of things that are "wrong" and do not belong. No one that allows these kinds of feelings inside of them ever finds satisfaction. They spend their whole lives chasing the next thing that must be destroyed.

Hate is a drug.

It will always want more. More of your time, more of your life, more damage and destruction and you- more of you, until there's nothing left but a miserable shell of a person who wasted their life running after unreachable goals.

Love, on the other hand, will rebuild.

It will nourish, it will soothe, it will open spaces inside of you that you never knew existed. Love will not demand more from you, it will not take- it will give. It will give and give and give, and just when you think there is no room left inside of you, it will find a crack, a crevice, an opening- and then it will give you more.

Love is the only cure for the hate virus. Only with love do we find true satisfaction and fulfillment in life. Everything else will leave you empty, leave you wanting, leave you in need. Everything else is a decoy.

Let us build a world so full of love that hate has no place left to live.
_

In the meantime - because building a world of love is going to take forever at this point - enjoy this amazing Tina Fey video while sheet caking yourself back to some form of sanity.