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Owner, "MAP Wellness" - a culinary nutrition and wellness company. Writer. Passionate cook, raw food chef, reiki practitioner, yoga teacher, and LIVE WELL educator. ​do yoga. enjoy good food. run. plant food. cook. savour wine. read books. buy good food. love. grow your energy. find peace. enjoy food. have passion. skip. eat food. do yoga. listen to jazz. have presence. be present. bike. read. see. hear. be. live. love.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bye, Bye, Profiles...

I'm going "offline".  For one month.  By "offline", I do of course mean that I am ditching my beloved Twitter and Facebook accounts in favor of simpler living.

Why am I pursuing this brief trip into a life less-connected?  Many reasons, but my main inspiration came from two places. One: My recent stay at Shanti Retreat, a yoga oasis in Eastern Ontario.  The second?  A recent blog post by my sisters dear friend Kathryn that documented when she too, challenged herself to go Facebook-free back in 2009 in an effort to raise money for FTD research (Frontotemporal Dementia was my father's primary diagnosis when he became ill).

During my stay at Shanti, I was in awe of the residents' blissful ignorance when it came to current events, pop culture, and news.  On the day that I arrived there, Nik Wallenda was set to be making his world famous jaunt across Niagara Falls on a tightrope - a news story that had been splashed across every paper's front page, news stations broadcast, and social media forum for weeks, even months.  My hosts at Shanti had no idea who he was.

So fast forward to now;  I have been feeling like a slave to the web, and I do not like it.  There have been far too many hours sucked away by the vacuum that is the Twitter-sphere, far too many minutes lost to Face-crook.  I hate - okay too strong a word- I am disturbed by my constant desire to know all that goes on within my online communities whether it be the grand group of nutritionistas (thanks Meghan Telpner for that word!) I've come to know via tweeting, or the massive amalgamation of media mavens I connect with via Facebook.  It bugs me that after a long, busy day away from my "screens", I feel the need to catch up, and as a result spend countless hours scrolling through my feeds, "nourishing" my mind with all the juicy details of the days' events.

It's an addiction.  Another obsession that I feel I need to break away from a while, even just to prove to myself that I can.  

Granted, I do realize that there are remarkable positive aspects to these daily feeds, and that my being able to build such internet intimacies does not come without benefit.  I am grateful for all of the real-life friendships and personal connections I have made with like-minded folk I have been united with online.  That I can not deny.  I treasure the connectivity that these worlds make possible, and I realize the potent capabilities that they will provide for the growth and development of my forthcoming wellness business.

For now though, I want quiet.  I wish to relax that sector of my psyche that thinks I must be in-tune with every little detail, every action, every event that is going on in my

I want to stop and smell the roses, the lilacs, the freshly cut grass.  Hear the birds sing and feel the warm sun on my face and smooth summer breeze against my back.

This July, I plan to read much (I have an extensive reading list of yoga philosophy books for my upcoming teacher training as well as some summer smut; hello Fifty Shades trilogy).  I will cook much, and rest much, and also hope to schedule in some long overdue face-time with friends and family that I haven't been able to commit a lot of time to with my recently overloaded calendar and course regime.  Presumably, I will be able to allot more time to my writing as well, and thus plan to blog here more often, and will also continue to putter away at my novel.

I have a sinking feeling that this month will feel like a detox in every sense of the word, withdrawals and all, so I plan to prepare and cope accordingly.  As suggested by Ms. Kathryn in her facebook-free blog post, I will, by end of day today,log-out and/or suspend both my Twitter and Facebook profiles and remove my internet shortcuts for both.  I will delete the applications from my smart phone as well, thus hopefully, removing all easily accessible temptations.

And so, on this final day of updates (I know, talk about drama-queen here, huh?), I ask that you all have patience with me, as I can bet that during this month long mission, I will miss a birthday or two, skip out on an event or three, and I may be tardy in my replies via my now only methods of communication - phone and email.

If anyone wants to chat, please feel free to connect with me here on the blog via my shiny new "Contact Me" tab in the upper left corner of the page.  If you already have my personal information, then email me!  Text me!  Or *gasp* call me!  I'd love to see you face-to-face.

I look forward to my quiet, real, and present time away.

Until August... 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Culinary Nutrition Expert!! That's Me!

Phew.  June has marked the official end of my three month in-depth journey of food for health with Meghan Telpner, finding my way through her kitchen, out of the processed food box, and into my own culinary cuisine philosophy. 

In the last few weeks, I have handed in my final essay assignment, completed my apprenticeship hours, and mailed off all of the necessary paperwork.  Complete.  This comprehensive, in-depth Culinary Nutrition Expert Course designed by Meghan, is unique, inspiring, and a real commitment, but man-oh-man is it also super life-changing and SO worth it.  I feel so blessed to have been able to enroll and be one of the 12 fabulous ladies to take away all the brilliant information acquired and now embark on an entirely new journey of my own.  I can do this armed with an expansive arsenal of skills and experience, and feel super-charged to get the ball rolling!

Since early March, myself and a group of like-minded women from all different walks of life congregated in Ms. Telpner's cooking studio to learn the tricks of her trade.  This flock of fabulousness came from a wide range of age groups; from twenty-something’s to retirees, and included a Naturopathic Doctor, Fitness Company CEO, health food suppliers and distributers, PR folk, myself, and many moms.  A group that may not have otherwise crossed paths, but was brought together with one common goal; to learn all that we could about healing our bodies with clean, real, whole food. 

And learn we did.  Meghan is a ball of bravado, with personal experience to back up all of her nutritional beliefs.  Having healed herself of Crohn's disease through diet just five years ago, she has the goods that make her an expert in her field.  Not only does Meghan teach the biological and nutritional reasons why certain foods are great for you, but she also focuses on how to make that same food taste sublime.  Flavour is never forgotten, in fact it is always at the forefront of every recipe she creates.  In class, we had the opportunity to not only taste these creations, but got to try our own hands at whipping them up from scratch as part of the cooking class portion of the program.  And we ate like Queens!

To that end, if I were to say that the research and theory portion of the course was merely adequate, I would be making a massive understatement.  It was in fact, quite expansive, and I learned a truckload.  At the same time though, I was pleasantly surprised by how much nutrition information I already knew!  I guess my years exploring various cuisines, reading countless cookbooks and foodie websites, and flipping through magazine after magazine about health and wellness have really paid off.  I went into Meghan's classes with a strong foundation, but left with the real deal – the ability to build solid recipes and meal plans for health, with integrity. 

Mmm! A few of the tantalizing tasty plates from class, plus me teaching!  

Upon completetion of the course, teacher extraordinaire Meghan Telpner created the below beautiful video.  It is a great inside look at what goes on in her kitchen, and a superb testimonial to the great work that she does and the lives that she changes: 

For her full write-up & reflection on the course, check out her blog entry here:

So what do I plan on doing now?  Now that I am certified?  Well, in addition to my new role as CNE, I have also recently certified as raw food chef via Alissa Cohen's "Living on Live Foods" course. I am a level 2 chef under her guidelines, which means that I am now trained to teach and train others about the lifestyle and foods that are an integral part of this healing way of eating.  My decision to nab these additional qualifications sort of came on whim, but since my first introduction into the raw food way of life back in 2009, I have always held a special interest in the distinct flavour and complexity of living food recipes.  As I follow an entirely plant based diet myself, it was only fitting that I acquire the credentials to share the food I love to make with others, and perhaps turn a few everyday meat eaters into raw food lovers along the way! 

And now what?  Well, I have a few things in the works that include furthering my skills as raw chef in my very own kitchen, and have begun to develop some great new recipes of my own (I’m thumbing my way through Doug McNish’s recipe book “Eat Raw, Eat Well" for inspiration!).  I am also drumming up a few more workshop ideas to pitch around town, and am in the midst of designing a new fancy-pants company logo and kick-ass website to match.

In this moment, I am really looking forward to some down time over the summer and will spend much time cooking, un-cooking, reading and relaxing.  But believe you me, I plan to kick it into high-gear again in the fall when I will officially be launching MAP Wellness, my new company, my new baby.

Until then, stay tuned for the launch of my new URL, and keep coming back here for updates people!

Love, love, love.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cuba then..where now?

Exactly one year ago right now, I was in Cuba. Those are my feet.

It had been almost a month since my father had passed away, and I was up one tattoo, down one job, and feeling pretty lost.  During dad's final weeks with us, I had been employed with a kids show that had me travelleing all across Canada for the month of May, and therefore I was not able to spend that period by his side.  Not that we knew it was going to be the last days we'd have with him, but all the same, had I been in the province, I would have been able to visit a few more times, and more importantly, it would have allowed my being present at the hospital during the last few days that he was conscious.  Regrettably, once I was able to get away from show production, it was too late, and the last time I would see my father smile was to be the Easter prior. How did I get to say good-bye to him in the last ten hours he was here on earth?  One moment of eye contact.  And then he was gone.  

Upon my return to work with said show post-funeral, it was clear that I could not continue with the company - it did not work for me anymore, for many, many reasons.  I quit.  

And the next week I booked a trip to Cuba.

I needed to get away, to sort out all the thoughts swirling in my mind; the guilt, the regret, the grief.  Mostly I just wanted to detach.  I would definitely label myself as an introvert-extrovert, and as unhealthy as I know it sometimes may be, I do like to deal with my emotions in a quiet, personal way.  And seeking solitude is a tried and true method for doing it.

So I spent a week down South, running on the beach in the mornings, reading by the pool in the afternoons, and dancing at the disco after sunset.  I did manage to keep mostly to myself, but did also make a few resort pals while I was at it.  When I wanted company I could have it, if I needed quiet, I simply searched out a secluded sandy retreat all my own.  Did I figure anything out on this voyage?  Nah, but I did manage to release a lot of tears and pent up rage, and also got some much needed sleep; one thing I had been seeking desperately for months.

Upon return to Toronto, I was pretty undeterred by my lack of a job, and quickly managed to score a few great freelance gigs with various TV stations for the remainder of the summer.  Come fall I started my current full-time role with the morning show. Life has a way of working it self out when you need it to, huh?

Relaxing, eating, exploring.  And hey, no body issues anymore (I would never have posted the above pic a few years ago!) 

Well, a lot has certainly changed since last June.  A LOT.  I still haven't gotten through my guilt issues surrounding my relationship with my father, but I am slowly peeling away the layers of self-deprecation, and learning to forgive.  And I am continuing to live my life, as my pops would have wanted me to.

Enter my "To-Live List". 

This is my current, yet always evolving grouping of motivation, created earlier this year.  So where do things stand as of now?  Well...

My To LIVE list (in no particular order)
Learn Spanish
I have the at home CD kit and have put lesson one on my iPod!
Complete my "Culinary Nutrition Expert” course
DONE and DONE!  Certified, baby!
3. Travel: Italy, Brazil, Bali, Egypt, Greece, Manchu Picchu

4. Complete my Yoga Teacher Certification
I am booked in to start this in September 2012!
5. Visit NYC at Christmastime

6. Start my own company in the health & wellness industry
In progress!  You should SEE the logo and graphic look we are working on!  SEXY!
7. Open a "Nourishment Centre"- with a focus on eating disorder recovery

8. Snorkel

9. Learn to Salsa dance

10. Get published
I started my novel last month!
11. Tour the Niagara On the Lake wineries via bicycle
Myself and a group of gals from my CNE course are booked to do this in July!
12. Stay at a yoga ashram (long term, and short term)

13. Learn to sail a boat

14. Run a 1/2 marathon

15. Knit socks, mittens and eventually a sweater

16. Mail 20 love letters
1 sent so far, from the heart.
17. Complete a Hot Yoga "30 Day Challenge" 
I may do this in July

Also exciting - I have completed my level 1 "Living on Live Foods" raw food chef certification and am scheduled to do my Level 2 this coming week.  I have also completed my Reiki level one certifiction and level 2 is booked for August.

Yup, life does have a funny way of working itself out indeed.  And as I sit on my cozy, comfy balcony writing this, I have joy in my heart, less pain on my chest, and fewer burdens weighing me down.  Do I think I will ever need another "Cuba trip"?  I hope not. I hope to never have to experience and then move on from what my family has been put through over the course of the last two years ever again.  But, at the same time, I do believe that from now on, when life throws me a curve ball and knocks me off my game, that I will be strong enough, brave enough, and present enough to face it head-on.  And be all that much better for it in the end.  



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Om Shanti

This past weekend I had the fortunate pleasure of taking a breathe, and taking the trek up to paradise, by way of Kingston and Wolfe Island.  Shanti Retreat is a yogi's dream destination, right here in Ontario that evokes all the inspiration, love and blissful thoughts and experiences you might expect at the same type of community abroad.

My hosts, Wendy & Darin are a delight through and through, and after spending time studying in Thailand and elsewhere, living, breathing, and being yoga, the two decided to create this beautiful sanctuary along the St. Lawrence River and open their doors to people just like me. 
My "retreat" was a little different than most, as I was up there as part of my Culinary Nutrition Expert course (quick - there is still room to cook with Meghan Telpner for the fall semester!).  As part of the curriculum, we are required to complete a certain number of apprentice/co-op hours in a foodie environment, and I was lucky enough to land placement in Shanti's kitchen with veggie-cook superstar chef Robinette.   So off I went, to the tropics of Canada, to find peace, fabulous food, and unexpectedly, a deeper sense of me.

Here, my weekend in photos:



Upon reflection of my joyous time at Shanti, it is clear that I belong in the yoga community.  Later this week I will be signing the papers to enroll myself in a 250 hour Yoga Teacher Certification course that begins this fall.  With all the serendipitous events that have been unfolding in my world these days, I know this is the right path for me, and I know I will sometime soon reside again (perhaps much more long term) in the karma way...and really live the way my life was meant to be lived.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How I live

I just hopped online to check out my weekly life's happenings prediction via a fave astrology site, and wow is it bang on.  Ever checked out Free Will Astrology?  I have been watching it ever since an ex introduced me.  I find it entertaining, insightful, and quite on target...mostly.  At times I can't make sense of a single breath of the authors whimsical musings, but when he strikes the bulls-eye, he does so with panache!

Scorpio Horoscope for week of June 14, 2012
Verticle Oracle card Scorpio (October 23-November 21)
Twenty-four-year-old actress Annalynne McCord has risen up in rebellion against what she calls "Hollywood's perfection requirement." Lately she has been brazenly appearing in public without any make-up on. She has even encouraged paparazzi to snap photos of her in her natural state. "I'm not perfect," she says, "and that's okay with me." I nominate her to be your role model in the coming weeks, Scorpio. You will be able to stir up useful blessings for yourself by being loyal to the raw truth. You can gain power by not hiding anything. (And yes, I realize that last statement is in conflict with the core Scorpionic philosophy.) Here's my guarantee: It'll be fun to be free of unrealistic images and showy deceptions.

I'm just saying...that as of late, I have been, plan to, and will be doing just this.  For the rest of my glorious life.  This blog is a testament to that. I hide nothing.  I welcome greatness.  I have no shame.

Feels pretty good.  Why don't we all act like Scorpios this week, and see how it makes us feel?!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A little reading...

A couple of weeks ago at work I got the wonderful opportunity to meet author Augustine Burroughs.  You might know the name as he was the mind behind the novel behind the great movie "Running with Scissors".  He has a new book out right now entitled...

This Is How: Help for the Self.  Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.

He was a gentle man to meet, his presence calming, even as he sported a citrus-orange leather jacket, even as his list of brilliant works and writings hovered over us, a daunting presence, as I brought him into the studio...

Here, a quote from the new novel that really spoke to me:

Love doesn't use a fist.  

Love never calls you fat or lazy or ugly.  
Love doesn't laugh at you in front of your friends...
Love does not maintain a list of your flaws and weaknesses.  
Love believes you.

Yes.  Truth.