Tell Me A Story

As we head into a brand new year, I’ve been reflecting on how I want to shape my blog moving forward. When I started back in 2013, my impetus was only to kick-start a personal creative practice. At the time, I was a full-time stay-at-home mom with a burning desire to honour the inner voice that was declaring a need to express more than just breast milk : )

I have always wanted this to be a space where I could share not just recipes and quick fixes – but also the real nitty-gritty of everyday life. My favourite blogs are always the ones that tell the truth about the tough stuff. The brave people who write about the messiest and most vulnerable situations with a sense of humour.

This has led me to memories of my sweet Grandma Mary. She was the kindest women I have ever known. Sadly she passed away when I was only twelve years old, but in those twelve years she made an indelible imprint on my life.

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Grandpa Ken and Grandma Mary

Aside from her killer baking skills (ginger snaps and homemade donuts!), the loving relationship she shared with my Grandpa Ken, and her gentle disposition, the thing I remember most was her passion for storytelling. She would literally spend hours snuggling in bed with my sister and I while we listened with rapt attention to the slow cadence of her voice.

I never once felt like she was in a hurry or that she wanted to be anywhere else in the world. She just seemed so perfectly content perched on the side of the bed sharing the tales of her childhood- anecdotes of her life on the farm with her many siblings and the misadventures of her dog Tupper. And when she had exhausted her reservoir of memories – she’d even recount the plot of a recent episode of The Littlest Hobo or sing us a song when we begged her for “just one more”.

Grandma Mary offered me a precious gift in those simple moments – the gift of stories. She showed me that one of the most important and powerful things we can give each other is the truth of our experiences.

Good stories afford us a place to laugh at ourselves and to share a good cry. We can marvel at the wonders of brave adventures, learn from mistakes made in the past and develop deep empathy by being invited inside the journey of another person.

So that’s where I plan to focus my writing in 2017. I want to share my stories. The ups and downs, the struggles and victories, and even the epic fails……and trust me, I’ve got some doozies for you!

To honour the memory of my beloved Grandma, I invite you all to snuggle up while I tell you a story. Stay tuned. Happy 2017!

 

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Brilliant! (And Humble Too….)

Happy Spring! Thankfully the snow is finally melting here in Southern Ontario and we are enjoying temperatures above freezing for the first time in months.

spring 1

I am going to spend some time over the next little while really focusing on my cooking workshops and on a few writing projects that I have lined up but I also want to keep my blog “springing” forward (sorry…couldn’t resist the pun). So instead of hastily throwing together new posts, I thought I’d dig through my archives and re-blog a few oldies but goodies.

As I was going through my blog history it suddenly occurred to me that I’ve really got some freakin’ good content in there! My writing brilliance is truly one of my best qualities…right next to my modesty ; ) So please bear with me as I re-post some of my favourite recipes and ruminations over the next few weeks.

This is also a great opportunity for any of you aspiring writers to step up with a guest blog – I’m always happy to feature interesting new content. And if you live nearby and want to stay in touch – why don’t you come to my kitchen for an upcoming workshop? I’m throwing an All-Natural Kitchen Spa Party on April 12th and a Liquid Nutrition Workshop on May 31st. You can contact me directly at loriandmark@cogeco.ca for more information.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the throw-back posts as much as I do. It was fun to sift through and pick out a few of my personal favourites. Ok… so they might not be totally brilliant but I’m hoping some of them will at least put a little spring in your step ; )

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The Student Becomes The Teacher

Hello my name is Lori and I am addicted to taking courses. I love learning (yep – former brown-noser here ; ), I’m curious about new ideas and I am almost always game to try something new. Just to give you an idea of what I am talking about, in the past year alone I have taken classes in: Voice-Over Animation, Democratic Parenting, Culinary Nutrition, Business Development, Meditation, Vegetarian Cooking, Writing, Wine Tasting, Vision Board Making and Yoga.

I have even gone so far as to get certified in a few of these endeavours. But although I am an eager student, I haven’t yet found the confidence to step into the role of teacher. If I’m being completely honest, I always find one excuse or another to convince myself that I am just not ready. That voice in my head keeps chattering away about the fact that I’m not educated enough or I don’t know as much as other people or that no one will be interested or that I don’t look the right way or act the right way or eat the right way or live my life the right way. It’s paralyzing quite frankly.

icarus deception

On the advice of a friend of mine, I recently purchased marketing entrepreneur Seth Godin’s book “The Icarus Deception” and I had a total break through. In his book, Seth challenges readers to look at their work as art and to approach each day as artists. There were so many light bulb moments for me while reading this book that I had to go back and read it twice so that they would sink in. Perhaps the section that resonated the loudest was called “Pick Yourself”:

“Authority? You want authority to create, to be noticed, and to make a difference? You’re waiting for permission to stand up and speak up and ship? Sorry. There’s no authority left. Oprah has left the building. She can’t choose you to be on her show because her show is gone……Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission, authority, and safety that come from a publisher or a talk-show host or even a blogger who says ‘I pick you’…..Once you realize that there are problems waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound. The opportunity is not to have your resume picked from the pile but to lead…..when we buckle down, confront the lizard brain and ship our best work, we’re becoming the artists we are capable of becoming. No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.”

Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception

Hold on a minute – what would it look like if I treated some my interests and passions as art? Then perhaps all of those things that stop me in my tracks – my flaws and imperfections and vulnerabilities – would transform into the very things that make me relatable and human and artistic (dare I say it?) a good teacher.

So I decided throw myself out there and be brave. I contacted a huge company in the US and offered up my skills as a voice over actress…and they hired me! I used a coupon to book some studio time, warmed up my rusty singing voice and recorded my very own CD..and it was a blast!

And I decided to step up from behind my desk and start teaching some of the incredible knowledge I’ve learned over the past 6 1/2 years as a plant-based foodie and the past 4 months as a student of the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program…and I didn’t die! Quite the opposite actually – it was so much fun. I whipped up a green smoothie, fresh almond milk, fresh granola, quinoa salad, rice noodles with cream sauce and chocolate caramels and the crowd went wild. Well not wild per say but everyone seemed to have a great time. Was it perfect? Heck no! But we all laughed and drank and ate and learned from each other.

lori kitchen

Did that annoying voice in my head speak up during my first class? You bet your ass it did! But I drowned it out with the sound of my Vitamix whirring up a smoothie and I kept right on going. Because I’m an artist gosh darn it and I’m finally ready to teach.

*GTA friends – I still have spots available in my April & May plant-based cooking workshops if you’d like to come to my kitchen to see an artist at work : )  I’m teaching about All-Natural Beauty in April and Liquid Nutrition in May. If you are interested – respond in the comments and I’ll send you all the details.

 

 

An Imperfect Rockstar

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about an amazing contest that was being run by Tuja Wellness with the prize of a scholarship to Meghan Telpner’s School of Culinary Nutrition. They were looking for a “Nutrition Rockstar” – and I am thrilled and humbled to announce that I am the very lucky winner. I am beyond excited to dive headfirst into the learning that is jam-packed into this incredible course.

Actually, “Rockstar” is quite a fitting moniker for a gal like me given that I already like to think of myself as a young, fun-loving, cool, plant-eating vegetarian hipster. Something of a “green smoothie goddess” if you will. A veritable whiz kid in the kitchen – my family gobbling up my kale and quinoa-laden dishes just like they were candy.

Ok yes – the reality might not be quite so rosy. Actually, I’m just a 40-something mom- neither as young or cool as I used to pretend to be who’s mostly just trying to keep my family healthy and well-fed. And by “healthy” I mean getting them to ingest their green smoothies without gagging or complaining bitterly. And by “fed” I mean with as much humour, taste and nutrient-rich plant foods that I can reasonably achieve and afford.

Funnily enough, our first assignment in this course is to craft our very own food philosophy. Something along the lines of the brilliant Michael Pollan who wrote:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

In Defense of Food

So I started wondering about  my own personal credo and I’m thinking that maybe something simple like my lofty goal of keeping myself and my family healthy and well-fed might be a good place to start.:

“Feeding a family of meat-free, animal-loving, plant-munching, green-drink guzzling hipsters.”

Lori Wilson

That sounds pretty darn  good! I’ll start with my own clan and then branch out and hopefully my honest approach to cooking and eating will inspire a few others along the way. My goal is that in addition to my own growth and learning, I will also share the ups and downs of this educational journey with all of you.

Yep – I’m going to pick up that “Rockstar” title and run with it goddamit! Thank you to Tuja Wellness and Meghan Telpner for taking a chance on me – a decidedly imperfect rockstar. I am dancing around my kitchen, belting out a tune and strumming my wooden spoon air guitar as I get set to cook up some culinary magic. Let the fun and learning begin!

 

 

What Other People Think

As a blogger – it’s pretty rare that I get the chance to talk to a real-live follower of my writing (except for my mom of course) so it was a real treat to bump into D recently at a work out class. She actually reads my stuff and regularly offers her thoughtful commentary on my posts.

This particular morning, D confided in me that she has often thought about starting up her own blog- but she said that she hadn’t gotten around to it because she wasn’t sure what she would write about. A blogger friend had told her that before she started she needed to get very specific about her focus and find a niche that would keep readers coming back to her site. When she started looking around at the seemingly endless number of blogs on the web (on every conceivable topic) she felt unsure about what she could really bring to the table.

D’s words got me thinking about how many times I’ve let someone else’s advice, opinion or well-intended suggestion steer me away from doing what I felt called to do. There was that writing prof at university who said if I didn’t feel the overriding need to constantly fill up journal after journal with my writing that I wasn’t truly meant to be a writer. Or the acting teacher in Toronto who told me I was too “perky” to make it in the acting biz. Or the boss at CTV who said if I didn’t have the capacity to “step on the neck of my competition” that I wouldn’t ever succeed in the entertainment industry. Or the naturopath who told me that a plant-based diet was harmful to my family. Or the voice agent who told me my sound was way “too boring” to ever book a job in voice overs. Or the vocal coach who told me I just “didn’t have the chops” to pursue singing.

I’m embarrassed to admit that in most of these cases – I believed them.

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So here’s what I’m learning to do in my almost 43 years on the planet – I respectfully listen to what others have to say and then I process it in my own way and in my own time. Sometimes things really resonate with me and other times I say “thanks for your insight” and then go a completely different way. I love listening and learning from others but I’m also getting better at paying attention to my own gut and making  decisions based on what is best for me (I think that’s because I’m actually more badass then boring ; )

D- for what it’s worth (and remember this is only one opinion) – I think you should go for it! I mean it – just sit your butt down at your computer and write whatever pops up. Don’t worry about your niche or if someone else is doing the same thing. If you are open and vulnerable and write from your heart then people will connect with you. And if they don’t – well then you’ve gotten to know yourself better and nourished your creative side and that in itself is pretty darn amazing.

So what about you – do you want to start a blog? Or write a book? Or run a marathon? Or try yoga? Or open your own business? Or volunteer for a charity? Or travel the world? Or produce your own music? Or take a hip-hop class? Or change your diet? Or learn to paint? Or plant a garden? Or spend more time with your family? Or move to a new city? Well, if it’s what your heart and gut are calling you to do – then step right up and do it and don’t let anyone else’s opinion stand in your way.

Thanks for inspiring this post and for supporting my blog D….and from one writer to another – I really look forward to reading your stuff soon!

 

 

Gratitude for 1000

When I started my blog in January of 2013, my 12-year-old son threw out a challenge:

“Mom – I think you should try to get 100 followers by the end of the year.”

I immediately started adding in my head: I knew I could count on my mom and dad, my husband, my sister and some close friends- but 100?! That seemed like a very tall order. But I agreed to the challenge and set about writing my posts as honestly as I could – about my plant-based diet, my family, my own personal struggles and successes and my thoughts on everything from dog food to dance makeup.

As the numbers slowly started to grow (20, 50, 60) I liked to imagine inviting everyone over to my house for a cocktail party. “How did you find me?” I’d ask – and “Here – have a glass of wine and a vegan appetizer!” I fantasized about how cool it would be to bring everyone together to learn from each other and to share our common interests.

Much to my surprise the numbers just kept increasing. After many months of learning, I dipped my toes into the worlds of Facebook and Twitter and the numbers jumped again. Sometimes I’d write something that I thought was totally brilliant and all I’d get back in return was a handful of hits and the sound of crickets chirping in the background. Other times, I’d reluctantly hit publish on a particularly sensitive topic and you would respond with a flood of support, insightful commentary and “likes”.

I know 1000 doesn’t sound like a lot when compared with the millions of followers garnered by celebrities and blogging superstars but it really feels like something special to me. A milestone of sorts. I was scared to death to start my blog but it was worth every misstep and falter just for the opportunity to express my creativity and to share a bit of myself with all of you.

Truth be told, I still don’t really know what the heck I’m doing. I’ve got the bare bones hosting software, a free platform from Word Press and very basic tech skills on a good day (and frankly I don’t know a hashtag from a hashbrown). But I’ve learned all of that matters less than just sitting my butt down at my computer and writing straight from my heart. This in turn has resulted in a connection with 1000 followers from around the world and for that I am deeply grateful.

Thank you so much to everyone on Word Press, on Twitter and on Facebook for reading, commenting, liking and following me on this journey. Your support means the world to me! There is really only 1 big problem – where do I find a venue big enough for all 1000 of us to get together for that cocktail party : )

 

1 Year Later & My Top 10 from 2013

One year ago I sat down and published the very first post on my blog titled “I’m Gonna Look“. And I was terrified. I had absolutely no idea about the ins and outs of blogging and I was sharing a very vulnerable piece with an unknown audience. Pretty scary stuff.

But I did it. And in pushing through my fear I connected with a community of bloggers, family, friends and like-minded individuals who indulged me in a journey of self-discovery. My initial intent was to simply use my blog as a vehicle for sharing family friendly recipes but it quickly evolved as I changed and learned and mustered up the courage to write about my successes, failures, insights and discoveries.

Thank you to everyone who has followed along (861 of you and counting!) and especially to my family and close friends for allowing me to write so candidly about our experiences. The creative process of writing for this blog has brought me more joy than I ever could have anticipated at this time last year.

To celebrate 1 year, I thought I’d share a Top 10 List of my own personal favourite posts from 2013:

1. Family Day Busy-ness

2. Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Caramels

3. Garbage In Garbage Out Featuring Scooby Doo

4. The Importance of Making Mistakes

5. A Manly Vegan Meal

6. How I Look

7. Why I Love My Vitamix and a Starter Green Smoothie Recipe

8. 10 Hilarious Ways to Lighten Things Up

9. My Summer of Indulgence

10. Kids Cook Night

If you have the time take a browse through some of my totally brilliant and insightful posts from last year ; )

And now for the big question: …….did I look? Well yes I did. And although I didn’t always like what I saw (oh hi new wrinkles), the more I  stared the more I came to realize that loving my image is just the first step in the journey. As much as I learn to adore my reflection in the mirror, the even bigger challenge is to love the person I am when I am sitting in stillness- to be brave enough to really get to know and love myself and to sit quietly in an effort to know my own mind.

So here is my personal intention for 2014: silence and discovery. And don’t worry if this seems to woo-woo for your tastes – I promise to keep posting my plant-based recipes and family friendly holistic discoveries.

But I do have a small favour to ask of all of you for this new year: please stay in touch! Write in the comments if you agree or disagree, share your own successes and failures and let me know if there is something you’d like me to write about. I appreciate your silent support but it would be even nicer to hear from you : )

Happy new year and cheers to a healthy 2014!