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.

 

 

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Resolution 2015 – Letting The Lessons In

When I was about 16 years old, my dad took my sister and I for a ski holiday in Whistler, BC. Although I was happy to be on vacation, I was also a self-absorbed little shit who was overly critical of pretty much everyone and everything. And as ashamed as I am to admit this – my dad more often than not took the brunt of my criticism. I didn’t like the way he snored, the way he clinked his spoon on the bowl when he ate his cereal, the way he breathed so darn loudly and on and on and on.

One morning as he and I rode the chair lift alone together I shot yet another barb his way (probably about the way he obnoxiously knocked the snow off of his skis for heaven’s sake!) he had had enough. He turned to me and said “Lori, you really have to stop being so critical. It seems like you are constantly annoyed with me and it really upsets me. I know I have flaws but so do you. There are always going to be people and circumstances in your life that are challenging for you to deal with and you can’t control that. You can only control yourself and how you react – and you definitely need some work in that department! No one is perfect Lori and if you wait around for your friends and family to BE perfect… then you are going to end up a very lonely person.”

chairlift

Needless to say the rest of the ride up the hill was very quiet. I think I stammered out a sheepish apology and silently vowed to keep my opinions to myself for the rest of the trip.

My point in sharing this story is not to offer insight into my angsty teenage years or to expound on my dad’s pearls of wisdom- but rather to share what I did after that chair lift ride and how it changed my life from that day forward. I listened. I really listened. I heard what he said and I let the lesson sink in. And although I certainly haven’t nailed it, becoming a less-critical, less-judgemental and more compassionate person was something I intentionally began to work towards starting on that crisp winter morning.

My sister and I were chatting recently about the most important things we have learned over the years and how they have impacted the people we are today. I shared the story from our Whistler trip (she had no idea it happened at the time) and she said she believes this is the key to life. At every age and at every stage there are lessons to be learned, new ideas to be shared, insights to be uncovered and wisdom to be gleaned- and if we can temper the “critical/all-knowing/judgmental/negative/too-busy” response that automatically pops up- we can continue to learn and grow and change and evolve for the rest of our lives.

Yes I have an opinion on that subject – but might there be another way to think about it?

I actually hadn’t thought of it that way before. How interesting!

I would love to read that book/watch that documentary/attend that class/go to that event with you. Thanks so much for introducing me to new things.

Wow! I didn’t realize that about myself. Thank you for sharing.

Perhaps I was completely wrong. I need to do more research.

I didn’t know about that. Can you tell me more?

2014 was a year of many powerful lessons for me – some of them I was more open to than others if I’m being completely honest. It takes quite a large dose of bravery and vulnerability to be truly open-hearted and I can use some work in those departments too.

But here we are in a shiny new year and I’ve decided to opt out of the typical resolutions and instead to focus on what I can learn in 2015. In fact, I was ruminating on this idea at the grocery store recently when an older man tapped me on the shoulder. “Excuse me are you ok?” he asked. “You have the most worried look on your face!” Ah yes, the patented “Lori-Wilson-I’m-Currently-Carrying-The-Weight-Of-The-World-On-My-Shoulders” look. Relax Lori, smile, breath and release those crinkles from your forehead. Thank you kind stranger for the lesson- I’m working on that one too!

Happy New Year to all of my family, friends and followers! Let’s all open up and let the lessons in this year. Who’s with me?

 

My Friend Gemma & Her Mouthwatering Noodle Dish

I have an amazing friend named Gemma. She is originally from the Philipines but entered my life about 6 years ago when she became the nanny for a close friend of mine. I remember when my girlfriend sent around an email announcing Gemma’s arrival – she said that she had a wonderful woman who would be joining their family and that she was a “gem”.

Well I have certainly found that to be very true. We first met as we walked the kids to school together and over the years have become good buddies. As we got to know one another, Gemma would often tell me stories about her childhood. Let me tell you – her life story would make a heartbreaking and inspirational novel and I’m often moved to tears as she recounts the trials and tribulations she has faced and overcome.

Her father was murdered when she was just 2 years old leaving her teacher mom with 4 young children to raise on her own in a small Phillipino village. They had to struggle to make ends meet and Gemma learned from an early age that each member of the family had to work hard to contribute to their survival. Despite their dire financial situation, Gemma’s mom made sure that all of her children went to school and completed their education.

Gemma went on to get a degree in accounting and also married and became the mom to 4 children of her own. Unfortunately, her marriage was an unhappy one and she found herself desperate to make money to support her family. Although the thought of leaving her children was extremely difficult, she was determined to make a better life for them and took a job as a housekeeper in Saudi Arabia. Her time in Saudi was difficult and scary and she found herself becoming more and more depressed. Thankfully, her sister was able to pull some strings and eventually Gemma was transferred to Canada to become a nanny.

Despite life’s hardships, Gemma has a wicked sense of humour and maintains a very positive attitude. And I’m happy to report that today all of her children are thriving and Gemma herself has found love again. This past summer, she married her Canadian sweetheart…and I even had the honour of acting as emcee at the nuptials.

gemma 1

In addition to being a good friend who always keeps me laughing, Gemma is also an excellent cook. I love it when she whips up traditional Philipino dishes to share with my  family… and she always kindly remembers to make them vegetarian just for me. My absolute favourite dish is her Pancit. This beautiful dish is one of the staples of the Philipino diet and actually translates as “convenience food”. A mountain of noodles and veggies all simmering together in fragrant broth – honestly, I could eat it every day!

Gemma kindly offered to give me a cooking lesson recently and I learned the secret to her delicious noodle dish. It’s quick and easy and even the kids gobble it up. And it’s versatile – you could throw in tofu (or another protein of choice) and mix and match your veggies to suit your tastes.

gemma 2

Thank you Gemma for coming into my life. I truly appreciate your friendship, your off-colour sense of humour, your bravery, your perseverance…..and of course your noodles ; )

Gemma’s Pancit

gemma 4

1 pkg rice noodles (I used rice vermicelli)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup Soy Sauce (or more to taste)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 inch section of fresh ginger, grated
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
2 cups green beans, halved and sliced
3 carrots, sliced into narrow strips
1 red pepper, julienned
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large wok or frying pan over med-high heat. Add ginger, garlic and onions and saute for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add in veggies, broth and soy sauce and simmer together for 5-10 minutes until veggies begin to soften and heat through, stirring frequently.

In another pot, boil water and cook noodles according to package directions. Strain and rinse and set aside.

Combine noodles and veggies/broth together and stir gently to mix. Add additional soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

gemma 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over Halfway through! My Top 5 “A-Ha’s” From the CNE Course So Far

Hey there – Nutrition Rockstar here! As we head into mid-November,  I’m now over halfway through the Meghan Telpner Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. My brain is literally spilling over with information and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to participate in this powerful and positive life-changing endeavour.

This program has offered me everything I had hoped for and more. Within each comprehensive module, I’m learning about the power of food, how to prepare healthful and delicious meals, the science of healthy eating, how to avoid the pitfalls of healthwashing and “bad”vertising, how to extract medicine from food, how to live a healthy, balanced life and how to have fun and enjoy the process. And the best part is that I’m able to do the entire course from the comfort of my own home! I get the kids off to school, whip up a Dandy Latte, fire up my computer and settle in to learn from Meghan and her amazing team of experts.

Before I share my top 5 list from the first half of the course, I want to let you know that Meghan will be running this program again next fall and she has just opened up a limited time registration with the option of a 10-month payment plan. Trust me -if you are at all interested in learning more about nutrition or perhaps becoming a Culinary Nutrution Expert yourself – this is a gift that you simply must give to yourself. Just click on the CNE banner above or below to find out all about the program. And you can always contact me directly if you’d like more information about my experience (or if you’d like me to whip you up a superfood concoction with my newly acquired culinary skills ; )

And now onto my list! It was really freakin’ hard to narrow it down to just 5 things because my notebooks are literally filled to the brim with life-changing information, research and recipes. But after careful consideration, here are my Top 5 “A-Ha” Lessons from the first half of the CNE Course:

1. Preparation is Key – life is busy, busy, busy and it’s often easier to just hit up a drive-thru or order a pizza than to think about making dinner. But if you can spare an hour or 2 a week to plan out your meals and prep your ingredients – you’ll save time and money and your entire family will reap the myriad benefits of eating healthy, nutrient dense food.

2. Stop Counting Calories! – Ok seriously – this is one trend that I could never fully get behind. There’s just something about counting calories (and counting steps for that matter) that really seems like a surefire way to suck all of the joy and fun out of life. I’ve learned from Meghan that all calories are not created equally (thus the epidemic of people who are overfed and undernourished) and that it’s much more important to focus on nutrient load by eating whole, fresh, unprocessed foods than to worry about each and every bite.

3. Organics All the WayMeghan’s equally brilliant husband Josh Gitalis led us through a comprehensive module on “The Fundamentals of Nutrition“. I literally took notes until my fingers ached as he taught about the importance of healthy soil, fresh water, organic plants and the key macro and micro nutrients in our diet. One of the biggest “ahas” from this section of the course for me was learning about the difference between organic and inorganic farming. Did you know that the following things are prohibited from organic farming (but are often used on conventional farms): GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizer, sewage sludge, drugs and radiation. Yeesh! Whenever possible – try to support farmers who are committed to organic farming principles so that you can enjoy the most potent nutrient rich food.

4. Don’t Fear the Fat – I was a teenager when the whole “low-fat” craze really took hold. I remember happily chowing down bags of candy and thinking I was following a perfectly healthy low-fat diet. Doh! There are tons of misconceptions about fats and sadly as a result of misleading advertising and healthwashing, many of us have become fat-phobic. But the truth is that our bodies need healthy fats for energy and optimal health (did you know our brains are 60% fat?) So don’t be afraid to incorporate healthy fats into your diet – nuts, avocados and raw, cold-pressed oils are a great place to start.

5. It’s Not Just About The Food– although the food we put in our bodies is a key to enjoying optimal health, there are also other factors that contribute to overall wellbeing. Meghan recently wrote a blog post about “Vitamin G” – the gratitude vitamin! Taking the time to feel grateful for the blessings in your life can have a major impact on your health and happiness. Also things like reducing stress (why not give meditation a try?), getting out into nature, finding a form of exercise you love, cultivating supportive and nurturing friendships and finding ways to be creative and have fun will all contribute to a joy-filled life.

Culinary Nutrition Expert ProgramI could literally go on and on about the lessons I’ve learned from the CNE course so far. Things like; why we should eat more plants, the importance of regulating blood sugar, how to use food as medicine and the straight poop on foods like dairy/meat/gluten/and white sugar. And I promise I’ll share more tidbits of wisdom in an upcoming post. But for now, I’ve got to get back to my studies! It’s not easy being a rockstar…but it sure is a lot of fun ; )

Stress and Sacrifice in Competitive Sports

Just the other evening as I was kissing my oldest son goodnight he asked if I would sit with him for a minute. “I’m feeling really stressed out mom and I want to talk to you about it” he said.

Of course immediately my brain started racing with worst possible scenarios. I was certain something terrible had happened to him…..bullying, drugs, alcohol, girl problems…..what the heck was he going to say?? Despite my internal freak out, I managed to calmly settle down beside him. “What’s on your mind honey?” I asked a little too casually.

He took a deep breath and confided that he was mostly stressed about sports…. Sports?! Seriously?! I thought. But he went on to confide that his friends had been encouraging him to choose between 2 sports that he loves – soccer which he plays at a competitive level and hockey which he plays in house league. “They say I should choose because I’ve got to think about my future and scholarships and start really focusing on one over the other. And that I should be pushing myself to go to the next level. But I love playing both mom and I don’t really want to give up on one. And I’m not even sure I what I want to do in the future. Plus I still want to have some free time. What should I do?”

And he’s just 13-years-old. All of that pressure and expectation and stress over something that is supposed to be fun!

I’ve thought about writing a post on the pressure of competitive sports on children (and parents) about a million times but I have never figured out how to do it without pissing off the majority of the people I know. Because it seems that everyone in our social circle and beyond is passionate about (and fairly defensive) of competitive endeavours. And just to be clear – I’d include myself in that mix too since my son plays competitive soccer and my daughter does competitive dance.

Thankfully I don’t have to write that article because another author has done it brilliantly. A girlfriend recently forwarded along the compelling piece “The Race To Nowhere in Youth Sports” written by John Sullivan on the Steve Nash Youth Basketball Blog. It is thoughtfully written and well worth the read.

One thing I would add to John’s article however is that I think we as parents need to be very aware of how much our children long to make us happy and proud. Our kids are acutely aware of how invested we are in their success on the ice or on the field or on the court or on the stage. They observe how keenly we follow their successes and failures and they hear our conversations about the “best” teams and the “best” coaches and the “best” choreography. So instead of pursuing athletics for the sheer joy of it – they start to mold themselves into the athletes they think we want them to become.

Case in point- I overheard a friend of my son’s tell him this past summer “yah well our top-tier soccer team didn’t do too well this season but the important thing is that I’m being seen by the right people.” Seriously?! What 13-year-old generates that little gem? I’m 100% sure that came directly from his well-intentioned parents. But this quest for approval just adds to the overwhelming pressure our children are feeling and robs them of the chance to become their own person with their own ideas and interests and passions.

Not to mention the incredible sacrifices that have to be made by children, parents and other family members for comp sports. Family dinners, family vacations, extracurricular activities and free time hanging out with friends are all prioritized well below practices, rehearsals and extra shooting clinics. Heck, I even had to spend last Family Day weekend in an over-priced hotel with my daughter for some “mandatory” dance workshop when we should have been enjoying the time relaxing with our whole clan. And other teams require participation over Christmas holidays and spring break. It’s madness!

Listen, I certainly don’t have all the answers and I haven’t figured out the best solution. We all want what is best for our children and I know that kids are unique and experience things differently. And I am sure many of you will disagree with John’s article. But at the very least, I think we need to start an open conversation about the current climate of youth competitive sport. If we are honest with ourselves, we know it is stressing us out. And at the end of the day – it’s our children who are paying the price with their childhood.

Basketball on Vacant Basketball Court

http://stevenashyb.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-race-to-nowhere-in-youth-sports/

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!

 

 

Lori Wilson – Nutrition Rockstar

I can confidently define myself a number of ways: mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, voice-over actress, writer, small-town girl, Western grad and lover of 80’s pop music. Those labels are 100% me. But “nutrition rockstar“? I’m not so sure.

Yes it’s true that I’m a plant-based foodie and that I love to prepare healthy foods for my family. And yes I’m willing to experiment with new ingredients and recipes to create culinary masterpieces in my kitchen. But here’s the rub – I fail just as many times (if not more) than I succeed. For every “Mmmm…mom this is yummy!” I get an equal number of “I can’t drink any more of this smoothie – I just gagged twice” and “quick get me a drink of water so I can swallow this stuff down!”

And it’s not just the kids – it’s me too. Most days I smugly start off the morning with lemon water followed by a glorious green smoothie. And then there are the days that I groggily hit up the Starbucks drive-thru for a grande soy latte and a sesame bagel. I can rock a Kathy Freston 21-day cleanse with as much vigour as I can spend the whole day lounging poolside sipping Prosecco and eating junk food with my girlfriends.

Like most people, I have a long and complicated relationship with food. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-30’s that I decided to make a major shift in my eating habits and it’s been a journey of self-discovery, successes and setbacks. And I certainly haven’t unlocked the secret formula- I still have a LOT to learn. But for me, a diet free of animal products and rich in plant foods (and the occasional hunk of chocolate) has been the best fit.

The good folks at Tuja Wellness in partnership with nutritionist Meghan Telpner are giving away a scholarship to the fall Culinary Nutrition Expert Program and I would dearly love to win it. They are looking for a “Nutrition Rockstar” and the more I think about it, I wonder if perhaps I wouldn’t fit the bill. I certainly don’t consider myself to be better than anyone else – quite the opposite. I’m just like most of you. A regular person weaving on and off of the path healthy living with more than my fair share of bumps along the way. But I am confident that there are some lessons to be mined (and connections to be made) if I take this incredible program and continue to honestly share the inevitable ups and downs and screw ups and successes that will unfold.

I have wanted to take this course ever since I took my first cooking class in Meghan’s pink kitchen back in 2011. I was immediately drawn to her passion for real, whole, unprocessed ingredients and her impressive knowledge of the transformational power of food. However with 3 young children, there has always been something else for me to spend the tuition money on (Do you know how much it costs to outfit a young hockey goalie? Or the expense of competitive dance? Or that kids grow so darn fast you have to keep buying them practically a whole new wardrobe every single year?!)

But maybe the time has come for me to really focus on myself. I’m open and willing to learn and I’m determined to keep steering myself and my family towards making more nutritious choices. And I’m not going to quit even when my 4-year-old tells me that his smoothie looks like brown mushy poop. Or when my daughter dramatically rolls her eyes when I announce what’s for dinner. Or even when I finish off a day of healthy eating by sitting on my butt watching So You Think You Can Dance with a big bowl of popcorn and a glass of wine. Because after I throw myself a little pity party – I will pick myself up and try again. In my heart I know it’s worth it. And all things considered – doesn’t that sound kind of like a Rockstar?