What would it take

Musings by Chris and Photos by Jim

A year ago we ended 2013 on a spin cycle of emotions and wound up beginning 2014 on tumble dry in Bali. Our Indonesian paradise was exactly what we needed as we found our hearts once again and beat a path to gratitude and generosity. Jim reawakened his centre by leading a tour of Japanese tourists through a spiritual and gastronomic maze of temples, ceremonies, and eateries. I meditated upon my spiritual core and shed some childhood obsessions while releasing regrets and resuscitating joy back into my vocabulary. It was a very good start to our year. Bali was our salvation.

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We greedily sought new experiences and opened doors to housesitting opportunities in France and England. Despite 2014 being a year of twists and turns and fractured limbs, I wouldn’t change anything. I learned that my body has limits, that healing at the age of 60 takes a LONG time, and that every situation was of my own choosing. Nothing bad happened to me. I chose to walk where I did, I blundered forward rather than patiently acquiesced, and I oversaw other’s steps rather than mindfully regarding my own. Despite my spiritual awakening on a beach on Gili Air and my steadfast affirmation to ‘let go’, I have struggled to manifest the totality of such a resolution. I’ve still miles to go in my evolution.

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Our penultimate experience this year was a month-long tour in Japan providing 16 workshops in 10 cities in 30 days. We took planes, trains, and automobiles covering the equivalent distance of Vancouver Island to Toronto and back. We saw parts of Japan, new to us both. We made new friends and re-established bonds that affirmed our appreciation of this remarkably humbling culture. We left in awe of the expertise and passion of those committed to a live plant-based lifestyle and we renewed our desire to reach others on a similar mission. We were re-invigorated.

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As we leave 2014 behind, we have also left our island home for the past eight years in the wake of our drifting ship. As much as we have craved adventure and longed for new experiences, we have been riding waves of emotions, as the shoreline swiftly becomes a fading memory. What was it we were seeking? Where is our base? How strong are our foundational beliefs? When does one finally ‘grow up’?

John E. Groberg has an interesting take on looking back on the old and projecting forward into a new year. He suggests ten questions that allow one to take a snapshot of what was, as a way to build upon what will be.

  1. What ways this year did I intentionally push myself outside of my comfort zone?
  2. What ways this year did life push me outside of my comfort zone?
  3. What people did I meet or deepen my acquaintance with this year that stands out as significant/meaningful?
  4. What books did I read or experiences did I have this year that helped me become a better version of myself?
  5. What new places did I visit this year that I’ve never been to before?
  6. In what ways was I able to contribute something meaningful to others this year?
  7. What were some of my favorite moments this year?
  8. In what ways was I supported by others this year?
  9. In what ways was I really blessed this year?
  10. What are some important lessons I learned/re-learned this year?

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Celebrating and reflecting upon one’s accomplishments and challenges offers a SWOT of sorts (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). What can one gain from the year that was if one doesn’t realize what the year offered? Building upon our inherent strengths provides one with the necessary confidence to jump into the polar bear swim of life. It isn’t always comfortable but at least you are left feeling – something.

I’m not big on making resolutions. In fact, I’ve never specifically done so – on your mark, get ready, get set, go – January 1st. I’ve been coached, I’ve taken coaching training, I have coached others. I’ve set goals. Heck, I use to facilitate strategic planning events for large community groups and smaller business teams. It was all about writing mission statements, clarifying THE vision, establishing goals, and marking them against timelines, and designating deliverables.

I recently watched a short clip on defining one’s purpose by answering the following three questions:

  1. What do I want to experience out of life?
  2. How do I want to grow?
  3. What do I want to contribute to the planet?

The key is to take no more than 90 seconds per question. Thinking about your answers will only clutter your mind and allow old scripts to influence your responses. If, for example, you began to think about each response you would have a litany of excuses as to why each answer would not be possible. However, if you spontaneously respond based on a gut or heartfelt reaction, you are more likely to tap into what you truly desire. And that is a reliable ‘go to’ response you can depend and act upon.

We become mired in the nuances and muck of our predictable judgments. I can’t do A because I’m not wealthy enough, or I’m not good enough, or I’m not well enough, or I’m not young enough, or I’m not _____________. I’m sure you can fill in the blank. But what if, rather than saying ‘I can’t’ you said, ‘What would it take?’

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Write a good one.”  – Brad Paisley

on the road

And so here we sit in 2015 with the world opening up for us and I have to admit, it is darn scary at times. And other times it is just nerve rackingly overwhelming in its expansiveness. And yet, what we are holding onto is a belief that we won’t write the most intriguing and alluring first page. What if no one, let alone us, reads beyond the first sentence of the first paragraph of the first page of the first chapter? All I can offer is, what if we/they don’t? The key is to start writing, start breathing, and start living. The rest will flow. The afterword isn’t the point. It’s the dedication that creates the intent. And we dedicate 2015 to us, with our imperfections, insecurities, and indelible spirit. We can guarantee, it will be a year well lived.

Sushi

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We love sushi. It is particularly fun to make sushi without rice and to rely on vegetables to pack in lots of nutrition and flavour into your veggie roll. We use raw nori sheets (that have not been roasted), and we use whatever veggies we have in the refrigerator:

 

 

  • sprouts
  • tomatoes
  • avocado
  • carrots
  • cucumbers

We also will make our version of ‘rice’ by pulse chopping some cauliflower in the food processor until it is the texture of rice and stir in some miso and spices (I like curry and cumin) so the rice sticks together like sticky rice. Lay this all out on top of one end of the nori and then roll and cut. It comes alive in your mouth with so much freshness and life. Enjoy.

As we enter our winter of content

Musings by Chris and Photos by Jim

It’s best not to jump to conclusions, but our time is limited and we firmly believe this was all meant to be. We were walking one day (as we do everyday) and Jim proposed an option (“There are always two options”):

“What if we sell and put our money in the bank and just live wherever we want, whenever we want.”

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We had played with that possibility throughout the summer but only half-heartedly. Once we returned from Japan, we pulled our listing and sat in our house wondering what next. We toyed with the idea of renting out our unit for a year and actually found a willing couple from Saudi Arabia who were looking for a transitional home for a year, upon their re-entry to Canada. After two Skype calls we were all feeling confident and committed to a March turnover date. And then that fateful walk reared its pragmatic head and being the unpredictable couple we are, we contacted our real estate agent and set the wheels in motion, once again.

We did something different this time. In the past, we held to our strong beliefs that one has to make money when selling a home. We turned that long held model on its head and discussed what we really wanted to walk away with and why. We pondered questions such as:

  • What could we live with?
  • What made sense in this market?
  • How serious were we, really?
  • How long could we wait?
  • What did we truly want from this sale?

Jim whimsically suggested someone would snap this up and want to move in for Christmas. Be careful what you wish for. It’s a done deal – well almost. Still some subject tos, but good-bye Salt Spring, hello world.

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Christmas this year was not going to be the same anyway. Last year, I gave all our Christmas decorations to our daughter’s family. It began my process of letting go. This year, my grandchildren are enjoying the holiday season with their London, England grandparents. After a family reunion of sorts in Vancouver this coming week and an energetic send-off at the airport, we will weave our way back to Salt Spring Island and begin the process of packing, selling, storing, and cleaning. More letting go.

For the past year, we have had much in storage, since our last six- month trip abroad. What one begins to notice is that ‘things’ hold little relevance in one’s life. It is the personal connections, the ability to touch, hear, see, and taste the whole hearted embrace of family and friends that holds a place in one’s memory bank. I’ve been deleting more and more of late and filing less. If I have no memory of a download, then why hold on to it. Delete. If upgrades shift my perspectives, then my transient reality is more enduring than any mythical belief I’ve held around permanence.

Impermanence is one of the essential doctrines of Buddhism. According to the impermanence doctrine, human life embodies this flux in the aging process, the cycle of birth and rebirth and in any experience of loss. The Buddha taught attachment to permanence becomes the cause for future suffering. Perhaps knowing that, and being in my later stage of life, I have a greater desire to live an ‘icloud’ existence. Home is virtually a click away. I do have a say as to what clutters my ‘in-box’ and how frequently I can empty my trash.  I’m streamlining my desktop.

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We’ve both been quieter the last couple of days sitting with the noise in our heads created by all the spaciousness we’ve suddenly created in our lives. We’re traversing a tightrope, struggling to balance this continuum called life. On one hand we have more options than we know what to do with. On the other hand we have possibly closed the door to future ownership. On one hand we are free to try living in different geographical locations. On the other hand we have narrowed our realm of possibilities by income (primarily fixed). On one hand selling off the last of family heirlooms presents a right of passage. On the other hand we fixate on the lack of an object to be remembered by. On the one hand it is time to selfishly live out our passions and dreams. On the other hand there still is some currency to maintaining our extended family obligations. The only way to balance on a bike is to move forward.

Tony Robbins is a lifestyle coach who has propelled his image internationally by engineering his success through social marketing and hugely dynamic massive public speaking engagements, workshops, and retreats. I’m not a follower, though I find some of his premises compelling and synchronistically affirmative at the moment. Tony Robbins suggests the following:

  1. Thinking – It’s all about asking and answering questions and most importantly coming up with a primary question to guide our personal understanding of and direction within this world. Once you come up with THE main question for you, observe, and consider your answer. Time and again it will guide you to clarity and a future direction.
  2. Learning – It really is a cyclical dynamic. Good Judgment = Success = Experience = Bad Judgment. Play it backwards or forwards, the end result will be the same. Regardless of the path, you will learn and make better choices in your life time after time.
  3. Rear View Mirrors – In truth they are limiting. They help in the short term and for very specific circumstances – i.e. checking for potential oncoming obstacles. However, if you get stuck staring at the past, you will inevitably get into accidents. Use rear view mirrors selectively and effectively.
  4. 10 Years From Now – Whatever you are stressing about today, you will laugh at it 10 years from now. So why not laugh today? Good point.
  5. Control – The only thing we can control is the meaning we give things. Remind yourself at all times of what you can control and what you can’t. If you can control or do something about what is occurring, then do it. If you can’t do anything about it, then let it go – don’t fret about it and refer back to #4.

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It’s been a year of upgrades and swaps. What I have learned is that my beliefs and the way I live can, do, and will change.

“If you have a strong enough why, you can endure any how.” – Viktor Frankl

What is your ‘why’ for 2015? How will you get there?

Live in accordance with your ideals. Do only what you love or find ways to get joy from how you live.

Looking forward to connecting again through Rawsome on the Road on the other side of 2014. Thank you for your readership and positive comments throughout this journey. May your days be merry and bright and may 2015 be filled with blessings and bliss.

“It’s not because things are difficult that you do not dare. It’s because you do not dare that things are difficult.” – Seneca

 Shortbread Cookie

holiday baking

  • 2 cups cashews (unsoaked)
  • 1 cup dried coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp Lacuma
  • 4 Tbsp melted coconut oil

First, place cashews in food processor fitted with the S blade, and process into fine powder. Empty food processor and then grind coconut into a fine powder. Place ground cashews back into the food processor and add vanilla and Lacuma. Grind until it is all mixed and like a fine powder. Add coconut oil and lightly process until all mixed. If too dry you can add some maple syrup one tablespoon at a time until it is the right consistency to hold together and roll out. Roll out like you would a traditional shortbread and decorate (gogi berries, shredded coconut, powdered cacao). If you don’t have a dehydrator just freeze the cookies. If you have a dehydrator, place on mesh screen and dehydrate for up to 12 hours. Will store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

100 questions and counting

Musings by Chris and Photos by Jim

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Probably too much. Ekhart Tolle offers:

“How to be at peace now? By making peace with the present moment. The present moment is the field in which the game of life happens.” – Eckhart Tolle

He says that stillness is not interesting. Thinking is interesting, but it is in stillness that we actually awaken to the present moment and begin to live.

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Through thinking I have been avoiding. However, sometimes I need to think, to write, and to synthesize in order to get to the other side of stillness. Then I can let go and be with what is. I recently listened to a synopsis of a book by Michael Gelb: How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. The author suggests that da Vinci lived by seven principles:

  • Remaining insatiably curious
  • Embracing all life experiences (successes and failures)
  • Embracing one’s senses
  • Handling ambiguity
  • Balancing and blending art and science
  • Maintaining one’s physical body
  • Integrating all systems

The book has many exercises and one that was described is entitled 100 Questions. A review of Michael Gelb‘s book states:

Step-by-step, through exercises and provocative lessons, anyone can harness the power and awesome wonder of their own genius, mastering such life-changing skills as problem solving, creative thinking, self-expression, goal setting and life balance, and harmonizing body and mind.

It is suggested you require 60 minutes to complete this. I took several hours over three days. However, coming up with 100 questions did take 60 minutes. You can question anything – personal or professional, substantive or frivolous, existential or pragmatic. One hundred questions is an extraordinary number of questions. I predictably stalled at 30, then again at 60, and finally soared ahead until 100. I then looked for the emerging themes held within the 100. Surprisingly, that was easier than anticipated as four distinctive themes emerged:

  1. Fear
  2. Connection
  3. Contentment
  4. Purpose

There was a fifth theme that popped up from time to time – Play – but seemed to be swallowed up within contentment. I also found that if I follow through on my purpose (or what gives me a sense of purpose in my life) I feel playful in my heart (i.e. I feel alive). I have been tough on myself, believing that because I’m not ‘playful’ or goofy, or skydiving or mountain climbing, etc. I’m not fun. I realize through this process, that playful is how one’s heart feels, what one’s outlook on life is, one’s desire to be alive, one’s energy level, one’s ability to empathize and connect with others in an open and truthful way. That is just another way to ‘play’ with others. What I know about myself is that is what gives me juice.

Fear
Fear was acknowledged as a defining force because it has been known to immobilize me, but I quickly discarded it as a driving force. I know that fear is simply negative expectations and eventually I am able to shift from fear to excitement by altering my expectations from the negative to more empowering and positive ones. I honour its place in my life. Fortunately, once I notice fear, I am able to appreciate what these gremlins are here to teach me.

Connection

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As much as I view myself as an introvert, I recognize that my successes have come from making connections. By connecting with others, I have learned, I have had a sense of purpose, I have felt expansive, and I have been provided with a platform for deep and meaningful relationships. Connections can be more ethereal – i.e. in the mind. But primarily, I realize I have thrived most when I have physically made connections with others on a personal and heartfelt level. Connections do fuel me.

Contentment

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Contentment comes from being still, from taking moments of appreciation, and from honouring my place in the wider world of smaller and larger connections. Contentment also comes for me by connecting with others. I love listening, sharing, learning, synthesizing, coaching, and being present with and for others.

Purpose
Ultimately, I have been most curious as to where all these questions would lead me in defining my biggest struggle of late – what is my purpose? This question has been preying on my creativity, locking me into predictable negative reactions to possibilities, and stagnating me within a cesspool of dead ends. So what gives me a sense of purpose? – Doing things that make me feel energized, realizing I’m not done yet on this planet, and that I still have something to contribute. By doing that I feel happy (contented). That occurs when I connect with others – in person, virtually, through writing, by coaching, sharing information, and building capacity in others to make positive changes in their lives. 

At the end of this exercise, you are expected to come up with no more than 10 final questions to guide you as you plan for the future, consider options, and follow your bliss.

Here are my final five:

  1. How can I live with a settled heart?
  2. Where/when am I the happiest?
  3. How can I dance in my heart?
  4. How can I enrich the lives of others?
  5. What stretches me?

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These five questions speak to my greatest concerns and desires at this point in my life and act as a daily reminder as I seek to answer them in all I do, on a daily basis. There is nothing particularly earth shattering about them and yet I can delve into each one with great depth and rigor or simply acknowledge the message each one seeks to instill into my daily actions.

This is a great exercise I encourage others to consider. What questions are you daring to ask? What questions are you willing to answer? Your future self deserves some answers.

Green Leafy Sprouts (Makes a 2 litre jar of sprouts)

As the price of greens inflate over the winter months and become less available, sprouting your own greens is an economical source of live chlorophyll to incorporate into your diet.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons alfalfa seeds, clover seeds, or a mixture
  • Purified water to cover the seeds for soaking

Directions:

  1. Place the seeds in a 2-litre size mason jar. Fill with water and screw on the screen and lid or secure some mesh with a rubber band onto the top of the jar.
  2. Soak 4-6 hours.
  3. Drain and rinse and drain the seeds.
  4. Invert the jar on a dish rack, so the seeds can continue to drain. Let the sprouts grow this way for 5 days, rinsing and draining them each morning and evening, until the jar is packed with fresh green sprouts.
  5. It is best to avoid direct sunlight on the sprouts to avoid molding as they will turn green with just diffuse light.
  6. Remove the sprouts from the jar and place them in a large mixing bowl filled with cold water. Swish them around to loosen the hulls. Placing your hand into the bowl, separate out the sprouts from the hulls and place handfuls of sprouts into a sieve to drain them. Once you have removed all the sprouts, throw the remaining water and hulls out. Wrap the sprouts in the sieve in paper towels or a cotton towel to absorb excess water.
  7. Place the clean and dried sprouts back into the washed and dried jar keeping a mesh lid on the jar and place in the refrigerator. They will last for 5-7 days.

Note:

  • A square of cheesecloth or mesh screening secured with a rubber band around the top of the jar can be used for sprouting.
  • If the jar is overly wet or there are lots of un-sprouted hulls in the jar, then the sprouts will become slimy and not suitable for eating (hence why we clean them as noted in #6 & #7).

Easy Pate

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I was looking for something quick to spread on some almond bread we had (recipe to come in the future). I mixed the ingredients together in a bowl within one minute, spread on the almond bread slices, and topped with sliced tomatoes and leafy green sprouts and garnished with the last of the garden carrots.

  • 2 teaspoons of raw organic tahini
  • 1 teaspoon of chickpea miso (or any of your favourite miso)
  • Curry powder to taste

 

 

 

No bones about it

I was shocked when I learned I was borderline osteoporosis. When the second test results came in five years later I had more than dipped my toes across the border. I was now in the land of osteoporosis while staunchly residing in denial-ville for the better part of two years.

What is osteoposrosis? Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones. It happens when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both. As a result, your bones become weak and may break from a minor fall or, in serious cases, even from simple actions, like sneezing or bumping into furniture.

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” If you look at healthy bone under a microscope, you will see that parts of it look like a honeycomb. If you have osteoporosis, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much bigger than they are in healthy bone. This means your bones have lost density or mass and that the structure of your bone tissue has become abnormal. As your bones become less dense, they also become weaker and more likely to break. If you’re age 50 or older and have broken a bone, talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider and ask if you should have a bone density test.

Despite the fact I have a mother with osteoporosis, I firmly believed my diet rich in dark leafy greens and other cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli) were protecting me. But those vegetables are high in K1 and what is needed to build bones is K2 which typically comes from animal products.

There also is some truth to the fact that there is a heredity factor to this condition. Yes I still had a daily cup of cold drip coffee (low in acidity) but I was walking a lot and living a good life. The fall I took in Japan in September confirmed I truly had experienced a break typical of one with osteoporosis.

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Since returning to Canada I have been more diligent around what I am consuming and I’m investigating more ways to increase foods into my diet that are rich in calcium as well as including some supplements. I’m now ingesting daily Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, and BioSil. All are known to maintain healthy bones. They are vegan and considering I am opposed to any of the known pharmaceuticals and their subsequent side effects as well as opposed to eating animal based products, I feel that I am enriching my body’s ability to absorb the nutrients required to strengthen the area that is most vulnerable in my body – my bones.

There are a number of other factors that can influence your body’s ability to absorb calcium and use it effectively and efficiently. One is the degree to which your body is alkaline. I believe I have a fairly alkaline diet and internal environment. Yes I do drink cold drip coffee but in the world of acidity I’m not a consumer of animal-based products (which are acidifying), though I once was a cheese-aholic and I have been known to consume far too many nuts (which in the world of raw are more acidic). I have recently been drinking Kukicha green tea (from Japan but can be bought locally) which is high in calcium and Vitamin C and is good for digestion, fatigue, lowers cholesterol, burns fat, and is high in anti-oxidants.

Another reason for increased acidity in the body is stress. I am a self-confessed worry-wart, though I write a good line about living in the moment and I definitely aspire towards that goal. I worry about my children, grandchildren, my mother, my partner. I worry about whether we will rent our townhome. I worry about writing the best blog post. I worry about organizing my life around self-imposed expectations of perfection. I have a long way to go before I can truly live my favourite Buddha quote which I pass several times daily on the wall at the entryway to our home.

In the end what matters most is
How well did you live
How well did you love
How well did you learn to let go.

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So what can one do physically that may increase a level of low impact and begin to send messages to the bones that they are taking on adequate weight while building strength? Studies of postmenopausal women report that aerobic, weight bearing, and strength training exercise can increase bone mineral density in the spine, and that a simple walking program can increase bone mineral density in the spine and hip.

Programs that maintain muscular strength can slow the loss of bone mineral density associated with osteoporosis, and may help prevent fall-related fractures. Examples of muscle-strengthening exercises include functional movements such as standing and rising on your toes, lifting your own body weight, and the use of equipment such as:

  • Elastic exercise bands
  • Free weights
  • Weight machines

In short, exercise that increases weight bearing, strength training, and improves balance and flexibility (in an effort to reduce falls) are important to add to one’s lifestyle regime.

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Sodium increases the amount of calcium lost in urine (about 20 mg of calcium are lost with each gram of sodium in the diet) and higher dietary sodium is associated with lower bone density. I have been known to consume too much salt in my diet, even though I have an incredibly healthy low blood pressure. This is something to consider if you crave salty snacks.

When considering plant-based options miso or fermented soybeans (in Japan known as Natto) is very high in K2 and other fermented foods have been proven to have greater health benefits as they have more nutrients, enzymes and microflora. Strains of Lactobacillus spp. and other lactic acid bacteria present in cultured foods, like miso and sauerkraut, may possess potential therapeutic effects as anti-inflammatory agents.

And then there are sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are a powerhouse of organic minerals, especially calcium, and they are an alkaline food that supports bone and general health. These multi-tasking seeds are also rich in sesamin and sesamolin, fibers called lignans that can lower cholesterol and help prevent high blood pressure. Lately, I’m all about sesame seeds. So yes I will continue to drink some coffee (I feel entitled at the moment to fall off the purist wagon) but my milk of choice now is sesame milk. I’m making a tahini-miso salad dressing that provides me with a double whammy of calcium. I’m a lover of sauerkraut and we always have some on our salad daily. And what better way to use up the sesame milk pulp but to craft some low fat delicate Cacao-Cal treats. The recipes for the sesame milk, the salad dressing, and the Cacoa-Cal treats follow.

Hopefully you don’t have osteoporosis. Here’s to some simple suggestions for decreasing your risks and finding tasty ways to bulk up on nature’s natural plant-based calcium source via some new sesame laden recipes.

Open Sesame Recipes

Sesame Milk

There are so many good sources of nut and seed milk recipes on line that I’m providing this link to how one makes sesame milk. The only difference is, that we do not use dates or honey to sweeten the milk, nor do we add salt. We see no need for that. But we do add some vanilla to cut the sesame seed flavour. Sesame Seed Milk.

Cacao-Cal Treats
I have to thank our friends Lulu and Paisley for this idea. The remaining pulp should never be thrown away. Because I’m always looking for a low fat treat, this just seemed so easy to try.

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Take the sesame seed pulp and place in a food processor (using the S Blade). Add in some pitted soft or soaked Medjool dates (6 or more) or some maple syrup (which is what I used) and a 1/4 cup cacao powder, as well as some vanilla to taste. Mix together in the food processor. Taste for sweetness and smooth texture. Roll into small balls and keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and in the freezer for up to 3 months. Makes about 20 balls.

 

Tahini-Miso Salad Dressing

Blend in blender until you have the smooth thin texture you are looking for and a flavour that you like.

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup raw organic tahini
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of Tamari
  • 1-inch size of fresh ginger
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of miso
  • Water and/or rough chopped peeled zucchini chunks

You too can live your happiness quotient

Musings by Chris and Photos by Carol and Hannah

I’m feeling embarrassed. It happened twice in the past week where someone commented on our life, our good fortune, and our spirit for adventure, as if it was something unique. That’s not a big deal, but on a small island of 10,000 people it felt like a lot. It was implied that first, financially, we could consider taking off and secondly, that we were more spirited than others. I suddenly realized that our posts might be flaunting a lifestyle that only few can realize – though I don’t believe that. I was left feeling insensitive to the vagaries of everyday life for so many, us included.

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I sat with my feelings for a couple of days and then I realized my writing had neglected to share more opportunities for the reader to self-reflect and celebrate what they have been doing to live optimally. I observe more individuals who are living with joy, with commitment, with passion, and with vision, than those who do not. I marvel at the exceptional actions of those who live with purpose and persistent thus creating peace, promise, and possibilities for themselves and others.

I began to think of those around me who were transforming, living adventures, all while staying at home, paying bills, and tending to their emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual gardens. It has less to do with money and more to do with personal commitment, desire, and actualization of life goals and visions. Anything is possible. And I have been struck by how many innovative and courageous people I witness on a daily basis – people who have followed their dreams and lived fulsome lives.

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What I’m realizing is that each one of us spends more time reflecting upon and lauding the lives of others rather than paying attention to our own lives and the miracle that each one of us lives on a daily basis. If we honestly appreciated what we had in our own life more, we would not covet what others have as much as we would appreciate each person’s journey for what it is. Each one of us lives a life – some with more or less enthusiasm, some with more or less gratitude, and some with more or less humility, but all with hope, compromise, and courage.

I was reminded of Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements.

  1. Be impeccable with your word – to live without sin, to live on target with integrity
  2. Don’t take anything personally – nothing anyone does has anything to do with you
  3. Don’t make assumptions – have the courage to ask/to clarify
  4. Always do your best – know your best will vary from day to day

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We each choose how we are going to live. We can choose to live in a state of helplessness, viewing the world through a lens of pessimism and despondency reactively believing we are to blame for or the result of everything negative in the world. Or we can live with optimism resulting in a sense of empowerment and those circumstances in the world present opportunities for personal growth and insight. Living optimistically means we embrace reality, recognizing that life isn’t always perfect. It means finding joy in everyday moments and finding the benefits in even the challenges confronting our life. Jim reminded me the other day, when I started to complain about a sore shoulder that has been plaguing me, what a blessing that I could take it easy and be offered this opportunity to live less strenuously. When I broke my wrist, I was thankful that I could rely on others for support and experience gratitude from the receiving end.

We have planned our budget, we have made compromises, and we have taken risks. Many of our choices have come at some personal cost. However, we believe in positive engagement with life, with the world, with others, and with our hearts. Above all we are striving to live happy – to live pursuing personal and professional goals while paying attention to each moment. It has come with significant dialogue, digression, debate, deliberation, and determination.

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It’s no revelation to learn that when asked why we do the things we do; we do them in order to be happy. To be happy, to live optimistically, to live with full intent and integrity requires practice. To honestly live The Four Agreements requires a daily commitment. On our bleakest days, we need to stretch ourselves emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. It’s easy to fall back into a comfort zone where we blank out, watch television or sit on our computers and become numb to our true capacities. Or we can panic ourselves into believing nothing worthwhile will happen in our lives, causing us to live under enormous stress and consternation. Living in the stretch zone moves us slightly beyond our comfort zone while maintaining a delicate balance just beyond extreme pressure.

Tal Ben-Shahar is the happiness guru. He speaks about positive rituals and negative rituals. Positive rituals are those things that bring you closer to your goals, to a feeling of accomplishment and worthiness, and to a place of engagement (e.g. exercise, journaling, yoga, meditation, social connections, expressions of gratitude). Negative rituals are those that disrupt life’s flow (overeating, overindulgence in alternate substances, overuse of computers and technology, disengagement). Think of them along a continuum with at one end you push yourself forward without a moment’s rest pursuing the future with no sense of satisfaction or moments of celebration. At the other end one is completely inactive living in an “I give up” state believing there is no point in setting goals. It begins to close the gap between idleness and over-achievement to place us within our heart of happiness while living our higher purpose.

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Tal Ben-Shahar has a wonderfully descriptive way of looking at how we can set goals for ourselves. He posits we can set ourselves ‘Deadlines’ or ‘Lifelines’. When we live a life of deadlines we are virtually ‘killing time’. We are suffocating the life out of our visions and accomplishments. If we live with lifelines we are striving to live fully, compassionately, persistently, consistently, and joyfully. We are enlivening our time on this planet.

I truly believe we are no different than anyone else. We have set our intentions and we are striving to write a story that reflects our beliefs, our dreams, our failures, and our successes. I know those of you who read these words are living your life based upon your values, your desires, your regressions, and your accomplishments. Not one life is more worthy than another. Believing in your life and practicing from a place of presence requires concentration.

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I leave you with two questions to help you focus on living a life of positive rituals:

  • What is one positive ritual you can incorporate into your life today and everyday?
  • What is one thing that you can stop doing today that will improve your life, this day forward?

 

NEW MONTHLY RATE

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We are renting our townhouse for one year or longer. Availability is negotiable. It is a clean, wonderful 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath townhome in the heart of Ganges, Salt Spring Island with its own washer and dryer, in-house water filtration system, propane fireplace, lots of cupbards and storage space. It is urban living with a rural feel. Close to all amenities as well as nature. Everything is within walking distance or on a convenient bus route. There is an on-site indoor salt water pool, exercise facility, and guest accommodation. Please email chrisgay4811@gmail.com or phone at 250-537-2048 if you are interested. Sorry, no pets or smokers. Monthly rate is $1,350 plus hydro and propane (and phone, TV and internet if desired).

Caesar Salad Dressing

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Imagine if you will, fresh crisp romaine lettuce coated with a light fragrant plant-based dressing, with the richness of a traditional dressing but low on fat and cholesterol. Garnish with cucumbers and tomatoes.

Place all ingredients except the sheet of nori in blender and blend until smooth. Once you have tweaked the flavour, spices, and texture to your liking, tear up a sheet of nori and put in blender. Blend briefly until nori is broken up.

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Dijohn Mustard
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (or more if you want a thicker dressing)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup of water (or more if dressing is too thick)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sheet nori

 

 

 

 

 

Putting the key in the ignition

There are so many choices, sometimes too many to have at any one time. As problems go, it is a delightful one. That being said, I find I get excited about so many options and then old scripts play in my head, jettisoning the brakes into action and idling me into inertia. Fear sets in and I coast to a stop and switch over to maintaining my reliable systems – lots of sleep, daily walks, healthy eating and juicing, limiting stress – all fostering a general malaise. Yes, habitual everyday complacency lulls me to sleep in my heart.

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I listened to a four-minute clip on the Internet the other day where the speaker spoke about swapping beliefs. There is nothing wrong with believing in one dogma and over time swapping those beliefs for others that refresh and reboot you into thinking more progressively and with inspiration. What may have worked during one time in your life may no longer serve you – e.g. sticking with a job that allows you to buy a home, paying down a large mortgage, saving for the future. Or perhaps there are aspects of those past beliefs that still have some merit – e.g. ensuring you can sustain a standard of life that affords you the essentials and supports your health and well being. Now in your new reality, does that mean the same amount of income; the same size home, the same retirement package it once did? The foundational values are the same – financial security, health, and happiness. What changes are the ‘shoulds’ – should have a large home, should have a 2-car garage, should have the ‘right’ neighbourhood’, should have at least _______ in the bank, should, should should. Of late, what I’m finding is that the shoulds are now being swapped with coulds. I could be secure with less. I could be healthy and happy anywhere as long as there is a warm bed, a community of support, and my financial obligations are addressed.

What’s important for me is maintaining a plant-based diet, regular juicing, and a daily exercise regime. So my system for living is ingrained and transferable, wherever and however I live. If there are some components I feel unsettled with, I can always upgrade them. A component I would like to upgrade is incorporating more mediation and yoga into my daily regime. It means committing to that with more rigor and passion than I seem to be currently. Again, something that can occur, regardless of where/how I live.

Sorting out my models of reality and my systems for living helped me realize it isn’t the ‘how’ that is an issue as is the ‘where’. When we bought our townhome, we did it for ease and convenience and also because we knew it could be rented out if we had a desire to travel. What I’ve noticed at the end of each of our trips abroad this past year is that I never really wanted to go home. I feel a tug to be somewhere else.

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The other day two posts flashed past me as I scanned Facebook. What if I’m where I’m supposed to be? Does that mean physically or is it implying emotionally? Emotionally, I am in a state of flux. I’m learning to accept that. A deepening wanderlust within my heart beats out a rhythm that spurs me into the fast lane of desire. I desire new vistas, new connections, new exchanges, and new opportunities. All the while, I’m listening to my heart. So rather than feeling pulled back into a safe parking spot that is easy to back out of, I suddenly want to take a risk. I want to hit the open road, somewhat unprepared, and see what’s beyond the curve ahead. There is a game our oldest grandson loves to play as we drive all the grandkids home after supper every Wednesday night – ‘imagine if there was a _______ around the next corner.’ And then someone shouts out some unbelievable animal or possibility and we consider what that would be like. The outcomes become progressively more fantastical. I’m looking to trip the light fantastic in my new reality. In fact I’m realizing it doesn’t have to be all that fantastic. It just has to be something that wakes me up each morning and soothes me to sleep after a day of exploring each night.

I recognize that this comes on the heels of my retirement, but I challenge anyone out there questioning their life at present to consider doing a little bit of swapping of beliefs and upgrading of life systems if you find yourself droning on into oblivion. Jim keeps asking me what would be different about our life if we did take off. In short, we wouldn’t be here. For now, that is good enough for me. And though I have been speaking in the first person, so many of my decisions are balanced by Jim’s input and considerations. Whatever the next leg includes, I could not be brave enough, adventurous enough, and secure enough without the acceptance and assurance of my life partner that we are on this road together, for now.

Which leads me to one more thought. Ultimately we come into this world alone and we leave alone. And yet, we encounter so many views, alternatives, and opportunities with other people along the way. We are as alone as we want to be and as connected as we choose. If you are considering opting for another approach to living, find a support, find a sounding board, and find a champion who will encourage, reflect, and acknowledge all you have to offer in this life. And while you’re at it, find room in your heart to appreciate yourself. That is the key to unlocking the door and putting the key into the ignition.

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Townhome for Rent

We are renting our townhouse. We are interested in renting it out for one year or longer. Timeframe is negotiable. It is a clean, wonderful 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath townhome in the heart of Ganges, Salt Spring Island, BC Canada with its own washer and dryer. It is urban living with a rural feel. Close to all amenities as well as nature. Everything is within walking distance or on a convenient bus route. There is an on-site indoor salt-water pool and exercise facility. Please email rawsomelivingfoods@gmail.com if you are interested. Sorry, no pets or smokers. Monthly cost is $1,500 plus utilities (definitely Hydro and propane, and phone, TV, and cable if desired).

Health Improvement Workshop

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Still room in our workshop on Sunday, October 26 – 1-3 pm at #27-107 Atkins Road, Salt Spring Island

Information, demonstrations, and recipes on alkalinity, digestion, sprouting, fermentation, and making healthy choices for optimum living.

Reserve your spot today by email: rawsomelivingfoods@gmail.com

Spanish Rice

Serves 2-4 people

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Since breaking my wrist I’ve been relying on my food processor to do a lot of the chopping and I’ve been using primarily the S blade. You could make this recipe entirely with a knife and/or cheese grater for some finer slices. What I do when creating a recipe is think back to the ingredients I used when I made the dish cooked. Spanish rice traditionally for me included rice, tomato paste, spices (varied depending on what I was looking for but chili and cumin were regulars) and then whatever veggies I wanted to include. Often I topped it with cheese. Then I baked it. My version is more Italian in flavour today, all fresh, all live and plant-based, and colourful.

  • 1/2 medium cauliflower and 1/2 medium white cabbage (can do just with cauliflower)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1 green onion (using onion powder gives it more of a ‘cooked’ flavour)
  • 1 medium celery
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas – defrosted
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn – defrosted
  • Desired herbs and/or spices (e.g. Italian spices, fresh basil, fresh parsley, chili powder, cumin, salt to taste
  1. First rough chop carrot and then place in food processor and pulse using the S blade until the texture is finely minced. Place in bowl.
  2. Second rough chop red pepper, green onion, and celery and then place in food processor and pulse using the S blade until the texture is minced. Place in same bowl.
  3. Third rough chop cauliflower (or a combination of cauliflower and white cabbage) and then place in food processor and pulse using the S blade until the texture is finely minced. Pulse into the mix 2-4 tablespoons of sundried tomato powder* and desired herbs and/or spices and salt. Place in same bowl.
  4. Fourth – mix all ingredients together.

*To make sundried tomato powder, blend dried tomatoes (they must be dry, not packed in oil) until they are powdery in texture. Sun dried tomato powder gives a stronger tomato flavour than fresh tomatoes.

Eat on its own or as a topping on your green salad. You can also top with some seeds or avocado for some healthy fat and/or garnish with sliced tomatoes.

Fortuitous dates – NEW workshops and more

Information about NEW workshops below

on the road

It’s so easy to escape into a vortex of cyber surrealism and forget to look up and out the window and notice the seasons changing. Fall? When did that happen?

When in Japan, we were treated to summer-like temperatures and mostly sunny days. The gentle weather seemed to follow us home. It has been a blissful summer and early fall of mild temperatures, sunshine, and amnesia. Really, the West Coast of Canada is known as the ‘wet’ coast? No way! Well not so far, but clouds and rain are threatening our upcoming Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.

On the topic of time of year, I’m reminded of a significant date for us a year ago. It was Thanksgiving weekend in 2013 we closed our cafe after 18 months of pouring our hearts, souls, and savings into Jim’s vision of a dream cafe – all live and plant-based. We truly never anticipated lifting our spirits again with such profound vision and purpose. What a difference a year, three worldwide trips, and concerted reflection can make. We are feeling something is in the making.

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Thanksgiving is a significant time of year for me. It has been a time of change. In 1977 on Thanksgiving weekend, I left Toronto, my home for 24 years, and moved to Victoria. I knew almost immediately, the job I left my life for was not what I had hoped it to be. And yet, the move to British Columbia was the gateway to personal and professional transformations that far surpass what I ever imagined during my daily rush hour hypnoses on the subways and streetcars of what once was my hometown. I’ve been on the West Coast now for 37 years. Another hallmark moment just recently creped into our life. This is the first Thanksgiving we no longer have all our children living in British Columbia. Our son just relocated to Toronto.

I’m drawn to think of life as a rubber band. Place a rubber band around the index fingers of both hands. Now pull. Feel the tension as you pull further away and then relax as you reduce the tension. Such is life. There is a dynamic tension that we can become stressed out over or we can find ourselves balancing between both dynamics in an effort to find our ideal reality – an ideal that speaks to all we believe and know to be true. Staying focused on what we believe to be our truth, our ideal, and our enlivened state of being will free us to navigate the tightrope with small incremental steps. Life isn’t a race. It isn’t meant to be won. It is just that – life, so live it.

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There is so much we can learn from the darkest moments. Fear is simply negative expectations. We can wallow in the abyss hiding from ourselves or we can notice, observe, and celebrate what we are learning from the darkness – appreciate that there can be no shadows without some light. In short, we have so much for which to be thankful.

Thankfully, we have had a wonderful response to our workshops in Japan and now many of you have been urging us to deliver workshops here as well. We are so thankful there is an interest. Here are two workshops we are planning on delivering over the next six weeks.

HEALTH IMPROVEMENT

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  • Looking to improve your health and well-being?
  • Wanting to understand the benefits of an alkaline diet?
  • Curious as to what digestion has to do with your health?
  • Seeking more than a diet?
  • Menu includes: salad, sprouts, sauerkraut, cheese, soup – recipes and samples provided
  • All recipes will include nuts and/or seeds

Then the HEALTH IMPROVEMENT workshop is for YOU!

  • DATE: Sunday, October 26, 2014
  • TIME: 1:00 to 3:00 pm
  • LOCATION: #27-107 Atkins Road, Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2X6
  • COST: $40.00

Reserve your spot with advance payment by emailing rawsomelivingfoods@gmail.com

HEALTHY DESSERTS

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  • Learn to make a live plant-based cheesecake – samples provided
  • Learn to make live plant-based brownies – samples provided
  • Learn to make an apple crumble – recipes and samples provided
  • All recipes will include nuts and/or seeds

Simple HEALTHY DESSERTS to wow and amaze family and friends.

  • DATE: Sunday, November, 16, 2014
  • TIME: 1:00 to 3:00 pm
  • LOCATION: #27-107 Atkins Road, Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2X6
  • COST: $40.00

Reserve your spot with advance payment by emailing rawsomelivingfoods@gmail.com

Finding truth

What’s at the heart of our being? What drives us? What delivers us? What places us in the crosswalk of our destiny? Ultimately, it is a sense of self – being true to one’s self.

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While in Japan, at our first presentation in Shizouka, everything was moving along with rapid speed. Jim captivated the hearts of his audience of 24 women, one man, and one patient four year-old boy. Jim speaks about and from his passion. He plays with his audience, tells jokes, confuses his translator, waits for the translation to catch up, and tells the rest of the story with food. In true Japanese style, our guests waded through so many recipes, took smart phone photos, and then finally were able to sample a cacophony of flavours and tastes from our gastronomic travels abroad.

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Then it was time for the actual roadshow. We had crafted an in-depth slideshow and speaking notes which were expertly translated with kindness by a Japanese friend on Salt Spring Island, in trade for a five-course meal for a visiting relative from Tokyo. Two months later with much editing and care, I looked up to see heads nodding and the animation bleed from the crowd’s faces as they drifted into a bedtime reverie.

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Jim’s strength is adaptability. Jim is a man who professes to struggle with transitions, and yet he skillfully maneuvers the pulse of the crowd with the sure footedness of a soccer player. He weaves through the emotions and interests of his audience by changing the cadence of his voice, altering his body language, and most importantly asserting his sense of self in this world of plant-based food, life, and health.

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There is no doubt that Jim acts from his heart. He is so clear about who he is when he puts on his chef’s coat, picks up his knife, strategically prepares his mise en place, and begins his food preparation. All the while he describes, explains, informs, keeping his eye on the prize – to be of service to others.

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And so our trip to Japan continued on – 30 days, 16 workshops, 10 cities. We had many days and evenings of preparation. We revamped presentations and relied more upon our experiences and internal voices, than scripts. We struggled with language and laughed with confusion and understanding as the language of food became the common denominator. We marveled at the unrivaled passion and commitment of our hosts to organize our workshops all in an effort to share information about a plant-based diet. The proficiency and diligence of the assistants was unprecedented. The heartfelt desire of the translators to capture our intonations, our subtle meanings, and our direct messages was admirable. We knew that our translators were our lifeline to mutual understanding, compassion, and trust. We also learned that no matter what degree of skills and passion Jim brought to the workshops, all would be for naught, without the teams of support we encountered in each city, at each venue, and for each delivery. They were the magic behind the message.

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We are both filled with gratitude. It was an exhausting and exhilarating 30 days. I broke my wrist in Ishigaki, Okinawa early in September during our brief few days off. We were humbled by the care and attention of so many people. We gained new friends. We saw new parts of this delicately beautiful country. We were brought to our heart centre more than once. We found we lived in the moment, never quite sure how the next would unfold, and forever amazed by the synchronicity of acceptance. We found our truth.

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When we finally returned to Tokyo after weeks of travel, I was reticent to leave, to come home. At the end of any trip, I fear that I will lose the ability to thrill in the spontaneity of the unknown. I fear I will fall trap to habitual conventions that trudge into mediocrity. I resent my reliance on familiarity, sensing all that is fresh and new will dull, and along with it, my sense of purpose dim.

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As we have regained some speed and adapted to this time zone, we are realizing that what we offered in Japan has a place here on our home turf as well. We are fielding requests and inviting possibilities. Our belief that eating a plant-based diet is more than that; it is a lifestyle and one that offers more complexity and internal reflection than ‘what’s for dinner?’

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Our destiny is yet defined but our purpose is becoming clearer. We are here to be of service and will continue to share in the many ways we know how, through workshops, through demonstrations, through our writings, through developing a cookbook, through offering insights, and through sharing our journey. Ultimately, we strive to be true to ourselves. And that’s the truth, as we know it.

Be a part of my upcoming book

BIG NEWS

My upcoming book, Rawsome Retirement on the Road, is looking for stories about retirement. I have but one, but I know you have stories to tell that will inspire and motivate others as we enter into the remaining decades of our life.

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I would love to give voice to your stories and share them. Your stories can make a difference as we inspire others to live with passion and presence.

You have a story to tell if:

  • You are retired, about to retire, or afraid to retire.
  • One of the following has motivated or is motivating your retirement discussion – health, wealth, change, fear, inspiration, spiritual quest, emotional fulfillment, desire.
  • Your story shares – what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, what’s improved, what you miss about work, or how you are finding your way.

ALL STORIES will be considered. 

If you have a story to share, please email me at: chrisgay4811@gmail.com, so we can discuss further. I will begin setting times for conversations with all interested contributors in October.

Help me make your vision come alive while enlivening others.

I’m very excited to co-create with you and I am looking forward to hearing from you very soon. With gratitude, Chris.

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On the road again

Musings by Chris and Photos by Jim

I don’t do well with sitting still. Must be a hangover from the workaholic days of my past life. Actually, I do believe there is a genetic patterning that takes place – a modeling of sorts.

I remember when my brother and I would stay with my grandparents while our parents traveled. I would watch my grandmother make breakfast, busy about tidying up, then descend the stairs to the basement where she and my grandfather had a tailoring/alteration business. Later in the morning and again in the afternoon, she would return from the basement and make more meals and clean some more. Often my grandparents would work at least one evening a week. Summer involved gardening their quarter acre backyard filled with vegetables and fruit trees and berries and flowerbeds. All this included never-ending maintenance and preserving. My grandmother never kept still.

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I have been stiller the past few months than I have ever been before in my life. Part of it has been a healing process from my European injury and part of it has been a self-imposed limbo while I attempt to define a next stage. I have been calling out to the universe but all that shouts back at me is the echo of my wonderings. Suddenly my wonderings are answering back with a new itinerary of wanderings.

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Travel sparks joy within me and traveling to Japan especially has a firm grasp on our emotional and spiritual yearnings. There is so much we love about Japan with the kind, generous, and thoughtful manner of those we have come to know, topping the list. We love the aesthetics of this country seen in their architecture, their gardens, and passionately photographed for posterity in their food designs. There is a rhythm that sparks a respect for all humans witnessed on the quiet and orderly subway trains, when visiting Hiroshima and the colourfully solemn thousand cranes display, and embroidered into the fabric of life by the ritualistic praying and blessing at each temple and beautiful Buddha. We find opportunities to be still within the hectic expectations of workshop deliveries, rarely noticing how time flies.

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The past couple of weeks we have had two Skype calls with our colleagues from Japan Living Beauty Association in Tokyo. We have been planning our trip to Japan for the month of September. I am now realizing there may be method to my melancholy madness. I had no idea we would be delivering the number of workshops that are now scheduled, when we initially discussed the possibility of returning in September. What started out as a travelogue of sorts, informing audiences of our travels and insights into plant-based lifestyles throughout Northern Europe, has now morphed into additional workshops on all things live and culinary and gourmet.

We will be visiting a number of locations – some new and some that we had the good fortune of visiting on previous trips. The cities where we will be delivering workshops includes:

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  • Tokyo
  • Shizuoka
  • Okinawa
  • Fukuoka
  • Nagoya
  • Mie
  • Sapporo

 

 

The range of topics includes:

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  • Why Raw OR How to Eat Raw For A Day
  • Gourmet Cuisine
  • Health Improvement – Light and Lively Cuisine
  • Rawsome on the Road in Bali and Europe
  • Chef/Patissier Level 1 (a class that Jim delivers frequently when in Japan)

 

 

I know that we are a similar age to my grandparents, when I use to silently sit and observe the bustle of their life. I often questioned if there truly was joy in all they were doing. The times I saw smiles cross my grandparents’ lips was when they proudly showed me the results of their labour. Peonies were my grandmother’s favourite flower which she would gather together and ask me to breathe in the fresh fragrance of summer sunshine on the multitude of pink petals. My grandfather loved his fruit trees (especially his peaches) and rows of strawberries and raspberries bursting with sweetness that dripped down his chin and rested on his shirtfront. It is the only time I remember him relaxing away from his tailored existence in the basement alteration shop.

Upon reflection I am reminded that busy-ness does not always equate with confinement and restrictions. There is busy-ness that can harbour happiness within its borders of bliss. So too, unhappiness can creep in as a reminder that balance is an antidote when our actions and emotions begin to spiral. Whether happy or unhappy, it simply is a temporary resting ground. The aim in all things eternal is joy. Joy arises from within, is spontaneous, and flows from your own internal energy.

My grandparents’ garden was a reflection of the joy they experienced when coming in touch with their true calling, their unearthing of bounty within the soil, and producing near perfection with their crops. To my immature eyes it all looked like busy-ness. In retrospect, I now know it was their testament to feeling complete.

As we begin to ready ourselves for new adventures abroad, I am acknowledging a quickening within my heart. On one hand, I feel overwhelmed with all that we will be ‘doing’ in Japan, but I also feel empowered to tap into the energy that emerges for me when I facilitate groups. More importantly, I love how Jim and I can balance each other with unique skills and talents that provide an engaged and informed workshop. We have many with which to hone our skills and enrich our repertoire. And the quality of dishes Jim produces is testament alone to his complete and utter joy when working with food.

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We look forward to sharing more stories from ‘on the road’. As time permits or possibly upon our return, we will definitely share our discoveries, our insights, and our passions as they emerge. With Rawsome expectation, we shall continue . . .

 

 

Summertime Salad – Serves as many as you want

I love the fresh produce straight from the garden. We are very fortunate this summer to have a young farming family providing us with a box of freshly picked vegetables and herbs twice weekly. The version in this photo has:

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  • Chopped cucumbers
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Pressed garlic
  • Finely chopped basil
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Pinch of salt and pepper

Stir together in a bowl. Serve as a topping on a green salad or on its own.

Variations:

  • Quantity of each ingredient is dependent on portion size and number of people to be fed.
  • Eliminate the cucumbers and just chop tomatoes and include the rest of the ingredients.
  • Eliminate the garlic and replace with finely chopped green onion or chives and again have it just with tomatoes or both tomatoes and cucumbers.
  • Eliminate the basil and replace with finely chopped fresh dill keeping all other ingredients the same.
  • You can use the tomato only version as a light topping for your zucchini pasta or on a raw pizza shell.

Have fun experimenting with the fresh bounty from your gardens this summer or local farmers’ markets. Fresh is best and the flavours will be alive.