18 December 2014

Happy Holidays and A Reflection on this Amazing Year

I love this time of year...it's no secret...I am such a fan of the twinkling lights, the music, movies like Elf, It's Wonderful Life and Love Actually, catching up with friends old and new, the mugs of hot cocoa I make three times two times once per day, and the general belief that the world really does get better this time of year.  Call me a sucker...I'll take it all...with bunting and bows on the side.

I spent the first part of this holiday season in Bali with Ganesh, serving as an assistant with the School of Sacred Arts on their 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in Ubud.  It was an awesome and exhausting month that was finished off with the grande finale of watching 28 students graduate and enter the yoga community as teachers!  I had the chance to reconnect with my amazing teachers - Simone MacKay, Cat Kabira, Bex Tyrer, Randall O'Leary, Tina Nance, Dr. Brown, Eka Sabeh - and friends.  I ate delicious vegan food every day, sipped nut milk lattes under the blazing sun and monsoon downpours, enjoyed immersing myself in yoga culture again and re-igniting my passion for the love, unity and understanding this practice fosters.

It was a little odd beginning the holidays with palm trees and temperatures in the upper 20s (80s) and tons of humidity, but I now realize it was the perfect way as it stoked my inner gratitude fire.

Ganesh in holiday glow.

In retrospect, this has been a year of immense growth and change for me.

January kicked off and it was the first time since the age of thirteen that I didn't have some semblance of a paycheque coming my way!  I had left my job as the National Manager of Diversity & Inclusion at the YMCA of the USA's headquarters in Chicago at the end of December 2013 after much deliberation.  As such, January meant I found myself at The Yoga Loft in Moose Jaw day in and day out, working out my time off on the mat and pondering what my next steps in life were going to be.  I knew I had my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in Bali coming up in April, but that was really the next thing on my radar.  Dave and I had time to get re-acquainted with each other living under the same roof (finally!) and we spent time taking walks (yes, even when it was -40 out!), cooking dinners together and just enjoying being with one another.

February brought more of the same and we took a little vacation to the magical land of Canmore.  We enjoyed our mini-break by snowshoeing, hiking in the snow and I even tried my hand at cross-country skiing (read: FAIL).  We spent many a night by the fire, watching the 2014 Winter Olympics unfold, cheering on both the US and Canadian teams (the women's hockey match was devastating for me and a joyous occasion for Dave) and sampling as many dark and luscious craft beers we could find!

Canmore Mountain Goodness
By March, we were both tired from the winter weather and ready for some respite.  I was beginning to get things in gear for my Bali adventure and Dave was looking forward to the end of April and the beginning of May when he would join me for a week in Indonesia.  We spent Dave's birthday weekend (the coldest weekend of the winter) in Saskatoon at the beginning of the month and spent another weekend visiting friends in Winnipeg (little did we know what was in store for us later this year!).  

In April, I boarded several flights taking me from Regina to Ubud, Bali where my yoga teacher training unfolded at The Yoga Barn.  I've written enough about the adventure, but suffice it to say, this training has such a profound impact on me - emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.  I made new friends, learned so much and experienced a space I never imagined I would ever visit in my life. Ubud has crawled its way into my heart and I was so excited at the end of the training when the co-Founder and one of my teachers, Simone, asked if I would be interested in coming back to assist during the November training.  As you well know, the answer was yes and I knew when I departed that it wouldn't be for very long.  At the end of the training, Dave joined me and we ventured into the more mountainous region of Bali to stay at a lovely little spot called Heaven in Bali.  It truly was.  Every morning involved breakfast looking out over a ravine and every night ended on our little porch sipping wine and reflecting on our adventures.  It was a great opportunity for us to share and reconnect after yet another month apart.

Lotus Studio at The Yoga Barn.
At the beginning of May, we returned to Moose Jaw and I then quickly took off again for a US tour to see family and friends.  The trip took me to Illinois, Oregon, Arizona, Georgia and DC where I got to catch up with and hang out with my amazing family and friends.  It was a whirlwind, but one worth being caught up in!  At the end of the month, I began teaching at The Yoga Loft in Moose Jaw (thanks to Robyn Cunningham, the amazing founder and owner).  I love teaching and enjoyed every class and every interaction with the students.  I felt so grounded and so excited to start sharing what I learned and was even more excited to continue my role as a student, learning from the other instructors there and learning from every person who walked in the door of the studio.  As winter turned to spring, Dave and I took more walks and spent more time in Moose Jaw as conversations about where we would be going next heated up.  It was at that point we discovered that we wouldn't be going anywhere but would be remaining in Moose Jaw for the foreseeable future.

June heralded warmer temperatures and yet another opportunity for us to tackle another adventure.  At the end of the month, we made our way to hike up to Abbott's Pass, a climb Dave had done the previous summer with a group of friends, but one I hadn't yet experienced.  It was major!  The weather was quite fierce for that time of year and while the bottom of the climb was sunny and warm, by the time we reached the hut, it was blowing and snowing like it was the middle of winter!  We had a great time there, chatting with fellow climbers, drinking hot chocolate (who doesn't like that?!) and watching the snow swirl outside.  We made it down in one piece and celebrated our adventure in high style by making our way to Canmore to enjoy a "hero beer" and a hearty meal.


July brought major changes as the military opted to send us to Winnipeg!  At the end of the month, we took a week-long venture to the city to determine where we wanted to live and to begin the process of securing our housing for when we arrived at the end of August.  In addition, that meant cleaning up our place in Moose Jaw and getting it ready to put on the market!  Whew!  Our house in the Jaw sold after it's second showing and we found a lovely little spot in Osborne Village in a converted church that we now call home.  

August was moving month and we packed everything up and loaded it on to the U-Haul.  After many goodbye dinners and outdoor picnics, it was time to say goodbye to the place Dave had called home for over 10 years.  There were tears, hugs and lots of laughter as we reminisced with our military family.  We drove out of Moose Jaw on the 28th of August heading East toward the bigger city life that awaited us in Winnipeg.  Bittersweet, to be sure...but, new adventures are always fun.

Moving day...UHaul Fun!

September brought yet another change for both of us as Dave began his new position and I found myself minus work again.  We quickly set up our new place together and I began working on starting my own business, Journeys on the Mat.  Throughout September, my training for the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge (happening in January) ramped up and I was able to explore Winnipeg on foot logging many 30+ miles on the weekends with Dave as my pit crew!  I jogged, ran and weaved over trails and pavement exploring parks, rivers and neighbourhoods.  We spent many nights walking the streets, getting familiar with the city and adjusting to our new surroundings.  Moving is always a challenge and it can cause quite the strain on relationships, but by always keeping priorities in order, anyone can make it through!

October was a quiet month for us.  I continued getting things set up for Journeys on the Mat and was officially registered in Manitoba as a business!  We made new friends and spent time at our local pub as well as with our military family here in the Peg.  I was getting myself ready to return to Bali and Dave continued to settle into work, taking a trip or two to the Jaw to get some flying under his belt.  

And there we have it!  The year in review!  As you know, November had me back in Bali and December is winding down.  For the holidays we are heading out to Vancouver Island (Sidney, Victoria, Tofino and Comox) to spend time with friends and with each other in the place we love the most.  We are looking forward to long walks on the beach, hiking awesome ocean-side trails and taking in the sights, smells and sounds of the season.  

Ah...Tofino life!
I'll end with this...

Yoga means "union" and I fully understand how important this concept is as our lives continue to move faster and we can feel less connected.  This union is what helps us all remember where we have come from, where we are now and all the things we have yet to understand and experience.  I wish you "union" for the New Year - with connection to yourself, connection to family and friends, and connection to those experiences that feed your soul and fuel your inner fire.  Thank you all for your support and love this year...

I wish you nothing but joy, love and peace during this time of year and even more so as we move into 2015. 

23 November 2014

A Little Love Note from Bali

'Tis the season for tinsel, mashed potatoes, hot chocolate and...

young coconuts, tank tops and flip-flops.

I'm back in Bali!  While I am sorely and deeply missing the snow and cold of Winnipeg (seriously, I'm not kidding), it is a certain kind of wonderful to not be freezing constantly and having to wear five layers all day (and that is while I am in the house).  

I am living in Ubud for another month while I assist on a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training with the School of Sacred Arts.  It is a fantastic gig and so great to be back in this town, diving back into my old haunts and reconnecting with this beautiful and mystical island.  I've already been here two weeks and I have two more to go...

The days are full with asana (physical yoga practices), lectures, coordination of students and supplies and meditation.  I am so fortunate to be connected to his yoga community and am looking forward to remaining invested and involved.  I'm a lucky gal!




My hearts go out to those in New York who are sitting under all the snow...I am sending warmer vibes (minus the flooding) your way.

03 November 2014

Nature Wonderland

Dave and I love getting out of the city when we can.  Over the past weekend, we met some awesome people in our building and one of them mentioned that we might enjoy Birds Hill Provincial Park, just outside of Winnipeg.

So, we went and it was fabulous!  I can tell this will be our new escape plan when we need a little respite from the hustle and bustle of the cars, buses, trucks, buildings and other things the city offers up on a daily basis. 

We walked, talked and held hands.  
We watched little birds swoop around us and took in the setting sun.  

We appreciated the big prairie sky we found ourselves under.  
We appreciated having this little space of nature to enjoy whenever we desire.  

And...most of all...we appreciated how lucky we are.










17 October 2014

Our Little Neighbourhood

Dave and I are a little over a month into our new home of Winnipeg and I'm excited to report that we couldn't have found a lovelier part of the city to live in.

Our home is in Osborne Village and, as Winnipeg Tourism put it..."Boho and artsy meet kitsch and cool in the community of Osborne Village—recently named ‘Canada’s Greatest Neighbourhood’ by the Canadian Institute of Planners."

We live in "Canada's Greatest Neighbourhood!"  Too cool.  

We have bakeries, mom and pop shops, pubs, restaurants, parks, the Assiniboine River, Legislature, and events galore, all within walking distance.

Here are few places we've checked out over the past month....

Munson Park
[source]
A gorgeous little gem that hugs the river and speaks to my heart.  We often go for walks in the evening and it has become a staple that we walk through it.  We saw it in the summer when we came for our house-hunting trip and I fell in love with its towering trees, dazzling flowers and cozy little pathways.  As summer turned to fall, it delivered an array of reds and yellows that stunned and lured you into the next season.

We just went to this neighbourhood pub the other night.  Awesome space with incredible woodwork inside, the friendliest bartender I've ever met and just an overall awesome vibe.  They have special on until 7 and Dave and I quickly realized we would be coming back much more often!

A hidden little tapas joint off the main road of Osborne.  We celebrated our anniversary with dinner here a few weeks ago, noshing on patatas bravas, a cheese plate and some absolutely incredible fried beets.  The wait was long, so if you are planning on heading over - get there early!  The atmosphere is dark and cozy, perfect for long winter's nights when snow is blanketing the ground outside.

So, if you come to visit, just know there will be plenty of things and places for us to do and see!


13 October 2014

Happy Thanksgiving...Love, Canada

Source

Ah, yes...it's that time of year when most of the leaves are off the trees, the weather is turning much cooler and school is back in session for the majority of the students in the area.  That also means it's time for one of my favourite holidays...Thanksgiving!

As an American living in Canada, I feel lucky that I get to celebrate not one, but TWO Thanksgiving holidays in a year.  I just love it...the gathering of people you love, some great food you don't make every day of the year and just time to reflect on how lucky we truly are in this life.

This Thanksgiving, we were fortunate enough to be invited over to the home of our friends, K and M.    We had a good time catching up, playing games (I finally learned what all the hype over the game Settlers is about) and noshing on some great food!  We brought over a salad, this fantastic vegan pumpkin loaf and a vegan stuffing inspired by this recipe.  

In addition, Dave and I took some time this weekend to volunteer over at Winnipeg Harvest for their annual Share the Thanks event.  We sorted cans and boxes of food and bagged up "food kits" for distribution.  We met some great people and it was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday.

Because I will be in Bali for the U.S. Thanksgiving, I really wanted to make the most of the holiday here in Canada...and we did!

Here are a few observations about Canadian and U.S. Thanksgivings...

Canada 
  • Thanksgiving in French is L'Action de grĂ¢ce.  
  • There are four provinces where Thanksgiving is an optional holiday, not a statutory one...New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador
  • There are parades
  • The first Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1578 with Sir Martin Frobisher's voyage to the Northwest Passage
  • It wasn't until 1957 that Thanksgiving was given an official day of the second Monday in October.  Prior to that, the day for Thanksgiving was flexible
  • There is turkey, squash, pumpkin and all the fixings that go along with the Thanksgiving dinner
  • There doesn't seem to be a strong connection between Thanksgiving and the kick-off of the "holiday season" as there is in the United States
  • There is football
United States
  • Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November
  • In 1863, it became a federal holiday
  • The first Thanksgiving can be traced back to 1621 after the first harvest of Pilgrims in the New World
  • There are parades
  • There is football
  • It wasn't until 1939, with pressure from the President and department stores (including Macy's) that Thanksgiving was officially moved to the fourth Thursday of November in order to expand the Christmas shopping season
  • There is turkey, squash, pumpkin and all the fixings that go along with the Thanksgiving dinner
  • A turkey is pardoned by the President
If you are in Canada or in the United States...or anywhere in the world for that matter, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  

12 September 2014

First Weekend in Winnipeg

Last weekend was our first "official" weekend in Winnipeg (I don't count the weekend before of unpacking and moving).  We had a great time!

On Saturday, we went with friends of ours to a festival downtown near Legislature called ManyFest.  It was chock-a-block full of people, food trucks and performances.  They had tons of great things for kids to do and they even featured a couple of runs over the course of the weekend.

It was a gorgeous night for it...the sky was blue and everyone was soaking in the final weekend of summer!


On Sunday, I traveled to Fort Whyte Alive for Prairie Yogi Magazine's Prairie Love Festival.  I was volunteering my time and met some amazing yogis while I was there!  I also had the chance to catch up with a few yogis from Moose Jaw who made the trip to Winnipeg for the Festival.  There were DJs, yoga venues, a speakers venue and lots of gorgeous scenery as well.



Fort Whyte Alive is an outdoor paradise just on the edge of Winnipeg.  They hold classes to teach you about canning and preserving, talks to educate folks on nature-related topics, harvest meals to celebrate the Farm they have on site, canoeing in the summer and much more!  I can't wait for Dave and I to explore this little gem further!



05 September 2014

Dear Winnipeg...

Dear Winnipeg:

So, it's no surprise to you that you weren't really our first choice for our next moving destination (I'm sure you've overheard us).  If anything, we wanted to drive our U-Haul in the opposite direction...toward the ocean and mountains and general awesomeness of the West.

That being said, I fully expect to enjoy you, Winnipeg.  I'm going to take advantage and celebrate all that you have to offer.  Every street festival, every outdoor adventure, every snowflake and raindrop and ray of sunshine.

Because...here's the thing.  We make the place.  I learned that growing up - moving from one place to the next.  A lot of people might laugh (or shudder) at the thought of you Winnipeg, but I'm walking into you with open arms and a big goofy grin on my face because you are where I am and I am where you are.  

So, instead of locking my door and closing the curtains on my window, I am going to embrace you like a long-lost family member and make the absolute best of things here.  I am going to love on our little living space and take long walks along the Assiniboine River.  I am going to meet new people and explore the different neighbourhoods.  I am going to approach you like I want to approach every new adventure..with excitement and energy and an adventurous spirit.

Because...you deserve it, Winnipeg.  

Hi, Winnipeg.  I'm Heather...I'm looking forward to getting to know you better.

With adventure in my heart...