Question 10 of 52

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What does it feel like when someone recognizes something you worked hard to do?

Satisfying. The end.

Kidding… I can write a bit more on this topic

I used to draw a lot. The hours I spent at my desk, alone in my room drawing was astounding. I transposed images. I would look for the detail and copy them exactly. I didn’t have tons of talent to come up with something on my own, so exploring graphic design didn’t work out so well for me. But I could take an image and duplicated. If any of you know what career that could lead to, please drop me a line. Any rate, I would take these images and show my dad. He was always amazed and proud. He often encouraged me to show people my portfolio when they came to visit. It made me feel good.

I was never the athletic child and in a world where all the funding goes towards that, or you are judged by size of your body, having arts as your talent was pretty frustrating. I often felt inadequate. But art and academics came easy to me. Easy doesn’t mean it didn’t take effort. When I worked hard at something, I often heard “but it’s easy for you” or “but you are good at that”. Hell yeah I am good at it because I put effort into it. To be recognized for it was another level.

My dad has always been stellar at encouraging me. His enthusiastic response helped me pursue activities and achievements without fear. People will often shoot you down rather than build you up. It is just as easy to be a cheerleader than a discourager. So when you get recognized for the effort, it is a great feeling. Who doesn’t like that? It sure doesn’t happen often.

I like to take a page from my dad’s book, lead by example. Offer the complement. Tell someone you see their work. Show people you appreciate their efforts. If we all lifted each other up, the world would be a better place.

Stay healthy friends!

Question 9 of 52

What is your favorite thing to do? How do you feel when you work on this activity?

I don’t think I have a favourite activity. I think I have a top five. My mind flits from one thing to the next depending on my needs and mood of the moment.

  1. Meditate – I begin each day sitting in silence for at least 30 minutes. When I need to postpone it for later in the day my brain doesn’t function as well. It is as if I skipped coffee. After meditation, thoughts are focused, feelings are calm and peaceful and I have a general confidence that I can do anything.
  2. Reading – I read anywhere from 45 – 50 books a year. I prefer character driven stories. I can relate better to women authors than men, but will read both. If the book doesn’t capture me by the first chapter I will likely not stick with it. I read more fiction than non-fiction and if I had to choose between TV/Visual Media and books, books win.
  3. Baking – I love the tactile nature of baking. The feel of a well kneaded bread, the smell of excellent vanilla, the mouth feel of silky custards and creams and the taste of perfection when they all come together. My favourite thing to bake would be cookies but a great loaf of bread is up there. I love a good baking challenge. This past Christmas I received two cook books. Duchess Bake Shop by Giselle Courteau and Dessert Person by Claire Safitz. I am slowly making my way through all the recipes. French patisserie techniques are so satisfying when you get it right.
  4. Travel – specifically standing in or sitting beside the ocean. This doesn’t mean I like a tropical beach holiday – I don’t. I like a west coast rainforest stormy ocean best. More specifically, Tofino, British Columbia and Chesterman Beach. When I need to recharge, I stand in the ocean and let the waves wash away my woes. It rejuvenates me and is the first thing I do when I arrive. The hubs goes off exploring while I stand in the water for hours before dinner. I cry, I laugh and let the water welcome me back.
  5. Deep conversation – This happens most days before dinner. My children and I chat about books, art, politics, science etc. They are both well read and bring insightful thoughts to the conversation. It is a relief to not have to talk about people or things, the type of conversation many people chat about. Deep conversation with others is something I am always looking for and rarely find. When I find it, I treasure it.

If I had to pick one thing from this list, what would it be? A vacation in Tofino while attending a baking workshop with deep conversation and a great book after standing in the ocean while meditating?

If only one, meditation would win because of the way it balances my life and brings me peace. But all the others are tied for second.

How about you? Do you have just one thing?

Stay healthy friends!

Question 8 of 52

Write about a person you admire. What qualities do you have in common with this person?

I spent several days thinking about this one. I don’t have one person I admire, but there are qualities I really admire in people. This isn’t the first time someone asked me this question. Five years ago after I helped a teammate complete 500 miles, his wife sat across from me a peppered me with questions like I was interviewing for a job. At the time I thought it was odd, only learning later this is a cultural difference between Americans and Canadians. We use small talk to find commonalities and then talk about those. Americans (in my experience) will ask pointed questions – like a job interview – to find out more about you. One of the questions she asked me was ‘who was my role model?’. Then asked ‘to be successful do you think you would ever move to New York City? Again, weird. I am Canadian with zero desire to be an American or live there. I like the idea of having a winter home at Big Sur or on Maui but move to a place that is devoid of nature? No thanks. I suppose it boils down to how you define success. Success to me embodies those qualities I admire, not financial worth.

Speaking to her I realized I don’t have a role model. I do live my life to be a good example for my children. How can I expect my offspring to behave in a certain manner when I don’t? I live my values and when I find someone else who lives theirs, I admire that.

Last summer during the big BLM protests, the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen (BA) went through a very turbulent time. I loved BA. I followed the videos, read the magazine, did the BA baking challenge to enhance my baking skills. Then it came out that Conde Nest (the parent company of BA) and BA were practicing racists. One of their staff members called them on it and asked for their resignation. Sohla El-Waylly called people on their shit and demanded change. She didn’t expect change so she was prepared to walk. But walking was scary. Her chef husband Ham was laid off earlier in the year due to Covid-19. She was supporting the family. If she lost her job, they would have to resort to plan B. Living in Jersey in the Father-in-law’s basement. She and Ham talked it over and decided living counter to your values does irreparable damage. She took the leap and watched BA crumble because all of the BIPOC chefs also left and some white chefs left in solidarity. Meanwhile, Sohla was offered a column with Food52 and NYT Cooking, a video series on Babish (where she gets over a million views each episode – suck that Conde Nast) plus five different cookbook offers. She accepted one and it will release 2022. How is that for landing on your feet?

I admire the risk she took. The unknown is scary but compromising values makes life unbareable. I worked one place and was forced to compromise my values day one. Day two I was actively looking for another job. It took a bit and my soul was sucked out almost completely (dementor style) but the horizon was so much better.

I learned that making choices out of fear is the worst possible thing you can do for you and the people who love you. These are the qualities I admire and I try to live them everyday:

  • Advocate for the oppressed and the underdog
  • Choose kindness
  • Lift up people around you
  • Refuse to compromise your values
  • Choose love over fear
  • Love yourself because you matter

My friend reminded me over Christmas that you are no good to people if you don’t put on your oxygen mask first. Take care of you and then you are able to help others. You can’t give from a dry well.

So no, I don’t have one person I admire. I admire qualities in people. There is a long list of people in my circle who live their values and refuse to compromise. When you say no to someone and they get angry, that doesn’t mean you should have said yes. Stand by your values.

How about you? What do you admire in people?

Stay healthy friends!

Question 7 of 52

When you’re feeling confident, what emotions do you experience?

How do you define emotions? This is hard for lots of people. I eat my emotions so I don’t feel them. Well, not so much anymore but eating disorders come back to haunt you and then boom, you are back in the game again.

I think the answer is happiness and joy.

When I do something because I feel confident, it brings true joy. Confidence is about trusting yourself to do what your intuition tells you to do. When that occurs, magic happens and there are sparks of joy and happiness all over the place. I feel really good about it. I felt joy a few times this year. It isn’t a permanent state of being and don’t try to make it that way because it can feel common place. It shouldn’t feel common, it’s special.

I walk around fairly confident in who I am and knowing my abilities. Being comfortable in my own skin took a while but I am there. When I add abilities and use it to complete a project and all goes well? I feel joy.

At some point in the beginning of 2020 I was watching a video series on dough lamination. Alex the French Guy Cooking breaks things down to the molecular level to understand the science of baking. At the time I thought “that looks really hard and complicated, I don’t think I could ever do that.” Fast forward to December 2020 and there I was telling myself I can do hard things and make croissants. A year earlier I didn’t have the confidence. Now I trust myself in ways I didn’t before. It took two days, but I made perfect croissants. They were light and crispy on the outside, tender and flakey on the inside and I could have sold them in a fine French patisserie. I used the recipe from Duchess Bake Shop. Followed all six pages of steps. and the result?

Oh yeah……….. I felt on top of the world. I called my mom and showed her (thanks facetime) I shared it with my friends on Instagram and call my best baking pal to show her. I felt pure joy, happiness and elation.

Confidence is one of those things you have or you don’t . The more you measure your success by your standards, the more you will feel confident. I don’t need outsiders to give me confidence. I need things to work out how I envision them and have it meet or exceed the standard I set. It sounds lofty but I don’t set unrealistic standards because I love the feeling of doing well. Am I wrong about the definition of confidence? Maybe, but it works for me.

What about you? What emotions do you feel when you are confident?

Stay healthy friends!

Question 6 of 52

Write about a time when you did something you were afraid to try. How did you feel afterward?

I have been afraid to try lots of things. I still fear snorkeling and scuba diving but I will deep dive without equipment because I trust me, just not equipment. I have no desire to jump out of a plane – I don’t know if that is fear or common sense, but heights have been a problem for me for my entire life. Glass walkways paralyze me. I am way better than I used to be and that is all Murdoch’s fault.

Murdoch was a guy I met when I was 20. I didn’t end up being his cup of tea but he sure was mine. I learned a lot of practical outdoor skills from this guy. We were camp councilors in 1988. That summer was one of the best experiences of my life. I regret not bringing that courage with me into the early 90’s. I eventually got back to it but it did damage my soul. Courage was always in my back pocket, it just took me a while to find it again.

All councilors participated in a leadership training weekend. We all did things that challenged our comfort zones. We each had different demons we needed to face. I was fine with performing and loved it. I was terrified of heights and avoided it. There were a series of Initiative tasks we needed to participate in. A scenario is given and the group needs to problem solve a way to over come it. Getting me over a ten foot wall was one of them. I had fear and shame around my body weight because a boyfriend I had (and eventually married only to divorce his ass immediately) was constantly harping and shaming me about how fat I was. Dude….I WISH I was that fat today. I was thin. I was very muscular and could move a piano. I cycled endlessly and had strong legs. I could paddle up and down the North Saskatchewan river. Was I a size 2? no. I was a size 10. I wasn’t a petite fairy princess, I was a 5’9″ outdoor adventurer. The team I was with accepted me for who I was. They got me over the 10 foot wall – I had baggage and shame about it for a long time but they did it. They were supportive and loved me for me. This is the important part of the story. They loved me for me.

Later that weekend, the final event was the zip line on the ropes course. You had to traverse over a single wire with your safety line firmly in place to get to the platform. In my head it was 100 feet high. I think it was 50 feet high it was likely only 20 feet high. Either way, for someone who was scared her body would let her down, this was a big freakin’ deal. I hid down at the beach so I could avoid it. I was petrified. I watched the fellows build it all spring and I didn’t trust the equipment, more importantly, I believed my boyfriend when he said I was too fat to do anything. I had firm abs for crying out loud. (DON’T LET PEOPLE TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE).

Murdoch found me at the beach and he sat beside me. We were close. Very good friends. I wanted to be his girlfriend but I wasn’t his type. I blamed being fat, but I think it had to do with confidence. I was pretty worried what people thought of me and I was always trying to please everyone. He told me I had to do it. Everyone did. It would be the final decision whether I would stay or go. I wanted to stay. I loved it at camp. I loved how the people made me feel. I felt important and special and most of all, accepted. He promised me he would be beside me every step of the way and help me if I needed it. I reluctantly agreed.

We walked to the ropes course and he strapped me into my harness. I trusted him. Then we climbed up to the traverse. I connected my carabiner and began the slow process of hand over hand. Murdoch was right behind me. My team was on the ground cheering me on. My palms were sweaty, my ears were ringing. All I remember is how shaky my arms and legs were. My fear of falling and not being able to pull myself up was real and deep. I was too heavy to save myself (If I could go back in time and beat the crap out of my boyfriend I would. How dare he treat anyone like that.). I made it to the platform and Murdoch helped switch the carabiner to the zipline. My hands were firmly on the bar that would take me into the tree canopy. Murdoch and the camp leader Brian were kind to me. They could see the fear in my eyes but I made it halfway already so I was less fearful. Brian said, “on the count of three, I want you to jump off the platform. Jamie will catch you on the other side.” I nodded my head and gripped the bar. Murdoch whispered in my ear, “you got this”. Brian started the count, One. And I jumped. It took them by surprise but once I got there I wanted it over with. It ended up being fun but I never did it again. I wasn’t that proud of myself again until I completed my first half marathon. Doing something people tell you can’t do is exhilarating.

I took a lot away from that experience. It wasn’t until I began thinking about leaving my first husband that I got the true benefit from that moment. Courage to do hard things. I am more than what people think I am and most importantly, I am what I think I am. I can do it and don’t bother telling me I can’t because your opinion doesn’t matter.

I have no idea whatever happened to Murdoch. I think about him occasionally and wish for him to have a spectacular life. He made a real difference to me. I hope he is happy and fulfilled. I couldn’t be who I am without him. I am grateful.

What about you? What were you afraid to try? Stay healthy friends!

Question 5 of 52

Write down five things that define who you are, listing them as “I am ____,” statements. Take a few minutes to think about each one. Which quality feels the best?

On my Instagram profile I describe myself as a risk taker, truth teller and dream maker. It has taken me a long time to get there. Most women write: I am a wife and mother. I always felt that implied you are a possession. That may be true for me but not everybody. I worked hard trying to figure out who I am. I was always someone’s something but what was I to me?

  1. I am a risk taker. Fact. I take risks and try new things. I like to experience things rather than watch it happen.
  2. I am a truth teller. Fact. I often say, I am not the friend you want, I am the friend you need because I tell it like it is. Not everyone wants to hear it. I have a couple of friends who are treasured because they are that person for me. I usually say ‘OOOOOOF’ because it is like a punch to the gut, but I always need to hear it.
  3. I am a dream maker. Also fact. I take my dreams and work on making them a reality. They don’t all come true because sometimes you learn it wasn’t a good idea so THANK GOODNESS it didn’t work out. But mostly I can make my dreams come true. I went back to school at age 43 and changed my career and life. I worked hard on my capstone project and turned it into a charity and running project that raised $10,000. I have traveled the world and seen things I had only dreamed of. I am currently working on my dream to retire early and travel across Canada from Tofino to St. John’s.
  4. I am a seer of the in between. I can see things that are in between the obvious or hear the unsaid and can truly understand someone. I have a knowing. If you have the knowing, you understand. Not everyone does and that is okay. Listening to it has changed my life.
  5. I am kind. Kind doesn’t mean doing what other people want or expect of you. It is showing compassion and understanding. Not ripping into or criticizing someone. – I do that sometimes and always regret it but I am human and not perfect. Everyone is living a life that you don’t understand. Their choices may not be your choices. There is a reason for that. Their purpose to learn from their experience not yours. Just because you did something that didn’t work for you, don’t expect someone else to learn from it. They won’t. Be kind and let it go.

There you have five things that define who I am. All of those things help me be a better mom, wife, friend and coworker. But those are only labels.

What about you? Do you know who you are? Stay healthy friends!

Question 4 of 52

Write about a unique quality you have that makes you special.

What unique quality….. This is a tough one. I am sure if I asked you, you would each say something different. But I am going with problem solver. I am a unique problem solver.

If 2020 has taught me anything, it showed me that I can pivot and problem solve. My job requires me to be creative, always has. This year I had to reimagine how we do things and I am not going to lie – it was hard. The same old thing is easy and safe. New things require unknown. Many times this year I wish I had a crystal ball to see if my idea was a good one. I am lucky I work somewhere that is okay with trying new things and okay with not getting it right every time. Doing something new can be scary as hell. Nine times out of ten it will be worth it for no other reason than you learned something.

My yearly evaluation had a comment that stuck with me. Reframe how you look at things, not always what we can’t do, but what we can do. At the time it felt like deep criticism. It wasn’t but it felt that way. I let fear hold me back. I am scared of producing something then having someone get sick because they trusted me. It’s a heavy burden to stack on my shoulders. It isn’t just an event, it is something that can permanently impact someone’s life. That is a big deal.

I have always reframed how I look at things, but my evaluation showed me that I stopped and let fear decide what is okay. In meditation, a reoccurring theme comes up: Allowing. Allow things to unfold. This is a big change from controlling the outcome. Allowing implies I set things in motion and wait to see what happens. That is my plan. I think I solved the problem, I have been creative about it, now just wait to see the outcome. I think it will help me sleep better because I am not trying to control every last detail.

Back to the original statement: Write about a unique quality you have that makes you special.

I am a creative problem solver. Not everyone is, but I am. Does that make me unique? Maybe in some circles but it is a quality about myself that I like.

How about you? Stay healthy friends!

Question 3 of 52

How do your parents encourage you to be more confident?

To find this answer, I need to think back a ways. I have excellent parents. They encouraged us to explore the world, try new things and be independent. I definitely do all of those things. Getting there was trickier.

There was a time when failure was a frightening prospect for me. Now I know there is not failure, there are learnings. I was working on a task assigned to me by my grandfather. I was doing it but not in the precise way he demanded it should be done. Think Mr. Miyagi and paint the fence with yelling. I was lectured (the kind way to say yell) for a significant amount of time until I was reduced to tears. My mom came by and found me and I shared the entire story. This is the part where she transformed like the hulk. Those mythical stories of moms becoming mama bears right before your eyes. She stood up to her dad and defended me, my knowledge and my process. Not everyone needs to accomplish something in the same way. Its the process that teaches you something not the outcome. I learned a few things that day. My mom always had my back, trying something new teaches you things and don’t let bullies tear you down. My grandfather never yelled at me again. He challenged me often, but I had the confidence to stand my ground and explain why I was proceeding in that way.

I remember going to my dad, very upset about a scenario that happened in my classroom as a young teacher. A parent (one out of thirty) was not pleased by the way I conducted my classroom. My dad had been a teacher for decades by that point and I knew he would have the wisdom to help through the problem. I was trying to be everything to everyone, an impossible task but I didn’t want to let anyone down. My dad said, “You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. If they don’t like it, invite them to go to the school down the street. This is your classroom. Set the tone.” That was the kind of advice that works in every situation. Be okay with no. If someone doesn’t like it, that doesn’t mean you should have said yes. Set boundaries and stick with it. It has taken me years to set firm boundaries in every corner of my life. But I am a happier person for it. Plus my life is way more peaceful than it used to be.

Set the tone, be the captain of your own ship and write your own chapters. I am not everyone’s type of people but they aren’t mine either. I think my parents did a good job. No one would ever accuse me of not having confidence. It doesn’t mean I am good at everything – ha, not even close, but I am willing to try because there is much to be gain from the experience.

How did your parents encourage you to be more confident? Stay healthy friends!