Once Upon A Time…

November 12, 2012 § 2 Comments

Flickr credit: Pascal

Have you ever listened to the stories you’re telling yourself? Sure you have. They replay in our minds all the time. Stories about the kind of people we are, what our lives are like, where we’ve been and who we are striving to become. We tell ourselves stories about the world around us, what our friends, teammates, coworkers and others are like, or what parts of the world are going through. It’s how we gain perspective, how we make sense of things and how we build a foundation to move forward with.

Stories are such an incredible part of how we build meaning and connection in our lives. And yet, when these stories run unchecked, when we don’t say them out loud and share them with someone, they have the potential to become dangerous truths we embed in our hearts.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about a skewed story I made up about myself and where I’ve come from in the last decade.  I’m thankful for the support network I’ve built and the skills I’ve been honing to unravel limiting beliefs. They’ve helped me identify the story and come full circle.

After I settled back into the picture of coming from a family that wanted me, I began recalling so many good memories. I remembered when my mom spent hours sewing and making my princess costume just right for Halloween when I was a young girl. I remembered tagging along with my dad and hanging out on a red stool at the Skylark Café in Millet. I was pretty little, but it was one of my favourite things to do with him. And then there were all of the trips my grandparents would make to come out and visit us. I was always tickled pink when they made it down for one of my skating recitals. My parents drove my brother and I to and from our various activities… plenty of hockey games and tournaments for him. Dance lessons, skating competitions and tests, rugby games and piano lessons for me. The hours they invested in nurturing our talents and doing their best to provide as much as they could for us… when did I let myself forget about all of that?

If I had known then what I know now, I would’ve spent a whole lot more time talking about the feelings and thoughts happening beneath my surface. I would’ve installed a few checks and balances to guide me in the right direction and tell me when I’d fallen well of course. The good news is, I’ve got those checks and balances now. A carefully curated group of individuals I can bounce my story off of and see if it rings true from their perspectives. It’s like using my own sonar to create my images, sending out pulses and seeing what bounces back. Often, it’s a much different picture than the one I painted for myself.

Whatever story it is you’re telling yourself, I encourage you to run it by a few people before deciding it’s something you’re going to stick with. Whether it’s in evaluating a situation you think will help you, something that builds you up, or attempting to assess the challenges standing in your path, often an outside perspective can help identify the holes in what you’re weaving. It may take a bit of time to go through the prep, but ultimately, you’ll be able to move forward better equipped to navigate successfully to your next destination.


Sweet Memories Are Made of This – Food

September 27, 2010 § 8 Comments

I was talking to my friend Redawna Kalynchuk, a food blogger, sugar artist and gift basket designer from nearby Sexsmith, recently about how her writing about food preparation is working with two art forms at once.

Then I started thinking about how many wonderful memories are associated with food.

churchill’s roast beef and yorkshire pudding

Image by Joits via Flickr

Amongst my earliest recollections as an adult was the Sunday fare when I boarded with the Hunter family in Richmond, B.C. while attending college. What particularly stands out is the Yorkshire pudding that accompanied the roast beef and gravy.

Of course, that was just a precursor to the pecan pie! I’ve had a weakness for that sweet pastry delight ever since.

I boarded with the Hunters for three years and we’ve remained close friends – more like family – over the years. In fact, I just celebrated my 50th birthday with them.

It is 27 years this fall since Joyce and I started dating. At one of our first outings, I made a small wager for dinner. I won. Joyce made me Chinese food. I reciprocated with a spaghetti meal shortly after. Very nice memories of our first weeks of dating!

Over our 20 years in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, nearly every Christmas dinner was shared with Jeni and Jim Rice and their daughters in alternating years. Our kids are grown now and dispersed. We live three provinces away, but I can almost smell Jim’s rhubarb-strawberry pie baking as I type.

It was wonderful to share these many special occasions with another family when neither of us had relatives in the Sault.

Speaking of food and family/friends could not be complete without mentioning my sister-in-law, Louise, and the sumptuous carrot cake recipe she shared with me many years ago. It’s been the highlight of many gatherings in our home and in the workplaces Joyce and I have had over the years.

When I mentioned my idea for this blog, many friends ate up the idea of sharing their memories.
Here are a few:

Jackie Ostashek, Parkland County Communications Co-ordinator
My Baba (Grandmother) has mastered the art of making cabbage rolls. She makes them so tiny, they are barely the size of the end of your thumb – and sooooo delicious. She always makes them in this ceramic dish that is probably 50+ years old. I swear that is the magic behind the most spectacular cabbage rolls.

I was nervous about telling her I’d become a vegetarian. But my Baba, being the amazing lady she is, took it in stride. Knowing how much I love my cabbage rolls, she makes a point of making them, bacon-free, every time I visit.

This amazing and spectacular woman turns 98 October 1st. For a woman of her age, she is shockingly spry and modern in her thinking. I can only aspire to be half as amazing as she is. But no matter how much I try, I will never come near her talent in making her tiny, tender and amazing cabbage rolls – even if I inherit the old ceramic dish.

Alina Popescu, Principal, Mirror Communications, Bucharest, Romania
They don’t make bread like they used to!

I might sound like an old lady, but the statement is nevertheless true. The best bread I’ve ever had was while visiting my grandparents (from my dad’s side of the family) in a small village near the town of Ramnicu Sarat.

Getting the bread was quite an adventure. I’d take my tiny bike and ride it to the bakery, a trip that seemed to take ages, when it was actually a 10-15 minute bike ride, but time always flows a lot slower when you’re young.

I’d buy this huge, round bread, put it in my bag and go back home. I would just walk along the bike because the bread was way too heavy for me to be able to ride. I’d get home to an extremely warm and lively kitchen where my grandfather would wait for me with stories and smiles while grandma would bicker about the meal being ready for quite a while.

We’d place this huge, wonderfully smelling bread in the middle of the table and break steamy pieces out of it as it was too fresh to cut it.

Whenever I sense the smell of bread resembling that special type that I cannot find no matter how long I look for it, I am taken back to a place of extremely long days filled with wonder, where I never asked for any given day to be longer than 24 hours.

Grande Prairie businessman Brooks Hoffos

Shauna and I were in Cinque Terre, Italy. We hopped off a train and grabbing a lunch break in a quaint little restaurant.

We had a local Chianti wine and spaghetti and local fresh clams. Now, whenever we cook spaghetti and clams, it takes me back to that time and place. We shared a table with an Aussie and an American. We laughed. We drank. We ate. We bonded. It was a great experience. Italy also made us the cooks we are today. It was a life changing experience! Forever!

Debra Ward, Edmonton Communications and Professional writer
I can’t remember what we even ate but my family and I were in Christchurch, New Zealand having dinner at this really nice restaurant when we all had an attack of the “sillies”. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, made us laugh uproariously. …It was a memory moment.

The first Christmas back in Canada was the best turkey dinner with all the trimmings dinner I have ever had. It was special because it was our first “in Canada” Christmas meal after living overseas for so long and because it would turn out to be my mom’s last.

Dale Tiedemann, Youth Facilitator, City of Grande Prairie
Family Dinners at Grandma’s place were the best! Always delicious with home-grown vegetables (she had a market garden)! It’s always amazing watching her cook…no need for a recipe, just add a little of this and a little of that! Plus, you can’t forget about the home-baked goodies for dessert…chocolate pie with whipped cream! Yum! 🙂

Grandma doesn’t cook as often as when I was younger, but when she does … bliss!


So, what stories do you have where you and family and/or friends partook in some great food while forging wonderful memories? Want to share any special recipes?

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