This morning, with him, having coffee.

Yesterday was 891 days since your hand first found mine and we've spent 672 of those days side by side. On day 892, after spending the evening in each others arms, the credits rolled on screen. “You're my June Carter,” you said, and although I'm not nearly as strong, or as smart, or as beautiful as she was the way you look at me makes me think that maybe I have gold embedded in my skin that glows only for you.

There's a lot of things I've been wrong about in life – As a child I thought I'd save the world, as a teenager I thought I'd have it all figured out by 21 and as an adult I thought it would snow today but instead it rained. Yet on the day we met, I somehow knew you and I would intertwine. It's been 1,283,040 hours since that thought and now you are as much a part of me as the Pacific Ocean running through my veins; you exist both within me and beside me like the Atlantic air that we both breathe.

I don't know where we will be in another 891 days but I do know that I could write novels about the way you pull me closer in to you while you sleep without waking or about how your voice sounds when I overhear you saying my name from across the room. I used to laugh about how I was born with steel toes made for kicking lovers to the curb when they got too close but sometime last year I realized the steel has been replaced with a compass that always points me back to you.


Life lately

Reading: Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn & The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Dreaming of: Fishing on the lake & horseback riding this summer
Writing: Blog posts, journal entries and papers on rural sociology
Buying: this dress with some Modcloth store credit
Listening to: Johnny Cash, Jose Gonzalez & Jason Aldean
Exploring: The Waterfowl Park beside campus
Planning: How to best turn the farm into a business with my love
Enjoying: Lazy mornings with a second cup of coffee
Baking: Morning glory muffins - I always have some on hand!
Excited for: A road trip to the Southern states with my love in the fall
Learning: That the best education can happen outside the classroom
Lusting: this, this, & this

What've you all been up to this week? 
Let me know in the comments - I'd love to hear!


How to unwind after a long day

It's been one of those days. The customers wouldn't stop complaining, your boss refused to see the progress you've been making, you got a less than stellar mark on the paper you were sure that you had aced. As much as you want to forget about it all, it can be really difficult to leave the day behind. Here are some ways that you can help your body and mind unwind and relax after a long, hard day.

Drink Something Hot
Bring a cup of water or milk to a simmer on the stovetop, watching the tendrils of hot steam escape into the cool air. If you're making tea, pour the water slowly on to the teabag, watching as the colour infuses the clear water; if you're making warm milk, slowly add honey or vanilla to the milk to taste. Hold the cup with both your hands and breathe in the steam and aromas, let them open up your sinuses and refresh your sense of smell. When you sip, sip slowly; feel the warmth spread from the tip of your tongue to the base of your stomach.

Have a Bath
Start by turning on the water and running your hand under the fast stream as you feel for that temperature that's just right. Let the sound of running water soothe your thoughts as you light a candle in your favourite scent. Turn down the rest of the lights so that you can see the candle's flickering cast across the walls; let the glow dance across your skin. If you're able to, keep a little stash of natural bath products on hand for nights like these – you can even make them yourself. Put one in your tub, and step in. Feel the warmth envelop your body like a blanket and forget that there's a world outside your little paradise.

Watch the Sunset
If you're feeling restless, bundle up in your favourite socks and scarf and step outside, otherwise curl up in a blanket by the window with the best Western view. Watch as the sky paints with a palette unique to tonight and revel in the fact that there will never be another sunset quite like this. Crane your neck as you search for the first star and remind yourself that you are never to old to make a wish.

Turn Off Your Phone
We have become so reliant on our phones. They are a main source of communication, entertainment, information and, occasionally, stress. So much time is spent looking at that little bright screen that perhaps you should consider turning it off this evening. If there's someone you're wanting to connect with, write them a letter or call them instead. If you find yourself antsy after ten minutes without knowing what your friends are up to, try reading about someone's fictional world. You may find that you enjoy your immediate world a little more when you're able to occasionally able to separate it from everyone else's.

Sometimes we're not aware of what is weighing us down in life until it's staring us in the face. Writing or journaling gives you the opportunity to process the day's or week's events without fear of judgement, and it may give you a chance to overcome worries that you didn't even know how to name. Let the pen be an extension of your arm, the ink of an extension of your veins; let yourself flow into the pages. No one will judge your written words – they're safe. If you're finding yourself in a rut, list five things that you're grateful for and how they enrich your life.

Read a Book
Perhaps the best way to completely lose yourself after a hard day is by losing yourself in someone else's life. Whether you prefer to read biographies, fiction, or even scientific textbooks, a book can take you out of the world you are in and introduce you to a whole new one, away from the stresses of school or the workplace. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” - George R.R. Martin

Get a Good Night's Sleep
When the time has come to end the day, tuck yourself in between your softest blankets and sheets. Let yourself be covered in cotton form the tips of your toes to right below your chin and deeply breathe in the faint smell of fresh laundry that lingers between the fibers. Resist the urge to reach for your phone and go online until your eyes finally shut; instead, practice simple meditation, focusing on each breath and how it relaxes your body. Don't feel anxious if sleep doesn't come immediately – simply enjoy the last few moments of your day doing nothing, for tomorrow will come soon enough.


Sunday morning coffee playlist

Country oldies have been my favourite genre of music lately and I find that they sound best in the morning over coffee. No matter how rough or pleasant of a Sunday morning you've been having, these (mostly) old crooning boys will serenade you alongside your coffee as the sun shines through your window. Even if country isn't usually your thing, you might just find that these songs compliment a headache, black coffee and greasy food just fine.


Building community & solidarity through muffins

Solidarity is a beautiful concept. The act of uniting with a downtrodden group, sympathizing with their struggles and taking on their purpose as your own results in a fellowship that binds together and is able to rise against oppression with newfound strength. Prior to the other day, I didn't realize that solidarity could be achieved through something as simple as freshly baked muffins.

The snow was falling fairly hard that day, and the windchill was causing the temperature to feel like -25. While I was awakening slowly to a new day, stretching myself out of the spell that sleep had put me under, my university professors were out picketing for better conditions for both students and educators. I had been in a daze for the past while, unsure of what to do with myself now that classes had ceased with little warning.

I had long been looking for an excuse to bake, and as I watch the snowflakes outside my window tumble upon the shivering faculty, I decided that I would make a large batch of muffins for them. Not just any muffins, however; I wanted to ensure that I baked them something filled with nutrients, fruits, and warm spices to help them get through the rest of their day. It is easily forgotten how food affects the body, and I wanted to ensure I could they would have energy, not a spike and crash. Most importantly, I wanted them to know I thought they were worth the time and resources it takes to make a good soul food – resources limited to me as a student.

There is a certain serenity that I find comes with baking; I find order in the measured ingredients no matter how I may be surrounded by chaos. It as if by mixing the pure, bland ingredients that we rarely touch otherwise with the loud, exciting flavors that we crave on our palates I am reminded that a certain balance is needed in life. If I'm lacking excitement or there's too much chaos I need only wait until life comes into equilibrium to create an invigorating new essence. With school out of session, things felt out of sorts and I needed that balance once more.

My love and I came together and made a giant batch of morning glory muffins, which we soon dubbed MAFA muffins after the name of our faculty association. As he grated and I measured, we soaked up the warm sunbeams streaming through the window, grateful for the warmth even if it was just a product of the glass. We decided half the muffins would go to the picketers walking outside, while the other half would go to those answering student questions at MAFA strike headquarters. Once in the oven, the muffins filled our humble apartment with rich smells and as soon as they were done we bundled up in our winter wares and stepped outdoors.

The cold cut through us as soon as we opened the door, and our muffins were quickly frosted with a sprinkling of snow. Soon we saw the first group of profs, and as we offered our muffins and gave them our support, their smiles instantly made the trek worthwhile. They were touched that students, out of school on a Monday for the first time in ages, would spend their mornings creating solidarity; one even took a photo. The reaction was the same everywhere we went, and despite the freezing temperatures I began to feel that maybe I was getting more out of the experience than the professors. Maybe this is what doing community together is really about – sharing muffins in the cold.

The baked goods were soon gone and we quickly exchanged the empty tray for another that was full and we headed towards the indoor headquarters. There, professors greeted us with coffee, words of thanks, and an invitation to share in the food with them as we discussed the current conditions at the school causing them to strike. Sometime between one of the professors talking and my love asking a question, I realized that this is what university has been missing these past few years – a sense of belonging for both staff and students together, not as separate entities. I contemplated this as I ate a BLT that someone else had provided, wondering if maybe food was they key to bringing people together – the key to solidarity

Food is often seen solely as a necessity, something that must be consumed in order for our bodies to give us the long hours of constant energy that we demand from ourselves. We often are in such a rush that we don't allow ourselves time to break bread with loved ones at the end of the days; food is eaten in solitude rather than in the company of conversations about triumphs and struggles. There is community to be made and strengthened over a meal, yet we often opt to grab a quick fix before running out the door.

Have you ever had a moment where you shared something with a stranger with the intentions of helping them – yet at the end of the exchange you find yourself wondering if perhaps they were the ones that aided you? I left my apartment that day with the intentions of showing solidarity and support. I returned feeling as though I had a new understanding of education beyond the borders of the classroom; education one can only receive through an exchange of knowledge and experience, over food lovingly prepared by hand.


5 lessons the mountains can teach us

I grew up with the mountains. My first childhood home was in a valley, nestled snugly between several nameless peaks offering plenty of forested creeks to frolic in, while my second home was on the mountainside, high above the Pacific Ocean. Living amongst their beauty has lead me to believe that there are many things the mountains have to teach us, if we only take the time to watch and listen. As important as good council is in life, sometimes we need only to return to the earth to learn what we need to know.

we must stand strong during times of adversity

Mountains consistently face threats in the form of climate change, construction, forced demolition, over-grazing and logging; yet still strong they stand, a symbol of immobility for thousands of years. When times get difficult, often our first instinct is to crumble; to curl up in bed and stay there for a while, ignoring the problems around us. However, this does not allow for betterment for either yourself nor the problem. If you can stand strong, hold fast, and face adversity and your problems head on, you will be able to find healing and determination, giving yourself hope rather than giving yourself feelings of defeat and hopelessness that come with falling down and admitting defeat. 

often the most beautiful pursuits are the most dangerous

Growing up surrounded by ski hills, I often was greeted in the morning by newspaper headlines informing me of late night helicopter searches for hikers and skiers who had gone missing after venturing off trail to explore the mountain. If they were lucky enough to be found, they usually explained to the media that they simply wanted to see more of the mountain's beauty... but that the mountain's beauty was more dangerous than they had fathomed. Often the things in life that look the most attractive  - be it fame, riches or power - come with pitfalls that are easy to fall into if you are not aware of their existence. It is important for you to follow your dreams, but it is even more important to be on the lookout for pits that may cause you to stumble at the top. You want to enjoy the fruits of your hard work - don't allow them to be your downfall.

it is important to provide for others

When it rains, mountains are the first to receive the life giving water - yet they do not keep it for themselves. They retain enough to sustain their flora and fauna, and then they allow the rest of the water to flow down the hills and nourish the remaining ecosystems, villages and cities. When I lived in Vancouver, I got in the habit of keeping granola bars in my purse to give to anyone who lived on the streets that was hungry. I was working at the time, so I could afford the extra little expense. A granola bar was a small amount of food to me, yet it was possible it was the only food another person would eat all day. Similarly, there are probably things that you can do in life that may take a little from your resources, but give a lot to those who are in need. If a mountain kept all the rain for itself, not only would the land below dry up - the mountain would flood from all the excess.

the best surprises often pass us by

I have been fortunate enough to drive through the Rocky Mountains several times. Each drive takes my breath away, but there have been several times where spectacular moments occurred. Not long ago, my family and I were driving on the highway when we saw a grizzly bear cub right on the side of the road, observing the cars passing it by. We drove by slowly, marveling at the organic sight. Another time, we saw bighorn sheep fighting by ramming their giant horns at each other. We pulled over and watched, listening to the sound like thunder echoing throughout the mountains. Life is like the Rockies - there are beautiful surprises waiting for you. However, they are easy to miss. If you are prone to going through life plugged in with headphones on and eyes glued to your devices, try looking up once in a while to see what you may be missing. There is beauty in the everyday.

we must adapt to change

Although mountains are often considered stationary, they are constantly changing and shifting. The Appalachian Range used to be the tallest mountain range in the world, and now the highest Appalachian is only 3,000 feet tall due to environmental factors such as erosion. Yet these mountains, though different than before, are no less beautiful. The world today is changing in faster and in different ways than ever before. New technologies are being introduced. Tragedies are occurring at constant rates. Scientific discoveries are teaching us more about our world everyday. It seems as though the only constant anymore is change itself and the insecurities that come with it. While it may seem tempting to resist all news and live dependent on the information one wants to believe is stagnant, that fear will keep one from growing as a person. The world may be changing, but if we can adapt, we too can still live well and beautifully, letting time and experience soften our hardest ridges.


6 new reasons to fall in love with tea

I've always known that tea can have incredible health benefits, but a few years ago I found myself unable to find any that I enjoyed. When I was younger, my mom would make me cups of Red Rose and I got so much enjoyment out of watching the colour of the tea influsing the once clear water, straining my eyes to see how high the tendrils of steam were rising and putting my face over the cup to feel the warmth open my pores, yet as I got older, I replaced my tea with coffee. I just couldn't find any teas that were flavourful enough for me - but with the discovery of loose leaf, that all changed. Below are some of my favourites, the health benefits that each tea brings, and what they pair best with. If you don't consider yourself a tea drinker, perhaps one of these options can sway you to give it a try. All teas can be found at David's Tea or davidstea.com

Movie Night

Did you notice the pieces of popcorn in this tea? Movie night, a green tea, tastes just like a night out at the theatre. It has a base flavour of buttered popcorn and is sweetened by bits of maple and apple. Although it sounds really strange (and perhaps a little unappetizing - generally soggy pieces of popcorn are the worst), it's so incredible. Green tea is often hailed by many to be the healthiest drink on the planet, due to its high content of antioxidants and compounds that have been found to improve health and brain function and lower your risk of cancer. Movie Night is my go to tea when I'm looking for a calming, low caffeine tea and it pairs perfectly with a reflective journaling session or, of course, your favourite movie.

Pineapple Oolong

Pineapple Oolong, an oolong tea, has pieces of pineapple and apricot that create a tea that is a perfect way to enjoy summer's tastes in a winter mug. It's reminiscent of the fruit snacks that I used to trade my cookies for when I was a kid in the schoolyard, but a little less sweet and slightly more exotic. This tea also ices very well into a refreshing cold drink that could be brought to the gym. Oolong teas are known to lower the risk of heart attacks, help prevent tooth decay, and have anti-aging benefits. This tea is perfect for those cold days when all you want is a bit of summer, or for helping you control a candy craving.

Honeydew Maté

Honeydew Maté, a blend of green rooibos and yerba maté, has bits of melon in the tea that are complimented by white hibiscus blossoms. A light, juicy tea, Honeydew Maté has a ripeness to it that can only be beat by an actual melon. Yerba maté is known for its natural energy boost that will not cause you to crash (unlike coffee), while green rooibos is high in antioxidants and helps improve blood circulation. Honeydew Maté would be the perfect companion to a late night study session or a sleepy morning before work when you just can't seem to wake up.

Pumpkin Chai

Pumpkin Chai, a black tea, is probably the warmest, coziest tea I have ever had. It has pumpkin pieces, pumpkin pie spices such as cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, as well as little pumpkin candies and caramel pieces. This tea is incredible on its own, but even better in latte form topped with a bit of brown sugar. This is probably my favourite tea - its comfort in a cup. Black tea also provides plenty of health benefits, including the reduction of cortisol (stress hormones) in the body, a healthier digestive tract and a better immune system. Pumpkin Chai would be a perfect partner to a stormy night, warming you up while you catch up on a novel.

White Chocolate Frost

Drinking White Chocolate Frost, an herbal tea, is tasting all the best parts of winter. A refreshing warm drink, this tea has a peppermint leaf base with pieces of white chocolate and little peppercorns for a touch of spice. It's like a chocolate covered candy cane that one can drink all day long. Although herbal tea is technically not really a tea, peppermint tea can aide in sinus relief and is a natural remedy for stomach problems. White Chocolate Frost is a perfect drink to make after you've spent the day skating on the pond, and because it is caffeine free it will lull you to sleep rather than waking you up.

Carrot Cake

The only type tea I've duplicated on this list is oolong, and that's because I know for a fact how much an energy-providing drink can be needed throughout the day. Carrot Cake tastes like dessert in a mug - it contains pieces of carrot, coconut and apple - and I swear they must've snuck frosting into the tea somehow. The spices are a perfect compliment to the fruity bits. This tea is perfect for those nights when you're too full for dessert but still want something sweet, or for comfort after a long day.

Just a sample of my collection.. I've spent way too much on tea over the years. Oops.

The only thing that can make tea better is a favourite mug and lovely strainer.

If none of these sound appetizing enough for you, a few more of my favourites include Chocolate Chili Chai, Cookie Dough, Coffee Cake, Forever Nuts, Read My Lips and Honey Bee. I hope you've been inspired to try a few new teas - let me know in the comments what your favourite tea or warm drink is!

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