A couple of years ago I attended an empowerment for women seminar that focused on teaching the power of positive thinking. I remember learning how the power of negative thoughts outweighed the power of positive thoughts and that you really had to work hard to bring positivity to the forefront of your mind. It was really challenging for me to change my way of thinking. I have a good girlfriend who is the queen of positivity and seeing the bright side of things comes very easy to her. I admire this in her, as it certainly wasn’t easy for me. I have a tendency to wallow; it’s a fairly major character flaw, one that I was hoping to change. To help get me out of my funks of negativity I would force myself to think about happy memories. Gradually I would manage to avoid wallowing altogether. You know how when you’re watching the news and they have twenty terrible stories and one warm and fuzzy story? Well the goal in all of this was to make the warm fuzzy story my focus, which as you can imagine with the torrent of negativity, isn’t easy.
One of the memories that I would use to replace the cringe-worthy ones from my formative years was of one when people truly surprised me. Aren’t those the best kind of stories, the kind where the people who you have a somewhat terrible view of are redeemed, even if it’s just for a moment?
I was in grade eight gym class and we were practicing our track and field skills, more specifically the high jump. Now there’s something you should know about me first, no one, at any point in my life would describe me as athletic. I enjoyed sports and liked playing but I was usually picked last and was never all that good. I think I still have nightmares about people fighting over whose team I had to be on because no one wanted me. As you can imagine with that sort of reputation with regards to my athletics, gym class was usually full of much misery. So back to the high jump, everyone was taking their turns running and sailing over the bar, well everyone except me. It was nearing the end of class and I still hadn’t managed to make it over the bar even on its lowest setting but I was bound and determined to do so. The other kids were all standing at the other end of the gym impatiently waiting for me to finish. I don’t remember how many tries I had but I do remember my teacher saying this was my last one. I remember running just as fast as I could, pushing my body up in the air just as high as I could and I managed to make it over with about a millimetre to spare. I shocked myself! I had done it! I must have shocked everyone else too because the other kids in class actually cheered for me. These kids that didn’t particularly like me and generally treated me horribly were all smiling and patting me on the back. I had surprised them and they had in return surprised me. At times when the world is feeling extra bleak and I’m struggling to stay positive, I remind myself with this story that even horrible people are capable of kindness sometimes. Even if you have to surprise it out of them.
Canadian Thanksgiving just passed and like I do every year, I took some time to reflect on what I have to be thankful for. There’s my family and friends, my loving pup Bennie, this opportunity to experience life abroad, and surprisingly, a newfound appreciation for all the things I no longer have. You know the old saying you never know what you have until it’s gone; well I have found this to be incredibly accurate.
Cozy rainy days, wrapped up in a blanket, sipping a cup of tea and listening to the sound of the rain on the roof; the comforting feeling of warming up after spending time outside in the cold; the beauty of changing seasons; dog parks and dog friendly places; sidewalks and walking trails through the forests; maple syrup and crisp, delicious bacon; going to the grocery store and being able to find most everything you need and if you can’t there’s other stores and online shopping; the use of actual addresses; going out dancing with my girlfriends; getting dressed in the morning and being able to wear whatever you want with no risk of offence.
It’s a very long list and you would think with so much longing I would find myself slipping into sadness but that hasn’t been the case. I have found that with each thing I find myself missing a new appreciation blossoms. You don’t realize how refreshing and rejuvenating a rainy day can be until you move to the desert. Just like you don’t realize what a miracle address systems are until you no longer have one. I suppose I always appreciated and loved bacon but that is beside the point. I’ve found that when I find myself longing for something, I smile because I know it’s something else I’ll appreciate that much more.
At the beginning of 2017 I started a gratitude journal. Every morning I take a minute or two to list three things that would make the day great. Every evening before bed I list three amazing things that happened that day. It’s a way of finding the good in everyday. I decided to do this as a way to cultivate a more meaningful and positive life. I never expected to see such a big change in my way of thinking so quickly. By bringing gratitude to the forefront of my thoughts at the beginning and end of each day, my mind has naturally begun to think in more grateful ways. It’s how I’ve managed to cope with my longing with appreciation instead of resentment. I suppose by bringing gratitude into my life, everyday is now Thanksgiving Day, to my mind.
Yesterday I went traipsing through an oasis jungle to get to a beautiful Wadi and I got to see some of the most breath taking views this planet has to offer. I went off-roading with friends up a mountain side on steep, narrow, winding roads. I put my trust in strangers to help us find the wadi safely. I held on tightly to Momma’s hand while we navigated the winding steep stairway down to the wadi. I cringed every time a palm leaf would scrape against my body, making me think of all the creepy crawlies around me. I went completely and utterly out of my comfort zone and I was rewarded beautifully for it.
Since leaving the comfort of our home and life in Canada, I’ve continuously put myself in uncomfortable situations. Allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to establish new friendships, being scared to drive on my own but doing it anyways, flying across the world on my own with our dog, and jumping into a vehicle with my new friends for a grand adventure. All these moments began with me being very uncomfortable and all finished with a sense of awe and wonder. Not just in seeing and experiencing new things but also a sense of awe at my own courage in these moments.
Now I’m not foolish enough to believe that every time I step out of my comfort zone I will be rewarded with wonder and awe. Sometimes things will go incredibly wrong. Like for example the first time I went to a beauty salon here.
I had a really hard time when we first arrived. We were staying in a rough place, infested with cockroaches as it was the only hotel that allowed dogs. I was too scared to drive but knew I needed to get myself out of the roach motel for a bit. I made up my mind and went to a beauty salon in the building next to our hotel. I decided to get a conditioning treatment for my hair and I ended up being there for four hours. The ladies spent the time talking about how straw like my hair was and stared at me like I was an alien. The hairdresser used an old eyebrow brush to apply the treatment and they had to run outside to fill up a cistern for the sink to rinse it out as they didn’t have running water. Then they blowed my crazy curly hair dry with a blow dryer and brushed it out. My hair was horribly frizz-tastic.
When I got back to the hotel with my crazy hair and laughed with Alex, I knew it was still worth it. I may not have had the experience I was hoping for but I knew that this little step out of my comfort zone was leading me to take bigger ones in the future. Uncomfortable moments that lead to moments full of wonder and awe and beauty that takes your breath away. I would say that the frizzy hair was worth it.
Photo credit for the above photo goes to my lovely friend and 4×4 queen Gemma ❤
A couple of weeks ago my hubby and I spent a long weekend in Dubai. I was required to leave the country while my residence visa was prepared so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore an exciting new place and shop!!
I spent the week before we left looking up the stores I wanted to go to online, and I discovered that an Australian brand I love had a shop there! I was stoked! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to stay that way for most of the trip.
Dubai is a really cool place, the buildings, the sunshine, the sand, the beaches, the malls, it’s quite the experience. It’s a booming and bustling place and with that comes a lot of construction. A lot of roads that no longer exist or new roads that aren’t updated on the map. This leads me to our first mistake of renting a vehicle to drive ourselves around. Normally Alex drives and I navigate when we travel and it works well. We both have accepted that we’ll likely get lost but some of the coolest places we’ve seen have been because we’ve gotten turned around! Dubai wasn’t the same when we got lost. It was busy, difficult to navigate, full of reckless drivers and accidents. By the last day we decided to utilize a car service and taxis. However I wouldn’t suggest taking a taxi in the hour before sunset during Ramadan. You will likely have a death grip on the holy $h*t handle and have your heart stop once or twice.
The Muslim countries are currently fasting for Ramadan. This didn’t seem like a big issue to us as we were told most hotels and a select few restaurants would be open during the day. In fact a few articles I read suggested it was a great time to visit because it was quieter and less busy. This was true however it leads me to our second mistake which was to mistakenly fast for the majority of the day.
Our first shopping excursion ended up being to The Dubai Mall and I think it was my favourite one. There’s this really neat gold souk area in it and a pretty aquarium. Lots of shops and it’s fairly easy to get to. We spent the day shopping and wandering around, and around 3pm Alex and I start getting really cranky, thirsty and hungry and realize we had inadvertently fasted for most of the day. You see most of the restaurants were actually closed for Ramadan. We decide to check the food court before leaving the mall in search of food and drink. So we walk through the quiet mall and arrive at the food court, they had put up temporary walls and had a security guard in front of the entrance. We walk through and it’s just bustling and full of people! We got our food and drinks and they packaged it up tight in a bag that had a label on it notifying you that if you ate or drank any of the food in public you will be fined. Thankfully we just ate it right there and carried on with our shopping in much better spirits.
Shopping in Dubai should be an Olympic sport. The malls a massive and there’s so many cool shops and stores to check out! You will have absolutely no trouble meeting your Fitbit’s 10000 steps a day! Wear comfy shoes and make sure to find updated store information before travelling across the city to check one out, mistake number three. Remember that Austrialian shop I was so excited about, well it closed down. I guess just one more reason to head back to Melbourne someday.
Regardless of our rookie mistakes I’m really excited for another Dubai adventure! There’s just so much more to see and I think it’s so neat that it has become a weekend getaway destination for us. Here’s to weekend getaways!
Last night I went to a ladies evening to meet and mingle with the local ladies in the expat community. It was a lovely evening, lots of laughs and good conversations. At the end of the night when I had returned home I looked at some pictures that were taken and I stood out, being so much bigger and taller than the rest of the women there. I had a bit of a moment looking at the pictures and my old insecurities started to arise. That word ‘big’ it’s like a knife to my heart every time someone says it to me. I creates an immediate response of shame, like I have to apologize to the rest of the world for taking up more space than them.
I didn’t like the response I had to this word so I took some time for reflection. Some time to figure out what the word ‘big’ truly means to me.
Recently my father was speaking of the gorgeous plus sized model Ashley Graham and he said “oh that big girl!” I cringed and my response to him was that you should never, ever call a woman big! He didn’t seem to understand why big was so bad. After all he married my Mom and she is a gorgeous tall woman herself and he just adores her. So why then, can my father look at my mother and say “you’re a big, beautiful, brilliant woman” and mean every word with love and all my Mom and I hear is BIG?
I suppose I could start blaming the media, the fashion industry, movies and television but blame doesn’t solve anything. What I need, is to change my inner narrative. I want to hear the word big being used to describe a woman and think, that woman is powerful, she owns her space, she is BIG and she is exactly the way she is supposed to be.
I want to feel that way and I know with some hard work it’s possible. There is great power to be had from affirmations and positive reinforcement. So although now it’s a struggle; I know that someday in the near future I will look at a picture of myself standing tall and owning my space and think, Catherine you’re a BIG woman, and I will smile.
Twelve days ago I boarded a plane and moved across the world. Bedsides the two days right before I left, the move had been relatively smooth. In other words I was really excited and happy for the opportunity to live somewhere new. Of course I would miss my friends and family but I didn’t cry or feel overly sad about leaving them. I figured it was just because I knew I would keep in touch. I had so many platforms available to me in which to do so. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, the list goes on and on. In fact for a person who generally is a bit of a weeper, I had hardly shed a tear. I had numerous going away and goodbye parties. I had visits from friends, I visited them. There were a lot of opportunities for me to cry but it just didn’t really happen. Well at least it didn’t happen before I left.
Three days after my arrival in the Middle East, I was laying awake in bed, and it hit me. What the heck have I done!!? Why did I move across the world!? This is way harder than I thought it would be! Needless to say the tears came and they were big ones. I was sobbing so loudly I woke Alex up and although he comforted me I still couldn’t shake the “what have I done” feeling. This feeling carried on for a few days. I was living in the desert but I had a little storm cloud over my head. My rose coloured glasses had officially been shattered.
I did things to try and get myself out of the misery I was currently existing in. I documented my life online for friends and family back home. I went for walks with my pup Bennie. I chatted with my friends and family through video calling. I checked out a local beauty parlour, that was an adventure! But in spite of all of these things I still couldn’t chase that little storm cloud away.
That was until I remembered a lesson from a very wise woman. Maybe, it’s all in my perspective. I just needed to change how I was seeing things. I realized that I could fix my rose coloured glasses, I could patch them back up and put them back on. The scary bathroom in our hotel room didn’t have to be so scary, in fact I hadn’t seen a snake in there since being here so why am I scared of something that’s likely not there. I don’t need to feel sad and miss home because I can call home and see my Mom and Dad anytime I want. Video calling is an amazing thing. In fact this whole adventure is an amazing thing and I have the ability to share it with my friends and family online. I was at the start of an amazing journey and I couldn’t wait to start enjoying it!
That’s was it, I had successfully banished my rain cloud and it was simply by changing my perspective and remembering that lesson. Of course it also helped that Alex’s rose coloured glasses had stayed firmly in place through this whole ordeal. Steady and strong, I think he’s a keeper ❤️
About three and a half years ago I met my mother in law for the first time and she introduced me to real Italian pasta carbonara. A love affair began between me and this simple delicious dish. I quickly learned her recipe and tried out a few other ones along the way. After much experimenting and tasting, I came up with what is my ideal carbonara and I’m sharing this recipe with you! I’m sure as you try it out, you too, will begin experimenting and come up with your ideal recipe. So without further ado, here is the recipe!
(Please note, I made a half recipe in the pictures)
Assemble your ingredients.
Cut up the bacon in small pieces and cook in frying pan. I like to cook for longer at a low temperature to avoid splatters. You can also put your pasta water on to boil now as well.
Measure out your Parmesan cheese, separate your yolks and mix together.
Add some pasta water to temper the cheese/yolk mixture.
Once your pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot. Add the bacon and the bacon fat.
Add the cheese/yolk mixture and stir.
Stir, stir, stir!
Catherine’s Pasta Carbonara
One box of pasta
One package of bacon, sliced
8 egg yolks
2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
Cook pasta to directions on package.
Cook bacon in frying pan.
Mix egg yolks and Parmesan cheese. Add approximately 1/2 cup of pasta water to the yolk/cheese mixture.
Strain pasta and return it to the pot.
Return pot to hear.
Add bacon and bacon fat. Stir.
Add yolk/cheese mixture and stir to coat and lightly cook.
Serve and enjoy!