I am a health coach, wife, and mom of two kids. I have a passion for writing and for healthy living. I also enjoy wine, and all it has to offer the world. I consider myself a "foodie" and love to cook, make up recipes and see what the kitchen has to offer each day. And in between all that, I enjoy exercise, traveling, reading, and learning all the new things this world has to offer. I hope you stumble across a few of my posts and perhaps enjoy what you read. Check out www.lifestylelistener.com to learn more about healthy living, get recipe ideas, or sign up for a free consultation. Cheers!
Tomorrow I hit a new decade, a “milestone birthday” as some like to call it. I turn 40. Yep, it’s my turn now as I have watched others over the years hit this number and survive the change. So why is turning the Big 4-0 such a huge deal for our society? Maybe because when you are entering your twenties or thirties, there seem to be prescribed “rules” as to what needs to happen for your life. You might get a job, finish college, start a career, get married, have kids, etcetera, etcetera. But no one really has a prescribed roadmap for your forties. You are supposed to have already achieved all these other things in your life, right?
I look back on the last decade of my life and contemplate what I feel I have “achieved” as an individual. And I have to give myself some space for self-reflection. My thirties have been a ride, let me tell you. I had babies, lost a parent, discovered friendships, and experienced quite a bit of personal heartache. But I also learned a load about myself and the person I want to be as I enter into a new phase of life. When I hit 39, I wanted to wrap up this decade by stretching myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I called it my #fearlesstoforty journey. Because I chose to look things I have always “feared” straight in the face, I gave myself the gift of personal growth and new relationships. I became a part of movements and organizations that have opened my eyes and changed my viewpoints about how I see things in this world. I grew deeper in my faith with Jesus and let go of what I thought it meant to be “religious.”
In the last ten years I have learned to let things slide off my back more and to not try so hard to fit into some ridiculous mold prescribed by society. I take social media with a grain of salt because I know it’s not the end-all, be-all in how I live on a daily basis. I have learned how to listen to my body; to know when to back off and when to push harder. I see things through such a different lens than I did when I was 29, I couldn’t ever go back in time and be the same person. The challenges I faced in my thirties have given me a jump-start to the personal growth many people think they will have when they hit their forties. It’s like I am painting my own canvas with as many colors and brush strokes imaginable in my mind.
When we look at our own lives, it’s wise to not try and compare it with others around us because no one life is the same. We all have our own battles to forage through, and we all respond differently to the environment around us. But what we can do is look at ourselves as pieces of artwork in the making. We are journeys of expressions and experiences, hidden diamonds underneath the rubble of life. And one thing I want to remember as I go forward is to respect and love myself, to not let inner demons try and determine the level of my worth in this world. Because I know what drives me, what irritates me, what makes me happy, and where I am the most vulnerable. That, my friends, is what turning 40 means to me.
It’s funny how we spend a majority of our lives trying to “belong” and “fit in” with the right crowd. This happens during childhood, but it also continues when we become adults. In the world of social media, this need to “belong” is even stronger, both for adults and kids (at least those with access). I used to think I was one of those people that liked social media because it allowed me to connect with friends and family, post funny pictures of my kids, and share healthy living tips on my business page. But the last 24 hours had me thinking differently about social media, and how I belong more to it than it does to me.
Let me explain what I mean here a bit. As some of you may know, Instagram and Facebook, maybe even Twitter, had pretty rough days this week. Accounts were down, including mine, and rumors where flying about what was happening at headquarters. Who was winning and who was loosing the battle for control. All the while, faithful patrons were waiting with angst to get back on to personal and business accounts and “re-connect” with the world. On Wednesday, both my personal and business Instagram accounts went really wonky. I couldn’t post and nothing was refreshing. Finally after a day of trying to figure out if it was Wi-Fi related or just bad service, I needed to log out. When I did that, suddenly I couldn’t log back in. Message after message read “ERROR.” Suddenly I panicked. I panicked because I thought of all the hard work I had put into my business account to get it up-to-par and gain followers. I panicked because the information I had was now gone. I panicked because pictures I had shared were now unavailable to me, and I didn’t know who had control of them. What would happened if I could never get back in? It’s not like any of the social media sites actually offer contact support for their programs. You are at the mercy of whomever sits behind their keyboards.
Finally by 10:30 that evening the veil was lifted and I was allowed back into BOTH my personal and my private accounts. Praise Jesus!!! And I did just that-I had prayed hard that day not to just get my stuff back, but for calmness. To not get anxious and stressed out, as is my norm in situations that I can’t control. So I had really kept my cool. But I was also glad all my work to try and build this personal business of mine had not been lost.
But the Story Continues…
Fast forward to the next day and I am posting on my business account what I wanted to post the previous day on Instagram (both my Facebook and Instagram are linked). Picture placed, post written, and…click. It was up and loaded. Then suddenly when I went to respond to a comment on my Facebook business page, I was kicked out. I mean I was completely logged out and a message came up saying a picture needed to be reviewed by the security team and until then I was denied access to Facebook in any way. I was completely shunned from the “social crowd.” All of my accounts on all my devices were locked up. Suddenly I felt isolated. I felt really stressed and upset because I couldn’t understand how a picture of my previous day’s veggie burger and Kale Tonic was considered to be profane. I mean, if you are a junk food junkie, maybe, but seriously?
For over 24 hours I was not allowed access to either my personal Facebook account or my business account. I couldn’t communicate with clients, friends, family members, etc. I was an outcast, an outsider to the social media world. I had my Instagram account, but a lot of stuff is connected to Facebook. We take it for granted that we are always going to have it, so we link various accounts with our social media page instead of giving a simple e-mail address. When that account is locked up, nothing works!
During my “lockdown time,” my mind kept swirling with thoughts of “maybe I got hacked,” or “what if Facebook eliminates my page completely?” It was a truly helpless feeling in the sense that I had lost total control over my personal and my business information. All because of some picture they had to review. And I had followed all the rules. I had even changed my e-mail and password two days earlier because I wanted to make sure to keep my accounts safe. I have all the security measures placed on my social media accounts to prevent fraudulent activity. But wow, couldn’t see any of it, and I couldn’t get in touch with anyone who works there because Facebook, like Instagram, doesn’t have a contact section on their web site.
I did find a link to help guide me to the right submission page so at least I could submit a form to get in touch with someone, anyone. I sent that form in twice within a 5 hour period hoping to get someone’s attention. Whatever needed to happen or whatever the security team needed to asses, by this afternoon my accounts were finally up and running again. And there was another Praise Jesus moment! That I had actually kept pretty calm, although this afternoon was hard. I tried vigilantly not to think of all the pictures of my father I had posted after his death, or the volunteer organizations I like to support on social media through sharing and tagging. I tried not to think of clients I couldn’t respond to on my business page. I just kept thinking, Lord, keep me calm. You’ve got this all. Even when people tried to “find” me on social media, it was like I totally disappeared. I had completely vanished, and not from my own choosing! I had my friend tell me, “it’s going to be okay, Sam. The sun is out, you have a roof over your head, and your family is safe.” Total. Perspective. She was absolutely right, too.
So now that I type this up and really think about the last 24 hours, it amazes me how co-dependent we have become as a society on social media. I am not saying everyone is like this, because social media is definitely a generational thing. But when you are on the other side of the table and your account is suddenly deemed “unworthy,” you feel like the awkward kid standing in the corner at the school dance wondering why no one else wants to talk to them. Are we really that dependent on these programs to make us feel worthy? How is it that much of our life is centered around social media applications?
It’s definitely something worth pondering over and assessing because until this moment, I didn’t realize just how much I looked to see those notifications pop up on my phone. Maybe I need to make sure that if I am using social media, I need to house it mentally in a certain place in my mind. So if one day the entire system crashes, it doesn’t feel like my life completely depends on it. I won’t feel “shunned” or left out of the cool club in school. It will still be me, and my business will still flourish, and friends and family will still know that I love them all dearly.
So I ask you, how does social media affect your life? Are you a total addict to it? Or do you like to use it for recreational purposes, like keeping in touch with old friends and such? And when life takes a turn and you are not in the driver’s seat, how do you react to it?
Okay, I’m not talking about the song by Roxette. I’m talking about, “if your heart could speak, what would it say?”
I think we forget how important our hearts our to our health, and not just in the physical capacity. It’s important in the mental capacity too. The human heart is the beginning for a lot of things in life-how we feel, what we think, the way we live, and even our ability to lead others. When our hearts are out of balance, our entire being becomes out of balance.
This weekend I attended a Christian women’s conference called the “If: Gathering.” This conference covered a lot of areas that affect women, from recognizing our self-worth, to understand our heart, and it was all based within an awe-inspiring spiritual platform that was extremely motivational. Our spirituality, however it presents itself in us, determines the way our heart functions. Spirituality is so important when it comes to listening to our hearts. So this weekend I listened to mine over and over again. I listened to what Jesus was trying to say to my own heart. That I am worth it, that He loves me, and that I need to play closer attention to my heart. I need to do this because everything flows from our hearts. I feel like I need to type this again…EVERYTHING FLOWS FROM OUR HEARTS.
When we guard our heart, we implement a protection mechanism against the world around us. But we also have to be very careful that we don’t shut things off completely and isolate our hearts. How we think about ourselves, or our ability at self-awareness, can change our entire biological make-up. It is the mind-body connection we hear often about from health guru’s like Deepak Chopra.
Have you ever thought about happiness? Did you know that just by being around someone who is a happy person, you increase your own happiness by 15%? And if that happy person you are around chooses to surround themselves with happy people, regardless if you come into contact with them or not, you can increase your personal happiness by another 10%? Crazy, right? But Deepak Chopra has the science to back this after years of studying well-being and the mind-body connection to this concept. So as I sat in this conference for two days, surrounded by people who were filled with the love of Jesus, of course I felt that energy inside me!
Americans tend to hold onto existential happiness, meaning we might feel happy right now in this monument, but we tend to focus on how miserable we could feel an hour from now, or how unhappy we were in our youth. And that doesn’t bode well for the heart because that type of happiness isn’t deep and it isn’t genuine. To change our ability for our hearts to remain healthy, we have to change our thinking. Again, it’s a mind-body connection that can make our break our health.
So what can you do to begin listening to your own heart? The first step is to be open to change. Be open to the idea that you have the power to transform how your brain functions. Nothing is set in stone, and you, my friend, are in the pilot’s seat. Find your spiritual ground and let that love and acceptance pour into your own heart. Never underestimate the power of Spirituality. I never underestimate Jesus, and when I stop and listen, it blows me away how He impacts my heart.
Break negative patterns that bring you down and place a blanket of heaviness over your heart. Negativity and anxiety will tear down a healthy body brick by brick if you allow it. Examine your relationships and find people to be around who are happy. I’m not talking about existential happy, I’m talking about that person that can sense the joy in just about anything. They CHOOSE happiness, and by surrounding yourself within their positive energy, you too can become happier. It’s okay to let relationships go that pull you down. Sometimes it’s the healthiest and safest thing we can do to guard our heart.
Our bodies are information and energy fields, so how we process information and where we place ourselves in life can and will determine our body’s ability to be healthy, balanced, and happy. Loving up on others creates happiness within us; giving attention and appreciation to another person will automatically induce happy hormones within your body. So go out today and just pay someone a compliment out of the blue. See how their facial muscles change in an instant. You will reap the benefits, I promise.
Our hearts are something we need to guard and protect because it determines the path our health can follow. But we also need to recognize when it’s okay to let it open and let people in. Let in love and happiness, find ways to fill your mind with things that will leave a lasting impression on your heart, not just a temporary sense of elation. Once you begin to listen to your heart, I believe you will be amazed by the way your body responds.
Driving home from school drop-off this morning, I was listening to Andra Day (one of my favorite singers) and her song “Rearview” came up on my playlist. What I love about Andra’s songs are how I can pull something from each one. I love this song because I feel like the idea about looking into your “rearview” is so important as part of a healthy lifestyle.
I seem to always tell people I feel it is so important to know where you come from before you can move forward with your future. Of course, this usually comes after a glass or two of wine and some deep discussions. You gotta know when to go deep with people so they don’t flee from you in the opposite direction! You can’t just randomly bust out your personal “Jack Handy Deep Thoughts” after the first “hello” in a conversation. (Please tell me you remember SNL’s “Deep Thoughts” skits…if not, go find them online and watch some because they’re hysterical.)
Although, I am pretty sure Andra was discussing a personal relationship in the song, based on her lyrics, I couldn’t help find myself connecting it with self-reflection and understanding of one’s past. I started musing to myself of how I felt so far in my own life based on how my own rearview mirror looks. Have a left an impact on society? On a person’s life? Am I leaving the world a better place than when I entered it? Andra continued to sing on as I contemplated these questions, and many more, on my fifteen minute drive back home. Obviously my coffee was kicking in full swing by now, and my brain was pulsating out my own “deep thoughts.” But I couldn’t leave the notion alone, so here we are now writing away on my laptop.
As we are wrapping up the first month into the new year, how do you feel things are going? Do you think about your 2018 Rearview Mirror? I’m almost 40, so I guess entering a new decade has caused me to really pause and think about how my own life has gone so far. There have been some serious ups and downs, there have been huge challenges and triumphs. But for the most part, my Rearview doesn’t look too bad. Can it be better? Sure, there is always room for improvement and I know areas that desperately need it. But my point I want to make here is when you want to move forward in life and work towards higher goals and aspirations, why not take a peek into the mirror of your past. Learn from your mistakes, take notes on your successes and duplicate the process, and pause for a moment to think about how life has impacted your worldview thus far.
Take a piece of paper, a page from your journal, or the notes application on your phone and jot down these things that come to your mind. I guarantee it will impact your next step today and tomorrow for the better. Living life can be a constant roller coaster, so find out how to keep your belt buckled. And do this by self-reflecting and looking into your Rearview Mirror. It can heal you from whatever pain you have, lift you up for the happiness you felt at times, and make you a grateful person for who you can become tomorrow.
If there is one organ in the body that could be deemed amazing, it is the liver. Our liver is not only the largest organ in our body (about the size of a football), it’s also one of the most hardworking. The liver acts acts as the body’s filter system. Anything we eat, drink, breath, touch, or come into contact with is filtered through the liver at some point. So, it’s not hard to imagine how a liver can become sluggish and bogged down when too much toxicity exists in your life.
The liver also serves a metabolic function and holds onto vitamins and minerals to be used by the body when needed. It breaks down fats, processes alcohol, regulates immune function in the body, aids in blood reproduction and regulation, and it can even regenerate itself after surgery or an injury. How amazing is that for one organ!
So with all these important roles of our liver, there is little reason to wonder why it’s so imperative to take care of it and try to keep it running as smooth as possible. But how can you do that, you might ask? First you need to know what is affecting your liver. Then it’s easier to find solutions to get it running better.
Toxins and heavy metals are in our everyday environment and they can affect how your liver performs. Think about the detergent you use in the laundry, or the cleaner used on your desk at work. It can even be the paint on the walls. It’s just next to impossible to eliminate certain chemicals from our life. It can be the exhaust from traffic, the type of beauty products you use, or even the swimming pool you go to during those warm summer months. But don’t freak out or feel you have to move into a mud house and give up showering or wearing clean clothes. Sure, some of these toxins we can’t avoid even if we tried, it’s the world we live in today. But there are ways to eliminate so many chemicals in your life, which I will discuss further down.
Viruses and bacteria can also harm the liver. Because the liver plays a role in our immune system and with our blood, viruses can cause the liver to run slow and sluggish. That’s why certain autoimmune diseases and and other illnesses can damage the liver. You must also be watchful of medication because there are many out there that affect the liver since medicine is metabolized in the bloodstream. And remember your water source! Many water systems have been polluted with medications and other drugs, and can still have an affect on the body despite going through the harsh cleaning process regulated by city governments. It just goes to show you need to look at the source of what you eat and drink before you stick it in your body.
So what can you do to help your liver? First off, it starts with the foods you eat. If you can get leafy greens incorporated into your daily routine, you are already doing the liver a load of good. Other veggies, like celery, broccoli, asparagus, and tomatoes are also foods that keep your liver functioning at maximum capacity. Berries, apples, bananas are some fruits which can help keep the liver working properly.
Drinking plenty of filtered water and limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine are two ways to ease the load on your liver. Because the liver is our body’s filtration system, it has to process both of these stimulants. Having too much of them can cause the liver to become sluggish, which starts a domino effect on the rest of your body. So try to limit your intake to one drink a day (or a couple times a week) and maybe just one cup of coffee in the morning instead of, say, four?
Sugar is another culprit, and eliminating refined sugars from your diet will not only help your liver out, it will do wonders for the rest of your body. Refined sugars have such detrimental effects on the body, it would take an entirely new post to just address that issue! It’s also important to assess how much fat and protein you have in your diet because those can make a difference in how your liver functions. It’s kinda like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, your body needs just the right amount of everything to function properly. Too much or too little throws everything out of whack.
Other ways to inadvertently help your liver is by finding way to eliminate some of the chemicals I wrote about earlier. Pesticides and fertilizers are an obvious area, and that can be reduced by buying organic, going to farmers markets, or washing non-organic produce with warm water and non-scented soap. This last little trick may help in the finance department since many organic products can be costly on a person’s budget.
Many large companies are getting on the bandwagon to offer cleaning products and personal beauty products that are free of dyes, perfumes, and other synthetic chemicals. So it’s easier to find items to purchase at places like Wall-Mart, Target, or your local grocery store. Just remember read those labels before you purchase! Many times these products are more expensive, but can still contain some of the toxins you are trying to eliminate. I look for companies that have plant-based product lines and I try to steer clear of dyes and perfumes that are not derived from natural oils.
When it comes to any kind of detox, liver or no, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated. But don’t do this to yourself. The liver is an amazing organ and even the littlest change in your lifestyle can make a huge difference. Just take things one step at a time based on your personal needs and what your budget allows. Creating a healthy lifestyle is about doing things you can remember and easily fit into your normal routines. Otherwise the trend will pass and you will go back to old habits.
Last night I walked over to the counter where the bottle of wine I had opened up earlier sat. I looked at it closely, then closely again, my eyes squinting with chagrin because I just didn’t want to accept what I saw with my own pupils…yep, that damn bottle was almost gone. What the heck just happened? I mean, I opened up the sucker thinking it would be so nice and relaxing to have a glass, turn on my favorite show, and just breathe a bit. I needed to breathe, to think, to process my thoughts. The next thing I know, I’m going back for tiny refill number…4? Now, give me bit of slack here, it was over a long period, like several hours. But the fact is I obviously needed this situation to happen. I needed release and a chance to just “be.”
Can I get a show of hands from the two or three people actually reading this and see if it has ever happened to you? Oh really, both of you? Awesome, so I’m not sailing this ship to crazy town all on my own! Sweet! The point I want to make here is, sometimes that bottle just needs to be half empty.
I’m a pretty positive person, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE coaching others to good health and lifestyle choices (ah, here’s that parenting tip…you know…the “do as I say, not as I do” tip). But I am also a human being and susceptible to “falling off the health wagon,” so-to-speak. Last night was one of those exceptional moments of pure indulgence and embracing my moment of “being bad.” So let me back up a bit and explain how my bottle became drained so fast.
As some of you may know, if you’ve ever read my bio, that I am a mother of two beautiful children whom I love and adore more than life itself. That’s an honest statement, too. But the thing that comes with any responsibility, whether it is parenting, a career, or whatever your jam may be, it also comes with moments of pure, undiluted stress. I could totally do a plug here for my health coaching business on how to manage stress, because I do know those fun little tips, but nope. I’m going to be super real for you here and let you know that I threw all of those out the window. Even I had a moment where stress got the best of me. Parenting got the best of me. I want to have all the answers, and yet, I don’t. I’m not even close. But dammit, I try every stinking day to get this gig right so I can raise Warriors in this world and not take away from society. But raising Warriors can be hard at times, especially when what you want to do for them gets so much backlash and negative feedback. This is where my own spiritual strength kicks in like Chuck Norris.
Raising kids in the age of social media, Google, and Netflix is like trying to get the last section of your zipper on that little black dress of yours. You can bend and twist your elbows in multiple directions, but in the end you have to ask for help because that last section is truly unattainable. And so when I was trying to “zip” up my own section of parenting, I realized I needed to ask for help. So I did. What I got was good stuff, and still is good stuff, but man does it suck some brain power from you. Oh, I’m sticking to my guns and holding strong but standing up for what you know is right and doing what you know is best for the people you love is EXHAUSTING!!!
And yet, it’s what we are supposed to do, people! We are supposed to fight the good fights for what we believe in because deep down we know it is right. And that doesn’t mean strictly parenting principles. It can encompass anything you feel is worthy of your time and mental energy. Rome was not built in a day, and whatever your end-game may be, you’re probably going to need to ask for help (I pray over mine for a long while), see what answers you get, and then drink some wine (or vodka). You are going to cry by yourself for a moment, let that pity party commence, and then move along to task number 2, which is solving the problems and getting to solutions you feel good about. To be fearful of seeking advice is such a detriment to healthy living, especially if you are a spiritual person like me. I can’t tell you the number of times my own faith has pulled me through things or guided me to others that offered exactly what I needed. I just had to simply ask. There are so many credible people and resources out there to offer suggestions, tips, tricks, and plain ol’ support to people out there silently screaming for it. So please, before your ship crashes to shore, find a way to get some answers and then go out there and tackle that problem like a Roman soldier! Once the battle is over, you can do like I did last night and find your own bottle half empty, but your heart completely full.
Until next time,
Want to learn more about my health coaching business and what I can do for you? Visit http://www.lifestylelistener.com and sign up for my free sugar buster sheet!
New year, and that means doing some closet cleaning. You know how that goes…baby clothes, costumes, toys, and the occasional miscellaneous beach bag you only used once. It all needs to be purged, organized, and eliminated from the chaos we call “life.” But in one of the items I was cleaning out, I discovered some journals from my college days. Oh my, how great it was to walk back down memory lane with my college self, and all the immature selfishness that goes along with this period in one’s life.
So what was happening in the mind of an 18 year old college student at Vanderbilt University? Well, stress is one of the common threads in my journal. I talk about the stress of classes, the stress of trying to fit into a world I didn’t think I belonged. The stress of trying to keep relationships going, but watching them crumble. I read about heartache over the loss of family members and frustration with may parents, whom I felt were dictating to me how I needed to live over the two-state distance. I also read about a desire for more confidence and the need to figure out who I wanted to become while living away from home for the first time in my life.
If you have never had the chance to step back into your 18-year-old self, I am sad for you. It is comical, but also a bit disheartening. It will humble you in a flat second too. Because now, as a 39-year-old woman, I realize the things that seemed so major at that time in my life were actually small in scale compared to the challenges I would face in my more adult lifetime. But I also see some beauty in this method of self-reflection. I can get a glimpse into how my daughter might think of things when she is this age. I see how my son could get frustrated at me as a parent when he goes to college. This journal might be a flash to the past for me, but it is also a peek into the future for two children who are very much like me, although still very different. I am thankful for having a sort of “crystal ball” into parenting my children. The things I wrote about the people around me, whether they were fellow college student or my own parents driving me crazy, spans the test of time. Behaviors will remain the same, even though circumstances will greatly change. Yes, my kids will face different battles than me because their world is totally different than the world I lived in during 1997. And yet, common human behaviors and natures will still be there. So maybe this little “God Wink” of mine is a tool I can keep for future use.
I plan to read some of my entries to my 11-year-old daughter because I want her to understand it’s okay to be frustrated with me, but that I am doing what I do for her best interest. And perhaps it will inspire her to start more journaling of her own so she has an avenue to vent out frustrations about life, flesh out personal thoughts, or just rant on how annoying I am as a mother.
Floating down memory lane today made me laugh a little, tear up a bit for lives that are now over, but most of all actually feel very proud of the person I have become. The person God has made me into, and the character I have worked so hard to preserve and grow over the years. Here’s hoping you get to find our own version of Memory Lane, and to take that time to do some good self-reflection. And to take the time to relish in the good and the maybe not-so-good about your own life. Remember, healthy living is always about looking inward and finding what you love and what you want to change.
This year my husband and I had the pleasure of traveling to the Northern Atlantic coast to visit the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia.One thing I was pleasantly surprised to discover was how Nova Scotia is a well-hidden wine country!Even though wine from this wind-swept area of the North American coastline was new to this traveler, it is not new to the region.Grape varietals have been growing in Nova Scotia for centuries thanks to all the European voyagers that stopped here along their travels.It wasn’t until the last 25 years or so that commercial production really started to pick up.And even though it is a relatively small operation compared to other countries, the wines from Nova Scotia are unique given the frigid growing temperatures and rugged terroir.Grapes that grow in this region are hardy and definitely unique in the viticulture world.
Fresh Seafood Needs Great Wine
Because of the temperatures and growing conditions, Nova Scotia is well-known for it’s sparkling wine and it’s white wine.Red wine is also grown here, which to me resembled the pinot noirs of Washington State and Oregon.But I truly enjoyed the sparkling and whites better than the reds.Perhaps because the whites paired perfectly with the delicious seafood caught fresh daily off the coast.
One winery we visited on our tour is known specifically for its sparkling wine production.Benjamin Bridge, located in the Gaspereau Valley, is growing sparkling wine comparable to the Champagne region of France thanks to the similar growing conditions and the French MétheodeClassique technique used by the vineyards winemakers. Owner Jean-Benoit Deslauriers and his team partnered with Peter Gamble (who has wines from California and is a pretty big label), and the late Raphaël Brisbois as advisors in the growing process.
It is a time-consuming, labor of love in making sparkling wines, and it pays off for Benjamin Bridge.The sparkling wines we tasted were superb, with the right amount of dryness and acidity to complement any occasion.I highly recommend visiting here if you find yourself in the area.It is definitely worth the stop and the people working there are extremely warm and friendly.
The other wineries we visited in the Annapolis Valley did not disappoint in the least.Domaine De Grand Pré offered it’s own variety of whites and reds, and there is also a restaurant, “Le Caveau,” on property that offers deliciously fresh Canadian fare to pare with their wines.Next stop was Luckett Vineyards, whose proprietor and founder, Pete Luckett, came late to the game of winemaking after a lucrative career in the grocery business.His energetic personality and love for fine foods let him to get into the wine business and he hasn’t looked back since starting this vineyard in 2010.Beside the wines being delicious, hosting acidic whites and low-tannin reds, the property houses a red British telephone booth brought from Luckett’s native England.And the best part is patrons can call ANYWHERE in the world for free.Of course I had to try it out, so I called my mom in Missouri, and sure enough, she answered!
Finally, our wine tour ended with a fabulous meal at the Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyard.With its “Napa Valley” feel, this winery offered something different we had not tasted at other places that day, which was a rosé.This style of wine is one of my favorites to enjoy during warm summer months by the beach or pool.They also offer a sparkling rosé, which I unfortunately did not get to try.But if it holds up to the one I enjoyed, I know it would be a show-stopper in its own right.
A Varietal Unique to Nova Scotia
One thing you may not realize with Nova Scotian wine is that winemakers have created the province’s own unique wine appellation called “Tidal Bay.”It was introduced to the market in June of 2012 and has a specific set of standards each vineyard must meet before it can be bare this label.The wine must be made from one specific white wine grape that is indigenous to Nova Scotia and no where else in the world.And it must be approved by a blind tasting panel before it can earn its “wine wings.”With all the trouble it goes into creating this wine, it was one of my absolute favorites because I loved the acidity and crispness it offered the palate.I felt it was just as delicious as some of my time-loved White Burgundies or New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.
So if you find yourself looking for a beautifully rustic, yet pristine place to visit, I highly recommend Nova Scotia.And I hope you get the chance to visit some of the same wineries I had the pleasure to see.You will be in for a true adventure.
I love to run outside. There is something therapeutic and detoxifying about running with nature all around you. With music pumping in my ears and the wind in my face, a cacophony of melodies one can’t find on a treadmill is suddenly formed all around me.
The other day I was running, and when I do run I let my mind open up freely to explore all kinds of thoughts and feelings. One thing that kept popping up in my brain was all the cracks and crevices I run beside on the streets. It made me think of how we, as in our inner self, are cracked in just the same way as that pavement. Pressures of life often break through our concrete wall of self-assurance and positivity. We are all imperfect people striving to lead a perfect life, and along the way we acquire some pretty big potholes to show for it. But there is beauty in those imperfections too. They are learning curves, they are life experiences, they are tears of pain and joy. But most of all they are the things that make us who we are today, right now.
Self-Reflection is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves because it permits us to look at those “cracks” we have made over time, see the good, the bad, and the ugly with them, then try and heal from it. Whatever you see when you look in the mirror, whatever “cracks” you have staring back at you, know that those are teachable moments in life. They might be mistakes made or things that happen to us which are out of our control. But remember that Love and Hope are greater powers than Negativity and Self-Destruction. Know that something higher out there is holding you up (for me that is Jesus), helping you along the way through this crazy thing we call “Life.”
So the next time you see a large crack in the pavement, recognize what it took to get there. And relish in the fact that, even though the crack exist, the Foundation is still standing strong and holding up to the environment around it.
Just want to thank http://www.porthole.com for allowing me another great opportunity to write for their magazine. It is so much fun to share my experiences with your readers. I hope you enjoy this piece!
This summer I had the unbelievable opportunity to visit the city of Hong Kong, China. What made the experience even more memorable was being able to take my ten-year-old daughter. She is an adventure-seeker, like me, so it was an easy sell despite the 19 hours we would spend on the plane. Within two weeks of finding out we were going, my daughter and I had booked our flights, packed our bags, and prepared to be awed by the world we would soon encounter.
Learning to Barter
Hong Kong is full of so many wonderful treasures and sights, and one of my favorite memories was walking around and shopping in all the local markets. With a population of almost 8 million people, Hong Kong offers some of the best shopping opportunities from the ultra high-end to inexpensive trinkets and souvenirs. My daughter and I were staying at a hotel located in Mong Kok on the Kowloon Peninsula. This area of Hong Kong plays host to some of the best-known street markets in the city. Our first night, we experienced the famous Ladies Market, which was bustling with shoppers well into the late night hours. Stall after stall lined the narrow streets, selling anything from luggage to jewelry, and of course purses resembling certain designer labels. Here is where I experienced my first taste of bargaining with the locals. Most everyone spoke English, thankfully, and the more you bargained with the vendors, the better response you received. Better bargaining led to fun gifts to take home to the family! My daughter even got in the game and bargained herself a pretty decent deal on a few specialty souvenirs.
Not Your Typical Grocery Shopping
The next market we conquered was one of the “wet markets” found around the city. Wet Markets are where locals go to buy their groceries. In the States, we are accustomed to going inside a large, well-lit building which houses everything we need to stock our kitchens and households. But the one-stop-shopping concept is completely different in Hong Kong. Our eyes were opened in fascination as we passed various store fronts which sold everything from locally grown vegetables, some I had never laid eyes on before in my life, to household cleaning supplies. Other shops dealt solely with meats, chickens, or seafood items. And when you shop the wet markets in Hong Kong, you only buy what you need for the next few meals because everything is fresh. Even the eggs are sitting out, unrefrigerated, because they were most likely gathered that morning. It was a foodie’s dream to meander down the aisles and see spices, dried goods, fruits, and vegetables to tempt anyone’s palate.
A Thousand Colors of Green
The next market on our shopping adventure was the one and only Jade Market. Here you could purchase various kinds of Jade, from the deepest of greens to the earthy reds of what locals called “ancient jade.” Again, my daughter and I found ourselves bargaining and negotiating our way down the aisles, finding the most unique pieces for the best prices possible. The Jade Market, also located in Mong Kok, takes up two entire blocks, and the outside appearance is deceiving. You think at first you are walking into a run-down metal and wood building only to discover the rows and rows of various items for sale, many of which were beautifully hand-carved masterpieces by the booth owners themselves. It is a must-see if you visit Hong Kong, because here you can get exquisite, one-of-a-kind pieces while also emerging yourself fully in the culture.
The Many Markets of Hong Kong
Our final day of shopping in Hong Kong found us at two places, which were in two totally different locations. PMQ, a modernist building located in Hong Kong’s “SOHO” district, once housed police quarters for married officers and their families. It is now using those rooms as individual storefronts. Local artists from around the Hong Kong area sell their pieces, which range from custom-made handbags and jewelry to tasteful varieties of tea leaves. If you want something unique and one-of-a-kind, the PMQ market needs to be on your to-do list. The close of our Hong Kong shopping adventure took place at the Temple Street Night Market. This market is also located on Kowloon and is one of the more well-known street markets in this area. Like the Ladies Market we visited a few evenings before, this market also sold many of the same items, but what makes this one so famous are the food vendors that set up shop here. Some families have been offering their cuisines to patrons for generations. The sights, sounds, and smells we encountered at the Temple Street Market truly resembled the culture and heritage of Hong Kong.
It’s easy to get accustomed to shopping in air-conditioned malls and shopping centers, but the luxury and convenience of those type of stores lack the individuality and character of the markets in Hong Kong. One of the best things about traveling is finding ways to immerse yourself in the culture, and visiting the markets in Hong Kong is a great way to achieve this. I hope one day you get to enjoy the same experiences my daughter and I did this summer.