The day I met a girl on the 4th floor…and the day I met a true friend

In honour of “throwback Thursday”, I want to share with you the story of how I met Scooter.

In my first year of University, like most others, I had to take about eight courses that were mandatory to getting any degree. The courses were not in my wheel house so I really struggled – microeconomics, macroeconomics, psychology and sociology among others. I was having a really hard time with the material and I was also struggling to find my place in the student world of Public Relations. If you’ve taken PR or you know folks who did, you know that it’s a bit of a “dog-eat-dog” world. Needless to say, I really didn’t fit in.

The only person I knew when I started going to University was my best friend for eternity, Ashley. Ashley is the friendliest and funniest person you’ll ever meet, so she had no problem securing the love and friendship of pretty much everyone on her floor in residence. So, being the social pariah that I am, I just followed Ashley around and made friends with all her new acquaintances.

On the 4th floor where I lived in res, I participated in all the ice-breaking activities (even though I thought they were super lame, dude) but I didn’t bother to get to know anyone. A lot of that had to do with my being really shy and awkward, but a bit of it had to do with my not being interested in expanding my horizons, so to speak. What I foolishly missed at the time, was the potential to start an amazing friendship with one of the smartest ladies I would ever know.

Coming back to the mandatory courses – I had to take a bunch of them and so did students in other programs. One of those was Intro to Business Administration.

In my Intro to Business course, we were a mishmash of Arts, PR and Nutrition Majors. The one good thing about the class to start with was that Ash had to take it too, meaning that I had a buddy to roll eyes at for the next four months. We sat near the back, not all the way, to avoid being clumped in with the stoners (figuratively speaking), but far enough away so we weren’t clumped in with the “A Team” (physically speaking).

The “A Team” was a group of PR students who were true socialites – they flirted, they gossiped, they admired each other and our profs… Again, needless to say, I did not fit in with that crowd. (Note that I didn’t come up with their nickname – from what I’ve heard, they actually gave it to themselves…. Yeah LOL)

01-29_ATeam

A typical day in class with the A Team – can you spot us lurking in the background?

We were sitting in this Business class when our prof announced our first group assignment. The A Team among a few others were really excited about the prospect of having a debate in front of the rest of our class. I cringed.

As I was trying to figure out how I could explain to our Prof that we could do the four person assignment between the two of us, Ash turns to me and says, we should ask that girl to join our team – the one at the front of the class. I looked over and there was Scooter, the girl I recognized from my 4th floor residence ice-breaking activities.

She didn’t seem to have a group and the prospects at the front of the class were not good. I was absolutely paralized by my shyness and fear of rejection so I just sat there. But not Ashley. Ashley got up, marched to the front of the room and begged (according to her) for this brilliant mind to team up with us.

The rest is history, as they say. We became friends instantly; like we’d known each other much longer than just a few hours. She was kind, thoughtful, hilarious and so extremely insightful. She outperformed everyone in that Intro to Business project even though our prof gave the mark to the A Team (we actually had to debate them over a matter I can no longer recall.) She was absolutely brilliant – taking down all their arguments with well-researched facts and figures, while Ash and I stood behind her, with nothing more to contribute than the sweat on our upper lips.

I realized, maybe too late, that being kind to others opens you up to so many opportunities, joy and love. If it hadn’t been for Ashley – Ashley, who holds no silly prejudices against people she doesn’t know – I might never have had the beautiful friendship that I did with Scooter. If it hadn’t been for that lesson, I would have missed a lot of other opportunities too (including becoming close friends with someone from “the A Team”!)

I am so thankful to Ashley for showing me how to be truly open to people (and a myriad of other things), and for Scooter who is still making such a wonderful impact on my life.

So next time you see someone sitting by themselves, don’t be shy to say hello – you never know what kind of wonderful experiences are just waiting to happen (and you could make someone’s day!) Live by Scooter’s mantra and be open to change – because it really is good.

*******Change is good, Donkey*******

 

 

 

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Things that make me happy – great food, great company and Batman

Happy Monday!

I had a most wonderful weekend. On Friday, James and I went out for Thai food for my bro’s girlfriend’s birthday. It was fun to get out for a bit and wonderful to see how happy my brother is with his new friend. They make a really nice couple!

Carrot and red pepper soup – extra rice, extra carrot, extra yum

On Saturday, I made another batch of the Carrot and Red Pepper soup from The New Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone recipe book. I’ve made it so many times now that I don’t even really need the recipe! It’s SO easy and really delicious.

Saturday night, Jim and I had a really delicious supper followed by wine and RELAXATION! We watched this awesome Batman movie on Netflix and then caught the NHL All Star Competition. It was super fun! I know I’m not a movie critic but this movie was so good, I just have to mention it!

I mean, cam on!

 

 

The Batman flick, Batman: The Dark Night Returns Part I, is the story of Batman coming out of retirement to vanquish the Mutants, a new and most evil breed of bad guy (and Batman has a mustache at the beginning – awesome). We both noted that it was especially good because it was dark and not really goofy. I actually enjoyed it more than the last live action movie (The Dark Night Rises). Seriously, check it out – it won’t disappoint!

Yesterday, James and I got up early and we did our first workout together. It was awesome! He’s actually a really good instructor, helping me to lift and stretch the right way to avoid injury. AND I didn’t make a complete fool of myself. Sure, I was doing 8 push-ups to his 30-40, but hey – I’m just starting!

After breakfast, we took Bear to visit his best friend, Scout. It was a beautiful day for a drive and so refreshing to get some time outside. I mean, how lucky are we to live in such a beautiful country, with wonderful people and so much freedom to explore and experience new things?

Ahhhh, the weekend :)

Look how happy I am to be experiencing Innis & Gunn beer on Friday!

Talking about experiencing new things, I mentioned a while ago that I was going to try out these freezer-ready veggie burritos from Oh My Veggies and I wanted to share the results with you. I’ve discovered that I’m not really a fan of zucchini (unless it’s blended in a soup) so I think I might leave that ingredient out next time. I didn’t really have time or energy to make the homemade jalapeño paste so I just bought basil pesto and added jalapeño to the veggie mix. The result was mouth-watering! I doubled the recipe so we had enough for supper (Jim had four and I had two), we each had one for lunch the next day and I was able to freeze five – definitely a recipe I will make in the future. Anyone want to test one out?

Veggie burritos

DEEElicious!

All in all, the weekend was great – I even won the weekly title in my hockey pool (The Battlestar Hockey League). A storm is heading our way tomorrow  and I have my fingers crossed for a snow day for a few reasons:

  • Extra time with Bear (the cutest) playing in the SNOW
  • I can watch Part II of Batman: The Dark Night Returns
  • I can do my second workout session with James (because I’m not that familiar or motivated to do it on my own yet)
  • I can spend a guilt-free day in my PJs (it does not get better than that!)

Either way, I’ll be happy because my job is good and I work with great people. I mean, one of my colleagues fed me a slice of French toast for breakfast this a.m. – how amazing is that?

Although my arms might disagree with this today, adding workouts to my weekly routine will be great because when you feel good, it’s a whole lot easier to do good things! Here’s to keeping up with this and discovering more happiness gems like veggie burritos, carrot soups and Batman movies.

*******Change is good, Donkey*******

Cheering, cheating and choosing

19/1/2015

Cheering

It’s MONDAY! I say this with utter glee and excitement (or maybe just a smidgen of each) because well, even though it’s the first day of the workweek, it’s a day that I am healthy, loved and happy, so that makes it a good one! This past weekend I cooked up a couple of delightful recipes from Oh My Veggies that I am really excited to share! This is what my table looked like as I prepped the veggies for cooking:

VeggiesThe first, a Vegetable Baked Ziti, was a warm, delightful, home-cooked meal that is sure to hold you over until your next feast. I adjusted the recipe a bit by using real cheese (low fat is for suckers) and adding slivered yellow peppers to the mix.

Baked ZitiBaked Ziti

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim and I split a container of it as a midnight snack on Saturday and it secured both of our approval! It was so easy to make – I won’t even need the recipe next time. Give it a whirl!

The other recipe I tried was also featured on Oh My Veggies but came out of the recipe book The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On! by Mark Reinfeld – African Peanut Soup. Now I’m not sure who of you out there have tried this soup at Pete’s but it is probable as good as soup gets for takeout. The soup I made didn’t turn out exactly the same, it’s more of a pink colour than orange and the coconut flavour is a bit stronger, but it’s still delightful. I blended it all up too, since that’s the way I’m used to having it and I found it brought out the flavours a lot more. I also left out the cilantro because well, I don’t like it too much and I find the flavour way too overpowering. My parent’s visited yesterday and I sent them a container of the stuff. I’m eagerly awaiting my dad’s review!

Chunky or bisque!

Chunky or bisque!

Just missing the 4 cups of sweet potato

Just missing the 4 cups of sweet potato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another accomplishment this weekend – I bought my first set of weights! Two whole 10 lb weights to struggle with as I build up to the ninja status I’ve always dreamt of achieving. Honestly, after re-watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 this past summer and Battle Royale (amazing) for the first time, I’ve had this giant urge to kick some butt…oh and then Sailor Moon came out with a revamped series this year so yeah, I’m done for. I mean don’t ACTUALLY want to injure someone, but I like the thought of being able to, if I HAD TO (this feeling is strongest when I’m driving). Ok this is getting a bit off topic and seriously, we all know this is the only time I would ever come close to being a ninja:

Spider ninjaCheating

So remember that lovely, well-constructed blog entry I wrote LESS THAN A WEEK AGO – that whole shtick about not eating McDonalds?? Well I am devastated to report that there has been a breach in that personal agreement. At 12:07PM today I SCARFED down six chicken nuggets and a medium McDonalds French fry. At 12:09PM I sat thinking to myself – do I have a valid excuse for doing this? How strict do I want to be with this eating healthier thing?

I was invited out and we had coupons to use… also, my colleague offered to buy. Alright so I could STILL have said no, but I didn’t. I think I kind of ended up following the Scooter mantra anyway of being happy and making others happy because in the end, although my body didn’t necessarily enjoy the empty carbs, I had a lovely lunch with a GREAT person. Next time, with or without coupons, I’ll go for the equally delightful vegetarian wrap and won’t have to embarrass myself like this again (this is what it must feel like when celebrities make mistakes – I totally feel for ya, Justin Bieber)

Choosing

Immediately following the McDonalds incident, I found myself purchasing two GIANT ice cream sandwiches at a local corner store. This behemoth offered two macadamia nut cookies packed with soft ice cream and mini reese’s peanut butter cups – and to top it off, it was dipped in chocolate. I had heart palpitations just writing that sentence! See it for yourself:

Monster Cookie

Weighing in at 6lbs 5ozs – the homemade ice cream sandwich

I opened the thing up after about an hour of letting it thaw and to my surprise I was absolutely not interested in eating it. It wasn’t a guilt thing; I just plain didn’t want it. Maybe I had already had my fill of the not-so-good-for-you food that day, or maybe I was just stuffed from my lunchtime indulgence – either way, I decided, and this may hurt some of you to hear, to biff the thing in the garbage. A year ago, I would have eaten the whole thing (yes, out of guilt) but not today. It’s a small victory but it will encourage me to make more choices that suit me moving forward. Like watching about fifty episodes of FRIENDS while practicing my ninja moves in the kitchen. Happy Monday, friends!

*******Change is good, Donkey*******

Change is good – in fact it’s pretty darn great

Greetings to my tens of readers! The Scooter Project is now officially one week old! I’m still super excited about this and I’m getting a lot of positive energy from it so I think it will just have to keep going. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for all the well wishes and kind words from friends across the great expanse of the Interweb. Your encouragement is as welcome as a plate of bacon during a hangover.

So far, I continue to work on two of my 2015 goals. I’ve been watching what I eat and then consuming it if it is fit to digest and I’ve been writing/creating for fun. I have not however, begun work on my vain ambition to have whiter teeth. Stay tuned for my post on that weird priority.

I have discovered a new website that has some fantastic recipes for healthy eaters (or people just looking for something new and relatively easy). The ‘Oh My Veggies’ blog is one of the best I’ve found perusing the internet so far. I am planning to try out a few of her recipes this weekend and I’ll be sure to post about my progress. I’m thinking the veggie freezer burritos would be a great lunch for next week and the vegetable baked ziti might make a great Sunday meal.

I’ve been buying all my produce at Avery’s lately. I’m sure it goes without saying but, I am saving so much money by doing that. I usually walk out of there with two or three bags and I’ve spent at most, $20. Shop local – all the cool kids are doing it.

When I met Scooter in university, she was working toward her degree in nutrition. As you can imagine, we didn’t have too many conversations about healthy eating since I was on the “gain 20lb university diet”. Since I can’t talk to her now, I’ll just keep in mind the mantra she lived by and signed off every email with:

*******Change is good, Donkey*******

Well, this donkey is definitely ready for a change. McDonalds – you better adjust your marketing budget because this lady is eating at home.

A celebrity guest post for the Scooter Project

9/1/2015

It sure is a stormy one out there today. The good news is though, that it’s Friday and for most people, that means two days of rest, fun or getting things done with friends and family. For my celebrity guest, stormy days and weekends tend to be busy for work. I’m very happy to say, however, that although she has a jam packed work schedule and she is on the top of every socialite’s list in Nova Scotia, she did find some time to type up a lovely entry for the Scooter Project. I hope you enjoy it even half as much as I did, because that would be a whole lot.

I wish Scooter was still here for many reasons, most of which I’ll keep to myself to maintain my street-tough image. Got a problem with that, punk?

Above all else, I miss her jokes. She was the smartest person I met in university, profs included. I write this knowing anyone who dealt with her in an academic capacity would understand what I’m getting at. She even looked smart. I remember watching her organize her binder – dividers, multicoloured tabs and that whole bit – for our first-year intro to business course. When it came time to pick a partner for our first group assignment, I rushed her desk at the front of the room like it was nobody’s business. Luckily for me, she wasn’t too picky about who she let in her group. She knew she was the muscle, and she was cool with it.

The thing I loved most about Scooter – the kind of Einstein who marched out of an advanced chemistry exam with a smile on her facewas her ability to come down to my level and really dumb shit down for the sake of comedy.

I remember waiting for her to discover that some fabulous prankster had drawn a rather exaggerated sketch of a particularly provocative piece of the male anatomy on the door of her dorm room. I watched that door, likely for an hour at the least, trying so hard to suppress laughter that my face went completely red and I snorted – more than once. As I reflect on this, I recognize that the fact that Scooter gave me the time of day truly speaks to the level of her generosity.

I honestly don’t know what I expected her to do when she noticed my artwork – maybe a cold, disapproving stare that morphed into an involuntary smirk. I wasn’t around when she stumbled on my masterpiece, but I did receive a short note eventually: “I just noticed that you defaced my door,” she wrote.

She could have told me to grow up – she probably should have – but she just went with it in her own calm, collected way.

Our friendship eventually progressed to the point that she would meet greet me with a, “’Hey Turd, Whatcha up to?’” And she’d offer me this sage pest control advice:

“A… flying ant the size of a baby bird? I feel your pain – I had a bunch of ladybugs flying around my room, so I Lysoled their asses into submission and disposed of them in the trash. That’s what you should do…use Lysol. It kills everything.”

Perhaps Scooter was the street-tough one all along.

I must admit this little writeup is a few years too late. It’s not that I didn’t think Scooter deserved it, I just couldn’t bring myself to write it. RIP, my dear friend.

Ashley Thompson Esq

Scooter and Ash - 2006

Scooter and Ash – 2006

 

Writing and creating for fun!

7/1/2015

I have always been fascinated with words.

Since I can remember, and from the video and photography my father collected of me over the years, I’ve loved to read and write. Dad has videos of me as a two year old flipping through newspapers and books I couldn’t read. As a five year old, I was sitting at a desk in my room, scribbling on paper, furiously working on some imaginary project. Not drawing, just line after line of squiggles.

Those squiggly lines have evolved and I now have a career as a professional writer. The writing I do for work however, is a bit limiting. I have specific messages I need to deliver and projects I need to promote. Although some of it is really fascinating, there are parameters I can’t breach. So, in order to channel some of my creative impulses, I’ve taken to doing some crafts in my spare time.

I’ve always enjoyed making things for people – scrapbooks, stories, homemade cards or little gifts inspired by someone’s unique personality. I’ve always had a difficult time with verbally expressing how I feel about people I care for, so this has been a popular solution for me!

The sentiment reminds of something Michael Scott said on the Office:

MichaelScottBut it’s more like, I love you this many hours worth!

Over a year ago, I was taking a shower and thinking about nothing and everything (check out this really cool article about why we have our best ideas in the shower.) I had been trying to find a way to support a friend, mentor and colleague who was going through some tough times. I thought to myself, how can I bring a bit of happy into her life while she’s going through this? The idea came to me in a flash – a scrapbook that you could take apart – something that would last a long time, was personal and fun. The idea for the Box of Happy was born.

I’ve now made three, and the first recipient made one for me as well. It was the best gift I ever received. I keep it in my office and pull from it every now and again. It makes me smile – every. single. time. It’s pretty much a box filled with love. Check out the awesome cover and a sneak peak at the inside (yes, that’s Sporty Spice on the cover):

Happy

The ‘Awesome Box’ I received from my friends – filled with hand-written notes, pictures, quotes, jokes and treats.

And here’s one I made for one of my dearest friends for her birthday last year:

Heather_BoxOfHappyI have a person or two in mind to help inspire these crafts in 2015. If you’re interested in putting one together for a friend or family member, I would love to help you with it! It really is a wonderful thing to do and you can keep adding to it over the years. A colleague of mine suggested I sell them on Etsy, but I didn’t know what an etsy was at the time so I don’t think I’m quite there yet!

Creating beautiful things is so good for the spirit. Isn’t it uplifting to channel your energy into something you know will make someone smile? Even if it’s just thinking of and sharing a really good fart joke. You are never too old for a good fart joke.

I will leave you with this – a quote I read while seeking a distraction one longer-than-usual afternoon. It’s something I’ve realized over time, but hadn’t put into words:

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention

That’s a lesson I learned from my very best friend, Ashley – and it’s how I met Scooter. But that’s a story for another day.

Getting healthy – and having a rootin tootin time doing it

06/01/2015

I’m happy to be posting my second entry for the Scooter Project – it means that I have a bit of motivation and a dash of determination. With these, I’m going to delve a bit into this living healthier goal of mine. My boyfriend of five years, James, is the fella who convinced me to make a change and showed me how easy it can be (yeah, he rubbed that in a bit.)

Jim gave up wheat three years ago. At the time, he had been reading articles and watching documentaries that discussed the possibility that food made of wheat can have detrimental effects on your health. James has asthma and psoriasis and according to research, cutting out wheat could potentially mitigate the issues related to these chronic illnesses. After three months of a strict no wheat diet, not only did James’ asthma improve but his psoriasis practically disappeared.

Oh – and he lost 30 lbs.

Needless to say, he’s stuck with it as the benefits of being able to breathe and not having red scabs all over his body definitely outweighed the temporary pleasure of inhaling a succulent honey glazed donut.

This past summer, Jim made some more changes in his life. He cut out meat significantly (we’re down to 1-2 meat meals a week – I struggle a bit more…especially over the holidays), he started eating fruits and veggies like they were going out of style, consuming handfuls of vitamins daily and began his own workout routine based off of exercises he learned doing P90X. Before the Xmas break, he even stopped drinking and plans to do so again now that the party season is behind us. It’s not at all surprising that he dropped another 10 lbs and he’s in a happier state than he’s ever been (since I’ve known him anyway). He also boasts of increased energy and I can attest to his improved mood (and other great benefits for us, but I’ll spare you those details!)

Before James started living healthy, he was a ravenous carnivore who drank cases of beer every week and spent most of his free time in front of the TV. I exaggerate slightly, but he’d agree I’m not far off. He was happy sometimes, but not enough. It’s so easy to say but health is absolutely key to happiness and personal growth – and it’s amazing how many people don’t care to even try. You’d be surprised at how many people, close friends and family, have knocked him down a peg or two when he tried to share what he’s learned. Regardless, he’s got me convinced – check out the results for yourself.

SJ_2012_2014

  I spend more time with James than anyone, and my happiness has also improved by virtue of his own. So that’s my plan – if I’m healthier, I’ll be happier and this will translate into other benefits for myself as well as good deeds and compassion for others (wins for the Scooter Project!)

I’m going to start following James’ regime – better food, exercise, vitamins and massive consumption of water. And I honestly can’t see any issue with making this a permanent lifestyle choice.

I often wonder how people handle crazy diets where you can only eat meat one day and dill pickles the next. And exercise routines like P90X are great but they are time consuming and freaking hard! I’m not interested in taking up something that I’m bound to fail at – and I want something that is fun and sustainable. I have a friend who just started this body pump routine at home and she absolutely loves it. The results are really showing – she looks great and she’s having fun! Now that’s what I’m looking for!

When Jim and I first significantly cut meat out of our diets I thought it would be a nightmare. WTF would we eat? I mean, what’s breakfast without bacon and what’s supper… without bacon?? Well, I’ve learned that you can make almost any meal without meat and it will still taste awesome. I’ve been making these amazing soups (thanks, Aunt Julie for the book!) and vegetarian shepherd’s pies. James makes this wicked vegan lasagna that I guarantee is tastier than any noodle, ground beef and ketchup sauce dish that’s on every standard resto menu. And it’s easy! I actually enjoy cooking now because the results are so much tastier and can feed us for a week!

What’s awesome too though is that we still pig out every now and again. We have nachos once every couple of weeks, we go out for burgers when the mood hits and we still both enjoy a good steak. It’s all about balance right? There’s a reason the Japanese and Chinese live so effing long and it’s not because they spend the most on health care or that they’re actually cyborgs. Exercise and a healthy diet – it’s no secret!

Ok, I realize some of you might be rolling your eyes at me because I’m actually very thin. Why should I have an opinion about diet? Weight is definitely a sign of health (weather you’re under or over that “ideal” mark) but being healthy has to do with a whole lot more than your weight. Every person is different and it’s fruitless to try to look/feel the same by having the same habits- I could eat McDonalds three times a day for the next month and I’d probably lose weight…but I would feel like death! It does not mean I’m healthier than someone who is thirty pounds heavier because it’s what’s going on inside that counts.

Guess what? I have high cholesterol, and I have for a long time. If I don’t get my diet in check, that could have serious repercussions later in my life. Also, women who don’t exercise regularly are more prone to diseases like osteoporosis and I just don’t want to deal with that. I already have scoliosis and I can’t imagine dealing with an already shitty back that has deteriorating bones. Not cool.

So far, my only exercise is walking my awesomely adorable dog, Bear. Seriously, I could dedicate a whole blog to this guy – he’s the cutest.

Bear

I plan to invest in some weights so I can start building bone density. I need to create a routine and I might just base it off of whatever James is doing now (as the results have been quite nice!)

I believe that being healthier will help with the Scooter Project – of which the goal is really to be happy and spread happiness. Life is pretty damn short and I’d really rather not waste too many of my minutes being angry (I’ll save that for hockey games).

Cheers!