::Ringing in the New Year::

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The New Year is always a time to start fresh. And of course there’s always the tradition of making New Years resolution(s), whatever that means. I must admit, I am one of those people. I’ve started a new tradition for myself recently in the past couple of years. To make a happiness jar and add to it throughout the year. And at the end of the year (or well this year it’ll be at the beginning), to open and read each and every single thing that you put in that happiness jar. It definitely helps me to appreciate the little things that come in my life… in that moment in time.

So what are my resolutions you ask?

  1. To eat healthier- which means cutting back on the number of times we eat out (I must admit, I am a bad influence and I have my fiancé who is almost too easy to sway).
  2. Try something new- I’ve already signed up for hip hop lessons in the new year which will definitely test my confidence and well, abilities. We’re not much of the winter sports people, but this year, I think we’ll give cross country skiing and snowshoeing a try!
  3. Work out more- No more excuses! Eating healthy goes hand in hand with working out as it is more than just a routine. It has to be a lifestyle change.
  4. Continue to appreciate the small things in life.

I definitely feel that these 4 are always my resolution(s) for ringing in the New Year, but this year, we’re going to add a new twist to it. Every time we “break” the “rule”, we promised to put in $10 to a communal jar. It’ll then go towards our future goal to both participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2017.

Hope you all have a wonderful start to the New Year!!! ^^

 

:: The Little Insights in Life::

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Rome“You were right”. Those are the 3 words I think are the hardest to ever admit, verbally, to someone who you never wanted to say it to.  To your parents. To your significant other. To yourself.

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Getting older comes with more responsibilities. Going to school. Passing exams. Graduating. Finding a job. Paying bills. Coming home and having to make supper because you no longer live with your parents. Although your ‘work responsibilites’ are finished when the clock strikes 4, you come home and put on another hat of ‘personal responsibilities’ which you are expected to accomplish. It’s times like these were I reflect back on the days of childhood and realize how much I took my parents for granted. Until now. Better late than never, right?

Tonight was actually one of those nights where I heard those 3 words. But it was also one of those nights where I also admitted it. We recently fostered 2 kittens and we were ecstatic. Cuteness overload for sure. But we definitely were not prepared or expecting the amount of work that came with it. Coming home to food pellets all over their kennel. Scraps of food in their water bowl. Litter being kicked everywhere. And as a result, I expected my significant other to clean it up. However, some things I’ve realized is that a.) you can’t expect people (nor should you) to do things b.) it’s probably just easier if you do it yourself than have others do it c.) other people do things on a different timeline than I do. Anyways, it just made me realize that my mom “was right”. Growing up we always wanted a dog, and of course, being my mom as she is, she said no. She said at the end of the day, she would be the one to take care of it. I completely disagreed with her at the time because I thought I was ready to accept that challenge/responsibility of taking care of a dog Whatever “challenge/responsibility” meant (which at the time, to me, was probably just playing and cuddling with it). But I realized what she meant by that sentence…. I think we were caught up on the idea/concept of having kittens because of the cuteness overload. But we undermined the amount of responsibility that it came with.

It’s these little moments in life that actually make me so proud of myself. I’m growing up!! I’m learning the lessons of life and along with it, knowing more about my values and my principles in life. The secret to continuous growth.. taking the time to reflect and take these life lessons to heart. And it’s moments like these that make me truly realize how much my parents have inherently taught me how to ‘grow up’. So mom and dad, thank you for everything you have done and continue to do for me each and every day (without noticeably doing it)! ❤

::Wherever You Are::

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IMG_4013The one constant in life is that time goes on. With that become memories, ones that will always be reminiscing in the back of your mind. 12 years ago today, was one of the lowest points in my life. I didn’t think that I would be able to get through it, but somehow, I persevered. We all did. So much has changed in 12 years. Where has the time gone?

Wherever you are…. I hope you’re in a place where there is only happiness and love.

Wherever you are…. I hope you are watching over us.

Wherever you are… I hope you can hear me talk to you when I fall asleep at night.

Wherever you are… I want you to know I am happy… but that I still miss you. Very much.

::Long Weekend Camping Trip::

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It was no surprise that the September long weekend came accompanied with rain and snow. But that did not stop the two month plan of going camping at Lake Louise for the 7 of us. It came close to calling it quits, but hey, what’s a little rain to stop us from enjoying the weekend? It only adds another element of fun to the whole camping experience. Especially for my one friend, who has never gone camping before.

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We started off at Chateau Lake Louise Fairmont and decided to do the ‘longer’ teahouse hike (not knowing that there were actually two different teahouses- Agnes and Six Point Glaciers). By the time we realized, it was already too late to turn back. But let me tell you this… the hike (Six Point Glacier Teahouse)… was spectacular. It’s definitely worth checking out especially for those who seek to find roads that are more than just your typical paved path. We came across a lot of horse poo (and I mean -a lot-) but that did not stop us from trekking forward. Towards the top of the mountain, it actually started snowing so we were pretty happy to enjoy a nice cup of Chai Tea Latte when we reached our final destination. Unfortunately we had to cut it short as we still had yet to go back to make our tents and get food ready. Overall, the hike was a round trip of approximately 11 km.

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Since we were in the vicinity anyways, we decided to make a pit stop to Moraine Lake the next day prior to going back home. It definitely was not a let down with the majestic mountains and turquoise blue water. We have yet to try the longer hikes next time!!!

::The Normalities of Life::

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Although it sounds as cliche as it does, I really find this true: You learn something new each day. And to be truthful, sometimes it’s as simple as “oh, I didn’t know you spelt [insert word here] like that”. But there are times when you just get that breakthrough moment when you learn through others…. which is why I love my job.

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She’s a little older than her stated age. But she looks very skinny, very mobile, and well, just overall confused. Her friend says she lacks the “normal” skills that people would need to function… such as not having the appropriate social skills or the ability to problem solve through things like you and I can. We talked for a bit while she was sitting on her bed, and suddenly, she became silent, and asked, “Why am I not normal?” and just began to tear up. Normal. What does that word even entail anyways? It’s merely what society has come up with and apparently, what we abide by. But really, the reality of life is all subjective. What you believe is reality is not my reality and vice versa. But we are so set on our ways of needing to distinguish everything.. to make things black or white. When that can’t ever be done. And why should it anyways? Why can’t we just see things for what they are and appreciate it rather than judging something through our eyes and making it “abnormal” because it doesn’t fit our criteria/standards?

She broke my heart when I heard those words. But it made me take two steps back and reflect on things— that there is no such thing as “normal” and that we only perceive things the way that we want to see it through our own lens in our own world. Instead of criticizing other people, just focus on yourself and learn to appreciate the world that you live in. Whichever way you see that as of course.

::Life As We Know It::

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We come into a world of not knowing. Not knowing how to walk… how to think for ourselves… how to take care of ourselves… but we slowly go through the milestones of learning those things. The firsts of many. And life, as we know it… is bliss. We wake up… we get fed… we laugh and play outside, rain or shine… and the biggest problem in life is having to go lay down for nap time rather than getting to play outside.

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As we get older, our minds develop into our own. We defy our parents to spite them. We dare to try the things we dared not try before. We explore different things and different ways without truly having to suffer the consequences because we know at the end of the day, our parents regardless what happens to us, will help pick us up off our feet.

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We get to that stage in life where you slowly see people (either directly related or who you know) leave this world… one… by one… by one…. and soon, you realize you need more than one hand to count them all. Life as we know it, is unpredictable. The only predictable thing is precisely such- that it’s unpredictable. Working in the world of health care, death is not uncommon. But it adds another layer if you’ve worked with them.. if you’ve interacted with them.. if you knew them personally. Because an hour ago, they were talking. A day ago they were walking. A week ago they were laughing… going out… and now?

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Sometimes I wonder why we have to go through this thing called ‘death’. As social beings, we become connected in such a way, only to lose the people you love. Is that pain worth it? To see the people who helped raise you, from a helpless baby, to a teenage who didn’t know better, to now a grown up…only to end up having to bury the ones that brought you into this world…. To lose the people who mean the most to you. And to know that you’ll never be able to touch their hands.. the exact hands who worked hard to earn a living to raise you. But you’re left with the many beautiful memories which will never fade and be taken away from you… but with the silence accompanied with them. Is it worth it? To have loved and have had them in your life, only for them to leave you eventually? I fear the day I’ll lose my loved ones… but I think I would regret it if I didn’t make the most of it.

::You’re Getting Older When::

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As I just turned 26 about two weeks ago, I reflect on how much time has gone by. It literally seems like yesterday when my friends and I graduated high school… back when I was what? 18?! I can’t believe that’s 8 years ago!!!!! I always like to think I’m still 18 when people ask me how old I am.

Back in high school we always talked about how life would be like for us in the future. How are we going ‘to meet the one’? What jobs are we going to get… What big and amazing adventures we will be on. Now it consists of laughing around the table talking about putting my face on customizable M&M’s for my wedding favours! Some things never change (the joking part amongst our friends). It always feels that once you’re “in the real world” that things fly by so fast… but quite honestly, I can’t be more happy and I can’t be more blessed that everything has worked out so well, timing wise.

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We were joking the other day about how you know you’re getting older/growing up when…

  • you buy home appliances from events (i.e. Stampede) and you actually get excited about using it (Cleaning?! I know eh…).
  • an exciting piece of news is that you finally got a garlic press and how much you love it to death.
  • You like to be in bed by 9 PM so you can get 8 or 9 hours of sleep in before work
  • You realize how much effort it takes to make money and you don’t spend it on whatever you want anymore (oh, those days when you got allowances from your parents!)
  • You actually have fights with your significant other about money related issues (yup… it’s pretty much the main topic of our fights)
  • You spend money towards customizing your little nest/home

I know 2015 just started, but there’s so much to look forward to! I’m pretty excited, and so far, the winter has been treating us very nicely here in Calgary! I really can’t complain. But I’m definitely looking forward to summer (which is in 153 days!!). There’s a total of 5 weddings to attend in the span of 2015-2016 (one which is ours!). I’ll definitely keep you all posted! What are you looking forward to?!

:: If I got dementia::

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Working with the geriatric population really has open my eyes to the little things that may normally be overlooked/mistaken. It really puts things into perspective about how we need to treat the person and not the diagnoses. We can all picture that cute little old man/lady who has dementia. But really, how does one even interact with them? I came across an article called, “16 things I would want, if I got dementia“.

It’s a really good short read for people who maybe have family members diagnosed with dementia. They may seem simple but really, it goes a long way. It’s surprising how the way you interact with that person can change everything… from being resistive to pleasant… from being agitated to calm…

A little goes a long way. And who says that once someone has dementia they can’t do anything anymore? They’re still a human being. They can still converse. They can still walk. They can still play cards. It’s just that we have to all be a little creative and find different ways of doing things. That’s all.

::2014 Wrap Up::

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I remember back when I used to still be in school, there didn’t seem much to be going on throughout the year in retrospect. But now that I have entered the “real world” (a.k.a. work force), there seems to have been so much happening around me! 2014 has come and gone and tomorrow will be 2015! Of course there are always those new years resolutions which are bound to be broken, but of course, I like to make them anyways.

1. Eat healthier- which means eating out less and making more food at home along with working out more

2. Being thankful for the simple/small things in every day life

Of course there’s always the thinking back on 2014 stuff… so here’s a recap (more for myself I guess):

  • I finally got a permanent job (yay for health flex spending account benefit!!!). No more needing to find a job anymore
  • Starting to go biking again- bought a road bike and did a 50 km trail along with the trail going from Canmore<–>Banff
  • Road trip with friends to Vancouver for 5 days
  • Going to Hong Kong and Seoul for our first real big trip together
  • Getting engaged in Hong Kong!! ^__^
  • Hearing the wonderful news from friends/family about their engagement
  • Meeting new coworkers who are similar to you in many ways

2015 (and 2016) will definitely be busy as there are 5 anticipated weddings to attend already!!! Yikes! And of course, there is always ours to plan as well, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a BLAST 🙂

Anyways, HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! How are you gonna keep tabs on your 2015? I’ve been doing a little “happiness jar” where I write things down of all the happy moments throughout the year so I sure won’t forget them! 🙂

::Kitchen Business::

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I’m sorry I’ve been silent for so long! There hasn’t been much that happened, aside from my Hong Kong trip again, but maybe I’ll update that in the soon to come post! Anyways, my 2015 New Years Resolution of course will be a cliche one: to eat healthier (and eat out less).

IMG_4411I’ve been saving up a few new recipes and I finally got a hold of making some this weekend! The first one I made was the orzo salad with chickpeas, lemon, cucumber, and dill! It was a little on the bland side but definitely infused with some nice subtle flavours of the dill and lemon. I added a bit of cilantro as well. Anyways, to make it look better packaged, I also put it in my cool blue Mason Jars =]. I pretty much love putting everything in mason jars now like: yogurt parfait, my pasta salads, etc. They’re good for anything and everything! IMG_4412

I’ve also made some chocolate zucchini muffins but made them into the smaller sizes so I don’t feel as guilty when I consume more than one or two at a time. They’re good because they freeze well and they last for a while if you put them in the fridge. They make for a great on the go snack when you’re in a hurry! So that pretty much sums up my kitchen adventures for these four days but hopefully there will be more to come in the new year! ^^.

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::The Little Gratitudes::

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IMG_3948I remember when a story that once was told to us. It was about a man who had asked God why He did not answer his prayers. But it was not until the end that he realized that they already were answered. It was just that he was expecting something else when really, if he looked a little harder, it was right in front of his eyes.

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I have to admit that I have fallen into this mundane routine of every day life. Wake up. Get ready. Go to work. Work. Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. I read a book a while back called “One Thousand Gifts” and from that day I had promised myself to make my own list of 1000 gifts. Of course it’s probably been two years now, and it’s still in the making. However, everyday I still keep track of the small little gratitudes that each day brings in hopes to add it to that list. It makes me stop and truly reflect back on my day. Making me reflect on how I should make the small things count because it makes you realize how much you miss when you keep expecting big things to suddenly happen. Just like that.

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Today at work it really hit me… I go into work having the obligation and want to help people, but little did I know I would come out of work reflecting on the little things in life. And I think that’s the beauty of it all. To come out with a different perspective… to come out and realize that at the end of the day, your patients have probably helped you grow as a person. It makes me truly sad to be surrounded by people who may potentially be at the end of their journey in life. But yet, they’re still laughing. Making jokes. But yet realizing the realities of their situation and accepting it with open arms. And it makes you think “At a time like this, how can they still be able to laugh and joke?” but yet they still go through each day with a smile on their face. Happy to just be here and enjoy the time they can spend with their loved ones. One more time.

It really brought tears to my eyes thinking about this case. Cry when you need to cry. Laugh when you want to laugh. Smile when you feel like smiling. It once again reminds me of how each one of us can affect others in the smallest ways. It’s times like these that remind me to open my eyes to everything around me and just stop and take time to reflect on the wonders of what I have. The little gratitudes that life brings you. 

::Our best talent- Miscommunication::

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I remember in school, the classes that were about “communication” seemed so petty and stupid at the time. How hard is it to honestly communicate with a few people? I don’t need to know about these things- it’s common sense! Those were my thoughts ruminating through my head throughout those courses. But when you go out into the real world, it’s surprising how common it is for silly miscommunication mishaps occur. It’s much harder than it seems- input… receive… output. But so much can impact those three things. One thing goes wrong, and well, so does everything else it seems. It’s pretty much just a catalyst effect.

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I think most of my time spent at work today was clarifying our intentions. At the end of the day, we want what is best for the patient. Yet, our system fails us by putting up these barriers— first bed policy, acute care bed crunch, being over capacity in the emergency/medical department… and so forth. You get the idea. So who is to be punished for it? Our patients. Irony isn’t it? And us, as the workers, are left to deal with the mess. Today we had a mishap at work where we as rehabilitation staff wanted to advocate for further rehabilitation for a patient of ours. We told the charge nurse, and lo and behold, things of course blew out of proportion and well, it went to the managers. So the rest of the time was us trying to resolve that misconstruct and clarify our intentions. It does not help when people become so passive aggressive. Why can’t we just be professional adults about it?! Do things really need to get so petty? It’s pretty much like playing telephone… which we all know end up horribly different than the original message. Like I keep saying, I think the #1 thing we’re good at is miscommunication.

::The Beautiful Life::

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I’m sure over the last few days there have been several stories going viral- the ALS ice bucket challenge and then the woman who took her own life because of Dementia. Working in the health care system, I am constantly reminded of all the things that may possibly come with age… and it scares to me know that indeed, growing old will be inevitable for all of us.

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As kids, the world seemed so endless and filled with so much possibility. Fathoming the ways of how to fly or swim with the dolphins in the vast ocean. Not having the words “I can’t do it” in their heads. Everything was possible. As early adults, having finished school, there are variety of dreams that wish to be achieved, things to be striven towards. But when you grow older, you realize how life can be so tragic and filled with unrealistic expectations that can never be achieved/met. And with it unfortunately, comes the unwanted. At an age of 25, I can probably use all 10 fingers to count the number of people who I know have passed away…

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When you see someone who is suffering from some sort of illness, it’s almost as if the disease just gives way… and masks the person as a whole. Automatically, when you hear the word, that disease just pops into your head and you become fixated on it. But when you treat the disease and not the person… you’ll never get anywhere.

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When I read Gillian Bennett’s blog, it saddened me because it really brought into perspective how she looked at life and all the things that were once beautiful and valuable. It gives me chills that it was written just before she had ended her life… which was her own decision, which I will fully respect. We will never know what goes on in other people’s mind, but the last thing to do is to put your own judgment and values on them. To fully appreciate the beauty of it all is to fully embrace yourself in trying to understand and learn about the person. As a whole. Not just the disease. Yes, we better need to understand everything that is out there medically, but at the same time, we won’t get anywhere if we treat just the disease itself. To be patient with them and work with them. Not to think of them as a hinderance or a burden.

I went to a play in my past, called You Will Remember Me, about a man and his journey in life with Alzheimer’s Dementia. It touches on the hardships that he faces, along with the family interactions along side it. When we see a person with an illness, it’s hard to reflect and see how beautiful their life has been. They were once young and like everyone else, were striving towards different ambitions. Instead of considering them as a disease, think of ways you can reflect back on their life and them as a person. How would they like to be remembered as?

 

::Summer Cool Downs::

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photo-7This summer thus far, has been pretty beautiful. Usually Calgary summers consist of one week of “scorching” hot followed by well… Fall. This year, I think I can actually say we’ve had a “Summer” season.

I’ve recently found a recipe online for home made iced tea, which is quick and easy to make! All you need is: Tea bags (I had orange pekoe), 1/2 cup of sugar, and lemons (~1/2 sliced into thin slices).

 

1. Boil 4 cups of water in a pot. Once to a boil, set aside and put in your tea bags (3). Let it steam for about 5 minutes (longer if you like it more concentrated).

2. Add in your sugar (while it’s still hot) and stir to dissolve.

3. Let it cool down and then you can pour it into a pitcher and add your lemon.

What a nice way to cool off!

::Chocolate Almond Biscotti::

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It’s been so long since I’ve put up a food blog! But here it goes. My friend and I finally had our long overdue baking date last Friday!! It’s nice to catch up and talk about how much has gone on in the past few months. Had a nice lunch date, then went to grab our lovely macarons, and ended it off with making some chocolate almond biscotti’s!

photo-6We got the recipe from Joy of Baking which was also accompanied by a helpful video (for those who need the visual aspect of things like myself!). It was surprisingly easy to make and what a wonderful delight they turned out to be! They would make wonderful gift ideas! And of course you can’t forget… it goes wonderfully with a cup of tea/coffee. Enjoy!

::Taking Work Home::

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When it feels like there’s not enough time during the 8 hour day to finish our work tasks, we all tend to bring some parts home with us. But then there are days when you don’t physically have any tasks to bring home, but instead, mentally, you bring work home with you. I think that’s the most draining part.

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These few months have been challenging without a doubt. Lots of changes. Lots of things to anticipate. I have been on my new unit for a couple of months now, and one thing is for sure: it’s always busy. Regardless of whether it’s patient load/care, or people coming in and out. It just calls for a busy environment. I think one of the hardest challenges I face at work is being surrounded by actively dying patients. But I think today, it kind of took a toll on me. As a health care professional, I am aware that people do inevitably pass away in the hospital. But it’s something completely different to have worked with them and realize the next day that unfortunately, they have passed. Today, as I was working with an 103 year old man, the man sharing a room beside him was packing up his belongings, getting ready to leave for somewhere beyond the hospital. It was shortly after though, that I realized that this man was going to hospice. All I could think about was this: How could such a seemingly average looking man, dressed up in his suit and wearing a hat who was up walking about in his room, be to the point where he’s about to go to hospice? I guess it put more of an impression on me today because normally, well, the people I see sent to hospice, are not walking, sleepy/drowsy, and well, not alert. It nearly broke my heart seeing this man… and the idea that in 6 months or less… he will be gone.

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Sometimes I cannot help but think if at the end of the day, I’ve done enough for my patients. Especially those situations where you could potentially have a big effect on where they could end up going. For instance: are they safe to be returning home? Are they able to make their own decisions? I always wonder if the assessments I’ve done have truly been reflective of their true nature/performance and whether or not I made the right ‘recommendations’. I find I cannot stop myself from pondering about these things while I ride the bus into work. The hardest thing is not to put my own opinions and values into these situations. How does one even be objective about it?

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When work gets too much, we either save it for another day, or we just tackle it right on and bring it home. But how does one deal with the mental baggage that comes along with such things? It’s hard to “let it all go” when the clock hits 4:15 and you’re on the way out the door. Perhaps I need to work on my abilities to properly balance work and life and at the same time, not keep it to heart.

::The Top Down Approach::

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When it comes to the health care system, I think there’s no doubt that they do a good job of taking the top down approach. Imagine the inverted triangle. The people who sit in their chairs from 8:00-4:15 holding meetings and conferences that get paid the big bucks are calling the shots. And it’s up to the thousands of workers at the bottom to carry forward with what they have decided from those meetings/conferences. But the funny thing is… what ever happened to collaboration? What ever happened to the whole “hey, let’s ask our employees what we should do before we tell them what to do and how to do it”.

Okay, with maybe the few exceptions of “let’s look to the public about this”. But the problem is.. they’re STILL missing the employee piece. The frontline staff who actually SEE things put into action. The ones who DO the action itself. Take the first bed policy elimination. Just last Friday, the health system had a knee jerk reaction to the Health Quality Council in regards to families complaining about the first bed policy. It used to be that if your loved one was waiting in the hospital for long term care, they could choose their top 3 desired choices, and would have to go to the first bed available within the 100 km radius. Yes, it sounds very cruel. But it was to ensure a faster discharge from the acute care hospital beds. But now that the policy is eliminated, they get to decline that bed if it is not of their choice/wish. I must admit, if it was my family member, I would be very happy about this. But as a health care professional, I see the other side of things… because I’m one of the employees to help get things moving. Because, like the health care system imposed on us, we need to get people out the door as fast as possible. But now that they eliminated that policy… well, say good bye to some acute care/rehabilitation beds and say hello to long term care. Essentially, all hospitals will be primarily ‘long term care’ in itself… oh… except that these beds are MUCH more expensive. And oh… what about the initiatives we put into action about reducing emergency wait times and surgery times for hip and knee replacements? Well, they’re gone down the drain because there will be limited beds available probably. The system is going to be back clogged and real long term cares are probably going to have some empty beds because people might not want to go there.

It’s ironic how the government/health care are trying to be patient centered and are preparing for the aging of the baby boomer population… and that there is an increased need for improved health care because of that… but what they don’t realize is that this will soon blow up all in their face. But then again… that’s not their problem is it? In the end, they call the big shots, and us little ants at the bottom are here to pick up their garbage and ‘fix’ everything.

::Doctor’s Orders::

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As a health care professional, it seems like the ‘doctor’s orders’ are always a must. What I’ve realized is that we need to question them– why the referral? Why the consult? etc. Nowadays it seems like OT/PTs get referrals for pretty much anyone and everyone in the hospital. Young. Old. Independent people who walk around the unit and can find their way to the cafeteria. Bed bound people who are from long term care. Some aren’t even applicable, and unfortunately, it takes us time for each of them to sort out and tell them that it’s inappropriate. And there goes another 30 minutes we could have spent with a patient who actually needed our services.

The ones that OTs face the most though are the ‘cognitive and/or perceptual assessment’ referrals. The worst is when that’s all the information they provide, and they don’t even have the specific question at hand. Cognition is so broad… where does one even begin to delve into this topic? Is it because they’re confused? They can’t manage their medications and there was a question about discharge planning? Or is it because they’re functionally declining to the point where they cannot manage independently at home? It takes us a long time to have to go over the chart and figure out what the -exact- question is.

Unfortunately, most of the time, everyone just cares about that magical number. What they fail to realize is… why does it matter? The better question to ask is… what is the implication of that on function. Because at the end of the day, we focus on FUNCTION. Someone can get a crappy score on the MOCA and still be able to live independently at home because it hasn’t yet affected them functionally. The worst part is the problem of when people come to irrelevant conclusions about that MOCA score. For example… if someone gets 20/30 means they absolutely cannot drive… or that they don’t have capacity. What other professions don’t see is that cognition does not necessarily need to be formally assessed… you can assess or infer cognitive status from how someone does their activities of daily living like going to the bathroom… following commands… needing assistance to get dressed… etc. Why do we need to go through all those formal assessments which aren’t even warranted and could potentially be intrusive to the person?

Capacity. Wow. That word comes up way too often when it’s not even needed. I’m pretty sure if we questioned everyone’s capacity, that there would be a lot of people who would need placement or need assistance with that area of “capacity”. Why do we so easily jump to these conclusions? Yes, unfortunately in acute care we all feel the pressure from up above for the need to make quick decisions… but it’s because of that that we neglect the basics- the person’s right and the ethical way to treat that person. We never stop and question the things we are told to do. To do that self reflection.

I definitely think I’ve found a project for myself while I’m on this new unit- to educate the staff and hopefully be able to bring it to the attention of the doctors. If I’ve made them think twice about the area of “capacity” and “cognitive assessments” I’ll be happy. Pick your battles. And this one is one I think I want to tackle.

::Dijon Mustard Steak::

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photo-5A couple days ago, I had made this quick and easy steak which was simply to die for! With some simple ingredients mixed together, you can make a great marinade for your steak. I took the recipe from here.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • salt and pepper

Mix them all together and marinate the steak for 30 minutes-1 hour. Just simply make your steak to your liking and ta da! Enjoy. I also added some mushrooms at the very end to make it more flavourful.

::Simply Scrumptious::

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photo-3When it comes to cooking dinners during work nights, I am pretty lazy. It’s either I pre cut and make everything the night before when I have extra time, or well, making something that takes a matter of minutes. And tonight was definitely one of those moments. We went to Costco the other day to buy some panini bread since I can never find it at a regular grocery store. Anyways, tonight was panini night!

Ingredients:

  • Bread
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salad dressing (I used Southwest ranch)
  • Sweet Pea Shoots
  • Honey Ham (any kind of sandwich meat works too)
  • Cucumber slices
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Olive oil

That’s pretty much all I put in it and it was actually really good! I grilled it for 3 minutes (using the George Forman) on each side and it was perfect! Of course, you could pretty much add anything you wanted… and unfortunately, I forgot the best part. Melted cheese! Argh. I guess I’ll have to add that in next time!

::Life After You::

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These are the three words that when put together, I never want to think about. Something I’ll never get used to. Yes, life keeps on going, but it’s like a part of you is always missing. And it always will.

The immediate thought of losing a loved one already brings tears to my eyes. I know I should not even be thinking about these things, but it saddens me. It saddens me to know that the one thing I will never be able to change/avoid… is death. One of the very few things us humans cannot be in control of. We come into a world full of laughter and love, only to grow up and have our loved ones, one by one, leave us.

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I cannot believe it’s been 11 years since you’ve been gone. It seemed like just yesterday I heard your voice nagging at me to put on a thicker jacket because it was cold outside. It seemed like just yesterday that I was talking on the phone with you. There hasn’t been a day where I have not thought about you. I’m happy I still have the memories carried around with me to remind me of you. But there are times I wish I was like my two little cousins; too little to even remember who you really were- not having those painful memories of how… of when… 11 years ago.

Life after you wasn’t the same. It never will. I don’t remember how I ever survived those hours, days, weeks, and months since that day. But here I am, 11 years later, graduated with two degrees and now having a full time job. I often fall asleep wanting you to be in my dream so I could see how you’re doing… what you’re thinking from up above.

It’s knowing that life goes on… but needing to carry through with it; that’s the hardest thing. But somehow, it happens… Somehow…

 

 

::Colorful Peppers::

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photo-2I always laughed when my mom made this dish, because I always joked it was the only dish she knew how to make. Well, lo and behold, I resorted to making this dish a couple nights ago. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Small package of colourful peppers
  • Fish paste
  • Corn starch
  • Oyster sauce

All you have to do is simply cut the small peppers in half. Make sure when you’re cutting it, you’re cutting it in a way that allows for a depth in the pepper half. After you wash them, simply just add a touch of corn starch (to help make the fish paste stick to the pepper). After, simply just add enough fish paste to cover the depth of the pepper. Make sure it covers the surface because you’ll need to be frying it next and you wanna make sure it’s cooked enough. Then add some oil on the frying pan, and away you go! For the sauce, just add some oyster sauce along with corn starch and cold water. Stir, and then when the pan is hot add it in and quickly stir so it gets thicker. When done, simply add it on top of the already fried dish!

::Veggie Rolls::

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photoThis week I was proactive and started to make a list of what I was going to make for dinner over the next few days. Today was a pretty productive one indeed. My aunt who’s from Hong Kong is vegetarian and she taught me how to make a simple dish. Actually, my grandma used to make it in the past, but I guess I never really took on a liking for cooking until now. So here it is! Hope you all like it.

Ingredients:

  • Bean curd paper (I’m not quite sure if this is what it’s actually called, but you can find it in the asian supermarkets)
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Soy bean curd (they come in little squares at the supermarkets near the tofu section)
  • Chinese mushrooms
  • Canned bamboo shoots
  • Vermicelli

All you really have to do is when you get the bean curd paper, it comes in a two or three circular sheets. Just take them out, fold them, and cut them into sections. If you’re not using it right away, you can actually freeze them. Then the night before you decide to make the rolls, just take them out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to defrost.

Then cut up all your ingredients into tiny thin strips. You really don’t need a whole lot because a small piece of paper roll doesn’t carry a lot. For example, I rolled 12 and I only used one of each (i.e. 1 carrot, 1 celery stick, a couple mushrooms, 2 packs of small vermicelli, etc.).

Once you’re done cutting up all the ingredients, fry it in a pan. Now you’re ready to fold! Just remember to keep the papers nice and wet because it will get dry. Just put something damp on it to ensure it’s moist up until you fry it. Once you’ve wrapped it all, it’s now to fry it. Make sure that the oil is super hot though before you try to put the rolls on the pan. You simply have to fry it a couple minutes on each side and they’re ready to be served! It’s a little bland since I just added a little salt and soy sauce, so I decided to dip it with sweet and sour sauce!

::What’s the Rush?::

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As an occupational therapist in the acute care setting, there are so many biases/thoughts that I develop about the system. The biggest pet peeve lately is when I see a “cognitive and/or perceptual assessment” referral. It’s such a general and broad area, where does one even start?! What’s the specific question at hand? Is this referral even appropriate at this point in time in someone’s care while they’re here in the hospital? Since well… they’re probably still not even medically stable. It just frustrates me when I say/believe they’re not medically stable to do these investigations, yet the doctor still wants it done and then on top of that, also request psychiatry to see the patient regarding “capacity”. Argh! With all the pressures of getting people “out the door” and with the limited budget, it’s hard for us all the slow things down and really figure out if some of these things are really important to be dealt with now, or if it could wait until later for a more appropriate time/setting. That’s the biggest struggle I find. But I realize that despite the fact that they want a cognitive assessment done, it does not necessarily mean that you should do it just because they “told you”. If you feel that it’s not appropriate, you should stand up for yourself (and for your patient) and the reason behind it. No one profession think the same and we all have different visions in mind.

::Back To The Basics::

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It baffles my mind how reliant we have become on certain things in society. Technology. The “10 table” diamond. Fashion apparel with brand names fixed on them. Looks. The list could go on and on. I think it’s come to the point where if we did not have these things, we honestly would not know what to do with ourselves. And yes, I am at fault as well. Take technology for instance- we are constantly relying on our phones to connect us with other social beings, either through Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. But when it comes to truly having a heart to heart conversation with someone… that rarely happens. I’m probably more diligent at answering texts than I do phone calls. I remember one day at work, our computer system had completely shut down, and we were sitting there, staring at each other thinking “How do I do my job now?!”.

If only we would just take some time to realize what’s happening around us. It’s quite sad that our society has come to the point where it’s so driven by the aspects of being rich. Apparently if you don’t wear fancy clothes with HUGE BRAND NAMES written all over it and bling so subtly exposed, then you’re not worthy of talking to and/or being helped at  a store. If you don’t buy things from Holt Renfrew then it’s like you aren’t even worthy of being someone in society nowadays. Has it really come down to all this? What happened to having a good personality and being humble?

It’s ironic how some things are. Take yoga and meditation for example. Through these things, isn’t it supposed to help ground you and bring you back to the ‘roots’ of it all? But yet at the same time, some companies have made it so commercial that they’re selling ‘yoga’ attire for $100 a piece. So you’re trying to promote yoga and mindfulness, yet your clothes are so expensive? Hrm. The irony.

It all boils down to this: Taking time to bring it back to the basics of it all. Take away all that glamor and jazz. What’s really important to you? The aesthetics of it all or the extrinsic motivation/acceptance to fit in with other people?

Whatever happened to simplicity?

::You Will Remember Me::

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One thing I always wanted to check off my “bucket list” was to go and watch a play. I can gladly say that after tonight, I can do so. I never would have thought that the theatre was so cozy and just… so relaxing. It was a good first experience, and it definitely won’t be my last.

You will remember me. With a title like that, I just couldn’t resist but read the synopsis. And it drew me in immediately. It was about a man who is slowing starting to lose his memory to the terrible disease of Alzheimer’s dementia. It is a telling story about a family, who along with this man, experiences the ups and downs of this disease and how they are affected by it. It’s truly touching, especially when you’re up close to the actors and you can actually see the raw emotions that are simply expressed through their words and actions. And you can’t help but simply feel touched by the way they pour those emotions out and leave it on the stage for you.

As a health care professional, it’s one thing to see a snapshot of that person in that moment in time, but it’s definitely another to be living with someone experiencing such an event. The play brings you to realize how such a disease/illness could take a toll on not only the person, but their family members. But at the same time, the play brings to light that despite this, that there are areas that the person could excel in and that it does not necessarily equate to “being retarded and forgetful”.

Patience. I think that is the one biggest thing to be learned from all this. Realizing that this will be an ongoing process. In the play, they said that if we all remembered how it once was to have loved… then we would be more inclined to keep that love and happiness. But at the same time, new memories could be made with that person despite the illness. It’s just finding a different way to connect… to love… to remember them. 

 

 

::Butternut squash chili::

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photoLately I’ve been having a fascination with butternut squash! It’s been so chilly here in Calgary, so I thought I’d make it more bearable with hearty chili! ^^. I took the recipe from here, so go and check it out sometime! It’s really simple to make and it tastes wonderful.

On another note, I finally bought a kitchen weigh scale and perhaps this weekend if it’s not too busy… I shall try to make some macarons! Wish me luck….

::Patience for Patients::

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In a world that’s always on the go, it’s sometimes really hard to slow down. It doesn’t help either when there’s pressure from above the chain of hierarchy pushing you to get things done in a quick manner.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working with this patient, who is nothing but wonderful. He truly is the epitome of the sweetest patient- he always comes down with a big smile on his face and keeps telling us how wonderful of a job we are doing. The truth was… when I first realized he got transferred to my unit, I really kind of sighed knowing that he was a heavy 2 to 3 person assist with standing. He made little progress and truth be told, I didn’t know what to do with him. He pretty much had no where to go in terms of rehabilitation programs because no one would accept him. I just kind of went with the flow and two weeks later, we managed to get him to a one person minimal assist today!!! I think that pretty much made my week already. I couldn’t help but smile and feel so proud of him. For everything that he’s been through.. he never once gave up hope and when we were  just about to think that little progress could be made… he made me retract that thought.

I think he really put things into perspective for me – although I work in a world of acute care, I realize that I shouldn’t dismiss something as ‘impossible’ and go straight to things like “I think he needs to go to long term care”. Despite the fact that there were times where I did give up hope… he never did. Instead, he only thanked us for all of our hard work and just seeing that big smile on his face and hearing his stories… made me crack that smile and realize that I needed to take the small things into consideration.

Making people smile is pretty much one of the biggest highlights. And it makes me realize how I shouldn’t easily give up nor should I doubt myself.

::My Melody Macarons::

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I totally forgot to post a picture of my lovely creation I made while I was in Hong Kong! My mom’s friend and I actually registered for a macaron baking class while we were there (yes, not a typical ‘tourist’ thing you would do). But I must say, it turned out pretty successful! I finally made a macaron that was not ’empty’ on the inside! ^^. It actually wasn’t too bad, although decorating was pretty hard. My hands kept shaking and it was really tiring after. But it was all worth it in the end! They’re not the prettiest but it’ll do. My friends bought me a macaron book for my birthday, so I guess the next one I’ll try making is the passionfruit one! =D

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::Can Spring come Sooner?::

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These few weeks have gone by pretty quickly, I must admit. I started my new position with the medicine team at the beginning of January, and I must say, there’s a lot of things to learn still. But fortunately, it’s nice to have Tuesday and Thursdays off while still having that ‘full time position’ hour as I work on Saturday/Sundays.

ImageKelvin and I are adjusting to having Mochi around. She’s so adorable, and I honestly don’t know what I would have done if we didn’t take her home with us that night at the shelter. She can be a handful sometimes, but it’s all worth it. Especially when she kneads you because she misses you.

On another note, I got my friend to do the ‘happiness jar’ with me this year ^^. So far it’s going pretty well. I can’t wait to open it together on New Years of 2015! (wow… that sounds weird).

In terms of 2014 resolutions, I think the only one that I really have maintained so far is the ‘picking up a new activity’ which is badminton. I am determined to continue going every Thursday, because, well sadly, it is really my only form of exercise. I cannot wait until Spring/summer so then I can actually go out for a nice jog! =). Anyways, not much to update you about aside from the fact that I have come to adore cats so much more than I have in the past. Darn, Mochi. You have made me into a cat lover.

::Old Habits Die Hard::

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I don’t know if it’s just a personality thing, or if it’s the fact that we both have different takes on how a friendship should be. A friendship should be a two way street. Perhaps our value in this friendship is different. I would text. She wouldn’t respond. I would take the initiative to ask her to go for dinner. She would text back saying any day is okay… only to text me (after I texted to reconfirm) that she couldn’t do that day. And eventually, Friday changed to Monday and Monday changed to Tuesday. I wondered if she would text me before Tuesday to finalize the fact that we were indeed hanging out and the time/location. But of course, I caved in and texted her about that. Still no reply.

It’s just frustrating that after being friends/having known each other for about 12 years, this is what it has come down to. But then again, she has always been like that since University. Time and time again, I always have hope in the fact that maybe, just maybe, some things may change. But ultimately, I realize that some things just don’t change. And I’ll always be the one in the friendship to take the first step… and the next and the next…

::The Newest Addition::

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IMG_4074I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a ‘cat person’, however, after meeting Kelvin and watching all these cute Youtube videos and browsing through countless kitty pictures made me slowly reconsider. We had talked about eventually getting a dog, but with his current living situation, the condo just wouldn’t allow enough space for a dog/growing puppy. Instead, we had looked into adopting a kitten. We did our homework and went to the Calgary Humane Society a couple times. The first time, we had seen a litter of kittens, however, the ones we were playing with all got adopted already!

When we went on the 23rd of December, we were eagerly hoping that they had a new batch of kittens waiting for us to take one home! Aside from the long line up to wait for registration, there were no kittens in sight. We did however pass by this one room with a cute little 2 year old cat, named Dolly, who had just suddenly peeked her head out, just a tad bit. We played hide and seek a bit, and eventually she came out and stuck her head and paws under the door trying to play with us. When we opened the door, she was so calm and she came rubbing up against us (Yeah… I would prefer to consider that a sign of affection more than territorial marking haha). Nonetheless, she was the cutest and calmest little cat I’ve ever seen. After all the paper work, we decided to bring her home =]. It wasn’t a kitten, but we knew she would be the right fit for us.

Her cute 'superman' pose when she sleeps.

Her cute ‘superman’ pose when she sleeps.

She’s been here for about 6 days now and I would say she’s adjusting fairly well. She has the cutest sleeping pose that we call the “superman pose”. She found the litter box right away, which saved the hassle of us having to really train her. She’s pretty much the epitome of ~the lazy cat~ because she sleeps all day, and well at night, she’s awake but doesn’t necessarily play. Instead, she prefers to serenade us with her voice by waking us up. Perhaps she just wants a little TLC? I don’t know.

She gets afraid at times and that’s when she decides that the bathtub is the best place to hide. She doesn’t growl or hiss, which is a good sign, but then again, it’s very difficult to gauge when she’s angry or frustrated. Whenever we come home, we can be sure to expect that she’s there to greet us with a cute little ‘meow’. I must admit, she did grow on me and she’s the cutest little thing ever.

Welcome to your new home, Mochi <3.

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::Travelers Bliss::

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IMG_2031The one absolute thing I love about going on vacation is this: going to sleep and waking up to the stress-free spirit. The thought of “what shall I eat today? Or where shall I head off to today?” rather than carrying the stressful thoughts we normally do when we’re back at home.

This Hong Kong trip was absolutely eye opening. And rather relieving. The 12 hour plane ride was not though. It wasn’t inductive to some shut eye, but the final destination was definitely worth that. For the first 16 days, we stayed at the Ovolo Hotel, which was pretty cozy. There were free drinks, breakfast every day from 7-10 AM, laundry, and happy hour. Although the room was small for three people, it was sufficient to land us a place to sleep and place all of our 7 luggages.

The first thing I immediately thought about this wondrous place was that it was super busy. Regardless of the day and the time, it was busy. All. The. Time. But the buses and trains were so efficient. If only our transit system could be like this.

I pretty much went everywhere in Hong Kong… having dim sum probably about 8 times throughout the course of the 25 days… going to Cheung Chau for a day trip… going to the peak (and having to wait for 1.5 hours to simply get on the tram)… going to Lamma island for seafood… going to the ocean side and buying our own seafood and bringing it to a restaurant to cook… going to Ocean park. Couldn’t ask for more.

We also had a 4 day adventure at Taiwan, which was filled with spectacular views! We rented a taxi for one of the days which enabled us to visit most of the places we wanted to without having to waste time/money on traveling to get to those destinations.

Unfortunately all good things come to an end. Calgary gave us a little ‘welcome home gift’ on the day we landed. Snowing blizzard. Ah, gotta love Canada. I miss the food and the weather.

::October 26, 2013::

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Today was a pretty low key weekend, just like any other. Nothing really out of the ordinary. Except for the weather maybe. Its towards the end of October and yet the sun decided to pay us a nice visit before the snow hits us tomorrow. My mom and I went out for a nice little walk in the morning before heading off to eat lunch and buy groceries. Typical weekend-task stuff. The sunset was also amazing- the sky filling up with beautiful warm colors of pink, purple and blue. I couldn’t really ask for anything more.

It’s unfortunate that I had to learn through Facebook that someone I knew had passed away… When I went into work this past week, I had seen his family and my godmother and wondered why he came in (actually to my unit). Pneumonia. And when elderly people get it, it’s not a pretty sign. He eventually got transferred to ICU that same day I saw them. My mom went to see him on Friday after work, and she said that he looked just like grandpa when he went into the hospital (also with pneumonia). That in itself didn’t sound very promising.  He was just like my grandpa- He was able to walk without any aids and was often out and about on a good day… Unfortunately, he passed away today. I will always remember when we gathered together with family friends, he would always be holding onto that microphone and singing his English songs (he primarily speaks Cantonese).

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As I enjoyed the beautiful warm sun shining down on us and having a relaxing Saturday, his family was probably huddled around the room. Probably making calls and thinking of the ‘what if’ scenarios that could happen in the next few hours/days. It’s hard to imagine that these things happen every day. Someone losing a loved one. And yet at the exact same time, others are celebrating a birth/birthday or happy occasion. It’s funny how life is. It both has its happy and sad moments, and it can happen all at once. It’s easy to forget how fragile life is. In my journal, I’ve been keeping track of all the people I have lost (either personally or through friends), and sadly, I can say that I almost need extra fingers to count them all. But at the same time, I will never forget- I won’t ever let myself.

Rest in peace. 

::Mirror Mirror::

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Growing up, I always cared about how others saw me. Were those whispers about me? Why don’t they not talk to me? Do they not like me because of how I’m acting? Sometimes I do wonder to myself, “If I saw myself in the eyes of an outsider, how would I see myself?” But of course, I’ll never get the answer to that (nor do I expect to). But then again, as the years passed throughout my University years, did that answer really matter to me anymore? Why was I always in such dire need to understand or fathom such a thought? Did it matter that much to me to know that I was ‘accepted’ by society?

 

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I remember every new change in a school environment brought the feeling of butterflies in my stomach. The anticipation of meeting people always scared me, because of not knowing who I would encounter, but at the same time, it was exciting- it was a fresh start. Entering the program was nothing short of that experience. But it’s amazing how social we human beings are- it only took a matter of hours and days within the first week for people to form cliques. I’m sure after a week of orientation, everyone had already formed their initial cliques and you could, from instantly looking at who sat with whom, who they were associated with.

She’s always hanging around that one girl and all they do is just talk amongst themselves. They don’t seem very friendly at all; they just always do their own thing- Those were probably the thoughts running throughout the group of students in the program, pertaining about my friend and I…the girl who I sat beside on the very first day of orientation.  It just goes to show how easy (and how fast) we can judge one another without even truly getting to know that person. From word of mouth, we may suddenly dismiss that person as rude and inconsiderate. By observation or by indirect contact, some people are already labelled as something they truly aren’t. They are painted by colors and labels by people who have not even taken the time and effort to reach out to know them. Nor have they even been given the chance.

I always took what others thought about me into consideration. I always thought to myself, I need to smile more and change myself to make others like me. But I think as I got to know myself more throughout the years, priorities changed. I no longer felt the need to seek acceptance and to obtain confidence through the eyes of society. And eventually, the need to ‘pretend‘ to be who I am not started to fade. Which perhaps is the reason why me only hanging out with one or two people in my program may have come across as ‘cold and rude’. I value friendship- I have always leaned towards having one or two close friends rather than be a social butterfly and have 100 acquaintances. And I definitely don’t appreciate back talk (because we all know how much drama comes along with it). It also does not mean that I try not to be friendly towards others- I am still like any other human being who knows how to smile and comment on day to day things. Yes, I can carry on a friendly conversation.

I was having lunch one day with my boyfriend’s family and cousin. His cousin is someone who’s really shy and quiet and doesn’t like to initiate in any conversation really. When she went off for a while to the bathroom, her grandma commented on the fact that she’s just quiet in nature rather than acting spoiled or that she’s not interested in being friends with me… which really brought things back to reality because one may look at someone in a certain light, when really, they aren’t even close to being that. Why automatically judge someone in a negative light and from here-say?

Yes. I must admit, it does hurt to hear that negative things have been said about you. But are those people even worth the time and effort? Probably not. People come and go in your life, and those that matter most will always remain beside you. So instead of investing in so much time in those people who aren’t constant, why not focus on yourself and your true friends? Do and be whatever you feel most comfortable with. Not who society wants you to be or expects you to be. Don’t be afraid to live outside the box and be different because heck, that’s what makes everyone special. What’s the point of being one of many who simply just fade into the crowd and go with the flow?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

::Daily Gratitude::

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Happy Thanksgiving! What a gorgeous long weekend to just relax and enjoy the beautiful sunshine (before the snow comes!). It was my first year making the turkey, and I must say, it was pretty good. But there’s definitely room for improvement.

Grassi Lake

Grassi Lake

We went for a hike today and the view was stunning! It was definitely worth the trip up to see the beautiful scenery. It’s amazing to call this my ‘backyard’ where I’m surrounded by mighty mountains and serene water. It just takes my breath away every time we drive by.

There are so many things that I take for granted when I don’t take those couple of seconds to just stop and think. It’s rather peaceful. For all those app lovers, I actually did find an app to help me with it. It’s ‘Gratitude365’ that lets me track down a ‘gratitude’ a day along and you get to capture it with a picture as well. It only takes a minute to just reflect on all the small things throughout your day that made a difference, albeit small. But they eventually add up to something big. And that’s the thing that everyone always loses focus on.

Although one year has come and gone, there have been many things that have changed since last Thanksgiving. And as long as time keeps ticking, things keep changing. The one thing that never changes is the uncertainty of life. But I like to just take some time and enjoy the view of what I have in this moment. If not just for a while. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! =)

::Olive and Vinegar::

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A hang out with a friend at TD mall ended up with us staying at the Olive and Vinegar store for probably an hour. Although the store has been there for a good while now, it was only today that I first made my way into that store. If you’re a fan of olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar, this is the place for you- with a wide variety to choose from (and a delectable range of samples), this definitely was an eye opener. The guy who worked there was amazing… he showed us how to mix and match that would go lovely on a salad or pasta. At the end, I walked out with a bottle of fig balsamic vinegar! But don’t worry… I shall be back to pair it with a lovely olive oil next time.

Knowing me, of course I needed to use my newly bought ingredient as part of my dinner recipe. Off we went to buy some steak and mushrooms, and let’s just say, it works well as a marinade and as a drizzle!! It’s definitely worth a trip to the store if you are up to trying a bunch of different samples and mixing things up just a bit.

Who ever knew there could be so many possibilities!

::Another Chapter::

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If one could consider a life as a book, then another chapter of mine has been completed. I cannot believe that about a year ago, I was just a little shy of a month coming out from school and working in a rural city with no friends/family to really call “home” to. But luckily I landed a job back in Calgary and 10 months later… I’m placed in a similar position…. stressing to figure out what to do, now that this position has come to an end. Time sure flies. These 10 months, stressful or not, have finally wrapped up, and I must say, it’s been a good run.

At the beginning of it all, I used to absolutely dread Mondays. The anticipation of going into work and seeing tens of names written in that agenda for me to see that day was awful. And of course the fact that it was just Monday and that I would have to endure another 5 days until I could scream out “yay! Freedom!”. However, I can say that towards the end, it wasn’t so bad after all.

I’ve met some amazing people who I’m grateful to call my colleagues. They have put so much time and effort into moulding me and mentoring me. We’ve all shared our stresses and “problem children” stories that seem to haunt us every time we hear their name come up. But nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed the time spent working with them. Although I feel that I don’t really know a lot still… I reflect back on these 10 months with all the situations that I’ve been through, and I can’t help but give myself a pat on the back. The thing that surprises me the most is this: not only have a grown more as an occupational therapist, but that I’ve indirectly been shaped as a person as well. And yes, I must say thank you to those “problem children” because without them, I wouldn’t have grown and learned. It’s amazing how we are creatures of society. The people who we interact with inherently help us to learn and grow. I’ve learned that silence is also a form of therapy; to simply open your ears and listen to the words coming out, without interrupting them with your own words. I’ve learned that your personality, like a simple smile, can make a huge difference into a person’s life. I always say to patients, If I made you smile, then I’ve done my job for todayHowever, little do they know that they’ve just made mine with their smile alone. I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty in each person’s story… they each have such a unique background and regardless of what their medical history is, the fact is this: everyone is different. And I’ve come to appreciate the uniqueness of each person and because of it, I’ve realized more and more each day that I love to work with people (especially seniors!!!). Their smiles, hugs, and wonderful comments just melt my heart.

Although I’m nervous because of the uncertainty of what my future brings, I’ll just enjoy the time off that I have! And yes, I have a trip booked for next month to look forward to! Hello, Hong Kong! Here I come! =)

 

 

 

::Lost in Words::

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I was never one to pick up a novel and make it as a leisure activity during my free time. Amongst the textbooks and papers I had to read and write throughout my student ‘career’, the last thing I really wanted was to read some more. Probably between my University days/years, the number of leisure books/novels I read could have easily been counted with one hand.

However, after entering the world of reality, I found myself entranced in several novels that brought to light many different emotions, some of which I never thought I would feel by reading words on a page… It was almost my medium to escape reality, if just for that one hour during lunch.

The most recent book I finished was Broken Wings by Carla Stewart. It’s a compelling story that brings two women, a woman whose husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and a woman whose fiancee is controlling/physically abusive,  together through a mere incident. The novel interchanges perspectives between these two female characters for each chapter, delving into their lives currently in the present and of the past.

As a health care professional working in the hospital, this book was intriguing because it gives a life and a story to a man who’s facing Alzheimer’s. The man, who is now in the latter stages of the condition, is seen as one who is withdrawn and aloof. But through the eyes of his wife, she paints a picture of the man he was many years ago, and the love story that is shared between the two.

As the story unfolds, you realize that the two women, who may be very different in age, have more in common than at first glance. It’s as if you are one of the people that the older woman is telling her life story to… and you can’t help but continue flipping through the pages, in wonder of how her life events unfolded as she goes down memory lane.

I guess this book really brought things back into perspective and it’s ironic, because well, the next blog that I wanted to write about was about the art of aging and the stories that go along with it. But that will be for another day.

I think so far this summer, I’ve read more books than I have in the past few years. Now, onto my next book adventure! Happy reading everyone =)

P.S. If anyone has recommendations of any good reads, please feel free to drop a line! 

::Chocolate Strawberry Cupcake Galore::

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ImageSince last summer, our baking adventures were put on a bit of a hiatus. But right when I heard my friend was back in town, the first thing we did was to brainstorm what our next delicious adventure should be! And so today’s feature is: Chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes! I got the recipe off of this website which was amazing! It cheats a little in the sense that you use cake mix, but no one could tell the difference! The cupcake itself was so soft and light, which paired delectably with the chocolate cream cheese frosting on top of it. I would definitely recommend this tasty little recipe if you are in a cupcake mood (or if you just have a sweet tooth like me). Enjoy! 🙂 Unfortunately, I don’t think our next baking adventure/get together will be until Christmas, but we’ll definitely keep on looking for new and exciting new recipes to try! 

 

::Paying It Forward::

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It’s the random, small acts of kindness which always make me stop and smile. It’s these small little acts that restore my faith in humanity and that there are in fact people out there who truly do care about others without the prospect of getting something in return. I know that when I’m having a lousy day, it’s these small things that make my day again.

Kelvin and I had always bought our movie tickets as a bundle at Costco- two general adult admissions plus a bag of popcorn and two large fountain drinks. If anyone knows me well enough, they know that I absolutely have the worst bladder ever. I remember watching Star Trek in theatres, and within probably ten minutes, I had to use the bathroom again (after having -just- used it right before the movie started). So this previous movie visit, we decided to just share a drink amongst the two of us and give the other drink away to the person in front of us.

Recently on the news, there was a man who just walked into a Tim Hortons, paid for his coffee, and paid for the next $500 dollars worth of coffee. This happened once in Edmonton, and then in Calgary.

They come large or small… but don’t ever doubt that your act of kindness is not appreciated. It may be subtle.. but at times, these ones are the ones that people will always recall when they’re having a bad day… because I am one of those people. The small gesture of holding the elevator open while someone has their hands full of groceries… or whether it’s saying “good morning” to a stranger… never neglect how your actions (big or small) could have a [positive] effect on someone… =]. What’s your random act of kindness for today?

::Broken Systems::

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If there’s one thing that school has stressed within these two years, it’s this: Evidence based practice. What can we do in our day to day work to make things more effective and efficient?

Unfortunately, with some systems, the policies and structures are governed by the ‘higher state’ authorities; people who pretty much get paid the big bucks and calls the shots. And who goes through with implementing these “efficient and effective” methods of doing things? Us. The people at the very bottom of the food chain. I just find it ironic and silly how we need to enforce these rules or policies… but sometimes, they don’t realize how impractical and unfeasible it really is to implement them. Instead of figuring out ways to reduce the “revolving door” dilemma, people are huddled around a table thinking of concepts of how to better make things efficient by getting the therapists to double make their schedules and ensure that they book times with patients… even though it’s an acute care environment. Does “acute care” not ring any bells to anyone that maybe the idea of scheduling ALL appointments is unrealistic?! Yes. These things may take “only a few minutes or seconds” of your busy schedule, but how many patients do we see each day? So how many minutes does it ultimately add up to? Enough to probably see one more patient. Which would mean more patient care. But nope. Instead, we are to spend those “few minutes” to a.) double schedule and b.) to wipe down every single piece of item between each patient.

Yup. The system of efficiency.

::She’ll Never Know::

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…She’ll never know where 4 years down the road would have taken her after finishing her degree. She’ll never know what good things were in store for her in the many years ahead…

A death that hits close to home is always sensitive, regardless of whether or not you were close to them. It just brings reality back and makes you realize how easily life can be taken away. I wondered what ever went through her head while she was driving home that quiet morning… Was she thinking about the amazing time she had just a couple minutes ago with all her friends? Or was her heart racing for tomorrow because she was expecting something great to happen? Or was she simply humming and singing to the beat in the car? We will never know.

There’s one thing for certain though… She will be missed. And remembered.

RIP.

 

::Face Value::

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Louis Vuitton purse: $5,000; Clothes from Holt Renfrew: $3,000; High heel shoes: $200; Ring on finger: $2,000. Total price head to toe: $10,200.

Sweat pants: $20.00; Handbag: $30.00; Regular flats: $45.00 Hair done up in a messy bun. Total price head to toe: $95.00

Is this not the reality of what most people think when someone walks through that door? Is it not immediately that we have the innate tendency to judge people by their looks or by what accessories are attached to them? It is pretty much the case when you walk into a car dealership, that’s for sure. If those two ladies were to walk into a high end car dealership, which one would probably get the better end of the service? Which one do you think would be looked down upon?

Why must people get judged on such superficial things? Does it not mean anything to have a nice personality nowadays?… Instead, you’re ‘worth’ is purely based on the assets that you have on your body. Too often do people take you literally for face value. The harsh realities of life. But one that you do not have to give into. Why not express yourself in a way that makes you comfortable, instead of falling in the pits of millions of people who strive to fit into that “perfect mold”? Does it mean that much to look good in other peoples’ eyes?

 

::The Bystander Effect::

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I must admit, I am never one for making eye contact on the street for fear of being flagged down by a random stranger. I think the thing to go to now is technology- look down at the your phone and pretend to be busy away texting someone… or having earphones plugged in and pretending that you weren’t able to comprehend the busy-ness around you.

Right from the beginning today, I knew that it wasn’t going to be the ordinary, mundane day of my regular schedule. The bus came on time, however, it took the wrong turn, and of course, because there were so many other people on the bus, I decided not to verbalize this mistake to the driver, despite the fact that I was sitting at the front. I felt kind of bad for that actually. Once again, bystander effect. Why me when all the other people on the bus could tell him too?

After work, there was an incident that must have evolved at the c-train station which led to the appearance of multiple police cars and police on the platform. And as I boarded off the c-train and walked towards my grandma’s house, I was encountered by a grandma who asked me for help. As usual, I was very reluctant to help, let alone to just stop and listen to her story. Why me? I asked myself. However, I decided to hear her story and turns out she was encountered by 3 women who asked her to take out money or else something horrible would happen to her son. Yes. You hear about these “foolish” stories all the time. But the sad part is, people do fall for them. It’s one thing to hear about them, but I guess it’s something different when you’re truly faced in that situation of having to deal with it. And let’s just say that things didn’t go so well for her. I was hesitant to help because a.) I didn’t really know what I could help her with and b.) I truly didn’t know what I would be getting myself into. But really, I think sometimes just hearing them out is a way of helping. I ended up trying to go to the police with her and turned out the closest one was not very close at all. I ended up calling the police, and unfortunately, after 30 minutes of waiting in the cold with an empty stomach and a painful leg, the woman decided against waiting any longer. She appreciated the help, said that it was one very expensive lesson learned, and made her way back onto the train to go home.

Today at work wasn’t the greatest, and I’m just one of those people who dwell on things that simply don’t go the way I intend and blame myself for it and wonder if there was something else I could or should have done. And with these instances, it definitely didn’t help lift my spirits any more. However, I am proud of myself that I didn’t let ‘the bystander effect’ take a toll on me for the last incident. I felt that at least I did my due diligence in trying to help the lady… so yeah.. today definitely was not the typical day that I experienced.

::The Little Things::

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They always say the little things are the things that count. A simple smile. Opening the door for someone who has their hands tied up with groceries. That “good morning” at the beginning of the day.

Although I’ve only been in the working world for half a year, I truly hold this to heart. I remember one morning, one of my colleagues had mentioned that there was this one patient that we worked with, and she said she would always enjoy working with me because I always had a smile on my face. That really brought a smile to my face, because it was nice to know that something small like that (which I had not consciously realized) made such an impact to someone.

The one part that I rarely get to see is the discharge end of things when I’m at work. The part where people pack up their bags and finally step out through that door and into their car. But this week, I was able to witness that. I must admit, I was a bit anxious because well, as a ‘teacher’, you would really hope that your students would take away something that you taught them. And for me… witnessing the car transfer was definitely the first step to that because we had talked about the technique that same day. And for me to see them successfully get into the car.. truly brought a smile to my face. The husband after had come up to me and said, “see, you are a great teacher.”

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It’s amazing how interconnected we are as humans… how human interactions can affect the way we feel and think sometimes. In good and/or bad ways. It’s always easy to get caught up in your busy life, but sometimes we just need to stop and think about the little things that we do throughout the day. Regardless of what you do, who you come across, your actions will always have a ripple effect. You never know how many lives you’ll touch without even knowing it, whether you deliberately mean to or not. Which is the beauty of it all =].

::Serenity::

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The beautiful beach at Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

The beautiful beach at Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

For the first time in my life, I have finally been able to afford (and enjoy) my own vacation. One that I earned.And the first real vacation with my friends.  And let me tell you, it has never felt so good. I can appreciate the need to have vacation time… the few rare days to just drop (most) of your “normal” life to escape into the life of bliss. Even if it’s just for a couple of days. I think one thing that I have learned throughout the very short months of working is that work life balance is a huge factor that plays a role in your mental health. There’s all the time in the world to work and earn money, but sadly when you get so busy with life, you never have time to actually use the hard earned money to enjoy the things in life you once wanted to do. The irony. But my life goal is just that. To travel and explore and do the things that scare me once in a while. And so I decided to begin my journey to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

Let me tell you that no matter how many pictures you google or see on TV about the beaches, it cannot compare to being in the presence of it. The beauty of how the water can sparkle and be all different shades of blue and green… of how peaceful and serene the sounds are when the waves hit the beach shore and suddenly everything goes calm again. It’s amazing how what you once worried about in life can simply go away with just staring out at the vast blue sky and the never ending ocean.

Despite the fact that our flight was at 7 in the morning on a Sunday, it did not deter my excitement from escaping the realities of life for 5 days. The plane ride there was smooth sailing and I was glad to say goodbye to snow and say hello to 30 degree weather and bright sunshine. Although the car ride was an hour from cancun to the resort, I didn’t mind so much. The all inclusive resort definitely was a new experience for me. I rather enjoyed and got used to simply walking into the restaurants, eating, and then walking out without the trouble of having to wait for service and paying at the end. WIth only a short 5 minute walk, we were able to bask in the glory of the beach. And that’s exactly what we did on our first full day. However, we came back with red faces and bodies as I soon learned that we should not cheap out on reapplying sunscreen constantly and having aftersun lotion like aloe vera. I looked like Rudolph the rednose reindeer. The surprising part of it all was that the redness surfaced itself in blotches. I think in that moment in time, the prospect of potentially going back to a pile of snow didn’t seem like such a bad idea. All i wanted was to relieve the pain from the sunburn.

The next day was finally a day where I could really put the motto of “do something that scares you” to action. The day was perfect for parasailing in the morning. We did it in doubles/pairs, but i think next time I definitely would be willing to do it by myself. The view from high up was just amazing. No words can describe it. To my surprise, the take off and landing were effortless. For us at least. I can’t say for the people operating it though. Anyways, it’s definitely I would encourage any of you to do if you guys are going out to the beach. It just takes the experience to a whole new level. The rest of the morning was spent in the water kayaking across the water. Yet another chance to just enjoy the presence of floating in the water without any worries in my mind.

A good thing about all the inclusive resorts is that there are endless possibilities of your groups and adventures for you to seek out. We finally decided to do “jungle maya” in Tulum. We first began our day having a guided tour at one of the Mayan ruins which paired very nicely with having the opportunity to enjoy yet another beautiful inlet/beach. We then went swimming in the cave and rappelling down it. I think the scariest part of that was just the initial part of being pushed down after being strung. But from there on, it wasn’t so bad since you were looking up and going down towards the cave. It was then followed by zip lining where the 3rd and last line ended with going into the water. What better way to spend a hot day in the water? Snorkelling was up next and unfortunately I had to take off my glasses, which didn’t allow for me to truly experience the full beauty of it all in the deep and dark caves. The funny part was that because of my poor eyes and my head being in the water, I nearly bumped into rocks in the cave… several times. Because of that, my friend was able to spot me out of the group and tried to pull be back into the group. I didn’t realize how deep the water in the caves could get… to imagine the idea of scuba diving into the crevices and explore it kind of scares me. The final activity was riding in the 4×4. It reminded me a little of being in a Jurassic park movie. Overall, the excursion was definitely worth trying out because we can’t ever get this experience here in Calgary. It’s nice to do something from the ordinary and kind of expand your level of comfort.

On the last day, we made time to squeeze some beach time in before leaving. I videotaped the ocean so every time I feel stressed, I can always go back to the memory of this. 5 days sure go by fast when you’re kind of in a world of bliss and serenity. HOwever, this is just the beginning of many amazing adventures in my life. I’m pretty excited to see where I’ll end up next. How about you? Where is your next vacation?

::Food for Thought::

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At the end of the day, we as human beings are all hypocritical. You say one thing, but do another. You judge people on what they should/shouldn’t do or say, yet, you turn around the corner and do the exact same thing. But yet, do we ever stop to think about that? No. Instead, we would rather continue on our little path of being judgmental little human beings. It’s ironic how you may want society to change its ways in turns of things like what derogative words to avoid, or how you should not stigmatize these people, but how about changing yourself first? Is it harder to change others or reflect upon yourself and ask YOURSELF how you could help to change the world, even if it is one step at a time? Why spend so much time ranting and judging others about what they shouldn’t be doing, when you could spend that much time to do something productive? Yes, you might not be able to change the world in a dramatic way, but doesn’t every little step count towards that?

How can you weight two things of different properties together and judge them as black and white? For example, how can you judge having a mental issue against someone who has lost their job? How can you say that one thing is easier to admit to than the other? Nothing is black and white. If you judge two things of different values together at the same level, you are degrading it’s personal experience of it all. To say that a person who admits to having a mental illness comes easier than someone who had an abortion is absurd. You are completely defacing the personal impact and experience that that circumstance had on that person. Who are you to say that one was easier than the other, when you yourself have not even been in their shoes for one second, let alone their entire experience with that? Who are you to say what they can or cannot feel?

What about billboard ads or commercials on TV? What kind of messages are they trying to evoke about society? Is it not ironic that people fight for equality against sexes, yet it’s “okay” to just watch these commercials, which clearly distinguish the exact cause of what you judge people for?

Yup. At the end of the day, we all can be narrow minded and driven in how we want to perceive and see things. It’s one thing to discuss it, but it’s another to force your opinions on another and trying to prove a point. YOUR point. Perhaps that is the exact reason why things are never changing. We are adamant in our ways, as we think that it’s the “right” way. It’s unfortunate because despite the fact that some people may have brilliant ideas and articulate opinions, it just goes around in a circle because no one is willing to listen and accept difference of opinions. Instead, we’re still too focused on “this is what I think” and “That’s not what I said” and here’s an article to back up my point. That’s why we went to school right? To think critically and analyze everything? Oui oui.

Last point: The irony of it all is when you blame the reason why you’re hot headed on the fact that you have your period. Is that not stigmatizing and stereotypical in itself?

Quinoa salad

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I’m sorry I have not blogged in such a long time!! I hope all is well! I must admit, I have not been very good at keeping up with my New Years resolutions. Oops. But I finally did get around to making my quinoa salad! I found the recipe online and it consisted of: quinoa, cucumber, pepper, onions, tomatoes, feta cheese and sundried tomato, and cilantro. The dressing consisted of: olive oil, a little bit of honey, lemon juice (and lemon zest if you prefer), black pepper, and a pinch of salt. It was quite easy to make and surprisingly very flavourful! Definitely worth a try if you want something different or you just wanna try something healthy! Eat up! Until next time, happy eating.

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::Is Summer Here Yet?::

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I really miss the holidays… despite the fact that I barely got any days off. But I miss the atmosphere of it all. I miss pigging out on chocolates left and right. Anyways, do you ever get those days where you are just ready for summer to come? It’s only Monday, and I’m already counting the days down to when the clock can hit 4:15 PM on Friday. Yup. It was just -that- exhausting today. Somehow, the patient list on Friday went from 18 people to 32 people on Monday. Argh! But we survived yet another day. Mission accomplished. And tomorrow is a brand new day… but until then… sleep I come! Good night world.

::Home Away From Home::

20161122_104434_hdrIt’s amazing how much we take for granted, especially when we become so comfortable in our environment. Things get so ingrained that sometimes things become routine and habit… to the point where we forget how blessed we are.

The beauty of travel is the sense of novelty. Yet, it’s ironic because this sense of novelty also gives me anxiety. Take the simple things, like figuring out the bus to get you from point A to point B. Or not even being able to communicate in the language that is familiar to you. Yet it’s amazing to see these people in their own element… immersed in their own culture and seeing them in their routine.

The month of November was definitely an adventure for me. Going to Seoul for one week and then a few days later heading off to New York City. With already been to Seoul, this trip was definitely familiar to me, but being more comfortable with the people not completely understanding/speaking English. However, New York City was definitely an eye opener. The streets filled with much noise and people, and the efficient transit system. Being surrounded by the amazing architecture was just breath taking.

I love the experience you get from travelling. The friendly people that you meet in passing, whether that’s sharing an uber ride with them, or them trying to help you get through the subway terminal because you weren’t able to scan your metrocard through. And every time I travel, I feel like I’ve found a little more of myself, and that I’ve found another place to call ‘home’.

I found this sentence to really resonate with me- “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”. It’s so much more than just going somewhere new… it’s truly experiencing it with your mind and your soul, and transforming it to a deeper more meaningful level. I feel so rejuvenated from these two trips within such a short period of time, but I am definitely ready to settle down a bit more at home and just relax with the busy Christmas season coming up. But then again, here’s to more travelling in 2017 🙂

::Nature, In All Its Beauty::

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IMG_5264This weekend was a weekend well spent camping and exploring many ‘first times’ with my fiancé. We stayed at the Kicking Horse camp site in Yoho National Park (British Columbia). Luckily we arrived just early enough to secure a campsite as it was full not long after! We weren’t really sure where to go in Yoho, so of course, we looked up on Google. Of course, one of the very first suggested trails was the Emerald Lake. And… let me say… it definitely was not a let down. It was absolutely breath taking. I don’t think I ever really had that feeling of wanting to immediately get out of the car and just run to the lake and well… just admire the turquoise water. I pretty much could have stayed sitting on that dock looking out for hours on end if I didn’t have many more adventures planned for that day.

Kelvin and I aren’t really big on canoeing, but just the sight of all those other canoes out there made us want to try it. It was a bit on the pricey side, but I think it was definitely worth it! Thank goodness we did that first because little did we know what the hike had in store for us.

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We randomly chose the Emerald Basin hike which was 9.2 km return trip. The initial trail led us to believe it was going to be easier than expected since they deemed it to be “moderate”. However, it definitely proved us wrong when within that one km we had already climbed a couple hundred metres. However, the entire hike was so wonderful and spectacular. I used to think that hiking was really just getting to the end point, but this hike definitely taught me to understand “the means to the end”. The way to/from was just something different- you truly get to experience a walk in the forest/mountains… and feeling almost so alone because you seem so insignificant in comparison to all the big trees/shrubbery you are engulfed in. You end off at a natural rocky amphitheatre where Kelvin and I attempted to climb to the waterfall (but not successful).

We ended off our stroll around the rest of the Emerald Lake shoreline which was in total, a 5.2 km trail roughly. By the time we got back to our campsite to set camp and make food, we were pretty much ready for bed by 8 PM. There’s just something different about spending the weekend in the wilderness that makes you appreciate the beauty of nature.