Word // 05

Railpath copy

“From the moment we are born, people tell us that the world is like this and like that, this way, that way. It is natural that – for a certain period of time – we end up believing what we are told. But we must soon push these ideas aside and discover our own way of living reality.” Warrior of the Light, Paulo Coehlo

Advertisements

365 Photo Project

Wow. Hard to believe that four whole months of 2014 are done. Gone. Over.

When I set the intention to “be present” in 2014, it was in an effort to live fully and embrace the abundance all around me.

One easy way I could do that was to capture daily moments in photograph to savour the blessings and record them as future reminders.

Using the Project365 app I have amassed 120 beautiful photos detailing everyday moments in my life since the start of 2014.

Behold the abundance in my life.

January 2014 February 2014  March 2014

 

AprilI’m looking forward to continuing this project and seeing how it evolves throughout the year.

Goodbye 2013

2013 you have been a very FULL year. Wow. I am so grateful. (Words are probably insufficient but I’m going to give it a shot anyway.)

I feel like I have grown so much this year – and not just in size. 🙂 A lot of that can be attributed to re-discovering the highs and lows of risk-taking. I manifested new opportunities based on what I truly want and let go of what was no longer serving me – even if it was a bit scary at first. I lightened the load and released myself from unnecessary burdens. Then I made room for something else – someONE else. And boy did the universe deliver.  (That’s a neat trick by the way. Can’t wait to see if it works again!)

I know that over the last few months, in particular, there have been some growing pains and trade offs. At times that has felt suffocating but then I just take a couple of deep breaths and pull the curtains open on my heart and mind just to let more LIGHT in.

This year, I am so thankful for:

  • Growth in my marriage and partnership. When you set out to build a life with someone you love and adore, you pray that you both will be in sync and grow in tandem as the years pass. This year, we have had so much growth individually and I feel it has given us the strength to usher in growth together in 2014. This reality has given me so much more confidence and joy as we embark on our journey into parenthood.
  • All of my girls. Winnie joined our family early this year and completely changed (for the better) our little pack. Khailee grew into this amazing big sister dog with a peacefulness I so admire. (Teach me, Zen Master!) Bear, our human daughter-to-be, is already such a gift. Our life together is an embarrassment of riches.
  • My family – especially my parents, brother, uncles and aunts. These people are my rocks. They offer everything and ask for nothing.  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
  • The wonderful clients and colleagues who see value in the work I do, the experience I have acquired and the contributions I have yet to make.
  • The courage and support to take risks in my 6-year-old business and begin my reinvention tour. (More on that in 2014!)
  • The overwhelming, awe-inspiring generosity of new and old friends, family members and on occasion, complete strangers (that’s a shout out to my birth club group!). I am moved by the love and light sent to me from every corner of the world.
  • The good health with which I have been blessed throughout my pregnancy. I have a healthy body and (with the exception of some hormone-induced breaks) a sound mind. I intend for this to continue into 2014 so that I can calmly and safely bring my baby girl into the world.

Goodbye 2013.

Looking forward to sharing more in 2014 as my Year of Abundance unfolds. Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

Lives + lines

In the early days of pregnancy, feeling isolated and alone, I turned to a group of expectant Canadian mothers who had formed a “birth club” online. I have participated in conversations, asked questions and embraced the shared experience that we are all going through as we await the arrival of our babies in March 2014.

Recently, members of this online birth club have reflected on the images and feelings associated with the photos they took of themselves at the earliest stage of pregnancy. They compared their bodies from then to now and realized two important things: 1) the pregnant form is truly glorious and 2) their perspective on how they looked before pregnancy (or before they popped) was unhealthy.

I feel compelled to share spoken word artist and poet-extraordinaire, Hollie McNish’s thoughts on body image. Words that opened my eyes to the importance of embracing the laugh lines, stretch marks and “imperfections”.

Respect your body like the temple that it is. It’s the only one you get.

The Manifesto of Abundance

Manifesto of Abundance

This is the Manifesto of Abundance. It is my intention and declaration for 2014. It may seem a bit early for 2014 visioning, goal setting and/or themes. (After all there are still 2 weeks left in 2013). But the truth is that I am currently in a physical, mental and business transition so it seemed like the right time to put pen to paper.

I have reflected a lot on what my year of LIGHT has manifested. What is light? Something that makes vision possible. A spiritual illumination. Truth. Enlightenment. I know that there were some powerful awakenings in my business and self that hit around the mid-way point this past year. The rest of 2013 has centered around brightening existing habits of the heart and igniting new opportunities that better align with my values. This year was not easy-breezy but it helped me uncover the things I didn’t even realize I wanted. Now that I know what they are, I can ask for what I want and make it happen. And so that brings me to a year of ABUNDANCE.

I have known what my theme for 2014 was going to be for a while. I gravitated toward the concept of abundance and felt at home with how I had interpreted it. Or so I thought… As part of my continued commitment to enlightenment this year, I have been very fortunate to benefit from the wisdom of others. Through my participation in the Holiday Council, I got to actually visualize my future self and imagine where, who and how I would be a year from now. It was truly fascinating and not at all what I had expected. Needless to say, I learned from this exercise that my original definition of “abundance” was impossibly narrow. In fact, the happy, healthy and serene person from 2014 I encountered in my mind had experienced an abundance of peace, presence and glorious potential. As a final component of this visualization, we were guided to imagine our future self giving us something as a take-away from the year. The 2014 Kristle gave me a dream catcher and a pacifier. Taken literally or symbolically, I think that speaks volumes about the kind of year that is in store for me and the nature of the experiences I will be creating.

Have you started to reflect on 2013? Are you thinking about your intentions for next year? What is your THEME for 2014?

6 Big Risks That Have Paid Off

Risk or Reward

I have been working on this post for awhile but wanted to share it today. I see myself as a poster-child for risk-taking. I believe it is the only way we learn, grow and reach fulfillment – in life, love and work. Everyone has a different threshold for risk. I lean more toward calculated risks but I take lots of them.

In reflecting on the many risks I have taken in my own life, I struggled to limit my discussion to only six. I decided to choose a few that I thought would really resonate with others – perhaps because they too have been at  similar crossroads in their lives and took big risks to move forward.

So here are six big risks that have paid off.

No. 01 Moving to Toronto for school

At the age of 17, I had a lot of choices to make as I graduated high school and prepared to start a new chapter of my life. I considered so many different schools and cities – from coast to coast – in my decision-making but I ended up choosing the University of Toronto.

Risk: Leaving my family, friends and my home community for the big city. Being 100% responsible for myself, studies, work and so on. Going to a massive university where I could potentially become “just a number”. Becoming lonely.

Reward: A meaningful education with bridges to continuous learning over the years. An amazing community that supported the launch of my first social venture (which achieved its 10-year milestone this year!). Mentorship from some extraordinary instructors and professionals. A great friendship with a young man who 8 years later became my husband.

No. 02 Ditching my career aspirations for the unknown

At the age of 24, I discovered that my lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer wasn’t such a fairytale after all. So I said sayonara to my life plan – 20 years in the making (yep, decided at 4 years of age) – and set out to find a dare-to-be-great situation. And I found it – less than a year later!

Risk: Forfeiting tuition and taking on the burden of debt-without-degree.  Disappointing others. Disappointing myself. Possibly getting lost in life.

Reward: So many good lessons that I could only have learned from failure.  The scenic route down a crooked path.  A wicked story to tell. Self-made personal pride. My brainchild – Inspired Practice. My every happiness.

No. 03 Letting go of people

There have been times in my life that I have found the need to let go of different connections. These might be relationships or friendships that weren’t the right fit anymore. Perhaps they weren’t reciprocal or healthy. Maybe it was that they couldn’t survive change. Each situation is different and so is the rationale for disconnecting but the act of letting go of someone is universally the same. And I have done my share of this.

Risk: Separation anxiety. Feelings of hurt. Misunderstanding. Possible regret. Loss.

Reward: It can feel liberating and productive like spring cleaning for your soul. It can help you become un-stuck. It can test your courage and bring you closure.

No.04 Speaking courageously

In 2012, through a civic appointment to a City of Toronto ABCC, I received a true education in what goes on in municipal politics. In the early days, as a staunchly non-partisan citizen interested purely in the priorities and programs designed to serve (specific segments of) the Toronto population, I fell short in my duties. After a few months of feeling intimidated by procedure, deferring to the expertise of others, witnessing group think and otherwise participating in ill-conceived decision making, I realized what it actually meant to be held to a standard of due diligence befitting my role. I had to choose whether to “swim with the current” or “stand like a rock”.

Risk: Judgement from others in a highly public forum. Being labeled and dismissed as “one of those people”. General distrust of my views and the rationale behind them.  Refusal to provide necessary information to which I was entitled in order to make decisions for which I was accountable. Misrepresentation of my position in order to undermine it in the eyes of other decision-makers.

Reward: Being able to face myself in the mirror every morning knowing that I spoke (and voted) my conscience. Learning how to steer clear of “the noise”.  Being recognized by some as a “voice of reason”.  Finding and acknowledging an inner strength (and level of self-respect) I had never before realized. The satisfaction that comes with actually doing the job I was entrusted to do.

No.05 DIYing

I am a really big believer in self-teaching. Although I greatly value what others have to share, for certain things, I learn best by “doing” it myself. I have taught myself everything from contracts to accounting to graphic design and yes, even some basic HTML code. I do not profess to be an expert in any of these things but I like to think I can get by.

Risk: It takes 10 times longer to learn and accomplish a task. There can be an exponential increase in the number of mistakes I make when I figure it out for myself versus having someone tell or show me how to do it. It can be an extremely frustrating process. It can be disappointing and demoralizing to realize that achievement does not grow in proportion to effort. People might think my results are mediocre (even though I might think they are awesome).

Reward: Discovering how to be both the teacher and the student. Developing a greater ability to be resourceful and problem-solve. Patience expands with each new trial. Learning victories are hard won but that much sweeter as a result. Appetite for risk grows as insecurities shrink. New knowledge that will probably never be forgotten.

No.06 Vowing to love unconditionally

There is nothing that I like to do more than love people (and canines). Loving someone else can be simultaneously the most self-indulgent and selfless act. Of course, there are different kinds of love but despite my track record as a serial monogamist, I had never imagined being married to anyone. No, not even as a little girl did I dream about my wedding day. Yet in 2010, I surprised members of my family (who thought I might be destined for spinsterhood) and even myself by becoming the “marrying kind”. Never before had I had to make such a public (or legal) declaration of my unconditional love for another person.

Risk: Vulnerability. Rejection. Abandonment. Disappointment. Failure. Heartache. Destitution.

Reward: Love. Support. Passion. Joy. Partnership. Adventure. Self-discovery. Growth. Creation.

What is one big risk you have taken that really paid off?

Playing big

IMG_5127

It is the first full week of November and the start of my birth month. (Yippee!)

October kind of kicked my butt. But it taught me well and as a result, I have a very different outlook for this month.

The truth is, despite injury and the best laid plans, I kicked butt too. I had to be flexible and really adapt to a bunch of new realities – some of which I wanted and others I most certainly didn’t. I had to ask for help, embrace my limitations, step up my game and make decisions I had never thought I would. I had to learn how to and grow to want to let others into my world.

All of that culminated in a desire to play big. So what does that mean? For me, 3 very specific things comes to mind:

  • being present
  • inviting abundance
  • embracing generosity

Being present: As I learned last month, my inability to be present cost me my mobility – among other things – for 2 weeks. For the month of November, I am challenging myself to re-commit to a daily meditation practice (so far so good!).  In addition to my handy-dandy Meditation Oasis app, I really love the 21 Day Meditation Challenges from the Chopra Center. (The next one stars on November 11!)

Thankfully my poor little ankle is on the mend and that means that I will have the opportunity to step outside of my home and indulge in a social life (complete with real human interaction!) This month, I am letting myself enjoy life and the people who are such an integral part of mine. I am reinstating my “me time” policy and booking my calendar with get-togethers with friends and bonding time with my little Bear.

Inviting abundance: I like the word “inviting” because for me, it really is a matter of holding the space for myself to recognize and receive abundance. So what does that really mean? It means being 10 times more open about inviting others to benefit from the experience, learning and work that I do.  It means both internally AND externally valuing the things that I am best at. It means building a legacy by guiding others in generating impact. 

This month, my little-company-that-could gets to grow its reach. For the first time in the history of Inspired Practice, I have formally created a COACHING PRACTICE to support social and traditional entrepreneurs in achieving greater goals through their venture development. Not only does this allow me to do work that I love but it also means that my gifts can be utilized by so many more people to multiply impact and possibility all around the world. Now that is ABUNDANCE!

Embracing generosity: I have always been much better at GIVING than RECEIVING. Part of my journey through pregnancy has been to learn how to embrace the generosity others bestow upon me. Accepting help is hard enough but asking for it is a whole other challenge. Both are necessary in life and it is time to learn how to embrace this.

As part of the many gifts I am blessed with every minute of every day, this month I will have a very special gift visiting me for a week – my DAD. He will be here not only to spend time with me (in my ever-growing state) but also to help me accomplish some of the many home improvement tasks that I have been asked (politely) not to attempt while pregnant.

On Wednesday, November 20, I will celebrate my 32nd birthday. And with that, I will be launching a treasured piece of work called the Personal Entrepreneurship Journey. I hope it will be a gift to others as much as it has been an inspiring and productive tool for me. No birthday of mine is complete without spreading the LOVE. So on that day (beginning at 2pm EST/GMT-5), 10% of all sales will go to Care Canada’s Mothers Matter program to help thousands of mamas and babies thrive in Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

I hope you and others will join me in my November quest to be present, invite abundance and embrace generosity.  Here we go!

Perspective

Perspective

Last week I did something silly. I got distracted walking down a flight of stairs, stuck my right leg out 2 steps too far, realized I could not in fact walk on air and felt the full force of gravity and my now 5-month pregnant body as my right foot went down onto the landing. I have had plenty of trips, slips and falls going down stairs. None have ever resulted in more than an ouch and a bruise.

But this wasn’t like the times before. The initial shock and pain was different. Within seconds of going down, my right ankle swelled to 3 times its size and it couldn’t bear my weight. Some might say I was optimistic, others would argue I was in denial but I honestly thought a little bit of ice and the whole thing will be just fine. (Nevermind the fact that I had only 3 hours to go until I was scheduled to facilitate an event downtown.) I was very calm as I tried to brainstorm how I could make it all work out as planned.

After a series of calls, texts and photos of my foot, it was decided that I should see a doctor – just to be sure. (So much for my plans!) The ER was full and considerably less glamorous than what you see on TV. Not having spent a lot of time in hospitals, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After seeing the ER doctor, I agreed to have my right foot x-rayed but with added precaution because I’m pregnant. My spirits were buoyed when the radiologist (who covered my torso in lead aprons – the weight equivalent to a small child) said that my initial scans seemed to indicate no fracture. I felt so relieved. The ER doctor had a different diagnosis – a chipped bone – that would require a temporary cast and a follow-up visit to the fracture clinic the next day. Did this mean a real cast? Crutches? If so, for how long?

I was confused and overwhelmed.  My mind immediately went to challenges that would lie before me – not as much as a person but as a pregnant person recovering from a chipped bone. If I couldn’t walk, then I couldn’t exercise. If I couldn’t exercise, then I couldn’t build up my strength for the rest of this pregnancy and especially labour. Then I might not be as healthy for myself and my baby. And I wouldn’t benefit from those amazingly addictive endorphins and happy feelings that I get from being active. I would be forced to ride this crazy hormonal roller coaster without any relief. I could become depressed and stressed creating a huge impact on my little one’s development. All of these thoughts went through my mind. I was filled with feelings of regret, failure and self-pity. For all of 15 minutes.

Then I realized that all I needed was a plan and some time to figure it out. My body might be fractured but my spirit is unbreakable. The following morning I did get a cast (on for 2 weeks) and crutches. But I also got a bit of good news – no break, no fracture, no chipped bone.  It could have been the other woman who was in the ER with the exact same right foot injury who had the chipped bone. It could have been something to do with the fact that the specialist told me I have a tiny “extra” bone in my right foot that perhaps was misinterpreted as something else. (Apparently my brother has the same “extra” bone in his foot. We are mutants!) I don’t know exactly why there was a discrepancy in diagnosis. And I really don’t care. All I know is that it was the small bit of good news and perspective I needed.

I am still doing most of the things I did before. I just do it all slower, with a hobble and within a 10ft radius of my house. I am even doing some modified pilates at home until I can get back into classes. Being pregnant on crutches is a challenge. But for now, I’m still unbreakable.

My early pregnancy favourites

Early Pregnancy Faves

Well here we are. 17 weeks along and wrapping up my fourth month and first in the second trimester. By “we”, I of course mean myself and Bear (the nickname we have given our unborn child and yes, it is awesome).

My first trimester was full of ups and downs. I was totally rockin’ early pregnancy until my 6th week (so basically it was wonderful for 14 days!) then all-day nausea set in. Ugh. Followed by migraine and tension headaches. Aaah. Thankfully by the time my 12th week rolled around, I was starting to feel more like myself. I figured out a few things that worked well for me and tried to replicate those things on a daily or weekly basis as best I could.

This is what worked for me.

FOR ENDORPHINS: I read this stupid pregnancy book in my first trimester that was so non-committal about a lot of the basic pregnancy dos and don’ts yet there was a whole chapter dedicated to why you shouldn’t exercise during pregnancy. Oh brother. There was no medical rationale just an argument in favour of laziness. Needless to say, I tossed the book and went about researching good prenatal exercise classes and DVDs. I came across Tracy Anderson’s The Pregnancy Project. Since I was already familiar with the Tracy Anderson Method, read through tons of mostly very positive reviews, and liked the $30 price point, I bought the set (9 DVDs – one for each month). I managed to do the DVD a couple of times per week throughout most of my first trimester and I always felt so much better afterwards.

FOR NUTRIENTS: Back in 2012, I had met with a dietician and a naturopath to ensure I was getting the right nutrients – both in my food and through supplements. I had already been taking a (drugstore brand) prenatal vitamin with the hope that the higher iron value would continue to keep my hemoglobin in a healthy range. It was recommended that I try Genestra Brands Pregna Vite to up the dosage of iron (and folic acid for when the time came to start a family). It is not an inexpensive vitamin but it is such high quality that it was one of the few supplements I could swallow during my first trimester. (The B complex vitamin, on the other hand, made me gag every time.)

FOR NAUSEA: On the days I was extremely nauseated, little would really help to address it. Laying down and sleeping was good but I wasn’t always successful in actually falling into a slumber. Eating something every 2 hours kept the nausea at bay for a bit during the last few weeks of my first trimester. Otherwise, the only thing that really worked were almonds. Popping 5-10 raw almonds in my mouth would give me a bit of energy, some calories from protein and something substantial in my stomach. I could carry them wherever I went and they always gave me some relief before the next wave would come.

FOR SANITY: I found early pregnancy to be one of the most isolating experiences of my life. You can’t get any information from your doctor or midwife about your baby until 10-12 weeks in. You can’t talk to anyone else about it because it might not be a “sure thing”. You experience so many weird sensations and symptoms. You “google” said sensations and symptoms only to find out about a million little things that can go wrong. You are hormonal, nauseated, slow and unproductive but can’t explain these things to others for fear of raising concern or suspicion. I wasn’t a woman-in-charge anymore, I was a total basket-case who, at times, teetered on the edge of losing her sanity. So I turned to meditation as a way to “get a grip”. I downloaded the Meditation Oasis Podcast app and haven’t looked back. They have some great meditations on gratitude, stress, patience and yes, even pregnancy.

FOR FUN: I picked up quite a few pregnancy manuals when I first found out I was “with child”. (I stayed away from books that I had heard were extremely alarmist.) Most of them were not the right fit for me. Then I came across Fit Pregnancy magazine and loved the content. It seemed like just the right dose of everything I was looking for. I bought a digital subscription via Zinio and look forward to each new issue.

FOR MEMORIES: I started a Word-based journal the very same day I peed on that all-important stick. The journal had two kinds of entries: some were more about my pregnancy and the experience, and others were letters to Bear with memories or stories that I would want to document and share with him/her. I found this adorable illustrated Fruit of the Womb journal on Etsy by Megan Elizabeth Gilbert. Now I use it to record pregnancy milestones and reflections. My letters to Bear have been transferred to an electronic book with weekly photos that I will get published after his/her birth.

FOR ENERGY: I started to drink a ton of water at around my 9th week. I found myself getting dehydrated. The thing with water is it is refreshing and thirst-quenching but not packed with energy. So I would take a carton of coconut water with me on-the-go and it did wonders for my energy-level.

FOR RELAXATION:  The acute sense of smell that one develops during pregnancy is not all it’s cracked up to be. There were few scents during the early days that I actually found appealing or could tolerate.  Lavender was pretty much the only exception. So I kept a bottle of essential oil near my bed and desk to relax and revel in something comforting and familiar.

My 20 year journey as a vegetarian

I became a vegetarian at the age of 11 because of Paul McCartney.

It was May 21, 1993 in Winnipeg. Former Beatles’ member, Paul McCartney was in town on The New World Tour with this band Wings.  I was invited to join my mom and uncle at the concert. The star of this tour happened to be a living legend and the greatest songwriter of his time. Possibly all time. What music-loving kid would turn down that invitation?

It oddly wasn’t Paul’s music that left the greatest impression on my young mind. It was the eye-opening images of animals being slaughtered on screen during his concert. Paul and his late wife Linda, who were out-spoken animal rights activists and vegetarians, used their concert stage as a means to expose the reality of how a cow becomes a hamburger.

It wasn’t rocket science but I will be honest, it really wasn’t something I had given much thought to. I didn’t grow up on a farm. I didn’t live off the land and I didn’t think about what I was eating. Soon thereafter, a whole flood of questions surfaced, a lot of research took place and then a big decision: I would become a vegetarian.

This year, marks 20 years of life as a vegetarian. Paul McCartney may have been the force behind my becoming a vegetarian but a whole lot of other people far more important are the reason that I still am.

There is one person, in particular, to whom I owe such gratitude for the privilege and ability to be who I am today: my dad. This is a story that I have never told anyone.

It was December 11, 2000. I was a 2nd year student at the University of Toronto.  I had just finished a series of late-nights working on papers and prepping for exams. When I finally returned home that day after my final Environmental Ethics class, I found a party in my living room. It was a small get-together and I was ready to celebrate.

I was chatting it up with perfect strangers when I ended up in a discussion with a young woman. We got to talking about the class I had just wrapped up and the profound revelation that had come as a result of a really candid conversation with Professor Sumner about what his ethic was in relation to the spectrum of environmental ethics. It was through this casual discussion with Sumner and a few other students that I realized that this perfect notion of a vegetarian or vegan was total garbage. There was no objective standard. People so often forget that perfection is the enemy of good. So afraid to be judged as hypocritical, it paralyzes us from doing anything. This professor helped me see the grey. But it was the girl I was speaking to that night who helped me see the light.

By 2000, I had been a vegan for 4 years and vegetarian for 8. I did it my own way, at my own pace and despite being ridiculed.  This naive young woman that I managed to get stuck talking to explained with painful conviction that she couldn’t attempt to be a vegan because she knew she would “fail” and so “what was the point?”.  I wanted to be helpful. I thought if she wanted to do it, she shouldn’t let the fear of judgement stop her.

I remember telling her that I could never live up to a standard of perfect veganism. Oh sure I could avoid eating any kind of animal product or by-product but unless I made every bit of food I ate, I could never be certain. I explained that I could choose not to don wool sweaters or buy leather belts but that didn’t change the fact that I would continue to wear the shoes my dad had made for me in the shoe factory at which he had worked since my life began.  (You see by then I already knew that wearing my 7 year old hand-made-by-my-dad leather imitation “doc martens” was more sustainable than going out and buying brand new toxic, plastic shoes.)

I smiled encouragingly as if to show that I was human too but it had never stopped me from trying to do the things that I felt were right. For me.  I said, “I’m sure you understand that it would be ridiculous to think that in order to be a perfect vegan, I should have to disown my dad because he earned his living making leather shoes.”  To which she retorted, “But that doesn’t mean you had to accept his money.”  To her, it was such a clear choice: reject my dad’s livelihood and financial support or dare to be a hypocrite.

A feeling of rage came over me. Who was she to judge me? Nobody. Her only act of conviction was to tell me that I wasn’t a good enough vegan. People who hide behind their ideals but are too afraid to take a risk to achieve them have never interested me.  I resisted the urge to overreact.  Instead, I just stood up calmly and said to her, “I would rather be a hypocrite than in anyway belittle a self-made man who has worked since he was 15 years old to feed, shelter and provide for his family. Rejecting my dad’s money wouldn’t make me a better person or a better vegan, it would just make me ungrateful.”

Not unlike the Paul McCartney concert, that night in December 2000 was a defining moment in my life. It changed how I saw myself. I realized then that I wasn’t afraid to be my own person, to be true to my beliefs and to act on them. Perfect or not.

I often credit my mom as having contributed to my success as a sustainable vegetarian. She helped me learn about nutrition and taught me how to cook so that I would always enjoy food. But my dad’s role, though much quieter, in my journey as a vegetarian was more profound. He never judged me or belittled my unconventional choices – as strange or extreme as they may be. To meet the challenge of being ridiculed during my youth or judged in my adulthood for my vegetarianism, my dad gave me the humility to know where to draw the line and the veracity to be myself. And for that, I am absolutely grateful.