Solo hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc

A male ibex and the Mont Blanc massif in cloud. Photo by Alamy @ The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/jul/19/trekking-tour-du-mont-blanc-the-alps#img-1
A male ibex and the Mont Blanc massif in cloud. Photo by Alamy @ The Guardian

A few days ago I posted a National Geographic article about great long distance hiking trails in different parts of the world. The first one on the list – hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc – caught my eye and I decided to book the trip! Continue reading Solo hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc

Feelings on living passionately

I’ve been having a few feelings this morning which are really nice and I thought I’d share them. One is a feeling of intensely-fulfilling gratitude for all the crazy, intense, and painful experiences I’ve had recently and what I’ve learned from them – the broken-hearted moments, the failed professional moments, and the health issues. Even when they make me feel weak, I realize they actually make me a stronger, more alive person.

Another is a feeling of incredible love for my friends and family who have supported me and held my hand through all the really difficult times and lifted me higher. Sometimes I wish I could be better at showing my appreciation in conventional ways but I just have to have faith that they understand. The people who asked about me when I was feeling down, and then checked in on me again the next day, and the week after that, and who smiled and nodded and didn’t judge me when I cancelled because I needed my alone time. Thank you for that. And there’s that difficult life lesson where you learn that sometimes you need to betray others to be true to yourself. That to help others, you need to first help yourself.

There’s also a sense of wonder at this idea of just enjoying each and every single damn moment of the day and what that really means. The little chuckles at seeing a puppy poop on the sidewalk, or two strangers nodding at each other as they pass on the street, or the sweat coming off my brow and the pain of my muscles as I run or cycle in intense summer heat. The wind blowing in my face as I cruise down the highway or the view of the Milky Way in a dark night sky. The taste of a deliciously cold beer and the pages of a good book as I sit alone in a bar. :)

There’s this feeling that I am getting better at mastering how to acknowledge what’s going on inside me and not being afraid to share that with people around me, to be vulnerable, taking the risk that they might think I’m strange, and sometimes, but not always, being rewarded with a deeper sense of connection, of friendship, of love. You know, we live in an age where technology seems to bring us closer but has the perverse effect of creating virtual walls. True intimacy and human connection can be frightening sometimes.

All of this has just reaffirmed that, more than anything, living passionately really works. To be constantly facing my fears, living my dreams, helping others, and trying to be a kinder, wiser, more passionate person. This is the best trip I’ve ever been on! Carpe diem… have a great day.

#LivePassionately

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Michael J. Fox plays Johnny B. Goode

Damn … Michael J Fox … One of my childhood heroes for his roles as the smart-aleck in Family Ties and cocky, entreprising teen in Secret of my Success (I wanted to be just like him) and my adulthood hero for his courage and joie/de-vivre while battling Parkinson’s. Last night he reprised his guitar performance of Johnny B. Goode from the movie Back to the Future – for me one of the most awesome music scenes from pop culture because it made me feel happy and alive :)

Had I known I would have flown to NJ for the weekend for this :)

#LivePassionately

Eating the mezcal worm in Mexico

Thank you everyone for all of the birthday wishes coming in. There is no better timing for your love. (cheesy?) The last 18 months have been painful for me physically and emotionally and at times I felt weak, lost, broken, and unsure where my life was headed. There have been so many people who have supported me in my journey. I’m not completely through it yet but things are starting to look up. I decided to move back to my hometown in Canada and I have a new job with a great company doing inspiring and fun social projects all over the world. The stars aligned and I am in Mexico for my birthday, investigating how to get more and better quality water to people in vulnerable situations. In order to draw a line between the past and present, I decided to seize the day and finally eat the famous mezcal worm. In fact, I ate two at the same time. Here you go. And thank you. Much love.

Great egret in South Carolina wetlands

20141025-huntington-egretA great egret (aka a great white heron) is perched atop a ‘rice trunk’ while taking in the sun as it sets over a marsh in the coastal wetlands of South Carolina. A rice trunk is a gravity-flow mechanism that uses tidal energy to transfer water from one place to another. It was used in the 17th century for rice farming; today they are typically used to create ideal habitats for birds that thrive in wetland ecosystems

When I was 14, I had trouble fitting in and felt there was no hope. And then everything changed …

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Running in a race in Quebec in 1985

I remember when I was 14 years old and I used to get bullied and beat up by the kids at school or in the neighborhood. I couldn’t play sports very well, I didn’t fit in socially and had only a few friends I could count on. I had switched schools a couple of times and often came home crying. It was around this point that my parents sent me to a boarding school, where I would be Continue reading When I was 14, I had trouble fitting in and felt there was no hope. And then everything changed …

Community-building in North Carolina

Please have a look at this photo for a moment…

This is an example of community-building happening in the town of Chapel Hill, in the US state of North Carolina. A local church and a community center organized a block party for neighborhood residents to get to know each other.

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Chapel Hill is a rapidly growing college town and that brings with it a lot of benefits but also some disadvantages. Property prices have risen as developers gentrify the neighborhood to offer student housing. But this has caused problems for some longtime locals, whose property taxes have become unaffordable, since their household income has not changed.

The block party provided an opportunity to create ties. Kids are playing games, students are dancing, people are practicing handicrafts, and folks are eating, drinking and laughing. We are connecting with each other.

Hopefully in some small way this will help us to better understand each other’s perspective on what “prosperity” and “progress” really means for our community and how people are affected in different ways by development.

What’s your vision for the community where you live? Does it match what others see too?

A sweet and simple thank you from a girl who survived a brain tumour.

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Thank you note from the little girl Grace in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of Impoverished Children http://www.impoverishedchildren.com

Pleased to share with you this thank you note from the little girl Grace in Kenya who was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year. When funds were short to pay for medical care, a small group of people came together via Facebook to raise the money she needed. She subsequently underwent brain surgery and has recovered. Here she is, back at her school in Nairobi, with a message in her own words. That’s her with her mother and the school’s principal Catherine Whiting.Isn’t she cute? This great story reminds me of that quote from Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

 

In the place where I was most happy, I believe I also learned how to be more grateful. This has had an incredible impact on my life.

I believe it was while I lived in Malawi that I finally learned how to look for, find, and appreciate the little things in life, instead of just accidentally stumbling upon them. There was something I discovered in the Malawian people that filled me with joy – happiness, a satisfaction, an interest in others, deep echoing laughs, and beautiful smiles. I saw that they had genuine interest in the well-being of others. The place was not always a barrel of laughs for me – work didn’t always go smoothly, I sometimes had trouble finding diabetic-friendly foods, the power and/or the water would go out about once a day – but it taught me to be more resilient, helped me learn to live with less, and most of all, that I could find wonder and awesomeness in these incredible little moments during the day. In every day of my life now and frequently during those days, I find myself feeling grateful for the things that happen around me. The smile from a homeless man on the street, the succulent taste of a juicy red apple, and the glorious green of the leaves on the trees as summer approaches. This is what carpe diem means to me.