Last night I was in a room full of intriguing people to celebrate a season of sharing, hope and inspiration at *Inspire Health’s inaugural gala. Everyone was there to support those living with Cancer.
The perfect evening marked an important milestone with the launch of a gorgeous cookbook entitled “Inspired Cooking” featuring 21 of Canada’s finest chefs. Four of the featured chefs were on hand to take everyone on an amazing culinary experience, as we sipped on some of the best wines BC has to offer from the Oliver Osoyoos Wine Association.
While guests perused the desirable silent auction items during reception, servers were floating around the room with the most delicious canapés from local Meinhardt (one of the sponsors).
There was live entertainment along with some moving testimonies of patients who have contributed their stories to the book, with the hopes that it will inspire change for others.
Each of the four courses were excellent in taste and presentation but my two standouts were:
Entrée: Slow Cooked salmon, ginger scented sweet potato, black garlic, tomato and shitake dashi Chef Warren Barr, The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn Tofino Paired with Church and State – Coyote Bowl Syrah
Dessert: (picture did not serve it justice) Frozen lemon, turmeric pudding with coconut cream and chia seeds *As featured in Inspired Cooking Baker Jackie Kai Ellis, Beaucoup Bakery & Café, Vancouver. Paired with Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery – Dry Rock Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay
Some of the live auction items were amazing. Here’s a sample of something I wanted to bid on but unfortunately someone else beat me to it.
A weekend to Tofino in 5-star luxury Flights for two to spectacular Tofino compliments of Orca Air, with two nights at the Wickaninnish Inn in a deluxe suite, with fireplace, soaker tub and balcony offering a forested beach view looking out at the ocean. Then enjoy a 3-course dinner at the Point Restaurant, home of refined west coast cuisine, where Chef Warren Bar and his culinary team offer to you their most innovative creations.
*Inspire Health was founded by two medical doctors in 1997 with the intention of providing person-centred care to support health and well-being for people living with cancer and their families. They provide patients with knowledge, tools and services to support their overall health, during and after standard cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and medications. All of their recommendations and programs are safely integrated with a person’s standard treatments.
They’re an amazing group of people. Each year they support a minimum of 3,000 new patients, conduct 2,000 classes and provide over 25,000 clinical visits.
The support of the evening will allow Inspire Health to continue to offer evidence-based, patient centered supportive cancer care.
They certainly inspire me to do better. Plus I cannot wait to attempt some of the recipes (including nearly 60 whole food ones) found in the book.
“Cooking is an art and patience a virtue... Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing – love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist – not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch master, but rather more like Gauguin, the naïve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love. – Keith Floyd, ‘A Feast of Floyd’
Also a time to Remember & Reflect on arguably, one of the most enigmatic poets & songwriters of his generation:
Mr. Leonard Cohen
While many of the themes in his work hinted at depression, he always felt that he was just a keen observer of the realities of life. “Seriousness, rather than depression is, I think, the characteristic of my work,” he once told an interviewer. ” I like a good laugh, but I think there’s enjoyment that comes through seriousness. We all know when we close the door and come into your room and you’re left with your heart and your emotions, it isn’t all that funny.”
No; it isn’t all that funny and it’s not just a game unless you’re Donald Trump who said:
“Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.” And that he did very well to everyone’s amazement; maybe even his own.
The Vancouver Film Festival is almost over. For the past two weeks I’ve seen my share of GLOOM to GLAMOUR through cinema and ended up going home with either a smile on my face or more often than not, with a heavy heart.Being a film critic is not as simple as it seems. Did I say film critic? Well you know what I mean..my version. It’s kind of like speed dating (not that I’ve ever done that) – you have to weed through many movies before you come across a great film. But that great one will stick with you and may even change your life forever.
I even have a film buddy now. Someone I met in the pass holder lineup from the very beginning of the festival and we kept bumping into each other, sitting together, crying at times and finally comparing films and such and sharing real life moments in time (while waiting for each film to start). We promised to keep in touch and meet up every so often to see a new movie because we seem to have the same taste in film. And let me tell you that finding the perfect film buddy is a lot harder to come across than the other more popular kind of “F” buddy.
So I have only a few more reviews to share, a very small amount compared to all that was offered at the festival. I’m sending them into the VIFF press office and hopefully they’ll decide to invite me back again next year. This has not only been a real pleasure and a privilege but a great opportunity to share with you some very engaging films and a chance to expand my audience.
These two documentaries will make you question everything you buy.
Franca: Chaos and Creation
The high price of fashion…
I was looking very forward to this documentary about legendary editor-in-chief, Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia, considered the world’s most important fashion magazine. It’s the magazine for fashion insiders to visit the territory where fashion, art and provocationmeet. Her astonishing but often controversial magazine covers have not only broken the rules but also set the bar high for fashion, art and commerce over the past 25 years.
Sozzani remains deeply committed to exploring subject matters off limits to most and occasionally redefining the concept of beauty in the process.
The film features interviews with Karl Lagerfeld, Bruce Weber, Baz Luhrmann, Courtney Love and many others. A film for style buffs.
The higher price of fashion. There’s always a cost. How much are we willing to pay?
This is in stark contrast to Franca and something to give serious thought to.
“There are three kinds of people in the world. The living, the dead and those that are at sea” – a line from the movie.
This film sheds real light on where a huge portion of our clothing really comes from. It will make you question your choices (hopefully) the next time you shop for that next great deal. Maybe we should read clothing labels like we are now paying more attention to our labels on food. Because there’s a story behind them and it’s not a pretty one. Those $20 jeans weren’t just shipped here from Bangladesh: the constituent parts traveled thousands of miles before they met in the factory. But it’s not just about clothing, it’s about everything we consume in our crazy world of WANT. And 90% of everything we consume arrives via ship so this is essential to know about. Because many of us are unaware of the consequences of industrial container shipping as it is today and has been for many, many years. And it’s drastic impact on the environment….which affects everyone and the future of the planet. But it’s not too late to make some changes…if only they will listen (but we don’t know who they really are because the owners are hard to track down).
Denis Delestrac is opening our eyes to the incredibly important implications of things we take for granted. And you won’t believe your eyes.
From the VIFF website:
Freightenedis indeed a scarifying look at our oceans and harbours, and what the behemoths and leviathans that ply our seas are doing to them. It’s all because of what we buy! The unit travel costs of huge industrial container shipments are astonishingly small, but the environmental costs are ridiculously large. Why bother to learn more? Why think global and buy local? The open seas are shockingly free of oversight and regulation. Dirty fuels, chemical leakage and animal-killing noise abound in a regime of tax avoidance and maintenance neglect, and we know so little about it. What are the plans for our Port of Vancouver?
Fall is the season for changing leaves, transformation and Galas.
Gala events of which there are plenty, always go to support a worthwhile cause.
Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is one of them
CF is a multi-organ disease primarily affecting the lungs and digestive system of children and young adults. Ultimately, most CF deaths are due to lung disease.
I always look forward to going to the Annual 65 Roses Gala because not only does it help fund research and clinical care here in BC and Canada but overall it’s a great evening with good food and a fun crowd where you get to dress up, mingle and dance.
This year we pay homage to the glitz and glamour of the roaring twenties and the Gatsby era. Flowing champagne, glamorous guests (of course) and stunning décor will set the stage for a fundraising event like no other.
If you live in Vancouver and would like to attend there are still some tickets available. Cost is $300 per person. You can purchase tickets online at www.65rosesgala.com or call 604.436.1158
Or you can send a cheque if you prefer. This is not my usual pattern to ask for cash donations but hey; it is such a good cause I decided to go ahead because I know many of you will and it will be extremely appreciated.
There is no cure, but there is hope!
Help us breathe hope into a world with NO cystic fibrosis. Then we can all breathe easier.
This was from an event last week at the Vancouver Holt Renfrew – an evening in support of CF. All the Holts across Canada gave a portion of any shopping proceeds from the evening to CF. I’m with my friend Colleen (who has CF and received a Heart/double Lung transplant 27 years ago – her surgeon was knighted) acting a bit goofy in a somewhat animated photo booth set up in the store. So it was fun to have a another good reason to shop.
So thank you in advance for whatever you decide to do to help out. XO
Timing is everything. I watched this movie entitled appropriately…..About Time.
It’s been out for a few years but that’s okay because a few years is nothing when it comes to time travel. It’s about going back in time to try and correct whatever you feel needs to be corrected. For some reason this movie struck a chord. Did you already guess that?
I mean who wouldn’t want to have the opportunity to right your wrongs (providing you have any) – or change the future as tempting as that sounds?
Anyway, I had a really well deserved lazy evening recently where I scrolled through a long list of movies and this light Rom-Com is the one that appealed to me. It was exactly what the evening called for.
So if you loved “The Notebook”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Notting Hill” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary” my guess is that you’ll love this too.
It’s about a 21 year old young man who finds out from his father that the men in his family have always had the ability to travel through time. He can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life-so he decides to make his world a better place…by getting a girlfriend. Sadly, that turns out not to be as easy as you might think.
Moving from the Cornwall coast to London to train as a lawyer, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) finally meets the beautiful but insecure Mary (Rachel McAdams). They fall in love, then an unfortunate time-travel incident means he’s never met her at all. So they meet for the first time again-and again-but finally, after a lot of cunning time-traveling, he wins her heart. Tim then uses his power to create the perfect romantic proposal, to save his wedding from the worst best-man speeches, to save his best friend from professional disaster and to get his pregnant wife to the hospital in time for the birth of their daughter, despite a nasty traffic jam outside Abbey Road. But as his unusual life progresses, Tim finds out that his unique gift can’t save him from the sorrows and ups and downs that affect all families, everywhere. There are great limits to what time travel can achieve.
So is it best to leave everything up to fate..or tamper with it if you could?Hmmmm………
Think about it. It’s that stage in meditation when you’re in that place…in between sleep & wakefulness. Meditation is kind of tricky if you’re not used to it. It sounds easy enough but it takes practice…and more practice to be able to clue out all the surrounding clatter (there’s always distractions) and be completely still without actually falling asleep while remaining conscious. At least that’s my unprofessional opinion – a*Yin & Yang effect.
We can learn from our feline friends. I think everything you need to know about meditation can be taught by observing cats. They are masters at relaxing and stillness while remaining alert.
I’ve been contemplating meditation for several years but only recently experienced it.
I have a long way to go but I’m positive that over time I’ll be able to achieve this. The very first time I was asked by the coach (yes, there’s a coach for starters) how I felt afterwards. My answer: “it reminded me of napping in kindergarten except for hearing the rattling of dishes, people talking in another room and general outside disturbances. Is there any way you can let them know that we’re in a practice so they can keep quiet for the duration?”
That’s when the coach replied that the whole purpose of meditation is to be able to quiet your mind even through the little (& larger) everyday outside distractions. The next time I was much better at it and I’ll keep getting better. Then I saw this:
Meditation & the big “O” – The Secrets of Orgasmic Meditation
We might just be the last people to this particular pajama party, but I recently found out that there’s an entire meditation practice that revolves around orgasms. Nicole Daedone—the creator of Orgasmic Meditation (OM) and the founder of its rapidly growing organization, OneTaste—explains it in broad terms: OM is to sex, as yoga is to fitness. The goal of the practice? Experiencing more connection, happiness, vitality, and fulfillment—all possible, according to Daedone, when you have the power of Orgasm with a capital “O.” As Daedone explains below, she distinguishes the Orgasmic state (a larger state of consciousness) from the conventional definition of orgasm as climax (fleeting physical pleasure).
Daedone has studied Zen Buddhism, mystical Judaism, and semantics, and the practice of OM combines distinctive elements of her diverse background and expertise in surprising but thoughtful ways. Her company, OneTaste, has a presence in 30 cities around the globe, with tens of thousands of participants. Daedone is also the author of Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm. Check out her SXSW talk that explains how Orgasm and the internet share a common purpose. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Here she answers some questions:
Q:What is the practice of Orgasmic Meditation all about?
A: It is a practice that combines the power and attention of meditation with the deeply human, deeply felt, and connected experience of orgasm.
When I first tried OM, I had a life-changing experience. It was so profound, so, “Oh! This is what is supposed to be!” that I began to investigate the question: what would happen if we rebuilt sex from the ground up, but this time included consciousness and spirituality. The same way that we have been moving from processed to whole foods, from mere fitness to yoga, OM shifted sex out of the dark, under the covers, from the shameful and often consumptive places where it used to be, and into the light. Here we can have experiences that foster our well-being. We take the most powerful impulse, the orgasm impulse, and approach it in an entirely new way. OM offers a practice through which we can harness this impulse that is a deliberate, repeatable method for accessing the orgasm state.
And there’s an important distinction that’s worth making here. I differentiate between climax and the orgasm state. Climax is a few seconds of physical experience, whereas the state of orgasm is continuous—more akin to an optimal state of consciousness brought about from the activation of the sex impulse. It’s that feeling of being so completely absorbed in an experience that there is no psychic chatter, no being “stuck in your head”; a falling away of the ego. When this happens, our sense of limitations falls away as well. In the orgasm state, we feel totally present and connected, as if a deeper intuitive sense has awakened. The state occurs both in the practice of OM itself, and it has cumulative positive effects that carry over into everyday life.
Q:Why do you believe so many women are conflicted about orgasm? And why do you think it’s so difficult for so many women to achieve orgasm?
A: I’ve worked with tens of thousands of women and I’ve not once seen a woman who couldn’t access the orgasm state. I’ve met women who can’t climax in the way a man does, but I’ve never seen a woman who isn’t capable of entering the state I’m talking about. And women are conflicted because the options available to them are not the options that suit their bodies! They’re based almost entirely on a confining definition of climax. For instance, reading arousal in a woman’s body is often more challenging than in a man’s. We’re conditioned to think “orgasm” can only be present when there’s a huge peak and release of energy (with all the attendant thrashing and moaning). But a women’s arousal can be so much more subtle. You can tune into it through swelling, juices, contractions of the vaginal walls, pulsing, buzzing, tingling, and so many other sensations. Many women may have these experiences, but discount them because they don’t conform to the conventional definition we have of orgasm.
Not only that, but women also contend with a much higher vigilance center—you know that part of the mind that’s always on the lookout for threat or danger. To get our minds to relax, root into our bodies and simply feel, is a much more challenging task for women than for men. We’re thinking about picking up the kids, the meeting at work tomorrow, how our bodies look, and on and on. So to have a practice that allows a woman to soften and shift her attention to how she actually feels is invaluable. It’s like she gets to have a sober blackout, to totally relax, and come back refreshed and with a whole new perspective.
Q:How can we incorporate some of the tenets of OM into our sex lives?
A: There are 10 key tenets of OM that we can take into all areas of life. For instance, at OneTaste, we say, “let your desire lead.” As women, we are often taught that our desire is indulgent or selfish, but true desire is at the foundation of all great things—from relationships to innovation. It’s the only force powerful enough to pull us out of the everyday routine of life, or the muck and mire we sometimes get stuck in. I’ve always noticed that beneath every complaint is actually a desire, so we train women to go straight for speaking the desire. And you know what? Women are positively shocked to discover that their partners are dying to hear specific instruction. I had one couple come into an OM class who had given up after 17 years of a fairly challenging sex life. We did a simple exercise, “Just instruct him on what you desire, the pressure, the speed, the intensity.” At one point in the session, the husband began to cry. He said all along he had just wanted to know how to have her feel good. Desire, it turns out, is vital for human connection; and we often discover that what seems selfish is, in fact, anything but.
Another tenet is “feel over formula.” Bookshelves are overflowing with books on sex techniques, magazines are chock full of “How to Please Him in Bed” articles, and yet no one seems to be finding what they are looking for. The reason is that what they are looking for is not in the technique. What makes yoga invaluable is not just a series of postures, but the added dimension of awareness one develops. That “something extra” is what we are looking for in intimacy as well. So what we teach are processes that train people how to viscerally sense each other. An example is touching for your pleasure—showing people how to touch for the pleasure in their own hands, not entirely unlike the way that they would stroke velvet or their pets. Not to get an effect, but to be present in the pleasure in your own body and with each other. The small miracle is that when we are actually there with each other fully and leave behind the toys and the feather boas or the complicated lingerie, we discover that the simple connection is what we’ve actually been craving all along. And we can begin to extend this into our whole lives. We learn to take pleasure from the experience. Not living from a formula, but from how good something feels.
Q:Your first book is called Slow Sex. What is slow sex, and why do you believe it’s better?
A: I was super turned on to the Slow Movement when I wrote Slow Sex. The Slow philosophy is not merely about doing everything slowly, it’s about doing everything at the right speed, in their tempo giusto, or exact time. It’s about savoring experience rather than rushing through it. And, most importantly, it’s about taking the time to nourish. I often talk about the Western Woman’s Mantra: “I eat too much, I work too much, I give too much, and yet there is still this hunger that I cannot feed.” It just so happens that this hunger is only fed in the slowness of human connection—coming back to basics, reprioritizing our well-being over our “doing.”
As far as being better, I have an interesting vantage point in the world. When people ask me what I do, I say, “I teach about orgasm.” Immediately following the “wow” (it usually looks like their circuits are a bit blown), they will often respond with some variation of: “ah, thanks, but my sex life is just fine,” or, “my sex life is good.” And after 20 years of practice, and after having been one of those people myself at one point, I want to say this: fine and good is not good enough. Inside your own body, you carry the most powerful drive on the planet that can be used not just to feel good but to evolve you as a human being, to incline you towards empathy, connection, and generosity both as evidenced scientifically and experientially. My wish is that our old-guard view of sex as recreational or indulgent gets replaced with the perspective that it can be used for personal and collective evolution in the most real and practical way imaginable. To use a Buddhist expression, we can turn poison into medicine. We can shift from sex as consumptive, porn-riddled, and denigrating, to a practice that heals, connects, and empowers.
Q:Is there really such a thing as a 15-minute orgasm?
A: Well, I hesitated to say four hours, because I didn’t think anyone would believe me…
I remember the first time I tried OM. My partner was stroking and nothing happened. As per usual. I was thinking this whole thing was either a very strange or very stupid idea. Or both. I had a typical range of scattered thoughts: I must be doing this wrong. I shouldn’t have eaten, my stomach is poochy. He’s kinda creepy. I wonder if we’ll get married…
Then something else broke open and I was immersed into a totally different psychological dimension. Suddenly, I started crying. I felt like something that had built up inside me—something I didn’t even know was there before—was suddenly thawing. I felt a hit of genuine empathy in that moment. Keep in mind that I had experienced universal connection in sitting meditation, but now I was experiencing it while connected to another human being. And once you have that experience everything begins to rearrange itself. Everything that blocked connection fell away and what had previously been a spotty glimpse of what was possible, was now simply on.
It was my first visceral experience of the orgasm state. And the more I practiced Orgasmic Meditation, the more my capacity to know and understand intuitively what was happening with people, to feel them, and to actually have room for them, increased. Dramatically. I was cultivating the capacity to maintain stillness of mind in more and more intense situations, which in turn allowed for presence of mind in all situations. It was not additive growth, though; it was exponential. It became something I could feel everywhere.
Q: If you could change one thing about our common perception of orgasm and sex, what would it be?
A: To date, we have been squandering one of our most powerful resources: the sex impulse. We have been using it, haphazardly, recreationally, to blow off steam when, if channeled correctly, it could be used to light up the entire power grid of connection. Orgasm—capital “O”—is so, so much more than the brief, fleeting climax we have been taught to think of it as. When we harness our sexual energy, we change the whole of our lives and become more empathetic, connected, loving human beings.
I want people to truly understand that how you get where you are going profoundly affects what you get when you arrive. We have not been taught simple ways to access what we are looking for that contribute to our overall well-being, restore pleasure, and in the process make us better human beings. Orgasm has a big promise: union. Tibetan Buddhists use it as a metaphor for enlightenment, and yet we have not seen it deliver. Until now.
Q:You’ve said that orgasm has the ability to increase our bandwidth for connection and attention. How does this extend outside of the bedroom, and is there science behind it?
A: OM changes the way we respond to sensation; it changes our brain. It strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”). And it affects our metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and brain chemistry, and brings about a state of extended deep relaxation. Similar to other mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga, these changes make it possible to develop attention and access flow states—the ability to be “in the zone.” (Recent research in Los Angeles and Philadelphia found that just three months of OM can help put you into the same alpha brain state as three years of transcendental meditative practice!)
OM also shifts our center of intelligence from the cortex system to the limbic system—which allows us to feel things like intimacy and empathy, and which has a flexible capacity—expanding our appetite for connection.
Maybe most significantly, OM bolsters the “happy hormones”—like oxytocin, dopamine, and prolactin—that are known to make us feel good (minus the less sweet side effects of medication). Oxytocin, in particular, plays an important role when it comes to how we bond with others. Symptoms of low levels of oxytocin include everything from poor social involvement to low libido, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and depression—and low oxytocin seems to be playing a big part in the breakdown of human connection. Friends who are scientists have suggested to me that female orgasm may actually exist solely for the purpose of human connection. There are two scenarios in which a woman’s body really pumps out oxytocin (which is often called the bonding hormone): childbirth and orgasm. In terms of biological evolution, it may just be that we need oxytocin in order to keep us bonded to one another, to keep our culture together.
Q: We heard you were once going to be a nun…
A: It often surprises people that on my way to becoming a Buddhist, I discovered this practice. In actuality, both are about developing consciousness and connection. Now they just call me “the nun that gets some.”
Ommmm….this sounds more like my kind of meditation!
the short version:
Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other
from the Tao Te Ching
UPS – (you will see this from time to time on my posts). It means I will be delivering an upcoming post soon on a specific topic. I want to delve deeper into Yin & Yang because it’s an interesting ancient philosophy about contrary forces which may actually be complementary. Yin Yang is perhaps the most known and documented concept used within Taoism). Stay tuned….
This might be a little off my regular subject matter but it has a lot to do with life and how women treat and regard one another. I’m questioning why some women are intentionally not supportive of other women, why some will go behind your back, deliberately try to make you look bad and play one against the other in a sneaky manner. And think they can get away with it. It’s so high school! Speaking of which…And you have to wonder where it all comes from. Why do some women purposely work against you instead of with you? Why are women so competitive? Maybe the same way men are? It’s a competitive world no doubt. But you don’t have to be nasty about it.
I don’t relate to this type of negative behaviour but I’m willing to bet most women reading this have experienced some type of purposeful hurt caused by another woman with the main intent to make you look less than, embarrass you or try to one-up you. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about right? It’s not a feel-good feeling. Here is a recent example of an unpleasant experience of mine:
A woman I know but who is not a close friend (even though it seemed like she wanted my friendship) was starting to call me on a regular basis to complain about another woman we know who did not treat her in a very respectful manner. I listened to her and it seemed that she was being treated unfairly by adult bullying (sadly, there is such a thing). I offered my opinion in that I suggested that she not come down to the mean womans level. It felt uncomfortable but I thought she was a little shy at standing up for herself so tried to help as best I could. Well….
In a strange twist of events the next time I saw these two women together they appeared buddy buddy and the woman who was calling me to complain ended up turning around in front of the one who bullied her and ended up acting just like her. She behaved in the exact manner which bothered her – she put me down right in front of this other woman. This happened shortly after I listened to all her complaining and offered the best advice I knew. And it was so unnecessary and immature of her to do so.
Did she perhaps think that by acting this way she would gain some respect? Who knows? I stepped away from the matter a little befuddled. But…at the same time knowing who not to trust. And…
This is all to say…..what gives girls?
Let’s rethink how we want to be regarded. Stop playing silly games. Your boyfriend, husband, friend, whoever will eventually get to know the real you. It may take a while but believe me…mean girls who turn into mean women never end up winning in the end.