THANK YOU

800 year old Douglas Fir tree in Cathedral Grove. Still going strong.

800 year old Douglas Fir tree in Cathedral Grove. Still going strong.

I can say without a doubt that this past year has been the greatest milestone i’ve achieved in my life. And no…i did not put more letters behind my name, got married or landed a million-dollar job (i wish!), but because I’ve started to really embrace this gift we call life and have learned to become more content with simply being Jenny. It sounds simple but those who know me well,  I used to be pretty hard on myself and very uptight (in general).
    I would say one of the best decisions i made in my life was deciding to travel for 2.5 months and see the world for its true colours – to throw myself into the unknown and spontaneous life of a backpacker. It’s hard to believe one year ago today, i was all stressed out trying to stuff my backpack with summer and winter clothes and “the essentials” for my trip to Europe and Morocco, all the while pulling back tears from a break up that I had partially blamed myself for.
      The trip taught me one of the commandments i set for myself at the beginning of the year: Lighten up and smile when in doubt. Somethings just don’t matter if you look at the grand scheme of things. “The essentials” that i packed were really not THAT essential compared to how Moroccans live their day to day life. For instance, at my host family’s house, i had to ask for toilet paper. It wasn’t something that was essential for them. Even the quality of the paper was sub-par…not one-ply by American standard. On top of that, I showered with a hose and flies flying everywhere. I could choose to be miserable about it for a month, or make light of it and be glad i have running water. I now laugh at myself for having stuffed the last empty space in my backpack with 20 granola bars….(just in case those moroccans didn’t feed me well!) LOL.
        The next commandment was : No judging. Coming from a Chinese family, we judge a lot. Parents judged other families and their kids, aunties and uncles judged their friend’s daughter’s husband’s blue-collar job, neighbour next door judged what car you drive…so on and so forth. Traveling and meeting people from all walks of life meant i had to hear their story first without judging what kind of clothes they wore, what they smelled like, or what their skin colour was.  I was amazed that when i stopped forming an opinion of someone without knowing them first, I met some of the most amazing people, including an Argentinian guy named Jose that bunked below me in Ibiza and offered to brew me tea that he brought all the way from his country and using his own teapot to cure my hangover.
          Some of the other commandments were:
          1. Slow down and enjoy the process. *Check – to continue* ie. instead of rushing in the morning to get ready for work, i now set my alarm 10 mins early so i can enjoy my coffee and breakfast, and watch some news before i head to work. This sets off a good tone for the rest of my day and i feel more relaxed.
          2. Be truthful to self. To not be in denial. *Check – to continue* ie. Sure i liked his sail boat, or his fancy stereo, or how hot he looks in a wet suit…but if i’m not in it for the right reasons, let’s not waste each other’s time.
          3. Be generous: *Check – to continue* I wanted to be generous with my time.  For those who know me well, I’m very much a ME-TIME person. I wanted to share more of my time with friends and people that matter most to me. Thanks to that, great company helps to boost happiness and i also made some wonderful friends along the way!
          There are others but I’ll have to write the Happiness Project V. 2 if i carried on further. I do highly recommend that book. Some of the above is adapted from Gretchen’s best-selling book.
            And with all that said, isn’t that something to celebrate for? I would not have been able to do this without my fabulous friends, and my supportive-and-at-times-critical sister. Each and everyone of you are a gift in my life. As i’ve seen recently, health can take a 180 degree turn overnight. So i’m so grateful to be able to do all the things i am able to do – going surfing, getting better at swimming, finally joining a sports team…all of these things i’m so happy to be a part of. And to my most loving mother who brought me to this world 27 years ago today, I miss you so so much. In the end, you taught me that only love and happiness really matters.
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                Summery

                Wow! It’s been a while since my last post but summer is always packed with friends’ visits, weddings and the miscellaneous dinners and parties. The last two weeks, I also found myself feeling completely exhausted and I had to force myself to take my iron supplements again. It’s finally kicked in after 10 days and I’m feeling more rejuvenated. My write-up on iron supplements will be posted soon when i stop procrastinating on that project.

                This week, i’m reminded of how lucky I am to have such amazing friends in my life. My last fb status was about how true friendships can last no matter the distance or time between us. Having moved to the island, the friends that i grew up with or went to school with are still a big part of life whenever I go home to visit. There’re those that live here on the island who are super active and fun to be around. They influence me in a positive way and I’d say without them, my island living won’t be as fulfilling or as active as it would be. Finally, the ones that live miles away, thanks for the calls/ texts/ likes!

                While laying in bed at 2pm sat afternoon trying to fight my headache, I picked up a call from a friend living in calgary and I probably would not have picked up otherwise if it weren’t him since i hadn’t heard from him in a over a yr. back in high school, there was a healthy competition between us in physics. years later, he still calls me once in a blue moon to check up on me and we’d pick up from where we left off. If you’re reading this, I have so much respect and admiration for you after what you been through. You’re an inspiring friend and a true success story!

                Picture highlights from the past few weeks

                A get-together and fare-well party at Darcy's

                A get-together and fare-well party at Darcy’s

                At Niagara Falls. First stop on an up-island excursion with Adam who came all the way from DC.
                Niagara Falls of the West Coast – First stop on our up-island excursion with Adam who came all the way from DC.

                Goldstream Park
                Goldstream Park

                Kinsol Trestle

                Kinsol Trestle

                One of my besties visiting from Vancouver

                One of my besties visiting from Vancouver

                Quality time with my new table-top easel

                Quality time with my new table-top easel

                Buck-a-Shuck Time!

                Buck-a-Shuck Time!

                Jazz Quartet featuring Noah on the Sax, Hermann's Jazz Club

                Jazz Quartet featuring Noah on the Sax, Hermann’s Jazz Club

                Farewell Party for Max. An amazing couple <3

                Farewell Party for Max. An amazing couple ❤

                Hiking with Jess and Zoe at Mt. Work/ Gowland Tod.

                Hiking with Jess and Zoe at Mt. Work/ Gowland Tod.

                Finally, I’d like to share with you my hearty Sunday Night Dinner.

                Roasted root vegetables with rosemary; Israeli Couscous and roasted tomato; Caramelized onion on grilled chicken

                Roasted root vegetables with rosemary; Israeli Couscous and roasted tomato; Caramelized onion on grilled chicken

                Roasted Vegetables: From Jamie’s Food Evolution Cookbook.

                Boil desired root vegetables (i used potatoes, yam, beets, radish, garlic) in salted water x 9 mins. Drain well and drizzle with olive oil, s & p, and desired herbs (i used rosemary and basil). Bake at 400 until golden and crisp. Around 45 mins.

                Israeli Couscous with Red Quinoa and Italian Orzo: purchased a bag from costco. Cook with instructions provided.

                Caramelized Onions: Absolutely to die for and goes well with so many things!
                I added some mushrooms, a pat of butter and 1 tsp of brown sugar towards the end. Trick is to constantly stir and scrape bottom every 3-5 mins. Total time: 30 mins stovetop.

                Lime-Honey Baked Chicken: I would marinate it for 2 hours or less next time to lower the saltiness. Also added cayenne pepper and cumin as suggested and a dash of sesame oil. Baked for exactly 20mins. Perfectly moist and complements perfectly with the Caramelized Onions.

                Thank you so much for reading! Have a fantastic week ahead.