Sunday, April 20, 2014


"Make these broken weary bones rise to dance again..."

The above is a line from a song called Garments of Praise that I often reflect upon during Easter weekend. Regardless of our spiritual beliefs, the story of Easter gives us hope that people can be re-born and lives can change no matter the situation. We're reminded of our own crosses, and if we're open enough, we might even feel a gentle nudge from... somewhere... reminding us that we're never alone, that there is a plan for our lives, and that the weight of the things we bear can be made lighter by asking for help.  Humanity, so loved by our Creator, is reminded on this day that we too can rise again. In fact, I often wonder if that's the ultimate gift we have the power to give back in this life; to rise up, rise forward, and rise above forces and situations that conspire to bring us down and take us away from a place of love - for others, but mostly for ourselves.

To be able to gaze unabashedly into a reflection of our own lives, and stare lovingly across at ourselves with no judgement or criticism - when we can do that, it becomes so much easier to suspend judgements about others. And when we get out of ego and get out of judgement, we are gifted in return with Peace.

If only it were that easy, right? But as I sit and puzzle through my thoughts, I become consciously aware that the peace I seek is constantly plagued by road blocks. Those things that effect my personal journey and take me from one path to the next. One day it all seems perfect. Everything is going just right - sometimes over a long period of time - and then, seemingly from out of the blue, a slow unraveling begins.

It happens to all of us and because we're each so different, the things that unravel me may not be the things that unravel you, and so on. But the interesting point is that when we have lessons to learn about the things that keep us from peace, teachers will appear in our lives; and they're not always the  ones we refer to as our favourites.

Lately, my most powerful teachers have been my critics. People who seem hell bent on reminding me in ways both big and small that I don't quite measure up. Like today when some guy named Mohammad went off the rails on me over a recipe for cheese bread I posted via my YouTube cooking channel CHARMED. He called it a " salty waste of time" and, though I know it seems silly to get bent out of shape over bread (with fresh herbs and cheddar, thank you very much) - this one came at the tail end of another more hurtful review recently delivered in my professional life; one that I have been giving too much of my time and energy to. 

The kicker is, I can't tell you how many people love my recipes, or the programs I develop and deliver for work because for me it doesn't matter. In my life it just seems to take that one fly in the proverbial ointment to ruin it all. And it's always when I'm riding high that those particular bugs crawl out of the woodwork.

Although on most days I'm a self assured person who could care less whether or not Mohammad likes my bread, we each have times in our lives when things hurt a little bit deeper - because, truly, it's never about the bread. It's about how we feel about ourselves - the person making the bread - that informs our reactions.

"Make these broken weary bones rise to dance again..."

Our lives are informed by our past and our experiences; and somewhere within my being - the person who believes that kick ass self acceptance is the only state of mind in which to live our lives - I'm being reminded by my six year old self that it isn't always that easy. No matter our age, the pieces from our childhood left broken and unhealed tend to re-visit us throughout our lives; re-creating the same feelings of pain and abandonment we felt as little kids. "Do they like me?" we ask ourselves when we meet somebody new. "Am I good enough?" we wonder as we gaze upon lives that seem more fulfilled or more happy than our own, and "Do I belong?"

And it's on those days I'm reminded to thank the Mohammad's of this world because with every nudge and every criticism, I'm given an opportunity to heal myself. I'm given a second chance. Though arrived at in an arduous or painful way, in the end I have been given an opportunity for resurrection. To rise up, and out, and above.

And so it goes.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Karmic Relationships

*Disclaimer* Today's fare may be a bit of a mind bend because this is a "World according to Lyndsay" download.

To my mind there are four groups of people in everyone's life:
  1. Strangers
  2. Acquaintances
  3. Friends
  4. Karmic relationships
And given that most of the over 7 billion people who inhabit the planet have never heard of you or me, it makes sense that strangers make up the largest group. Billions of people right this minute are going about their business with absolutely no idea we exist. In this light our angst, suffering, joy, and anxiety become meaningless in the grander scheme of things - but if we dig a little deeper, we would find that the essence of our significance is found in relationship.

I have many acquaintances, fewer friends, and a handful of interesting karmic relationships on the go at present. And while I don't have to define what an acquaintance is, there is a distinct difference between friends, and people I'm exchanging karma with.

Friends are easy. They come and they go; and though some of them may also fall into the karmic relationship group, many do not. They are in our lives because we share a few things in common and we enjoy being in their company. There's an easy give and take that defines the relationship and very little drama.

Karmic relationships are the opposite because these are the relationships that hold the power to give us the greatest joy, or the most soul depleting heartache; and sometimes a little of both. Pretty much, if you are in love with someone, at odds with someone, or have strong emotional ties/feelings/angst/etc with someone, chances are good that the two of you are swapping karma.

Another hallmark of a karmic relationship is that these are the people we remember meeting with great clarity. To this day, I can transport myself back to the evening when I first met my husband. I remember what he was wearing, how I felt, and what I saw in his eyes. Although I had no way of knowing at the time, something about our meeting told me this was going to be interesting.

And it was. And it has been.

Conversely, I can also recall the day I met one of the most difficult people I have ever known; right down to the last detail. Once again, I can situate myself there in an instant and once again, the distinct feeling that this was going to be interesting.

Because I've never been one to keep my spiritual beliefs under wraps, those who know me understand I'm a Zen, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim with a little new age whaterism thrown in just because. In other words, I have never been a person who believes there is only one path to God because in the immortal words of Carlos Castaneda “Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path..."

Keeping that in mind, my path of spirituality has always included the concept of reincarnation; the notion that we have lived many lives and that the very essence of our soul's being is to learn and grow in order to find compassion. In order to become love.

That said, it makes sense that the most important relationships in our lives aren't always easy because it is often from the places of the greatest discomfort that the most learning occurs. And in the very best of karmic relationships; in marriages or partnerships, families, or with close soul ties, there is often a little of both.

This is all good news because it teaches us is there are gifts to be found in even the darkest relationships. With this understanding it becomes easier to find our compassion. With this understanding it becomes easier to let go of anger and despair and with free hands grab the brass ring of happiness which has always been, and always will be, Love.

I'm probably going to write more about this topic in the month's to come but for now I'll leave you to mull this one over. Regardless of our spiritual beliefs, there are many ways to frame the idea that our most important relationships have the power to hinder or heal us. At the end of the day, it's the way we view the people in our lives that will determine if our path is one of compassion or not.

"Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you."

- Carlos Castaneda

Until next time everyone!

Be well...


Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her on her blogs, The Kitchen Witch, Just. That. Fabulous. or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Kick Ass Acceptance: A Simple Formula for Happiness

It's officially spring and as I look outside my open window, soaking in the wonder of new growth, pink budded trees, and bees in flight after the long sleep of winter, I'm filled with gratitude.

I survived another November.

Another January.

The two months out of the year that make every attempt to kick me in the ass and drag me down so that despite my best efforts, they result in an inevitable turn toward pie crust as a way of self medicating.

And I'm okay with that.

Once upon a time I made sweeping gestures and bold statements like: "This year I shall verily conquer November! I will be happy all month or die trying!" or "January is going to be the ride of my life!" 

But as I've gotten older (and yes, there are many benefits that come with the passage of time, people, that's what this blog is all about!), I've come to realize that despite a global movement toward 24 hour happiness, most lately courtesy of Pharrell, we weren't meant to be happy all the time. Further to that, it's okay to be sad, grumpy, bitchy, depressed, excited, enraged, or anything else in between because the long and the short of it is that life isn't always easy. Or as M Scott Peck so brilliantly put it:

“Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” 

When I allow myself to accept things just as they are, it frees me. There is no longer a need to fight back or rail against the ides of March (or November). With acceptance comes the knowledge that I can sink into my months and wear them like a warm pair of pajamas. I can make like Yogi, and hibernate with my picnic basket filled to the rim with the things that give me comfort: soft blankets, warm pie, deep wine - accepting the very things I once viewed as enemies as my salvation rather than my demise.

As I do this, I learn to accept myself as not flawed, but as simply human. I re-frame the way I think and resist the urge to chastise myself for "being bad" because January the 15th has me reaching for a bag of chips. Instead I congratulate myself for good self care. The chips got me through another day. I went to work. I smiled at people. I helped a friend. I held a hand. And no one but me and the chips knew how hard that was to do on that particular day.

And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying "Go out and smoke crack if that's what it takes to get you through." I'm saying, "Understand the reasons why you wanted to smoke it in the first place and accept the beautiful person you are underneath the expectations."

I know. Easy, right?

The thing is, if there is a door to happiness, or at the very least a little more happiness than what you're experiencing now, the key to unlock it is self acceptance because when we have that, we have everything.

When we accept ourselves in all of our injured glory, it becomes less important to show the world how strong we are. How bold we are. How rich we are. Or how whatever we are because we know who we are. We're no longer invested in external validation to tell us we're good enough because we've filled ourselves from the inside out.

I call that Kick Ass Acceptance, and for me, it has changed almost everything.

I say almost because, though I reach for my picnic basket with less frequency and more joy; relishing in the tastes and textures, I haven't been completely exempted from my lifelong battle with the afterglow of guilt.

Last week I made the following comment to a colleague: "I feel like Fatty McFaterston" after eating an entire Reuben sandwich and an ill informed half plate of onion rings. Luckily for me, I work with wonderful people and he promptly replied with genuine sincerity "You're not Fatty McFaterston."

That just made me smile.

It helped me to remember another important truth about life: That though external validation need not be the only thing filling our empty spaces, having a few good friends and people in your life who love you and are willing to fill the gaps on days when you're not kicking ass is a treasure that cannot be replaced.

As for me, I've turned my annual six month corner from out of hibernation and into action. This is the time of year I get energized. I set goals, I add to my bucket list, I LEAP! Two years ago I crossed "Run an 8 k road race" off my list, so this year I have added a new item: "Run a half marathon."

I plan to do this in October. I began training today.




Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How to Take Off 20 Pounds With Your Outfit

The Man I Married (also known in some circles as The Pool Boy) decided to change the living room around while I was sleeping in. This because the place where he sits on the couch to read and watch TV has recessed over the years causing issues with his back.

Ever one to solve a problem, he got industrious this morning and endeavoured to move a back friendly chair into our prime TV watching spot, thus turning my universe upside down. Why? Because he changed the couch placement without consulting with me first. On more levels than I can explain this is not a good thing for me because:
  1. I do not care for change.
  2. I am now situated in a new seat and it isn't working for me.
I feel too low to the ground. My computer sits haphazardly on my lap. And don't even get me started on butt indentation because with the way he placed the couch I am now on the recessed spot that his butt caved in over the years - and my butt isn't happy about this.

By now you're probably thinking "What does this have to do with The Menopause?" and to that, I would like to respond "Everything."

Men should Pause before they take any kind of radical household action.

Take a moment to discuss while I get through this hot flash.

All that said, it occurs to me that I'm becoming set in my ways - which is way too early! People shouldn't even begin to get set in their ways until they're at least 85; and even then, I'm not so sure it's a good idea because resistance to change is a sure fire way to eliminate adventure from your life - and without adventure, where would the fun be?

And I'm not even talking about the big adventures like back packing across Europe or jumping out of a plane - no. I'm talking about the little everyday adventures we can still strive to have - like keeping updated on our hair styles, and not getting stuck in fashion ruts - a hole I have found myself sinking into on more than one occasion.

You know the drill. You're a certain, age or a certain weight. You don't fit into the same kinds of clothes you used to, and the florescent lighting in the change rooms at most retail outlets is enough to send you down the chip and dip aisle in fits of silent desperation.

Or, you've become set in your ways and cling stubbornly to the ghost of fashion past either by wearing ill fitting clothing, outfits that are too young - or worse, fashion that dates you or isn't flattering.

Now before you get irate at me, yelling "TOWANDA! Women are beautiful in many different packages - what about beauty from the inside out lady?" please know I agree with you. But I also think that when we get stuck in ruts - like the one I was in when I started this blog - we might not be feeling as marvelous as we could and in the immortal words of Billy Crystal, "When you look Mahvelous, you feel mahvelous." So this is about my journey back toward fabulousity, finding fashion and ideas that work for me. If I inspire a few people along the way, awesome.

So, on this day of great change and upheaval in the life of my couch and rear end, I have decided to embrace the new. In honour of that I'm going to introduce into my fashion repertoire something that is on trend, that I see pinned all over the fashion boards on Pinterest, and that I have seen very few women of my age and, erm, stature, wearing: The Skinny Jean.

A clothing item I would not have, in a million years - no make that a trillion - ever considered wearing. But that was the old me. The one in a rut who said things like "I feel invisible," while she ate pie. The new me sits on couches with new grooves and says "To HELL with that!"

And verily, I have purchased a skinny jean. But here's the thing. When you want to freshen up your wardrobe by adding clothes that are on trend, when you reach a certain age (and by that I mean anyone over the age 22), you want to balance out the trend with other more classic elements. Second, and this is so important I want you to indelibly etch it into your brains - you HAVE to wear the right shoe. And by shoe, I mean pump, or boot - not a sneaker, cheap flat, or running shoe. People, I feel very strongly about this. Running shoes, by law, should never be worn anywhere outside of a gym.

Let me show you.

I've put together a few looks featuring the skinny jean to demonstrate how someone like me can go from a Fashion No to a Fashion Yes in a matter of minutes simply by pairing said jeans with the right shoes and looks.In the process, you will see first hand how the fashion choices we make can either add or detract weight!

Let's begin at the beginning with a fashion faux pas I see many women of my age (and size) making: Teaming up tights or skinny pants with an over-sized shirt and a pair of flats. While this look may have looked good on Gidget once upon a time, it does not work on most women (unless you are 5'11 and weigh less than 120 pounds). Even then, it's questionable.

Case in point...

Fashion No

Okay, so let's take little time to improve the look. Start by opening the shirt to make it into a jacket, add a belt to give some definition to the body and lose the ugly flat shoes, replacing them with a flat boot.

Fashion getting there...
We now have a definite improvement - but we're not there yet. Sure, this outfit would be okay for, say, mowing the lawn - but do you really want to bump into your first love from high school at the grocery store wearing this?

I didn't think so.

Next look...
Fashion better...

Do you see it slowly getting better? First, I removed the denim shirt - and let me just say, it looked a whole lot better in my mirror than it did in the reality of a picture so take the time to get pictures of what you wear! You might be very surprised by what you discover..

I kept the belt for definition as I'm an apple shape and really benefit from the illusion of a waist. Next I added an elongating drapey black sweater and a universal scarf to keep the look casual - you know, for that trip to the grocery store!

I'd be okay meeting up with people from my past in this...

However, I still think I can do better.

Remember what I said about shoes? Well it has never been more important than it is with the skinny jean. Pretty much, if you have the nerve a rock a pair out, I want you to go all in with it and pair the jeans with a pair of awesome heels or boots - making sure to avoid anything clunky or shoes with a rounded or square toe. You want that elegant point because it does amazing things for the legs - as does the height you'll get from wearing a heel. 

People, there is a reason Carrie Bradshaw loves her Manolos.

Fashion Awesome

Let's recap...

From Don't
To Do!

And that, my friends, is what they call a wrap! I'll be having more fun with fashion in the weeks and months ahead because, as a girly gal at heart, I am reaffirmed by the belief that Fabulous is as Fabulous does!

Now go out and make some noise!! The world needs to hear from you.

And then dish! Do you like change? Got any fashion faux pas to share with the group? Go for it sisters - you are among friends :-)


Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her on her blogs, The Kitchen Witch, and Just. That. Fabulous. or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Beauty From the Inside Out

Has this ever happened to you? You show someone a picture of yourself from when you were younger (or thinner ), or both - and instead of commenting about how cute or pretty you were, the person says things like "I can't believe that's you!" or "I would have NEVER recognized you!!!"

What does one say in response? Thank you?

I know I look different now as the middle aged version of myself; I get that. But the thing is - despite having hair that needs Clairol's root touch up once every three weeks and a new found understanding of why a person would get Botox - underneath it all, remains a 16 year old girl who still wants to be seen as pretty.

I hope I'm not letting any cats out of the bag by revealing this. That despite our age, most women want to be viewed as desirable; but at this stage in the game, we long for this desirability to be on our own terms. In much the same way men are seen as distinguished with a little grey hair, I believe women would like to be seen as attractive based on an entire package: our confidence, our accomplishments, our hearts, our humour - attributes that might not reveal themselves at first glance, but that inform every aspect of what it is to be beautiful once you get to know a person.

I think this is something we must remind ourselves of daily: the reality of beauty coming from the inside out. Just because some women's magazine is selling you the latest diet, wrinkle cream, or age defying potion doesn't mean you can't fight back and feel better about yourself in the process. Although there exists a universal standard of beauty in our youth obsessed culture, let's take the time to remind ourselves that very few people actually ever meet that standard - further to that, it is not something anyone is going to be able to hold onto. Eventually time is going to catch up with the Botox and when that day happens my wish is that every woman is able to see herself as worthy.

When I look back at pictures of myself now and see that pretty girl with the wanna be Farah flipped back hair, I can see that so much is missing. The girl in the pictures had not yet driven across Canada on her own, danced on top of a bar in New Orleans, raised a son, maintained a marriage, ran a half marathon, appeared on a TV show or won $20,000.00 for making the best damned pork tenderloin in Canada! That girl, though pretty, was not half the woman I eventually became. Which tells me that in 20 years when someone sees a picture of me now, it shouldn't come as a surprise when they say "I can't believe that's you!"

Because it won't be.

The me of 20 years from now will be more confident, and more assured. She will have overcome obstacles and survived losses. She will have experienced challenges, and adventures, and through it all if I play my cards right, she will have done so with an unwavering belief in herself and the steadfast knowledge that desirability and beauty are less about wrinkles, and more about the experiences that have put them there. 

Weigh in...

Do you relate to this? Are there things you do to combat inner negativity? What things make you beautiful from the inside out?


Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her on her blogs, The Kitchen Witch, and Just. That. Fabulous. or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Have You Ever Felt Invisible?

I'm 47 years old, 20 pounds away from my optimal weight (if I were the heavy weight champion of the world), and in dire need of  some kind of a "What Not to Wear" fashion intervention from Stacey and Clinton. A dynamic duo who in a strangely metaphorical way are not unlike me - or at least the way I've been feeling lately - and that is: CANCELLED.

Don't get me wrong because I don't mean that literally - and yes, those who love me will remind me of all the good that exists in the world merely because I'm in it; thank you very much by the way - but what I mean by feeling cancelled isn't so much about me or who I am on the inside, but more about the perception people have about me based completely on what's on the outside and how that perception is shifting as I get older.

I've been blogging about my life in one way or another since my fingers first came into contact with a keyboard. As such, I'm blessed with a chronicle of my son's life from inception to the day he left for university. When he was growing up there was so much to write about - and not just him, my husband, our pets, my parents, even our neighbours - no one was exempt from making an appearance in one of my blogs if they did something funny, or touching, or human because, at heart, that is who I am: a Noticer. I notice things and I like to write about them.

But when my son walked out the door, duffel bag in hand off to conquer the world, something inside me changed. Call it grief, call it loss, call if whatever you like, when he left home that day a tiny door in my heart softly closed and I realized I had just completed something that I could never have back. With that realization, somehow I lost my funny. I stopped noticing. I stopped writing.

That was five years ago. I was 42 years old and could still pass as someone in her 30's. At the time, I didn't see this as something significant and would have argued with anyone that age is just a number. My career was in full swing, and I began to work on chasing new dreams - this time in the cooking world. I gave up blogging about my personal life in exchange for entering cooking contests and coming up with recipes. Where I had once identified myself as being Just. That. Fabulous. I was now exploring the intricacies of souffle and advising others on the best ways to grill meat - all the while feeling good about myself and my place in the world.

But sometime between then and now, a shift began to occur; the odd soreness in a joint, the need to hold a book at arms length just to read the fine print, the first time I noticed the line by the corner of my mouth deepening. I am getting older. And though I still believe that age is a state of mind not a condition, it's becoming increasingly evident the rest of the world might not be on the same page because in many ways, I feel like I'm becoming invisible.

Like who I am on the inside is no longer adequately reflected on the outside. Take my photo for example. Anyone who knows me understands that if you look at that and only see a nice looking middle aged lady, or worse, a respectable one - you have not really seen me at all. And that's what happens. It's not unusual for women when they reach a certain to age to be overlooked regardless of how interesting, intelligent, or kick ass she might be, unless she has successfully managed to cheat time.

What does society view as the ultimate compliment? "You look so young."


As though looking young somehow makes a woman more interesting. You know, in the same way being thin makes people better human beings.

However, I will acknowledge, my smiling demeanor and well coordinated outfit doesn't exactly scream "kick ass woman" either.  And I am, kick ass that is - just ask my husband - I've been kicking his on and off for over 22 years. 

The gist is this: just because I'm closing in on 50 and prefer my jeans come with an elasticized waist band does not mean I don't know what you're talking about when you refer to 4:20, and - for the record - "Talk Dirty to Me" would so be my jam if it was still acceptable for me to go to a club and lay it down. And don't even try to tell me that would be an okay thing anywhere else but at my grandmother's nursing home - the one place where I have it on good authority I am still considered hot.

Stay tuned in the days and months ahead as I share my observations about growing older, kicking ass in stretch jeans, and re-discovering who I am and who I'm going to become in the second half of my life.

If you want to come along for the ride, be sure to subscribe!

And then tell me, have you ever felt invisible?

Okay, now it's time to get dancin!


Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her on her blogs, The Kitchen Witch, and Just. That. Fabulous. or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube