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.

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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.

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