Hi friends, listeners of the Changes Big and Small podcast. This is your host Damianne. Typically, I would be interviewing someone or sharing research to help you take action to build the life that you want. This would usually involve a challenge as well. I’m doing something different because I have been on vacation for the past five weeks.
As you can see there haven’t been any episodes in the past few weeks. And at the risk of being a bit self-centered, I’m here today to let you know what’s been up with me.
I’ve had the great pleasure and opportunity to be able to visit my friends and my family in North America. So once I became fully vaccinated and was able to go to Canada without having to quarantine, I booked a trip and went off to Ottawa.
I stayed in Ottawa for a couple of weeks with my family in Carp, Ontario, actually in Kanata Ontario, not quite downtown Ottawa. And after two weeks there, I first went to Atlanta where I caught up with some colleagues and with a friend and then to Santa Rosa. I’ll tell you all about that in a few minutes. From there. I went to visit my sister in New Jersey. And now I am back in Prague. It’s been a whirlwind of five weeks.
As you know, we’ve been in a bit of a Panorama and so many of us have not been able to travel and visit family. And that can be a little bit difficult for those of us who live outside of our home country or who live away from family. So it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to go to Canada.
It felt really odd to be traveling. It also felt great. But I have to say I was a bit nervous on the plane worrying about COVID protocols. And also wondering if everybody else around me was as well. Then I got to Ottawa and usually, I get in touch with my friends from university, from high school so that we could get together and we could catch up. I have friends that I’ve also met from working in schools internationally.
This time was a little bit different. I felt awkward reaching out to people and asking them if they wanted to meet me because I didn’t want to put them in an uncomfortable situation. I know everybody can say no. People can feel comfortable to do what’s right for them but I still felt a sense of awkwardness.
I had just been on a plane. I had just flown in from Prague. And so I decided that I would meet mostly with family. I got in touch with one friend from high school who I knew was fully vaccinated and she was fine meeting with me. I also got to meet with my family members. It was so nice to see my nephews. Obviously, I haven’t seen them in a while. And even though the family has been meeting on Zoom every once in a while. It’s not the same thing as being able to meet face to face with family. It was lovely.
Spending time with family
My sisters and I went on some hikes, I went for ice cream with my brother and his children, I had some Caribbean food because I love roti; I always look for a shrimp roti when I go to Canada in the summer, or whenever I go there, actually, it’s not always in the summer. My sisters and I had breakfast dates and lunch dates. I also had fun watching television with them and the rest of the family. There are some series that we had started watching together previously, and there was a new season.
We also cooked. I’ll be sure to add some pictures in the show notes because my sister, one of my sisters is an excellent cook and not just that… Well, okay, multiple of my sisters are excellent cooks, but this particular sister loves to plate things beautifully. And I’m a little bit jealous and I really admire her because of this. I used to love to cook, but I was never very good at plating.
//waiting for the photo from my sister
One new experience for me also in Ottawa was to spend time taking a dog for walks. I don’t have a dog. I’ve never had a pet myself, but my stepmother has a dog and we became friends because we’d go for a daily walk or two around the neighborhood.
So even though I worked a lot of the time that I was in Canada, I would start work quite early and that meant that I also finished early. So I had lots of time to spend with the family. From Ottawa. I went to Atlanta and what a difference!
Denied Entry to America with 14 Days of Being in Europe
Well, I got kind of stuck in Toronto for a couple of days. First, I wasn’t allowed to enter the US because I hadn’t been in Canada for 14 days. I counted 24 hour periods, but you have to count full days, not counting the date of arrival and departure. And so, I had to stay in Toronto for one day. It was actually quite nice. I hadn’t anticipated that, but I got to meet a good friend that I hadn’t seen in years so that was exciting.
On the second day, when I showed up at the airport, once more, my flight got canceled because of a customs strike. Finally, on the third day, I was able to go to the US and I ended up in Atlanta.
Wow, what a sense of an alternate reality. I have friends in Atlanta and they’d explained to me what the situation is there. There is no mask mandate; there don’t seem to be any protocols about COVID, but actually being inside of a Target and watching people around me without a mask on was disconcerting because we wear masks in shops still in Prague and that was the same in Ottawa.
My friend and I did do one potentially risky thing. We went to a football game, soccer to you Americans, and it was crazy. There were so many people, people did not have to wear masks. We wore masks. We kept them on, except for when we were eating, just the two of us at a table. I was at a loss really, even on the subway and on the train that would people without masks, even though there are signs that say you’re supposed to wear them on public transport. Amazing.
One of the wonderful things about being able to be in Atlanta was to be able to meet some colleagues that I hadn’t seen in a while so that was nice. I had also met one lady in an accountability group; we’d both joined a seminar on relationships and we decided to be accountability partners and have been meeting regularly on the weekend, virtually, for us to discuss whatever we’re working on. She happens to live in Atlanta so we got to meet and go for brunch and that was just lovely.
So from Atlanta, this was the big exciting part of the trip. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw a post, an Instagram video, and a reel about me having a six-day fast.
Yes, you heard that right. I heard about this fast on several different podcasts and I was really keen to do it.
In the past year and a half, I’ve put on a bunch of weight, my cholesterol is higher than I want it to be, my blood pressure is borderline high, and I really want to nip it in the bud before it gets to be a problem.
And so I thought, okay, maybe a fast is exactly what I need to kind of shock my body and jumpstart me into making some better choices in my life. So I spent 10 days in Santa Rosa at the True North Health center there. I chose to go there because there are doctors that monitor you. For all of the people that stay there, we get visits twice a day from doctors or interns that check up on us. They check out. Vitals to make sure we’re doing okay. And if we’re not doing well on the fast, then we can have juice or we can just eat healthy food instead. It’s a completely vegan place. Everything is cooked without salt, sugar or oils. I have to tell you, I was a bit apprehensive about that. I like salt.
For two days before I started the fast, I only ate food from the center and it was quite tasty. They also have workshops on how to cook. There was one on adrenal fatigue. They have a bunch of different topics.
I think cooking without sugar is quite easy unless you’re trying to make a dessert. But the salt part is taking a bit of adjusting. I definitely think that it takes time for the taste buds to change. And I like things to be crispy and I like to roast things so I do tend to use oil for that. I also kind of think that olive oil is good for you.
A Customized Plan
I would say that after being at the center, I’ve definitely been eating healthier. I’ve been more conscious about my choices when I eat but I don’t follow the vegan lifestyle and I do add salt to my food.
What I would like to do next is to eat vegan a couple of weeks in the month, and then remain pescatarian for the rest of the time. I think that’s going to work well for me. Basically, I think the important thing, which is what I like to say on the podcast too, is for you to experiment and to play and to find what actually works for you. Because the thing is that I want this to be able to last. And if I’m worrying all the time about what I’m eating and being deprived of, then I know it’s not going to last because I’ve been down that road before. I suspect that there is an air fryer in my future because I heard that a great way of making things crispy, so we’ll see.
As far as Santa Rosa, I spent a lot of time walking around the neighborhood, slowly, because I was fasting, reading books, listening to podcasts, catching up on sleep, talking to the other people that I shared a suite with. It was really low-key. This was the most low-key that I’ve been in a really long time.
I had all these plans actually to clean my email and to take courses, and then I realized, you know, what, what you really need right now Damianne is to just take a break. Usually, when you have a holiday, you fill it up with stuff. How about just taking a break and not feeling like you have to be productive all the time.
This was exactly what I needed because I was feeling quite exhausted before this trip. And just having a week where I didn’t have to work and I didn’t have anything scheduled, where I could just kind of go with the flow and how I was feeling, it was a gift that I am very thankful that I gave to myself.
So after six days of fasting, I had three days where I reintroduced foods slowly, starting with juice, then raw foods. then steamed foods, and then grains.
I have to say that the food was quite delicious but I still missed salt in the soup. I guess that takes even more time than I thought to get used to.
My big takeaways are that I will have beans more regularly in my diet and that I can have a lot more vegetables. I’ve actually tried a bunch of new vegetables this summer. I tried rutabaga for the first time and jicama. And my dad found this vegetable in his garden; I think it’s a white squash or green squash; I’m not quite sure. It’s like a watermelon, but oblong. We cooked that for dinner one night; it was actually delicious. That’s one of the pictures that I will put in the show notes and in the post because my sister plated it with some seafood and it was a lovely meal.
A Sense of Community
There’s also something really special about eating in community. And that’s something that I’m excited about. I have a friend here who’s also interested in eating vegan in each month. And so being able to share meals with her is going to be wonderful.
I think that is actually one of the things that I missed during COVID and one of the things that I’m really thankful for when my sister was staying with me, just being able to have time to sit and to share a meal, to talk, and to savor and be in the moment. And I find that I more naturally savor and spend time in the moment when I’m eating with somebody, as opposed to when I’m eating by myself.
You’ve likely seen me post on Instagram about taking breaks and making time. And the reason that I ended up posting this and talking about it on the podcast is because it is something that I struggle with. It is something that I think is important, but also not something I’m good at, yet.
Making Space and Choosing Yourself
So, for yourself, think about where do you need to make space? Do you need some healing space? Do you need some time to sleep, to relax, to take a break. What’s the gift that you can actually give to yourself?
I started off this podcast by saying that this one would be different because there wouldn’t be an invitation or a challenge, but do you know me? I can’t resist. There is an invitation for you to consider.
My invitation is where is it that you need to let something go? What is it that you need to take a break from? Maybe there is something that you can take off of your schedule for today or this week, or for this month.
Maybe there’s something you can actually take off your schedule entirely because you don’t need it there anymore, but you keep doing it because you’ve been doing it. I encourage you to explore that and see what comes up for you. See how you can live your life with a little bit less pressure and a little bit more freedom.
Maybe actually what you need is to take time to feel whatever it is that you’re feeling, time for you to have a difficult conversation or face some hard truths. Making space isn’t always about joy and fun, but it’s about what’s going to serve you, what’s going to serve you and the life that you want to lead.
That’s all for today but a new season of the podcast will be coming up at the end of this month, at the end of September. Stay subscribed. If you haven’t already subscribed, press the subscribe button or follow if you use an Apple Podcasts and you will get an update when there is a new episode.
The focus of the next season is on relationships so if you have a question about that, a question about my fasting or my travels, or anything else that comes to you, you can reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve enjoyed this episode or any other episode of the podcast, I would appreciate it if you would leave me a review wherever you’re listening. There is a really convenient, easy link that you can use from the show notes as well.