Friday, 31 July 2015

Random Act of Kindness

Riding home from work yesterday, I received a Random Act of Kindness from a stranger. I noticed a man in the park and thought he looked familiar. When he called out, I stopped. Turns out he looked familiar because I see him all the time while riding home.

Peter Li is a professional photographer. He rides his bike through the city and parks and captures the most amazing photos. He showed me some of his work on i-pads he carries in his backpack. I especially love his bird shots. When I got home, I looked up his portfolio. It's impressive.

Yesterday, Peter asked to take some pictures of me. He often sees me riding and liked my colourful LCW jersey and cool bike. I was so happy to be asked, I couldn't help smiling for my mini photo shoot. 

Peter sent me copies of all seven photos. I love them. I feel differently about my Costco clunker now. It is performing above and beyond expectations. I wanted a 'worry-free' ride to work and I got it. 

The bottom bracket clicks and clunks with each pedal stroke, yet works just fine. I actually welcome the noise, as it reminds me why I no longer fear my bike will be stolen. Thanks to a Random Act of Kindness, I can truly appreciate and celebrate my Costco clunker. 

Thank you Peter Li for generously sharing your photos with me.

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

70 Years Young

My Mom's Birthday is July 23rd. She is 70 Years Young. This year, we celebrated with a delicious dinner at Tamarine by Quynh Nhi specializing in authentic Southern Vietnamese cuisine.

As it turned out, our timing was perfect. Tamarine's LondonLicious Menu was awesome. I ordered Beef Pad Viet while everybody else selected Pepper Pork Claypot - both great choices. The food was delicious, service excellent and ambiance perfect for celebrating.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinners. Cheers to 70 Years Young Mom!!
After dinner, we headed to my parents' house for cake. In our family, no birthday is complete without cake. Key lime mousse was an excellent choice Dad - nice and light after our super filling three course meal.
Happy Birthday to my Mom - 70 Years Young and looking amazing as always. May all your candle-blowing and cake-cutting wishes come true.

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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Happines is a Choice

A few months ago, I signed up for a course at the Option Institute of America called Happiness Option Weekend. It was suggested and highly recommended by my Mom's cousin Wendy. I respect her opinion because she is a doctor and both she and her husband have benefited from taking classes at the Institute over the past 12 years.

The Option Institute is located in Sheffied, MA which is a long drive at 8+ hours from where I live in London, ON. Wendy offered me a ride. Her husband Keith and son Ben would be driving from Chatham and could pick me up on the way. 

I don't often invest in my own personal development, but this course had piqued my curiosity. It was affordable. My calendar was clear. I had a ride. It was an opportunity too good to pass up. 

Wendy and I communicated through Facebook. We arranged for Keith to meet me at my husband's office close to the 401 Friday morning. I was excited yet nervous watching for my ride. 
I had never met Keith or Ben and we had neglected to exchange phone numbers. I need not have worried. They made it. As we set off, I got out my camera. I could tell right away, we were going to get along famously. I think it was the look on Keith's face when I asked for a smile.
Luckily delays due to accidents were on the other side of the road. 

Keith's green tea and green juice aka "pond scum", fruit, yogurt and Larabars - healthy choices for our road trip. We made good time arriving ~4:30 p.m. We checked in, picked up our itineraries, room numbers and maps before dropping our bags in our rooms.

I wandered around taking photos before dinner Friday, before breakfast and after lunch Saturday, then again before breakfast Sunday. The Option Institute property is truly beautiful and peaceful. Photos don't do it justice. You must see it in person to fully appreciate its beauty.
This sign caught my attention - A Place for Miracles - love that message.
My room was in Woodland House - B4 with a welcome sign on my door.
The room was perfect. I was lucky enough to get it all to myself.
I loved all the stone sculptures on the property.
I liked this gnarly tree by the roadway heading up to the main buildings.
A babbling brook in the ravine by the roadway added to the ambiance.
It was misty Saturday morning - perfect for taking photos.
I paused when I caught sight of this in the mist and breathed a sigh of relief when I realized it was made of wood.
The pond was full of geese, fish, frogs, tadpoles ...
This house on the hill where offices are located looks beautiful.
I liked this sculpture on the wall.
There were so many beautiful sights on the property.
I loved the look of this stone bridge with its reflection in the pond.
I wonder where it leads?
This path led to breakfast. I was getting hungry.
After morning classes on Saturday, we walked back to the house on the hill to enjoy the view and celebrate our choice to be here. Hooray!
I loved the walk back to my room with this ravine by the roadway.
Raun Kaufman one of our teachers posed with Ben. I loved Raun's energy and enthusiasm.   
Sunday morning, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to hike to the top of the mountain to see the sunrise. I was enthusiastic when Bo asked if I'd like to join him. He said he had done it every time he visited The Option Institute. When he mentioned it had been 20 years since he had last been, I hoped he could remember the route. 

It rained, so our sunrise was not exactly picture perfect, but still beautiful and totally worth the effort. I'm so glad Bo, Linda and I did our early morning hike up the mountain.
After our final class Sunday morning, we gathered together for a group photo. Our instructor Clyde sat front and centre.
So what did I think of this course? It was truly amazing. I honestly feel different - like Happiness really is a Choice.

I told my friends at work about my plans for the weekend and they joked about other things that might be cheaper and easier for achieving happiness. I laughed, but couldn't help wondering if they might be right. 

I went to work on Monday and heard at least one person say I didn't seem any happier. I said I was just exhausted, but content, at peace and totally happy. The course definitely worked its magic on me. 

That comment also made me think about how you can't really tell how people are feeling by how they act. Sometimes people who seem to be the happiest, really aren't. 

This course teaches that nobody can make you happy or unhappy. You do it to yourself. Your feelings are based on your beliefs and your beliefs can change in an instant if you want. The theory is easy to understand, but actually being in class and going through the exercises surrounded by like-minded people makes ALL the difference. 

If you want to change your life and feel infinitely better, I highly recommend Happiness Option Weekend. You won't be disappointed.

Thanks Wendy for suggesting this Option course and for making it easy to attend. I'm so glad I finally got to meet Keith and Ben after hearing so many good things about them. There are very few people who can keep me chatting, laughing and awake for such a long road trip. Thanks Keith and Ben for making it fun.

Thanks also to our excellent teachers (Clyde, Beverly and Raun), all the helpful staff and all the group participants. I so enjoyed meeting and getting to know so many wonderful people. It was a special weekend I will remember and cherish forever.

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