january

January 2011 Review

Happy 2011! As hard as it is to believe, we’ve rounded the corner into a new year and have already closed the books on the month of January. And as I’m sitting here reflecting and thinking back on the past 31 days, paradoxically it seems like a lot has happened, yet very little has changed. I don’t know the best way to describe it other than things are moving along, but there’s still a lot to do before this year is over. I’m thinking back to something one of my mentors said to me many years ago. “It doesn’t matter if you succeed or fail. As long as you keep on moving forward, making progress, trying new things, and working towards your goals, you’ll be a winner”.

As I’m sitting here writing this update, I’m going to take a different approach and focus on some of the things I learned this month. The idea behind this is to continually think about how I’m changing and growing as a person rather than in the past being too self centered around the things I did. While these updates are written more for my benefit, I’ve decided to put them online for people who want to keep up with where I am and what I’m doing these days.

So without further ado, here are some of the things I learned this month:

Everyone Has a Bestselling Story to Tell:
I had a chance to spend a weekend out of town with fellow members of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council. It was a weekend of strategic planning, but also a chance to spend a bit of time and get to know the other council members as most of us don’t get too many chances to interact outside of formal meetings. One of the most valuable things I took away from the meeting is learning about the diversity of experiences, background, and personalities of the different members. Everyone has such interesting backgrounds, stories, and personalities that I’m sure a bestselling novel could be written on any of the council members. The lesson – spend some time really getting to know people – they’ll surprise you with the most interesting stories you can imagine.

I Really Enjoy Cooking New Things
This month, I experimented with a few new recipes: kimchi, slow-cooker mulled cider, and apple kolbasa tapas – all of which turned out to be quite tasty and delicious. My strategy when deciding upon which recipes to try is to spend a bit of time researching different recipes or recipes around certain key ingredients to get my initial inspiration. I then try to find a recipe a suits the audience / mood / style I’m going for and use that as either the recipe or inspiration for whatever it is I’m going to cook. I use my judgment as what I think will taste good as the final litmus test, which can take up to 10-15 minutes figuring out what I’m going to make, and which recipe to use (rather than searching for and using the first recipe that pops up). The lesson – good food is definitely worth the extra few minutes it takes to find a recipe you like – and even the extra time it takes to cook/prepare and event the potential extra cost to purchase the ingredients.

I Enjoy Going to Various Events, But Also Enjoy My “Downtime”
No surprise here, but January featured a number of fun and interesting events (Guelph organic conference, beer club, and a couple of networking events). And while I enjoy being social, meeting new people, and trying new things, I also really enjoy my “downtime” or personal time where I can sit and reflect (and write this blog) and dream and gather my thoughts.

The Competitive Spirit Inside Me Needs Some Rekindling
I think competitive spirit is the wrong phrase. The words I think that best describe this feeling is “the drive to excel” or taking things to a higher level. What really put it in perspective was an ultimate game just over a week ago. It was the end of the fall indoor league and we were in the “championship” game. I say championship because while it was technically the last playoff game, it felt very much like a regular game. Not that we took it lightly, and we played well and ended up leading for almost the entire game. The other team however, seemed like they were putting their heart and soul into the game, especially as they started making a late charge towards the end. When time ran out, we were all squared, so it came to down universe point for the championship.  I wasn’t so much disappointed that we lost on universe point, but actually more disappointed that we missed out on getting the championship discs that TUC gives for each of its league champions. Talking about it after the game, we realized we could’ve put just a bit more effort into the game, and that probably would’ve made all the difference.

Extending this idea out to other areas of my life, I realize that the “competitive spirit” inside me is still there, and just needs a little coaxing for those times in life when we need to step up our game

I Work Well When There Are Lots of Things Happening
January 1st marks the beginning of the a new month, and also the beginning of a new year. As I started to settle into a new routine for the new year, it actually took me several weeks to really get into a new groove. And ironically, as things started to get busier, I started to get more productive, and that’s when I realized that I tend to work better when there are lots of things happening and I tend to focus when there are multiple projects and tasks to juggle. I’m happy to say that I’ve settled into a new fitness routine, I’m starting to set aside a bit of time to practice for my orchestra concerts (outside of the weekly practices), there’s always time for frisbee, and of course work activities will be at the top of the list for upcoming projects for this year.

That’s all for now. More lessons coming in February I’m sure.


You learn something every day if you pay attention.

-Ray LeBlond

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