Sarah Kay

Share a YouTube link that you visited more than once this year. Explain its significance to you and to your evolution through 2011.

Ok it’s not YouTube, but this is the one video that came to mind when I was trying to think of clips I’d watched more than once. It’s all in the first 5 minutes.

Sarah Kay – If I should have a daughter

Her words caught me – they grabbed my hand when I was exhausted and pulled me up again. I remember watching this when I was unemployed, dejected and feeling downright sorry for myself. She reminded me that we all go through this, and that it can only make us stronger. I see this again now, and I want to share it with others who might be feeling downtrodden. We can all pull through, and we’re never really alone in this beautiful mess. There are few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix.

I made my mom watch this video with me too. I’m lucky to have a mother who happens to be one of my greatest heroes – someone who fought hard to make a difference in the world, and to give me everything she could at the same time. Though she may not be a spoken word poet, I know her and I share these same thoughts. Sarah Kay’s words reflect my own mother’s presence in my life. She taught me resilience, compassion and understanding – and above all, the ability to love unconditionally regardless of a world crumbling around your ankles.


but never Loathing.

Describe a moment in 2011 that made you scared. What were you scared of?

Gut twisting, Mind blathering, Muscle withering Fear

The kind that dominates the exhausted body and sends any functioning brain cells spiraling into certain apocalypse.

Is this what they call ‘adrenaline’?

The rational mind has lost it’s footing, and the sheer drop that seemed manageable becomes an insurmountable evil.

It is not the fall that is scary – it’s that moment right before where you know you won’t make it, where the chest seizes up and the lines etched in front of your eyes become blurred. Gravity is omnipresent in my conscious and so I fight it with everything I have.


What is the best ‘gift’ you received in 2011? What was the best ‘gift’ you gave in 2011? What made these the best?

I’m not sure I could identify the best gift I gave. I don’t even recall giving any gifts to be honest. I’d like to say I gave the gift of time, or listened when someone was in need, or provided a shoulder to lean on. But only others could tell you whether or not that’s really true, whether my actions really made a difference. And at the end of the day, those things aren’t really gifts at all. I’d rather think of them as the basis of our interactions with one another. Nothing special, just the courtesy and compassion we all share.

The best gift I received is much easier to identify. I don’t think I received any notable material gifts, but there was one moment, a passing minute, where someone provided me with the gift of appreciation.

Part of my job is to deliver the harvest from our City Hall Sharing Garden to the community kitchen at the local Neighbourhood House. It’s usually a few bags of kale, chard, salad greens, some tomatoes, and on a good summer day, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.  Oh and of course, tons of fresh and fragrant herbs.

On one delivery, there were a few people working in the kitchen and waiting for the lunchtime meal that was being prepared. When I handed over the bags of food, a small elderly Asian woman came over and grabbed my hand between both of hers. She cracked a huge grin, shaking my hand, saying simply ‘Thank you”. I couldn’t help but lean over and give her a hug. She brightened my day more than I could ever explain in words.

It’s not the money you spend or the way you wrap an object that matters – I’m sure we all know this by know. It’s simple acts of gratitude, and knowing that we are doing something positive for the world, that makes me believe we are all each other’s greatest gifts.


What do you feel was your greatest accomplishment in the past year?


For every thing I thought I couldn’t do.

For every moment in which I began to lose faith in myself.

For every ache of body and heart…for every wasp sting and rejection letter.

I remembered to breathe.



Old friends.

Old friends.

Dec 8th: In the past year, did you rekindle any old friendships or experience something new with old friends? What happened?

My rock Anthony, the sweetest man I know who helped me get through some of the toughest times. Havine only known each other in the context of that forlorn city of London (ok it wasn’t THAT bad), it was such a treat to be able to enjoy the bliss that is BC together. I do this highway drive all the time, but sharing it with someone who had never been on our coast before helped me see it’s beauty all over again.

New friends.

In 2011, did you meet anyone new who changed your perspectives or taught you something new? Who were they and what was the experience like?

Because this picture makes me giggle.

One of my favorite parts of traveling has always been the new souls you encounter and the stories shared among you. Chance meetings with people halfway across the world who on any given day, you may have missed meeting by only a minute or two. You could have passed each other by without noticing, never to learn about their passions or hear them laugh. But sometimes, moments align to bring someone into your life. We may never know why people come and go, but we can always appreciate the light they bring with them and the memories they weave. In the traveling context, this exploration of others is a huge part of the experience. Yet when we return home, to what is familiar, we so often settle into old patterns and lose that drive to extend our hand and our friendship.

First impressions are important, but the more I open up to others, the more I find that so many of us are not who we may have at first seemed to be. That there is so much underlying our faces, so much more than the simple smile we first share. Laughter and compassion, understanding and a desire to be, simply, happy, and to share that with others. A good friend said to me, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we acted like backpackers, or international students in our own city? Ready to reach out to new people, welcome them and treat them as friends? Returning home from a few years traveling, I didn’t want to settle into old ways – I wanted to meet all the other people who made this city so brilliant, to learn from their stories and share new adventures with them.

And DID I! By following our dreams and striving to find that place where we belong, we so often find the other people who share those ideals, and can help us along our path. I was so lucky this summer to work with an amazing spirit named Erin, someone whose sweet nature, warmth and humor light up my day. She inspires me with her tireless dedication to creating stronger communities and building knowledge through teaching others about food and health. She is an innovative thinker, and someone I know I can turn to when I need advice or support in pursuing sustainability.  Learning from her about local food security, I am even more driven to bring everything I can to the work we do.Plus, she taught me how to make a mean kale and apple salad!

And earlier this year I had the great fortune to attend a sustainability conference where one Drew De Panicis walked into my life, bringing with him an incredible group of people who have taught me endless lessons about resilience, enthusiasm, environmentalism, coffee, performance outerwear, cooking, hand jamming, rope management, music and more. A few in particular pushed me to explore what I had never considered, and made me see what I could truly be capable of.  These are the kind of friends everyone deserves to have in their life. Amazing adventurers, passionate people and kind souls who live to the fullest.

Never pass up the opportunity to smile at someone and ask them how they are. There is beauty in every simple exchange, and possibly an incredible friend.

Heart/Home/Why I Love BC

In 2011, what was your most unique experience of your home city? Did you venture out further than you usually do? Did you try something new and fall in love?

Early on in 2011 I told myself I would start exploring my home just a little bit more. So many adventures led me to foreign waters and far flung places, but when I heard people talk about their adventures in BC, I couldn’t help but feel wistful. I needed to get out there and explore, to see what this home I love so much really had to offer. How could I have lived here most of my life, and not ventured out to see what was right out my back door?

I still feel that way. The more I explore, the more I realize I’ve barely scratched the surface of all that the Pacific Northwest really had to offer.  Every crag has some new secret, every grove of trees a story to tell and every mountain slope a different line to create. Every experience becomes unique because you are the experiencer.

This year I pushed myself to take everything I do to another level – with the help of a few amazing human beings who strolled into my life in the earlier days of 2011. These people helped me get to the places I wouldn’t have even thought possible only a few months earlier – in fact helped me find the experiences I wouldn’t even have known I was missing. I fell in love with the possibilities for a rush of life only a short drive away and tested what I thought I was capable of, particularly when faced with steep challenges. I used to think that adventure was elsewhere, but I’ve realized lately that it’s within you, and what you bring to every day.  Thank you to everyone who helped me see that. More adventures await in 2012, many of them where you least expect.