Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Thankful to my core

Today marks the end of an era for me. I can't remember the exact day, but somewhere around May this year a new teacher began hosting a lunch class at the yoga studio that I frequent. At the time, I preferred my yoga in increments of 90 minutes, so a 45 minute class seemed out of the question, but I decided to see what it was like just in case. My natural curiosity often gets the best of me, you see.

The class went by relatively quickly. It was over just as I felt we were beginning, but it was a good class just the same. The teacher was pretty funny, I thought so maybe it won't kill me to mix in a 45 minute class every now and then. Sometimes a step back is really a step forward, after all.

Like me, she had an abundance of free time after an unsuccessful attempt to work at lululemon (A fate I too was overcome by several months later. That and food poisoning the day before the interview.), so she subbed many of the classes that I regularly attend. There was a point when I was in her class just about every day for quite a while.

Tragically, she did not like a particularly cheesy playlist I had one day, and I probably drove her crazy a few times with my occasional, or not so occasional, shenanigans and unintentional somersaults. The spaciousness in her pelvis surely helped her deal with these as gracefully as possible.

I wasn't always in the greatest of mindsets going into her class or others, but her humor and ability to push me as hard as anyone out there can helped me to leave feeling better in spite of the fact that I was a sweaty disaster.

Aside from my mother, she was the only one to give me a birthday present this year (A tin of licorice twist tea, which, appropriately enough, just ran out the day before our last class together for a while, tonight.). She also gave me some tea today as a "going away" present, for which I am quite grateful. Hopefully the wooden salamanders I gave to her will serve her well, or at least keep the big black dog happy. The big black dog is an excellent creature.

Thankfully, she has found herself a boatman to call her own and so will likely be in Halifornia until I return, whenever that may be. Hopefully she'll have many successful self-help books and other successful things going on in her life by then; maybe a third series practice, maybe a small human, who knows.

As Morpheus says, everything that has a beginning has an end, and, for now, our yoga classes have come to an end. Hopefully I'll see her again, but, if not, I wish her all the best. Thanks for the exuberance.

Live long and Prosper,


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Goodbye Halifax

It's been a while since I first arrived at Birch 2 in Mount Saint Vincent in September 2005. I was painfully shy and only knew a handful of people who had come here from my high school, though I didn't even know that they were there until afterwards.I was definitely more than a little shy, but as soon as I arrived I was greeted by Kody Dagley and his twin brother Kristan, my neighbours as it were.

My first year was definitely a great experience. My grades were great, got along very well with my fellow birch 2ers, and discovered a passions for the athletics and recreation society, which I would stay in for all four years and eventually become the VP and President in my last 2 years. Most of my time in this society was spend planning and setting up for events, which I found to be pretty exciting. We started new events at the mount like the grinches gala, mardi gras, and the haunted house, which are now annual events and  a tonne of fun! I was usually on the volunteering side of the event, so I didn't get to partake in the events very much, but it was a blast just the same.

Those friends that I met in first year remain very good friends to this day. For some reason, most of us decided to pursue careers in education. Hopefully we'll be able to inspire future generations to be the best that they can be; whatever that means for them. I'll be in China, where Kristan has already spent some time, but most of the others are sticking with Canada. Maybe Someday I'll return to join them, maybe not. We shall see how China treats me.

In terms of fitness, I've done a few different things. For the better part of 5 years I was heavy into the weights. As my focus and strength in the gym increased rapidly, so too did my confidence and focus outside of the weight room, which certainly helped me do very well in my classes.

In my third year my friend Jill introduced me to Step aerboics, which is quite an awesome time if you have never tried it before. Basically it was me, and 1-3 other guys and a tonne of middle-aged women, plus a few students. There were the "regulars": Debbie, Janice, Dana, Cindy, and Richard, who had been doing step for decades, and a few other people who came and went off and on. As soon as I took my first class I knew I would do it for a while, and hardly missed a Tuesday/Thursday night class for 3 years.

I do neither of these things now as I have found everything I am looking for in yoga. I was part of the furniture at the studio above lululemon for the last 2 years, but I will be saying goodbye to that place soon enough.

On December 30th I will be going home to Cape Breton until  I leave for Qingdao. It'll be pretty nice to be back, given that I haven't been there since December 2010. I've certainly changed quite a bit since then, but, still, no matter what changes in your life, it is always nice to go home for a rest before you embark on a new journey.

I've definitely met some amazing people and will miss them all dearly. I certainly hope that I'll see everyone again, but, if not, I am certainly quite glad to have known them. We shall see where the wind blows me.

Live long and prosper amigos,


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Off to the land of tea

I was recently offered a job in Qingdao, China and will be accepting it enthusiastically! I'll be teaching at the very least 1 math/ESL class, a listening/speaking and/or computing class, and maybe even some AP stats and calculus.

It's a university prep school in which the students study immersion style for one year before heading off to a North American university. Like any school, they are always looking to expand their range of courses, so, if I want to, I can create my own course/materials! Obviously this would help both me and the school, so I am most likely going to pursue this option. From the sounds of it, they also want to start a 2 year program, and want to offer weekend classes for students/adults that want to take them, so there are ample opportunities for extra work if I want it.

If i were to draw up an ideal job for myself, this would be remarkably close to it, so I am so glad that I found it. The way in which I found it was quite random, so I'll share it here.

I was on the bus on my way to wander aimlessly downtown when my phone rang. It was Telus calling to ask me if I wanted to upgrade to an iphone 5 or some other smart phone. I told them that I would likely be out of the country by the time my current contract expires(late February), so getting a new phone, which would require a contract here, would make no sense.

Immediately after I hung up, a young man in sun glasses asked me casually where I will be going. I told him that i wasn't really sure, but I had been applying to a bunch of jobs in Korea and Japan. As it turns out, he was off to China the very next day to teach English in Xi'an. His qualifications were not all that different from mine, so I thought that it couldn't hurt to start looking in China myself.

That night I went to Daves ESL cafe to check out the china job scene and the second Ad was for a job teaching math in a university prep school that teaches math, science, English, and business courses with locations in Qingdao, Dalian, and Xi'an. I met the qualifications, so I figured it couldn't hurt to apply.

Within the hour I got an e-mail asking if I could do an informal interview the next day, so I did. It went really well, and within a few days he sent me a potential instructor questionnaire, which I filled out that day and sent off. He liked the answers, so he scheduled a formal interview for this past Tuesday. That went really well and within a few days I had a formal job offer, together with a contract for me to look over. I am going through this carefully, but so far it looks awesome. I will definitely accept it.

The job will start mid-February, so I still have plenty of time to see my friends before I head home in January and stay until I leave. It'll be good to spend some time at home before I go to a whole new world for an undetermined period of time. I could see myself staying for a while if it's even half as good as it seems.

It's a little nerve racking flying literally half the world away, but all the magic happens outside of your comfort zone, so it's definitely worth a shot. The city looks absolutely amazing, so I am pretty excited about it.

The abundance of excellent tea is a nice bonus as well.

Three cheers for stumbling across a dream job randomly!!

Live long and prosper,


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Blowin' in the wind

It seems like forever since I wrote my last post, so it's probably time for an update.

I just finished the second of three courses in the TESL diploma at SMU. I was fully intent on completing all three by the end of the year, but as of about 2 am on Monday, I was virtually assured of a job teaching math and physics at a Christian boarding school in Korea starting in February. The guy who interviewed said my resume was a gold mine and told me to expect a call from the director of the school the next day to discuss the finer points of the contract.

With this in mind, I promptly withdrew from the third course, as it would make little sense to finish a program that would have no real relevance for what I thought I would be doing all too soon. The extra 1325$ would also be quite helpful. The next day came and went, though, and I didn't receive a call, which was a little perplexing, but I didn't think much of it.

The next day my recruiter sent me an e-mail saying that the school changed their mind because "my beliefs were astronomically different from theirs". I thought this strange, since the interviewer seemed to agree with my answers to his "religious" questions, even saying "amen" to most of them.

My recruiters were quite pissed off about this, saying that the schools actions were completely unprofessional, which they were. They were quick to point out, though, that this obviously wouldn't have been a good fit long term if they were so shaken by my tame, neutral answers. What bearing this has on the teaching of math and physics is beyond me, but I suppose it is ultimately their choice if they want to weigh religion so strongly in their choices.

Still, I have confidence in my recruiter. I am willing to go wherever I am needed, so that should certainly help me find a job quite easily. Wherever I end up is where I am supposed to be. I'm happy to go wherever the wind takes me.

In the meantime, I am going to focus on math tutoring and leave my schedule pretty open so that I can be available at basically any time for an interview with a potential employer. Thankfully I have all of my documents ready to go, and, according to the facebook page for my recruiter, a tonne of new jobs magically popped up yesterday, so hopefully one of them will pan out.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Welcome to the jungle

This is a bit overdue, but I am more than a little stoked about the recently launched jungle collection from Davids tea has me swinging from tree to tree in excitement. I am so happy that they have straight guayusa tea now!

I could not pick a favorite of the bunch if I had to. Iced cocoa canela with soy and agave is pretty marvelous, though :) Try it if you haven't already.

The addition of straight guayusa to my tea arsenal has rekindled my alchemical fire. Since the flavor is pretty subtle, it can easily be mixed with any of the fruity herbal teas to kick them up another notch. What's better than midsummer nights dream? Midsummer nights dream + focused energy from guayusa :) Mixing with exotica is also a tasty experiment. Maybe I should mix it with wintergreen woods to fuse the North and South American woodsyness.

Hopefully that gives you some inspiration for your own tea mixes. If you find an excellent mix, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below! Fun and games for all!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Turn the page

Yesterday was a very sad day for me. The very first person to ever serve me tea at Davids tea made her last tea for me.

Her time as a manager at Davids tea has come to an end and she is now pursuing her dream, working in the fashion industry!

It's a little bittersweet. On the one hand, I am extremely happy that she is off to work in her dream job, but on the other hand I will certainly miss her presence behind the counter. It was amazing to talk tea with someone who was obviously passionate about all things "tea".

I too changed career paths earlier this year and it has brought me a tremendous amount of happiness. Hopefully her new path will lead her to breathtaking new vistas.

Sometimes the dreams we have as children fade away. Sometimes, that's okay when those dreams are just fantasies. When those dreams are real passions of ours, though, we shouldn't let them fade. We should chase them until we catch them and delight in the fact that we are living our dream.

On our journeys, other travelers will walk by our side for a time, but when our paths diverge, all we can do is wish them all the best and carry on.

So, to the person who served me my first majestic cup of davids tea, I bid you adieu. Hopefully your journey will go splendidly. Wherever you go, I'm sure you'll get there in style.

Live long and prosper,


Friday, 10 August 2012

TESL teacher training

As of this week I have completed phase one of three of my TESL teacher training at Saint Mary's university in Halifax, NS.

The teacher of teachers was one Paula Cheal.

I came into the course with no expectations of what we were going to learn, which in hindsight was probably the best foundation for actual learning. I have been teaching various mathematical disciplines for some time, but, as I quickly found out, teaching a language is a different cup of tea altogether.

On thing that didn't even cross my mind is that the language you are using to teach the students is the same language that they are attempting to learn. Tragically, this means no linguistics acrobatics for me in the ESL classroom.

Perhaps the most surprising thing for me was the idea of "teacher talking time" versus "student speaking space". I altered the last to keep the alliteration train running :) I won't be able to do that in the class, so this will be my gymnasium!

Basically, in the ESL teaching world, the educational paradigm is flipped on its head. In a traditional classroom, we have an "information fountain", the teacher, from which the thirsty travelers, the students, quench their thirst for enlightenment in their subject of choice. In the ESL classroom, however, we have a wise sage, the teacher, who shows the desert wanderers, the students, where to look without telling them what to see.

This wise sage accepts the wanderers as they are, for he was once a wanderer like them. He knows which roads lead to water, and which roads lead to mirages. He only knows the roads that he has walked down. He just so happens to have walked more roads than they have.

This sage does not condemn mistakes. They teach us where we are stuck. The sage merely suggests different ways to move forward. We all wander in different ways, you know, so you never know which directions will lead other wanderers to water. There will be other wanderers along the way, though, and they may have traveled roads which you have not yet seen. 

The sage must speak slowly, clearly, and give the wanderer only enough information to go in the right direction.

I am a man who loves paradigm shifts, so this information was quite valuable indeed! Anything that helps me step through to the next level is awesome in my books.

When you treat every other wanderer as a sage, then the world can be your teacher. Hopefully these courses will help me teach the world :)

Live long and Prospoer,


Monday, 2 July 2012

Te(a)met Nosce

If you love tea, randomness, and having these two combine to gather deep insights into your psyche, then this blog post is for you!

The test is simple:
1. Open up this random number generator in two separate tabs, and the shop teas section of the Davids tea website in another.

2. In this first random number generator tab, you want to generate 10 random integer between 1 and 8, in 1 column.

3. Write these numbers down in order. 1=black tea, 2=green tea, 3=white tea, 4=oolong, 5=rooibos, 6=pu'erh, 7=mate, 8=herbal

Note: There are, in order, 42, 34, 18, 15, 20, 8, 5, and 46 distinct teas in the above categories.

4. For each number listed in 3, you'll want to generate 1 random number to attached to it. Ex. If your first number is 3, you'd generate a random number between 1 and 18, say 13, and write that as 3-13.

5. Go to the Davids tea website and look up your list of 10 teas. Ex. If you had 3-13, you'd go to the white teas section and look up the 13th tea in alphabetical order, which is Pom Power.

6. Assign this list of 10 teas, in order to the following 10 things:

1.How you see yourself.

2.How others see you.

3.Your best friend.

4.Your ideal Partner.

5.Your life purpose.

6.Your greatest strength.

7.Ideal career.

8.Your true self.

9. Your inspiration.

10. Your life in a tea.

7.Look up the descriptions for each tea and learn and enormous amount about yourself, or have a laugh.

8. Invite your friends to do the same and compare results, or drink the teas :)

Pro tips:

1.If you have, say, three 1s in your list, then you could save time by generating 3 random numbers between 1 and 42 and attaching these numbers in order.

2.Write down your favorite things about the teas and what the taste/smell reminds you of.

3.Do the same for the tea names.

4.If you know about symbolism, you can go to town with the information you get in 2 and 3 and catch a glimpse of your psyche.



Thursday, 7 June 2012

Letting it all go

It's been a week now since my brother departed for the US to marry the girl of his dreams that he met on youtube. I've had the apartment to myself and I cancelled my cable before he left, so I've had plenty of time for reflection.

He had the courage to let it all go. He quit his job and sold all of his worldly possessions, even his most cherished ones, so that he would have enough money to travel there and have some spending money while they spend time getting to know each other in person.

He knew full well that things could fall to pieces when he got there. They could meet in person and realize that the way they wanted each other to be and the way that they portrayed themselves to each other was different from their true nature.  He could get held up in customs and not make it there, making it all for naught.

 None of this mattered to him, however. He believed in their love so strongly that he was able to risk everything to make it work.

This makes sense until attachments get in the way and cloud our judgement, of course. There was many a time when he was trying to sell something, but was unwilling to sell it for less than his idea of what it was worth. Thankfully he let them go in the end.

Of course, worldly possessions have only abstract value and are ultimately impermanent, so it only makes sense to give them up if it means that you can meet your true love, or start a new life for yourself, or take a yoga teacher training program, or whatever it is that you believe will make you a better person and make you happy at last.

Even if we let all those things go, though, there's the pesky ego to deal with. It's not enough to let go of your worldly possessions when our ideas about the way we should be, or what we should do cause us further suffering. We can let that go as well.

 Accepting reality, messy as it is, without judgement, is a tough pill to swallow. Sadly, it's the only suffering pill on the market.

Maybe we'll never do dwi pada sirsasana, or win a gold medal at the over-achiever olympics, but we can certainly live in the moment, work with what we have, and turn that into enough.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

We're glorious as we are. We sometimes muddy ourselves with our own projections, though.

As any alchemist will tell you, only imperfect things can be brought to perfection; perfect things can only be corrupted. Thankfully we can always polish ourselves back to perfection by removing the projections.

Wax on wax off,


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

There and back again

Tomorrow is the launch of the 1$ tea of the day promotion at Davids tea and I'm super excited. It was a little less than a year ago that I first started my "terrific tea tasting journey": a quest to try all of the teas at that very same store.

I was a little intimidated by all of the teas on the wall, but, after about 3 months I had finally tried the last tea (for the time being), Sencha Ashikubo, which just so happens to be Davids favorite :)

There have been many new teas to tantalize my taste buds since then, and I'm sure there will be more to follow, but I find myself drawn more and more to the straight teas these days. I'm still quite fond of the flavored teas, of course, but the subtle flavors are more intriguing to me now for whatever reason.

It has been said that the whole point of a journey is to return to where you came from and know it for the first time. I'll drink to that.


Thursday, 26 April 2012

An end of an era

The spring schedule has finally arrived at the yoga studio that I frequent, and they've definitely made some changes. Mostly making the Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes a little later, and adding some 1 hour classes here and there, but, alas, it has also brought the end of the 4-6 pm Tuesday/Thursday class that I attended regularly.

I've had the full gamut of emotions in this class; from triumphant glory to bitter defeat(though that had more to do with the realization that finishing my masters was a pipe dream than the actual class). Still, the teacher was patient and persistent in her training whenever cheesy jazz music was not being played.

I feel as though I've come a long way in the brief 4 month window in which this class existed. I'm eliminating as much of the hesitation and unnecessary movements as my brain has the capacity to notice and this has helped tremendously.

Perhaps it is fitting, though, that this class ended as soon as I handed in my key to my grad office, informing the powers that be that I will not be finishing my Masters.

If all goes well I will be starting my life outside of school as soon as the new schedule begins. New beginnings are always nice. The warrior's path awaits me, and I am pretty excited to saddle up the windhorse to see where it takes me.

Hopefully my teacher will become a tremendously successful author to make up for the relative lack of led classes to teach. Perhaps MEC will look favorably on her at least.

Anyway, a big thanks goes out to her for tolerating my shenanigans and helping along the way. See you in the weekend classes :)


Monday, 2 April 2012

Alliteration madness

Angry aardvarks are almost always annoyed by bashful beavers. Beavers, being big brilliant blokes, carefully construct curiously crafty creations continuously. Disappointingly, destructive dogs diligently demolish each enthusiastically erected edifice every evening. Fortunately, furry foxes fortuitously fend fiends far from fine fortifications.

Gentle giants' humble homes have increased in illustriousness in July.

Jolly juggernauts jump joyously juggling kitten kettles.

Leaping lemurs love laughing ludicrously loudly.

Many mammals migrate mindlessly, moving meticulously north. Normally, narwhals never nap. Newts nap notoriously. Old Owls ostensibly play plinko perfectly. Perhaps quizzically, queen quails quietly read reports relentlessly. Regal roosters rarely read.

Surreptitiously, Slithering serpents sneakily swallow silly squirrels sometimes. Tragically, tiny turtles trek toward terrible trials.

Unfortunately, unafraid unicorns usurp unprepared Ulstermen unrelentingly until victorious. Vivacious vixens woo wandering warblers westward without xylophones. Xenophobia? Yes. Yet, yellow yetti's yell youthfully; zealous zebras zip zanily.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Extending the gratitude

I just found out the other day that my blog won a Libster award. Liebster is german for dearest, favorite, or beloved. In order to win this award, a blog must have less than 200 followers and be a favorite of someone else on the interwebs.

I was nominated by an Exuberant friend of mine, Erica Schmidt. A yoga teacher, author, and all around outstanding person. Her most recent book, I let go, is a self help book of immeasurable worth. You can buy it for $2.00, though. Your pelvis will be eternally grateful and spacious, just like Erica's. Her yoga classes are pretty spectacular as well. The Mysore classes on Tuesday and Thursday from 4pm-6pm are especially awesome. If you're from the Halifax area, you should definitely check them out. They take place at the shala, which is right above lululemon. You can get a 3 month unlimited pass for $90, which would give you ample opportunity to take her classes. The jokes are excellent and come free of charge.

I now have to pass the award on to another excellent, though under-followed blog.Without further delay the next recipient of the Liebster award is *drum roll*.

Nicole! Nicole, myself, and our mutual friend Courtney were lab partners in our intro stats course. We had an excellent time rejecting Hos and finding confidence intervals. After mastering these essential life skills, she has since moved to Australia to pursue her masters degree and befriend koalas, kiwi birds, and other exotic wildlife. Feel free to follow her to read about these excellent adventures.

Until the next time.


Monday, 26 March 2012

Tea mixology

As of tomorrow, March 27, I will have completed my 25th lap around the sun. My time has been remarkably consistent each time. How boring and predictable.

To make up for this ho hum regularity, I'll be sharing with you five of the best five minute tea mixes I have yet to find on my quest towards tea alchemy greatness.

1. Can't wait for summer? Try mixing equal parts of midsummer nights dream and mango madness. The perfect balance of tart, sweet, minty, and awesome. It'll have you thinking warm, carefree thoughts in no time. Hakuna mata.

2. Like maple bacon? Try mixing 3 parts oh Canada to one part Lapsang Souchong Star. The little piglets will thank you.

3.You'll want to sit down for this one. Mix equal parts Forever nuts and buttercream. Hopefully it's a big comfy chair so you can melt into it in a state of pure bliss. Add some agave and see what happens.

4. Love roasting marshmallows on the open fire, but don't have marshmallows or a fire? Have no fear, lapsang souchong star and vanilla oolong are here! Go for thrice as much oolong as lapsang. Now all you need is an acoustic guitar and some friends to sing with. Good times.

5. Candy cane enthusiasts take heed. Mix 2 parts vanilla oolong to one part peppermint amour. All that without the cavities and empty calories. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Feel free to post your own mixes in the comment section! Enjoy the tasty recipes above.

Adios amigos.


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Matcha Matsu and other green things

Seeing as though yesterday was St. Paddy's day/Irish awareness day/be kind to gingers day, and I am a ginger of Irish descent\leprechaun, I found it quite necessary to celebrate, though not in the usual way.

I was certainly sporting my greenest attire (a lime green golf shirt and khakis), which made me immensely happy. It's probably my favorite color to wear. That and brown. I'm a walking forest most of the time. No wonder I get along so well with environmentalists.

Since I don't drink beer, and it's highly frowned upon not to drink some sort of green beverage on St. Paddy's day, I made my way to Davids tea to get some green tea instead. The resident matcha expert was working, and so I asked her opinion on the best way to enjoy this regal beverage. Apparently iced with soy and agave is the way to go! It was definitely delicious. If you haven't tried it this way, then I highly recommend it. If you've never tried matcha before, then I super recommend it. It'll change your life. I was so energetic afterwards. I settled for two "pints" of this. An excellent life choice indeed.

Naturally, the most sensible thing to do after consuming green beverages is to practice yoga...or maybe that's just me. I did so in my finest green athletic attire, which makes it all the more awesome. We even got to leap frog our way around the class to practice jumping through. It brought me back to my frogger playing days, oh nostalgia.

To make the day all the more Irish, my brother and I played some golf at the simulator. I played super awesome, probably because I was wearing all green and a golf hat. These increase your skill level substantially.

Hopefully yesterday's shenanigans treated you well. Enjoy the last few days of winter. Spring will soon be upon us! Speaking of spring, the spring collection is most delicious. Pink flamingo iced is most excellent.

Live long and prosper,


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Tea poetry

There once was a tea from afar
It came in a silver tin jar
With a smoky taste
It lights up my face
They call it Lapsang Souchong Star

Oh, forever nuts
Forever my favorite
Stay tasty my friend

Jolly jellybean
A sweet and tasty spring tea
Rooibos tea is great

Exceptionally awesome
Xena princess warrior
Outstanding tea
Terrific tasting tisane
Iced, it is amazing
Can't get enough
Add agave for extra awesome

Chicory dickory dock
A tea that most certainly rocks
A wonderful tea
And it's caffeine free
So don't even look at the clock

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Phoenix rising: Finding the right tea to kickstart your morning

Here in the glorious metropolis of Halifax, the bus strike is still in full force with no end in sight. For me, the main consequence of this is that I have had to improve my relationship with the mornings.

As I have mentioned before, it certainly takes me a while to get started in the mornings, but my cat has been a great cheerleader thus far. If my alarm doesn't quite do the job, she is all to happy to jump on me purring loudly, and maybe even giving me a love tap or two to the face. Much like this. Thankfully I usually wake up before she has to break out the baseball bat :)

Once I get up, however, my internal fire is in need of smoldering, and what better way to do this than to brew up a cup of tea! Below is a guide to finding the right tea for you depending on what the day has in store. Of course, as any alchemist knows, you must start with the black blacker than black if you wish to make your philosophers stone correctly, so we shall limit our focus to unflavored, black teas. I'll be using teas from Davids tea as my reference point.

Assam Banaspaty: A rich and malty tea with a hint of sweetness made in India. When steeped, it has a delightful red color. For the full experience, add a little milk/soy milk and a dash of sugar. That's how the locals drink their tea. A fine choice for any connoiseur or aspiring yoga practitioner.  

Davids Darjeeling Blend: A personal favorite of mine! This tea has a rich, complex flavor, with hints of the mountain air, and woodsy elements as well. A perfect blend for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Imagine yourself looking into the distance taking in the breath taking scenery of the Himalayan mountains for the full experience. Add milk and sugar as needed! Use it to help you reach the pinnacle of your life or acquire a new perspective, or to enjoy a great tea...whatever floats your boat :)

English breakfast tea: The perfect start to the day for those wishing to find the right balance in their life. A classic blend with a rich, yet simple flavor. It is simple, yet elegant. Here's to finding the right balance! Lovers of all things classic and timeless, unite!

Kenyan Tinderet: It's made with lightning, real lightning! A tea for those seeking gratuitous amounts of energy, or wishing to run as fast as Kenyans. This fine, earthy tea with hints of honey is made in the Tinderet estate in Kenya, where lighting is indeed quite common. Harness the awesome power of nature's light show, and have sweet rave parties in your stomach. A shockingly good tea that'll leave you thunderstruck! AC/DC tickets not included.

Nepal black tea: for the ethically minded individual that enjoys a sweet, rich flavor, that is handcrafted to perfection! Part of the proceeds from this tea go to community programs that help schools, the elderly, and underprivileged families.  Give a gift to those in Nepal and your taste buds. That's what I call a win-win! A staple on my shelves for years to come!

Orange Pekoe: The classic of classics. This IS your father's tea, and probably his father's, and so on ad infinitum. For those who love nostalgia and the good old days. Old faithful, orange pekoe, will never let you down. Take a sip and enjoy the memories.

Lapsang souchong star: For those of you that enjoy singing kumbaya by the campfire, a fine cigar, or a single-malt whiskey, this is definitely the tea for you. Furthermore, it is the ideal tea to get your internal fire going on overdrive. Take a sip of this tea and watch your worries pine away. It has a richness and complexity that truly has to be experienced to appreciate. Taste smoke on the water in a cup. Mmmm, deep purple.

And, finally *drum roll*

Wild black Yunan: Looking to connect with the knowledge of the ancients? Then look no further than this tea. It has been grown in the same manner for thousands of years, and, if you are observant enough, you can almost taste the tradition. Okay, maybe not, but you can definitely taste the woodsy, clean air, and delicious. sip this tea and connect with the stillness of time and the natural world. Always remember your roots.


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Dan's gym

Until about two years ago it had been a life goal of mine to own an operate a gym. I first started my exercise journey at the tender age of 14. My friends and I would often spend time at my friend DD's house doing all sorts of things-basketball, hockey, baseball, and other things young kids should do. In his barn, he had a spring with handles on the end that his father used to work out back in the day. All of my other friends were able to bend the handles together easily, but I was always smaller and weaker than they were, so I struggled with it immensely. One day I will be able to bend it, I told myself.

I didn't really make any changes that would help me achieve this goal at first, but I kept trying to bend that bar whenever I was there. I came closer and closer to bending it each time in spite of my lack of training. I'm sure that puberty supplied the gains in strength, but determination probably didn't hurt either. I did not want that piece of metal to defeat me.

I eventually managed to bend it successfully after months of trying and felt a great degree of satisfaction in doing so. However, there was no higher notch for the bar, so my strength gains stagnated for a while until I started watching Dragonball Z. The awesome strength of those cartoons was inspiring to me and caused me to start my quest to become like Vegeta, my favorite character from the show. He would always train extremely hard to get better than kakarot, another character in the show, who would always outdo him. This irritated Vegeta as he was the prince of all Saiyans, the race of both he and Kakarot, and so should be the most powerful. Pride was certainly his main motivating factor, and that was certainly true for me as well. I think I saw something of myself in him. Some dormant power that I had yet to tap into.

My grandfather gave me a pair of 10 lb weights that he had in his house and I started doing as much as I could with those weights and did plenty of pushups and situps. Eventually those weights became a little too light and I upgraded to 25 lb weights (Incremental progress was a foreign concept to me at the time!). Of course, I struggled immensely with these weights, but the desire to be like Vegeta pushed me to new heights. One upgrade led to another and eventually I had a weight bench that allowed me to do dips, leg extensions, preacher curls, and bench press and off I went with those exercises, doing them all the time and adding new ones as I went along. Eventually I even surpassed my friends who had always been stronger than me, and then a few of my friends started flocking to my basement to start working out with me. Thus, Dan's gym was born.

We would work out almost every day after school and slowly but surely we started to "get ripped". We all progressed substantially and it wasn't long before we had to upgrade Dan's gym. At it's peak, we would lift weights until we felt like we were about to burst out of our skin and then push harder. By the time high school rolled around, we were all stars in gym class.

Sadly, I went to university and Dan's gym died off. I did, however take my training to the next level in university and ended up getting quite strong. At some point though, the lift things up and put things down side of myself started to wane. I had achieved far more than I thought possible and it was time for a new challenge. My friend dragged me to a step Aerobics class and I was a regular for a solid 5 years. I still lifted weights on the days that I didn't do step class, though.

Fast forward to today and I have hardly stepped foot in a gym since November 2010. The days of trying to prove something to myself are over and the days of trying to understand myself have begun. At some point I realized that I had been trying to beat a metal bar for nearly a decade. I had chained myself to it and continued to add links to the chain as time went on. As with many chains, it became tangled along the way and I am now in the process of removing the links one by one so that I am no longer bound by the chain. In the words of the beatles, it's time to just let it be. Adios, metal bar!


Saturday, 11 February 2012

Thighs of steel

It's been 9 days since I could last ride the bus and I must say that it has been smooth sailing so far. I carpool with my boss 4 days a week and spend the rest of my time close to home.

I've been doing a colossal amount of tutoring lately and, since my normal mode of transportation no longer exists, I have to walk from meeting place to meeting place and back to home base.

I've been logging an average of 4 km a day and my thighs are toning up quite nicely! This makes my hamstrings, the opposing muscle group, relatively more open than they were before and I am definitely noticing a difference in my yoga practice. I can fold forward much more easily and everything else seems to be coming along nicely as well.

I also made a yoga playlist for myself and it has definitely taken my energy to the next level. Yesterday my energy and focus were through the roof. It was an amazing experience. For some reason, the song bring me to life by evanescence does exactly that! I feel like sharing the playlist, so here it is:

1. Angels- Robbie Williams
2. Come Undone- Robbie Williams
3. Don't look back in anger-Noel Gallagher
4. The warrior-Scandal
5. Rolling in the deep-Adele
6. Bring me to life- Evanescence
7. Set fire to the rain- Adele
8. Come Clarity- Inflames
9. Beneath the surface- Dream theater
10. Far from Heaven- Dream theater
11. open arms- Journey
12. Faithfully- Journey
13. Name- goo goo dolls
14. One- U2
15. Walk on- U2
16. Fields of gold- Sting
17. I will- Beatles

I am quite happy with it so far, but it's could use one or two more songs to bring it to the proper duration. I'll figure that out though.

Now that my thighs and hamstrings are happy i'll be looking forward to hitting the map 6 days a week as planned. Hopefully your tea drinking and or yoga journeys are going famously.

Walk on,


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

morning people

Everyone knows someone that is unnecessarily energetic in the morning. They are known as morning people. They can often be found singing in showers, talking to their groggy and overtired friends on the bus while they stare blankly into space half paying attention to their chipper friends conversation about...something. I have never been a morning person, so I can't recall any conversations I've had with morning people.

I am a space cadet most of the time, but I am the king of all space cadets in the morning. I need colossal amounts of tea to get me going...that and about 90 minutes. I am a little pokey in the morning to say the least.

However, now that the buses are on strike in my city, I need to get up at 6 am every morning so I can be ready to hop in the car with my ride at 715 am. No fun at all. It is getting easier, though and I can even recall vague details of some of the conversations that are had on the 45 minute morning commute.

It is amazing how much you can accomplish in a day when you wake up before the sun. When I get home I am actually done for the day since I have so much time to kill throughout the day! I never thought I'd say this, but this waking up early thing might not be such a bad thing.

I'll need copious amounts of tea to kick start my mind, but I think I may be able to pull this off after all. Perhaps I'll even greet people with the occasional "Top of the morning to ya."

Live long and prosper,


Monday, 30 January 2012

A new journey

This week has definitely been an interesting one to say the least. I finally mustered the courage to cut my losses and stop the pursuit of artificial glory. The road to becoming a master of mathematics ends in glorious defeat.

For the last year I've been attempting to write a thesis in mathematics and it has been a particularly trying experience. I was a very gifted undergraduate student, and so I was encouraged strongly to pursue graduate studies so that I could be a professor. I was on top of the world when I graduated, and my success seemed inevitable, or so I thought.

Three years later, with no masters to show for it, I have decided to cut my losses and start a new journey.  A piece of paper is not worth my peace of mind.

I have no idea where I will go from here, but having fixed ideas about what I should be doing is not overly productive anyway. A simpler life has been in order for some time now, and I am enjoying it so far. Might as well tee it high and let it fly as the golfers say.

If my tea drinking journey has taught me anything, it is that a sense of adventure and a willingness to slip way outside of your comfort zone can go a long way. So on I will go with tea in hand and see where the wind takes me. Bon voyage!


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Embracing the random

Heads, yes. Tails, no. This is how I have been making unimportant decisions for some time now. It started out as a way to eliminate an incredible level of indecisiveness, but recently I have been thinking about randomness in a whole new light.

I saw a middle aged woman on the bus today who quite literally danced her way into the seat next to me. I have not seen someone as chipper in quite some time. She was rather surprised that I was not "plugged in" like most youth these days. That is, why I was not in my own little bubble listening to music and ignoring everyone else around me. Admittedly, I am almost completely oblivious to the outside world when I am focused on something, especially if I am reading a good book on psychology (My brother has to pretty much wave his hands in front of my face in order to get my attention sometimes.), but I was open to the possibility of human interaction today.

Later, I decided to go to my favorite tea shop and just space out for a bit, or so I thought. I ended up having a very interesting conversation with a virtual stranger, whom I am now connected with via twitter, about the collective unconscious, living fearlessly, and the possibility of being the official tea alchemist for a concert featuring the likes of the Marley brothers and Wyclef Jean. The theme of the concert would essentially embracing the "one love" frame of mind; treating everyone with respect, and doing what we can to help each other grow and thrive as humans. As a part of this, tea could be blended showcasing different themes, which makes me very excited indeed. I can only hope that this comes to pass. The possibilities that arise when you are open to others are truly astounding.

On the other end of the spectrum, I had a conversation with a panhandler who was quite clearly upset with the scandalous dress of young girls. He made it very clear that he has been hurt deeply by girls in the past and wants nothing to do with them, and also has severed ties with his parents and family, so perhaps this attitude is merely just a projection of this past hurt onto people who remind him of those that have hurt him. He did, however, make a very good point in between his lamentations about short skirts and low tops. He noted that in all of us we have the potential to be nasty, hateful people, but also loving, kind, and helpful people.

Obviously it is a little harder to allow space for people when they are speaking negatively, but I know that people sometimes need someone to vent to and that repressing feelings does far more harm than good.

So I shall continue to remain "unplugged" and allow for the possibility of human interaction as often as possible. Cheers to the random!

Live long and prosper,


Thursday, 12 January 2012

On starting anew

As the end of my academic career draws closer and closer, I am admittedly a little bit nervous to step out into the real world. The time spent in hollowed halls and ivory towers was a mixed bag for me.

My undergraduate degree was a life changing experience to say the least. I was painfully shy when I first arrived, and, to make matters worse, I only knew a handful of people. Thankfully, though, I was placed in a residence filled with truly remarkable people that slowly but surely nudged me out of my shell. I became very close with those people in my four years there, and still am today. We're scattered across the province now, but meet several times a year for the super bowl, the holidays, or whenever one of us decides to tie the knot.

The professors truly cared about the success of their students. I spent many an hour talking about life, morality, and math with one particularly influential professor. He inspired me to go on to graduate school, but also encouraged me to grow as a person. Another taught me the subtleties of the human psyche, started me on my yoga journey, and taught me the value of thinking way outside the lines.  The school itself has a very welcoming atmosphere, with plenty of gorgeous plants and trees to help keep you connected and grounded. I found it very easy to think creatively and enjoyed my time there immensely.

Ivory towers are very lonely places, though. Having climbed the tower further,  I now realize that the view isn't quite as spectacular as I thought it would be, and the people at the bottom are much friendlier. The climb will end once I finish my masters in April.

It isn't easy changing directions, but at some point you have to eliminate the things in your life that aren't benefiting you. Enjoyment of life and connectedness are far more important than any amount of prestige or accolades.

I'm not sure where I will go once I reach the ground, but that's fine by me. In the words of tool, I will feed my will to feel this moment and embrace whatever may come. Cheers.

Live long and prosper,


Thursday, 5 January 2012

313 days of yoga

On Nov. 15 of 2010, I showed up for my first ever yoga class at a studio in Halifax known as the shala.
I didn't really know what to expect, but I was certainly surprised by how difficult I found it. I was sweating like Shaq at the foul line and was finding it very hard to keep a steady breath like the rest of the yogis and yoginis in the room. The teacher was extremely nice and very welcoming, so I decided to buy their 3 month unlimited pass. I was only able to make it once a week at first for the intro classes, which were far from easy at the time,  but were very helpful.

I started going more and more frequently as the year went on and saw monumental improvements in every aspect of my life as soon as I started to realize that yoga is far more than posture, breath, and gaze. I would have never imagined that doing the same sequence of poses over and over again would help me look at the world and myself in a totally different way, but somehow it has.
So, my intention is to step on the mat 6 days a week and see where that leads me. At the very least I'll be surrounded by wonderful people who have and continue to inspire me. That's more than enough reason for me to stay the course.  Happy sailing to everyone else!

Live long and prosper,