The World’s Simplest Scavenger Hunt: Gratitude & Inspiration

Sometimes future blog content clings to me like Saran Wrap until I acknowledge it. Often it sneaks up on me, manifesting in unexpected but repeated ways. Today began with mindless Facebook drifting, after very intense MLS searching, driving a cursor around Dundas in mad circles, wishing and willing a century home with a price tage under half a million to appear.

Kerri Minns, who I arm wrestled for the title of G Adventures Coolest Adventure Travel Intern in 2010 (she won, and talentedly so) often posts engaging and idea-erupting updates and links on her very articulate Facebook page. Sometimes they are Instamatic sugary donuts portraits, or just smartly snapped pictures of an open newspaper. Today she reposted this quote (source unknown): “In order to lead a fascinating life–one brimming with art, music, intrigue and romance–you must surround yourself with precisely those things.”


And, for a reliable creative boost and further inspiration injection, there’s always been Brene Brown and her WholeHearted Living manifesto that serves as verbal Red Bull. She is best known for embracing imperfection and saluting vulnerability. Brown’s site is dense with ideas, and her thoughts today fuelled my run through the breezy, fertilized and newly mulched suburban streets.

Brown’s post was simple, a “play list” of all that she was grateful and inspired by today from the likes of cilantro Thai grilled chicken to Willie Nelson’s latest album Heroes. And, with much credit to her, I am piggy-backing on her post.

Today I’m feeling very grateful for and inspired by:

1. Long Way Down. A few months ago I read Ewan MacGregor and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Round (2004), chronicling their enduro 20,000 mile ride across 12 countries on tripped-out BMW bikes. This time the macho boys are riding from Scotland to Capetown, South Africa. During my reading epidemic yesterday, I didn’t budge from my lounger until they crossed the Libyan border en route to lunch in Alexandria. Reading their impressions of the oppressive heat, obnoxious traffic and wayward camel crossings brought the carefully preserved memories of our  time in Egypt to the forefront.  The books we brag about are always the ones that successfully take us elsewhere, inward, backward, or to that high-security place in our mind’s matrix.

2. Offloading. Last week, Kim and I were on a “working holiday” in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. We were dutifully helping her parents move into an envy-inducing tony condo space (granite, stainless steel, oh my!) from their idyllic ranch of 30 years, complete with resident foxes in the woods just yonder. I’ve moved my parents once (after nearly 30 years in one house), and several friends (several times). After this recent move, Kim, Scott, Lynne (her siblings) and I came to an agreement. From now on, we are only allowed to collect our thoughts. Kim and I are known minimalists, and still, after seeing how 30 years of living can so easily escalate and accumulate, I couldn’t wait to come home and offload anything remotely unnecessary. My urban space is around 800 square feet, and after moving back and forth across Canada and sojourning to Africa twice, my cardboard box count has continued to dwindle. If something doesn’t have a story or a purpose, I am repurposing it (ie. how many martini glasses does one really need?). In the end, we are only left with our thoughts, anyway. Hopefully.

3. Banana Bread beer and a pale ale made with pinapple juice? I pick up hard copies of The Grid, NOW, City Bites, Food & Drink and Toronto Life for serious ongoing inspired eating research purposes. And, as an already avid thought collector (as witnessed on this blog–three years of blathering thoughts-strong), I like to keep these scavenged places documented in one coveted master list, mapping out all that I need to drink and eat in the city. A Gut Positioning System, if you will. It’s my version of a Five Year Plan.  I had read about the UK Wells Banana Bread beer somewhere in my reading travels and sourced it out at the RBC LCBO on Front. And in bonus beer news, Kim and I discovered Spearhead’s Hawaiian Pale Ale, brewed with pineapple juice at La Mexicana on Yonge. Tomorrow I plan to eat a Hrvati burg to support Toronto’s $5 Burger Week (Ontario beef, smoked mozza and caramelized onions on a Croatian steamed bun). It’s good to have goals. Even Burgers-To-Eat goals.

4. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Whether we are reading about or watching the intricacies, demise or foibles of other lives, it helps frame our own world in a gentle, fluid way. The trailer for this Judi Dench and Bill Nighy flick sucked me in months ago. Like the media approach of Never Let Me Go and Limitless promised, such movies are the scaffolding of coffee shop and bar stool conversations. Not total blockbusters, maybe, but, they force-feed troubled thinking and lend to mind-wandering through internal emotional forests days after. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a genuine and amusing look at an eclectic group of souls struggling to embrace their autumn years in India. The maelstrom of thoughts hummed louder than the handfuls of buttered popcorn being ingested as I watched it.  Could we? Would we? India, no. Never say never, but, no, never. But, where would we want to spend our golden years? I love how movies generate thoughts and engage constant plotting of our own life’s script.

5. Not climbing Everest. I’ve read several disturbing accounts of Canadian Shriya Shah-Klorfine’s death this week. I think many Twitter followers were appalled to learn via rabid feeds from recent climbers like Sandra Leduc (@sandraclimbing) of the number of dead bodies dotting the path to the summit, transforming the peak into a surreal high altitude morgue. Of the 3,000 climbers who have attempted to conquer the mammoth, over 200 have died. Due to the tangible danger and expense of removing the bodies, many remain exactly where they have last fallen. When I read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air a dozen years ago, I found great inspiration in the bull-headed determination and unstoppable emotional force of those who needed to climb the mountain. But, I also found peace in knowing that I wasn’t hard-wired for that experience. I could live very happily without that pull and overwhelming need to summit.

6. Emily Haines! I know I’m late to catch on to her after her storied history with Broken Social Scene and Metric, but, after watching Daydream Nation, I found myself listening harder to the soundtrack strains than the actors dialogue. Does anyone remember Aussie folkies Frente? Their cover of Bizarre Love Triangle? Labor of Love? Very vocally reminiscent.  Another Australian darling is also on my  LOVE-wanna-hear-more radar: Trysette. When I was in Entebbe, Uganda, I drank many bottles of red wine with Trysette’s sister Merryde at the Gately Inn. Silky Fingers is often on repeat at my place, much to the chagrin of my upstairs tenant (payback for her Yo Yo Ma and sugar pop music interference).

7. Petting some dogs along my way. I met and had a heavy pet with “Pearl” yesterday. She lives just around the corner and is the most adorable (x 1,000) beagle, ever. Petting random dogs is just all around good.

See? It’s everywhere. The world’s simplest scavenger hunt, really. From banana bread beer to wagging dogs.

Inspiration and gratitude–where are you finding yours today?

Categories: Eat This, Sip That, Flicks and Muzak, Polyblogs in a Jar | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “The World’s Simplest Scavenger Hunt: Gratitude & Inspiration

  1. Kay LeFevre

    I could live without the summit too. Great post Jules ..and so timely. We just finished cleaning out two sheds worth of crap …all the while saying over and over “what the F*ck are we doing with this microwave from 1987?” Downsizing feels sooo good.

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