This past Saturday, Canadians everywhere celebrated our country’s 150th year since Confederation. I live in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and although I knew the festivities would be second to none in my amazing home city, Roger and I decided to fly west and join my mother and her partner as they put on a lovely celebration in their neighbourhood in the town of Parksville, B.C.

Today marks July 4th and the United States is now 241 years old. Happy 4th of July to all of my American family & friends!

What I love about celebrating our countries’ ‘births’ is that we get to ponder why we are so incredibly fortunate to live where we do.

Today, I want to remember why I am so blessed to live in North America by sharing my thoughts on living in this part of the free world. But first, a video. Because when I watched this video of a (then) 19-year old girl, named Yeonmi Park, delivering her speech at the 2014 “One Young World” Summit in Dublin, Ireland — an annual summit that gathers young people from around the world to develop solutions to global problems —  about escaping North Korea, it helped me remember that there is nothing more powerful than the truth. If you haven’t already seen it, I encourage you to take 8 minutes to watch.

What strikes me immediately when watching that video is how truly fortunate we are to be able to believe what we want, think what we want and say what we want. And this is huge. While we may not all agree with one another, what’s so special about living in a free country is that we don’t have to. We can make choices that work for each and every one of us.

And THAT is amazing…and something I do not want to take for granted.

Along with being able to live by our own values, we also get to change; whenever we want to. What I admire most in the people of the free world is that we realize that our lives aren’t static. We can change our thoughts, beliefs and actions as we continue to develop ourselves as humans. We aren’t forced to do anything we don’t want to–we get to choose where we live, who we live with, what we do for a living and anything else that gets us closer to living the life we want to live.

We can sometimes feel stuck in our lives, and I get that things can feel crazy and complicated at times, but the truth is that we can change every single circumstance in our lives (our jobs, living accommodations, our diets, our friends, our interests and everything in between–especially our attitudes) and that makes us the luckiest. I have personally fallen completely apart, questioned everything I ever believed about myself, changed those beliefs, and chosen differently in almost every area of my life and become a whole new version of myself in the process. And if I can do it, anyone can. If you ever feel stuck in your life, remember this: You are NOT stuck. You just think you are. Remember that YOU get to believe what you want for yourself. 

We get to enjoy the culture and the food of people we otherwise wouldn’t if we were living in other parts of the world that aren’t as diverse. I so enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories. On Vancouver Island, B.C., the aboriginal community makes up a significant percentage of the population, and Roger and I are experiencing more of their presence and influence here than we do in Ottawa. Being able to call this country home, no matter our lineage, is a testament to our values of openness and inclusiveness and these are qualities I am extremely proud of.

That said, we have a lot of work to do. We must help one another to thrive–when some win, others do not need to lose. Minorities continue to be marginalized and discriminated against, and I believe strongly that it is our obligation as North Americans to embrace and welcome all people, no matter the colour of their skin, their country of origin, their religious beliefs or anything else that makes them culturally different than the majority.

We also get to live amongst people who enjoy all sorts of lifestyles. The LGBTQ community is growing in both countries, and we can learn from, respect and appreciate these individuals who have faced extreme discrimination. More and more people are coming out and celebrating their sexual and gender orientation instead of hiding in the shadows, and I am so proud of the many families who are embracing their humans instead of shunning them. Let’s continue to practice inclusiveness and learn more about all of our brothers and sisters who have the courage to live their truth.

The Canadian and US landscapes are so incredibly beautiful that these countries, quite literally, take my breath away. While I haven’t experienced every province and state yet, I have been to both coasts in both countries and many places in between, and I am never disappointed by the beauty of nature in every part I’ve traveled. I can’t wait to see more of these stunning countries in the years to come. That said, there are areas that are truly struggling and we can always do better, no matter where we live.

Let’s continue to do our parts to protect our beautiful homelands as best we can. We can’t only look to governments to protect our wildlife, our forests, our lakes and rivers, our oceans and our air. We can do our parts to lessen our carbon footprints by reducing and recycling; by shopping locally and growing our own food; by conserving water as often as we can; and by making lifestyle choices (like riding our bikes and walking instead of using our cars) as often as possible. If each of us makes even one small contribution a day, the impact on mother earth would be profound. I suggest challenging yourself to ONE thing you can do, starting today, and to grow from there. I commit to buying less plastic by only using my reusable water container, buying fresh produce from farmer’s markets instead of in plastic containers at grocery stores, and reusing any plastic I can (my mother rarely buys lettuce in plastic boxes, but when she does, she reuses the boxes for all sorts of things like storing tools, paint, in drawers to separate socks and underwear, and just about any other use you can imagine). She inspires me to be more mindful. She doesn’t take our planet for granted; and I don’t want to, either.

With that same energy, let’s take care of ourselves. As a woman in long-term recovery, I spent decades hating myself and doing things that hurt my body, my mind and my spirit. It took me a long time to realize that nothing outside of me could change until I changed what was happening inside of myself.  Practicing self-care, nourishing my body and my mind, saying “no” when necessary, and doing everything I could to get myself closer to who I really am have all played a huge role in developing myself as a person and as a citizen of my country. We can’t change anyone else–just ourselves, and I remember Gandhi’s words: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Let’s do all that we can to continue to take care of our homes. While there are so many wonderful places to live on earth, North America is incredibly special. Let’s remember that we can always change; if we want to. We can choose better by doing better. We can change the way we think, behave and treat others.

Because we are incredibly blessed to live where we live at this time in history; where we have unlimited potential.

Because it is the people who make up our amazing countries, and we must celebrate our sameness and our differences.

Because we must continue to protect and nurture this place called home.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. Yeonmi Park is now almost 24 years old. If you would like to learn more about her story, she has written a memoir called, In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom. Here is another video where she talks about her journey and her book. I am grateful for her. She reminds me that there is nothing more powerful than the truth. And being able to share it.

P.P.S. If you would like to make a change in your life and create a new relationship with food, The 6 Week Sugar Freedom eCourse might be for you. You will be surrounded by a group of like-minded people who will support you. I encourage you to join us here

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