My interview with New Kids on the Block

Remember when I talked about the things I'd tell my 8 year old self?

Let's add this to the list: if I could go back and tell younger me that 20 years down the road I'd be interviewing Jordan Knight and Danny Wood of New Kids on the Block, I think I would have lost my mind completely.

Ashley Gibson New Kids on the Block

And because I'm me, I told Danny and Jordan that fact. Jordan asked what I thought about it all now and I said that 29 year old me was still really flippin' excited.

Ashley Gibson @ashleydtl Twitter New Kids on the Block

And halfway through the interview they decided to follow me on Twitter. 

@jordanknight @dannywood

Danny also retweeted me, and suddenly I had a whole lot of new followers and a slew of BlockHeads (NKOTB fans) who were super stoked to read my interview. 

And Jordan nuzzled my face.


And Danny told me I had pretty eyes.

Ashley Gibson NKOTB Jordan Knight Danny Wood

I seriously giggled for days about the whole thing. 

Amid the ridiculousness, we talked about their reunion, the annual NKOTB Boat cruise (the All Access New Kids Harem on the Sea as it was referred to...) the new album, 10, their upcoming tour with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men and what it's like to still be doing this 20 years later with fans like me who remember the Step by Step days. It was seriously a surreal moment and I'm so thankful for the opportunity.

Head over to the ShawConnect music blog to read the full interview!

Thanks to Chris Cartwright for giving me such an awesome opportunity and Alexandra Gater for being my partner in crime and taking some sweet photos!

Meghan Telpner's UnDiet - Interview & Giveaway

I first discovered Meghan Telpner back in 2009. I had just been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and I was seeking out others who didn't believe that medication was the only way. I came across Meghan's site, took some of her cooking classes and my life changed forever.

Ashley Gibson Meghan Telpner Detox Market Undiet

Since then we've become friends, traveled to St. Lucia and back and I've been a huge cheerleader in all things Meghan related. I was immensely proud and inspired when she announced that she was writing her first book and I was honoured to be asked to be a part of the virtual book tour once UnDiet finally launched. I'm also very happy to be able to give away a copy to one of my fine readers!

It was awesome to get my hands on the book a little bit before its release. It's easy to read, very "Meghan" and a stellar lifestyle guide. The pictures are beautiful and the 40 gluten free, whole foods based recipes that have been included are delicious and easy-to-follow. I'm happy to finally have a replacement for my well-loved copy of Meghan's recipes from her classes.

Meghan Telpner UnDiet giveaway interview

The book is broken out into 10 sections, each with a different focus including the UnDiet foundations, meal prep, edible body care, kicking your cravings and of course, making love in your kitchen. Each of the sections ends with take-aways from the chapter and how they apply to the UnDiet lifestyle and each section has delicious recipes and tips. The book culminates with an 8 week transition plan to help readers put the UnDiet lifestyle into full effect! I loved reading through everything and soaked in Meghan's philosophy. It's all so familiar to me and there are so many things that I already do, but it was a super reminder.

Meghan Telpner baked falafel quinoa

I got to ask Meghan some questions about the book and life in UnDiet land. Here's what she had to say:

You've probably answered this a thousand times, but what does UnDiet mean to you? 

I won't answer this, because I have answered it a thousand times, so instead I will tell you what I want UnDiet to mean to YOU, and every single one of your readers.

UnDiet is setting you free from whatever titles and labels you have given to yourself about the way you eat, look, move, love, think, sleep and shake your booty when you're naked (if you do that). UnDiet is about breaking free from the rules we think we're meant to follow, un-cubing ourselves from the cubicle world, looking at life through a fuchsia coloured lens and doing what is the very best for our own individual health. UnDiet is about questioning the paradigms on convention, breaking rules and creating our own. At its core, UnDiet is a shiny, happy way to achieve optimal vibrant health. Shazaam!

What has the response been like to the book so far? 

Nothing short of super-powered-fantabulous! The book has been on the Globe & Mail bestseller list for six weeks now and has hit #1 on Amazon. That's awesome for me professionally, as it's great when something we work hard on succeeds- but more so, it means that people are picking up what I am putting down. They will read it, they will get it, and they will start taking on a few things to move towards health. Most of all, this leaves me completely honoured to have been chosen as part of people's journey to health.

Many different types of people are going to be picking up this book - some who are brand new to UnDiet living and others who may be very familiar with you and your approach - did you write the book with this in mind? Do you think there's something in there for everyone? 

There is absolutely something in UnDiet for everyone- including me. None of us are truly doing all we can for our health, and that's okay. UnDiet is meant to offer guidance, inspiration, a kick in the bottom if you need it, or permission to take it easy if that's what is needed. I offer achievable strategies with tips and tricks to make them happen. There is an overarching attitude of "do what you can, and come back later for the rest when you are ready." UnDiet is intended to offer freedom from the notion that the solution to our health and happiness is outside of us. When we can embrace the empowerment that comes with knowing what we need to do for ourselves to feel a little more awesome everyday, then we become responsible for both managing our own suffering, and for our own happiness. It's a practice, but could everyone benefit? Absolutely!

One of my favourite sections in the book is the "Top Ten Things You'll Learn UnDieting to Vibrant Health". What do you do to consistently remind yourself of those principles, even when they might feel a little more tough than usual? 

I pick up my book and read chapter 1. No. I don't. I have been living this way for seven years now. I know it. I get it. And I do my best to practice. After this much time, I don't always hit a homerun on my mindfulness or seeing the rainbows on storm cloud days, but I am far more aware of how events around me make me feel. I can observe my own stress. I know when I'm not eating or resting the very best that I can, and I know what I need to do to right myself up again. As I say often in the book- all we can ever do is our very best, and at any given moment, what that 'best' is will change. And the exercise for each of us then is to just be okay with wherever we're at. That is the practice.

Did writing the book remind you of any UnDiet principles that you needed to reinforce for yourself?

The actual process of writing the book reinforced ALL the principles. I was writing the book on top of my normal insane workload and teaching schedule. This meant I had to make it a priority to also show up to yoga and meditation, plan effectively to make the most of my time in the kitchen, see friends, laugh often and all those other important factors for health.

What would be your advice for someone who was about to embark on the 8 week transition plan? 

Today is the day!

What's next for you? Can we expect an UnDiet 2? 

The focus for us right now is on the uber-exciting launch of the Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert program. This is how UnDiet will become a full-on revolution where people are not just reading the book, but living it, and learning how to teach the ways of real food, simple living, and questioning what we see on our packages of cereal and shampoo.

You've come a long way since the spring of 2009, when I met you in your kitchen/loft in a cooking class of 6 people. Is this where you imagined you'd be 4 years down the road? 

At that time, I probably had some other ridiculous massively imaginative plan for my life. Something I talk about in the book is the idea of process- that the process is the outcome. Goals are good to help move us along from point A to point B, C, D through to Z, but somewhere along in the process, something unexpected and awesome may come up that invites us to let go of our initial goal and reform our thoughts around it. I always have projects, plans, and goals in place, but stay open to any excitement that may come my way. I believe with absolute confidence that the experiences and opportunities we have in our lives come to us when we are ready to receive them. I like to be at the ready!

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It was awesome to hear some more about the book from Meghan and I couldn't be happier to be able to share some UnDiet love with all of you! And here is your chance to join in the UnDiet awesomeness by winning a shiny new copy of your own!

How to win:

1. Leave me a comment and tell me why UnDiet appeals to YOU!
2. Earn a bonus entry by following me and Meghan on the Twitter and leave a comment to let me know you've done so

Giveaway is open to everyone worldwide. Giveaway will close on Saturday May 25 at 11:59 EST and I will email the winner. Good luck! 

For more details about UnDiet, the Virtual Book Tour and tonnes of other recipes and shenanigans, be sure to check out Meghan's site! So proud of you lady and happy to have such a wonderful tome of healthy lifestyle goodness on my shelf.

My current iPhone app loves

I switched over from Blackberry to iPhone about a year and a half ago and I have to say, I love my iPhone. It seems so silly to love a piece of technology, but my iPhone replaced functionality of a bunch of other devices (camera, dictaphone and phone) and smooshed them all into one happy fun package. I don't have a crazy amount of apps, but I wanted to write about a few that I'm really loving at the moment!

Instagram

Ashley Gibson instagram profile

I think Instagram was the first app I downloaded (and maybe one of the reasons I wanted an iPhone in the first place) and it's still consistently one of my faves. I love sharing photos and liking/commenting on the photos of everyone I follow! Like many, I'm guilty of posting many selfies, food photos and pictures of cats, but it's still a tonne of fun. And free! Follow me to see all of the above coupled with outfit photos and random snippets of my life

A Beautiful Mess

I don't think I've ever been more excited for an app to come out! I practically squealed when I found this in the App store bright and early yesterday morning and then had a blast exploring its functionality all day. Emma and Elsie of A Beautiful Mess have created an awesome photo editing / embellishing app that oozes cute, sweet and functional.

I can't stop playing with it! There are some really lovely filters, fonts and doodles you can add to your heart's content and additional content that is available in the app to purchase. 

Ashley Gibson, A Beautiful Mess, #aBeautifulmess

My little sister sent me this quote yesterday and it only seemed fitting to add it atop some cherry blossoms and make it extra pretty. Great words to live by.


mindfulness wisdom words to live by

I also had a mini fangirl moment yesterday when both Elsie and Emma liked some of my photos that I had tagged with #aBeautifulMess(!!!)


A Beautiful Mess app #aBeautifulMess

If you follow me on Instagram, you can expect to see lots more of it. I seriously can't stop.Love. This. App.

Robot Unicorn Attack 2 

Come on, customizing a unicorn? WHO DOESN'T WANT TO CUSTOMIZE A UNICORN!?

Robot Unicorn Attack 2 #rua2

It's easy enough to figure out the controls (jump and dash) and it's pretty addictive. I'm currently at Level 12 (a Marvelous Mare) and it's a silly, fun way to pass the time on the subway. And it's free! And I've heard more content is coming!! So many wins. AND unicorn customization.

So those are a few of my current faves for my iPhone. I would love to hear about some of your favourite apps or check out some of your photos on Instagram! Be sure to tell me about them in the comments below!

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How to Survive Mother's Day as a Motherless Daughter (or Son)

Every year just after Easter, the emails start to flood my inbox:

GIFTS MOM WILL LOVE

11 MOTHER'S DAY GIFTS THAT WILL BLOW MOM'S MIND

SAVE BIG ON THESE DEALS FOR MOM

Everyone from Shopper's Drug Mart, KFC, Netflix to various blogs, Pinterest pins and tweets along with folks around my office and randoms on the street - they're all talking Mother's Day and I can't seem to escape it. I'm sure most people don't even notice the subtle change in the spring marketing messages, but as a motherless daughter I feel like it's a constant reminder that I haven't been able to send my mom a card or flowers to celebrate this 'special day' in 15 years.

Like clockwork each year at the beginning of May I start to get a little bit more sensitive and emotional. Things that wouldn't normally upset me send me into a bit of a spiral. I'm less confident and more caught up in the small stuff. I've started to recognize this pattern in myself in recent years and am slowly developing strategies to cope with one of the three toughest days of the year for me (next to her death anniversary and birthday). Here are some things that are helping me this year:

  • Be gentle - you may find that days like Mother's Day become a trigger for you, just as they have for me. Breathe and allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you're feeling. Losing a parent is tough on any given day and it's hard to be constantly reminded of your loss by the media and those around you.
  • Practice good self care - take your time and do something nice for yourself. Take a walk in the sunshine. Journal. Nap. Make a nourishing meal. Have tea. Treat yourself to a new book or manicure. It doesn't need to be elaborate or crazy, but give yourself some time and space to give yourself a little bit of extra TLC
  • Surround yourself with people you love - you may need a distraction or maybe you want to spend some time talking about your feelings, and these are the people you can count on. Try to communicate how they can support you through this tough day and don't be afraid to ask for their help. You know you'd do the same for them. I'm so thankful for some very special people in my life who have been a wonderful source of support this week. 
  • Find a way to honour your mom - it's unlikely that you'll take advantage of any of the Mother's Day gift guides or sales, but it's lovely if you can find a way to celebrate this day. It might be writing a note for her in your journal, planting flowers in her memory or even just taking some time to think about her. Rather than viewing Mother's Day as a negative, use it as an opportunity to reflect on your mother's memory
  • Make plans for "the day" - It can include any of the above strategies or hiding from the world altogether. I like to give myself something to look forward to on Mother's Day as it helps me to get through the week. This year I've asked someone I love very much to spend the day with me. I'm not sure what it will entail just yet, but knowing that I'm not going to have to face the day alone is a huge relief  
Last, but not least, remember that it's just a day. 

This is a big one for me to remind myself of. I've come to learn that dates hold a large significance for me, but also that I will make it through. I'm doing everything I can to be gentle with myself and employ as many of these strategies as I can while still allowing myself to feel whatever I need to feel. I'm incredibly blessed to be surrounded by the most wonderful people and look forward to getting through this tough day for another year. 

What do you do to get past days that are challenging? How do you take care of yourself?

News - Angelwalk Theatre presents The Life is Sweet Project

I'm thrilled and overwhelmed and filled with joy to announced that on February 10, 2014 Angelwalk Theatre will present The Life is Sweet Project as part of their 2013/2014 season Showcase Series at the Toronto Centre for the Arts in the Studio space.

Photo - MJS Photography
About the show:

In February 1998 Ashley’s mom committed suicide. Fifteen years later Ashley created a cabaret show to honour her mother’s memory. Through a blog series leading up to the sold-out show, Life is Sweet told both Ashley’s story and many others, creating a much-needed dialogue about mental health. The show is an inspirational story about overcoming tragedy and finding the sweetness in life, despite the challenges. 

The show will be adapted from its predecessor, Life is Sweet, Even in February and proceeds from the show will once again be donated to the CAMH Foundation. I can't wait to be collaborating with Tara Litvack and Angelwalk on this amazing new chapter and opportunity to share my story!

A thousand thank yous to everyone who has supported me and helped to make this a reality. Another reminder that life is sweet.

Cherry Blossom Magic in High Park

The High Park cherry blossoms are out in full force once again, and yesterday my friend Luke and I braved the crowds to pay them a visit armed with Bunner's treats and other refreshments.

Luke Albert Ashley Gibson cherry blossoms

Ashley Gibson Bunner's cherry blossoms

I seriously can't believe it's taken me three years to get back to see them! They do have a short window when they're in full bloom, but they're pretty magnificent. 

cherry blossoms High Park Toronto sakura

It felt like everyone in the city of Toronto was there taking photos, sitting on blankets and basking in the glorious sunshine. We definitely weren't alone in deciding that it was the best way to spend a Sunday morning and based on my Facebook timeline and Instagram feeds, many of my friends were in agreement. 

cherry blossoms Toronto High Park sakura

Ashley Gibson cherry blossoms Toronto High Park sakura

I think this is the beginning of a pretty fantastic summer. Now I just need to stock up on some more SPF 60.

If you're in Toronto this week, take advantage of the beautiful weather and head to High Park to catch a glimpse of the cherry blossoms!