Just drive it.

Should we hedge our bets on the automotive future?

The CEO of Mercedes Benz thinks so.
And interestingly enough, he thinks so on multiple fronts.

Should the company invest in electric vehicles or traditional petrol vehicles?
Should the company invest in autonomous vehicles or the purest’s piloted vehicles?
Should the company cater to the everyday commuter looking to ride share or should it cater to the affluent customer who is looking for status and quality?

His answer was a resounding – ALL OF THE ABOVE.
He’s got irons in all those fires.

The other undertone to his speech at the Frankfurt Motor Show this passed week was that of someone very displeased with the future regulations in parts of the EU to ban petrol-powered vehicles by 2040. He stated he would instead like the customer to decide with his / her wallet. He also mentioned the sustainability of electrical energy, and how that was not always a better alternative to the internal combustion engine.

That got me thinking. And researching. From a Canadian perspective.
Here’s the breakdown on average from 2015 (via Statistics Canada) of where our electricity is generated from:
59.3% Hydro
19.3% Fossil fuels
16.2% Nuclear
5.2% Renewable sources

Only 5% of our energy is generated using renewable sources. So although the electric vehicle will not emit any emissions into the atmosphere, the energy used to charge up that battery very well could have. Unless you have solar panels on your property off the grid, powering up your Tesla, and you never charge it outside your own home, you can’t claim to be emission-free, or much more environmentally friendly than your neighbour in her little 2 litre turbo.

If you really want to get nerdy about energy sources and the environment, you have to look at the entire life cycle of the product as well.
Where do those Tesla batteries go after they are used?
Where does all the spent nuclear waste get stored? And how long can we pile that up for into the future? I think of the Futurama garbage ball in space episode when I think of this issue…

The point is, it all gets really complicated really quickly.
And who knows where politics, technology and industry will be in 2040.
Mercedes is hedging its bets. Not judging one energy source as more valuable or more environmentally friendly than another.

Because things change all the time.
Public options shift.
Environments change.
Technology improves.

So, rather than judging each other based on what we drive, let’s just enjoy what we are driving today – right here and right now.
Burn that gasoline in your V8.
Charge up those Teslas.

Because it could all change tomorrow…

A woman on confidence…

I’m reading a very interesting book right now called The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. It’s written from a female perspective and is incredibly enlightening, aside from being very well written and easy to lose yourself within.

There was a quote from a basketball coach that I found to be true for myself. He said, “The propensity to dwell on failures and mistakes, and an inability to shut out the outside world are the biggest psychological impediments for his female players, and they directly affect performance and confidence on the court.”

Dwelling on failures – that’s the curse of perfectionism – guilty as charged.

Inability to shut out the outside world – that’s building boundaries for yourself, so that you have the internal strength to listen to yourself and filter out the noise from all the haters. It’s also squashing that people-pleasing gene.

I personally find this book and its perspective fascinating because this is the lens through which I live every day of my work life. The people that I work with and compare myself to (even though I wish I didn’t) are virtually all men. And the reality is that they do not think the same way as I do. For years I saw this as a negative. For years I thought I needed to just shut up, stop whining and get to work, regardless of how I feel. For years I thought it best to hide the fact that I think differently from my colleagues. Only now, in my 30s have I realized that being different, an outlier even, can offer more perspective and diversity, which is actually positive for the bottom line.

Women don’t tend to (yes, I do know I’m overgeneralizing) brag about how smart they are, or how great they are, or even how successful they are. We tend to have some nagging voice inside telling us to make sure we are being polite and kind, and to not annoy anyone else by making yourself sound arrogant, or even confident.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it?

If was don’t speak as though we are confident, how will we ever act as though we are confident and deserving of our success?

For me, I don’t think walking around telling everyone I meet how great I am is going to work. In other words, trying to play the game as though I fit into the traditional engineer/executive role, may not suit my personality. Instead I want to exude confidence by knowing that within myself I am so in tune with who I am and what I value, that I act and speak in accordance with that life blood.

I am certain that there is a way to be a confident woman in any industry, setting or community. And I am certain that it will look different for every woman. But wouldn’t it be amazing if more of that authenticity was brought to the boardroom tables every day? Wouldn’t we all benefit from greater diversity?

Rather than denying that I struggle with perfectionism and people-pleasing tendencies, I want to embrace that I have that as a current struggle and I am working every day to find my own voice, let go of not doing everything perfectly, and be ok making myself happy first, before trying to help everyone else. This is called grace. Accepting that we are all working through something, and we could all be a little easier on ourselves while we figure it out. I am learning to be feminine and confident as a compliment to one another, rather than having to decide to be one or the other. That is my challenge.

Portobello Pizza Pies

A fun way to cut the grains out of my diet, and still make delicious food for dinner that literally takes 20 minutes to prep and make.

I’m on another experiment with my diet to try eliminating grains again. It’s only been a couple days, but I can already feel a difference – less pain, less bloat, more energy and my brain fog is clearing up.

Grains are difficult to cut out – they are in SO many foods. It’s tough to do – I completely understand, but if I get a little creative and spend some time on meal prep on the weekends, I get some great alternatives to curb those cravings.

These portobello pizzas were delicious, and the house actually smelled like pizza – I swear! You can top them with whatever your heart desires – lots of veggies is always my vote! These have onions, olives and plain tomato sauce (also called passata at the grocery store). I may even top them with some fresh avocado tomorrow for my lunch!

I used goats mozzarella cheese on my pizzas because I can’t tolerate cow’s milk. But feel free to use what you like for cheese, just don’t use a ton – you don’t need much. Here’s the recipe, my lovelies! Enjoy!

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a pan with aluminum foil
  2. Clean and de-stem four portobello mushrooms
  3. Coat portobellos with olive oil spray lightly and put on baking tray with stems up
  4. Bake for five minutes, and while they are cooking, grate cheese, chop veggies and olives
  5. Take out of the oven and top each with passata (a couple tbsp each), a sprinkling of grated cheese and your choice of veggies
  6. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes
  7. Take out of the oven, let cool for a couple minutes
  8. Add some avocado, basil leafs, a little hot sauce, and make it to your liking!

Learning to Fly right out of my comfort zone

I had to write about this tonight and right away because I am feeling so grateful to even have been offered the opportunity that I am overflowing with joy, excitement and amazement at what I just did.

I flew a WWII airplane with my very own hands.

It was terrifying, exhilarating and absolutely empowering.

I’ve always known and understood the passion men and women have for racing cars and karts, or even just driving spiritedly. I know based on my own experience the thrill to race on the ragged edge, the push the limits, and to be in control of the power that you are driving.

But until tonight I had not known or understood a pilot’s passion.

And even more specifically – an Air Force pilot’s passion and heart.

We flew in formation tonight.

As they would have done in the war, coordinating together and flying side by side into battle. The General explained that they would form up just like this but in the hundreds and head out to battle, together.

While I, a simple civilian, could never understand all that these brave people do for their countries, I could somehow feel at least just a fraction of it today, being in their presence, seated next to the lead in formation, in awe of the skill, confidence, passion, bravery and absolute integrity that they all exude.

It was an absolute pleasure to be in their presence and to experience this once-in-a-lifetime flight. I will forever remember this, and will likely never be the same. Thank you to all the wonderful people who invited me here, who I have met while down here, and who have taught me that life just outside your comfort zone is exactly where you will find your passion and purpose.

What I gleaned from Harry Potter this weekend

I finished reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire this weekend, as I spent much of my time not feeling up to doing anything except reading and resting. As always, there is lots to be learned from a book, and this one was no exception. We do tend, however, to pull parallels to our own lives when things are lurking in our subconscious that are bothering us.

This blog post will be intentionally vague, because I don’t wish to come under the same scrutiny as I have over the last couple of weeks. Needless to say, it’s been an enlightening and disappointing experience.

As I was reading the last 100 pages or so of the book, and the characters began to unravel and speak more truthfully, the one villain states, “Decent people are so easy to manipulate, Potter.”

Isn’t that the truth?

When you know someone who operates truthfully, with integrity and stands by their own thoughts and emotions, you know what makes them tick. Inherently decent people always do the right thing, defend the weak or young, always tell the truth, believe in fairness, and give trust willingly (at first).

I had hopes and good intentions with all that I put out into the world. The honesty and naivety with which I put this information out for all to see, learn from and understand made it quite easy to manipulate its intention. For it is easy to manipulate decent people. They are easy to read, easy to fool and easy to misjudge by people with less-than-stellar morals.

To again tie back to the story I was reading, one particular character, known for his integrity, honestly and true belief in good went on the say the following to another, “You are blinded by the love of the office you hold, Cornelius!” and further went on to decree that, “If your determination to shut your eyes will carry you as far as this, we have reached a parting of the ways.”

It was of course Dumbledore stating his displeasure with an elected official choosing the easy path over the correct path; the popular path over the difficult-to-explain path. Those who are truly decent are often the minority. To always do the right thing with the right intentions means you will face adversity from the hundreds of sheep in your path. People in general are not always decent, in fact, I would say that most are not, because they do what they think will get them furthest up the ladder, make them look better over another, or win them admiration by other folk. And the easiest path to this end is to knock down other people, rather than build themselves up.

Decent people do what is right for them. They do what is right always. They live by what is true and good and pure. And often they are not liked for it.

Take what you will from my review of a favourite book series of mine. Not perfect are the parallels, but the intention behind the lessons is the same.

While many may not agree, I will continue on the path that might be long and rough and difficult, so long as it is the one to do what is truthful and right.

Today was the saddest day of my life

It is with a completely shattered heart that I write this blog post tonight. I feel like I’m missing a limb, and that nothing can fill the void in my chest. I don’t know what to do with myself, and so I thought, maybe writing about it will help.

My little Max’a’million puppy passed away this afternoon after the bravest battle I’ve ever seen. He contended with diabetes, a rare blood disorder, liver disease, pancreatitis and a tumour. To say he was running on borrowed time would be the understatement of the year, but in Max’s world, love trumped all. We were the lucky ones to have rescued Max two years ago, and have him show us what this love business is really all about.

“What you got now, world?” he’d ask, “Because whatever you throw at me, I will love harder, and come out on top.”

And he did.

Every single time.

He fought for us, his loving family.

Except for this last week when his body began to betray his monstrous heart. His heart was never the problem. He knew his true north – and that was Adam and I. Even when he wasn’t doing well these last couple of days, his little nose would point towards me as he lay on the floor.

All he ever wanted was to be loved and to give as much love as possible.

And treats, treats were always welcome.

I feel like being sad is being selfish, because he is now no longer suffering. He had fought long enough, and it was time. It is only us humans that remain that are suffering. That little shih tzu taught me more about myself in the last two years than I could have imagined. I learned what unconditional love really was. I learned that I can love even more fiercely than I thought possible. I learned that sometimes family is canine. I learned that I decide what my priorities are – whether human or canine family – it is what matters to me that matters. I learned to stand up for that.

He was my whole entire world.

I based everything I did around him.

I feel so absolutely lost right now. As if in shock.

His morning snuggles were my favourite. He’d sneak up from the foot of the bed, and come lie on my pillow, curled around my head, just waiting for me to wake up.

He’d be waiting at the front door as soon as I came home from work, wagging his little tail, excited to see me.

He would try his best at “helping me” during my yoga sessions.

He always enjoyed when I made salad and he got to sneak a few of his favourite treats – cucumbers.

He will never leave my heart. His impact so great I am a better person.

I will never forget you, my beautiful boy.

Goodbye, my love.

My yoga puppy.

My little sweet pea.

My Max’a’million.

Mommy and Daddy love you so much.

What I learned from 50 years of F1 history

This morning Adam and I went to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the Varac Vintage Grand Prix, specifically because we both found out yesterday afternoon (thank you @ctmpofficial on Instagram) that the historic Formula 1 cars would be running.

It was the 50th anniversary of the first Canadian Grand Prix, which was actually held at the same track, all those years ago.

The differences I noted between the epitome of racing 50 years ago and today were staggering. And I’m not just talking about the technology. It highlighted for me the changes in society from then to now, and it was supremely enlightening.

Granted, I am a car girl and have been one since learning to walk at corner two of this same track (then called Mosport) while my father raced in the Porsche Turbo cup about 30 years ago. So for me, nuances in cars and racing are easy to pick up on, analyze and apply to daily life. Just trust me on this one…

I went into motorsport engineering and aerodynamics because I loved racing and I am fascinated by fluid dynamics. Today, we are lucky enough to have a cornucopia of test and simulation techniques at our fingertips, and you know what we do? We analyze the crap out of EVERYTHING, almost to the point that we forget to use our own god-given talents of logic and common sense. We know to the single count (with is 0.001 in coefficient-speak) what a change will do on a car. We know what that translates to in lap time before even giving the driver the chance to test it out himself or herself. Through all our innovation we have removed the human element of racing. We have sterilized the sport, made it all about the technology, and limited access to the public (you can’t get within 20 feet of a real car at a Grand Prix today).

While watching the race this morning, the older gentleman beside me was taking a video of it on his iPhone, and after turned to his son behind him to ask, “Does my phone record sound?” It made me chuckle inwardly, but it also made me take notice. I looked around and realized that the median age of the crowd around us was about 65 years old. These are people who would remember these exact cars, perhaps even being in this exact spot 50 years ago, watching a Formula 1 race in person. I heard stories from many of them all claiming that the same goosebumps they got back then, they still had today from the sound of those cars passing within feet of where they stood.

Here’s what I can glean from the stories overheard, the atmosphere today at the track, and a review of the cars I saw. Racing 50 years ago was accessible – you could walk up to the pits, see the cars within feet of you, and maybe even see the drivers outside of their cars. It was personal, pedestrian even. It was about the driver and the competition, and how much true grit they could pour into their craft. Racing was raw, real, dirty, flawed and freaking HUMAN. It was not perfect, it was not graceful. It was not efficient, nor optimized. It was taking risks, going for broke, putting your money where you mouth was and attacking with all your might.

Racing today is technical, calculated, precise and careful.

Racing back then was personal, risky, unpredictable and dangerous.

There are a lot of people my age and younger that are afraid to take risks.

We are paralyzed by over-analyzing every choice we make, rather than tapping into our intuition and listening to our gut instincts.

We are so driven by data that we forget we are human and do not always fall within the standard distribution of the general public’s opinion.

We would do well to feel the goosebumps ourselves, and learn to love the thrill, the risks we take and the inherent excitement of life as a daring adventure.

We can all learn from the time travel I experienced this morning, and take a little bit of that risk-taking, follow-your-gut, go after it full bore mentality of a 1967 Formula 1 driver, and bring that into 2017.

We might just find that it’s ok to be a little less perfect and a little more human.

On the promise of higher education

I fell for the North American Ivy League dream…

I ate that shit up, hook, line and sinker.

So desperate to please my parents and attain their love that I’d do anything they said was certain to land success. I should explain that success in my household growing up was money, prestige, cars and well, just keeping up with the Joneses.

I was an incredible student. I figured out how to study hard, work even harder, dedicate myself wholeheartedly to my homework, and come out on top. I was an academic machine. And there were two reasons for that:

  1. I do truly love to read, write and learn
  2. Good grades got me love and attention

The lie I was sold was: if you are the best student, you can get into the best university, get the best grades there, graduate, find the best job possible, make tons of money, live in a giant house with many cars. Happily. Ever. After.

I’m super pissed at Past Kattie for believing this bullshit.

But boy, did she ever believe it. All that education, all that critical thinking throughout one undergrad and two masters degrees, and she couldn’t see the possibility that education isn’t always the answer?

Nope – too focused on believing the propaganda.

So much so that Past Kattie played it all out, in the hopes that the pot of gold would be at the end of the rainbow.

Guess what?

There ain’t no pot of gold.

I think the reason that all of this irks me so much is that I really wish there was a better system in place that explained to students going into a particular degree what EXACTLY their income expectations should be. And beyond that, there should be some education in what it generally costs to live in the GTA, such that students know how to budget monthly, know how much salary to shoot for, and plan better financially, depending on their individual goals.

Our education system is epically flawed in this regard. Many “professional” degrees do not result in a salary any higher than that of a general labourer. And that would not be an issue, if students knew that going in. I sure didn’t. I learned everything the hard way, through the school of LIFE, on my own after graduating and figuring out how to dig myself out of a hole I created trying to live off an engineer’s salary with the lifestyle I so blindly thought would accompany it.

I wish people would talk more openly and honestly about money. I also wish I knew how to help fix the education system. Or maybe just help people better educate their own children on the realities of what an education can do for you and what it can’t.

And maybe, the school of life is really the primary form of education.

Applying that to a university degree to make the wisest choice for the individual is the only way to go. Higher education isn’t for everyone. And for some of us, we get a taste and believe that even more of it will increase our chances of success. But it alone, will not.

Present Kattie is often frustrated with Past Kattie.

But she’s trying really hard to love that little misguided academic monster for what she was – misguided. My intentions were always good. I’m just finally realizing that course correction is required, an adjustment of expectations is required, and post haste.

I do want the house and the cars and the lifestyle, but engineering alone isn’t going to provide that. And rather than be upset with my own materialistic expectations, I’m learning to accept them. I am who I am. I’d really like to stop beating up on myself for all my flaws and misguided decisions.

Time to ease up on the judgement anchor, and adjust the sails.

Giving more weight to DNA

“Say what you mean, mean what you say”

Thanks Yogi Tea, for providing the inspiration for tonight’s blog.

This weekend I visited one of my newest and closest friends down in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – a state I’ve actually never been to before! It was beautiful there, the land blanketed by trees and subdivided by rivers. The downtown, right by the water was full of energy, music and well, half-naked people… My friend tells me this is uncommon, yet this is not the first instance, according to her…

I kid… It was a lovely city, beautiful at night, as we rode the mountain train up to view the cityscape. The company and hospitality from my friends made the trip one I will always remember. What better kind of friend is there than one who will go to the most intense workout ever with you, then take you to dinner and sightseeing, hosting an amazing weekend of fun, food and relaxation? 

I reflected on why Kaitlin and I are such great friends today, and it’s exactly as that quote above mentions – we tell the truth, we are direct, and we are genuine. We both struggle with why people feel the need to put on a front, lie, or simply just embellish the truth. 

  • We both say what we mean, and mean what we say.
  • We are both extremely analytical and intelligent.
  • We are both able to read emotions quite well.
  • We both have an inbuilt bullshit meter.
  • We both swear.
  • We both do only that which is right and feels genuine. 

We spent our time together solving the world’s problems, and thinking about how we could use our skills to make the world a better place. We also talked about how both of us had entrepreneurship in our bloodline. It begs the question of whether that is a taught skill or something you are born with. 

I hadn’t given much thought to the bloodline aspect of things until we were chatting this weekend. My father always was self-employed, and his father before that was the same – an immigrant from Germany after the war, who started a very successful business from literally nothing, repairing small motors in Toronto. They learned to speak a new language, while raising five children and working hard to build a new life in Canada. 

Now though, I am employed (not self-employed). And this coaching thing has sparked something inside of me. Maybe something from that one side of the family, that one segment of DNA, that always believed in themselves and their ability to make something from nothing. Maybe it was just the stubborn, bull-headedness of those German roots, which convinced them of the fact that they could not take orders from anyone else….

But regardless, in order to continue to mean what I say, say what I mean, and live my life as genuinely and authentically as possible, perhaps I need to begin to give more weight to that piece of DNA that began the spark, which is now eagerly waiting to burst into a flames.