Luanne Donahoe signed up for an online creative writing course at George Brown College out of interest and in search of a little personal development. She enjoyed it so much that she completed the entire curriculum and graduated with a Creative Writing certificate.
She published her first novel, Just Their Luck, in 2015. One of the short stories she’d penned for her courses was embedded somewhere smack in the middle. She navigated some unfamiliar territory as her new book rolled out to the market. She published through British Columbia’s First Choice Publishers in both ebook and paperbook form. Amazon.ca will not host a book until it has been accepted by a bookstore, so she was delighted when several bookshops in the U.K. pounced on her first novel. Luanne’s genre of light-hearted female comedy is much beloved across the pond. This door-opener led to an online presence and a contract with Chapters, complete with book signings in Belleville, Peterborough, Ajax and Oshawa.
“They went very well,” she says. “I was told that they went better than most.” She loves meeting people and ended up having enjoyable in-store adventures with new friends at several events.
Her second novel, Her Flawsome Life, will be released shortly. She will once again be hosting book signings at Chapters stores, including Ottawa and Gatineau in the tour this time.
“I love writing,” she smiles. “I do it for me. I let the story write itself and go with the flow. I carry on when it resonates with me.”
Luanne fills her days with more than writing. She works at Antonia’s Bistro as a server. “I love working for and with them,” she says. “And I love the customers.”
Her background was rather different, with most of her working years spent as an Executive Assistant. She performed this role at the Rouge Valley Centenary and Markham-Stouffville Hospitals and loved it.
"I agree with Warren Buffett’s philosophy,” she laughs. “Go for the job that you’d go for if you didn’t need a job.”
Since arriving in Trent Hills almost five years ago, Luanne has had a strong commitment to The Aron Theatre. Initially a volunteer movie host, she served on the Marketing Committee, Youth Committee, joined the Board of Directors and eventually became the President in 2018. Her son Josh, now 21, works at The Aron as Assistant Manager. He recently designed the theatre’s new website.
Luanne and Josh only knew a few people when they moved to Campbellford from Stouffville, a serendipitous decision sparked by a realtor friend in Belleville. The road had not been easy. Their son was nine when Luanne lost her husband, a Fire Fighter, at the age of 51. She radiates a deep compassion for young widows and single moms, reaching out to them whenever she can to offer her understanding and support.
She is happy with her life here and motivated by the possibilities that lay on the road ahead. The tragic and untimely loss of her husband is forever woven into the fabric of the woman she has become, as is the strength she developed to survive and raise her son without him. Luanne has thrived through developing her passions, achieving her dreams and building a strong connection with the community she now calls her home.
The movement to empower women and to celebrate their achievements is growing. Peterborough photographer Heather Doughty launched Inspire: The Women’s Portrait Project in early 2018. Her goal is to recognize women in communities across Canada with a professional photo and a brief 300-word story or statement written by the woman being featured.
“INSPIRE is a photographic celebration of the amazing women in Canadian communities who empower, inspire, uplift and support those around them. It is a completely organic, community-driven selection of diverse women all across Canada,” the website explains. The women featured in Inspire have all been nominated for the honour by members of their communities.
The project launched in Heather’s home town of Peterborough and currently features 75 local women of all ages and backgrounds. “I have a vision,” she says. “I want to visit amazing communities all across Canada, meeting the inspirational women that call these places home, hear their stories and celebrate them in the Inspire project.”
The nomination of local photographer and community ambassador Montse Alvarado led to a collaboration between Inspire and Forte to spearhead the nomination process in Trent Hills. A number of deserving women have been nominated in the first round, 15 so far, and photo shoots are being booked for March. There will be another round of nominations before Inspire moves on to its next destination, Cobourg, in the spring. Forte has been instrumental in this as well, by connecting Heather with Thelma Dillon, founder of the Northumberland Multicultural Dance Troupe, to expand the project throughout the county.
Heather is backed by a team of three, including certified makeup artist Selena K. Wilson and freelance writer Paula Cassidy, who pens “Kitchen Table Talks”, blogs intended to uplift and inspire.
“The project began as a very simple idea,” she says. “Over the course of a year, I wanted to create a series of portraits of some of the remarkable women in this community and perhaps celebrate these women with an end of project gala that could be a charity fund-raiser. I am completely floored by the reception to the Inspire Project; the nominees have embraced this little idea with so much enthusiasm and support that my little idea has grown into a wonderful celebration of women who deserve this wonderful recognition.”
Our inspiring Trent Hills women are honoured to support this project and be a part of it!
Inspire: The Women's Portrait Project
Inspire on Facebook
Forte story, Montse Alvarado
Forte story, Thelma Dillon
Have you ever read the story of Candide? Published by Voltaire in 1759, the satire spins the tale of an optimistic young man who embarks on his life’s journey believing his teacher’s philosophy that everything in life happens for the best. His faith gradually erodes as he and his companions endure an endless wave of horrendous catastrophes until he finally decides that he can no longer rationalize the tenets of his learning with the realities of life.
Today, when we’re steadily besieged with social media messages to think positive, we can still find some truth in the tale of Candide. Not to say that there isn’t a lot of merit in positive thinking. We should definitely try to find joy in the small things, be grateful for what we have and share our positivity with others whenever possible. To be stoic in the face of adversity is no small achievement.
The reality is, though, our negative emotions are important. They are the very things that kept the human race alert and alive in earlier times. Fear, doubt, discontent, anger, shame and sorrow are authentic emotions and we shouldn’t be striving to suppress them for fear of compromising our own happiness or that of others.
How often have you seen one of those memes that says, “I don’t want much. I just want to be happy.”
Being happy isn’t “much”? What nonsense. Being happy is huge. Enormous. Happiness is a wonderful emotion. Of course we’d love to have it all the time, but is chronic happiness a realistic goal?
Psychology tells us that our brains process positive and negative emotions differently. Positive emotions inspire us toward a goal, negative ones inspire avoidance. In order to experience overall life satisfaction, positive emotions like contentment, joy, love, pride and accomplishment need to outweigh the negative feelings which motivate us to protect ourselves. The theory goes that we need a lot of positive vibes to overcome the stronger impact of negative emotions. Some accounts even suggest that a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative is a break-even.
Well, that makes sense. Aristotle used the term “eudemonia” to signify the contented state of being healthy and happy. Other readings indicate that “flourishing and prosperous” may be a better translation. Either way, yes please. We want that. We’re not greedy, you understand. We don’t want it ALL THE TIME, just most of the time, so our sum total of positivity puts us comfortably on the “satisfied” rather than the “miserable” scale.
Putting aside the fact that “eudemonia” rather sounds like a disease, how do we achieve it? Science tells us that genetics play a huge part in our happiness quotient. We are by nature either optimists or pessimists, and that raw material is responsible for 50% of our emotional state. Within that basic infrastructure, we are all subject to varying degrees of what is called “trait neuroticism”. Those with high TN are more sensitive to stress, experience it more often and more intensely, and take longer to recover than their low TN counterparts.
What all that means is that we’re not on a level playing field. Some of us have a significant head start when it comes to chasing that bluebird of happiness.
The remaining 50% of our emotional state is divided between 10% circumstances and 40% attitude. Circumstances are only 10%? How can that be? The theory is that, being the resilient creatures we are, we adapt to our circumstances over time so they don’t have the huge impact on our happiness that we might expect. This is clearly untrue in the case of extreme circumstances, severe illness or bankruptcy for example, but let’s concede that it might be in range when it comes to the day-to-day stuff. We are, therefore, left holding the bag for 40% of our own happiness and eudemonia.
Let’s revisit Aristotle for a moment. Eudemonia is “healthy and happy” or “flourishing and prosperous”. Is Healthy an attitude? Flourishing? Prosperous? Nope. Those are in the 10% circumstances category. Aristotle lived a long time ago in a different world, but he was all about goals. He offered that the purpose of human life is to achieve the end goal, and the end goal is living a good life. One does that by acquiring all the things one needs to flourish and prosper, namely physical, intellectual and moral. One needs luck to do that, and health. In Aristotle’s world, one also needed to be a male of a certain social class to live a good life. Women, children, persons of low standing, servants and slaves were property and therefore unable to acquire the necessary virtues.
So, throwing all these wise words from scientists and psychologists and philosophers into a blender, let’s give it a whirl. This is what they’re telling us.
It all comes down to that 40% attitude. Attitude doesn’t just mean the way you respond to what happens. It doesn't mean always accepting what befalls you with grace, nor stopping to breathe and smell the roses. It means having a goal and working towards it. It means nourishing your physical body, your mind and your soul. While you’re doing that, you need to find joy in all that wonderful nourishment, because you need enough of it to outweigh the negative feelings that you also need to have.
Those ancestral human feelings deserve respect. They teach and strengthen you, and they might lead you further down the road to the good life. If, from time to time, you feel the need to wallow in negative emotion, then you should by all means do it. Take a break from being strong, be real and be human, and then come back stronger. Just don’t stay down too long.
What, you may ask, became of Candide? He and a tribe of friends withdrew from society and moved to the country, turning away from the “all is for the best” philosophy of the time. They cultivated gardens and busied themselves with work to build a community. They were happy.
For the past decade, Campbellford resident Karen Stille has dreamed of offering a service to connect local producers with consumers easily and affordably. Now that her children are older, the final pieces of the Homegrown Hamper jigsaw puzzle are being put into place and she is beyond excited at the response she’s received so far from the public, and from the growers and artisans she’s contacted.
Her first step was to conduct a consumer survey to ensure that there was a community need for the proposed service. Response was overwhelmingly positive with 95% of respondents confirming a desire to support local producers and feel more connected to them. Karen has been meeting with local producers over the past few weeks. “I’m so encouraged by the collective enthusiasm for the project!” she says. She’s currently at work developing the Homegrown Hamper website with the goal of having an online catalogue up and running by April 1st. The first deliveries are tentatively planned for mid-April.
The basic premise is that farm-fresh food, flowers, organic skin care products and unique handcrafted items will be compiled by order and made available for pick-up or delivery within a 25-km radius of Campbellford. This includes Stirling, Marmora, Havelock, Norwood, Hastings, Warkworth and Codrington. Consumers will be able to place their hamper orders online at the same prices one would pay at a market or farm gate with the addition of a $5 shopping fee. Orders can be picked up at the Church Key Brewery and/or The Church Key Pub and Grindhouse in Campbellford, or delivered door to door for an additional fee.
Karen plans to start with monthly hamper deliveries for April and May, but hopes to increase to every other week during the summer months.
Although it’s still under construction, the Homegrown Hamper website offers a sneak peak at some of the products that will be available to fill your hamper come spring. Choices so far include salad greens, seasonal fruits and veggies, cheese, pastured meats, fresh sausages, herbal teas, salsa and sauces, craft beer and cider, honey, maple syrup, jams and preserves, specialty cakes and chocolates as well as natural soaps and body products. One-stop shopping at its freshest and most convenient!
Let’s face it, February is not a favourite month for many of us. With the fun and sparkle of December long gone, winter looms large and can play havoc with our well-being. By the time the shortest month of the year rolls around, the novelty of the winter wonderland vista has rather worn off, and we’re tired of shovelling the white stuff.
We’re fed up with being sidelined from events we’d wanted to attend because our roads are covered with ice. We’re sick of “walking like a penguin” to avoid falling and we’re beyond done with the outerwear routine that calls for coats, hats, scarves, mitts and boots every time we leave the house. Mid-winter is also prime season for sickness. Coughs, colds and flu bugs knock us down like dominos at every turn. As if all of that isn’t enough, we’re also more prone to musculoskeletal injuries in the winter because our muscles and connective tissues have less elasticity in the cold than they do in warmer climes, at least until they're thoroughly warmed up.
The lengthening days do offer a glimmer of hope, but we know that we still have to get through March and, if this year is anything like the last couple of years, possibly much of April as well before we can inhale the first wafts of spring.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, oh so aptly acronymed SAD, was first identified as a mental health condition in the 1980’s. There are numerous scientific theories for it, ranging from light deprivation to hormonal changes. It is known that women are eight times more likely than men to suffer from SAD, and that it is generally at its most intense during mid-life and beyond. The condition is defined as a form of clinical depression which occurs for an extended period in two or more consecutive winters in an individual who does not otherwise suffer from depression.
SAD can have a major impact on our psyche since it’s more than a simple case of the “winter blues”. Many of the symptoms work together to create an oppressive climate of lethargy. Depression, anxiety, fatique, excessive sleep, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from social activities and appetite disruptions hardly inspire a quality lifestyle. Although SAD can also lead to nausea and loss of appetite, overeating is a more common phenomena, particularly with cravings for the refined foods you may generally avoid like processed carbs and sweet or salty snacks. These indulgences can lead to weight gain which exacerbates the problem.
Light therapy is the most often recommended remedy for the condition and it brings relief to many sufferers. Lamps or light boxes specifically created for SAD mimic natural light and stimulate the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin to improve mood and sleep. Recommended light sources should be UV-filtered. Severe cases, particularly those in which self-harm or thoughts of suicide occur, may require psychotherapy or anti-depressant medication. If you or someone you care about is suffering from SAD, please reach out and get some help. Talk to your doctor.
If, on the other hand, you are struggling mightily with the February blahs and don’t feel that your condition warrants medical help, there are a few things you can do to try to keep your life on track until winter comes to its long-awaited end. Even without a clinical SAD diagnosis, you may be experiencing depression, excessive sleep or insomnia, lack of motivation and eating disruptions.
Choose a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats. Make sure you maintain an exercise routine. When weather permits, get outside for a little sunshine or soak up those rays in a comfy chair by your window. Practice self-care. Create something. Spend some quality time with your family and friends, and get out there in the community as often as you can for some social interaction.
Most of all, remember:
Spring will come!
Hang in there!
The concept that creative ideas are floating about in the universe just waiting to find a home in someone’s mind was first shared with me many years ago by a good friend. Her dad had been a follower of the “sleeping prophet”, Edgar Cayce, and she learned this philosophy at his knee as a child.
At the time, I thought it was pretty out there. So you’re saying to me that Alexander Graham Bell didn’t invent the telephone? That the concept was floating in the airwaves and could have been received by anyone tuned in to its frequency?
I’ve heard the theory repeated many times over the years, most recently in a recorded speech by WomanSpeak founder KC Baker who took it one step further. Many other people may have already received the idea and implemented their interpretation of it. That is not important. There are people out there, she said, that can only receive the message from you. Why? Wavelengths again. You are tuned in to each other at the right place at the right time.
What a cool concept this is. I would add that your individual perspective on “your” idea will expand it, and you, in ways that are fresh and exciting regardless of who has gone before.
It is interesting to see the flood of women in publications and on social media. The idea to celebrate women and their achievements is a tidal wave. Women are founding businesses everywhere, many offering empowerment through healing, spirituality, fitness, rapport. The circle is back in society, my friends, and it is growing.
Shannon Lawrence returned to Hastings when her son was nearing school age. Having grown up near the Village, she could not envision her child as a grade point average in a school of 1,500 pupils. She wanted him to experience the intimate, attentive class settings that she had known as a student.
She attended Fleming College during her Peterborough years, majoring in Retail Marketing Management with business degree. Her specialty is social media management, and she has put that talent to good use in Trent Hills. Shannon manages the website, facebook presence and Instagram for The Village of Hastings. Sponsored by the Hastings Revitalization Association, the website offers a thorough summary of happenings, community groups and local businesses within the Village and surrounding areas. Although she has recently stepped down as Vice Chairman and Secretary on completion of a four-year term, she continues to work with The Hastings Revitalization Association. She has been dedicated to volunteering since 2011, when Hastings entered (and later won) the yearly race for the title of Ultimate Fishing Town Canada.
Shannon founded the Hastings Hub news platform and produced monthly issues for over two years until October 2018. Archives are still accessible on The Village of Hastings website.
She is dedicated to the small-town way of life and believes that communication and commitment within the community are crucial keys to growth and betterment. The Hastings Field House, she says, is a great asset to the area. The demise of Hastings’ defunct arena put the town at the top of the list for recreational project funding from The Municipality of Trent Hills. The facility provides year-round team training and game opportunity for soccer, golf and racquet sports. Programs are also offered there for other segments of the market including indoor walking, an active Pickleball roster and fitness classes.
Hastings’ most recent loss, in the opinion of some residents, is the former ball field or, at least, the fence surrounding it. The property has tentatively been sold and will be developed with residential units if approved by the Ontario Municipal Board. Although it hasn’t been used as a ball diamond in recent years, the fenced-in area provided a leash-free dog park for canine owners. Shannon says there is some unused land behind the Hastings Field House which could possibly be fenced in to fulfil this need in the town.
Shannon enjoys a supportive, equal partnership with her husband Jason. The couple is looking forward to their 7th celebration of love this year. Her son is now in his twenties and spent a month last summer touring Europe. Her parents live near Hastings, happily still ensconced in her childhood home. Recalling summers that were golden and shoeless until Labour Day, Shannon just can’t imagine wanting to live anywhere else.
Village of Hastings, www.hastingsvillage.ca
Archives of The Hub
Hastings Revitalization Association group, on facebook
Hastings Field House, Municipality of Trent Hills website
Volunteerism Celebrated in Hastings, Trent Hills Now, April 2018
Tiffany Dean, founder of The GoldenLine Spiritual Studio in Warkworth, defines herself as a Spiritual Seeker.
“My journey began at a young age when I innately knew that I had an immense passion to delve into the study of world religion and spirituality,” she explains. “Since then, I have been on a quest to quench my thirst for knowledge and understanding of universal beliefs.”
Inspired by an opportunity to hear the sacred teachings of the Dali Lama at a convocation ceremony at the University of Toronto, Tiffany enrolled at York University in 2006 and successfully completed an honours degree in Religious Studies, providing her with a strong foundation in world religion and culture. After graduation, she moved to Taiwan to teach English as a second language while deepening her understanding of Eastern based religious practice. She subsequently completed her Masters degree in Humanities at York University in 2016, specializing in Religion, Mysticism and Spirituality.
These varied experiences, she says, have allowed her to develop “a heightened sense of compassion and empathy for all fellow human beings, and believe deeply that we are all intrinsically connected through divine love, which knows no race, religion or culture.”
The time she spent in Asia led her to the practice of Reiki, a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch to activate the natural healing processes of the patient's body and restore physical and emotional well-being. She offers Reiki healing sessions through her studio as well as offering Level 1 and 2 practitioner training courses.
Originally from Cobourg, Tiffany moved to Warkworth in June 2016 with her husband, Rick, and opened her studio shortly thereafter. She also started teaching for the Interdisciplinary Studies Department at Durham College in September 2016. The couple have two young daughters, Avila and Zoe.
“This is where I find myself now,” she posted on her social media page just before the grand opening of GoldenLine Spiritual Studio in October 2016, “embarking on new budding adventure where I can passionately assist others in their own personal journey towards emotional, physical and spiritual enlightenment. I am now offering Reiki to those who are interested in receiving a treatment. I am also available for spiritual counselling, guidance in affirmations and positive thinking, meditation, and sacred smudging practices. Please be a part of my new venture so that we can grow and learn through each other.”
The studio has grown exponentially since then. Despite taking a sabbatical in 2017 to give birth to her youngest daughter, Tiffany has been actively offering outreach programs as well as a number of in-studio initiatives since the beginning of 2018. She completed renovations on her studio space and compiled an extensive lending library for clients. In February, she launched her spiritual store, offering healing crystals, jewellery, malas, sage smudging and meditation aids. She led a Spiritual Workshop at The Natural in Warkworth in February and, the following month, launched Spiritual Saturdays at GoldenLine.
“Thank you to everyone who came out yesterday for the first Spiritual Saturday Event at The GoldenLine Studio,” she posted afterwards. “I had a great time talking to everyone about mindfulness, meditation, energy healing and spiritual ceremonies. I was left feeling full of love, energy, and high vibrations.”
Her Spiritual Saturdays are now fully booked, often months in advance. In May, she offered a “Woke Women and Wine” workshop, “a fun night to celebrate all things fierce and female.” She presented a workshop at the Fertility Wellness Retreat at The Willow Studio in Peterborough last November, addressing the ways in which energy healing, affirmations, and mindfulness can assist mentally, spiritually, and physically.
She began creating her own healing jewellery in October 2018. “I finally gave myself permission to embrace my inner creatrix; in order to manifest these divine wrist malas,” she announced. “Each mala has been handcrafted with genuine healing crystals, and infused with healing energy and love.”
Each crystal has unique healing and spiritual properties, she explains. Rose Quartz, for example, carries a soft feminine energy of compassion and peace, while Moonstone ignites intuition and promotes creativity. Other crystals may alleviate stress and induce tranquility, attract abundance and prosperity, or facilitate understanding of alternatives in one’s life.
Tiffany will be leading the first Forte Presents workshop at The West School on Saturday, February 23, 2019. The workshop will offer the opportunity to learn more about the healing power of crystals and the purpose of wearing a mala. Tiffany will also assist each person in choosing the right crystals. “It’s fun for me to do some intuitive energy seeking for those who might like to know what crystals best align with their current path,” she says. Attendees will then be able to create their own mala bracelet in the company and community of like-minded women. Registration is limited to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and empowering experience.
Mala Bracelet Workshop with Tiffany Dean, Event Link
Goldenline Spiritual Studio on facebook, www.facebook.com/goldenline.reiki
Register via email or etransfer, email@example.com
Humility is a wonderful thing. I’m not talking about the grovelling, ass-kissing, Uriah Heep kind of humility. I’m talking about the kind of humility that comes from confidence in yourself and the understanding of your own strengths, the kind of humility that isn’t afraid to admit that you can’t possibly know everything. Humility opens your mind to the wisdom of others.
The Cambridge English dictionary defines humility as the “quality of not being proud because you are aware of your bad qualities”. Nope, not that kind. Google defines it as, “a modest or low view of one’s own importance.” Uh-uh. The Urban dictionary says, “True humility is to recognize your value and others’ value while looking up. It is to see there is far greater than ourself into who we can become, who others can become, and how much more we can do and be.” A bit convoluted, perhaps, but definitely more on point.
The best leaders are humble ones, although that certainly does not seem to be the case on the world stage these days. A humble leader knows that they don’t have all the answers, and they understand that it’s not at all in their best interests to pretend that they do. Arrogance is bad enough on its own, but it’s positively deadly when combined with a lack of substance, knowledge or understanding.
Anyone who has spent time in a hierarchy has probably encountered the type of person who is intoxicated by their own power when granted the role of managing others. This person revels in being “the boss”. She may feel a strong need to control and she might micro-manage ad nauseam. In an effort to portray confident and capable leadership, she may not be willing to admit that she has shortfalls, and worse, she may make decisions and issue directives without consulting her team, listening to them or using their ideas to achieve mutual goals. There’s also the despicable sort who does listen to her team and incorporates their ideas, but fails to share the credit for them. All of these behaviours are anathema to building a loyal and successful team.
An article penned by Bill Taylor in the Harvard Business Review in 2018 offered up this insight:
“Edgar Schein, professor emeritus at MIT Sloan School of Management, and an expert on leadership and culture, once asked a group of his students what it means to be promoted to the rank of manager. “They said without hesitation, ‘It means I can now tell others what to do.’” Those are the roots of the know-it-all style of leadership. “Deep down, many of us believe that if you are not winning, you are losing,” Schein warns. The “tacit assumption” among executives “is that life is fundamentally and always a competition” — between companies, but also between individuals within companies. That’s not exactly a mindset that recognizes the virtues of humility.”
Sadly, the concept that life is fundamentally a competition is not restricted to the world of business. We see it every day. There are women who are so intimidated by stronger personalities that they’re afraid to contribute. Others are threatened by ideas that are not their own or by alternative points of view. Some resent the success of others, and some present a dishonest persona to the world in an effort to convince everyone that they’re something they’re not. Last but not at all least, there are those who would rather monologue about how amazing they are than listen to anyone else. Like the meme says, “a lion has no need to tell you that it’s a lion.”
Ridding society of these unproductive interactions is what the empowerment movement is all about. It’s a mind-shift that requires self confidence at its very core, and it’s an essential element of a mutually supportive community. We all have different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. We need the confidence to share the wisdom we’ve gained and embrace the wisdom of those who have walked a different path. As Artistotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
The really cool thing about it is that striving towards and practicing confident interactions will empower you in ways you never imagined.
Best is a subjective term, and one that should not be used indiscriminately. It’s all in the context. “That’s the best lasagne I’ve ever tasted,” states that, in the speaker’s experience, that lasagne is the best. No problem. Had the speaker instead said, “That’s the best lasagne ever,” the statement rather casts aspersions on all the other lasagnes out there that may, in fact, be just as good or better but have not been sampled by the speaker within the parameters of her experience.
You can unequivocally make the “best” choice for yourself. You can aspire to be the “best” you can be. You can make the “best” lasagne you’ve ever made. Those are all very good and appropriate uses of the word. On the other hand, you may want to beware of declaring a store, a restaurant, a service, a class, a program, an artist or yourself the “best”, because all the other stores, restaurants, services, classes, programs and artists are diminished to second best or worse by that statement. It may seem like a minor and absurdly literal thing, and it is exactly that, but I assure you that those who have been relegated to second best by your statement will likely resent it and wish that you’d said what you had to say with a little more discretion. The end result is that your supportive statement of goodwill ends up totally pissing somebody off. Or possibly, many somebodies.
It’s an easy fix. Try describing your subject as “one of the best”, or forget the word “best” and go with some other positive adjective like great, wonderful, excellent, first-class...... the list is endless. Really, it’s the best thing to do.