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I woke up at 7 a.m. on Sunday with a faint feeling of heaviness. Inhaling deeply, I turned to look at our two boys asleep in the middle of the bed, a halo of serenity around their faces. As my eyes rested on Mr. Wanderlust, on the opposite edge of the bed, the bitter taste of yesterday settled on my tongue once again.

 

The memories of Saturday floated back all too quickly: the standstill traffic on the highway on our way to the long-awaited dinner and show – a birthday gift for the eldest Wanderlust Junior; closed full parking lots at the location where the show was scheduled to be held, due to the Canadian National Exhibition (read: a giant end-of-summer fair that, apparently, drew ¾ of Toronto’s population to the venue this past weekend); the desperation of a heavy bladder while driving in loops around the venue; the anxiety-ridden harsh words exchanged between the two adults present in the car, in response to which one of Wanderlust Juniors covered both his ears with the palms of his hands; followed by tears that streamed from my eyes in-between forceful deep breaths.

 

After driving for 2.5 hours, having accepted that the show had started without us, we drove to a nearby beach in desperation. Walking hand-in-hand with the youngest Wanderlust Junior along the path that led to the restrooms, I gazed at the happy picnicking families on the grass.

 

“Mommy, can we have barbecue for dinner tonight?” the question’s blatant innocence pricked a sore spot in my chest as the tears stung my eyes.

 

“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” I squeezed his hand a little tighter in mine. “We were supposed to be having dinner right at this time.”

 

“Can we have a treat after dinner?” He pointed at a small ice cream stand. It’s the least I could do, attempting to make it up to my family.

 

Sitting in traffic again 15 minutes later, our bladders comfortably empty, the children joyfully licked at the chocolate-covered vanilla pre-dinner ice cream while I telephoned our favourite local pizza restaurant to place an order for pick-up.

 

“Yay! Pizza!” they exclaimed unanimously.

 

Then…

 

“But Mommy, why did we not go to Medieval Times?”

 

This time, the question came from the eldest Wanderlust Junior, in whose honour we had purchased the tickets that were now void. I attempted to explain that we left our home early, having considered possible traffic delays and allotting sufficient time for us to arrive at the venue well before the start of the show. The tension between me and Mr. Wanderlust in the driver’s seat was thick. We both tried to accept the situation. I kept repeating the old cliché, “It is what it is. There’s nothing we can do now.” Yet, I felt guilty; guilty for wasting money and time; guilty for not overestimating the time delays; guilty for disappointing my family.

 

“I’m sorry,” I kept repeating, amid tears.

 

Somewhere within, a soft, sweet voice kept whispering, Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I brushed it away. The voice of Guilt – my own and that of Mr. Wanderlust – was louder. That voice continued to haunt me through the night. It was the first sound I heard again upon waking.

 

Cautiously, awkwardly, feeling shy, Mr. Wanderlust and I met just outside our bedroom door the following morning. The silence was stifling, unbearable, leaving us without many options. I told Guilt to shut up. I took a step forward and wrapped my arms carefully around his waist. He responded in kind, drawing me closer toward him with an audible exhalation. Yesterday no longer matters, its upsets erased, the hurt and guilt replaced by something much more powerful.

 

Disappointments happen sometimes, especially in circumstances beyond our apparent control. We could have. We should have. We would have. Empty words. Hurtful words. Sugar-coating for children only results in stifled anger. We may not have handled the situation with grace or even maturity, but we can always work to be better people today than we were yesterday.

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We vowed to make the most of the day ahead. And we did, with a road trip resulting in plenty of time spent outdoors and a visit to a museum that included a tall ship. We returned back home at well past the children’s bedtime, feeling complete.

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Also at the museum, I just had to  have a photo with a scribe’s instruments, including a charming quill pen.

 

Door

My front door needs to be repainted. Lest you think that I am writing in metaphors, allow me to assure you: I am contented with my appearance these days, after many years of nitpicking; no, I am referring to the wooden front door of our home. I know that the chipped white paint can be simply sanded off, allowing for a blank canvas for me to paint. As my son’s friend’s mom drops off her child at our home for a play date, we briefly discuss home repairs and I bring up the dreaded door project. She waves away the concern, letting me know that the project can be completed quickly, with minimal spending on the tools and paint. It might even be fun. It might be, for some.

I admire people who repair items in their homes on their own, who come up with inexpensive décor solutions. Unless absolutely necessary, I refuse to spend money on home renovations. However, the thought of choosing paint for my front door and setting aside a Saturday for such a renovation makes me shudder. I tried to love DIY home décor. In fact, because I enjoy knitting and admire art, some people assume that hands-on home décor is a natural interest of mine. In as much as it feels rewarding for me to restore something in my home, I have never enjoyed the process of sanding, painting, and using a screw driver to hang up art work. Can I do it? Yes. Do I want to do it? Hell no, and I’m starting to accept this about myself. I am starting to understand that although I have more interests than the average person, I simply cannot be interested in everything that I wish I could enjoy.

In an exercise of developing better self-acceptance, I made a list of what else I am not and might never be.

  • I am fascinated by dedicated runners. I attempted to become a runner twice and although I get excited about putting on a pair of sneakers, grabbing my iPod and enjoying the fresh air, each time I have started to get into the swing of a regular running routine, I have had to stop due to painful knee injuries.
  • To continue along the running topic, I hold in high regard entrepreneurs who appear to have a healthy sense of balance in their lives. I ran a business for two years, during which time I realized how much I dislike cold calling and attempting to sell anything – regardless of how much I may enjoy the product or service. I’m also terrified of accounting, but I’m working to conquer that fear.
  • In as much as I love snow, after 15 minutes of walking outside in the middle of January, my feet freeze inside my thick insulated winter boots and two pairs of woolen socks, and although I keep a (frozen) smile on my face the entire time and enjoy the fresh cold air, I also love returning home to the warmth of the fireplace and a giant mug of tea.
  • I would like to be able to commit to a vegan diet, but it has not been feasible for me. I eat vegan or vegetarian food most of the time, but my family does not, and for the sake of simplicity (read: avoiding spending time cooking two dinners every day), I tend to eat meat.

The acknowledgement of who I am not is helping me to fine-tune who I am, to focus on my true passions, my natural dispositions, and hone the skills that I value. It also helps me to appreciate myself and cultivate gratitude for what I do enjoy practising.

 I may not have an interest in repairing things at home, but I do love experimenting with recipes in the kitchen. 

I may not be able to run without pain, but I love dance, kickboxing and HIIT workouts at home, and I run with Wanderlust Juniors on the grass in the park.

I do not enjoy being at the helm of a venture, but I am a pretty good sidekick, if I do say so myself.

In the winter, I layer warm sweaters to insulate my bones and ignore the discomfort, because even a homebody needs fresh air. 

I do eat plant-based food at least 70-80 per cent of the time. 

We all are working toward finding balance between what comes to us naturally and that toward which we have to cultivate our will power for all it’s worth. So, I believe I may harness my will power and direct it toward the entrance to our home. The result will be rewarding and I will probably take even greater pleasure in returning home at the end of the day.

Is there something you have always wanted to be in spite of different natural interests? How do you cultivate self-acceptance?

 

tracking

The idea of tracking time in order to better understand our habits is not new. I first read about it several years ago and my curiosity peaked. Time tracking is a brilliant answer to the question, “What is it that I do during the day, exactly?” Beware: the answer might not look pretty, as people who have tried tracking learned just how much time they tend to spend on social media, texting with their friends, etc. It’s an honest, in-your-face way of learning about our habits and is a great mindfulness tool. A person who spends too much time watching TV might become more aware of his time after seeing the data before him on the screen or on paper. He might choose to list all the interests for which he has been complaining that he no longer finds time, and instead of spending three hours in the evening in front of the screen, he might decide to pick up one of the books that have been piling on his desk, or go to the gym.

It’s a perfect tool for creating awareness and I was eager to get in on the incentive, to understand my own habits a big better. Normally, it’s recommended that we track our time for a minimum of seven days. However (and this is where the story takes a different turn), I stopped after one day. Here’s why:

For three years, I worked part-time from home while taking care of my children. At that time, I could have benefited from tracking. These days, I have a very structured schedule and although I do have some freedom to navigate the fluctuations that inevitably arise, my routine is, more or less, the same on weekdays. On weekends, navigating around my usual commitments and responsibilities, there is some room for adventure. I do carve out ‘me’ time on a daily basis and treasure it because that time is limited.

I suppose it’s safe to say that I started the time tracking project without any expectations but quickly realized that it’s a tool that can best benefit someone who works from home or sets his or her own hours, whose day is less formally structured. Due to my ‘9-5’ schedule, I must stay in strict awareness of my workday hours in order to meet my commitments to myself and to my family. There is an external motivator that assists me in carefully allocating my time. Setting one’s own hours requires a greater level of personal discipline, which is precisely why I have the utmost respect for entrepreneurs.

What about technology? Given that I spend the majority of my workday plugged in, I unplug as often as I can when at home with my family. Recently, my practice has been to limit my social media activity to five minutes per day. I quickly check my accounts in the morning and leave them untouched for the remainder of the day. I do not normally watch TV, but one of my favourite ‘me’ time activities is to knit while listening to an interesting podcast. This is a balance with which I am pleased at this time.

Have you ever tracked your time? Did you find any of the results surprising / unsettling? Did you find the tool useful, or perhaps your experience was, similarly to mine, somewhat anticlimactic? Please leave a comment below, and thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

 

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Several days ago, my family and I recently returned from a beautiful beach holiday on the shores of one of our favourite lakes. We spent a fun week building sand castles, SUPing, enjoying sunset walks and an exciting day trip that included a cruise on a glass-bottom boat to see shipwrecks. When away from home, our habits tend to change somewhat, as can be expected.

Did I drink beer several times throughout the week? Did I enjoy many s’mores by the bonfire and just as many servings of ice cream / gelato? You bet I did. And I savoured every moment. Not for a minute did I reprimand myself for letting down my guard. It was a choice I made mindfully, allowing myself to soften into the experience while trusting my intuition and maintaining a lifestyle of wellness.

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Here is how I navigated three of my regular healthy habits while on vacation:

Eating

My nutrition habits are relatively healthy, keeping to the typical 80/20 rule and enjoying dessert from time to time while making mindful choices about the nutrients that fuel my body. While on vacation, I continued to eat healthy foods but we did eat out in restaurants several times throughout the week. We balanced this out by visiting the local grocery store and farmers’ market and stocking up on fresh produce. August is a time of gorgeous fresh, local fruit and vegetables, which were in abundance everywhere we went. We packed those as snacks for ourselves to take to the beach and enjoyed salads for dinner.

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Sleeping

At home, I typically am in bed by 10 p.m. and wake up at 5 a.m. to work out and practise yoga. While away, we naturally put the kids to bed later, after enjoying the sunset on the beach or sitting by the fire. The parents’ natural bedtime was closer to midnight and we all woke up quietly, slowly at around 9 a.m., feeling refreshed and recharged.

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Exercise

When I sleep in, which doesn’t happen often, and wake up at the same time as my children, I tend to write off my workouts and yoga practice for the day. However, while away, I simply shifted my physical exercise to the siesta hour in the afternoon. An hour or two after lunch, the children would spend some time watching a favourite DVD while Pawel read a book, and I would head out into the backyard of our rental cottage to roll out my mat. Working out outside encouraged me to be resourceful, using whatever I had close by as props. The owners of the cottage left two skipping ropes for the children guests. However, I was the one who ended up putting the skipping ropes to good use for cardio. I utilized the wooden benches on the patio for tricep dips and the wooden stairs for lunges. Typically, my morning workout and yoga practice last approximately an hour. My siesta-time workouts on the grass were about 30 minutes in length. I didn’t try to time myself. I naturally moved in a way that felt good. Some days were slower, softer, and others left me sweaty, happily walking into the shower after a morning at the beach and an afternoon on my yoga mat. I also did a lot of running on the beach with the boys, walked everywhere, and SUPd.

It feels liberating to let go of a rigid schedule and preconceived notions about routine, giving ourselves permission to live in flux, allowing ourselves to put life on hold for a while but still maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, when I feel relaxed, with no major responsibilities that I normally have at home and at work, I find that I naturally feel better and healthier, which leads me to make healthy choices. The key is to carry the calm mental and emotional state with us back into our regular post-vacation routine.

What healthy habits do you uphold while on vacation? Please share your tips in the comments below. You can also connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter for additional pictures of our holiday.

Several days ago, I celebrated my 33rd birthday on a beautiful beach with my family. In the recent years, I learned that this is my favourite way of celebrating. My birthday is the start of a new year for me, and I view it with great significance as I continue to write my story, adding on to the journey and learning more about myself.

The number 33 is one of my favourites, and here are three quirky ways in which the number holds personal significance for me:

  • My life path number is 33, signifying a deep connection to humanitarian causes, altruism, and leadership. I have never thought of myself as a great leader, but neither have I ever been a follower. As a Leo, natural leadership is also in my astrological chart, but I have always been more of a wallflower, quietly exploring my inner world and feeling deeply curious about the people around me.
  • I remember my mom very clearly at 33. I was 8 years old when she was 33, always a vision in beautiful feminine dresses perfectly tailored by my grandmother, with her hair piled elegantly in a perfect chignon. She never consciously tried to attract anyone’s attention, but she couldn’t help it. Once, when I introduced myself to a girl who lived in our neighbourhood and mentioned that I have a sister, she remarked, “Oh, I saw you and your sister walking together the other day. Your sister was pushing a baby in a stroller. Was she babysitting?”

“Um… No,” I replied. “The baby is my sister. The lady pushing the stroller is my mom.” I giggled as I watched my friend’s jaw drop in disbelief.

  • At 33, my father uprooted with us, his family, to a different country, leaving the rest of our family behind and embarking on a journey that has shaped our future in a remarkable way. Our world was turned upside down and I had to learn early on to navigate an extremely extroverted middle eastern society as a quiet introvert homebody. These days, I am a homebody who craves nomadic adventure, no longer terrified of speaking my mind and chatting with strangers.

Also, just because I’m a big Tolkien nerd, I am giddy at the thought that for hobbits, 33 is considered to be a ‘coming of age’ year.

I hope you will continue to follow along with me as I continue this journey and the lessons it offers. Sending gratitude to you, dear readers, for your loyal support!

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