I woke up this morning feeling inevitably tired and fuzzy-headed. Returning home last night after midnight following a jam-packed 30-hour business trip, I looked forward to climbing into my own bed, next to my partner. I knew we would be joined shortly, at some point in the night, by our youngest child. Perhaps, I thought, our eldest also might squeeze next to us. I was at home, next to my family. I knew I would need to finally, reluctantly crawl out of bed at some point in the morning. The cats will have already started meowing loudly in protest, as though questioning why I decided to sleep in instead of waking at my usual time for morning yoga and meditation while the rest of the house was still asleep. Not this morning. I might need to rely on coffee to nudge me along the jet lag-laden work day, but at that moment, I was exactly where I needed to be.

October has been a whirlwind month with too much activity. Through the busy pace, I have been making an effort to slow down, to move mindfully. My body and mind crave stillness. Over the next few weeks, we are creating space for stillness, clearing our schedule of unnecessary commitments. November feels like a perfectly Yin month.

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Here is a recap of the blog through the month of October:

 The Dharma Wanderlust Creative Method: Mr. Wanderlust explained in thorough detail his process of creating pieces for the Sea Turtle Collection.

The Capsule Wardrobe Experiment: Autumn 2015: Over the past month, I have been enjoying my fall capsule wardrobe.

Thanksgiving 2015: What a perfect weekend spent with my loved ones!

Flying, Part II: I befriended fear and we learned to work well together.

Simplifying and Trusting: “Slowing down requires letting go of effort.”

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Interesting articles I read recently:

The Four Stages of Desire: From Everything to One Thing. Why we should stop wanting everything and focus on what matters most.

It’s Hard to Be a Kid! Tips for Compassionate Parenting.

Recommended podcasts:

Kimberly Wilson – At Home with Madame Chic: I always look forward to Kimberly Wilson’s weekly podcasts, but when I opened my inbox on Monday to see that this week she interviewed Jennifer L. Scott, the author of At Home with Madame Chic and Lessons from Madame Chic, I was giddy with excitement. I enjoy Scott’s vlog and in this interview, she discusses tackling less-than-pleasant tasks with grace and poise. Scott’s new book, Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic came out earlier this week. I look forward to devouring it.

A fascinating interview with one of my favourite authors, Karen Maezen Miller: Karen Maezen Miller’s Momma Zen became a type of parenting manual for me in the early sleep-deprived and colicky months of motherhood. In this interview, as in the book, she delivers many poignant lessons about mindfulness in parenting. While listening to the podcast and knitting, I resisted the urge, several times, to jump up and grab my notebook and pen to jot down notes. Instead, I chose to listen and absorb naturally. One particularly simple but important message that has remained with me is this: Our children are their own individuals. We do not have the privilege to mold them to suit our needs. Instead, we are here to open our minds and hearts to learn to love unconditionally. Many parents do not love unconditionally because we cling to preconceived notions and expectations. If we allow ourselves to remain open to experience our children as they are, we can learn to accept them as they are and, in turn, learn to accept ourselves as we are. Brilliant!

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“I am not stressed out,” I reassured my mom.

“But you’re so busy!” she replied, a line of concern starting to form between her eyebrows.

“I’m not too busy to make a birthday cake for you,” I smiled back, proceeded to eat my peanut butter granola and drink my breakfast tea, then dashed upstairs, quickly dressed in the day’s work outfit, kissed my mom and Wanderlust Juniors goodbye and with a big smile, wished the boys a wonderful day at school before joining Mr. Wanderlust in the car.

While carpooling with Mr. Wanderlust, I considered my schedule. I suppose it’s the typical schedule of a working mom, with well-organized but sometimes inevitably rushed mornings; drives to karate practice three evenings per week; leading two classes per week; bedtime routines with ample time dedicated to books and cuddles. Our weekends are focused on cleaning, laundry, the weekly grocery run, yard work, and of course, family time. I am not in the habit of seeking to create additional work for myself, but I do have my priorities, on which I spend more time than I might ‘need’ to spend. I do make time to prepare healthy meals for my family. I do make time for physical fitness and for brain fitness in the form of meditation and reading. I also place high value on a good night’s sleep.

Certain other ‘luxuries’ often tend to fall off my plate. Among them are a regular practice at the yoga studio and meetings with friends and family members. As the old guilt starts to rise up from its pit, I admit defeat. I have been feeling tired, unwilling to add one more commitment to my calendar, even if the commitment is one that normally does not feel like work.

Slowing down requires letting go of effort. Slowing down requires saying ‘No’ to commitments. Slowing down requires trusting that everything will still be where I left it when I am ready to return again; if something will have shifted, I will be able to pick up the pieces with renewed enthusiasm. Maybe. Hopefully. For now, I will focus on doing my best and acknowledging my value with reminders:

I have not been a bad yogi. I have been a solitary yogi who fits in her practice whenever she can, most often after a daily 5 a.m. wakeup call.

I have not been a bad mother. Instead of driving to an evening yoga class, I drive my eldest Wanderlust Junior to his karate classes or, while Mr. Wanderlust takes on that duty, I enjoy one-on-one dinner at home with the youngest Wanderlust Junior.

I have not been a bad friend. Although I see each of my closest friends about once a month, or sometimes once in every few months, I ensure that we remain in touch via email, even if this means sending each other novella-length letters as a means of catching up. I am grateful for friends who enjoy good, old-fashioned email communication as much as I do.

I have been listening to my intuition, heading to bed earlier in the evenings as the days become shorter and the nights longer. I have been feeling the tune of Nature and acquiescing to her advice murmured quietly on the wind that rushes past me on a weekend walk, carrying with it colourful maple leaves that slow down to a graceful swirl as they descend. Like them, I am ready to release some of the control for which I have been grasping while keeping up with daily schedules, maintaining patterns.

I am making space for rest. I am simplifying. I am here, caring, paying careful attention, fine-tuning my focus, and trusting. 

Three months ago, I wrote about the indoor skydiving experience Mr. Wanderlust and I shared. During that first flight, I gave in to fear. Yesterday, we had made a commitment to our second flight and I had a chance to practise the guidance I provide to clients in my capacity as a yoga instructor: Soften. Accept. Allow the experience to develop as it will, but stay curious. 

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Soaring comfortably while practising Ujjayi breathing.

I walked into the experience with an open heart and mind, but without the same excited feeling I had before my first flight three months earlier. Mr. Wanderlust and I arrived in time to don our ear plugs, suits, goggles, and helmets, and then we were in the booth, waiting to fly. Ready or not. Since this was our second flight experience, we were asked to be the first of our group of seven people to step into the wind tunnel. I reminded myself to connect to my breath and refrained from gazing down at the floor or thinking of the whereabouts of the instructor. I focused on staying afloat once for one minute, twice for one minute, and the third time for two minutes. My third round was my best one yet.

Did I feel fear beneath my calm exterior? Yes, but this time, I allowed it to simmer without lifting the lid and allowing it to bubble up to the surface. My goal three months ago was to befriend fear during indoor skydiving. With an imaginary red marker, I am drawing a big, bold check mark in that box.

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Mr. Wanderlust in flight while his parents film our experience.

Following the flight, I did not feel the same exhilaration that was so prominent after my first flight three months ago. I felt relief, sprinkled with a natural high. Right now, that feels perfect enough.

NOTE: Please excuse the quality to the photographs. They are captions of videos.

I want to know whether there is anything toward which you feel fear. What is standing in your way of accepting fear and moving forward despite the challenge? Where in your life can you reconnect to your confidence while softening humbly into the experience, allowing it to unfold? I know, this is a very personal question, and I do not expect you to leave a comment unless you feel compelled to share. I only ask that you remember to cultivate curiosity toward life. There is so much that we can learn about ourselves when we shift our perspective and open our hearts to possibility!

Today, I am grateful…

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For one more day added to the weekend.

For the sunshine, the warmth, and the vibrant colours that remind me of the beauty of change.

For the reminder that this cycle, with its magic and mystery, is as messy as it is delightful.

For the signs that careen suddenly, deliberately moving my way for a nudge: Just be. Here and now.

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For the giggles that roll through my parents’ garden on the cool breeze that carries the sound to an unknown land of silver bells and fairy dust. That’s what I believe that boys are made of. Oh, they’re quite sugary and spicy, certainly, especially after I help them to wipe the decadent Nutella or buckwheat honey off their chins after breakfast. But they are also made of something raw and honest that stops the breath in my chest with a bittersweet jolt. Somewhere within me I suddenly hear a whisper, “Let’s place this moment in a keepsake box. For ever.”

For the mess that surrounds me and, on certain days, seems to attach itself to my shadow and track with me throughout the day. Did you see that? Am I hiding it well enough? Is my smile a good enough disguise? And yet…

For falling asleep happy, contented, at peace with the certain knowledge that tomorrow I can try again. I will try again to work smarter, not harder. I have learned that softness is often the best choice.

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For my loved ones and our differences, reminding me to always choose kindness over attempting to be the one who is right. They are my greatest teachers.

For yoga and its often not-so-subtle kicks in a sore spot that has started to harden. We learn so much about ourselves when we allow ourselves to be humble.

For countryside drives.

For moments of weakness that swirl into surprisingly deep, genuine strength.

For remembering to slow down.

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For giving ourselves permission to speed up sometimes and enjoy the ride.

For hugs, kisses, and soft warm hands that envelope my cold ones.

For pumpkins, pumpkins, and more pumpkins. And for apple pie baked with the help of a diligent six-year-old.

For the rewarding results of proper self-care.

For words.

For those who read these words.

For connection. It’s all about connection.

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To those who are celebrating: Happy Thanksgiving to you and to those you love!

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Outfit version No. 1 of many. The possibilities are (almost) limitless.

When I first heard of the idea of the capsule wardrobe, approximately two years ago, my curiosity peaked. I know that there are many great reasons to create a capsule wardrobe – namely, to save money; to eliminate the need to decide what to wear in the morning; and of course, to practise better discernment of what items we enjoy wearing, what we need, and what we no longer need but to which we have been holding on. It’s a great method of redefining our style. After flirting with the idea for many months, I finally took a deep breath and spent some time choosing my favourite pieces for my autumn capsule wardrobe.

Here is my core office wardrobe for October-December:

–       1 pair of black leggings

–       2 pairs of boot-cut black trousers

–       1 black pencil skirt

–       1 tweed pencil skirt

–       4 ¾-length sweaters

–       1 green sparkly vest that I finished knitting two years ago

–       1 grey chunky vest that I finished knitting three years ago

–       1 white button-down shirt

–       1 white button-down tunic shirt

–       1 dark fabric tunic shirt

–       1 black knit tunic vest

–       5 short-sleeved cotton / knit sleeveless and short-sleeved t-shirts: blue; white/blue; pale green; navy knit top; navy cotton t-shirt with crochet detail

–       1 long blue, open-front cardigan

–       1 black bolero open-front cardigan

–       1 beige boyfriend cardigan

–       1 beige sparkly open-front cardigan

Footwear:

–       3 pairs of flat black shoes

–       1 pair black pumps

–       1 pair black wedge pumps

–       1 pair low-heeled black boots

Outerwear:

–       1 waist-length brown leather jacket that I have had for the past seven years

–       1 knee-length brown leather coat that I purchased three years ago

Altogether, these 32 items will continue to comprise my work wardrobe until mid-December.

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NOTE: I do love my black shoes and black and beige cardigans, for several reasons. I love to have fun with clothes, but I’m also practical. This is because I don’t enjoy shopping. When I do spend money, I pay for timeless, quality pieces that I can wear for many years to come. Black shoes pair easily with any outfit. It’s not as easy to match brown shoes to an outfit, and I end up wearing brown shoes very seldom; the rest of the time, they take up space in my closet. I also like cardigans because they are comfortable and allow me to easily change my outfit, depending on the t-shirt, blouse, belt, and/or scarf with which I choose to pair the cardigan. Notwithstanding my love of bright colours, I would not spend money on a pair of bright pink shoes. However, I get a kick out of pairing bright colours with neutrals. Oh, and I do own a pink leather belt that I love, but it was a gift from my mom.

Here are a few details to keep in mind:

I purchased several new items to renew my wardrobe for the season. My No. 1 golden rule when it comes to shopping while keeping my wardrobe under control is the ‘one in, one out’ rule. If and when I acquire a new piece of clothing (and this includes items gifted to me), I give away an equivalent older piece. This allows me to ensure that I never have too many clothes.

Items not included in the list but worn on a regular basis are yoga clothes (worn to the studio for teaching and practising), undergarments, socks, hosiery, sleepwear, and clothes worn at home. I also did not include in the list casual outfits that I wear on weekends. These are comprised of my two favourite pairs of jeans; casual sweaters and t-shirts; a cozy vest for layering over sweaters; and casual boots, of which I have two pairs – black rubber rain boots and brown calf boots.

Jewellery: In addition to my favourite Dharma Wanderlust jewellery, I have a collection of favourite sterling silver and amber that have been gifted to me by Mr. Wanderlust and / or his parents after trips to Poland. I enjoy pairing my outfits with favourite timeless pieces of jewellery and this does not change much from one season to the next.

Scarves: Over the past 10 years, I have acquired a collection of as many scarves and cowls. I have a bit of a mania for cowls and enjoy knitting them. In fact, I finished knitting a new one just two days ago! I recently put an end to scarf-collecting in an effort to eliminate decision fatigue. The scarves I have kept are my favourites and I enjoy wearing them to accessorize my work outfits, as well as to keep my neck and chest warm in the autumn breeze.

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The cowl I made a two nights ago, fresh off the needles. It’s currently being blocked into its permanent shape.

Purses: I have several purses that I use seasonally. Generally, I use one larger purse for work and a small cross-body purse on weekends. I have two evening purses that I use on special occasions. My total purse count is seven. As usual, I do not plan to purchase a new purse until one of my current ones begins to look shabby.

Special pieces: As a knitter, I look forward to the opportunity autumn provides for wearing the sweaters, mittens, scarves, and hats that I have made for myself. I don’t count these items in my core wardrobe. Instead, I think of them as special occasion pieces that I wear to dress up an outfit from time to time, depending on the occasion.

The creation of a capsule wardrobe also encourages us to re-evaluate our style. In the process of evaluating my clothes and choosing the items I want to wear this season, I encountered several pieces that I haven’t worn in a year or longer. I started to think about my style, asking myself about the colours to which I’m drawn: neutrals; turquoise and blue; purple, and several red and burnt orange pieces that I like to wear on the darker winter days. I enjoy clean lines and clothes that fit well while allowing me to move and feel comfortable.

To build my capsule wardrobe, I did not start out with an ideal number of pieces that I kept in mind. Instead, I simply went through my closet and pulled out all the pieces that I felt that I want to wear this season – pieces that bring me joy and allow me to feel comfortable while experimenting with different creative combinations. In the fall, I have more versatility with clothing that I can wear in several combinations, especially if taking into account accessories such as scarves (note: a scarf or cowl can change an outfit drastically). I love to maximize. By working with key pieces and playing with accessories, I am able to wear a ‘new’ outfit every day of the month.

I used to think that a capsule wardrobe might feel limiting to me after some time, that I would want to have more variety from which to choose. On the contrary! Having a specific number of quality items to work with gives me the freedom to use what I have while planning creatively, combining several pieces together for a complete outfit. And of course, I save myself a lot of time in the morning by having a specific number of items from which to choose.

Some capsule wardrobe enthusiasts pack away the clothes that they don’t need during that season. However, I chose forego that step. My closet is fairly small, and although I could pack away my summer clothes, storing them in a plastic bin until next year, I don’t feel the need to empty out my closet. My strategy is to reshuffle my clothes, keeping the ones I wear this season in one spot while ignoring everything else. So far, this has been working well for me, but it might prove distracting for someone else. The other day, I noticed a favourite sweater and briefly thought about putting it on, but then reminded myself that I can include it in my January-March wardrobe.

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Do you have a seasonal capsule wardrobe? What rules do you follow when planning your outfits for the next few months? 

Guest post by Mr. Wanderlust

Several years ago, we wrote a post to explain the process behind our wooden creations. Since the recent unveiling of our Sea Turtle Collection, we have been pleased to welcome new clients to our website. In addition to our earlier post, we would like to walk you through the process of making each wooden turtle pendant.

We are pleased to donate 20% of the sale of each item from our Sea Turtle Collection to Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group.

I usually work in the evenings after my 9-5 job, karate lessons, clean-up at home, and the Wanderlust Juniors’ bedtime, so there is not much time left before I myself have to head to bed. Still, I make the most of every spare minute.

 

Day 1:

Once I know what design I want, I choose the wood. I have a variety of wood in my collection, in all shapes and sizes. While some of the lumber I use is already cut to a specific suitable thickness, other wood comes in logs or blocks that have to be sliced (or ripped) with a bandsaw to achieve a workable thickness. For this particular piece, I chose to use Yellowheart.

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So many choices! Black Limba; Cocobolo; Wenge; Purpleheart, and Yellowheart. All our wood is obtained from sustainable sources. For every item sold, a tree is planted. We believe in giving back to the earth more than we take away.

This piece of wood was larger than I needed it to be, so I cut it into a workable piece slightly bigger than the final piece. The remaining wood was reserved for another project. No waste here!

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Seven holes were drilled and then it’s off to the scroll saw.

The thin blades of the scroll saw reciprocate up and down. I guided the wood onto a very thin blade and maneuvered it around to cut out the design. The blade I use is very thin (0.008 inches thick) and can break easily if the wood is pushed too hard or too fast against it. For each of the holes, the blade has to be dismounted, looped through the hole and remounted onto the scroll saw. The cutting here takes time, as the walls between the cut segments are thin and can break if one is not careful.

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Once the holes are cut out, the turtle shell starts to take place. Next, it’s time to glue on a backing and let it dry overnight.

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Day 2:

Once the backing is dry, I return to the scroll saw once more to cut the outside shape of the turtle.

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Next, I choose the inlay. Anything can be used as inlay, but I like to work with crushed stone, metal, glow-in-the-dark material, and crushed shell. For this pendant, I used crushed shell of different colours. I temporary blocked all the holes, leaving one exposed, and then carefully filled it with the inlay material. This process was repeated for the remaining holes, working one at a time. I then filled everything with a low-viscosity epoxy. Once the inlay is in, it’s time to let the inlay cure overnight.

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Day 3:

Once the inlay is solid, it’s time for the next stage: sanding, sanding, sanding and more sanding. For this, I used a variety of files, sanding pads and power sanding tools. Starting with 80 or 150 grit (depending on the density of the wood) and working up to up to 1500 grit makes the pendant smoother and smoother as it takes the final shape.

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In the middle of sanding at about 400 to 600 grit, I drilled the hole for the eye in which I placed the finding to which to attach the necklace chain or cord.

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Once the hole had been cut, I continued hand-sanding and shaping until the pendant was ready for the next step. Once satisfied with the sanding, I applied the first layer of natural oil onto the pendant. The oil slowly penetrates the wood and adds luster. I wiped off the excess after about an hour and left the rest to sit overnight.

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Days 4, 5, 6

Each day, I applied a coat of natural oils onto the surface and wiped the excess after letting it rest for at least an hour. This process is necessary to allow the oil to build up for a long and lasting shine. I need to wait about a day between layers, so this process adds time to the work. I do not coat my pendants with lacquers or any hard curing top-surface treatment because such treatments can wear off after the piece has been worn and handled. I like to keep the wood natural. I have noticed that the more I rub or handle the pendants coated with multiple layers of oil, the shinier they become over time.

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Patience! The pieces are awaiting the next layer of oil.

 

Day 7

Almost ready!

After about four (oh yes!) layers of natural oil, the pendant was buffed using a high-speed linen buffing wheel.

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I added the hardware and took a few photos of the finished piece before adding it to our website

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So there you have it. This is how a piece of wood is turned into a beautiful pendant in one week. I hope I have answered any questions you might have about how each piece is created.

If you have additional questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading,

Mr. Wanderlust (Pawel)