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Interesting Links:

The Power of Empathetic Thought (Goop.com)

“On a more personal level, I think we need to move beyond the emotionally illiterate world of online “like” buttons. If you see, via Facebook or other platforms, that a friend has done something interesting or has gone through something tough, like a family death, don’t just “like” their post or write a one-line comment. Phone them or Skype them and have a real human interaction.”

On personality, emotional labor, and surviving the holidays (Modern Mrs. Darcy)

In the podcast, Cain explains that introverts can be extremely, genuinely social—even for long periods of time—and enjoy being so. But for true introverts, putting on this extroverted front over a period of days or weeks is exhausting.

This phenomenon has a name: it’s called “emotional labor,” and it’s what you experience any time you project (or, to put it not-so-nicely, fake) an emotion or attitude that doesn’t come easily.”

Brene Brown: The Anatomy of Trust (Supersoul.tv)

“Trust is built in the smallest of moments.”

A very powerful talk about cultivating self-love and self-respect in order to build trusting connections with others.

Another quote from the speech that truly struck me: “I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves but say ‘I love you.'” (Maya Angelou)

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My most recent quick knitting project, completed in about an hour yesterday, enjoying a cozy spot on the small Christmas tree decorated by Wanderlust Juniors.

Current Listening Material:

Enya – Dark Sky Island

I have been a big fan of Enya’s music since I first heard The Celts in the early 90s. Enya’s music continues to accompany me through joyful times and difficult situations. Most recently, while saying goodbye to our cat Meeshu, the veterinary clinic played The Celts album in the room where Meeshu and I shared a few final moments together. I am delighted with the new album and glad to find the music consistent with Enya’s previous material.

Enya – And Winter Came

This is a Christmas season staple for me.

Loreena McKennitt is another of my favourite musicians and this is a beautiful collection of older, traditional Christmas songs.
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Currently on My Nightstand:
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Enjoying the beautiful Christmas Market in Toronto last weekend.

DSCN0099This evening, I drove to Uxbridge, a small community northeast of Toronto, to meet and listen to one of my favourite authors, Kate Morton. I was first introduced to Morton’s work several years ago while on maternity leave with the littlest Wanderlust Junior. I asked friends for book recommendations and one of them shared with me a copy of The Forgotten Garden. I devoured the book in under a week, reading during nap times and after the kids had gone to bed for the night. I had stepped into a fairy tale the likes of which I used to step into and become lost for hours. I felt a profound connection with the character of Eliza and allowed myself to wander through the idyllic English countryside.

In turn, I introduced my mother-in-law to Morton’s words and together we read and discussed The House at Riverton, The Distant Hours and The Secret Keeper. The Secret Keeper is my favourite book of Morton’s yet, though all the reviews I have read swear that The Lake House, the newest brilliant work, is her best yet. I can’t believe I held out this long before getting my hands on my copy, but I’m glad that the copy I have was signed for me.

During the interview, the beautifully charming author candidly and lightheartedly talked about how much she enjoys plotting the story line, scribbling away in her notebooks, as well as the editing process and its multiple layers, through which the story becomes polished to its final presentation. She revealed that the part of actually sitting down to write the story can sometimes be challenging as she seeks the right words to describe certain profound feelings of the characters or works to illustrate on paper a picture she holds in her mind.

DSCN0101“All good writers are observers, whether they are introverts or extroverts.” She spoke about the images that inspire her stories, including the shapes of the sewage drains on the streets of London on which her eyes rest during a daily walk. I speak and write frequently about the importance of maintaining an attitude of curiosity and in fact, I believe that writers need to be both mindful of the environment around them and also able to ask questions that will shape stories about the objects and people they encounter.

During the audience question period, I asked Ms. Morton how she overcomes the challenge of transforming feelings and images onto the page when words refuse to come or sound utterly flat. Her answer: Get the first draft done but don’t give up afterward. Continue reworking it, polishing, editing.

When it was my turn to have my new book signed, she smiled at me warmly.

“Do you write?” she asked.

“I try,” I giggled nervously.

“I think that’s true for everyone,” she assured me.

All I can do is continue trying. The inspiration is always there, the story ready to reveal itself to the curious observer.

Have you read The Lake House or any of Kate Morton’s other books? Please leave a comment to share your insights with me and other readers (no spoilers, please).

Do you know someone who loves Ms. Morton’s stories as much as I do? They might enjoy this blog post, so please feel free to share it via email or social media. 

Not at my desk, not with my quill, and not really writing; while visiting a museum three months ago, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pretend to write in this cozy spot.

It had been a while since I wrote in my journal. I’m not referring to simply writing about what is new and exciting in my life at the given moment but about delving deeper, digging beneath the layers, stripping away the building blocks. The stream-of-consciousness style of writing taught by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way is the type of exercise that can send many running for the hills. Yet, once we start, without weaving any drama around the exercise itself and the potential results, the experience can be surprisingly enjoyable and possibly even transforming.

In Paris Letters, Janice MacLeod shares her own experience with journalling as inspired by The Artist’s Way, leading to a big question and a resulting breakthrough. I’m not one for spoilers; to learn more about the breakthrough, you’ll have to read the book.

And so, without expectations or a specific agenda, I return to stream-of-consciousness journalling. The results surprise me as I read back. Some pages are filled with gratitude notes. On other days, the ramblings are banal and choppy. None of that matters. The practice itself is therapeutic, healing, meditative. More and more, I infuse my daily life with the same energy that accompanies me on the yoga mat at 5:30 in the morning. It comes without surprise to find that my hobbies in and of themselves undulate and weave, allowing me to stay curious while focusing my mind, connecting with my thoughts and watching the stories unfold. Knitting, journalling, lunchtime walks, and reading to Wanderlust Juniors have become to me another form of yoga, reminding me to keep just enough control to stay present, but at the same moment, reminding me to release into the experience, to allow someone else to hold the anchor and steer.

Journalling for analysis used to be my focus. My ego shaped my interpretation of the story. In as much as it can be highly enjoyable to analyze, to investigate the various points of view, and to deduce conclusions, these days, I prefer to experience by witnessing the story unfold. I cherish the reminder to let go of judgment, to allow myself to sit with my feelings, whatever they may be, to soften and keep going with the flow. I hear the voices of my teachers asking me, Where can you let go a bit more? Where can you invite more softness? The stories will continue to unfold, and I permit them to do just that.

What about you? Where can YOU let go a bit more? Where can you invite more softness? Do you have a regular journalling practice? I would love to read about your evolving experience with this exercise.

Are you enjoying this blog? Please share it with a friend. 

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My turn to share! Here are two articles I read and enjoyed last week:

This Column Will Change Your Life: Morning Pages 

‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at how powerful Morning Pages proved, from day one, at calming anxieties, producing insights and resolving dilemmas. After all, the psychological benefits of externalising thoughts via journalling are well-established. And that bleary-eyed morning time has been shown to be associated with more creative thinking: with the brain’s inhibitory processes still weak, “A-ha!” moments come more readily.’

How to Get Better at Expressing Emotions

‘Emotional intelligence is a skill, and some people are better at recognizing and communicating emotions than others. Among the Big Five personality traits—openness, extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism—several studies have found that people high in extroversion tend to have higher emotional expressiveness, while people high in neuroticism tend to be less expressive.

Like other skills, the ability to communicate feelings can be strengthened through practice, and a big part of it is first recognizing the emotions you’re having, as well as what’s causing them.’

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I read the news last night. I knew it was too late to be in front of the computer, but my family and I had just finished watching a movie and I wanted to check the weekend weather forecast before heading to bed. I read about Paris and my heart tightened. I experienced a similar sensation several times in the past, including an occasion when an attack had taken place close to my dad’s workplace. Last night, overcome with sadness, unable to find the words to express the heartbreak that millions felt at the same moment, I tiptoed into the bedrooms of Wanderlust Juniors, ensured that they were asleep, and leaned in to give them kisses, to whisper ‘I love you.’ I repeat this ritual every night, but some nights are more emotional than others.

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Mr. Wanderlust and I visited Paris and other cities in France on our honeymoon in July and August 2006. Today, we are praying and sending love to everyone affected by Friday’s tragic events.

This morning, with bittersweet determination, I guided my Saturday morning yoga class through Metta (Loving-Kindness) meditation. I turn to this meditation practice when I feel instability and unease in my life or in the environment around me, when I experience conflicting emotions and struggle to tune into a compassionate space. Metta meditation helps to build community by reminding us to let go of judgment toward ourselves and others, and to focus instead on acceptance and kindness. Today, I will share this meditation with you.

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Feel free to light a candle and settle into a comfortable position in a quiet space. Take several deep breaths to invite yourself to tune fully into the experience.

Start by sending love and compassion to yourself. If this feels challenging, start with one aspect of yourself that you admire and build up from this space. I naturally gravitate toward the image of myself today embracing myself as a young child. Stay with this stage for as long as you need, breathing smoothly and evenly and radiating kindness and compassion. Next, send loving-kindness to a person whom you love deeply. This can be a good friend, your partner, sibling, child, or a pet. Visualize yourself embracing that person and radiating love toward him or her. The third stage is to send love to a person toward whom you don’t experience any strong feelings of like or dislike. The four step can be somewhat challenging, as you are invited to send loving-kindness to a person with whom you do not get along. Instead of focusing on judgment toward the person, work to strip away all those layers to find the being within, who is very much like you, who wants to love and be loved, to experience personal safety and peace. Stay here for as long as you need. The final step is to send Metta to all the four individuals whom you visualized earlier; then, continue to expand your beams of loving-kindness to the entire world, to every being on the planet, sending healing kindness and compassion. Visualize every being on the planet feeling healthy, peaceful, and joyful.

Close your meditation with a few centering breaths and thank yourself for your time and attention.

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I would love to read your thoughts and experiences with this meditation. Please leave a comment below. I would also like to read about how you navigate turbulent experiences. Where do you turn in times of need?

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If you are enjoying this blog, please take a moment to share this post with a friend.

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“The oscillating rhythm of the heart

knows there is a time for activation

and a time for regeneration,

a time for quiet and a time for ecstasy,

a time for clearing and a 

time for celebrating,

a time for receiving and a time for giving,

a time for igniting the fire, 

and a time for letting go into the fire.”

~ Shiva Rea, Tending the Heart Fire

 


 

We planned for November to be a quiet month, free of social commitments. We are dedicating this time to slow-and-steady-sometimes-lazy pre-winter home repair projects. In the colder months of the year, I heed to the natural call to spend more time at home, tending to the hearth but also setting aside time for relaxation and quiet contemplation.

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Crunchy leaves under my feet during a lunchtime walk.

I did not always readily acquiesce to nature’s invitation to rest. There was a time when I judged myself harshly for the patterns of low energy that I experienced in the colder months of the year. Comparison to my more energetic counterparts only made me feel worse about myself. Time and time again, as I continued to turn to books that honour nature and seek to inspire others to live in harmony with the natural world through the changing of the seasons, I found that I started to soften my point of view. INov3 let crumble the hard boundaries that I had set around myself and instead, began to acknowledge that I am a part of this cycle. I am a part of the flow. We all are.

Shiva Rea’s Tending the Heart Fire is an excellent resource that supports and validates the patterns that I have been studying within myself. Ancient traditions lived in harmony with the magical cycles of the earth, honouring each season and greeting it with reverence. We have moved too far away from those traditions, but for myself and my family, I am choosing to make changes that allow us to minimize the permeating sense of societal urgency.

Instead of complaining about the weather, I do my best to dress for it. I tend to feel cold all through the colder months in the northern world, but I have adopted Ayurvedic rituals that help to keep me in balance through these seasons. I have embraced oil massages, drinking hot water, and eating grounding foods. I have slowed down my yoga practice and end a strong HIIT session with luxurious restorative or Yin poses. I am very much attached to my electric blanket and have become protective of my early bedtime.

So, we tend to our hearth and we tend to our hearts, making space to reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones. The dark period is a gentle and generous invitation for us to shed artificial layers while focusing on what is most precious to us.

I have mailed my RSVP card. Will you?

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Our 2015 holiday sale is officially on now!

Meeshu

We tenderly referred to Meeshu as our Little Vampire Cat because of her prominent pointed canine teeth.

Meeshu

September 15, 2005 – November 7, 2015

This morning, we said goodbye our sweet kitty cat, Meeshu.

We used to joke that Meeshu was Mr. Wanderlust’s cat. When ten years ago we adopted our two kittens, two sisters from the same litter who didn’t look anything alike, they each chose one of us as a favourite. Meeshu instantly bonded with Mr. Wanderlust.

Our house feels a little more empty and quiet today without the usual presence of Meeshu lounging under the kitchen table. Goodbye, our darling. We miss you so much! Thank you for allowing us to love you and care for you for the past ten years.

 

Do you have moments when you are reminded of your age? Do you always remain conscious or aware of how old you actually are? Do you ever experience crude reminders of your adulthood?

These questions might sound aloof and downright ridiculous, but this is something I think about from time to time, especially now, as I contemplate the moments in my life that remind me of how ‘grown up’ I really am.

I very seldom contemplate my age. When I am asked about it, I need to pause for a brief moment to find the shelf, somewhere in my mind, on which that information is stored. There are several incidents that I have experienced in my life that jolted me into the realization that I’m an adult. Among them:

  • Buying a home. Mr. Wanderlust and I purchased our first home eight years ago. The process was shockingly quick after we found the perfect home for us at the time, and meeting with a mortgage broker felt like an out-of-body experience that happened to someone else while I watched from the sidelines.
  • Renovating our home three years ago. Mr. Wanderlust spent a month rewiring our home with the help of his and my father. At that time, he also installed a ventilation system in our main bathroom. We hired a contractor to patch up our walls following rewiring, as well as a company that installed new windows in our bedrooms. Mr. Wanderlust and I painted the bedrooms and one of the walls in our living room following the renovations.
  • Repairing a few minor areas of our home. This is a project that we are undertaking at this time.
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My partner-in-crime-and-home-repairs.

Interestingly, my ‘adult moments’ have never occurred during job interviews or the signing of a work contract. Neither have they occurred during solo travel on business to another province, which involve many independent dining experiences and sleeping alone in a hotel room in a strange city. I didn’t even feel grown up when I learned, approximately seven years ago at this time, that Mr. Wanderlust and I were expecting our first child. No, my ‘adult moments’ revolve specifically around home repairs. This realization came as a surprise. My next question to myself was, Why or how do you define those experiences as ‘adult experiences?’

Responsibilities that are focused on the repair of my home scare me, to an extent, probably because I don’t know much (or anything at all) about repairing houses. I can vacuum carpets, wash hardwood floors, clean bathrooms and dust like an expert, probably because I started helping my mom clean our home at a relatively young age. The experience contributed to a sense of confidence and I understood that when I feel confident, I feel no reservations about the task I am about to approach. On the other hand, I have never had a chance to repair anything – save for a clogged sink or toilet – in the many homes in which I lived.

Leaky faucet? Re-grouting the tiles around the bathtub? Installing a new toilet seat and cover? Well, maybe the last option doesn’t seem intimidating, though it feels equally tedious.

I tend to think of myself as independent and competent, but the truth is that when it comes to home repair, I am more than ready to scurry without bothering to leave a note about being found in my bed under the thick duvet after the repairs have been completed.

Recently, I wrote about befriending fear during indoor skydiving. I am still working on befriending fear with handstand and forearm stand away from the wall. Every time I notice that I start to feel intimidated on the yoga mat, I remind myself of several tried-and-tested tips. I will apply those same friendly principles and strategies this weekend when I start re-grouting the bathroom tiles:

  1. No drama!
  2. Head in there, no matter how you feel about it.
  3. Breathe deeply (while wearing a mask).
  4. Stay in the moment and remain curious.
  5. Remember to simply focus on the task without weaving any stories.
  6. Try to have fun.
  7. It will be over before you know it, and you will be able to appreciate all your diligent work.

Besides, I have a great partner with whom to approach the repair work. We will learn together, hopefully without any snappy remarks typical of a married couple during home repairs and renovations.

Wish us luck. I will report on the progress.

What are your ‘adult moments?’ Do they feel scary or exhilarating? How do you approach challenges? Feel free to leave a comment below to share your stories with us.

We are having a special sale on our website through the month of November! 

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