My grandmother is and always has been a talented knitter. She also used to crochet, cook marvelous meals and bake desserts from scratch while conserving every last little morsel of each ingredient and putting it to good use in feeding our family. Seated in the living room and reading books or watching a favourite cartoon, I used to observe in fascination her long fingers as they moved elegantly on the two needles that clicked almost melodically, all the while producing an intricate pattern out of a mere strand of woolen yarn, creating sweaters to keep us warm through the winter season. Enchanted with this magical, alchemical process, I begged her to teach me to knit. And so, on a cold afternoon in early January, my grandmother sat down with impatient five-year-old me, attempting to teach me the knit stitch using the Continental method. That episode ended in tears, but I never gave up.

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Necklace handcrafted by Mr. Wanderlust.

Two years later, after moving to live in a different country with my parents and sister, I walked into a local stationery store that also stocked a small selection of needles and yarn on a demure shelf. Immediately, I was seized with longing memories of my Babushka, and my mom purchased the materials for me: red acrylic yarn and golden metallic 8 mm needles. I continued to practise every day, or whenever I missed my dear grandmother. When she visited us, three years later, I was ready for her to teach me the purl stitch and continued to make and unravel simple scarves for the next few years, whenever Nostalgia paid a visit to me. Those scarves were peppered with missed stitches and other blatant errors in spots where I should have purled instead of knitting. Having tried numerous times and become frustrated with the cast-on method Babushka taught me, I created my own cast-on technique; although it wasn’t the easiest technique, at the time, it served its purpose and allowed me to start making yet another red acrylic scarf.

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We moved once more since then, and many years later, while in undergrad, I discovered that knitting had somehow become a chic hobby. I became a bit bolder in telling my peers that knitting is one of my hobbies. With a skip in my step, I returned home from several shopping trips to the bookstore, giddy about learning new techniques from the ‘how to’ books, ready to move beyond making scarves using dollar store acrylic yarn. I continue to refer to those books for tips on stitches and techniques that remind me that, although I may be an intermediate-level knitter, I’m still a beginner in some respect. I’m comfortable with that notion.

Today, in-between work and family responsibilities, I am fortunate to spend just 30 minutes per week with my yarn and needles, usually while watching a family movie with Wanderlust Juniors. I hope that for my children, the scarves and hats I make for them will continue to keep them not only warm in the snowy winter months but will also remind them that love often shows up in the smallest details, in the finest stitches. Love is spherical, moving beyond time and generations, knitting together stories and memories that culminate in one special piece gifted selflessly to someone special. To me, that is the definition of magic.

Do you knit? How did you learn? Please share your story by leaving a comment, below. Thank you, also, for sharing this blog with a friend! 

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My word for the year 2015 was ‘declutter.’ I worked to minimize clutter – physical, mental and emotional – while making more space for who and what truly matters in my life at this time. I will continue this practice of simplifying, of minimizing noise and clutter in order to maximize my creativity and become more present, connecting to who I am at the core, instead of allowing my possessions to define me.

I have minimized the number of projects on which I’m working at this time. And yet, the projects are still there, still beckoning me forth, seductive in their command. Writing, yoga, music, and crafting do define me and always will. I have designed a schedule that allows me to maximize my time at work, at home with my family, and my time alone, used for creativity and exploration. I reshuffle, re-prioritize while wondering whether the current model expands or hinders my potential and the potential of my family dynamic.

Some days, the pieces that make up my identity are naturally, easily woven together; on other days, they pull apart at the seams until I tend to them again with pins, needles, thread, and soothing whispers. I remind myself to slow down, to let the pebbles scatter as they will. I can always pick them up later. What is in front of me now? Where should my focus be? How can I shift my priorities at a moment’s notice while maintaining balance? Then I remember to focus on the hug, to inhale, deeply savouring the scent of the head of silky soft chestnut hair that presses against my chest. I exhale into the softness and remember to listen to the subtle pleading sounds that are so easily missed when I go through my ‘to do’ list, checking off one item after another, feeling productive yet missing what is before me.

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I choose to linger. I choose to pull my arms around my sons and my husband into a tighter embrace. I choose to be present while trusting in the knowledge that creativity is borne from moments that challenge us to acquiesce completely. What is before me, right here and right now? What demands my attention? The dance of balance inevitably continues as I delicately tiptoe from one element to another, trying to stay grounded and reminding myself of my myriad roles. Will they still be here? Will they continue to transform me, or will I become a different person? I entertain the possibilities while remaining curious, retreating to my comfort zone of boundless daydreaming before gently, reluctantly, bringing myself back to the moment, adjusting my focus, amplifying the whisper-thin message: Presence. Presence. Presence. 

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We hope you have been enjoying the holidays with your loved ones, in your favourite ways. For that reason, we are keeping this post short. If you do happen to have a few quiet moments and wish to do some quiet reading over a cup of coffee, we invite you to catch up with our posts that you may have missed, or ones that you might wish to re-read. Please also feel free to share this blog with a friend who might enjoy following our stories.

Wishing you a wonderful remainder of 2015 and here’s to more reading, writing, and mindful living (infused with moments of creative daydreaming) in 2016!

The following are the nine most popular posts of 2015, listed in random order, based on page views and the number of shares:

1. Better than yesterday

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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2. The Dharma Wanderlust creative method

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.”

3. Marriage lessons from the past  nine years

Sixteen years ago, on July 17th, we went on our first date. I was 16; he was 19. By our second date, four days later, it was clear to us both that we were quickly falling for each other as we strolled through a west-end neighbourhood. Seven years later, on July 22nd, we exchanged our official vows in a landmark Toronto wedding location just down the street from where we first enjoyed getting to know each other, listening to each other’s stories, fascinated by our differences and wondering about common personality traits. Now, 16 years later, we celebrate nine years of marriage and 16 years of deep connection.”

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4. Happy loner

I have always enjoyed my own company. I sometimes wonder whether it’s selfish to admit this fact. The truth is, spending time alone helps to nourish my soul in an honest manner that allows me to take better care of my loved ones.”

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5. Project house detox

This impromptu de-cluttering session led to a change of perspective. For the remainder of that day, whenever I stepped into another room in our house, I asked myself whether we need all the material items we managed to acquire over the past 7.5 years after moving into our current home. Pawel and I have never had a fear of letting go of material objects. Neither are we serious collectors of random tchotchkes. Yet, there seemed to be too much stuff that we do not need. I grew tired of seeing busy kitchen counters. I spoke with Pawel and explained to him that I wanted to edit our home and throw out, sell, or give away various pieces that we do not need to keep and/or do not enjoy. To my relief, he told me he’s on board.”

6. Choosing love over a tidy home

I do my best to keep a balance between working diligently to uphold my highest standards and choosing to ignore a less-than-perfect home from time to time. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand: when I feel calmer and able to overlook the mess of toys strewn around the living room, I am a better mother to my children and partner to Pawel, better able to uphold those high standards. Some days, I feel exhausted after an hour of nagging my children in agitation about tidying up their rooms. Inevitably, 15 minutes after they reluctantly put away their toys, the living room once again looks less than ideal. Interestingly, when I make a choice to be a bit softer in my approach, more willing to overlook the mess until bedtime, I have more energy to be a kind, fun mom.”

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7. Skipping the small talk

Small talk has never been my forte. When bumping into a person I don’t know well, my mind often goes blank after the polite greeting of, “Hello, how are you?” On a good day, I remind myself to ask about my conversation partner’s interests and use one of those as a jumping point into more interesting territory. The problem arises when I meet a person who, like me, keeps his cards close to his chest and doesn’t enjoy divulging any information about himself to someone he just met for the first time. Talk about an introvert’s nightmare!’

8. I don’t watch TV. I don’t miss it.

Not watching TV allows me to make time for mindful activities that I truly enjoy. I do make time for reading, writing, yoga, meditation, crafting, and (yes) sleep.”

9. The capsule wardrobe experiment: Autumn 2015

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.”

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See you in 2016!

Warmly,

Katia and Pawel (Mr. and Mrs. Wanderlust)

 

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Chocolate No. 24 inside the Star Wars and Kinder advent calendars has been eaten.

Latté, our Elf-on-the-Shelf, has written his ‘adieu’ letter to Wanderlust Juniors. He tells us that after Christmas with his famous busy family in the North Pole, he will be off on a surfing vacation in the South Pacific before returning to resume his duties for 2016. We all will miss Latté, for various reasons that relate to the magic of traditions old and new.

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The annual Christmas cookies have been baked with the help of our two little elves, and packaged to be enjoyed with our loved ones. A separate plate of cookies, along with a glass of organic milk and a locally grown carrot (for the reindeer), will be set for our special guests tonight.

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The exquisite festive centre piece gifted to me generously by my boss adorns our dining table. Last year, on this day, I received a job offer. This year, I am grateful for abundant opportunities in the year that has passed.

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The Christmas trees — the main fresh tree and a smaller artificial tree that is the children’s own — have been redecorated several times to perfection by the youngest Wanderlust Junior. I particularly appreciate the new ornaments that the boys crafted to add to the collection.

Mr. Wanderlust and the eldest Wanderlust Junior are still buzzing with inspiration after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens two days ago. This has inevitably translated into countless hours of Star Wars Lego creations and the related pretend play.

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I feel lighter, sassier, and more playful, as I always do after some pampering at the hair salon.

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I was overdue for a haircut but had to wait for the front layers to grow in order to accomplish the asymmetrical pixie cut that I was coveting.

In blustery but unbelievably warm 14˚C weather in southwestern Ontario, we share the warmth with our loved ones close to home and send it to those in other parts of the world. We miss them dearly every day, and particularly during the holidays.

From our family to yours, wishing you the merriest Christmas!

Warmly,

Mrs. and Mr. Wanderlust

 

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)

 

 

 

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Welcome to a bonus edition of Dharma Wanderlust Musings, with Mr. Wanderlust himself. You often hear about me, but not directly from me. Mrs. Wanderlust has kindly allowed me to borrow this space to tell you in my own words about a new project about which we are very excited: Sea Turtle Conservancy Collection.

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When we launched the Dharma Wanderlust shop several years ago, the primary goal was always to use our craft to give back to and enrich the community in any way possible. For me, this is done through woodworking. We not only obtain our wood from sustainable sources but also ensure that a tree is planted for every item sold. With that, we give back more to the planet than we take, thus ensuring the continuity of the beautiful trees that are so vital for the health of the earth.

As I observe our kids play in the sand on the beach in the summer, I remember how I used to frolic in the ocean waves as a child, watching fish and jellyfish float by. I would not want that beauty do disappear in the future. As I visit the seaside more and more with my family, I get influenced by what I see and am exposed to. Many of our recently created wooden items incorporate nautical elements or were influenced by water in one way or another.

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About 70% of our planet is water and we should try our best to keep it clean, not to over-exploit its resources and protect the creatures that live in the waters around the world, as we are all connected. We as humans might be at the top of the food chain but ultimately we rely on the tiniest phytoplankton and zooplankton at the bottom of the food chain for our ultimate survival as a species. Once the bottom falls out, there might be trouble ahead. We believe that all humans should become the shepherds of both land and sea and do what we can to keep Earth healthy and clean.

That’s why we are thrilled to be a cause-related partner of Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group.

For this partnership, we have created a special line of handmade sea turtle-themed items. For every sale of an item from the Sea Turtle collection, 20% will be donated directly to STC.

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We thank you in advance for your support.

ThisFall

 

This fall I want to colour in my fancy adult colouring book, creating a chaotic yet somehow comforting piece of art that no one else might ever appreciate but one that would speak for itself, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that I am the one who created it.

 

I want to let go and make art the way children make art, with complete abandon, and preferably while humming a silly tune to myself. My children will ask what song I’m singing, then likely join in.

 

I want to gather nature’s treasures – acorns, leaves, and twigs – and then glue them, tape them, plaster them all over my tiny writing corner currently covered in journals, colourful pencils, and yarn.

 

I want my fingers to move on their own while I decipher a new-to-me knitting pattern without ever thinking of it as complicated. Instead, I want to open my mind, open my heart, and allow the creativity that resides within me to flow right out of my fingertips, extending through the bamboo needles and weaving, weaving, weaving magic.

 

I want to knit. I want to knit many comfortable pieces that might never be worn but are created from my heart.

 

I want to work with colour. I want to fill my world with colour, never thinking about old favourite hues or seeking to narrow down what does and does not appeal to me or to someone else. One day, I might like blood orange; the next, I will be drawn to ocean blue. Then, I’ll spin them together into a swirl of emerald.

 

I want to give. I want to give more to my children, to my partner, to my parents.

 

I want to tour my favourite museum in the forest, admiring the new works on display, already perfect in their raw, unfinished form.

 

Nature wants, but is never wanting.

 

How about you? What do you want to do this fall? Please leave a comment.

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In childhood, I did my best to live by the rules, but I have been known to be bored easily and start to push boundaries. I continue to seek challenges, allowing myself to grow, to think outside the box. I’m learning to colour outside the lines, to bend the rules slightly without trying to hide my intentions from anyone but while reconnecting to an old favourite hobby. It’s a hobby that I buried away somewhere on a shelf far away in the library of my childhood.

When I was about five years old, there was a small bookstore on a plaza near our home. I would go into the store just to browse books, to walk between the aisles, look at the shelves and sniff inconspicuously at the scent of freshly printed ink on crisp paper that filled the shop. I lingered near the colouring book section, gingerly reaching for a new book that I had not seen before and flipping through the pages it contained. My fingers itched to return home with the book and sit at a table with my freshly sharpened pencils. The thrill of creating something new was overwhelming. Sometimes, my mom would buy a book for me, providing me with hours of inspiration as I ventured into my imagination with each new page on which I worked diligently. My mom, in turn, received the opportunity to enjoy a few quiet hours while getting some work done at home.

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Colouring books for adults have been trending as of late, with pictures containing finer, more intricate details. It turns out that children are not the only ones who are calmed by the activity. I chose to pick up such a book recently in order to allow myself an opportunity to connect with my children. While they sit at the kitchen table and colour, I do the same. Recently, on a rainy Sunday, my eldest and I sat together, each working on our own colouring page. I chose a beautiful mandala design and intuitively picked at the soft pastel colouring pencils, allowing myself to be guided toward the colours that I was to use. Instead of colouring certain shapes the way I normally would have, some 27 years ago, I chose to draw hearts inside the lines. I’m quietly starting to rebel while staying within the confines of my comfort zone, following the rules I intuitively set for myself.

In fact, simply colouring inside the lines allows us to focus on one task at a time, working with colour harmony. At other times, doing something slightly radical, venturing outside the familiar, is therapeutic. I might choose to continue doing things the traditional way, but I’m slowly giving myself permission to experiment with the limitless possibilities.

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What calming hobbies did you enjoy in childhood? Would you consider returning to them to try them through an adult’s perspective?

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A walk in the forest: one of our favourite ‘quiet’ activities. This was my ‘artist date’ for the weekend that has passed.

If spring is known as the time of growth and renewal, summer is for basking in the sunshine while enjoying the fruits of our labour. To me, this transition time offers a good opportunity for personal growth and exploration of new ideas, new interests and plenty of ‘quiet time.’

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We planted our vegetable garden over the weekend. Growing in our garden are eggplant, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, swiss chard, and sweet peppers. We also have rhubarb, chives, and blackberry bushes from the previous years.

The garden has been planted – both literally and figurative – and now is the time to tend to it, to promote growth by providing the essentials of sunshine, water and nutrients. The months between early May to late August tend to be very hectic for many people; sure, they are fun-busy, but they are fleeting, not always in a productive way. So, I am changing my routine this summer. Instead of filling my schedule to the brim with various summer-appropriate outings, I am clearing extra time in my schedule to dedicate to silence and personal growth.

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One of Pawel’s favourite ‘quiet’ activities.

Here are a few highlights from the month of May:

I don’t watch TV. I don’t miss it. – Giving up TV proved to be a non-event for me but has been essential to my personal growth.

Flirty Spring – I have been embracing my feminine nature more and more over the past few years, balancing out the masculine and feminine energies, allowing myself to receive life’s gifts amidst providing good care for my family.

Renew to Retreat – Minimalism does not mean life becomes boring. We can create big changes in our mental and emotional states simply by rearranging just one item to which we have become accustomed.

Magical Catharsis – On the practice of journaling as a ritual of emotional purging.

My Lifelong Experiment with Nutrition – Sharing my experience with this year’s spring cleanse. I have been reminded of our ever-changing nature and the importance of letting go of rigid ideas. Life is more enjoyable when we allow ourselves to be carried along with the ebb and flow.

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The sale continues in our online store until the end of the month, which means you only have a few more days to take advantage of the 30% off offer. We are also offering free worldwide shipping of every sale of a minimum of $100. Use the code ‘HappyBDay’ at checkout to receive your discount.

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What have been your traditional spring/summer self-care rituals? Are you doing anything differently this year to take better care of yourself?

THANK YOU for sharing this blog with a friend!

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“You’ve been rearranging furniture again.”

My parents simply stated this fact while allowing their eyes to quickly drift from one piece of furniture to the other, acknowledging the changes. They considered the spot where our living room sofa was newly positioned, to the right of the piano, and I waited with bated breath. At nine years of age, I never felt the need to explain my motives to them, though I hungered for my parents’ approval of my designs.

“I myself used to rearrange furniture in my room as a boy. I would get bored and wanted to try something new, so I would work on making my surroundings look better,” Papa said calmly with just a mere hint of a smile. I sighed in silent relief.

Since my childhood years, I have been preoccupied with bettering my surroundings, trying to make my home a little cozier, more comfortable. The inspiration arises within me suddenly, and not only when I sit quietly at home. There are always meals to be prepared, laundry to be folded, tears or noses to be wiped. I feel the need to make an effort to sit quietly at home more often.

Yesterday, while out for a walk at lunchtime, I saw somewhere in my periphery that familiar spark of inspiration.

As soon as Pawel and I walked through the front door of our home upon returning from work, we kissed and hugged our children, asked them about their day. Then, without changing out of the dressier clothes we wore at work, we began to move sofas, to the delight of the boys who, it turned out, are just as thrilled as I am about the idea of something new taking place in our home. Pawel, it appeared, did not share my enthusiasm, but he chose to trust my idea.

Two hours later, after the boys were tucked quietly into their beds, I sat in our newly arranged living room, sipping herbal tea, gazing at the flicker of the lavender-scented candle on the coffee table in front of me, listening to a podcast and cross stitching. The rearrangement of furniture in my home awakened within me a renewed appreciation for my comfortable place of retreat. It also allowed me to carve out some time at the end of the day to relax with an activity I enjoy.

We didn’t feel the need to spend money on new furniture or home décor items, but the new design and placement of the living room sofa, a blooming Peace Lily plant to its left by the wide window, bring a sense of novelty to the space. The hearth has been tended once again. We feel a little happier in our home.

Do you enjoy re-decorating your home? Do you tend to purchase new items, or try to use what you already have?

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!