Happy New Year!

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We spent a quiet holiday week at home, making Lego creations; playing board games; reading books; practising yoga and dancing; making music; knitting; watching movies by the fireplace next to the Christmas tree; and going for walks. Although the snow arrived belatedly several days after Christmas, to the delight of Wanderlust Juniors we spent a morning making snowmen in our front yard. Walks in the winter always seem to be more pleasant with a bit of snow on the ground.

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We rang in the new year quietly. Mr. Wanderlust and I stayed up until 1 a.m., making plans for the upcoming months while drinking champagne that we received as a present from my parents and munching organic tortilla chips. I joked about having already broken one of my resolutions: avoiding snacking and generally eating after dinner. In truth, I do not believe in making resolutions. However, I do set aside time to review the year that has passed and set intentions for the year ahead.

I learned several years ago that when we make resolutions based on external factors such as someone else’s research about the best diet and the most effective forms of exercise, we soon forget about the resolutions because they do not reflect our truth about ourselves. What works for one person might have a very different effect on someone else. Reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before, reinforced my own hypothesis. At about the same time when I accepted this fact, I stopped paying close attention to ‘health and fitness’ advice that so many people readily bestow upon anyone within earshot. I also became aware of my own previous tendency to offer unsolicited advice. Instead, I chose the freedom of creating space for myself to study my own habits and get to know myself better in order to create positive personal changes.

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To set my clear, true intentions for the year ahead, I ask myself about my heart’s desire. I ask myself how I picture myself at my ultimate best state — this includes perfect physical, mental and emotional health and wellness. Those are my guidelines for setting intentions. From that space, I am able to create a vision for the year ahead. When I know how I want to feel, I can make positive changes to bring me closer to that ultimate state. (That is also how I know that snacking between meals and eating late in the evening are, for me, a recipe for indigestion.)

Year after year, I continue to return to the same intention that encompasses all my other goals and allows me to stay true to my ultimate vision: To be the best version of myself, every day. 

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Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What are your intentions for the year ahead? Do you follow certain guidelines while creating intentions? Please leave a comment below and feel free to share this blog with a friend.

Wishing you a wonderful start to 2016!

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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

 

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Here we are, at the end of September, and it feels like autumn has truly arrived. I am reminded of everything I admire about this vibrant, intriguing, fleeting season. The crisp, cooler, shorter days whisper quiet hints to us as the sunshine beckons outside to enjoy the earthy, damp smell of the beautiful leaves. And after a delicious morning spent in an apple orchard, picking favourite varieties and those of which we’ve never heard before, we are grateful to return to tend to the hearth. Autumn inspires me to decorate our home with bright gourds and leaves that we collect on a hike in the nearby forest, then dry to flat perfection between the pages of a favourite book in preparation for making garlands and various abstract ikebana creations.

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The hazy, humid, air-conditioned days have made way for the in-between season. It’s not chilly enough for the fireplace, but I feel a tingle of excitement when I open the drawer containing my knitted accessories. Soon. Soon, my feet will luxuriate in the softness of the funky bright-coloured wool socks I enjoyed knitting in the warmer months. I will slip into them upon returning home in the evening, wrap myself in blankets after Wanderlust Juniors will have gone to bed, and spend a lovely date with myself on the living room sofa, drinking tea while journeying through the Scottish Highlands or North Carolina (I’m continuing to breeze through the Outlander books and am currently reading book No. 5 in the series).

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The late summer harvest Ratatouille was delicious. Now is the time for deep-dish apple crumble, apple cake, and cranberry-apple pie that I will serve to friends and family when entertaining. Butternut squash has returned to our kitchen as a guest of honour featured in soups, risotto, and pizza. Pumpkin spice muffins are a weekly menu staple. Having grown up in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, pumpkin was not featured on my list of autumn favourites, but once I discovered its beauty, in my mid-20s, I learned to appreciate autumn even more than I ever before thought possible. It just wouldn’t be the same without the pumpkin, the squash, and the gourds. It also wouldn’t be the same without the rainy days, and apples, the cranberries, the soft scarves, hats, mittens and socks hand-knit by a loved one. It wouldn’t be the same without the memories that transport us back to the autumns of our childhood. Never am I more aware of the fleeting nature of time than during the bright and joyful and the rainy and cool days of October.

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Is the world rushing someplace, or is it that we need to slow down our own pace? May we harness our favourite moments of Autumns past and direct the nostalgia toward the creation of new memories.

What is on your list of autumn favourites? Please leave a comment below.

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I have been thinking about my grandmother after sending a birthday card to her a few weeks ago. She and I are separated by an ocean and several countries on both sides of the body of water. We do sometimes chat briefly on Skype, but my favourite method of communication with my grandmother is via beautiful stationery and pens. Letter-writing is a magical ritual for me, one that I started practising in childhood. The tips of my fingers buzz with excitement when I pick up from my mailbox not a stack of bills or ads that waste paper, but a handwritten letter from someone I love. My eyes light up at the treasure I am so fortunate to have received. Sometimes, in those letters, my grandmother, in the famous health-conscious and orderly Virgo fashion that I admire, includes a clipping from a Russian newspaper: an article that discusses health issues and provides practical tips. Sometimes, she includes notes in the margins. Most often she writes, “Please pass this along to your parents.”

Babushka has always cooked healthy and delicious meals for us from scratch, always using the full ingredient, never generating more waste than absolutely necessary. When making her famous meat pies, she reserves the bones for broth. She has also always been a fitness role model for me, finding any excuse to move, whether going for a jog, cross-country skiing, or simply dancing about the living room while polishing the hardwood floors with a rag under her slippers (oh yes!) She is most awesome.

Rather than following the modern-day version of a healthy lifestyle that revolves around fads such as juicing, fasting, and restricting ourselves in one way or another, I have learned from my grandmother that diet and exercise trends come and go, and instead of adhering strictly to a specific regimen, we must re-evaluate and redefine our own meaning of a healthy lifestyle.

Last weekend, on a rainy, windy afternoon, while nursing an annual cold that somehow sneaks up on me in September, I felt inspired by the autumnal mood to browse my wardrobe of cozy knit sweaters and contemplate a pair of new riding boots to replace a pair that I wore loyally for five years until they no longer looked presentable. That’s not all I contemplated. While considering the clothes that suit me best, based on my current style, I also reflected on the importance of taking inventory of our health priorities. Autumn reminds me to bring the focus back to my non-negotiables, asking myself, “What does being healthy mean to me?”

Here is the current list of my health non-negotiables:

Sleep: I need seven to eight hours of sleep at night. I can sometimes get away with six hours of sleep, but if I miss out for two or more nights in a row, I quickly become irritable and end up unsuccessfully fighting unhealthy food cravings.

Movement: I love my daily 5 a.m. wake-up routine that includes hot water with lemon, followed by cardio or weights, then yoga. This regimen allows me to set a positive tone for the day. Some mornings are gentle for me and at times, I spend 30 minutes in restorative poses. From time to time, I sleep in and squeeze in just 10 minutes of yoga later in the day. The key is to follow one’s intuition. On most mornings, my intuition tells me to get up and get moving because it provides me with an energy burst that carries me through the day.

Cuddles: Cuddling with my children is mandatory, particularly when it’s the last thing on my seemingly never-ending ‘to do’ list. I sometimes fall asleep in one of my children’s beds, too exhausted to fight sleep. I find the same ‘to do’ list waiting for me the following morning, when I’m better able to discern the real priorities on that list, allowing certain other items to marinate for the time being.

Nutrition: I know that certain fats, processed sugar, and other substances are not healthy. I avoid certain additives at all costs. Yet, I no longer make a big deal over a bit of processed sugar added to home-baked goods, or the creme brulee I enjoy twice a year. Although I am most certainly an abstainer, I do make exceptions for dessert on special occasions. As I delve deeper into my self-learning process, I have been avoiding snacking because I find that I feel better when I eat three solid, wholesome, nutrient-packed meals on a daily basis. Intuition has become my best buddy.

Smiles and Laughter: When I feel tired, the corners of my mouth refuse to turn up. All the tiny muscles in my face feel cynical, sneering at everyone and everything around me. On those days, I force myself to smile and witness my energy change. Then, I remind myself to get to bed early that night, even if it means falling asleep with my children while rubbing their backs. And truly, that’s one of the sweetest, most calming methods of relaxation and meditation.

That’s my recipe for today, in honour of my Babushka: sleep + nutrition + movement + cuddles + smiles and laughter. The execution of this intricate balancing act is not always simple, but we can always do our best.

What is on your list of health and wellness non-negotiables?

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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?

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After our indoor skydiving experience, Mr. Wanderlust and I had the rest of the day wide-open before us. We had previously arranged for the children to stay with Pawel’s parents for several days, to the boys’ delight. The afternoon was full of possibility.

Although we sometimes go out on dates in the evenings or for a few hours in the middle of the day, it’s highly unusual for us to have a full day to spend at leisure. When we first started dating, we used to spend an entire afternoon wandering around the city. A bit of an insider story for Torontonians: we once started our walking journey near Yonge and Sheppard, turned west at Yonge and Bloor, and continued walking all the way to Keele Station. That’s approximately 17 km, or a three-hour walk, but we didn’t notice the passing of the time. We share a passion for touring cities by foot, and being tourists in our own city can be surprisingly fun!

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So, what were we to do at 2 p.m. on this beautiful, sweltering afternoon?

“Let’s go to the Burlington waterfront,” I suggested, and we did.

Following a wholesome lunch at a vegan restaurant, the beach was calling to us. I felt the need to take off my shoes and ground myself after hovering in a wind tunnel.

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One of my favourite pictures, taken by Mr. Wanderlust last weekend.

Our beach afternoon turned into a Lakeshore Blvd.-cruising, beach-hopping adventure. After we left Burlington, Pawel felt the Oakville pier calling to him as we drove past the marina. He careened the car into a side street and after finding the perfect parking spot close to a children’s playground, we went off to enjoy yet another beach, upon which I found a remarkable treasure.

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My friend Sheniz, whom I have actually never met in person (see: we took an online writing course and have remained in touch), had been on that beach a week earlier, where she used driftwood to create a ‘nest’ for oval-shaped rocks, the likes of which lay abundantly beneath and around the spot where I stood gazing down at the inspiration that surrounded me. On many of the rocks around the nest were written, in dark marker, inspirational quotes, some of which hold special meaning for me. My eye kept following the rocks as I bent down, and finally, my gaze froze upon a rock on which was written Sheniz’s name and information about the nest she built. Given that I had never met Sheniz in person but continue to follow her beautiful adventures on social media, and considering that I had never before visited this particular beach, the magic of the experience was palpable. I thanked Pawel for following his intuition to explore the pier, allowing serendipity to find its way to us.

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What followed next was a drive across the city to Ashbridges Bay, in the east end of Toronto — one of our favourite spots. We enjoyed a takeout dinner on the boardwalk and climbed the rocks by the water for a spectacular view of the pink-and-orange playful sparkle of the setting sun on the almost-still water. A peaceful ending to a day that we seized firmly, enjoying the ride, recreating a new version of an old favourite experience of touring with spontaneity and complete abandon, allowing ourselves to simply be there, enjoying the moment, the views, the sand beneath our toes, the cooling water, and each other’s company.

Inspiring, serendipitous experiences happen when we give ourselves permission to fully enjoy the moment, letting go of our responsibilities, of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts,’ if even for a short time. We must allow ourselves the time to experience nature, to have adventures, to create new memories. And we must remember to do it as soon as it’s possible for us. We must make the time for it. Too often, I feel a spark of inspiration to do something unusual, something enjoyable, something that someone else has recently done to which I feel a strong pull. Then, I stop myself at, “Maybe someday…” When I arrive at Someday, I inevitably forget why I wished to do what I wished to do. I forget about the spark of inspiration, the excitement I felt in the moment. I am reminded of the pure delight that arises from spontaneous decisions vs. carefully planned ones. So, why not make Someday happen today?

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I would love to read about your most memorable adventures. Please feel free to share your story in a comment.

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I often say I hold myself to my highest standards. To some, it might sound like I am disciplined in my approach to everything in life. For me, high standards mean living with certain rules, but making intuitive decisions.

It means that I’m:

Working to move away from rigidity, learning to soften. I create my own guidelines, and feel free to bend certain rules from time to time. Other rules are golden absolutes. Some days call for strict discipline. Other days invite me to be more playful and perhaps even somewhat rebellious.

Listening to my body, heart, and intuition, and following their lead. This is true with nutrition, exercise, and various other lifestyle choices (more on this below).

Enjoying dressing up. I particularly benefit from dressing up when it’s the last thing I feel like doing. When I think I look good, I tend to feel great.

Giving myself permission to lounge on the couch in my pajamas, reading a book. I never have a full day’s leisure to lounge, but I can always set aside an hour or so to do that. Often, it happens in the evenings, after the kids are in bed.

Giving myself permission to wear yoga leggings while running errands. I’m probably one of the very few yoga instructors who believe that yoga clothes should be saved exclusively for the yoga studio, a gym, or a festival. Yet, I feel most sexy and comfortable when I wear yoga clothes, so if I have just finished teaching or taking a class and need to run an errand, I’ll do so comfortably in my funkiest leggings.

Spending most Saturdays doing laundry, cleaning, cooking good food, etc. Then, I spend as much time as possible on Sundays doing what I want to do (in-between tending to my family, of course).

Reminding myself to be stern with the kids about making their beds, brushing their teeth, and tidying up. Then, I overlook the mess they make while we bake cupcakes in the kitchen.

Choosing to be serious and responsible when I need to be. At other times, I crank up an embarrassing song and have a wacky dance party in the living room. And sometimes, I dance on my own in my bedroom, wearing something scandalously inappropriate. I laugh loudly at myself. Then, I laugh some more.

Giving myself permission to cry if I’m having a lousy day. I don’t try to talk myself out of it. We all have lousy days when the last thing we want to hear is someone telling us to ‘snap out of it.’ When I feel overwhelmed or sad, I don’t want to snap out of it. I want to face it and deal with it. I acquiesce to whatever it is I’m feeling and I sit with it, honouring that feeling for what it is, breathing through the sometimes excruciating discomfort. Then, slowly, I watch myself get out of a funk while learning more about myself in the process, learning about what liberates me.

Sticking to a healthy, plant-based diet 80% of the time. I choose to eat intuitively, asking myself what foods serve me best at this time. Some days, I want to eat an extra square (or two) of dark chocolate and have a glass of wine. Some days, I enjoy cheese and crackers, and maybe even a slice of toast with generously spread Nutella. On other days, all I want to eat are vegan salads and to drink green smoothies.

Choosing exercise that challenges me, gets my heart rate up, makes me sweat and my muscles shake. On other days, I choose to soften with restorative yoga.

Realizing that I have been ‘Type A’ under the surface and although I don’t enjoy this shadow side, I am learning to accept it, to recognize it, and to let go of the wish to be in control. I remind myself to let go and enjoy all the spheres that life offers me.

Recognizing myself as a whole person and learning to embrace all aspects of myself. There are certain aspects of myself that I am continuing to work on improving and changing altogether, with complete honesty and compassion.

What do high standards mean to you? What are you doing to uphold them? Where do you need to learn to soften?

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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!

Last week, I wrote about my journey with this year’s spring cleanse. It has been my experience that when I mention the word ‘detox’ to some people, they ask whether I am juicing, how strict the cleanse is, and for how long I have to be on the program. My answers are no, I do not juice; my cleanse is not strict (however, as with all other programs, it requires commitment to the action plan); and I set my own time frame for the cleanse.

I can’t blame the people who ask these questions with a look on their faces that lets me know how sorry they are for me. I used to respond in that same manner before I gained the understanding that it’s possible to cleanse in a gentle way. To me, a cleanse is not a punishing process that we undergo for three days and then abandon altogether when we return to a lifestyle of relying on coffee consumption to stay awake, eating greasy foods in a hurry, and drinking alcohol several times per week.

For me, an elimination cleanse is an opportunity to remove certain substances from my diet that have a tendency to make me feel unwell and/or zap my energy. It’s an opportunity for me to tune in and notice how I feel when I eat cleaner, healthier foods. Leading up to the detox, I was already eating plant-based food 90 per cent of the time. I did not consume alcoholic drinks and did not smoke, so I was starting with a relatively clean slate. However, I wanted to eliminate a habitual craving for chocolate, caffeine, cheese, and foods containing refined sugar.

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My typical breakfast (complete with oily fingerprints on the table that accidentally got into the shot): Steel-cut oats with coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, walnuts and desiccated coconut; herbal tea.

Throughout this year’s 10-day cleanse, I was able to successfully eliminate those pesky cravings. I have been enjoying my clean plant-based (mostly) nutrition plan and chose to continue with it past the completion of the cleanse. I love the feeling of clarity and the natural boost of energy I get when I eat steel-cut oats in the morning, beautiful soup with lentils for lunch, and various salads with chickpeas, hearty greens and plenty of garlic for dinner. I have also been avoiding snacking in-between meals. Since I don’t miss the taste of cake or cookies, I don’t want to venture back down that artificial sweet path unnecessarily and then feel the need to eliminate sugar from my diet once again.

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My typical lunch: Chickpea salad with purple cabbage, red bell peppers. carrots, pickled cucumbers, and avocado, drizzled with a dressing of lemon juice, EVOO, garlic, apple cider vinegar and sea salt.

I am not strict, but I try to stay disciplined. I have started to re-introduce dark raw chocolate and caffeinated tea into my diet, because I am not entirely against those. I have made a pact with myself to set certain boundaries around tea and chocolate and respect them. Instead of drinking caffeinated tea on a daily basis, I now choose to have a cup twice a week. Instead of eating four squares of dark chocolate every day after dinner, as I used to do, I allow myself a single square of chocolate every few days. Right now, this is the right lifestyle for me.

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My typical dinner: Stirfry with carrots, broccoli, bok choy, bell peppers, cashews, tofu, and garlic. Served on a bed of brown rice and sprinkled generously with sesame seeds.

I’m truly starting to understand the importance of continuing to experiment with nutrition and learning on an ongoing basis. It really is a lifelong journey. The way I ate five years ago no longer serves me. The way I eat now might not be right for me several months from today. Nothing is static. We continue to change. Our bodies continue to change. We have to honour ourselves and meet ourselves where we are today. There is no golden rule that everyone must follow when it comes to healthy nutrition. The only guideline I would recommend is to be kind to ourselves and to trust the intuitive feeling to guide us along the right path for us at this time. Focus on what is working today, stay present, continue to pay close attention to the fluctuations as they happen, and make the necessary adjustments.

How do you make decisions about healthy nutrition? Do you tend to read books or magazine articles on nutrition? Has your nutrition plan remained the same throughout your life, or has it changed? What were the catalysts for those changes?

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I woke up a bit later than usual this morning, at 5:30, and watched the fiery sun rising over the rooftops of the houses across the street as I sipped my warm lemon water. I love the meditative quality of a quiet sunrise in a still-asleep household where the only ones awake are the cats and I. That is precisely what keeps me coming back to this routine. In the spring and summer months, when the sun rises earlier, it’s easier for me to connect to this motivation as I rise to greet the sun. And so, as I sat at my kitchen table, reflecting on my enjoyment of the morning sunrise routine, it suddenly dawned on me (pun absolutely intended) that today is the last day of April. The year is zooming by.

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Here are a few of my highlight lessons from the month of April:

  1. No Drama!

Last week, as I was returning home from a business trip, I was held back at airport security when the metal detector wand beeped many times during a routine scan. If you’re like me, you might start to feel nervous when dealing with security and having to go through an extra scan of any type. I immediately started to feel as though I had done something wrong, knowing all the while that it simply was not so. My mind started to race, thinking of the myriad absurd reasons why the detector would beep around me. Then, I reminded myself to drop all those thoughts. I took a deep breath, mentally told my mind to shut up, and with a smile, approached the scanner machine. The female officer who guided me through the scan turned out to be very nice and had a fantastic sense of humour, making hilarious comments that may have sounded inappropriate to some but made me giggle and quickly soothed my nerves. I still do not know why the metal detector went off, but instead of creating drama out of the situation, I laughed it off and proceeded to Starbucks near my boarding gate, where I bought myself a grande mint tea and relaxed until my flight.

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Drama starts in our minds when we allow ourselves to overthink, to worry. When we consciously choose to drop the negative thoughts, the result will be a non-event. That’s right. Nothing particular will happen. Why? Because we will not allow ourselves to process what is happening. Instead, by going through the situation with Presence and Grace, breathing deeply and simply acknowledging what is happening right here in this moment, we allow ourselves to simply experience and stay open to whatever comes next. That experience is liberating. Imagine staying so open to any experience that it almost feels as though you are moving through a dream, just watching life happen to you, with curiosity, without trying to control it. We are naturally drawn to the desire to want to be in control of most situations, but when dealing with a challenging scenario, I find that what works best for me is to let go of trying to change the situation. In fact, I find it takes less energy to pray and trust that I am always going to be okay than it does to try to fight, to argue. As the saying goes, “Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not, it’s not the end.”

  1. Balance Lessons

I am continuing to work on my handstand, feeling more confident with each practice. There are days when I feel a bit low on energy or simply not interested in working too hard. On those days, I fall out of the inversion. Instead of persevering and continuing to force myself into the pose, I move on to a gentler practice. My yoga practice is starting to resemble my life off the mat, and my life off the mat is very much reflected in my yoga practice. I love the sense of expansive freedom I feel each time I follow my intuition and allow it to guide me to move the way I need to move on any given day. I used to be very rigid in my approach to exercise. Recently, I kicked all those old, non-serving rules to the curb. Some days call for a sweaty kickboxing workout and a vigorous Vinyasa flow. On other days, my mat, bolsters, blankets and a lavender-scented flax eye pillow summon me over for a soothing restorative practice. No guilt. No regrets. No counting calories. Just listening to my intuition and going with the flow. That’s my balance.

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  1. Detox Wonders

In addition to my digital detox, about which I wrote recently, for the past week, I have been going through my own version of a spring detox. I try to follow an Ayurvedic detox framework, so no strict juice cleanses for me! Instead, I design my own program that works for me at this time. I will reveal my main reason for undergoing this detox: My goal is to bring my adrenals and hormones into a healthier balance. I am a very private person and my health is usually not a subject that I discuss openly in this manner. However, the reason I am sharing my story is because I believe many women in our society are dealing with similar issues.

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Prior to my detox, I was dependant on caffeine to allow me to get through the day. I didn’t get enough sleep at night, then had to deal with fatigue and cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. I felt sluggish and tired all the time. I kept borrowing my energy from caffeine, sugar and carbs, but then ended up dealing with terrible PMS symptoms every month. I got plenty of exercise every morning, but my eating habits needed some tweaking.

On my detox plan, I have not been eating meat or dairy (I already follow a mostly plant-based diet, for health reasons, so I don’t miss meat, seafood and dairy at all), sugar, and caffeine. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to quickly become dependent on sugar and caffeine. I recently discovered that I do function best by abstaining from those substances altogether, instead of trying to moderate my consumption. So, I thought that the detox would be the best time to test that theory. My first four days without coffee were challenging, because I had a dull withdrawal headache through the entire day. However, I noticed that at that time, I did not miss the taste of coffee, nor did I crave chocolate as I normally do. I did have a small piece of my sister-in-law’s birthday cake on the second day of the detox. Birthday cake is considered to be an almost sacred ritual and we all know we have to have at least a small slice. Right? I still have to figure out how to navigate the birthday cake etiquette in the future. If you have any tips, I’d love to read them.

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Now, on Day 7 of my detox, I am feeling fantastic. I have been making a commitment to be in bed before 9 p.m. every night in order to get my eight hours of sleep. I no longer miss sugar or caffeine, though I miss the idea of drinking coffee as a social ritual and I sometimes miss the idea of crème brûlée , my favourite dessert. My energy has been soaring. I have been enjoying this new routine so much that I intend keep it for as long as possible. Thankfully, because my diet was already relatively ‘clean’ prior to starting the detox, I didn’t have to change too many of my eating habits. The way I eat now is the way I used to eat before, without heeding to unhealthy cravings. If you want to learn more about my detox, let me know and I will dedicate a new post to it.

  1. When In Doubt, Go Outside!

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Now that the days are warmer in Ontario, we have been trying to spend as much time outside as possible. This is the perfect time of year to ground ourselves and reconnect to the Earth by going out for walks, sitting near trees (tree hugging works wonders), and maybe even spreading a picnic blanket and eating lunch outside on the lawn. Last weekend, we did some horseback riding, thanks to my sister-in-law and her beautiful horse, Wave.

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Pawel spent half a day doing some volunteer work by planting trees at a local conservation area. After-dinner walks are also a welcome ritual to which we have been returning. So, go outside, reconnect and recharge!

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I’ll stop here. If you would like to learn more about my detox or if you have any other comments, please leave them below. Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!