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One of my favourite months of the year is at its conclusion, making way for my birthday month. I think it’s because I was born under the dynamic, dramatic Leo sign that I still get silly-excited about the approach of my birthday. I don’t usually plan any extravagant celebrations, preferring instead to spend the day with my family. I look upon birthdays as the start of a new personal year, with new possibilities and potential.

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July is another exciting month, with two personal reasons for celebration: our anniversary and our eldest son’s birthday. Over the past month, I have explored my idea of balance at work and at home and revisited my manifesto of personal high standards.

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I nudged myself out of my comfort zone and humbly (and literally) fell before my old foe: Fear. My first indoor skydiving experience reminded me to treat myself with compassion and befriend that shadow self, allowing myself to re-frame my experience and pave a more positive road into future stories.

With the help of my children, I reconnected with my own inner child through colouring books on a rainy day. Rainy days always inspire me, transporting me back into my childhood and bringing with them cozy memories of overcast days that warmed my heart.

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And of course, we took advantage of the beautiful summer sunshine and enjoyed the beach, leading into a serendipitous beach-hopping and treasure-finding journey.

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To celebrate the start of August, we are headed back to the beach.

What are your highlights from the month of July? I hope you’re enjoying a great season, whether you’re soaking in the summer sunshine or cozying up to the cooler winter weather in the southern hemisphere.

You can connect with us on our journey by signing up to our newsletter (on the right-hand side of this page). I would also love for you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tsu in-between blog editions.

Whoosh! Almost six months have flown since the start of 2015. If you’re like me, you might enjoy taking inventory at the start, the end of the year, its midway point, and on your birthday. The past Sunday’s Summer Solstice marks the year’s midway point, so here is a brief update on what we have been into:

Running

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I never thought I would enjoy running. Several years ago, I decided to embark on a training schedule akin to a typical 0 to 5K program. However, I quickly became bored, experienced joint issues, and probably came up with myriad other excuses that I can no longer recall. This summer, however, I found that I was becoming bored with my indoor HIIT cardio. I wanted to start moving out of doors, in the fresh air. I felt called to explore various routes in our neighbourhood. I have been spending the majority of my days in an office and have not had a chance to take daily walks with my kids to and from school. I miss being outside.

I’m still at the point of training that requires me to alternate running with walking, gradually increasing my running time, but I must say that I have fallen in love with running. Some days feel more challenging than others, but I am excited at the prospect of maybe, possibly, one day soon becoming a dedicated runner. Summer is a perfect time to reconnect to our passions and to try something new, like running. It’s still out of my comfort zone but continues to become increasingly familiar.

Reading

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Image courtesy of Starz.

At the recommendation of a good friend who knows all about my admiration of all-things Celtic (as in Ireland and Scotland, fairies, the Highlands, folk music, etc.), for Mother’s Day in May, Mr. Wanderlust gave me a box of the first four books of the Outlander series. I know the books may be dubbed literary candy, but I am shamelessly obsessed with the story and its characters. I am in awe of Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant character development and have joined the millions of readers who can’t get enough of the story of Jamie and Claire. I wrote recently that I do not watch television, making an exception for the rare good movie or short TV series. Having heard incredible reviews of the Outlander TV series, I borrowed the BluRay first half of the first season from my friend. Mr. Wanderlust was coaxed into watching the first two episodes of the show with me, after which he also was hooked. And now we both want to learn Gaelic. Maybe that’s a future project.

Writing

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Toasting marshmallows by the fire in the backyard. A summer favourite.

The memoir writing continues. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me last week with words of advice, as well as the reminder that there are others who second-guess their writing motives and plans. For now, I have decided to stop overthinking. I’m following my heart and curiously watching the story unfold from the tips of my fingers.

Knitting

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I am working on this delicious pair of watermelon-patterned socks, using Zauberwolle. Some knitters take a break from working with wool in the summer, but I’m not one of them. Besides, look at these colours! Do they not whisper ‘SUMMER’, in a giggly sing-song voice? Thus far, the summer weather in the Toronto area has been warm and breezy, and I happily spend my evenings with this yummy project.

Celtic Harp

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This picture is not recent, but we like it.

I’m currently learning to play Scotland the Brave. My favourite place to play in the summer is on our back patio. The wind carries the notes with it through the trees and I feel I can serenade along with the birds. Running and yoga at 5:30 a.m. provide me with the right jolt of energy, but reading, knitting and playing the Celtic harp allow me to slow down at 8 p.m.

Woodworking

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Double-dyed stabilized maple burl. We think it’s gorgeous.

Mr. Wanderlust has been at work on new goodies, to be revealed soon. He has also been experimenting with a laser etcher, which translates into wonderful possibilities.

Article Recommendation

I will leave you with this article: No Guilt Allowed! Why Parents Need Time for Themselves. As a working parent, I often find it challenging to be away from my children for long hours on weekdays. However, having also been a stay-at-home parent, I know how exhausting that role can be for an introvert. As an INFP, I cherish my quiet time, my alone time. With two very spirited young boys, that quiet time is often tough to come by. The noises at work tend of very different nature from the ones I hear at home. Both present their challenges and both leave me with the need to spend some time, every evening, alone, unwinding from the day that has passed. And that is why I make the time for reading, crafting, or playing a musical instrument. That’s why Pawel makes the time for woodworking. When we feel calmer, recharged and relaxed, we are better people, better parents.

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Your turn! What have you been reading, crafting, playing, learning, or exploring? Are you an introvert parent? How do you make time for yourself? 

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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?

If you are enjoying this blog on mindful nutrition and lifestyle, please share it with a friend.

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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!

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“What are the reasons for practising handstand?” the instructor asked on Saturday from the front of the spacious conference room at the Toronto Yoga Conference. Among the many answers provided, two reasons stood out for me:

To confront our fear of being upside down.

To allow ourselves to grow by meeting and coming closer to overcoming challenges.

We were asked to choose a partner with whom we would spend the next two hours practising the techniques to would lead us closer to moving into handstand away from the wall. Throughout that time, while practising my own handstand and learning by watching the man with whom I was partnered, as well as other yogis in the room, I was reminded of several interesting points:

When I allow myself to be intimidated, or when I feel physically fatigued, my form and technique suffer. When I follow the technical points closely and take my time to stay centred and calm, I move more gracefully and am able to float into a pose with ease. The opposite is true when I rush.

Courage inspires exhilarating growth, leading us into wisdom.

Inversions are fun. That is why I enjoy playing with handstand and forearm balance. However, inversions require Presence. The constant attention is necessary to keep the balance. If, for just a split second, we allow ourselves to become distracted or allow ourselves to think of how hard we are working to stay balancing upside-down, we immediately start to wobble.

Life is a careful balance between work and play, hopefully at the same time! And that is what keeps me coming back to the mat.

I am reminded every day of why I continue to practise. The subtle lessons I learn about myself on the mat provide me with countless opportunities to see myself with honesty as I examine my approach to life. When I approach my practice from a mindset focused entirely on hard work, I end up struggling. If, however, I remain confident and move with ease, my breath and body move with the same ease and grace.

When I remind myself to move from a place of Mindfulness, to approach every event with Presence, allowing life to unfold and intuitively choosing each response, the pieces of the puzzle settle naturally into the correct places. Moving with ease and mindfulness in life does not mean that I stop working; it doesn’t mean I simply sit there and life takes care of itself. The opposite is true: I am able to get more done when I remind myself to be present. I feel more joy when I am present.

When we start to feel all the pieces of life become scattered, when we allow ourselves to feel overwhelmed, we can always remind ourselves to simply be with what is. To me, this is the equivalent of facing our fear of being turned upside down. If we don’t feel grounded through our feet, we can press more firmly through the hands that are touching the earth. In any inversion in yoga, we are reminded to press down and aim higher while staying strong through the core and the centre of gravity. We can always work with what is happening to us, provided that we remember to stay present.

By meeting these challenges head-on, we allow ourselves to grow and become stronger. Perhaps, one day, these challenges will not feel as big and scary. For a beginner yoga practitioner, to hold tree pose for 5-10 breaths might feel like an enormous challenge. Yet, after we have been practising for a while, tree pose feels easy, so we move on to more advanced poses to keep us curious.

I used to think of stress as scary. I still sometimes just want to hide away in my comfort zone to avoid doing anything unusual. Yet, the times when I allow myself to stretch out of my shell and tread into deeper waters are also the times when I open myself up to new enlightening experiences.

Growth can be scary. Even the idea of success can be scary, because we tend to resist any change, whether we perceive it as positive or negative. At the end of the day, it enriches our experience. Balance in life doesn’t mean that everything stops moving and we spend our entire days in stillness and peace. Stillness and peace come from within as we continue to learn to negotiate and adapt to fluctuations.

So, I’m inviting myself to play with balance and keep my Savasana face on at all times, even when — especially when — I start to notice the pieces of the puzzle start to come apart. I know that everything will settle into its rightful place, as long as we continue to approach life with curiosity, love, courage and grace.

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How do you approach the idea of balance in your life? Feel free to leave us a comment to share your experience.

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

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“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present, and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.” – Audrey Hepburn

Sometimes, we just need a nap. A long nap. A very, very long nap. Here’s a story about a tired holiday weekend, and the lessons of which I have been reminded.

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I was looking forward to the Easter long weekend and the many plans to spend three beautiful days with our family. On Thursday night, after a four-day work week that felt longer than the usual five-day week, I felt blissfully tired and headed to bed earlier. I was fully expecting to wake up at 5 a.m. to start the day with a gentle yoga practice and a meditation session while welcoming the sunrise. Instead, on Friday morning, I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock several times before realizing I felt utterly exhausted. I turned off the alarm clock and chose, instead, to pay off the big sleep debt I accumulated earlier in the week while staying up for a few nights to take care of our younger child who was sick with a stomach bug.

I woke up at 9:30 (very unusual for me) to see the sun streaming in through the window. Yet, my brain felt foggy even after I drank an extra cup of strong coffee with almond milk. Had I overslept? Too much of a good thing isn’t helpful, either. The day was glorious and the sun felt warm. We shed our jackets and went for a walk around the neighbourhood, wearing only our sweaters! However, the walk wasn’t as relaxing as we had hoped it would be. Our younger son, having just gotten over the stomach bug, was now fighting a sinus cold. Exhausted and ready for a nap, he felt uncomfortable and kept whining, finally laying down on the sidewalk and refusing to walk any farther. I wasn’t the only one dealing with brain fog. The fuzziness continued into Saturday and Sunday during a roadtrip to visit our family. By this point, the weather went from sunny 14C on Friday to snow and 2C on Sunday. Once again, I slept in until 9:30 and woke up feeling not only tired but also with a sore throat. By this point, our youngest child had a runny nose, and I knew I was headed toward the same outcome. Suffice it to say that I was not a lively conversationalist during Easter brunch at my in-laws’.

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Our plans for a lively, fun weekend didn’t work out the way we had hoped they would. I’m still dealing with sleep debt and had a difficult time getting up on Monday to prepare for the new work week. I haven’t stepped on my yoga mat in the past four days, and now I have come down with a cold.

But I’m not writing this to whine.

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Despite the exhaustion, despite the strange (and somewhat depressing) weather patterns, despite the busy pace, I am grateful. I am grateful for another weekend spent with our loved ones. I am grateful for good food. For strong coffee. For cuddles with my favourite people. For warm hospitality. For Easter chocolate. I am grateful for a small window of time, thanks to my parents’ offer to babysit, when Pawel and I were able to head out on Saturday night to the book store once the kids were quietly snuggled in bed together. I am grateful for the ever-growing stack of books by my bedside. I am grateful for hot tea to soothe a sore throat. I am grateful for the beautiful warm, sunny days and the promise of spring. I’m also grateful for snow and rain, because chilly grey days remind us to slow down and take better care of ourselves. I am grateful for events that don’t work out as planned. I am grateful for the reminder to make the most of every day, to enjoy it all to the maximum, even when gratitude is the last sense I want to cultivate.

Here’s to a fantastic week! Let’s make the most of it, every day!

Are you enjoying this blog? Share it with a friend via email or your favourite social media platform!

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What I have been reading:

What Compassion Looks Like: The Lesson of the Flowers  – a brilliant article by Karen Maezen-Miller. I keep picking up her book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood, whenever I need advice. I first read this book when my firstborn was only two months old. My copy of the book is dog-eared and underlined.

When I Married My Mother  by Jo Maeder. A memoir of a woman caring for her aging, ill mother.

Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers. This book has been on my ‘To Read’ list for the past few years, since I attended an incredible workshop led by Sarah Powers. I’m happy to have finally acquired it.

Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. I read and loved Rubin’s The Happiness Project  and had to get my hands on her latest publication. By the way, I still have Happier at Home: The Days are Long but the Years are Short on my ‘To Read’ list. I think I will pick it up after I finish Better than Before.

Photo By Joshua Earle

Photo courtesy of https://unsplash.com/

On a Monday evening, I arrived at home from work and, after changing into my pajamas, was about to head downstairs to start preparing dinner. First, however, I thought I would check my email. In my email inbox were 20 new ads from various retailers, quietly shouting at me about their latest promotions. Since I was already at my computer and remembered that I was expecting a reply from a friend via a private message on Facebook, I opened a new tab in my browser only to see that not one private message but 50 notifications were awaiting my attention. Fifty?! I shut the lid of my laptop and took a deep breath, exhaling to release the feelings of overwhelm.

When I returned to my social media accounts later, I took a proverbial step back to look at what, exactly, was taking up space on my feed. Pictures of food. News about a celebrity who deliberately tried to embarrass herself in public. Articles about why a Paleo diet is the best thing we can embrace. Articles about why sugar is terrible for us. Articles about loving ourselves as we are today. Articles about why too much meat is unhealthy; about why certain types of fat are good; about why a juice cleanse is not for everyone. Articles about free-range parenting, a controversial topic that sparks angry debates. Memes about breastfeeding in public, shaming the opponents. Articles about why the yoga selfie phenomenon has gotten old. Articles about why the yoga selfie trend is inspiring.

That is the information of which I made note within the five minutes I allotted myself for checking social media before sitting down to work on my writing. I did not click on any of the above articles, nor did I comment or click ‘like’ on any of the pictures and status updates I saw. Yet, I was feeling – frankly – exhausted after merely skimming through all the information. Enough.

When I told Pawel I was thinking about taking a long break from Facebook, he asked me why it bothers me as much as it does. I know I tend to engage deeply with a lot of information, and I am the first to admit that after reading several articles with conflicting information, I feel the need to take a long nap. This social media exhaustion, as I have come to term it, can take a toll on my energy level.

I realize, also, how counterintuitive this may sound to those of you who may have found this blog post through one of our social media outlets. Pawel and I appreciate each reader of this blog. For that reason, if you wish, I invite you to subscribe to receive the updates from this blog in your email inbox once a week (sometimes twice).

I am making space, simplifying my life, directing my energy where it is truly needed most. I am stepping back and choosing to create less noise. I am choosing to ignore the noise. This is part of my practice of mindfulness in the age of social media.

We will continue to log in to update our Instagram, Twitter, tsu, Pinterest and Facebook account once a week to share our blog with you. Pawel will continue to manage our accounts at this time. And of course, we always enjoy connecting with you. Please feel free to leave a comment or email us directly through our website.

In the meantime, here’s a spring-themed recipe for a raw plant-based lemon tart that we whipped up last weekend within about 25 minutes. The original recipe is from Wholefood Simply, which is one of our favourite blogs. However, I modified it slightly and below is my version of the tart. Enjoy!

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Raw Plant-Based Lemon Tart

Ingredients:

Crust:

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

½ cup walnuts

9 pitted dates

1-2 tbsp coconut cream (from full-fat canned coconut milk that has been refrigerated for at least eight hours)

A pinch of salt

½ tsp natural vanilla extract

Filling:

1 cup raw cashews

1 cup walnuts

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Zest and juice from 2 lemons

¼ cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut cream (see above)

Pinch of salt

Preparation method:

  1. Place all the ingredients for the crust in a food processor and pulse for about 2 minutes, until the ingredients start to come together, forming a ball.
  2. With your hands lightly moistened, press the crust into a greased non-stick tart form.
  3. Place all the ingredients for the filling in the food processor and pulse until creamy and well-integrated.
  4. Fill the crust, using a spatula to spread the contents evenly.
  5. Decorate with thin lemon slices, if you wish.
  6. Place in the fridge for a few hours to allow the tart to set. You may also overwrap the tart with foil and plastic wrap and freeze it, if desired.

Enjoy!

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We needed to take some time to adjust to a new change in our household. After a blogging hiatus, we’re back and ready to share more of our adventures and ideas with you. To our loyal readers, thank you for your continuing support. And if you’re new to our site, welcome! We hope you will enjoy its content and will share it with your friends.

My older son and I were sitting at a local coffee and doughnut shop yesterday in the evening after dinner, enjoying a mini escape from the house, a mom-and-son date. While I waited for my mint tea to chill, I watched my son and answered his questions about the various signs he kept noticing in the small shop, advertising sandwich combos, a new roast, and free WiFi (“What is WiFi, Mommy?”). He was sipping his hot chocolate, slowly at first, until he started to take bigger slurps and finally finished it before reaching for his double chocolate doughnut. Like me, my son has a sweet tooth. I have often wondered whether in our family, we all have a sweet tooth gene that continues to be passed on from generation to generation. When I started to introduce my son to ‘real’ foods as a baby, I offered him pureed beans alongside pureed yams. Guess which one he relished, seated in his high chair with a smile full of sweet-tasting orange-coloured happiness. The other vegetable was promptly spat out, as soon as the BPA-free teaspoon touched his lips.

As a student of Mindfulness, I have a profound interest in how we can utilize Mindfulness practices to change negative habits into lasting positive ones. Particularly, I have been applying the practice to my personal eating patterns by observing my emotions and thoughts during stressful/challenging times, noticing the foods I crave during those times: anything made with sugar.

I am also a fan of Gretchen Rubin’s work, the author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. Her new book, Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, to be released on March 17th, explores the science behind habit-forming behaviour. Visiting Rubin’s website, I came across this quiz and as I read the post, I had to pause to listen to the ‘ding ding ding’ sound coming closer toward me from a distance.

It turns out that some people are natural moderators while others are abstainers. As much as I don’t enjoy labels, what this means is that for some people, like me, it’s easier to give up sugar cold-turkey and after struggling through the initial 14 days or so, to abstain from sugar altogether. Others more easily take the approach that ‘life is too short to miss out on treats,’ and are able to stop eating dessert after the first two bites. Rubin mentions yet another fascinating fact, that moderators often try – unsuccessfully – to turn into abstainers, and abstainers – again, unsuccessfully – attempt to become moderators.

This information provides a different perspective for my practice. It also leads me to wonder whether, perhaps, Mindfulness practices that relate to food consumption come more easily to people who are naturally better at moderating. On the other hand, a daily seated or walking mindfulness meditation practice might come more easily to a person who takes the ‘all or nothing’ attitude. I would assume that people who are able to effectively abstain from consuming certain foods would also be naturally better than others at repeating the same behaviour every day. I might be wrong, but to learn more, I will just have to read Rubin’s new book and continue practising.

What are your thoughts? Would you say you tend to choose the ‘all or nothing’ or the ‘you only live once, so let’s enjoy the treat’ approach? Please feel free to comment.

Are you enjoying this blog? Subscribe to receive updates, straight in your email inbox! We would also love it if you would share this blog post with a friend who might enjoy it. Thank you for your support.

I promised to teach you to knit. So, allow me to begin by sharing our first instructional knitting video in a series of three. In this week’s video, I provide you with a quick tip for choosing the perfect yarn for your first project, show you my favourite cast-on method and teach you the basic knit stitch using the Continental method of knitting. If you have any questions, please do leave a comment below.

In the second video, to be released on Oct. 17th, I will show you the purl stitch, the lovely sister of the knit stitch. In the first video of the series, to be released on Oct. 24th, I will show you a few variations with the knit and purl stitches, to allow you to play and practice, and teach you how to cast off your first project. To be the first to receive an update in your email inbox as soon as the video is released, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Over the past weekend, unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to spend much time on my knitting projects. That was the case for a couple of reasons: (1) Thanksgiving dinner and (2) preparing for an upcoming craft show.

We hosted Thanksgiving this year. Usually, Pawel’s parents host the dinner at their home, but I decided to take on the pleasure this year. I realized this weekend that it was a good decision, as our younger child was feeling under the weather and we wanted to stay close to home, instead of having to drive for 45 minutes there and back.

In any case, our family in Canada is small, and since my parents had a prior commitment and my sister celebrated Thanksgiving with her partner’s family, it was just the four of us, Pawel’s parents, and Pawel’s sister.

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We had a lovely dinner for seven people, if I do say so myself. 😉 Here are the photos of the dishes I prepared:

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Butternut squash, pumpkin and cranberry soup. The cranberries were an intuitive last-minute addition to the soup and I must say, the tart fresh cranberries mingled well with the sweet taste of the pumpkin and squash.

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Field greens salad with apples and fennel, with a dressing that I whipped up intuitively. The secret ingredient was raw honey.

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Roasted harvest vegetables.

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Roasted brussel sprouts. These are a favourite of mine and I could eat them as a snack anyday! If you have never tried roasting brussel sprouts, simply toss washed and halved brussel sprouts (with the core trimmed and the outer leaves removed) with EVOO or coconut oil and sea salt. Spread them evenly on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 400F, turning them once after the first 15 minutes. If you are a fan of kale chips, you will probably like this dish.

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Slow-cooked lamb roast with cranberry sauce on the side. My mother-in-law always prepares turkey for Thanksgiving, and although we love it, I wasn’t in the mood for turkey this year. Lamb is a big favourite of ours and the cranberry sauce paired beautifully with it.

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And of course, apple and cranberry pie for dessert. Although I love pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, and make great pumpkin spice muffins, I have never enjoyed pumpkin pie. It’s just not my favourite. Instead, we go for apples and cranberries in this delicate flaky pastry.

You may be wondering about whether I followed my usual Ayurvedic eating and food combination rules with this meal. The answer is no, because I do believe that it’s okay to venture off our usual path every once in a while. Instead, I focused on cooking and baking with love and chose the best ingredients while allowing my intuition to guide me to play with a few flavour combinations. The result was a good one for our taste buds and for our bellies.

And now, we’re back to preparing for the Made by Hand Show, to be held next weekend in Mississauga. We will showcase several items that have never been featured on our website.

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We have new inlaid pendants for you.

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And earrings!

Come see us on Oct. 18th and 19th at booth 110.

Wishing you a great week!

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust