Today, I am grateful…

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For one more day added to the weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For countryside drives.

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

For remembering to slow down.

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

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

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

For the rewarding results of proper self-care.

For words.

For those who read these words.

For connection. It’s all about connection.

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

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

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

Here is my core office wardrobe for October-December:

–       1 pair of black leggings

–       2 pairs of boot-cut black trousers

–       1 black pencil skirt

–       1 tweed pencil skirt

–       4 ¾-length sweaters

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

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

–       1 white button-down shirt

–       1 white button-down tunic shirt

–       1 dark fabric tunic shirt

–       1 black knit tunic vest

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

–       1 long blue, open-front cardigan

–       1 black bolero open-front cardigan

–       1 beige boyfriend cardigan

–       1 beige sparkly open-front cardigan

Footwear:

–       3 pairs of flat black shoes

–       1 pair black pumps

–       1 pair black wedge pumps

–       1 pair low-heeled black boots

Outerwear:

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

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

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

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

Here are a few details to keep in mind:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

LessonsFromMyGrandmother

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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On the Tuesday after Labour Day, I logged into my Facebook account to post an update on the Dharma Wanderlust page. Although I do not typically browse my newsfeed, I had a few spare moments and decided to scroll down after seeing an adorable photo of a friend’s daughter ready for her first day of the new school year. I clicked ‘like’ and continued to scroll down, clicking ‘like’ on many similar photos of children starting kindergarten or Grade 1. I enjoy seeing updates about friends’ children. Then the realization dawned on me that of all the parents on my Facebook Friends list, Mr. Wanderlust was one of the very few who did not share a picture of our kids donning backpacks and big smiles.

We consciously choose to not share pictures of our children. In fact, if my personal Facebook account were public, to a scrolling stranger who does not know me or anything about my family status, I might look like a woman in a dating relationship. I’m a parent who occasionally blogs about her family, without sharing too much personal detail.

As part of my Mindfulness practice, I think thoroughly about the subject matter of my blog posts. After I write the first draft of a post, before I sit down to edit it, I ask myself:

Why did I write this? Why do I want to share this? Who is my audience and what might they think of this story? How would the publication of this story make me feel? More importantly, how will the publication of this story affect my family?

Social media and blogging have many merits, but they also allow certain aspects of our lives to be opened to a wider audience, inviting various opinions, whether or not we actually care about them. My children do not choose to have photos of them or stories about them shared with the world outside our home, with people they do not know.

Mr. Wanderlust and I connect with many people online via our social network pages. There are many whom we have never actually met, whom we know only through interaction via this blog or through another online community. We are not comfortable with the notion of certain people looking at pictures of our family. We are not comfortable with the idea that a friend of a friend might be reading stories about the silly things our children did when bored on a Saturday afternoon. If and when I do write a story that involves my family, I edit heavily, doing my best to discern the neutrality of the story.

Respect is the core factor. I do not share photos of my family or friends without their permission; my children are currently too young to understand the myriad implications of using social media, so the decision rests with us, their parents. Some might accuse us of being too paranoid. To some, we might look like parents who don’t focus on our children as a priority because we never write about how proud we are of their progress at school, with sports, etc. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are of the opinion that certain stories are private to us and should stay private, shared only with a select small group of people whom we truly trust and whose judgment matters to us.

When a friend who lives in the same city gives birth to a baby, I prefer the first introduction to be when I visit that friend at home, rather than through pictures posted online minutes after the baby’s entrance into this world. I have cringed many times upon reading a status update or seeing a picture that I have deemed to be too private. I have felt like a voyeur intruding on someone’s privacy by inadvertently getting a glance into that part of someone else’s life.

Several years ago, I used to share photos. Perhaps, I might have been called an over-sharer. It was my mother’s question after I posted a picture of myself rocking a pregnant belly that first prompted me to question my online presence. My mom, who spends very little time on social media, asked me why I would want to share a picture of my pregnant self when those who see me every day already know how I currently look, and those who do not see me every day probably do not need to be privy to certain updates. My mom, in her traditional worldview, reminded me of the importance of protecting what is most precious to me and mindfully creating karma. Every action is a catalyst for a reaction that we often cannot predict.

At the time when I received this advice from my mom, I was taken aback, explaining to her that I shared because I enjoyed the connection with the online community. I feel happy for others when they post their pictures and stories, and at the time, I wanted to also share my own joy with the world. My mom didn’t press further, but her words led me to re-evaluate my habits.

Today, my personal Facebook page is fairly bare, devoid of the pictures and status updates I once used to share. I might not appear very exciting, but I feel comfortable with this. These days, this blog is my connection to the online community and by writing a post only once a week, I not only provide myself with an opportunity to discern, to edit each story several times, but also to create more time to focus on what is most precious to me: my family.

What is your take on sharing photos and stories of your children on social media? What guidelines do you follow? Please leave a comment below.

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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I woke up at 7 a.m. on Sunday with a faint feeling of heaviness. Inhaling deeply, I turned to look at our two boys asleep in the middle of the bed, a halo of serenity around their faces. As my eyes rested on Mr. Wanderlust, on the opposite edge of the bed, the bitter taste of yesterday settled on my tongue once again.

 

The memories of Saturday floated back all too quickly: the standstill traffic on the highway on our way to the long-awaited dinner and show – a birthday gift for the eldest Wanderlust Junior; closed full parking lots at the location where the show was scheduled to be held, due to the Canadian National Exhibition (read: a giant end-of-summer fair that, apparently, drew ¾ of Toronto’s population to the venue this past weekend); the desperation of a heavy bladder while driving in loops around the venue; the anxiety-ridden harsh words exchanged between the two adults present in the car, in response to which one of Wanderlust Juniors covered both his ears with the palms of his hands; followed by tears that streamed from my eyes in-between forceful deep breaths.

 

After driving for 2.5 hours, having accepted that the show had started without us, we drove to a nearby beach in desperation. Walking hand-in-hand with the youngest Wanderlust Junior along the path that led to the restrooms, I gazed at the happy picnicking families on the grass.

 

“Mommy, can we have barbecue for dinner tonight?” the question’s blatant innocence pricked a sore spot in my chest as the tears stung my eyes.

 

“I’m sorry, sweetheart,” I squeezed his hand a little tighter in mine. “We were supposed to be having dinner right at this time.”

 

“Can we have a treat after dinner?” He pointed at a small ice cream stand. It’s the least I could do, attempting to make it up to my family.

 

Sitting in traffic again 15 minutes later, our bladders comfortably empty, the children joyfully licked at the chocolate-covered vanilla pre-dinner ice cream while I telephoned our favourite local pizza restaurant to place an order for pick-up.

 

“Yay! Pizza!” they exclaimed unanimously.

 

Then…

 

“But Mommy, why did we not go to Medieval Times?”

 

This time, the question came from the eldest Wanderlust Junior, in whose honour we had purchased the tickets that were now void. I attempted to explain that we left our home early, having considered possible traffic delays and allotting sufficient time for us to arrive at the venue well before the start of the show. The tension between me and Mr. Wanderlust in the driver’s seat was thick. We both tried to accept the situation. I kept repeating the old cliché, “It is what it is. There’s nothing we can do now.” Yet, I felt guilty; guilty for wasting money and time; guilty for not overestimating the time delays; guilty for disappointing my family.

 

“I’m sorry,” I kept repeating, amid tears.

 

Somewhere within, a soft, sweet voice kept whispering, Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I brushed it away. The voice of Guilt – my own and that of Mr. Wanderlust – was louder. That voice continued to haunt me through the night. It was the first sound I heard again upon waking.

 

Cautiously, awkwardly, feeling shy, Mr. Wanderlust and I met just outside our bedroom door the following morning. The silence was stifling, unbearable, leaving us without many options. I told Guilt to shut up. I took a step forward and wrapped my arms carefully around his waist. He responded in kind, drawing me closer toward him with an audible exhalation. Yesterday no longer matters, its upsets erased, the hurt and guilt replaced by something much more powerful.

 

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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We vowed to make the most of the day ahead. And we did, with a road trip resulting in plenty of time spent outdoors and a visit to a museum that included a tall ship. We returned back home at well past the children’s bedtime, feeling complete.

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Also at the museum, I just had to  have a photo with a scribe’s instruments, including a charming quill pen.

 

Door

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?

 

tracking

The idea of tracking time in order to better understand our habits is not new. I first read about it several years ago and my curiosity peaked. Time tracking is a brilliant answer to the question, “What is it that I do during the day, exactly?” Beware: the answer might not look pretty, as people who have tried tracking learned just how much time they tend to spend on social media, texting with their friends, etc. It’s an honest, in-your-face way of learning about our habits and is a great mindfulness tool. A person who spends too much time watching TV might become more aware of his time after seeing the data before him on the screen or on paper. He might choose to list all the interests for which he has been complaining that he no longer finds time, and instead of spending three hours in the evening in front of the screen, he might decide to pick up one of the books that have been piling on his desk, or go to the gym.

It’s a perfect tool for creating awareness and I was eager to get in on the incentive, to understand my own habits a big better. Normally, it’s recommended that we track our time for a minimum of seven days. However (and this is where the story takes a different turn), I stopped after one day. Here’s why:

For three years, I worked part-time from home while taking care of my children. At that time, I could have benefited from tracking. These days, I have a very structured schedule and although I do have some freedom to navigate the fluctuations that inevitably arise, my routine is, more or less, the same on weekdays. On weekends, navigating around my usual commitments and responsibilities, there is some room for adventure. I do carve out ‘me’ time on a daily basis and treasure it because that time is limited.

I suppose it’s safe to say that I started the time tracking project without any expectations but quickly realized that it’s a tool that can best benefit someone who works from home or sets his or her own hours, whose day is less formally structured. Due to my ‘9-5’ schedule, I must stay in strict awareness of my workday hours in order to meet my commitments to myself and to my family. There is an external motivator that assists me in carefully allocating my time. Setting one’s own hours requires a greater level of personal discipline, which is precisely why I have the utmost respect for entrepreneurs.

What about technology? Given that I spend the majority of my workday plugged in, I unplug as often as I can when at home with my family. Recently, my practice has been to limit my social media activity to five minutes per day. I quickly check my accounts in the morning and leave them untouched for the remainder of the day. I do not normally watch TV, but one of my favourite ‘me’ time activities is to knit while listening to an interesting podcast. This is a balance with which I am pleased at this time.

Have you ever tracked your time? Did you find any of the results surprising / unsettling? Did you find the tool useful, or perhaps your experience was, similarly to mine, somewhat anticlimactic? Please leave a comment below, and thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

 

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Several days ago, my family and I recently returned from a beautiful beach holiday on the shores of one of our favourite lakes. We spent a fun week building sand castles, SUPing, enjoying sunset walks and an exciting day trip that included a cruise on a glass-bottom boat to see shipwrecks. When away from home, our habits tend to change somewhat, as can be expected.

Did I drink beer several times throughout the week? Did I enjoy many s’mores by the bonfire and just as many servings of ice cream / gelato? You bet I did. And I savoured every moment. Not for a minute did I reprimand myself for letting down my guard. It was a choice I made mindfully, allowing myself to soften into the experience while trusting my intuition and maintaining a lifestyle of wellness.

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Here is how I navigated three of my regular healthy habits while on vacation:

Eating

My nutrition habits are relatively healthy, keeping to the typical 80/20 rule and enjoying dessert from time to time while making mindful choices about the nutrients that fuel my body. While on vacation, I continued to eat healthy foods but we did eat out in restaurants several times throughout the week. We balanced this out by visiting the local grocery store and farmers’ market and stocking up on fresh produce. August is a time of gorgeous fresh, local fruit and vegetables, which were in abundance everywhere we went. We packed those as snacks for ourselves to take to the beach and enjoyed salads for dinner.

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Sleeping

At home, I typically am in bed by 10 p.m. and wake up at 5 a.m. to work out and practise yoga. While away, we naturally put the kids to bed later, after enjoying the sunset on the beach or sitting by the fire. The parents’ natural bedtime was closer to midnight and we all woke up quietly, slowly at around 9 a.m., feeling refreshed and recharged.

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Exercise

When I sleep in, which doesn’t happen often, and wake up at the same time as my children, I tend to write off my workouts and yoga practice for the day. However, while away, I simply shifted my physical exercise to the siesta hour in the afternoon. An hour or two after lunch, the children would spend some time watching a favourite DVD while Pawel read a book, and I would head out into the backyard of our rental cottage to roll out my mat. Working out outside encouraged me to be resourceful, using whatever I had close by as props. The owners of the cottage left two skipping ropes for the children guests. However, I was the one who ended up putting the skipping ropes to good use for cardio. I utilized the wooden benches on the patio for tricep dips and the wooden stairs for lunges. Typically, my morning workout and yoga practice last approximately an hour. My siesta-time workouts on the grass were about 30 minutes in length. I didn’t try to time myself. I naturally moved in a way that felt good. Some days were slower, softer, and others left me sweaty, happily walking into the shower after a morning at the beach and an afternoon on my yoga mat. I also did a lot of running on the beach with the boys, walked everywhere, and SUPd.

It feels liberating to let go of a rigid schedule and preconceived notions about routine, giving ourselves permission to live in flux, allowing ourselves to put life on hold for a while but still maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, when I feel relaxed, with no major responsibilities that I normally have at home and at work, I find that I naturally feel better and healthier, which leads me to make healthy choices. The key is to carry the calm mental and emotional state with us back into our regular post-vacation routine.

What healthy habits do you uphold while on vacation? Please share your tips in the comments below. You can also connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter for additional pictures of our holiday.