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Keeping: Lego. Please read the text for an explanation.

Last year, we launched a minimalism project in our home. It’s still going strong today. I am not a proponent of labels of any kind, and I would not be quick to describe myself as a minimalist. My definition of minimalism might be different from the definition of someone who lives in a white-walled studio apartment with three pieces of sleek modern furniture in the living room and two pieces of cookware in his kitchen. Our home is far from looking like Bea Johnson’s, though I admire her style and will continue to borrow tips from her. To me, minimalism is a concept that is as unique as the person who chooses to subscribe to its lifestyle. Does our home look empty? No. Wanderlust Juniors’ Lego collection continues to grow with each birthday and Christmas, to my chagrin. I continue to remind myself that sometimes, simplifying doesn’t only mean detoxifying our home of material objects; more often, detoxifying means cultivating an attitude of equanimity toward the clutter of my loved ones.

We continue to work toward detoxifying our home and have found that, although it becomes a natural process after the first big cleanup operation, it is a constant work in progress to discern what we want to keep in our home and what must go. I created a list of items that we have discarded and those that we have kept following our big cleanup:

 

What we discarded:

Books and magazines

I used to collect yoga, fitness and nutrition magazines, keeping them for the myriad articles to which I was sure I would refer over and over again. In truth, there were a few useful recipes and tips in the magazines, but not enough to warrant holding onto the growing stacks that took up space in the basement. I took photographs of interesting articles or recipes and saved them on my computer’s hard drive. I also used to purchase cookbooks. Although I did enjoy perusing the books in search of tips and recipe ideas, overtime, I created my own repertoire of recipes to which I continue to return. If I do need to find a new recipe, I use good old Google. I have donated or gifted the cookbooks. With regard to fiction and non-fiction books, I have kept the classics, as well as other favourite books that I enjoy re-reading. I choose to keep the books that I look forward to sharing with my children. For those of you wondering, I do read on the Kindle sometimes, but prefer printed books. Mr. Wanderlust’s library mainly consists of non-fiction books on geography, history, philosophy, and comparative mythology.

Children’s art work

I’m one of the millions of moms who feel a pang in their chests at the mere thought of throwing out their children’s art work. I still feel that pang from time to time, but have learned to deal with it in a pragmatic yet sentimental way that suits our family. I choose a few art pieces that are special to my children and/or to me and Mr. Wanderlust, and we keep those in a box. I take photographs of the majority of the artwork and email them to an address I have set up for Wanderlust Juniors. In those emails, I also provide updates for the boys on their latest interests and challenges. It’s my hope that when they will be older, my children will enjoy the trip down memory lane with this extensive documentation, and will cherish the several ‘favourite’ original works of art that we keep carefully tucked away.

Clothing, makeup and skin care products

I have a simple rule: Whenever I purchase an item of clothing, I discard a similar worn item. This means that I only purchase shoes when the current pair I have starts to look shabby. This rule applies not only to my wardrobe but to the wardrobes of Mr. Wanderlust and Wanderlust Juniors. I purchase clothes for the children twice a year, on average, and replenish their clothes as they outgrow them. I should also mention that I only purchase makeup items or my basic skin care products (if you’re wondering, those skin care products are sweet almond oil, cocoa or shea butter, baby lotion, and J.R. Watkins hand cream) when the tube or bottle is almost empty.

Single-use kitchen gadgets

Several years ago, I purchased a cake pop maker. I used it a handful of times before tossing it into the back of a cupboard. I used to bake our own bread in a bread machine until I realized that I prefer a special type of bread that I purchase at the local grocery store and haven’t been able to recreate at home. We have donated the bread machine and sold the cake pop maker via a local buy-and-sell Facebook group to a father who wanted to spend some time baking with his daughter. If I want to bake bread at home, I can always spend some time kneading it by hand and bake it in the oven. Or, I could use our stand mixer.

What we kept:

Favourite mixer

I enjoy baking. Immensely. Although I could stand in the kitchen while furiously working out the forearm muscles of my right arm while whisking batter, I choose instead to use that time helping Wanderlust Juniors crack eggs or grease the baking sheet for the cookies. Our orange Kitchen Aid mixer is lovely and we use it for everything, including kneading dough for bread and cinnamon buns. For now, we have no plans to discard it.

Photo albums and journals

I do not enjoy looking at photographs on the computer. In my old-fashioned way, I love scrapbooking and documenting our family adventures with little notes and (yes) stickers. Wanderlust Juniors and I spend a long time studying the photographs while seated on the living room sofa, laughing together while sharing stories, learning about one another’s unique perspective of the memories we built together. For that reason, I continue to print photographs, and although this contributes to the growing number of photo albums in our home, those albums are worth all the moments of bonding that they allow us to create.

I have kept a journal since I was in my early teens and started to discover a love of writing. I use my journal for everything from recording insights, inspiring quotes, stories, planning vacations, and planning weekly menus. My journal is my personal, private version of a Pinterest board.

Pretty dishes

I will preface this paragraph by explaining that I do not have many fancy dishes that I keep for the special times when we have company for dinner. However, I do keep an extra set of dishes for those occasions. I’m referring here to a special set of cappuccino cups and saucers, espresso cups and saucers, a set of fine tea china, and cut crystal glasses that we have inherited from our families. We enjoy this small collection and it’s special to us. Most importantly, it brings us joy. Will we buy additional items to contribute to the existing ones? No way.

Travel souvenirs and gifts

Before we settled down and had Wanderlust Juniors, Mr. Wanderlust and I used to collect travel souvenirs everywhere we went. We have acquired enough of them to fill a few small shelves. Those shelves are also occupied by gift souvenirs brought to us by friends and family members upon returning from their world travels. The items themselves are meaningless, but the stories they contain allow our house to feel like our home, reminding us of our journeys and values. These days when we travel, we abstain from purchasing souvenirs, or buy only the ones that we truly want to have, and preferably ones we can use, instead of admiring them on a shelf.

Knitting yarn and needlework projects

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Also keeping: a few favourite items that I knit for Wanderlust Juniors.

I will confess that I used to collect yarn. Knitters tend to be notorious collectors, and it’s logical. We know the great value of good-quality yarn and we search for bargains that we refuse to pass up. However, when I realized that my yarn collection – a relatively small one when compared to the collections of many fellow knitters – had to be cramped into the small cabinet in which it’s stored, I knew something had to change. I stopped buying yarn. Just. Like. That. These days, I use the yarn I have for the projects on which I’m working. I no longer rush to finish a project in order to start another one, nor do I have several projects on the go at any one time. I knit fast, but in short increments of time. This is due both to my work schedule and commitments at home. If I pass by a pretty yarn shop into which an invisible and undeniable force lures me, I walk into it as I would into a museum. Oh, it’s difficult to resist reaching out to touch the soft, candy-coloured fibres, and sometimes I give in. Then, acknowledging that I don’t need to buy new yarn, I walk out of the store. In case you’re wondering, I also avoid walking into clothing stores in order to browse. It helps that I don’t enjoy shopping and despise the mere idea of walking into the typical mall.

The bottom line:

I don’t believe that the goal of minimalism is to discard every trinket in our homes until we are left with the bare necessities. I do believe in creating a home that feels comfortable and reflects the lifestyle of the family that occupies its space. A lifestyle of minimalism is the opposite of a lifestyle of over-consumption of food, technology, and various other resources. Minimalism is about practising awareness with each decision, with the ultimate goal of creating a lifestyle of ease and simplicity.

Would you like to leave a comment regarding your own interpretation of minimalism, or your criteria for what you choose to keep or discard? Please do so in the space below.

Do you know someone who might enjoy reading this blog? Please share it with a friend via email or social media!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Better than yesterday

Disappointments happen sometimes, especially in circumstances beyond our apparent control. We could have. We should have. We would have. Empty words. Hurtful words. Sugar-coating for children only results in stifled anger. We may not have handled the situation with grace or even maturity, but we can always work to be better people today than we were yesterday.”

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2. The Dharma Wanderlust creative method

Several years ago, we wrote a post to explain the process behind our wooden creations. Since the recent unveiling of our Sea Turtle Collection, we have been pleased to welcome new clients to our website. In addition to our earlier post, we would like to walk you through the process of making each wooden turtle pendant.”

3. Marriage lessons from the past  nine years

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

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4. Happy loner

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

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5. Project house detox

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

6. Choosing love over a tidy home

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

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7. Skipping the small talk

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

8. I don’t watch TV. I don’t miss it.

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

9. The capsule wardrobe experiment: Autumn 2015

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

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See you in 2016!

Warmly,

Katia and Pawel (Mr. and Mrs. Wanderlust)

 

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“I am not stressed out,” I reassured my mom.

“But you’re so busy!” she replied, a line of concern starting to form between her eyebrows.

“I’m not too busy to make a birthday cake for you,” I smiled back, proceeded to eat my peanut butter granola and drink my breakfast tea, then dashed upstairs, quickly dressed in the day’s work outfit, kissed my mom and Wanderlust Juniors goodbye and with a big smile, wished the boys a wonderful day at school before joining Mr. Wanderlust in the car.

While carpooling with Mr. Wanderlust, I considered my schedule. I suppose it’s the typical schedule of a working mom, with well-organized but sometimes inevitably rushed mornings; drives to karate practice three evenings per week; leading two classes per week; bedtime routines with ample time dedicated to books and cuddles. Our weekends are focused on cleaning, laundry, the weekly grocery run, yard work, and of course, family time. I am not in the habit of seeking to create additional work for myself, but I do have my priorities, on which I spend more time than I might ‘need’ to spend. I do make time to prepare healthy meals for my family. I do make time for physical fitness and for brain fitness in the form of meditation and reading. I also place high value on a good night’s sleep.

Certain other ‘luxuries’ often tend to fall off my plate. Among them are a regular practice at the yoga studio and meetings with friends and family members. As the old guilt starts to rise up from its pit, I admit defeat. I have been feeling tired, unwilling to add one more commitment to my calendar, even if the commitment is one that normally does not feel like work.

Slowing down requires letting go of effort. Slowing down requires saying ‘No’ to commitments. Slowing down requires trusting that everything will still be where I left it when I am ready to return again; if something will have shifted, I will be able to pick up the pieces with renewed enthusiasm. Maybe. Hopefully. For now, I will focus on doing my best and acknowledging my value with reminders:

I have not been a bad yogi. I have been a solitary yogi who fits in her practice whenever she can, most often after a daily 5 a.m. wakeup call.

I have not been a bad mother. Instead of driving to an evening yoga class, I drive my eldest Wanderlust Junior to his karate classes or, while Mr. Wanderlust takes on that duty, I enjoy one-on-one dinner at home with the youngest Wanderlust Junior.

I have not been a bad friend. Although I see each of my closest friends about once a month, or sometimes once in every few months, I ensure that we remain in touch via email, even if this means sending each other novella-length letters as a means of catching up. I am grateful for friends who enjoy good, old-fashioned email communication as much as I do.

I have been listening to my intuition, heading to bed earlier in the evenings as the days become shorter and the nights longer. I have been feeling the tune of Nature and acquiescing to her advice murmured quietly on the wind that rushes past me on a weekend walk, carrying with it colourful maple leaves that slow down to a graceful swirl as they descend. Like them, I am ready to release some of the control for which I have been grasping while keeping up with daily schedules, maintaining patterns.

I am making space for rest. I am simplifying. I am here, caring, paying careful attention, fine-tuning my focus, and trusting. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We thank you in advance for your support.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

Balance

I have been writing about adventure and spontaneity. Lest you think that the adjectives ‘adventurous’ and ‘spontaneous’ can easily be used to describe me on a regular basis, I thought I would offer some perspective on balance.

Do we make ourselves too busy? Do we choose busy lives for ourselves? Perhaps, in some cases, that is true. Many people are not able to sit still for longer than 10 minutes without being able to keep their minds or hands occupied. However, that is not the type of busy lifestyle to which I am referring. I am after a balance that allows me to focus fully on everything I undertake, at my ‘9 to 5’ job, at home with my family, and in the yoga studio. That kind of balance means that some days are extremely busy (there, I used that word), but we can choose to make the opportunity to rest in-between the meetings and tasks on our ‘to do’ list. There are days when I go through the motions or work fast to tackle the never-ending list. And then, I remind myself to slow down.

On most days, I have a packed schedule. Yet, I do not normally feel busy or overwhelmed. Every day, I practise compartmentalizing, giving my full attention to the task before me — still, meditation continues to be a challenge some days. Life inevitably moves at a fast pace. I used to resist that pace, worrying that I would become too caught up in the current. I now know the value of choice. I have a choice to spend a Sunday afternoon cleaning my home, as I did today. At other times, I set aside my responsibilities, clear up my schedule and live up to the adjectives that many use to describe me: calm, peaceful, and adventurous. Beneath this exterior, I flow with the sway, shake and wobble that dances within me. Life is turbulent, ebbing and carrying us with the rumbling current. Perhaps it might be time to learn to float on the dancing, swaying waters.