S0005_Lihue_Kauai

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.

DSCN0507

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. 

As promised last week, I wanted to share with you my quick go-to recipe for an all-purpose disinfectant spray. I use this spray on everything: my yoga mats; bathroom mirrors; wiping sticky hand prints and dust from surfaces; door handles; kitchen counters, and so on. I will confess sheepishly that the pleasant, clean scent of the spray alone makes me want to pick it up and clean everything around me. All you need is a few minutes and a few basic, clean ingredients to create this magical product.

chaturanga

DHARMA WANDERLUST YOGA MAT CLEANER AND ALL-PURPOSE DISINFECTANT SPRAY

Ingredients:

  • Small spray bottle
  • Distilled water
  • Pure white vinegar
  • A few drops of essential oil (I recommend tea tree oil for its disinfecting properties, but I also enjoy calming lavender; eucalyptus or fir needle have a clean, fresh scent)

Method:

  1. Fill about 2/3 of the bottle with water.
  2. Fill the remainder of the bottle with vinegar.
  3. Add a few drops of essential oil. I like to add about 3 drops of tea tree oil and then one or two drops of lavender and/or other oils. I don’t recommend mixing more than two oils at a time.
  4. Screw on the lid, shake well, spray your mat or any other surface in your home, and enjoy a chemical-free cleaning experience!

Do you have a favourite DIY cleaning recipe? Please share it in the comments below. 

Do you know someone who would enjoy this blog post and the recipe? Please share it with them via social media or email. 

Not at my desk, not with my quill, and not really writing; while visiting a museum three months ago, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pretend to write in this cozy spot.

It had been a while since I wrote in my journal. I’m not referring to simply writing about what is new and exciting in my life at the given moment but about delving deeper, digging beneath the layers, stripping away the building blocks. The stream-of-consciousness style of writing taught by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way is the type of exercise that can send many running for the hills. Yet, once we start, without weaving any drama around the exercise itself and the potential results, the experience can be surprisingly enjoyable and possibly even transforming.

In Paris Letters, Janice MacLeod shares her own experience with journalling as inspired by The Artist’s Way, leading to a big question and a resulting breakthrough. I’m not one for spoilers; to learn more about the breakthrough, you’ll have to read the book.

And so, without expectations or a specific agenda, I return to stream-of-consciousness journalling. The results surprise me as I read back. Some pages are filled with gratitude notes. On other days, the ramblings are banal and choppy. None of that matters. The practice itself is therapeutic, healing, meditative. More and more, I infuse my daily life with the same energy that accompanies me on the yoga mat at 5:30 in the morning. It comes without surprise to find that my hobbies in and of themselves undulate and weave, allowing me to stay curious while focusing my mind, connecting with my thoughts and watching the stories unfold. Knitting, journalling, lunchtime walks, and reading to Wanderlust Juniors have become to me another form of yoga, reminding me to keep just enough control to stay present, but at the same moment, reminding me to release into the experience, to allow someone else to hold the anchor and steer.

Journalling for analysis used to be my focus. My ego shaped my interpretation of the story. In as much as it can be highly enjoyable to analyze, to investigate the various points of view, and to deduce conclusions, these days, I prefer to experience by witnessing the story unfold. I cherish the reminder to let go of judgment, to allow myself to sit with my feelings, whatever they may be, to soften and keep going with the flow. I hear the voices of my teachers asking me, Where can you let go a bit more? Where can you invite more softness? The stories will continue to unfold, and I permit them to do just that.

What about you? Where can YOU let go a bit more? Where can you invite more softness? Do you have a regular journalling practice? I would love to read about your evolving experience with this exercise.

Are you enjoying this blog? Please share it with a friend. 

DSCN6679

My turn to share! Here are two articles I read and enjoyed last week:

This Column Will Change Your Life: Morning Pages 

‘Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at how powerful Morning Pages proved, from day one, at calming anxieties, producing insights and resolving dilemmas. After all, the psychological benefits of externalising thoughts via journalling are well-established. And that bleary-eyed morning time has been shown to be associated with more creative thinking: with the brain’s inhibitory processes still weak, “A-ha!” moments come more readily.’

How to Get Better at Expressing Emotions

‘Emotional intelligence is a skill, and some people are better at recognizing and communicating emotions than others. Among the Big Five personality traits—openness, extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism—several studies have found that people high in extroversion tend to have higher emotional expressiveness, while people high in neuroticism tend to be less expressive.

Like other skills, the ability to communicate feelings can be strengthened through practice, and a big part of it is first recognizing the emotions you’re having, as well as what’s causing them.’

DharmaWanderlustParis1

I read the news last night. I knew it was too late to be in front of the computer, but my family and I had just finished watching a movie and I wanted to check the weekend weather forecast before heading to bed. I read about Paris and my heart tightened. I experienced a similar sensation several times in the past, including an occasion when an attack had taken place close to my dad’s workplace. Last night, overcome with sadness, unable to find the words to express the heartbreak that millions felt at the same moment, I tiptoed into the bedrooms of Wanderlust Juniors, ensured that they were asleep, and leaned in to give them kisses, to whisper ‘I love you.’ I repeat this ritual every night, but some nights are more emotional than others.

DharmaWanderlustParis4

Mr. Wanderlust and I visited Paris and other cities in France on our honeymoon in July and August 2006. Today, we are praying and sending love to everyone affected by Friday’s tragic events.

This morning, with bittersweet determination, I guided my Saturday morning yoga class through Metta (Loving-Kindness) meditation. I turn to this meditation practice when I feel instability and unease in my life or in the environment around me, when I experience conflicting emotions and struggle to tune into a compassionate space. Metta meditation helps to build community by reminding us to let go of judgment toward ourselves and others, and to focus instead on acceptance and kindness. Today, I will share this meditation with you.

DharmaWanderlustParis5

Feel free to light a candle and settle into a comfortable position in a quiet space. Take several deep breaths to invite yourself to tune fully into the experience.

Start by sending love and compassion to yourself. If this feels challenging, start with one aspect of yourself that you admire and build up from this space. I naturally gravitate toward the image of myself today embracing myself as a young child. Stay with this stage for as long as you need, breathing smoothly and evenly and radiating kindness and compassion. Next, send loving-kindness to a person whom you love deeply. This can be a good friend, your partner, sibling, child, or a pet. Visualize yourself embracing that person and radiating love toward him or her. The third stage is to send love to a person toward whom you don’t experience any strong feelings of like or dislike. The four step can be somewhat challenging, as you are invited to send loving-kindness to a person with whom you do not get along. Instead of focusing on judgment toward the person, work to strip away all those layers to find the being within, who is very much like you, who wants to love and be loved, to experience personal safety and peace. Stay here for as long as you need. The final step is to send Metta to all the four individuals whom you visualized earlier; then, continue to expand your beams of loving-kindness to the entire world, to every being on the planet, sending healing kindness and compassion. Visualize every being on the planet feeling healthy, peaceful, and joyful.

Close your meditation with a few centering breaths and thank yourself for your time and attention.

DharmaWanderlustParis3

I would love to read your thoughts and experiences with this meditation. Please leave a comment below. I would also like to read about how you navigate turbulent experiences. Where do you turn in times of need?

DharmaWanderlustParis2

If you are enjoying this blog, please take a moment to share this post with a friend.

Nov4

“The oscillating rhythm of the heart

knows there is a time for activation

and a time for regeneration,

a time for quiet and a time for ecstasy,

a time for clearing and a 

time for celebrating,

a time for receiving and a time for giving,

a time for igniting the fire, 

and a time for letting go into the fire.”

~ Shiva Rea, Tending the Heart Fire

 


 

We planned for November to be a quiet month, free of social commitments. We are dedicating this time to slow-and-steady-sometimes-lazy pre-winter home repair projects. In the colder months of the year, I heed to the natural call to spend more time at home, tending to the hearth but also setting aside time for relaxation and quiet contemplation.

Nov2

Crunchy leaves under my feet during a lunchtime walk.

I did not always readily acquiesce to nature’s invitation to rest. There was a time when I judged myself harshly for the patterns of low energy that I experienced in the colder months of the year. Comparison to my more energetic counterparts only made me feel worse about myself. Time and time again, as I continued to turn to books that honour nature and seek to inspire others to live in harmony with the natural world through the changing of the seasons, I found that I started to soften my point of view. INov3 let crumble the hard boundaries that I had set around myself and instead, began to acknowledge that I am a part of this cycle. I am a part of the flow. We all are.

Shiva Rea’s Tending the Heart Fire is an excellent resource that supports and validates the patterns that I have been studying within myself. Ancient traditions lived in harmony with the magical cycles of the earth, honouring each season and greeting it with reverence. We have moved too far away from those traditions, but for myself and my family, I am choosing to make changes that allow us to minimize the permeating sense of societal urgency.

Instead of complaining about the weather, I do my best to dress for it. I tend to feel cold all through the colder months in the northern world, but I have adopted Ayurvedic rituals that help to keep me in balance through these seasons. I have embraced oil massages, drinking hot water, and eating grounding foods. I have slowed down my yoga practice and end a strong HIIT session with luxurious restorative or Yin poses. I am very much attached to my electric blanket and have become protective of my early bedtime.

So, we tend to our hearth and we tend to our hearts, making space to reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones. The dark period is a gentle and generous invitation for us to shed artificial layers while focusing on what is most precious to us.

I have mailed my RSVP card. Will you?

Displaying DW_Nov_sale - Copy-square.jpg

Our 2015 holiday sale is officially on now!

Do you have moments when you are reminded of your age? Do you always remain conscious or aware of how old you actually are? Do you ever experience crude reminders of your adulthood?

These questions might sound aloof and downright ridiculous, but this is something I think about from time to time, especially now, as I contemplate the moments in my life that remind me of how ‘grown up’ I really am.

I very seldom contemplate my age. When I am asked about it, I need to pause for a brief moment to find the shelf, somewhere in my mind, on which that information is stored. There are several incidents that I have experienced in my life that jolted me into the realization that I’m an adult. Among them:

  • Buying a home. Mr. Wanderlust and I purchased our first home eight years ago. The process was shockingly quick after we found the perfect home for us at the time, and meeting with a mortgage broker felt like an out-of-body experience that happened to someone else while I watched from the sidelines.
  • Renovating our home three years ago. Mr. Wanderlust spent a month rewiring our home with the help of his and my father. At that time, he also installed a ventilation system in our main bathroom. We hired a contractor to patch up our walls following rewiring, as well as a company that installed new windows in our bedrooms. Mr. Wanderlust and I painted the bedrooms and one of the walls in our living room following the renovations.
  • Repairing a few minor areas of our home. This is a project that we are undertaking at this time.
10422137_10206897228168698_1118198273108542633_n

My partner-in-crime-and-home-repairs.

Interestingly, my ‘adult moments’ have never occurred during job interviews or the signing of a work contract. Neither have they occurred during solo travel on business to another province, which involve many independent dining experiences and sleeping alone in a hotel room in a strange city. I didn’t even feel grown up when I learned, approximately seven years ago at this time, that Mr. Wanderlust and I were expecting our first child. No, my ‘adult moments’ revolve specifically around home repairs. This realization came as a surprise. My next question to myself was, Why or how do you define those experiences as ‘adult experiences?’

Responsibilities that are focused on the repair of my home scare me, to an extent, probably because I don’t know much (or anything at all) about repairing houses. I can vacuum carpets, wash hardwood floors, clean bathrooms and dust like an expert, probably because I started helping my mom clean our home at a relatively young age. The experience contributed to a sense of confidence and I understood that when I feel confident, I feel no reservations about the task I am about to approach. On the other hand, I have never had a chance to repair anything – save for a clogged sink or toilet – in the many homes in which I lived.

Leaky faucet? Re-grouting the tiles around the bathtub? Installing a new toilet seat and cover? Well, maybe the last option doesn’t seem intimidating, though it feels equally tedious.

I tend to think of myself as independent and competent, but the truth is that when it comes to home repair, I am more than ready to scurry without bothering to leave a note about being found in my bed under the thick duvet after the repairs have been completed.

Recently, I wrote about befriending fear during indoor skydiving. I am still working on befriending fear with handstand and forearm stand away from the wall. Every time I notice that I start to feel intimidated on the yoga mat, I remind myself of several tried-and-tested tips. I will apply those same friendly principles and strategies this weekend when I start re-grouting the bathroom tiles:

  1. No drama!
  2. Head in there, no matter how you feel about it.
  3. Breathe deeply (while wearing a mask).
  4. Stay in the moment and remain curious.
  5. Remember to simply focus on the task without weaving any stories.
  6. Try to have fun.
  7. It will be over before you know it, and you will be able to appreciate all your diligent work.

Besides, I have a great partner with whom to approach the repair work. We will learn together, hopefully without any snappy remarks typical of a married couple during home repairs and renovations.

Wish us luck. I will report on the progress.

What are your ‘adult moments?’ Do they feel scary or exhilarating? How do you approach challenges? Feel free to leave a comment below to share your stories with us.

We are having a special sale on our website through the month of November! 

Displaying DW_Nov_sale - Copy-square.jpg

DSCN4267

“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. 

Three months ago, I wrote about the indoor skydiving experience Mr. Wanderlust and I shared. During that first flight, I gave in to fear. Yesterday, we had made a commitment to our second flight and I had a chance to practise the guidance I provide to clients in my capacity as a yoga instructor: Soften. Accept. Allow the experience to develop as it will, but stay curious. 

flying

Soaring comfortably while practising Ujjayi breathing.

I walked into the experience with an open heart and mind, but without the same excited feeling I had before my first flight three months earlier. Mr. Wanderlust and I arrived in time to don our ear plugs, suits, goggles, and helmets, and then we were in the booth, waiting to fly. Ready or not. Since this was our second flight experience, we were asked to be the first of our group of seven people to step into the wind tunnel. I reminded myself to connect to my breath and refrained from gazing down at the floor or thinking of the whereabouts of the instructor. I focused on staying afloat once for one minute, twice for one minute, and the third time for two minutes. My third round was my best one yet.

Did I feel fear beneath my calm exterior? Yes, but this time, I allowed it to simmer without lifting the lid and allowing it to bubble up to the surface. My goal three months ago was to befriend fear during indoor skydiving. With an imaginary red marker, I am drawing a big, bold check mark in that box.

flyingp

Mr. Wanderlust in flight while his parents film our experience.

Following the flight, I did not feel the same exhilaration that was so prominent after my first flight three months ago. I felt relief, sprinkled with a natural high. Right now, that feels perfect enough.

NOTE: Please excuse the quality to the photographs. They are captions of videos.

I want to know whether there is anything toward which you feel fear. What is standing in your way of accepting fear and moving forward despite the challenge? Where in your life can you reconnect to your confidence while softening humbly into the experience, allowing it to unfold? I know, this is a very personal question, and I do not expect you to leave a comment unless you feel compelled to share. I only ask that you remember to cultivate curiosity toward life. There is so much that we can learn about ourselves when we shift our perspective and open our hearts to possibility!

Today, I am grateful…

DSCN9182

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.

DSCN9100

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.

DSCN9117

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.

DSCN9121

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.

DSCN9193

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

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?