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. 

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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.

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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…

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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? 

Guest post by Mr. Wanderlust

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.

We are pleased to donate 20% of the sale of each item from our Sea Turtle Collection to Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest sea turtle research and conservation group.

I usually work in the evenings after my 9-5 job, karate lessons, clean-up at home, and the Wanderlust Juniors’ bedtime, so there is not much time left before I myself have to head to bed. Still, I make the most of every spare minute.

 

Day 1:

Once I know what design I want, I choose the wood. I have a variety of wood in my collection, in all shapes and sizes. While some of the lumber I use is already cut to a specific suitable thickness, other wood comes in logs or blocks that have to be sliced (or ripped) with a bandsaw to achieve a workable thickness. For this particular piece, I chose to use Yellowheart.

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So many choices! Black Limba; Cocobolo; Wenge; Purpleheart, and Yellowheart. All our wood is obtained from sustainable sources. For every item sold, a tree is planted. We believe in giving back to the earth more than we take away.

This piece of wood was larger than I needed it to be, so I cut it into a workable piece slightly bigger than the final piece. The remaining wood was reserved for another project. No waste here!

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Seven holes were drilled and then it’s off to the scroll saw.

The thin blades of the scroll saw reciprocate up and down. I guided the wood onto a very thin blade and maneuvered it around to cut out the design. The blade I use is very thin (0.008 inches thick) and can break easily if the wood is pushed too hard or too fast against it. For each of the holes, the blade has to be dismounted, looped through the hole and remounted onto the scroll saw. The cutting here takes time, as the walls between the cut segments are thin and can break if one is not careful.

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Once the holes are cut out, the turtle shell starts to take place. Next, it’s time to glue on a backing and let it dry overnight.

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Day 2:

Once the backing is dry, I return to the scroll saw once more to cut the outside shape of the turtle.

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Next, I choose the inlay. Anything can be used as inlay, but I like to work with crushed stone, metal, glow-in-the-dark material, and crushed shell. For this pendant, I used crushed shell of different colours. I temporary blocked all the holes, leaving one exposed, and then carefully filled it with the inlay material. This process was repeated for the remaining holes, working one at a time. I then filled everything with a low-viscosity epoxy. Once the inlay is in, it’s time to let the inlay cure overnight.

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Day 3:

Once the inlay is solid, it’s time for the next stage: sanding, sanding, sanding and more sanding. For this, I used a variety of files, sanding pads and power sanding tools. Starting with 80 or 150 grit (depending on the density of the wood) and working up to up to 1500 grit makes the pendant smoother and smoother as it takes the final shape.

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In the middle of sanding at about 400 to 600 grit, I drilled the hole for the eye in which I placed the finding to which to attach the necklace chain or cord.

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Once the hole had been cut, I continued hand-sanding and shaping until the pendant was ready for the next step. Once satisfied with the sanding, I applied the first layer of natural oil onto the pendant. The oil slowly penetrates the wood and adds luster. I wiped off the excess after about an hour and left the rest to sit overnight.

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Days 4, 5, 6

Each day, I applied a coat of natural oils onto the surface and wiped the excess after letting it rest for at least an hour. This process is necessary to allow the oil to build up for a long and lasting shine. I need to wait about a day between layers, so this process adds time to the work. I do not coat my pendants with lacquers or any hard curing top-surface treatment because such treatments can wear off after the piece has been worn and handled. I like to keep the wood natural. I have noticed that the more I rub or handle the pendants coated with multiple layers of oil, the shinier they become over time.

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Patience! The pieces are awaiting the next layer of oil.

 

Day 7

Almost ready!

After about four (oh yes!) layers of natural oil, the pendant was buffed using a high-speed linen buffing wheel.

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I added the hardware and took a few photos of the finished piece before adding it to our website

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So there you have it. This is how a piece of wood is turned into a beautiful pendant in one week. I hope I have answered any questions you might have about how each piece is created.

If you have additional questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading,

Mr. Wanderlust (Pawel)

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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“So, where are we going, exactly?”

“It’s on West 89th Street, past Broadway,” I told Mr. Wanderlust.

We had inadvertently taken the express subway train north toward Bronx, and had missed our stop. After getting back on a southbound train to backtrack, we walked along Central Park West and then continued our pleasant sunny stroll through Upper West Side, admiring the brownstone buildings on our way to search for Kathleen Kelly.

I first watched You’ve Got Mail in the year 2000. My mom, sister and I had rented the movie on a Saturday night. I was riveted by the beautiful New York setting of the film; the precious children’s bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, central to the story; and the old school-style romance between the two main characters, with a modern day twist. I also became fascinated by Meg Ryan’s adorable character of Kathleen Kelly, her love of literature, and particularly Jane Austen; her optimism; her understated style; her quirky mannerisms; and yes, even the decor of her apartment. I wanted to be Kathleen Kelly, or at least to have her as a BFF. This wasn’t the first time I wished that a fictional character were real, but I remember how strongly I felt the inspiration to be like Kathleen Kelly.

Kathleen Kelly

Mr. Wanderlust and I enjoyed a wonderful quick getaway to New York City over the weekend for some couple time. I had previously visited Queens and Long Island, but had never been to Manhattan and felt elated at the opportunity to enjoy a few days in the city. Of course, I also wanted to pay a visit to an old friend.

Approaching the house in which Kathleen Kelly ‘resides,’ I looked up at the front door to see it open. I actually let out a quiet gasp as I watched a woman in her mid-30s exit the building, dressed in a yellow cotton tank top, black cropped leggings and running shoes, with two large canvas bags slung over both shoulders. As she walked toward her car, parked at the curb, to deposit the heavy bags in the trunk, she glanced at me briefly with a blank expression on her face. I image she must see many tourists like me on a daily basis as they approach the building timidly, snap a selfie, giggle self-consciously and walk away, muttering quietly about how nerdy they feel.

NYCDharmaWanderlust2

I crossed casually to the other side of the street and took a photo of the building from the sidewalk. In my periphery, I watched as the woman drove away, then sprinted back across the road and up the cement stairs toward the brown wood and glass door, channeling my best impression of Kathleen Kelly returning home after a busy day at The Shop Around the Corner. Mr. Wanderlust directed me through a few more poses and I gingerly stepped down the stairs again, shaking off the feeling of intruding in some way upon the privacy of the residents upstairs. I imagined them sitting at the front windows above me, glaring at me and shaking their heads with a bored expression on their faces, thinking, “There goes another one.” I had to steal a quick glance toward the third storey windows. No one there.

Before walking west toward Riverside Park, Mr. Wanderlust offered to take a photo of two women who, like me, had quietly stopped in front of the entrance to take a selfie. He directed them to walk up toward the front door for a similar picture of the one he took of me.

NYCDharmaWanderlust3

The following morning, after breakfast at the beautiful lounge of the boutique hotel where we stayed in Midtown East, at 7:30, wearing the little black knit dress I had packed for the trip, I paid a visit to a favourite spot of another dear BFF, Holly Golightly. This time, we didn’t have to travel far. After a five-minute walk along an almost-empty 5th Avenue, Mr. Wanderlust and I had the street to ourselves, just like Miss Golightly, greeting the sun’s sparkle as it bounced off the perfect diamonds in the window of Tiffany & Co.

Tiffanys

“I should have stopped at Starbucks to buy a coffee and croissant, just for the sake of the photo,” I half-joked.

“It would have been your second breakfast of the morning, at Tiffany’s.”

“I suppose you can cross two items off your wish list,” Mr. Wanderlust announced to me several minutes later, as we walked toward Rockefeller Center. I sighed in response.

“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” I smiled up at him. “It’s been a perfect weekend.”

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.