september1

 

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.

DSCN6139

Over the past few weeks, I have heard and read many reviews of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Although I already have a minimalist wardrobe and did not need to dispose of clutter in my closet, the book has influenced me to change my method of folding t-shirts. The book has also reminded me to make an extra effort to put items in the correct place as soon as possible after I finish using them. Although that has always been my practice, I realized I did have various old documents on my desk that needed to be filed away.

DSCN6222

 

The KonMari method of folding t-shirts.

I was also drawn to the mindful attitude toward maintenance advocated by Kondo. I pick up each object mindfully at home, asking myself, “Does this bring me joy? Will I or do I use this item on a regular basis? Where should its place be in my home?” I have never been an impulsive shopper, but these questions, in turn, help me to dedicate my undivided attention to the decision-making process when standing in a store.

know I feel better, more focused and relaxed when my environment is tidy and well organized. The mere idea of a cluttered space makes my shoulders rise up to my ears and strains my breath. However, Pawel and I do share our home with our two very spirited young boys who have the remarkable ability to create, within a matter of minutes, a mess in any room that is akin to the aftermath of a raging tornado.

DSCN6224

 

Minimalist selection of footwear. I have three other pairs of shoes, not pictured.

When my older son was a newborn with terrible colic, one day, amid the fog of exhaustion, I looked about me at the living room carpet, with dust bunnies comprised of the hair of our two cats scattered about, and sighed in defiance. Although the mess made my stress level rise, I chose to ignore it in favour of a 30-minute nap and the resulting preservation of my sanity.

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.

These days, instead of nagging, I focus on tidying up my own space, taking pictures of old documents and shredding the original hard copies, or folding my t-shirts and camisoles in the space-saving and pretty way recommended by Marie Kondo.

DSCN6225

My collection of Dharma Wanderlust jewelry.

When I start to feel upset about something in my home being out of its place, I catch myself ready to flare out at my family and remind myself of the words from Audrey Hepburn’s favourite poem:

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.” 

If you have read Marie Kondo’s book, I would love to read about your impressions and whether the book has had a positive effect on the way you manage your living and/or work space. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend.

Smoothies have become my comfort food. They soothe my hunger pangs and the shaky nerves that can come with the big BACK TO SCHOOL day.

My older boy, D, started his first day of senior kindergarten today. We both stood in front of the school, he behind the gate and I in front of it with my younger boy, A. Both D and I struggled to put on a brave face and smile through the anxiety. I’m confident that once he walked into the building, the anxiety did start to thaw as he was reunited with his friends.

As for me, my distraction came from A, who happily skipped along on our way home to play and prepare dinner… And yes, prepare smoothies! Oh, how glad I am that my children love smoothies! Healthy nutrition is one of my top priorities as a parent, and working with kids’ particular palates, it’s not always simple to get that healthy and nutritious food into their bellies without a power struggle of some kind. Enter smoothies.

DSCN3489

Ayurveda is my healthy living guide, and it dictates that fruit should always be consumed separately. However, I love to use fruit as a natural sweetener in smoothies. In addition, I never, ever combine fruit with dairy (I rarely consume dairy, in fact) and any other animal protein. I feel it’s important to state these guidelines before venturing into today’s recipe. As a woman with a primary Vata dosha, too much fruit and improper food combinations can quickly give me an upset stomach. I try to adhere to these Ayurvedic guidelines with the food combinations in meals I prepare for myself and my family. Another extremely important tip is to use room-temperature ingredients. Ice-cold drinks can weaken agni, the digestive fire, interfering with healthy digestion.

Without further ado, here is what I used in my belly-friendly green smoothie today:

– about a cup of vanilla-flavoured unsweetened almond milk

– one ripe chopped banana

– one large ripe mango

– a bowl full of baby spinach

– a small bit of grated ginger (I freeze the ginger root to make it easier to grate), to taste

DSCN3487

Simply add all the ingredients into the blender in the order listed above, and blend to a smooth consistency.

DSCN3491

The result is delicious and kid-approved.

DSCN3494

Feel free to follow the above guidelines to custom-craft your own smoothie. For the liquid, in lieu of the almond milk, other good choices are organic soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, or even distilled water. I recommend using a ripe avocado, pear, or banana, in addition to another ripe fruit of your choice. As for the greens, baby spinach or kale are the traditional options with which most people are familiar. However, collard greens or even beet greens are also excellent. If you are not accustomed to the taste of greens in your smoothie, feel free to start with smaller handfuls of greens and gradually train your taste buds to (hopefully) enjoy them. The fruit is not enough to tempt your sweet tooth? Feel free to sweeten the smoothie with a few pitted dates or maple syrup until your taste buds become accustomed to the sweetness of the ripe fresh fruit.

In the mood for CHOCOLATE? We have the perfect chocolate banana protein smoothie for you, and we even have a vlog to guide you along!

All you need are a few simple ingredients:

DSCN3484

– almond milk (or your choice of milk)

– a ripe banana (we couldn’t get our hands on a ripe enough banana for the above video, so we apologize for any confusion)

– approx. 3/4 cup frozen berries (your choice)

– tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

– tbsp unsweetened nut butter

– a dash of cinnamon

– a few dates or a bit of maple syrup (completely optional)

Watch the video for additional information! Blend and enjoy!

Are you a parent whose children are heading back to school today? Feel free to share your tips on dealing with nerves/anxiety, as well as about healthy nutrition throughout the school year. Curious about other healthy living tips and recipes? Leave a comment and let us know what you would like to see next on this blog!

Wishing you a wonderful first week of September!

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust