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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 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.

 

Wedding Collage

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.

 

The story we share feels older than its 16 years. Our history reaches farther back, in a strange, transcendental way that feels comforting and familiar. Throughout that time, we have faced challenges sprinkled among the highlights, the pivotal moments that allowed us to grow closer together while growing up as individuals. I once wondered whether we have much in common. Now, I know that we grew into our own potential with each other’s help, supporting each other along the way, and never missing an opportunity to embark on adventures.

 

I debated with myself back and forth about whether I should publish the following list. My hesitation was twofold: the list contains personal information; I don’t want to make the impression that I am trying to educate anyone through what might sound like fail-proof success tips. Every person, couple, and marriage is different. Other couples’ circumstances may be very different from ours. This list is simply to highlight what has been working for us, based on our own opinions. I would love for you to share your own tips in the comments below.

  1. Remembering our roots.

Before we became a couple, we each had our own history. That history shaped me to be the person with whom my husband fell in love. We must never lose ourselves or sacrifice our personalities within a partnership. That’s why it’s important to continue…

  1. Growing individually, exploring personal interests, and taking care of ourselves by spending time alone.

In my teens, I spent my ‘alone’ time working on my fashion design portfolio (sketching and sewing), practising yoga, freelance writing for local newspapers, painting, taking vocal lessons, and reading as much fantasy fiction as I could. Pawel spent his time designing and building robots and reading Greek mythology (he also enjoyed reading robotics manuals, but don’t tell him I said that). We continue to cultivate our personal interests and they have evolved. These days, I continue to read, knit, write, and practise yoga. Pawel continues to work on electronics, create woodworking projects, and experiment with various other creative projects that are currently top-secret. Self-care is important to us and we each have our own way of nourishing ourselves. By doing so, we continue to cultivate our own self-education while becoming more interesting, better partners for each other.

  1. Sharing our passions and ideas with each other.

We respect our personal interests because they allow us to explore our creativity, working in parallel, bouncing ideas off each other. I am in awe of the ideas constantly simmering in Pawel’s brain. Mine are more abstract, philosophical, and we enjoy challenging each other to think spherically.

  1. Making time for each other.

As working parents, we noticed several years ago just how easy it is to allow the regular date night tradition to slide. Since then, we dedicate one night per week to a casual date at home. Usually, it’s nothing extravagant. We have a special dinner with the kids and then either watch a movie, work on a puzzle together, or simply sit and chat over drinks and snacks. Upholding this tradition reminds us that no matter what comes up, as it inevitably will, we both must make an effort.

  1. Celebrating small successes.

Life can be full of crap moments / days / weeks. If we lose sight of what is most important, it’s incredible how quickly we can tumble down a dark hole out of which it’s difficult to get out. So, we must continue to focus on gratitude toward the basics, celebrating the beautiful people and moments that are most important in our lives.

  1. Supporting each other.

Dark times are inevitable. Those are the times when I need my husband to be by my side, listening to me without judgment, simply acknowledging my challenges and holding compassionate space. Sometimes, my challenges seem incomprehensible to my husband. As an INTJ, he is cerebral, logical, and brutally honest. As an INFP, I am idealistic, sensitive and emotional. When it feels like we don’t speak the same language, I sometimes need to be specific about how I want to be treated, in what way I need him to support me. I refuse to be quiet about it. The silent treatment never serves anyone.

  1. Honestly telling each other when we feel that an idea is a bad one.

At other times, I need my logical husband to look at me and tell me honestly that my idea sucks. I have been known to act from an emotional space that sometimes gets me in trouble. At those times, he is my anchor, providing me with a different vantage point, keeping me grounded. There are times when his behaviour is less than ideal and I remind him to tone things down. The important factor here is to hold space for each other and be open to advice that might not naturally appeal to us.

  1. Cutting each other some slack.

… On the other hand, sometimes we need to go easy on ourselves and each other, letting mistakes slide. INFPs are good at living and letting other people live the way they will. Sometimes, we’re too good at it, to the point of ignoring certain faux pas. I don’t like to be the nagging wife. I don’t enjoy constantly reminding someone to do something. There are times when I ignore dirty dishes in the sink, realizing that Pawel may have gotten distracted with a creative project, or is simply feeling tired. Either I will do the dishes myself or they will get done, eventually. Sometimes, the best choice is to take no action.

  1. Remembering that disagreements are inevitable, and keeping an open mind.

There are times when we don’t see eye to eye on a certain subject. We argue about it and either reach a mutual decision, or we agree to disagree without holding grudges. The most important factor here is whether the point about which we disagree is truly crucial to our partnership. If it isn’t, we allow each other space to hold our own opinions with no harm to anyone.

    10.   Remembering that dull times are inevitable.

Some days are mundane. There is no excitement and nothing happens beyond work, laundry, food preparation, cleaning, bedtime routines, morning routines, etc. And that’s okay. Pawel has taught me to be grateful for the ordinary days, for the smooth routines that we have developed, focusing on our health and wellbeing and leaving excitement to another time.

11.  Celebrating the moments/days/weeks that are thrilling, exciting, and passionate.

We must never, ever overlook anything important! Whether it’s our children’s first independent steps, an award that one of us received, or a new blog post published. We do our best, together, to commemorate all those moments, no matter how small. Someday, they will be the memories to which we will return to brighten our days.

12.   Allowing space for adventure, creating new memories together.

My parents used to take me and my younger sister on adventure outings. We enjoyed driving in a general chosen direction without planning anything specific. Once, we ended up on a beach after dark. The full moon shining on the sun-warmed water of the Mediterranean Sea illuminated the sand and on it, a pile of my parents’ clothing. Before my sister and I realized what was happening, we saw our parents run into the water, wearing only their underwear! We had not planned to go to the beach and did not bring swimsuits with us. As an 11-year-old, I felt mortified to watch my parents run into the water, giggling like teenagers. My four-year-old sister followed suit, deciding that my parents were not allowed to have fun without her. I sat on the sand, shaking my head, looking left and right at the several other lone couples enjoying a romantic evening on the beach, secretly thinking that I, too, would have loved to splash in the warm moonlit sea. Today, this memory of my family is one of my fondest. Times have changed, but I loved seeing the moonlit joy on the faces of my parents and my sister. Now, in our 30s, Pawel and I are the ones creating fun adventures for our kids, some of which do not impress them but just might become fond ones in the future.

13.   Seeing each other through newlyweds’ eyes.

After sixteen years together, it’s easy for a partnership to become too familiar, based on friendship and lacking a spark of romance. In eastern philosophy, there is a lesson about learning to experience our world through the eyes of a newborn / beginner. Applied to marriage, I enjoy practising seeing my husband as though for the very first time, really looking at him, studying his forever smiling eyes and the fine lines around them that show his kindness beneath a hint of childlike mischief. I look at his hardworking hands, adorned with calluses and two rings: his wedding band and the symbolic iron ring worn by engineers in North America. I study him as though seeing him before me for the first time. I listen to his deep, soothing voice, smile at his silly sense of humour, and pretend that we are just now getting to know each other for the first time. The result is incredible as time and time again, I continue to fall in love in a new way.

I’m sure that I am missing entire categories in this list, and without giving away too many personal details, I’ll leave the list at this.

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Every couple is different. Each relationship is different. If there is anything you would like to add about your own important lessons for a successful marriage, please feel free to do so in the comments below.