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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.

 

Whoosh! Almost six months have flown since the start of 2015. If you’re like me, you might enjoy taking inventory at the start, the end of the year, its midway point, and on your birthday. The past Sunday’s Summer Solstice marks the year’s midway point, so here is a brief update on what we have been into:

Running

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I never thought I would enjoy running. Several years ago, I decided to embark on a training schedule akin to a typical 0 to 5K program. However, I quickly became bored, experienced joint issues, and probably came up with myriad other excuses that I can no longer recall. This summer, however, I found that I was becoming bored with my indoor HIIT cardio. I wanted to start moving out of doors, in the fresh air. I felt called to explore various routes in our neighbourhood. I have been spending the majority of my days in an office and have not had a chance to take daily walks with my kids to and from school. I miss being outside.

I’m still at the point of training that requires me to alternate running with walking, gradually increasing my running time, but I must say that I have fallen in love with running. Some days feel more challenging than others, but I am excited at the prospect of maybe, possibly, one day soon becoming a dedicated runner. Summer is a perfect time to reconnect to our passions and to try something new, like running. It’s still out of my comfort zone but continues to become increasingly familiar.

Reading

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Image courtesy of Starz.

At the recommendation of a good friend who knows all about my admiration of all-things Celtic (as in Ireland and Scotland, fairies, the Highlands, folk music, etc.), for Mother’s Day in May, Mr. Wanderlust gave me a box of the first four books of the Outlander series. I know the books may be dubbed literary candy, but I am shamelessly obsessed with the story and its characters. I am in awe of Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant character development and have joined the millions of readers who can’t get enough of the story of Jamie and Claire. I wrote recently that I do not watch television, making an exception for the rare good movie or short TV series. Having heard incredible reviews of the Outlander TV series, I borrowed the BluRay first half of the first season from my friend. Mr. Wanderlust was coaxed into watching the first two episodes of the show with me, after which he also was hooked. And now we both want to learn Gaelic. Maybe that’s a future project.

Writing

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Toasting marshmallows by the fire in the backyard. A summer favourite.

The memoir writing continues. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me last week with words of advice, as well as the reminder that there are others who second-guess their writing motives and plans. For now, I have decided to stop overthinking. I’m following my heart and curiously watching the story unfold from the tips of my fingers.

Knitting

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I am working on this delicious pair of watermelon-patterned socks, using Zauberwolle. Some knitters take a break from working with wool in the summer, but I’m not one of them. Besides, look at these colours! Do they not whisper ‘SUMMER’, in a giggly sing-song voice? Thus far, the summer weather in the Toronto area has been warm and breezy, and I happily spend my evenings with this yummy project.

Celtic Harp

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This picture is not recent, but we like it.

I’m currently learning to play Scotland the Brave. My favourite place to play in the summer is on our back patio. The wind carries the notes with it through the trees and I feel I can serenade along with the birds. Running and yoga at 5:30 a.m. provide me with the right jolt of energy, but reading, knitting and playing the Celtic harp allow me to slow down at 8 p.m.

Woodworking

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Double-dyed stabilized maple burl. We think it’s gorgeous.

Mr. Wanderlust has been at work on new goodies, to be revealed soon. He has also been experimenting with a laser etcher, which translates into wonderful possibilities.

Article Recommendation

I will leave you with this article: No Guilt Allowed! Why Parents Need Time for Themselves. As a working parent, I often find it challenging to be away from my children for long hours on weekdays. However, having also been a stay-at-home parent, I know how exhausting that role can be for an introvert. As an INFP, I cherish my quiet time, my alone time. With two very spirited young boys, that quiet time is often tough to come by. The noises at work tend of very different nature from the ones I hear at home. Both present their challenges and both leave me with the need to spend some time, every evening, alone, unwinding from the day that has passed. And that is why I make the time for reading, crafting, or playing a musical instrument. That’s why Pawel makes the time for woodworking. When we feel calmer, recharged and relaxed, we are better people, better parents.

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Your turn! What have you been reading, crafting, playing, learning, or exploring? Are you an introvert parent? How do you make time for yourself? 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present, and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.” – Audrey Hepburn

Sometimes, we just need a nap. A long nap. A very, very long nap. Here’s a story about a tired holiday weekend, and the lessons of which I have been reminded.

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I was looking forward to the Easter long weekend and the many plans to spend three beautiful days with our family. On Thursday night, after a four-day work week that felt longer than the usual five-day week, I felt blissfully tired and headed to bed earlier. I was fully expecting to wake up at 5 a.m. to start the day with a gentle yoga practice and a meditation session while welcoming the sunrise. Instead, on Friday morning, I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock several times before realizing I felt utterly exhausted. I turned off the alarm clock and chose, instead, to pay off the big sleep debt I accumulated earlier in the week while staying up for a few nights to take care of our younger child who was sick with a stomach bug.

I woke up at 9:30 (very unusual for me) to see the sun streaming in through the window. Yet, my brain felt foggy even after I drank an extra cup of strong coffee with almond milk. Had I overslept? Too much of a good thing isn’t helpful, either. The day was glorious and the sun felt warm. We shed our jackets and went for a walk around the neighbourhood, wearing only our sweaters! However, the walk wasn’t as relaxing as we had hoped it would be. Our younger son, having just gotten over the stomach bug, was now fighting a sinus cold. Exhausted and ready for a nap, he felt uncomfortable and kept whining, finally laying down on the sidewalk and refusing to walk any farther. I wasn’t the only one dealing with brain fog. The fuzziness continued into Saturday and Sunday during a roadtrip to visit our family. By this point, the weather went from sunny 14C on Friday to snow and 2C on Sunday. Once again, I slept in until 9:30 and woke up feeling not only tired but also with a sore throat. By this point, our youngest child had a runny nose, and I knew I was headed toward the same outcome. Suffice it to say that I was not a lively conversationalist during Easter brunch at my in-laws’.

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Our plans for a lively, fun weekend didn’t work out the way we had hoped they would. I’m still dealing with sleep debt and had a difficult time getting up on Monday to prepare for the new work week. I haven’t stepped on my yoga mat in the past four days, and now I have come down with a cold.

But I’m not writing this to whine.

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Despite the exhaustion, despite the strange (and somewhat depressing) weather patterns, despite the busy pace, I am grateful. I am grateful for another weekend spent with our loved ones. I am grateful for good food. For strong coffee. For cuddles with my favourite people. For warm hospitality. For Easter chocolate. I am grateful for a small window of time, thanks to my parents’ offer to babysit, when Pawel and I were able to head out on Saturday night to the book store once the kids were quietly snuggled in bed together. I am grateful for the ever-growing stack of books by my bedside. I am grateful for hot tea to soothe a sore throat. I am grateful for the beautiful warm, sunny days and the promise of spring. I’m also grateful for snow and rain, because chilly grey days remind us to slow down and take better care of ourselves. I am grateful for events that don’t work out as planned. I am grateful for the reminder to make the most of every day, to enjoy it all to the maximum, even when gratitude is the last sense I want to cultivate.

Here’s to a fantastic week! Let’s make the most of it, every day!

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What I have been reading:

What Compassion Looks Like: The Lesson of the Flowers  – a brilliant article by Karen Maezen-Miller. I keep picking up her book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood, whenever I need advice. I first read this book when my firstborn was only two months old. My copy of the book is dog-eared and underlined.

When I Married My Mother  by Jo Maeder. A memoir of a woman caring for her aging, ill mother.

Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers. This book has been on my ‘To Read’ list for the past few years, since I attended an incredible workshop led by Sarah Powers. I’m happy to have finally acquired it.

Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. I read and loved Rubin’s The Happiness Project  and had to get my hands on her latest publication. By the way, I still have Happier at Home: The Days are Long but the Years are Short on my ‘To Read’ list. I think I will pick it up after I finish Better than Before.

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We needed to take some time to adjust to a new change in our household. After a blogging hiatus, we’re back and ready to share more of our adventures and ideas with you. To our loyal readers, thank you for your continuing support. And if you’re new to our site, welcome! We hope you will enjoy its content and will share it with your friends.

My older son and I were sitting at a local coffee and doughnut shop yesterday in the evening after dinner, enjoying a mini escape from the house, a mom-and-son date. While I waited for my mint tea to chill, I watched my son and answered his questions about the various signs he kept noticing in the small shop, advertising sandwich combos, a new roast, and free WiFi (“What is WiFi, Mommy?”). He was sipping his hot chocolate, slowly at first, until he started to take bigger slurps and finally finished it before reaching for his double chocolate doughnut. Like me, my son has a sweet tooth. I have often wondered whether in our family, we all have a sweet tooth gene that continues to be passed on from generation to generation. When I started to introduce my son to ‘real’ foods as a baby, I offered him pureed beans alongside pureed yams. Guess which one he relished, seated in his high chair with a smile full of sweet-tasting orange-coloured happiness. The other vegetable was promptly spat out, as soon as the BPA-free teaspoon touched his lips.

As a student of Mindfulness, I have a profound interest in how we can utilize Mindfulness practices to change negative habits into lasting positive ones. Particularly, I have been applying the practice to my personal eating patterns by observing my emotions and thoughts during stressful/challenging times, noticing the foods I crave during those times: anything made with sugar.

I am also a fan of Gretchen Rubin’s work, the author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. Her new book, Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, to be released on March 17th, explores the science behind habit-forming behaviour. Visiting Rubin’s website, I came across this quiz and as I read the post, I had to pause to listen to the ‘ding ding ding’ sound coming closer toward me from a distance.

It turns out that some people are natural moderators while others are abstainers. As much as I don’t enjoy labels, what this means is that for some people, like me, it’s easier to give up sugar cold-turkey and after struggling through the initial 14 days or so, to abstain from sugar altogether. Others more easily take the approach that ‘life is too short to miss out on treats,’ and are able to stop eating dessert after the first two bites. Rubin mentions yet another fascinating fact, that moderators often try – unsuccessfully – to turn into abstainers, and abstainers – again, unsuccessfully – attempt to become moderators.

This information provides a different perspective for my practice. It also leads me to wonder whether, perhaps, Mindfulness practices that relate to food consumption come more easily to people who are naturally better at moderating. On the other hand, a daily seated or walking mindfulness meditation practice might come more easily to a person who takes the ‘all or nothing’ attitude. I would assume that people who are able to effectively abstain from consuming certain foods would also be naturally better than others at repeating the same behaviour every day. I might be wrong, but to learn more, I will just have to read Rubin’s new book and continue practising.

What are your thoughts? Would you say you tend to choose the ‘all or nothing’ or the ‘you only live once, so let’s enjoy the treat’ approach? Please feel free to comment.

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In a household with two busy boys, life can get very hectic and overwhelming with endless ‘to do’ lists. The saying, “The days are long but the years are short” certainly rings true for us. On the days when life gets a bit too crazy, we have a few ‘go to’ solutions under our belts, including spending extra time outdoors, going to bed early, and focusing on the best moments of the day.

 

Our new Source Connection pendant, which Katia is wearing in the photo above, was inspired by this experience. There are many practices that help us to become centred, which in turn provides us with clarity and an opportunity to reconnect to who we truly are within.

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The water element, in particular, can help us tune in, become centred, and remember our connection to everything and everyone that surrounds us. In Ontario, the summer season will start to wrap up soon enough, so this is the perfect time to enjoy being near the lake, basking in the tranquility.

In the words of Xavier Rudd:

“When you feel life coming down on you like a heavy weight
When you feel this crazy society adding to the strain
Take a stroll to the nearest water’s edge, remember your place
Many moons have risen and fallen long, long before you came
So which way is the wind blowing
What does your heart say”

This beautiful item is handcrafted using Narra wood, native to southeastern Asia and parts of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Vietnam, among others. The centre circles are made of crushed seashell inlay.

We would love to hear from you! How do you stay centred when life gets a bit hectic?