Two weeks ago we moved 1300 kilometres from the city that I had spent the past 25 years of my life. Away from my dear friends, my family, and the place that shaped who I am today. That being said, we moved to this new city because we chose to. We chose this city because we feel it fits well with our down to earth, nature loving, vegetarian lifestyle, and it's a wonderful city to raise our son.
So we packed up our belongings and moved to this new city, into a 1928 Craftsman house by the sea, which my wonderful and talented husband has been restoring for the past 6 months. We still have lots of work to do, but each day it looks more and more like a home.
How has our life changed being here in this new city? Well, each day we walk a block and a half to the local produce shop and buy tasty local produce to make our meals. And sometimes we add a delicious local treat of Island Creamery ice cream, or a donut from Yonni's. We also drink nitro or cold brew coffee from Discovery Coffee. Yum!
We work until our backs ache and our body is tired, sanding, tiling, wallpapering, nailing, painting. And when we need a break we unwind on our deck or go out on the paddleboard, or have drinks with our amazing neighbours. It doesn't even begin to fill the void left by leaving our loved ones, nor does it replace them but it re-affirms the reason we chose to come out here.
We took a big risk coming out here, away from secure jobs, family and dear friends but we know we made the right decision. And while we have lots of work to do, oh, and that small matter of finding a job, we are excited for what the future has in store for us and can't wait for our loved ones to come and visit! I guess what I'm trying to say is, while change might be scary, difficult, and super sad sometimes, it can also be precious, beautiful, and life changing. Some things are definetly worth the risk. Until next time...
I have always been the type of person who likes to learn new things. My addiction to learning goes back as far as I can remember. As a child I LOVED to read, anything and everything I could get my hands on. From Babysitters Club, to Encyclopedias, cereal boxes, to refrigerator manuals. I craved knowledge. My favourite place to be, then and now, is the Library, The rows and rows of books make me feel so alive, and at the same time, so calm. It probably comes as no surprise to my readers that I was also an extremely shy person. Just a "hello" from a new person caused me to break out in a sweat. So naturally, I loved being alone, and would be swept away into the world of books. Sometimes retreating into these far away places for hours and hours, only to be disturbed by the loo, or to eat. And more times than not, I completely forgot the latter. While my thirst for knowledge was intense, the time spent, and the commitment to each new subject was fleeting. I would discover something new and for several weeks commit to learning all I could about that new subject and then move on to something else. I could never commit to one thing for too long because I always needed to know more.
My lack of commitment didn't stop at learning. It leaked out into all areas of my life like a virus, trying to stop me from attaching to any one thing for too long, afraid to show my true self, afraid to be vulnerable, transparent. It became my identity. People called me a "Free Spirit", like I was so noncommittal I might just float away. It also meant that for most of my life my relationships were empty, lacking true connection. It meant that while I was "a wanderer", I was also lost. I didn't feel like I fit. So I vowed to change, to make real connections with people. To live in the moment. To see the world around me instead of the ones in my books. I started making real goals. Actually committing to things. Following my passions, making plans, and then actually seeing them through. I stopped being afraid.
I started by choosing small things that I new I could finish like "cleaning one room in my house each day this week", or " running for 30 secs/walk 1 min for 10 minutes". I new that I would be able to achieve those goals and new that the feeling of accomplishment would feed me and push me to try more difficult tasks. Slowly I increased the goals to things that pushed my comfort zone like "not purchasing any new clothes for 3 months", or "eating no sugar for 1 week". Not only has the active regular goal setting made me a healthier person, it has also made me a happier person.
My current goal is to run a 10Km race. I always hated running but love being fit and strong, and athletic so when this past Fall I was unable to workout in the way I was used to following a major surgery I decided that instead of sitting on my butt watching Netflix, I would be active in any way I could. It started as walking, then progressed to jogging. Then I signed up for a race to hold myself accountable, and invited friends to join me. I am really loving it. I didn't start out that way though! I huffed and puffed my way through the first few weeks, but with each big red X I have put on my calendar and every kilometre logged on my Nike + app I have found the difficulty turn to ease, and disgust turn to enjoyment. Naturally I have also read every article, blog, and book on running I can, and even find that my time spent running is also a great time to listen to Podcasts. You never know what you might learn there! ...
MindTools.com has an article on how to set SMART goals here .
Or check out ActionForHappiness.org
And, of course there is always an App for that, like Strides, or Remente, or do it the good old fashioned way like I do and make a big red X on your actual paper calendar after completing that days goal! It is so satisfying!
Moments of Mindfulness
1. What goals or resolutions have you made in the past 6 months that you have not stuck to?
2. Write down 1 simple SMART goal for this week.
3. Journal or keep track of how you are doing.
4. Celebrate completing your goal!
5. Share your goals below. Successes and failures. We want to hear from you, support you, cheer you on!
Sitting around the table and The Farm.
Every Christmas as a child was spent at both my Grandparents farm, and my Baba and Gido's house. We would split the time between the two and while each family environment was drastically different, they were both filled with love and community. My grandparents farm, the setting for so much of my childhood memories, was always bustling with people and activity. The door was always open, and the coffee was always on. Whether it was someone visiting from out of town, or a neighbour stopping in for a chat, my grandparents always had time for a visit. And guests new that they were part of the family. This often meant pitching in if it was harvest time, or if my grandma was canning or making perogies, the ladies would roll up their sleeves and help out in any way they could. They were there for the fellowship, the gossip, and to be a part the community that revolved around my grandparents farm. Christmas Eve was the big event day at The Farm. The whole day was spent in the kitchen preparing the feast. The women would cook all day, chatting and laughing the whole time. Occasionally shoo-ing the men out who were trying to sneak a bite before the big unveil. The men's job was to "watch" us kids but more often than not they supervised us from the couch while watching this sport or that one on the TV. Sometimes we would instigate a tickling match when we harassed them too much, or they would grab us and hold us captive as we ran by for the hundredth time, telling us they weren't going to let us go while "noogying" our hair into a ratty mess. Those were the days!
Dinner was A Feast! The entire kitchen table piled high with every kind of food you can imagine. All home made with love. We would line up and scoop spoonfuls of perogies and cabbage rolls, pickles and beans onto our plates and find a place on the floor or beside the coffee table before diving in. There were people everywhere, all eating and talking at the same time, catching up with whomever was closest to them. Aunties, uncles, friends, cousins, and neighbours. After dinner the men took to the couches and soft shag living room carpet to sleep off their food comas and the women and children cleaned up and hand washed the dishes. The men would one by one, get up, belch loudly, and then join us in the kitchen for their obligatory turn drying dishes. Everyone pitched in, it was expected, and it was a lot of fun! Often Grandpa would sit on the small wooden school chair that was eternally perched beside the stove drinking his beer and direct those of us who's job was to put away the freshly dried dishes. He was always so social and loved being a part of whatever was happening. Grandma was the real boss though. Tough but kind, she never took shit from anyone, and was always to kind and generous. I loved spending time there, everything and everyone had their place and was a part of the whole. You never felt less than or under valued. We all worked together.
On Christmas day we would drive an hour from the farm to my Baba and Gido's house. They lived in a smallish rural town in Saskatewan and we always went to Mass. This was a non-negotiable event. So we would all dress up in our Sunday finest and walk the few blocks to the Ukrainian Catholic church that they had been members of for forever. As a child this service seemed eternal, but we found ways to keep ourselves occupied. The service was sung completely in Ukrainian which we did not understand so we would make up words to the rhythmic song that was Mass. We thought this was hilarious and would giggle uncontrollably only to be shushed by the nearest adult followed by "the eye" That usually shut us up pretty quickly! Following the service we would walk the few blocks home, file into the house and start getting dinner ready . Christmas Day dinner was more formal that The Farm. We used Baba's fine china, sat at the dinning room table and everyone used their "inside voices" It was the complete opposite from the loud and boisterous shenanigan's at The Farm. What was the same though was the love, community, and togetherness. There was laughter, and warmth, just in a different way. I loved as a child sitting and listening to my dad and his brothers and sister tell stories of the trouble they would get into as kids. I learned very young that farm boys are ALOT of trouble! I suspect that my aunt spent much of her time keeping them out of the worst of it! My aunts were and are so special to me. On both sides. They always made me feel special, like one of the girls, a part of something. They taught me how to be a strong, and compassionate woman. They taught me how to be a good and faithful wife. They taught me how to be a contributing member of the community. Through one on one interaction or just in observing them with others it shaped the person I am today and I am grateful for that.
When I got married my family grew. I finally got the sisters I had always wanted and I gained the most amazing mother-in-law! I have loved taking in their traditions, and enjoyed their incredible Hungarian cooking! Each time we get together I see a little more of them, how proud they are of their heritage, and how strong and incredibly talented they are. They never give up, and everything they do is with love.
It makes me so happy that our son has the opportunity to be with his extended family, even if it isn't often. He knows they are a part of him and enjoys every moment of his time with them. Now as an adult I try and recreate that sense of belonging and community for us. Large family gatherings feel so intimate to me, and while they can be exhausting, they are rich in love.
My wish for you this Holiday Season, whatever your family situation, whatever your beliefs, so much joy, love, and Community!
I wish for you a Christmas filled with loved ones to warm the heart, food to nourish the body, and laughter to fill the soul. Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year!
Grandma (left) and Baba (right). I miss you both so much.
Me and my brother's. Yep we were little troublemakers!
About a year ago I was introduced to the wonderful world of Facebook Swap Pages. Some people call them Buy and Sell, Freecycle, etc. Essentially they are a group of people who buy, sell, trade miscellaneous items to others in this group. I had no idea that something like this even existed! I had used Kijiji but the creep factor often deterred me from using it and the emails from people offering 1/10th of the price I asked turned me off even more. The Swap page idea intrigued me, and when I went onto Facebook to check it out I found endless pages broken down into areas of the city some (like the one I am a part of) even go so far as being a 'secret group' where the only way you can be added is if someone who is already a part of the group is willing to vouch for you risking the loss of their beloved spot on the page if you try to pull a fast one and cheat, steal, flake out, or go again the rules of the swap. While this concept may seem extreme, and reminiscent of The Loyal Order of the Water Buffalos it's really an amazing idea.
The vouching builds trust, and it definitely builds community. These other members, most in my group are women, moms who are trying to save some money and have embraced wholeheartedly the philosophy of reuse, reducing the amount of new things we have to buy. And let me tell you, I have seen it all!
Things I have seen for sale/free on the Swap:
- A headband
- Coupons and free attractions passes
- Clothing, shoes, handbags (a girl's gotta stay classy!)
- kids toys
- kids clothing, boots, accessories
- building / landscaping supplies
- pets (re-homing or sometimes fostering)
- brand new items (sometime we buy new and decide we don't like them. Or get something as a gift and it's something we won't use)
- the possibilities are endless!
I have seen so much generosity, kindness, and compassion, all amongst women who live in my community but that I would otherwise not have met if not for this group. And to be truthful, I haven't met a lot of these women in person, just through the many chat feeds running through the groups page. However I feel as though I know so many of them as I would know a friend. I have gained knowledge, tons of laughs, and lots of cool "new" items! The Swap is the envy of so many husbands, including mine who now has gotten into the habit of asking me to ISO (In search of) items that he is looking for so that he doesn't have to buy it new.
Things that the Swap is:
- a place to sell or give away stuff you don't need anymore
- a place to buy cool "new" stuff
- a community
- a safe place to get advice, and support
- a place to get a laugh (we have some seriously hilarious swappers)
- a place to get info about things happening in the community
Things that the Swap is NOT:
- a place to sell your business
- a place to steal, lie, or cheat people out of money or items
So why am I going on about this amazing concept you ask? I suppose to educate, in case you didn't know about them. To inspire, in case there is not one in your area and you want to start one yourself. And I encourage to you. Join a group, or start one of your own. We are a civilization of over consumption, and waste, lets try and do our part by looking for second hand items first, and maybe you'll make a little extra cash in the meantime!
It has been quite a while since my last post and boy there have been a lot of changes! Amongst the chaos of building a new house, family illness, celebration, our son starting kindergarten, and me going for surgery I have come to realize that the key to success during these difficult and busy times is focusing on the little things. Now I don't mean walking around your house in a estrogen induced rage, foaming at the mouth, angry and yelling because yet again your husband has left 12 pairs of socks lying around (who wears that many pairs anyways!), or your son has 16 Lego sets spread out on your living room floor and it has become a minefield. Not these types of little things. Those can wait. I mean seeing and appreciating that your husband got up with your son and made breakfast so you could sleep in even though he has a busy day ahead of him, or that your friend took time out of her very busy schedule to bring you coffee and stop by for a chat when you aren't feeling well.
This is something I have observed over the past few years, something that has intrigued me in a 'human behaviour' kind of way. Noticing that every time I go out with one of my friends she brings a little something back for her husband, or that another friend has chosen to work part-time so that she can be home with her kids and be available to her husband. Or perhaps it is the man who helps load groceries into a car for an elderly lady, or the sister who drops everything to care for her sick brother. These moments touch me, and inspire me. Even more inspiring is the responses. The husband who in turn gets out of work early so his wife can have a girls night with her friends, or who after a long day at work comes home and makes supper and spends time with the kids so that his wife can relax. The kind smile, the thank you's, the reciprocated care. This is the bread and butter of human kindness, of compassion, of care. The little things.
I tend to be fascinated with human behaviours and I love to dig deeper into what makes us do the things we do, react in certain way, etc. So I decided to perform an experiment in my own household to see what would happen if I actively appreciated, and performed little acts of kindness. This meant going beyond the regular pleases and thank you's. It also meant really truly feeling the appreciation instead of just saying it. It also meant still appreciating when my husband or son did something for me even if it wasn't done in a way that I would have done it. (You know what I'm talking about!) Here's what happened when I started showing more appreciation...I received appreciation back. No kidding! I know, obvious right? But It kept going from there. I would appreciate and thank my husband for doing something, maybe even text him during the day to say "I love you", or "wishing you a great day", and he would come home after work more open, and receptive. He chipped in more, was less distracted at home. Our son observed it too, and the kid who is normally very well behaved and thoughtful started becoming even more so. After meals he will say "thank you so much for supper, it was delicious!", he listens more readily, and is all around more happy and receptive. So the little things count. People who say one person can't change the world are wrong, a drop in the ocean is still a drop, and the ripple effect is enormous.
I encourage you to try your own experiment. Truly notice and appreciate the things people do for you, and reciprocate with kindness and care for them. See what happens. How far does the ripple travel. And let me know how it goes, you can always comment below...
I've always been a little bit of a weirdo. I was insanely shy as a kid, I was terrified of being in the spotlight, talking to boys, new people, and sooo uncomfortable in any type of social setting. I didn't really like myself, and I wasn't like the other kids so I either pretended to be like them or I completely ignored them. For one, I had glasses, thick giant red plastic framed ones, and I LOVED to read! You do the math, Big red glasses + ridiculously shy + bookworm = Kind of a nerd. As I came into my teenage years, I started to come out of my shell, I replaced the glasses for contacts, and unique self, for one that was more in line with other kids my age. I spent most of my teenage years trying to convince myself and others that I was someone totally different than the self I knew I really was. Sadly, this would continue for another decade. And not surprisingly, I was unhappy. So out of touch with my SELF, I continually tried to find things to fill the void left behind.
Finally, while lying on my yoga mat, in the middle of my 200hour Yoga Teacher Training, and after months of soul searching, I found myself again. And I cried like a baby. I cried for all of the time lost, for not honouring who I really was, for lying, for shaming, for hating. And then the tears of mourning turned to ones of joy, and I really, for the first time in my entire life was able to be myself, to love myself, to accept myself, and I vowed I would never go back. I now have learned to love my uniqueness, my "inner granny" as I call it. I love to knit, read, garden, drink tea while watching old British BBC movies, etc.
I am always cold,
even in San Fransisco, in September... (P.s. I knit those sweet fingerless gloves!)
I like sitting in chairs that make me feel like a queen...
Sometimes I do strange things to my hair...
I love the feeling of something between my toes...
And I have a hard time taking a serious picture...
I've learnt that it feeds my soul to be myself and surround myself with people who accept and love me for who I truly am. I am so lucky to have friends and family that make me feel safe enough to be who I am, and I strive to create a space that makes others feel safe too.
I encourage you to take some time to ask yourself if you are the you who you are meant to be. And remember, it's ok to be who you are...
Feel comfortable in your skin...
Remember that you can't always be perfect. Sometimes this...
Starts as this...
Embrace your uniqueness, you are the only one in the entire universe exactly like you.
And you are perfect.
A Moment of Mindfulness
Take a few moments to consider the following questions. Feel free to journal, discuss them with others, or meditate on them.
1. What pieces of your true self do you really love and embrace?
2. Which ones do you allow others to see?
3. Which ones are you afraid to share with others? Why?
4. In what ways can you make it 'safe' for others to be themselves around you?
My friends are community builders. They may not think they are, but they are the type of people that attract people and build a community around them. One of my friends does it with food. She loves to cook, loves food, and builds a community around her with food in the centre of it. Another friends does it with her compassion and empathy. She is that mother you can rely on to watch your kids if you have an emergency. The one who keeps an eye out for the neighborhood kids that are playing outside. She truly and deeply cares for the families that are a part of her life and her daughter's lives. You feel it when you talk to her, she makes you feel as though you are the most important person to her. She is your confidant, your cheerleader, your comic relief. Another of my friends I met at a community soccer game that she and her husband had arranged in their neighbourhood. She and her husband are the most welcoming people you will meet. They are non-judgmental, so kind, and incredibly generous. This friend is always smiling, she exudes love and kindness and has this warmth about her that is so infectious. I have a friend who has started a Care Revolution. Her mission is to build a community of people who care and I have no doubts in my mind that she will accomplish it.
These types of people I am describing don't have to work at building community, they just naturally attract it. The positive energy and kindness they put out into the world comes back to them and builds this amazing group of like people around them. It's true what is said about like attracting like. You sense it when you are around a warm and kind person, they inspire you to be warm and kind too. This type of energy is uplifting and bright. The same can be said of a negative person. Just simply being in the presence of a negative person can drain the energy right out of you. Often being around these people, you begin to feel sour, and dull.
I am so grateful to be apart of these women's communities, to learn and share and grow with them. I am excited to see how their communities evolve and grow and inspire others.
Community = Care
Community's support one another, they inspire, they teach. When you care for yourself and those around you the ripple effect is one of growth, sharing, and inspiration. I encourage you to build your own community. Positive energy is contagious, care is contagious. Lets watch our communities grow and meld into a global revolution. Change starts with one person, YOU.
Moments of Mindfulness
1. Take a look around you sometime and observe how different types of people attract or deflect others.
2. Notice how that type of energy affects you personally.
3. Do these people have a community around them or are they alone? Are they bright or dim?
4. Do they uplift or drain you?
5. In what ways are you building a community around you? Or, what changes can you make in your life to begin to build a community.
2. Friendship should feed you.
This morning I went for coffee/breakfast with two of my dearest friends. All three of us are busy (some of us more than others) but we made the time in our schedules to meet this morning not just because it was important to us, but because after busy week we needed to be fed, both literally (yum, I love you Sugar Bowl), and spiritually. These women feed my soul. Not only do they get me and my quirky weirdness, they appreciate me and they genuinely care abut me, and I for them. There is no competition, nothing is censored, no story embellished to impress, it's real, and raw, and cathartic. Like a Canadian version of sex and the city, minus the Samantha, and designer shoes, we come from such different places in life, but somehow we just fit together like the missing piece in the puzzles that are our lives. This afternoon I spent time on the phone with another friend, and the entire conversation I couldn't help but think how grateful I am for this person. She makes me feel supported and loved.
My relationships with people have not always been this way. I spent the first two decades of my life being shy and feeling as though I was too boring, or not pretty enough, or too strange. I constantly found ways to make myself seem more interesting, or funny, or pretty. Not realizing that most people could see right through me. Most of my relationships were superficial, and with people who, like me, needed constant reassurance that they were good enough. It was exhausting. It wasn't until I met a few of the women that I call sisters today that I understood what friendship is. It loves you no matter what. It accepts all of you, It needs you as much as you need it. It is never jealous, it always lifts you up and makes you feel like you are the best possible version of yourself. It is comfortable, and understanding.
Moment of Mindfulness
1.Take a few moments to ponder your current friendships. Do they feed you?
2.Find a few things about each of those relationships that you are grateful for.
3.Consider in what way can you continue to nurture/grow/mend these relationships.
So I decided some time ago that I would like to write a blog about the 10 things I learnt from my friends. I have a few very close girlfriends who I could not live without. Some are old friends that I have known for ages, and others are new. They come from different walks of life, in some case different cities, and are all very different in their own unique ways. They are very special women, all incredibly kind, strong, wise, adventuresome, honest, and many other wonderful things. I love them dearly and have grown into a much better version of myself through knowing them. What they know to be true about me however is that I can be very long winded, so, that led me to break up each of the 10 points into separate posts so that you, the reader, are not subjected to an entirely too long post. Here goes...
1. Cared for people Care for people
My friend Joanne Minaker has a company called Cared Humanity and one of the main mantras of this company is "Cared for people Care for people". Simple. If a person is cared for, they will then have the capacity to care for others. Not always so simple. Start with yourself. How often do you take time to care for yourself? Now if you are one of the better ones you may make a practice of taking time daily to care for yourself. That might be going to the gym, spending time with someone you care about, reading a book, meditating or going to yoga, or some other activity you really enjoy. For the rest of you, it's not that easy. It took me a long time to really understand that it was extremely important to take care of myself first. In fact, I held a lot of guilt about it. I told myself many stories about why I shouldn't, didn't deserve to, didn't have time for the things that made me happy, and most importantly, sane. After my son was born I realized even more that in order to take care of him, I had to be in the right frame of mind, body, and spirit, and in order to do that I would need to devote the time, and let go of the guilt. Over time I began to see a ripple effect. My happiness = others happiness. The more happy, and content I was with myself, the better my relationships with others were. When I met Joanne, I knew I had met a kindred spirit. In talking to her about Cared Humanity and her mission to help women care for and love themselves I felt as though she was speaking directly to my heart. The more I got to know her and the more we began to create this partnership of Care Humanity and Anurakti Life (living a life of Love, Passion, and Devotion) the more excited I became about my life purpose. Caring for myself and caring for others has become a piece of who I am, what defines me. In my partnership as an ambassador for Lole, when I am teaching a yoga class, or teaching a lecture about the healing benefits of herbs, I always find a way to bring it back to Care. It spews out of me, and excites me, and makes me yearn for more. It has become my purpose, my quest if you will, to help others love themselves, guilt-free, so they can love others. Maybe repair relationships, or find the courage to start new ones. Whatever your reason, step up, be bold. YOU ARE WORTH IT.
A Moment of Mindfulness
Take a few moments to consider the following questions. Feel free to journal, discuss them with others, or meditate on them.
1. What does care mean to you?
2. In what ways do you care for yourself? Others?
3. What are some other the obstacles preventing you from caring for yourself? How can you overcome these obstacles?
I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These are your greatest treasures.
Compassionate towards yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.
Today I woke up feeling grey. I hadn't slept good, I had a headache, and I was pretty grouchy. On top of that I was kind of feeling sorry for myself. On the heel of closing my tea company and redirecting my so called "work life" I have been feeling a bit like Dorothy in the tornado being whirled and swirled in all directions, not able to see clearly the light at the end of the tunnel. I have hope though. I know that I will soon arrive in a place bright and full of amazing adventures, I know I have to trust, and I am (most of the time).
After dragging myself out of bed and going through the motions of our morning routine, I dropped off my son at school and came home to work on my agenda for a retreat I am speaking at this weekend. The message of this retreat is Self Care which is different for everyone, and ever evolving. I stared at my journal for a few minutes wondering how I was going to inspire this group of women to care for themselves, trying to force myself to be witty and smart and charming realizing if all felt false. I closed my journal, lay back on my bed, closed my eyes and began to just breathe. It never ceases to amaze me how something so simple as listening to the sound of your own breath can completely transform the spirit. I felt my body relax, my mind clear (even my headache), and my heart open. I stayed there and bathed in the warmth and beauty of the the breath and energy that was being created. When I opened my eyes, it was there. Not as a script in my head of what I was going to talk about, but as feeling, an embodiment. I opened my journal and over the next 15 minutes created o paper the experience I wish to embody and share with the women this Sunday. All I needed was a few minutes to feed myself, go inward and make some space and then I was able to reach outward.
I am excited for this weekend, for what the future has in store. Every day it becomes more clear and with the help of some amazing friends and family I know that my desires will become a reality, I just need to trust. I need to continue to feed my spirit and body, take time for myself (without guilt), so that my positive energy can feed those around me.
Living my life with Love, Passion, and Devotion....