Catch & Release. Swapping stress for joy.

With the Holidays in full swing, it is more important than ever to bring the bustle of the season back down to basics. Taking time to wind down, watch the snow fall and sip on something soothing is exactly what the season calls for. 

How about taking it one step further and really diving deep into relaxation. Something that frees your sense of self and acts as a true form of therapeutic escape.  

This past weekend I was part of a wedding for two very dear friends. Though the occasion embodied joy and possessed an unwavering air of love, the preparation for such an affair coupled with the typical seasonal scurry left me flat out by the time the third course had arrived at our table. As time passed I began to wonder how I was going to see myself through the rest of this blessed event. And then out of nowhere the crowd parted and a bright beaconing light shawn a path to the dance floor, somewhat like a light house signalling safety to seamen.

Being part of a musically engaged crew, a dance floor has always been one of my favourite forms of therapy. A place where you can let yourself go and become a part of something bigger. A place where your body does all the talking for you and upon looking around a dance floor, your exact sentiments are reflected back in the form of other like minded beaming faces bouncing beside you. For me it just doesn't get any better than rhythmic camraderie. The simple act of shaking around the floor surrounded by friends, filled me up and gave me the energy I needed for the last leg of the night.  

There are many things that fill me up but dancing is definitely one of my top five ways of letting go and enjoying the moment. 

In these hectic times, I urge you to find ways to relax and unplug and really let yourself go from some of the burdening thoughts and endless obligations that the Holidays can induce. Take some time and really think about what these might be for you. Write them down and stick them somewhere you'll be able to see them on a daily basis and do your best to unplug, unwind and enjoy a select moment in time. 

If happiness is what you're after this Holiday season or in the new year, you may want to check out THE HAPPINESS PLANNER to help focus on what fills you up & makes you whole. 

Here's to a truly happy Holiday season. 

Xx 

Early morning moves. How waking up with the sun can change your day.

This morning I found myself lying awake in what I thought was the dead of night, but in fact it was 5:15am. I tossed and turned making a weak attempt to fall back asleep until I heard a little "hello" echoing out of the darkness. I flipped over grabbed my man's hand and smiled ... not a bad way to wake up I thought to myself.  We've been battling a 7hr bout of jet leg for the last week and though I wasn't the one one travelling, falling asleep at 8:45pm and waking between 5am - 6am was far easier than expected. 

And so the day began, scurrying around and setting up our prospective mornings at 5:25am. As I began to get into my groove, it dawned on me that our neighbourhood yoga studio hosted a 7am class, a thought that used to make me chuckle. But there I sat, mouse in hand, staring at a dimly lit computer screen thinking 'why not?'.

Making my way to the studio in the dead of morning was rather strange. I typically practice mid day so it felt as though I was traversing the city at night. Nonetheless there was an air of excitement to it.  The excitement was energizing and lifting and the class seemed more in tune & fluid than usual. I believe there's value in directing one's focus into a given task shortly after a waking. It quiets your mind and allows you to set the pace of your day.  

After the class had ended, I walked outside of the classroom and noticed the natural light glowing around the studio windows. Walking by them I couldn't help but notice the beautiful bright hue of the sky outside.  I felt positive, focused and ready to start my day. I almost skipped home, feeling appreciative, alert and alive. I don't know what's in store for the rest of this day but I can say with certainty it will be good.

Interested in shaking up your morning routine ?

Why not try an early morning rise n shine, see what the extra hours bring and how it effects the rest of your day.

Perhaps a regularly scheduled wake up followed by some morning pages might be fun. They are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, about anything and everything that crosses your mind. Said to provoke, clarity, comfort, and help prioritize the day.

Maybe morning movement will help set a grounded tone to your day. Try walking, running or yoga, for some early exhilaration. 

We mustn't forget meditation, 5 - 10 minutes in the morning could help capture a sense of calm to carry with you through your day. 

Setting an intention to switch up the everyday is great ! We never know what we'll discover about ourselves and if we're lucky we'll see the world through a fresh set of eyes. 

Morning magic is in you ~ set it free ! 

Xx 

from purge to pretty - how letting go will change your life

After a morning munch with some of my favourite Montreal mavens, I decided personal savings wasn't so hard and the potential for organizational bliss was real. While sipping my morning cup of joe and skipping over smiles, I became somewhat seduced with the exchange around the table. Notions of "sorting your things to make your life shine" & only keeping things that "spark joy", had me bursting with excitement, Yes, bursting ! The way these beauties discussed the ease of finding things was like music to my ears.

The perfect solution for a smaller space indeed. A clutter-less culture, I dared to dream. 

And dream I did, of a stunning organizational masterpiece know as home, my home to be exact. There was just one little problem with this perfect picture ...  my love of all things small. I'll admit I do my best to organize and can often be found spending my weekends on mini makeovers & reorganizing various nooks & crannies of our home. But somehow things tend to find their way back to chaos. 

This time last year, we were preparing to sell our home. My husband and I were RUTHLESS when it came to letting things go, in preparation for the sale. If there was the slightest bit of hesitation, we showed some gratitude, wished it bon voyage & it was off to Goodwill. As we "cleaned" the house it gradually turned into a war zone. Everything was inside out and upside down, on display in various piles of assorted sizes and it seemed like there was no end in sight. We questioned our motives, wondering if in fact we had made the right move embarking on such a journey. 

To our delight there was a glorious silver lining after the scrap storm, it was almost as if we were in a brand new home. We had space, we could move, we could breath. Areas and rooms were bigger, items were easily visible and there was a new found sense of ease in getting ready that had ceased to exist prior to the purge. Things were just better, calmer and every pursuit had an air of pleasure to it. 

Now, a year later, things are jammed and jumbled again, but this morning's breakfast rekindled a tidy thought. After hearing my girls giddy with organizational glee, I knew it was time to revisit this wonderful practice. Perhaps you're feeling cluttered, clustered or just needing space; physically or mentally. I strongly suggest clearing one area of your home or office that is creating disruption in your life. Clear your frustration and make peace with your space, start small and stay focused. It's amazing how a clear space promotes a clear mind. 

And remember ...  

It always gets ugly before it gets pretty. 

There is no better feeling than knowing where something is and being able to find it with ease.

Organization is like bliss to your eyes. 

If you are looking for an organizational push my mavens swear by this book :   

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up ~ Marie Kondo

Purge away my pretties, and watch the magic unfold. 

Xx 

Ahhhchooo not you

It's the middle of November, Halloween is over (yipeeeeeeeeeee) and we're sliding into the sparkle 'n shine of the season. The lure of glowing lights at every turn is enough to make you squeal. Eventually this orchestra of falling flakes will become a wash of white that covers the city and absorbs all it's sounds. Everything becomes light and bright and wether we want to or not, eventually we all slow down. 

Along with the relaxation and excitement of the season comes the aches and pains of the flu and it's unwelcome cousin, the common cold. That crunchy, crappy feeling in your head, throat and lungs, your battered body making way to overbearing bacteria that are waging and wining the war on you! 

But what if we could stop said bugs in their tracks, or at the very least bring them to a grinding hault.  Looking for a good does of "Oh no, not this time, I'll be wining this cold war"!?

Well without further a-do, I give you my top ten tips for fighting the flu. 

Happy healing friends. 

  1. Listen to the subtle signs - Are you tired, chilled or feeling run down. Don't wait 'till its too late, tune in and give your body what it needs to restore. Perhaps that means slowing down, consuming extra fluids or nutrients and doing things to remove stress at the end of your day. Create a morning and or evening routine that will let you do this. 
  2. Manuka honey & lemon - Produced in New Zealand, Manuka honey is packed with minerals, vitamins, pollen, royal jelly, beeswax, and propolis. Unlike table sugar or artificial sweeteners, this honey is also a source of protein in addition to a carbohydrate. At the first sign of a sore throat, mix a large table spoon of Manuka honey with a freshly squeezed lemon and hot water. Feel free to add any of your faves - ginger, clove, orange peel to this healing handful of comfort. 
  3. Take a good probiotic twice a day - 70% of your immune system lives in your gut so it is important to replenish it with good bacteria. You will find probiotics in the fridge of most health food stores 
  4. Oil of oregano - Oregano oil comes from the oregano herb. It is extracted by steam distillation. Upon testing, it showed effectiveness against 25 different bacteria. Personally I prefer to take this in capsules form as it's very strong ! 
  5. Deep Immune - This is a great immune boosting tincture. It is used primarily as an antiviral to aid a weak immune system.  As the name suggests, it has a strengthening effect on our body's "deep immune" system. The primary herb is astragalus.  
  6. FLUSH, FLUSH, hydrate, FLUSH - Drink as much liquid as you can, ideally hot tea but water works wonders too. If you are not drinking you should be peeing ... flush flush flush your system so that bug can't hang on ! 
  7. Get your garlic on - Fresh onion and garlic are particularly powerful & potent, try and incorporate these into such meals as soup, salads and stews. Some of my favourite power packed snacks & meals include guacamole, salsa and salad dressings. The more the merrier (cloves that is) !
  8. Clean your nasal passage - Use a nasal solution to clean your passage twice a day. You can use a neti pot or hydra sense. Ears, nose & throat are all connected so its important to treat all three if you have a problem with one.  
  9. REST - Do it! Whatever that means to you, but do take breaks when necessary. Napping, deep sleeps or just resting the eyes is incredibly restorative and this is one of the best ways to heal your body quickly. 
  10. Just say 'no' to dairy & sugar - While a nice cold scoop of ice cream may feel oh so right on a sore throat, it actually has the opposite reaction in the body. Dairy thickens the mucus you have during a cold and mucus equals infection so we really want to do everything in our power to get it out, not put it in. Sugar suppresses our immune system and again we want to really take steps to support it. Eating a well balance diet with lots of green vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats is a good overall benchmark. 

Happy healing ... hopefully just prevention. Here's to all the sparkle n shine the season has to offer, minus a distracting cold. 

Xx

 

move over olive ... there's a new kid in town

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Is it just me or is olive oil the kingpin of your pantry too ? Be honest, can you ever have enough in your kitchen at any one time ? It is hands down my go to oil of choice. A cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, this amazing nutritional mainstay totes numerous health benefits. From warding off cancer by reducing inflammation with its powerful phytonutrients, to helping people with osteoporosis improve bone mineralization and calcification. 

But I digress, I am not here today to express my deep profound love of good quality olive oil with all its tasty healing properties (we'll save that chat for another day). I am here to tell you that this week I've made some room in my kitchen for the other power packed oil on everybody's lips - coconut. I am aware that this oil has been in the spotlight for quite some time, but if you haven't already guessed I pledged alliance with an olive branch quite some time ago. 

I will admit it took some convincing, mainly because the taste of coconut is not my fave. I can however get down with dried unsweetened coconut in different dishes. So with a little determination I set an intention to open my mind and christen my pans with this new star studded cooking companion. 

I started by sauteeing the standard stir fry fare (a rainbow of whatever happened to be in my produce drawer) and a generous dollop of coconut oil. As things started to slide and sizzle, the first thing I noticed was the aroma of the oil.  It was more powerful than the garlic I had added to my medley and rendered a sweet smell. Prep is a personal thing but initiating the senses is part of my process and for this particular dish I favour spicy, savory scents. To be honest, I was not a huge fan of the taste of this dish, as the oil really did lend a sweeter note.

I wasn't going to let one displeasing dish deter me. I went on to use coconut oil in baking where I felt it was far better suited. However I still liked the notion of using it for roasting and other high temp endeavors.  As luck would have it the answer came to me, riding in on a scentless pony !  YES aroma free coconut oil, with all the same properties minus the taste. Well, this changed the game and I've been whipping up dually delicious and healing dishes ever since. It can be used in everything from roasted veg, homemade tortillas to desserts and baking. Another great quality is it's ability to transform texture in things like dips and desserts. 

Olive oil is still my main squeeze but coconut oil is here to satay.

When looking for olive oil with nutritional benefits look for

 Fresh, cold-pressed oil that came from mature greenish-yellow olive berries.This is the purest oil and has the best flavour and is rich in anti-oxidants. Oil extracted using traditional methods is devoid of chemicals, less acidic, has highest smoke point, and the longest shelf life.

These are a few of my faves ... 

KALIKORI OLIVE OIL

ANTONIO PETTINICCHI

KOLYMPARI

When looking for a coconut oil look for

The two most broad categories of coconut oil are refined (tasteless and odorless) and unrefined (closest to it's natural state) . The key when buying coconut oil is to avoid chemically-processed & hydrogenated oils. 

Because I am new to the wonderful world of coconut oil I do not have any favourites yet but I will say that the oil that won me over was

OMEGA NUTRITION'S COCONUT OIL

Smiles & Sizzles

Xx 

grading gratitude

We are all living in the hustle & shuffle of everyday life. The running, fetching, pleading and pushing becomes taxing overtime. In the long haul a day can bring we're lucky if we get a little bit of sanity thrown into the mix in the form self care. The hectic nature of today's lifestyle can breed frustration, angst and a lasting sense of edginess (& I'm not talking about the kind of edge that fosters personal growth).

We live in a world where at the best of times responsibilities seem insurmountable and points of contact come from everywhere and are often relentless. A constant stream of what to do's can wreck havoc on our well being. What if I told you 5 mins a day could change everything. Yup, you might just find yourself on your head ... doing the splits while spinning from sheer happiness ! I kid you not. 

The act of being grateful for something every day does not buy you more time, but it does help you cope-float through your day with ease.

This past week, every morning before my day kicked into high gear, I sat up in bed and thought of 3 - 5 things I was grateful for. I didn't write them down, I didn't say them out loud and I didn't impose any rules. I just sat back with the corners of my mouth turned up and thought of things that I was really grateful for. It was so easy and pleasant, and set such a lovely happy tone to the rest of my day. 

It is my opinion that any time of day is a good time for gratitude, especially when times are rough, stuck or fearful. Gratitude helps us see our situation differently, it calms our thought process and opens our mind to new solutions. However our tendency is to focus on the negatives in life, which is why the act of gratitude requires practice. And, what's not love about something that takes 5 minutes a day and completely shifts your whole perspective. 

Benefits of practicing gratitude

  • Gratitude helps us put situations into perspective. When we can see the good and the bad, it becomes more difficult to disapprove and stay stuck.
  • Gratitude helps us recognize what we have. This can decrease our need to want more all the time.
  • Gratitude reduces stress, improves health, strengthens relationships, and, in general, makes us happier.

Why gratitude works

Check out this video by Dr. Christine Carter. A sociologist at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, Ph.D.

Gratitude gadgets

We don't need gizmos to get our gratitude mojo going, most of the magic happens in our hearts, heads and souls. But if tools tickle your fancy and help you give gratitude then by all means, capture joy till your heart's content. 

Gratitude Journal : Encourages you to write at least five good things daily.Carla White, a self proclaimed full time gratitude pusher has a dream, to get everyone on the planet on a daily gratitude habit.

Happier : Celebrate the good around you. Happier helps you notice the awesome things that already exist in your life.

Today I'm grateful for the smile on my face and the dog on my lap. 

Xx

Scrub a dub dub one girl in a tub

Now that Fall has officially set in, I thought it best to let go of my seasonal denial disorder & any impending thoughts that there might just be another 20 degree day. Canadian winters are cold and long (it's how we preserve ourselves). The time has comes to nestle in, stock up on tea and work some magic on an array of root vegetables. In my experience the best way to rev up for an extended snowy season is to harness a warm winter glow from within. 

This year it dawned on me that shedding my summer skin (literally) might just be a grounding way to prep for the cooler months that lie ahead. And since our skin is our biggest organ, a little scrubbing could go a long way in helping to eliminate some of summer's excess. 

Now I admit I have had an encounter with the act of scrubbing before. It involved an old friend, one too many drinks and an adventurous walk in a small Korean town. The rest was shocking and rough, needless to say a cultural barrier was broken and neither myself nor my friend were eager to get our scrub on again after that. 

Flash forward 15 years and I find myself soaking in the tub with a scrub pad in hand. A far cry from the Korean bathhouses of my youth (though ironically enough the scrub pad I am using was made there). As I rubbed & scrubbed in circular motion from head to toe, I was amazed at how relaxing and pleasant scrubbing can be. I removed a fair amount of dead skin to reveal the soft supple skin underneath and overall I just felt renewed. 

Certainly one healthy thing I will be repeating again. 

BENEFITS OF BODY SCRUBBING

Your skin will look fresh & rejuvenated. Essentially you are removing all the dead skin cells and impurities. What you are left with is glowing revitalized skin, that is soft and smooth with an improved overall tone.

Humans shed between 30,000 and 40,000 skin cells every hour and your outer layer of skin replaces itself every 35 days. Using a body scrub regularly aid in this process of skin renewal and rejuvenation. You are also increasing the body's overall circulation in the process. 

Removing your dead skin cells allows for easier absorption of a moisture into the healthy skin. Be generous with your moisturizer after scrubbing, your skin will need a refreshing topper in order to look supple and dewy. Important to note that the exfoliating component you use should be abrasive enough to remove dead skin without damaging the healthy skin underneath. 

TYPES OF BODY SCRUBS

NATURAL LOOFA SCRUB PAD

COCONUT HUSK SCRUB PAD

KOREAN EXFOLIATING MIT

Or get creative, with so many DIY scrub recipes on the internet, why not head into your kitchen to see what you can grab to accompany a nice long bath or shower. One of my favorites is coffee grinds mixed into whatever type of oil I have on hand : Coconut, Argan, Olive oil or Joba Joba. Maybe you just love getting goodies in the mail if so Frank Body is a line out of Melbourne, Australia using natural and naturally derived ingredients: coconut oil to moisturize, mint extract to awaken, cinnamon to improve shelf life, and the list goes on.

Happy scrub a dub dubbing ! 

Xx